On the Run (A Chuck Wendig Challenge)

Posted: September 17, 2015 in Fiction, Science Fiction
Tags: , , , , ,

God help me, but this may very well be the most derivative thing I have ever written. Well, recently anyway.

Original challenge can be found here.

As always, comments are welcome and appreciated.

On the Run

Tatiana sits in the smoky environs of the Leaky Reactor, a jar of the local ‘shine sitting in front of her. She blinks her cerulean eyes at the man sitting across from her. It’s obvious he’s trying hard to blend in, a fresh set of clothes purchased from a vendor specializing in spacer wear, but it’s all too clean, too fresh to be his regular attire. The way his dark eyes dart about, as if he’s waiting for an enemy to pounce out of the shadows at any moment, makes him stand out even more. He gave his names as Alcides, stares at Tatiana as if the name should mean something to her.

“So you want to book passage where exactly?”

Alcides fidgets in his seat. “I understand you are going to Sardoz. Is that correct?”

Tatiana nods, her eyes narrowing. Her stated itinerary wouldn’t be too hard to figure out. All ships had to have one posted with the dock master forty-eight standard hours before departure. Why anyone would want to go to Sardoz though is beyond her.

“Interesting destination for a holiday,” she remarks. Her chrome lacquered nails tap against the jar. “Not much out there except for a few mining concerns.” And smugglers, she thinks.

Alcides shrugs, the crisp lines of his shirt rising and falling with his shoulders. “I have some family out there. I… ran into a bit of trouble. Financially,” he adds with a shy smile.

Tatiana’s eyes narrow, and her fingers stop tapping against the glass. “I’ll need the payment upon departure then. You understand how it is.”

“Of course, of course. My uncle, he forwarded me some credits.”

“Good. The ship departs tomorrow at dawn. Docking Bay Nineteen. Think you can find it?”

The man smiles, slumps back into his chair. “I’ll be there,” he says. “Ah, there is one other matter, of course.”


“There will be one other passenger. A child. That won’t be a problem, will it?”

Tatiana wrinkles her nose. “Seriously? You’re taking a child out to Sardoz? It’s not what I would call family friendly.”

Alcides shrugs. “He is my son. We are the only family each other has. His mother passed unexpectedly, which is one of the reasons we are seeking to start somewhere new.”

“Fine, whatever. I don’t give discounts for kids though, understand?”

“Yes, perfectly.” Alcides’ body visibly relaxes in his seat. “I will see you tomorrow.”

Only after Alcides left does Tatiana raise her glass and down it’s contents, the harsh ‘shine burning on the way down. Normally she was against taking passengers, but their presence on board her ship, Redwing, would help divert attention from what else she was carrying.


Dawn breaks cold over the space port as Alcides approaches Docking Bay Nineteen. Wrapped in a heavy coat, his young charge walks in front of him. Alcides chews his lip nervously, eyes open for any pursuers. They are close now, so close he can taste it, but past experience tells him this is where things are most likely going to go wrong.

“Another space ship?” Breixo asks, his large, liquid eyes peering up at Alcides.

Alcides nods, his lips tight. “Should be the last one for a while.”

They come into the docking bay, see the freighter waiting for them. To the boy’s eyes it looks like another junker, a freighter barely kept alive by scavenging parts from other ships. To Alcides, however, it is perfect. Just another tramp freighter plying its way through the star systems, transporting goods and passengers between the worlds. Anonymous and invisible.

“It looks like a junker!” Breixo whines.

“Hey!” Tatiana shouts. She wipes her hands off on her coveralls as she approaches. Her metal left leg clanks against the concrete of the docking bay.

“Alcides, she’s a cyborg,” Breixo hisses.

“So? Lots of people have cybernetics these days. It’s not so strange as all that. Come on, let me introduce you.”

“So this is your brat then?” Tatiana asks.

“He is my word, yes,” Alcides replied. He reaches into his overcoat, pulls out a flat commlink. “I have your credits here, if you are prepared to accept transfer.”

“Right, best get on with it. I don’t want to be stuck here any longer than I have- Wait, what’s that?”

Alcides spins around, drawing Breixo behind him. Dust kicks up around his body as he whirls, sent up by the bullets fired at them.

“Get into the ship,” he shouts.

Tatiana hesitates for a moment, watches as a shimmering field appears around Alcides. More bullets follow, the force field trapping them, dropping them to the ground. She grabs the boy by the shoulder, half carries him into the depths of the ship.

“Get strapped in,” she shouts, leaving him behind as she heads for the cockpit. She crashes into the pilot’s seat, buckles herself in and glad she’s already started the preflight checklist. She checks the outside viewscreens. Alcides is nothing more than a hazy figure, but she figures he can handle himself. She catches sight of the attackers and swears loud and long. Republic Guardsmen, if their black and red armor is any indication. Tatiana might skirt the law when she could, but putting herself in direct opposition to the People’s Republic? That was going too far for her taste. Who were these two anyway?

She sets the Redwing’s thrusters to start up as Alcides rolls into the hangar bay. She punches the intercom. “Stand clear of the door!”

A moment later, the order comes through from ground control that all flights have been rescinded. “Screw you, too,” Tatiana mutters, pushing for full throttle and escaping atmo. Setting a course for the nearest hypergate, she heads back toward her two passengers.

“All right then, you two. One, I want my payment. In full. With a nice gratuity for that little dust up back there. Two, I need to know who you are. Going against Republic Guardsmen? Are you out of your mind?”

Alcides presses his hand against his nose. When he takes it away, Tatiana sees the blood on his hand. “My apologies for the deception, but I felt it necessary. My name is Alcides, as I told you. And this young man is Breixo.”

Tatiana blinks. “Breixo? But that’s the name of the-”

“I am King Breixo, proper ruler of the Sentarus Kingdom, wrongfully deposed by the People’s Republic.” The boy’s voice quavers, but he holds himself tall, and as regal as he can manage.”

Tatiana sighs and slumps into a chair. “I’m gonna need a drink.”

  1. douglangille says:

    It may be derivative (flirting dangerously with fanfic), but it’s a whole lotta fun, Matt. I could certainly read the rest of Tatiana’s yarn

  2. Rebecca Douglass says:

    Well, it works for me. I haven’t read whatever you’re deriving from, so I just enjoyed it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s