One of the five passengers approached Jake and offered his hand. Jake took it and was pulled to his feet. In a quiet voice the man said, "That was some impressive work. For a rookie."
"Who the hell are you to call me a - "
"That's not important right now, just know that we saved all our skins right here." Of course, without the weapons and the fact that he had just seen them decimate a group of pirate marines, they didn't look so tough. Scrawny even. Though as dangerous as they obviously were, maybe 'lithe' or 'lean' were better words.
The ship shook, much has it had when the first pirate ship had latched on.
"Just a head's up, the other pirate ship just latched on top of the first one... looks like they're gonna enter through them and come straight to us."
The leader of the group nodded back to the other four and they took up position where Jake had started his stand: two on one side and three on the other. The leader motioned Jake to join the side with two. And they waited. The toughest yet most essential part of repelling boarders is waiting for them to come to you. You plant traps, ambushes, you take them by surprise.
Five minutes passed before they streamed through the airlock in a silent wave. Jake didn't hear them, but at a signal they all edged slightly around the corner in three tiers, one person at the bottom, one shooting over his head, and one shooting at the top. The pirates shouted in surprise, then scattered. Many of the shots passed through air as one of the pirates tossed a smoke grenade between them.
Of one accord, the passengers retreated about ten steps, Jake emulating them a second slower. Hand motions passed, speaking volumes that Jake couldn't translate. The man standing next to him whispered into his ear, "When they come forward, we rush them. As this is, we're just gonna blast each other until one side gives."
As it was pointed out, Jake realized the truth of what he was saying. He steeled himself for close-quarters combat, checking the charge-cell on his blaster to find he had some twenty shots left. Looking to his side, the passengers were coolly confident and relaxed.
On silent wings, almost, the pirates came. Jake was once again slightly behind as he reacted to the passengers, not the pirates. Striking fast, quick, and light, they were devilish whirlwinds of destruction, somehow coordinating their movements without communication. Jake could do naught but flail besides them, though he did take down a couple himself by pistol-whipping one, and shoving his gun into the chest of another, squeezing the trigger. First one, then another ran, until all the surviving pirates were in retreat. Guns were hefted, and the executioners fired down the straight hallway, each blaster bolt finding its mark.
The leader of the passengers heaved a sigh, then quietly rasped, "We need to get moving as fast as possible. This changes everything."
Throughout a rather inept interrogation by Dobbs, and then a more thorough one by both Adam and Jake, the passengers remained quiet. The only thing they would divulge was that they had been trained to resist a Bureau 'interrogation' squad, so anything the crew of the Serendipity could do was useless. Eventually, they gave up and cut the Vipers off their ship by repositioning the medium blaster and blowing both off. Kimberly ran to-and-fro on the ship, mending it to the point where it would once again fly. Ace was brought on-board via the damaged airlock, which Kimberly expertly mended before the jump to hyperspace. They were on their way to Trishka now, and perhaps some answers.
"We are now jumping into the Trishka system. Please secure all stations and prepare for atmospheric entry."
The ship shuddered as it came out of hyperspace, then started the slow approach to Misfire. Jake was quivering in anticipation, and the passengers were standing quietly next to him, their belongings in hand. Dobbs was dry-washing his hands and Kimberly was playing with some power relay or another trying to get it work. The ship shook as it entered the atmosphere, which served to only antagonize Jake. Settling down on the landing pad, the leader of the passengers passed some credits into Dobbs' hand and said "for your trouble, and for closed lips". They left without a further word, leaving the crew wondering what had happened. It was a credit stick for 100,000 credits.
Ace had been sleeping in the cabin he had been given, but emerged now that they were at their destination. Yawning and stretching his arms over his head, he inquired as to what they were doing now. Jake, of course, didn't even wait for anything. He was out the door on the passengers' heels, which made them shoot him askance glances. Kimberly left the power relay and joined the rest of the crew around the mess hall table. Dobbs stood at the head of the table, twelve o'clock, while clockwise was Adam, Kimberly, and Ace at six o'clock. Dobbs exchanged glances with everyone, then summed everything up by saying "that was weird." Nods of agreement were evident from everyone. Ace spoke up, hesitantly.
"Umm... sir? I was just wondering if you could get me another Viper... I'd be in debt and all that jazz..." It was rather obvious that displaying such humility was not his usual cup of tea.
"I suppose we owe you that much," Dobbs said, bouncing the credit chip on his hand. "And this should cover it. Kimberly, take Ace down to the shipyards and pick out a Viper." She looked at him like he had just said something stupid, snatched the credit chip out of his hand, and walked away without checking to see if Ace was following. He ran to catch up.
Dobbs and Adam were alone now. The captain looked after Kimberly until she left, making sure she was out of earshot before continuing, "I want to know who the hell those people were."
"Me too sir, but... we might not want to know, I think. If you catch my drift. It's more than likely trouble we don't wanna get into."
"I understand," Dobbs sighed, "but still... ask around a bit. Myself, I'm going to go see about some cargo. I'll be in touch." They both left the Serendipity and went their separate ways.
