Trifecta Writing Challenge is one of the weekly flash fiction contests I have enjoyed. This week’s prompt word is a fun one. The word has to be used exactly as it is listed below and under the third definition, which is bolded for you. The story has to be between 33 and 333 words. Mine is 323.
1 : skill in planning, making, or executing : dexterity
2 a : an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill <the carpenter’s craft> <the craft of writing plays> <crafts such as pottery, carpentry, and sewing>
b plural : articles made by craftspeople <a store selling crafts> <a crafts fair>
3 : skill in deceiving to gain an end <used craft and guile to close the deal>
I must have SciFi on the brain again. Here is a story I thought of last night while I should have been sleeping.
Heath serves as an Enforcement Officer for the Border Patrol of the Human Colonial Republic. It’s a lonely existence. His powerful ship is comfortable but very claustrophobic. He’s gotten twitchy from being far out, too long.
His current assignment is to check an uninhabited galaxy, Mysis 9, three days farther out at full warp. Two planets, one outside an asteroid ring and the other inside. Protocol says to start with the farthest from the star working toward center.
While scanning the outer planet his listening device detected a distant percussion. It might be a malfunction. It might be two asteroids bumping into each other. It might also be poachers. He touched his eye to stop a nervous tic.
Approaching the belt, an alarm went off. The debris in the belt was moving in an unnatural way. Another alarm. A small ship had blasted an asteroid with a mining laser. He saw it tractor out the minerals liberated in the explosion. His cockpit was climate controlled; but he was sweating.
Calling for help would alert the poachers to his presence. He was authorized to use deadly force; this was the preferred response. He would do his duty; but his mouth was dry.
He slipped into the asteroid belt. He could approach relatively close and have a better shot by hiding. In the last little bit he clamped hold of a rock and waited for it to spin revealing his quarry while hiding him. He found the craft of his plan reassuring.
Then a green glow passed through the asteroid he was clamped to and through his ship. This scan revealed the mineral content of the rock. Before his mind fully processed what was happening, his ship and the asteroid were shattered by the poacher’s mining laser. His cockpit automatically formed an escape pod, but pods are defenseless.
He felt the tractor grab hold and pull him toward the poacher’s vessel. Heath began trembling violently.