Deep in space, beyond shining nebulas and lonely asteroids, amongst stars that are dying and suns that are blazing, there is the colour green. Swirling Hues of Chartreuse, Jade and most notably, Emerald. An Emerald galaxy that shines bright, bright enough to beckon humanity to it while they drifted through space searching for a home to replace the one they had fled. Nestled inside The Emerald Galaxy they found thriving solar systems, planets capable of supporting life. Some of those planets already had lifeforms on them, and more were soon terraformed. Why have one new planet when you can have hundreds? The hubris of humanity did not die with the Earth. They spread out over the galaxy, planting themselves like seeds, and for thousands of years, they grew. In the centre of the Galaxy, in the Oz Solar System, or Sector One as it came to be known, was the planet that became the beating heart of the new human order, the crown jewel of The Emerald Empire. The Planet called Heart.
In the year 8372, in the tallest spire of the tallest building in the main citadel of Heart, General Felicity Hart’s boots clacked loudly on the marble floors of the Empire’s main Army base as she strode through the winding hallways. She didn’t pause to acknowledge the respect shown to her by everyone she and her retinue of guards passed, eyes boring ahead instead of flickering across the people who stood to attention and thumped their right fist over their hearts. She’d been General of the army for long enough to grow unimpressed by the shows of obedience, but more importantly, she had a task to fulfil and it was her singular focus. A wordless twitch of her hand had the four men flanking her halting immediately as they approached a set of iron doors and she proceeded through them alone. Silently she stalked down the hallway of the Citadel prison wing, ignoring the empty cells that lined it until she found the one she was looking for. The cell in question was as empty as the others, the metal cot untouched. All she could see was the flicker of her own reflection in the reinforced glass that sealed the cell, but she spoke aloud anyway.
“You were supposed to be here two weeks ago Captain. And I don’t remember telling you to crash your ship into the loading dock, landing it would have been just fine.” She said dryly, contempt and impatience bleeding through her professional demeanour in a rare show of emotion.
The shadows in the back of the cell shifted as a figure unfurled themselves from them, pushing herself lithely away from the wall. As she stepped into the light, she flinched away from it’s brightness, her bloodshot eyes squinting as they adjusted. Adjusting the dark worn leather Captains coat draped around her body she shuffled over to the glass, leaning against it casually and peering up at Hart as she cleared her throat, not managing to shake off the croak in her voice.
“Landing and crashing are the same thing, ones just a little more hap-hazardous.”
Hart narrowed her eyes at the impertinent tone in Captain Ice’s voice and straightened her spine, elevating her already imposing height. One sentence from Ice was more than sufficient to invoke her ire. The loathing she had for the woman before her was very specific kind of hatred, the kind of hatred that in another life could have been friendship if the two of them weren’t constant opposing forces. If Ice were the kind of person she could have been instead of the woman she had allowed herself to become. The war torn soul of Captain Ice was a waste of potential, a waste of prowess, a waste of power.
“You’re a Captain of the Empire’s army, you can’t drunkenly crash your ship into the citadel!” The general snapped, though why she bothered, she did not know. Reprimanding Ice had never proved successful before.
“I think recent events prove that I can in fact drunkenly crash my ship into the citadel.” Ice rebutted, her lips twitching in amusement.
Hart took a deep calming breath, clenching her fists as she fought the almost overwhelming desire to wring Ice’s neck.
“Open the cell, she’s sobered up.” She hissed at the security cameras, trusting the AI’s to take her orders as seriously as their flesh and bone comrades did.
The glass slid open and Ice nonchalantly stepped into the hall, walking past Hart and rolling her shoulders to ease the crick of discomfort. Her bones clicked and creaked, sounding like the old tavern the Captain smelled of.
“Those mattresses never get any easier to sleep on.” She muttered, falling into step beside Hart.
“The simple answer would of course be to stop getting yourself put in the holding cells.” Hart suggested, rolling her eyes in irritation.
“You’ve known me for years and you’re still holding out hope I’ll do things the simple way?” Ice said bemusedly.
“Yes actually, it’s why I asked you to meet with me. Two weeks ago.” Hart said dryly, sighed impatiently as Ice reached the vacant warden’s desk and vaulted over it, rummaging around the drawers and boxes until she found her confiscated things.
“You’re lucky I came at all Hart.” Ice pointed out as she pulled out a box full of guns and knives and began re holstering them all.
Six guns, and fourteen knives later, Hart raised her eyebrows as Ice continued to stow weapons on her person. Finally Ice took the final item out of the box, an intricately designed silver hip flask, and took a long, satisfying a swig from it, ignoring Hart’s disgusted glare.
