This time I woke up on a bed. It was a raised hospital bed, but still a bed. I smelled the spaghetti before I opened my eyes.
“I’m not tied up. You must trust me.” I just lay there trying my best to stop everything from spinning. “Can you ask the pilot to stop doing loop-de-loops?”
A laughing voice replied, “That’s not the ship. You’re having a bad reaction to the sedative. Did you know you have an incredible immune system?”
I risked opening my eyes as I replied, “Doc, I just met you and you’re already checking out my immune system?” I was rewarded by a great smile.
“Will he be able to work?” Diamond’s voice was tight and she sounded worried.
“He’ll be fine. He needs some food and drink, but by the time we get there he’ll be fine.” The doctor sounded protective.
“So, Garnet, are you up for the challenge of repairing a ship that doesn’t exist?” Diamond asked.
The smart answer when the galaxy’s greatest thief asks you something depends on who you are. If you’re into adventure, you answer yes, if you’re not, you don’t. I, well, I chose to not be smart. “Why do you need the ship?”
“You’re so clever, you tell me.”
Shoving a bowl of spaghetti and a fork in front of me, the doctor made an eating motion. Maybe he thought I needed time to think or that I needed food before I fell unconscious. I answered before my first bite. “You need to steal something.”
The spaghetti was amazing. It might have been the extra garlic, the side effects of the sedative, or that I was a crappy cook, but it was like pure love and joy in my mouth.
“That was an easy guess. Try again.”
“Doc, if you cook like this all the time, I might have to marry you,” I said, ignoring Diamond.
“My name’s Onyx, at least it is here. First time I’ve been proposed to over my spaghetti.” He was blushing.
Sighing, Diamond said, “Wait until he tries your cheesecake. Now, if we’re done flirting?”
“Fine. I assume you need the ship, which I’d guess is high military or Black-Sun to infiltrate a government facility and steal something. Since it’s a small ship, I assume military tech, probably the schematics and not the actual thing.”
Diamond nodded. “They’ve apparently created a device that can use the atoms from waste matter and reuse it to create nearly anything.”
I had never heard of any such tech, even in my time with Black-Star. If what she said was true, this tech could help millions in the outer planets with medicine, food, construction material… The possibilities were staggering.
“What do you plan on doing with it once you have it?” I hadn’t meant to say it in a challenging tone, but there it was.
Diamond walked up to me and she smiled. It was a predatory smile, a smile that screamed mischief. It was probably meant to scare me or intimidate me, but it actually put me at ease.
“I aim to make sure every server, every computer, every watch with a stars-damned chip in it has a copy of the plans. I want this information spammed across every world in the system and I want everyone to have one of these things by the end of the year. If every household can make its own food, building material, medicine, and weapons; the government and cursed Black-Star will not only be brought down a peg, but they might have to start respecting the people.”
I’m not sure if she expected me to demand payment or act impressed, but she seemed pleased with herself. I simply nodded and replied, “I’m in.”
Onyx whooped with approval and brought me a glass of milk. “Milk?” I asked.
He shrugged and said, “You need the proteins and sugars. Also, it goes great with spaghetti.”
Once I had eaten, showered, and gotten dressed in fresh clothes, I heard Diamond’s voice over the ships PA; “Garnet to the bridge.”
The bridge wasn’t much more than a four person cockpit with standing room, if you crouched and didn’t mind being jostled. I took the engineer’s seat which gave basic readouts from the engine room.
Out the viewports, I saw what looked like a massive debris field. I recognized the emblems and makes of a dozen ships, Black-Star, government, Independents, and Zombie Raiders. The last weren’t zombies, or really raiders, but rich hippy environmental activists that liked to think they were important.
“Where are we? This looks like quite the battle.”
“We’re around Yreld, at what was the site of the largest inner ring battle that no one knows about. You probably heard that Yreld had been devastated by a mutant locust plague, but the truth is much worse. The Independents had a base there and the Government decided to make an example of it. The planet and its three moons are now lifeless. No one who’s gone down to salvage has come back. Looks like the Independents and the Zombie Raiders didn’t go down without a fight.”
I knew all this. I was there. It was where I decided to defect from the Black-Star and fake my death. The ship flew into a hard to navigate section and through the view ports I saw my old 16-19 Rainbow, the ship that shouldn’t exist.
I was so fixated on the ship that I didn’t see the salvage ship with the big red crossbones painted on it’s hull.
“Well shit. Looks like the Mountain made it here before us. Alright folks, get ready for a fight.”
Read Next Chapter (March 2020)
While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories: