Goroth Obarskyr sat across from one of the most dangerous men in space calmly. After all, Obarskyr was a member of that fellowship as well.
Isiah Haze was well known in pirate circles. He operated a large fleet of ships throughout Federation and Auroran territory. He was a soft featured, slightly overweight man, but the disarming appearance was both dangerous and intentional-most of his weight was muscle, and there was nothing soft about the mind his face concealed.
"You said that you had something for me." Haze said flatly, steering their conversation back to the point.
"Yes, indeed." Obarskyr said. He handed over a small chip. Haze took it and looked it over dismissively. He held it up. "And?" he asked brusquely.
"It's nothing much, really." Obarskyr said blandly. "Just a recording of some your lieutenants making plans to assassinate you."
Haze stiffened. With great care, he laid the chip down on the table. "And how," he asked, carefully composed as he lit a cigar, "did you get that?"
"Very carefully." Obarskyr responded. "I take it that that is worth something to you."
"Perhaps." Haze said. "It depends on the kind of worth you're talking about."
Obarskyr reached into his coat and came out with a small chip case. He held it up. The front was transparent and showed a single chip seated inside.
"I need this distributed along the usual information channels. You're the best man for the job."
Haze held out his hand. Obarskyr gave him the case. Haze examined it, then sat it down. "I think that that can be arranged," Haze told Obarskyr.
"Excellent. I knew you wouldn't let me down." Obarskyr said. They exchanged pleasantries, then parted ways.
One thing was clear to both of them-Obarskyr had come off the better in this encounter. To have gotten that recording, Obarskyr had to have people inside Haze's organization.
That had not been lost on Haze.
For the walk across Port Kane's deck, Obarskyr had two personal guards and people scattered all through his route. A man with as many enemies as him didn't grow old by being careless, so he wasn't.
The guard to his left was a totally inconspicuous man who would blend in perfectly with any crowd. He had also once bent a three inch pipe by 90 degrees. His name was Jon.
The guard to his right was a hawkeyed, sharp man with a shock of black hair. He was a security expert, and he knew how to find trouble before it found him. His name was Steven.
When everything went down, Obarskyr didn't notice that it had started. This wasn't by any means a lack of vigilance on his part-he just didn't have the background for it.
Steven leaned towards Obarskyr and muttered "We're in trouble, cap'n."
Obarskyr didn't make an obvious reaction. That would have told anyone watching him that he had been startled, and perhaps alerted to their presence. Instead he said "So what do we do?" under his breath.
"Cap'n, Jon, follow me." Steven picked up the pace and meshed with the crowd. Jon entered the crowd like a fish rejoining the school. Obarskyr affected an air of normality and disinterest in his surroundings as he made his way past regular people.
There were sounds of a struggle from behind them and cries of people being shoved aside. Obarskyr's group picked up the pace. Hands drifted towards weapons.
Suddenly, Steven swore under his breath. "What?" Obarskyr asked, then he saw.
The crowd was rapidly thinning out-and in the clearing ahead were the distinctive shapes of Federation Commandos with shouldered blaster rifles. The Commandos were menacing in their black carapace armor and faceless black visors.
Suddenly, Obarskyr's group found itself alone in the corridor. "They're coming up behind, too." Jon said quietly.
One of the Commandos lowered his weapon and stepped forwards to confront them.
"Captain Obarskyr of the pirate starship Iron Crab, you are under arrest on at least one hundred seventy counts of forced boarding, fifty counts of starship destruction, and an unknown number of homicides. You will be held until your trial without bond. Anything you say can and will be used against you in Federation court of law."
But Obarskyr had noticed movements behind the Commandos, and he smiled coldly.
"Sorry, boys. Not today. DOWN!" he roared, throwing himself to the ground. No sooner had he done so did a hailstorm of blaster bolts saw through the Commando ranks. The three of them pulled out weapons and opened up as well, scoring a few kills.
