Chuck surveyed the landing pad with a nod, his proprietary self-satisfied grin encompassing all he could see. It felt good, he reflected, to be a champion of the most powerful force in the universe: awesome.

Chuck was a Space Ranger and proud of it. They weren’t universally liked, but then, awesome never was. The Space Rangers were loners, a band held together only loosely by the bonds of a common purpose: liberating the innocent from the clutches of the bad guys. From system to system, their mission was the same, despite the vast difference in the ships they flew, the methods they used, and the caliber of laser pistol they employed—the only difficult conundrum was that Space Rangers tended to disagree on the definitions of “innocents” and “bad guys.”

Luckily for Chuck’s peace of mind, no matter what your definition was, there was no way to deny that this mission had been purely awesome. His own definition of “bad guys” included anything non-humanoid, mostly because their bodies tended to crumple and fold entertainingly when sent flying by Chuck’s ancient martial arts techniques. Fighting aliens always made for an awesome show.

With a last tug on his genuine, imported, one-hundred-percent lung-killing Marlboro Red Octane, Chuck tossed the cigarette aside and ground the flame away in the alien soil. It felt good to know that no bug-eyed monsters or creatures with more legs than brains would be terrorizing the good, elongated but still humanoid Drampuuls. The planet was now in the hands of people who had hands, and in the mind of Space Ranger Chuck, that was a thoroughly awesome feeling.

“Here’s to a job well done,” he said, lifting his flask to toast the binary sunset. The Arnorian whiskey inside of it had been a gift of thanks from the leaders of the last world he’d liberated, and Chuck thought it was only fitting that he enjoy it in the wake of another great battle. Corking the flask again, Chuck raised his hand to the horizon in a cocky salute. Then he pulled his wide-brimmed hat down low over his eyes, bowing his head as he made his way back to his ship. A Space Ranger’s work was never done.