Privateer Space: a Galactic Mistake… by Aribella Lafleur
For a select few, the thirst for adventure can never be slaked; whilst others are the unwilling victims of circumstance - dragged through Interesting Times with their designer sunglasses blinkering their eyes and iTunes filling their ears. Some choose to seize the day with gold-tipped tweezers or attempt to hurriedly capture it under a glass, lest it escape and bite them. Caught with both tweezers and glass in hand, I….
…Stirred to the disquieting awareness that I was trapped in the frigid confines of a space vessel, glazed eyes staring out through fogged breath and frosted portals into the swirling abyss. Wiping a trace of drool from my chin, I tried to comprehend how I could have been transported to the far reaches of the cosmos. Seeds of remembrance awakened slowly within the swirling miasma inside my skull. Replaying the scene in my mind, it became yet another tardy reminder about the hazards of drinking with a crowd of pirates in a seedy tavern.
It has been said that in the depths of the void no one can hear your scream. My crew heard. Far-reaching galaxies will hear, in millennia to come, that primal scream and the angry tirade that ensued…to no avail. I was caught like a hamster in a wheel, with nowhere to run. As asteroids whizzed past faster than I could say “Where’s the brake?” I closed my gaping mouth and reached for a seatbelt, assuming the increasingly familiar crash position.
Our route meandered through the treacherous asteroid field towards a giant hunk of rock which appeared to contain a drab and dreary refueling station. The promise of a chocolate bar was enough to add a mote of excitement, but the turbulent landing dampened my growing enthusiasm.
We carefully entered a dimly-lit teleport chamber, the walls slick from years of grease deposits. Abruptly and haphazardly transported in a jumbled huddle, we landed in a rather unexceptional galactic truck stop convenience store. Passing the reeking rest rooms (which were, of course, out of order; a mandatory feature of truck stops throughout the known universe and possibly beyond) my space-pirate crew followed their assaulted olfactory organs to the source of the fried, fatty cooking smells – the diner.
We crowded around a table designed for the vertically challenged, and waited for the ageing droid to amble over and take our order. My dining companions greedily ordered everything on the menu designed to send them to an early grave. Spying the remains of a coagulating serve of unidentified foodstuff on a nearby table, I hurriedly ratified my earlier preference for a chocolate bar. In the mood to live dangerously, I chose to place an order – but after scanning the menu I judiciously selected the most innocuous item: a powdered milkshake.
I suppressed a smirk as my comrades writhed and squirmed, their stomachs vainly protesting against the churning toxic contents. Feeling generous, however, I waited patiently as they rested between frequent dashes to the amenities, leaving no doubt as to why the facilities were constantly inoperative!
As time passed, their symptoms gradually abated. We plunged onward into the bowels of the asteroid, watching as drones unearthed precious gem deposits from the ore. My devious party of space bandits pocketed a number of the shining stones, their faces betraying their actions with self-satisfied avaricious grins. Before they endeavored to steal an entire storage bin (which would have led to instant discovery) I distracted them with the remains of my chocolate, guiding their magpie-like focus away from the shiny objects.
We wended our way back out of the mine, nearly tripping over a piteously-hunched obsolete robot, begging for fuel. In a fit of compassion, I retrieved one of the gems from my brigand crew and donated it to the neglected android. The undercover droid responded with unexpected rapidity, quickly sounding the alarm.
Fleeing the shrill security sirens triggered by my impulsive largesse, I realized the truth in the adage that “no good deed goes unpunished”. I sighed and gathered up my voluminous skirts with a dramatic flourish, silently congratulating myself for prudently spending countless hours practicing the handy skill of running at top speed in heels.
Finding an open airlock with an unattended shipping vessel docked, I gestured wildly to the others to follow. We slipped into the drivers’ seats to face an instrument panel which was winking like an over-decorated Christmas tree.
The ship tore away from the docking port, hissing like a leaky pressure cooker, our getaway punctuated by the unpleasant groans and shudders of rending steel. The unfamiliar controls and clunky steering promised for an eventful journey through the asteroid field and space junkyard to the planet below.
Copy and images (c) 2008, Aribella Lafleur. All Rights Reserved.
Produced with the editorial assistance of Must Packbiers.
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