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Lance and Eskimo: Space Pirates
An Epic Adventure in Four Acts

The Space Port

          Paul and Nate were hunched over at a table in the corner of Tom's Bar, plotting.

          And planning.

          They whispered conspicuously for awhile about vid games, hoping someone would notice them.

          But no one did.

          Finally Nate said loudly, enunciating each syllable perfectly, "... going to kill the Empress," but still no one gave them a second glance.

          They finally decided that this was due to the fact that there was no one in the bar. Except for Tom, who was used to this sort of thing, and stood calmly behind the counter, wiping out a glass. And Devyn, the waitress, who never listened to her customers.

          Suddenly the doors burst open. Well, not actually. But if there had been doors, they would have burst open. If there had been trumpets, there would have been a fanfare. If there had been cabaret dancers, they would have danced. If there had been a red carpet, it would have rolled out.

          All there was, though, was a puff of smoke as Bristol lowered his much-renovated pig and put out the jet flames and honked La Cucaracha on the electronic "horn."

          Bristol strode into the bar area, removing his helmet. Apparently he had forgotten that this was an outdoor bar. No one told him that he should put his helmet back on because they didn't really care if he lived or died. Luckily, there was some atmosphere, so his head didn't implode like a ripe watermelon3 . However there wasn't enough atmosphere, so taking off your helmet is like getting a hickey for your whole head. The next day he'd look like his entire head was giant bruise. But that was in the future, and we deal only with the present here4 .

          "Give me an Interstellar Lava Guava, heavy on the lava, light on the guava, neat-- no rocks," he ordered, winking to all concerned as he sat down at the bar.

          The waitress, Devyn, who didn't have to wear a helmet because of her artificial head5, passed him a can of prepackaged Lava Guava.

          "This isn't what I ordered," he whined.

          "Do you see rocks?" Devyn replied coldly. "Is it not neat? No? Yes? Then it is what you ordered, in the truest sense of the word, and I'll not take complaints about what is perfectly acceptable." She lifted her artificial nose6 loftily and sauntered toward the back table.

          "May I take your order?" she asked for the nineteenth time in seventeen minutes.

          "Yes, we'll need a lot of drinks while planning this extremely treacherous plan to kill the Empress," Paul said loudly.

          "What do you want?"

          "Something that tastes like treachery," said Nate, rolling the word around like a new hat7.

          "Mm-hmm." She went back to the bar. She wouldn't serve them until they told her straight-out what they wanted to drink, it would serve them right, indecisive fools, always beating around the bush, never being "direct" or "anything like that."

          Meanwhile, ten feet away, Wiz was talking to the on-base Space Marines.

          Their names were Fred and Ted.
* * *

          "Oh look," said Ted.

          "A ship is landing on our base," Fred finished, yawning.
* * *

          Taluki, Lance and Eskimo were the ones chosen to scout around on the base and make sure it wasn't too dangerous8. They were wearing their Protective Gear. They all had on space suits, except for Lance who only had on the helmet and air pack because he wanted to show of his wardrobe. This was made up mostly of black leather jackets and stuff. It had been hard enough, Eskimo recalled grimly, getting him to wear the helmet; he had said it would mess up his hair. He hated it when that happened but, as Eskimo had pointed out, not as much as he would hate being dead9.

          The three of them walked down the gangplank, greenish light pouring out of the hatch, trying to look tough. Two armed space marines met them at the bottom.

          They had different reactions to the unexpected guests.

          "Ohboyohboyohboy," the little one babbled happily. "Visitors. People from Out There. This is the first interesting thing that's happened in years and years. Halt, or I'll have to shoot!" he cried suddenly, his tone changing from excited to stern. Then a smile broke out on his face and he burst out laughing.

          Next to him, his somewhat taller companion looked bored out of his skull. "Halt, who goes there," he said dully.

          "It is I, Captain Eskimo Jones, mighty pirate, come to pillage and mercilessly sack your paltry village!" This was Eskimo's all-purpose greeting line.

          "WOW! Sounds great! Come on!" the little one jumped up and down and ran circles around them.

          The taller one slung his gun in its holster across his back and stepped backward. "Come on. We'll show you around. Park your ship in the docking bay and come with me."

          Taluki activated the commlink. "Taluki, bring the ship to full stop in docking bay. Right. Over and out."

          "You realize you're talking to yourself, right?" Eskimo asked.

          "Of course. I--uh, I guess I'll go get the ship then, shall I?" she smiled and ran off.

          The ship lifted off from the landing zone and made the journey to the docking bay a meter away. Our three friends followed the space marines back to the marine headquarters, which was little more than a gun rack and a barrel to sit on. The tall marine sat down, picking a papercover book up from the barrel. "Go show the pirates where to get drinks. Introduce them around."

          The short one leaped to attention. "Right Fred!" He burst into maniacal peals of gaiety and scurried off, yelling for our friends to follow.
* * *

          Paul and Nate were immediately interested when Ted came in, followed by two strangers.

          "Wow, that sure is a dastardly plot to kill the Empress," Nate said, hardly daring to hope that they'd pay him any attention.

          Much to his surprise, two of the strangers were immediately at the table with Paul and Nate.

          "Kill the Empress?!" the leather-jacketed one cried.

          "Yeah. Y'wanna help?" Paul asked, hoping these people weren't actually serious about it. He didn't really want to be a murderer.

          "Not on your life, pal," the other stranger, the one in the black and silver jumpsuit said indignantly.

          "Why would you want to destroy such rare beauty?" the first one asked, staring dreamily into space. Picturing the Empress, Nate decided.

          "Well, we didn't really--"

          "If you want to get to Empress Leick," the second stranger said, pulling a knife out from somwhere, "you'll have to go through me."

          "Calm down, calm down! We just wanted to stir up trouble. It's so boring around here," Paul explained. "We didn't really want to kill anyone."

          "Hmm... I guess that's all right then." The second stranger resheathed her knife. Paul and Nate had the feeling they'd started off on the wrong foot with these two.

          "Why don't you two just... sit down... and tell us about yourselves." Nate smiled amicably, and the two strangers pulled up barstools from neighboring tables and sat.

          "I'm Captain Eskimo Jones, dread pirate etc. etc.," the second stranger said. "This is my friend Lance."

          The first stranger, Lance, nodded in acknowledgement.

          "And you are?" Eskimo asked.

          "I'm Paul."


          "Hey, aren't you my brothers?" Lance asked.


To be continued…

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