My Jolly Sailor Bold

📅 Published on June 2, 2022

“My Jolly Sailor Bold”

Written by The Vesper's Bell
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 5.50/10. From 2 votes.
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Captain Saul Saline (also spelled Selene, depending on whether he was feeling salty or loony) took a pair of methodical, tottering steps out of the elevator and into the command module of his scrap trawler, the ‘SS Saline’s Solution,’ more informally known as ‘The Grimy Brine.’

Saline strode upon an old pair of bionic legs that had already been a crude form of body augmentation when he had gotten them; nanite-spun, nanotech filaments woven into living tissue were now the state-of-the-art in physiological upgrades for anyone who could afford them.  While Saline’s legs had once offered superhuman functionality, they were now obsolete, unsupported, and well overdue for servicing.  He had to be very mindful when he walked to avoid falling flat on his face.

The fact that his trawler’s centrifugal gravity was almost five percent stronger at his feet than it was at his head didn’t help with keeping his gait either.  His little ship didn’t even have a full centrifugal ring, just three equidistant habitat modules spinning around a central hub on wobbly fullerene rods.  To generate even Martian gravity at a tolerable rotation rate, a centrifuge needed a radius of nearly forty meters, which meant that a full ring would have a circumference of around two hundred-and-fifty meters.  That was a little more ship than he needed and a lot more than he could afford.

Saline hobbled into the Ops room, where he saw his Chief of Operations and (de facto) first mate Townsend sitting in front of a volumetric display, with their Chief Technical Officer Ostroverkhov standing over his shoulder.

“How’s our boy doing?” Saline asked, taking his place next to Ostroverkhov.

Chavez, the newest and least experienced member of their crew, was out on a spacewalk.  Such duties most often fell to new recruits because they still thought spacewalks were awesome, whereas more seasoned spacers knew to avoid extravehicular activity as much as they possibly could.

“Wasting his jetpack fuel,” Ostroverkhov muttered in response.

“Oh, let him have a bit of fun, won’t you?  He’s not going to run out any time soon,” Townsend assured him.

“We need to recover the payload and get out of here before someone else shows up,” Saline reminded him impatiently.  “An unmanned cargo freighter that – for some godforsaken reason – was transporting one of Olympeon’s crystalline quantum supercomputers through the L5 trojan patch has taken a hit from some random debris and has gone adrift.  You know bloody well how much that thing is worth, and we are not letting this opportunity slip through our fingers.  Tell Chavez to get his ass in gear!”

“Aye aye, Captain,” Townsend said with a contrite nod and slight clearing of his throat.  “Townsend to Chavez, the captain’s here, and he says playtime’s over.  You need to start making your way inside and search for the payload.”

“Oh, come on!  We’ve got time.  We’re almost a hundred million miles from Earth; no one’s sneaking up on us,” Chavez said dismissively.

“Boy, if you get yourself killed jetting around out there and I have to risk someone worth their oxygen to go after that computer, I will put your corpse in the cryo-unit, have you revived when we get back to Pink Floyd Station, then murder you myself!” Saline barked at him.

“Ahhgg, alright, cool your jets; I’m cooling mine,” Chavez relented.  He slowed to a stop relative to the cargo freighter and switched on his electromagnetic boots.  The force was strong enough to pull him downwards, and he landed with a satisfying thud that was only audible within his spacesuit, although the vibrations in the hull would have been detectable if there had been anyone inside to pay attention to such things.

“Thank you, Chavez.  Can you see the hole the debris punched through the hull from where you’re standing?” Townsend asked.

“Yeah, I can see it.  It’s not even ten meters in front of me.  I’m moving in,” Chavez assured him.

“I still think we should just haul the whole freighter back,” Ostroverkhov opined.

“Nothing else on that freighter has anywhere near the same weight-to-value ratio as that computer core, and hauling the whole kit-and-caboodle would cost us our plausible deniability,” Saline objected. “If Olympeon knows we have that core, they have the means to get it back, one way or another.  We’re going to sell it on the black market as fast as we can, and then it’s their problem, got it?”

“Ah, guys?  I’m, ah, I’m not alone out here,” Chavez’s shaking voice crackled over the comms channel. “Are you seeing this?  Tell me you’re seeing this.”

