Flashing #47: Space Western

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Posting this one on a MegaBus to Boston. Getting a touch carsick so editing is light. I may touch it up later, but I think it's pretty cool as is. Getting married in four days, by the way, and I'm very excited.

More Flashing at the main page.

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The Sad Hill Ship Graveyard is lifeless and quiet, even by space standards, despite the three active cruisers hovering within several clicks from each other. The Cattivo’s pilot, Tuco, nervously eyes his two viewport monitors, waiting for the slightest movement from either Blondie or Angel Eyes. His instruments warn him that the two ships have full shields and their cannons are charged and ready to fire but Blondie’s a faster shot than the three men and Angel Eyes is more ruthless – better to let them make a move first.

Blondie makes the first move, quickly pivoting the Buono towards the Brutto and firing three canon shots at the ship’s main exhaust port. The first two shots weaken the shields and the third shot causes the ship to explode from the inside out. Tuco tries to capitalize on the Buono’s compromised position by hitting the trigger as fast as he can. All he hears is the clicking sound, the Cattivo’s cannons acting as if they’re not even aware of the firefight going on around them. Blondie’s slow whisper comes over his com, “I took care of those last night.”

Tuco closes his eyes and waits for the eminent barrage of cannon fire. He’d meditate on the emptiness that comes with greed and revenge, on the loneliness of space, and the convenience of dying in a graveyard if it weren’t for the fact that he was pissing in his pants and praying to a God that’s long been disproven. Minutes pass without a shot being fired and Tuco opens his eyes. The Brutto is nothing but debris, it fits perfectly with its surroundings, and the Buono is darting between ships, pausing at each one’s identifier before carrying on to the next one.

Blondie once again activates his com, “I can use some help here, Tuco.”

Tuco cautiously moves the Cattivo towards the Buono. “What are we looking for?”

“Ship’s called the Arch of Stanton. Money’s in an unmarked ship right next to it.”

The two ships dance around long-forgotten cruisers and interceptors and birds-of-prey. They read the names on the ships. Horatio, Yamaguchi, Mekong, Dauntless, Fleming, Yellowstone…there are tens of thousands of broken down and blasted ships in this graveyard and only one worth finding.

“I found it!” Tuco exclaims, prompting the Buono to speeds towards him. The Arch of Stanton is an old Korolev-class starship. The whole aft is ripped off, no burn marks in sight; it was likely involved in a nasty collision. The unmarked ship next to it is pristine and of a class that neither Blondie nor Tuco have ever seen before. A prototype, no doubt, likely of Breen design, possibly built towards the latter days of the Dominion War.

“Dock it, Tuco. You’re gonna have to walk it in, that ships dead as dead. Throw my half out through whatever access port you can find, keep your half on board. Don’t come out from that ship until I’m well and gone.”

Tuco doesn’t like his options because, as he sees it, he doesn’t have any. He lowers his talons and anchors onto the unmarked ship. Suits up and turns on his air. He hits his boosters and thrusts out the back port of the Cattivo, switches on his mags and attaches himself to the dead ship’s hull. He walks towards an access port and puts his sonic separator to cold, hard metal. Within minutes he carved out a tiny hole in the massive ship and makes his way inside.

The ship’s devoid of decoration and frills. Smooth steel and unlabeled buttons and monitors and switches make up the entirety of the interior, as if the ship was designed for getting somewhere, killing, and doing little else. Tuco walks the long hallway, unsure of what he’s looking for or where it’ll be, his footsteps only adding to the deadening silence.

He enters a large hanger bay. It’s massive and obviously designed to drop something out of it instead of letting something inside. It’s empty now, however, with the exception of four large bags in the center. Tuco opens one of the bags, a soft glow spills out, and he closes it up, grabs two of the bags, and heads back towards the exit. He peeks his head out of the hole and sees the Buono floating in front of him. He throws the two bags out, waves at Blondie, and makes his way back to his share.

When he gets back to the exit with his bounty he notices the Cattivo is gone. Blondie has towed it out to the perimeter of the graveyard where both ships now hover in silence, barely visible to Tuco, who waves his arms and curses in as many languages as he can think of. There’s no response over his com, no movement on the horizon, the Buono and the Cattivo just look like two more ships amongst a sea of junk. 

Blondie lets the backstabbing Tuco stew for a while. He lets him contemplate how much air he has in his pack and try to formulate whatever version of a plan his tiny brain is capable of contemplating. After several minutes Blondie turns the Buono around and rockets towards the horizon. He cuts the tow and the Cattivo continues to drift in the nothingness.

Tuco hits his boosters and plows towards the Cattivo. He fully understands what lesson he was supposed to learn but he plans his revenge anyway. 

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