“I see you’ve got your priorities in order.”
“You summoned me and I’m here, granted I didn’t arrive in the time or fashion you’d hoped but let’s be honest, it could have been worse.” Ice pointed out, gurgling whatever foul concoction resided in the flask.
“You are always drunk Ice and it’s never once affected your skills; I know you crashed that ship on purpose.” Hart accused.
“So, reprimand me.” Ice challenged.
“I can’t and you know it. The engines on your ship failed, the crash wasn’t your fault and you’ve spent the last day under medical watch. That’s the official story.” Hart snapped, venomous resentment dripping from her tone.
She was the General of the most powerful army in the entire Galaxy and still she was little more than a babysitter, cleaning up all of Ice’s messes. She ground her teeth together so hard that Ice heard it, eyes flickering over the General smugly as she neatly leapt back over the desk and stumbled towards the door, forcing Hart the stride after her. her soldiers falling into step behind her as she passed them.
“Captain Erskine retired, which means Sector Eleven needs a Captain. I’ve recommended you for the position.” Hart called at Ice’s retreating back.
Ice stopped dead in her tracks, forcing Hart and her soldiers to a sudden halt as well.
“I don’t do responsibility, especially not of that shit hole.” Ice told her vehemently.
“You are a disgrace to The Empire, covering up your antics is a full-time job and in the last few years you haven’t done any real work. This is the first time you’ve been inside the citadel for years. Enough is enough Ice, the war is over. You need to move on.” The General snapped, finally at the end of her tether.
“If I am such a burden, relieve me of command.” Ice’s voice dropped several octaves and it felt like the temperature dropped with it.
She slowly turned and faced The General, face blank and eyes devoid of any traces of emotion. The soldiers rested their hands on their guns, aware of the dangerous change in Ice’s mood.
“Except you can’t do that, can you? After all I did for the Empire, everything I sacrificed for it… You can’t get rid of me. You want me out of the way but there’s nothing you can do. If you weren’t so afraid of me, I’d have probably met with an unfortunate accident by now.” Ice taunted, her eyes flicking from the General to the obnoxiously brave soldier who was slowly unholstering his gun.
“If you pull that gun any further out of your holster soldier, I’ll make you eat it.” Ice drawled, glaring at him.
“I am not afraid of you. Step away from the General. Now.” He said autocratically, raising his chin to stare ice down.
He stepped forward, towards Ice and General Hart hissed a warning through clenched teeth “Wilson, stand down!”
But it was too late. Before anyone could even think about reacting, Ice had Wilson on the ground whimpering in pain and his gun in her hand. The other three soldiers leaped into action and attempted to disarm her. She tossed the gun in the air and grabbed a soldiers shoulder with each hand, using the two men to lift herself into the air and kick the third one in the face. Pulling the other two to the ground and slamming their heads into the floor, she caught the gun just as Wilson got to his knees. Spinning spun the gun in her hand she used the butt of it to whack Wilson in the jaw. Blood and teeth flew from his mouth as he hit the ground again, this time unconscious and Ice brought her arm up, the barrel of the gun aimed at Hart.
“I am literally holding the General of the entire army at gunpoint and you still won’t relieve me of command will you?” She said derisively.
Hart stared down the barrel of the gun, listening to the almost inaudible whirring of the laser beam inside it heating up.
“No. I won’t.”
Ice scoffed and lowered her arm, tossing the pilfered Gun onto Wilson’s battered form and turning away from the chaotic scene like it meant nothing.
“Nobody cares about Sector Twelve, you can do whatever you like. It’ll be your own personal playground.” Hart tried as the loathsome woman swaggered away from her.
“Not interested.” Ice called back over her shoulder.
“You can pick your own crew, from anyone in the Citadel.” Hart enticed.
Ice just ignored her and continued walking away.
“You’ll get a new ship, your choice of ship.” Hart sighed, playing her final card.
Ice faltered and slowly turned to look at Hart.
“I want a Phoenix SS92.”
“They’re out of production, I don’t think we even have one.” Hart said exasperatedly.
“There’s one on sub level four, she’s called The Bellator. Her engine is shot to hell, but I know I guy who can fix her up in no time.” Ice said.
“Fine. She’s yours. Enjoy Sector Eleven Captain, now go and pick your crew. You leave as soon as possible and good riddance.” Hart snapped, relieved and exhausted in equal measure.
Ice smirked and walked away, leaving Hart stood looking pissed off with her four unconscious soldiers on the ground.