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Coffee Break

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Another day, another failed attempt at getting revenge on Captain Harlock. The man who utterly ruined his promising career in engineering.

Zone still wondered just for a moment at times, just where would he be if Harlock didn’t ruin it all.

Definitely not stuck working for the Illumidas. Not being forced to deal with beatings from coworkers who belittled him for being an earthman. To endure with the constant berating from his superiors. Having to face all the interference with his revenge against Harlock from them— That’s for sure.

Ah well. It is what it is. Despite this situation he knew the Illumidas wouldn’t be the ones to take down the infamous space pirate. It was going to be him.

Which is how it should be anyways. It’s only correct if he was the one to bring about his downfall, and nobody else.

It infuriated Zone how he still hadn’t brought Harlock to his knees yet. Every day he was irked how the Space Pirate Captain Harlock was out there to fight on for another day, and destroy each and every one of his ship designs thus far.

However he couldn’t deny how amusing it was to see his superiors best attempts to bring down Harlock, only to fail spectacularly each and every time.

Yes, it was the ships he designed that were the sent out to battle, only to get get obliterated by The Arcadia. It would always vex him at how Harlock was still able to come out on top and foil his plans of revenge.

Despite all that… Who could resist such a plentiful source of schadenfreude? Not him, that's for sure. He didn’t like his co-workers and superiors as much as they didn’t like him. So he wouldn’t ever pass up a chance to see them suffer.

All in good time, Harlock would be destroyed regardless. Zone would make sure of that.

The word had spread how Amus just got booted off his Commander’s position, he saw it happen in person too. Due to the consistent failures to defeat Harlock, the homeworld chief just send in General Kruger to replace him. Who was leagues more harsh and no-nonsense compared to Amus’s approach.

Zone’s next assignment was to design yet another new ship to destroy Harlock. Spending several all-nighters making the most optimal design he could. One that would assure the destruction of his nemesis.

Now wasn’t the time to worry about blueprints however. At this part of the day he and the other humans were allowed a 25 minute break. The time limit being enforced rather strictly, with cruel punishment if you even were a second late.

Knowing this, he made no haste to get to the break room to get himself a drink.

The door slid open as Zone walked inside. The break room was small and dingy. Since it was intended for earthmen to use the Illumidas didn’t prioritize maintaining it as consistently compared to the rest of the base.

Inside there was a couple tables and sets of chairs, a sink, a garbage bin and a vending machine with a pitiful selection of drinks and snacks.

Pushing the buttons to input the code Zone ordered himself a canned coffee. Another full night of no sleep and was in the cards, especially with Kruger as his superior now. Who’d definitely want results sooner rather than later.

He sat back in his chair, canned coffee in hand. Cracking the seal open and ready to have breather. Just then Amus walked in, and he looked absolutely livid. All the air in the room immediately tensed up.

Well, there goes that breather.

Completely silent, Amus tramped to the vending machine to order himself a drink, getting his own can of coffee. Zone felt the animosity overflowing from his whole being. It was palpable.

The clunk of the can hitting the vending machines pick-up box even felt hostile. Moments later, Amus was sitting directly across Zone.

“Mr. Zone, I want to have a word with you.” That even-handed nature of his was completely gone now.

A smirk couldn’t help but come across his face, “I already saw. Getting replaced huh?” Having his first sip of coffee, “Knowing you’re to return home to face military punishment, I’m shocked they’d even let you come in here.”

Right then and there, he swore he saw Amus’ eye twitch.

“Just do you understand how your consistent track of failure has reflected upon me, Mr. Zone? If anything this is just as much your fault as it is my own.”

Zone chuckled, pushing up his glasses before having another sip of his coffee. Oh he knew, he absolutely knew what it cost Amus.

But he didn’t care.

“If your men didn’t get in my way, my results would have fared better. And your reputation would still be intact.”

The calm and collected demeanor Amus had quickly went away, clearly visible anger and shock now making up his expression. He was unraveling before Zone’s very eyes.

It was a risky move talking back to an Illumidas commander like this— but given how Amus had lost all respect from his peers and was just relieved of his post, Zone couldn’t pass up the chance for some backtalk without repercussions.

Even if it came to bite him in the ass, it would honestly still be worth it. It felt great and was quite a rush.

He already got thrown on the ground by his Illumidas coworkers and superiors on the daily. What would one more beating do? Besides, in time they would all be at his mercy anyways.

