Flash Sci-Fi Fiction: Deadly Jewellery

What happens when your to-die-for jewellery really is just that?

Take a peek into Ministry Commander Taren's life on board a Galactic ship with this Flash Fiction Friday story:

The glittering ball nestled against Thea’s throat, suspended on a delicate silver chain. It was warm to the touch, a soft weight between her fingers as she toyed with the jewel.   

“It looks good,” Aera commented in a tone that was only mildly considering whether detaching Thea’s head from her neck to get the jewel was worth a try. “Your tunic sets it off, not exactly Galactic issue though is it?”

Galactic had once issued jewellery to every soldier, male or female, only the idea of wearing tracking bracelets hadn’t really appealed to them. People had stuck them to their consoles and wandered off wherever they liked. Five weeks it had taken Command to figure that one out. They were still writing subspace communications about it.

Thea glanced down at her standard issue navy tunic, as shapeless as a circus tent at night viewed by a one eyed man with glaucoma. It’s only redeeming feature was the inclusion of one large pocket directly on the front where you could hide your smokes. The jewel twinkled like a star back up at her. “Eh, who cares if it is? Not like Commander Taren is going to notice it is he? Doesn’t notice anything that one.”

It wasn’t so much a bare faced lie as a completely nude bodied one. Ministry Commander Taren noticed everything, even the things the heavens hadn’t noticed. He’d risen quicker than a missile through the ranks and was now settled comfortably – if you could settle comfortably in that black body armour they wore – as President Gailan’s favourite mercenary. It was unlikely that he’d be bothered about a shiny jewel, but then you never knew with him. He had ice cold blue eyes that never smiled, never shone, never lit up. Thea knew he’d be handsome if he’d just smile once in a while. Trouble was he was only known for smiling during battle and she’d quite enough of that for one journey out from New Earth Starbase thanks.

“If he does, I’ll say it’s a present from a lover or something,” she muttered, rolling the jewel between her fingers. The round little ball seemed to be even warmer against her skin.

“He knows when you’re lying, it’s that implant.”

“It’s a tactical implant, not a My-Crew-Are-Lying-Through-Their-Teeth implant, Aera. Anyway – getting off course. It’s mine, it’s shiny and no-ones taking it off me, alright?”

Aera nodded, shrugged, considered tossing the other soldier out of an airlock. After grabbing the necklace of course. Thea always managed to scavenge the nicest things. All Aera had ever managed was a datapad that went on the blink a lot. She slouched back against the railing encircling the flight deck, staring up at the rest of the crew.

They milled around their consoles, checking this, fixing that. Her job was strictly admin – bring them what they wanted in flight and find a spot somewhere in the middle of a squadron when they went on a recce. You were less likely to get noticed in the middle, less likely to get blown to bits by some Galactic-hating alien idiot. Unless you ran into the rebels, then they seemed to go for the middle didn’t they?
Part of Go For The Middle, It’s Where The Laziest Hang Out strategy that Gabriel Alpha had written, available in all good revolutionary bookshops.

Aera on the other hand was a navigator, destined to stand safely behind a console and read out co-ordinates while someone else did the hard job of following them. She was good at numbers and staying calm. Thea was good at bringing things, sitting quietly and not getting shot at which so far had served her well. Sitting quietly didn’t get you in a lot of trouble, messing up the navigation could get all of them killed, particularly if it was on a ship that Commander…sorry, Ministry Commander Taren navigated. It wasn’t a bad job overall, apart from the chance of getting blown to bits.

Though she was slouching back against the railing facing the wrong way Aera could still pick the moment that Taren stepped onto the flight deck. People’s backs became ramrod straight and everything seemed to take on that frenetic intensity that followed the Black Guardian wherever he went. Even Aera stood up straight and silently cursed, she was stood right where he was likely to walk.

She fancied the air grew darker as Taren’s footsteps came down the ramp towards them, like he was bringing the emptiness of space in with him. The swift clips slowed, paused, came very softly towards them.

“Good morning, Commander Taren,” Thea burbled, trying to look as bright and focused on her job as possible. “I’d like to report…”

“That necklace, soldier,” Taren barked, navy blue eyes storm tossed. 

“Um, yes, Commander. I…er…it was a present.”

“From someone you like?” She looked up sharply at his words but the savagely handsome face was a mask of stone. In anyone else Thea would have said the tone was teasing but there was no such hint of that in Taren.

“Um…um, yes?” Thea tried.

“Cause I find it hard to believe someone you like would hand you a Lazeron destroyer and claim it as a necklace,” Taren continued as if she hadn’t even spoken. His gaze was focused on the charm with a lazy intensity.

“IT’S A WHAT?” Thea barked, scrabbling at her neck with both hands.

Aera would have laughed at Thea’s face if she wasn’t busy trying to get as far away from the weapon hanging around her friends’ neck as possible. A wave of people spread out from Thea, getting away from the now too hot orb resting against her throat.

“Uh….I’m…please help me!”

Taren rolled his eyes, the robotic fingers of his right arm cold against her skin as he deftly snapped the necklace. Metal creaked as he toyed with it for a moment, then crushed it between his fingers. The brilliant shine of it dimmed, then ceased.