By: Ryan and Caleb Anderson
Seven Drunken Pirates
Space is nothing, and nothing is space. This is true. Yet space is filled. Light and dust. Rocks and air. Hopes and dreams. All live in the nothing called space. The soft drift of floating rocks filled all vision. A beautiful dance interrupted by the sudden smash of their rough shells against each other. A mindless ballad and sonnet void of sound and reason. Some called it space. Others called it home.
An asteroid lit up in flame as the swirling shape of a ship spun through the burst of debris. Three quick and clean patrol ships of the most loved and admired military kept in hot pursuit. Bah, did anyone else what to vomit on that description? Anyway, the other ship, the one being chased, it may have not been much to look at but the morons in the other ships were not finding it easy to catch it either. A mass of wielded pods and engines tied to what looked like the head of a four century old search and rescue shuttle.
The red cross of those vessels could still be seen under the black painted name of the ship. The Exiled. Another missile flew ahead of the military ship at the Exiled. The target ship ducked under one of the available rocks in the area. The missile landed into said rock and blew it to little bits. Speaking of bits. The mechanic of The Exiled just threw his. The pole he was strapped to kept him from being thrown into engine parts but hardly stopped his lunch from meeting the floor. He swung around the metal pole as the ship barrel around yet again.
"Everrone else gets a seat." He said in a deep Irish accent. "But no jimmyday, I have to be in arms-a-reach of them machines. Can't be a sittin for that now can I, Miss Dag?" He asked a small brown cat strapped to an equally small chair. The cat sat wide eyed as the ship tossed yet again. The Irish man reached for a mic and held the button. "Captain." He spat. "What in the hell yas doing? Blast the bastards before I waste more food." The Captain drew his mic to his face and spat back.
"And pray you tell as to how?" He asked. "We can't launch the fighters in the middle of the field, nor in the middle of a chase. They would be blasted before they heated up."
"Captain." The pilot next to him said.
"What is it?" The Captain shot out.
"The end of the line, sir." He said nodding ahead. A military frigate sat at the exit point of the field and their only chance of escape.
"Good God." The Captain yelled. "What is on that chip?" He asked aloud. "The Counsel naked?"
"I might have to do something crazy here." Jig stated.
"Crazy?" The Captain asked right as the pilot spun the ship around and hit the brake jets. Both men jerked forward at the force. The muffled cries of the mechanic rang over the mic as the Captain clicked it off. "What the heck was that?" He asked only to be interrupted by a rush of adrenaline caused by the ship tipping its nose complemented by Jig kicking the engines to full burn. The Captain's vision began to blur as blood flooded to the back of his head. "Jig, I'm goooooing to kiiill you!" He yelled in spits and spats as the G-force threw him around his seat. The Captain took a breath of recycled air as his stomach he head stopped spinning and let his eyes pop back the front of his skull. "Tell me you lost them." The Captain said hopefully. Jig turned and smiled.
"Who do you think you are talking to?" He said confidently.
"That doesn't answer my question." The Captain noted.
"No, I haven't lost them." The Fulton pilot said seriously right as he spun the vessel into another tight spin and hard burn. The three patrol boats where charging forward with the frigate banking down behind them. The Captain looked over at his pilot and blinked.
"Any time your ready there buddy." He said. The military ships were still charging. "Any time." The Captain repeated. "Take your time." He said as they closed in. "But now would be nice." He added as they opened fire upon them. The bursts and flashes of rounds filled the cockpit window. "Jig?" The Captain said. "Jig?" He asked again as the patrol ships where seconds away. "JIG!" Jig smashed a button and three bombs flew out in front of the ship. Of course at the speed the ship was going, the bombs were quickly behind the ship and the patrol boats ran straight into them. The radar showed the beautiful explosion and death.
"You worry too much Captain." Jig assured.
"I thought the idea was to shoot missiles when they are in front of you and drop bombs when they are behind. Not the other way round." The Captain asked.
"I like to mix it up every once and awhile, keep them on their toes." He stated.
"Oh, well in that case." The Captain said sarcastically. "What about the frigate?" He asked pointing.
"Still working on that one." Jig admitted as he pulled into a tight roll under new barrage of anti craft fire coming from the much larger vessel.
"I haate yooou so muuuuch." The Captain screamed through the jerks and the pulls, but even through all this he grabbed the mic and started given orders. "Kat! Seth! Get to your ships. NOW!"
"Two fighters can't take that thing on." Jig reminded. "What you got in your mind?"
"We ain't going to beat it, just stop it." The Captain shot back. Jig smiled seeing what the man was planning. He swung the ship on a dime and flew it up the towards the ass of the blistering frigate. Kat stumbled at the mind numbing spin as Seth planted his hand on the wall. His cyborg eye, arm, leg, left jaw bone, and rib cage came in handy in these spots. Basically only half of him was still human. Which was why could pilot a fighter. The forces in a stunt fighter was too much for a normal human. They would pass out in a second.
Cyborgs came into common use during the Narrie war. Mostly because Narrie can take those G-forces. Which is why Kat is the other pilot. The glossy black eyes and arrow shape tattoos covering her body even her lower face and neck marked her kind. The war was nearly twenty years over and still the Narrie are the most feared and coveted fighters in the system. And old Captain Roman had one flying with a old military cyborg. Kat smiled as she stood back up and rushed to the hanger. Seth was quick behind.
"We are only going to have one shot at this." He stated as he climbed into his fighter. It shined silver and glisten with beauty. A true example of stolen merchandise. But it had nothing on the gem that Kat crawled into. A genuine Narrie gunship. Still with the blue and black paint tiger striped on the hull.
"Too much for you, Seth?" Kat asked mockingly.
"Just stating for the record." He cleared up.
"Ah," She laughed as she closed the hatch.
"You two ready?" The Captain asked over the mic.
"Burn a devil." Kat confirmed.
"Ready." Seth said.
"Wait for my order." The Captain reminded as Jig brought the ship through a swirl of fire and blasts. The form of the frigate but a hundred meters from the bottom of his chair.
"Not to be a talker." Jig said. "But a lot of persons would call this level of skill not less than an amazing." He finished as he jerked around a mounting on the frigate's hull.
"Just get us there." The Captain order. "Preferably alive."
"Yes sir." Jig muttered. Following orders he flipped the ship on it's axle then cut the engines. Once the flames died he hit the boosters and knocked the ship into another skin stretching dive.
"Now." The Captain yelled as the three massive engines of the frigate fill his vision. Jig had done his job and dropped them right behind the frigate. "How long can we take this heat?" The Captain asked turning back to Jig.
"Huh," Jig thought. "I never thought about the heat factor." The Captain's right eye twitched as the two fighters burned out of their births. Seth swung his nose to the enemy engines and lit up his barrels on the frigate's ass. Kat was quick to follow with a good volley of missiles. The shots and booms ripped and tore as the dome of the engines gave way to the carriage.
"I do believe we washed her, sir." Seth remarked.
"I think you're right." The Captain agreed. "You two hurry back so we can get the hell out of here."
"Nich on that." Kat yelled at the damaged frigate tauntingly as she docked back with the top of the ship's hanger. The hooks pulled her back into the safety of the ship as the jolt of a hard burn knocked her stomach. No way the frigate could follow, now. They had gotten away clean. She stayed in her seat for a moment just in case. Even though the Captain hadn't ordered her too. A good fighter doesn't have to be told what to do, or at least that was what everyone kept telling her.
"We all clear?" She asked.
"You bet your balls." Jig said over the comm.
"I ain't got any." Kat twitched back.
"Not my problem." Jig remarked.
