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Escape of the Glitter Princess – Sneak Preview Snippet

A snippet from Mission 2 of the SPOOK & GOON Space Adventures:

Escape of the Glitter Princess: Pirates, Slaves & Snakes


Dais System, Near the Pink Moon

SPOOK Agent Dom Wagner hated flying through the Dais system. Not only did its pungent smell somehow permeate the ship, but also the system always seemed to be filled with pirates who attacked any crew brave enough to fly through the funk. This mission was no exception.

Dom quickly pulled himself into the weapon’s chair, its screen showing a ship moving into position to fire upon them. They were closing in quickly with weapons blazing.

Dom yelled, “They’re going to fire!”

GOON Major Jock Saunders pivoted his ship sharply to the left, but it was too late. The TX1539 rocked from the impact. The rear shields bore the brunt of the blast as Dom teed up the laser cannon.

Dom swiveled in his chair, trying to keep control of the cannon in the belly of the ship. It was difficult to get hold of due to Jock’s chaotic evasive maneuvers.

“Any time now, sweetie,” Jock yelled, his voice echoing throughout the ship. “If we can outrun them, we should be able to get to that next moon.”

“On it. I’m going to blast those stinky pirates back to their garbage dump!” Dom yelled back. “No way they’re going to get our precious cargo. Especially you, Jock.”

The pink moon grew larger as the TX flew in closer. Jock could see the landing pad even from that distance. It was the biggest spaceport he’d ever seen. “These people take their landings seriously,” he thought.

“Touching down in five, Dom. Can you hold them off that long? What happened to the cannon fire?”

“JAXX is getting it online now,” Dom yelled.

“JAXXY, hurry up!” yelled Jock to the ship’s AI. “We need to take out those pirates and get to that moon.”

They closed in quickly on the moon, approaching the landing bay a little too fast for Jock’s liking, but at the speed needed to outrun the pirates they were coming in hot.

JAXX got the cannon online, and Dom quickly spun into position to fire on the enemy ship. When they got within range, he shot a surge of plasma out the underside of the TX. The pulse enveloped the pirates’ ship, stopping it in its tracks. The sticky mass turned the ship’s shields into jelly as the rest of it vaporized in its wake.

“Yes!” Dom yelled into his comm mic. “Got those stinky bastards!”

He swiveled his chair around and unstrapped himself, taking a moment to clear his head as his legs wobbled from the jerky movements. “Nothing like a quick workout before breakfast,” he thought, running his hands through his sweaty hair.

He’d never used the laser cannon on the TX before, but luckily picked it up quickly on this mission or they’d be dead.

“I hate these cargo missions,” he muttered to himself. “I can’t believe I went from saving the Earth to this.”

Taking out some random pirates was nothing compared to their last assignment, a supposed peace mission with a group of furry creatures from Planet Frore. That went about as well as expected, except for Dom scratching an Alien Receiver and incurring the coming wrath of the Adjusters. And Jock accidentally shooting a Froree private in the privates. No matter that they had saved the Earth from a coming invasion, the Frorees had declared war on the Humans and Jock and Dom were easy scapegoats for the Federated Union.

Dom yelled out to Jock as he walked back to the cockpit. “The damn SPOOKs and GOONs better reinstate us to full status soon.”

Dom took his seat in the nav chair next to Jock as they prepared for landing. “I know our last mission turned into a cluster, but I can’t believe we got demoted to running cargo shipments for Commander Weisman to the Dais system. Especially since I’m stuck with you now. At least I don’t have a handler screaming in my head anymore.”

After he was suspended, The SPOOKs removed the comm stat implant in Dom’s head much to his liking, but not the retinal implant in his eye that allowed him to wipe people’s memories with a blink. Doing so would have blinded him forever. Unlike the GOONs, the SPOOKs weren’t that barbaric, so Dom would always have that little trick up his sleeve.

Jock rolled his eyes. “There is that, but you screaming in my ship all the time isn’t much better.”

“Besides, you know this is just a cover, Dom.” Jock continued. “Weisman had to cover his butt so his superiors wouldn’t take further action against us. Plus the SPOOKs and GOONs suspended us after we disobeyed their orders to steal the Receiver. At least we’re not stuck patrolling the Martian underground with no access to sunlight for weeks on end.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Dom said. “Weisman kept us together for a reason. Maybe we’ll get to hang out with the shit creatures in the asteroid belt again after the Adjusters finish their investigation.”

