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Trail Ride on Titan
Star wranglers looking for love
MARSHALL “LONE RIDER” DILLON rides the southern perimeter of the circle, keeping an eye out for strays. The crew’s current quest required them to cut two thousand Jupiter jackrabbits from the herd and deliver them to the Titan stockyards for transport to Mars.
Dillon rode herd for the Supernova Ranch, one of the largest outfits on Titan, a ranch that drove more than fifty thousand head of six different species to market each year. The ranch called him up from the minors at the beginning of the year, after a herd of Martian moose trampled his predecessor in a stampede. He’d reached the majors at last — high priced cattle and a bump to a half percent share.
Jupiter Jackrabbits, market value a half credit per kilogram and the average rabbit weighed half a metric ton (enough to feed a family for half a year), which means he’d head back to the ranch with 5000 credits.
The ranch called him up from the minors at the beginning of the year, after a herd of Martian moose trampled his predecessor in a stampede.
Sly Grimes pulled parallel to Dillon on his new paint dune hopper, the one he bought with the proceeds from last month’s European Elk drive to Saturn City. “Counting your credits again, Dillon?”
Dillon leaned past his saddle and spit a wad into the nearby purple sagebrush. “With my cut, I’ll have enough for a down payment on a Martian soy farm. Get married, clone a few kids and I’ll have a spread this size in fifteen, maybe twenty years.”
“Gotta find a wife first, I reckon,” commented Croaker Clements over the headset. “A real woman, not the droid companions you’re used to.”
“With my cut, I’ll have enough for a down payment on a Martian soy farm. Get married, clone a few kids and I’ll have a spread this size in fifteen, maybe twenty years.”
“Gotta learn to plant soy that won’t die from stupidity and neglect before you turn a profit on any farm.” That was Sureshot Sanders, the ranch foreman.
Dillon hopped off his hopper and stomped on his ten gallon holographic cowboy hat. The hopper hovered in place, but damned if he was going to take their crap anymore. “Fuck you all,” he declared and logged out of the quest.
He threw his headset next to his monitor and stomped into his kitchen, where he grabbed a cold one from the fridge. He mixed the Red Bull with Big Red soda. He called the drink a Big Red Bull. He pulled a 35 ounce plastic jar of cheeze balls from the cupboard and returned to his room.
He googled “mmorpg,” for the most popular space western games that were not “Trail Ride on Titan.” He had too much dignity to play in a guild whose members sounded just like his parents.
from a story idea by Lily Tiller
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Wry noir author Phillip T. Stephens wrote Cigerets, Guns & Beer, Raising Hell, the Indie Book Award winning Seeing Jesus, and the children’s book parody Furious George. Follow him at Phillip T Stephens.