"Nich." She spat as she unbuckled herself. The steam and vapor of ships settled on the hanger floor. It felt like warm grass on her legs. Seth was already looking over his ship as was his custom. Kat wasn't so worried. They hadn't been out long enough to worry. The door from the hanger opened up to the main living quarters. A few broken dishes swam on the floor. Someone forgot to put them up after dinner. She continued on into the original shuttle that the Captain and mechanic built the rest off of. It was their old ship back in ancient times or some such. To he left was the engine room with the single pole in the middle with that crazy Irishman tied to it. Kat almost felt sorry for the bastard considering he was dizzy on the floor with before mentioned dinner around him. Nich.
"How is he doing?" The Captain asked. Kat looked at old Roman Jack and back to the engine room.
"Who? Shamrock? I think he is dead." Kat stated.
"Oh, well in that case, I guess I ought to throw him out of the air lock." The Captain said as he walked past and gave him a good kick in the foot. "Jig, how long till we get to New Corinth?"
"Four maybe five hours." Jig shouted from the cockpit.
"Fine, give Marshall and Ash a buzz." Captain Roman Jack ordered. "Tell them that we will be arriving a little behind schedule."
"A what?" Jig asked.
"A call." The Captain corrected.
"Oh, why didn't you say so?" Jig asked.
"Good grief." Roman slurred as retreated to his room.
The red and yellow hue of a hard engine burn faded into the darkness of space. The Captain of the disabled frigate stood on his bridge with a dark expression and a equally dark coat on his back watching his target escape. His leather in his boots creaked as he breathed slowly and considered his options. Sadly it seemed he had very few.
"Status report." He said calmly.
"Number one and three engines are severely damaged." The control Ensign called in.
"And what of number two?" The XO asked. He was new to the ship. Less than a month to be precise. The Captain, however, had been leading this vessel for nearly ten years.
"It has suffered minor damage, sir." The Ensign reported in on the engine.
"Can we give chase?" The Captain asked.
"Negative." The Ensign stated. "The heat and pressure from the other two engines could blow out the what is left."
"They certainly did a good job of muck up, didn't they Commander?" The Captain asked his XO.
"Indeed." He replied. The doors to the bridge opened to a squad of men in the red tops of marines. The leader of this pack had a solid scar on his face and a graying head of hair. On his chest hung a chain down to a silver emblem. The emblem of the elite. The saviors of the human race. The order that broke the Narrie's will to fight. The State Watchmen. They hold no rank. They hold no duty station. They answer only to the leader of their order and he answers only to the Counsel. The Captain turned and saluted the approaching Watchman.
"Captain." The State Watchman began. "Why has the pursuit of the fugitives ceased?"
"I regret to inform you that we have been damaged by enemy fighters." The Captain stated. "You might have noticed the jerk."
"And how did a well trained Captain of the fleet fall prey to such scum as them?" The Watchman asked.
"It is a puzzle." The Captain continued. "Perhaps the first piece to it is as to how an esteemed Watchman came to forget to mention they had such tools as stunt fighters. And, if he did know, why did he press this vessel forward despite one highly trained Captain requesting a larger escort than three patrol boats."
"Do not attempt to hide your failures here, Captain." The Watchman insisted. "It is not my fault that your men were not able to handle a single cruiser. Nor, is it my fault that they fell prey to their own weakness in battle."
"Do not dishonor the dead, Watchman." The Captain ordered. "We will continue to pursue when the engines are properly repaired and not a moment before. This is, after all, still my ship."
"Very well." The Watchman stated turning around. "Sergeant, prepare my ship, we will continue on by ourselves." The marines saluted and left to fulfill their orders. The Watchman turned his head back to the Captain before leaving. "To the bold goes the glory." He stated.
"Glory means less than dust if you are dead." The Captain shot back. The Watchman smiled and removed himself.
"Those Watchmen are an odd bunch." The XO stated with a sigh.
"Indeed." The Captain agreed as he faced back to the void of space. "They are of a different bred. They are in many ways needed and in many ways not."
"So true, sir." The XO said as the Watchman's ship burned off into the black after its target. The light of their engines had just began to fade when an alert began to sound. Both the Captain and the XO turn to the radar controler in surprise. The Ensign on duty nervously focused in the contact. The screen filled with the silhouette of the most terrifying site any man could see. With a trembling lip he turned to his officers and reported his findings.
"Sir." The Ensign stuttered. "It is a Narrie destroyer."
"What!?" The XO snapped. "That is impossible. There hasn't been one sense the war."
The Captain swallowed hard. He had seen what those ships could do, and he also knew that his ship was no match for it, and with his engines out he was a sitting duck, so to speak. But even as the black and blue vessel opened fire on the cribbed frigate and tore it piece by piece the Captain found himself hating the Watchman. That after all that talk of surviving he would be the one to never see home again.
The sight was stunning in a way. The slow flow and dance of fire. The burst of metal and air. The silent chaos of it all. The frigate didn't last long to the barrage of guns. The Narrie Coritus sat in his command chair and viewed the final seconds of hundreds of human lives.
"Remarkable, is it not?" The Coritus asked.
"Yes, my lord." Razor Migan agreed.
"We will need a scan of the area." Coritus To' loc stated. Migan nodded and looked down at the burning fragments of the human vessel with sorrow. The Coritus laughed slightly at his seconds empathy with the humans. And to think, Migan was born in bondage way back in the past long before the war. When the Narrie were not the Narrie. Back when they were just the slaves of their humans creators. Back when they were all little better than the robots that guarded them. They mined the humans water, stone and ore for over three hundred years. They made life comfortable for all mankind at the cost of freedom.
But that all changed. One day the Narrie realized who they were and fought their inferior creators. They nearly replaced the white eyes fools, but they forgot who they were again. And so the human again prosper while the Narrie died out in the cold of space, lost and forgotten. But not for long. Because this young Coritus was going to help them all remember who they were, and what they could do.
"My lord." Razor Migan spoke up. "The scan is complete."
"And?" Coritus To' loc asked.
"There are signs of a battle before we arrive." The Razor updated. "It could be the Exiled."
"Truly?" Coritus To' loc asked, excited. "Well, that is good news. Do we have a trail?"
"Ion emissions have been detected." Migan informed.
"Oh, how pleasant." Coritus To' loc said. "Follow with all haste. If I am right about what the Watchmen are planning then we will need to be very close to good old Captain Roman Jack."
The sky was blue and the clouds white. Like back on Earth, not that many out here have actually have seen Earth. The Exiled flew low, mostly cause no one cared if it did so. It buzzed the stubs that once were great skyscrapers. Past the fires of homeless staying warm and the roads half covered in trash and debris. Then suddenly over the glow of perfection. Those walled gardens with towering buildings and untouched residents. Reclaimed areas they called them. Steam rose up as the deck of the Exiled lowered to the cracked and lined concrete. Captain Roman waited as the elevator lowed before stepping on to the ground with his crew behind him. The blue sky of this rock was a welcome sight, as well was the fresh air.
"Kat." The Captain said as he entered the proper information into the docking pad.
"Sir." The Narrie girl reported.
"You and Seth will stay the ship." He ordered. "I want the water and air changed out by the time we get back. Thomas." He said to the Irish grease monkey. "You and Jig are going to do some shopping. Stick to the basics. I don't want some Reclaimer giving us crap. "
"Aye on that, Captain." Thomas said as he slid on his coat.
"Have fun Shamrock." Kat said mockingly.
"The name be Thomas lass, Best you remember it." Thomas correct.
"But I like Shamrock better." She continued to tease.
"Shamrock's a place." Thomas argued. "One that's not even there anymore. We can thank you all for that, can't we?"
"Shamrock." Roman interrupted.
"Yes sir." Thomas responded without thought.
"Aye sir." Thomas said shamed.
"What about you, sir?" Seth asked. "What are you going to do?"
