“Somebody take care of our new recruit!” I shout over the noise of the shuttle as it lands for pick-up from the mining facility. Once I get a seat I buckle in and unroll the jump chart titled “Group A Hit Locations” we picked up off of the dead pirate with the very big gun. The title doesn’t bode well… I wonder how many groups these pirates have?
“Looks like they’ve scouted out a number of low-tech planets that are rich in resources in the Regina sector. Cowardly bastards… wouldn’t know a fair fight if it slapped them in their faces.” My eyes widen as I take in a small notation on a lone planet named Dhaengae off in some uncharted space on the map: HB.
“Here we go…” I mutter to myself. “Hey Dayn, do you think you can plot us a course for this place?” I poke at the planet with my finger and wince as the tip of my claw breaks through the paper. Well, at least I’ve marked it. I hand the map off to our navigator who nods as the shuttle smoothly touches down in our docking bay.
“If some of you fellas would kindly escort our new prisoners to the Med Bay, I’m sure our good doctor would like to give them the once over,” I tell the marines.
“I’m sure by the time I see them they’ll all have something that needs to be treated,” the doctor adds suggestively.
The doors slide open with a slight whisper as the captain scans the room, sets his eye on me, and strides over purposely. “Kenari, I need a full report now that you’ve returned. I’m curious why we have prisoners who aren’t in chains?”
I fill the captain in as he pulls out a pipe and lights it, gesturing at times with it for me to continue. “Ricky is just a kid who did what he had to to survive, sir. I’m sure with the proper training he’d be much happier working with us.”
Zebediah shakes his head and makes a noise of disgust as he walks past the cloud of smoke forming around the captain, while one of the marines puts a hand on Ricky’s shoulder and smiles. “We’d be glad to teach him how to shoot worth a damn, ma’am!”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” admonishes the captain. “Give him to the kitchen staff for now and let him learn how to wield a mop first.” He turns to me and nods. “Very good… keep me informed of your next steps when you’re done interrogating the prisoners.”
“Aye-aye, sir.” The captain leaves back into the elevator as I head to the medical bay. I’ve got an urge for a little ‘interrogation’ myself.
“Hey Zeb… mind if I assist?” I ask as I lean against the doorway to the medical bay and knock on it.
“You’re just in time, ma’am. The drugs should be taking effect now,” he replies as he waves me over.
“It’s Kenari,” I whisper under my breath as I roll my eyes.
When I walk over to the prisoner, I see that he’s bound by his hands and ankles to the table. Perfect. I wonder if the doctor has ever seen any of those old human vids about their police forces? What was it they did… ah yes… Good Cop/Bad Cop.
I brandish my claws with a wide grin in front of the prisoner and run them from his leg up to his face. I’m careful not to break skin… but I apply enough pressure so he knows just how sharp they are. By the time I reach his face I’m cupping his chin roughly as one of my claws hovers over his eye. “Shall I tell you what happened to your friend when he decided not to be ‘useful’ to us? If you look closely, you might be able to see all that’s left of him stuck under my claw.”
The prisoner looks at me in wide-eyed fear as he begins to recite everything he knows.
“There’s five different teams that swap out on occasion. One team raids the Psychics, another the fucking dogs, and ours was to raid the outback pansies on the frontier mining worlds for labor and food to take back to HB. We stole an Imperial mining transport and some IDs so we could do it. The 5th group hits small military outposts for weapons. They’ve got the best shit… a couple personal plasma cannons, and Cap. Shrader even has some power armor, the lucky bastard. That’s all I know I swear…please don’t hurt me…” he finishes before his eyes roll up into his head and he passes out.
“Geesh… did I scare him too much?” I wonder outloud as Zeb rushes up to check on him and mutters some colorful curses.
“Must be an allergic reaction to the sedative,” he quickly explains as he injects a large needle into his neck and attaches a device to his chest that sends a charge through the unconscious prisoner. He convulses and pulls against his binds before resting back on the table with a quiet beep of the machine attached to his chest.
“You should’ve said if you had any allergies, idiot,” says the doctor as the prisoner’s eyes slowly open. “Did you say your captain was Shrader? Savage Shrader?”
“You didn’t ask me shit…” mumbles the prisoner.
“Who’s Savage Shrader?” I ask Zeb.
“He’s an ex-Imperial Lieutenant that one of our marines served under, ma’am,” Zeb replies grimly. “He took a ship, went against the Imperials, murdered an entire planet of people, was court marshalled for it, and later escaped from prison. He’s a fucking bastard.”
I clap a hand on the doctor and stare into his good eye. “I can feel your hate for this man, Zeb. Savor it… nurture it… and when the time comes you’ll be able to unleash it. Until then, however… I need you to stay focused.”
Zeb takes a deep breath and blinks slowly before nodding. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Good. I’m going to grab some dinner and run over those charts again. I’m thinking maybe we can set up an ambush for these bastards and hit them hard. Make sure you get some rest, Zeb.”
I tap my claws impatiently on the arm of my chair as I stare out the main port into the empty blackness of space. “Where the hell could that ship be?” I mutter.
Dayn pushes back from his console and turns to me in his chair. “There is always the possibility that it was lost in transit, ma’am, especially if it was only an ore hauler with defenses.”
