Posts : 3274
Join date : 2011-05-14
Location : Vancouver, BC
|Subject: The Scow - short story Sun Jun 08 2014, 12:30|| |
Calling her a tramp was an insult to all tramps. They at least maintained a steadfast dignity of sorts as they plied their trade. Low, admittedly, but it was something nevertheless. A scow on the other hand, for that is what she truly was, had nothing. No purpose, no dignity, no bearing in life at all. They had reached the very end of their miserable existence, the tether had been cut and they just wallowed around awaiting the cutter's torch.
Vendavel, however, had been given the briefest of reprieves. A job that nobody else had even sniffed at, in spite of the coin involved. Sheer desperation had brought her out on the Inner Sea on this ghostly night, skimming across the surface mists as fast as her clapped out drive core would take her. On her foredeck were the munitions sorely needed by the exodites to defend against a repeat of last night’s raids.
A thin dark line across the horizon astern brought a scowl to her captain’s face. Growing swiftly in size and menace, like a raging storm front, its outline was soon breaking up into hundreds of spike-prowed raiders and gunships, with dart-like jetbikes and the skyboards of the crazy ones cavorting alongside.
A swift glance past the bow told him they were still about 3,000 metres from safety, a thin chasm in one of the sea cliffs that would hide them perfectly. He torqued the throttle as hard as he could against its gate, striving for every last ounce of power that Vendavel still had to offer. The blossoming trail of dirty exhaust was an ugly blemish across the soft white background of the mists, but it mattered little now.
At 1,700 metres, the leading edge caught him, with Reavers screaming by on either side, quickly followed by gangs of Hellions slashing and laughing. And then the skimmers were upon him, bristling with lances and draped in Kabalites, clinging to their gunwales. But not a shot was fired, in fact, no one even glanced in the scow’s direction! The corsairs just breezed past imperiously. They couldn’t possibly miss him, some were close enough to rock the scow with their wake, and yet none deigned to pay them the slightest heed.
Disbelief gave way to indignation in the face of this, most cruel, effrontery. As ship after ship passed silently, the unspoken taunt became too much to bear – pride be damned, he stalked to the starboard quarter and shook his fist and railed impotently at the marauders, his curses whipped away by the slipstream.
The last vessel slipped ahead and the captain realised the coast was now less than 200 metres away. Gulping great lungfuls of air, he began to shake with laughter. Ahead he could make out their haven, they were going to make it after all. He threw back his head to scream in delight, only to choke in sudden terror. On the clifftop above, a pair of scourges perched, preening. And watching.