Expansion Means More Maintenance

A small cargo space-ship limped its way through the Bellude system, the external lights flickered inconsistently as they struggled to stay lit. The ships rear engines only had three of the five thrusters firing, while the other two had the slight glow of pilot fire, but no thrust. Inside the craft there was bickering, and the sound of metal hitting metal. “Why the fuck does nothing work on this ship?” A woman’s voice called out. “Because the owners of this piece of junk don’t understand expansion requires more maintenance.” There was a brief pause from the second voice. “Well, I think one of them does, but they can only do so much.” The first individual popped their head out of the flooring grate, dragging a hefty component up with her, on her overalls was a name badge that read. ‘Kestra’ “Well do you think you could tell the hard working one that this part needs to be replaced? Without it we are going to have significant power distribution issues for the lighting on the exterior of the ship.” Kestra watched as the other worker staring blankly out the window tapping their front teeth together. “Oi, Clara. You there?” Clara turned back to Kestra with her tongue in-between her teeth, grinning. “yes, no, not really. Sorry I kind-a spaced out there, what were you saying?” “Oh spaced out in space? You space head!” Kestra laughed back at her. “You’re a space head you goon.” “If you liked it then you should have put a space on it.” Kestra sung back. “Wait, stop all this.” Kestra changed their tone to very serious. Clara followed suit, standing taller, and dropping her grin. “This part,” Kestra said, waving the part in her hand around. “This needs to be replaced, currently we just have all the lights running off one feed.” “What does it mean if they are running off one feed?” “Well either, none of them are working because there is too much load, and the circuit has blown, or some of them are on, and all the others are off, or maybe the lights are flickering as they all compete for the power. But who knows?” Kestra shrugged once normally, then proceeded to continue shrugging at exaggerated levels that Clara matched as she danced around on the floor grates that Kestra was standing in. “Can you please actually help me out of here? I hate being in the floor.” “Oh yes.” Clara said, dropping their shoulders down and reaching down to help Kestra. “How is it that I am the one going down in the grates if you are the skinny one?” “Well, it is because you are shorter than me, so you are closer to the ground.” After Clara pulled Kestra from the grates she squatted down. “See, look at all this distance I had to travel, and I am still not under the floor yet.” Kestra squinted, nodding her head. “You did go a long way to end up not under the floor. You do have a compelling argument.” “Also you know, that little thing, where you are the mechanic, and I am the pilot.” “Ah, du doi.” Kestra said smacking their head. “Forgot about that one.” The two of them laughed as they put the floor grate back in place, and Clara took the part, scrubbing the filth off an identification plate so they could read it. “Correct me if I am wrong, but I don’t think they actually make these parts anymore. It has the four-eight-three, format of identification. That means it is Gen four tech right?” Kestra sighed and pulled out a little device, tapping on the screen. “Yes that does mean that it is not in circulation, but it is not because it is Gen four and we are Gen six, it is because we are gen six and that is gen two.” “Oh…” Clara said as her face looked shocked. “Read me the number, I will see what the equivalent is now-a-days.” Clara read out the number and Kestra groaned as the results popped up. “Well, if that part was in production, being a simple mechanical piece, it would be a couple hundred.” “I assume the new ones are not that cheap.” “No… the new ones are all electronic, using very expensive parts, and are all like a couple thousand each.” “In other words, we are never getting that part.” “Yup, because the owners don’t spend money, and because of that we have to drive this shit bucket around looking for scrap heaps that are probably more functional than us, and take those parts for this ship.” “I can look on the market place for the part, see if there are any second-hand ones.” Clara said un-sure if it would help. “I mean yeah, but that is not really our job, they should be doing it, not us.” Kestra said putting her small device away. “I am just sick and tired of all the extra work that we end up doing as a convenience to the people who don’t even look after the equipment we use to navigate space. Which is like super hard to survive in.” “Oh I had a cousin who survived in space for like a month.” Kestra looked up at Clara, smiling in dis-belief. “In a space ship.” Clara muttered, grinning. An alarm started to quietly sound, an intermittent three beeps that had a short pause in-between. “Oh a thing, a thing for us to do.” Clara said, running up the stairs, and heading to the cockpit. “No, I am not running.” Kestra said pouting as she watched Clara run up the stairs. “I can see up your dress from down here.” Kestra yelled up. “I am wearing pants ya weirdo.” Clara said as they made their way to the cockpit. Kestra slowly made their way up the stairs, each time they moved to a new flight they would test the hand rail, avoiding the ones that wobbled too much for her to feel safe. By the time she reached the cockpit Clara had already gotten to work. “I have adjusted our course. We should be coming up on the wreckage in about ten minutes.” Clara pressed through a couple extra buttons before turning back to Kestra on her swivel chair, poking out her tongue then trilled obnoxiously. Kestra sat down, feeling her chair shift in ways that it should not have. “I am really growing tired of all the broken shit in this place. I just want to be provided with something that isn’t about to cut me and fill my veins with rust.” Clara looked at Kestra expectantly, her eyebrows raised, and her lips pursued. “More rust.” “More tetanus!” Clara shouted in return. “But seriously I do understand what you mean, especially with how much effort we actually put in to keep these junk heaps running.” Clara pointed around the cabin at all the make shift repairs that they had made. “Like that, that, that, and all of those.” They said, with their arms spreading wide so they could gesture to the entire collection of small repairs they had made. “I am the pilot, I should not have to be doing this stuff, and it is not like you can focus on these small things, you are busy making sure we don’t go dead in the water.” Kestra tucked in her lips and inflated the space behind her top one, nodding in agreement. “Yeah, but as annoying as these guys are, the others really aren’t much better, so the hassle of changing companies honestly…” “Isn’t worth it?” Clara interrupted. “Yyyyyyyuuuuup.” Kestra said with exhausted exaggeration. “Anyway, I can kind of see the thing we are going to be jumping, I am going to get ready, I still need to get our scrapper up.” “Oh yeah I forgot about him, did you actually see Ned before came on? He usually says hi, but I just realised that he didn’t do that for this trip.” “Na, they went straight to their bunk. I saw them enter it, they looked exhausted. Oh, and it is not Ned, we got a new guy.” “Aww, I liked Ned.” Clara said dissapointedly. “But you do like meeting new people too.” Kestra responded. Clara pointed Kestra. Her eyes opening wider, and her head nodding slightly. “This is true, well I hope the new guy is cool.” “Hmm, me too.” Kestra said in agreement. “Anyway, I am going to go and sort shit.” Clara stood tall, smacking her heels together she saluted Kestra. “Yes captain.”   Kestra laughed to herself before wandering back down into the ship, leaving Clara alone in the cockpit. Clara spun her chair back around, watching the monitors for more information on the scrap heap that they were approaching. The closer they got, the more she stared out the window, watching as the ruined vessel became clearer. She was about to look away to adjust something, but had to do a double take, she stared out her window intently, leaning forward in her seat her eyes squinted her jaw tensed, then loosened just enough to mutter. “What in the Verse is that?” She said as her face started to be illuminated by a golden light. Meanwhile Kestra was down below getting ready for the trip over, packing tools into a bag and dragging them over to the airlock, while there she got into her space suit, leaving the helmet off, placing it down by her bag she headed out to find the scrapper. Arriving at his room she knocked on the door to no avail. “Urgh, I don’t want to have to go into this room, please just be awake.” Kestra said, knocking much harder, and for a longer time. Still no answer, she was a little concerned cracking the door she looked inside, slowly inching the door open she called out. “Hello, Mr. scrappy man, we have arrived at our first mark.” Inside she saw the scrapper kneeling onto the hard grates, wearing only a tight pair of briefs, his body adorned with scars of strange symbols, his ears covered by headphones as he muttered under his breath with his eyes closed, head bowed, and hands put together in a religious fashion. Kestra’s hand slipped on the door handle, pushing the door open more it hit the opposing wall, the scrappers eyes opening suddenly he cocked his head toward Kestra who nervously smiled. Clara was sprinting through the ship, calling out to Kestra, panicked she screamed her way into the air lock to see her gear set up, but no her. “Kestra, where are you?” As Clara was screaming the same golden glow started to flood into the airlock, catching Clara’s attention she looked out, and the panic really settled in. “Kestra please! Where are you?” She screamed as she ran to other parts of the ship. “I am sorry, I did not mean to scare you. My name is Izayah.” He said as he put on a shirt. “I probably should have introduced myself before we departed but… but I… umm, can you hear someone yelling?” Kestra snapped out of her little stupor to hear Clara screaming. “Oh no, that is Clara!” Kestra turned around to see Clara sprinting down the hall at full speed, nearly colliding with Kestra she grabbed her shoulders and stared deeply into her eyes. “We, I don’t know. There is a person made of light standing on the wreckage. Then I moved to the airlock and they were there too.” Kestra re-coiled as she looked at Clara. “Your eyes, they have changed colour, they are…” “Golden?” Izayah said with excitement. Clara looked up to see the scrapper as he hastily put on pants, her eyes nearly glowing their radiant gold that slowly faded back into the pale green they used to be. “You saw them, you saw light. I knew this was the right ship to get onto.” “What are you on about?” Clara looked back down to …

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Wanna Hear Something Strange?

