“Always Two: A Master, An Apprentice…”
“Finally Faced Fear; Fought Fiendish Father!”
Written for J. I. Rogers’ Six-Word Story Challenge – “F”
I was having a good day. I had finally acquired the Jaeger Gem, after ten days of sustained searching. I had fought tooth-and-nail for it, and not just with the owners. I had to contend with pirates, bounty hunters and other space-scum like me. Who am I? Oh yeah! This is the first time that I am telling you about my exploits. I am Arthur, but I use the name Black Dragon. It does sound cooler. I am a space scum as I mentioned. I work free-lance. You know, odd jobs. This job was just one of them.
Back to the story: I had finally acquired the Jaeger Gem. How I acquired it, is a story for another time. The lambent blue gem nested safely in my pocket. I had to meet my client and collect my payment. It was that simple. However, I had to make one more stop before meeting the client – the bar. It was bad habit. I enjoyed a good drink, too much for my own good. Have tried the sober path, but it just does not work for me. To quench my thirst, I ended up at Hailey’s. It was a nice quaint place, which served the best drinks. Located within an asteroid field, Hailey’s was frequented by space scum who wanted to maintain a low profile. I navigated through the all too familiar field and docked my starship – The Scale. Even though it was an older Sirius-class fighter, I had heavily modified it. Let’s just say that it can hold its own against stronger ships. I exited my ship and made my way to the bar room. The barkeeper and the owner of Hailey’s was a chap called Hork. His four eyes and equal number of arms helped him tend the bar with the highest level of skill. He did not speak much. I greeted him and sat at the bar. He did not have to ask me what I wanted. I only ever had one drink – Astro Ale. Imagine your regular earthling six-pack of beer. One small serving of Astro Ale had the combined potency of that one six pack. And this was just the light variant. Hork placed an opened bottle of grey Astro Ale in front of me and shifted his attention to the other customers. It was a vast galaxy and there was a vast variety of drink out there to suit every palette. My palette only craved Astro Ale. It held fond memories for me. Memories of my father, my mother, my hometown. Sorry, Astro Ale does that to me. I sat with my back to the bar, steadily sipping on the ale. I could see that it was a good business day for Hork. The bar was full of customers -a mix of crews of various ships, by the looks of it. There were very few humans among the crowd. This was to be expected. Hailey’s did not really offer anything that would sit well with most humans. I was an exception. Sure, I was born human, but now, I was much more. I was not even sure whether I could call myself a human anymore.
I sat there pondering over these questions when my eyes fell upon an Ulup. The Ulups were a race of purple-coloured humanoids famed for their artistic talents. However, this Ulup was herself a piece of art. She sat at the gambling table. Her body arched over the table at the perfect angle, as she stretched to place her bet. Even in that awkward stance, she appeared graceful and poised. As she settled back into her seat, her eyes met mine. She winked at me and turned her attention back to the game. I continued staring. I knew she was enjoying my attention. The game went on for some time, and in between the rounds, she would steal glances at me. She would acknowledge me with a wink or a smile. I was done with two bottles of ale when the game finally ended. She had lost a decent amount of money and looked like she needed a drink. Her eyes never left mine as she made her way to the bar. She asked Hork for an Astro Ale and settled herself down on the seat next to mine. She had ordered Astro Ale. Could she get any more perfect?
“That was a close game. Bad luck.”
She drank from the bottle Hork had placed before her.
“It was indeed. However, I think my luck is about to change tonight.”
Her voice was sultry, the kind of voice that could intoxicate anyone. And I was already on my third drink.
“Indeed. I’m Black Dragon.”
“My name’s Mari. It is a pleasure to meet you, Black Dragon. What brings you here, business or pleasure?”
She added extra stress on the pleasure bit. She could definitely seduce the pants off anyone.
“Business, but I think I need to add pleasure to the agenda now.”
She smiled at me and gulped more of the grey ale.
“So, I take it that your business was successful?”
“Very. I had been chasing behind something for the past ten days. Finally, I found it today. Need to meet my client and then get paid for my efforts.”
“That does sound like a good day for you, mister Black Dragon. I am glad we met. Come meet me later tonight. We will make it a good night for you.”
Mari paid for her drink and slipped a note to me. Room 010. I realized it was one of the rooms on the upper floor of Hailey’s, that Hork rented out. She made her way towards the crowd. I continued following her swaying hips until she had disappeared in the crowd. I saw her reappear, heading towards the exit. Her pace had quickened. That was strange. Why would she have to quicken her pace all of a sudden. No one was following her. Then it hit me, and in the microsecond I required to confirm my suspicions, I was hoping I was wrong. However, I am seldom wrong. I could not feel the gem in my pocket. I saw another Ulup, a male making his way swiftly through the crowd. Mari, if that was her real name, had been a decoy. While she was entrancing me, the male Ulup had managed to melt off my pocket and had made away with the gem. I stumbled as I got to my feet. The Astro Ale had done its job well. I pushed through the other customers and made my way to the docking bay. I made it barely in time to see a starship taking off. It was an Ulup build. It had to be the devious duo. I drew my multi-purpose blaster pistol and shot a tracking particle on to the Ulup ship. The shot went about five feet wider than I had aimed. I was not in the best of shape, thanks to the drinks. However, it had successfully hit the ship. I could track it now.
I got into The Scale and brought up the Ulup ship on my radar. Like, I mentioned earlier my modified ship was easily able to catch up to their ship, even though it was one of the latest models. I fired my electron lasers at the Ulup ship, aiming at disabling their engines. I missed and realized that my vision was in no state to do precise aiming. My vision was blurry and an electron laser in the wrong spot could destroy the Ulup ship, taking the gem with it. The auto-aim function on my ship was good, but it was not good enough to make such a shot. I switched to my neutrino rockets. These would punch a hole in their hull, killing the two Ulup, but the gem would remain unharmed. I caught myself thinking that it was a shame Mari had to die such a death. Well, she had played me. She deserved it. I squeezed the trigger. A bit too hard. I had fired ten rockets, six more than I had intended. I saw as the Ulup ship engaged counter measures, a burst of maser shots. The rockets collided with the shots, causing a huge explosion. After the flash cleared, all I could see was wreckage of what had once been an Ulup ship. It was done. The Ulup duo had been destroyed, but so had the Jaeger gem.
Oh well! Not the first time I had failed at a job. I went back to Hailey’s and grabbed a hot meal. I contacted my client after a couple of hours to inform him about my failure. I was surprised when he told me that he was holding the Jaeger Gem at that very moment. He told me that two Ulup space-scum had delivered it. They tricked me, again! Before I could terminate the connection, I heard Mari’s voice.
“How about the pleasure part now, Black Dragon?”
Word Count: 1500
Written in response to Chuck Wendig’s Space Operatics
Image Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/810296157927189648/