Title: The Crows of Phobos
Entry Nickname: Asteroid Snacks
Word count: 84K
Genre: Adult Science Fiction
Baku makes rent by doing odd jobs for her landlord and kills time flying her ship around the asteroid belt, hitting up seedy convenience stores for MSG chips. When she runs out of fuel and siphons some from a luxury cruiser, she sets in motion a series of misadventures that permanently alleviate her boredom.
The owner of the cruiser, Genevieve, forces Baku to pay for the fuel she stole. The only object of value Baku has is a silver coin she keeps as a good luck charm. Baku hands over her Siriusan denarius that, unbeknown to either of them, is worth millions of Ganymede Guilders.
The coin isn’t just valuable, it’s trouble. Possessing it leads Genevieve into the hands of paranoid but affable crime lord, Erik. Baku rescues her, and a friendship develops between the two women, but their subsequent attempts to evade Erik lead them into the world of forgery and organized crime.
When Erik captures Baku and holds her ransom, Genevieve forges art to secure her release. But Erik needs more than just art. He needs scapegoats to take the fall for the interstellar revolution he’s fomented by supporting two opposing sides of a Siriusan political conflict, and he isn’t afraid to doom Genevieve and Baku in his stead. Baku and Genevieve must ascertain his plans and subvert them or they’ll be captured and shipped off to Sirius.
The Fly n’ Buy mechanic lay hibernating behind the checkout counter, his segmented body curled into a ball, his hundred eyestalks gently entwined. Above the till hung a sign that read ‘Pump Out Of Order.’
Baku shrugged off her irritation at having flown there for nothing. At least she’d gotten out of the house and filled a few of the many empty hours.
She roamed the dim aisles, loading her hand basket with gummy worms, condensed potato starch chips, and a stale, greasy donut from a rotating hotdog heater. The Aldebaranians who worked this asteroid outpost never knew quite what to make of human food. They roasted coffee beans in the popcorn popper and dumped buckets of cold, gelatinous soup in the slushy machine.
Baku placed her basket on the counter. She fished in her coat pockets for coins and dropped a handful in front of the till. A Cordelian thaler and two Callisto rupees tinkled onto the silicon countertop.
The clerk trained one eyestalk on the coins, then on Baku. He motioned with a claw for more.
Baku dug deep in an inner pocket and found an Io yuan beneath a lump of lint. She dropped it beside the other coins. The clerk scooped the money into the till and placed the items in a bag, donut first.
“Thank you,” Baku said, having acquired all the accoutrements of identity she could afford. Maybe one day she’d spring for a soup slushy.
The clerk replied with a grunt that wasn’t altogether unfriendly.