(OJ Note: To celebrate the forthcoming release of TETRAGEDDON, the 4th in the Kirk Sandblaster series, I’ll be posting the opening of the previous Kirk adventures thus far. Enjoy this opening from Game of Yloria…)

Space.

Spacey space. It really is quite spacious. I mean, consider this – it is the vast expanse of nothingness, populated by planets and galaxies and quadrants that are stupendous in size. So stupendous, that to even consider how big they were would make your frontal lobe sizzle and pop with the sheer volume you were considering.

So yes, pretty darn big.

But if that wasn’t enough, you then have space in between. Big, wide, open chunks of space. Because these planets aren’t close together, that would be utterly daft. Galaxies do not sit side by side, like some sort of cosy brood of Gii wild-hogs. No, these interplanetary orbs and swirls are separated by vast vistas of space. So, if your brain were able to comprehend the sheer mass of a planet, maybe even a galaxy, to then contemplate the amount of space there was? You’d more than likely implode.

Which, ironically, is what would happen if you went out into that space without the proper equipment. It’s just common sense really.

So space is, as we’ve established, pretty darn spacious. And with all that space, comes a complete absence of sound. Light is pretty much all over the place; wherever you happen to be in space, no matter what the distance (and they are quite distant at times), you’ll pretty much see a nebula or a star-belt or something of that ilk.

Of course, the exception may be the outer rim of the Illumia Quadrant (formerly known as the Dark Quadrant for those keeping score), but any self-respecting person would simply turn around and see light behind them. Or actually enter the Quadrant, where they’d be instantly blinded and burnt to a crisp. Hey, just because there’s a Universal Peace Treaty doesn’t mean space isn’t dangerous, you know.

Where was I? Oh yes, sound. None of that. Space is a void, a complete absence of anything barring, you know, life and that. If you put an Elejarian Orchestra out into space though, not only would they find themselves in a soon-to-be perishable state thanks to the large vacuum of space, but also their talents would be completely wasted. No sound travels in a vacuum, that’s just science.

In the end, that’s space. Big, wide and devoid of sound. If you did find yourself floating around, seeing how it all comes together, you’d find yourself fairly at peace. Nothing disturbing you except the vastness of space.

That would be, of course, until two spaceships in a chase passed you. And then, no doubt, you’d find yourself thrown into a frenzy by the sudden burst of action that had just assaulted you. Yes, space is big and completely silent, but having two sizable ships pass by is enough to make even the sturdiest space-walker lose control of their bowels.

Not that we’re speaking from experience, of course. Oh no.

Back to the ships in question, and it was a classic underdog vs. very-large-dog-who’s-quite-angry battle. The chaser in question was a Rygan Starsmasher – big, armour-plated power-ships that were the very emphasis of an engine’s roar. A Rygan Starsmasher looked like a 20th Century Earth muscle car; a rounded chrome exterior, which housed a ridiculous engine on show at the rear (encased by glass, as space would ultimately rip the engine apart if exposed. Remember: vacuum) and several engine-blasters at the back. In terms of status, a Rygan Starsmasher lived up to its name; it conveyed an attitude that said ‘fear me, and my intense beast of a ship’.

Although it probably shouted it more than said it. In block capitals.

Meanwhile, the ship the Rygans chased said something more along the lines of ‘please fix me. I’m in intense pain and don’t think I can travel much further. Also, do you have any space change?’ It was a classic rust-bucket of a ship, with the kind of love and attention you’d get from an angry Ghurian.

It was The Bounty, the pride and joy of Universia’s most laid-back participant in adventure and sandwiches.

Kirk Sandblaster. And his Zaarian co-pilot, Xlaar.

The Rygan Starsmasher had chased them for the last hour or two, depending on your concept of time. The reasons for this were fickle and unworthy of debate, at least according to Sandblaster. All he recalled was commenting on the mild muscle definition of the Rygan next to him at the bar, and whether he had been slacking off in the gym of late.

Unfortunately, the Rygan who was the subject of this flippant barb was Kronk Smashmeister, a known felon in most of Universia, and leading politician on Ryga.

To tell a Rygan, especially one of fairly shaky temperament such as Kronk, that his muscles aren’t as big as most Rygans, is tantamount to telling a Horgorian that his hair looked like a lady’s and that he smelt vaguely of elderberries. To put it in a more Earthly context, go up to the next stranger you see, and inform them that their mother resembles a deceased horse.

Let us know how that works out for you.

