Although she was intent on relocating to Terran space, Lady Nistrie had not been aiming for the colony on Mars. Finding herself stranded here, she was at least pleased to find ample work salvaging cockpit components from old, derelict ships. It was hard, rewarding work, and her potential savings were quickly growing. She camped outside, hidden in the tall buffalo grass and rationed the little bit of food she had been given by her rescuers.
“It’s about time I find a town to sell what I’ve salvaged and replenish my supplies,” she said to herself.
“It won’t do me any good to starve to death out here.”
She had taken to talking to herself after two weeks of solitude, so she wouldn’t feel so lonely and knew that her voice still worked.
Her most recent project was the salvage of an ancient, half buried ship that she had nearly tripped over that morning. It was camouflaged, as she was, in the tall grass that seemed to have taken over every bit of available land.
“What have we here?” she chuckled to herself.
“It looks completely untouched. My luck is certainly changing for the better.”
She set her supplies on the ground, took out her shovel, and began digging enthusiastically. Several hours later she put the shovel down to rest and sat in the grass with some dried meat and crackers.
“I wonder where the entrance is,” she thought. “Knowing my luck it's on the other side.”
She ran her golden eyes along the area she had unearthed and tried to picture the ship in her mind. It looked like a pirate ship from the days of the invasion.
She knew the layout of that type of ship from her historical studies. Ostracized on her own planet for her unusual hobby, she found those studies immensely helpful in her new role. Picking up her shovel again, she walked around to the side closest to the road and began to dig again. The rain came and made her job more difficult as the dirt, now mud, began to slide back into the trench she was digging. She ran her hand along the hull and immediately felt a prickle of unease.
“Perhaps it's the changing weather,” she thought.
She looked up at the sky, which was getting darker by the second, tied up her long auburn hair and wiped her freckled face with a slightly-used, Vacfoam cloth. Shrugging off her uneasy feeling, she kept working because she wanted to eat and camping was losing its charm.
When she stopped to take a drink of water, Lady Nistrie sensed a movement above her. She looked up quickly and saw a large, translucent pirate glaring at her. He put his hands on his hips and said, “What makes you think you can take what isn't yours?”
“I haven't actually taken anything,” she said calmly.
“But you intend to. Others have attempted the same.”
“Then why has nothing been disturbed?”
“Because a captain always defends his ship!” he boomed.
“Should it just stay here and rot now that you're dead?”
His eyes glowed red. “Dead or alive, it's mine! Thief!”
He pounced at her but she had already pulled out her particle-beam pistol. She shot him in self-defense, breathing a sigh of relief when he disintegrated and thanking her rescuers for the weapons advice.
As she reached for her shovel again, the rest of the crew appeared. There were dozens of them; big, burly, angry ghosts who were not only guarding their ship, they were now seeking revenge. There were rows of them and Lady Nistrie couldn't shoot them all, so she did the next best thing.
The ghost pirates followed her for quite some time. It was far enough that she kept looking for them, to see if they were about to attack. She might have looked crazy to any living observers, running and swinging her pistol around, but she was terrified and functioning on pure adrenaline. She ran for kilometers, using what little energy she had left. Panting from exertion and still terrified, she slowed to a fast walk and stopped at a bench on the side of the road when she could go no farther.
With one eye in the direction she had come, she collapsed, soaking wet, on the bench.
“Now I have no gear. No tent. No food. I will never get off this planet.”
She sat feeling sorry for herself, wallowing in a hopeless mire of self-pity. She knew not her location, nor how far the next town was. She didn't even have bus fare. As she was trying to work out what her next steps would be, she saw a very large, black bunny with grey spots hopping toward her.
“I must be hallucinating,” she thought.
He had a white spot around his left eye, which somehow reminded her of a rifle scope, and he was carrying a bucket in one paw. She shook her head and blinked but he was still approaching. He looked like he was smiling.
“What's in the bucket?” she wondered.
When he stopped in front of her and spoke, her adrenaline-addled brain broke a little and she crumpled to the ground in a dead faint.
When Lady Nistrie came to, a fuzzy paw was lightly tapping her cheek and she could smell fish. Her mind swam again as her senses seemed to not be functioning properly. She heard a small, commanding voice telling her she was safe and it was time to wake up. Her eyes opened and looked straight into the intelligent blue eyes of a bunny. A bunny?!
“About time you woke up. I’m Hector. I have plenty of experience but I don’t think I can carry you.”
“You must be one of the sentient beings I’ve read about.” she said with awe, reaching out to touch his face.
He looked like he might be offended, then laughed good-naturedly and told her he’d seen her from his submarine and noticed she didn’t have any gear.
“You can share my bucket-o-fishies if you’re hungry.”
“That is very kind of you. In return I will tell you the tale of my lost pack and a band of angry ghost pirates. I am Lady Nistrie.”
“Let’s get you dry, Lady. I do enjoy a good pirate ghostie adventure.”
I and @todolomejor have been planning and working for months. Mystery, spooky stuff Starshatter style, fishies, munchies, and, of course - aliens! This will be a series of stories following the adventures of two characters - the old submariner Hector and the Dzenta'rii, Lady Nistrie!
Episode eleven coming soon...