Two strangers sat outside on cold concrete steps, taking drags from their cigarettes they shivered in the cold. The alley they sat in was barely lit from the orange street lamp that was across the road, and the lights that were supposed to be working above the doors they sat in front of were smashed, despite being surrounded by a metal cage. They sniffed, and yawned, even spat on occasion, but neither one of them looked to one another. They just remained hunched, with one hand out to let them smoke, and the other one buried deep into their jackets. “Do you want to hear something strange?” One said, still looking down at the ground. The other person had a thousand-yard stare, but still managed to reply after a short pause. “No idea, tell me.” “When I was younger, I always saw every success, no matter how big, as the smallest accomplishment, things barely worth mentioning. Even doing things like hikes across my country before leaving school, or publishing a book, making a hit single, selling a patent for an item that is nearly used every day, by every person on this planet. All things I have done, and all before the age of thirty. But looking back at how I saw it, I don’t think I ever thought any of that was impressive, or even worth talking about.” There was a long pause, each one of them taking several puffs before the other replied. “Your right that is strange.” “Hmm.” The two of them still stared at the wet ground, occasionally licking a lip or biting a fingernail. “Did you have big idols growing up?” “Titans, the biggest of their industries.” “Then not that strange that you never appreciated, and probably still don’t appreciate your accomplishments, because unless you are the best at what you do, you will never measure up to your heroes. But even then, if you were to surpass your idols, you would probably find a way to discredit your own success.” “Shit, that is some hard things to hear.” There was another long pause and the second person spoke up. “Do YOU want to hear something strange?” “Sure.” “Despite disagreeing ethically with pretty much every practice the larger companies do, I still buy from them and fuel the machine. I hate them though, not an ounce of my heart wants to support them, or anything that they do, but day after day I consume whatever it is that they are selling. I complain about wealth distribution, yet I fuel it.” “Na, that is not strange. It sounds strange in theory, but we are given very little option to fight against the mega corporations, because they own so much at this point. You decide to stop supporting one of the entertainment ones and you cut out a good chunk of movies, books, games, both digital, and physical, and even some facilities around the city. Even worse, if you decide not to support a food company, you essentially reduce buyable products to a sliver of the already narrow variety that is supplied to supermarkets. You have to pick and choose your fights, I don’t think you can all or nothing without killing yourself, or completely crushing the economy.” The second person hissed as they inhaled heavily through his broken teeth. “I don’t eat animals, but that is less of an ethical thing, and more of a financial thing at this point, which just feels strange that my morals are second place to how much I value money.” The first person laughed sharp, and loud. “That is not strange in the least. Money is the be all, end all of society. It is akin to life itself, without money in hand you will have no food in mouth, or shelter overhead. There was a time in history where stopping our way of living was possible, but this planet is more machine than planet now, there is no way to be self sufficient anymore. It is strange, but despite farming being so hard we historically forced other humans to do it under slave law, it honestly sounds like a holiday to me right now. Getting out of this rat race, back to our roots.” “I think the real strange thing is the fact that farming has become a luxury activity in our society, not that people crave it. Humans want to do what connects us to the planet, and I think we have industrialised so much that we have forgotten how to just be in nature. The only way we can seek value through it is through function, or financial return.” “I hear on the luxury space stations there are whole floors dedicated to grass fields and forests, and since there are so few up there, they have metres of space between each other where they can just lay down, fall asleep under the filtered rays of the sun as it passes through their UV glass that removes the cancerous effects, and the abilities for the light to burn.”  “What is your name?” the first person asked. “Carol. And you?” “Tiffany.” “It is nice to meet you, Tiffany.” “Likewise, Carol.” The two of them slowly finished their cigarettes and flicked the remainders of them to the ground. “So, did you really do all those things that you said you did?” Carol asked Tiffany. “Yeah, all of them, and more, but that’s all, whatever.” “You got cash then?” “I do, I have more than I know what to do with.” Tiffany stuck their hand in their coat and slowly pulled out a wallet, seeing her hand move in such a way Carol had rested one of her hands on the small pistol she had on her hip. Tiffany pulled out an enormous stack of cash and handed it towards Carol. Carol looked at the money, but hesitated to take it. “Now the strangest thing is the fact I am handing you more than what you make in a month, and you don’t want to take it. What are you afraid of?” “Nothing is free, life is not that easy.” “Well sometimes it is, just take it, this shit is heavy, my arm won’t stay out forever.”  Carol reluctantly took the money and stowed it in her jacket. “You can relax, I am not one of those crazy rich people, I am more on the suicidal depressive end of the rich weirdo scale, never been into that desire to be immortal nonsense, seems like too much effort.” “Isn’t that what all the rich want to do, obtain eternal life to hoard more wealth, and try to be the one with the biggest stash?” “Yeah, mostly, but there are a few of us that just want to lay down and sleep. Forever.” “Then why don’t you?” “Well the strange thing there is I have access to a dozen ways of ending my life with no pain, but I am scared. My life is bad because I have excess, not because I don’t have enough, so the idea of having nothing, or even needing nothing is terrifying to me, and as a dead person, I would be both of those things.” Tiffany said as she pulled another cigarette from the pack. “But then again, this is like the slow killer, she’ll get me some day. Carol laughed quietly the air coming from her mouth was as visible as the smoke from her cigarette. “What are you laughing at, was it the slow killer remark?” Carol shook her head. “No… Well at first it was, but the real reason I kept on laughing was this situation. I am broke as shit and wanting to die, you are rich as shit and wanting to die. So, why the fuck do we continue with this system of finances? It clearly isn’t benefiting anyone.” Tiffany joined in laughing, licking her lip she bit some loose skin from it. “Fuck.” She said looking down at her watch. “I am really sorry you have to see this, here, take this.” Tiffany handed over an envelope filled with cash. Carol’s eyes lit up as she flicked through the notes. “But why?” “Because you are about to witness my death… Sometime in the next five minutes I am going to be shot to death, so don’t worry about it. Actually, take this other envelope, if you can pass this second one on to the person who kills me, I would appreciate it. I was going to use that money as a bonus for the killer, but you can have half, it only seems fair.” “You hired your own hitman?” “Yeah, pretty strange ae?” “I mean, honestly. If I had the money for it, I might. It ensures you are going to die, but you are not the one responsible, that is actually really nice sounding.” “Yeah, I am a little nervous though, not that it matters, the cogs are in motion.” Tiffany started to cry, her lip shaking as her knee bounced. Carol leant over and held her hand. “You don’t need to want for anything, because nothing will be enough. Soon you will be free.” Carol said as a round went straight through Tiffany’s head, killing her instantly, the assassin went to walk away when Carol called out. “Hey, she wanted you to have this.” Carol said, raising the envelope above her head. The assassin walked over and took the envelope cautiously. They looked inside, then back to Carol who was staring at Tiffany’s still body. “You know you could have just walked? She never mentioned a pay out.” “But then how would I offer you this?” Carol raised the other envelope above her head while she was still staring at Tiffany. “She looks so peaceful, her facial muscles are actually relaxed. I said she was going to be set free to calm her nerves, but I think I believe it, I want to be free, I want to be that relaxed.” The assassin took the money and aimed their gun at Carol. “Are you sure?” “Do you want to hear something strange?” Carol asked, turning to the assassin. The assassin nearly flinched as they saw Carol’s face. “I can’t stop smiling.” There was a short pause, then the assassin pulled the trigger. There was little sound, and then the assassin was gone, and the two women were left wanting nothing.