"Well," The Captain said stretching. "The meet with the client ain't until tomorrow, so I going to stretch my legs." He said with a smile, a wave and an about face out of the docking area.
"Doh," Kat sighed. Jig also took in a breath.
"The problem with the Captain." He said. "Is that when he goes on a stroll we usually end up on the run."
The alley was dusty and old. Trash filling the corners and glass scattered about. Captain Roman Jack strolled down it with his hands in his pockets and a cool wind in his face. Smoke rose like a cloud from a small place in the back. Roman stepped carefully down the steps and opened the door. The place stunk of cheap whisky and fresh beer with old records filling the walls with weeping tunes. The wallpaper was pealing in the corners and no one cared. The bar was dented and cut. The customers weren't that different from the bar, dented and cut. Roman walked to the side wall and sat down behind a man in a grey hat.
"The moon is high tonight." Roman said.
"It sits on the sun's shoulders." The man responded.
"How have you been?" Roman asked.
"I keep breathing." The man said.
"What is new?"
"Well." The man sighed and cracked his knuckles. "I hear that there was a break in at Mars Operations."
"Really?" Roman said. "By who?"
"Don't know." The man in the grey hat continued. "But they were pros."
"What did they take?" Roman asked.
"Not sure on that either." The man admitted. "but it must have been something
"Why do you say that?" Roman asked.
"Because," The man in the grey hat started. "you don't blow a wall in with a fighter so you can drop line a man into the complex to steal something that you can hack off the system. Whatever they took was valuable enough for the government to keep off the net."
"So you know it was information that they took." Roman inquired.
"I caught wind of it." The man stated. "Also, I heard that the military was so angry over this that they sent a State Watchman after the thieves."
"Really?" Roman asked.
"Yep." The man in the hat said. "They say it is a old veteran Watchman, from back in the war." The man in the hat turned his head slightly to Jack. "Can you handle the heat?" He asked Jack.
"I wouldn't be in this business if I couldn't." Jack replied. The man in the hat turned back forward.
"Just remember." He said. "You can't spend money in hell."
"What about local news?" Jack asked changing the subject.
"Not good." The man said with a sigh. "Ten years ago there was enough room for everyone to operate, but now toes are getting stepped on. The Triad is moving in on the Syndicates."
"That doesn't sound too abnormal." The Captain stated.
"Yes, but is the biker gangs are getting involved this time." The man in the hat explained.
"Biker gangs?" Roman asked.
"Bah." The man in grey spat. "The war made a lot of orphans, Jack, and the problem with orphans is that they have no where to go, nothing to do and no one to kick them in the butt when needed. So a lot of them have formed these gangs and now roam the streets causing problems."
"So what does that have to do with the Triad and Syndicates?" Jack asked.
"The Triad was able to buy them off." The man continued. "They are now using the gangs as muscle."
"You going to tell that a bunch of punk kids can take on the Syndicates?" Jack said.
"It is all about numbers and guts." The man in the grey hat stated. "The gangs tip the balance. The Syndicates are losing and that makes them nervous. And there is nothing worse than twitchy fingers on machine guns." The man finished.
"Yes." Roman Jack said. "I see what you mean."
"Yeah, but it gets worse." The man continued. "The Triad is not the only one moving. The Reclaimers are getting bolder. They push farther out every year. I have heard rumors that they have gone so far as to wipe out whole sections, wall it off than resettle it with dopes from Earth. I, however, can't confirm any of that. It's just rumors. But I will keep my ear to the ground on it."
"Thanks." Jack said. "Tell me more about this State Watchman, what can he do?"
"Don't know much, I'm afraid." The man said. "They say he is a hard man. But most that fought in the war were. He isn't one to give up easy."
"I guess I will just have to kill him." Jack said. "Anything else?"
"Well." The man started. "The people are getting pretty tiered of the fighting."
"And?" Jack asked. "You think they might do something?"
"They might." The man said. "There is talk of it."
"Of what?" Jack asked. "Revolt?"
"Maybe." The man said. "But more interestingly, there is talk that the Fultons are the ones stirring it up."
"Truly," Jack said. "Now that is interesting and bold on their part. What do the Fultons want with New Corinth though?" The man in the grey hat chuckled to himself.
"The same thing the Narrie wanted it for, the same thing the military wanted it for. New Corinth has and always will be the gun at the back of Earth's head."
"Hmmm." Jack said as he stood. He reached in his pocket and pull out a folded napkin and dropped it on the table in front of the man. The man dropped his hat on the napkin and rubbed his head.
Kat laid her feet up on the console and leaned back. The strong bass of a rock song filled the cockpit. Kat nodded her head with the rhythmic beat. The checklist on the computer screen clicked through each item. Engine parts and bulk heads all being assessed by the ship's computer and reported on. The air intake hoes had a leak. Kat saved that report and filed it under the crap Shamrock needed to do. Growing bored already she glazed up at New Corinth's sky. Ships and shuttles flew by often in different directions.
"How much longer, Seth?" She asked the comm.'s mic.
"On what?" He asked back.
"Hmmm," She thought going over the things in progress. "The water?"
"Seven percent complete." He answered.
"It's been two hours." She shot out.
"Well, I only have the one hoes." Seth explained. "You can get a bucket and help if you like."
"No thanks." Kat said as she turned down her music. "Hey Seth." She said.
"Yes?" He replied.
"Do you think I did a good job yesterday?" She asked.
"You always do." Seth said.
"You think the Captain thinks so too?" She asked.
"The Captain wouldn't let you fly that beauty of a fighter if he didn't." Seth assured. Kat smiled.
"Yeah, you're right." She said relaxed.
"Why?" Seth asked. "What is on your mind?"
"Oh nothing." Kat assured. "I am just wondering when I might get to go off ship on a job."
"Off ship?" Seth repeated. "You mean when do you get to fight eye to eye?" He asked.
"I just wouldn't mind going with the Captain on one of these deals or one of his strolls or shopping or anything. I mean," She continued. "we land and you all go off into the planet or station and I sit on the ship watching the checklist." Kat could hear Seth chuckle slightly.
"Kat, you have come a long way from the child that we meet ten years ago," He said and paused to find his words. "But shooting at an object and killing a man is very different."
"I know that." Kat shot back.
"No." Seth said firmly. "You really don't."
"Look, could you just talk to the Captain for me." Kat asked. "Please, I'm going stir crazy sitting on this ship and he will listen to you more than me. Ok."
"What makes you think he will listen to me?" Seth asked.
"Cause besides Marshall, he respects you the most." Kat said.
"Really?" Seth said. "You think so."
"Yes." Kat stated again.
"Well, if that is true why don't you ask Marshall to ask him?" Seth asked.
"Well," Kat stressed. "Marshall isn't here."
"Indeed, he is not." Set agreed. "Still. I think if anyone should say anything it should be him. I tell you what, I'll talk to Marshall and see what he thinks. Fair enough?"
"Yeah I guess." Kat said.
"Good, now get back to the checklist." Seth ordered.
"Yes sir." Kat replied turning her music back up. Thomas's cat jumped into her lap and curled up. Kat looked down at her and pet her with a smile.
The market was anything but calm. A busting strip of open shops half covered booths and torrents of talking people. Banners and signs toping all the buildings as the sweet hum of distance and near music blended with the chatter. Almost like a river turning the bend. All the life and flow of commerce running down one narrow road. Thomas loved it, it reminded him of home. Jig hated it, it reminded him of home. Thomas pushed through a line to get a machine part.
"Two on the nicker?" He asked.
"Nah." The merchant replied. "Dozer sank last night. One on the nicker, five on the penny."
