(This story was written for Rae Kitano's colour challenge. Prompt - choose a colour and write about it. I have chosen the colour red.
Warning - this won't make much sense unless you have read Pirate!)
The Other World
There is a theory that every time a pivotal event occurs, reality diverges, creating an alternate universe. One, in which the event occurs, and another in which it doesn't.
This theory is referred to as the quantum multiverse based on an interpretation of quantum physics. It is more popularly referred to as the many-worlds theory.
In one world, Lieutenant Liam Connell stared in frozen horror as the man he loved, as a friend, plummeted a hundred metres to the ground in front of him. He thought he would never forget the sound of that sickening thump or the scream of outraged protest from Colonel Rice as his quarry slipped between his fingers. The bright red blood pooling beneath Nicholas Mars like a scarlet cloak.
Connell was petrified with shock, kneeling in the dirt. Unable to move, unbearable grief just beginning to flick around the edges of his consciousness.
In another world ... Lieutenant Liam Connell stared in frozen horror as the man he loved, as a friend, plummeted towards him, a hundred metres down from the space shuttle hovering above.
"No!!!" He heard Colonel Rice scream in furious protest. Nicholas Mars, the most infamous pirate in the star system, the man he had been chasing for years was about to slip out of his grasp. The Colonel's hands fell to his sides, the stunner he had held against Conn's unprotected neck, falling unnoticed to the ground.
His own throat was too tight to make a sound. He could only watch helplessly as Mars fell through the air and ... stopped, two metres above the ground, his ankle caught by the thin plasfoam cord his pilot, Sanders, had hooked around him the second before he jumped.
Up in the shuttle, Sanders leant out of the hatch, a rifle in his hands.
His first shot hit Colonel Rice in the shoulder and spun him around backwards onto the ground, red flowering on his uniform. Mars was grappling with the cord on his ankle, pulling at the fastening to release it, and suddenly he fell in a heap in front of Connell, who was still in shock, unable to get his mind around what was happening.
The young Patrol Officer Thomas was staring in bewilderment, everything had happened so fast and so unexpectedly, he couldn't think. If he had completed his training he wouldn't have had to think, he would have just reacted automatically, but luckily for Mars and Connell, he hadn't reached that stage.
Mars disarmed him easily and then stunned him lightly with his own stunner. He turned to look down for a moment at Colonel Rice who, unlike a holovid hero who would have clapped a hand over the wound and carried on, was lying unconscious and bleeding. Then he took Connell in his arms, pulling him upright and holding him so tight he couldn't breathe.
"Are you alright?" he murmured, his voice husky.
Connell swallowed a couple of times before he could speak. "I just may never forgive you for that," he replied shakily.
Mars would have been more worried, if Conn hadn't been hugging him back just as tightly.
"What shall we do about the Colonel?" he asked him. "It's your call. Personally I'd be happy to finish him off, but ... it's up to you."
Conn was still finding it hard to think. "I don't think I could kill anyone in cold blood."
Mars gave him a small shake. "Then you'll have to come with me. There's no way you're going to be able to talk your way out of this."
"Come with you?" he didn't understand.
Mars nodded grimly at the limp forms of Rice and Thomas. "If you want to stay, we have to get rid of the witnesses. Neither of them would believe for an instant that we're not working together. But if they're out of the equation, you can tell the authorities I kidnapped you and you escaped, blame their deaths on me."
Mars didn't want to kill the young patrol officer as well as his superior, but he would if he had to.
Conn looked around the clearing as if seeing it for the first time. "Oh god! I'm never going to be able to explain this, am I?" Reality was finally sinking in.
Mars offered a tentative smile. "Come with me to Almaaz. You can start a new life. You don't have to be a pirate if you don't want to." He dropped a quick kiss on Conn's startled lips.
"But we need to go right now," he added as Sanders landed the shuttle next to them and opened the hatch.
Mars grabbed Conn by the arm, pulling him along, then suddenly Conn was running with him. Both men flung themselves inside the hatch and Sanders lifted off before it had even closed properly. He didn't wait for his passengers to seat themselves but shot straight up into the stratosphere, pinning them uncomfortably to the deck, a small price to pay thought Mars, considering he could have been dead.
A couple of hours later they rendezvoused with the pirate ship Zivar and the small shuttle was taken on board.
Conn followed Mars inside, wondering what he was letting himself in for. Still, there had really been no choice, a life in prison as a disgraced patrol officer, or a life with Mars. A new life, a new star system, he'd do his level best this time to persuade his friend to turn respectable.
Nicholas Mars was trying really hard to keep the smile off his face. He had Conn at his side, on his ship. That was a good enough start, who knew what else might happen?
He gave him a provocative look from under his thick long lashes. "We'll take the long way around to Almaaz, allow a chance for the heat to wear off. Just think, we'll have the whole journey for you to make an honest man of me."
Author's Note. Any one interested in the first world version of this story, can read it under "Pirate".
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The Other World (LGBT sci-fi)Science Fiction
Alternate ending to PIRATE! - There is a theory that every time a pivotal event occurs, reality diverges, creating an alternate universe. One, in which the event occurs, and another in which it doesn't. In one world, Lieutenant Liam Connell stared...