Last week I decided to start adding fiction to the blog under the title of “Something Something
Dark Side Sundays”. I have a feeling that this will come back to bite me right in the tush, but I’ve decided to do a serialized story with a new section posted each week, despite previous experience telling me that that’s such a freaking dumb move. Anyway, this story’s called “Pax Goonorum”, because I appreciate shitty puns. No, it’s not a puff piece or political rant about the Goons, they just happen to be a motif throughout the story. I have no idea how long this story is gonna run, but seeing as I have plenty other projects on the boil (like I said, this is a really stupid move on my part), I doubt it will run much more than ten or fifteen mini-chapters long. Still, it’s a story I want to tell, just for teh lulz. Enjoy :)
— Hatchet xo
Pax Goonorum, part I
“I’m usually the one in control. Today, I’m a passenger.”
Her companion smiled thinly. “Bit of a change, huh?”
“You’re telling me.”
“Speaking of change, you haven’t changed a bit. Then again, you’ve changed several times.”
The small Achuran woman leaned forward, elbows on the table, trying to figure that statement out. “I’m the same… but I’ve changed?”
“You’re still the same person, still look the same, still the same voice. But it’s just… creepy, knowing that the body in front of me was grown in a vat, like the several others before it. Worse, knowing that the original was incinerated months ago. Just… memories, I dunno.”
Memories of walking along a beach and wrestling in the surf, of curling up together under the burgundy silk sheets of her bed. Life had been hard whenever they were together, like the universe was trying to torture them for something. Her smile wavered slightly, and she was glad that he couldn’t see the pain in the watery grey-blue eyes behind her dark sunglasses. “Well, it’s still me on the inside,” she said thickly.
He grinned and leaned back in his seat, plucking a deep-fried chunk of potato out of the dish between them. “Yeah, still you. It’s good seeing you again.”
“You too, and thanks for helping me out on short notice like this.”
He waved a hand as the other tossed the wedge into his mouth. They were good quality potatoes, too, grown locally in the soil as opposed to a hydroponic array off-world. The price reflected it, of course, but neither of them was exactly hard-up for cash. For a capsuleer, the girl was working-class, but by planetary standards she was richer than a queen. Her oldest and dearest friend was no slouch, either: in his line of ‘business’, six figure sums changed hands with the ease of passing someone a glass of rum and Quafe.
Arran sipped from his glass of dark, honey-like Matari beer and licked a dab of foam from his upper lip. “No problem. Anything for you, Hatchet, and I mean anything.”
She smiled at the use of her old nickname. “Don’t say that, or it’ll came back around to bite you.”
He acknowledged with a shrug. “Perhaps, but I don’t think you’re about to bleed me dry anytime soon.”
“Don’t tempt me. I just saw the estimated cost to replace that Crane; turns out even Platinum-level insurance isn’t enough to replace half the crap I had tacked onto it.”
She checked the time on a little data pad, then paused as she saw her bank balance. “You bastard.”
The Gallentean shrugged. “Pay me back later. You’ll probably be needing that Crane.”
She knew that he knew that she knew better than to argue or try to send the money back. This was exactly the kind of smug, smarmy shit he pulled that made it so hard for her to say goodbye. Eventually, she figured, they’d either get tired of it and settle down to suburban monogamy and 0.4 children, or get tired of it and never see each other again.
A stranger approached their table. Hatchet’s hand slid to her hip and the small pistol concealed there. He had the strong jaw and hooded eyes of a ‘true’ Amarrian, but his clothes had a very spartan Caldari sensibility to them.
“Hey, Marius,” said Arran cheerfully. “Don’t shoot, Hatchet, he’s one of the good guys.”
“Afternoon,” said the stranger, with a nod to Arran. “This your cargo?”
“This is she. Hatchet, Marius, Marius, Hatchet. Shall we?”
He downed the last of his beer and stood up. Hatchet hadn’t ordered a drink, and the salty nuggets of potato had dried her mouth and lips. As they followed Marius down the street, she swung past a street vendor and bought a cup of some ethnic drink, fermented bean curd water or something. It tasted pretty good, mainly because of the amount of sugar in it.
Marius spoke over his shoulder as they walked. “In case we get split up, I’m in Bay Four One Oh Two, down at the Ishukone yards.”
Arran glanced at Hatchet. “You get that?”
She nodded over the rim of her cup. She was looking at the dull grey discs on the back of Marius’ neck. Of course, every capsuleer had them, but she always found them a little weird, knowing that there was a network of contacts and circuits built right into the flesh of each clone, but that you couldn’t feel it. She had tried, lying on her back and shifting her weight to see if she could feel the metal in her skin, but she could never feel anything more than the ports that ran from the base of the skull to the middle of her back. It creeped the hell out of her.
Marius paused in mid-step, spread his feet, and changed direction with a feline grace. Arran was able to see past the tall Amarrian, and stopped in his tracks. “Threat!” he yelled, a sharp bark at the top of his lungs, drawing a gun from a shoulder holster under his jacket. Everyone around them jumped and looked, but the shout triggered a reflex in Hatchet. She drew the little pistol smoothly from the waistband of her pants as hundreds of hours of training kicked in. The gun was up in her hand before she even knew what she was supposed to be aiming at, all in the time it took for Marius to change step and dive sideways. She saw three men coming down the street, guns drawn, looking straight at them. That must be the threat, then, she thought wryly as she took aim.