Standard Five stood on a bridge in the Alpha Centuari transit station waiting for a meeting. He wore an old fashioned suit, setting him apart from the normal jumpsuit of most passengers. Despite his odd apparel, nobody paid him much mind, as if he were some kind of costumed service attendant, hardly worthy of attention.
In the blue light of the bridge, Five looked out at the cold light of the Centauri sun.
Standard Five had been born on Terra. Terrans had a sort of old world charm. They spoke slowly and held an air of antiquity you didn’t find in the majority of humanity that lived on the outer worlds.
Standard Five represented the quintessential Terran, right down to his odd name. His parents had always called him Stan, but took secret enjoyment in his full name being the same as the rule encapsulating scientific principles of solar government.
July and Frederik Five came from a long line of naval scientists. They worked for the atmospheric agency, researching climate. They’d met on the Isle of Man while monitoring ocean currents. Standard Five grew up on ships sailing the ancient seas of Terra.
Up until 3 months ago Standard Five had worked for the British Navy, the glorified regional water police of Terra. The force traced its roots back to the defunct nation of Great Britain but was now just another non-governmental organisation, contracted by the Maritime Supervision Agency to enforce rules and regulations. In addition to Terran waters, the British Navy also held the contract for policing orbital space on Io and mining operations on Mars. Like all NGOs, they insured no one regional agency held all their contracts, thus guaranteeing some measur eof independence.
Five’s experience during a 2-year rotationÂ on Io had brought him to the attention of a rather secretive agency called Extrasolar Phenomenon-Management. Through a byzantine series of agreements with several regional agencies and high-level corporations, EP-M had responsibility for dealing with anything outside the jurisdiction of the several military agencies. Since nobody could explain what this might be and EP-M itself had fairly strongly binding confidentiality agreements, the agency was shrouded in mystery and conspiracy theories.
Shortly before Five’s naval tour on Terra finsihed, and before he could renew his term and receive a new assignment, EP-M contacted him and offered him a job on an exciting project they could tell him little about. Surprising the hell out of his commanding officer, Five took little issue with the lack of information and accepted the job almost immediately.
“You’ll have to ship out to Centauri Station and meet with our agency director there as well as representatives of Synco Security Systems, the military corporation in charge of Centauri security,” was all Bill Richardsen could tell him on the phone.
In part Five had taken the job because of Bill.Â They had served on Io together and jointly uncovered and disbanded an ice smuggling ring. Bill alone didn’t cause him to snap up the job so quickly though.
Arba Farjan quietl approached Five on the bridge.
“I would have expected to find you in the lounge Mr. Five.Â It is Mr. Five, no?”
Standard Five assured him it was.
“Right this way.Â You’ll meet with Gernimo Bing from Synco in my office. We’ll discuss the prelimaries of the matter and then fly out to the site.”
Farjan’s office smelled of herring and silicone. It was the kind of office someone worked in not met in and so was rather uncomfortable. However there was just room enough and chairs enough for all three persons.