Neo Chronicles: Black Void

Episode 25: I'm a Horrible Person

Table of Contents

In the hanger of a lone cruiser, traveling between two star systems in outer space, there's a battle—nah dude, can't e'en front. This is a massacre.

On one side, we got these large, angry looking aggressors. Each as unique and as varied as the one next to them. Large rock giants, small turtle creatures, beastie looking tree moss. They are all armed to the teeth with every type of firearm, club, dagger, and stun rod, legal or otherwise this side of the Milky Way. Their numbers are in the high dozens.

On the other side, there's these blue and white sea slug looking creatures. They're barely armed, mostly fighting out of fear, and putting forth their best effort to survive. Of the few defensive weapons they have even fewer of their numbers know how to use them. They are outgunned, outnumbered, and outmatched.

The outcome of this battle is obvious. The aggressors made certain of that before even boarding this ship. They wanted to come in, bully their prey into submission, and leave after taking whatever they want.

But the slug dudes are fierce. They have to be. They're fighting for their lives. Their cargo may not even be that valuable, but it's all they got. It's theirs. So they morph the ends of their forearms into sharp swordy things, and they fight back. And sure, they get smacked around like a red-head step child at the store, but they get back up and keep at it until they can't move no more.

And here I am, slouched up against the side of the hanger wall, right in the midst of it all.

This cruiser is a family vessel. They were probably all getting ready to go to some reunion or get together—maybe they even comin' back from one, I don't know. Either way, they didn't see this coming. They didn't see these fiends, these bullies, these—these—pirates posted up in waiting.

I did, though.

I saw the whole thing, from start to now. I saw them on their ship. I saw them at their meetings. I saw them form their plan. Every time there's a raid, the whole crew meets up. They pick the most secluded areas, places far away from any planet, any star, and any system, but it can't be too secluded. It's gotta be well traveled. Usually around what they call a warp gate.

See, not every ship's got a warp drive. They can't jump lightyears and lightyears away, so there're these gates, kinda like teleport fields scattered all around certain places in space. When a ship needs to jump from one side of the galaxy to another, they fly up to a gate, pay whatever toll fee there is, and ride on through. Each gate is connected to another, which means if you go through one, you'll always come out at the spot it's connected to.

All the pirates had to do was pick a spot, set up their fleet around it—cloaked of course—and follow whatever ship that flies from it for a little while. Then boom. Just like that. It's an ambush. And since we're in the dead of space, there's no one here to intervene. Even if the ship puts out a distress call, it'd take hours, days, maybe even weeks for anyone to pick up on it and fly towards it.

These pirates can literally get away with whatever they want.

That upsets me. Nah dude, it more than upsets me. It makes me mad. I hate it. I hate the situation, and I hate that I'm a part of the situation. There was a time where I'd do something about it. In fact, that was the first thing I did the moment me and Carlos joined their crew.

About a week ago, right after I woke up. I found myself in a sorry excuse for a doctor's office on board the captain's ship. It was well light. Bright white lights all around. I was lying on some hard, cold, metal table. The room was small and dank. The nurse was some grizzly looking bear/lizard/bird thing. Scales instead of fur. No wings, but there were feathers growing from its back starting from its head and going all the way down its spine to the edge of its tail. It took my temperature, injected something in my arm and told me the poison I was infected with was gone now.

Soon after, me and Carlos found ourselves in one of those pirate meetings, and at the first sign of them saying something about attacking, pillaging, ambushing, and the like, I spoke out and said “no.” I said it over and over and over again.

“No, we're not doing this. I'm not doing this. I'm not a thief. I'm not a pirate, and I'm not going to sit here and watch you be pirates.”

That got a couple of laughs at first, but when I kept at it, the captain—that elephant centaur dude with the three cornered hat—walked up to me and smacked me straight up in my mouth. Ooh, I can't tell you how ready I was to throw down right then and there. Seriously, I was about to go beast mode for real.

But Carlos 'ported right between us. He grabbed me by the shoulder and took me aside and said some things.

“Darius, I know this sucks, but right now, we've got nothing to stand on. We cross these guys, and that's it. We're done. So keep your head down.”

I was hating Carlos at the time, so I'm surprised I bothered to listen to him, but I did. I kept my head down during their meeting, and the raid that followed. I kept to myself every time after that, too. It's been a week, and in that time, I've been a part of three of them, four counting this one, and I never said a word or made an action about it, all while hating every minute of it.

Normally, I'd have no problem staying off to myself. It was practically my philosophy back on Earth. I was always the kid who didn't answer questions in class. I was the kid who didn't go out trying to make friends—my friends found me. Doing things that involve actively leaving the house for something like a get together or party was never my style. So being alone has never been an issue.

But when it comes to seeing wrong, no, not just seeing wrong, but watching evil? There's only so much sitting around I can take.

Then again, looking back on everything I've been through—and I always come back around to this, too—ever since I've been out here in space, every time I tried to stop something bad from happening, I always made it worse. Some things are just not meant for me to be a part of. I shoulda learned that the moment Ri'lar got killed. I shoulda learned that when that kid Juun-Met—yeah, I still remember his name—died.