Townsend immediately put the feed from Chavez’s helmet cam onto the central volumetric display, and to their utter astonishment, they beheld a feminine figure rising out of the punctured hull.

Her magenta skin was smooth and shiny, bejeweled with hundreds of small luminous diodes arranged in swirling, delicate patterns.  A pair of prehensile feet and an equally prehensile tail gave her lower half a somewhat simian appearance, and her hands each possessed an extra thumb where her pinky should have been.  A small pair of breathing siphons, cinched shut in the vacuum of space, sat just above her clavicle, and a set of chevron-shaped slits laid tightly sealed upon her throat.  The cat-like irises of her large eyes were brightly pigmented to contrast with the much darker – though still magenta – sclera, and her skull was elongated to hold an enlarged brain.

But most extraordinarily of all to the crew of the salvage ship was that upon her head, she bore three modules of the same quantum crystalline computing substrate that they so coveted; an elliptical-shaped one on either side and a smaller, teardrop-shaped module upon her forehead.

She floated above the puncture hole as gracefully as though she had been born into microgravity, and eyed the man standing in an electromagnetic facsimile of a planet’s gravity well with a novel curiosity.

“Townsend, is that a Star Siren?” Saline asked softly, his voice an equal mix of wonder and horror.

“I don’t see what else she could be,” Townsend muttered, mouth agape and eyes unblinking. “Obligatory ‘the legends were true,’ I guess.”

“What are you guys babbling about?  Is that an alien?” Chavez demanded anxiously, his hand starting to reach for the dual laser-cutter and plasma torch at his side.

“No, don’t threaten her!  Stay calm!” Townsend ordered.  “She’s not an alien.  You know how Olympeon designs experimental species of transhumans and grows them in their hatcheries?  A while back, there was an info breach that claimed they had designed a species meant to live permanently in the microgravity and high radiation environment of outer space that they called Homo astrasirena; Star Sirens.  It was never clear how far the project actually got, but unconfirmed stories of encounters with Star Sirens have been circulating amongst spacers for decades.”

“Freaky,” Chavez murmured, apprehensively glancing the strange being up and down.  “Not saying I know better than Olympeon’s top eugenicists, but doesn’t growing chicks in artificial wombs kind of defeat the whole point of artificial wombs?”

“Kid, if what we’ve heard about these Sirens is true, they’re essentially feminist separatists.  Don’t make misogynistic comments in front of them,” Ostroverkhov said with a shake of his head.

“She can’t hear me, genius; we’re in space!” Chavez claimed.

Ostroverkhov furrowed his brow and leaned in towards the captain.

“How good is the encryption on the comms?” he whispered uneasily.

“Wouldn’t even trust it with a burner code,” Saline admitted.

The Siren jetted herself forward on beams of light from her embedded diodes, slowly encircling Chavez as she drew closer and closer.

“Christ, are those photon rockets implanted into her bloody skin?” Saline asked.  “What in High Holy Hell are we dealing with?”

“Olympeon’s tech is decades, in some cases centuries, ahead of anything we’ve got,” Townsend lamented.  “I mean, look at her head!  Those crystals are the most advanced computing substrate in the solar system, and she’s using them for personal exocortexes!”

“Hey, ah, she’s not wearing anything, is she?” Chavez asked, his priorities quite different from those of his senior colleagues.

“She can hold her breath in a vacuum for hours, and the keratin in her skin is as strong as spider’s silk and supplemented with a nanofiber weave, so neither vacuum exposure or temperature extremes will do her any harm,” Townsend explained.

“Dude, I don’t mean she’s not wearing a spacesuit; I mean she’s completely fucking naked,” Chavez reiterated.  “What’s with that?”

“Short answer is they’re nudists; slightly longer answer is that they’re nudists because of transhumanistic space communism,” Townsend retorted.  “Look, I can show you the leaked file when you get back, but for now, we need to focus on the mission.”

“We should abort the mission,” Ostroverkhov suggested.

“What?” Saline demanded.

“Now we know why Olympeon was sending that supercomputer out here; it’s theirs,” Ostroverkhov replied, gesturing towards the Star Siren on the display.  “That means this isn’t salvage anymore; it’s theft, and it’s a theft the Sirens will be sure to report to Olympeon back on Earth, and that’s if we can still pull it off at all.  From what I’ve heard, Sirens worship their AIs as gods.  There’s no way we’re getting that computer core without a fight now.”

