A few months back, I was invited to contribute a short story to “Pew! Pew!”, a comedy scifi anthology, and since comedy scifi is right up my street, I jumped at the chance. The story I wrote is called The Last Bounty, and while it doesn’t feature the Space Team crew (or other than a fleeting cameo, at least), it’s definitely a Space Team book in tone and spirit. Here’s the blurb, and I’ve included a short extract below. The 9 story collection comes out on June 1st, and you can pre-order it here.
The Last Bounty
Once the baddest bounty hunter in the galaxy, all Konto Oon wants these days is a quiet family life with the woman he loves, and the respect of Deenia, the seven-year-old step-daughter who hates his guts. But when Deenia and her friends are taken hostage on a school trip, Konto must employ all his old skills to mount a death-defying rescue mission.
With a terrorist-filled space station between him and the hostages, and an infuriatingly upbeat boy from Deenia’s class for company, Konto’s talents will be stretched to their limit as he goes after the most important bounty of his life – his daughter.
Can Konto defeat the terrorists, save the children, and earn the peaceful future he craves? Or is his violent past about to catch up with him, once and for all?
The Last Bounty – Extract
“I don’t think we’re safe here, Mr Garr!” cried Larry, ducking and covering his head with his hands as the blaster fire streaked by.
Konto caught the boy by the arm and swung him behind the reinforced display case. “Stay down!” he hissed, then he waited for a break in the gunfire and jumped to his feet. A bulky Xandrie with oversized pecs and an undersized waistcoat stood just beyond the shattered museum frontage, hitting the cooling flush on his rifle.
Seizing his chance, Konto raised his hand, took aim with the arm-blaster, and unleashed Hell.
At least, that was his intention. There was no satisfying thunk of the blaster round ejecting from the chamber, no frantic scream of the energy bolt tearing through the air, or explosive ker-splat of innards becoming outtards.
Instead, a small red LED light illuminated somewhere near the front, and an in-built speaker emitted a tinny-sounding poo-poo.
“What the fonk?” Konto muttered, gazing at the device in horror.
“I think it’s fake, Mr Garr,” Larry whispered.
“Oh, really, Larry?” Konto spat. “You don’t—”
The Xandrie’s rifle stuttered into life again. Konto spun on his heel and took cover behind the reinforced glass as round after round ricocheted off it.
“Shizz,” he spat, searching frantically for an exit. There was only one door in and out of the place, though, and it was currently blocked by several hundred pounds of heavily armed bad guy.
“I suggest you boths come out, ya?” called the Xandrie, easing back on the trigger. “Or I blow you boths to bits, I think.”
“What do you want?” Konto shouted out to him.
“I want you boths to come out. I think I am already saying this.”
Konto muttered under his breath. “Why?”
There was another spray of blaster fire. Larry let out a whimper. Konto couldn’t exactly blame the kid. After a few seconds, the shooting stopped again.
“Fine. If you must know, we just want the boy. That is all. Send him out, and maybe I won’t be shooting you, ya? How does that sound? Maybe you just send him out, and he and I walk away, and then you can go home, and not be dead. Ya? Is good idea, ya?”
Konto looked down at the useless blaster on his arm. He looked at the boy, cowering at his feet. “Stand up, Larry,” he said.
Larry, to his credit, didn’t argue. He stood up. “You’ve got a plan. Right, Mr Garr?” he whispered.
Konto nodded, but didn’t meet the boy’s eye. “I do,” he said, then he placed a hand on Larry’s back and pushed him out of cover and into the sights of the Xandrie. “I’m sorry.”
“Excellent! I knew we could be coming to an agreement,” said the Xandrie, the words coming out almost as a giggle. “Come to me, boy,” he said, beckoning Larry closer. “Come. Ya? Come.”
Larry’s wide eyes gazed up at Konto. “Mr Garr?”
“Go, Larry,” Konto said, sliding the hunk of metal junk of his arm. “You’re not going to hurt him, are you?”
“We don’t want to. All we want is the ransom,” said the gangster. “But if anyone tries to mess with us, we will fonk this kid up, and all his little buddies, too. Because we are the Xandrie, and no-one messes with—”
The arm-blaster cracked him between the eyes. His nose somehow succeeded in both exploding and imploding at the same time, and as he began to topple backwards, his hands grasped for something to hold him up.
All he found was the trigger of his rifle. Konto threw himself at Larry, knocking the boy aside just as a staccato burst of blaster fire drowned out the gangster’s groans. There was a sizzle of flesh, a brief hiss from Konto as one of the bolts scorched his ribcage, and then the Xandrie hit the ground with a thud.