"Oh come on." Thomas shot back. "Five on the dime and you take the mister's necktie." The merchant thought about it and nodded his head. "Good." Thomas exclaimed. "Here is twenty quill."
"Thanks a feather, mate." The merchant said somewhat disappointed. Thomas turned with a smile and rammed the new part into Jig's hands.
"Carry that." Thomas ordered.
"Huh?" Jig said. "Why can't you?" He asked.
"Cause." Thomas said picking up a basket of eggs. "I'm taking the eggs and eggs are fragile." Jig shook his head in disgust.
"Nich." He muttered and walked on. The market was right by a lake. The sun bounced off the water and glittered like a broken mirror. It really was lovely. Several others thought so too. They stood on the edge leaning on the railing glazing at the sight. Talking and laughing, taking pictures and thinking. One girl that leaned on that ledge turned right as Jig strolled by. Her long red hair caught the sunlight and light up her face and outlined her form.
Jig's feet stopped moving. She was like an angel. Jig was stunned. He couldn't stop looking at her. She noticed his gaze and meet it with a small smile. His heart quickened. He turned to walk towards her, greasy engine part in hand. He took two steps when him, her and all the people in the market was blown to the ground with a wave of smoke. Jig rose to his feet and blinked out the dust in his eyes. The column of smoke and flame shot up from the buildings behind him.
In an instance a flood of military aircraft poured down from the sky with a rain of bullets on the market place. The smoke began to spread out as people rushed in all directions trying to escape. Jig drew his gun and made a run for the last place he saw Thomas. He pushed his way through the crowds and tuned out the gun fire. A guy stumbling in front of him and looked up to find himself face to face with the black visor and blood red armor of a Reclaimer. The man clenched his teeth and tried to make a run for it when the Reclaimer fired two into the man's chest. Blood spat to the ground as the man fell over still gasping for air. The Reclaimer pressed his foot on the man's chest and ended him with a round to the head.
The crack of the gun shot was still ringing when Jig leveled his own gun. The Reclaimer turned to see him when Jig opened fire. Several shots bounced off the Reclaimer's armor before one struck him in the head scattering the glass and filling the helmet with blood. Jig stepped up to the dead Reclaimer and took his gun from his hand. The area was still filled with smoke but most of the fighting seems to have moved on. Jig pull out his comm. and paged Thomas.
"Thomas." He said. "You alright?" There was no response. "Thomas." He said again. It was then that a car broke through the wall of smoke and slid to halt in front of Jig. The window rolled down.
"What?" Thomas yelled out of the car. Jig smiled and ran to the other side to get in.
"What took you so long." Jig asked.
"I had to drop off the eggs." Thomas explained as they sped away.
"I wasn't expecting that." Jig stated looking behind them at the still progressing massacre.
"That is kinda the point of a sneak attack." Thomas said.
"Ah," Jig said. "The Reclaimers must be getting bold."
"Yeah," Thomas said as he swerved around a post. "Speaking of bold." Thomas added nodding head of them. Jig turned to take a look. Thomas was driving right at a check point covered with Reclaimers.
"Thomas." Jig said a little concerned. Thomas didn't slow down.
"Hold on." Thomas said as the front windshield blew into a scatter mess of glass at the incoming bullets. Jig hardly had time to scream when Thomas ramped the obstacles sending the car flying into the air. The motor vehicle spun on its side before crashing into the ground with a shower of sparks and a hard bang. It continued to run on the ground before it smashed into the wall with a thump and some flames. Thomas kicked the door open and crawled out.
"You might want to be hurrying along there, Jig." He said. "Them Reclaimers aren't know for their kindness." Jig rolled out of the crashed car and spit some blood on the concrete.
"Thanks for the hint." Jig said sarcastically when a bullet bounced off the wreckage. The Reclaimers at the checkpoint they just ramped were running towards them and they were not happy.
"Let's get out of here." Thomas yelled making a run for it.
"Great idea there genius." Jig yelled back as he jumped to his feet and followed.
Captain Roman Jack sat in the calm of a small dinner and took a drink of his coffee before continuing on his eggs and ham. The place smelled of grease and cigarettes. The counter was covered in dishes and tips with bills lined up like soldiers on parade. The bell of the door opening rang and the thump of hard leather hitting the titled floor bounced around. A man in his fifties slid down in front Jack. He wore the black overcoat of an military officer. On his chest was the pendent of a State Watchman. A woman in her late twenties sat down next to Jack. She wore civilian clothing but anyone could tell that see was not from New Corinth. Too clean and proper. The Watchman folded his hands on the table and smiled slightly.
"We have been looking for you, Captain." He said.
"It appears that you found me." Jack said.
"Yes it does." The Watchman replied.
"I hope the trip wasn't too taxing." Jack stated with concern smeared on his face.
"Hardly, it was worth it." The Watchman said.
"I bet." Jack said coldly.
"Now, would you be so kind as to come with us?" The Watchman asked.
"Can I finish my eggs first?" Jack asked.
"Of course." The Watchman answered.
"Thank you." Jack said picking the rest of them on his fork and shoving them in his mouth. "There." He mumbled. The Watchman smiled before nodding to his lady friend to get up. She stood facing Jack as the Watchman slid out of the booth. Jack took a gulp of his coffee and also stood. The woman turned and walk ahead with the Watchman to Jack's back. They left the dinner and entered the alley next to it.
"I have to ask." The Watchman said once they were in the shadow. "Do you even know what is on that disk you stole?"
"I must say I never asked." Jack admitted.
"Well, maybe if you had you would have dropped the job." The Watchman stated.
"I doubt it." Jack shot back. "What is on there?" He asked.
"It is the flight plan of a water tanker." The Watchman responded.
"Ah, that would explain why my client is paying so much." Jack stated. "I'm sure the Fultons would pay a fortune for a full tanker of water."
"Earth needs that water." The Watchman said.
"For what?" Jack said. "Their golf courses? Plus they always over ship, the way I hear it they sell water to the Fultons anyway because they don't have enough storage for it all."
"Probably." The Watchman said. "But I'm sure our client will give them a better price."
"Personally, Marshall." Jack said turning around. "I really don't care."
"When is the meet?" Marshall asked.
"Tomorrow." Jack answered. "I was worried you and Ash weren't going to make it back in time."
"You know I never disappoint." Marshall said.
"Yep, but I do wonder." Jack said. "Why do you keep wearing that metal thingy?" He said pointing to the pendent on Marshall's chest.
"It let's me get into places easier." Marshall stated. "So long as they don't look to close at it and realize that it expired ten years ago."
"Ha." Jack said. "Yeah, but a former Watchman can light up a guy's ass just as well as a current one."
"I like to think so." Marshall said. Jack smiled.
"How's it going, Ash?" Jack asked the lady standing next to the former State Watchman.
"Fine." She said coldly before walking past. "So where is your car?" She asked.
"I figured on saving some money and walked." Jack stated. She turned with a bitter look and shook her head. Marshall chuckled and followed behind her. Jack shrugged and also followed down the alley saying. "Yep, good to have the band back together."
Jig leaned back as Kat took the cloth and cleaned the cut on his head. He clenched at the sting of the alcohol in the gash. Kat smirked at his suffering. Jig rolled his eyes as Kat dabbed another cloth and started again.
"That hurts." Jig stated.
"That means it is working." Kat informed. "I thought Fultons were famous for there tolerance of pain."
"Have you heard from the Captain yet?" Jig asked changing the subject. She shook head.
"He hasn't called in yet." She informed.
"Who hasn't?" Thomas asked holding his cat in his hands.
"The Captain." Jig said.
"Well, why would he call in?" Thomas asked pointing. "He is right there." Jig and Kat turned to see the Captain, Marshall and Ash walking into the dock.
