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The Spacer Way

AragmarMar 11, 2022, 5:02:18 PM


The bent, blasted apart, twisted by force of various weaponry hull of an ancient space station drifted in the void. Frozen pieces of metal followed the decrepit hulk, reflected the light of this system's star. Like a trail of tears did these debris glint in the dark, as if mourning days of glory long since gone.

Once upon a time, the hallways of this mighty starbase were populated by a throng of vicious sentients. Merciless and uncaring, these space vultures roamed the starlanes, plundered many a spaceship and sold their unfortunate crews into soul-crushing slavery.

Long was the reign of their Clan over this patch of space; the loot, both in living and precious cargo, plentiful. Powerful these pirate vessels were, crewed by their strongest and most vicious star warriors. Yet, it was true what some sentients said, that:

“All bad things must come to an end.”

It was therefore inevitable that one star-day, someone would come for them.

Their vanquishers descended upon them with righteous fury, such that even vicious pirates like themselves had rarely witnessed, let alone weathered. Fewer ships their attackers had; armed and outfitted with seemingly inferior tech and initially, the pirates assumed victory was theirs. Crewed by people who entered battle already dead, these otherwise weaker alien starships soon overwhelmed and eventually, conquered their own.

In the end, it was their powerful vessels, their mighty weapons that murdered the pirates.

Now, many decades after their doom, the progeny of those who exterminated them, oft came here. These children visited what was left of the starbase; they explored its ravaged hallways, witnessed their ancestor's fury. Treading over the ashes of many a once vicious pirate star warrior, they practiced the lessons which their elders taught them.

A slender humanoid figure, dressed in uniquely designed spacesuit, traversed the dark of space. The small vessel which dropped this sentient sped away, leaving a trail of drive plasma behind her. Carefully rotating around her center axis via engine power, the figure corrected her boarding course.

Ideally, only minute amounts of fuel should be expended, for it wasn't the Spacer's Way to waste. In one hand she held a hand scanner, using the device to avoid dangerous debris, while piloting her suit with the other. Only once was she forced to blast a chunk of trash apart with her small laser pistol – her first mistake. She shouldn't have plotted a course so reckless, so flashy; this was a test of her survival knowledge, not a Spacer escape pod race.

Minutes passed in cold silence and, finally, the figure's mag-boots touched metal. Careful not to damage her suit, she walked towards an opening, sufficiently wide so she could enter the station's innards. It very much felt that she was treading over somebody’s grave. Indeed, soon the remains of rent by railgun, fried by laser, and sliced by vibroblade spacesuits floated past her.

She looked at each dilapidated skeleton and didn't avert her eye, for these were “proud” enslavers, oppressors and conquerors. They got their just rewards, all of them vanquished by the hands of her kin, her grandparents and their friends. Before her boot finally touched the starbase's ancient floor plating, one star warrior floated past her, his suit molten and torso ripped asunder.

The fool was still clutching a shield; hiding behind it, in a futile attempt to stop the inevitable.

Canting her head, the child made a few probing steps around, and once again reached for her hand scanner. The nifty device was probably one of her most important and useful pieces of survival gear. Even though most sentients would rely on their suit's magslots to secure similar instruments, hers was tied to her belt via a metal wire. Better safe than sorry, her mom always said, and her dad kept repeating the first Spacer survival motto:

“Think thrice, do once!”

This decrepit starbase was a proving ground for Spacer children, ever since her kin cleansed this part of space. For many generations, this hulk's broken hallways tested both gear and Human, made sure these youngsters had all the necessary skill to survive in space. The last test, after many years of study and tinkering, was to repair one of the station's escape pods. Her elders had already hid all the necessary parts she'd need, somewhere on this station.

She simply had to explore the derelict hull and discover them. Then survive for as long as she needed to fix the pod and ideally, fly back home on her own. There was a small Spacer outpost in this star system, built on a nearby asteroid; theoretically and practically, in range. If she preserved the suit's fuel, saved her rations, and quickly located all the components, then everything was possible.

However optimistic she was, the young human knew that not all went according to plan.

First goal, which anyone trying to survive in space needed to accomplish was finding a shelter. Spacesuits, even one like hers, which fielded advanced life-support systems, needed power to work. Unless you wanted to breath air and not freeze to death after your power packs expired, locating a safe spot was of paramount importance.

A starbase of this size had many internal systems and those had to be reliably powered. Therefore, its designers placed many redundancy power cores, to be used in an emergency. If she could locate one of the less damaged reactors, find crew quarters or any room with intact life-support by that matter, her job would be half-done.

One last look through the breach she boarded this station and she treaded deeper inside. At any moment she could tap out; after flying away from the testing grounds, she'd be picked up by a rescue shuttle. Or, in a case when something went terribly wrong, use her emergency comm link. Then a family member of hers would personally come and carry her to safety.

