The Blackskins from the outerlands insisted it was important.
They took the liberty of spray painting on the side of the Acalchimaltica a white sea animal, so big it almost covered one side of Lithium Pirate’s ship.
They painted an enormous, round and thick, white creature jumping out of a dancing mess of curly scribbling spray painted in light-refractive blue. The scattered spirals rolled a violent sea. The creature threw a wide roaring bite above a small boat below it.
The boat struggled in jittery strokes as it was trashed by the softly shaded big white. The pathetic size of the boat was diminished under the size of the creature. Aboard, a smudgy caucasian male, with a primitive prosthetic leg, held a pointy stick towards the animal trying to intimidate it.
Behind both characters the reflecting scribbling sea blended into a sky the color of the ominous metallic gray of the space freight chassis.
Nobody knew what that elaborate design might represent.
Assorted designs of all colors and shapes decorated the other side of the ship. Distinctive outerland tribes names, buried amongst the odd skull and random flowers, framed the main access.
The original ship model was more of a long squarey block with a pointed front and three circular defensive zones. On top of that, she customized a second cabin on top and a number of weapons and tools sticking out of the sides.
Made with meta-materials only found in the outerlands, the shields boasted feather-looking devices hanging down concealed as decoration. But they could be morphed into useful patterns quickly to manipulate things, using what was by-then, state of the art technology.
For extra “defense” she added an array of different safety measures, like plasma cannons, railguns and energy beams of different kinds. All of them had their regulatory safety warnings written with convoluted red and black graffiti on them.
The Acalchimaltica was not a ship to make war; it was a ship to survive war.
The standard model featured boring silvery metal and golden linings for the chassis. Only the line of lights on top of the sides retained the original color.
Outside on the top, a large light-absorbing panel stretched across the middle of the deck. It featured an almost-perfect capturing of photons, leaving it darker than black. Painted with pure-light reflexive material, beneath what would be the mast, was a skull painted in a blend of different styles (Which means, besides looking freaking cool it actually helped somewhat to get better energy capture from the light, allegedly).
The front had a small window certified by the interstellar safety standards to resist “direct planetary shock”. That means, if you crash head first into a planet, at least the window is guaranteed to survive.
Inside the ship’s bridge you could look out into the outer space, ignoring the litter of guns, maps, antique books, screens and computers of different makes and reliabilities, old laundry, and many different packaging of NutriBowl space food laying around.
The bridge had all kind of niceties, rows of buttons which did nothing, rows of buttons which sometimes did something, and rows of buttons which always fired the weapons. The main navigation system originally was a standard artificial-intelligence nav-guide… after a row of unfortunate events, the memory chips that constructed the AI’s main memory were damaged and she had to hire a freelancer (from the Fjordian tribe) to install a replacement which was designed as per their particular philosophy.
Unfortunately, that means that every order to navigation was met with more questions than actions, because the Fjordian’s tribe most popular philosophy boiled down to “If you can avoid doing it, don’t do it”. The second most popular philosophy was resumed as “If you must do it, leave no survivors”.
Needless to say, the Fjordian’s AI was mainly for battle.
Since Lithium Pirate was a small child, she had been navigating ships of all sizes, makes, with and without AIs and sometimes even without fuel. So navigating in manual was second nature. Navigating and shooting, however, required more work.
Her father taught her all about navigating across all axis and through all territories. He was a fearsome pirate called The Indio Malandro, known across the interplanetary space to be a loathsome foe due to his hazardous escape from the Diyu prison in the Yanjing tribe territory, famous for being one of the prisons with the highest security, and the second-highest death rate on the interplanetary space.
That was before they developed the new self-driving attack vessels which make escaping from prisons (and the prisons themselves) kinda obsolete now.
So he had to, basically, escape from hell by crossing it on foot. And he only lost the half of one arm doing it.
On the desk in the bridge she kept an old logbook and an old earth map globe, one of the few things her father left after he died.
The logbook had — hidden amid different writings, schematics and drawings — certain clues to which her father and she were the only ones who knew how to solve. The riddles marked different sites where he hid his hard-earned collections of treasures and things, across the different planets where the Indio Malandro had been in.
If she wanted, she could go and collect a few of these treasures and have a luxurious life without having to work for money one single day… But that was not what her father would do. And she had pride in being a pirate, like his father had been before her.
<< will be continued >>