“A fight?” I asked.
“Yeah, scavenger rules say that the first person to a wreck has the rights to it,” Onyx said, shrugging, grabbing a bag and filling it with medical supplies.
“Yeah, but we ain’t scavengers we’re thieves!” exclaimed the teenager from earlier. She had a long loose coat and I could see several guns and a lot of knives.
“What does that mean?” I asked, trying to sound timid and hide my excitement. It had been a while since I’d been in a fight.
Diamond answered as everyone started strapping themselves into seats. “It means we dock with the Rainbow and beat the shit out of the Mountain and his crew.”
The older man came over the coms, “We’re about to dock. Hold on. This is going to be bumpy.”
“Why not blast them?” I asked.
“First off, my ship doesn’t have weapons. Second, if they did we’d be risking hitting the Rainbow and that’s a terrible idea. Third, I want to teach those chumps a lesson and no one learns when they’re dead.”
Onyx leaned over to me from his chair and said, “Don’t worry. You’ll stick with me and I’ll protect you while you’re making the repairs.” I glanced at his bare shoulders and the contour of his arms. He was in good shape, good enough to make my heart do double time anyway, but a seasoned fighter he wasn’t. The tell was in how he leaned away from the gun on his own hip. Like he’d rather be anywhere but touching it.
Trying not to sound condescending or fake, I said, “I’m glad to have you watching my back.”
“Um. I think he’s been watching a lot more than that,” said the teenager.
“Sphene, shut up.” Onyx blushed as he chastised her.
“Oh come on, brother. That man is very good looking and obviously has a thing for you. Now you both know you like each other and that should make things easier.” It was my turn to blush.
“Goodness, you’re young,” Diamond said and whistled. “Nothing is going to make these two’s affection easier.”
“We’ve docked. May the sun shine on you,” the voice over the coms said.
We all unlatched our restraints and Diamond got a large familiar case from the corner. “Here’s your favourite tools. Should be everything you need in there.”
As we got ready to open the airlock, Diamond put on her holo-emitter and pulled out a long stun baton. Sphene was holding a large bat of some sort. I have no idea where she was hiding it.
The door opened and we were off.
The Rainbow wasn’t large; it had a bridge at the front with three seats, a triple bunk room, a washroom, a tiny nook that served as the kitchen, and an engine room in the back.
The ship was designed to be piloted by three people; an engineer, a gunner, and a psychic. The jump drive attached to the ship could go anywhere in the solar system in seconds, but without a psychic, there was no way to do the math required. Most regular ships used the jump gates that took the math out of the equation, so to speak.
The two airlock hatches were between the kitchen nook and the engine room. The other crew had docked on the starboard and we’d docked on the port. The double docking ports allowed for the ships to connect and do longer jumps. At least that was the theory. I’d never been involved in the inter-system jumps and never met anyone who’d come back. It also allowed for adding storage or personnel carrier pods.
The Mountain must have been more cautious than Diamond because we were already onboard and ready to protect the small ship before they opened their airlock. Diamond was on the side of the kitchen and living quarters, Onyx tried to look intimidating on the other side, blocking me from view as I fixed the engine, and Sphene stood in our airlock.
I expected a gunfight, instead I got a tense standoff. The first person I saw coming out of the airlock looked less like a mountain and more like a hill, or bump. He came to midway up my chest. His deep voice however left no ambiguity as to who he was, “Diamond you old jackass, did you really risk decompression and the cold of space to beat us to this thing?”
They’d had no idea that the ship had air or that it didn’t have any hole to the outside. That was either reckless or brave. Not much difference there.
“Yeah and my bet paid off, as usual. You gonna fight us? Sphene would love another shot at your daughter.”
I tried not to laugh as I ran diagnostics. I had disabled the ship and added a code that no one but me could know. With enough time and the right computer it could be unlocked, but I didn’t need either.
“You can’t possibly think you can fix this thing or pilot it?” The Mountain said. I punctuated his words by turning on the ship’s main power. “Well, you can’t possibly pilot it.”
“And you can?” Diamond asked.
“I can’t, but I hired someone who can.” The words made me go cold. The only people who could pilot this ship were Black-Sun agents or Black-Sun deserters like me.
I turned on the protective shield for the engine room a split second before the stun grenade went off. Diamond, Sphene, and the Mountain fell to the ground. Onyx yelped and walked into the forcefield. “Why would they knockout their own people?”
“They didn’t. They invited Black-Sun to the party. Probably a Specter.”
Onyx pulled out his gun and tried to look brave. Specters were Black-Suns assassins and cleanup crew. They were the boogeyman that other boogeymen feared.
“Clever turning on the shield to stop the stun grenade, but you won’t live long enough to gloat,” the Specter said as he walked through the shield. They had a form of phasing that let them go through anything.
To Onyx’s credit he threw a punch that connected and I heard a crack before he fell to the ground unconscious.
While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories: