Tycoon Oswald Cottington IV, the man behind the lunatic scheme to build a colony vessel called Sanctuary to take people away from a coming darkness, discusses his project over drinks in the Lamplighter Tavern on the Consortium starbase Citadel…

The Lamplighter

This dark, smoky bar plays host to many of the base’s malcontents. Music plays from a jukebox in a corner, and the crud on the floor is at least an inch deep. The tables, although free of glasses and mugs, look as if they could use a good once-over with a damp cloth.

Jones heads into Promenade .

Jones has left.

LeBeau heads into Promenade .

LeBeau has left.

Cottington glances over at the Vollistan. “Another Light Singer. Fancy that.” He smiles faintly.

Volnarra glows orange. “Another? Whom have you met besides myself?”

Anlina arrives from Promenade .

Anlina has arrived.

Anlina tries to kick the door closed behind her out of sheer habit, fails, and looks around.

Cottington smiles, chuckling. “I’ve met a fellow named Volestad. Leads the CCE, I believe.”

Cottington glances toward the source of the noise, and nods with a polite smile to Anlina.

Volnarra tilts her head on her long neck. “Yes, Volestad. He is the most visible Vollistan in the Consortium. We are proud of his success.”

Cottington nods, then takes a sip of his water. He sets the glass on the table. “Success. Ah, yes. A wonderful thing. Pointless, under the circumstances.”

Anlina returns the nod, looking around and stepping around the worst of the litter on the floor.

Green flickers through the orange as Volnarra asks, “Pointless?”

Cottington shrugs. “Yes. In a few months, success won’t mean a thing. Look at me. I’m one of the wealthiest men in the Stellar Consortium. I’ll be a pauper. Hell, I’ll be lucky to be alive.”

Anlina turns to look at the others, half paying attention and half finding her way to a seat – which she does, taking a seat.

Volnarra cradles her glass in her long hands but does not drink. “Please human…explain your words to me.”

Cottington smiles darkly. “I’m building a ship. A very large ship. Preparing for the dark times to come. When the dark times come, I will take as many as I can aboard Sanctuary, and we will go into the silent land.”

Anlina says, “With all due respect, I’d be interested in hearing this as well.”

“Dark times? Silent land?” Volnarra looks puzzled. “From where have you heard such things?”

Cottington shrugs. “From the texts of the ancient Mystics, and the tellings of the Kamir.”

Anlina says, “I don’t remember anything like that in what I read – which wasn’t much.”

Cottington smiles faintly. “No offense, young lady, but it requires a great deal of careful reading to spot these things. Or have a guide like Fulton Hight to show you the way.”

Volnarra says, “I am not familiar with these sayings, these foreign works.”

Cottington nods to Volnarra. “Well…the Kamir were the creators of the Ri’Kammi Hive Minders. They used to run the OtherSpace Drives, in the bad old days…”

Cottington smiles tightly. “The Kamir called together a circle of people, including Professor Fulton Hight, to hear their apology. In this apology, they explained that dark times were coming soon. This jibed with prophecies scribed by the Shohobian Mystics hundreds of years ago.”

Cottington leans forward on his stool, steepling his fingers. “Now, the Mystics tell of a series of “shades” leading to the dark times. If they are to be believed, we have precious few left to pass.”

Volnarra lets bell like laughter peal forth. “The Nalls told us that _they_ were responsible for the drives. I thank you for revealing the truth.”

Anlina inquires, “How do you tell what’s a shade and what’s an ordinary bad thing?”

Cottington nods to Anlina. “The shades are rather specific. For example, one shade tells of the return of the Eye. Eye Mordecai returned from his journey aboard the Harrower. Another speaks of the warrior’s return. Grayback, a Demarian warrior, has emerged, seemingly, from the dead. Another speaks of an army of one face – this would tend to suggest the Legion, a group of reptiloid warriors loosed upon intruders in Washington, D.C. recently.”

Volnarra says, “And the other shades?”

Cottington becomes rather grim. “The rising tide of blood. And the conquerors’ victory.”

Tempest arrives from Promenade .

Tempest has arrived.

Cottington sits at the bar with Anlina and Volnarra.

Anlina says, “Neither of those sounds terribly good. At all.”

Cottington nods. “The closing line of the Mystic prophecy is as follows: As the tide falls, the conqueror’s victory complete, the dark times ensue. They will seek sanctuary in the silent land and find salvation…or extinction.”

Volnarra fingers the pendant around her neck. “That could describe many events.”

Cottington shrugs. “Yeah, none of them good.”

Jones arrives from Promenade .

Jones has arrived.

LeBeau arrives from Promenade .

LeBeau has arrived.

Tempest walks into the bar, his long grey trenchcoat sweeping behind him. He sits down at the bar, and without a word, the barkeep reaches under the tables and produces a bottle of Demarian scotch.

Jones walks in, cane tapping as her usual herald.

LeBeau enters in about a minute or so behind Jones

Cottington smiles darkly. “I don’t plan to get caught napping, friends. I’m building the Sanctuary out by Ganymede at my shipyards. At this pace, she may even be done in time.”

Anlina says, “Isn’t it just as dangerous anywhere else, though?”

Cottington shrugs. “I am guessing we will have the chance to start anew in this silent land the prophecy speaks of.”

Volnarra fades to grey. “Or to be extinguished.”

