|Jan Casteel and the Icon of Inscrutability
Author: nayolo PM
The galaxy is full of strange and powerful artifacts. Jan stumbles onto the search for the greatest one of all-the Icon. It's an object as old as the universe itself, an object not subject to the laws of space and time. Will he find it? Before he does, his journey may change him into something not quite human. It's a pulp sci-fi picaresque adventure novel, or something.Rated: Fiction T - English - Sci-Fi/Humor - Chapters: 15 - Words: 16,393 - Reviews: 1 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 02-07-13 - Published: 01-16-13 - id: 3092688
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Things were looking rather depressing. It had been a couple weeks since he'd taken his mission, to find the Icon, and there'd been no progress. In fact, he'd been enslaved and led a revolution and helped a woman named Laura come to terms with her world, and helped awaken the leader within her, but he hadn't actually done anything.
The computer wasn't helping, either. It simply couldn't comprehend the notion of the Icon. It rejected the relic's very existence, claiming that such a thing was impossible. It might very well have been, but who knew? Besides, things that existed beyond time and space probably took great joy in violating the rules of both.
There were more Hast systems, of course. But then again, there were probably many more. This adventure could take years. Could Jan really do it? Part of him didn't even think he could do it in his own life time.
"Computer, set course for another Hast system," said Jan.
The next one was a populous, multi-planetary system. Upon sending "I'm a fat bastard," Jan was immediately perma-banned from the system for violating its strict anti-swearing policy. This was quite the annoyance, but at least it ruled the system out—there was no response acknowledging the message as a code.
And so it went. Jan would fly into different star systems, and there'd be no response, or a ban, or an attempt to enslave him (Seriously, this did happen a lot. The galaxy's anti-slavery laws kind of sucked).
Eventually, he became quite frustrated. The galaxy was an enormous place. Jan had known this when he decided to become an adventurer. But it was impossible to really grasp just how big it was, until you were stuck searching star after star, planet after planet, for an indescribable object that might or might not exist.
He began to realize that he was quite lonely in his quest to find the Icon. After having Laura's company for a few weeks, he wasn't used to adventuring on his own.
The computer suggested heading back to somewhere like Station Nine. He could recruit a crew to join him on his mission, and then he'd have not only people to talk to, but people to give him that much less work to do. Perhaps they could split up and explore different systems, occasionally coming into contact with one another… it sounded like a good idea.
Eventually, this led them to HY-kdjgn, a notorious nexus for pirates, smugglers, and drug dealers. Jan occasionally wondered if there were others like him—people who were really just in it for adventure. Station Nine had told him no, and from this place's reputation, it looked like things would be no different. It was a ramshackle old building on the planet of Lololololol IX, half-sunken into the ground. It was built out of an old military base from a long-forgotten war.
The first thing he saw was a group of punks with eye patches giving some guy a hard time. Sigh. It was always the same thing, wasn't it? Still, something had changed since the last time. Jan didn't even think this time before getting into the kerfuffle, throwing punches and kicks at the gang until he'd caused at least a couple of bruises.
"What the hell? Are you insane?" said one of the punks.
"Nope!" he said proudly. "Just self-righteously meddling in other people's affairs." He put his hands on his hips as he said this and felt very good about himself.
"You're crazy," muttered one of the eye patch-wearing punks, but he slunk away anyway, and took the rest with him.
"Do you have any super-cool relevant information for me?" asked Jan to the young man he'd just saved.
"No, but you can have a few bucks," said the guy.
"Thanks," said Jan. "You didn't have to, though."
Jan asked around for people willing to join his crew. Most of their faces fell when they found out he wasn't running drugs, robbing merchant ships, or anything else like that.
Finally, one of the people he asked was actually helpful. He looked around as though checking for spies, before getting quite close to Jan and whispering "I know someone who'll help."
"Okay, where?" said Jan.
"I should call ahead first," he said. "She can get a little…rough."
He hesitated. "Okay…"
"You won't regret it." He took out his cell phone and spoke with someone for a couple minutes. His sentences were clipped, and didn't reveal much of anything about the person on the other end. It was always awkward listening to half a conversation, and this was no exception.
Afterwards, he turned back to Jan, as though remembering that he were still there. "Oh yes, you should head to Uncle Jerry's Bar and Grill to meet my contact."