Therefore, with the insult levelled at Kronk, Sandblaster and Xlaar found themselves in a full-scale brawl, and now a rather intense chase around space. The problem with Rygans was that, as well as being easily offended, they didn’t forget such slights until an equal level of violence was committed against the offending party.

The more they chased The Bounty, the higher the level of violent retribution became for the Rygans.

“They’ve just deployed Burninator Missiles,” Xlaar said, desperately punching at every button and lever that his 4 hands (including a rather fetching cybernetic one) could reach. He was a hive of activity, utilising every bit of his piloting power to race along and out-manoeuvre the Rygan Starsmasher. Despite the bulk of his power-suit, Xlaar was as nimble and able as a Frechian.

While he was doing this, Kirk Sandblaster sat back in his chair. It wasn’t a Captain’s Chair, per se, but he had customised the lining to give it a more regal feel. When he requested this from his old mechanic buddy, Obadiah Beansmith, the response was less than savoury.

“I’m an engineer, not a decorator,” Beansmith had said, in language cleaned up for this recounting.

Nonetheless, Sandblaster had got his wish – a nice, mauve lining to the refined steel of the chair. He also had CAPTAIN emblazoned in nice, big neon letters on the back. When he leaned back, they would glow, dazzling those nearby.

It made him feel very special.

So, while he sat back and relaxed, Xlaar was angrily trying to tell him about the Burninator Missiles heading their way. While not very lethal, a Burninator Missile was still quite high on the list of not-very-nice things you don’t want thrown at your ship. Upon exploding on contact, they will coat a ship in a condensed varnish of burning sulphur. Normally, this would evaporate quite quickly, but thanks to the aforementioned status of space, it clings to the ship’s exterior, and causes quite a mess.

If you’re very lucky, you’ll eject before it hits. If you’re not, well, you’re not very lucky.

Remember: Space. I really can’t stress this enough.

“Will you help me evade these glatting missiles?” Xlaar said, his bionic eye glowing with rage.

Sandblaster looked over, saw the anarchy happening in his ship, and sighed.

“I’m bored.”

“You’re what?”

“Bored, Xlaar, bored. A human emotion when life just plain doesn’t stimulate you anymore.”

Xlaar knew what boredom was. What he didn’t know was why Sandblaster was bored in the middle of a tense space battle with furious Rygans. Furious Rygans that he had upset.

“If you want some excitement, help me get us out of here,” Xlaar said, keeping one of his heads on The Bounty’s status. The ship was struggling to keep up with the combined demands of out-running a Starsmasher, and avoiding destruction by Burninator. While the ship couldn’t scream, it could make several alarm sounds that could be considered screaming.

Sandblaster didn’t believe in alarms though. He believed in his AI, Navi. When Xlaar had first pointed out the pressure this battle was putting on their vessel, he decided to get a second opinion. When he fired Navi up, he got it.

“Sir, I’m in complete agony right now. Thank you for asking!”

“See, perfectly fine,” Sandblaster said.

“Now if you’ll excuse me,” Navi said, “I’m going to make a terrible noise to articulate that agony. AAAAAAA…”

At that point, Navi was turned off. Sandblaster would rather put up with the alarms.

A different tone popped up in the middle of tonal chaos. It was the intercom with a message.

“Looks like Kronk wants to speak to us,” Xlaar said.

Sandblaster rolled his eyes. He punched a nearby button, and looked at the nearest console.

On screen, an obscenely muscular human popped up. While most of the console was filled with muscle upon muscle, you could just make out two small eyes popping out from the over-developed pectoral muscles underneath a tight vest.

“SAAAAAAAANDBLAAAAASTERRRRRRR.”

“Kronk,” Sandblaster said.

“NOW LISTEN HERE, AND LISTEN GOOD,” Kronk said, “YOU’VE MADE A JOKE FOR THE LAST TIME, BROTHER. I’M HERE TO PUT YOU DOWN. DOWNTOWN. I’M GONNA BLAAAAST YOUR SHIP OUTTA THE SKY, SEE YOU FLOATING AROUND, AND POP A HOLE THROUGH YA!”

“Well that’s not very nice.”

“THIS AIN’T NO BIRTHDAY PARTY, BROTHER. THIS IS WAAAAAAR! AND I’M ARMING BOTH GUNS TO PUT YOU TO SLEEP! SO GET YOUR CAP ON, IT’S NIGHTTIME FOR YOU, BROTHER!”

Sandblaster laughed. Not the best response to a Rygan threat.

“While I am a little drowsy,” he said, “it’s merely out of poor stimulation than a need to kip. So thanks for the offer, Kronk, but this adventurer is up all night long.”

