Yet another job
Bal – chapter IV: Yet another job
Gabhel, the Gaultherian, dashes through the main hallway, but as the ship swings left, they are abruptly projected against a wall. The moisture of their skin is spread on the grey surface in a splash, as the ship maneuvers at high speed. The entire Sylian crew is being bumped up and down the hallway, behind Gabhel. The screaming intensifies, as they find themself stuck beneath each other’s bodies in the ship’s single, tiny cabin. Gabhel presses onwards, cleaning their face from blood and sweat. They finally open the door leading to the cockpit.
In front of them, holograms and computer screens are waltzing all around the pilot’s seat. Over the cockpit screen, a target seesaws over a holographic HUD, with Bal aggressively pushing the controls, determined to catch up with the thief. Another swing and Gabhel is pushed into the coffee synthesizer, distracting Bal. He takes a look behind him, grinning:
- “Please, your highness, take a seat and buckle up, this one… is a bumpy ride!”
- “W…what in the King’s name are you doing?! You’ve said you…”
- “I know what I said! Now shut it and stop getting in my way.”
Bal reaches and violently pulls at a lever, and a warning screen appears in front of him triggering a deafening alarm. Discarding it, Bal flips a few more switches, before a wide blue beam fires from the ship. The Tilia celebrates with a short, satisfied laugh and sharply pulls the controls. A muted explosion occurs outside and a torrent of hull fragments and primidium shards crash onto the cockpit screen. Gabhel, despite their best efforts to hold on, is once again thrown around like a dirty towel.
- “W…What is happening?” He asks, still on the metallic ground.
- “Evidently, I’m chasing some Zirul scumbags who took my stuff.”
Gabhel sinks a little deeper into the floor and starts shaking, their collar pulsing rapidly. Gabhel jumps up and rushes to Bal. The two collide, making the ship swing left. Bal, confused at first, eventually throws a punch into Gabhel’s face.
- “What the hell, kiddo?!” Bal yells as he tries to re-focus onto his target.
- “I need y…you to stop this right away!” Gabhel cries, covering a bleeding nostril.
- “I need YOU to shut up! I am trying to do something here!”
- “You’re going to kill everyone on this ship! Let it go! I’ll… I’ll get you a big reward, you don’t need your job’s aer!”
- “It’s not only about money! It’s… just… Leave me alone would you?!”
A silence settles between them. Only flickering sounds, Bal’s heavy breathing from anger and concentration. Panels beeping and the engine echoing through the hull irritates Gabhel a little more with every passing second. Holding by the side of a piece of furniture, they sweat, panting heavily. Their head’s appendages start to wriggle with anger as they slowly bend forward. The Gaultherian clenches their palmy fingers into a fist. Their tail twitches furiously and their legs tighten, as if they were getting ready to jump on Bal’s face.
Gabhel suddenly reaches for the inside of their uniform and draws a weapon, aiming it toward Bal. The characteristic sound of loading energy from the handgun attracts the latter’s attention.
- “So that’s how it is then…” Bal murmurs through his half-open beak.
- “Y…You are giving me no choice! You are endangering m…m…my crew! And us being affiliated with an act of aggression toward the Zirul Dominion will have horrific consequences!” Gabhel stutters, still firmly clinching onto his weapon.
- “I ain’t giving up my ship.” Bal spits, still continuing the pursuit.
- “I’m not a..asking!That is an ord…order, for Gami’s sake! Give it up or I’ll be forced to… to pluck you down!”
- “…Try me, kiddo.”
Without skipping a single beat, Gabhel fires a shot. A blue-glowing plasma-ball crosses and illuminates the cockpit.
The left controller lights from the energy blast and Bal’s blood splashes over every possible command panel. He attempts to get up but collapses from his seat, shrilling in pain. Gabhel immediately reaches for controls and disables both the targeting device and the EOC. The ship is let loose in his trajectory, drifting and rolling randomly.
A nearby sun periodically brightens the inside of the cockpit like a flashlight, when the ship faces it once in a while. The lighting cycles from an intense and orange to a neon-lit dark blue ambiance. Gabhel’s newly-found determination shines through their eyes, a heavy shadow hiding half of his bleeding face.
The Tilia, on his knees, is trying to put pressure on his left talon, his head down… still groaning. The pain is tremendous. Plasma wounds emit painful waves and cause a burning sensation around the injuries, effectively neutralizing any target, and Bal is no exception. He eventually lifts his head to stare at his attacker. A few seconds pass, and finally, the Tilia submits to the reality of the situation.
Bal shuts his three eyes, sinking into the obscure darkness of shame and helpless anger. Gabhel, standing across, is panting. Inhale… exhale… pinching in between their eyes, they are trying to calm themselves. They stumble forward, approaching Bal, offering their open hand.
- “…Le…Let’s…Let’s get you pa…patched up”
….. To be continued