View Full Version : Flying Heart Ch.1 "Hard Sell"

29th September 2012, 12:50 PM
Just a preface here: I used to do short-form stories a lot in some other communities, so I figured I'd play around here. Assume it's an alternate universe, but I'll try to keep as many things familiar as I can. Try not to verbally beat me TOO hard for this!

"Well hell, you're only two hours late! That's two hours better than the last guy we fired."

That voice, Raul thought to himself, could scratch glass. Even hearing it was like an assault on his eardrums with the intent to harm, making him shudder from more than the cold desert nighttime air. Of course, Raul would be hearing that voice for a long, long time, if he had his way, since it happened to belong to his team manager: Rory Brisco.

"What, did you miss the giant signs all the way in? I know Google has this place autotagged for navs, so what's the excuse, boy?" Rory growls, his voice gravelly from years of passing smoke between his vocal cords. Raul actually felt himself wanting to take a step back from the brash, and to be honest, downright SCARY American he was faced with. And with good reason: where Rory was a tall, broad, country-bred and fed giant, Raul was slender, average height, and lacked the calluses and rough, broad hands of his manager. A native of Panama, he had the usual swarthy tan, black, straight hair, and near-black eyes of his kin. Unlike the rest of his countrymen, he'd grown up in relative luxury, even been given a hoverkart by his parents when he'd first showed interest in AG racing.

And now here he was, staring dumbly at the man who'd personally offered him a spot on the Auricom team; a team he'd taken as his personal favorite since he was a boy, and he'd recieved no end of torment from the Pirhana crowd for that. Finally, his brain decided that the deaf-mute act was just going to make his new manager speak even louder in that ear-grinding voice of his, and gave him his own voice back. "I fell asleep on the way over...It was a long flight, sir."

Rory narrowed his eyes, chewing briefly on the end of his cigarette. Real one, Raul noticed. He'd thought that all the Americans had switched over to glycerin vaporizers years back. But Rory had himself an actual Kamel Red smouldering between his lips. "Was it in a bar, son? You smell like a brewery."

"N-no, sir. I spilled my drink on the plane." Raul stammers, looking down at the stain on his best suit's lapel. His father had demanded he wear it. 'It will show them you are taking this seriously!' he'd said. Raul had argued with him for an hour over the damn suit. "I fell asleep in the car. I was actually early, but I was so tired, and all of this is so...there is not much to look at here." he said quickly, gesturing out to the fields that surrounded the Auricom testing facility just outside of Reno, NV.

Rory stared hard at the younger soon-to-be-pilot, then snorted and actually smiled. His stony demeanor brightened considerably when he did that, Raul thought. It made him look...less like he was carved out of a particularly ugly rock. "Alright, at least you're a damn sight better than the other guy they hired. C'mon, let's get you checked in." The big man waved Raul along, and started walking towards a massive warehouse-like aircraft hangar. "Lucky for you both, all we're doing today is getting you settled in. This complex is going to be your home for the next month while we go through preseason testing." Rory palmed the scanner next to a particularly heavy looking door, and Raul felt the "thunk" of it unlocking through the soles of his dress shoes. "There's not too much out here, like you saw, but Reno is about twenty minutes away, so you can have fun in your off time. You won't go nuts out here."

A grunt and a heavy shove was sufficient to move the massive, safe-like door, revealing a long, pristine white corridor with office doors dotting the walls, and another heavy door at the far end. "This is R&D. You're gonna spend a lot of time in these offices, so get familiar with them, and the people in them." he said, leading Raul along the corridor and pointing out the various departments as they passed by. "Everyone but E-Com should be gone for the night. That's Electronics and Communications. Make very good friends with those guys. They've saved more than one pilot's ass by talking him through module hot-swaps on the far end of the track in the middle of a race."

Raul nodded vigorously, quietly disguising his dismay at the thought of having to refit a chassis computer while getting shot at, all at 500 km/h. "How often does that happen?"

Rory just smiled and patted Raul's shoulder, shaking his head. "Not very often. We have some of the best shielding in the league, but sometimes y'just get yer ass handed to ya in a very nasty and public way. You remember the 2207 finals? That was the last time."

"Oh... Oh wow, wait, do you mean the big wall-grind and plasma chain on Schroedinger on the Amphesium, or the ganging up at D-K?" Raul asked, suddenly forgetting his nervousness. This was his ground, now. Rory blinked, rocking his head back, an inscrutable look on his face. "Damn, kid. Most people didn't even realize Shrodie was getting ganged up on during that race. Just called it bad luck in the news."

Raul grinned from ear to ear, shrugging his shoulders. "Well, considering that Dao and Holmgrenn kept clearing a path for Kasparov right up to Schroedinger's ship, it seemed pretty obvious. Besides, they all fired at the same time three times in a row."

"Kid...I knew I picked you for a good reason." Rory said, pulling another Kamel from the pack and clamping it between his lips before lighting it off. "Now c'mon, I'm gonna show you the hangar, your ship, then your room." Raul followed, unable to hide his smile. High praise, he felt, coming from Rory Brisco, the heavy hand that was widely credited for giving Auricom its well-deserved place in the top ranks of the FX400.

