Thursday, April 3, 2008

Star-Pirates of the Golden Moon: Chapter 5

The She-Devil of Space!

The Baroness Allura Bontecou Von Dering; blood niece of the mad emperor, stood before the Star-Pirates. Kesh was tempted to call her beautiful but thought better of it. Although her hair was soft and golden and her womanly figure had indeed struck an agreeable compromise with the battle-scarred armor she wore, there was an unmistakable air of cruelty to the Baroness. Cruelty and the cold air of command.

It's a shame I caught you so easily Starlock. You didn't even let me shoot at you!

No, not this time Baroness. I'd hate for you to think I was being nostalgic.

Not nostalgic my dear, predictable, and yet you are. Dreadfully. A shame I won't be the one who gets to punish you for it. You're to be Aurams' toy, but don't fret, I'm sure he won't make your death last longer than your life.

Indeed he won't Baroness, for this conversation has taken up what seems an eternity and all his chirugeons couldn't match it for torture.

The face of the Baroness became a mask of anger and she took another step forward as if to strike Starlock with her pistol. The blow never landed. Blade crossed barrel as Starlocks saber flew from its hilt. The edge of the sword severed the gun in two and stopped a hairs thickness from the Baroness' throat. She froze, but her eyes blazed malevolently as Kesh retrieved the Ship-Chip and smashed the freighter's computer brain. Starlock took the now useless weapon from the woman's hand.

Now Baroness, I believe there is an escape pod you need to be going to?

My men will be here any second! The Baroness sputtered.

Ship: Deactivate all non-essential personnel. Kesh spoke into the Ship-Chip, an eyebrow arched at the Baroness. At the doorway a squad of newly arriving soldiers fell inert.

Impeccable timing Kesh, said Starlock, his eyes not leaving the Baroness. Impeccable. Now let's use that thing to march them into the escape pods and be out of here with our prize. I too miss the deck of the Archer.

You'll pay for this Starlock! I'll...I'll grind your bones! I'll make candles from your eyes! I'll.. The baroness wailed as the two Star-Pirates placed her, hands bound, in the escape shuttle with the remnants of her men.

Now then Baroness, it shouldn't take you too long to slip those bonds and pilot the shuttle manually back to Auram.

Starlock then closed the hatch on the still cursing Baroness. When the Captain and his Aleph had again reached the exterior of the freighter the shuttle could still be seen, falling gently toward the blue planet Apsu. Starlock turned then to Kesh.

Let's get out of here.

They both donned dark lensed goggles and activated controls on their belts. Flames leapt from their feet as their jump-boot jets engaged. Together they sped back to the distant deck of the Archer.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Star-Pirates of the Golden Moon: Chapter 4

Into the belly of the beast!

Captain Starlock and Kesh the Farfarer turned then from the melee that raged on the Archer. The Kite-Fighters were strong and well-armed but the Archer's crew, no strangers to close fighting themselves, found that the wings on the soldier's armor while graceful in flight, made them clumsy and vulnerable on board the ship.

Hold fast men! We make for the freighter's ShipChip. With it she'll follow us like a puppy back to Arclight.

Confident in the crew, Starlock and Kesh dove from the star-sloop down into the inky blackness that separated them from the freighter below. Two Kite-Fighters swooped in to intercept their plunge. One hurled his explosive tipped spear at Kesh. The Farfarer caught the weapon in his left hand while with his right he flung back a missile of his own. The dagger spun through space curving at the last second to sever the man's hand at the wrist. The blade continued its arc until -like a boomerang-- it found again the hand of its owner. Starlock drew from his belt a finely engraved brass dueling pistol with three revolving barrels. The weapon hummed softly and with a muted metallic clink sent a slug towards the other Kite-Fighter. Red destiny closed the eyes of Starlock's foe and the next barrel rotated into place with a click. The body of the slain Kite-Fighter drifted slowly towards the Captain who took from him the bomb-tipped spear. He pushed the body away into space giving it a brief salute with his dueling pistol.