Caught flat footed, the Commando's struggled to pull out into side corridors, blazing covering fire at everything that moved that wasn't a Commando. A Commando flipped the switch on a frag grenade and pitched it into the midst of Obarskyr's group before disappearing behind cover.
Jon jumped at it and grabbed it up. He pulled his arm back, threw it-
-and it exploded in his face, ripping him apart. What was left of him collapsed in a pile on the ground.
Obarskyr swore viciously. As his men came out of cover, providing covering fire, he and Steven pelted forward. The leader of their rescuers came forward. He was a massive pirate hefting a rotary blaster cannon. They ducked into cover.
"Sorry we took so long, cap'n." the leader said apologetically. "You did just fine." Obarskyr told him. "Don't worry about it. All right, listen up! Everyone, get back to the ship, double time! We don't want to get cut off!" Obarskyr reloaded his chunky blaster, then said "Let's go!" He dashed out of cover with the others following.
As they ran, gunfire blazing around them, Obarskyr pulled out his comlink. "Obarskyr to the bridge! Helm, get the ship ready for take off. Security, get me a combat team out here right now! We need fire support to help us with these fed chaindogs!" He switched the comlink off.
The flight back to the ship was loosely organized. Pirates went down left and right, with the Commandos following in hot pursuit and moving from cover to cover while placing shots with care. Most of those who went down were left to their fate, pirates not having much chivalry, but some were lucky enough to be grabbed up by friends.
They'd almost reached the ship when a new group of Commandos came out of a side corridor and into their path.The pirates scattered as these new, fresh and ready Commandos opened fire. Suddenly the pirates were in a killing zone.
Obarskyr, flat on his stomach, was sure the end was near unless the security troopers arrived right now. He reached for his comlink-
-and an explosion erupted in the midst of the Commando ranks, throwing Commando's and Commando body parts everywhere. Brown and red armored pirate security troopers, the elite of the Iron Crab's combat forces, moved in, blazing away with shoulder fired blaster weapons.
"Go! Go!" Obarskyr bellowed, throwing himself into a charge. With a yell, the rest of his group joined him and they chewed through the Commando ranks and out the other side.
The security troopers from the Iron Crab encompassed Obarskyr's party. As they pounded back to the Iron Crab's hanger, Obarskyr took stock of his group. Almost a third was gone, dead or maimed on the decking. A quarter of what was left was injured or unable to fight. Steven was nowhere to be seen. Obarskyr cursed.
They made it back to the hanger. The Commandos had regrouped, and were hot on their tail guns blazing. Two security troopers went down screaming just as the pirates made it through the hatch, but they were grabbed up by their comrades. The big pirate slammed the hatch shut once everyone was through and locked it.
"Into the ship!" Obarskyr cried. The ramp came down on the Iron Crab and a pair of rotary blasters descended to cover them, just in case. As the pirates pounded up the ramp, they could hear the Commandos placing charges on the hanger door.
Obarskyr strode into the now cramped airlock, which was filled with security troops and crewers, many of whom were injured. They hastened to get to their stations and get the injured to the medbay. The dim lights showed the spatterings of blood on the gunmetal grey decking all too well.
"Captain." a voice said.
Obarskyr turned. The Security Chief, a slightly short but very menacing man with a shouldered grenade launcher, stood before him. "Sorry I was slow, sir."
"Faster than I'd expected. Don't worry about it." Obarskyr said. He gestured for Security to follow him and headed for the bridge at a stride.
"What's your reading on the situation?" Obarskyr questioned Security.
Security considered a moment, then said "Sir, the Commandos are all over this station. They knew we were coming here and set up in advance."
"So I have an informant aboard? Is that what you're telling me?" Obarskyr demanded, stopping and facing Security as they reached the bridge.
"Unless you can think of another way that they knew we were coming," Security said with a shrug.
Obarskyr stopped a moment, struck by a thought. "Maybe I can, at that." he said, turning and sweeping onto the bridge.