The amount of time he was working with them wasn’t going to last forever.

Zone had much grander plans in mind. Everyone here is merely pawns for what he had in store, all the work he is doing in the shadows alongside the other humans in the base. In time the fruits of his labor would be ready to harvest.

Amus slammed his fist on the table, droplets of coffee flying right out of their cans. “Know your place earthman!” Downing the rest of his coffee in on go. It was clear to Zone he’d struck a nerve.

He was also honestly impressed. Not expecting that Amus had it in him to down a whole drink like that. Makes you wonder if he does that with alcohol. Compared to the others he was more lenient, calm, and not as quick to start bloodshed. His demeanor much different than the rest.

Being like this however was not going to get you very far if you were an Illumidas, and Amus had learnt that the hard way.

“I see now I gave you too many chances to deal with Harlock on your own. I regret giving you such leniency, Mr. Zone.” Tossing the can into the bin, then glaring back. Never before had he see him like this. In this moment, the nature one came to expect from his kind had shown itself in Amus. For what was most likely the very first time.

“In the end, you will come to regret this. General Kruger is not as willing to deal with your failures as I was.” His stare intense and unwavering. Most people would break under such vitriol like this from an Illumidas.

Feydar Zone however, was not most people.

“Oh? What happened to it being a shared failure between the two of us, commander?” He spoke with emphasis on the word commander, just to rub some salt in Amus’ wound.

Zone looking right back at him with a self-satisfied grin. The rush and thrill of power he felt was unreal. Feeling on top of the world right now, not having felt this fantastic in ages.

Rage overcame Amus. Taken aback by such a brazen display of gall and insolence. What sort of earthman thought in their right mind could talk to him— a proud Illumidas, and mock directly to his face like this?

Zone had been a mouthy one before, countless times before in fact. To him, to Vice-commander Garron… to everyone in the base actually.

In retrospect Mr. Zone was quite the cheeky little shit. It was never at a level like this though.

As much as he wanted to reprimand him for such disrespect, he knew, regrettably— that he had to take it. The guards no doubt want him to return very soon.

If he kept them waiting much longer his punishment would only be made more severe. Amus desperately wanted to give this earthman what he deserved. Oh how he wished he could give this little brat what he had coming.

Unfortunately he had to swallow it. Never before had he felt such a level of humiliation.

But in comparison this moment would be ranked second. Next to being relieved of his post in such a public fashion less than an hour before this whole encounter.

It was a very close second though.

At the end of the day, if anyone was going to show Mr. Zone what for: it would be Captain Harlock. Which at this rate, was only going to be a matter of time. All of his being he truly believed that provoking the space pirate was the worst mistake the they’ve ever made.

He hoped that General Kurger took those words he said to him to heart. Because he had a strong hunch this would come back to bite all of them directly in the ass.

It was time to go. As he got up, Amus looked at Zone one last time. His tone was stern,

“It would be best for you to remember this and remember it well Mr. Zone. General Kruger can and will replace you at a moment’s notice, if he feels if you are to get in the way of our goals.”

Zone nodded. Pushing up his glasses once more, “I’m already quite aware of how serious the general is with making sure the goals of the Illumidas are met.” He stated, finishing the last of his canned coffee. “Your situation has shown this to me loud and clear, Commander.”

Even more salt was shoved straight to the wound. Clenching his fist to contain all his fury as Zone began to chuckle once more to himself, who was more than pleased with himself.

Swallowing his pride, he marched for the door. Not before Mr. Zone saying one last thing:

“Farewell, Amus.”

First referring to him by his former title mockingly, and now reminding him of what was just taken away from him. This man really loved to be a petty bitch didn’t he?

Straightening his posture in his final steps as he walked out the door so at least to Zone, on the outside it didn’t show how defeated he felt. This was a futile effort though. He was already fully aware and was absolutely relishing in the moment.

No matter. This petty engineer is all Kurger’s problem now, not his. Much more pressing matters were ahead of him and it would be best just to get on to those and try to forget about this whole encounter.

Just as quickly as the door slid open and shut, Zone’s former superior had come and went. In such a short amount of time he was able to devastate one of the Illumidas, who were known to be an incredibly proud race.

To have utterly humiliated Amus was a rush like no other. Such a feeling of raw power, he’d never forget it. And in time if all went to plan, he’d get to experience even more than this.

This break wasn’t so bad after all.