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   Chapter 2 No.2

Prodigal Sun By Christina Engela Characters: 6070

Updated: 2018-06-29 19:01

Bluffing his way onto the merc ship was as easy as getting sparks out of a Flirpavian Flormbird… no, wait, dammit – a Florpavian Flamebird! Sure, there were easier ways for an aspiring vampire hunter to travel – he could've bought a ticket on one of the many tramp freighters and loderunners traveling this part of space… but therein lay his boggle. He was broke. As in on the bones of his ass broke. And yes, you read that right – Brandon Carver was a vampire hunter. Well, at least he believed he was. Not that he told most people that, because they would just laugh at him and wave him off dismissively – but that's what he did sometimes, as a freelancer. Or, more accurately, what he really wanted to do. He wondered if people dismissed him because they thought he was crazy – or because they worried that if he wasn't, it meant the things he was supposed to be hunting, were real. They were. Or at least, he believed they were.

Not to worry, he consoled himself – a lot of people go about building their lives on things they believe to be real! Carver also knew, with some certainty, that if enough people believed the same thing, it would make that thing true in the same sure-fire way that if you repeat a lie enough times and get enough people to repeat it as well, it would become true. There was quite a lot of money to be made on that principle alone, he knew – otherwise he had no other explanation for the religion business.

The small ship he'd conned himself onto only had a crew of three, and during meal time just an hour or so ago, the subject came up (it always did if he had anything to say about it). They didn't believe him either, and then – well, things got ugly. Mak and the other guy started to laugh and trade insults with him over his mental capacity, and well – Mom always did say he'd inherited his dad's impulsivity and violent streak! The two dudes went down without much fuss, but the chick – well, she was another story! She put up so much resistance he just barely made it to the escape pod himself before the ship turned inside out! His clothes had caught fire too, and he'd lost all his kit!

Thump-thump, his head pounded. The fight had got very intense and personal very quickly. A fire had started during the fight and got out of hand, and he was left with no choice but to use one of the escape pods! Of course, none of this had been planned – well, except for the timing of bringing the ship out of hyperspace – because this is exactly where he needed to be. The fight hadn't been part of the plan. Or him getting lit on fire and sitting inside this blasted life-pod! He'd screwed up – he'd lost his temper and lost control of the situation. Again.

Thinking back carefully, he couldn't tell if Tracey Ferris had made it off the ship – things were too desperate at the end, but if she hadn't, well – no problem. He couldn't afford to keep making screw-ups like that – he had to keep his shit together. But – yeah – the planet looked about right – this seemed to be the right one! All

he had to do now was survive the landing and the rest would take care of itself!

* * *

It was past midnight on a Wednesday over what was perhaps the most well-known river on Deanna. The Whatoosie River, which had long ago been made famous by the Galactic Tourist Guide, under the "Fishing" section, wound its way from the northern mountain ranges across the southern plains and finally through Skeggs' Valley to where it ultimately met up with the ocean. The Whatoosie River was probably the only river on Deanna (or possibly anywhere for that matter) that had signs along its banks that read


The valley itself was a quiet place, mostly, except for the odd weekend, maybe once or twice a month or so, when members of the local fishing club would be out on the river in canoes. It was just before dawn, the water on this particular section was still and the stars were out. Reclining in the back of one canoe near the center of the river, a male figure was singing a song, badly.

"Mister Jordan?" Came the genteel, restrained voice of a more senior gentleman in the front of the canoe.

"Yes, General?"

"Shut up." The General said curtly. "You're scaring the fish."

General Albert McIntyre-Smythe (retired) was 75 years old. He was the highest ranking former officer in charge of the Imperial Officers Reserve on Deanna, which consisted mainly of pensioners, and veterans. This bunch of refugees from the old age home, whose company he shared this fine evening, also happened to be most of the Skegg's Valley Dynamite Fishing Club, of which he was, naturally, the Chairperson. Young mister Jordan at the back of his canoe, was the only member under 60 years of age – being in his mid-thirties, a former Lieutenant in the Starmarines who had been cashiered because of his persistent fondness for Hessian Chill Weed and a tendency to make things more interesting than they had to be.

Perhaps this was not the nicest way to end a military career, Smythe thought, but he was handy to have around when there were more physical things that needed doing, like heavy lifting. And he doesn't complain much. Besides, he never asked to be paid for anything. It just tended to make him – well, a little slow.

The General was still an active and healthy man for his age, having retired only about twenty years previously after a career spanning 36 years in the Starmarines. These days the closest he got to his former professional life was paddling in a canoe, sleeping under a bivvy by a warm camp-fire and (of course) blowing several different shades of crap out of cocka-snoek with live military surplus hand grenades. Okay, well – not so 'live' anymore. After that unpleasant accident, when they lost their last qualified medic, they decided to switch over to stun grenades. Well, he admitted – after a stern talking to by the Sheriff. And the Mayor of Atro City. Er – and the Governor of Deanna. Anyway, it was safer now, but he had to admit, it did sort of take the fun out of it.

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