Friday, 12 August 2011

Friday Flash Fiction - Ahab

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago I joined a planet-hunter ship's crew, and this one was captained by a wild-eyed and hearty old man they called Ahab. The ship, under his command, like so many other planet hunters in the galaxy, would sail from star to star, spearing worlds and harvesting their magma. There aboard the ship it was processed for desirable heavy minerals, especially radioactive ones. Thus we made our living, but to Ahab it was more.

Today we have changed course, based on a star sighting, a faint radio signal, and Ahab's hunch. There were murmurs among the crew, that we were searching for some particular planet, home to a particular race. I hadn't heard of this before, so I asked in the mess hall that evening.

"Ahab was held as a slave in his youth," said Stubb, "by some white-haired alien creatures. That's when he lost his leg, and they replaced it with a rudely-fashioned rod of stone so that he could keep working in their mines. Nobody knows how he escaped-"

"Nonsense! There was a civil war."

"No, it was a slaves' revolt."

"Rubbish. He struck down a hundred of those white-haired alients himself, fled across their sun-scorched plains and stowed away on a cargo ship."
"Well," continued Stubb, with a little irritation, "whatever his means, he did escape, and now his passion is inflamed by nothing less than finding and destroying the homeworld of those white-haired slavers."

So this ship was his means to revenge.

It made the crew more than a little nervous, as we travelled the stars, to think that one day we might follow a particular radio signal back to a world Ahab recognised from his nightmares, and there we would be ordered to spear it with the great ship's harpoon. To suck dry an inhabited world is not done in this business, and for more reasons than one. A ship that did such a thing would be destroyed on sight if others learned of such a horrific deed. But Ahab was steadfast in his goal. He would find and destroy that world, and if it ever bothered him that he might die in the attempt, his stern face never showed a wrinkle of that fear.

It may be a long while before we arrive at that radio signal's origin, but I will pray fervently every day, to whatever gods will listen, that no white-haired aliens will be at its end.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - I kind of wanted to link this with Planet Scavengers, but it didn't fit.
PPS - I've been reading Moby Dick, and I'm getting near the end now.

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