A Comrade of yours? asked Kesh, eyebrow arched.

All dead soldiers are my comrades. replied Starlock.

They landed near the point of the pyramid wherein they stuck the spears. They retreated as the explosion from the twin bomb-points ripped an opening in the freighters hull. Starlock entered first. Kesh spared a glance upwards at the now-distant Archer then joined his Captain in the breach.

We're in some kind of service duct Kesh, but we should be close to what we seek.

The sooner we're free of this ship the better. I despise the unnatural vessels of your countrymen, vessels that cramp men and keep them from the light of the stars, giving them only walls to look upon.

Not all men are born in space Farfarer. It is... hard... for those who are not to feel comfort in the vast darkness that you call home. The ship gives them a feeling of safety against the void beyond.

And what of you Captain? Do you feel safe in this tin-can?

Nothing will be safe until Auram is destroyed and his reign of horror ended.

Starlock kicked loose a grate and the two men dropped into the hallway below. A red light flickered in the narrow passage.

This way. Starlock said. The bridge should be just ahead and in it the electronic brain that commands the ship. We'll soon lead this freighter home by its nose.

Rounding the corner at a run they came to a large room. The floor was square but the triangular walls met at the ceiling forming the inside of the pyramids point. The room was empty and made of bare polished steel except for in the center which stood a clear dome. Within the dome was a large rectangular device some two feet tall. Its length was studded with intermittently flashing lights. Behind the dome, on the wall was a replica whose lights shone in an order synchronizing with its twin.

That one, Starlock indicated the device on the wall, we smash. That one we take.

As Kesh and Starlock reached forward to shatter the wall-mounted control there was a voice from the doorway.

Not so fast Farfarer. You too Starlock.

The two men turned to see a blonde woman who wore the white and gold armor of a Kite-Fighter although minus the wings. She raised a signet ring-mic to her mouth and spoke,

All units converge.

She held on them a long pistol of the kind Starlock himself carried. It hummed with menace. The woman took a step inside the door, the hint of a smile forming at the corner of her lips.

How dreadful of you to drop by. A pity you'll have to stay.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Star-Pirates of the Golden Moon: Chapter 3

Death and starlight over Apsu's Rings!

A brace of the freighter's heavy guns leveled on the Archer and fired. Starlock slipped the sloop into cover behind a mountain sized iceberg. Narrowly averted, the shells struck the glacier, exploding it into mist. From the roiling cloud of steam and shredded ice came the Archer and its bold crew, flying against the freighter like a falcon. Starlock shot towards the larger ship, dodging another salvo with a tight barrel roll. In another instant the Archer was inside the range of the gold-ships cannons and headed towards the command center of the freighter.
The tip of the pyramid shaped ship rotated revealing four airlocks. Soldiers in white armor, carrying explosive tipped lances and wearing wings of gold swarmed from the openings. Their appearance was modeled on that of an angel but the malice of he whom they served made mockery of the comparison.

They're launching their Kite-Fighters! Starlock warned. Kesh! Keep them off me, until we're close enough to fire the grappler!

The Emperors' Kite-Fighters descended onto the deck of the Archer. The leader of their charge pierced a crewman with the point of his lance which then detonated in the wound, vaporizing him where he stood. The Kite-fighter ducked back to replace the spent tip but Kesh appeared suddenly beside him. Grasping the foe's forearm he forced the soldiers weapon against its master. Kesh sunk the point into the mans' chest and kicked him from the deck of the Archer. The Emperors man tumbled back into space clutching for the bomb-blade buried in his body. The tip did its deadly work and the soldiers limbs careened into space minus a torso. Kesh then drew a pair of long curved knives from the scabbards that crossed the small of his back. He moved into the melee, seeming to dance through his opponents like a cold quick wind.

If you've anything to do Captain, now is the time! Kesh said, through clenched teeth.

Just...a little...closer...almost there... A bead of sweat stood out on Starlocks' brow, his blue eyes focused on their target.

Captain, behind you! Kesh shouted, as one of the Kite-Fighters swooped down behind Starlock.

