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RANGA

by Michael Hawkins about a year ago in science fiction

This is the story of an outlaw cyborg

The Voldor Station was busier than usual. Ships full of humans, aliens, cyborgs, and cargo boarded and departed from the docking bays. Flashes of light lit up the space's darkness as new ships appear while old ones depart in warp drives. The announcers' voices echoed in multiple languages throughout the station. A rusty-looking passenger ship landed among one of the docks, opening the doors shortly afterward. Among the passengers exiting, three humanoids squealed and whooped with delight as they pushed their way through, knocking down a couple of passengers. Each of the three wore black jackets with glowing neon stripes streaking down their sleeves, torn skin-tight pants, splattered with mixed colors of blue and purple, and spiked gloves.

Their hairstyles were different; one had a black Mohawk with part of his metallic skull showing on the left side, another had dark blue dreadlocks with a couple of needles sticking through, and the third had a pink buzz-cut. The boots they wore had silver platforms in their soles, which glows when they click their heels together to activate the hover feature. The Diablo Trio, they called themselves, ran through the crowds, kicking and snatching items as they whooped. They laughed as security officials caught sight of them and tried to pursue after them, only to be stopped by the hovering travel carts.

The one with the pink buzz-cut, Linen, pointed at a bar, The Dying Mist, nearby. "Hey, let's hide in here," he said gleefully. Cackling, the trio went into the bar and ran to a nearby booth. They poured out contents to see what they snatched. The one with the mohawk, Nova, took a small blood-red stone out from a bag, examined it closely, then tossed it aside in disgust.

"Who carries a fake Kalitheon stone with them?" he asked before digging into the bag once more. The dreadlock one, Styx, uncovered a small jewelry box and began patting Nova's arm rapidly, grunting with excitement. Nova took the box and opened it. Inside was a small ring with a glowing hazel-colored gem in the center.

"Well, now, isn't this a fine thing?" Nova spoke with a grin as he removed the ring and examined it closely. His irises flickered as he scanned the ring. "This is worth 8.5 Vani." Eyes widened, Linen slapped Styx's shoulder. "You can finally get that vocal projector fixed and I can get me that FX-19 hoverboard." Styx gave a beaming smile.

Nova shoved all but the ring box off the table. "The rest of this junk is worthless. Let's blow this joint." As they stood up to leave, Linen looked about. "Hey, why don't we search about and do a bit of pinchy-pinchy? Maybe some of these people have something that's worth a lot."

Nova looked around, seeing people sitting about with bags and containers by their sides. "You know what? Let's do it. Starting with him." he pointed at a lone man with his head down, wearing a black hat and a black duster. They made their way to the lone man and sat at the table. "Hello there, stranger. How goes it?" The man raised his head slightly. The right half of his face was human-like while the other half was transparent with a bit of silvery metallic tinge to it, revealing a series of wires, lights, screws, and his left eye was cybernetic. "Can I help you, gentlemen?" he asked in a gruff voice.

"We're just wondering if you know the way to Steamholten from here," Linen asked. The man chuckled slightly as he placed his bionically skeletal left hand onto the table and drummed with a metallic tap as he eyed the trio. "You boys must think I was born yesterday. I've heard everything you said before you came over here."

Nova leaned forward slightly. "Just give us what you got, junkhead, and maybe we will leave you alone." The man shook his head slightly, grinning still. "I got a better proposition for you; walk away and you'll live to rob another day." Nova laughed. "Who do you think you are? Now, I'm only going to say this one more time..." he whipped out a small handle and flicked out a silver blade with a glowing red-coated edge. "...give us--" Before he could finish, a shot rang out, disturbing the bar. Nova fell out of his chair, sparks shooting out from his stomach. Styx and Linen looked at their fallen comrade as his eyes flickered into darkness before turning to the man. The man raised his other hand, clutching a smoking solid black revolver with a long rectangular barrel and the word "DURANT" etched in blood-red color on both sides, and his gloved hand rested on the table, finger on the trigger.

Suddenly, Styx and Linen clambered out of their seats, whipping out their knives. Just as they flicked the blades out, the man quickly raised his gun and fired two shots. One of the rounds struck Styx directly in the head, shattering his fiber cranium like glass with wires and bits of blue liquid spraying out, while the other round struck Linen in the chest, penetrating his motored heart. The man stood from his seat, holstering his gun, walked around the table, and crouched next to a dying Linen.

The other patrons watched silently. "Who are you?" Linen asked him. "My name is Ranga." the man answered. He then placed his hand over Linen's mouth and nose and pressed down tightly. Linen struggled frantically, flailing his arms at Ranga, muffling as he tried to breathe, until he succumbed to suffocation. Ranga stood, took a small thick silver disk, and placed it on the table before leaving the bar.