"Marshall." Kat yelled and ran down to met the old man. He laughed as Kat threw her arms around his chest. Jig shook his head.
"Geeze." He said to Thomas. "We come back all beat up and all she does is roll her eyes. Marshall walks in after being gone for a week and she acts like it has been years."
"Well, that's because she don't like ya." Thomas said.
"Bah." Jig spat. "She likes me." He said confidently. "Right?" He asked.
"Sure she does." Thomas said as he walked past Jig to the Captain.
"What happen to you two?" Roman asked when he noticed the cuts and bruises.
"The Reclaimers hit the market." Thomas said.
"What?" Jack said.
"It's true sir." Jig assured. "They wiped the whole place out." Jack breathed in this bad news and let it out slowly.
"Well." He said. "I guess the rumors are true."
"Rumors?" Jig asked.
"Yep." Jack said.
"Were you pegged?" Marshall asked. Thomas and Jig looked at each other with blank faces.
"Were you?" Jack asked. Thomas shrugged.
"It is more than possible, Cap." He said. Jack chew his lip in a bit of anger.
"Damn it." He spat.
"If they have a I.D." Marshall began.
"Than we need to be out of here by morning." The Captain finished. "Damn it, damn it." He repeated.
"What should we do Captain?" Thomas asked. The Captain sighed.
"Marshall, call up the client and ask if we can have the meet tonight."
"And if he asks why?" Marshall asked.
"Tell him that we have another job we have to get to." Jack said.
"Yes sir." Marshall said walking onto the ship. Roman looked again at his two men and shook his head at their injuries.
"Ash," He said. "You might as well look at these two idiots."
"Yes Captain." The young lady said walking up to Jig who smiled large and stood up straight.
"You miss me?" He asked with a wink. Ash stared at him blankly for a second then turned to look at Thomas. She examined him then walked off saying something about needing some medicine with a long name.
"I guess she is still mad at me." Jig stated. Thomas resisted a laugh. Even Seth, who had been watching from afar let go a chuckle. "Oh come on." Jig protested. "How could I have know?" He asked frustrated. "I met a hot lady that was willing to sleep with me. I didn't know it was Ash's 'special' friend getting back at her for not calling."
"Jig." Seth said. "You first red flag should have been the whole woman willing to sleep with you bit."
"Oh, haha." Jig said sarcastically. "You would have done her too." He stated.
"I doubt it." Seth said tapping his groin. "It's all flat metal now."
"You know." Thomas whispered to Jig. "Somehow that still doesn't sit well with me."
Black alleys and paper in the wind dying in the shadows. The soft buzz of fading street lights and the gentle rumble of distance traffic. The drowning night and no moon to buff off the edge of darkness. A car slowed to a stop outside of the derelict building. Jack stepped out of the car with a trench coat to his knees. Kat stepped out with a few pistols on her, Marshall had his State Watchman coat on and Seth carried a large machine gun, the kind with bullets so big most tanks wouldn't take it on. Kat stood by the Captain for a second with a smile. Being brave she leaned in and whispered.
"Thanks for bringing me along." She said.
"Thank me after we get back ok?" He said.
"Sure thing boss." She said coming to attention. The Captain rolled his eyes and opened the building's door. The spiral of old stairs reached from the tile floor to the leaking roof. It was dark. It was quiet. Jack walked to the center of the lobby room and sniffed the air. The breathing of the whole group slowed as eyes moved across the whole of the area. The creaking of the wind hitting the sides of the building echoed and bounced about.
"This stinks." Roman Jack said softly.
"They may just be late." Marshall suggested.
"Or they may not be coming." Jack said back. The group stood still for a time and wind continue to creak through. "Either way, we are out of here." Jack decided turning and waving everyone towards the door. His men followed right as the car they came in exploded into flame. Jack stumbled back from the shock wave of heat. Military vehicles flew up and troops poured out in rows. "Back inside!" Jack screamed as they rushed in. Seth and Marshall threw shut the doors and rammed some metal beams in front of them. "Come on." Jack yelled as he began to run up the stairwell.
"They set us up." Kat cried.
"It don't matter." Marshall said from behind. "Just go." The front door blew open to a wave of combat dress soldiers. Jack looked from above with anger.
"Above us." Seth cried. Jack swung his body over the railing and looked up with a twitch in his eyes.
"Well they spared no expense." He muttered. Outside the sun roof of the building flew two helows. Ropes dropped and men slid down them like water down a string. The glass shattered as Jack rolled back to cover. "Go!" He ordered as the zip of the men approaching grew louder. In an instant Jack slid to a stop, drew a small shotgun from his coat and leveled it at his hip. Right as the soldier dropped by Jack let a blaze of pellets fly. The man spun midair before falling to the ground with a thump. Jack dropped to a knee and reloaded the shotgun.
"I do believe we are trapped, sir." Marshall said as the rumble of men marching came from above and below.
"I do believe." Jack smirked. "Anyone see any reason to play this nice?" He asked.
"No sir." Seth said calmly.
"Well then." Jack said tossing his shotgun to Kat and smiled. With a swing of his hand he reviled a large one barrel monster of a cannon with what looked like a cylinder by the trigger. He withdrew a huge shell from his coat, flipped out the cylinder and loaded the gun. Then with a flick of his wrist he locked the cylinder back into the gun, and gave it a hard spin.
The cylinder let out a high pitch whistle as it began to glow. Standing on his feet he looked down at the fast approaching doom. "Let's play dirty." He mumbled as he leveled the giant barrel end at the floor. With a squeeze of the trigger the monster fired a blast of light and fire engulfing the ground with flame. Roman Jack spun the gun in his hand and shoved it back into its holster. Seth laughed coldly and cocked the barrel of his machine gun. The trump of boots rolled up the stairs.
Seth leaned on the wall corner taking cover from the men coming up the stairs. Marshall and Kat ran up with the Captain. The men from the roof were quick approaching the floor they were on. Jack drew a pistol and ran across the doorway firing a few shots at the soldiers. They took cover right as Kat rolled in. The first to stick his head out had a shotgun round meet him. The second turned to fire at Kat as Marshall turned the corner and with a flick of his wrist a ball of fire shot through the man's chest. The others all knew what that was. It was what made the Watchmen so feared. They could take the heat and bioelectricity of their bodies and form into an array of weapons. By the time the soldiers grew the courage to looked out both Kat and Marshall were gone.
Roman Jack waited by the wall as two soldiers exited the stairs and enter the floor. The Captain leveled the barrel of his pistol at one and shot him dead at point blank before he saw what was happening. The other turned before taking a shot in his face also. Jack picked up one of their assault rifles. Jumping high he got a hand on the railing on the floor above him. With a quick pull he brought himself up to the edge of the rail with a column of soldiers marching by. Within a second he let out a spray of bullets before letting go of the railing and dropping back with a parting gift of his middle finger being the last thing they saw.
Seth waited till the enemy unit was within spiting distance of him before he turned the corner leveled his machine gun and released hell. A fury of gun fire and laughter rang down the torn bodies of dozen of unsuspecting men. Jack landed near Seth with a bang and quick roll to soften the blow. The new comer surprised Seth enough to make his finger release the trigger and his head turn to see what had just landed behind him. Jack stumbled up muttering 'that was stupid' right as Seth took a round in the side of the head. The cybrog was knocked to the floor from the blow. Jack pulled him out of the fire and snapped his finger over Seth's face.
"Seth?" The Captain said. "You alright?" Seth's eyes blinked.
"Did it hit flesh?" He asked. The Captain turned Seth's head with his hand to look at the wound. A smashed bullet sat smoking against solid steel.
"Nope." The Captain said. "Just a dent. Now come on." He ordered as the troops made their way up the stairs. Jack shot dead the first to show himself as Seth got to his feet.