“They probably miss you, Dom,” Jock said with a sly smile.

“You know who I miss? Desire,” Dom said.

Jock rolled his eyes at the mention of the mind reader from their mission, Special Liaison Desire Wilhelm. “When is she getting back from vacation?”

“Supposedly before our next gig,” Dom replied.

Dom was jealous. All he’d wanted to do after the Froree incursion was get back to Earth and finish his vacation on the blissful waters of Grace Bay, Turks and Caicos. Commander Weisman had other ideas and made him stay local due to the Adjuster investigation.

Jock never took vacations. He felt them weak. Instead, he stayed in his quarters on the USSS Constellation for a week afterward, sleeping and reading and watching the satellites rotate around the space station every day. For him, that was spellbinding entertainment.

Jock guided the ship down toward the landing pod, the reverse thrusters slowing the ship to a hover before touching down lightly on the pad. He loved his new ship so much that he placed his old one on uBuy, expecting to fetch a pretty penny after he got the outside cleaned up a bit.

Dom kept thinking about Desire as they made their landing and got off the ship. He still felt embarrassed. He tried to get with her after the Froree mission, but she wasn’t interested, at least “not yet,” she told him. That Centaurian played hard to get, despite his fumbling attempts to woo her. He was fine when things were strictly business on the mission. When it came time to be off the clock, that’s when he caved and put the moves on her. Sadly for Dom, she denied him and went on vacation alone instead.

Just as they stepped off the TX, they saw the Dais guards approaching. Jock handed them a comm chip with a manifest showing the cargo and its final destination. The Dais guard grunted and waved them on. It was all above board, as the Federated Union needed the supplies delivered. In the meantime, Jock and Dom would take a few hours to relax in the lounge while the dock crew unloaded the cargo.

Leaving JAXX to watch the ship while the dockworkers did their thing, Jock and Dom headed for the bar. Dom’s hair was still damp from running the cannon, and he wished he could take a quick shower. “Being a spaceport, there has to be facilities somewhere,” he said. “What happened to all the real cargo heads who did this for a living? Did they just constantly smell like funk?” Dom skipped getting a drink and went to look for a locker room.

Since he hadn’t overexerted himself flying the ship, Jock went straight to the lounge for a drink. The sign above the bar said “No Alcohol” which didn’t make him happy. It was only midday on the Earth timestamp, so he wouldn’t able to drink a real drink for another few hours. He hated these out-of-the-way systems with their weird regulations. If a man got off a ship in the middle of the day after a long flight, he damn well deserved to be able to order a drink. And he wanted a bourbon straight up.

“A glass of whole milk, please,” Jock said. The burly guy behind the bar didn’t look like the type he’d argue with about the proper time to order liquor. Jock was a big guy, 6’4”, 110kg and ripped, but this dude was massive, almost as big as one of the Frorees. He thought better.

“Do you have any chocolate chip cookies?”

Whatever cargo they carried, it attracted a lot of attention in the docking area. Jock watched from the bar and quietly unlatched his blaster holster, ready to make anyone pay a heavy price for getting too close to his ship. He sat and enjoyed the rest of his cookies, slowly dunking each one in the wide-mouthed glass of creamy milk. Being on a faraway planet, he couldn’t verify that it was actually cow’s milk. Goat’s milk would have done in a pinch, but even that might have been a stretch on the Dais moon. He took another bite. The cookies tasted damn good in whatever it was, so he stopped stressing about it.

Dom emerged from the locker room, his hair still damp but now clean. He also had on a fresh flight suit that caused Jock to do a double take. “Where did you get that?” he asked. “You left your bag on the ship.”

“This is the coolest rest stop I’ve ever seen,” Dom said. “This place is stocked! They had one in my size on a mannequin out front. Some of us who aren’t freaks of nature can shop off the rack.”

Jock went back to his milk and cookies. “If you say so,” he said, dunking another one, “but we’re heading right back. Desire’s not with us this time, so it’s not like you need a clean set of clothes. Even if she were, she smelled you at your worst on our last mission.”

“And I smelled you at your worst, so we’ll call it even,” Dom said. “I’d appreciate it if neither of us ever spoke of that again. I’m still having residual headaches and visions of Frorees dancing in my head.”

