Dead or Alive. Flash Fiction.

“Are you sure he’s down there?”
“We tracked his ship to this planet, it would have landed about three days ago, it’s still showing on our scanners. Should we send a team down there?”
Meredith looked at the screen in front of her, “It says here this planet is off limits, fundamentally incompatible with human life forms.”
“We can do a global scan, see if we can detect any life signs that match a human.”
“How long will that take?”
“Planet of this size? Seventeen hours max, that’s with the settings only looking for something vaguely human. If you want to get more in depth it’d be weeks.”
“Well, start scanning for now.”
“Right away Captain.”

She looked through the file, it really did seem like everything on this planet was fundamentally incompatible with humans, the air was just about breathable but it would do damage to the lungs resulting in death within a week. Most of the life on the planet was poisonous to humans and the atmosphere was too thin meaning without the right protective gear skin cancer would develop in as little as three months. Chances were good the fugitive was already dead or well on his way to dying but he was a slippery one and smugglers and criminals had been known to use off limit planets for their base of operations. He could have had a base set up there already, few air filters and a well stocked cupboard could see him in hiding for months. She couldn’t in good conscious send people down there. She opened his file again, Frederick Boland, wanted for pretty much any crime you could think of, born and raised on one of the so called independent frontier planets, wild places were law was just a myth. Meredith shook her head, personally she believed everyone would be better off if they just nuked all those planets from space, nothing good ever came of them, they were just breeding grounds for scum. An alert appeared on the screen, she opened it and quickly scanned the message, “Frederick Boland is to be captured or killed at all costs. He cannot remain at large. Do whatever is necessary.”

Meredith closed out of the message, she’d received orders like this in the past but usually they were for people who dabbled in things like arms or drug trading, she could see nothing that would elevate Frederick above your average scumbag from the frontiers. Still, orders were orders. She glanced through the planet profile, no intelligent life and the probability of it evolving was slim, she’d be well within her right to just destroy everything down there, once they had confirmation of course.

“We found him. He’s sheltering in some caves not too far from the ship, the scanners had a little difficulty picking him up, if they hadn’t been updated in Sig we’d have never found him.”
“Can we destroy that cave system without doing too much damage to the surrounding area?”
“Yes, I believe so.”
“Prepare the cannons and fire when ready, once the cave system is destroyed spray the area with blasters.”
“And firing in three, two, one.”
Chances were good that destroying the cave system would kill him, but if not the blasters would get him. If anything triggered them they’d explode releasing a toxic gas.
“Direct hit. Cave system has been destroyed. Sending blasters to area now.”
Meredith opened up Fredericks profile, she made a quick note of what happened then marked him as deceased, whatever he’d done didn’t matter now, she’d done her duty and there was one less scumbag in the universe.


About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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