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The Trials of Malakite Sta'finder

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Illegal Aliens: The Science Fiction Collection Copyright © 2017 Toby Bain

All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, without permission from the author.

 

Dear Reader,

 

Welcome to Illegal Aliens: The Science Fiction Collection. Thanks in advance for taking the time out of your day to read this offering.

This is a collection of six science fiction short stories and probably the last for a while. Writing science fiction short stories takes a lot out of me. In the not too distant future the focus will be on novels. Why only six stories you may ask? Well, funny story. Well, not so funny actually. I had 14 stories slated for this collection but after a process of elimination and getting rather impatient, I decided to put the ones I thought were worthy of the collection. The other eight stories are on the back burner for a time to be determined.

Please note, as an indie writer I have a very small team of proofreaders and editors. They are great, but there may well be the odd mistake. However, there does come a time when you just have to publish. The great thing about eBooks is that nothing is set in stone. Mistakes can be corrected, stories edited. Therefore, if you come across anything, let me know and I will make appropriate corrections. These may not happen overnight so please be patient. Did I mention we’re a small team?

I especially welcome emails and endeavour to reply to all of them. Get in touch by emailing [email protected].

Visit my website for FREE stories, news and information about upcoming releases. Moreover, if you’re into opinionated fiction writers, read my blog.

On the website, you can also sign up with my newsletter for exclusive stories, offers and information every few months.

Let’s not forget the various social media platforms too.

 

Twitter: @tobybainwriter

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Happy reading!

 

T.B.

One

The best place to hide can often be the most conspicuous. Having used his meagre savings to rent a room at the Wench’s Bottom Ale House – the biggest and most popular in the Ashra region – Malakite Sta’Finder sat in a shady corner of the tavern, mulling thoughts of escape and not quite believing them. Realistically it was only a matter of time until his capture. A reward had been offered. He had become paranoid. Even with her firm body bouncing joyously above him that morning, he felt the eyes of the chambermaid resonating suspicion.

For now he felt safe. A comforting flagon of ale rested in his sweaty palms, covering his harried features. Earlier, he had to leave his room at the tavern. The chambermaid needed to apply new sheets as well as clean up. Which was fine with him. He needed to see people again, to hear normal conversations, not the contrived ones in his head.

The doors to the alehouse opened, spreading a thrilling blast of cool air. Four black uniforms entered; four snarling faces wearing the coat of arms of the Supreme Commander’s guards. The revelry spluttered, fading in spasms of drunken talk, then to silence.

‘Nobody move,’ said one of the guards. A foolish command, given the locals were happy on some of the most potent brews on all of planet Zeti.

The guards fanned out among the drinkers, guns poised. A few murmurs bloomed in the crowd. ‘What do they want in here?’ said one patron. ‘There’s nothing to see here,’ said another.

By this time Malakite had sneaked into the toilets. A lump formed in his stomach and a foreboding in his head. Maybe he was being egotistical. Perhaps they were after someone else. Perhaps they were thirsty.

The only security presence throughout Ashra City were the local police and, aside from a few drunken idiots spouting anti-government sentiments, there was little to disturb the peace. The Supreme Commander’s guards were only summoned during emergencies. Certainly not to places like the Wench’s Bottom.

Malakite, groggy with ale and unable to stand straight, leaned into the main door separating the toilet from the bar. He pinned an ear to the door’s surface. The guards were asking questions, barking orders, a stark reminder who was really in charge of Ashra; that no part lay untouched by the Supreme Commander. He imagined their weapons, probably set to stun, pointed at the faces of the tipsy patrons. ‘Have you seen this man?’ the guards were asking. A good few said no. Then the guard changed tact, offering a reward equal to a week’s salary.

‘Why, that’s Malakite,’ said a familiar voice. The treacherous chambermaid. ‘Why I saw him just this morning,’ she added. ‘He sneaked off to the toilet when you weren’t looking. Can I collect that reward now?’

That very morning, at the height of orgasm, the chambermaid had professed to being in love with Malakite. It seemed that love wasn’t quite above the pull of easy money.

As their footfalls approached, he prepared for the inevitable by backing off the door. The guards burst inside, a mass of black, their weapons pointed at various parts of his body. ‘On your knees,’ said one.