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A Simple Man

Not so long ago I meet a simple man, his name was Kieran. He wasn’t too tall, or too short. He had a decent tuft of hair on his head. It was a pleasant brown, with flecks of blonde stripped through it. He had worn hands, with pressed fingers that only a retired tradesmen would acquire, but he was too young to have the experience that his hands seemed to bare. His hands, along with the rest of his body seemed to have worn skin, cuts and bruises covering him, and a deeper layer of scars that added to his appearance. Despite his worn exterior he had a loving expression across his face, welcoming even. He smiled often, but never in excess, and his eyes looked upon the world with a kindness that can only be obtained from sadness. Everywhere I saw I him he always seemed to be on the move, plenty of people stopped to chat with him, like he knew every tenth person that passed by, but the excuse was always that he was busy, and that he had to keep moving. I followed the man off and on through my work, but there would always be a moment where I would fall behind him by just too much. Sometimes a dog barking at me aggressively, or even a crowd of people occupying the footpath, even crashes happening behind him while I was tailing him with my car, then by the time I get through the obstructions, he would be gone. It was kind of surreal, because I could swear just moments before each event that he had seen me out of the corner of his eye, and it was like he was the one causing these blockades to escape me, which, obviously, is just ridiculous. While there is still a small collective of those who have psychic abilities, none of them have the control needed to persuade the world to work for them like this, and yet it is the only explanation that I have, which leads me to believe that there are many more things in this universe that I am yet to see, to understand would be better to day, because this man is clearly the more that I am wanting to see, I am just wanting to understand. There were many weeks of following that man, many instances of strange instances that ended up stopping me from reaching him. It actually became a fun game by the end, I spent my time wondering how long it would be until he saw me, and how long after that till I would not be able to reach him. Until one strange day, as in stranger than usual, I found myself staring down the man, he was sitting in my living room as I came down from my room. It was like he was waiting for an appointment, like a dentist or, you know, just something. I wandered down the stairs trying to hold myself together, I wasn’t even sure what emotions I was hiding from him, because I didn’t even know what I was feeling. There was a sense of relief that I had actually found the man I was actually looking for, or at least, he had found me. Then, I was shocked that this elusive man was right where I wanted him, and that concerned me that he had not only found me, but he found me in my home. He was calm, and that terrified me. He wasn’t even staring at me, he was looking around the room as if he was impatiently waiting. In fact, I think that might have actually been the case. I sat down opposite him and waited for him to speak, but he just didn’t, he just stared for probably like an hour, I mean in reality it was probably about ten minutes, but it felt so much longer, I had no idea what to expect, but it wasn’t what happened next. He stood up, tipped his hat, which I don’t remember seeing before, and he said just one thing to me. “Come with me, I’ll show you what you want.” Truth be told, I didn’t know what I wanted, but I was intrigued more than anything, so I followed, but it was almost like travelling in a dream, every time we turned a corner, we would be somewhere else, and it wasn’t until after the fact that I realised we probably crossed the city in about ten minutes, and we were just walking. Then all of a sudden, I am not sure when, but we were on one of the space stations, and not one of the trashy ones, like the luxury ones with full gardens, and the quiet spaces for meditation, you can’t hear a single noise, no busy streets, no factories, none of those nasty space stations where all you can hear is the roar of the machines that are under the floors. It was absolute bliss. But it was odd, there was virtually no one around, I had head that the nice stations were only for the elite, but even so, I couldn’t believe how few people there was, I aint ever been anywhere where I wasn’t bumping into someone every few seconds, and in that place I would be hard pressed to run between people. It, it was nice, I didn’t feel alone, not quite, but I felt left alone, if that makes any sense. It’s funny actually, but I began to cry it was so overwhelmingly peaceful, I honestly thought I had died for a good chunk of my time up there, because there was no way that how I was feeling was meant for the living, kind of a sad reality that is, but I guess that is life, and now that we are no longer up there, it is back to being my reality. Well I guess ours, all of ours, everyone here knows. Oh actually, I guess they don’t know, because not even I knew what I didn’t have until I had it, and lost it again. Regardless, I have side tracked a little too much, where was I? Oh right, so we arrived on this gorgeous station, and without missing a beat the guy kept walking as if nothing around him was impressive, which I can’t imagine. There is no way that place ever becomes normal. But eventually he stopped, he had to, because we reached a wall, an absolute dead end, and believe me when I say that I was excited for the idea of watching a door appear out of nowhere, so we could walk into a mysterious room full of people that were hushed names in the community. But no, he just turned face and started talking to me. “I am very tired of all this cat and mouse, why are you following me?” I was thrown back by the question, because well, I didn’t even know. I had been hired to follow him and report back on where he had gone, but honestly, I had no idea why my client was getting me to follow them so I replied. “I have been hired to follow you, nothing else.” “By whom?” His voice in that question was odd, it was obvious that he wasn’t happy with the answer, but the way his voice rumbled as he asked, it was unnatural, almost like several voices coming out, but despite the fact I was terrified I replied. “A key smith, he never gave me a name, but I recognised a toolbelt he had. Was clearly an electronic key smith, one of the ones that works on high grade seals for ships, or like weapons crates.” It was at this point that I get a chill down my spine, he looked through me, like he was staring straight into my brain for answers, and after a short while he muttered a name under his breath. “Avim Tre.” It is a name I am familiar with, but not acquainted with, despite my desire to be. The annoying thing about it, was that by the time I had heard what he had said, we were back in the busy streets of Bellude. It was chaos, so much noise, it took some getting use to again, the man patiently waited for me to deal with everything before he spoke. “I have been patient so far, and will continue to be for the duration of this conversation, but please understand this. If you ever follow me again, you will find that I am far more violent than I am elusive.” His voice rumbled like it did last time, and still it instilled the same amount of fear as it did the first time. I just stared blankly, and yet, he wandered out without needing a response. I had seen enough to know that I did not want to be messing with that man again, although I was going to miss the money that I was being supplied by Avim, if that was who was paying me, I hope so, that guy is a legend in many circles. I am so sorry I have just rambled on and on, what was your original question? The Private investigator looked around the room that he forgot that he was sitting in, it was darker than he remembered, and the person he was speaking to was sitting in a far corner and smoking a cigarette, the low burn from it giving minimal light to the mans face. “Actually, what was your name sir, I don’t seem to remember.” The man in the corner of the room smiled softly. “My name is not important, and neither is the question I asked, you gave me plenty of information already.” The private investigator looked around his room as he began to shiver. “My it is cold.” He said with steam coming off his breath. The room was filled with darkness, the walls were not fabricated, but natural looking. “Are, are we in a, a cave?” He stuttered out as his body started to finally feel the true intensity of the cold. “We are indeed, I am so glad you were able to spend this time with me. It has been most valuable. But it is time that you wake up to the universe, and what it hides.” The mysterious man blew out a thick stream of smoke that did not seem to end, it continued to blow out and fill the room until the Private investigator could no longer see, or breath. He awoke in his bed with sore lungs and a headache that consumed his thoughts. It took him a long time before the lights weren’t too bright for him to look at, or his body being strong enough to move again. He sat up eventually and shook his head, rubbing his temples as hard as he could, trying desperately to push out the last of the headache. Once he could move, he pushed himself to the sink where he drank until his stomach started to swell, and the urge to vomit kicked in. “My head, what happened?” He muttered to himself as he held back the urge to vomit. He looked around his apartment and everything seemed to be fine, nothing had been disturbed, and his air-conditioning had been set to his favourite temperature. “I, who was that man, how did I meet him?” He asked himself as he chewed the edge of one of his finger nails. Slowly he moved his way through his belongings, checking emails, and filtering through all the paper he had laying around. He threw everything down in frustration and slammed his fist into the wall to try and release his built up emotions. “How was I so calm through both of those situations? What, why, why was I so calm? It must be the psychics, but what do they want to do with that Kieran guy, and was does Avim …

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Something Unrelated

Out in the void of space, on the edge of the Bellude solar system a small ship shot past the furthest planets like a car passing trees in a forest. Inside was a human in an all-black suit, from jacket and shirt, to pants, socks, and shoes. Even their hands were covered with a pair of gloves that hid their pale hands from sight. In the centre console of their ship was a small screen with a small room filled with people sitting at a horseshoe shaped table. The person at the centre leant forward and spoke. “Tell me, have you arrived in the Dolor system yet?” “Yes Chancellor. It is a sad system to say the least, I am halfway through, and I see very little signs of any kind of civilisation so far.” “Disappointing. They said that they were an advanced society, they must have low standards, something the leviathan dominion does not share.” The person in the ship leant forward to another scanner and powered down their thrust, bringing the ship to a slow crawl. They looked out their window at the sight of the aftermath of a huge battle. Their eyes scanned the wreck as did their ship, before the pilot could confirm their systems did. “Chancellor, it appears that there was a war here at some point. The battle field seems sizable, not to mention that my scanners tell me that there are some of the Dominions allies ships here.” The room filled with a murmur as those at the table talked under hushed breath. “Which systems?” The Chancellor asked. “According to the scan there are ships from, Vento, and Maca. Them, and a substantial amount from this system. But if I am honest, the rough numbers from my scanners tell me that the Dolor system lost as much as the other two combined. Oddly the battle seems to be fairly even buy these numbers, would you like me to stay around and get an official count, it will take a few hours as I fly around.” “No, don’t waste your time, I need you to get a representative from Dolor, I have a couple of systems that I need to talk to about… something unrelated.” “Copy that, heading to Dolor now.” The pilot re-engaged their engines and continued their venture into the Dolor system. Passing several planets and stations they finally reduced their speed as they approached the hub of the system. “Planet Dolor, let us see who is in charge of you.” They said as they activated a scan on Dolors internet systems. They say waiting for a response as they looked out their windows, watching as other ships passed by. All of a sudden they found themselves being hailed. “Oh damn, I did not think people still used radio waves, I guess I owe R&D an apology for installing this. Go for Wren, who may I be talking to?” “This is hub captain zero-zero-six, we are unable to read your ship signature, if you are to land in our station you need to power down any disruptors that you have active, and be ready with rights when you land, as your vehicle will be searched otherwise.” “Oh that is cute, I don’t have any disruptors active, I just run a different ship engine to what this system is used to. So please go to your bosses, bosses, boss, or however far down the ranking you are. Because I am from the Leviathan dominion, and I need a to talk to someone who can actually help me with what I need.” The radio was silent as Wren waited for a response. “Please dock on platform one, it is currently being cleared for your arrival, and an envoy of officials will be there to meet you. It is both an honour and a privilege to have someone from your position here with us today.” “The pleasure is all mine.” She laughed through the radio. “What an absolute kiss ass, this is going to be an exciting visit, I feel like I am a first contact to tribe of savages shocked by my boom sticks, and light generating devices.” They said to their selves as they navigated the docking systems. “By the Anom’s, what kind of archaic landing system is this, it can’t even talk to the dumb computer we had installed for lesser civilisations. How did these morons defeat two of our allies?” Wren watched as a large dome with the number one opened up, letting out a much larger ship. She waited as long as she though she needed, then began her decent onto the platform, narrowly missing the ship that was leaving. Upon landing she pressed a button and her windows turned black, obscuring all vision of her. She relied on her scanner to tell her when the dome was shut and the building had re filled with air. She knew this was going to be a long wait so she closed her eyes and waited for her computer to wake her up. From behind a sealed door on the far side of the platform a man in a fine military garb looked at Wren’s ship with intrigue. His neck and forehead sweat lightly as he struggled for breath while rushing to get to the landing platform in time. “Come on, how long does venting air into the platform even take?” The man asked. “Well about thirty minutes sir.” A nervous voice at his side spoke up. “Thirty minutes? What was wrong with sending this person to a smaller platform? Why did we give them our biggest if their ship is the size of a shuttle?” “I think zero-zero-six wanted to show off our biggest and best.” “Do you think this is going to impress her, Wren is probably sitting in there bored out of their mind.” The military man swore, and slammed his fist against the door in frustration, as he stared at the intricate designs on the side of Wren’s ship. Once the hanger filled with air Wren was awoken by her computer giving her the all clear. She jumped to her feet and departed her ship, her feet landing on the platform as the far airlock opened, and a small collective of people walked towards her hastily. Wren rolled her eyes and walked towards them, meeting them half way. “Wren, it is so good to see someone from the dominion showing us interest, I am the head captain on this station, you can call me, Dennis Tuis. These people behind me are here to answer any and all questions that you might have that I cannot.” Wren lifted her eyebrows and laughed gently. “Look I already had my ship scan your internet, and frankly I think you are all backwards apes, the social constructs you have created are baffling, obviously a more in-depth dive is needed before we can say for certain that I hate you, but for now let’s just say I hate you. Now.” She said clapping her hands together. “I don’t care who does it, but I need someone who can come with me, someone who is an authority on the war that happened between your fourth and fifth planet, because the wreckage of that zone has some items of interest, and depending on your answers depends on what happens to not only you but others within the dominion.” Dennis stood with his mouth ajar, as did those who stood behind him. They stared blankly at Wren as she waved her hands at them. “Shoo, get me someone worth talking to, unless you can answer all my questions about the war Dennis, but frankly by the dismal lack of awards crested on you, I would say you are not real military.” “Now listen here, I served in that war.” “Which is exactly why you are useless to me, I need a top brass, someone who governed the war, not a pawn. Literally any of you, leave, and return with someone I can question, I’ll be in my ship waiting for you.” Wren said as she turned from the group, walking back to her ship. The entourage behind Dennis laughed, trying their best to stifle their enjoyment from reaching the Captains ears. “Listen here you bitch, I won’t have some errand girl how I am not important, or worthy of your time, when clearly you are nothing more than a whipped servant.” Wren did not reply, she continued her walk. Dennis watched as his subbordanates were walking away, discussing who they could contact. His lip curled back and he stormed after Wren. “No, you don’t get to walk away from me, I was a crucial part of that war, and I will not have some woman come here and say she is better than me.” Dennis grabbed her by the shoulder and turned her around by force. “You will show me the respect I deserve, and you will face me when I talk to you.” “Touch me again and you will wish you hadn’t.” Wren threatened as she stared across at Dennis, her jovial nature gone. “Oh what are you going to do? I doubt a woman could hurt my smallest finger, let alone be a threat to me.” Wren cocked her head, then her gun. “You have exactly ten seconds starting now, if you are not off this platform I will shoot you.” Dennis raised his hands high and his rage faded to fear. “six, five…” Dennis turned and started to run to airlock, where his cohorts had just closed the door behind them. He slammed into the door and grabbed the locking mechanism just as a searing pain travelled through the back of his knee and out the front. He let out a scream as he fell to the ground, grabbing his knee he recoiled as his fingers touched something as hot as fire. He looked down to see a metal bar sticking through his knee, locking it into the half bent position it was in as it was hit. Wren lowered her weapon and holstered it again, watching the captain lay on the ground in pain for only a moment before returning to her ship. She sat in it for over an hour, waiting for something to happen, then an hour more, and finally after the third hour the door began to open again, slamming into Dennis’ as it did. Out from the door a military guard stormed the platform, one helped the captain up as the others took aim at the ship, behind them a man with a military suit, and a breast full of medals stepped forward. He walked half way before looking at his men properly. “Lower your weapons idiots, she is from the dominion, that ship could probably sink this whole station.” “I appreciate your flattery, but sadly the best this ship could do is run from you.” Wren said as she walked out to the man. “I assume you have been selected to be my cargo today.” “That is correct ma’am, I am general Knoxx, I was one of the lead minds that ran the war you are interested in.” KNoxx looked back to the groaning Dennis, and looked back to Wren with his mouth ajar. “He implied he was going to harm me for hurting his feelings, used my gender as an insult, and decided my job was a flaw of my existence. So I put a searing rod of heated metal into his left patella.” Knoxx closed his eyes and let loose a deep winded sigh. “Get Tuis off the deck, and take him to a medical, I will deal to him later. Wren here is taking me away, I will return when the Dominion are done with their questions.” “Sir!” The guards all called out, clapping their heels together, and walking from the platform. Knoxx gestured forward with his head bowed slightly. “Please ma’am, lead the way.” “I like you much better, come, the trip won’t …

