The Carnwennan

She had started out life as a Verra GalaxyWorks B-11 ore hauler. Its lines were smoothly crafted for something that looked like a bisected egg with four maneuvering engines jutting out like stumpy turtle fins. At just under fifty-five meters long, there was plenty of room for rocks, a pilot and an engineer to spend lifetimes in the doldrums of moving everything from fertile soil to molten rock between star systems, even if a short jaunt of five light-years could take a week.

At some point in her youth, a wise man had gutted her. A much improved engine was slipped in, as well as a cheap energy shield and an external missile tube, though it probably didn’t do much for anyone since it was locked in place. Whoever had owned her then probably fancied themselves a privateer or mercenary. At least, until they picked on someone much tougher than themselves and had gotten smashed into a moon for the trouble.

That’s where Deter found her, and the two were a match written in the stars. She needed freedom from her purgatory, he needed a fresh start in life. Sure, she was just a hulk when they met, but he had just enough inheritance coin to patch the holes and restart her heart.

And so, she was gifted the name Carnwennan, the shadowed dagger to strike the heart of the greedy, the pious and the false. Which, in this case, would be the Interplanetary People’s Union, or more directly, the Trader’s Quorum. The sole monopoly of shipping and business for any part of human civilization worth a damn.

Of course, it was a bit impossible to be a one-man piracy front, as he’d found out quickly enough. Only by fortune and an amazing failure of slipstream calculations had earned him the services of Wyvorn. The saurian soldier had gotten himself in trouble trying to pull an assassination job on a CEO’s private corvette and had gotten himself pinned in a cargo bay. The Carnwennan had come in screaming out of the slipstream and only slowed down enough to crash into the larger ship at a speed her hull could handle. And since Deter had majorly scratched some paint, the remaining bodyguards were suddenly torn between killing Wyvorn and punishing him. Deter had never seen a Sormorite in action, so watching Wyvorn leap from wall to wall and tear men down with his prehensile claws instead of his rifle was amazingly terrifying. Still, the Soromite’s sense of debt was stronger than even his combat skills and Wyvorn was forced to acknowledge that Deter had indeed saved his life, which means he owed the human a measure of equal value. So he became the razor claws to Deter’s razor edge planning. The saurian had also brought along his one-person shuttle, which fetched a neat purse, even though they salvaged the small auto-cannons of it for the Carnwennan.

They found Anon easily enough, but bringing him into the group was more difficult. The pilot had been a member of the Quorum and was guiding a shuttle hauling six tons of uncut diamond when they pounced. It should have been easy prey, but Anon evaded them in an asteroid belt for almost two days, hopping in-between, around and even through the stellar remains. When they finally pulled him aboard, Anon was smiling like a fool, as he’d never had such a rush. From there, it was easy to woo him on-board the Carnwennan with a cut of the profits and a chance to modify her for maximum speed and maneuverability. Anon had a good nose for speed, though he was never quite satisfied with how she handled. “I’ll get it balanced one of thes days, just gotta get the sweet spot!”

Yet for all the skill and craziness Deter had assembled, the Carnwennan still needed someone to maintain her far better than he could. There were plenty of hands available for the right price, of course. But on their way to the shining, seedy city-planet of Aramat Prime, Deter had felt a twitch in his gut and pounced on an un-registered freighter as it came their way. What they had set upon turned out to be more like a flying vault, with layers and layers of locks, security drones and electrified traps. And at the center of them all was a man, bound in chains and cryogenic suspension. At least, Vex had started as a man. His arms and legs had been augmented and spliced so much that was barely any flesh left. What was even worse still was his face. Whatever had been done to Vex had also removed the man’s lower jaw completely and replaced it with flexible metal plating all the way down to his sternum. Granted, neither of these issues seemed to slow him down, as the cyborg was able to rib himself free from his bounds once Deter woke him up. His price was simple; the mechanized man would help Deter with whatever he needed so long as, when the moment presented itself, the pirate took Vex to the Core world of Mars to do whatever it was he needed to do. Since the Carnwennan now had itself an mechanic that would literally link himself to the ship and keep her alive in measures well beyond any normal human, Deter eagerly agreed. Vex had repaid his freedom by building an impressively powerful slipstream wave disruptor into her hull, so Deter could snatch hapless cargo ships right out of light-speed and pick them clean in the confusion. None of them had ever seen such a technology before, though it was enough that such a machination wasn’t pointed at them.

