Author : Helstrom

Paydirt rolled deftly away from the asteroid we’d hid her behind and launched a volley across the Wayfarer’s bow. Some junior officer now had the task of rushing the captain out of his cabin. It was exactly those few minutes we used to put all the dominoes in place. By the time anyone qualified was in the big chair, the whole match would already be falling on him like a house of cards. Checkmate!

“Drop the birds, Jerry!” I shouted at the coxswain, “It’s time to show these fools they’ve met their match!”

“It’s Jeff, sir,” Came the tired reply, “Launching your squadron.”

I gripped the controls of my fighter as she was flung from the Paydirt’s rotating section. Going from artificial gravity to free-fall sure got the adrenalin going in a rush! The boosters kicked in and I pulled her into a tight bank towards the Wayfarer. We had her cornered against the vast expanse of interplanetary space – there would be no escape.

“Tumbling Dice! Are you with me?”

“On your lead, sir. Ready when you are.”

I switched to the hailing channel: “Wayfarer! This is Zack Daring of the Tumbling Dice – you’re up the river without a chance here, prepare to be boarded and pillaged! Surrender now and no-one needs to get hurt much.”

“Tumbling Dice, this is Wayfarer,” – sounded like the captain, guess he liked to get up early – “We are unarmed and well insured. We are ready to surrender all valuables and cargo in exchange for the safety of our ship, passengers, and crew.”

“Huh! I’d expected more fight out of you. Very well – pack everything nicely and jettison it out your port cargo bay. And don’t even think about opening fire… We’ve got you pinned down like a jumpy cat!”

“Uh… Repeat, Tumbling Dice, we are unarmed. Please stand by to receive our valuables out the port cargo bay in fifteen minutes.”

“If I had a nickel for every time I heard that, I’d never get any work done! Make it ten.”

“Ah… Affirmative… Tumbling Dice, we will comply in ten minutes.”

I allowed myself a wide grin as I craned my head around to survey the little masterpiece unfolding against the backdrop of Jupiter’s swirling crescent. Paydirt was slowly circling Wayfarer, brandishing wicked broadside guns against the cruise liner’s pristine panorama decks. Behind me, in a tight V formation, were my other fighters, each armed with high-powered lasers and nuclear missiles easily capable of ripping apart a ship ten times the Wayfarer’s size – but radioactive loot was hard to sell these days!

It took the passengers seven minutes flat to dump all their valuables into the cargo hold and have them flushed out into space. The retrieval boat picked them up and reported a pretty penny aboard.

“Wayfarer! We have taken our loot and we’ll be on our way. I’m not surprised you didn’t put up more of a fight, you’ve got as much spine as a sloth!”

Josh or Jack or whatever the hell his name was chimed in: “Sir, sloths are vertebrates. They have spines.”

“I know, John – but take that away and all you have left is a lot of… Fur. Now let’s get the hell out of here and mosey along!”

So, there was no fight today, but we caught a good booty jumping a defenseless ship – hell, I was a pirate, and with a name like Zack Daring, what else was I going to be?

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