The Chronicles of Space Echo
#3 – Seeker's prize
A: To lose one's possession - isn't that an interesting matter?
B: Being forgetful is so curious to you?
A: Think about it - you put some item somewhere and forget that it's there.
A slight panic follows and you cannot think straight - lowering your chances to remind yourself of its location!
B: People tend to lose their belongings quite often.
A: ...or lose themselves even.
B: Since you put it like that... There's one curious thing about it, I have to give it to you.
A: What would that be? Don't keep me in supsense!
B: You can decide what you are looking for....
but you have no control over what you are going to find...
... let alone if you don't realise your true desires.
Ahhh... It's been quite a while since I last could spare a single day for little pleasures.
In my profession that's pretty uncommon to do so, yet I cannot say I'm not glad.
Out of limited variety of luxury and entertainment that this planet had to offer I decided it would be adequate to spend my free time in the oldschool way - at the bar. It's almost XXII century and drinking still seems to be the best way of lifting the burden from ones chest.
Ha-ha. That's pretty laughable if I am to be asked, but whatever - I'll go with the flow.
I picked the filthiest, nightmarish place that I could possibly think of. The kind of place where terrible things happen but at least the booze is cheap.
Doors bolted shut, windows covered with the remnants of furninture, blank lightsource that is barely enough to see other interesting fellows that ended up in that shithole - a perfect place for someone that wants to keep a lowprofile, just like me.
Yes, yes, I know. I might seem like a calm guy but never judge a book by its cover. Especially when the cover is all dark and bloody. But I'm getting slighly ahead of myself...
So this place, yes. It was terrible. Totally my thing! I knew it wouldn't let me down.
The first thing that caught my attention when I entered this ungodly domain was the company I'd need to 'endure'. I noticed two gentlemen sitting at the side table. For my taste they were scrappers... or scoundrels - whatever you want to call them, really.
How do I know you might ask? Oh trust me, I've been in buisiness long enough to know what I'm looking at. Let's say there are some people who judge the value of certain belongings and then there's me - I know all kind of things about 'Who?', 'What?', 'Where?', 'Why?' and so on, and so on.
That's absolutely imperative to be successful.
And by "successful" I mean "alive".
Other than that I didn't notice anyone of major value. Sure, there were some punks looking for "some good time" or if you prefer "the way to get their hands bloodied". I was simply hoping I'd not need to be the one to make their faces bleed.
To set myself in the right mood I ordered the fanciest drink this poor excuse for a bar had to offer.
It wasn't anything special, though. A plain whiskey, the mediocre one. Oh, might as well drink that.
Even though those two at the side table tried to keep it as low as possible I couldn't help but overhear every word they said. It's one of my gifts, you see.
- 'So tell me, Synion. What exactly happened there?'
Synion! I knew I had seen him before, but never would I suspect one of the famous scrappers from The Ravencord to spend his time in such disgraceful place. He's quite a firestarter, you see.
He took a long sip of his drink before replying.
- 'What do you mean by "there"?' He replied with a sneaky smile.
- 'Don't play me for a fool! You wanted to talk about it and now you think it is funny to pretend it never
happened? That stuff with the Galactic Police, spit it out, will ya?'
His interlocutor seemed slighly annoyed, but I was quite amused. I like it when people are being played for fools.
- 'Before we get there I need to tell you what had happened on that ship, hours before.'
- 'Oh, yeah. The ship you got that "cargo" from. You remember its name?'
- 'Hell if know, and I care even less - it was some planetary destroyer as far as my memory goes.'
He lit a dark cigarette after finishing this sentence.
Not that I was such a petty man to care about some two vagabonds and their little chit-chat but I could smell something interesting from miles away against the wind. I ordered another filthy beverage, not to look suspicious.
- 'So... As you know after everything had gone downhill I took my chance to partake in plundering the
leftovers of our 'glorious conflict' Synion emphasised the last two words and chuckled expressively.
- 'The exhausted children of Mother Earth deserved a fair share of abandoned goods belonging to their fallen
brothers and sisters, don't you think?' He proceeded with his overdramatized speech.
Oh. He was having a great time, but that other guy seemed to be really nervous and constantly looked around that shithole we were stuck in. I had to avoid his gaze a couple of times - no biggie.
- 'But not to get into my political and ideological views, I'll try to stick to the facts only'
- 'That's more like it.' Said his companion with a frown.
Made me wonder what his deal really was. That didn't seem like a friendly chatter between two buddies that happen to dedicate their lives to the same nasty activity.
Synion extinguished his cigarette and continued.
- 'I was uncertain if it was a good idea to 'browse the buffet' shortly after the combat came to and end, let alone
whether or not I'd find anything of value. But what caught my attention was a lonely ship, drifting away from
all this chaos. I didn't have much time to board it, since it was on a collision course with the cosmic fluctuation,
caused by those backstabing bastards' warp engines, but in our profession caution is a virtue of little utility.'
A bold action, even for a guy like him. Taking every risk and margin of success into consideration I'd have high doubts about engaging in such mission.
I wonder if he plays poker.
- 'I docked my cruiser and set it to dig some precious data that could be sold on black market. Imagine the
surprise on my face after setting foot in the warship when I realised there had still been someone inside.' He lit
another cigarette after finishing the last sentence.
- 'Wait, what? Aboard that abandoned ship? That doesn't make any sense'
- 'That's what I thought.' He exhaled an enormous cloud of smoke.
- 'And to top this, it was a young girl' He grinned.
His companion's look on the face was most amusing. I wish I could savour the moment forever, then again I got interested in that affair myself.
- 'She got pretty surprised herself, but I suppose she realised soon enough that in no way was I a member of
some lonely rescue crew that had a deathwish.' He lowered his tone slighlty, but noticeably.
- 'And? What did you do? Don't tell me you took her with you?'
Synion took a long pause before answering that and stared for a bit at the dying heat of his cigarette.
- 'What are you, crazy? Do I look like some kind of charity organisation to you?' His tone of voice changed from
relaxed to mildly irritated.
Something was pretty fishy, if you ask me. But looking at the facts he didn't disappoint me. There's no place for sentiments in our kind of work. Cold and heartless, that's how I like it.
- 'Well. I suppose that was for the best. For your business,that is.' The other scoundrel replied.
- 'Ye. I loaded all the stuff of significant value and took my leave. As you might have heard I was being followed
and by the time I reached sector VII they closed in on me.'
- 'Damn lapdogs.'
- 'Even such short time after the great battle they were sniffing around to make our life more miserable.'
Synion stated with disgust in his voice.
Cannot blame him, I despise those self-righteous freaks myself. Always around, trying to live up to the expectations deriving from some ill-thought standards, imposed by a decaying society. Yuck.
Makes my stomach turn.
- 'Shortly after I had docked my cruiser they busted in and pinned me down. Started shouting something about me not getting away with it this time - you know, the usual.'
- 'Freaking Galactic Police. Nothing a good bribe cannot fix, eh?'
Lucky them. In my case a humble bribe wouldn't be enough in any case. Maybe becoming an outlaw thief wasn't such a bad idea after all?
- 'Didn't go that easily. Obviously, they followed me with no intention of sending me to jail for some minor
offence - money was what they were after. However...'
He smiled in a very curious way.
- '...they were not that stupid, as I pictured them in my head. They asked me one tricky question.'
- 'What are you talking about?' The second scrapper replied, raising one eyebrow.
- 'They asked me...
where my partner was.'
- 'Your partner...?'
Synion didn't reply to that. He raised his head and looked at the other guy with an incisive manner.
The second guy had a mix of smile and doubt smeared all over his face.
- 'What are you trying to tell me?'
- 'Guess I've gotten softer over those years' Synion laughed loudly.
- 'I tried to weasel my way out of this but they knew about the second passenger - their scanners are
impressive, to some extend. Why did I help her? Well, let's say a small talk was all I needed to know that this is
the thing I wanted to do. Of course they never caught her, but that meant I needed to pay more to get them off
- 'So your compassion cost you almost the whole cargo? Oh, man. It's so not like you.'
His buddy burst out laughing.
- 'I can't blame you for thinking that. You didn't know me back then when I was a different man. With that
determined look in the eye she reminded me about myself and a person I used to be. I didn't lose anything,
You can't be serious.
What is this?
I came here to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. I was hoping for some violence or cruelty and this is what I get? A touching story from someone least expected to take part in such fairy tale?
That's it for me. That makes me sick and I need to make my leave. Damn Synion and his disgusting morality.
Who would have thought that I'd need to endure that kind of cliched nonsense in such an awful place? That's precisely the reason I tend not to go out.
I consider punching someone on the way back to my 'companion'.
- 'Honeeeeey. I'm home' I said with a funny voice.
Or at least it was funny for me.
- 'I hope you didn't go anywhere while I was gone, haha - get it?'
A muffled sound of restrained voice resonated in return
- 'yhmfph.. umhgh'
That's what I thought - no sense of humour whatsoever.
- 'What a day I had! Unbelieveable! How are you doing? I hope the bonds aren't too tight and that the chair is
You could actually hear the sound of chair legs scratching the floor under the force of human body shaking left and right - pretty amusing.
- 'Oh I know, I know, but hey - nothing I can do about it. And don't worry! Soon you will be taken away and our
small adventure will come to an end. I'm sad about it but what can a man do?'
That made me wonder what is taking so long for them to pick up our small package.
- 'To make the most of our quality time spent together I'll tell you a crazy story I had to listen to today. It made
me slightly annoyed but I have a feeling you will enjoy it quite a bit.
- 'So as you noticed I decided to spare a day for little pleasures of life...'
end of chapter #3
continued in chapter #4 – Good news, indeed