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Never fight unless you’d rather die than lose.

- Deadman

 

1 Year Later - Space Prick - Space

I sneeze inside my space helmet. Dang. That’s like the fifteenth time. Getting pretty hard to see. Fuck it, I take it off. If the airlock fails, and I’m exposed to hard vacuum, at least it will clean out my sinuses before I die.

The airlock cycle finishes without incident, and the interior door clangs open. A chipper space cadet pops in to welcome me to the settlement ship Hephaestus.

“Greetings Commander! And welcome to the settlement ship… HOLY SMOKES!! Are you dying? You can’t come in here if you’re sick! You’ll kill us all!”

“At ease, Cadet Candyass.” I bat him out of the way, and float into the ship. “We’re going to land this ship before that’s an issue.”

Cadet Candyass knows I’m lying, but doesn’t have the discipline to blast us both into space to save the rest of the ship. It’s not his fault, it’s a training issue. I bet the rest of the crew is equally unprepared. Normally that would piss me off, but I’m here to steal this ship, so I’ll allow it.

My name is Commander Adam Grayson, but most people call me God Damn Space Prick. I’m gonna save the goddamn human race. These particular humans may not make it.

There is no gravity on the ship right now. That's why my virus is such a problem. For some reason, the human immune system shuts off in zero gravity. A case of the sniffles can wipe out an entire ship.

Settlement ships should have some kind of quarantine protocol for unexpected visitors. The fact that I'm the first ever such visitor in the history of space travel is no excuse. Space is fucking dangerous, it's no place for the honor system.

As I blow through some occupied compartments, I see a few crew members realize this. I give one of them a thumbs up as he shouts to seal the bridge. Good thinking that man. I’m not going to the bridge, but still, sealing it off during a outbreak pirate attack is a sensible idea.

I kick off the sealed bridge doors and spiral into the settlers barracks. Most of the 6000 people on the ship are settlers, and this is pretty much the only compartment they’re allowed in. This is the room they should have sealed. They’ll know for next time.

“Wake up!” I yell. “It’s your lucky day! We’ve found a better planet! Fuck Mars! We’re on our way to Damocles!”

The settlers pop out of their bunks like they’re on fire. They’re screaming like I’m Oprah. This is my first attempt at space piracy, but I feel it’s going really well. I may actually live through this. Weird.

I’m not surprised that the settlers are happy. Damocles is much nicer planet. It’s way closer to Earth, with an atmosphere and an ecosystem. Mars is a distant, rocky, airless, hell hole. We were sent there because we’re valueless. An experiment in adversity. Our fiscal betters funded our mission. If any of us were to survive, it would give them valuable information for their much easier settlement of Damocles. Well, fuck them. My space piracy is not limited to stealing settlement ships. I’m gonna fucking steal Damocles.

“Could I get some drugs over here?” I yell over the din. “Is there a doctor in the house?”

A woman floats over. She stops herself by grabbing my ass. She gives it a friendly pat, then puts on her professional face. “I hear you need a doctor. Or, drugs at least. Actually, you look like you need drugs. You’re very goopy. Should I be concerned?”

“Nope. All part of the plan.” I hand her a list of drugs. “Let’s start with this.”

“Wow. That’s quite a cocktail.” she says.

“Pick out a little something for yourself. Space is no place to be sober.” I send her on her way with a friendly little bum pat. I normally wouldn’t do that, but she started it.

There’s a pretty good party going on around me. The doctor gets back with my shopping list, and we get into it. Space parties are pill heavy operations. Pretty much the only drugs we’re allowed to bring are uppers or downers. We do one, or the other, or both. I also take some decongestants. Eventually, they pass me a phone. It’s a call from the bridge.

“Hello?” I say.

“GOD DAMN SPACE PRICK!!” thunders Captain Wick.

“Howdy.” I say.

“I AM GOING TO KILL YOU!!” thunders Captain Wick.

“Good luck mother fucker.” I hang up.

“The settlers aren’t stupid.” says Cute Doctor. “They will figure out what you’re doing.”

“Oh, yeah?” I say. “What am I doing?”

“We don’t have permission to settle on Damocles. You brought a virus on board to force the Captain to land there anyway.” she says. “You think he will switch planets because Damocles is closer, and we will have a better chance of surviving a virus if we land sooner.”

“That’s a pretty cool plan.” I say. “Think it will work?”

“Shit. I don’t know. Actually… I think you probably killed us all.” she says. “Earth Command said they’d blow the ship if we mutinied. I figure switching planets qualifies. Most of the crew sealed themselves in the bridge, so they’re safe from the virus. They’ll probably keep flying towards Mars, and fuck us. If most of us die, they will have saved a few of us. Which is better than Earth Command killing us all, crew included.”

“You are taking this rather well.” I say.

“Surviving this mission was always a long shot. I thought we’d have an outbreak sooner or later. Too many people, on a ship for too long. No reliable way to test for viruses before we left. Other than asking people how they feel, and relying on the honor system.” She shrugs. “Also, I just did a whole whack of drugs.”

I snap my fingers. “I remember that! I think I was there for that!”

We laugh. Or, maybe I’m just laughing. I just did a whack of drugs too. It’s hard to read the room.

“It’s not as bleak as you think. Though, in other ways, it’s much more bleak. Basically, we’re probably going to die, but not for the reasons you just said. Those problems I have figured out.” There is an explosion from the hallway. “You’re welcome.”

There’s a lot of people flapping around and screaming. It’s exhausting. I’ve had a long day. I find an empty bunk and nap.

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Doctor Zero

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