Trepidation

Sequel to Serendipity

The Serendipity dropped out of hyperspace into the Bloodstone system. It had been a quiet journey despite a pirate craft skimming by in the Nesre Primus system. Or maybe it was the rebels. Hard to tell the difference. All Dobbs knew was that the Federation government branded them one and the same - criminals. For a law-abiding man, such as the captain, that was enough. Regardless, a Federation Destroyer dealt with the pirates before they even saw the Terrapin, which was well on its way to the next system.

It also became apparent that the crew was getting a little stir crazy. Constantly rubbing shoulders with the same people day-in and day-out can wear thin on anyone's nerves. When Ace was aboard the transport, he set Kimberly off like a hissing cat, her hair almost standing on end in his presence. In stark contrast, she got along fabulously with Adam, who in turn was ambivalent towards Jake. Dobbs sat back and watched with mild disinterest, otherwise keeping to himself.

All-in-all, they got to Bloodstone in one piece, only to see a rebel task force engaging a Federation battle group above the skies of Honor. Dobbs sputtered something out, which was complemented by Adam whistling under his breath.

Somewhere in the next room over, Jake yelled something to the effect of, "What's going on?" The ship rocked when a stray Hellhound missile blew up too close for comfort. The captain's sputtering turned to an oath and an order to get the ship to safety. Pilot jumping to the task with gusto, the ship spun around and began moving off. It felt like it was inching along, and the captain railed against it, cursing the laggardness of its travel. "If they were gunning for us, we'd be dead by now! MOVE!" While not the best commanding officer, he sure had a strong sense of self-survival. Adam flippantly thought it had something to do with dead men not being able to make or spend money.

Soon, though, they were clear of the area where stray shots would hit them. Adam untensed, and the captain quieted. Jake came up to the bridge, Irish bounce in his step. The Viper on their wing was, funnily enough, keeping the Terrapin between it and the action. Kimberly graced the bridge with her presence, grease stain marring her smooth face. They watched on in silent spectacle as the Rebel ships, though outnumbered, gained the upperhand. Soon, a field of debris was all that was left of the Federation forces, and a battered force of green ships flew to Honor and entered the atmosphere.

Dobbs rubbed his chin. "Something's wrong here..."

The Terrapin and its crew slowly followed the rebels down to the planet. When the path of the green ships diverged from the standard flight plan to the main spaceport, Adam radioed the Viper pilot to continue following them and report back. Fifteen minutes later, they were on the ground. The cargo was being unloaded by sluggish dockhands. Adam hovered over the comm device, Dobbs counted the credits, and the remaining two crew members mingled in the mess hall, making pointless chatter to pass the time.

The comm went off, and it wasn't Ace.

"Mr. Dobbs of the Serendipity," an imperious voice said. The businessman nearly jumped out of his skin, standing slightly behind Adam. "We have your man detained at our compound. We do not like breaches in our security, especially not from apparent spies. Since we don't think you are with the Bureau, you may have him back. Come to these coordinates." He listed off a latitude/longitude number which Adam noted in a quick and messy hand, then the communication cut.

From below, Kimberly was audibly laughing. Dobbs seemed to have his hand surgically planted to his face, and his head was shaking from side to side in disgust. "Tell the lad to do one thing, and this..." He threw his hands up in the air and stormed off the bridge. The pilot simply slumped in his chair, then suggested offhandedly, "Why don't we just... y'know... leave him?"

Kimberly, who had followed Jake to the bridge, seemed delighted at the idea. The red-headed Irishman, though, just shook his head and followed the captain.

In the end, Adam ended up standing in a clearing surrounded by trees, exactly at the coordinates that had been provided. He recalled the conversation that had led to him being nominated, and was rather upset by the captain's reasoning. "I'm too important to risk," he had said. In essence calling the pilot - the man that kept the ship afloat! - replaceable. Nothing helps morale like being told you're not necessary. He sighed, kicked his heels, looked skyward, and introverted to kill time. Birds tweeted, small creatures rustled through the sparse undergrowth and fallen leaves, and soldiers were approaching.

Wait, soldiers were approaching?

Adam snapped to full alertness, quickly examining his surroundings. Stealthily hidden men, peering around trees, were set at three-, six-, and nine- o'clock. Three men came from directly in front of the lone figure, which was due north. On closer inspection, it was two soldiers with a disheveled Ace between them, ego obviously bruised quite badly though otherwise fine. The two men pushed the Serendipity's fighter escort towards Adam and retreated back to the woods. The man to the right looked over his shoulder and said, "Next time, you won't get off so easily."

The two men were left alone, to wonder what the hell was going on.


The meet-point had been just a short hike from the outskirts of the spaceport, so the pair started back and made it back to the Serendipity in about half an hour. Along the way, Ace told of what had happened. Apparently, three green Vipers, heavily-modified, had come out of nowhere and entered a loose formation with him. They told him to follow or be destroyed. Naturally, he chose the former. Once they forced him to the ground, he was met at the hatch with a group of highly-organized marines and led away with a bag over his head. They stashed him in what he assumed was a cell, and then took him out again and led him to meet Adam, taking the bag off his head shortly before they arrived at the clearing.

"No idea what they did to my Viper. Dammit, I seem to go through those things like there's no tomorrow, and I doubt the captain will up and give me another one..."

Of course, that worry was lost as they came upon the Serendipity , which had Ace's Viper settled next to it. Kimberly meet them about ten meters from it, and gave a very level look at Ace. It was rather clear she wouldn't have shed many tears if he hadn't come back.

"Thing flew in on autopilot about five minutes ago. The black box was wiped clean... at least today's records were. They were being tidy, and it was a pro."

Kimberly looked around a second, trying to remember what else she was supposed to say. "Oh right!" she exclaimed, all but snapping her fingers, "Cap'n wants to speak to you both. I think he was fixing himself lunch."

A kitchenette graced one of the corners of the mess hall, counters making an "L" shape with cabinets, drawers, a heating pad, and refrigeration unit all built into and around the ship. Dobbs stood in front of it, mixing a protein pack and various other ingredients to make something at least a little more tasty than the colorless sludge that no ship pantry would be complete without. Adam and Ace both approached with no little trepidation over what to expect. He finished the food and set the steaming plate on the table before turning to address them.

"Speak to me," he said with a level voice, commanding with three words that they tell him what happened. The tale spilled forth in a disjointed mass that made Dobbs hold up his hand and make them go in chronological order, not to mention one at a time. Once it was all told, he made a unilateral decision.

"Out of our league," was all he said, and fell upon his food in a particular and methodical nature. And so things went back to normal, everyone returning to routine without much complaint. At least for a few hours, until a sure and poised man came to their ship, asking after the captain.

This post has been edited by zapp : 10 July 2010 - 02:23 PM

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