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Week #1 (2023): Creative Writing Challenge – Alien Marketplace Part II

January 8, 2023

This is a follow up to the cliffhanger that was Week #28 (2021): Write a space adventure story that features a visit to an alien marketplace. You can find the original post here. TLDR: The main character lost her boss’ client list gambling and is now in an alien marketplace trying to steal it back from a trader. She accidentally steals the wrong device, one carrying a politically/militarily sensitive message. Now she and her partner are being pursued in their space ship.

Tofer and I both scramble onto the bridge of our ship, The Traveler, and fling ourselves toward the control panel. Tofer settles into the pilot seat, strapping in with one hand as the fingers of his other fly across the keyboard.

“Buckle up. Give me radar images on screen two and start making calculations to jump,” Tofer tells me and starts evasive maneuvers even though we’re not being shot at yet.

I follow his instructions as quickly as I can. “Where to for the jump?”

“I don’t give a fuck. Just get us out of here before that gets close enough to blast us out of the sky.” He points to screen two where we can both see the outline of a Class V fighter.

“There’s no way that’s the trader’s ship. Maybe they’re not actually chasing us.”

“Don’t be stupid Quillian. These are the guys who were waiting in orbit to kill the trader. Now they’re trying to kill us, so hurry the fuck up.”

The Traveler shakes as a warning shot crosses our nose. Tofer glances my way with raised eyebrows and a look that says “I told you so”.

“How’s it coming?” Tofer grits his teeth as he takes us in a tight loop away from the direction of the warning shot.

“Almost there.”

“You’ve got 30 seconds before they get close enough that no amount of maneuvering will save us.”


The message is transmitted on all local channels, so it’s impossible not to hear it on the bridge.

“Done! Calculations complete and coordinates entered.”

“Great, let’s get out of here.” Tofer presses the button to engage our jump drive. There’s three seconds of complete silence, both of us holding our breaths. And nothing happens.

“What the fuck Quillian?” Tofer’s looking at lines of red code scrolling across screen one, indicating that the course I plotted put us straight through a black hole about 40 light years from here. I’m such an idiot, but in my defense I’m not a trained navigator.

Tofer slashes at his straps and vaults himself over to my terminal, taking control of the keyboard. “Sorry,” I say.

“You don’t get to talk anymore,” he snarls at me as he hits enter and heads back to his seat. “Let’s try this again.”

As Tofer presses the button to engage the jump drive, I feel a vibration through the floor panels of the bridge. I can hear the whir of the jump drive engaging and the grav adjustment system starting to compensate for flinging us across the universe. And then there’s an awful grinding sound, followed by alarms blaring. Suddenly we’re spinning. It’s like we’ve been pulled back from our jump like a boomerang. It’s so intense that Tofer can barely counteract the forces enough to switch off the jump drive so we don’t blow up the ship. Then everything goes dark.

I wake up to Tofer leaning over me, pressing a cloth against my temple.

“There she is,” he says softly. My head aches and the room is still spinning a bit. “The med kit was wrenched off the wall in the spinning and hit you in the head. Ironic huh?”

“I’m sorry Tofer. I didn’t mean to screw up the calculations.”

“I know.”

“So give me the good news and bad news.”

“Well the good news is that we’re still alive after that little stunt and our shields and door mags are still up. The bad news is that the jump drive is offline and we’ve been grav hooked by the Class V.”

“Okay, well they just want the mechanic with the hologram message. So let’s just give it to them and be on our way.”

“I know you hit your head, but please think before you speak. I’m sure they assume we saw the message. Something that sensitive – they’re not going to just let us hand it over and leave. That information is worth too much.” Tofer’s gaze drifts from me into a middle distance behind my head. “If we could just get it to…”

“To who? We don’t even know who the Bulgasi Planetary Coalition is planning to attack.”

“Well we have a pretty good idea based on the ship locations and troop movement from the hologram. It’s gotta be somewhere in the Capsium quadrant. That’s gotta be why the trader wanted it. I bet they’d give good money for that kind of information.”

“Okay, so what Tofer? You want to go to the Capsium quadrant to sell information and try to prevent an intergalactic war?” I brush away his hand and the bloody rag he’s been holding against my temple. “Do I need to remind you that for all intents and purposes we’re dead in the water? We can’t fucking get there.”


