Phil Rossi | Daniele Murtas
Adam fell from the stars and descended on Dora, tilting the ship towards the hostile terrain of the planet’s outback. Space travel had become a booming industry, as Adam jumped in with his own tour business and a cabin full of passengers.
Recently added to the League of Planets, Dora was a playground for the uber rich, providing resort vacations, aerial tours, and safaris. Big game hunts remained off-limits in the League, earning stiff prison terms for guides and hunters bold enough to break galactic law.
These commands failed to faze Nelson, the ringleader of this black market charter. All the passengers, avid hunters and board members of Nelson’s corporation back on Earth.
The company stock enjoyed a record year, and the chairmen decided to celebrate with a hunt for the Dora Dragon, the white whale of the galaxy. Along the route, the moguls placed handsome wagers on who would fire the kill-shot. Adam had positioned the elusive raptor on a recent venture, compiling the abstract for Nelson and his boys.
A washed up astronaut with a corrupt past, Adam became the perfect scout for this illegal voyage. An ex-smuggler of alien contraband, Adam knew all the secret routes to foil detection. Only once, following a search and seizure, Adam was sentenced to a work moon. Hell holes of hard labor, disease, and abuse.
Upon his release, Adam resurfaced with a new identity, outlook, and rocketship. None of the directors knew who Adam was, nor cared. To them, a pissant on the take who tracked down the Dora Dragon.
Once Adam parked, the sportsmen grabbed the ship’s laser weapons and entered the jungle in their best saber-tooth camo. Leave it to the chutzpah of rich guys to behead a Dora Dragon, smuggle the trophy home, and grill raptor steaks for the flight back to Earth.
That’s when Adam heard the monster’s roar. A fury so deep, it split the sky. On the cabin flat screens, Adam viewed a close-up of Nelson transmitted from the rain forest. His eyeballs full of shock and urgency. Blobs of sweat leaked from Nelson’s cheeks and forehead.
“Prepare the ship at once, we’re leaving,” Nelson said.
“What about the dragon?” Adam asked.
“The lasers don’t work. Not on this beast,” Nelson said.
“They’re top-grade weapons. Fully tested before we launched,” Adam told Nelson.
“You bastard. You set us up. I want a refund, and you’ll hear from my lawyers back on Earth. You’re finished.”
“I didn’t take this job for the money. I took it to get even with you and your buddies.”
“You’re a madman. What is this about?” Nelson asked.
“The alien minerals I got busted for belonged to your company. I was assured by your people that I’d be protected. You set me up. I took the fall and went to prison. I lost everything.”
“You’ll never get away with this,” Nelson said.
“Watch me. It’s the best part of revenge.”
Adam killed the telecast and struck the boosters. Lava gushed from the jets, hurling the ship airborne.
The beast barked again, drowning out the human screams. This posse would never escape the outback, let alone Dora on their own.
With no record of their departure, this space hunt failed to exist.
Adam continued to climb as Nelson and his muckety-mucks emerged from the timber. The raptor followed, plowing down a tree line. Each hunter waved their arms, flagging Adam to ground the craft and put an end to this insanity.
Adam ignored the pleas, vaulting through Dora’s sky. The raptor trapped the moguls in a canyon where the jungle collides with the desert. Once Adam reached a safe height, he slugged the brakes and glided like a vulture. In the pit below, the dragon picked off the doomed chieftains, one by one.
After feasting on the moguls, the dragon returned to the jungle.
Adam knew he could sell the raptor’s whereabouts on the black market, and make another killing.
Adam reneged, done living on the take. He already decided to leave his checkered past and the Dora Dragon behind for good.
Adam released the ship from the holding pattern, charging back to the stars.