DORIAN & BRODERICK
THE SMOKY TRIUMVIRATE
This tale begins as so many others have begun: pursued by Space Nazis.
They came from the proverbial nowhere. Dorian and Broderick were on their way to a fancy hotel for their anniversary getaway. They charted a flight with their buddy Reda, and were chatting away with xem when alarms started going off. Reda gently informed the men that, while passing through a section of space that is particularly difficult to scan, three Space Nazi ships had de-cloaked and started firing on them.
After this explanation, Reda kindly requested that xyr passengers man the weapons while xe tried to pilot them out of this mess.
Now we find Dorian and Broderick looking at the two guns hanging on the wall near the entry hatch.
“Reda,” Dorian shouts, “Your guns appear to be inside the ship.”
“Yes,” xe responds, with far more calm than is warranted by the situation.
“How are we supposed to shoot the Nazis with them?”
“By going outside the ship,” xe says.
“We’re in space,” Broderick says, worried no one else has noted this fact.
“And you are wearing space suits. So put on your helmets and climb out the airlock.”
The ship banks to the side and Dorian and Broderick are both thrown against a wall.
“How do we--”
“Tie yourself off to the cables!”
“I hate this,” Broderick says to his husband.
“Yep,” is Dorian’s response.
They do as instructed: Into the airlock, helmets on, affix the worryingly-thin metal cables to their belts, and open the external hatch.
And then they’re in space, standing on the side of a ship going too-many miles per hour. The ship is a bulbous cone with three thrusters, straight from the imagination of a designer in the 1950s. This contrasts with the three Space Nazi vessels: unpleasant masses of metal, with angles pointing off in every direction and many guns. Many, many guns.
Broderick and Dorian stand beside each other, ready the guns in their hands, and begin to fire.
They both aim for the nearest vessel, and nearly lose their footing when they squeeze their respective triggers. These are no ordinary long-guns--the two shots, together, send the nearest ship spinning off into the dark of space. The void becomes momentarily less dark when the ship bursts into shrapnel.
“Huh,” Broderick says.
“Yeah,” Dorian answers.
They fire again, and then again.
The second ship makes like the first, swirling off into space until it’s shrapnel. The pilot of the third ship is smart enough to weave, turning corners tight enough to avoid incoming fire. It takes a few tries, but Broderick manages to hit the ship’s body. It doesn’t explode, but the vessel does break pursuit and fly off at a right angle from their own.
Reda’s voice comes through speakers in Dorian and Broderick’s helmets. “Hate to delay your vacation, but I also hate letting Space Nazis get away.”
The husbands don’t need to confer. They nod at each other in agreement and Dorian radios back to Reda: “Are you kidding? As far as we’re concerned, this counts as part of the vacation.”
They follow the injured ship to a planetary body somewhere between moon-size and small-planet-size. The ship crashed in a large pocket within a maze-like series of canyons. Given the smoke billowing from the ship, it probably won’t last long.
Reda’s Rocket--the official, licensed name of Reda’s customized transport ship--turns upright, the engines pointed straight at the ground. The ship lowers itself onto another open pocket not too far off from the Space Nazi ship.
The door pops open and the trio step onto the surface. Dorian is the last out, and as soon as his second foot hits dirt, a pulse of light washes over them.
Space Nazis approach from all sides. Reda slaps a button on xyr wrist, remotely closing the door behind them so the Space Nazis can’t get into xyr ship, and lifts xyr gun. All of them pull their triggers, but nothing happens.
“They’ve got a Pax Field generator,” Broderick shouts.
Before they can do anything about it, the Space Nazis are upon them, chaining them. Soon, the trio are being led through tight passages between high walls of alien stone.
Just a few minutes later, they stand in the shadow of the Space Nazi ship that, it turns out, did not crash. Instead, the unpleasant configuration of planes and corners is level on the ground, surrounded by orange lighting and jets that shoot smoke into the sky. From space, the illusion was dang good.
“I’m kind of appalled at how rude this is!” Dorian shouts to a group of three Space Nazis that stand together, dark figures obscured by smoke.
“They’re not known for being polite,” Broderick says.
“It looked really good though,” Reda shouts. “Like, maybe quit the fascism gig and get a production design job.”
Other than their guards and the three figures assembled on the platform, most of the Space Nazis are milling about, doing whatever the hell it is Space Nazis do when they’re at home.
After a moment, the smoky triumvirate turns toward the prisoners and step out of the smoke. Broderick is sure they waited just long enough that they could pretend not to have been bothered by the prisoners’ calls.
The trio’s leader is a man in the uniform of a Space Commandant. His head is tightly wrapped in tan bandages. Opaque yellow eyes peek out from under there. Dorian and Broderick know from experience that, if it were darker, you could tell the eyes are glowing.
“What the crap?” Reda asks. Xe has never met a mummy.