The bridge was a whirlwind of activity. As Obarskyr took the chair Helm turned to face him.
"Cap'n, we can launch, but they've locked the bay doors. We can't get the ship out."
"Oh yes we can. Gunnery Sergeant, lock main guns onto the bay doors and open fire."
The Gunnery Sergeant blinked. "Cap'n?"
"You heard me," Captain Obarskyr said grimly as he leaned back into his chair. "If they won't unlock the front door we'll just have to blow it up."
The Gunnery Sergeant hesitated a moment longer, then shrugged. "Aye and aye, cap'n." he said turning to his controls.
"I'll give you an angle." Helm said.
The Iron Crab rotated smoothly. It pointed towards the bay door. At that moment the hanger entry hatch was blown in by the Commandos. They moved quickly to set up heavy weapons.
"Opening fire," the Gunnery Sergeant said.
A cascade of savagely bright charged particle bolts erupted from the main guns, tearing into the bay door. Then again. On the third volley the bay door shattered, and the whoosh of air blasted it into space. The Commandos flew into the void. With their air supplies they were likely to survive to be picked up.
"Take us out!" Obarskyr ordered. Helm accelerated, and the Iron Crab blasted away from Port Kane at high speed.
"Cap'n, we've got trouble. Two federation squadrons are incoming and they're running weapons hot," called out Tactical.
"Helm, take evasive maneuvers! Nav, plot us a course towards-" he paused, then smiled wickedly. "Towards Auroran space!"
Obarskyr leaned forwards as his crewmen acknowledged his commands. This would be close.
The Iron Crab took a pummeling from the Federation guns as she fled the system, fighters and patrol boats harrying her.
Obarskyr's comlink chimed for attention. He slapped the acknowledge button with the palm of his right hand and said "Obarskyr, go."
"Cap'n, this is Engineering." said the Chief Engineer. "We canna take much more 'o this, cap'n, we're a burnin' shield emitters all o'er the place!"
"Fix them as best you can! Put all the spare power into the shields. Bridge out. Gunnery Sergeant, mine drop two EMP torpedos. Set them to time fuses and give them ten seconds."
"Aye and aye, sir!" the Gunnery Sergeant called, flipping switches and dumping the torps. They sat for a moment, then just as two federation destroyers cruised into combat range the EMP's blew. The destroyers reeled, shields fried. Then a close combat variant patrol ship streaked in from the side and delivered a devastating barrage of gunfire.
"Nav, we really could use a jump right now." Obarskyr said with deceptive calm as the ship shuddered and shook.
Nav didn't appear to hear him at first, then he cried "I've got it! Initiating jump sequence now!"
The Iron Crab folded space and time, and was gone.
Obarskyr relaxed as they blasted back into realspace. "Well done, Nav. Well done everyone, in fact- as soon as I can arrange it, every man-jack of you will be getting a bonus. Now-"
Nav had been looking more and more concerned as Obarskyr spoke. Then he finally spoke up. "Sir, something's very wrong here."
Obarskyr paused. Nav had never called Obarskyr 'sir' before. Nav had also never interrupted Obarskyr before. So something must really have rattled him.
"What's wrong?" Obarskyr asked calmly, stepping over to the Nav station.
"Firstly, this is nowhere near where I laid out course. We've somehow ended up in the far edge of space."
"But that could only have been a one day jump," said Obarskyr, puzzled.
"Exactly. And secondly-" Nav paused for a moment. "Secondly," he continued, "I think we are currently in orbit around the planet Kontik."
Obarskyr took a step back. Whispers erupted across the bridge. Pirates were a superstitious lot, and Kontik was one place they steered well clear of. It was widely rumored to be haunted.
"Well," he said after a moment. "I think-"
"Cap'n, a ship just entered the system." Tactical said. "Registry indicates-" He stopped.
"Well?" Obarskyr snapped.
Tactical looked up, stunned. "It's us." he said. "It's the Iron Crab."
To Be Continued...