7/9/20233 min read

The days that followed saw a tense peace aboard the 'Nomad'. Muk 'Ravager' Celestius had been confined to his makeshift cell, his every move watched by me and Gramps. There were moments, caught in the stillness between tasks, when I'd catch Ravager observing me with an inscrutable expression. It felt like an odd kind of respect was simmering within him, even if I wasn't ready to reciprocate it just yet.

In those quiet moments, his eyes told stories his mouth didn't. There was something about the way he watched me, a curiosity mixed with a begrudging admiration. He'd seen me outwit him and he'd seen me stand my ground. I was becoming something more than a naive boy in his eyes.

After getting the 'Nomad' back to a serviceable condition, we set course for a remote planet, away from the usual trade routes. It was a desolate rock with minimal coms, just the way we wanted. Once we landed, we sent out a distress signal to the Freestar Collective, a federation of law-abiding systems.

"Freestar Collective, this is Moe from the vessel 'Nomad'," I began, my voice steady despite the tension knotting my stomach. "We have apprehended Pirate Captain Muk 'Ravager' Celestius and we're looking to claim the bounty."

We waited for a response, the ship’s console flickering with weak comms signal. Finally, a gruff voice came through. "This is Deputy Soren of Freestar. We read you, 'Nomad'. Let's set an exchange point."

Just as a wave of relief washed over me, the console erupted with the shrill sound of an alarm. The radar indicated an incoming ship, bearing the pirate insignia of Ravager's crew. A chill ran down my spine as realization hit me: they had intercepted our communication.

"Gramps," I called, the adrenaline pumping through my veins giving my voice an edge. He turned, his expression grave as he registered the alarm.

"What is it, Moe?" he asked, worry lines deepening on his face.

"They're here. Ravager's crew. They must have caught our transmission."

Gramps paled, his gaze flicking to the cell that held Ravager. Even from here, I could see the smug smirk that had spread across Ravager's face.

"Well, isn't this a party now," Ravager drawled, the bars of his cell doing nothing to dampen his enthusiasm. "Better buckle up, Voidrunner."

I ignored him, turning back to Gramps. "I have a plan," I said, swallowing the fear that threatened to choke me. "I'll draw their fire, get them away from the ship. You keep an eye on Ravager."

There was a moment of hesitation in Gramps' eyes, but he nodded, understanding the necessity of my plan. He turned to look at Ravager, his grip tightening on his pistol. Ravager, for his part, looked intrigued, the smug grin still etched on his face as he watched our exchange.

Running out into the barren wasteland, I fired my blasters at the approaching pirate crew, drawing their attention. As I weaved my way through the desolate landscape, the sound of their blasters' fire echoed around me, a deadly chorus that quickened my heartbeat.

"Gramps, keep Ravager secure!" I called out, ducking behind a rock formation for cover. As I turned back to the battlefield, a searing pain tore through my shoulder. A blaster shot had found its mark. I fell, my world spinning as pain radiated from the wound.

Through my hazy vision, I saw a figure approach. It was Ravager. He crouched next to me, his hand reaching for my dropped pistol. Was he planning to make a move, or was this another one of his games? My consciousness was fading, and with it, my chances of finding out.

As the darkness pulled me under, my last sight was of Ravager, my pistol in his hand, his gaze focused on the unfolding chaos. And then everything faded to black.