October 19, 2019

Free Fiction Friday: Solar Winds-The Cloaked Promise Part 2

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Alright. My back is out as I write this, so we’ll get right to this week’s installment. Be sure to 1.) Start back on chapter 1 from last week, and 2.) Read The Cloaked Promise and other original tales of sci-fi in their entirety.

 

Solar Winds: The Cloaked Promise

by

David A. Dickinson

Chapter 2

 

Desperately, he searched for a compromise. “Leave us our ship, and we’ll transfer what weapons and supplies we have…”

As if on cue, the hatchway to the bridge buckled inward. Light blinded the crew as two figures moved through. One was fitted with a welder’s harness, and the larger one brandished a maser rifle. The boarding party quickly took up positions on either side of the bridge as a thin figure drifted straight at the Commander. She had the beauty of a Space Siren, but she was all business.

“Stand down weapons.” The Commander said. Jove’s ghost, they were quick!

“Yes, sweetheart, stand down. This love affair is about to be over.” Andrea retorted, every ounce of her being on full alert. She knew she had to maintain the initiative, but she was shaking like a school girl within. She knew that as the newly appointed leader of Scorpius Cell —  hell, the first and only ever leader of Scorpius cell — all eyes were on her… and this gamble had been hers from the start.

The crimson glow from the emergency lights lit her face up like a devil. She quickly scanned the communications center to her right with her Infra-Ocular. They were in the inner sanctum now.

“Leave that, honey,” She called out to the young female comm officer. “Open the ship’s secure vault. All classified will remain intact.”

The comm officer looked scared and barely old enough to serve on a Legion ship. The Professor moved towards her, pointing the business end of the welder’s harness at her. It still possessed a cherry red glow from their breech of the hull.  “Open it,” he growled, ”…or I’ll cut off those well manicured hands as a souvenir!”

“Open the panel,” the Commander barked.  Eager for direction, she held her palm over a hidden latch on the door.  Instantly, it vanished as a new set of lights and controls illuminated.

Andrea breathed an internal sigh of relief. What she wanted was at hand, and all without a shot fired.  At worst, they had all only received a slightly higher than normal dose of radiation from the radium core today. Not bad, your Leader-ness…She thought, Tsun-Szu would consider this a victory. And to think, my period’s started today!

She faced the Commander. “Our terms are non-negotiable. We claim this ship in the name of the Zodiac Cartel. You leave, tail between your legs. ”

Now the Commander was truly puzzled. Pirates risking life and limb for classified? What good is it to them? They’re not an organized military outfit, unless… Commander Bajwa squinted at the tallest figure as he spoke.

Karl stared back at the Commander as he grabbed the terrified comm officer by the wrist. “Except your precious security angel. She will be our guest.”

“Commander,” she cried, her eyes now big as saucers. “No!”

Bajwa studied Karl as he hulked over the girl. The smoke had cleared from their initial intrusion, and he could just make out features through the respirator mask that Karl wore. A flash of recognition sprung forth.

“I know you,” he spat out suddenly. Now a few things made sense to him. “You went AWOL from the elite Legion Shock Corps on Pallas recently… and survived, apparently!”

Being recognized shocked Karl.  A wave of unpleasant memories welled up.  Memories of intense brainwashing at the training depot on Pallas and memories of rapid desensitization that followed came back with a flush of agony.  He leveled his maser rifle at the Commander and fired.         

“What th…” Andrea said startled as she spun, weightless. She felt the sweet crispness of the singed air passing inches from her temple. That nearly hit me… she fumed to herself.  What’s wrong with Karl? His actions were usually deliberate and measured. Now, he seemed like a man possessed.

The Commander’s body drifted towards the center of the deck, his head mostly vaporized.  Andrea grabbed his sonic pistol as it separated from his hand and began laying down two-fisted suppression fire before the crew could react.  The remaining crew of the Daedalus scrambled for their discarded weapons, but they didn’t stand a chance. Their shots were wild and random. Karl advanced slowly and methodically, firing his rifle with one hand as he held the frightened comm officer in the other.  He’s using her as protection, Andrea shuddered. They wouldn’t dare shoot her. Clearly, whatever training Karl had at killing had been thorough.  Again, Andrea realized how little she really knew her teammates.

