Of Ice and Men : Book of JonJon
A Prosperous Universe Story by Copious
JonJon was cold. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this cold. He sat up, looking around the sterile steel room he found himself in. The only softness in the room was his mattress and blanket, set up on an aluminum gurney over polished steel floors.
He tried to think. What was the last thing he remembered? Elon had drugged him in the skimmer. Was this an interrogation room? JonJon didn’t think so. For starters, he wasn’t restrained. He hopped up and strode across the room to the door, and found it unlocked. Man was this floor cold on his bare feet!
“Excuse me, anyone around here got some shoes?” JonJon hollered from the now open door. He looked up and down the hallway as a couple doors opened and surgical masked faces popped out to see what the commotion was. A short woman in scrubs and no mask came trotting through a set of double doors some way down the hall, carrying a stack that looked to be JonJon’s clothes and boots.
“Hello JonJon. It’s good to see you finally awake! Here are all the personal items you had on you when you were admitted. Once you are dressed I can lead you to the food court.” Her lilting voice and accent had JonJon nodding and grinning sheepishly as he accepted his clothes. Her skin was like ivory, as if she had never seen a day in the sun in her life. She was a Pruner, comm chip obvious against her pale skin.
JonJon quickly dressed and headed out the door to follow the woman down the hall. After a few hallways and stairwells he guessed they were underground. He hadn’t yet seen a window by the time they reached the food court. JonJon settled in for a large plate of what passed for hamburgers down here. As an earther, he was hard to fool with these meat tissue patties. Still, it was better than no meat, that was for sure.
The woman started explaining things to him as he ate, picking at her own plate of fruits and nuts as she did so. “You’ve been brought to Frost from Elon so you could receive the best care the boss could provide. The stuff that Elon gave you was rather potent and the boss didn’t want to risk you receiving care during the transition of control over at Elon. Apparently things have gotten quite interesting over there since you blew the cover off Elon’s pirating operation.”
JonJon chewed as she continued. “Anyways, that’s all I know from the boss. He wants to see you once you’re fed. I’ll take you there when you’ve finished.” JonJon mulled that over as he finished up his protein paste provisions with an enthusiasm he normally saved for the real thing. Evidently he was hungry.
“How long have I been out?”
“Almost 3 days. Apparently Elon got the dosage wrong on that sedative. It nearly killed you.” JonJon grunted in acknowledgement as they got up to leave. “He didn’t strike me as much of a doctor. Not surprising.”
As they made their way to the boss’s office, JonJon saw a lot of comm chips. This was definitely a secure facility. He hoped he wasn’t going to be in for a long stay. They reached the boss’s office and the woman he was with opened the door for him after a quick knock.
“JonJon my man! Good to see you on your feet!”, the boss said, rising to his own feet to greet JonJon at the door as he stepped inside the office. “Was Bri kind enough to make sure you were fed before she brought you to see me?” This last he said winking to Bri as she closed the door behind them both.
“I wouldn’t say the burgers are as good as at home, but after three days, I guess everything tastes good. Even Pruner Paste.”
The boss busted up laughing. “That’s why I like you JonJon. You bring something to the table I could never get from a Pruner agent. Authentic Earther swagger.”
“Thanks boss.” JonJon said as he sat down across the desk from his employer.
“Listen JonJon. I know you just got out of the infirmary, but I’ve got one last emergency for you before a well earned vacation to Verdant. Another hacker has popped up and started making trouble for our automated systems. This time they aren’t stealing anything, they are just wiping the assets clean and leaving them adrift. So far we’ve lost several shipments of Hydrogen and Carbon on long haul routes to Moria. The markets there are a mess, and the chaos is spreading.”
JonJon digested all this as he sat there, considering just how big of a bonus he’d be able to ask for after all this. “I’m assuming you have a name for me or we wouldn’t be talking now?”
The boss blinked, then quickly recovered and smiled broadly. “JonJon, I am not often surprised, but you are an excellent example of the old Earth phrase. Never judge a book by its cover. You are of course correct, we have a suspect in mind. He’s an old college buddy of Elon’s from Earth. His name is Wyatt Pearl, but we’ve taken to calling him Wyper on account of his methods. He’s the CEO of Ferrum.”
The boss looked like he would have gone on but just then the lights dimmed and a blaring alarm started chiming in the distance. The boss cocked his head to the side, listening to his comm chip. He looked at JonJon and calmly spoke as he rose from his chair. “Several ships have just dropped out of hyperspace sun side, within the range of effect of the deceleration shockwave. We have about 15 minutes until it hits our mirror networks.”
Frost, because of its orbital lock to the local star, made a perfect planet for mass application of mirror enhanced incinerators. Great fields of mirrors, never needing to move and always being lit 24 hours a day, covered the sun side of the planet. They fueled massive incinerators that made Frost one of the leading producers of Carbon in Prosperous Space. The ships that had jumped in knew exactly what they were doing. Those mirrors would be annihilated by the shockwave. They were about to wipe trillions of dollars off the face of this planet.
“They’re insane!” JonJon exclaimed as he shot out of his seat. “Which side of the planet are we on?”
“The night side, thankfully, but we need to hurry. The attacking ships will need time to recharge their drives. We have some Ev1lCorp Attack Freighters ready to go in our hangar bays here on the night side. They won’t be able to outrun you with their STL drives and there won’t be enough time for them to jump away before you get there. I need you to disable them and board the ships so we can question the crew. I want to know who to send the bill for my mirrors, JonJon. I’m quite a vain man.”
The boss smirked as they jogged out into the hangar bay and the sight of three sleek attack ships, missile pods and railguns glistening in the cold air. A crew of Pruners awaited them, comm chips glowing as they stood at attention. They all wore the lightweight military exosuits favored by the zero g specialist Pruners.
“I won’t let you down boss.” JonJon said as he jogged into the lead ship and strapped in for takeoff. Minutes later he was sweating and grunting as they executed a high g acceleration maneuver to cut off the escaping ships. Thankfully Ev1lCorp had spared no expense on these attack freighters and he was sitting in one of the advanced g seats that kept the forces from squishing him into so much protein paste.
It was obvious that the attacking ships had no such seats, and their drives were undersized. The attack freighters were gaining fast. Actually, if JonJon had to guess, he’d say they’d come in knowing they would be caught……….
“Abort the attack immediately! Do not fire! I repeat, do not fire and peel off!”
Since his suit helmet was tied directly to the pilot of his ships comms, the ship JonJon was in had just enough time to correct course before the enemy detonated the fleeing ships, simultaneously forcing all their drives to go critical and take whatever fuel had been in the tanks with them. The other two attacking ships weren’t so lucky, having received the warning relayed from their wingman a fraction of a second too late to escape the resulting explosion. As it was, JonJon heard the sound of debris pinging off the hull.
JonJon asked the pilot for a report. “We’ve got some minor shrapnel damage to the hull but nothing that’s leaking. The other two ships weren’t so lucky, they look to be a total loss, sir. How did you know?”
“Call it intuition. Scan the area, long range ping. Look for any ships sitting out towards the Oort cloud.”
Sure enough, the pilot reported back that there was a ship out at the edge of the system. They’d jumped out as soon as the sensors had picked them up, but not before sending a tight band transmission to the ship JonJon was in. The pilot relayed that transmission to JonJon’s private in helmet comm channel and JonJon told him to send it to the boss as well.
It was a simple message. Only four words in fact. JonJon and the boss sat in stunned silence as they listened to it together later that evening, in the same office they’d been sitting in when the attack had begun.
“Wyper sends his regards.”