The deeper I crept into the ship, the more my confidence faded. Where was everyone? Neither the crew or the raiders were in sight. Hesitantly, I called out, “Captain Halon?”
The reply was a storm of footsteps.
“Oh no,” I whispered. I whirled and sprinted back toward the cargo bay. I didn’t even care if the raiders saw me or not, as long as they didn’t catch me. The raiders’ ship was ridiculously repetitive—all of the walls were steel, and nothing distinguished one hallway from another.
Bursting into the cargo bay, I barreled past the raiders in the midst of unloading. They were shouting, but I wasn’t comprehending anything. No one was able to stop me. They were too stunned, too unable to believe that someone was escaping.
When I escaped the clutches of the ship, the sunlight blinded me almost instantly. Nitana was one of many planet we visited with a binary star system; in simpler terms, there were two suns. I stumbled toward the broken Radiance, shielding myself from view behind a collapsed wing.
I doubled over, gasping for breath. Fear and my sprint had taken their toll on my lungs. I spent my days crammed on a spaceship fixing mechanical problems, not running marathons.
I squished myself against the side of the ship, its edges now jagged from damage. I prayed none of the raiders would notice me. Why was this even happening? We weren’t soldiers. The army just didn’t have enough ships to transport its more dangerous cargo itself. It didn’t mean we were prepared to fight.
A raider came into view, his dark eyes locking with mine. Was today a holiday no one had told me about? Let’s Make Marina’s Life As Difficult As Possible Day?
I exhaustedly rose to my feet, preparing to run. The raider didn’t signal the others, he simply shook his head at me, motioning with his hand discreetly to get down.
I squinted at him curiously. What was he doing. He waved at the ground, now more frantically wanting me to duck. Unsure of what else to do, I took cover behind the crumpled wing.
“I think she went the other way.” The raider announced loudly. The sounds of the other raiders faded, obviously believing their fellow criminal. I breathed a small sigh of relief.
The raider approached me when he deemed it was safe, and I began preparing my speech of thanks. Before I could, the words caught in my throat and choked me. I recognized the face. It was the raider I had knocked out on the Radiance. He wanted to claim the credit for catching me or something?
I wanted to bolt, but he was already an arm’s length away. “I’ll shoot you.” I said. “You’re not taking me on that ship.”
“Wasn’t planning on it.” He smiled cockily. “You’re my ticket out of here.”
“The name’s Talon.”
“Are you going to try to convince me that you’re trying to help me? You just kidnapped my crewmates!”
Talon’s eyes darted toward the ship. “I do this for the money, not because I particularly enjoy kidnapping people.”
“You might want to give them back.” I pointed the gun at him shakily. “Let them go before the other raiders come back.”
“I think they’ve already been transferred to another ship or sold. We’ve been at port for at least twenty minutes, and the captains here are desperate for workers. Whenever we land they half attack us.”
“Which ship and which people?”
He shrugged. “I honestly have no idea. I’m trying to get out of here anyway. I just needed a good opportunity to get away. This happens to be the perfect one, if we hurry up.”
“We?” I scoffed.
“Do you really want to be sold? You’re the mechanic, aren’t you? Mechanics, pilots, and captains go for quite a bit of dough. I might be able to help you get your crew back, too.”
“And what reason do you have for helping me, after trying to kill me a minute ago?”
“I saved your life, as I recall. Otherwise the raiders would have seen you.” He said. “There’s a really good coffee shop not far from here. Trust me, the raiders on that ship aren’t the brightest bunch. They wouldn’t find us.”
I hesitated. I couldn’t stick around here, but the prospect of being alone was somehow even more terrifying than being caught. “Fine.”
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