Little Red

Little Red: A Futuristic Fairy Tale

Trent Roman

As Captain Riding Hood left space dock, she felt very proud. She knew it was an honor to have been given such an important mission. When the leader of the Mother's House, a powerful space station, had called her into her office, Hood did not know what to except. She was a rookie trader, with little assets beyond her small trading ship, dubbed 'Little Red'. Her mission was a very simple one. In her cargo hold, she carried a large quantity of a vaccine, extracted from flowers, that was to be delivered to an allied space station, Grandma's House. Grandma's House was suffering an epidemic of the flu, and as a consequence most of the inhabitants of the station could not defend themselves in case of an attack by hostiles.

Little Red itself had precious few commodities, for most of the space onboard the ship was dedicated to the cargo holds. With the money that Hood was sure to make by delivering the vaccine, Hood hoped by be able to upgrade and expand Little Red. She also wanted to give the ship a new hypo-paint job, because the flaming red color, which had adorned Little Red's side when Hood had bought her, was starting to disintegrate under the pressure of vacuum and micrometeorites. At this thought, Hood patted the control board of Little Red and promised the ship that it would be taken care of. Talking to one's ship was a common, if eccentric, habit of most space-traders.

Hood had flown for a few hours in Underspace, a dimension between normal space and Subspace. Then she noticed an anomalous reading on one of her sensors. The sensors weren't sensitive enough to pick up what the anomaly was at this distance. Hood powered down her vessels and debated whether to investigate the disturbance our not. On one hand, her superiors had told her to stick to the course the NavComp had drew, and the sooner Grandma's House got these supplies the better. On the other hand, there was Hood's extreme curiosity, one of her main faults. Finally, Hood decided to investigate. After all, she told herself, it could be a Subspace rift or an inverted tachyon field, both very dangerous to the inhabitants of Grandma's House.

The disturbance turned out to be a ship. It was over three times as big as Little Red, and seemed to sport some very big guns. Hesitantly, Hood opened a COM channel to the other ship.

"This is Little Red calling unidentified ship. Please come in."

An image appeared on Little Red's viewscreen shortly after. The species that crewed the ship were unlike any Hood had ever seen before. They stood several heads higher than Hood and were covered from head to toes in grayish fur. Their heads sported a long snout over an impressive array of sharp tooths. This, and the fact that the alien's eyes and ears were unusually long, meant it had evolved from a predatory ancestor.

"We," said one of the creatures in a guttural voice, " Arre the rrace know as the Wolfians. I am the Captain of the vessel Big Bad. Despite ourr appearrance, I assurre you that we arre a pacifist species."

"Is that the reason why your ship is armed to the teeth, literally?" Hood asked sarcastically.

"We may abhorr violence, but we must defend ourrselves if we find ourrselves underr attack by space rraiders. Tell me, what it the purrpose of yourr mission. We may be able to help."

As Hood believed their excuse for their excessive armaments, and she could see no problem in informing the supposed-pacifists of Grandma's House's plight, Hood replied truthfully:

"I am on a mission to deliver important medicinal supplies to the space station Grandma's House. It has come down with a sever flu epidemic, and the station's inhabitants are weaponless against those space raiders you mentioned."

"Tell me, what arre the coorrdinates forr this 'Grandma's House'. We might stop therre to rrest laterr on in ourr jourrney."

"They're at five-eight-three mark four-seven, orbiting the planet Inthewoods."

"Thank you, you have been most helpful."

"Glad to be of service." And with that, Hood terminated the COM link, and proceeded on her way.

* * *

As the captain of the Big Bad watched Little Red slip into Underspace, his mind raced forward. This situation could be very profitable for him and his band of mercenaries. If the Big Bad could get to Grandma's House station before Little Red could, and it would, because Big Bad had mighty Underspace motivators, then the Wolfians would be able to take the station by surprise and without much resistance. Then, when Little Red arrived, he would capture that ship and it's cargo, then sell both the station and the vaccine back to the inhabitants of Grandma's House for an extravagant price. And, as an added bonus, they would keep Little Red for some target practice later on. Smiling an evil grin, the captain of the Big Bad ordered his helmsman to set course on the coordinates Hood had so naively given them.

* * *

Little Red's Underspace Motivator disengaged and the ship dropped back into normal space. On the ship's main viewscreen, Hood could see Grandma's House space station. It was painted a deep blue and it's eight docking ports gave it a slightly arachnid look. Hood opened a COM channel to the station, stating her name and her cargo. An automated beacon that would guide her into one of the docking ports answered her. She though this was strange as her cargo was very important to the people of this station. Still, maybe this was only because they were running low on personnel.

Hood skillfully followed the beacon and flew her ship into one of the docking ports. Once the outer doors had been sealed, and both the air and pressure was reestablished in the docking bay, Hood exited her vessel. The lights in the bay were very low. Hood figured that those suffering from the flu must find normal lighting too bright, and so the light level was diminished. A door opened in the wall opposite the outer doors, a Hood could see a draped figure silhouetted in it.

Slowly Hood approached the figure. As she came nearer, she could start making out several characteristics of the figure that the species that populated this station didn't have. Hesitantly, she said:

"My, what big ears you species has."

"All the betterr to hearr that you brrought that vaccine, my frriend."

