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by on April 9, 2013

This story was written for the Trifecta weekly challenge, which was to use the word “alchemy”: an inexplicable or mysterious transmuting. It also continues the Rain series. For previous entries, click on the “Volcano Rain” category in the sidebar. Roll film!

Sacrificing someone to a volcano is not as easy as it looks. In the old days, the attendants had led the maiden up to the rim themselves and pushed her in, only half the time the heat killed the attendants before they could do the job. In these modern times, the process was much more efficient. Now the Committee simply had a shuttlecraft drop her in from above. It required precision targeting, but they didn’t lose nearly as many attendants, and the effect was often magnificent.

Commander William Beckwith had not been promoted to the Committee because of his social skills. He’d gotten the job mainly because he was a halfway decent pilot. He scrunched in the cockpit now, hands gripping the controls, as he glided the shuttlecraft towards the volcano. It was his first time doing this; he had to get it right.

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” Rain said from behind him. “You could just fly away. We could.”

“Right,” William said. “You see that fighter wing behind us? You have some strange alchemy that could chase them into harmless doves? Maybe turn the laser cannon blasts into confetti?”

“You don’t have to get snippy,” Rain said.

William reached for the button that would open the bomb bay doors, and hesitated. It wasn’t quite time yet. “Look,” he began awkwardly. “I’m sorry about all this. Not my idea, you know. Never could see the sense of it.”

Rain sniffed. “Thanks a lot.”

“I was only saying-”

“Just get it over with, would you?”

William sighed. He wondered if next year’s sacrifice would be as much trouble. Good thing it was almost time. He glanced back to see if Rain was in position. “Hey, what-”

A lot of things can be hidden in one’s socks. Like, for example, a compact laser pistol, which a very calm Rain now pointed right at him. “No alchemy. Just this. Works for me.”

Blast, William thought. And on his first flight, too.

  1. Draug419 permalink

    Gods damn it don’t you just hate those first days of work. 😉 Your Rain is quite smart! But I do wonder what she’s going to do about that fighter…

    • I wonder about that as well. And if I continue her story for the weekend, she’ll only have 33 words to do it in. 😛

  2. Can she fly the shuttle..

  3. I believe that now i’ll have to go back to see what started this tale…for some reason when I read your line about laser cannon blasts into confetti it made me think, huh, she just needs an Improbability Drive…

    • I agree, an Infinite Improbability Drive is exactly what she needs. Pity she’s in a shuttlecraft instead of the Heart of Gold….

  4. Rains sounds like the kind of person who CAN fly that shutlle AND stay clear out of the fighter’s path. When you’ve got, you’ve got it. Rain? Has it. 😉

    • She does indeed. 🙂 Of course, she could just make William fly the thing, unless she shoots him. Which she might very well do. 😛

      • You know what they say: only pull a gun out if you intend to use it!

  5. Hallelujah! I do love a happy ending, and I’m so glad she wasn’t sacrificed… what a clever young woman! I’m sure she can pilot the shuttle craft as well. 😀

    • Rain’s not out of the woods yet, happy ending wise. There is that fighter wing flying behind her…

  6. You pulled me in with the first line! Nice writing.

  7. Rain’s awesome. But I’m getting to like this foolish William, too.

    • I’m glad; with all the trouble he’s in, I wouldn’t want him to be disliked. 🙂

  8. Brilliant first line. And I love the tone of the whole piece. Nice writing.

  9. I loved this! Our technology advances but we are as medieval as ever. Very well written!

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