Jailbreak on Vamtara (flash fiction)

Here’s a piece of sci-fi flash fiction about a bounty hunter and the galaxy’s most secure prison. It’s about 630 words and has an estimated reading time of 2 and a half minutes. Let me know what you think!

It was a dangerous mission – possibly the most dangerous one Ballista had ever been assigned. But it was good money, so why turn it down?

She was the galaxy’s most expensive bounty hunter, and as she stood outside the max-security prison on the flaming-hot planet of Vamtara, she counted down the minutes to when the prisoners would be let out to the yard.

Vamtara was a desert planet and a prison planet. Nothing grew here except the large prison complexes that were built every day. The only purpose of Vamtara was to house the galaxy’s most dangerous criminals.

Ballista’s mission was to break out a certain Kackoria, a three-eyed sharpshooter serving a life sentence for killing the emperor’s brother. She only had a shadowed photo of Kackoria, and he looked like a lunatic killer: dark red, reptilian skin, toned muscles, and those three devious eyes.

The bell sounded, and the prisoners walked into the yard.

Ballista turned on her invisibility cloak and scaled the barbed-wire fence quickly. A guard turned to look, hearing the fence rattle, but when he saw no one there, he turned away and faced the prisoners again.

The bounty hunter gained entry to the prison via a door leading to the basement tunnels. Her intel said Kackoria was locked away in solitary confinement under the jail. She hoped it was correct.

The tunnels were dark except for faint red lights. If she tripped one of the motion-sensor alarms, the lights would flash, and it’d be all over.

She found another door leading lower underground. Eventually, it took her to the solitary chamber that housed Kackoria. In the near-silence, she could hear the alien breathing heavily and chewing something.

“Hey,” she whispered. “I’ve come for you, Kackoria. Be quiet for now. I’m going to get you out of here.”

“Who says I want to leave?” the alien answered.

“What? Why stay? They’re going to execute you soon.”

She couldn’t see the alien’s face in the darkness; she saw only the red glare of his three eyes. “It doesn’t matter. If I break out, they’ll shoot me on the spot. And they’ll shoot you, too. It’s a lose-lose situation. Besides, who sent you?”

“You don’t need to know. All you need to know is I’m breaking you out, whether you like it or not. I didn’t come this far to back down.”

Ballista broke the code to the prison cell and unlatched the door. Still, she could barely see the alien killer. So, she switched on the light beam on her wrist to get a closer look. That’s when the shock came: there was no one there. The alien must’ve been a hologram.

Suddenly, the prison door slammed shut. Ballista rushed to the door but couldn’t open it. Then, the red lights flashed on.

Outside the transparent door, she saw the figure of the prison warden.

“Well, that was easier than I thought it’d be,” said Mazen, the warden.

“The hell? Where’s Kackoria?” she shouted.

“Dead. We executed him today.” Mazen lit a cigar, took a long puff. “I’m surprised you fell for this. I thought you were the best.”

Ballista felt like a fool. The whole mission was a setup.

She tried to shoot the prison door, then realized her weapons were neutralized. She was trapped.

“There’s no use,” Mazen said, smiling. “Ballista, the great bounty hunter. We’ve finally caught you.

“Welcome to the most secure prison in the galaxy.”

Mazen pressed a button, and the lights went out. With everything dark, Ballista took a seat on the concrete floor and thought hard.

Could she plan an escape? Or would they execute her, too?

After a long and lucrative bounty-hunting career, Ballista, who was usually so resilient, began to think her days were numbered.

The End

(Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash – edited by Nick Pipitone)

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