Flanking the mummy are men in what you’d call “non-standard” uniforms. Rather than the boring-but-admittedly-dramatic black uniforms of Space Nazis, they wear heavy orange robes tied at the waist with a golden rope. Their hoods are up and they each wear masks that match the robes.
“Welcome,” says the Space Commandant. “I assume you know why you are here.”
We’ll spare you the pain of reading a transliterated Space German accent.
“No idea,” Dorian says.
“Surely you know who I am.”
“Couldn’t guess,” Broderick answers.
The husbands exaggerate the words, playing up the lie, but the Space Nazi seems to fall for it. He rubs gloved hands together, hard, which is probably the best way a mummy has to show its frustration. He could stamp up and down, but that seems unworthy of the dignity Nazis pretend to have.
“I!” he shouts, as if the one word were a complete thought. He takes a half-breath before continuing. “Am Space Commandant Remus Wölf!”
“Ohhhhh,” Dorian and Broderick say in unison.
“The brother of--”
“Romulus Wölf,” the husbands say along with the commandant.
“You should have said something,” Dorian says innocently.
“How could we have known?” Broderick adds.
“Can’t see your face under all those bandages.”
“Granted we couldn’t see your brother’s face either.”
“And what are the odds of two brothers both being Space Commandants?”
“Didn’t want to assume, just based on your being…”
“Undead, and all.”
“Not that your brother’s undead.”
“No, sorry to say, he’s re-dead.”
“That’s why you’re here!” Remus shouts. His high-pitched, nasal voice echoes through the crater, somehow clear over the Nazi ship’s idling engines. “You will PAY for the CRIME of KILLING my BROTHER!” He shouts every word, flipping between slightly worrying levels of rage, and hoo boy I hope he doesn’t have a gun nearby levels of rage.
“What is he talking about?” Reda asks.
“We didn’t exactly kill your brother,” shouts to the commandant.
“Technically, space killed him.”
“The infinite dark full of points of light, distant hopes you can never dream of reaching.”
Wölf screams out more anger, a mix of curses and formless anger. It’s a miracle he rose to Space Commandant if anger makes him lose all sense.
While Wölf rages, Broderick and Dorian explain, quickly and quietly, that Romulus Wölf and a hive of Space Nazi Vampires were found back on the newly-renamed Porcelain Station. Dorian and Broderick cleared out said vampire nest, but clearly Wölf here found out they were responsible.
When the story is done, Reda congratulates them--clearing out a Space Nazi Vampire nest is no easy feat--and turns xyr attention to the situation at hand. Wölf is babbling orders in German.
“You folks got any idea how we can get out of here?” Reda asks.
The word is cut off when the trio are shoved forward. All around, words are shouted in German. The Space Nazis are starting to pack away their supplies. This base, secured in an otherwise unpopulated planetoid, must have existed before Wölf’s plan to get to the husbands.
Dorian, Broderick and Reda are shoved through the smoke curtain and chained around a hunk of rock directly under the Space Nazi ship’s main thruster.
Broderick sighs, “They’re gonna try to melt us, aren’t they.”
“They can do it too,” Reda says. “That’s a nuance engine.”
“Imagine the heat of a star.”
“Okay,” Dorian says.
“That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Imagine the heat of a star, about ten feet above us.”
It takes ten minutes for the Nazis to collect their gear and kick the engines into...well, into gear. In that time, Dorian, Broderick and Reda wholly fail to come up with a plan. Orange light glows above them, deep within the engine.
Dorian sighs. “We’re going to have brute force it, I think.”
Broderick answers with an “mhm,” which he expands into a “Yeah, probably.”
“Reda, have we ever told you about how we escaped from the spice raiders on Polenta VI?”
“I feel like I’d remember that story.”
“Well, they had us tied up, basically like this. Except it was just the two of us, and instead of a nuance engine it was a ten-legged dinosaur, hooked to a rusty and implausibly narrow chain.”
“Good time,” Broderick laughs.
“Anyway there’s about eight seconds between us and many, many teeth.”
“So we puff out our chests and just toxic-masculinity the hell out of the ropes they used to tie us up.”
“I...still don’t know what any of this means.”
The two men puff up their chests and start pulling at the bindings. The metal chains, stronger than their combined masculinity, bend but do not break.
As the light above grows brighter, they begin to sweat. The husbands keep pulling at their chains, but it’s no use.
Reda is the first to spot the robot that appears. Little more than a flying camera with a heat shield on top and a speaker on the bottom, the drone floats toward them and Wölf’s voice crackles through the cheap tannoy.
He starts off by just cackling for a bit at Reda, then the drone floats over to face Broderick. Wölf shouts through the speaker, “You look unwell, my friends! Well, you know what they say! If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the--”
Broderick kicks the drone up into the engines, where it explodes. Sparks and molten metal bits rain down on them.
