“There she is,” the old man said.
Captain Sam Solace stared skeptically at the towering wreck before him. The ship, if you could call this that, was impressively large. The structure before them (the nose of the craft maybe) stood fifty feet high, the rest of its bulk stretched out behind it for four or five hundred feet. Determine what he was looking at was difficult. Junk and rust and piles of scrap leaned against the larger shape. For all that he made out pods and fins along with cylinders and other shapes sticking out from the main structure. It could be her.
He tapped his clean shaven chin thoughtfully.
Inside his chest, Sam’s heart was pounding. This was clearly the ship. Even with the years of decay and damage he saw the sleek lines interrupted by occasional bulk hinting at the power within. The distinctive fins, the huge engines barely seen through the scrap.
The legendary ship of the line, lost after Markam’s battle at Otaglia. It was here before him, buried in this backside of a junkyard on a backwater planet.
Tallus IV, who would have thought to look here. No one apparently. Not until he’d heard an old drunk muttering in a dockside dive a week before; inebriated ramblings laced with enough facts to catch his ear and send him scrambling across the system.
And him desperately in need of a ship. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. He just had to be sure.
“I don’t know,” he said, voice unconvinced. “Its SID and title are missing.”
Indeed the space on the prow where the unique identifiers should have been engraved was a blackened melted mess.
“Bah,” the old man scoffed, “Everyone knows she took a direct hit from Raqoff’s Daizen in her last battle. Damn well killed everyone on the bridge.” The old man spat.
Sam nodded inwardly. The old man knew his history. From the lines on his weathered face, he might have been alive back during the war. In fact, his stiff posture despite his limp said he might have served in the fleet. For all Sam knew he might have witnessed that battle first hand. What a sight to behold that would have been.
He wanted to ask the man if he was correct, but pressed on instead.
“True enough, but I have to wonder, why here? And even if here, why still here after so many years? I can’t be the first person to come here.”
The old man shrugged.
“We’re at the ass end of the galaxy. There aren’t many visitors out this way, and most stick to the port. But sure, there’ve been a few over the years who came poking around like you.”
He spat again.
“What is your interest in the Eternity anyway?”
The old man’s peered hard at Sam’s face from beneath bushy brows. For the old man’s age, his eyes were sharp. When he’d inquired after the junkyard, people in port had warned Sam the man who ran the place was shrewd and not be trifled with.
He didn’t look dangerous to Sam, but he sensed the truth in their words. He’d have to play this carefully if he wanted to come away with the ship.
“I might be interested in acquiring her,” Sam said.
The old man squinted. “Who says she’s for sale?”
Sam knew everything was for sale if the price was right, but he’d play the game.
The old man looked him over for a couple heartbeats.
“Perhaps, for the right person.”
“How much?” Sam asked.
The old man stroked his whiskered cheek.
“50T,” he finally said.
Sam’s eyes went wide.
“You can buy a small planet for that!”
“A planet’s not as fast as she is,” the old man said wistfully.
Sam didn’t have that much money, he actually didn’t have any at all. He’d spent the last of it getting to this dump. But the answer set certainty in his heart. A con man wouldn’t have asked for nearly so much. The old man really believed this was her.
That was good enough for him.
Sam sagged defeated, turned away.
“I can’t afford her,” he said, voice thick with dejection.
“Few can,” the old man said.
“So I’ll just take her instead,” Sam said, turning back to the old man. A heavy slug thrower was in his hand.
The old man didn’t blink, his eyes didn’t change. He didn’t even look at the weapon.
“You certainly can’t have her now,” he said. His voice sounded sad.
“Sorry, I have to have her. There’s no other ship like her, and never will be.”
“You’re right about that, but she’ll never be yours. Go home,” he said.
Sam’s gun didn’t waver.
“You think you can take the Eternity like this? You think you can take my ship?” the old man asked.
Something in his voice, in the way he said the words, snagged Sam’s attention. Pulled at his mind. Sam frowned, then he saw it. The strong nose, now bent, the sharp cheekbones hidden by whiskers, hair now thinning.
“That’s still Captain Markham to you,” the old man said, “Good bye, son.”
A whir, a groan behind him. Sam shouldn’t have looked away, but he did. A small turret on the nose of the ship had emerged. A pair of gaping barrels were now pointed towards him.
“What?” he asked, eyes going wide.
Twin beams of light lanced out and Sam Solace was gone. Perhaps he remained a captain in eternity, but not on Talus IV or anywhere else inhabited by the living.
Markam shook his head as the turret retracted back into the ship.
“One does not simply steal the Eternity,” he said, staring lovingly at his fallen ship.
After a while he turned way. One day the right captain would come to claim her, but for now he needed to find a broom to sweep up the ashes that remained of Sam Solace.
YOU ARE READING
Mindnado ExpressShort Story
These sci-fi, fantasy, and horror flash fiction stories bounced around in my head long enough to survive brainstorming and wound up scribbled down out here in the wild. Enjoy.