The Iron Crab sat in orbit around the Rebel || deep space station. It had just entered the system, and the Rebels were preparing for it to dock.
But there was a situation aboard the Iron Crab. One her captain was not happy with.
Goroth Obarskyr, captain of the Iron Crab, was standing outside of the bridge. Stark white overhead lights lit the cramped, dank and dirty corridor. He had just been informed by his black clad enforcer that a Vell-Os agent had somehow infiltrated his ship. He was covered with the residue of several jumps through hyperspace, and had a truly horrible case of morning mouth. And he had 300k in profits sitting in space outside his ship aboard Rebel ||, and was unable to claim that money while a Federation agent was hiding on his ship. No, he wasn't happy at all.
He stared at the dark figure who had become his primary enforcer and solver of living, breathing problems when they met three years ago. Because of their long relationship, he chose not to say anything about the figure's competence. Instead he turned his attention to the problem.
"Can you deal with the Vell-Os?" he asked, calculating.
<i am skilled he may be more skilled>
"I need him dead. Understand? We need this money a lot. We can't take any chances with this contract."
<understood i will begin work immediately>
The dark figure took a step back and vanished into the shadows.
Obarskyr sighed. Time to run into my quarters and take a shower, he thought. He headed for his quarters at a brisk pace.
The dark figure searched the ship. It moved from compartment to compartment, scanning dirty rooms, bulkheads, and accessways, searching for its prey. It continued searching for a full three hours, silently moving around crewmen without their even knowing it passed, going ever deeper into the bowels of the ship. It had found nothing in all that time. Then, suddenly, it paused as a thought reached it. It turned slowly, searching without eyes. The dark figure found what it was looking for.
Suddenly, the hall was empty.
The Vell-Os hadn't changed his position for hours. But he didn't need to. He was in deep trance.
He saw that Obarskyr appeared reluctant to dock. Something had occurred outside the bridge, but the Vell-Os didn't know what it was. Something was blocking his scans, and he didn't like it. There was a stink of telepaths on this ship, but he couldn't find the-
He felt a black cloud of telepathic static moving towards his position through the corridors at unusual speed. It was a mobile block, presumably with someone in it.
The Vell-Os stood up. He had underestimated Obarskyr's resources. There were very few rogue telepaths, and Obarskyr appeared to have one. Well, no matter. It could not be a match for a Vell-Os.
He stood, ignoring the pains in his joints and the scum on his body. He stepped up, entering a higher and faster state of thought and binding a screen of visible energy around his body. This formed an armored shell of psychic power around his body similar to the energy he used to create his dart.
And then he reached out with his mind to meet the enemy.
The dark figure felt the Vell-Os reaching out with his mind. It laughed silently at his foolishness. The dark figure's teachers would never teach such a tactic; clearly this Vell-Os had never fought an opponent who was a true equal in skill. You confront an equal in mind with a physical attack, knowing that they can throw aside a probe. It shunted aside the Vell-Os's probe and lashed out with a counterattack. It didn't hit, but it came close enough to perhaps teach the Vell-Os some respect. Then it made itself all but invisible and moved forward to attack.
The Vell-Os had been forced to use strong defensive measures to throw aside the counterattack. He resolved to stop underestimating his quarry. This telepath could, and would, kill him given the chance.
He kept a watch out with his eyes, and his mind, studying the area. He saw nothing, but then...
Near a vent, heat distortion is to be expected. But under the circumstances a small overreaction couldn't hurt. He lashed out with a beam of coherent energy-
And it flared and scattered. A spike of mind power ripped into his psychic armor, which reacted with a flare of light. He staggered back, and saw a flashing blade of telekinetic power arcing towards him as the other telepath leapt to the attack. He blasted out straight and true, and the camouflaged form of the other telepath appeared to ripple through the air, landing on all fours on the ground in a catlike manner. The steel ceiling panels over the Vell-Os's head ripped free suddenly with a shriek, but he had moved out of the way before they could hit him.
