Loot and Fortune!

September 19, 2016 Uncategorized  No comments

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“Whatever it is, Cap’n,” Roan swiveled his chair away from the navigator’s console and gestured to the holo-image floating above his station, “it’s huge.”

“Give me a full wake scan,” Captain Jake Flay nodded to the twins, Karol and Schoeller, sitting nearby at the electronics pillar in the center of the bridge. “What is that big, bad beastie?”

“Aye,” they answered in unison.

“Three parsecs from portside, come about rimward,” Suzy Belle, first mate of the Long Haul and frequent paramour of the captain himself, ordered. Her eye for piracy was second only to Jake Flay on board this ship, and she could sense a truly big score in the numbers flashing across her datapad as the information fed from the particle sweep of their potential target’s engine wash. “Carbonium dioxides, plutonium expenditures, trails of biotic waste materials, and…” she grinned wickedly, “…clusters of xenosathem residuals. She’s a beaut, Jake. Big Bertha herself.”

“Something doesn’t seem right about it, though,” Roan narrowed his eyes, “but I can’t go definin’ exactly what. It’s got me all perplex’d.”

“Stow it,” Suzy barked, “this could be the biggest score this side of the Scar Nebula, and I ain’t plannin’ on missin’ it.”

“Rrrrrooawr!” Wroth stomped past the entrance of the bridge, pushing a stack of munitions toward the fore arrays. The giant stony alien rarely commented on matters of the officers’ deck, but he always managed to be around at the right time to punctuate others’ statements with a well-timed growl or warbling roar. “Ruhr hoocha grau.”

“That’s right, big guy,” Suzy’s audial translator made her the only crew member to understand Rhygorian, “we need this. It’s been too long since that freighter in the Diapanemes.”

“Le’me see,” Captain Flay triggered both the scan data and the flickering holo-image to the master suite in his gauntlet. From the chaotic field of buttons and touchpads on the device, Flay could control ninety percent of the ship, but it was also his link to computations that he might not understand on his own. Important factors and points of interest highlighted in the streams of code passing through his eyepiece, letting the corners of his mouth raise slowly into a smile – the grin of a loot-hungry pirate.

“If this is what we’re doing,” Karol began.

“We’d better make the call.” Schoeller continued, “A WorldSec cutter is burning hot our way.”

“Carter…” Flay sighed. Knowing the interstellar soldier was always just a few steps behind him, it was the only person that could be tracking the Long Haul – it had to be him. “Can we increase burn enough t’catch the Bertha, lose that cutt’r, an’ still run silent?”

“I can try, Captain,” Roan nodded. His hands were a blur over the console, deactivating the least-necessary safety regulators and pushing the engines just a little over the danger line. “But it might not be pretty.”

“Get it done, mate,” Flay settled into his high-backed chair, “let’s make this a day t’remember.”

The Long Haul shuddered and quaked from the stress, but she had been through worse in the past and would make through worse in the future. Radiation wake from the ship ahead of them gave navigation the perfect trail to follow as well as hopefully something to mask their own travels from their own tenacious hunter.

It wasn’t working.

“Carter is still gaining on us!” Suzy shouted. “Let’s hit this thing hard and fast, guys!”

“As the lady states,” Captain Flay tapped a spot on his gauntlet and all the lights on the bridge dimmed to the dark bronze of ambush protocols, “approach t’aft of target, double speed, and someone tell that rocky-skinned bugger in the arrays t’get the staller torps online an’ tethers ready. I want t’be siftin’ through that ship’s guts before our engines cool off!”

The next minutes were filled with anticipation and activity as the Long Haul drew closer and closer, the bridge crew all doing their part to try and get to their big score. The “Big Bertha” they were chasing could set the pirates up for life – or at least for a few months of extravagance, anyway. It would need to be a precision strike, and well planned, because if a ship that size was armed anything beyond that of a freighter’s loadout the Long Haul could be in trouble. She was a pirate ship built for speed and stealth, not for any kind of prolonged engagement. Flay and his ship needed to get in close and get on board where he and his crew’s collective fighting skill and advanced technologies almost always came out on top. Years of taking all the best weapons, tools, armor, and software as ill-gotten spoils had given them an edge over nearly every target they have ever come upon.

