“It’s falling apart.”
“It’s always been falling apart.” As I walk away from the glass dome, I poke him in the head, doing my best to smile as I call him, “silly goose.”
And then, I feel it.
The ship gets rocked with the blast. With fire cracking tectonic plates to bits. Crumbling lives, calling for rescue. A million things left behind.
I feel the shockwave. Tremors of love and loss. Of desperation and pain. Of joy.
Beneath the glass dome of the ship, he stands and watches as it happens, and I can’t blame him for not looking away.
The world beneath us burns.
It wasn’t a good world.
I’ll say that much.
Out here, in this neck of space, it’s wild. Savage. Feral. We’re all pirates, all bandits. All just trying to scrape by. Cutthroat like a pack of coyotes—
We’re just doing our best to survive.
Kindness wasn’t a given. Was harder to find than a good meal—and that was saying something. The desert planet beneath the ship was a hellscape at best, but it was like the Seventh Circle in most places. Dust and fire coated everything with their fine, grisly touch. Either drying the food to the point of cracking, or charring it to the point of crumbling to ash in your mouth.
It was hell, that world.
Not a good world.
Used to be good.
Or, at least, that’s what I’ve heard.
They stripped it down a few decades ago. Cleaned it out. Took all the plants, all the minerals, all the shiny gems worth more than a credit. Years ago, they took everything. Made it the fiery bloodbath I grew up in. That Wild West sort of planet.
And, who is they?
Those that took from us?
That greedily ate our resources? Left us crumbling like old ash so they could sleep on a pillow that was made of feathers instead of stuffed with cotton?
Who is “they”?
I think you know.
They’re always out there, aren’t there? Doesn’t matter where you live, what planet your from, what reach of the galaxy—
They’re always there.
Monsters that don’t know when to stop.
But, you know what?
So are we.
It wasn’t easy finding a planet that would take in all the natives of my home planet. Wasn’t easy finding a place that could handle it. Wasn’t easy convincing them that this wasn’t a trap on our part, that my people would be peaceful. That they’d work hard for their keep. Be loyal to the planet’s laws. Be gentler than they had been. Wasn’t easy at all, but—
With this crew’s help?
My crew’s help?
They’ll be taken in. Taken to a good place, a safe place. A place where they can do more than scrounge in the dirt and then die.
And, I know they’re lucky. That it doesn’t always happen like that. Not everybody gets a lifeline.
But, then again:
That’s why I’m not going.
Why I’m not settling.
Why I’m standing under the bridge of the ship, in the glass dome, aching as my planet finally breaths its last breath. Turning around, right as it explodes.
Because it’s a good reminder for me.
I never want something like this to happen again.
Not to any people, and not to any planet.
Yeah, I’m just a pirate. A space bandit. Wanted on a globe that doesn’t even exist anymore. And, yeah, that might look even worse on paper than it sounds, and yeah, I might not be a great option for a Defender of the Galaxy.
Someone’s gotta do it, right?
I’m small, and my crew is small, and my ship really isn’t fairing much better, but.
We’ll do what we can.
This planet—my home—it’s always been falling apart. I’ve known that since I was a kid—from the very start, I’ve known that.
If you don’t care about something, that’s just… that’s what happens.
It falls apart.
And, yeah, they started it. They were the ones to tear out our roots, dry up our skies, clear out our crops.
We didn’t do anything to fix it, either. We were too busy worrying about ourselves—about surviving our day to day—that we didn’t think about what it would be like in years to come.
They didn’t care for the land.
Neither did we.
And that’s where it went wrong.
Why it fell apart.
And that’s why.
Even if we can’t do much, we’ll still go out there. We’ll do something.
And, who knows?
Maybe that’ll be enough.