Now, the Carnwennan skipped among the waves of the slipstream, racing away from its last kill with bounty tucked securely in her arms. In the cockpit, Anon was perched like the lanky goose he was, fingers flying over the controls to plot the evasive course back to Kranob and hefty payday. Wyvorn was curled up in his quarters, relaxing under inhumanely arid conditions. And probably still cleaning bits of merchantman from his claws, freakin raptor
Vex had never left the engine room. In fact, he never really left there. This was fine by Anon, as the unblinking cyborg scared the ever-loving shit out of the pilot. Deter understood, though. It was an unspoken agreement. Some men have an element, some just have an ease about them. That guy…I think he had both once. Before he became half a man.

Taking a long drag of cheap rum in the solitude of his own cabin, Deter pitched his booted feet up onto his desk and leaned back to watch the iridescent streaks of faster-than-light matter scream past. The captain raised a glass to his window “Here’s to you, baby. You did good today.”

So, this a companion to something I wrote many a year ago, back when I was in a very pirate-y mood and just wanted to leave the troubles behind for the wind, the sails and the rum. Still sounds like a good idea, somedays…

I hope you all enjoy.

5 thoughts on “The Carnwennan

  1. Mayumi-H says:

    Wow, shade, this was a really fun ride! I like all of the characters – they create such an interesting crew. They are all very specific, too, and each has his own signature descriptive silhouette. Once they’re introduced, it’s easy to see them in my head. Great job!

    While this has a very introductory vibe, like a “Meet the Crew” piece, I might suggest to try using active voice more often. For instance, “he gifted her the name Carnwennan” has a more in-the-moment feeling than “she was gifted the name Carnwennan.” Of course, sometimes we choose phrasing, tense, and voice to create an atmospheric effect, so take that with a healthy dose of salt.

    I did really enjoy this one. It’s quick, fun, and has all the makings of an entry point into a larger universe, whether it’s with these specific characters or others. Truly, well done, and thank you for sharing!

    • Thank you, Mayumi!

      These characters haven’t existed long, but I’m glad they’ve grown so quickly into their own personalities (especially since I’m sure a space Dino is a bit silly)

      Yeah, that’s always been a major weakness for me, active vs passive. This tells me mu voice favors the passive, since I spoke most all of it as I was writing it down. Gotta give it more of a punch!

      I have no doubt you will see them again! I’m happy you enjoyed them 😀

      • Mayumi-H says:

        I think Space Dino is a pretty neat idea – and, it puts the reader in a place right away where they know, “Okay, this isn’t just humans in space.” I was actually thinking Space Dino could be a really cool way of introducing non-traditional gender roles into a sci-fi setting. Who knows how this saurian race reproduces? Maybe the male carries eggs. Or maybe Wyvorn is really a female, and Deter and the rest just assume she’s a male because of her hunter traits. Or maybe these saurians have no specific gender: they’re all capable of reproducing, under certain circumstances. (I remember reading somewhere how some reptiles have that gender-switching trait, depending on environment and need.)

        Passive is tricky because it has a very epic tone to it, like a heroic poem. Especially when we want to get more lyrical in the prose, it can be a comfortable fallback. I think it’s fine, in moderation, and depending on the tone you’re trying to convey. It does remove the urgency from a lot of sentences, though. Just something to keep in mind.

        They’re a very fun crew, and I’m glad to hear you enjoyed writing them as much as I enjoyed reading! Thanks again for sharing!

      • You know, I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but you’re right! Giving Wyvorn a clutch of eggs to nurture really changes the perspective on why the Dino does what it does. Hmmmm…

        Yeah, hopefully I did a little better with my newest post! Something a bit more grounded, at least for me.

        You are most welcome! And thank you, as always, for your sage advice!

  2. […] next chapter in a little project I started a very long time ago, but they’ve come back to play lately. And who doesn’t love the idea of a space […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s