Written by Fyrwolf
Published on the 27th May, 2008.

Author's intro: "Somewhere in deep space, a hunter with his merchandise..."

"Please, if you let me go, I’ll give you twice as much money as they’re offering you!"

"Shut up, ya kriffin weasel!" Spire hated it when they started whining at him. Sometimes, he actually thought of taking them up on there offer, not because the money meant anything too; he had plenty of that already. Just because they seemed so pitiful. Once he actually did, but that man he knew was innocent, so he just pretended that he had never caught the man. But this one was guilty as sin, a murderer and thief, and he was going down hard. Spire got up from the controls of his ship, and walked back into the cargo bay, where the holding cell was located. The man was up against the old fashioned bars, making more ridiculous offers.

"Look scum, I didn’t come back here to chit chat", bellowed the Diamont, "I want to know where your partner’s gone to ground, and I want to know NOW!" The man fell away from the bars as Spire finished; his deep powerful roar had that effect on people.

"I don’t know!" the man sputtered.

"Then you aren’t that much use to me, are you."

"What do you mean?" The man had horror in his eyes now.

"The bounty isn’t for you; it’s for your partner. They don’t care if I bring you in or turn you into war wasp chow, so your future is looking a little bleak right now." This was a lie; there was a considerable bounty on the man, just as the scum was assuming, but his faith was now severely shaken. Spire could see that the man was wondering just what a giant rock could do to him if all the stops where pulled out.

"All right, I’ll tell you, if you promise not to hurt me!"

"Not ta hurt ya? You gotta be one the biggest sap sacks I’ve ever seen! I’ll promise not to kill or torture ya; you could get hurt tripping over a bucket!"

"All right, then I have your word?" the man trembled.

"Yeah, you got it."

"My partner’s managed to stay hidden so well because he didn’t go to a planet. He’s been hiding out on our ship for the past week. He’s got it cloaked somewhere in the Ooromine system."

"That’s a big target, especially if he’s got a quality cloaking device; ya think you can narrow it down a little bit for me?"

"He said something about a ghost planet, so he wouldn’t have to worry about traffic stumbling over him, but I don’t now what he meant by that."

Spire didn’t answer him, just turned around and walked slowly back into the cockpit. He knew what planet the merchandise was orbiting, it was called Bilium. The space pirates had used some strange virus to gas the whole planet, turning it into the ghost planet it was today. People never traveled too close to the planet anymore because the virus still lingered in the atmosphere. His body wasn’t susceptible to the virus so that didn’t scare him; it was the concept of an entire planet being annihilated that got to him. His race was now gone; he was the last of the Diamonts. He wasn’t sure if they had suffered the same fate as the people of Bilium, being wiped out all at once, in some horrible event, or if they had just been fading away over time, but it still bothered him more than just about anything. But that was where the merchandise was, so that’s where he had to go, even if he didn’t like it.

The trip didn’t take long, and soon he was staring out his view port at the gray planet in front of him.

"All right, ya little choot", he mumbled, "where are ya?" He activated his ships sensors, scanning all the space around the planet. It took about five minutes for the complete scan, but it was worth it. A small ship, big enough for maybe two people and sporting a cheap cloaking device was hiding on the far side of the planet. Luckily, it didn’t seem to have been alerted to Spire’s presence. That would make this quick and easy.

He brought his ship around, coming in closer to the smaller vessel. He couldn’t see it visibly, but his scanners where detecting it, so he moved onwards. Once he was within range, he made his move. A grapple beam lanced out of his ship to attack onto the smaller vessel, locking it in place. It looked strange at first, the energy of the beam wrapping around something that couldn’t be seen, but then the cloaking device of the other ship failed. Spire could now see the ugly thing trapped in his grasp. He brought it in close, and then sent the claw out. The large claw detached from the bottom of Spire’s ship and moved towards the smaller vessel. It almost engulfed the whole thing. Spire waited as it attached and sealed itself, bored in, and evacuated the life forms into it. As it detached, Spire activated the "clean" sequence, which launched a small missile into the newly made hole in the smaller ship. As the claw reattached to Spire’s ship, there was a terrific eruption in the smaller vessel, and it was engulfed in a red energy ball. In an instant, the smaller ship had vanished completely.

"Well, lets go see our new guest," Spire muttered to himself. He walked back into the cargo bay, where the claw was now resting. A small hatch opened up, and the man was shoved out onto the floor of the bay. The look on his face was one of anger at first; he looked like he would kill the first thing he could get his hands on, but then he saw Spire. Shear terror replaced the anger. Spire smiled to himself; he sometimes got a kick out of peoples’ reactions on seeing him; not always, but this was one of those priceless moments.

"So, from what I here, you been a bad boy lately."

It took a moment for the man to find his voice, but he finally did. "I don’t know what you’re talking about! I’m not the man you think I am!"

"Blah, Blah, Blah, I’ve heard ‘em all a hundred times so you’re just wasting your breath." Spire strode over to the man, and hefted him into the air with one powerful hand.

"I don’t want to here you speak again, for the whole tr-" He was suddenly cut off as a feeling suddenly exploded into his head: someone was speaking to him, and it wasn’t the scum in the cargo bay. He looked around, trying to figure out what it was he had heard when it suddenly happened again. This time, he heard what it was saying, but it didn’t make sense.

"What is that supposed to mean?"

The man, who Spire was still holding in the air, blubbered, "I didn’t say anything, honest!"

"NOT YOU!! That voice, that strange voice, where is it coming from?"

The man just cried some more, shaking his head in confusion.

"You don’t hear it?"

"NO, I don’t hear anything, really! Please, let me down!"

Spire walked over to the holding cell and threw the man inside with his partner, who was watching the scene that had just played out in horror and bewilderment.

After locking the two felons in the cell, Spire stalked back into the cockpit, still hearing that strange message. He was sure now that it was in his head, some sort of telepathic message or something. But what could it possible mean? All it was was that same strange sentence over and over:

"The secret to ultimate power resides in the Alimbic Cluster".