"This way." Seth yelled as he ran up a flight of stairs. Jack ran up behind him as Seth reached the top, spun on his heals and cried 'not the way'. Jack slid to a stop as a dozen soldiers open fired at them from above. Bullets clicked and bounced as Jack jumped half the stair well to the bottom. Right as Roman Jack's feet hit the ground a round struck him in the leg knocking it from under him. This time Seth pulled the Captain to safety as Jack got back on his feet. Jack turned back to the stairs right as two men leveled to fire. Jack hit one in the chest as the other let out a small spray that hit the wall next to them. Seth spun around as his robot arm clicked and rolled into a barrel. With a plum of smoke he shot the other in the head. Jack kept running/ limping to the other stairwell. It looked clear.
"Marshall. Kat." He yelled. "Where are you?"
"Above you." Marshall yelled as Kat smashed a man in the groin with the shotgun butt then blew his face off with a round. She dropped the gun and drew two handguns from her sides letting a blast of fire down the hall at their attackers. Marshall lit up a trooper that got past her as Jack and Seth caught up to them. They all withdrew behind the walls by the doorway as the enemy returned fire.
"We need to get out of here." Jack said bandaging his leg.
"I'll take care of it." Marshall said as he formed a static charge around him. Once the hum of a magnet rolled off of him he stepped out into the enemy line of fire. The soldiers opened fire upon him only to see their bullets be caught by the magnetic field he was creating with his own body. With a smile Roman Jack stepped behind Marshall and shot two of the surprised soldiers. Seth was quick behind as was Kat to lay the rest of them out. Once it was clear Jack smashed open a window and crawled out onto the building's fire escape. Jack ran down a section or two with his crew behind him when the soldiers on the ground noticed the fugitive coming down and started firing up. That is also when the fugitive noticed the soldiers on the ground and started running up to the roof instead.
"Kat." The Captain yelled holding out his hands in a cup. Kat ran at him and used his hands as a platform to jump up to the roof rolling to a stop and leveling her guns on the men up there. Seth was quick to follow via his cyborg strength and landed on the roof with a crater in his wake.
"All clear Captain." Seth called back. Roman Jack crawled on to the roof with Marshall behind him. The two helows were fast approaching.
"Spread out!" The Captain yelled as they all began to run. "We will meet three buildings from here on the ground."
"Understood." The two helows moved to the sides as the group quickly fanned out. One helow fired a missile straight at Roman Jack. Hearing the buzz he dove to the side as the entrance to the roof exploded into a ball of fire. Jack got back on his feet with a gash on his head and cuts along his arms.
"Not my day." He muttered looking at his bloodied self. Kat rolled under a pile of wood as it was turned to kindling by the helows' bullets. With a single pouch she leapt across the alley way and landed on the next building as Marshall jumped the same alley, landing on the edge and pulled him self up. Jack knocked a beam of wood over the gap and ran across it before the helow had time to come back and shoot him in the act. Of course it was only about five seconds late because once the Captain had his foot to concrete again the beam was ripped apart by cannon rounds.
They all reached the destination close to alive and hard for breathing. The Captain pulled his zip line and hooked it to a pole. The other three simply jumped from the five story building. Kat land on her feet like a feline. Marshall waited until he was a dozen feet from the ground or so before super heating the air around him thus creating a bubble that slowed his fall and let him float to the ground. Seth landed on his cyborg leg and let his robotic part take the blunt of the fall as the Captain's zip line broke six feet from the ground thus dropping him on his back with a thump and a muttered ouch.
Thomas rolled his cat over on its back scratched its stomach the way it liked it. The little brown cat played back with its claws and paw. Jig sat at the helm tapping his fingers on the consul. They were late. His eyes were heavy and his body tiered. It had been a heck of a day already. But he couldn't go to sleep till the Captain was back. Ash walked onto the bridge quietly and sat down in the Captain's chair. She rubbed her hands along the arm rests feeling the worn leather.
"Can't sleep?" Jig asked politely. Ash shook her head.
"I would assume that they will be returning soon." Ash said.
"Yeah, well. They are already late." Jig stated. Ash faced him a little concern. "But you know the Captain." He added with a chuckle. She smiled slightly and nodded. Jig opened his month to talk but decided against it. So instead he turned back to his consul and looked out. It was a little cold in the cabin and Ash shivered. "You want a blanket?" Jig asked.
"No thank you." She said as she stood to leave. Jig bite his lip wondering what it was he did this time but choose not to say anything. Best to leave it alone. Ash is like all women. Completely insane. If you're mean, they don't like you. If you're nice, they still don't like you. Jig whistled softly as he leaned under the chair and pulled up a bottle of scotch. The Captain would be mad if he knew he had that there which is why he didn't tell him. Two head lights came into view and stopped outside the docking area. Jig quickly hid the bottle and ran out of the bridge. "They're back." He yelled through the ship as he lowered the boarding platform. Ash was right behind Jig as the Kat and Marshall dragged the Captain out of an obviously stolen car.
"What happened?" Ash yelled.
"It was a trap." Marshall said.
"It was more than a trap." Kat exclaimed. "It was a full out ambush. Half the military jumped us."
"Alright." Ash said semi calmly. "Just take him to the inferior. How about you Marshall? Are you hurt?" She asked.
"Take care of him first." Marshall commanded. "Jig."
"Yes sir." Jig said.
"We are leaving." He ordered.
"Yes sir." Jig said as he hopped on the platform with everyone else. Ash looked over the Captain's injuries and shook her head.
"That dumbass." She muttered. "He can't go a day without nearly killing himself."
"My goodness." Coritus To' loc laughed glazing over the killing field that once was an old building. "The military certainly did not hold back."
"Nor did that State Watchman, Marshall." Razor Migan commented picking up one of the numerous bullets dropped to the floor undamaged by Marshall's display of power. Coritus To' loc ran his hand along a smear of blood on the wall and sniffed it.
"Yep." He said. "Dear old Jack got hurt."
"So it would seem." Razor Migan agreed. "But sir, this does not seem to have anything to do with the key." Coritus To' loc laughed.
"Ah, Migan." He said with a smile. "Can't you see. This has everything to do with the key. Old Roman Jack cane do something they can't and that means he is their only hope. This is just a stage in that."
"It seems like quite a loss." Migan commented.
"You know better than anyone the lengths the military is willing to go to reach their objectives." To' loc said. "Allowing this little massacre is nothing but a step forward to them. Why do you think they let them get away."
"So where do go know?" Migan asked.
"No where." To' loc answered. "Now we wait. You see, the military is as predictable as they are stupid. They have no ability to be subtle. Have all ships on standby. When the time comes we will have to attack quickly and it might be against a formidable foe."
"Do you mean to start open conflict so soon?" Migan asked.
"Oh of course not." To 'loc assured. "Which is why we will not be able to let anyone live. We are close, Migan. So close I can taste it. We can't afford any mistakes."
"And we will have none, my lord. I assure you." Migan said bowing.
Marshall slid off his coat clenching his teeth the whole way. Blood dripped from several spots of on his arms. Ash wet a cloth and began to clean the wounds. Small scars of numinous wounds like them dotted his body. Ash shook her head in annoyance.
"You should have let me do this sooner." She said.
"The Captain was in worse shape than me." Marshall remarked.
"At least stop pushing yourself so hard." Ash said. "You're going to kill yourself at this rate." Marshall smiled.
"This is nothing compared to back in the war." Marshall replied.
"You're not as young as you were back in the war." Ash shot back. Marshall laughed then clenched as Ash continued her work. Marshall turned to the door slightly and smiled.
"Can I help you, Kat?" He asked aloud. Kat turned the corner of the door and looked in at Marshall.
