Fortune’s Fall

by Carlos L. Delgado

As Farfalla’s gravity well pulled The Fool’s Gold down, deeper and deeper, the ship’s throttle rattled in Captain Jet’s sweaty grip. I suppose this is it, he thought.

Solemnly, he released the controls and turned to Kira, who was still fighting to squeeze another trickle of power from the already maxed engines. “It’s alright,” he said. “There’s only one way out of here, kid.”

“NO!” she said. “We can still make it. We just need to reroute power from—”

WARNING. TWO MINUTES UNTIL CONTACT WITH EVENT HORIZON.

Captain Jet set his jaw. The emergency warp-pod could break out of Farfalla’s gravity, sure, but it only sustained one passenger, which meant one of them had to play the hero. It was cruel to abandon her like this, but—for once in his long, wretched life—Jet Starwind saw no other options. Determined, he jumped out of his seat and reached for Kira’s harness.

Kira punched him square in the nose.

The blow rocked his head back with a sickening crunch. “Son of a—I’m trying to save you!”

“If you think I’ll let you stuff me into a pod as you bravely sink into a class-four singularity, you are quite mistaken. You’re going to buy a cantina, and I’m going to buy a ship—just like you promised.”

WARNING. NINETY SECONDS UNTIL CONTACT WITH EVENT HORIZON.

He slammed down on the blinking console. “Dammit! Listen to that alarm, kid. It’s over. It is over. The ship crossed the gravity threshold, understand? It ain’t making it out… but you can.”

Tears streamed down her face. “Damn it, Jet! I can’t lose you too. I can’t.”

He was suddenly glad for his broken nose, as it disguised the other tears welling up in his eyes. “Kid, I’m an old outlaw. You know how rare those are? You’re going to lose me. If it ain’t a black hole, it’ll be a bounty hunter or Federation forces or, most likely, a bar-fight gone bad. Hell, at my age it could even be cholesterol, that bitch.”

Kira cracked a smile through her tears.

He took her other hand from the shaking throttle and held it firm. “Why not let me go out like this instead? Let me be a proper hero, for once. Please.”

WARNING. SIXTY SECONDS UNTIL CONTACT WITH EVENT HORIZON.

Stone-faced, Kira snatched her hand back, unlatched her harness, and made for the warp-pod. She stopped for a moment and without turning said, “I’ll never forgive you.”

Captain Jet jumped back into his seat and fastened his harness. “It’s a class-four singularity, kid,” he whispered to himself. “Good luck even remembering me.”

As The Fool’s Gold fell backward into the event horizon, deeper and deeper into absolute darkness, Captain Jet smiled at the bright little light that shot away from his ship and toward a payday he’d never get to spend. This was it.