THE HABANERO GAMBIT • by Andrew Waters

Captain Lucius B. Firefox, known affectionately as “The Fox” or “Foxy” by rogues throughout the galaxy, lifted a black calfskin Startrooper boot onto the seat of his captain’s chair and rested a hand on his muscular thigh, fully exposed through the sheer fabric of his flamboyant space pirate uniform. Through the main viewscreen on the bridge of The Tainted Lady he watched the Imperial Space Police pursuit cruiser closing, the Lady locked in its tractor beam. Firefox read the name painted on the cruiser’s hull and uttered the most vile, heinous curse word known in the entire Ansonian tongue. The Black Widow was currently captained by Aurora J. Firefox, his ex-wife.

He felt frustrated. He freely admitted he was not the best husband in the universe, or the most faithful, but enrolling in Imperial Space Police Academy at the ripe age of thirty-one, quickly rising to the top of the class, and assuming command of a pursuit cruiser faster than anyone ever in the history of the Academy for the sole purpose of tracking him down and bringing his hide to justice seemed a little vindictive, even for her.

“Forty parsecs and closing, Foxy. What are we going to do?” said the Malthurbian space dog Rex, his engineering officer and longtime first mate.

“I’m thinking.” Actually he was thinking about the first weekend he spent with Aurora, how her hair glowed red from the light of Eden VI’s four moons while her lithe body writhed on top of his, how her touch was like fire. Then he remembered their first argument, shortly thereafter. He ran a shipment of particlized lithium to Panthalia, the payload that bought them their first habitation unit, instead of taking her to her best friend’s wedding. The hostilities flared for months.

He could not go back to that Carpathian prison. He appreciated a little irony as much as the next guy, but the Carpathian “mind probe” had to be the most grossly misnamed instrument in Sector Nine. He needed an idea.

“The Habanero Gambit.”

Rex’s jowels dropped. “That hasn’t been attempted since Felipé used it in the Android Wars.”

Felipé S. Martinez, his late mentor and a spicy food enthusiast, invented the tactic after a chile-eating contest with a  Ziltharian mine lord. Simply engage your reverse thrusters at the maximum velocity of your opponent’s tractor beam and go hurtling through space straight up their bow at fission-inducing speeds. The captor’s only choice was to disengage or face annihilation.

“Warm up the reverse thrusters, Rex,” he commanded.

“I think there may be a more pragmatic tactic for dealing with Aurora,” Rex said. Aside from being a longtime confidant to Firefox’s marital woes, Rex was the only other crew member on board who knew the reverse thrusters’ steering circuit was bypassed when they installed the new hyperdrive. “Perhaps you haven’t thought this through sufficiently, Foxy.”

“Mabye I know her just a little better than all of you,” Firefox replied with the infamous sly grin that had broken hearts across the galaxy, though it currently failed to inspire much confidence on the Lady’s bridge.

“Twenty parsecs and closing. Reverse thrusters are ready, sir.”

“Wait a little. Wait a little.” He imagined with pleasure the moment when Aurora would understand what he had done. This would kill her.

“Ten parsecs.”

“Engage,” he ordered.

As The Tainted Lady gained velocity, he remembered a Christmas morning shortly after their third anniversary. There was snow outside the habitation unit window, and Aurora had just finished performing his Christmas wish when he unveiled the wide-screen entertainment portal that was his gift to her. The tongue-lashing was brutal, all about how he failed to appreciate her needs, failed to meet her needs, failed to be the man she thought he could be when she married him. Then he got the cold shoulder through New Year’s, until he had to go back to work. Worst Christmas ever.

“There’s a transmission from the Widow,” Rex said.

“Put it on the main viewscreen.” It was Aurora, her hair longer and wilder than he remembered, the Imperial Space Police uniform stretched tightly across her supple, curvaceous body. She was laughing maniacally.

He had waited a long time for this moment.

“Five parsecs, and closing fast, sir.”

“Steady as she goes,” Firefox said, a bead of sweat just forming on his chiseled brow. “Steady now.”

Andrew Waters believes the apocalypse will happen on the Internet and wishes he could write like Raymond Chandler. He lives in Salisbury, North Carolina. His story, “The Girl With Rain In Her Hair” will be published in the Spring 2012 edition of “Pamlico Magazine,” the literary journal of UNC Pembroke.

Rate this story:
 average 0 stars • 0 reader(s) rated this

Every Day Fiction