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My Mood

Oli stared at his new craft with pride, the grin on his face grew larger the longer he stared. Running backwards excitedly he called out to Hailey. “Look at it my sweet, look at how big it is.” Hailey looked up from the work she was doing on the computer to see Oli practically bouncing. “It is by far our biggest purchase yet.” “It barely fits in the hanger it is so big. I had to put it on auto pilot in order to get it in because I was afraid of smashing things.” Hailey laughed to herself. “I can so imagine you getting cocky in this, and just ramming the fucking hanger.” Oli scoffed and looked back to Hailey with disappointment. “Why do you have to imagine me in a bad situation, don’t you want me to succeed?” “Aww baby.” Hailey said condescendingly. “Of course, I do, because I want to not to be a broke bitch, and I have already sunk too much money into this business already.” Oli frowned. “I thought that you would want me to succeed because you love me.” “Sure that one too.” Hailey said as patted Oli on the head and walked towards their new craft. “Come on you, we got a job to do. Ready for the biggest haul job of our career?” “Yes, I am. I am gonna get to travel outside the solar system in my own craft. I am in a great mood.” Many hours later Oli stood on a docking platform for the outer point maintenance station with steam billowing from the front of his engine. “I am in a terrible mood.” Oli announced as he waited for Hailey to go over the diagnostics panel. “What is wrong?” “I don’t know yet, it is still scanning the system.” “Well, can you hurry it up, I am bored of waiting for this.” “This isn’t a person I can usher along, it is a machine, you know those things that can only go as fast as they are programmed.” “Well then programme it to go faster. I want to know what is wrong.” Hailey rolled her eyes and remained silent until the panel eventually pinged and lit up with a diagnosis. “So?” Oli asked. Hailey sighed. “You are not going to like this.” “What?” Oli snapped. “It seems that the engine seized in the reactor channel. Which has fried a lot of the electronics, so we can’t get a proper reading.” “Did the pulse go through the distribution link or was it re-routed through the emergency control?” Hailey erred as she tapped on the screen to get deeper into the diagnostics. “I went through neither, it…” “Fuck.” Oli screamed. “So it ran through the god damn control centre, which means the cunt that sold me this knew there was a fucking problem.” Oli kicked a nearby stack of small containers and sent them flying, scattering the small collection of tools onto the deck. “Wait why does that mean he knew about the problem?” “Because if there is a fault in the system it would show on the main control panel and alert me about potential surges. Instead, I bet they bypassed the distribution link to avoid current travelling through the emergency control. Without any current in the emergency link it can’t notify the main computer about potential issues, so it appears to be running fine. But now we have probably fried the whole damn engine.” Oli paused for a moment as he ran his hand through his hair. “It isn’t even an expensive fix to repair, it is one small part that needs to be replaced to stop the surge, not cheap, cheap, but not a whole new engine expensive.” Oli started to march towards his new ship muttering under his breath. “Where are you going?” “We are going to fix the problem. Hurry up I will need a hand.” Hailey pursed her lips and followed Oli into the depths of the ship. The two of them crawled through narrow access tunnels until eventually they came to an opening that had a large, complicated piece of machinery sitting in the middle of a small room. “Look at this, just look at this.” “What is this?” Hailey asked as she grabbed the grounding belts from the maintenance container next to Oli. “This is our control centre. This is what controls all of the electronics in the engine. It is a big computer that runs several very complicated systems of data transfer and manages to collate it all into readable information for us dumb humans.” “Some dumber than others.” Hailey added as she put the grounding belt on Oli and attached it to the lightning rod behind her. “No, some more asshole than others. To run the main feed her like they have means that if anything goes wrong the whole engine dies, instead of the big surge protector that shuts down everything when it gets fried.” Oli climbed down  next to the control tapping it cautiously electricity arced to him and transferred into the belt, once he could tap it with minimal electrical transfer he started to get to work. Walking around the device he pulled out narrow panels of fuses and checked each one individually. “I am going to call out some information to you, I need you to write it down. These are all the connections that are fried, we are going to need to buy more of each of these.” Hailey nodded and pulled out her phone, opening a note app. “Ready.” “CJ-18-4.” Oli put away the panel and pulled out the next. “None in this one, or this one. Maybe the damage isn’t that bad.” He said as he slammed his head into the control centre, defeat sounding in his tone. “The whole of CM, and CN, and…: He paused and started rapidly pulling out the panels and dropping them to the ground. “Fucked, fucked, fucked. God dammit.” He screamed as the final panel burnt his hand. “Sweet, this is all fried, if we are lucky it is only the fuses, but if it is not.” “If it is not?” “Well the price is going to go up by like ten times, maybe even more. Fuck this, I am getting out of here.” “Don’t we need to know what is wrong?” “It is fucked, the only way to know for sure is to get the better machines in here to run a complete diagnostic of all the affected systems. Which means paying a bunch of wanks to walk around with some fancy tools and spend hours sitting and watching the screens. Just so they can tell me I need to spend a fortune repairing everything. So, let’s just get it started. I am fucking done.” Hailey sheepishly followed Oli out of the service tunnels and into the main office where Oli did his best to not scream at the receptionist, only raising his voice slightly on one or two occasions. “While we service your vehicle would you like to wait in the drivers lounge? It is a little nicer than our usual short-term waiting room.” The receptionist asked “Yeah, that would be lovely.” Hailey answered as she squeezed Oli’s hand to let him know she was there to help. The two of them followed the receptionist until they were seated in a large air-conditioned room filled with creature comforts to aid in the passage of time. Oli was restless and constantly looked through the available windows to see if he was able to see his craft being worked on, despite the fact that none of the windows were pointed in the right direction. Hailey played on her phone for a while before getting up to look around room. She tried changing the channel on the tv, but found nothing that she liked. She tossed the remote down in defeat and looked around for more entertainment, the magazines were nothing she was interested in, and there was a small show room that she had no desire to look through. “Ugh, for a fancy lounge, this is pretty shit. But there is a show room through there if you are interested Oli.” Oli looked up from the magazine he had his head in and raised his eyebrows. “Oh, yes. Maybe if they do a good job here, I will buy something from them.” Oli got up and walked into the display room, leaving Hailey alone. Hailey sighed and looked around again, her eyes stopping on a hot drink machine. “Ohhh, hello free drinks.” She grinned as she approached the machine. Oli eventually returned to the lounge with a pamphlet in his hand, and his eyes concentrated on it. “This place actually has quite a few hard to get items, which is actually…” Oli paused as he looked up from the pamphlet. “What is happening here, did a group of people come through while I was gone?” Hailey laid reclined into her chair with a dozen hot drink cups sitting on the table in front of her, and a queasy grin on her face. “They had so many flavours, I wanted to try them all. But I also didn’t want to not drink everything. That would be wasteful.” Hailey let out a lasting burp which soured her face. “Oh god, but all those flavours coming back up was not a nice experience.” Oli laughed at her and walked over as the door opened and the receptionist walked in. “The mechanic is wanting to talk to you.” They said as they held the door open for Oli and Hailey to walk through. They walked from the room and the receptionist looked at the table with confusion before following them through. “Mike, the mechanic that was on your craft has come back with his diagnostics and his opinion, but needs your go ahead before he can do what he wants.” “Yup, that is fine.” Oli replied as he looked through the hall window, out at his ship. The receptionist gestured to a man standing in the corner of the reception and passed them on to Mike. The three of them shook hands, and introduced themselves to one another before the mechanic started to explain. “So.” He paused for a long time. “There are a couple of things we found. The main one being that there has been some bad wiring in your system. Your surge protector has been bi-passed and re routed into your…” “I am sorry.” Oli interrupted. “We already knew that, and about the surge that kicked the system, have you seriously spent this entire time looking for a fault that we clearly laid out on the paper work?” “So we had to confirm it. Because we can’t just go off the words of the customer, not all of them know what they are talking about.” “Okay, that is fine. But we have been waiting for over two hours. How long does it take to walk down a couple of service corridors?” “We didn’t go through them, we were running your systems at max capacity to see where the fault was.” “I am sorry, but what fuck did you just say?” Oli yelled. “Are you telling me, that instead of crawling for ten minutes through easily accessible halls where you could use a computer to see the systems in about five minutes, you instead ran my ship at full power just to wait for something to fail?” The mechanic looked around nervous with his panel in his hand. “I can’t go through the tunnels, I have bad knees.” “The fuck?” Oli screamed as he snatched the small computer out of the mechanics hands. The receptionist watching the situation dialled a number and hung up immediately. Oli flicked through the diagnostics of his system with an increasing rage. “Oli is everything okay?” Hailey asked quietly. One of Oli’s eyes twitched as he read the report, a single blood vessel bursting as he read the final notes. “He fucked my ship is …

