The Tigris Chronicles Book 1: The Mysterious Package

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Panteris Publishing


It's an after Earth Sci-Fi that's funny and truly entertaining. For more information please feel free to read it. I can't say anything more than I have or I'll spoil everything. Don't take my word
for it, just jump into it.

Submitted: April 22, 2018

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Submitted: March 31, 2018

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The Tigris Chronicles

Book One The Mysterious Package Written by Michael Panteris

This story takes place in a very grim future for the human race. Our planet is shattered. There are pieces of it all over Sol Sector. Six Humans remain alive. I am one of those six. I am Captain Benjamin Yinto. I captain the fastest freighter ever built, The Tigris. As a courier I'm used to delivering strange parcels to the farthest reaches of the universe. However when a delivery is thrust upon me by my friend I couldn't say no. I was to deliver a package to the other side of the universe. I've never been late for a delivery, and that includes this one too. During this delivery though I'll figure out who, or what, my friends really are and even make some more along the way. So, please come and join me for the adventure, if you dare. After all, some want fun and adventure, and some want to wet themselves at the very thought. Which one are you?

Chapter 1 The Pick Up

This is the year 9931. Don’t ask me what century it is because I stopped counting after the destruction of Earth. I guess I’d better tell you about that first so that you’ll understand what the rest of this tale is all about. Earth was destroyed eons ago. I am one of only a few humans left. My name is Benjamin Yinto. I am the captain of the Tigris, the fastest delivery ship in the entire known universe. Although I wasn’t around when the Earth was destroyed, I know the story. We, as a race, were a greedy bunch of humans. We paid the price for that though. We were so convinced that we were the center of our universe. Then some guy in an unknown country pushed a button and started a war with a concealed dark matter bomb. That was our fate, and it was sealed. We didn’t know about it until it went off. We that survived had to find a new planet, and fast. We filled six ships with five hundred people each. We escaped to the International Space Station. That held us all… until we started going mad. We started killing each other off. Now, after several centuries, here I am, one of only six humans left. Well, it was six the last time I heard. My parents barely escaped on the only ship that came to rescue the survivors. The aliens that rescued them needed a crew, so my parents joined them. The captain was a good natured hot head. As I grew up my father told me that I had a lot of the captain’s personality traits and I think he often secretly wondered if my mother had an affair with their captain. He always loved me and treated me with the love any real father would his own son. He never showed me or my mother any animosity. And in return my mother showed him all the love a wife could give. As far as I knew their marriage was the best in the universe. That of course was just a façade. They fought constantly, or so I found out one day. My father was a very understanding man. He loved me and my mother with his whole self, and then one day he had had enough. We were docked at a trading planet with a lot of other freighters. I heard my mother yelling at my father, so I hid among a stack of containers packed with aqua. My world ended that day as he hopped a freighter to an unknown destination and disappeared forever. That was my childhood. I grew up in a lie. After my father left my mother and me, she became sad and sick. Shortly after she just gave up on life and died. I was left alone in a very large and unforgiving universe. I had a very hard time forgiving my father for leaving. It took me forty of our earth centuries to learn how to forgive him. That’s right it took four thousand years to learn to forgive.