Nearly.

“Captain!” Schoeller shouted as the Long Haul lurched as if impacting with something, yet the data screens showed nothing at all. “Target’s rad trail shows a recent descent to a planet. Old UW Designation A23-Q4B, smugglers call it Attr.”

“They also call it a hell hole,” Karol added.

The ship rocked hard and the lights flickered.

“We runnin’ into defensive sat-fire? Orbitals?” Suzy interjected, “What is hitting us?”

Another impact, and pressure bursts of coolant hissed from the bulkheads.

“Bertha is leaving something behind it. Miniscule anomalies like little void pockets, or one hell of a gravitic minefield that we can’t even see… or sweep!”

Two more hull-bouncing impacts with super-condensed gravity wells and emergency claxons began to ring all over the ship.

“What are you sayin’?” Flay shouted, triggering damage control while subtly priming his own personal escape protocols.

“Our target headed down to that planet hard and fast,” Roan tried to avoid the unavoidable as he explained, “and I think they used these little void pockets as a system of brakes to do so safely. It is genius, really, and way beyond what our engines are capable of.”

Another crushing blow.

“Translation?” Flay spat.

“We are going down too,” Roan answered sadly, “but we aren’t built for it.”

“All hands! To crash couches!” Suzy ordered, sending her message to all decks. “Prepare for planetary impact!”

Sparks burst from the consoles as a staccato of metal-bending groans echoed through the hull.

“Comms,” Flay ordered, slowly edging toward the entrance to his secret emergency durability cabin. “Open emergency hail.”

“Aye,” Karol spun to face the Captain, “but won’t Carter hear it and come running?”

“I’m hopin’ bloody well that he will,” Flay smiled wickedly, “an’ run right in’t this mess, too.” He pressed the hidden switch and the hatch leading to his personal survival unit hissed open behind him.

“What the hell, Jake?” Suzy’s mouth stood agape, shocked at his self-serving secrets. “Where are you going?!?”

“Someone has t’live through this,” he hung his head slightly, potentially real remorse creasing his brow, “an’ I’ll be bollocks’d if it ain’t me. Good luck, mates!” He palmed the hatch closed just as another gravitic impact bounced him around inside his crash cabin, smashing him against the wall and hurling the pirate captain into unconsciousness.

“Wroth!” Suzy bellowed over the computer’s droning emergency messages and claxons, “I’m comin’ down your way! Grab the launch foam! I have an idea!”

As she began sprinting down to the weapons arrays, the roar of Samaria’s hellish atmospheric envelope began to sandblast against the outer hull.

It wouldn’t be long now. Sure, Captain Flay was sealed away in a safety cabin, but pirates are wily spacefarers and born survivors… who knows what hells they might be able to live through.

“Ohahr grun Ffalay!” Wroth growled, wrapping his stony arms around Suzy Belle.

“Yeah,” the first mate answered, slamming her hand against the foam dispenser, “but I hate him more.”

“Hold on-,” Schoeller cried, reaching out to his twin.

“-tight!” Karol grasped her sibling with white knuckles.

“If… I can… just… point toward that…” Roan strained against the G-forces as inertial dampeners failed, “…ocean!”

…and then there was the boom of twisting metal, boiling water, and silence.

The Long Haul had reached its final destination.


“What are you up to, Jake Flay?” Lieutenant John Carter said to himself as he slowed his engines at the source of the blast transmission. Then his ship lurched as if it hit something. “What the hell?” Then again. “Gods damn it.” The small WorldSec one-man ship was already losing control.

“I hate pirates.”

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