TITLE: The Victorious Dead
GENRE: SF/Space Opera
“Where the hell is my ship, Skrankle?” Captain Vaslisha Tor Dain slammed the salvage dealer against the peeling office wall and pressed hard on his neck. She swore and stepped sideways as the putrid orange slime he oozed in self-defense crept towards her feet. If he ruined her second favorite pair of boots, she was going to do more than choke him—providing the smell that came along with the slime didn’t suffocate her first.
Vas was a simple sort of mercenary. All she wanted in life was her ship, her crew, and a good fight. Now this whimpering scum bag destroyed that. Her gut knotted up as worry and anger fought inside her. Anger was an old friend. Worry was far closer to a stranger and she liked it that way. Skrankle was getting to share all of her feelings first hand and wasn’t faring well from it. The dark blue patches covering his red fleshy cheeks couldn’t bode well for his continued survival.
Vas squeezed his neck tighter.
More orange slime dripped down the wall behind Skrankle. His left arm twitched out and tugged futilely at her hand. He got enough air to choke out a few words, “I said to you, Captain, Victorious Dead is in slip five. There she’s been all month.”
Vas increased pressure on his throat until he darkened at least two more shades, then let him collapse. She wiped her hands on her heavy brown duster. While not traditional starship mercenary garb, it suited her just fine. “Slip five is empty, Skrankle. You were supposed to fix her. Not lose her.”
The Ilerian gathered himself and slithered to his desk. He slurped into his chair with a heavy sigh and nasty sucking sound. The rustle of bureaucratic skill he demonstrated in calling up his vid-screen indicated he’d recover from her stranglehold. Unfortunately.
“Records of mine say the Victorious Dead docked here twenty-nine days ago. Scheduled decommission ten days ago…”
Vas pulled her heavy blaster free of its hip holster the instant “decommissioned” left his thin purple lips. “You ripped my ship apart?” The polished tip of her weapon found a home against his temple. The urge to pull the trigger made her mouth go dry, but the need to find her beloved ship forced her finger to stay still. An odd feeling slammed into her, starting in the pit of her stomach and clawing its way up to her throat. It took almost a full minute to recognize it as fear. She forced it back down.
Skrankle whimpered, and frantically pushed a few more buttons. “No, I’m sure there’s mistake— a mistake. Yes, yes. Mistake, I’m sure.”
She kept the blaster to his head and leaned over to look out into the space station shipyard through the slimy window of his office. Vas tried not to think what he’d done to the window to leave that light green ichors on it.