A guard braced his weapon against his shoulder and aimed for Karl’s chest.  One blast from Karl’s rifle nearly decimated its prey. Only the man’s arm remained, spinning off into zero-G. It still clutched at the sonic blaster, and triggered a bone shattering blast towards Karl and the hostage before hitting the opposite wall. Karl lurched backwards, and the young officer seemed to crumble up.  Then everything went black.

It took Andrea a fraction of a second to realize she had not been hit: the Professor had just activated one of his infernal devices. It was a high energy, wide dispersal pulse beam which, although it flashed for only a micro-second, would burn the retinas of anyone in the immediate vicinity.  The goggles they wore had a one-second delay to go black before the Professor triggered the weapon.

Andrea peeled her goggles off and discarded them.  The two remaining crew members were balled up and floating across the bridge clutching their eyes.  Karl propelled himself towards them, his left arm dripping globules of blood from the sonic blow. Andrea watched in horror as he cleanly snapped the first man’s neck with his one good arm.

“What the hell are you doing?” Andrea shouted. “They’re no good dead!”

“In space, the blind are no good living,” Karl said coldly, “Besides; we’ve got the one we need.” He gestured towards the motionless communications officer as he finished off his last victim with a blow to the skull.

“She is no good in a coma! We’ve got to evac her back to Kumari base!  And you…”  Andrea growled as she leveled her micro beam pistol point blank at Karl’s head, “You don’t open fire without my word!”

Andrea’s communications implant buzzed to life. “V.I.C.A.R. here. Ma’am, one of the life pods has jettisoned.  Shall I terminate it?”

“Negative,” Andrea said firmly, glaring at Karl. “We’ve got what we want.”

“What kind of hunters let their prey go?” Karl chided as Andrea spun and left the bridge.

The ship was now theirs. It was a lightly armored Terran Legion scout ship, Armstrong Class. Small and maneuverable, it was designed for outer solar system work and medium range exploration. It was also equipped with a thorium fusion drive and long range communications.  And as Karl had suspected, it had amongst its classified bounty a Rubik’s Device.

The Professor quickly powered down the ship to prepare it to be towed back to the Kumari asteroid. Andrea, still fuming, surveyed the damage that they had inflicted.  It was more than she had hoped, but the ship was still flyable. “We’ll need to clear the deck of corpses,” she said to V.I.C.A.R. Let that be Karl’s job, She thought. He created most of them.

The Professor appeared on her heads-up display. “I’ve reviewed the ship’s dispatch log.  No distress signals were sent. We hit ‘em pretty fast and hard. Still, the folks in that pod will be calling for a lift…”

“How ‘bout we leave some to tell the tale,” she replied, “We could use some fearsome publicity.”

The ship’s internal lights went black as the Professor began the long process of powering the Daedalus down to prepare it for towing. Andrea drifted down the long service tunnel towards the aft compartments. It’s going to get real cold in here soon, she thought. She stopped as she passed a row of circular doors. Her infra-ocular could just make out a fluctuation in the heat background behind one of them. Using all her strength, Andrea pulled the manual release lever and the door slid aside with a bang.

It was a prison brig. The cell was a four-foot sphere, featureless except for one small underused feeding tube. In zero-g, its occupant could only curl up in a ball, motionless in the dark. As a Martian girl over six feet tall, Andrea shuddered at the terror such an existence would instill.  Had Marc lived out his final days in such a cell?

Its sole occupant was shivering.  Andrea scanned the adjacent cells. All were empty except the one she had just opened before her.

The woman before her raised her head from the fetal position. “G-g-get me out of here,” she stuttered, in broken Terran. Her accent was thick and unrecognizable.

“We’ve got a survivor,” Andrea called back to V.I.C.A.R., “I’m bringing her back to the Armageddon.”

to be continued…

Read The Cloaked Promise and other original sci-fi tales by Dave here.

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