To his chagrin, I volunteered straight away.

Emmetrius wanted nothing else but to lay low and wait this out. Stranded fifty megaparsecs away from civilisation, I couldn’t understand his logic. I guess he didn’t trust me one bit, believing I would make some pointless attempt to escape his custody.

“It’s your fault,” I told him. “You’re the one who wanted to take a shortcut through the Sargasso Void knowing they had a 35 per cent failure rate.”

Travelling through intergalactic voids was a faster way of getting somewhere, especially when going between superclusters. But if something interfered with your galaxy-ship, such as a strong gravity wave, and forced it to gain inertia, then you’re stuck out there without a catapult. That’s why most galactic shipping traverse waypoints along populated cosmic filaments. Sure, it took a few hundred years to get from the Tarentum Gates to the Andromedean String, stopping and starting at a hundred or so catapult stations, but for some immortals, this felt like a tedious endeavour. Emmetrius was not a patient enforcer, nor did he enjoy intergalactic travel. To him, all civilised systems were the same. Made no sense for an enforcer whose business was to go out to these remote regions of the cosmos and bring rebels like me to justice.

“Now we’re going to spend the rest of our lives in some sterile galaxy with nothing but pirates and castaways for companionship.” I stuck it to him, mostly for my beguilement.

The dim brown dwarf, known as The Rogue, orbited a lonely, unnamed void galaxy. When we arrived, we joined the hundreds of stranded galaxy-ships mingling amongst the asteroids which ringed the failed star. Many of these were lifeless hulks. Others were turned into junkyards and industrial stations. The vessels that were still in good shape were clustered in low orbit around The Rogue. These castaways were locked in a ten-thousand-year war with pirates who’ve settled the tubular galaxy below. These pirates poached anything that ended up stranded in the Sargasso Void. They were busy building their own civilisation, whilst the castaways were busy building a catapult. No one in the known cosmos knew of this place and these pirates wanted to keep it that way.

“You seriously think you can take on these pirates?” he grumbled. “Salvaging that sub-cruiser won’t be easy.”

“Why do you think you’re taking me back?” I asked him.

“To be punished. You are going to be imprisoned for a long, long time. Until the end of the universe.”

“I singlehandedly conquered the entire Santerxis Galaxy, that’s nine hundred outposts. I am not being dragged back to be punished. I’m being forced back to do this again on some other far-flung outpost. I am older than you think. You have not been completely informed about my skillset.”

“Why help them if you don’t want to go back? Besides, there’s no way they can build a catapult, not with this level of technologic capability? Not in another ten thousand years.”

“I understand that.”

Emmetrius looked at me, aghast at my audacity. “You scheming miscreant.”

Entry into Striking13.com’s flash fiction contest. “Theme is, journeys”

first publiched on tablo.io.

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