Someone once said that a journey of a million parsecs begins with a single blast of the thrusters. Or was it something about words leading to actions? Whoever it was and whatever they said, their name was lost in history. As far as Aaron Damerson is concerned, it doesn’t even matter. The only things that matter are his ship, his next job and where his next meal is coming from.
So there he sat (or reclined to be more precise), in the cramped cockpit of his spaceship, most of the controls covered by empty cans and wrappers. The wall to his left, so close he could touch it, was a hodge-podge of schematic diagrams and notes. To his right, there was his collection of 1950s pin-up models. Aaron wore his flat cap over his face, a slight snore escaping from beneath.
“Aaron…” a computerized voice chimed.
The snoring stopped suddenly, but the man did not move. “What is it, ANDI?” his voice was tough and gravelly, probably from his lifestyle and his habit of smoking.
“Call for you on the com.”
Aaron shifted upright in his seat. He moved his hat to its rightful place on his head, and tried to think of a way to cover up the trash, but gave up with a look of despair. “Just pipe it in.”
The main view screen, a small television in the middle of the controls, flickered to life with a slightly grain, slightly off-color image of a man who seemed almost human. Almost human if you discounted the nose being a little too high and the eyes being a bit further apart and a little askew. The green tine of the skin, was probably part of the screen’s failings.
“Dam!” said a jovial voice. The screen lagged a few moments behind, mouthing the words silently long after they had been heard.
“Thenar!” Aaron replied, giving the side of the console a swift hit with the heel of his hand. The image on the screen went out for a second before catching up to the rest of reality. “What job do you have for me?”
“Is that all you think of me?” the alien said, a sad look coming across his face. “Just the starting point for your next job? Can’t I jus’ call to say hello?”
“You could, my friend, but you don’t.” A smile crept across Aaron’s face. They both laughed.
“And right you’d be. Nothing less than professional. That’s why you’re the best, Dam.”
“So,” said Aaron, putting a half-spent cigarette into his mouth and lighting it with a flourish of his lighter. “Are we going to keep talking like this or are you going to tell me what you’ve got for me?”
“It’s a little job with a nice, hefty payout. I’ll tell you more when you get to Aurorus-4.” Thenar smiled and pressed a sequence of buttons on his controls, causing the screen to flicker to black.
For a moment, Aaron sat still, the only movement in the cabin the slow curling wisps of smoke from the cigarette. Finally he looked up at the ceiling and yelled, “You got that, ANDI?”
“Sure thing, boss,” the voice replied. “I’ll have you there in half an hour.”
“Good. Just enough time to catch the end of that nap you so rudely interrupted. With that, Aaron Damerson, or Dam as he was known in many circles, scrunched back down in his chair, propped his feet on the controls, pulled his cap down over his eyes and fell asleep as a thousand thousand stars and planets streamed past his ship unseen.
The planet of Aurorus-4 is, as the name would imply, the fourth planet away from the star named Aurorus. The natives, known as Aurorusians to most of the galaxy, were very original in naming their planets. “Though,” the argument went, “who could blame them when they have five habitable planets in their home system?”
Planet Four was colonized late in the 32nd century by Earth reckoning. The civilization was designed to make the best use of its land masses. Throughout the planets deserts and ice wastes, cities cropped up, every inch of the arable land used for growing crops. The only problem was that no one wanted to live in the extreme heat or cold of the cities. Revolts occurred and the entire planet was in constant turmoil, a ample breeding ground for low-life degenerates and worse.
This was where Aaron found himself, piloting his ship down to the planet’s surface, through the twisting labyrinth of ruined buildings that made up the city of Jewl, where he was to meet Thenar for his latest job. He found an area large enough to park his ship and touched down.
“I’ll be back in a few, ANDI,” he called to the ship as he pulled on a deep green trench coat and gloves. Aaron lovingly strapped his holster to his waist. With the push of a button, the ship’s hatch popped open and Aaron exited and began to make his way to his meeting place, a bar by the name of The Lusty Septopod.
When Aaron finally got the noisy packed bar and had ordered himself a drink, he noticed Thenar in a corner booth and made his way over. The alien got up when he neared, grabbing Aaron’s hand and shaking it firmly.
“Good to see you, my friend,” he said, sitting back down. Thenar motioned for Aaron to pull up a chair, but the man made no motion to sit.
“Who is it this time, Thenar?” the words were dry and emotionless. With a smile, the alien shoved a file folder towards Aaron. He picked up the folder, inspecting the contents. A few pictures, a dossier of venues he would be. “How much?”
The alien flashed his four-fingered hand up to his chest, flashing the number. Full hand, Fulll hand, Two fingers. Now if only he was faster to convert out of base eight. Thenar smiled. “So what’ll it be,” he said, almost in a whisper, “do you accept?”
Does Aaron accept the offer? Or does he ask for more? Who is this person he’s supposed to take care of, anyway?