It took me a while, but I finally got it. No more messing with stuff. Don't matter how I feel about it, if it's not about me, I shouldn't make it about me.

So that takes us back to here: inside this hanger, inside this space cruiser, in the middle of this battle. I'm watching one side overrun the other.

I'm watching as the blue and white snail people get shot in the face, in the back, and all over. I'm watching as they try to get back up only to then get smacked in the head with what looks like a club. Their jelly-like bodies vibrating from the impact. It looks like they can take a beating. They can take the pain. They can take the torture, but it doesn't look like they can take it forever.

Some of the jellies don't get up. Some just lie there on the floor in a pit of their own black blood. I think that's blood. Either way, it's got a horrible odor to it. Like tar or some dead animal. Not that these jellied slugs are dead. No, the ones that aren't getting up still look like they're breathing. The pirates, for the most part, don't seem like they're actively trying to kill these people. As for those who are trying to kill, well...

Here I am, in this hanger, on this cruiser, in this fight. I'm watching one side overrun the other, and I'm not doing a thing about it.

Well, that's not entirely true.

If I really wanted nothing to do with this, I wouldn't even be here. Being a pirate doesn't mean you gotta go on every raid and attack every ship and fight in every battle. Nah dude, it ain't like that at all. I could be back on our ship locked in my room. Maybe they'd have me sweeping some floors. Maybe I'd be washing some dishes, and I wouldn't be the only one doing it, either. There'd be others. I'd have company.


I chose to come here, just like I chose to come on every one of those raids before, and I do it for this one reason.

I leave. I leave the hanger, careful to avoid the beatings, careful to step over the bodies. I head into the main hall of the ship. My sword placed in its magnetized sheath on my back. My suit—my new, fancy red-trimmed, silver body suit—as clean as can be. There's oxygen on this boat, so I didn't bother to bring my helmet. I came here for one reason, and one reason only.

And that reason stares me in the face as I open the latch on one of these unlocked doors in this hallway. Another group of aliens—a lot similar to the blue jellies getting their faces smashed in in the hanger—huddled up together in a bedroom. Looks like five or six altogether. There's a couple of blue ones here. They kinda look like little blue and white dragons. Not lizard like, scale-bearing, fire breathing dragons, but as much as a sea-slug alien can look like a dragon.

With the blue dragons are rainbow trimmed, white bodied slug people, and there's some purple bodied creatures, too. They look worried. Their bodies are shifting. Tentacle-like things are frazzing out all over. They're the people I came to see. And this is the thing I came to say.

“Don't worry. It'll all be over soon. Just sit tight, keep the door closed and locked, and we'll make this as smooth as possible. If anyone comes asking for your stuff, give it to them. I don't think any of them want to hurt you, but they will if you get in their way. I'm sorry for all of this.”

I leave the room and close the door. I stay until I hear a clicking and whirring sound. I hope that's the lock. The ship looks advanced enough to have magnetized locks, so I doubt any of the pirates can just come smashing these doors open.

I continue down the hall, checking every door I find open. If there're people in there, I tell them the same thing. I just don't want anyone to get hurt that doesn't have to. Some of the rooms are empty. If I knew how to lock them, I would, just so none of the pirates could come and cop anything, but oh well. I'm here for the people. As long as they're okay, I'm good.

I pass by another room. The door is wide open, and I can hear the shuffling and ruffling and clacking of things being moved, shoved, pushed, and pulled over. This is the pillaging part that comes with the job description. Looks like three of them here. The room's fairly large. Might be a dining area.

One of the pillagers I recognize. His name is Rutra. One of the wasp aliens. I hated him the moment I saw him. Mostly because he's a wasp. I think he was one of the ones who poisoned me. I see him tear through some dining table sheets. He doesn't look like he's finding anything good. None of them do, actually. There's nothing here worth taking.

The pirates are showing their frustration, too. One of the rock giants decides to go on a smashing spree while shouting “JUNK, nothing but JUNK and DREN!” at the top of whatever he has that passes for lungs. He's breaking tables, banging through walls. The dude actually tears one down into the room next door. There's a group of jellies cowering together. They don't have much for faces, but from what's there, you can see, you can see their bodies quaking.

And here I am watching from the hall, mad as can be. My body's quaking, but for a different reason. I'm spotted. I'm spotted by Rutra, and I'm spotted by the rock giant. Then there's that death stare showdown thing going on. For at least a full three minutes, not a word is said. Then in the moments that follow, all of us: me, Rutra, rock giant, and that other pirate—kind of a scrawny, imp looking typa dude—leave the room as is and go our separate ways.

I continue what I'm doing, traveling the ships, checking the rooms, and I eventually make my way around back to the hanger. The fight going on has pretty much completely died down. None of the blue dragons are moving, so they probably fought until they couldn't any more.

Most of the pirates are heading back to their own ship. I see the captain walk by, and I step out of his way. Carlos pops in soon after. One look at me, and he can already tell.

“You look like you're hating every minute of this,” he says.

“You look like you're loving it,” I answer back.

“What can I say? I'm a horrible person.”