YC120 Pod and Planet fiction contest - Red


Just as the ship is departing from it’s dock and starting acceleration, there is a twinkle of red in the corroding gray of the station wall.

The ship is already too far to get a good look, but captain Max orders a full stop anyway. Motors let out a disappointed whir and hesitantly slow down. The red twinkles weakly, almost blending into docking lights and shuttles passing by. But it is still there, barely on the edge of human perception.

It is a deep, strong shade of red. Dangerous red.

”It’s probably one of those neon advertisement boards, Boss”, chief engineer Jazz mutters, squinting at the disturbance condemningly.

”They’re selling new kind of fast food all over the station, the damn smell and damn ads are all over the place. Come on, let’s get moving before that cargo ship scrapes the crap outta our ship, Boss.”

”No no no no… The fried algae rolls are advertised with imperial red. This is crimson red. And don’t you dare insult those algae rolls, they’re de-ducking-licious!” the captain exclaims. He knows that shade by heart.

It is the banners in a miner strike, as the workers form a picket line and chant ”No justice, no peace!” as the mine-owners armored mercenaries approach with their shock batons and gas grenades.

It is the basket of hydroponically grown peppers on a slave re-homing sanctuary.

It is a drop of blood on the chin of a homeless child as she succumbs under a curable disease in the slum of a prosperous trade station.

It is the fifteen thousand umbrellas on the corridors of a Pleasure Hub as the workers flood the plazas and demand stop to the trafficking.

It is a bright solar lantern at a window, a family’s good luck wish for their departing father.

”Chief engineer Jazz, please turn all the outside lights red. Send our drones to a 10 kilometer orbit and tell them to launch… say, six flares each at my mark. And please, load… what, 1500 of those fireworks into our launchers, would you kindly? That cargo ship can go ’round us or wait for ten minutes.” The captain tilts his head and smiles, activating the microphone.

”Yo there in the back! Mess hall will be delivering y’all a round of drinks when we hit the warp speed. Before that, please spend a moment thinking ’bout the common men all across New Eden and perhaps send a quick video message home before we’re outta the grid again! Max out!”

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