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Through The Streets

Sam knelt next to their bike, their hands buried into the engine as they maintained it. The ratchet clicked and wound as they fitted the final plate, standing back they grinned as they wiped the grease from their hands onto a rag. The engine shined through the patches of rust as Sam’s smile shinned through the filth on their face. The echoes of engines surrounded Sam as a vehicle approached, they started to panic and grabbed the lead pipe from the holster of their bike. Gripping it in their hands they juggled it lightly as they back to the end of the alley they were in. “Come on, bring it. I can do this. You are mine.” They started to mutter at speed under their breath, until the noises of the engines became so loud that their fear set in and they started to scream. “I aint fraid of no skids, come get this torque and let me paint the ally with your brains.” They started to run forward even before they could see what was coming, screaming they raised their pipe over their head until two bikes pulled the corner with the same paint patterns on their bikes as Sam’s. Sam slammed their pipe to the ground and started to howl as the two bikes circled them and parked. “You assholes, you were supposed to message me when you were close. I was ready to bash you off your bikes. Thought you might have been the White Scars.” “Oh little baby Sam, scared by a couple of bikes coming down the alley.” Alex said in a patronising tone. Riley looked to Alex with shock in their eye, stepping backwards away from Sam. “You wanna try that shit with me Alex? Don’t forget who I am, don’t forget what I am.” Sam raised the end of the lead pipe to rest under Alex’s chin. “Say it, and remember why you shouldn’t talk to me like that.” Alex felt a wave of regret crash over themselves and churn down into their stomach. “The Reaper of the 108” Alex said, swallowing heavily. “That’s right, so don’t dare to test me again. Know your place, or next…” Sam stopped as the alarms on their watches all went off at once. “Midnight!” Riley screamed to distract the mood. “Let’s ride, we got a date with a supply run.” Riley jumped onto their bike and revved the engine until Sam lowered their pipe and allowed Alex to do the same. Sam flicked their hand forward to signal the other two to head off while they hopped onto their own bike. Watching the other bike off they pulled out a small vial from in their jacket, sniffing the vapours from it their pupils dilated and they felt their whole body vibrate even before they cranked the engine. The other two were already making their way down the main highway and chatting through their helmet comms. “You can’t talk like that to Sam, I told you. If you are going to be in this gang you show them respect. Or you will just be another soul claimed.” Riley yelled. “You didn’t tell me Sam was fucking insane, I don’t know if I can handle being apart of this. I joined to make sure I never had to face Sam on the streets.” “No backing out now, I told you, you join, there is no turning back. Sam will kill you, you are stuck.” Alex gripped his handle bars tighter and started to breath faster. “Fuck.” But even through the comms Riley could not hear Alex complain as Sam roared down the middle of them with an engine that made the other two bikes sound like toys. Their eyes were plastered open with tears streaming off them. Taking the lead, Sam took them through the back streets of the city until they arrived at a service road that took them onto the 108 motorway. The cars on the road moved out the way as they saw the wild look of Sam approaching from behind. They weaved down the motorway hunting for the truck they were looking for. Riley sped up as they watched a car cut off Sam, Alex was confused but sped up as well to follow. Sam looked at the car with disgust on their face, they pulled up next to driver and stared into the window. Inside a large man looked out his window and pulled the finger to them and swerved slightly to try and scare Sam, but they didn’t even flinch, instead they pulled their lead pipe from their holster, clicking down a driving lock they leapt from their bike. Landing on the bonnet of the car the man sped up to roll them off, but Sam had a firm grip on the top opening of the bonnet with one hand, then started swinging the pipe with the other. The front windshield quickly became a spiderweb that could not be seen through and the car started to swerve even more, and slam on the brakes. Meanwhile Riley pulled up next to Sam’s bike which was locked driving straight and steered it away with one hand. “Get next to the car Alex, Sam needs a dismount.” Riley screamed. Alex lowered their head and shot forward as fast as they could, pulling up next to the slowing car they passed the driver window right as they pulled out a small pistol from their glove box. “Gun!” Alex screamed. Sam got to their feet as if they were suddenly on solid ground and rolled onto the roof of the car right as three rounds blasted their way through the front windshield. Alex sparked up a smoke bomb and tossed it through the drivers open window. The homemade bomb spun violently through the cab of the car, smashing parts of the dash and colliding with the driver several times, distracting them from shooting. Alex matched speed and pulled in as close as they could so Sam could step onto the back of Alex’s bike. Pulling away Sam grabbed a handful of crook nails and tossed them behind, puncturing three of the drivers tyres, and skidding them into a nearby barrier. Speeding up they caught up with Riley and Sam’s bike. Sam slotted their pipe back into the holster before hoping across and turning off the drive lock. They howled into the night and sped off on one wheel down the motorway, Riley followed suit and Alex joined in the howl, but did not attempt to drive like the other two. “There’s the Monolith.” Sam screamed The other two looked forward to see a large black truck driving down the motorway at speed, honking its horn, and swerving lanes around traffic. “The Predators are already there.” Alex shouted as they pulled up next to Sam. Riley pulled up to the other side with a fire bomb in hand. “Looks like we got some fun before our reward.” Sam howled again and snatched the bomb from Riley, the three of them drove right behind the truck with their weapons in hand. The predators iconic black bikes blended into the road from a far, but up close they were as easy to see as any other gang. “Reapers!” One of the Predators yelled as they were cutting the locks on the back of the Monolith truck. The small squad of bikers on the road turned back just in time to see an incendiary flying through the air, colliding with the guy on the back of the truck. Fire erupted from the container and engulfed the person on the back of the truck, their body fell and rolled under the tyre of an ally, tipping them over and turning them both into corpses. The other four members of Predators all pulled out their weapons and slammed on their brakes to get level with Sam. But just as they broke Sam activated their nitro and rocketed faster than the bike could go without, pushing the bike to its limits to tail gate the Monolith truck as Alex and Riley came by with two more bombs, torching the rest of the Predators from their bikes. The Reapers all howled in victory as those who had opposed them now bounced dead on the motorway. Sam locked the drive on their bike again and jumped onto the back of the truck, simply opening the already cracked door of the truck. The truck swerved again Sam watched as their bike was tipped and rolled down the motor way. They waved goodbye and beckoned for the other two to get closer. “Get up here you idiots we are getting out of here.” Sam yelled at them as they approached. Sam disappeared into the truck and the other two struggled to get close to the wild moving truck. Riley stood on their bike and was about to step off as the truck bounced. They lost their grip and kicked their own bike over as they attempted to jump. They barely managed to grab onto the bottom locking mechanism of the wide swinging door. Alex panicked and drove closer to help, but the truck swerved the other way and the door swung back towards the back of the truck. The door colliding with Alex’s head and tossing them to the road. “Shit Alex!” Riley screamed as they struggled to maintain their hold on the door. They could feel their fingers starting to slip as the door closed enough for them to plant their feet on the back step of the truck. They managed to claw their way inside as the door flung back open again, slamming hard into the back of another vehicle on the road. Riley rested themselves against the locked door and looked out to see if they could see Alex, but their eyes were drawn to the fast approaching red and blue lights of the police. “Sam, the truck must have called the cops. They are here earlier than we thought.” They said as a lump started to grow in their throat from the sadness of losing a friend. “Sam?” They repeated, turning to be blinded by a set of powerful headlights. “The cops don’t matter, we have this now.” Sam yelled over the overwhelming roar of a new engine. “Oh god, why wasn’t this under guard?”

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Level Headed

Alexander tapped his bare foot onto his ship console, making a beat where there was none. “This is ridiculous, we need music.” He slammed his hand down carelessly onto the intercom button. “Hey Ashley, can we please get the radio going?” There was a pause that was highlighted by the idle crackling of the intercom. “Ummm, no? There is no radio, we are far too far out. You know that Alex.” Alex started pressing through the buttons on the console methodically as if he was trying to see what each individual button did. “Do we not have music saved to the ship, or just some kind of player with an album or just something more than the sound of this ship ringing in my ears?” The pause was even longer then there was a very quick, rehearsed response. “No.” Alex took his hand off the intercom and folded his arms as he scoffed. “This ship is a pile of smack, what kind of crazy people don’t put music into such a long journey?” He asked rhetorically as he fiddled with more buttons. The intercom screeched with the sounds of metal colliding in the background. “Stop pressing buttons you idiot, you nearly took my head off with that last one.” Alexander lifted his poised hand from the next button he was about to press with a longing. Cautiously, he very gently pressed the intercom button and spoke softly. “I am sorry beautiful, is everything okay?” “It is fine, although I could use a hand down here with some clean up.” “You got it, I’ll lock it off up here and head on down.” Alexander double checked the auto pilot on their craft and started to head down to meet up with Ashley. He stumbled down the narrow corridors of the ship, putting his hand down on railings that wobbled, or in turn gave him a healthy helping of grease. He rolled his eyes and wiped his hands on his overalls before finally meeting up with Ashley, who was picking up bottles of cleaning chemicals that laid on the ground in front of a dented shelving unit. Ashley spied Alexander out of the corner of her eye and pointed at the shelves, to which he returned a queasy smile. “Ah shit, Oli is going to be pissed.” Alexander said as he wandered over to the rack, running his hands across the dents. “You think? You really need to stop touching shit. Half of Oli’s crap barely runs, so please stop damaging the things that actually work.” Alexander looked up at the large hydraulic arm above the racking with an inquisitive stare. “Why, or who, put this shitty little rack down here anyway? It is right under a hydraulic arm, which.” He started to squint, thinking harder his thoughts were interrupted. “Seemingly does nothing?” Ashley interjected. “Yeah, must be another one of his stupid fucking projects that never went anywhere. “Yup, just another one of his projects. How about, instead of looking at a dumb bit of metal, you help me clean up the mess you made?” Alexander snapped out of his stare and shook his head slightly, dropping down to one knee he started to help Ashley clean up the scattered bottles of chemicals. “It is a wonder that none of them were crushed, I would have hated to come down here to see you cleaning up some old chemical that is never going to be used.” “Me? Why am I cleaning things up in this scenario?” “Because woman are born cleaners, like how men are born leaders, or sex gods…” Ashley rolled her eyes and ignored Alexander as he rambled on with his misogynistic dialogue. She had a small grin as she half listened to him ramble, trying to find a line that would cause a reaction out of Ashley, occasionally stopping to look pointedly at her to see if he had landed a blow. “Damn, you are resilient today. Usually you have slapped the sexism out of me by this point.” Ashley let out a loud, exaggerated laugh. “Oh sweetie, I usually would. But it just clicked.” “What clicked?” “I don’t care about anything you say.” Ashley said as she caressed Alexander’s check. They both chuckled at one another before sharing a short kiss. “Now, clean up your mess.” Ashley stood and started to wipe her hands on her overalls. “I need to get back to stock counting.” Alexander sat back on the metal grating and pointed to himself. “But isn’t it my turn for stock tack?” “It is, but this cargo run is taking us past the interference zone, so you can chat with your little lady friend if she is flying around out there.” Alexander’s eyes lit up, and an uncontrollable grin embedded itself onto his face, one he tried to quell with a poor attempt. “I swear just the mention of her gets you all excited. Has she told you her name yet?” “No…” He said with a put-on frown. “But it is fine, names are not important, what is important is the person, and that that person likes me. Which she does… maybe.” “Well you better hurry up, just because I am doing the stock take, does not mean I am doing everything while you try and run away with your crush. You still have a lot of work to do before we breach the interference zone.” “Yes Ma’am.” Alexander said with a straight back, and a fierce salute. Ashley walked off with clipboard in hand while Alexander started to horde the fallen bottle like a squirrel gathering lost nuts for the winter. Stacking them haphazardly he ran off to do the other daily tasks of maintaining the ship. From scrubbing down surfaces, to repairing broken machines he ran all over. The smaller jobs were glossed over and barely done, but good enough for the day. While the larger jobs were begrudgingly done as meticulously as needed. Rushing back to the cockpit he sat down with speed, spinning his chair around in the process. Tapping on a touch screen he tracked their course with a finger that hovered over the screen, tapping once again when he found what he was looking for. “I really need to actually check this at the beginning of jobs. I very nearly missed an opportunity.” He slumped back down in his seat and grabbed his radio, pre-emptively he tuned it to a frequency that housed nothing but static. He watched as the ship piloted itself through the wreckage around it. The remains of a war that had left this part of space cluttered with the corpses of ships. Alexander’s ship made its way through the final bodies and emerged on the other side, he stirred in his seat and firmed his grip on the comms as the crackle on his radio started to turn into a steady, and silent hiss. “Snake here on the hunt for some foxes.” Alexander called through the comms with a smile. He turned his ear to the receiver and looked away from it as he waited. “This is Fox here, warning you that we know how to bite.” Alexander relaxed into his seat. “Oh that is no worry because… Damn, I have nothing for that. That should have been so easy to counter.” The comms crackled and laughter came through before the voice of Fox. “You are nothing but a disappointment if you ask me, but then again. There is no way you could be as sly as me.” There was a brief pause of ambient audio coming down the line before she spoke again. “You can’t tell, but I am winking.” “You are an idiot.” “You couldn’t even come up with an argument for, ‘I can bite.’” “We are just going to have to agree that neither of us are smart maybe?” “Agreed. I am not happy about it, but I will agree.” Alexander looked over his course and frowned as his eyes darted over the travel line. “Any chance you are heading anywhere near the wandering moon on your trip?” “I am sadly not Snake, we do this everytime, I am on a set course, it will never deviate.” “Yeah I know, but I want to meet you.” “Trust me, so do I. But until you start taking jobs in my area that won’t happen. I won’t give up my job for you, and I know you are the same. You and your girlfriend need to stick together, and there really isn’t any two crew jobs out here.” “You say out here like you are millions of miles away. If I remember correctly, part of our journeys are only a few hundred thousand kilometres apart.” “Oh what was I thinking, nothing but a cake walk. I will just pop on over and borrow some milk neighbour.” The two of them laughed for hours, until the radio connectivity fell apart. At the end of the conversation Alexander sat forward with a warming feeling in his stomach and he thought of the conversation. Getting up from his chair he double checked his auto pilot again before heading back down the hall and towards his sleeping quarters, where he found Ashley laying on their bed with a book that she promptly put down as Alexander entered the room. “How was Fox?” she asked, patting the edge of the bed, encouraging him to sit. Dropping onto the bed he lay back over Ashley with a long sigh. “It was so nice, but so frustrating. I just want to meet her!” “I assume you are both still too busy to meet up?” “Yeah, it is lame. I know it is stupid, but I would love to date that woman, she is so sweet.” “It is not stupid, it is okay to want things.” Ashley started to pet Alexander’s hair down as she spoke. “And even more importantly it is good to explore your feelings. If you like this girl enjoy it, but don’t let the ideas of being with her confuse you. You have to make sure that you still remain you, and still maintain your other relationships…” Alexander could feel the tension in the room, it was soft and calming. “I am terrible at having crushes on people. Why can’t this just be like what we did?” “What? Premarital sex, a pregnancy scare, and a shot gun wedding?” “Yeah those things, you know the no pressure thing.” “Did I forget to mention the pregnancy scare? That was a lot of tension for me thank you very much.” “Well I mean that, but I mean, I knew what was going on. I knew how you felt. I still don’t even know if she likes me back, I can’t even be sure if she is avoiding me, or just busy, so I am cautious to contact her, even though that is all I want to do. But if it is that she is just busy that is such an attractive quality to me. There is just a lot going on in my mind, and I can’t settle it.” “Look.” Ashley said, sitting Alexander up. “Dating multiple can be hard, or it can be easy, and the two biggest determining factors in that is the people, and your attitude. You have to understand that you are not trying to date her because you are lonely, or because you are touch starved. You have me, we fulfil each other’s needs, and that can mean when you get additional good feelings from someone they can be overwhelming, because you already have so many for someone else.” Alexander nodded as he looked up to Ashley. “I don’t even know what she looks like, but damn she sounds pretty.” “I know, I have heard her voice, she is very pretty sounding.” “None of this is bad, by the way. I feel great. But like you said, it is a lot, and I am still struggling with it. Maybe next time I contact her I will …

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Three Days

Fire erupted from a steam pipe that was pointed high into the air above a busy street, those below the pipe recoiled, and fell to the ground in a panic. Those further away looked over with shock before sprinting in the opposite direction. Screams broke out faster than those in the crowd could turn to run. The sound of the crowd stampeding across the heating pavement could be heard blocks away before it was all silenced by the deafening blast of an underground refinery exploding. The whole city block was turned to ash and rubble that rained down on the buildings that managed to stay standing around the new crater in the city. Sirens filled the streets as the firemen took to the road, roaring down the worn roads they bounced through potholes and swerved around fallen power poles. Coming to the edge of the crater they all bailed out of their trucks and started to douse the flames that were burning from the large metal furnaces that were hidden by the city streets. Civilians on the streets fell to their knees as they wept for those who may have been consumed by the raging inferno that was now raging in the city centre. The buildings nearby the were on the edge of the explosion started to groan with anticipation, but the cacophony of the streets below drowned them out, their warnings went unheard, then they made those beneath them unheard as they came crashing down on as many as they could, adding to the horror of the night. Watching from a tower in the distance a man sipped at his glass as his glass wobbled gently against the diminishing shockwave that had faded by the time it reached his home. “Why do people assume that building highly volatile refineries under a city was a good idea? I understand that we are low on space, but surely we can put some of the less explosive industries underground to avoid all this death and carnage.” He said with a sense of serenity in his voice. Turning around he faced his wife who sat relaxed on the velvet red couch with a sleek glass in hand and a designer dress that matched the couch. “Sit down, we don’t need to watch the poor people suffering.” “They’re not suffering.” He laughed. “They’re all dead, they should have voted against the clause that allowed those constructions to happen in their city blocks.” “Oh, didn’t you hear? They were not given an option. They ran the referendum from high to low, but by the time it reached low everyone had said no, so the government just forced low into more debt for the sake of the city.” The wife stalled as another flash of light caught her eye. “Or maybe it was in order to sink the city.” She said with a grin. The husband glanced over his shoulder, watching as a new collection of buildings fell to the secondary explosions. “Now that you mention it, with all that destruction, that does make that specific low block prime real-estate. I can think of a couple of companies that might be interested in acquiring that land.” Tipping his glass to his wife he smiled. “At a much-discounted price, on the account of the explosion damage.” The wife chuckled as she took a sip of her drink. “By the way you say that it is almost like you are implying that this was planned.” “Now those are dangerous words coming from your mouth dear. Best we keep them hidden less any ears are listening.” The wife stood from her lounged position, with a devious grin she placed down her glass and wrapped one arm around her husband. “I say, let them listen.” She said as he put three rounds from her pistol into her husband. His eyes widened and he slumped to the floor with death in his eyes. “God I could not fucking take it. You pompous fucking asshole.” She screamed as she kicked him in the ribs. “All you can fucking think about is money, and connections, and land. We literally live in a fucking tower worth more than the whole of lower you absolute cunt.” She continued as she slumped down onto the couch, tearing her tailored dress in the process. Alarms started to blare and she sat with a silent acceptance. “Sold like a damn animal, thanks parents. I love being a trophy wife. It is good to know that the only worth I have is in my looks, and my reproductive organs.” The wife held up a small sheet of tablets. “Well guess what fucker, I have been on birth control this whole time. So you get nothing of what you want. You get no trophy wife, no heir, and no life. Your families kingdom is going to crash and burn just like the suburbs of the lower.” The wife spat on the ground and leered at the fires in the distance. “I hope my parents were in that explosion, but they probably got paid well for me, so I doubt they were living in the slums anymore.” Gunshots fired on the 38th floor, building is now in full lockdown. Please remain calm as the security makes their way to the floor of disturbance. The intercom rung loud in the wife’s ears, she winced as she grabbed for the bottle of drink as the doors locked automatically. “Come now military police, do you really think little ol’ me would try and escape?” We take no chances with murderers. “Oh so you are listening up there, high authority, the governing eye. Should have done a better job watching. Maybe Reiner’s last heir wouldn’t be dead now.” Filthy lower, Lord Reiner is not dead yet there is still time. “Time?” The wife laughed. “He is as likely to breed as I am to survive the next five minutes. Not only is he senile, but with as many diseases as he has, I would be surprised if it was still even intact.” 2 minutes until floor 38 breach, feel safe residents, those of you who pay will be able to watch the raid on the murderer. “Oh I forgot blood sports was a thing up here. Does that mean I am being recorded now?” Yes, your death will be a spectacle, a reminder to all who dare stand against us. The wife unloaded her pistol into the corpse of her husband, standing over him she spread her legs, ripping her dress further before pissing on his face. You will be punished for this. “Punished, more than death and torture? I know what comes for me so don’t you dare threaten me with worse.” She screamed up to the intercom. Clicking the gun she tried to fire the empty chambers into the speaker. “Stupid fucking thing, just you wait, I will get to you.” She said as she walked to a small cabinet, unlocking it with a small key on her charm bracelet. Inside were mostly papers, and envelopes, but in a small draw was a collection of clips for her gun, she checked them all to make sure they were full then reloaded her pistol as the sound of footsteps amassing outside her apartment crept under her door. You have ten seconds, any last word for your fellow apartment dwellers murderer? The wife remained silent, walking calmly to the front door she unloaded her pistol through it. Small shells fell to the ground as she blinked through every pull of the trigger. Those on the far side of the door were pelted with bullets, several of them wounded with looking to be on the brink of death. Before they had time to react, she dropped the empty clip, loaded a new one, and started to fire once again, scaring away the riot enforcers behind the door. She then turned to the window of her apartment and unloaded her final clip into it, smashing the window and inviting a torrent of high-altitude air in. She walked through the torrent of wind and glass calmly, her feet being pierced with the broken glass stained the carpet red with blood before she took her final step into open air, plummeting down the side of the building. Her eyes closed as she struggled to breath against the wind forcing its way into her airways. Tears were pulled from the corners of her eyes before her body collided with a car that was waiting on its valet to park, crushing it completely. The owner of the vehicle groaned as he handed of the key to the valet. “I expect it to be repaired before I need it again, the complex has three days.” “yes sir.” The valet said reactively, looking back to the crushed vehicle he stared at the corpse of the wife as her blood dripped from her corpse. “It will be repaired and cleaned as soon as possible.” “Good, see that it is, or else I will have your job.” The man said as he walked his wife into the apartment complex.