It was a loss of prestige, yet dying in an instance like this was... stupid. For dead Terrans learned no lessons, nor could they aid their kin in times of need. Happiness, she knew, was hard to attain; one had to viciously fight, even after finding and securing it.

Cautiously, she explored the gloomy hallways.

The scanner studied her surroundings, but her right held the laser pistol, ready to shoot. It was true what her elders and siblings said; this place harbored danger still. Be it a damaged, yet active combat drones, war beasts, or even the accidental scavenger – one better be ready.

An hour later, her persistence was rewarded; she found two good rations and a pistol power pack, hidden among the floating debris. Must've been one of her siblings who left those – it was all part of Spacer tradition to sprinkle odd number of survival supplies. The youngsters simply had to be opportunistic enough, and well aware of their surrounds in order to find them...

* * *

Two-and-a-half weeks later, the youngster secured a safe shelter, located a less-damaged escape pod, and discovered two of the three components needed to repair it. Thanks to her diligent study and practice with the scanner, she gathered a small bag full of extra supplies. Most of her own rations were now gone; only one of the spare power packs was left. In her thorough exploration, she used the laser pistol's cutting settings to slice through certain obstacles.

Around the first week's end, some of her handmade spacesuit's gadgets and systems malfunctioned. The life-support was perhaps the sturdiest of them all, so she wasn't in danger of suffocating or freezing.

Every Spacer crafted their own suit; she designed hers with triple redundancy the for life-support, the engines, and its CPU. Everything else, for example the waste management system, and her adjustable illumination, eventually gave out. She wanted to quickly find the repair parts, and in her eagerness traversed areas saturated with radiation.

Indeed, she built her suit with radiation underlay of sufficient thickness. Her body was safe, yet some of the finer electronics “fell ill” and eventually “died.” Now the girl stumbled around in pitch darkness, looking for the last pod component in her stinking suit, relying only on the scanner for vision.

This is how she encountered her next problem; she'd finally located the small engine assembly needed to complete the escape pod. However, she wasn't alone in finding that part – her scanner displayed a duo of aliens, who diligently floated said engine away. Her device showed her that those two were of the Taz'aran race, their weapons and gear in poor condition.


They didn't even use their own scanners; gingerly pushing their loot, the full of themselves fools were preoccupied, vulnerable. Usually, low-brow criminals like these were hunted down by Terran children – under their parent's supervision, of course. Her lack of illumination meant that she had to aim by scanner and from point blank range. If she missed, they could shoot back and kill her – this laser pistol was more of a survival tool than weapon.

Ideally, she wouldn't even consider engaging these two in combat – this was a survival test.

After a few seconds of deliberation, she sent the help signal out, while cautiously trailing the two. Humans survived because they didn't act like idiots; thinking a few moves ahead and having a sound plan was good, but backup was even better! After she saw the confirmation on her suit's faceplate and knew that her people were nearby, only then did the girl fire.

They wore lightly armored spacesuits, ill maintained too. Prudently, she darkened her faceplate before pulling the trigger; temporary blinded by their helmet's flashlights had to be avoided. All Terran children spent many years on the firing range, and she being a Spacer, she trained even longer. Therefore it came to a complete shock when she missed her first shot... and then her second.

Startled, the Taz'arans stumbled; but turned around and quickly drew their guns. That gave her time to finally land two shots, shooting one of them straight through his chest. The second scavenger was a tough cookie, much better a fighter than his comrade.

What was worse – the tazzie scum used her engine as cover!

Low on ammo and doubly careful not to damage the precious part or get shot herself, she ducked behind a floating piece of bulkhead. The Taz'aran was accurate; a number of particle-beams blasted small holes in her cover. Instead of moving or haphazardly firing her last three shots, she did another scan of the area.

There was oxygen trapped in a pipe, right under his feet!

She devised a daring plan; using what was left of her spacesuit's fuel, boots maglocked to her cover, she pushed it forward. Even though more beams hit the mangled metal, she had a clear line of fire. It was her second shot that blew the pipe open and ignited the oxygen. The burning scavenger was propelled up and well lit – her third and last shot sliced through his shoulder, killing him on the spot.

Her kin then informed her that the scavengers ship was blown up.

* * *

The Spacer finished her tale and turned around, examining the audience. Face red and eyes wide with excitement, Vasilisa told the story of her first major accomplishment. This was a just one small tavern, yet in the eyes of a child, everything looked much bigger than it actually was. Her audience consisted of about thirty locals and, most importantly – six Spacers.

Two of them were her parents; her mother Valeria and father Alexi were besides themselves with joy. They waited for everyone else to cheer their daughter and ask her questions, before approaching her. Beaming with pride, Valeria hugged her daughter, gifting Vasilisa a brand new, advanced PDA. 

Alexi carried a much bigger box in his hands, from which he produced a compact beam carbine.

“Beloved daughter, may you never find yourself lacking sufficient firepower, ever again!”

* * *

This Starshatter short scene is my entry for @talexratcliffe HearMyStory writing contest.