Fitt Hardcastle


7/9/20235 min read

"Here they are, the ticket to freedom," Ravager's voice crackled over the ship's comm as he handed me a small slip of paper - the coordinates to our next destination. The cockpit of the Nomad hummed with familiar energy as the star-strewn expanse of the cosmos stretched out before us. The coordinates led us to the Yegon cluster, an overlooked speck of cosmos known only to those skirting the law.

"You think they could've traced us from the last stop?" I asked, my voice echoing the worry etched on my face.

Ravager shook his head with a gruff confidence that always seemed to put me at ease. "Nah, they won't. That planet's haven is because they don't waste time looking outwards. We'll be ghost trails before they even notice."

A sudden thud echoed from the back of the ship, followed by the gruff muttering of Gramps. His dreams, it seemed, were not as peaceful as we wished. The concern for our gruff companion knotted my stomach, a sensation Ravager must have shared.

"Stay put, Moe. I'll go check on him," Ravager's gruff voice broke through my concern, his footsteps echoing down the metal corridor towards Gramps.

Our journey led us to Yegon-3, an icy moon harbouring the notorious bar "The Molten Core". This little hole-in-the-wall was nestled between salvaged spacecraft parts and makeshift dwellings, humming with a unique blend of interstellar rogue charm and villainous glamour.

That's when we met him, right there amidst the grim, almost spectral surroundings - Fitt Hardcastle. His energy was infectious, emanating a magnetism that seemed almost surreal in the drab backdrop. Fitt was more than just a name, he was an experience, one that was impossible to forget once lived. His humor, swift and peculiar, had a peculiar way of reaching right into you and tickling your funny bone.

“Well, if it isn’t the stern space pirate turned scruffy miner!” Fitt's voice boomed across the room as he caught sight of Ravager. "And here I was thinking you’d have a hook for a hand and a parrot on your shoulder by now." He mimicked a parrot on his shoulder, bobbing his head and squawking, "Ravager wants a cracker, squawk, squawk!”

I remember finding myself laughing, not a polite chuckle or a brief smile but a genuine, belly-deep laugh, one that resonated within the walls of the bar, serving as a stark contrast to the dreary reality we found ourselves in. For a brief moment, we forgot our worries, we forgot our mission, and we were simply a group of friends sharing a hearty laugh in an inconspicuous bar at the edge of the cosmos. It was the first time in a long while that laughter didn't feel like a luxury, but a necessity, and Fitt, with his oddball charisma, was the one who reminded us of that.

"Fitt, we need your help," Ravager's voice sliced through the laughter, the jovial ambiance instantly shifting to one of grave concern. The sudden shift sent a ripple of surprise through me.

We found ourselves drawn into a round-table discussion filled with tension and urgency. Fitt, my same age and a pilot for the Constellation for 3+ years now, led us through a maze of dangerous possibilities. Each suggestion, while insightful, only seemed to deepen the abyss we were staring into. Ravager's patience thinned, his gruff voice steadily growing sharper as he reminded Fitt of a past favor owed.

"Listen, Ravager," Fitt responded, holding up a placating hand. His usual vibrant eyes were now cloaked with somber understanding. "You're asking me to plunge headfirst into a death wish. I can't do that. But I can guide you. I can sketch the map and point out the quicksand."

True to his word, Fitt outlined an intricate plan, leaving no room for ambiguity. His instructions felt like a lifeline in a sea of chaos, his empathy for Gramps' situation evident in every sincere word.

As the discussion wound down, Gramps voiced his weariness, yearning for the familiar comfort of the Nomad. Ravager, putting on the mantle of the unwilling caregiver once again, rose to assist him. His features were a mask of frustration - not at Gramps or us, but at the situation that tied his hands. Before they left, I mentioned wanting to pay a visit to the local gun shop, a statement that seemed to brighten Fitt's eyes.

"Oh, you're heading to a gun store?" Fitt asked, his eyes lighting up with intrigue as I stood up. "You have to check out the Vortex-6. Everyone swears by it."

I glanced back, my interest piqued. "The Vortex-6? You mean the new line from Proxima Industries?"

Fitt's face lit up like a star going supernova. "You know about it? I thought I was the only crazy who kept up with that stuff."

I couldn't help but chuckle. "I've been following its development since they announced it. Triple-barrel plasma discharge, adjustable energy levels, not to mention the recoil stabilization. It’s like holding a piece of the future."

"Exactly! And the quick-cooling plasma chamber. You won’t have to wait for an eternity between shots. It's a game-changer."

There was a spark in that moment, an unexpected but welcome connection. For a moment, it didn't feel like a conversation between a new acquaintance and me, but between two enthusiasts, two kindred spirits.

"Looks like you and I share a taste for the finer things," Fitt remarked, a wide grin on his face.

"Yeah," I responded, the corner of my mouth tugging upward in an instinctive smile. "Looks like we do."

As I navigated through the dimly lit back alleys to the local gun shop, I was filled with a sense of anticipation. The gun shop was a small, unassuming establishment tucked away in a corner of Yegon-3, its grim exterior belying the treasure trove of deadly armaments housed within. Rows upon rows of gleaming weaponry, ranging from sleek energy blades to hulking missile launchers, lined the walls. The distinct smell of oil and gunpowder permeated the air, hinting at the endless stories these weapons held. The Vortex-6, as per Fitt's recommendation, was waiting for me at the counter, looking just as impressive as I had imagined.

The owner, a gruff middle-aged man named Torvik, eyed me skeptically as I approached the counter.

"What can I do for you, kid?" Torvik grumbled, not looking up from the parts he was meticulously cleaning.

"I’m here for the Vortex-6," I replied, my eyes scanning the array of weapons displayed on the wall behind him.

Torvik finally looked up at me, his eyebrows arching incredulously. "That's top shelf stuff, son. It doesn’t come cheap, and I don’t accept stolen credits or goods."

"I know," I said, my tone confident. Reaching into my pocket, I produced a data chip containing the credits from our recent mining operations. "These are all hard-earned, legitimate credits."

His eyes narrowed as he took the chip, processing the payment. Seeing the amount was sufficient, a hint of respect finally surfaced in his eyes. He moved around the counter, unlocking a glass case. He extracted the sleek, futuristic weapon and handed it over.

Feeling the cool metal of the Vortex-6 in my hand, my heart swelled with pride. It wasn’t a scavenged find or an inheritance; it was something I'd worked hard for, something I earned. As I traced the clean lines of my new pistol, I couldn't help but think that it was more than just a weapon. It was a tangible testament to my journey and my resilience. Holding it in my hands, I felt a burgeoning sense of resolve. Whatever the cosmos had in store for us, I was ready.

As I left the gun shop, the Vortex-6 in my hand, I felt a renewed sense of determination. We had a plan, a way to save Gramps, and I had a new weapon to protect us. Things were looking up for the ragtag team aboard the Nomad.

After all, what could possibly go wrong?