“That sounds fun,” Jock said. His mind flashed back to the moment he shot Private Aceli. “I wish Desire could figure out a way to mind wipe certain things.”

“I’m sure she’s doing enough of that as we speak in Akumal,” Dom replied. “I hope she brings me back some of those sun god things. I’d love to have one on board for the Venusian actress to autograph when she visits the Constellation next week.”

Dom had a thing for famous actresses, especially from other planets. He held a secret love of gossip and the limelight, which partly explained why he cared so much about how he dressed. He never knew when he would meet someone famous and break into his fanboi state.

“I thought the SPOOKs would have beaten that out of you back when you left the Academy,” Jock said. Back at the academy, Dom used to watch retro TV screens full of old movies and daydream of making it big as a full-time security guard for a hot Hollywood actress. Secretly of course. Jock only found out when he dated an ex of Dom’s after Dom left to join the SPOOKS. It still made him laugh.

Dom ignored Jock and starting plotting how he’d make his moves on the Venusian actress.

Sensing his comments were not riling Dom, Jock tried another tack. “The Froree XO mentioned that the lasting effects of a Froree’s true love kiss never really go away,” Jock said, knowing full well that it was a lie. He just wanted to see Dom freak out a bit.

“You have no idea,” Dom replied. “I took three of Desire’s pain pods when we got back to the Constellation, and they still didn’t do anything.”

Jock dunked his last bit of cookie and drank the rest of his milk, holding it upside down to swallow an orphaned chunk of chocolate from the bottom of the glass.

“Let’s go,” he said, leaving the bartender a cubit chip for his troubles.

Dom turned to the burly man and asked for a diet soda to go. “Make that a double,” he said, flipping another cubit chip his way.

Dom grabbed the liter bottles, tucking them under his arms as they turned to head back to the ship. Jock scanned the oncoming crowd and eased his right hand down to his side. All eyes were on the two of them, and Jock and Dom started feeling like they were a bit too well known, even all the way out on the pink moon of Dais. It wasn’t good for SPOOKS and GOONS to have such notoriety, but the Froree mission had made them household names, no matter how much the Federated Union tried to quash the publicity.

A few meters before the ramp to the ship, Jock noticed a rustle in the crowd. Someone was in a hurry to get through. His hand slipped over the butt of his blaster, ready to use it on whomever, or whatever was coming his way.

A pregnant Daisian emerged from the crowd, rushing as fast as she could to get to the locker room. He guessed she needed to pee in the worst way, and there was no stopping her.

Jock eased up and dropped his tension level. Dom watched as beads of sweat formed on his partner's forehead.

“Calm down, Major Punchy,” Dom said. “Imagine you had a bladder full of milk and you needed to go right away.”

The Dais crew had just finished unloading the last of the cargo and the guards waved them through. Dom stepped onto the ramp and up into the ship. Jock took one last survey of the crowd to ensure there was no trouble and turned to board the TX.

He strapped in and had JAXX pull up the coordinates to get them back to the Constellation.

“Let’s go home,” he said. “We should make it by morning, or sooner if JAXXY can ever finish those mods I told him to program before we left.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” JAXX replied. “Those mods are unauthorized by the Federated Union. We could get stopped in twelve star systems if we make any of those.”

“We only ever fly in this one, so make them and let’s get the hell home,” Jock replied to the AI.

Dom eased back into his seat, flipping through the latest gossip chip he picked up at the rest stop.

Jock kept JAXX on high alert the rest of the trip, sensing something was going to happen. He didn't know what exactly, but his spidey sense tingled letting him know to keep watch.

Dom let his hair down as much as he could, catching up on the latest Hollywood gossip and his favorite intergalactic actresses. It was one of those things that he needed to do as a release, and it was his simple way of getting stress out of his system.

JAXX chirped quietly in the background while the steady hum of the ship calmed Jock’s nerves. While he loved the new TX, he still missed his old ship; the comforting way his butt fit the seats. He’d worn grooves in the console with his hand from all the time he spent flying it. This new one was great in all the ways any new toy always was, but it still didn’t feel entirely his yet. He worried over every little thing, every little piece of space junk that might scratch his new baby. In another month, he’d forget all about it and just let it be lived in.

Copyright © 2018 Chad V. Holtkamp.
All rights reserved.

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