the smuggler’s bible

Huffer Ramjet

An orange light glows on the panel as the mecha lands. The target—a squid-dog thing that crawled out of an iceberg, not important—has a tentacle wrapped around his left leg, pulling like a chain winch.

Bad move. That’s rookie shit. Huffer Ramjet kicks the thruster hatch release and guns it, blasting the monstrosity with fire so hot and pure it’s almost invisible.

It doesn’t even melt. After four hundred million years in the freezer the thing sublimates, dissolving into a cloud of particles from the head down.

That’s it. Easy money, but it’s hell on a paint job.

Huffer Ramjet

The piece of sand inside Huffer Ramjet’s shell—the tiny, metaphorical particle creating friction, coated by his mind in layer after layer of calcium carbonate until it’s a smooth and iridescent sphere displacing the useful tissue of his conscious thought—is the fact that the chest cavity of his mecha is full of a gun. Just one!

He’s never fired it. In fact, he’s prohibited from doing so by the governments of the UN Security Council as long as any terrestrial formation (or even the moon) is somewhere downrange.

It’s maddening. But, like they say, no button goes unpressed forever.

Huffer Ramjet

He finds the fuses under a little hatch on the floor slightly behind and to the left of the mecha’s pilot seat.

“Goddamn goose chase,” Huffer Ramjet says, turning back to check the technical manual lying open on the aluminum shelf labeled “Utility Staging Component” in Figure 36.1.4.A way back in chapter two (Dashboard: Instruments and Miscellaneous).

He reads the labels pasted to the hatch door then pulls a plug. The lights dim slightly and he hears the rumble of pistons firing deep in the chassis.

“Jesus, finally,” he says. “Bet the Koreans don’t have to deal with this shit.”

Huffer Ramjet

They say the thing standing hip-deep in downtown Saint Paul came from Mars, which raises an interesting point. As long as people keep hucking satellites and voyagers off the planet and into the frigid trash bin of outer space, the Earth’s losing a lot of material. That’s settled science, baby. Some stuff simply ain’t coming back.

It occurs to Huffer Ramjet that if, say, somebody were to use bullets to explode an alien monstrosity—the one currently eating a city bus, for example—that might balance the books a little. Probably worth a shot, he figures.

Plus, it’s his job.