The Adventures of West & Gunfighter Riker P. Everest
by Darius Bearguard

13
FEB
2021

Episode 2: "Strangers"

3 Days After Quantum Event

“You’re sure it was here?” Riker asks, checking the screens and his computer readouts. He normally doesn’t have all six displays crowded around him, but when trying to find quantum planar slip space ruptures, more information is better. “West? Hey, West?” Riker looks to the second seat just behind him, and finds his brother isn’t there. He presses a button and the mechanical arms holding the screens retract. Riker climbs out of the chair and sees West staring at the microwave oven inches away from his face. “Seriously? Dinner is in an hour.”

“I’m hungry.”

Riker walks up to West and throws his hands in the air in exasperation as he sees what’s in the microwave. “Pizza Pops! Again!?” Very few things survived the old world, but one of those things was the recipe for Pizza Pops, universally beloved by all galactic species, and one of the very few things replicators make perfectly.

“I love them.” West says not looking away.

“You don’t love them.”

“You don’t know that. You don’t know my heart.” West says earnestly.

Riker knows he should reprimand West for spoiling his dinner, and for not at least attempting to eat a vegetable… But after everything that’s happened he can’t bring himself to do it. “Fine. Have your Pizza Pops, just maybe don’t stand so close to the microwave, ok?”

West rolls his eyes, but does as he’s asked and sits down at their small table. The galley is just off of the cockpit, and looks like a retro “60s” diner that West saw in an Old Earth archive. A galactic historian they did some work for gave them the setup as a bonus. The rest of the ship is all the steel-blue color of Chorium metal, one of the strongest substances in the universe. Off the gally is their sleeping quarters and cargo. Riker’s bed, unmade and with printed sheets featuring cartoon dogs, lies in stark contrast to West’s military precision folded bed sheets, featuring super hero print. “Do you want some?” West asks, still staring at the microwave from the table.

“Sure I’ll have—”

“YoU’lL SpOiL yOuR DiN—”

“You’re a jerk.” Riker grins and shakes his head.

“Suck it bro!” West calls back as the microwave dings and he leaps up to get his snack. “Did you- ow ow- tshhh,” West tries to get out, his mouth clearly burning, “Did you find the signal?”

Riker rolls his eyes and walks the few steps back to the cockpit. “Nothing. You sure this is where it came from?”

West sits down at his chair and brings up his screen. “Three different relays registered the rupture so I triangulated them to this location.” Riker catches himself as he’s about to ask ‘are you sure?’ Most people only see West’s Down Syndrome, even Riker himself had trouble looking past it for a year or so. But if there’s anything West excels at, it’s math. And eating Pizza Pops. So if West says it’s right, it’s right.

“So if this is where it came from, why is nothing here?” Riker asks, staring out into space.

“Maybe it was a ship?”

Riker laughs, “C’mon man, be real.”

“You come on man! It could be a ship!”

Riker shakes his head, “Nobody in the history of the universe has seen a ship come from a quantum planar slip space rupture. No ship could possibly survive it.”

“Then where is it?” West asks with an accusatory tone.

“Someone probably showed up and—”

“Now looks who’s being shilly.” West’s lisp becomes more pronounced, the more excited he gets, and hearing it he slows himself down. “The marshal said we were the closest ship by three weeks, and we didn’t pick any other ships up on the way here.”

“I’m telling you there’s no way—”

The computer begins flashing ‘incoming broadcast’ on his screen prompting a stern look of annoyance from Riker.

“What is it?” West asks, a smile already curling on his lips.

“I hate you.”

“What is it Ri—”

Riker taps the screen and projected on the large monitor at the front of the ship is a young woman with tanned skin and long black hair done in a pony-tail. “—Lieutenant Rose of the UPA hailing any and all available space craft—”

“It’s a girl!” West proclaims. Riker wants to scold him for interrupting, but it was his first thought too. Human women are such a rarity now.

“—drift at the following coordinates and heading.” A star chart flashes over the screen quickly.

“West?”

“On it.” He puts down his second pizza pop, a rare occurrence, and begins entering in the data points. “I’m sending you a nav point now.”

“Let’s go make some quantum friends.”

“I wonder if they have pizza pops in their replicators? I should download the recipe just in case.”

“Check it again.” Riker asks, panic in his voice.

“I did, I’m telling you, that’s where it’s coming from.” West says, the same panic in his voice. Neither of them have seen a ship like it, not exactly. But the layout, core design, and propulsion system all scream ‘Swarm’. “Was she a hostage maybe?”

Swarm don’t take hostages. Riker thinks, contemplating turning tail and bugging out. He nervously glances at West. I can’t lose him, not a—

“Ship bearing 233.8 off our Starboard Quarter, squawk ident and state your purpose.”

“They sound military.” West says, analyzing the ship data on his screen.

“Humans don’t have a military.” Riker says, hesitant to reply.

“Our humans don’t have a military.” Riker looks back to see West giving him a knowing look.

Riker swallows and sends Ohana’s ID codes. “This is Captain Riker P. Everest, Ohana actual, to whom am I speaking?”

“This is Lieutenant Dileo, hold for Lieutenant Rose.”

“This is Lieutenant Rose, to whom am I—” The transmission ends suddenly.

“You scared her off!” West says, annoyed.

“I didn’t even say anything!”

“She could smell your breath.”

“We’re in space.”

“That’s how bad it is.” West says with a furrowed brow.

“This is United Planetary Alliance Marine Captain Savory, to whom am I speaking?”

The man on the screen is grizzled, with a strong jaw and a well kept beard. “This is Captain Riker P. Everest of Ohana.”

“You’re human.”

“Yes sir, we both are.”

The projection clearly looks at West then back to Riker. “Quite. In any case, my lieutenant should not have reached out to—”

“They’re going to run out of air any day now.” West chimes in.

“What did— How could you possibly—”

“Captain, we’ve scanned your ship.” Riker says, trying to avoid sounding cocky and failing miserably.

“Your life support is damaged.”

“You’ve got four, maybe five days.”

“I do not need you telling me the status of my ship.”

“Well, I’m not sure I’d call that your ship, but let’s put a pin in that. By now I’m sure you’ve figured out that you’re not from here, in every conceivable way.” Captain Savory can be seen looking around the room, though the projection doesn’t show to whom he is looking. “We are, and we’re willing to help.”

“And why is that?”

Riker takes a deep breath. Because there’s no more than 10,000 surviving humans in this universe, but scanners are telling us there are nineteen on your ship alone. So talking to you is something we’d very much like to do.”

There’s silence as the Captain considers what Riker has said, broken up only by West. “Well, I’d like to talk to the pretty girl from earlier. You’re kind of a dick.”

Captain Savory maintains his composure. “I’ll have my engineer contact you to tell you what supplies we need. Get us those and you can talk to my lieutenant.”

“Understood. Riker out.” He ends the call.

“Hey Riker?” West asks grinning.

“Yeah buddy?”

“Did you like the way I called him a dick? That was good, wasn’t it?” He beams proudly.

“Yeah buddy. Yeah that was pretty good.” Riker says grinning ear to ear.