“The Comet Rider” by Ray Whitter

April 22, 2012

Post image for “The Comet Rider” by Ray Whitter

The last free Comet Express rider is oath-bound to deliver her mysterious cargo to Triton, and not even the long arm of the law can stop her. [25 min]

Excerpt:

“C’mon, baby, stay with me. We’re almost there.”

Alice gripped the reins like a lifeline. Beauty was shuddering beneath her, lurching like a drunk and pulling to the right. Running two days straight without fuel could do that to a girl. The old beast needed parts and a good grooming, but her rider could only afford one or the other, and time was not on their side. They needed to cross into the outer territory before they could be confident that they were out of reach of the long arm of the law.

Through her limited field of vision, Alice could see the looming eggshell curve of a moldy yellow planet. From here, Io looked like a rotting orange compared to its three sister moons. She wiped her sleeve across Beauty’s digital display for a better look, and as she did so, a feathered plume erupted from the moon’s surface. She gave Beauty a pat just below the blinking heads-up display. “Never seen a more hideous world in my life. But beggars can’t be choosers, can they, ol’ girl?”

An emergency landing on Io was something Alice had hoped would never happen to her. It was on a long list of things that started with contracting avian pox, and ended with losing all power and drifting forever through the galaxy. But Beauty had begun to flicker and shiver as they’d approached Jovian space, her HUD fuel meter blinking CRITICALLY LOW, and Alice knew she’d put off landing for far too long. Morgan craft were meant for speed, not long distance sprinting.

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