Author : Clint Wilson

Chestofferoff had never dealt with a Steely before; hadn’t even actually seen one in person until now. He knew they were supposed to be big, but this guy blocked out the suns! Never mind, he pushed his nervousness aside, slicked back his greasy hair with one sweaty palm and flashed a big square toothed grin under his pencil thin moustache. “So what kind of ship you looking for friend?”

The Steely’s voice reverberated off the hodge podge collection of beaten and battered fighters, freighters and cruisers that littered the dirty patch of tarmac known as “Honest Chestofferoff’s Used Space-Shipatorium.”

“Mmm, big ship. Mmm big ship for big Steely body. Mmm fast ship, mmm fast and… ac-ro-bat-ic.” The last syllable ended in an echoing click, like a ball peen hammer hitting a distant anvil.

“Uh huh,” Chestofferoff held the grin as he sized up his customer. “So you want big, fast and agile huh? Well your old pal Chestofferoff can certainly accommodate you friend.” Then with the expertise of a galactic politician he suddenly lost the smile and leaned forward, one eyebrow raised in feigned mistrust. “Say, how much exactly do you have to spend?”

The Steely wore no clothing but had a large chain mail purse strapped over one shoulder. From the bag he procured two bank pouches which he shook at the salesman. Chestofferoff’s trained ears could hear the stacks of large denomination plastic credits rattling around in there. Instantly his smile returned. He stepped up to the Steely and tried to put a hand on the huge biped’s shoulder, but had to settle instead for grabbing the back of his massive upper arm. “Right this way friend, have I got the ship for you!”

An hour later he was putting the neatly stacked credits into his safe and making ready to close up for the night when he heard a horrible screeching from above, and looked out the window just in time to see a fiery streak cross the early evening sky. This was then followed by a muffled crash that shook the entire lot. Chestofferoff hurriedly locked his safe and stepped out of the office in time to see a smoking fire ball rising into the air nearby.

He punched the night security switch on his wristband and felt a little better as the massive wrought iron gate banged shut at the lot’s entrance. But still he spoke aloud to himself, a trait easily picked up by someone with no friends, “I paid those damn Wretchassians to rebuild those stabilizers. It couldn’t be!” Then as he made his way across the lot back to his private quarters, all the while looking over his shoulder, he added, “I might not have paid them what they wanted, but I damn well paid them! Sure they argued that the things needed to be replaced, but what do I look like, the crown prince of Regalia Seven?”

Then as he unlocked the door to his quarters he was startled by another tumultuous crash. He spun around to see the lot’s front gate twisted and hurled aside, and there stood the Steely, its eyes glowing orange in the twilight, the bent control stick from the crashed Cygness 5 cruiser clutched in one massive fist.

As Chestofferoff deftly slipped into his quarters he shouted, “No refunds!” and then thought of how the thin steel door of his apartment was probably half as strong as the now mangled front gate.

He could hear the clunking footsteps of the angry Steely drawing near.

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