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The Conclusion

Start from the beginning Part 1

Part 11

The Conclusion.

By Jamie Burns

The years spent traveling through space were my best years. It was when I finally found who I was and where I was meant to be. The answers: April Norian and in the sky, out seeing the Universe. A nomadic life of new adventures, it was my perfect fit. Now I was feeling like the whole of the Galaxy was pulling me in as it’s own. I saw an innumerable amount of stars fill every bit of my vision. I was ready to accept the fate that I had been given by the cold hand of death, also known as Tom.

I was ready but I guess the galaxy didn’t want me like I thought.

 

Feeling returned to my limbs and I sensed cold metal under me. I opened my eyes to a dimly lit room that I had been in before. It was the galley of the Lamplight, and I could see Nathan fiddling with something in one hand at the counter. His other arm was in a messy bandage and sling, his shirt underneath still covered in his blood.   

“Hey bro…” My voice cut out. Pushing the words out felt excruciating.

Nathan flinched at hearing my voice. “Oh thank God. You’re awake” He said as he dropped whatever he had been holding and walked to the table beside me.

“Wha… happen..” I managed to force out.

“You should try not to talk.” Nathan instructed me as he brought me a cup of water in his good hand.

“You were passed out cold when I got to you but still breathing. The sounds of the gunshots must have drawn some attention because some of Cryton's men started to head back our way. When the Lamplight showed up without Clara I was sceptical but I didn’t have a lot of options.”  

“After we broke orbit and I wrapped up my arm, Lucinda told me who she was and about your plan. She said it didn’t go exactly right, but we’re all alive so I’ll take it. We aren’t sure what happened on Clara’s end. We are on our way to the rendezvous point to meet her and the Thestrious.” Nathan sat down and gently adjusted his poorly made sling.

We were on our way to the Thestrious. The thought made all the pain I was feeling in my body ebb. I took as deep a breath as I could muster and slowly exhaled it though my nose. I let my body relax and rest till I felt like I could sit up without passing out. Then I rested again.

 

Slowly with rests between most moves I was back up and moving freely. I worked on replacing Nathan’s hastily done bandages. Luckily the bullet had gone all the way through. I fixed him up with a clean shirt, clean bandage and a much more effective sling. I didn’t want Clara seeing him all covered in his own dried blood. As we finished up Lucina called over the intercom.  

“We have a visual of Clara and your ship, we’ll be docking in about 20 minutes.” She said.

Nathan and I made our way to the bridge. Nathan moved slower but I would have run if I could have managed.  I wanted to see her, The Thestrious. Was she still in the shape she had been in when we were forced to part? Had they cannibalized her? What kind of repairs would she need?  I wouldn’t feel totally at ease till I saw the damage.

I stumbled onto the bridge and Lucinda gave me a sideways glance. Like her sister, Lucinda was sometimes hard to read.

There in the distance was my Thestrious. Looking none too worse for the wear. Yes it looking like a few things were missing but I had prepared myself for much worse.

 

The Lamplight was docked and the air lock between the two ships opened. Clara was waiting on the other side for us. At the sight of Nathan you could see Clara’s body relax. She ran to him and then slowed and gently hugged him over his sling. Nathan pulled her in for a kiss and the contentment on their faces said all they needed to say.

After Clara and Nathan parted she walked over to me and threw her arms around me, I returned in kind.

“Thank God ya’ll are alright.” Clara said.

I smiled and wanted to say something similar but my throat still felt like I swallowed a bag of nails. I was using my words sparingly but I made a note in my head to tell her later how grateful I was. I made for the corridor, eager to walk the ship and see the state of things. Just before I stepped out of the room I heard Lucinda.

“Well Clara Bug, this is where we part again.” she said.

I turned and Lucinda was holding out her hand to shake Clara’s

“Come wait in the galley with us.” I rasped out.

“She’s not waiting for a ride April.”  Said Clara

“Your men aren't coming?” I asked.

“No need my ride’s right here.” Lucinda said and pointed a thumb over her shoulder toward the Lamplight.

My heart sank. The private conversation Lucinda and Clara had, the one where Clara convinced her to help us. She hadn't convinced her at all, she had payed her. Clara had traded her ship for my ship and Nathan’s life.  I knew that for the rest of our lives I would always feel indebted to her.

Clara pushed past Lucinda’s outstretched hand and hugged her. It was brief but fitting. Lucinda headed back toward the Lamplight and tossed a few sacks that had been laying by the door into the Thestrious.

“Here’s your things… and Clara never come back to this planet again.” Lucinda said and she closed the Lamplight’s air lock.

I closed the Thestriouse’s air lock and the light on the control panel switched to green. We felt a slight jar as the Lamplight broke free. I watched out the small window as the Lamplight grew smaller. I was sure Clara was devastated, but when I turned to look at her she was walking with Nathan back toward the corridor. Unconcerned about the arrangement and seemingly fully content with it’s outcome.

 

Over the next few days we made our way back from Exodus, making plans for the future. I asked Clara if she would be willing to stay on the Thestrious and act as my second in command. Technically I owed her a fortune, between the money I had promised at the start of the journey and her losing the Lamplight because of it, I would never be able to repay her. Clara didn’t seem to care much about my outstanding debt and happily accepted my offer.

