Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 03 - "Shipwrecked"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

another castaway

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Fantasy - Published: 2008-09-27 - Updated: 2008-09-27 - 1496 words - Complete

“…Wake up, whoever you are. I know you’re not dead.”

For a moment, the stranger wondered if his run-in with the mysterious young man and that big cat had all been a dream… but it had seemed so real… His head hurt like a son of bitch and his arm was numb… Maybe I’m still lying on the beach… Lying on the beach!?

He sat straight up, and a sharp pain sliced through his head.

“Don’t move!”

That voice spoke again, and he knew it had been no dream. He opened his eyes again to see the young man aiming his own power rifle at him. He took another look at Max’s clothes. Or what was left of them. Five years— though he didn’t know exactly how long this guy had been here— it was clear that they were well past worn-out. They were even more destroyed than his own, in spite of Max’s best efforts to take care of them. After all, they were the only clothes he had. The clothing he had found strewn on the beach, back then, had been a large and baggy fit. Now, most of it was still fairly loose-fitting, but too small; the pantlegs reached only halfway past his knees, one of them not even that far, having been torn at the seams on one side, and he had to wear the remains of one jacket as a vest, undone because it was too small in the shoulders. A couple toes stuck out of one of the boots he was now wearing.

Sitting at his side was the cat, staring at the stranger with mingled curiosity and distrust.

“But how…” the stranger stammered, letting himself collapse again. He just sat there staring back at the cat. “I thought…”

“Lucky for you, this thing was set for stun,” Max told him. He kept his guard up, but the fact that the stranger wasn’t attacking anymore was a hopeful sign. “Lucky for Bandit, too.”

Of course… The stranger then remembered that he had set it for stun mode, just to play it safe. He had had every intention of defending himself, but wanted to know who he was dealing with first. The Authority already wanted him dead; he hadn’t wanted to cause any trouble here if he could avoid it. So much for that idea…

“Bandit?” he finally managed.

“My kitty,” Max told him, patting Bandit on the head. He found this conversation strange; if he hadn’t talked to Bandit all the time, he might have forgotten how to speak altogether. “Now who are you and why did you attack us?”

“But I wasn’t attacking you,” the stranger told him. “I thought he was attacking you!”

“Why should I trust you?” Max demanded. “You’re from the Triangle State, aren’t you?” He knew the symbol well enough; he had been warned about it since he was a small boy.

“Well, yeah…” He knew he couldn’t deny the insignia on the back of his uniform. “But I’m not with them…”

“Who are you?” Max asked again.

“I’ll tell you who I am if you tell me who you are,” the stranger replied. “Dammit, I meant you no harm…”

“Fair enough,” Max said after a moment of thought. He was trying to play it cool like Cleo always did. At least this visitor had decided to talk rather than fight. And, if nothing else, he was someone to talk to.

“Don’t try to act so tough, kid,” the stranger told him.

“Look who’s talking,” said Max. As far as he could tell, this visitor couldn’t be much older than himself.

“Look, my name’s Justin. Justin Black.” And he wanted to get off on the right foot this time, especially since this guy held the upper hand. He just hoped he was right about this. The young man interrogating him didn’t seem like military material— too youthful, too trusting— but he sure as hell fought like it. Still, he didn’t think this guy was as cold as he was trying to act.

“My name’s Max,” Max told him.

“Look, Max, I’m sorry I shot your… friend. I thought he was attacking you.” But at least now he understood why Max had been so pissed. “I didn’t know he was your friend, man. Ya know, we really got off to a bad start here. I mean, since no one got hurt,” (at least not seriously, he thought, rubbing the side of his face where Max hit him) “why don’t we just forget about it?”

“I forgive you, if that’s what you mean.” Max still wasn’t sure if he fully trusted Justin, but for now he lowered the power rifle. “So why did you leave the Triangle State? And what are you doing here?”

“Where the hell is here, anyway?”

“Paradise,” said Max. The puzzled look on Justin’s face reminded him that Paradise was just a name he made up. “Well, that’s what I call it. I guess this place doesn’t really have a name. I’ve been here for years, and you’re the first person I’ve ever seen.”

“Years? What do you mean? Isn’t there anybody else here?” Justin looked around, seeing the island in a whole new light.

“Nope. Just me and Bandit.” This Justin would have been an Outlander in Layosha, but now he was an Outlander, too, and he wanted to know more about this visitor. “It’s a long story. But how did you get here?”

“That damn storm, that’s how,” said Justin. “Look, those TSA bastards had me in prison, and I escaped. That’s why I’m stuck in this stupid outfit… Say Max, could you get these fuckin’ chains off? They’re cutting my wrists.”

Max thought about it for a moment. He had once spent many hours thinking about what he would do if the Cyexians or any Triangle State people came here. Because Justin was being peaceable, even with the power rifle set aside, Max decided to take the risk. He tossed Justin his laser staff.

But kept his own energy blade a secret. For now.

“Thanks, man.” Justin was relieved to finally have a weapon again, just a matter of instinct. Yet he suspected he wasn’t going to need it in the near future; so far, this Max had proven less an enemy than he was a fellow castaway. The return of his weapon was proof of that. “Have you ever seen a laser staff before?”

Justin activated it, and a short electric-blue blade flashed into existence at one end of the handle.

“Yeah,” Max replied. “A long time ago.”

Meanwhile, Justin carefully held the shimmering blade up to the lock on his left shackle. Careful not to touch himself with it, he worked, the laser blade cutting through the steel as easily as it did through air. The binding dropped away from his wrist with a clink that belied its original strength.

“Now the right…” he muttered. He turned off his staff and offered it to his new friend. “Max, could you give me a hand with this?”

Max took back the weapon, figuring that if this Justin felt safe enough to hand the weapon back, he wasn’t really an enemy, reactivating it and cutting off Justin’s right manacle with noticeable care. Even so, Justin flinched for a moment with an energy blade hovering so close to his good hand. As he suspected, Max at least had a passing familiarity with energy weapons. Max turned it off and handed it back, all but confirming their truce.

“Hell yeah!” Justin laughed, rubbing his worn wrists. The shackles had clearly left their mark. He then turned back to Max and asked him, “So, Max, how did you end up here?”

“We were on a ship,” Max told him, pondering his words as carefully as he had cut his new companion free. “There was a storm… I don’t remember much, but the next morning I woke up here.”

“And no one else, huh?” Justin could tell there was something Max didn’t want to talk about; this mysterious young man was so up-front about most things, that already he found he could almost read him like a book.

“No,” Max replied. “I don’t know what happened to everyone else…” At least that he was certain of. “I got lost in the storm… The boat I got here in is on the beach, around the bend.”

“Sounds like you have a story to tell.”

“So do you.” The more Max thought about it, the more he realized what this meant. So many places he’d never seen… “If you tell your story, I’ll tell you mine.”

“Okay. Just one thing, though: you got anything to eat around here?”
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