Tandem: a better story
Earlier this week, I asked for writing prompts, and the inimitable Emil Minchev responded: “Remember Solo? Do the opposite”
Okay, so…IN THE DISTANT FUTURE, IN THIS VERY GALAXY…
A wealthy, middle-aged woman named Foong Tandem stays on her comfortable, safe, and well-lit planet, where she joins the Rebellion.
She and her partner — a small, hairless, squeaky alien whose language everyone but Tandem can understand — are assigned to accompany a group of highly moral law-enforcers in a mission to prevent a train robbery. The chief of the mission becomes a mentor to Tandem, but in a shoot-out with the robbers, the mentor’s husband is killed. The loss devastates the mentor and Tandem, herself, and continues to be referenced throughout the rest of the story.
After a funeral ceremony for the dead husband, Rebel leadership sends Tandem — paired with an attractive older man whom she has never met before — to the glittering and clean campus of a tech startup. There, they recruit an engineer of high-speed space ships, who happily lends our hero her own ship.
Tandem, the most careful pilot in the galaxy, gets the ship safely past a white hole. After pausing to take pictures of the local wildlife, she arranges a mutually beneficial arrangement with a fuel-processing plant, ensuring a stable and dependable supply for the Rebellion. There are no damn robots.
The climax comes when Tandem’s team runs into those train-robbers again, who, dramatic reveal, are actually Imperial agents! And! Further reveal! The leader of the robbers turns out to be the son of Tandem’s mentor! That’s why the death of the mentor’s husband meant something!
Tandem’s mentor switches sides. She can’t bear to lose another family member, and in a heart-wrenching scene, Tandem nearly switches sides as well. But her love-interest convinces her that the cause of the Rebellion is more important even than the bonds of family. What sort of lives can any of them have if the Empire continues to expand?
There is a standoff, in which which Tandem’s team wins because of the strong ties of trust and comradeship they have made with each other on the course of the story. The mentor dies on a picturesque cliff, lamenting a galaxy in which such terrible choices must be made.
And so, with an Imperial plot exposed and a valuable piece of infrastructure secured for the Rebellion, Tandem and love-interest fly off on their next sensible adventure.
“Squeak!” Says the alien.
“You got that right, Crispy.”
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Daniel M. Bensen