A Pirate's Proposition


7/9/20233 min read

The 'Nomad' was barely functional when we set down on a remote desert planet. Its parched dunes and harsh sunlight were a stark contrast to the cold void of space we had narrowly escaped from. Repairing the ship was our only option.

Over the next few days, Ravager and I got to work under the merciless sun, the ship's broken carcass sprawled across the sand. Gramps stood by, a vigilant sentinel, his eyes never straying from Ravager, the pistol in his hands a constant reminder of our situation.

Ravager, despite his status as a captive, proved surprisingly useful. His vast knowledge of ship mechanics was invaluable. As we worked together under the blistering sun, his stories of life in the void provided a much-needed distraction.

One night, as we sat around the makeshift campfire, nursing our blisters and bruises, Ravager looked at me thoughtfully. "You know, Moe, we're not so different, you and I," he said, his voice softer than I'd ever heard.

I raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Is that so?"

He nodded, poking at the fire with a stick. "I was an orphan too, did you know that? Raised on a junker ship, had to learn everything the hard way. It's a tough life, but it makes you strong."

I stayed silent, watching him through the dancing flames.

"And look at what it made me," he continued, a note of pride creeping into his voice. "Captain of the Black Marauder, feared across the galaxy. You could have that too, Moe. You've got the skills, the smarts. You could be a pirate king."

His words hung in the air, a tantalizing promise. But I remembered Gramps's warnings about the allure of easy riches, the price one had to pay.

"I'm not cut out for the pirate life," I said, looking away from the fire to meet his gaze. "I've got my own path."

He shrugged, looking almost disappointed. "Suit yourself, boy. But remember, the offer stands."

The next day, as we continued our repairs, I left a pistol out, seemingly by accident. As I watched from the corner of my eye, Ravager picked it up, a sly smile on his face.

Later that day, he made his move, brandishing the pistol at Gramps. "Alright, old man. You're coming with me," he growled.

At this point, I emerged from my hiding place, rifle in my hands. "You're not going anywhere, Ravager," I replied, my voice firm.

Ravager glanced at me and laughed. "What are you going to do, Moe? Shoot me? Or are you going to watch me shoot this old man?"

I didn't flinch. "You won't shoot anyone," I said, my gaze steady. "You're desperate, Ravager. You're a cornered animal, lashing out. But you're not a killer. At least not a good one."

He sneered at my words, pressing the pistol into Gramps's temple. "You sure about that, boy?"

"I am," I said, my voice colder than the desert night. "Because if you were, you wouldn't be in this position in the first place. Standing there, looking like an idiot who was again outsmarted by a kid. Pirate captain? Must be the stupidest bunch of pirates this side of the Zenith Cluster. Let me ask you this: How much damage you think you're going to do with an empty gun?"

Ravager face was about as red as could be, anger flushing his face as he let the trigger rip, but nothing happened. "Looking for these?" I asked, holding up the pistol's empty clip. His face fell, and I couldn't help but smirk. "I'm not as naïve as you think, Ravager." I said as I aimed my rifle between his eyes.

With a reluctant sigh, he dropped the empty pistol and raised his hands. "You've got me, boy," he said, a hint of amusement in his voice.

Back in his makeshift cell, I could see a glint of respect in his eyes. As I turned to leave him there, his voice called after me, echoing through the steel corridors of the 'Nomad'. "I'm proud of you, Voidrunner," he said, a note of sincerity coloring his voice that I hadn't heard before. "You're smarter than I gave you credit for. Smart enough even, to know my real name. It's Muk Celestius." His eyes met mine, steady and unflinching. "Make sure they get my death stone right."

As the sound of his voice faded, I looked out at the desolate landscape, feeling a strange mix of satisfaction and apprehension. We had a long way to go, and I had no illusions about the dangers that lay ahead. But for now, at least, I was one step ahead of the notorious Ravager. And that was something.