They were raiders, the most ruthless raiders to walk the planet. They plundered and pillaged the length and breadth of the planet and the blood trail they left behind shone red on the night sky of distant planets. In the more peaceful societies across the galaxy they were referred to as barbaric and their atrocities were often the topic of discussion over tea on Sunday evenings. Of course they did not know all this and wouldn’t have cared even then. Anyway, before proceeding further, I think I owe you at least one little piece of information about them – their names. Not much is known about the raiders apart from the fact that they raid, but renowned historians claim that at some point in the past, they stopped the practice of naming themselves, the reasons suggested are plenty but I like the one citing that over generations they ran out of adjectives (the Igor the Invincible, Laxander the Great, Rnold the Terminator, stuff like that) describing themselves. Anyway for the present, let me give them an unimaginative yet appropriate name, the Raiders.
The knowledge of the hostile nature of the Raiders, did not stop the rest of the galaxy from visiting the planet. Some came for a bit of adventure, but most came for the treasure the planet held. And nearly everyone suffered the same fate – empty graves back in their home planets. The Raiders werent xenophobic, they just liked to kill.
Nix knew all this too well, but what choice did he have but to take up the mission. Slaves do not have the right to choose, they do what they are told. Nix was on a mission to the planet, the usual one of trying to mine the treasure. His overlords informed that his landing was smooth but was way off target. He had landed in the sector where the Raiders were rumoured to be present. He was ordered to immediately start his work, and he did as ordered. Within a few hours he struck gold, literally, but gold was way down the list.
Nix worked almost continuously, resting only for food and drink. On the third day, he heard it for the first time, a faint unnatural howl. Not long later he figured out that the Raiders were heading his way. He immediately contacted the overlords and made no secret of his wish to return. They werent pleased. They started discussing and deliberating the possibilities and Nix did not like the direction they were taking. Long discussion short – they told him to speed up work and planned his departure without allowing room for unexpected turn of events.
Experience always says that such plans do not work out, and Experience wore the ‘I-Told-You-So’ look as it sat sipping mocha and watched Nix struggling to start the ship’s engine, while the Raiders true to their name were mercilessly disintegrating his ship. Nix was disappointed when his life didn’t flash before his eyes when death happened, but he did not know that it had flashed a few moments earlier when he was busy with the engine.
Epilogue: Back in Nix’s home planet, the following message was sent from Nix’s overlords to their overlords – “Pheonix in jeopardy. Possibly caught in dust storm. No contact since 0300 Hrs.”