[Short Story] Drill League: Chapter 1, 'Devil Deal'.

(made using canva.com pro account.)

Hello Hive!

This is a short story I am writing for Hive, purely for our entertainment and hopefully to attract some eyes our way!

This story is set in a grim future where private corporations have populated space at a far greater rate than any nation. Space in a sense belongs to a rival collective of impossibly wealthy private entities and free nations and peoples are becoming a minority.

This series will be no more than 10 entries with each entry not going over 2000 words.

Short and sweet!

Thank you for taking the time to read my work and please let me know what you think.

Chapter 1: Devil Deal

Finally they were alone. As the sound of footsteps faded the silence that followed permeated like a poisonous gas. It thickened the air causing the men to regard each other with skeptical eyes. Their meeting was an abnormal and ominous event, and both of them felt it.

It was a sign of the times or perhaps of something else; a shift of cosmic fates divining a comedy with these two in starring roles. Despite this they each expressed a firm resolve and commitment to their responsibility. Neither would waver or back down, but the absurdity was not unnoticed.

Behind a stained alloy desk sat a cigar smoking man. They were in Lord Warden McCallister’s administration office, and there he had the home field advantage. He took a drag and gave the uniformed man a hospitable wave.

“I hear the war is going well for your employers, Captain.” McCallister exhaled a plume of smoke diffusing the light in a blue luminescent haze. He crossed his gigantic arms.

“Which I suppose is bad news for you.” He grimly asserted.

“You hear correct, Governor Warden.” Captain Nagant stood at attention. His regimental tone was stiff and sharply accented, suggesting he came from some obscure corner of the Hegemony, likely AgFa or a subsidiary.

McCallister regarded the captain with a calculating stare. He had heard of his outfit and knew they were nothing special. They were a ‘C’ team at best but still useful. The ‘A’ guys got the juiciest assignments, while this guy was probably getting paid a tenth of what the others got.

“Since you’re in uniform I should consider this… official business?”

Captain Nagant hesitated a moment. “Something like that.” His tone deepened betraying mild shame.

“I always thought hell would freeze over before someone like you came to someone like me, but my thermostat says 80 degrees.” His rugged lips curled into a wicked grin; his amusement burnt the Captain so badly it left a permanent mark.

Paladium Corps were some of the best. Well, they had some of the highest standards at least. They would not allow a Captain to be talking to someone like McCallister, and the Governor Warden knew it. That is of course, unless things over there truly were as bad as he had heard. They might truly be desperate enough. Either way he could smell a mountain of money waiting on the other side, it was just a game to see how much he could extract.

“I would have thought the same, sir. Yet here we are.” The mercenary’s tone signaled indignation, but his demeanor remained on point.

McCallister’s curiosity started to get the better of him.

“So what is it then? Is Paladium Corps trying to get in on Drillball? You looking to buy a team or something?”

The Captain shook his head, his face a mask of stoicism.

“So you’re looking to buy players then?” A bushy jet-black eyebrow shot up. His voice was awash in schadenfreude.

“Why would Paladium Corps need prisoners to fight for them? Huh? Are men finally realizing the value of life, eh? About time I say.” McCallister snorted and relit his cigar.

“You misunderstand, Governor Warden.” The officer remained at attention with his hands behind his back. McCallister couldn’t read a man when they’re like that and he hated it.

“Out with it then.” His tone approached dismissive.

“To put it frankly; we’re selling, not buying.

McCallister had trouble believing that.

“What!?” His confusion turned to annoyance.

“Drillball is for prisoners, your people are free men. Free! Why do you think you can waste my time like this?” He pointed his cigar at the officer and blew a cloud of smoke at him.

“Players, Governor Warden. Drillball is for players and we have them.” The Captain began to sniffle at the smoke and McCallister took note.

“Does it bother you, Captain?” He ashed in a silver recess.

“It’s illegal where I’m from.” Captain Nagant’s accent thickened for a second.

“It’s illegal here, But this!” He emphasized with the cigar. “This is one thing. Selling a free man to another man is something completely different.”

The office wasn’t well ventilated and by now the air was actually getting thick. Each breath became a chore for the mercenary who was sure to stop by the medics to be examined once he returned. All part of the game.

Officer Nagant cleared his throat.

“We don’t suggest ‘selling’ a person, Governor Warden. What we possess are contracts of general service for a determined period of time.” Nagant’s posture finally wavered as he presented McCallister with a digital list of servicemen within various companies under his command.

McCallister’s wide eyed expression betrayed his surprise. He almost snatched the pad out of the Captain’s hand and began perusing the list.

“There are names here. Ranks. Citizenry numbers and affiliations, and prices.” The warden’s chesty cavalier capitulated to the gravity of what he was seeing.

“My God.’ He tapped from name to name, profile to profile. “Some of these people are cheap, some VERY expensive. These are a lot of contracts.’ His tone became distant as he went through the library. He had access to over a company of potential recruits. Paladium Corps are not slouches with their background vetting or entrance qualifications. These prospects would have heart. Or they would die, as the game decides.

“Some of these are experts who we believe are suited to the league. These contracts are varied in quality as you see. We have priced them all appropriately and confirmed this with three highly rated valuation firms.” Captain Nagant watched McCallister flip through files like a starving man through a menu. He continued.

“Paladium Corps understands that attrition is a problem the Drillball League will be facing if not now, then soon. Many of the best players are frequently injured. Many die. Prisons are not the best environments for bringing out the best in a person, you see. But military service?”

McCallister tasted venom in the Captain’s words. Was he trying to leverage the Governor Warden? He snorted angrily and spat on the floor.

“You think I need you, you stuck up piece of shit? People see blood. They want blood. Fame and renown come after, it’s a side effect!” He laughed with such chesty disdain that he caused himself to have a coughing fit. After an onslaught of coughing the tank of a man recomposed himself.

“Here’s what I see Captain.” He leaned forward unconsciously.

“You’re desperate. Paladium Corps needed their war to go longer, but it isn’t. Isn’t it”? He didn’t let the mercenary respond.

“You got your contract pulled years before it was due.” His words were like a knife skewing the Captain’s heart so much that he physically winced.

“You’re not getting paid the full contract, so now you’re desperate. You need money.”

McCallister snorted and leered at the Captain’s face. He was a somewhat youthful man whose face had not seen the kind of action that can mask any emotion. The Warden could see fear In his eyes.

“You’re desperate.” His words were ice on velvet. After a moment he sat back and picked up the pad containing the list of profiles. Within seconds he was back flipping through the pages.

“Tell ya’ what, Captain. Keeping that in mind I’ll tell you if these prices are good or not. Hell, you just gave me an idea.”

He was grinning again. McCallister put the cigar in his mouth and laughed as he perused several profiles. He stopped by one, and then another. One caused his brows to rise, “Seventeen confirmed kills?” He looked at the Captain whose expression remained blank.

“You say all it needs are players? Well let’s talk.”

At that moment McCallister went shopping.

Thank you for reading!

I'm going to try and have chapter 2 out before the payout of chapter 1. That's the deadline I want to be held by; the payout of the previous chapter!

Thank you again, please tell me what you think and if you liked it!

Stay safe!

~ Simon Tonkin.

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That's quite a good read!
You've well painted the pictures in fine words. Thumbs up from me sir.

Thanks man I appreciate it :D

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