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Light In The Darkness

Oil dripped from a large tank that was under slung to the bottom of a large salvaging spacecraft. Two men stood staring at the minor leak as it started to pool on the floor. Oli stood with his arms folded and with his mouth ajar as he stared at the man next to him. “How?” He asked pointedly as he folded his arms in frustration. “Well, I clipped the, the.” The man stuttered as he pointed down the way. Oli turned to the mangled hand rail at the entrance of the hanger, then back to the man, his hands gesturing towards the ship. “So let me guess this straight, you managed to pilot my ship, my, ship. Through this massive.” He said turning to the cavernous opening of the hanger, flailing his arms about to emphasis the size. “This, fucking huge hole. That is probably four times the size of my ship and hit, something that you shouldn’t be, anywhere near.” “Oli, look, it was an accident, I just came in a little lower than usual.” “A little?” Oli yelled. “You bloody took out a hand rail, designed for people, you know those small six-foot things that go squish when you hit them with a two thousand and something tonne spaceship. So please explain to me why you were flying so low as to hit a three-foot-high railing with my oil tank.” The man stood sheepishly as Oli stared at him expectantly. The man gestured as he mumbled, before finally bringing himself to speak. “It is only a small hole, I can patch it new.” “Patch it? You can patch it, well that is good, how long should that take?” “Well with the arc welder, probably five minutes. I can get it now.” “Oh so you are going to introduce heat to my oil tank, while there is oil in it. This is great, that sounds great, because when you blow yourself up I won’t have to deal with you.” Oli turned back to the dripping oil and pinched the bridge of his nose as he groaned. “What do…” “Leave, go. Don’t come back, you are no longer hired.” Oli turned over his shoulder and looked at the man with a grin and spoke calmly. “Fuck off.” The man quickly ran off, bumping shoulders with another as he passed them. “What the hell happened here?” A familiar voice rose up. “And what is up with you yelling and Oscar running off?” “This Hailey, this!” Oli yelled, once again gesturing to the leaking oil tank. “How the, wait. Where is the outer plating, did it get torn off?” “No, the bottom right corner plating was removed after Oscar managed to slam it into a damn mountain of a boulder when touching down last week. This week, he managed to take out a whole handrail, with the same bottom right corner of my ship, puncturing the damn oil tank.” “We should fire him.” Hailey said reactively. “Fired? I should thump him. But yes of course he is fired, the dumb ass wanted to weld the tank shut, with the oil still in it. So now I need to drain this, fix the warping, get someone to clean the interior so it doesn’t explode, fix the hole, pressure test it, get new housing, re certify the mounts, and if they fail that is another lump of cash gone because of that idiot.” Oli scratched his head, smearing oil from his hands into his hair. “Don’t pay him, just tear up the contract.” “Of course not, why would I pay him now?” “I don’t know, just saying.” Hailey said a little embarrassed. “His wage won’t even cover this. I am going to, you are going to send him a bill for the difference. Fucking twat.” Oli paused for a moment and looked back to Hailey. “Him, not you.” “Yeah I got that. Well you sort this out, I’ll go do the paper work.” Hailey said with a higher pitch to her voice. Hailey headed up into the belly of the ship as Oli started to sift through the scattered tools that laid on the ground, groaning he got to work. “I don’t understand how they can charge so much for a dirty patch job. I could have done it better if I wasn’t so damn busy.” Oli exclaimed as he tossed a receipt to the floor of his cockpit. “Don’t do that, I need to file that.” Hailey complained as she pulled the receipt from the oil coated floor. “I swear if any of this oil has ruined the writing, I am going to thump you.” She added as she flicked at the paper, hoping to remove the muck from the writing. Oli waved over his head as he played with controls of his ship, looking up to the stars that surrounded them. He locked in a course and reclined in his chair, throwing his feet up on the dash of his ship he shuffled in his seat until he found himself slowly nodding off. Hailey filed the paperwork then went to return to Oli, seeing him napping she decided to make her way to the bedroom and she too fell asleep. The ship hummed slightly as it made its way through space, small debris colliding with the hull caused Oli to stir in his sleep, keeping him from drifting into a deep sleep. Unbeknown to him a visage of light wandered by his cockpit window, pressing itself against the glass it stared in to Oli, who awoke to see the humanoid made of light as they were passing through the glass. Oli’s eyes widened as he was paralyzed with fear, watching as the humanoid woman passed into his cockpit without damaging the glass she passed through. She floated as if she was still in space, slowly touching down one foot at a time, toes pointed to the grimy floors. Her blinding light slowly faded until she was emanating a dull shimmer. Her face was round and soft, chubby cheeks, pale skin, white hair, and vibrant pink eyes. She smiled sweetly to Oli as she passed him, making her way down the ladder, into the body of the ship. Oli sat in his chair in disbelief as he stared at his window, un-blinking he groaned to himself as he tried to piece together words. The sound of an opening door shook him out of his stupor, his feet came crashing down on the grates below him as he ran after the woman. “Wait what are you doing?” “Silly question, from a silly man.” She smiled, her voice so sweet that Oli found himself calming down with each word. She touched Oli’s face gently as she continued her aimless wandering. Oli stretched his neck to follow her hand as it withdrew from him. “Wait, wait.” Oli said, still feeling at his own face. “Who are you?” The woman giggled as she turned back to Oli. “You were so close that time, close enough that I will answer you.” She stopped her wandering and turned to the yearning Oli. She stood with her feet together and her arms crossing over her chest. “I am Light, Light Violet crown. You can call me Light, or LVC. I don’t mind.” “I don’t understand, why are you on my ship?” “You are very stupid. I have been following you since we last met, well since we last sort of met.” “What is that supposed to mean?” “I was sort of the eye that you didn’t see, you are the one that killed my acolytes.” Oli’s heart started to race as he thought about his time on the planet seed ship. The horrors that he saw flashed over his eyes as he stood staring at the beautiful woman that stood before him, her calming face breaking through the nightmares that stained his retina. His eyes started to tear up his body shook involuntarily, he fell to his knees and his hands clenched intently into the mess of his hair. “Come my sweet child, I won’t do that to you. No, I want new acolytes from you, not to make you a monster. That was the other me, I want to make you feel good.” She sung out as she started to calm Oli down. She pulled his arms down by his side, and laid him down on his back. Her beautiful visage calmed his racing heart as he let her do what she wanted. His muscles went limp as his eyes glazed over. With one hand on his face, and the other running down to his pants he watched, hypnotised by Light’s beauty. A hypnotism that was broken as a fire extinguisher collided with her perfect face. “Get the fuck off my ship you bright bitch.” Hailey yelled as she swung the fire extinguisher a second time, this time she punctured the outer casing, causing a white cloud to fill the room. Once Light was completely covered Oli snapped out of his stupor. “What the, who am.” He vomited out as Hailey grabbed his hands in hers. “Get up useless, we have to move.” she shouted as she watched the flailing arms or Light start to disperse the smoke. As the two of them ran into the hall the souring voice of Light called out, once a sweet girl, now the booming decadence of a warrior male. “If I can’t have Oli, I guess I will have to take Hailey.” Stomping of heavy feet filled the halls of the ship as Light stormed out of the room filled with smoke. Her now hulking size stormed down the hall after them, his body rippled with muscles, an angular face, and vibrant green eyes imposed fear over the two as they ran for their life. “What the hell is chasing us?” Hailey screamed as she tried to drag Oli left through the ship, but he reversed her grip and dragged her right. “That is the thing on the world seed, the shit that I said I would never talk about again.” “You mean that caused the fucked up shit that you saw?” Oli slammed into a wall, just to look up to see the perfect body of Light blocking his way, the Green eyes stared daggers towards Hailey as he stepped over Oli outstretching a rigid arm towards her. From his back the image of the girl appeared once again and leant down towards Oli, just as before Oli was locked into a trance, Hailey struggled at first, but she too became entranced. The two of them found themselves entangled in the shifting mass that is Light. By the end of approach both Hailey and Oli were spent. Hailey laid back watching as her stomach grew, while Oli watched the female form of Light’s stomach started to grow. Simultaneously they both gave birth. The children glowed with a dull light for moment before laying calmly on the ground. Oli and Hailey regain control of their bodies and sat dumbstruck; Hailey rolled on the ground in agony as Oli blinked blindly at the two new-borns on the ground before him. Both calm, and staring at him expectantly, their light faded they now look just like any new born babe. Oli looked for any signs of Light but the only thing he noticed was Hailey, and the two babies. Rushing to his feet he ran off to the cockpit, grabbing the first aid he ran back to Hailey and started to care for her. Arriving at their destination they engaged the automatic docking procedures then turned to one another before looking down to the two children before them. “They are growing fast.” Oli croaked “Looks like we have kids now.” Hailey added as they both stared at the children. The children looked up to Hailey and Oli, smiling as they stood silently, waiting.

