February 25, 2020

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds: Scorpius Cell Part 3

Here’s Part 3 of our ongoing space opera set in the Solar Winds universe. Be sure to start back at Part 1, or read the tale and others like it written by yours truly in their entirety.


Solar Winds: Scorpius Cell


David A. Dickinson

Chapter 3

Moving into the bay, Andrea kicked away the pistols as she led the others up to the bridge portal. Grabbing the deck communicator from the door, she spun and let it drift to Karl. “Time for your award-winning performance,” she said.

He snatched up the spindle-shaped device. Instantly it crackled to life. “Greetings, Herr Sapperly.” He summoned all his available military authority as he continued, “Your rent-a-cop team has been officially disabled. Open this door and surrender your vessel. All aboard will be spared if you comply.”

A long silence ensued. Andrea glanced at him in the blue glow of her portable pulse light. “He’s buying time,” she said. “Titania garrison’s only ten light seconds out.” Karl took a deep breath and continued. “We are privy to your cargo headed to Titania. Our demand is you jettison it into solar orbit. We have more penetrators capable of destroying all the hiber-pods on board.”

Again silence passed with an agonizing slowness. “Thirty minutes before we pass the frontier moon…” The Professor called out.

The Commander’s stoicism regarding the whole situation was beginning to infuriate Karl. Suddenly, the shield door swung open, throwing a harsh light through the outer chamber.  Instantly, the three of them rushed in, Andrea and the Professor clearing the room while Karl centered on the Commander.

“I knew you wouldn’t jeopardize your retirement,” he sneered as he shackled him to the security guard. “You’re all going to take a nice long nap.”

Andrea peered out the forward view portal of the command deck. Oberon was now a visible silver disk, and she could just make out details of surface features in the dim sunlight. A small star winked into existence emerging from the moon’s shadow. Was that Gemini Cell? She asked herself.

Suddenly, a deep voice filled the air. “So tell me, how did you good lads board the ship?” Andrea gasped as she spun around, sure of the blow that was coming. She stared in disbelief at the figure seated at the command console. His visage was immediately identifiable from a thousand holo-cubes.

“D. R. Holderson!” Andrea exclaimed. “What are you doing aboard?”

“I enjoy the Uranian environs this time of year,” he crooned, “The tilt of the poles, its Shakespearean routine of moons… they’re all named after characters in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you know.”

“Spare us the literature lesson,” The Professor growled, pointing his sonic pistol at the trillionares temple. “This explains a lot… like why there’s a military attachment aboard a cruise liner.”

“There was,” He shot back. “I understand your merry band made quite short work of them. Let’s just say Titania colony is… a particular hobby of mine”

“Twenty minutes!” Karl shouted. “Let’s move if we want to make the rendezvous!

“Mr. Holderson,” Karl called out. “Sorry to break up the chat!”

Instantly, they went to work with the well organized precision of a choreographed play. Karl dumped the ship’s fuel while the Professor located the manifest and prepared the cargo for jettison. Andrea reset the hiber-pod timers and gathered the surviving crewmembers for stasis. At last, something’s going according to plan, she thought. She remembered Karl’s words as they meticulously rehearsed every aspect of the assault. “No battle plan ever survives first contact,” he’d stated firmly. There could be no turning back now.

“Meet up in the cargo bay in 5 minutes!”  Karl reminded them as they split up to re-hibernate the captured crew.

“May I show you to your quarters?” Andrea mocked as she led D. R. Holderson down into the passenger compartment.

“Dear girl, may I ask, why you are giving up so splendid a hostage?” he queried.

“Let’s just say this party’s not big enough for both of us. We hadn’t planned on netting such a big fish,” she whispered in his ear.

“And no boarding ship,” he continued, “Bravo on that one!”

“We came aboard as tourists,” she lied, twisting his arm slightly as he knelt into the hiber-pod. “You know, you’re much shorter in person.”

“I know you are not pirates,” he continued as she closed the hood of his pod. “No self-respecting pirates would leave survivors… or look as beautiful. A name, please?”

“Andrea Makati, Scorpius Cell of the mighty Zodiac Cartel. Nighty-nite” She said as the pod latched shut and filled with gas. Time for humanity to know, she thought.

The Professor entered the cargo bay last carrying a bulky oversized carton. Flashing lights signaled the opening of the outer hull door.

“Over here!” Karl shouted. “Shrink! No time for souvenirs!” He knew they couldn’t leave without The Shrink’s pulse generator to guide them.

The Professor plopped himself in the last available crash seat of the cramped three-person life craft. “Sorry, I had to hit the gift shop!” he grinned, his eyes flashing briefly from underneath his goggles as he pulled out a bottle of Venusian Mold-Wine.

“Hang on; here we go!” Karl shouted. With a menacing thump, the outer door slid open. Instantly, the craft and pallets in the bay jumped to life, following the steady rush of air into the void beyond. The bay lights blacked out, and the glint of the distant and diminished Sun reflected off the abandoned cargo as it drifted from the ship. The spokes of the liner’s enormous wheel painted long finger shadows as the craft and the pallets were swept away. Denied its orbital insertion burn, the luxury liner would now drift on an elongated comet-like trajectory into the inner solar system, its passengers slumbering a celestial sleep until intercepted months later.

“Look there.” The Professor had already set the pulse generator to work. The moon Oberon was now a bloated disk, the glimmering star Andrea had spied earlier from the command bridge now moving swiftly towards them.

“I think a toast is in order,” The Professor said, pouring each a flask of the Moss Wine. “To the Scorpius Cell and the Zodiac Cartel!”

…to be continued…

Read Scorpius Cell and other original tales of science fiction by David Dickinson.

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