"I didn't think you got badly hurt." Kat said pointing to the blood. Marshall nodded humorously.
"It's called a burn out." He stated.
"It happens when a Watchman over does it." Ash jumped in. "He blows out his cells with all the heat he is pushing through his tissue."
"It is a small price to pay." Marshall said.
"Maybe during the war it was." Ash commented. Marshall pulled his arm away angry.
"What the fuck do you know about 'during the war'?" Marshall snapped. "The Narrie could fly harder than us, fight longer, and were ruthless to boot. They damn near wiped us out. Before the Sate Watchman program we hadn't won a single battle. Not one. And even after the Watchmen hit the fronts it was one slaughter house after another. The Narrie Casters could out perform even the best of the Watchman without having any side effects let alone burn outs. I once saw a Narrie Caster kill three Watchman, destroy four Armor Suits and throw a tank without breaking a sweat."
"Than how did you win?" Kat asked. Marshall's anger left him as he faced Kat again. The heat of his rage was replaced with a blank stare almost as if he too had once asked that question.
"Force of will." Seth said from the hallway. "Captain wants you on the bridge." He said to Marshall. Marshall nodded and followed. The Captain sat in his chair with a rapping on his leg.
"You alright sir?" Marshall asked when he saw the Captain's leg.
"I'll be fine." Roman Jack said. "So Marshall, what is your opinion on what just happen?"
"A military sting operation, sir. No doubt of it." Marshall said.
"That is a bit far fetched." Jig commented.
"Not terribly." Jack said.
"How do we know the client just wasn't pegged?" Jig asked.
"If he was pegged." Marshall said. "Then they wouldn't have known that we changed the meet time."
"Couldn't they have made him answer the call." Jig asked.
"Well." The Captain said. "You have seen what the Reclaimer do to people just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I doubt they would keep an actual criminal alive for more than a day."
"More over." Marshall said. "The person I talked to was the same that gave us the job. It seems that we were set up from the beginning."
"So then the chip is a fake?" Jig asked.
"No." Marshall asserted. "I checked the coordinates on that chip personally. They are real."
"They wouldn't want us to say at trial that we never technically did anything wrong." The Captain said.
"Or realize it was a trap before the meet." Marshall added.
"So what now?" Jig asked.
"We have to find a way out of this, of course." Jack said.
"Why don't we just dump the stupid thing?" Jig asked. "If we don't have the chip there is no reason to keep after us right?"
"Yeah that's smart." Marshall smirked.
"Yep." The Captain said. "Because they really care about that chip now. The fact is that they have almost certainly changed the flight plan of the tanker anyway. So why would they charge us with thief when they could nail us on ... of let me think. Resisting arrest."
"Breaking and entering." Marshall added.
"Grand thief auto." Seth said as he walked by.
"Plus." The Captain said. "The dozen or so murder counts each of us have."
"Not to mention." Marshall said. "If even one of them was an officer. That is an automatic death penalty."
"So in other words." The Captain said. "It doesn't matter if we let the chip out the air lock. They will come and kill us and that is if we are lucky. So shut up and help me find a place to hide." He order clicking the map screen on.
"How about Leo Space Colony?" Jig asked pointing. "That place is about as safe as it gets."
"Too far." The Captain said.
"We could get to Mars before tomorrow." Marshall stated.
"Mars?" Jig laughed. "They would peg us in a minute."
"Hmmm." The Captain thought. "What about Deimos? That is close."
"No." Marshall said. "Deimos was taken over as a training base for Armor Suit divisions."
"Than I guess, that will not work." The Captain stated.
"Afraid not." Marshall agreed. The three looked at the map and thought in silence. The gentle glow of the screen reflecting from their faces. The creaks of the ship became a soft ballad in the background. The tap of Kat's boots came closer as she entered the bridge.
"Why do we have to go anywhere?" Kat asked. They looked at her with disgust before turning back to the map. She waited for a second for them to answer. They didn't. "I'm serious." She said.
"About what?" The Captain asked.
"Why do we have to go anywhere?" She asked again.
"Because." The Captain said. "We are on the run and when you are on the run you run. Hopefully to a place they will not follow."
"Well why don't we make them think we are running." Kat said. The Captain cocked his head.
"I'm listening." He said.
"Ok." Kat said sitting down despites Jig's protests. "We buzz by one of the places you mentioned, like Mars or something. Then we scatter out some decoys then high tail it back to New Corinth."
"Then what?" Jig asked.
"We could probably sit it out." Marshall said. "If a Watchman is truly after us, than all we really need to do is wait it out. Watchman are in high demand. They will not keep him on the case forever."
"And once the Watchman is out of the picture." Jig began.
"Things should calm down a go bit." Kat said.
"One would only hope." Marshall said.
"No." The Captain said. "That is not good enough. I am not going to risk this crew on a maybe. What we need is leverage. We need to get our hands on something they want more than us. Something they want so bad that they would forget about us to get it. Anyone know about anything like that?"
"How about we kidnap someone important?" Jig said.
"Or how about we line ourselves up for their firing squad." Marshall offered.
"What then?" Kat asked.
"Blackmail data?" Jig offered. Everyone shook no.
"I think we might be going about this the wrong way." The Captain said as a light came on in his head. " Maybe we don't need to steal anything. What we really need is to get them to stop coming after us."
"Where are you going with this?" Marshall asked.
"Why blackmail the military to stop looking for us when we could simply trick them into it?" The Captain said with a smile. "Ok." He started as his plan became clearer in his head. "We just go into New Corinth Interspace Library. All information from the Solar System goes through that tower, right? We go in, find our own police reports and alter them to say we switch ships or something. That way the military goes after that ship and we are scot free."
"The Library is a public place." Marshall commented as the Captain's plan became clear to him also. "We could just walk through the front door. Than all we would have to do is find the secure line and hack into it."
"You say that as if it would be easy." Jig said. "The secure line never goes anywhere near the public areas so people can't do exactly what we are talking about. You would have to sneak into the resisted zone, which is not easy."
"No we wouldn't." The Captain said. "There has to be a line running from the receiver into the resisted area. All we would have to do is tap into that. Then we can do a remote hack from here."
"That line would be one in a cluster of hundreds in a pipe no more than a foot wide." Jig said. "No human could get to it, let alone unnoticed."
"What this about no human?" Thomas asked holding his cat. The Captain smiled and shrugged.
The tower was painted white and hung high over the Reclaimed area. People of all sorts walked in and out along the grassy groves and bushes. Marshall walked in front with a lovely pair of glasses and a formal suit on. The Captain walked next to him with the uniform of a sergeant upon his back. Behind them walked Jig, Kat, and Ash wearing the uniforms of wonderfully spoiled college students. Of course, Ash had to work on covering Kat's tattoos with make up and Kat had to wear a pair of sunglasses to hide her eyes, but all in all they looked the part. Even Kat holding and petting Thomas' cat did not look too out of place.
"You ready, Thomas?" The Captain asked out the corner of his month into the mic on his collar.
"Yes sir." Thomas responded from the bridge of the ship. He held a little remote and a monitor clearly showing all that was occurring. Seth also stood in the bridge watching.
"You sure your cat can do this?" Seth asked.
"Oh yeah." Thomas said. "Dag is trained for it. I use her to find burnt wires in the ship all the time. You see I have a chip in her eye so I can see what she sees and I have a little device on her collar that will give her a little shock on either her left or right shoulder so I can director her."
"So how are you going to hack the wires once you find them?" Seth asked.
"I put a extra device on her collar that should be able to attach itself to the wire and allow me to hack the system."
"Sounds fun." Seth said.
"Yeah." Thomas said. "Of course if they caught wind of what we are doing they will lock the whole building down and more than likely kill everyone." Seth looked at him before Thomas laughed. "Just messing. There would be torture first."