The accent in the stranger's made it clear. He was a Wolfian. They must have profited of the situation to attack and take over Grandma's House. Slowly, Hood walked back towards her ship.

"My, what big eyes you species has," she said to buy time.

"All the betterr to see that vaccine you brrought, my frriend."

Hood, was about ten paces away from Little Red.

"My, what a big snout your species has."

"All the betterr to ingest that vaccine you brrought, my frriend."

Hood was almost at her vessel. She was about to make another comment, but the Wolfian spoke first.

"I prresume that yourr next statement will be: 'My, what a big gun you have'."

To prove his point, the Wolfian pulled a large gun from out of his robes and continued:

"All the betterr to shoot you with, my frriend."

Hood jumped into the opening of her ship just as a blue energy-rippled stun bolt splashed against the deck where she had stood. Hearing the Wolfian's infuriated howl, Hood precipitated herself towards Little Red's control board. As she heard the metal plates of her ship ringing under the Wolfian, Hood opened a general bandwidth COM line.

"Mayday, mayday. The station Grandma's House has been taken over by hostile Wolfians. Request help immediately. This is Captain Hood of the Little Red. We need assistance. Ther– ah !"

Hood felt her senses numbing and her brain shutting down as the energy from the stun bolt streaked across her nervous system. The last thing she saw she lost consciousness was the Wolfian turning off the distress call.

* * *

Hood woke up in a small, dark and humid room. Afraid she might be watched, Hood refrained from opening her eyes or making any movements. Instead, she tried to use her other senses. She didn't get much, besides the fact that the floor was cold, but she could smell matted fur, which meant there was a Wolfian nearby. A guard, of course. This severely restricted Hood's options. The Wolfian guard was probably well armed and, given their predatory ancestry, well focused. She resigned herself to just go with the flow, and see what then happen. She stirred and moaned lightly, feigning haven just woken up from her stun bolt-induced sleep.

"She has awakened."

With her eyes now open, Hood could see her guard. He was tall and muscular, and armed with the same type of gun that had previously brought her down. The guard moved towards her and grabbed her forcibly by the shoulder, forcing her up. He then got behind her and gave her a hard shove in the back, pushing her towards the door of her improvised cell. He then led her through the corridors of Grandma's House, to the Operations Control Room, the nervous system for the entire space station. There, the Wolfian Captain was stretched out in the command chair. He looked around the room like he owned the place, which, Hood realized, might very well be true now.

"Excellent!" growled the Big Bad's captain. "Dinnerr is serrved."

"Dinner?" asked Riding Hood, very much afraid of the possible implications of that little word.

"My dearr Hood, you must know that it is verry good to get in touch with yourr ancestrral naturre. Out in the darrkness of the void, frresh meat is verry harrd to come by. I hungerr forr a rreal meal, not a rreplicated imitation. The crrew of this station arre too valuable as hostages to eat, but you, my dearr, arre worrth nothing. But you might make a tasty morrsel. I just hope yourr skin is tenderr. I so hate harrd meat."

Hood was obviously panicked by these statements. She tried to struggle out the guard's grasp, but he was too strong for her. To make matters worse, the guard then buckled her ankles and wrists together in magnetic handcuffs, and laid her down on a table on wheels. The table had a white cloth over it, and was placed in alarming proximity of the Wolfian Captain. Another disturbing element of this setup was the wickedly sharp looking knife the Wolfian had seemingly produced out of thin air. Hood closed her eyes.

Her mind rushed forwards, trying to find a way to escape this terrible situation. Whether or not she would have found her way out, she never got the chance to see. Just as she could feel the Wolfian's hot breath crawling over her face, a string of sounds, organized screaming and deep throated growling, rang out in the halfway. Hood opened her eyes and saw the Wolfian Captain and guard run to the doorway to find the source of the sounds. Halfway to their destination, a group of men, sporting green-brown camouflage uniforms and powerful stun rifles, burst into the Operations Control Room. The high-pitched whine of these industrial weapons could be heard just before a wave of sizzling blue energy swept across the room, hitting the two Wolfians square in the mid-section. They both hit the floor barely a moment after impact.

Hood herself was spared the effects of this stun-wave because the two Wolfians had been standing over her when the sounds of battle first broke out, and therefore were directly blocking the wave path's towards the Little Red's captain. As the rest of the commando team dragged away the stunned bodies of the predatory aliens, one man came to Hood and disengaged the handcuffs.

"Captain Hood?" the man asked. Hood nodded affirmatively.

"Captain, I'm Commissar Logger of the Woodcutter's League. We are the police force for planet Inthewoods. We intercepted your distress call and came to help."

"Thanks. Thanks a lot." Hood paused. "Would you happen to now what has become of my ship."

"The 'Little Red'? An infiltration group reported seeing it in a hanger bay and identified it as the ship from whence the distress call had been sent. Congratulations, your timely message (and our timely intervention) has saved Grandma's House from hostile takeover."

Hood did not mention how the Wolfians came to know of this space station's situation, she just smiled, relieved that the whole ordeal was over. And with the money made by the vaccine run, and the generous sum that was a 'token of appreciation' from the commander of Grandma's House, Hood was indeed able to expand Little Red to twice her previous size and give the sleek ship a grand new bright red paint job.

And how does this Futuristic Fairy Tale end? The traditional way, of course: And they all lived happily ever after. The End.