He unleashed a deadly blast of energy, and missed. Then suddenly, the other telepath was right there, striking down. The Vell-Os blocked, his telepathic armor barely protecting him from the energy wave that ripped into him, and he counterattacked-
And then the real telepath hit him from behind. Its hands melted through his defenses with ease and gripped onto his neck. He marshaled all of the power of his mind, and lashed out at the other telepath, who met him head on.
The dark figure was unimpressed by the Vell-Os's abilities. It had penetrated his defenses easily, and the battle never really put it in danger. Now it needed to break his mind and kill his body.
A battle in the mind is a strange thing. The objective is to destroy the other person's mind. The primary way to achieve this is to drive the other person insane by altering their thought patterns, destroying and recreating memories, and using rigidly defined limitations of the human mind to ruin the brain.
The dark figure was extremely skilled in these arts. The Vell-Os wasn't. He didn't stand a chance.
He couldn't win.
The other telepath had skills the Vell-Os had never even conceived of. Tactics the Vell-Os didn't even know about. The Vell-Os would have screamed, if he could have willed his mouth to move. His mind was ripped apart and poured into a sieve, then stitched haphazardly back together. In a last ditch effort, he desperately threw his mind at the other telepath....
Black and purple ships.
Killing with bare hands.
Service in thanks.
The dark figure felt the Vell-Os probe at its mind. He had managed to catch it unawares, but it regrouped, batted aside his attack and killed him with a final, fateful thought. The Vell-Os's brain exploded inside his skull. Blood oozed out of his ears, mixed with darker substances. His eyes rolled up and he fell on his face, dead as a doornail.
The dark figure stood. It was necessary to inform the captain of the completion of this task. So, with a thrust of its mind, it did so. Then it swept out of the room and into the shadows, leaving death in its wake as it always had before.
That was the thought that reached Obarskyr as he sat on the bridge. He had spent the past three hours explaining to the rebels that they could not dock until the unspecified situation on the Iron Crab was handled. Now, he was beginning to run out of patience.
Then the thought reached him.
Other captains might have sought confirmation first. But Obarskyr trusted the dark figure to have made sure already. So, he said "Comm, open a channel to the station."
"Obarskyr!" said the rebel station commander. He looked angry. "Are you just about ready to cough up the damned cargo?"
"Yes, actually." Obarskyr said smoothly. "The situation has been resolved. We are ready to begin unloading whenever you are."
"Finally." The station commander turned to give some orders, then turned back. "The cargo shuttles are away, and there's a transport shuttle enroute to pick you up. I look forward to seeing you in person at long last," the station commander said sardonically, shutting off the comm transmission.
"Prepare for shuttle docking," Obarskyr ordered.
Obarskyr stood in the rebel station commander's spartanly furnished office, waiting while the station commander went over the cargo manifests.
"Alright, now, everything seems to be in order," the rebel said finally. "We've deposited the credits, along with 40k of added hazard pay. We aren't going to be called ungenerous."
Never one to take another's word on money matters, Obarskyr pulled out his datapad and checked his accounts. Yes, there were 340k worth of credits sitting in his account now. A lot of cash.
"Very well. It has been good doing business with you." Obarskyr said. He turned to go.
"Why do you do it?" the rebel asked.
Obarskyr turned back.
"Do what?" he asked flatly.
"Oh, come on. You're a pirate. Why not find a cause? Do something worthwhile? The Rebellion could use a man like you."
"Idealism is for fools," Obarskyr said. "It doesn't put food on the table in the beginning, it doesn't help your friends when they get caught and tortured by the feds later, and it doesn't help you put your life back together when you wake up and get out of it all."
With that, Obarskyr turned and left.
Obarskyr was pleased with his profits. The crew was pleased to have a bonus for once. The ship could be brought back up to Obarskyr's specifications again, and the Vipers could be repaired.
Obarskyr decided to set course for Kania. He could probably pick up a job there, and get all the necessary repairs done.
The Iron Crab glided into the night, into an uncertain future.
This post has been edited by Shlimazel : 10 May 2008 - 10:45 AM