“It’s not theft.  This is a deep space shipwreck, salvage rights belong to whoever can get here first, and they don’t officially exist,” Saline argued.  The Siren cast a brief but undeniable look of disdain in the direction of Saline’s Solution, leaving no doubt that she was listening in on their comms. “No one can hear you in space, my ass.  Chavez, continue with the mission.  That computer is worth fifty times what I paid for this rig and a hundred times what I could get for her now.  Find it!”

“Ah, yes, sir. Roger that,” Chavez acknowledged.

He tried to move towards the hull breach, but the Siren floated in front of him to block his path.  She was shorter than he was, only about five feet, but floated just slightly higher than him to give herself the advantage.  She gently placed her hand on his chest and smiled playfully as she attempted to peer into the visor of his helmet.  He winced slightly, fearing for an instant that her smile would reveal a mouth full of piranha-like fangs.  But they were mostly normal human teeth, just a little smaller and lacking canines.

“Hey guys, I think she likes me,” Chavez chuckled, reaching up a hand to caress the side of her face.

“Oh, of course, she does,” Ostroverkhov said with a roll of his eyes.  “Why wouldn’t an AI-worshipping, lesbian communist like a bunch of extremely sketchy guys who want to steal her god and sell it to the highest bidder?”

“Ah, I object to being lumped into the category of ‘extremely sketchy guys.’  I am a gentleman and a scholar,” Townsend insisted.

“You…Towny, we’re basically space pirates,” Ostroverkhov claimed.

“… But I don’t want to be a pirate.”

“Clam it, or I’m keelhauling the both of you!” Saline threatened.  “Chavez, we don’t know what that thing is capable of, but we do know she can’t hold her breath forever, so she must have a ship nearby, which means there could be more of them.  So don’t drop your guard!”

“You guys are worrying over nothing.  She’s like a dolphin,” Chavez said dismissively as he gave her tail a gentle tug.

“… Dolphins are assholes!” Saline rebuked him.

“While that’s a bit of an unfair generalization.  Dolphins are behaviourally complex creatures, and we shouldn’t be demonizing or idolizing other species based on our –” Townsend’s lecture was abruptly cut off by the captain slapping his hand over his mouth.

“Chavez, bring me that computer core, now!” he ordered.

“Alright, Captain, I’m on it,” Chaves relented.  “Sorry, Sparkles, but I’ve got work to do.” He tried to pull away from her, only for her to start tugging at his helmet.

“Heh.  I guess my EV suit looks weird to you, but it stays on for now,” he chuckled, naively interpreting her actions as an ill-informed but well-meaning attempt to rid him of an encumbrance rather than deliberate homicide.  As he stepped closer to the hull breach, her attempts to stop him became increasingly fervent, even going so far as to try to push him backward, but to no avail.  “Looks like your designers skimped out on the muscle.  Probably figured you wouldn’t need it much living in microgravity.  That’s a shame.”

With one hand, he shoved her backward into space, forcing her to fire her rear-facing light-jets to slow down.  By the time she had come to a stop, he had drawn his cutting torch.

“I know this isn’t exactly a gun, but the laser cutter can still reach you from over there, and if you get too close, the plasma torch will definitely inflict some nasty damage on you,” he threatened her.  “Stay where you are, and there’s no need for anyone to get hurt.  Do you understand?”

The Siren, glaring at him with silent rage, held her hands up in a gesture of surrender.

“I’ll take that as a yes,” he said with a satisfied smirk.  “Huh.  Hey boss, I think she might be listening in on our comms.”

He heard all three of his crewmates groaning loudly over his earpiece.

“Understood,” Saline sighed in exasperation.  “Proceed to the breach in the hull.” “Aye aye, captain,” Chavez replied.

He moved towards to breach, keeping his improvised weapon pointed at the Star Siren at all times.

When he was close enough to the edge to peer into the freighter, he immediately spotted what he had been sent for; an ellipsoid of polished blue crystal over two meters across, glittering faintly with the light of photonic qubits.  Floating around the core were several more Star Sirens of varying colors, apparently in the middle of assessing it for damage and preparing it for transport.  They all swarmed protectively in front of the core the instant they saw Chavez, expressions of fear and outrage obvious upon their ageless faces.

