Art and words of Josh Burns.

Last Shot

After seeing a number of the great works that Ralph McQuarrie did in his career as a concept artist I thought of doing a little science fiction homage to the man.

In true human fashion, mankind continues to fight each other, even in the far reaches of space. With hundreds of other alien species to start trouble with, most of the time it’s still with each other.

The mercenary for hire Sane (Hologram) Fisch is a man chasing his fortune in the wilds of space. In doing so he has gained a few enemies along the way. Once strictly a bounty hunter, Fisch was usually on the right side of the law. But after a string of bad jobs, the last resulting in his partner losing an arm, he left the trade and moved into more lucrative and less scrupulous mercenary work. While acting as muscle for a black market weapons deal between an Alien merchant and the Crimson Marauder crime syndicate, Fisch made a name for himself in the intergalactic underworld. When the deal went south a shootout ensued. After the dust settled eight of the ten Crimson Marauder members lay dead and remaining two had fled. Their subsequent escape marked the beginning of a years-long vendetta against Fisch, and won him the nickname of “Hologram.” The two that escaped told the story like he was untouchable. They said he took out all eight of their fellow Marauders without getting a scratch. In reality, he had been critically wounded and spent the month following the altercation in a seedy alien “hospital” where he became addicted Derm(the hallucinogenic secretions from an alien lizard fish) and nearly died. None the less the legend lived on.

After coming out of hiding he found his services to be in demand, due to his reputation. Most clients were taken aback by his choice of weapon, most mercenaries would choose heavy weaponry when on the job. Ever since Fisch was a bounty hunter he had always been fond of laser pistols. They were compact, concealable and fast. Before parting ways his mentor and partner, He learned how to build his own weapons from scratch. Ever since then he had always carried a custom job. When his trusty pistol didn’t cut it he would rely on an array of different specialty weapons including; thermal charges, nano singularity bombs, EMP bolts and whatever else was available.

A few months after his recovery Fisch was escorting a shipment of contraband android part on board the “Miss Handled” a re-purposed cargo freighter. His employers were relying on him to accompany the ill-gotten goods to the destination. The Crimson Marauders had found out about the job and took the opportunity to eliminate Fisch. In an expert show of skill the Marauders disabled the Miss Handled and a team of elite Marauders boarded the ship. The Miss Handled had been refitted for smuggling and was not without its defenses. A combination of automated turrets, war droids, and laser nets dispatched half of the boarding party. The remaining seven converged on the cargo bay, where Fisch had decided to make his stand. The interior cargo bay door opened and the marauders flooded the tightly packed room. Splitting up, the Marauders started down the two corridors created by the crates. Fisch had rigged one of the crates with a nano singularity bomb set on a proximity trigger. He had scaled the large cargo crane to get a bird’s-eye view of the situation. Peering through the mesh of the catwalk he watched as the two groups filed down the small aisles towards the bomb. The group of three men was steps away from the proximity trigger. To hurry things along Fisch threw a wrench down to the heavy metal floor, just ahead of where the bomb was placed. The Clang of metal on metal hurried the Marauders steps towards their assumed target. Caution was replaced by speed and the lead marauder triggered the Bomb. The nature of a nano singularity bomb is that it creates an unstable microscopic black hole. the gravitational forces are strong enough to suck in a small vehicle or anything in a five-to-ten foot radius. Anything in a ten-to-fifteen foot radius is pulled towards the blast’s center. The unstable black hole closes in a fraction of a second. As the bomb triggered a high-pitched tone filled the cargo bay and chaos followed. The first two Marauders and three crates were collapsed within the singularity instantly. The third was broken by a fury of cargo crates being pulled toward the epicenter of the blast. In a second it was over and the remaining four of the boarding party were hunkered down behind cover, feverishly trying to get a fix on their target. Fisch had added a holographic targeting system that enabled him to snipe one of the intruders with his pistol from his elevated vantage point. The remaining three would need to be drawn out of hiding. The blast of his pistol had given up his position, so he tossed a thermal grenade in the general direction of the remaining Marauders. under the cover of chaos provided by the blast, he climbed down to the cargo bay floor. The last of the intruders moved along the outside wall of the cargo bay toward Fisch. After a short exchange of laser fire garnering no result, Fisch activated his last nano singularity bomb and hurled it at the Marauders cover position. The cargo bay rocked as one of the Marauders and the outside wall of the ship was sucked into the black hole. The last two Marauders were sucked out of the breach and into the cold of space. In sick devotion to his cause, the last Marauder took one last shot, narrowly missing Fisch before being overcome by the cold of space. Luckily the Miss Handled was equipped with emergency breach force fields, or Fisch and the cargo would have been lost. Sadly they started to fail shortly after the incident and the Miss Handled was forced make an unscheduled landing on a lush jungle planet for repairs. Fisch’s bad luck didn’t stop there, the planet was host to a number of aliens, the worst of which belonged to a group of pirates who captured Fisch and commandeered his cargo. The pirate leader, a massive lizard-like alien named Fi’ing knew of Fisch’s reputation and had plans to sell him to the Crimson Marauders.

Fortunately for Fisch, Fi’ing had a bounty on his head. Dead or alive and Fisch’s old partner, Crosby Gulling was fixing to collect. Just as Fi’ing was making a deal with the Marauders, the power in the compound fizzled and the communications array went down. Moments later Gulling, in true cowboy fashion, burst into the compound, pistol in robotic hand. The pirate thugs were no match for the seasoned bounty hunter. Even Fi’ing decided to come quietly, after taking a shot to the shoulder. Fisch was relieved and surprised to see his old partner. Gulling was a man of few words and Fisch and he hadn’t been on the best terms when they parted ways years ago. They didn’t say much, Fisch helped him load his prisoners, and prep his ship for take-off. When Gulling was done his final checks he called Fisch over. Gulling was over fifteen years his senior and Fisch had always looked up to the famous bounty hunter. He eagerly walked over to landing bay door of Gulling’s ship. The grizzled man crouched on the elevated landing bay door with his robotic appendage resting on his knee. The elevation of the door brought him to eye level with Fisch. He placed his robotic hand on Fisch’s shoulder, leaned in close and said “This doesn’t mean we’re square. Far from it…and don’t think that it’s anything but blind luck that kept you from breathing your last breath in there. Me being here is only a coincidence… You’ve got nobody watching you back.” Shocked, Fisch stumbled back as the bay doors closed and Gulling’s ship took off.

Note: I don’t really like the name Crimson Marauders for the bad guys. It sounds too generic. if anyone has a better suggestion let me know.


2 responses

  1. zac

    red tide?

    March 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm

  2. Reblogged this on The Stone Soup Novelist and commented:
    Thanks to Josh Burns for the notion of an energy shortage as a plot point in my book. Josh is a graphic artist and writer. Here’s one of his; an ode to old school space opera that is right up my alley.

    May 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm

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