Sat. Jul 2nd, 2022

Thomas Novack, our unfortunate hero, is one part private eye, two parts irritable cephalopod and a dash of magic. He runs his P.I. business out of a shop called The Emerald Eye with his secretary, Bob, a robot of war. The shop rests inside the space station, The Flying Spade. He may not always be successful, but to keep the paychecks coming he’ll try his best.

A man bursts into Novack’s office, eyes bulging. He quickly glanced around looking for the person whose name was on the door. He wore a torn and dirty outfit of a sailor that seemed to hang limply off his frame. His face was bruised and bloodied.

“Where’s Novack?” The man asked quickly.

Thomas Novack was astonished. He had a late night and for once wanted a slow day. He wouldn’t mind the slowness since the last case paid well enough. He was grabbing his morning coffee to help wake himself up. Novack would only use Earth-grown coffee beans, the best in the galaxy. A teaspoon of sugar and a pinch of stardust was his perfect cup.

Novack’s attention was now on the man that burst into his office, not noticing till the coffee spilled out and splashed against himself. He cursed as it burned his skin, and floated away. Bob, Novack’s secretary, followed the droplets through the air until they hit the ceiling, staining the metal.

“Yes?” Novack asked, shaking his four fingered hand.

“I need your help! There’s slavers after me, I can pay!” He said breathless.

Novack paused, before turning to Bob. “Get your poems, and stay out of sight. You’re safe here. What’s your name?”

Bob nodded, and stomped into his room. His door closing with a feeling of finality.

“David,” he paused, seemingly confused. “How are poems going to help?”

Novack just ignored him, “How long do we have?”

“Not long, I don’t think,” he said.

Just as he finished speaking, a banging at The Emerald Eye’s front door began. David began looking widely around for a place to hide. Novack quickly pointed into a closet and closed the door as he walked in. The crashing from the door became louder and faster. Novack calmly walked to the door and opened it.

Standing outside was four people and what could only be described as a creature. It only took a moment to realize who they were: The Empty Tide. A pirate company that is so large and gained so much standing that they are able to operate in almost complete freedom. There are very little entities who exist that can stand in their way.

Novack’s blood boiled.

“Good day, we believe that some of our cargo has managed to make its way into your establishment,” the man at the front slurred.

One of them in the back looked upwards, and raised a strange beetle above her eye. With a squeeze, it squealed and a drop of glowing liquid fell into her right eye. She looked back down at Novack with a smile—the same eye beginning to flash and shift between different colors.

Novack didn’t say anything. He knew that if he were to say something, it would not be polite.

“Not a talker eh? Doesn’t matter, we’re gonna peruse. Our seeker here is pretty sure he came this way.”

Novack’s mouth twitched at the name of the creature. It began to shuffle and to Novack’s displeasure, he got a good look at it. It’s eyes were removed and the sockets were sewn shut, its face pulled into a horrible grimace of the incomplete transition into vampirism. The seeker’s nose was short and stubby, but the nostrils were flaring as it walked into the room.

“You, or your friends there take a step into this office, and you will not walk out.” Novack said, finality in his voice the moment before the creature walked in.

The man pushed Novack to the side as they walked into the office. The woman with the glowing eye snarled at Novack as she walked past, shoving him. He simply took the hit, not moving otherwise. The Empty Tide members began looking around the room, tossing his things as they did.

The first slurred, “See, nothing but talk.”

The seeker sniffed aggressively around the room, following the path that David had taken when he came into the room. The creature ended its path in front of the closet where he hid. It slammed into the door and began clawing into it, trying to get to the bleeding man on the other side. The seeker left deep scratches in the wood.

“Got ‘em!” The seeker slurred excitedly.

Novack’s arm raised before landing on the light switch to the room. He paused before speaking.

“Why didn’t you listen?” Novack whispered.

The room was plunged into darkness. The pirates began yelling, the barking of gunfire and flashes of light filling the room. The room descended into chaos for a few moments before becoming silent.

“Did we get him?” The woman asked,  her glowing eye flicking around the dark room.

From the doorway, a green haze began from the floor before drifting upwards sluggishly. The haze slowly pulsing, showing the outline of Novack, bullets suspended in the air in front of him. A buzzing began, gentle at first, but growing louder as another figure appeared in the room.

A crimson light traveled along a barrel, illuminating an energy rifle from a doorway in the office. Words could barely be seen, scratched and carved into its entirety. There was no reason for their placement, simply as much of the weapon was attempted to be filled up.

Five minutes passed, Bob and Novack stood at the window in their office. They stared out into the void, a comfortable silence in the room. Their eyes following the bodies of the pirates slowly drifting away. With a shaky hand, Novack drank his now cold coffee.

Joshua Rettew is a third-year student majoring in Microbiology with a minor in creative writing.

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