I’ll explain the longevity. It’s simple really. Our species is seen as the simplest form of life. We’re made up of sub-particles and the technology to fix those sub-particles is known to every alien in the universe. Therefore it only stands to reason that they’d know how to fix us when we get broke. Well the captain was nice enough to keep me on as part of his crew. He taught me the meaning of leadership. How to work twice as hard as the rest of the crew, he also taught me that being a captain doesn’t mean that you can lie around being lazy. That there needs to be a strong sense of loyalty and respect for the crew and from them. As a gift for my loyalty and service he gave me an elixir that has helped me stay alive all this time and probably forever. That is until my sub-particles get blasted to every end of the universe. The elixir is a life sustaining, sub-particle healing enhancement. It allows me to heal at the sub-particle level and I can regenerate at the millisecond rate. This tends to come in handy in my line of work. While the captain was on his deathbed, he gave me a warning that the crew was never going to accept me as captain and that I needed to get off his ship before the crew tried to annihilate me. I took his advice and now I have my own ship that is small enough not to need a crew. And I have to go and pick up a package from a friend of mine. Then I have to go and meet my new houseguest. To be continued for now. Captains Log off. Man I hate these old machines sometimes. Dialogue day two, Okay so I was on my way to the spot to meet the man or alien or whatever my friend had in mind to help me with my delivery, here’s the layout of the delivery. This delivery landed in my lap, and even though I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that this delivery was safe, I had no choice but to take the job. It was more of an obligation to fulfill. I owed my friend a favor for a very large job that he gave me. There were a couple of hitches though. The first hitch was that my new contact was an old acquaintance of my friend, so I didn’t know which of them orchestrated this little meeting. When I asked the contact what this delivery was, I was told that it was none of my business. Unfortunately, that was exactly what I expected from him. The second hitch was the reason I took the job… money. Now I’m not the greedy type, but the money for this little run was excellent. The money meant that I was finally going to be able to get this creaking tub to my standards. I was making my way toward the Golden Grill. It used to be one of earths fine dining establishments. Now it’s a scum’s paradise. That’s the spot where I was to pick up this mysterious package and my new houseguest. I hoped we were going to get along or it was going to turn out to be one long run. Let me set the scene of my rendezvous for you. Sol sector is the home of the Milky Way Galaxy, we know this right? Earth was the planet that was our home. Now there are pieces of it scattered all over the sector. The piece I’m going to is a safe haven for the worst of the worst, alien and human alike. Luckily for me I have a real insider view of this place. I’ve had to deliver to this place a few times. This was the first time I’d picked up from this place though. Believe me; I was not looking forward to it. As I enter this fine establishment the scent of stale old fashioned ale hits my nostrils and makes my hairs curl. I got a whiff of the forgens, (They’re kind of like the cigarettes, but with more of a bold cigar look to it), that a Botar is smoking. A Botar looks like a gorilla and a grizzly bear had babies. It smells like a combination of year old garbage and a fishing boat that was left in the desert for a century with the fish still in it. The grill looked like an Irish pub, from the pictures on the walls to the wood flooring, and faded wallpaper. This place is as dingy as it gets, yet torn up as it is; it has a kind of charm to it. Denizens excluded of course. I’m the only human in the place. Here’s the layout. I’m sitting facing the entrance. I can see everyone in the place from the very back booth where I’m seated. Everything here spells doom if anything gets the urge to turn me into a human piñata. There are four Lolarians sitting by the entrance playing cards. They’re eyeing me, like they’re sizing me up. The two Pilej are mad dogging me. They’re by far the most formidable. They look like Arnold Schwarzenegger on steroids, having a really bad day. The six Tona’s look like they’re ready to do something. But then again they’re always on guard. They look like basketball players that have been playing with the taffy pullers for a few years. Really tall and lanky, and they have three heads which they use to see in all directions at once. They can see anything and everything going on around them. I had a really good seat in case I needed to make a fast escape, while I was waiting for the drop. Someone was going to leave a file on my houseguest for me to go over and analyze. And then it came. One of the Tona’s came over and as he was on his way to the little aliens room, he dropped it on the table without looking at me. Upon opening the file, I saw her picture. Then I started reading. I had to admit, my friend really did his homework this time. He sent me a file that went all the way back to her childhood. What it didn't give me was the name of the drop off point. It did give the coordinates though. Looks like I won't get to find out the name until I get back aboard my ship. “Can I get you anything Captain Yi