Now! The grappler fired and Starlock whirled about. The saber sang through the soldiers neck and his head tumbled across the deck. Kesh stopped it with his foot.

One less clone to do the Emperor's mad bidding, muttered the Farfarer.

Auram is the one who demands blood sacrifice. Better that it should come from one of his vat-born slaves than free men such as you or I. Come Kesh, let's end this battle and in so doing put paid to the folly of thie wretch who dares to call himself a god.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Star-Pirates of the Golden Moon: Chapter 2

Hero in Exile

Captain Starlock swung the sloops tiller hard to port and the stars wheeled around him. Solar wind charged the sails taut, thrusting the ship like an arrow through the field of space.
Starlock wore a long vermillion waist-coat and a black scarf at his throat. With one hand he held the tiller of the ship, the other rested on the hawk-headed pommel of his dueling saber. He called down to his men.

Look alive Star-Dogs! The Emperor's gold-freighter hides near. She hopes to lose us in the rings of planet Apsu. The Baron Basteph's golden signet to him that spots the fleeing ship!

With this Captain Starlock reached into his coat and withdrew the bauble. He also drew a dirk from his sleeve with which he pinned the purloined ring to the rail.

Keep your ring, said a dark man from the deck, I spotted the whale while you still spoke. The man had grim eyes that were as colorless as diamond but he grinned slightly as he spoke.

Captain Starlock laughed.

I should have known better than to challenge the eyes of Kesh the Farfarer. Tell me, in all the time you've been my Aleph -my first mate-- is this the first time you've won the prize?

Starshock flicked the ring to the dark man who caught it deftly and placed it on one of his already well-bejeweled fingers.

No Captain.

Nor will it be the last, I'll wager. said Starshock. Come Kesh, let the hunt be joined. I see the fat fish leap from Apsu's rings. We shall all win gold today!

The captain's long blond hair waved wildly about his head as the sloop snapped into action, diving towards the silver rings of the blue planet Apsu. Ahead of them the huge freighter labored to escape. The keel of Starlocks ship carved into the rings sending a rooster tail of spray miles high into space. The freighter was shaped like a huge pyramid traveling point first. As the sloop drew near the emperors ship rocked back onto its base. From the side of the freighter large guns swiveled to bear against the smaller vessel. There was a rising note, audible to the men on Starlocks ship as the huge magnetic guns charged their shells.
Might be a fight after all muttered Kesh.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Star-Pirates of the Golden Moon: Chapter 1

Who dares to come between a god-king and his desires?

It was fitting that Emperor Auram was a man of tremendous girth, for the hugeness of his body bore living, trembling testament to the greatness of his appetites. For who but the great slug-bodied Emperor Auram could wish for himself a moon made entirely of gold to serve as his throne? He was the height of two men, measured to his shoulder and many times that measured around his belly. His mouth was two feet wide and impossibly full of tiny sharp teeth.
Some of which were his own.
Auram sat alone in his dark throne-room, or nearly alone, for the room was empty save a mangled body bearing the garb of a royal messenger. which Auram himself held cradled in his fat arms. The god-king tightened his grip -there was a splintering of bone-- and his total solitude was earned. He held the dangling corpse puppet-like by the top of the head and fixed its cooling eyes on the heavens. Auram too looked upwards at the stars through a gold-rimmed aperture in the ceiling. His eyes became moist with tears and he whispered into the corpses ear.

When I was young, one of my teat-nurses told me that if I looked into a dead man's eyes I would see the future. Will I see my moon in yours, I wonder? Will I see in your eyes what I see in my dreams? A god in a golden chariot? A god who strides the heavens burning his enemies?

Emperor Auram twisted around the broken head of his minion until it stared him in the face. He frowned.

I see nothing. I saw nothing in her eyes either.

Returning his gaze to the stars above, Auram plucked his servants eye with a gory thumb and popped it into his mouth and swallowed.

To hell with you. To hell with anyone who gets in my way. TO HELL WITH CAPTAIN STARLOCK!