[Story] A Story a Week 16

[[ Prompt: A story that begins with a gunshot.

Tirzo embarks on a life of crime and villainy! ]]

The blaster shot crackled through the silence of the morning, and for a moment, the whole world stood still. Then it erupted into chaos, shrill alarms sounding from the ambassador’s compound, shouting from someone within. Tirzo clutched the blaster pistol tightly, still hot from use. He wasn’t startled by that, at least; he’d been practicing. No doubt the Captain would have refused if he’d known what Tirzo had in mind. He ran as fast as his legs would carry him, crunching across the crust of snow. In a moment of panic, he realized that he had left a trail of footprints. It would take them no time at all to find him. Throwing the blaster into his pack, he scrambled up a rocky cliffside. Hopefully it would be enough to lose the guards, but he knew he didn’t have long.

Had the ambassador died? He thought so. Tirzo would never forget the look on his face as he sunk to the floor. It scared him, but at the same time he felt glad, and worse — he felt powerful. He had done that. He was the one who had taken care of the problem, made things better for the poor people who lived there. They were on one of a series of backwater planets in Imperial space, Tirzo didn’t remember the name. They all looked the same. The Captain wanted to sell things and pick up supplies, though he confided in Tirzo once that he was looking for something else. Just what it was, he could never get the Captain to admit. It had been his mother Xiras who suggested they stop here. She paid for the clothing and shoes out of her own salary, which inspired the Captain to give supplies to the townspeople as well. She wouldn’t say why she was so keen to help these people in particular, Tirzo guessed that she knew them, perhaps had even once stayed here when she was younger.

Everyone hated the ambassador. Tirzo was doing them all a favor, even if they’d never know it was him. Or at least he hoped. He ran up the plank into the ship, mindful of how loud his feet sounded on the metal. He’d wait in the cargo hold until everything calmed down. His mother or one of the other crew would find him sooner or later, and everything would be okay. Or at least that’s what he told himself to try to soothe his jangled nerves. It wasn’t working. His heart still fluttered in his chest like a small animal caught in a cage. He could still hear the sirens outside, and something else as well. A transmission in the cockpit? Tirzo tipped his head to try to listen; he could hear the static and crackle and someone was speaking, but he couldn’t make out the words. Frowning, Tirzo carefully took the blaster out of his pack. It had been dangerous to leave it in there like that, it could have gone off and hurt him while he was running. The Captain would scold him if he knew, and surely take it away from him. He didn’t know that Tirzo had it now; he’d lifted it out of the armory closet when it was left unlocked, which was most of the time. Tirzo opened a crate of killik silk and dropped the blaster inside. He could retrieve it later.

“You just caused us a whole heap of trouble, kid.”

Tirzo blinked to see the Captain with him in the cargo hold. Thankfully his mother wasn’t here — yet. She always had a sense when he was in trouble and tended to show up just in time to catch him in the middle of it. Tirzo furrowed his brow. “He deserved it.”

“Yeah, maybe. That doesn’t change the fact that Imperial guards are locking the place down, no one leaves until they find you.” Tirzo stared at the Captain. “And they’re just going to send somebody else to take his place, who’s going to be on edge already. Guess who’s going to pay for it?”

“Oh,” said Tirzo. He hadn’t considered that.

The Captain glanced quickly around the cargo hold, then he went to the ramp to look outside. “If anyone saw you–”

“They didn’t!” Tirzo insisted.

“Are you sure?” The Captain gave him a hard stare that had Tirzo cringing back behind his crates. “There are cameras and droids all over this place.” Even here? Tirzo hadn’t considered that either. He felt tears stinging his eyes. He was scared, but he wouldn’t admit it to anyone, least of all the Captain.

“What am I going to do?” Tirzo asked, and his voice wavered in spite of all his attempts at bravery.

The Captain took his blaster from the holster. It was a good one, a lot nicer than the piece of junk Tirzo had been using. “Take this,” he said, pressing it into Tirzo’s hands. “And this.” He rummaged in his pockets for a stack of credits. They were 100 each, and there were a lot of them.

“What–?”

“You can’t stay here,” the Captain hissed, his voice low. “They know your mother is here and they know you were on this ship. They’re going to tear it apart looking for you. You need to disappear. I know someone who can help you do it.”

“But–” Where was Xiras? He had to at least tell her that he was leaving. He had to at least tell her goodbye.

The Captain was on his holo, his voice was low enough that Tirzo couldn’t hear what he was saying, but he sounded worried. Or scared. Maybe both. The holo was old, too, and he couldn’t see the person on the end very well. Maybe that was intentional.

“Get in there,” the Captain pointed to one of the crates. “Hurry.”

Tirzo blinked, but did as he was told. It looked far too small for him, but he could fit if he tucked his legs and arms in all the way. He heard it click closed and the latch go into place. He couldn’t see or hear anyone. It was the last time he saw the Captain or his mother.

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