Malakite Sta’Finder, considered by himself to be the greatest explorer Ashra had ever seen, was dragged out of the Wench’s Bottom Ale House like a common criminal. A wall of silence accompanied his walk of shame up the aisle.

‘Hey,’ came a shout. ‘What about my reward?’

‘It’s in the post,’ said one of the guards, bursting into unrestrained laughter.

Malakite Sta’Finder, secured to the hull of a cruiser, peered through the glass floor as it lifted off the ground and Ashra grew smaller. A dusting of snow covered the region, evidence the tail end of winter had begun. A mass sprawl of tenements eventually gave way to hillier, inhospitable land.

While two guards piloted the craft, the other two sat opposite him, fingers twitching on their weapons as if hoping he would attempt to escape.

‘For the love of Quaboo, where are you taking me?’ asked Malakite. ‘I know my rights. I get one video call.’

The men looked at each other with serious expressions, and then began to laugh. One pretended to cry like a baby, the other mimicked making a video call and handed him the imaginary phone.

Then one turned to the other, ‘Malakite Sta’Finder is a Humble with an Upper’s ambition. Thinks he can evade justice by hiding in Ashra. Thinks he can outsmart our Supreme Commander. What he doesn’t understand is that a Humble can never be an Upper.’

‘I want my phone call.’

They laughed again. The likes of Malakite Sta’Finder – humbly born to a cleaner and a street seller – weren’t afforded the luxury of rights. Given his alleged untold crimes against the government, it became clear he should keep quiet, lest he liked the sound of laughter.

The guards continued to talk to themselves as though he wasn’t there. ‘I reckon he’s looking at fifty eons inside Shanite Penitentiary,’ said one. ‘He’s a Humble. Three meals a day and roof is far too good for him,’ said another. ‘I reckon they’ll have him breaking rocks along the Forbidden Zone.’

Malakite tried to tell them he’d done nothing wrong, that it was all a huge mistake. The lies of a guilty man. He was a good Ashran, never hurt another soul, and even stood for the Zeti national anthem when the Supreme Commander rolled into Ashra – unlike some of his fellow Ashrans. The decadent Shanites weren’t for turning. He would wait to speak with more reasonable folks. Until then, he would keep silent and watch the scenery through the transparent floor of the cruiser as it flew further and further from his home.

The guards made small talk, complaining about the lack of thrust from the ancient propulsion systems.

If only he had such trivial things to keep him occupied. For Malakite knew where they were going, knew his life was over. What did it matter? At only 20 years old, Malakite Sta’Finder had nothing but a few pennies, Klavius – his pet gargan – and his mum. The poor thing would have to spend eons listening to the woman wailing and babbling about how her son had let down the family name.

The ground beneath them thawed, the land here was as flat as his singing voice, exposing stretches of farmland cultivated to feed all on the planet. Clusters of settlements inside the Shanite region came into view. As they went further into the centre, these were replaced by tightly packed offices and high-rise blocks. Given it was twice the size of Ashra; it was no wonder the Supreme Commander decided to relocate his palace to Shanite.

The craft slowed to a halt, lowering onto a platform marked by a red cross. It had only been an hour but by now his mother would be the most worrisome woman in all of Ashra, for her son had not made his daily call.

He was relieved to step from the craft. An hour is more than enough time with foolish guards, with their jokes about prison food and horrific tales of how new inmates get broken in.

He was escorted from the platform to a set of steps. They led down into a police station. Behind the desk, a man handed him sheets of paper with the charges on. Then he was told he was going to the cells until his case could be heard. Malakite didn’t need to read the sheets to know exactly what he was being charged with, but he took them anyway. Reading would pass the time.

How wrong could he be!

He was led down a corridor lined with cells to a set of solid bars. Inside, standing up against a wall, was apparently his new cellmate. He had to be a Humble too. They didn’t mix classes in cells, so he was told.

This had to be a Shanite Humble. His frame was stouter than Malakite but his clothes were no more than loose rags. These folks had a reputation as layabouts and thieves, eating the fat of hogs and drinking ale. He smelled as though he needed an urgent intervention to wash the ale and hog’s fat permeating his skin. Just my luck, thought Malakite. The filthiest man in Zeti is my cellmate and for Quaboo knows how long.

