Prompt: A kid gets taken by a band of space pirates and eventually finds a magic katana.
Even the bag over Maximus’s head was strange. It wasn’t burlap; it was some kind of rubbery fabric capable of holding a charge. He knew that because, every time they bumped his head into something, a jolt of static moved between the bag and the tip of his ears. He was only thirteen, just young enough to fit under the giant man’s arm like a briefcase.
Eventually they set him down, on his knees, on a rickety wooden floor. They ripped off the bag and smiled at him, expecting him to be impressed. He wasn’t… unimpressed. They were definitely some fearsome looking pirates. Between the three of them they only had four eyes. The one that carried him was easily seven feet tall and had a head shaped like a catcher’s mitt closed into a fist. The other two wore bandannas around their foreheads, and electronic messages scrolled across them as if they were living billboards.
Maximus looked around. Some sort of hold, improvised no doubt. The ship was too small for a proper brig; they held him alongside sealed metal barrels of ageless fruit meant to keep space-scurvy at bay. These men had kidnapped him, but the boy wasn’t sure if the term really applied. He had no home. He’d been a roaming urchin in the streets and canals of the WallaWillya space port for more than three years. They had simply moved him. If he played his cards right, he could perhaps eat better as a prisoner than as a homeless boy on cruel streets.
“Bring in the other one,” a voice said from the shadows in the corner. Maximus looked over and saw the man that had to be the captain. It was standard in this part of the galaxy that only the captain be allowed to wear red. Plus, he had both his eyes. That likely meant he was a decent shot with the plasma-scatter device on his belt.
The boy’s attention was diverted yet again when a fifth pirate carried another small body into the hold. This one was female, as evidenced by her shrieking. She also kicked up a storm, her dainty heel nearly sharp enough to claim another swashbuckler’s eye. They tossed her down next to Maximus, her body rolling and striking the side of his. She instinctively kicked him in the face and cursed him.
“I didn’t have a say in this either!” he shouted at her. She stalled for a moment and they all heard her heavy breathing. She squirmed, righting herself on her knees, and demanded the pirates remove the glowing bag. The Captain nodded at the largest man, who stepped forward and ripped the bag away. Her dark hair fell over her sweaty face and clung to it. She tried to blow it away, her hands were bound behind her back, but failed.
“What is this? What’s the meaning of this?” she growled. She turned to Maximus. “Who are you?”
“Compared to you?” the boy asked, looking at her fancy clothes with all their golden trim and the pearls in her ears that could buy him enough nova-clams to eat for six months. “Probably nobody, but you can call me Maximus.”
“Did they just snatch you up too?”
“That’s enough talking for now,” the captain said. He ambled out of the shadow’s and examined their faces closely. He rubbed his chin. “You’ll have plenty of opportunity to chat once you’re wed. The ceremony will be in,” he glanced at his six-faced wristwatch, “five hours. As soon as we’re in international gasses. Can’t marry kids young as you in a zone as uptight as this.”
“I’d never marry scum like you,” the girl spat. She turned back to Maximus. “The name’s Emily by the way. Once we’re out of this I’ll see to it that you’re treated well.”
“You will see to it,” the captain interrupted before Maximus could respond. “He’ll be your husband. You should treat him beyond well. You should give him exactly what he wants at all times. Isn’t that right Maximus?”
“You’re marrying… the two of us? To each other?” the boy tried to clarify. “What do you get off on this sort of thing? I’ve met black-eyed black-holers who would be disgusted by you.” He looked at Emily. She was cute, but this was hardly the time or place for flirtation. If anything, the captain had ruined his chances with her. He had a routine back on the street. He could’ve stolen her something nice and flashed the sort of smile only an urchin can earn.
The captain was about to explain himself when the entire ship rocked. Something burst through the wall, behind the four goons, knocking them forward and unconscious. It was wood and metal: obviously the bow of another small vessel sailing the space-time. Blue gas rushed in; it was forevapor, the wonderful invention of a bygone age that kept out the cold vacuum of space. The gas flooded the chamber and made sure none of them suffered any decompression, freezing, or partial death.
The bow hissed, whirred, and opened like a flower. A ramp unfurled and another pirate came running out into the hold. Curiously, he wore the same style coat as the captain. He was much younger though, around seventeen years in age, and he brandished a sword with confidence. In one swift maneuver he cut the bonds on both the kids’ hands and helped them to their feet. The captain pulled his weapon, aimed, but did not fire. His face was raw anger, like an onion pulled out of the ground suddenly bursting into flame.
“Go to the cabin,” the boy warned Maximus and Emily. “There’s a sword there. A thing from Japan, back when Japan was a thing. The hexed katana of Ito Soildrinker. Fetch it will you? It’s your token out of here.” The children did as they were told, scurrying off while the older boy distracted the captain. They crossed blades.
“What are you doing?” the captain seethed. “This is for both of us. Do you want to be stuck in these channels of potential energy for all of eternity? They must be wed. They must have each other. Then we can escape this place of loops and truly sail the galaxy.”
“We belong here,” his opponent said flatly. “I don’t know what convinces you that we don’t, but we do. I’ll fight you until my mind changes. I know at some point it changes back. I’ve spoken to the gray one. He told me about your sword.”
“I’m in the middle,” the captain insisted. “I’ve got it exactly right.” He slashed at the boy again, but only halfheartedly. “The Goldilocks zone. That’s what I am. You’re too passionate to see the truth, and the gray one’s too cold. He has one foot in the grave.”
“By that logic, all three of us do,” his opponent reasoned. Maximus and Emily returned, brandishing a curved blade. It shine brightly, like a star just under the surface of a still lagoon. “You two. Hop out of the hole I made. That sword can cut space-time. It’ll take you wherever you want to go.” The children nodded, and spared one last look at the two pirates before slipping through the hole in the hull. Just like that they were gone. “So long Mom and Dad,” he said quietly. With the plan of his older self foiled, the young captain back up into his own ship.
“Until next time brat,” the captain growled to his younger self. He’d introduced them at least. If they were to be born, actually born instead of just theorized in the criminal mind-space of this realm of potential, they had to meet, marry, and be with each other. Then the captain’s bonds would break and all three versions of him, across all stages of his life, could roam all the seas of reality. For now, it was merely loops. Arguments. An unopposed sword, clashing.
Author’s Note: This flash fiction story was written based on a prompt provided by KlawCypher during a livestream. I hereby transfer all story rights to them, with the caveat that it remain posted on this blog. If you would like your own story, stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade during one of my streams and I’ll write it for you live!