“NYAAAAAARRRRR! YOU LISTEN HERE, SAAAAANDBLAAAASTERRRR…”

“Kronk, can I interrupt?”

Again, not the wisest response to a Rygan. Somehow, though, Sandblaster managed to succeed in doing so.

“Now correct me if I’m wrong, though I rarely am, but I feel you’ve got some issues brewing inside you. Maybe a complex or two. Have you considered speaking to your local doctor?”

Kronk didn’t respond. Instead, he just turned a curious red hue that rippled throughout his finely toned body.

“YOU’VE CRACKED YOUR LAST EGG, SAAANDBLAAAASTERRRR!”

And with that, the intercom switched off.

“What does that even mean?”

Xlaar knew exactly what it meant. He looked on the screens and saw that the Burninator missiles that were being prepared now had an extra couple of friends with them. Two Burninator missiles he could handle. Four? That was just crazy talk.

Which was the kind of conversation Kirk Sandblaster approved of.

“Well that didn’t cheer me up,” Sandblaster said.

“No, but it did upset them,” Xlaar said. “Thanks to you, we are now most certainly going to die.”

“I doubt that.”

“You doubt that?”

“Yes.”

“And why, pray tell, do you doubt that?”

“Well,” Sandblaster said, getting up from his newly designed chair, “because I know two things. One, is that Rygans, for all their pomp, are very stupid. They think of space as a linear thing.”

“And two?” Xlaar said, watching as the Burninator missiles launched and headed their way.

“Space isn’t linear at all. It’s actually very open.”

While Xlaar was struggling to comprehend this completely bizarre speech, Sandblaster waltzed over, grabbed hold of one of the controls, and watched the missiles head toward The Bounty. If Navi had been on now, he would surely be reaching the apex of his scream.

Instead, Sandblaster thrust forward the controls, sending The Bounty into a dive. The Burninator missiles, designed as they were, flew over their flight-path, and straight into the darkness of space. Many nearby planets commented on the beautiful shooting star they saw that night.

Meanwhile, the Rygans were equally perplexed. Now that Sandblaster was out of their immediate view, their Starsmasher slowed to a near-halt. From The Bounty, Sandblaster and Xlaar watched as it floated there, aimlessly.

“I don’t believe it,” Xlaar said.

“I know. Good plan, huh?”

“I actually didn’t believe Rygans were that stupid.”

The beep of the intercom went off again. Sandblaster walked back to his chair, flopped in, and punched up Kronk on the console.

“WHERE DID YOU GO?” was Kronk’s immediate question.

“Space.”

“DON’T CRACK WISE WITH ME, SAANDBLAAASTERRRR. OTHERWISE I’LL FIND YA, I’LL GRAB YA, AND I’LL CRACK YA!”

“Um, Kirk?”

Xlaar was looking at a screen, showing the Starsmasher floating in space. He was also watching as a large Tetra Carrier was floating in their direction. It had been part of a chain reaction started, ironically enough, by the Rygan Burninator. One of the missiles had hit a rogue asteroid, which had broken up, and of which, had disconnected a Tetra Carrier at high velocity.

One that was now heading toward Kronk’s Starsmasher.

“Oh. Err, Kronk?”

“I’LL BEND YOUR LEGS, AND PULVERISE YOUR SPINE…”
“Kronk?”

“… POP OPEN YOUR CHEST, PUMMEL YOUR LIVER…”

“Oh forget it,” Sandblaster said. He turned off the console, and watched the screen with Xlaar.

“Didn’t fancy warning them then?” the Zaarian asked.

The Tetra Carrier was hurtling closer to the Starsmasher.

“There are only so many hyperbolic threats one can take, Xlaar. After a while, it’s just far too noisy.”

The impact was imminent.

“Fair enough,” Xlaar said, as the Tetra Carrier shattered the rear of the Rygan Starsmasher. The two of them watched as various flares went off, debris went flying, and thrusters desperately tried to push the Starsmasher out of harm’s way. Luckily, due to the resilience of the Rygan ship, the crew were more than likely fine in the cockpit.

However, they were now most certainly trapped in space.

Xlaar sighed with double relief, while Sandblaster returned to his chair. He sat down, opened a compartment, grabbed a sandwich, and took a bite.

“Looks like you lucked out again, Sandblaster,” Xlaar said.

“Hmm.”

“What’s up now?”

Sandblaster swallowed his mouthful of sandwich.

“I’m still bored.”

 

(Kirk Sandblaster Plays the Game of Yloria is available now for Kindle & Paperback. Kirk Sandblaster faces TETRAGEDDON is available on Kindle from March 14th)

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