Even simple plans never quite work out for intergalactic trader Tar Reztap, and yet he and his loyal friend Gorth keep finding their way into crazy missions that border the impossible. Chased throughout known space aboard the Bloated Namreg (quite possibly the ugliest ship to ever dock in a space port), it’s not long before Reztap’s nemesis catches up. And it’s not the Captain of the Progorian warship (really it was an honest mix-up that started that war); nor the Madame of the Courtesan Academy, who happens to be half-sister to the head of the assassin’s guild. No, real trouble requires blood ties. Reztap’s brother sends the traders spinning back into space on a mission to rescue a princess from a fortress on Alaga One’s moon.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Reztap and Gorth are forced to pull out their back-up navigator – an eccentric android named Chuck, who has a thing for decorating (and “Rezzy”).Aboard the Namreg, a door that couldn’t be opened for thirteen years mysteriously grants entrance to a hidden chamber. Inside is a treasure, a long-lost family member, and a mission no one has to force Reztap to do. This time, he can’t fail. Regretfully, the “rescued” Princess Slurk is still on board, with plans of her own.
The Adventures of Reztap Excerpt:
Tar turned around to see a black-armored individual wielding a small, but dangerous, military laser cannon. He beckoned us to follow with an insistent wave of the deadly weapon. I knew what was coming next and closed my eyes as I saw Tar raising his hands to the sky. I counted to three and dropped to my knees as I heard a shout of surprise from in front of us and saw the bit of blinding light that made it through my closed eyelids. I felt Tar’s hand grasp my jumpsuit collar and I opened my eyes. Our assailant had his eyes clasped shut, holding them with one hand and firing ahead in a barely discernible pattern. After a few seconds, I realized where our moment of opportunity to escape was and grabbed Tar’s arm. We made our way out of the crowd and back out the front entrance. Sure enough, there were two military goons there with weapons at the ready. Tar raised his hands again and I shut my eyes. This blinding technique was a new one we’d never utilized before. I wondered how long the surprise would be effective. The two guards fired blindly at the front of Galloper’s and we hastily made our exit south into the bustling throng of alien life that teemed in the asteroid’s thoroughfare.
“Tar,” I said as I worked to save the wares of vendors Tar was jostling in his attempt to escape. “You know how this is going to end.”
“What we are doing, my friend,” Tar said as I grabbed a cart of Nilothian Tickle Worms he nearly upended. “Is making him think twice before simply dispatching his goons after us again. Are we worth the trouble? Would the bad will generated by his blast happy agents be worth the very not-hassle-free engagement of my services?”
I dodged a flock of Feathered Artificers upset by our passing. I didn’t need a fancy hat generated on my head while running for my freedom. Then again…
I grabbed two of the floating robots and slapped one on Tar’s head and the other on my own as I pulled him into an alley. Tar kept silent as he searched for our pursuers through a bushel of blood fronds. As we waited patiently for a little over three minutes, the textile robots went to work fashioning a concealing cloak from head to foot for both of us.
“They’ve donned goggles,” Tar said as the Feathered Artificers finished the bottom hem of the robes. They beeped incessantly until Tar waved his arm past them, signaling a sale with his sub-dermal credit chip and an inaudible guttural vibration from his throat. The two automated clothiers beeped happily and then shot up into the air trilling loudly to announce they’d made a sale. That was exactly the last thing we needed. Every pursuer within earshot looked at the two flying globes and immediately began to converge on the estimated beginning of their exuberant arc.
“Great,” I murmured. We both looked at the dead end alley behind us. I winced, but the cloak covered my face. Tar grabbed my arm and we ventured further into our cornered enclosure. I looked behind us. No one had reached the entrance to the alley yet. As I turned back around, I noted Tar had seen a camouflaged doorway I hadn’t noticed from afar. He began to examine the edges. There was no handle on the exterior; I figured it was an emergency exit only door. I looked up at the building and a thought tickled the back of my mind.
“Uh, maybe we should just surrender,” I said as a feeling of apprehension weighed on me like a blanket soaked in Arcturan dung.
“No way,” Tar said. His fingers rubbed over a spot several times and he nodded. He dug under the robe and pulled out a pocket knife. “Sometimes the simplest tool is all you need to gain your freedom!”
About Artemus Withers
Inspired by authors such as Douglas Adams, Harry Harrison and Terry Pratchett, Artemus endeavored to create a world of science fiction and humor to delight readers across the world. A lifelong computer systems professional, Artemus went from the military to government contracting to the commercial world fixing various computer problems and helping workers and companies get to where they need to go. Artemus also dabbled in acting as an improv troupe member for several years and performed in various stage, television and film productions. He lives in Katy, Texas with his wife where they rule their family kingdom of three adult daughters from afar and enjoy the company of their grandson and two dogs.