Chunks of ice hit the bottom of the whiskey glass with a familiar clink, followed by the smooth pour of a vintage Terran single malt. Relen Gedion's father, Stanil, always had a drink in his hand. Stanil thought it gave him an air of distinction. Gedion thought it made him a drunk.
"You know son, I'm glad you came to me. It can be hard trying to make your way out there in the ‘verse. There is no shame in asking for help," Stanil began. He picked up the glass and took a long, slow sip of the strong brown alcohol. "Especially from family." He continued.
"Cut the crap, dad." Gedion replied.
"No no, I mean it son. Now I know that things haven't always been the best between us..." Stanil began again.
"Are you referring to sending me to boarding school because you didn't want me around, or maybe forcing me to join the UEE because you thought it would be better for your political career?" Gedion shot back, the wounds clearly unhealed.
"I think we can both agree that I've always done what I thought was best for the both of us son," Stanil replied, taking another sip of whiskey.
Gedion rolled his eyes.
"Anyway, the past is past. What matters is that we're here now, father and son, and we can start to figure this thing out together. I've been going over your finances and..." Stanil droned on about how broke Gedion was, the ships he'd lost, the expeditions that had largely proved fruitless in turning up any meaningful piece of alien technology.
Gedion had a hard time concentrating when his father lectured. Stanil had never cared for him before, and he doubted he did now. It was only a matter of time before he figured out what his father's angle was.
Stanil paced back and forth behind his large wooden desk, bright light streaming in through the window behind him and backlighting him so he was more of a silhouette than a man. It was the standard ‘power play' office arrangement. Stanil's desk was on platform as to sit up higher than anyone else in the room. The backlighting was meant to command the respect of visitors. Stanil had deduced politics down to its most technocratic levels, as if doing all the ‘right' things that politicians do would bring success. It had, until his career stalled at the regional level on Terra.
"And I think this opportunity would be advantageous for the both of us, well... for you and for Terra of course," Stanil concluded.
There was his angle.
"You mean it'll be advantageous for your stalled political career," Gedion shot back incisively. The criticism found its mark like the blade of a Scythe cutting through a Hornet cockpit.
Stanil paused for a moment, squinting his eyes at Gedion in a slight glare. He took another long sip of whiskey at sat down at his desk, still noticeably riled by Gedion's comment. Stanil set his glass down and picked up his datapad, thumbing through pages of information.
"You'll be meeting with Saskia Linsen, an R&D specialist from an outfit by the name of Ballistic Logistics. Now I had to call in a few favors to get this lead, but she has a job for you, and the compensation should be adequate." Stanil explained, his tone all business.
"Assuming I take the job..." Gedion replied under his breath.
Stanil slammed the datapad on the desk, his patience with Gedion's behavior having completely dissolved.
"You'll take the job, because you're out of cash, you are out of luck, and because if you don't take it, you'll be out on your own, which has been working oh-so-well for you so far, hasn't it?" Stanil snapped back. "Here are the coordinates for the meeting," he continued, sliding the datapad across the desk and into Gedion's lap.
Gedion wanted to argue, but he knew his father was right. He had run out of options, and his only shot at getting back on his feet was to take this job.
Stanil picked up his whiskey and rotated in his chair, placing his back to Gedion. Glancing down at the datapad, Gedion saw the name and time of his meeting with this Saskia Linsen. He was to meet her at the Hellhunt bar, 20:00 that night.
"Pretty shady place for a legitimate business meeting," Gedion noted aloud. Stanil kept his back to Gedion and didn't respond. There was nothing left for Gedion to do but get up and walk away.