Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Daily Story 49: The Worst Kind of Surprise Party

Behind my back, they call me Crazy Simon and say I have a deathwish. Rumors circulate about why that is - my favorite is a particularly intricate story involving a beautiful princess, sole heir to the throne of Mars. Everyone knows pirates are superstitious, but nobody realizes they're also big starry-eyed romantics.

They see a guy like me, willing to go into harm's way, and they jump right to fancy stories. On the surface of things, out of context, I can see why they would think this is the scary part - a bullet just ricocheted off of my helmet and I'm pretty sure it would have punched through if it had been a few inches to the left. They feel safe on the ship, surrounded by layers of hullmetal, with the big guns. I let them feel that way because correcting them would be bad for morale, but you can put me in the boarding party any day.

Another shot from a gausspistol slams into the cabinet next to me and sparks fly out - and that sums up what's probably my favorite thing about the boarding party right there; every single shot that doesn't hit you hits something that belongs to the other guy. When you make it to the engine room or the command deck you've taken the ship hostage by your very presence. They'll still shoot at you most of the time, but you get to laugh as they cripple their own ship. I'm nearly there now; just a short sprint and I'll be in the belly of the beast.

There are three of us this time, Little Jimmy and Twelve-Toes hanging back a bit and letting me lead. That's another thing; I like to be in charge of my destiny. On the ship it's passive, you sit back and hope the captain does everything right. I've seen a lot of Captains make a lot of bad decisions, most involving livestock - though that's a story for another time.

I toss a flash grenade through the door to the command deck, and charge after it. I roll through the doorway with bullets bouncing off the walls around me and I can almost hear the way Twelve-Toes will tell this story later - there'll be no flash grenade and I'll be out of rounds, and I'll charge in anyway. In reality I'm well armed and the defenders are blinded, and my shipmates are covering the hall behind me so while it's far from safe it's better odds than an infantryman in wartime could ever ask for. The two on either side of the door go down fast, and I grab some unlucky bastard to use as a meatshield. The captain, all decked out in his fancy nautical hat, is still blind and shoots the kid. Bad luck, partner, you were just supposed to be a hostage.

Still, it does the trick and the Captain drops his gun as he realizes what he's done. My shipmates come through the door and for the moment it's quiet, the ones out in the hall waiting and the Captain just pointing at an expanding cloud of debris on the viewscreen that almost certainly used to be our ship. They called me crazy, thought I had a deathwish, but the fact is that our boys were aiming to cripple and theirs were aiming to kill, and any other perks aside that's why I'll always choose the boarding party. I want to be on the ship nobody wants to make into molten scrap.
"Your ship is destroyed. There are three of you, and thirty-seven of us - you have nowhere to go. I can guarantee you that if you lay down your weapons now you'll get a fair trial."
A fair trial is the last thing I want; had he offered us a trial that was blatantly unfair in our favor that might have been something. Still, I can tell Little Jimmy is shaken and he's thinking about dropping his gun so I make the choice simple.

The Captain's head snaps back and he crumples to the deck, and I turn to address my mates. "You heard the man! There's a boarding party of thirty-seven - sorry, thirty-six men - on our new ship. Let's get them, boys!"