Nathan asked if I would mind if he stayed as well, which I saw coming. I agreed, as long as we set ground rules about his gambling and that he would be required to start paying off all the debt he had laying around the galaxy. By the time we made it back to a civilized planet life on the Thestrious was starting to feel like the new normal.

I sat on the bridge alone in my large, soft cushioned pilot's chair. The sound of the engines whirring down and an electric hum in the air coming to a close. With a deep breath I could smell hints of oil and the leather of my chair, smells that remind me of my dad. Once again it was clear to me who I am and where I’m meant to be.

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Part 10

Part 10

By Jamie Burns

 

The scene in the shipyard changed dramatically. Some of the men running away from the explosion, others running towards it. Panic and chaos took over like a flash flood. My ears still had a ring in them from the sound of the explosion. As it dissipated I could hear the air was filled with yelling, the sound of a blazing fire, falling debris crashing back to earth and in the farther distance screaming.

The men that moments before had me surrounded at gunpoint were gone. Infact, almost all of Cryton’s men had gone, swept up by the commotion. Which lead me to think that the explosion must have been close to their base of operations. The thought of Clara being there when it happened was scary but more over the though she might have been the one to cause it was no more comforting.

All who remained in our standoff now was myself, Cryton, (his gun now trained on me) and two of his men who had been standing slightly behind him to his right and left, suggesting they must have been his most loyal, and his right hand. The last soul left in the clearing was Nathan still laying on the ground, thankfully yelling in pain. I wasn’t happy he was in pain but I was happy to see he was still alive.

“What did you do!” Cryton yelled, and I could see the spit fly from his mouth as he raged at me.

“That wasn't us!” I wasn't totally lying because I really wasn't sure if it was Clara who was responsible for it or not.

I stepped closer to them and Cryton shot a round near my feet, causing me to freeze instantly on the spot.

“So you’re saying this is all a coincidence?” Cryton waved his gun toting hand around at the scene.

“How would I have done that?” I pointed to the smoked out area behind him. Cryton had no response. He looked down at Nathan then back to me and finally up to the Lamplight that was far in the distance behind me. Much too far away to be responsible for the explosion.  He was at a loss, the plan might not have been going exactly like I had thought but the main principle was still holding. He thought it was just the three of us Nathan, Clara and I.

Nathan still writhed on the ground but had managed to stop yelling.  Over the radio that was attached to Cryton’s belt a voice called out, “Boss, boss we need help over here! This place is going up like a candle!” The radio cut out and Cryton looked more annoyed than concerned. He pulled the radio off his belt and tossed it to the man on his right. “Go tell those idiots what to do.” He barked. The man was off towards the blaze and then there were two. Only two men stood between me, my brother and freedom.

“Come here little sister.” Cryton said, motioning with his gun to stand in front of him. I cautiously approached but stopped just out of his reach. He pointed the gun back down to Nathan. “Now tell Blondie to LAND!” He screamed the last word at me.

“As soon as you let him go.”

Nathan was now weakly pulling himself to a sitting position.

Cryton just looked at me, once again sizing me up. Without taking his eyes off me he called over his shoulder. “Tom, go get Sheila.” Cryton pointed his gun at me. The man hesitated for only a half a second then headed into the open dock of the ship they had pulled Nathan from.

“Who is Sheila?” I asked.

Cryton only smiled.

It took only a moment for Tom to return. My surprise that he returned alone was brief before the despair set it. He might not have returned with a person but he had brought what I was assuming was Sheila. An over-sized portable ground to air missile launcher. Then right there on the right side in large messy white paint I saw her name Sheila. Tom hosted Sheila up onto his shoulder and waited for instruction.

Nathan and I looked at each other. He had now made it onto his knees. He held his sagging blood soaked shoulder, and I saw his eyes twitch toward Cryton then back to me then to where Tom stood. The smallest of actions that told me all his thoughts. It wasn't the plan I had come up with but desperate times called for desperate measures. I casually straitened my index finger of the hand at my side telling him to wait for my signal.

Cryton pulled his shoulders back and looked up to the Lamplight. “Now shoot Blondie out of the sky.” He said.

“Wait!” I took a step toward Tom.

Cryton held up his hand to keep Tom from firing. “Are you ready to tell her to land now?”

Then I saw it, a shadow moving in the smoke filled sky over the explosion. My plan had mostly come together, maybe even better than I had hoped.

“No, I have to tell you something.”  I said to Cryton.

“And what’s that little sister?” He mocked.

“Taking my ship was a mistake.” Then I let the slight grin I had been holding back spread over my face.

The loud rumble and rush of air from my low flying ship tore over our heads from behind Cryton. Clara was definitely not in the explosion. The air pulled Cryton and Tom unexpectedly off balance along with the shock of seeing The Thestrious in the air. I clenched my hand into a fist. In unison Nathan and I acted. Nathan threw himself to grab at Cryton’s gun and I sprinted with all I had toward Tom.

