DU MONDE ACCEPTS HIS FATE
THE ROYAL STAR
Captain Du Monde, known to his family as Anton, paced in his stateroom waiting for word to come about his departure. He couldn't believe that he'd trusted that girl. His brother Jean had warned him about her. He'd told Anton that she is not the sweet girl that they knew when she was a child. And her father, Nan, being king of the Kalize Nation would not be kind to Du Monde knowing that he'd aided Lucky in her theft of the Royal Starr.
Du Monde paced. Hours had clicked by since Lucky had taken his ship by arrangement. He would help her take the ship with minimal losses and she promised him four hundred thousand bars of plutonian gold in exchange, but why hadn't she come to see him?
The door opened. Lucky's right hand man, a cyborg named Pops walked in. Her engineer was tall, though obviously not entirely human; he seemed to be more of a machine, probably a hybrid with a neural-net mind and no real brain. Du Monde has seen so many of those lobotomized servants. Yet, Pops seemed to be much more intuitive than any artificial life Du Monde had met.
“Your time here is up, Mr. Du Monde.” Pops spoke. His eyes made a quick sweep of the room. As Du Monde stood, Pops produced a hand held device, an EMPC or encrypted micro-personal computer, a Hito Kaze. It was not Kalize, but Domatsu. It was known for its unbreakable encryption. You could transmit across the galaxy and its wave could not be intercepted because nobody but the Domatsu knew where to look for the signal, or even what type of signal it was. It was invisible uninterruptible communication, so far. The Domatsu military had a concrete intelligence net that spread as far as the known intergalactic maps could trace and this small piece of technology was its cornerstone. The Hito Kaze: one wind, the breath of an empire.
Du Monde nodded with recognition of the EMPC. The dread had gone from his stomach. “I take it the transfer has been made?”
“Of course. You are to verify this now. Captains orders. She would like to ensure your satisfaction.”
Du Monde took the device and walked across the small room pressing buttons as he went. After a moment, a sound bleeped then Anton spoke at the screen, “Mr. Keith, I have it on good authority that my package has arrived. Can you confirm this?
On the screen, a ghostly white-skinned man, a bald human with a crooked sneer, nodded the affirmative back at Du Monde. A cigar hung from the corner of Mr. Keith's mouth.
Pulling the cigar from his mouth, Mr. Keith answered. “Yes sir. The shipment arrived about an hour ago.” Mr. Keith had a grin that made Du Monde anxious. “It hasn't been inventoried in total, but from what I can see, it looks like roughly five hundred thousand bars of Plutonian gold, sir.”
“Five hundred thousand, Mr. Keith.?” Du Monde looked confused and faced Pops.
Before Pops could speak, Mr. Keith interjected, putting his hands in the air, open palmed, “Ok, look, you know I'm just testing you. It looks like we have an estimated one million bars, but like I said, we haven't weighed it all in yet. This stuff is heavy.”
Du Monde's mouth lay agape, dumbstruck by the news.
Pops spoke, “He is correct in that assumption. Captain Lucky has provided an exceptionally generous bonus of an additional six hundred thousand bars for your hardship and as incentive for your future cooperation, should the need arise.”
Du Monde was taken aback. Looking into the distance, his eyes glossed over for a moment as he lowered the EMPC. Then angrily, he yelled back at Pops, “I'm making no promises on this!”
“There are no terms or conditions on this bonus, Sir. The Captain only wishes you would consider taking her call, should she try to reach you in the future. Again, this is merely a bonus for your hardship. The Captain understands it is not an easy thing for a man to die. Not even for a little while.”
“You… This is a free bonus? No further conditions?”
“Yes, Sir. We must be on our way, however, you're stop is coming up. We will be ejecting your ship as we pass the crown of Thor in roughly an hour. If you are ready, you can be to your destination in about 2 hours and from there you can go anywhere. The stage has been set, Sir.”
A smile crept upon Anton's lips. This was indeed a sweet deal. Mr. Keith was talking again. Du Monde had nearly forgotten he was still online. He raised the EMPC to his face. “Mr. Keith, I will contact you in one hour with instructions. You should be ready to move within twelve hours. Do I make myself clear?”
“Out.” Pops took back the EMPC. “Mr. Du Monde, I do wish you the best in your future endeavors.” Anton looked at him, realizing for the first time that Pops was indeed human, a cyborg, dependent on the machines and devices which covered his body in so many places, but human at the core. Anton’s eyes wavered with something almost like pity for what he considered a handicap.
Then Anton spoke softly, raising his hand to shake that of Pops' “And I you, Mr. Pops.” They shook hands.
“Take this.” Pops handed Anton piece of paper with some codes written on it. It was a communications number to make contact with the Ferryman, should he ever need anything. “If you ever need our help, we would be glad to assist you, if we can. This is the Captain’s offer and my intentions as well.”
“I will keep this in mind, if I ever need a favor. It would seem the young captain Lucky would like to keep some friends around, yes?”
“Of course, Mr. Du Monde.” Pops nodded.
Du Monde looked on past the open door toward the long hallway connecting to the launch bays. “Very well then, be sure to give Lucky my warmest regards for her hospitality. Shall we go? I believe it is my stop, as you said, and I am suddenly eager to become a dead man."
Pops nodded and stepped towards the door. “Please follow me, Sir,” he asked.
They crossed several empty decks and stopped short of a large airlock. Three enormous bay windows revealed the black of space beyond the port side of the ship and outside several large mechanical arms positioned themselves around a sleek looking spacecraft bent in a V shape. A tubular loading terminal ran up from this bay on the Royal Starr and into one side at the ships main entry airlock. A white light from the Royal Starr showed the ship in a ghostly pale glow.