"We are entering the building." The Captain said over the transmitter. The Library was quite an impressive thing to see. It rows of computers and high selves of books all swirled around a central jet stream of data tied together in a giant pillar standing in the middle.
"Ice." Jig muttered.
"Alright students." Marshall announced loudly. "Keep close and take notes. This will be on this Friday's test and I do not want to hear any complaints later about how you don't remember that part. That is why note taking was invented. So you don't have to remember everything. This is the central pillar. It connects everything to everything. The receiver at the very top of the building is sent information from all the Solar System."
"Even Fulton territory?" Jig asked. Marshall looked at him with disgust. Jig just shrugged.
"I think you know the answer to that." Marshall said. "Now everyone come along." Kat wondered but a few steps to the side and let the cat in her hands drop to the floor before returning to the group. The Captain had already side stepped to the wall and quickly unscrewed the vent. The brown cat hopped in the air duct without thought.
"You're in." The Captain muttered to Thomas. Jack replaced the vent cover and stood to have a rather large librarian standing by him tapping his foot.
"What are you doing?" He asked curious and annoyed.
"Who me?" The Captain asked dumb.
"No." The librarian said. "The other guy playing with the vent screen."
"Oh." The Captain said calmly. "Well as long as it wasn't me." He said with a chuckle as he turned to walk away. The librarian said hey before the Captain suddenly stopped and shot his elbow into the man's stomach. With a little buff of air the man fell to the ground and Jack was quickly off back to the group now entering the hallway. "We need to hurry." The Captain whispered to Marshall.
"Why?" He asked. "You in trouble already? Come students, we have much to see."
Thomas lead his cat through the air ducts into the wiring. The complex mess of it would have dazed most but Thomas had seen much worse.
"Are we close?" Seth asked.
"Not really." Thomas said. "Give me that map." He added pointing.
"This one?" Seth asked.
"Yeah. Ok, I think we need to go up a level." He hit both buttons and watched the cat jump to the next set of pipes and wires. "A little further, and there." Thomas said. A small wire ran out of the collar and dug into the wires in front of the cat. In a moment the monitors were filled with data. "I'm in." Thomas said almost surprised at the ease of it. "You're up, Seth." He said standing up. Seth sat in the chair and pulled a line from his head and plugged into the consul.
"Altering data now." Seth said aloud.
"We almost have it, sir." Thomas told the Captain over the comm.
"Good." The Captain said back. "We should start making our way back out." He whispered to Marshall.
"Agreed." Marshall said.
"Got it." Seth announced. "Mission complete."
"Good." Thomas said pulling the cat back. "Now to get Miss Dag out of there." The cat turn to leave when the floor gave out from under her and the kitty dropped into a strange room. "Kitty!" Thomas yelled at his monitor. "Captain." He yelled in his comm. "You have to go back."
"Why?" The Captain asked.
"Dag fell. I don't know what room she is in." Thomas said franticly. The Captain stopped and clenched his teeth.
"Ok." He coughed. "Come on everyone." He said. "We have to go back."
"Why?" Jig asked.
"The cat got lost and we have to find it." The Captain informed.
"Did we change the data?" Jig asked.
"Yes, but we need..." The Captain began.
"Then let's go." Jig said. "Forget the cat."
"Do you want to tell Thomas that he has to spend the next three years training a new cat?" Jack asked. "Not to mention hear him whine for the next ten about how it isn't his Dag?"
"Oh for the love of Pluto." Jig cursed walking by the Captain.
"What does the room look like?" The Captain asked Thomas.
"I'm not sure." Thomas said back. "Dag's kinda scared. She be in a corner and I can't see the rest of the room. White tile though."
"Yeah that narrows it down." The Captain said. "Try and get her to look around the room."
"Yes sir." Thomas said sniffing back his concern.
"We are going to get pegged for a cat." Jig muttered as he glanced into a room.
"Just look." Marshall said as he turned around to face a man in his fifties wearing a suit and glasses looking very confused. The Captain turned puzzled to face a military sergeant as Jig and the girls turned to see three college students behind them. They all looked at each other bewildered.
"Who are you?" The sergeant asked. The Captain began to speak before muttering fuck it and smashed the guy in the face. The other jumped in shock as Jack's crew all knocked them out too. The Captain grabbed the sergeant by the arms and began to drag him to a nearby bathroom door.
"Come on." He told the others. "Bathroom, bathroom." They too took hold of their doubles and dragged them in. Jack opened up a stall and sat the unconscious guy on the seat and began to leave when a meow of a cat stopped him. "There you are." The Captain said as he picked up Miss Dag. "We're out of here." The Captain announced.
"Good." Jig said as he walked out.
"We found Dag." Jack told the worried Thomas.
"Oh thank God." Thomas said.
"It wasn't God." Roman laughed. "It was violence." They all hurried towards the entrance when that sergeant came running out after Jack yelling for him to stop. Jack flipped him off when the hurt librarian pointed at the sergeant yelling that it was him that hit him. Jack laughed as the sergeant was tackled by security and Jack walked out the front door clean.
"In system news the military are redoubling their efforts to bring the fugitives responsible for last week's attack on Mars and later the fire fight on New Corinth to justice. The military has just released that is believed that they have changed vessels in order to trick them. This, says the officer in charge, will obviously not work. It is, however, a mystery as to how the fugitives were able to travel from New Corinth to Saturn in only two days. But the military assures that they are hot on the trail of these dangerous mercenaries. In more local news, the crack down on the biker gangs continues..."
Jack smiled and walked past the news billboard. Kat walked next to him with her makeup and sunglasses still on. She figured it may be her only chance to walk in public for awhile so she should enjoy it. Jack sighed as he looked to the sky.
"Well." He said. "That was a disaster."
"We didn't get caught." Kat reminded.
"No, but we also didn't get paid for a job that cost us nearly fifty thousand quills either." Jack informed. "That is a bit of hit in the pocket you know."
"We will make it up with something else." Kat assured.
"Ah, don't be so cheery." Jack ordered. "It makes me look bad." He said looking over to the young girl that for a moment looked like a normal person. So much so that Jack almost forgot what she was. "You do look nice." He commented."You really do." Kat stopped surprised.
"Thank you." She said embarrassed. "Even though I know you are just taking me along so much lately because Seth asked you too."
"Hmm?" Jack asked.
"Seth." Kat stated again. "I asked him to talk you into letting me come along."
"Seth never talked to me." Jack said.
"What?" Kat said. "But... Then why did you let me come along?"
"I figured you were tiered of my Doors album." Jack said.
"Ah but Morrison is the nich." Kat said.
"I'm glad you like it." Jack laughed. "It is a beautiful day." He said looking up. "Wouldn't you agree, Kat?" He said as he turned into the barrel of a gun. Kat was already surrounded. Jack glanced around with his eyes to see men coming from all corridors and alleyways completely engulfing them. Jack slowly lifted his hands in surrender.
"That was pretty clever." The unmistakable voice of a State Watchman said. It was unmistakable due to the pride ringing in it. "Changing your own arrest warrant." The Watchman said facing Jack.
"I'm glad you liked it." Jack said with a spit of venom.
"Yes, indeed I did." The Watchman muttered. "I must say I'm impressed. You see I have done a few of these strings now and you are the only one to give us a real chase. It was slightly enjoyable even."
"Please tell me you are going to shot me soon." Jack spat.
"Kill you?" The Watchman said horrified. "My heavens no. You are the answer to my prays. You see Captain, there is something the Watchman need done that we can't do. But I think you might be able to."
"What hell are you talking about?" The Captain asked. The Watchman smiled brightly.
"I'm offering you a job, Captain."