Space Dust

by Marc Zeedar,

"Aim carefully now, Joe. Don't miss."

Joe laughed and spat out the side of his mouth as he craned an eye through the peeper. "Flyin' Rockets, ya think I can miss at fifty minutes? You got bolts for brains!"

"Well let's just see you do it, big shot." Terry gave Joe a shove to unbalance him and laughed hysterically as the shot went wild. "You could't hit a Galaxcy at fifty seconds!"

"Shut up, you idiot!" This time Joe sighted and laughed triumphantly when the target exploded into firey ball of sparks. "Beat that, you galactic turd!" He swung the scanner toward Terry, who ducked just in time.

"Fine. Set me a target and it's gone with one shot." Terry spat toward the tank, missed by good meter, but the tank was fast enough to intercept the globule.

Joe spun his chair around to face Locator. "Let's see . . . medium size, 50K diameter, 1.5G, ah, here we go. Here's a perfect one -- it's in Alpha Centiod, only thirty-five L's away. Ready?" He motioned to attract Terry's attention, "I'm accelerating, did you hear me?" He punched the "Go" button and laughed as Terry fell to the floor as the ship spun around toward Alpha Centoid.

"Idiot! You're not supposed to warp from a full stop. You probably broke the generator." Terry pulled himself back into his seat. "I ought to report you to Colonel Brigham."

Joe grinned. "Report me? I suppose the Colonel gave you permission to use his quarters to entertain that stewardess Miss-What's-Her-Legs the other day?"

Terry cleared his throat and growled, "You'd better watch where you're going. Last time you missed by a whole galaxcy."

"I did not." Joe turned his back toward Terry. "It was half a galaxcy and you know it." Terry shrugged his shoulders as Joe initiated the dewarping process.

Soon the colorful rainbows surrounding the ship began to fade, and finally there was black space filled with white stars. "Only two L's to go, be there in no time. Then I'll be ready to watch you miss."

"Keep dreamin', Joe. They say it's a sign of space madness. Maybe you'll get decomissioned." Terry popped a couple stimulants and a coffee drop. He pulled another out of the arm rest compartment and tossed it to Joe (or more accurately, five meters to Joe's right), but Joe dove and caught it as though his life depended on it.

"Graceful catch, Spacer."

"Graceful throw, Grounder."

Suddenly the destination alarm sounded and Joe slapped the "Off" button. "Holy space garbage that's loud! Why can't they make a quiet alarm?"

Terry laughed himself silly. "That's like having a silent orchestra! Get back to reality."

Joe glared at Terry. "Well, we're fifty minutes from the target. It's as big as a planet! You can't miss ... can you?"

Terry growled. "Ha! What an easy target. A ball of blue. Shows up nicely on the scope. This will be easy." He quickly sighted and adjusted the warp laser. "Watch. I'll warp the laser to two or three seconds out -- I'll blow away that tiny white satalite, then I'll aim for that blue ball."

"Fine with me, since it doesn't matter what you say -- you're going to miss. You couldn't even hit that yellow sun from here." Joe pointed to the flaming yellow ball to the left of the blue planet.

"Hey, any life forms down there?" Terry carefully made a last readjustment of the warp jumper.

"Just low-level. I doubt they even have space flight."

"Well, here we go."

"Here goes nothing, you mean."

Terry ignored the remark and pressed the fire button. There was a flash of color and then a tiny white burst near the blue ball. Suddenly the white satalite shattered and pieces rained toward the blue ball, glowing red as they burned in the atmosphere. A second flash of color and another white burst, and then the blue planet exploded in a flash of sparks.

"Yahoo," screamed Terry. "Victory! Bullseye! Your target is spacedust!"

"Oh shut up and find me target. I'll show you what real shooting is!" Joe threw himself back into his chair and scowled. Darn it, much more of this and he'd lose the bet.


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