Sunday, July 7, 2013

Zento Off-Duty

This is the sixth of my flash fiction pieces featuring Zento, a space opera mercenary.  There are a few recurring elements, so for full understanding you may want to read they others.  They're necessarily short.  You can find all of them through my new Zento label.

     Zento sat stock-still.  He steadied his loaded crossbow.  Took a breath.  Fired.  Swore.  Two brown figures darted out of view.  “Missed again,” he hissed through his teeth.  “How is it that I kill my political targets on the first shot nine times in ten, yet can’t hit a Goran stag for my life?”
     A patch of mossy undergrowth rustled in the corner of Zento’s eye at the peak of a nearby rise.  He twisted to get a better look.  The foliage stirred again.  This time a dot of yellow horn poked up.  He smiled.
     As several minutes drifted by, movement became more and more frequent.  Zento scanned the rest of the surrounding woodland, pausing with each pass on the spot.  He stopped a yawn at his lips.
     The wind picked up, sending a chill down his spine.  He clenched his teeth to keep them from chattering.  A dark square rose above the moss hilltop.  He went for the trigger, but removed the finger when it sunk back down as fast as it came.  “Take your time,” he murmured.
     His communicator crackled.  He sneered down at it, slipped one hand from his crossbow to block out the buzzing.  The tip of his weapon dipped down from its aimed position in time for another appearance.  This time he fired.  The bolt struck what he had feared at the very last moment: the moss before the stag’s cloven hooves.  It looked up from the projectile in Zento’s direction.  He did a quick count of the points on its wide antlers.  Three dozen.  A beauty.
     Zento drew a hand back into his quiver and pulled out another bolt.  It slid clean into its slot on the yirthal crossbow, the string engaging.  He took a breath.  Let it out.  Took in a second breath.  Let it out.
     A voice shattered the silence.  “Zento, we need you to come in for a black market investigation on Incubar.  Are you there?”  Zento punched his communicator.
     The stag tore down the slope, its curled white tail flopping.  “So much for being off-duty,” he muttered.  “I’ll be there in a few, Carmel-Eyes.”


  1. Ha. Isn't that how it always goes? You relax and you get called back to work. The military is especially good at that. I enjoyed the whole story but I particularly liked the descriptions and the ending.

    1. At least that's how it always works in literature/movies. Thanks. I pay very close attention to my descriptions to keep them as short but powerful as possible. Endings took me a while to get decent at. This one was particularly fun to write.