This was Anton's personal ship, a Radian Scimitar, just large enough for a crew of ten and was just over fifty-six meters wide like a lone pair of wings. Its shape reminded Anton of a Rang from Austral-II. The tribes there still used the archaic bent throwing stick to hunt Shema's in the wild. They would throw the stick at their prey and if it did not hit its target it would come back to them.
Now as Anton stood in the bay entrance, he heard voices. People were murmuring. He saw that further into the bay his entire bridge crew stood in a line facing his ship. They hadn't seen him come in. Their backs were to him and there were weapons trained on their backs. Lucky's crew kept them at bay, but somehow, they were boldly murmuring among themselves. As he walked towards them, Pops took Du Monde's shoulder and pulled a gun from his coat jamming it squarely into Du Monde's back. The show was starting.
“Captain Du Monde!” a booming, deep voice called from the ranks of Lucky's men. A large, beastly creature standing a full meter and a half taller than he came striding over. His single, giant, centered eye beamed at him with enthusiasm. With each step, Du Monde could see the weight of the creature flexing the decking under the artificial gravity. The crown of horns that stuck out from the crest of his skull was intimidating enough, but the deep, resonating, guttural voice sent shivers up and down Anton's back. The beings arms were at least three times the width of Du Monde's entire body.
Anton stood still as the beast approached. The gun in Pops hand ground into his back and again, Du Monde began to quietly worry. This is just a show, he said to himself. Just a show.
“Mr. Yojel, I believe it's time to show our captives just what kind of civilized people we are.” Pops spoke with a cold, calculated tone. He pushed the gun against Du Monde's back to edge him on toward Yojel, the one eyed giant.
“With pleasure.” Then facing Aton, “Mr. Du Monde, it is at this time, our captain, Lucky, would like us to bid you farewell.” The voice boomed, cold and unfeeling at Anton. “Follow me, buddy!” Without warning, Yojel grabbed Anton's jacket and picked him up by the lapel with one large, well calloused hand and walked him, with feet dangling, over to the doorway of the terminal. He set him down roughly. Du Monde was torn between anger and fear as he dusted himself off and turned to face Yojel.
Yojel was laughing ferociously with a deep throaty bellow. “You are... free to depart, Mr. Du Monde.” Yojel stared intently at Du Monde. “I said, go!” he shouted.
Du Monde ran away down the passageway. Halfway down the gangway there was an odd attached tubular tunnel running out the side of the terminal. It was hidden from view in the bay, but a lighted passage ran down into another craft, completely identical to the one outside in view of his old crew. Du Monde saw a familiar figure near the entrance of the second craft. Someone was flagging him down and waving his arms for him to hurry. Du Monde smiled and leapt down the ramp. His good friend, Tobin rushed him inside and the airlock closed behind him.
Pops stood and watched the Scimitar's system lights come on outside the bay window. A buzz chirped in his ear and he heard Tobin mutter, happily, “Package secured.”
With that, he turned to face the crew of the Royal Starr. “Remember, we are but servants of the Captain. We carry out our orders just as you carry out yours.” And with that he waved to Yojel.
Yojel went over to a side compartment near the window and pulled out a box that was wired into the side of the bay walls. There were controls on the box. He opened the protective lid and waited.
The crew of the Royal Starr were murmuring and some sneered as they watched the ship outside turn on its' engines and light up the control room. Figures were moving about in the main cabins windows.
One of the Royal Starr's crew yelled out at the ship in mock attempt to badmouth their captain. “Bastard!” Others laughed. “Coward!” “How could he have made such a deal?”
Another chimed in. “You worm!” Du Monde, their traitorous captain was leaving them to die.
The ship detached from the terminal and began to pull away from the Royal Starr. Its engines roared to life with a flash and the ships guidance auxiliary engines fired up turning the craft away slowly. It began to move out, gracefully away from the large intergalactic spaceliner.
“I hope you rot in hell, Du Monde!” yelled one of the crew.
“Pops nodded at Yojel. “Mr. Yojel, as you see fit. You are clear to complete your task.”
Yojel grinned a big toothy grin. “My pleasure.” He flipped a couple switches in the control box and a gun swung out in front of the bay. You could hear an audible gasp from the audience as he zeroed in on the ship as it was readying to depart. It was only a few hundred meters off the port bow but far away enough to not damage the Royal Starr. “Firing....now!”
A bright flash illuminated the space around the ship and filled the hull with its gory green lights. A dull thud sounded as the weapon fired and retracted with three bursts. In a moment the port wing on the Scimitar separated from the ship. Bright flashes blew out of the ship's severed openings and parts of it rippled and buckled in a very whimsical way. The ship flew apart in a shower of metal and burning fuel before it was completely devoured by space.
“Very good Mr. Yojel.” Pops turned to depart. The Royal Starr's crew stood in mute awe. They had no idea things would turn out this way for Captain Du Monde.
“Good riddance, if you ask me.” One of the shipmates of the Royal Starr said. But nobody else said anything.
Pops turned to look at him. Glancing at Yojel he said, “Kill him. We may be pirates, but we follow our orders and do not look lightly on the death of any human, especially in mockery. Make an example of him.”
Yojel looked at the protester and nodded.
“It will be done, Sir. And of the rest?” Yojel asked.
“Put them back into their cells and out of our way.”
First published Tuesday, June 17, 2008.
Last modified Tuesday, May 2, 2017