Descending slowly into an elliptical orbit around planet Zeron 7, the silver delivery spaceship silently slipped into the shadows from the two suns. Starla stared out the window to the planet below; the continents a lime green, the oceans pink from the unusual magnesium content. She grinned and thought how the snowy top of the colossal mountain Suinamy looked like a festering whitehead pimple. She had never been to Zeron 7, but it was like so many other planets she had fought on, a class U planet, hospitable, uninhabited, and maybe one day humanoids would call it their home. Now it was a planet where soon, one would live and one would die.
Starla knelt and began the ritual before her sleep. In the twilight of her cabin the two ceremonial candles glowed, the hum of the ship’s FF8 energy crystals barely audible. She arranged her legacy possessions so if she was killed they would be neat and easily sorted through. She glanced at a small hologram of her great, great grandmother; she stood in a warrior pose holding the old fashioned weapons, wearing a shredded black leather jumpsuit that was so bon ton back then. She smiled and knew she was an Astral Warrior, seven generations of women whose sole purpose in life was death. She never questioned that. You never questioned like the whys of your existence, your ancestry and the whys of destiny. The candle flickered and her mind flashed back to the day she got the request from the universe council. . . .
When her communicator buzzed she was fighting life and death with two Axesorians on planet Crominut 4. “Yea, Starla here, make it fast. I’ve got blood all over me and some of it is mine.”
The Axesorians fired their thud blasters at her and moved away.
The voice was the bureaucratic female monotone all government officials of the galaxies now used.
“We need you.”
“Just a nano second.” Starla ran and jumped into a small crater out of the line of fire. She ducked down with the phone snug to her ear and mouth. “As you were saying . . .”
“We need you to go to planet Zeron 7.”
“Zeron 7? That’s in Quadrangle galaxy.”
“Your galaxy geography is excellent, Starla.”
“My wonder, a bureaucrat with a sarcastic humor. May a wormhole swallow me up and carry me to another dimension.” A blast kicked up some red soil in Starla’s face and only her quick reflexes saved her from a terrible burn.
“We need you to stop an inter-galactic war.”
Humor was so rare in the universe now. “Me? Stop a galactic war? Are you dusted with silly soil?”
“The two planets, you know the story, Belfor 9 and 10 are always at war. Belfor 9 is member of the council, barely a member, and you will fight for them. They have decided that one person, a champion as it were, should fight for them instead of killing millions in an all-out war.”
“I don’t do that.”
The Axesorians lumbered toward a hill when Starla stood and raised her weapon, calmed her body, aimed and fired. A flash struck both creatures.
“But . . .”
“I am an Astral Warrior. Sorry.”
“But . . . “
Starla fired once more and the creatures froze and then pitched forward into to the red soil. A dust cloud rose around their bodies. She cautiously crept forward, weapon out and pointed, the phone pressed hard into her ear and face. “I am the daughter of Borealis and the granddaughter of Aurora, and we fight evil . . .remember?” She could be sarcastic too. “I hope the two planets burn each other into black smoldering cinders.”
The female monotone voice continued. “Zeron 10 is proposing Sinid as their champion. You’ll be dueling with her. And . . .”
Starla interrupted. “Wait, Sinid is dead. My mother killed her back . . . .
The voice interrupted Starla back. “Apparently not. Maybe she is an engineered clone or a plasma facsimile. Nevertheless some essence of her is there and waiting for you.”
“And what is my reward for such services?” She examined the bodies. These creatures, the strong ones, were only stunned by a blast. Satisfied, she stood and slid the weapon into the soft silk purse. “One does not live by death alone, even if I am a seventh generation Astral Warrior.”
“Yes, the council has authorized . . .” The voice paused and Starla knew some free thinking sum machine, calculating all the diverse factors plus emotional periphery in her voice, using a strange calculus would arrive at an amount of credit they knew she would accept.
“ . . .575 credits for your services and . . .”
No amount a machine could come up with was going to rule her world. She would one-up the thinking machine. Starla roared “And a paid holiday on a pleasure planet, plus a new wardrobe!”
The voice dovetailed her words “ . . .a paid holiday and a new wardrobe. All expenses. No limit.”
Starla paused and thought, these machines were good, way too good.
“What if you are killed?” The monotone voice asked.
Starla didn’t answer. To answer would be doubt and for an Astral Warrior there is no doubt in these matters.
That was the way of death. Then she said, as monotone as the voice, “I’ll fight to die for you.”