The door had barely rattled shut when the Shanite Humble prised himself from the wall and gave a smile. Without prompting, he told Malakite he was inside for profanity against Quaboo – the supreme deity of Zeti. It was no more than a misdemeanour. He’d be out in a few days with a fine.

‘What’s your bag?’ he asked. ‘Let me guess. You’re obviously a Humble too, or we wouldn’t be shacked up together. I’m gonna say you stole something. Perhaps a bag of nuts from the market. Feel free to tell me if I’m getting warmer. This game is crap without feedback.’

‘We’re playing a game?’ asked Malakite.

‘I’m guessing you vandalised government property back in Ashra. Perhaps drew some street art of how the Supreme Commander looks with his trousers down. Don’t blame ya. The way he shafted Ashra by moving his kingdom to Shanite.’

The region was still reeling from the loss of capital city status. Having gone against tradition, Kaldarone – the latest Supreme Commander – had ignored the place of his birth and taken his family to Shanite.

Noting there was only one bed in the cell, Malakite trudged across to it and sat on the edge. Awkward, he thought. He’d just have to sleep in a sitting position.

‘So what did you do then?’ asked the Shanite Humble.

‘I stole a ship,’ replied Malakite.

‘That’s awesome,’ said his cellmate, taking a seat on the bed next to him. ‘Especially for someone such as yourself. You give us Humbles a good name by doing stuff like that.’ As bold as this new cellmate’s smell was, Malakite’s was probably bolder, smelling of cabbage and ale and of very modest means. ‘Hold on, I get it. You’re joking. Humbles like us have neither the brains, the inclination, nor the ambition to steal a spaceship.’

‘Thanks,’ replied Malakite. He waited a few more seconds for the insults to really kick in and then handed over his charge sheet.

‘Wow. That’s awesome.’ The cellmate slapped his back. ‘I’m Skug, Skug Pelly. Friends call me Skug, obviously.’ Skug Pelly spat on his hand and held it out to Malakite.

For a few seconds longer than he should have, Malakite viewed the sticky fluids on Skug’s hand. Then he spat on his own hand and completed the wet handshake. This exchange had been phased out in Ashra as being unhygienic. However, Malakite had no idea how long Skug Pelly would be his new friend. No need to rile him for the sake of a little spit. Malakite wiped his hands on the bed sheet as Skug Pelly read the charge sheet in full.

‘This is so awesome,’ he said. ‘My mates aren’t gonna believe this. A Humble doing the impossible. It’s worth me staying in here a few days more just to hear your story.’

Malakite wasn’t enamoured with the backhanded praise or by the smile on Skug Pelly’s face. He saw himself as better than the average person, certainly better than the average Humble. Comparing him with others was clearly a slight.

‘You’re assuming I’m guilty,’ said Malakite.

A look of disappointment crossed Skug Pelly’s face. Never had a cellmate wanted so badly for another to be guilty. ‘C’mon. You gotta be guilty. Right?’

Malakite bowed his head, ran the four fingers of his hand through his thick hair. ‘Of course I’m guilty.’

Skug Pelly’s eyes brightened with disbelief. Then he let out a whoop of delight, danced around the tiny cell as best he could in a whirlwind of arms and legs. He did everything but throw a party. Exhausted, he fell onto the bed and placed an arm around his best buddy. ‘You gotta tell me everything, and I mean everything. How does a Humble steal a fleet ship? What did you do with it?’

He took a breath and held it long enough to be considered a dramatic pause. ‘You won’t be shocked to hear that it all started with a girl,’ replied Malakite.

TO READ THIS STORY IN FULL, AND OTHER STORIES IN THE ILLEGAL ALIENS: SCIENCE FICTION COLLECTION. GO TO AMAZON AND SEARCH FOR TOBY BAIN


The Trials of Malakite Sta'finder

Malakite Sta’Finder is that rarest of breeds: a Humble with ambition. However, only when he meets the rebellious and beautiful Cynazra does he think there may be more to life than mediocrity and struggle on planet Zeti. However, his adventurous attempt to prove himself and change the fabric of Zetian society takes an unpredictable turn, resulting in his arrest. Far from being the hero he envisioned, Malakite must fight for his life and defend the lawlessness and chaos caused by his actions.

  • Author: Toby Bain
  • Published: 2017-04-01 16:20:12
  • Words: 2444
The Trials of Malakite Sta'finder The Trials of Malakite Sta'finder