Author: Julian Miles, Staff Writer
Out of the grey-blue fog comes a five-armed green pudding in fancy breeks, waving two ray guns and a cutlass. It takes three attempts to blow a hole in it with my beamer. I’m too drunk for this.
The world only comes in to focus every little while. The rest happens on the other side of a comfortable grey-blue haze. The locals call the stuff ‘shebler’. It’s an acquired taste, like someone crossed good whiskey with dirty absinthe, but it does a fine demolition job on one’s higher functions. Tonight’s unexpected mutiny party started after I’d tucked away a bottle of the stuff during a drinking contest I think I won. Not sure.
A while passes. Think so. Whatever. Back in focus. I’m in the long corridor leading to the bridge, in the middle of a draw-down. Got three gunsells ahead of me, hands hanging by their pieces, eyes narrowed. I’m in a similar position. The one on the left makes his move. I drop to one knee, drawing as I go. My beamer takes that one off at knee and thigh, the middle through groin and guts, and the rightmost across chest and shoulder. Then the mist rolls in. Clearly my body is doing fine while my mind is off dancing with Miss Drunk.
The crew had been fractious for several months. Muttering that I’d been conspiring with the Captain – ah-ha! He was the one winning the drinking contest when some swab shot him – to keep the raid profits for ourselves. Never mind that the piss-poor excuse for pirates we’d got couldn’t buckle a swash if their lives depended on it. Piracy is as much showmanship as it is bloody-handed pillage. Unfortunately, if you forget to be stylish, people start to take notice of the slaughter. Most of our profits were consumed in paying off witnesses.
Bloody hell! Midshipman Conrad nearly did for me with that broadbeam. I drop flat and let him cut patterns in the bulkhead with his industrial cutting tool. When he exhausts the charge pack, I’ll leap up to shoot him.
What actually happens is I lunge upward and sling an arm over a console. Which lets me swing the arm with the beamer up and over so I can spray shots in his general direction while resting it on the console top. One of them gets him.
This had better end soon. I need to fall over and get the drunken oblivion bit over with.
Why has my drunk self brought me staggering to the bridge? Oh yes, I remember: Midshipman Simms yelling at me.
“You’re the last, you shitfaced liar! Hold still and die like the man you should have been.”
I’m the last? Okay then. If I get this done, I can keel over for as long as Miss Drunk needs.
Fear of a violent death at the hands of idiots lets me repel the grey-blue fog crowding my focus. Close and seal the bridge bulkhead. Remember the emergency code. Enter it. Open the engineering console. Flick the ‘isolate bridge’ lever. Wait for the light above it to turn green. Press the ‘fire purge’ button. Feel the thump through my feet as all the airlocks below open at once.
Drunken officer: 1. Mutinous idiots: 0. Note to self: need a new – and higher calibre – crew.
Wake me when the help arrives.