Two doors later, Raul found himself staring at the skeleton of a large, dual-hulled monster that looked so very familiar, and yet not. The plating was all missing, and the superstructure spidered its way between anti-gravity generators, weapons magazines, shield gennies, fuel cells and miles and miles of conduit and plumbing. "We're having the armor refinished. Found some manufacturing flaws, so the whole batch went back. Should be coming back in tomorrow." Rory explained, walking over and patting the Auricom ship on it's left hull where it rests securely in its cradle. "This one's going to be yours. They'll set you up for a cockpit fitting tomorrow. Also going to be wanting you to decide on your livery, so make some decisions tonight and get a feel for what you want it to look like."

Raul smiled, almost tuning Rory out. Almost. His eyes lovingly traced the contours of his ship, taking in every square inch of it and committing it to memory. His father would watch him fly in this very craft, and finally realize his dream. Well, part of his dream, anyway.

"Anyway, kid..." Raul snapped out of it, turning to see Rory looking sternly at him. "Now, here's some basic, off-the-record things you need to know. I like ya, you wouldn't be here if i didn't think you had talent, but we've got rules, and I want you familiar with them before you show up here tomorrow."

Another cigarette lit. How this man could smoke this much, Raul just couldn't figure out. "Okay, first, you were a hard damn sell to the investors and the board. I fought them tooth and nail over you, because you have the kind of raw talent that can make you a god on the track, but they saw a nobody from Panama. That being said, you've got a lot to prove here, kid, and I put my reputation on the line for your ass, so you screw me over, and I will crucify you in a very public fashion. I mean that. I didn't get this post by luck, and I'm friendly with most of the board members for most of the major amateur leagues. You'll never touch an AG racecraft again. Your GRANDCHILDREN won't be able to find spots in the leagues. You get me?"

Raul blanched, nodding quickly. Rory scowled, blew twin streams of smoke from his nostrils, and continued. "Second, you answer to me, not the other way around. If you get the idea that you can screw around with me, I will burn you. Keep screwing with me, and I'll kick your ass off of this team. Just ask the guy you're replacing. Third, you will conduct yourself like an upright gentleman, and a racer in the FX400, and a representative of Auricom. You step out of line and go starting a damn barfight, or knock up some underage groupie, or make any kind of an ass out of yourself in the media, and I will destroy you in place."

Rory glanced Raul up and down quickly to make sure the kid was taking this all in. "Fourth, the media will be on you. Not too badly right now, but soon, they're going to be stalking you anywhere you go. You will speak pleasantly to them at all times, cameras or no, when you choose to speak with them. If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. Just walk away. Fifth, if you ever, and I mean EVER show up at this or any Auricom or League facility, track, or home while under the influence of anything other than aspirin, you're out of here, then and there. If you touch, get near, or even -look hard- at this ship while under the influence of anything, I will personally kill you and bury the body in the desert. I am not kidding. I don't think you're gonna have a problem with that, though."

Rory smiled, but it was just one of those smiles that doesn't entirely reassure you that he's joking. "Now fifth, and this is the most important rule: If you're not sure about something, or you need help, you WILL call me immediately, and I will bust my happy ass to help you. I am your manager, it's my job to keep this team and it's members working smoothly and safely. So, if you need my help, you ask me, and I'll make it happen. Get all of that?"

Raul bit his lip and nodded quickly, deciding that silence would probably be golden with this man. "Good. Now c'mon, I'm exhausted, and your stuff is probably already in your room." he huffs, giving Raul a slap on the back and heading across the hangar bay. "Your room is actually built off of the main hangar, but it's all soundproofed. Your teammate is housed in another building, because he threw a damn fit about it. Hopefully, you'll be able to work together. I had to threaten him with public humiliation in a more...direct and pointed manner to get the concept across of him working for me, not vice-versa. Anyway, here we are." Rory palmed another lock by a flat, featureless door with "R. Saluta" stencilled across it, and opened it to a rather grand suite that wouldn't have been out of place on the top floor of a five star hotel. "Oh, one more thing. Your immediate family is cleared to come visit you, but you better not try to bring groupies back here, just in case you get any ideas about partying in the room. Now, I'm gonna go get some sleep, and I suggest you do the same. Your job starts tomorrow, and I plan on working you into the ground. Goodnight, kid." he growled, and pulled the door shut behind him.

Raul just stared at the door for a few more minutes, then shook his head out. He was still reeling from actually being here, something he'd only dreamed about. And that ship! It was a beauty, even without the plating. He mused on that some more while searching the bathroom out, splashing water on his face, and towelling off. Rory was right, he should sleep. Rifling through the small bag he'd brought, he found his bottle of melatonin, popping a couple and dry swallowing them, then sat on the couch. This was surreal. Just too surreal. He briefly considered calling his father, but the old man would b e asleep by now. Snoring away like he always did, loud enough to shake the windows, smell of the sea salt and the wind blowing through his open window, faint thunder off in the distance... That always put him to sleep, the near-constant rain during the spring and summer.

He was passed out on the couch before he even thought about taking his shoes off.

4th October 2012, 03:19 PM
I am going to say that for now...I am very interested in seeing where this is going, since from what I can tell, you've clearly got something here, I'm interested to seeing how Raul and everybody else fairs.

I'll see if I can say more once if/when you put up an update.