Saturday 28 December 2019

Stark Here

by Nick Gisburne

Stark’s meta-ship quarked out of non-space and juddered to a bone-wrenching stop, just centimos beyond the Guardian boundary.  With the speed of a dyna-cat he rolled from the ship, dodging stun-sparks and acid-gas fired from all sides by Guardian Terror Troops.  Five went down as a hail of proton-caps spattered out from Stark’s Farian Hurler, the only weapon he’d ever trusted.  Others dived for cover – they knew the man they were up against and against such a man, armed to the teeth and protected by Rexaka Force Armour, they knew they could either flee or die.

Then he was in.  The Guardian Prime Task Centre, breached by a lone Alzekkian on a mission of mercy.  Shock rails rattled down to block his path but his Proto-Jammer took them out on frequency 27.  Grav pod to floor eighty.  Cubicle beta-one-nine.  The Ultra-Steel barrier vapourised in a cloud of electrons and there she was.

Tana, First Companion to the Jelestos Emperor.  He tried to ignore her exquisite beauty as he scooped her up and hit the wall with a 3-second Vap-Fuse, activating the anti-shield around them both.  As the entire west wing of the GPT Centre boiled into ashes they descended, cushioned from the cross-fire around them and from the impact on the hover-trail below.

The meta-ship came alive again as Stark’s remote kick-started the twin Braxxo-coils.  Tana, clamped into a shock-rig at the rear.  Stark, held down by velocity straps inside the main con-bubble.  Expert fingers flashed over the tick-levers, flicking and pushing, imparting vital co-ords for a fast non-space steer-out.

Hit red, hit amber, hit green.  Go for non-space.  Outside, the shudders of the bio-release jets told any remaining Guardian forces to get the Faarg out of the way.  Stark gripped the steer-pad and slammed the activator.

Something wrong.  The ship lurched but clung hard to the gantry, its skid-rails refusing to retract.  Stark punched up the over-eye display.  External sense-diodes said nothing on three quadrants, but the left fore-shield of the ship’s under-skin reported non-standard ion-dampening.  Only one way that could happen.


Looking outside through rear-facing dome-slits he saw the familiar shape of a Warden Bot as it trundled down the thin, double-yellow fluoro-tracks.  Stark cursed his luck.  As Guardian capture-tanks wheeled out of their bunkers to surround the ship and peel back its skin with their nucleo-bond rippers, Stark thought only of the number of creds it would take to get his meta-vehicle out of the High Council lock-bays.  If he survived the mandatory 30 years on the nerve-rack, of course...

This story was lost for an indeterminate number of years. I found the document on my computer, but it had passed from system to system as I upgraded over the years, and has now found its way here. The document is dated November 2000, so the story is at least 19 years old, but I have a feeling I wrote it even before that. So glad I found this. It's a quirky little gem, full of invented words and odd, mentioned-once-only technology. Sweet.