Cottington furrows his brow. “I don’t aim to be extinguished. But, yes, that is a possibility.”

Jones makes her way over to those talking.

Cottington sips his tonic water.

Anlina says, “So how do you know where the silent land is?”

Cottington sets his glass on the counter. “In any event, I’ll be selling lottery tickets quite soon. And, no, I don’t. But I’ll be taking us beyond the western spiral arm of the galaxy.”

Jones places her hand in her jacket. “Mr. Cottington, how much do you intend on selling the lottery tickets for?”

Volnarra says, “What is a lottery ticket?”

Cottington smiles faintly. “100 credits a piece, for approximately 10,000 spaces. I assure you, it will come nowhere close to covering my expenses.”

Jones raises her eyebrow, “But then again, you aren’t doing this to make a profit or break even. You are an altruist, correct? No reason except your own good will?”

Cottington chuckles. “Ms. Jones, is it? Ms. Jones…I don’t know if I’d call myself an altruist. I’m a human being. I believe in this prophecy, even when others laugh at me. It scares the tar out of me. I have the means at my disposal to *do* something about it, so I am. I’ll take everyone I can with me, and say prayers for those I can’t.”

Anlina says, “And what do you do if you pick the wrong place?”

Cottington glances to Anlina. “The only wrong place is here, I think.”

Volnarra twists the ring on her finger. “Economically, I percieve that this would preclude those who cannot afford the tickets?”

Cottington shrugs. “100 credits seems a reasonable price for the cost of a chance to survive.”

“Isn’t that a haphazard way to do things?” Jones says mildly. “One would think

Cottington smiles faintly. “Ms. Jones, if you heard on the news that the entire galaxy was about to be swarmed in dark times by some rampaging invaders, and you determined you had only months to prepare – well, it doesn’t exactly leave you the luxury of time to pick and choose, does it?”

Cottington chuckles. “My lord, it would take years to get people to agree on who would choose the choosers.”

“Personally, I would commit my funds to fighting. To increasing the chances of survival, not banking on an invitable doom.” She chuckles, “But that is me. How will the tickets be picked? Out of a really large hat?”

Cottington smiles faintly. “Computer. Random selection. And, if I don’t know which enemy I’ll be fighting, what point is there to preparing?”

Volnarra asks, “Were you going to inform the other member planets? The Fringe planets?”

Cottington nods. “Madame, I have made this no secret. CBN has reported it far and wide.”

LeBeau says, “Wha aboud families, I don tink dat yu ar going to hav ten thousan single people en up wit dees spaces.”

Jones nods a little, “CBN has it more than covered.” She agrees.

Cottington nods to LeBeau. “We’ll take as many as we can. But we won’t be able to take every member of your family.”

Volnarra greys even more as she looks at LeBeau. “What are the chances of a complete family being picked?”

Cottington shakes his head. “Slim to none.”

Cottington raises a hand. “That does not, however, preclude families from launching their own arks.”

Volnarra says in her musical voice, “Could you inform me as to the details of this lottery system?”

Cottington shrugs. “Simple. You buy a ticket with a number. The computer will generate a random list. If your number is on the list, you get to go on Sanctuary.”

LeBeau says, “An wha aboud yer company. Ar yu still offering yer services to da public an wha happens afder yu depard?”

Cottington fixes his shadowy eyes on LeBeau. “By the time I depart, my company probably won’t exist anymore.”

Volnarra says, “And if you buy more than one ticket?”

Cottington nods. “You don’t.”

LeBeau quirks his brow “An why do yu say dat?”

Cottington glances toward LeBeau. “First, I expect to bankrupt. Beyond that, I expect our rampaging intergalactic visigoths will be trashing the solar system – and I’ve got a prime target.”

Jones says, “Have you always been so cheerful, Mr. Cottington?”

Jones smiles, making the words light.

Cottington smirks. “I was quite the playboy, Ms. Jones, until I began doing some reading.”

LeBeau says, “So yu don tink dare es any hope fo does people dat decide no to leave an stay here? An dat we should all jus try to ged wha we can an fine a new place to call home while we can?”

Volnarra says, “There will only be 10,000 spaces. The rest of us…”

Cottington shrugs. “I get the feeling whoever stays will die, or be enslaved.”

LeBeau says, “Bu yu hav nodding to say fo sur one way o da oder?”

Cottington chuckles. “No. The only ones who will know for sure will be those who stay behind. I don’t want to find out.”

LeBeau says, “Bu yu hav made no attemp to concive some secondary plan to know jus wha happens hav yu. Once yu leave ids no looking back”

Cottington shakes his head. “No. Because, my friend, I don’t think there’ll be anything to look back to.” Cottington sighs, getting up from the stool. “In any case…I should be getting back to the shipyards. I thank you all for your time. You can find me on Oscott Shipyards, near Ganymede, should you wish to speak further with me.”

Volnarra stands, almost brushing the ceiling. “This has been interesing, human. But I have business elsewhere, as well.”

Jones nods, “Thanks for talking so freely, Mr. Cottington.”

Cottington nods. “A pleasure, Vollistan.” Cottington smiles to Jones. “Be sure to buy a ticket. The media will need a representative aboard, yes?” Cottington winks, then turns and walks toward the corridor.

Jones chuckles.

By Brody

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