Monday, May 28, 2012

The Adventures of Chase Harlin, Space Ranger!

Episode 23: Landing on Moon City

"I'm taking it in slowly this time, Skip."

Space Ranger Chase Harlin hunched over the controls of his space freighter, his long, lean jaw a slash of power against his chisled face; his hands clutching the controls with all the power of a steel cable. Skip Ripley, sidekick, yawned, wishing he had a cigarette.

"We're coming in to Moon City," Chase told his subordinate with all the authority and pomposity of a professor who's forgotten his lecture notes and is making do with hastily-scribbled Wikipedia printouts procured ten minutes before class. "I feel almost completely positive that the battle plans the Scriveners left behind will be found here."

"And if not, whoopee," Skip muttered.

"Of course, you can't trust those dashed Scriveners," Chase went on. "Ever since the Battle of Forma Terrain last year, they've been dying for a shot at getting those plans and unleashing Armageddon over the rest of us."

"I know, Ranger Chase," Skip assured him, looking at his watch and picturing several scenarios between him and Chase, all of which ended with the Ranger's head squashed under his boot, and with Skip laughing maniacally and smoking a cigarette.

"Why, for all we know, they'll colonize half the galaxy before they're done!" Chase clenched a fist defiantly and shook it in arrogant dismissal. Then, realizing he was shaking it at the wall, which was, so far as he could tell, immune to his scorn, he turned his attention back to the controls. "In just a little while, we'll sit down with High Council Spokesman Tar Tarnation. Then we'll get to the bottom of this."

"Right, Space Ranger," Skip offered on cue, wondering why in the hell Chase felt the need to continue narrating every single goddam thing that happened to them on their adventures. It made it not only boring and irritating, but also made even the simplest tasks take ten times longer. Just the other day, Chase had spent forty minutes explaining to Skip how they were going to use super-trans-power engines to cross the galaxy in a matter of hours. He'd even gone so far as to haul out several charts and graphs before Skip finally got him settled down, promising him they'd make a stop at the red light district on Planet Vulva before calling it a day.

"Of course, if the Terrakians get to the plans first, they'll most likely unleash war on the Scriveners and us," Chase continued, shifting in his seat and adjusting his equipment. "And wouldn't that be a fine kettle of space fish!"

Did people always talk like this? Skip wondered. In World War II, did Roosevelt turn to Truman and explain that the Nazis were a bunch of evil sons of bitches, which was why they were about to unleash ground troops in Normandy? Did Lincoln tell his Secretary of War in the War Room, "Now here's why we're going to go to war against the Confederacy...Ready? Because we want to reunite the Union." "Gee, Mr. Lincoln, that's really helpful background information!"

"Hold on, Skipper," Chase intoned, fiddling with several dials on the dashboard. "I'm going to start the landing cycle. If we don't go through the atmosphere with all diplomatic protocol--"

"They'll open fire," Skip supplied helpfully, hoping to avoid another expository lecture for the benefit of some nearby imaginary halfwit unfamiliar with the rules of space travel and elementary physics.

"If we don't, they'll open fire," Chase repeated irritably, shooting a look toward Skip that said, Who's the Ranger here? You, limpdick? No, me. That's right. "Ever since the Treaty of Putrefact, the locals here have been on edge. We'll have to keep a low profile, which means dying our hands and faces blue, wearing women's clothing..."

Skip sighed audibly and began thinking of big guns with huge barrels and unlimited ammunition. And using them to shut Chase's stupid hole permanently. It was almost like the guy was in a pulp story aimed at subliterate teenagers obsessed with sex, he thought to himself...

Suddenly, the atmosphere lit up with brilliant flares and searing thunder! A Klaxon warning began wailing. Red lights were flashing.

"Looks like something's wrong," Chase said solemnly, looking meaningfully at Skip, who bit his lip and fought to keep from leaping across the cockpit and throttling the stupid prick. Instead, he stabbed a few buttons on the console and brought up the visual.

Before them, a fleet of sleek, oddly-sexy-looking battleships were amassing in front of them, readying their weapons for attack.

"Egad!" Chase screamed, flailing his hands towards his face. "Terrakians!"

"What's the plan, Chase?" Skip asked wearily, already knowing.

"Evasive maneuvers!" the veteran adventurer thumped, tearing his shirt off. "I'll stay up here, explaining the military history between them and us out loud. You go get the makeup from below deck. My chest isn't going to glisten heroically on its own!"

Skip trudged off, contemplating suicide. He'd heard the Terrakians had vast dungeons of darkness and torture, and that they anally raped their prisoners. Well, as long as they had cigarettes...

Next Episode: The Dungeons of Terrakians (and some peace and quiet for Skip)!