“Jackpot!” Chavez beamed.  “Thank you very much, ladies, we’ll take it from here.  Just give it a gentle shove out into space, and we’ll be on our way.”

The Sirens stared him down defiantly, showing no sign of conceding to his demands.

“Come on, now; I’m sure you can hear me.  Just hand over the big one, and we won’t feel the need to pry the little ones out of those pretty heads of yours,” Chavez threatened, pointing his torch in their direction.

And this was how Chavez became the first to learn a vital lesson that all human species were obliged to keep in mind for as long as they shared the sky with the Star Sirens; while one may succeed in threatening a single Siren, one does not threaten her sisters.

The instant Chavez moved his weapon away from the magenta Siren and towards the others, she charged him at full speed and knocked the torch out of his hand.  The rest of the Sirens took advantage of this opportunity to tackle him as well, striking at his EV suit anywhere that might be a weak point or pressing any external buttons in the hopes of compromising his life support.

“Jesus Christ, what the bloody hell did he have to threaten them for?” Saline demanded.

“Perhaps he may have been under the impression that we’re ‘basically space pirates.’  God knows where got that cockamamie idea from,” Townsend said sardonically.

“Don’t just sit there, asshole, shoot them!” Ostroverkhov insisted.

“What do you mean ‘shoot them?’  They’re all over him.  I can’t get any of them without hitting Chavez as well,” Townsend replied.  “I could take us in closer, maybe?  Try to scare them off?”

“Hold your position,” Saline ordered.  “Sirens, listen to me.  You’ve made your point.  Let him go, and we’ll forget about the AI core.”

The Sirens did not relent in their attack.  Chavez was stumbling around the hull, trying to shake them off and getting nowhere.  Either deliberately or accidentally, he disengaged his electromagnetic boots, and he and the Sirens began tumbling off into space.  One of them darted back to retrieve the torch and tossed it to the magenta Siren.  She caught it effortlessly and fired up the blue-hot plasma flame.

Without mercy or hesitation, she plunged it into Chavez’s backside.

While it didn’t pierce his body, it did puncture his oxygen tank.  The gas vented out rapidly and sent him careening off into space.  Screaming, he randomly fired off his jets in an attempt to compensate, but within seconds he had lost consciousness.

The Sirens had all fallen back and regrouped by the freighter, smiling triumphantly as the magenta Siren mockingly blew Chavez a kiss as he spiraled off into the void.

“Now shoot them,” Ostroverkhov growled, the captain being too dumbstruck by what he had just witnessed to give any orders of his own.

Before Townsend could respond, the Sirens ducked behind the freighter, and a strange object that could only be presumed to be their shuttle rose up from behind.  It vaguely resembled a closed flower bud, with multiple overlapping panels shaped like petals glowing a soft red against the blackness of space.

“High Holy Hell!” Saline exclaimed.  “They were hiding that from our scans?  At this range?” A projectile of photonic matter detached from the craft’s aura and flew towards Saline’s Solution, exploding just off of the starboard bow.

“That was a warning shot,” Saline surmised grimly.  “Full reverse, Townsend.  Get us the hell out of here.”

“Aye aye, Captain,” Townsend nodded eagerly.

“What about Chavez?  If we can get him into cryo fast enough, they can revive him!” Ostroverkhov objected.

“And who do you think’s going to revive us after those harpies out there have blown us to bits?” Saline snapped back.  “I’m not sure what the hell they even just fired at us, but I know it’s better than what we’ve got.  We wouldn’t survive a fight with them, son.  I’m sorry.”

“They don’t appear to be pursuing us, Captain,” Townsend reported.

“Good.  Good,” Saline muttered softly, his old bionic legs feeling wobblier than usual as he turned towards the exit.  “Notify Pink Floyd of Chavez’s death.  They’ll handle it from there.  And ah, update the map.  Make a note.  ‘Sailors take warning.  Here be mermaids.’

Rating: 5.50/10. From 2 votes.
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🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by The Vesper's Bell
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: The Vesper's Bell

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author The Vesper's Bell:

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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