“I hate puns.”
“Almost as much as you hate Space Nazis and Evil Robots,” Dorian laughs.
“An Evil Space Nazi Robot telling puns is right out.”
“Or right exploded, as the case may be.”
“Reda, how you doin’?”
Reda tries to answer, but the words don’t come. Xe spends xyr time in an air-conditioned spaceship running pleasure cruises for couples. Xe is not exactly accustomed to this brand of adventure.
Dorian looks left and Broderick looks right, both trying to check in on Reda. Smoke is rising from xyr shirt, the fibers just shy of combusting. Sweat is pouring and xyr breathing is irregular. The sweat thing is also true for Dorian and Broderick, but their spacesuits are more heat-resistant than Reda’s t-shirt and jeans.
“Broderick, look down. You see what I see?”
“I believe I do.” Broderick’s smile is audible. The chains that bind them have turned the slightest shade of orange, meaning the heat is getting to the metal as much as it’s getting to the people.
“Shall we try again?”
Again, they flex their muscles and pull at the chains. The heavy space suits, burning air, and flowing sweat all slow them down, but the chance to not-die is a very powerful motivator.
Still, this second try doesn’t make it.
“This is bad, isn’t it,” Dorian says. The words are harder than they were.
“Yeah,” is the only word Broderick can get out. His legs are weakening under him, and the top of his shaved head is starting to burn.
A chunk of dead robot falls from the engines, where it got battered in some turbines for a while. The robot lets out a few beeps that sound almost musical, and Broderick starts to laugh.
“I know what we’re missing!” he shouts. “Dorian, love of mine, can you reach the blue button on my gauntlet?”
“The ‘play’ button?”
“That’s the one.”
Dorian edges as far as he can and manages to hit the button. Trumpets begin to blare from Broderick’s headset. The sound is instantly recognizable: the opening bars of Oh Home, the national anthem of the United Space Republic.
Dorian laughs, knowing exactly what’s happening, and they both ready themselves.
When the electric guitar begins, they both pull as hard as they can. The chains, weakened by heat they weren’t designed for, stretch, then break open. They make a little ‘splurt’ sound as the melting links pop open.
Reda falls to the ground and both men run for xem.
“Go!” Broderick shouts, “I’ve got xem!”
“Like hell I’m going without you!”
They share the load, carrying Reda out from under the ship and into the open canyon.
“Keep going,” Dorian says, “Back to the rocket. When Wölf’s ship takes off, the firing rockets could still kill us!”
They run through the canyons, hoping they remember the right route but mostly going on the assumption that “farther from Space Nazis is better.”
A sound like ten thousand thunder strikes reaches their ears. They look back just long enough to see the Space Nazi ship rising into the sky.
“I wonder if they took their field generator with them.”
“Let’s find out.”
When they reach Reda’s Rocket, they (gently) set xem down. Xe opens xyr eyes and sits up slowly, asking what happened.
“Hang on,” Dorian says.
Dorian and Broderick scramble to pick up the long guns they dropped on the ground. Together, they raise the weapons, check the safeties, and ready sundry firing mechanisms.
They aim at the ship.
They estimate the distance.
They account for atmospheric interference.
This aiming procedure goes on for a little while.
Finally, they fire.
Two great bolts of energy fill the air with rainbow light.
Aboard the ship, Remus Wölf is feeling very proud of himself, right up until the point that the shimmering energy pulses meet the ship’s nose. The energy ripples through the ship, tearing it to shreds, and Remus Wölf and his masked friends are ripped out into space.
An hour later, Dorian, Broderick and Reda have each drunk a gallon of water and are just finishing the paperwork involved in unexpected Space Nazi encounters.
The boys join Reda in the cockpit. While xe sets all sorts of things in gear, Dorian smiles at his husband.
“What are you looking at?” Broderick says.
“Just thinking about how this turned out to be our second most exciting anniversary.”
“We’re not even to the anniversary, love. Plenty more opportunity for excitement”
“Can we try to avoid taking advantage of those opportunities? I’d love to just, like, nap.”
The radio crackles and Reda flips a switch. A nasal voice comes over the radio.
“Hello, is that Reda’s Rocket?”
“Sure is,” Reda says, voice still slightly cracked from dryness. “Looking for a reservation?”
“Actually, I’m looking to contact your current reservation.”
“You’ve got them.”
“This is Dorian,” Dorian says.
“And Broderick,” Broderick adds.
“Oh, hello!” The voice on the other end clears his throat. “My name is Tertius Wölf, and in the name of upholding my family’s honor, I vow to destroy you the way you’ve destroyed my brothers, Romulus and Re--.”
Reda flips off the radio.
“Son of a hell,” Broderick sighs.
[ DORIAN & BRODERICK vs THE SMOKY TRIUMVIRATE by Ethan Gibney is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. ]
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