He adjusted his duster briefly as he strolled down the walkway. An announcer's voice chimed in. "Attention, passengers; The ship set for the Omi System is now boarding." Ranga came to a quick stop as he saw just ahead of him were two law officials. Their uniforms were black with blue and grey stripes streaking on their shoulders and badges marked "Sheriff" in red. The sheriffs stopped passerbys and flashed a small holgraphic screen, revealing Ranga's face. Each passerby they stopped shook their head and walked away.

Ranga turned and walked as far as he could away from them. One of the sheriffs noticed him and went after him. "Sir, can you stop for a minute?" he asked. Ranga picked up the pace as the sheriff called out to him once more before motioning the other to follow. "Sir, I'm not going to ask you again." he warned Ranga.

A large hologram appeared in front of him and spoke loudly in a cheerful voice. "Welcome, Ranga, to the Voldor Station. Please enjoy your stay--" Ranga whipped his gun out and fired at the projectors. Screams echoed as people began fleeing in terror. The sheriffs drew their guns and pursued Ranga. A bullet whizzed by his ear as one of them fired a shot at him. He spun around and fired two rounds, dropping one of the sheriffs, before reloading as he ran even harder.

The remaining sheriff began unloading his clip, hitting one of the human civilians who ran in between him and Ranga. He leapt over the fallen civilian, not wanting to lose pursuit of the outlaw. Ranga found a nearby door and barreled his way through, the sheriff following suit. The lights flickered off as Ranga struck a small box as he passed by.

The sheriff took out a flashlight as he slowed to a stop and advanced his way down the corridor cautiously. He flipped the switch off as he entered a pipe room with windows on the side revealing the vast emptiness of space. With each careful turn, he looked for the cybernetic outlaw. A sudden loud clang was heard, causing the sheriff to freeze in his tracks. He waited a few moments before he slowly moved forward. He caught a glimpse of movement next to him and spun to the right, catching sight of Ranga bearing down on him.

In unison, the two opened fire with Ranga missing and the sheriff hitting him directly in the chest. Seeing that Ranga didn't fall, the sheriff frantically ejected the magazine from his gun and began to slip a fresh one in when he noticed that Ranga holstered his revolver, grabbed a hold of a nearby pipe with his left hand, and placed his right hand onto his hat. A chill ran down his spine as he heard the crackling of glass behind him. Before he had time to scream, the window exploded and the sheriff shot out into space, freezing instantly as he passed through the frame like a bullet.

Ranga's duster whipped furiously as the air rushed passed him. He gripped the pipe tightly, nearly crushing it, when a shield materialized in the frame, silencing everything and blocking out the breach. Ranga let go and left the room. As he came out into the spaceport, he looked about as security were scattered all over the place, checking on civilians and writing down reports of the incident. He spotted the civilian one of the sheriffs shot earlier, now propped against the wall clutching his torso, and walked over to him.

The civilian spotted Ranga and tried to slide away, whimpering in fear. "Relax. I'm not going to hurt you." Ranga said as he knelt beside the civilian. He gently grabbed the civilian's arm and moved it away, revealing the gunshot wound. His irises flickered as he scanned the wound itself.

When they stopped flickering, he reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small metallic box. "This will sting for a minute. I have to hold you down for a few seconds so I can cauterize it, otherwise it's going to be infected." He gently placed his left hand against the civilian, pointed the two prongs attached to the metal box at the exposed wound, and pressed the button.

The civilian screamed as a small beam of light shot out, burning the wound. When the wound sealed itself, Ranga released the button and released him. "Can you walk?" he asked the civilian. Panting, the civilian nodded. Ranga stood and held his hand out. The civilian took it and pulled himself onto his feet.

Just as he took a step, he staggered. "Okay, I will help you over to the first aid," Ranga said as he put the civilian's arm around the back of his neck and walked him over to a nearby emergency aid station.

"Take care of him," he said to an official before leaving. At a quick pace, he maneuvered his way through the crowd, avoiding encounters with security as he moved. He spotted a nearby shuttle boarding with an attendant standing outside yelling, "ALL ABOARD!" and made his way there. The attendant stopped him before he could board. "I'm going to need to identify you, sir. Please press your finger against the scanner." Ranga opened his coat slightly, showing the handle of his revolver.

Noticing it, the attendant gave a smile. "Welcome aboard, sir," she said in an uneasy yet cheerful tone as he climbed aboard. He moved towards the far back of the passenger aisle and sat in an empty seat. As the last passenger boarded, the attendant pressed a button and closed the door. Ranga sat in the far back, away from suspicious eyes, and closed his eyes as the pilot spoke on the intercom, "Attention, passengers; we are about to depart for the Lokia System. Please remain seated. Thank you." The shuttle shuttered as the clamps popped open, releasing the shuttle. The engines fired up as the shuttle turned away. Suddenly, a bright flash appeared briefly before them and the shuttle darted out into the darkness.

science fiction

Michael Hawkins

Read next: To be at war with the unknown part 3

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