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Junk Yards Are Not Junk

Tyres tore through the rough dirt of the desert. Their large tread crushing the dried dirt clumps into powder as the weight of the large truck rolled across them. The dust flung up and clung to the side of the truck. It drained the colour from the paint as the layers of dirt became thicker. Inside the tired eyes of a father struggled to focus on the road. Turning his eye to his passenger seat he smiled at his son. He tussled his hair as the eyes of his son were wild with excitement, as he bounced in his seat. “I can see it dad, it is coming up.” “Yea it is, you ready to help dump all this trash?” The father said as he tapped the back window of the cab. The son looked back at the piles of scrap metal that rested on the back. “Yea, if I get enough time.” The son replied. “I decided that I want to build a go cart.” “Oh really?” The dad chuckled to himself. “How do you expect to pay for all the parts?” “That is what you are for daddy. You make the money, I build things. We are a team.” “I feel like I am doing most of the work in this deal.” The father said with a sly grin. “Well duh, you are the adult. I am only a kid. It would be weird if I did more than you.” The son looked up to his dad, resting a hand on his thigh and slowly patting it. “I wouldn’t want to make you look like a kid dad.” The father laughed hard, his eyes lighting up a little as a little energy returned to him. “Okay, I will do all the unloading, but in return you better build a cool go kart!” The son twisted in his, sitting on his knees he pulled at his seat belt. Peering over the dash he watched as they reached the gates of their destination. Scrap Town “Don’t worry dad, I will build the best of go karts.” The father grabbed his son by the shoulders and the pair of them smiled as they made their way into the scrap yard. Pulling around mountain after mountain of scrap metal they lost sight of the horizon, the view of the desert slowly becoming nothing more than mounds of metal. They parked in front of a run-down wooden shack with broken windows. Inside they could hear music, its volume increasing as the door swung open and a large jovial man exited, looking almost as run down as the shack. His bulbous body covered in tatters of stained cloth. He threw his hands out wide to the excitement of the man’s son in the truck. With a deep chuckle he watched the boy climb down from the truck and jump into the man’s arms. “Uncle, Erit. I am so glad to see you.” “Ho, young buck. How are you doing Charles?” “I am great, I have decided that I am going to build a go kart. So I need you to take me to the workshop.” Erit bent down after dropping Charles. Struggling he leant on his knees to lower to eye level. “Think I might help your old man out with his scrap?” Erit looked up to Charles father, then back to Charles. “Heck, you are pretty big now. How about you head down to the shed by yourself, I know you can handle a simple go kart by yourself.” Charles lit up with glee, his father looking concerned for a moment. But his concerns were quelled as Erit patted Charles on the back to run off. “Don’t worry about him. I turned off all the big machines, just simple power tools, he is smart. He will be fine.” “You are very reckless with kids you know that?” Said the father. “Hell, I got left alone in this place all the time as a kid. He will be fine.” “I don’t think I could count how many scars, infections, near death experiences, or strange pets that you gathered in these piles of junk.” “Woah, this may be a literal scrap yard, but these are not piles of junk. This is the scrap of the whole planet, and of the nearby passing spacecraft. This is the haven of technology and wonders to find.” “You are terrible. You know this is where he gets his fascination from this place. His big uncle Erit, glorifying a hemisphere trash can.” The father laughed. “Woah slow down there Arthur.” Erit said slapping his stomach. “Did you just call me fat?” There was a short silence before they both started laughing. Erit slamming his hand on Arthur’s shoulder. Pushing him with the sheer size of his hand. “Come on pip-squeek. Let’s get your truck empty.” “Na, I got this.” Arthur said, pushing Erit away. “You go make sure that my son isn’t going to hurt himself. “You are too soft on the boy. But, hey. Not my kid, so I will go. Don’t worry about weighing in, Just dump your scrap in an empty bay.” “Pft, like I was going to pay for this service.” Arthur chuckled out, before going back inside his truck. Erit dismissed Arthur with a grunt and a wave of his hand, and pulled his sagging pants up with his other hand. “You lost any limbs yet?” Erit asked as he walked into the work shed. Charles looked up from behind a workbench with dirt on his face, and hands full of tools. “Not yet, but I have already started. Look!” Erit made his way around the bench to see a thick metal plate with four wheels attached to it. Erit gave an exaggerated look of surprise as he pressed his foot on the metal plate, rolling it forward and back. “Woah, actually pretty good. It actually rolls.” Charles folded his arms, frowning. “Why do you say that, like that? Of course it is going to roll, I made it good.” Charles stared down Erit until he raised his hands in defeat. “Now I found a motor, but I can’t move it. I need your big hands to help.” Charles walked off into the workshop, pointing at a large motor on a shelf. It was rusted with pieces of the metal chipped, and missing. Erit scratched his head. “You know there are engines around here that would actually work, that one seems a little… Busted.” Charles shook his head. “Nope, it needs to be that one. That one will make me go the fastest.” “Why do you think that?” Erit asked as he lifted it from the shelf. Bringing it back to a workbench to look over. “Well it is red, so it will always be faster. But also because it looks the coolest, which is very important.” “Well I am convinced.” Erit pulled a small piece from the engine and handed it down to Charles. “You clean up this part, and I will fix the rest.” Charles nodded seriously, taking the small, rusted tubing he made his way into the workshop. After scrubbing and dipping the part in a chemical bath, the rust was lifted. Returning back to Erit after nearly an hour, he presented the part. Erit received the part and patted him on the head. “Good job champ, I just finished up here.” Erit fiddled the part back into place and lifted the now functional looking motor over to the go kart base. Together the two worked away at the go kart over many trips, until Charles got the chance to sit down in the seat as it vibrated to the roar of the engine. It was loud, and clunky. But it was finished, and Charles could drive it around as fast as he wanted. Ten years later “Charles, I swear if you are not cleaning those new parts up, I am going to beat your ass.” Erit cried out from middle of a pile of scrap. “Yeah, yeah. Keep ya pants on you fat bastard. I will have them cleaned up before we open.” Charles screamed as he blasted pieces of metal with sand. Stripping all the rust from each piece in seconds, he flipped them over and cleaned the other side. Moving as fast as he could he re assembled the pieces to complete the now cleaned mechanical parts. Loading them onto a trailer attached to the back of an ATV he drove them over to Erit. “This lot going over to the export platform, or are they going to the shop?” Erit groaned. “Come on kid, they are going in the shop. I can’t ship nonsense like that in that state. Use your head for once and put it in the shop. Hurry up too, doors already opened.” “Don’t get snappy with me. I am the reason you have such a successful business, so better give me some respect.” Erit took his hat off and bowed as low as his gut would let him. Charles rolled his eyes before driving off to the shop. His vehicle skidded to a stop, kicking up the dirt against the back of the store. “Come on Charles, don’t make the shop dirty. Erit will have my head if I get his precious shop a little grubby.” Cried a soft voice from inside. “His shop? I am the one that started this shitty thing, and if it wasn’t for me there wouldn’t even be anything good to buy.” Charles replied, his frustration sitting on the end of his tongue. He wandered into the store with an armful of parts, his muscles tensing as he struggled to keep his grip. “You know you don’t have to carry everything in one armload. Remember how long it took to fix your back when you tried carrying the arc reactor by yourself?” The soft voice said as she turned from the counter, she worked at to watch Charles. Charles slammed the machine parts down hard, drawing the attention of the nearby patrons that had entered the store “If I don’t hurry that old fart will have my head. You know how he gets about loss of income. If we are going down memory lane, may I remind you of the last time you were caught napping at work Maeve?” Maeve scrunched up her face and turned back towards her counter. “Okay, I will call this one a draw.” “Right, I am, so glad.” Charles said sarcastically. “Anyway, I am off. My work load is finished for the day. I am going to head back to my baby.” Maeve rolled her eyes as she heard Charles disappear out the back. “That idiot is going to get himself killed.” She muttered under her breath. “I will come annoy you when I am done.” Maeve called out moments before Charles turned on his ATV and drove off. Parking up he ran into a small workshop made from the empty shell of several small spaceships. He placed his hand on his original go kart. Making his way down to the back of his shop there was several iterations. At the end was his final product Roaring out of the shed he skidded through the scrap yard. Goggles on, his face got covered in the flying dirt. As he roared past Erit he could hear him screaming into the wind, but his voice was consumed by the sound of the engine that screamed behind Charles’ head. He slid and skidded through the scrapyard until he came across a platform with a nearly perfect shuttle. Cables ran from its interior to external generators, and leading to external control panels covered with tarps. Jumping from his cart he tore all the tarps down, and started powering up the many panels. He whistled to himself as he went, reading the control screens he tried his best to determine where the next issue was. Over the afternoon he made alterations to the small shuttle craft as he deemed fit. As …

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