nto?” she asked standing there in her old fashioned dress that didn’t look remotely Irish. It was more of a ball gown from the twentieth century. She was stunning though. “Huh, oh uh, I want a supernova over Halley’s Comet, and steak and eggs” I said as she surprised me. She had a flawless, medium purple complexion, with soft lavender eyes. Her hair was a royal purple with black streaks. I couldn’t help but wonder what a girl of her caliber was doing working here. “Sure, steak and eggs. That’s really funny” she said while rolling her eyes. “Well, at least you smirked” I said trying to be charming. “I’ll bring your drink Captain” she said shaking her head as she walked away. I should’ve guessed that she had a mean streak a mile long. Something that I would soon experience first hand, “Thanks,” I say as I watch her walk away knowing something’s not quite right. Should I even stay to talk to her, I asked myself. Hmmm, there’s an old American proverb, ‘When in doubt, don’t’. “Here you are sir” she said with a mischievous glint in her eye. “Thank you.” I said feigning gratitude. As I drank it I thought, ‘well, I hope it’s not drugged. If it is I’m in big trouble.’ The problem with that is I won’t know it until it’s too late. Oh well, here’s to unplanned events, bottoms up. When I was about half way done with it I felt woozy, and my head started spinning. I ended up taking a nap right there.

Chapter 2 The Trouble

When I woke up I had no idea what happened, or where I was. My first thought was, ‘I admit it, and I should’ve left without drinking my Supernova over Halley’s Comet.’ However, it was too late to start worrying about that. Why it is that hindsight is always twenty-twenty? Then I recognized where I was. I was in my infirmary. So at least someone brought me back to my ship. ‘This is nuts,’ I thought, ‘I get drugged, and end up here on my ship because my houseguest… wait a minute,’ it was then that I realized I was bound at my wrists. Well, two could play this game. Uh oh, she’s coming. I lay down and pretended I was still knocked out. I heard her coming closer. The door opened and she walked up to the bed and she stood there. She did something, but I couldn’t tell what it was. I thought for sure she would’ve been talking to the one who ordered this. I was wrong. She was just standing there quietly, and that made me even more nervous. She said my name in a sweet voice. She said it again a little louder and somehow sweeter. So I fluttered my eyes ever so slightly, then I jumped pretending to be startled and disoriented. She immediately picked up on my little act. (Guys you can’t fool women so stop trying, oh and mom’s are included in that just a little tip from the Captain.) “I thought you were going to shoot me. After all you have your piece aimed at my forehead.” (I had a wrist mounted micro laser i was using to cut the bonds on my wrists.) I turned it on and cut the bonds, while she was talking about her ideas on my ships uses. “So that’s why you drugged me?” I asked dumfounded. “Yeah, I need your ship. Is that so hard to understand?” she asked with an attitude. “No, I just don’t know why you‘d go through this much trouble” I stated plainly. “I’ll tell you once you tell me how to get this thing underway” she said not giving me a choice. “Okay well, you go to the bridge, set the decompression chamber for five minutes. Then go to the chamber and press the button marked release” I said with totally undisguised sarcasm. “Oh you’re so witty Captain, did you use whatever brain cells you had left on that joke? You shouldn‘t have, you know. Humans have so few to begin with, and you’re getting too old to be wasting any of them.” “Come on; tell me why you really drugged me.” “That is the reason.” “Are you serious? What’s really going on?” “Nothing… Honest.” “Cut the games.” “I’m serious; nothing is going on, why don’t you believe me?” “Oh gee, I don’t know, maybe because you tried to steal my ship.” “Oh man, can’t you let that drop? I haven‘t stolen your ship.” “Not yet you haven’t.” “Well, where’s the faith or the trust?” “Look there’s only one person I put my faith in and it doesn’t happen to be you.” “You are so jaded.” “I know, because I don’t trust me either.” “What?” she asked outraged. “Then who is it?” “Ah, just this guy in a book I found a long time ago.” “You put your faith in a fictional character?” “He’s not a fictional character. He was a living man from eons ago, back when Earth still existed. He is, was, and always will be.” “Okay so what does he have to do with you, and why you put your faith in him?” “Well why don’t you help me get this creaking tub out of here, and I’ll tell you all about him. Well everything that I’ve figured out so far anyway.” “Alright, we have a long trip ahead of us, so why not?” I’m using this time to get acquainted with her and trying not to show the interest I have in what she needs my ship for. I mean, that was a pretty stupid stunt she pulled. So I pretended to go through the checklist one item at a time as fast as I can so that she can’t remember which of the buttons or switches to hit in order to make this thing go. I even have her empty the garbage. “Well we’re ready to get this thing out of here. Push that lever to release the clamps.” As soon as she does that, I touch the invisi-screen where the launch controls really are. I set our coordinates for the nearest quasar. We’re there in five minutes. When we got through the other side, I set the ships navitron to our next stop. Just as I was setting the computer for the next leg of our delivery I was struck by an idea. Maybe I could get her to like me just a little. This way she wouldn’t be such a pain in the hind quarters. I let the idea drop with complete skepticism and continued what I was doing. What ever this delivery was, I hoped it was worth it.