Upon leaving the ship, Jake surveyed the surrounding landscape, looking for any familiar faces. A figure sat in the patio of a small restaurant, garbed in a thick black cloak. The weather was mild, about 25-degrees Celsius, so it was unusual to see someone dressed so. The hood fell backwards a little, revealing a shock of red hair. Could it be? Barely containing his excitement, Jake strolled over to the patio and sat down at the same table as the figure. Eamon Flannigan's face regarded Jake with solemn eyes.
"You still crewing with that bum?" he asked, obviously not judging Dobbs as a very competent man, nor a man worthy to be in command of anything.
Jake just shook his head, they had had this discussion before. "I got your message and came running. What do you need?"
Eamon sat silently for a moment, then produced a flask from a pocket and took a sip. He proffered it to Jake, but he shook his head yet again. Eamon just took another gulp of it and stated frankly: "We've lost a lot of good people. McGowan, that rat-bastard, blind-sided us. Thing is..." he leaned forward conspiratorially, "they had help. From the Bureau."
Jake looked at him askance, as if he wasn't sure. "The Bureau... supporting pirates? But they're Fed intel, basically. Why would they...?"
Eamon gave him a withering look, as if asking where his brains were vacationing. Jake promptly stopped talking. "Anyways, fact of the matter is," Eamon continued after a moment, "we could sure use you." The sobriety of Eamon's speech shocked Jake, almost to the point of accepting, but he remembered his reasons, and once again refused.
"I'm sorry Eamon... but, I can't help you. I wish I could."
Eamon nodded as if he had expected nothing less, but had to try. "At least keep an eye out for anything that might interest us, eh?"
Jake got up without a word and walked back to the ship.
It was a subdued bar, the kind of seedy establishment that would yield any amount of information - for the right price. The only problem was finding the right person to talk to. The barkeep was good for starters, so Adam walked over to him and sat at the bar, ordering a beer. The bartender had a beer gut for sure, and was balding. Lazy eyes and a slack face let off the vibe of incompetence, but deft hand movements and covert observations showed that he was a shrewd, political, and knowledgeable man. Jake risked it and asked if five men had passed through, giving thumbnail descriptions of each. The barkeep shook his head in an affirmative manner.
"Had 'em through her not a half-hour past. Ordered a few beers, asked after good lodging. I pointed 'em to the hotel across the street, good rates. I recommend it to most people."
Adam smiled, slid a credit chip across the bar, and thanked the man. Dropping from the stool, he walked out the door and, after a moment's hesitation, into the hotel. The lobby was spartan, the only thing worthy of note being the reception desk. It was a five-story building and had an elevator to each side of the reception desk. A bored-looking man in a bellhop uniform sat behind it, not bothering to acknowledge Adam until he approached. Then all he did was lazily raise his eyes to regard him with what could best be described as disinterest.
"You check in five guys recently?"
If eyes could kill, his would've, but he checked the records anyways and nodded.
"What's it to you?"
Adam flashed a credit chip, but then pocketed it before the now-hungry eyes could molest it further. The bellhop rattled off five names, then Adam tossed him the credit chip. He returned to the ship, ready to look up Daniel McKechnie, Vincent Smith, Travis Martinez, John Bender, and Allen Garrison on the Federation database.
It was a short walk to the shipyards and Ace was flirting with Kimberly the entire time. She tried her best to act coolly and just ignore it, but his attempts were rather... overt. Finally, she snubbed him by rather tactlessly informing him that she was taken. He wasn't her type, besides, as he was obviously an egotistical showman, a flyboy. After that, he was quite subdued.
The ship salesman had a plastic smile and spoke fast. A tie that was obviously a clip-on and a cheap suit ironed to perfection underlined his desire to move up the social ladder. "What can I do you folks for?" he asked, his feigned interest bugging the hell out of Kimberly. She just jerked her thumb towards Ace, indicating it was him he should be talking to.
"He needs a new ship. Viper."
The salesman's full attention was on Ace and they all walked over to the Viper lot, where the salesman indicated a rather beat-up model. "This one's used, and a steal at 40,000 credits, eh?" Kimberly crawled inside and checked the engine, then came back out and shook her head. "If by steal, you mean robbing us, then yes, you're right. Next."
The expression on the salesman's face was cross as he realized he was going to con no one today, then he led them on to the stock, fresh-from-the-factory models. They selected one in pristine condition and payed roughly 88,000 credits. Kimberly left, heading back for the ship. She felt like taking a shower. Or three.
Dobbs was rather upset as he had been forced to the Mission BBS to find a way to make honest work. One-by-one, Jake, Adam, and Kimberly filed into the ship's mess hall, each bearing stories of their own escapades on Misfire. Adam, after checking the Federation database to find that they were listed as missing Federation commandos, had the most to tell, while Jake would say nothing other than he had been meeting an old friend. Disdain ran through Kimberly's voice as she told her tale with a minimum of detail.
They lingered for a while, but it was apparent that they had to get going. Powering up the ship, it launched: destination Honor in the Bloodstone system. Everything seemed to be back to normal, for the time being, at least.
(given this, I might just write more about the travels of the Serendipity elsewhere, but for the purposes of the short story contest, this is all for now)
This post has been edited by zapp : 30 December 2008 - 02:43 PM