Immortalized in Gold: Part 1 [flashback]

Ridley

The Cunning God of Death
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The space pirate mothership stood suspended in blackness, with nothing but faint stars around for billions and billions of miles to the naked eye. A faint tapping sound accompanied futuristic bleeps and bloops as the supreme commander scrawled music of his own bored devising against the steel arm of his throne.

In truth, he’d never been a fan of the thing. The brain-like mass of wires he normally preferred to perch upon was comfortable for his feet, allowed him something to dig his claws around during long space-flights, and allowed him to sit in his normal crouched position while stretching his wings out. In comparison, the steel chair used by a space pirate captain on the front of the ship was uncomfortable and caused him to shrink up his wings close to his back as he slouched against the backrest. It was clearly made for creatures other than he.

Still, the size of the chair implied the position of the one who sat upon it, and Ridley was about to have an important guest. That was why he was meeting in this desolate part of space, far from any star system. This, of course, meant he needed to be more than comfortable. He needed to show his power and wealth and status as opulently as possible.

Especially given who was coming through that door.

The jarring zip of the door opening caused a few of the insectoid pirates on his command bridge to jump, and Ridley himself smiled broadly. The door in front of him opened to reveal a metal tube between the two rooms, and the space pirates in the room all bowed to a man.

This was as it should be, for as the figure stepped forward, two brawny arms and a pteranodonoid head stepped through the door. The figure had horns atop it’s head, and two tusks near the back of it’s long snout, but at a glance it could have been easily mistaken for Ridley himself.

Ridley turned to the new arrival, and his eyes half-closed as he gave a smug smirk.

“Ada’ir… oh, I’m sorry, brother, don’t you go by Greed, now?”

The other dragon bristled at the comment. Though not a brother in truth, he was the only known member of their elusive species to the rest of the space pirates, and was considered as such by the space pirate hierarchy. Ridley had done more than his share of dirty work to make sure the other space dragon gained a rank close to his own - after all, their race, the apex species in the galaxy, must stand above all others.

Still, the other pirate was also going to be made clearly aware, at every turn, that he was utterly below Ridley in every way. It was simply how relations between their kind went.

Greed looked up with a snarl. “I didn’t come here to hear your feeble jokes, commander Ridley.” The dragon responded. Formal and military, like a space pirate should.
A space pirate, but not a space dragon. Ridley expelled a puff of steam from his nostrils in contempt of the polite greeting, but if the other space pirate noticed, he showed no outward sign.

Greed stepped forward as four of his reptilian subordinates brought a large vid-screen from behind. “I am here because high command has requested it, over a large find we located recently. A bio-weapon that can lay an entire planet to waste.”

Ridley smirked at that. “So, you’ve found a monster?” He bluntly asked.

Greed stepped forward. “That’s putting it lightly. This creature is immensely powerful, able to reduce a galactic federation base to scrap in moments.”

Ridley’s smirk faltered at that slightly as his eyes narrowed to slits, no longer a teasing declination but a sharpened, alert perusal.

“Ada’ir, step forward… three steps would be good.”

“My name is Greed--”

A ferocious roar cut off the objection as Ridley stepped out of his chair. The Dragon flapped his wings hard enough to send nearly everyone off of their feet as Ridley took a few steps forward and without gusto or guile put the end of his snout close enough to brush the other avian’s neck.

Greed shrunk back after looking into Ridley’s eyes. In the blink of an eyes, Ridley’s mood had turned from jovial to hostile, and yet, Greed’s immediate fearful reaction was somehow even faster. It made Ridley want to puke - Greed’s body had more muscle, larger jaws, a stronger upper body, yet both knew he lacked the instinct and fighting ability to take Ridley on directly. Yet, much of that came from that exceedingly mundane view on life Greed lead. He had the ambition of a businessman and the hesitance of a low-ranking space pirate or even one of the miserable humans.

Still, Ridley pulled back, sitting back slowly in his throne and making a show of his casual recline into the spiked chair.

“I was able to see well enough, Greed” Ridley’s smile grew insanely wide, his lips stretching back to show his teeth. “You’re limping! This creature actually managed to hurt you!” Ridley would add with a chuckle. “And given this creature has yet to bow to you or keel over dead, it seems like you lost your little skirmish.”

The pure rage and embarrassment written across Greed’s face was more than enough to make Ridley forget every other irritation and annoyance this sudden visitation had given him.

“High command has orders for you.” Greed would snap, ignoring the statement. “As my methods seem to be so lacking, it is up to you to evaluate this bio-weapon yourself, and see if you can make it ready for space pirate use. They are looking forward to your success.”

Greed’s smirk made his real meaning clear: High command was not willing to accept a failure when it came to this new weapon. They were so over the moon with whatever this was that not even Ridley, a creature that had quickly risen to the apple of their eye, could defy them on this matter.

It was quite annoying to think of those old fools still in a position to boss him around - he, Ridley, the space pirate general who had single handedly worked to turn their race from a minor spot in the local galaxy to ruthless pirates known several galaxies over. Someday, they’d learn not to speak of him as though he was the lower life-form, and learn their true place in this hierarchy…

Still, the space pirate would have to be a complete moron not to see the opportunity. If high command wanted this thing that badly, then they’d reward Ridley handsomely for the creature’s loyalty. Ridley would get a far more handsome reward, however, from taking that loyalty for himself.

But first thing was first…

“Let me see him, then.”

At once, the vid-screen snapped to life, and Ridley was met with an enormous sight. The creature was massive in every way, an alien of muscles and scales and bulging flesh. Ridley had rarely felt dwarfed by another species, but he could tell that he was tiny compared to this crocodilian being.

Every part of the creature seemed to scream ‘violence’, from it’s spike-covered scales to it’s crocodilian maw down to the three red, glaring eyes. It seemed at once serene and hostile, a tightly wound ball of energy and violence waiting for someone to fall down into the dark chamber it had been confined to.

“And his intelligence?”

“Low, if we have much to judge by. Refused to respond to any of my negotiation tactics or basic speech.” Greed responded. “We have taken to calling it--”

“Don’t bother.”

Greed’s head would cock as his eyes returned to slits.

“He’s been transferred to my ship?”

“Yes, but--”

“One month. I’ll have a progress report for high command by then.”

Greed’s face curled up in frustration, but Ridley merely made a brushing motion with his claws towards the door he came in through.

Eventually, his men left the chamber, and Ridley was left to the merciful silence of himself and his smirking subjects.

“...Set a course towards the nazanor system. We’re going to be going on a new raid within the week, bioweapon-babysitting or not. That system has long been a ripe jewel for the taking. In the meantime…”

“I’ll investigate our new crewmember..”
 
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