The captain idles his mind with questions.
What is it one does when death and destruction are the primary pursuits?. Where wealth is measured in lives and supplies? Where gold is mainly melted and worn because there are few places to spend it when one earns it in a despicable fashion and has no reputation?
Is there soul involved? Artistry?
As the planet’s second moon emerges from out of the horizon the captain signals and the sails are dropped.
The wind takes them with a sudden jolt. With a hand shedding its skin and bone and sinew visibly flexing on the wheel he steers them to the target.
A small town of fifty men and thirty women a splattering of children. A settlement outside the sphere of public control. How dare they wish for independence. If they wanted safety they could live in the walled towns and cities. Maybe it’s in the avoidance of paying taxes they earned what’s coming.
Life is ridiculous. The trying. The attempt to accomplish another day. The captain isn’t certain why any of this matters. He has his curse the curse of being owned or being kept alive to perform this nightly ritual. To make an over lord richer, who makes the owner richer. All to what? Avoid pain? Avoid death?
The Captain has long ago realized he has been dead since the beginning. All his days are an afterlife. A hell that feels like it will never end.
His crew does their jobs. He has managed this group for a while now. They are brutal and efficient. Four men all of different species and a single Trilian woman. She is used for pleasure, but is a much valued warrior in the heat of battle.
He watches the boy struggle to keep up. He is ordered by the boatswain to stow line. The boy is young and has been punished. He cannot expect anything out of him tonight. He is fodder anyway. If he dies he will be a reminder to any survivors in the settlement of tonight’s raid that life is meaningless. Death to sand pirates is equal to any booty.
If he lives tomorrow he will be stronger.
The captain will keep him near when the battle begins. He will look for opportunities to allow him to get his first kill. He will make him eat his victim’s heart just as his captain did he so long ago he can’t even remember when. One hundred solar cycles? Longer?
The rising second moon fills his sight and he holds the wheel straight. He already smells the smoke and blood to come. It makes him hungry. Want. Its his only desire. To make pain and death.
Tonight he gets sated. Tonight he will take his fill.