“Blast it, you’re probably right.” I pound my fist in agitation and take a deep breath. “Any suggestions for alternatives?” I ask hopefully, as I’m out of ideas at the moment.
Dayn looks thoughtful for a moment, consults a screen, and then turns back to me. “Considering that these pirates don’t have a standard for their ships and use whatever they can get their hands on… if we were able to get the right ID codes, we could just take our own ship straight to their HQ. Perhaps if we searched the ship we disabled, we could come up with the right codes?”
A toothy grin spreads across my face as I take in our navigator’s plan. “Ballsy… risky… but bloody brilliant, Mr. Littlebear! I suggest we take tonight to eat and rest while I go over your plan, and we’ll see what we can find with our little salvage operation.”
I rub my hands together in excitement as I think about the possibilities; I wonder what else we can manage to find there? The mere thought of being back in my element gets my blood pumping like one of the doctor’s stims. Mmmn… yeah… I think I’m going to catch my food tonight. Time to see if any crewmen received demerits this week, because that little robot I used to use didn’t provide enough challenge.
“Ok guys, looks like the first ship we took out is pretty much a wreck: explosive decompression, broken windows, you name it.” I nod to Arlo and he brings up a shot of another ship on the screen in the conference room. “This one, however, looks to be still intact. From what we can tell it’s still sealed other than the hole we blasted through it and it still has life signs. Dr. Zeb managed to reach them on comms, and they sound like they’re more than willing to surrender, considering the alternative,” I finish with a wry grin. “So when we head out, we all need to keep in mind that we’re taking prisoners… but that doesn’t mean to let our guards down. You never know when someone wants to play at being a Hero.”
I nod to the Vargar whose head is practically buried in his screen as he runs scans over the ship. “Ufbert is going to be our lead when it comes to obtaining the codes while I back him up. Dr. Zeb will need support as he takes care of any wounded as well. The rest of you need to keep your eyes peeled for any resistance as well as salvage opportunities. “ I pause and take a breath as I scan the room. “Any questions?”
There’s a general murmur as ideas are discussed between the crew… but to my relief, it seems that everyone is on board.
“Sounds like we have a plan… ma’am.”
I have to admire the efficiency of the grunts on our crew as they sweep the ship for survivors. Military life may not be for me… but I have to admit that there’s something for a well-disciplined group of fighters in situations like this.
“Kenarii ma’am, we seem to have encountered some… resistance,” Ufbert calls out as I walk down to the hall to the main bridge of the derelict ship to see the Vargar aiming his pistol at an agitated (and rather smelly) man waving a pistol around wildly.
“You’ll never get anything out of me, you bastards!” he screams.
Fortunately for me, desperate and tired men are easily distracted. All it takes is a moment when he’s focusing on Ufbert to leap over and wrap my claws around his head as I slam it face-first into a monitor and throw him to the ground. “Well lookie here,” I growl as I place my foot on his neck and bend down to pick a few pieces of glass out of his face with my claw. “We seem to have gotten some blood out of you… shall we go for entrails next, or are you going to answer our questions?”
“Must you be so messy?” Dr. Zeb asks quietly as he sprays the console down with disinfectant and wipes away the blood before Ufbert goes to work.
“Life is messy, Doc. Death, even more so,” I chuckle as the doctor shakes his head. I look down and notice that our prisoner has passed out from the pain. “Ah damn… guess you’ll have to wait.”
“I tink I’ve found it,” mutters Ufbert with a click of keys. “I’m going to be needing your help to retrieve it, ma’am.”
“Be right there,” I say as Zeb hands me a disinfectant wipe to clean my claws. “Dayn, why don’t you take our able marines and make sure we’re not missing anything else while we’re here?” The navigator nods and waves to a sergeant who starts hailing the rest of the grunts as they go down the hall.
I really should’ve been more aware… really I should’ve. I guess I was too wrapped up in the thoughts of ship salvage and everything going right for once to notice that our prisoner woke up again.
“Damn it, what’s that noise?” I growl as a loud beeping suddenly echoes around the ship.
Warning… the ship will self-destruct in 15 minutes and counting…. Warning…
There’s a thudding sound behind me and I turn around to see Zebediah cleaning off the butt of his pistol as he stands over the prisoner slumped against another console. “Sorry I didn’t get back soon enough… I was taking care of some wounded down the hall.” He pulls out some handcuffs from a pouch and drags him over to a chair before cuffing him to it. “I don’t think he’ll be going anywhere now.”
“Good thing I always work fast,” Ufbert grunts as he reaches into the console and pulls out the electronic module that we need. “I’ll just analyze it back on de ship.”
“All right then, you heard the Vargr… let’s get the hell out of here!” I reply to the others before hailing the rest of the team on our coms. “Time’s up, people! Everybody who’s still somebody, beat feet and get back to the ship!”
“YOU BASTARDS! YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME LIKE THIS, “ the screams of the man chained to the chair echo down the halls as we load up into the shuttle and close the hatch.
“I think we might’ve gotten something else out of him,” I chuckle before the pilot punches it and I’m pushed back into my seat. The shuttle rocks from the resulting explosion, but other than a few bruises, the mission seems to be a success.