“I have an idea,” Tofer has a big grin on his face now.

“I’m not going to like this am I?”

“Nope. Not a bit.”

“Fine, what do you want me to do Tofer?”

“I want you to go down to the engine and re-route the life support to kick start the jump drive. You might need to replace the convertor coil before hand so you don’t blow out the life support for good.”

I must have my mouth hanging open because Tofer continues, “It’ll only take a kick and then life support will come back online like normal. We’ll wear our exo suits just in case. And when you’re ready, I’ll overload their grav hook with the power from our shields. That should give us a narrow window to engage the jump drive and get out of here before they can compensate and grab us again.” He raises his eyebrows and waits.

“Fine, it could work, but they’re going to need to be distracted while I make some love happen in the engine room.” I point toward the radio.

“On it.” He starts to walk towards his chair, but turns back to me. “Don’t fuck up this time. Please.”

“Yeah yeah yeah, radio boy. I won’t fuck up again,” I say as I haul myself out of my chair and down the hatch toward the engine room. I’m a much better engineer than a navigator. As I leave I can hear Tofer on the radio telling the Bulgasi Planetary Coalition that he doesn’t know what they’re talking about. I imagine I have about 15 minutes until the Class V gets annoyed enough with him to shoot us out of the sky and comb through the wreckage for their mechanic.

When exactly 14 minutes and thirty seconds have elapsed since I left the bridge (I timed it), I hear Tofer through our intercom. “Alright Quillian, please tell me you’ve made some progress. They’re not too happy with me up here.”

I’ve already replaced the convertor coil and I’m just about ready to connect the jump drive. I haul myself up to the wall panel that holds the intercom. “Tofer, I just need to connect the jump drive. It should work. My guess is that we’ll have about 20 seconds before they detect it’s online again. Are you ready with the calculations and overloading the grav hook?”

“All ready here. Put your exo suit on. I’ll count you down and then just… hang on to something as best you can.”

After I pull on my exo suit and check that the helmet is connected properly, I push the intercom button again. “Alright, ready.”

“Ten, nine, eight….. two, one, connect.”

I loop the jump drive through the convertor coil and connect the wires. I can hear the jump drive engage as Tofer pushes the button up on the bridge. It’s much louder down here, but I can hear a sharp popping coming from the hull as the power from the shield overloads the grav hook. Then I’m thrown to the back of the engine room. This time my exo suit protects my head, but the sudden acceleration and my previous injury overcome any desire to stay conscious.

I wake up moments later as our speed becomes more constant to Tofer yelling through the intercom. “Quillian, talk to me. Are you okay?”

“Quillian, you better be okay or I’m going to kill you myself.”

“Quillian, if you’re just sitting on your ass laughing at me I will definitely kill you.”

“Quillian, I can’t come down there. I’m having to moderate the power manually to the jump drive. Please just get on the coms and tell me you’re alive.”

I have to drag myself back to the middle of the engine room and reach up to the intercom from my place on the floor.

“I’m okay, I think. Just had another little unplanned nap. I’ll be up once I can drag myself off the floor.”

“Thank God.”

Ten minutes later I manage to make my way up to the bridge and slump into my chair, exo suit and all. Tofer isn’t wearing his exo helmet, so I assume we’ve got life support back. I free my head, gently touching the cut on my temple to make sure it’s not bleeding again.

“Where are we?” I ask.

“One our way to the Capsium quadrant. We’re not being followed as far as I can tell. I sent a message to Griff to let him know we’re coming. He’ll put us up for a few days off the grid while we come up with a plan.”

“You sent a message to Griff?” I slide further down in my seat.

“Yes I sent a message to Griff. I know you two had a thing, but he’s the only one we know in the Capsium quadrant who might not throw us out on our asses. And that’s only if you’re nice.”

“I’m always nice,” I grumble. There’s a beat of silence before I mutter, “Also, I hate you right now.”

“I hate you too Quillian.” Tofer’s voice is soft and he reaches over to give my hand a quick squeeze. “Now get some rest. You have about three hours until we need the charm that I know is in there somewhere.”

“Har har asshole,” I say, but I get up and head to my bunk. I sink into my blankets, too tired to shed my exo suit, and fall into a deep sleep.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Yael Kisel permalink
    January 12, 2023 1:53 am

    Nice! I particularly like the dialogue between the two of them ☺️

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