A Chapter In the Orion Weston Anthology Series
Journal entry 645—Year 3818
Heat bakes the dry desert sands of this copper colored world. Rare swirls of weak wind pick up grains of sand and drop them mere inches from where they started. It has been several rotations but night has yet to come upon this barren wasteland. Night rarely falls here, the three suns in the system let up every 10 rotations or so. It becomes bearable for a few precious hours before reverting back to this blazing hell scape. The air feels like swallowing a raging fire with each breath. Life cannot thrive on this planet. Life cannot live on this planet. Life only dies on this planet. That is why I came.
They lost what made them alive, the cyborg outlaws. "The three" is what they called themselves. Not much is known about what they were called before the robotic upgrades but it doesn't matter to me. Their humanity and empathy for life died long ago, when they did. Their first death I mean, or their rebirth as they called it, brought upon a rampage that quieted a frontier world that I liked to stop in from time to time. "The best watering hole this side of Andromeda Galaxy," the barmaid always said when she saw me.
Frontier life has always been tough, death thrives out here on the dreamers and cynics alike, but if you saw what happened there, you would have tracked down these killers as I have. The smell of old plasma and burned bodies floods my mind when I try to remember. It's been so long that I don't remember the name of the barmaid. I can only recall the sensations that were brought out in me. The touch of her skin, the taste of the whiskey on our lips, the sight of the moons hanging in the night sky overhead. Sentimentality is something to be avoided in frontier life. Doesn't always go that way, sooner or later you'll catch feelings for someone or somewhere. I just happened to have them for both.
Once the suns began to dip behind the rocky mesa I moved onto their camp. A metal cube with tarps hanging off the sides made up their sleeping space. Strangely, a small fire was going. As a joke or out of habit for human needs, I didn't much care for an answer. The short stocky one didn't notice my approach. Reached for my sidearm, instead came up with my blade. He didn't put up much of a fight, though he did about as much as you could when a blade is put through the back of your neck. He flailed his one good arm and braced himself with the rusting metallic one. His eyes begged me to end it quickly, it only made me want to rage against him even more.
A thunderous boom cracked from the sky and his suffering was ended. The remaining light in the sky reflected off the scope of the upright cyborg woman's rifle. I caught a glimpse of a robotic smile form on her partially covered face. What felt like rotations went by, moving to cover after cover until finally I had her within range. Two shots were fired and both met their target. She fell from her perch on a rocky cliffside. Hopefully breaking some parts on the way down. The smile never left her face as I approached her. Shots rang out again and again and again making sure no guardian angel could make her end a swift one.
The circular blast door slid open as night fell on this world. Out of the metallic cube stepped a machine, no longer a being made of flesh and metal. No longer a man. Never in all my years have I seen such a sight. Like the stories of old he made a trade with the devil. His soul for eternal life. His singular red eye stared through me, looking to the beyond. We walked slowly towards each other closing the distance. Stopping in our tracks, the darkness bled over us. Only a monstrous figure with a piercing red light was visible. Both guns were drawn. The last two shots on this planet were fired. Nothing but darkness, the red eye had disappeared into the dark abyss of night.
I sit here writing this with a hole in my shoulder feeling happy—a wider smile than that cyborg lady. I breathe in the cool night air and remember, her name was Venus.