I was sure the man had more than a hundred pound on me, but I was sure as hell not going to stand there and let him shoot mine or Clara’s ships from the sky. I aimed all of my weight at his torso and knocked him and Sheila to the ground. I heard the metal hit the ground a few yards away and had a small sense of relief.  No Shelia, no missiles. The victory was short lived. Tom had easily thrown me off and was then over the top of me. I kicked with my legs trying to keep him at a distance but it was useless. I held my arms over my face as a shield but that too was useless. I felt his hand grasp my throat like a vise.  I wasn't even sure he was using both hands.

I looked up into Tom’s face and found no anger or emotion, just a stone expression that made me think he had been doing Cryton's dirty work a long time. I started to feel a burning in my chest and a pressure behind my eyes. Tom’s face grew black around the edges. With whatever I had left I tried to dig my nails into his hand. Then I felt the feeling leaving them and thought about the fact that Tom’s hand seems very soft for a strangler. I let my head roll back and I caught a glimpse of the sky and a large gray object passed overhead.

The last thing I heard was the sound like a gunshot. The pressure around my neck was released and replaced by what seemed like a 200 pound man laying on top of me. This pressure was quickly removed as well.

I saw the world through a pinhole. My small and tiny world. My brother, the sky, the Thestrious, darkness, then stars and the universe.

 

 

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Part 8

art 8

By Jamie Burns

 

In a universe that seems vast and infinite, every once and awhile the stars align. When they do it fills you with a sense that maybe, just maybe, the galaxy isn't totally out to screw you. That’s how I felt when Clara and I found Lucinda.

Right up till the moment that Lucinda punched her little sister Clara in the face.

The people in the crowded bar looked at the commotion for a moment before quickly looking away. Almost like they didn’t want to be caught looking. No one made a move to stop the tussle. After Clara landed a backhanded slap across Lucinda’s face the fight digressed into that of school girls pushing each other and pulling hair. The three large men that had been surrounding Lucinda moved the crowd back. I was going to try and put a stop to it but one of the men's overwhelmingly large hands pulled me back from the two swinging blondes.

“Clara!” I yelled.

My voice seemed to bring her back from the edge she had gone over. Clara pulled herself back from Lucinda. They both huffed with heavy breaths. “Damn Lu.What in creation was that for?” Clara asked, rubbing her bruised jaw.

Lu’s voice was so similar to Clara’s they were almost interchangeable. The deep draw of each word pulling on the air. “Six years, you don’t contact me. You don’t want nothin’ to do with me? Then, I hear someone's looking for me, because they need a favor. That someone turns out to be you. How you think that makes me feel Clara Bell?” Lu said with a conviction that made even me feel bad.

“Don’t you lie to me Lu. You knew I was the one looking for you.” Clara retorted.

The large man, had released my shoulder and moved back toward Lu. I realized now the three men were obviously Lu’s bodyguards.  I watched as the two sisters stared each other down. I had never imagined Clara with siblings. She had never mentioned a sister even though she had told me several stories of her parents and when she was younger. To find out now there was another Bell family member present in those tales changed the way I saw Clara. We were both the younger sister. But somehow Clara had cut Lu from her stories. It felt strange, I couldn’t think of a single memory from my childhood that didn’t involve Nathan in some way shape or form. He had always been there, my ever present big brother. Even if he was only a few minutes older than me. Was Lu that way for Clara in the beginning? Her best friend, her co-conspirator, her backup?

The women stayed a fair distance from each other. “I’m sorry it turned out like this.” Clara said and she really sounded like she meant it.

“So am I Clara bug.” The comment brought a hint of a smile into both the Bell women's faces. “Yes, I knew it was you. I have eyes and ears all over this rock. I knew you were here the second you stepped off that wind-up toy you call a ship.”

“What do you mean eyes and ears everywhere?” It was the first time I had spoken since breaking up the fight and I realized that Lucinda had no reason to know who I was. That fact didn’t faze her.

Lu smiled “Oh sister, you think I would come to a place like Exodus and I wouldn’t naturally take over?”

“Take over what?” Asked Clara.

“I’m the ‘Queen of Chems in six different quadrants.” Lu twisted her wrist in the air with a flourish.

“You’re a drug lord?!” Clara exclaimed.

“Oh Honey, don’t say it like that. But yes.”

I wasn't sure what Clara had expected to find when we went looking for her sister but I was sure a drug lord was not it. Clara was speechless with her mouth agape. I hated to interrupt the thought process that must have been running through Clara’s head but I needed to.

“Clara, we’re running out of time.” I said to her.

She composed herself again. “We need help Lu."

“And we need it in the next 3 and a half hours.” I added.

I wasn't sure what Clara said to Lu while they sat in Lu’s privet both in the back corner of the bar. The conversation took less than five minutes and I was elated. Clara and Lu returned, with Lu’s agreement to help us get Nathan back, as well as get the three of us back off Exodus. Now with Lu’s help and her unexpected resources my plan was looking more like a plan and less like a suicide mission.

Copyright 2016 JAMIE BURNS ALL RIGHTS RESERVED