Chapter 3 The Vastness

As we’re making our way through this part of the universe, the star known to me from astrology class as Betelgeuse, is sucking us in. The gravitational forces of the gigantic star are about to tear my ship apart, molecule by molecule if I don‘t do something fast. “We’re getting closer Captain, do something!” “Well, I’m open to suggestions!” I said with a confidence that just wasn’t there. I felt like the sea captain in the ancient earth joke about the captain and his brown pants. “I don’t know anything about escaping the gravity of stars!” she said in a panicky shriek. “Well I guess that can go down as something that we have in common” I said with a tiny bit of humor. As we got closer to the star, the claxon sounded, telling me that we were about to suffer damage to the main structure of the ship. “What’s that sound?” she asked clearly annoyed. “Oh nothing, that’s just the structural integrity of the ship failing!” “Doesn’t this ship have structural integrity shields?” “Have you been watching Star Trek again?” I asked not thinking about how the remark was going to age me. “What’s Star Trek?” she asked not getting the reference, much to my benefit. “Never mind, look, this ship isn’t up to my standards, so I know it isn’t up to yours. If you can build a trillion ton antigravity shield in ten seconds I’m willing to let you try” I said as I tried not to show the annoyance that I was feeling at that moment. “Will you stop being cynical? This really isn’t the time for it!” “Really, I thought now was the perfect time for it!” I said letting my anger help me to focus on my task, which was getting us out of this mess in one piece. Just when our cookies were baked so-to-speak, the star exploded into a huge supernova. The shockwave would have blasted us into a million trillion atoms, had it not been for my quick thinking. Just before Betelgeuse exploded I put the ship into light speed. The star held us there trapped by the gravity. But just before it went supernova the gravity let go of us and we went faster than light. The bad news is, now we’re now going in the wrong direction. The good news is we’re not dying, for now anyway. “Sorry, I would have given you a play by play, but there wasn’t enough time” I told her as she stood there staring at me in what looked like confused amusement. “So now that we’re out of that mess, what’s next?” she asked trying to be playful. “Please don’t ask that question.” “Why not” “Every time someone asks that something bad… happens. Oh great,” the proximity alert sounded at that very moment. “We have company.” As I saw who was coming to dinner, I knew it was time to evade and outrun them. This is just one more thing that we didn’t need, especially not now. “Who could that be all the way out here?” she asked expecting an answer I really wasn’t going to give right now. “I don’t know, but they don’t look friendly.” “Really, I hadn’t noticed! What kind of ship are they flying?” “It’s a Pilej Junker! Now leave me alone.” “Can you outrun them or at least out maneuver them?” she asked with real concern. “Look lady, this ship may not look like much, but she can fly circles around that bucket of bolts on her worst day. Now allow her to work her magic.” “Okay…” she said as she was about to say something more but was brought up short. I touched the screen to make the ship do a figure eight around the Junker. Now you need to understand that the Junker is a salvage ship. It looks like a Twinkie with thrusters, it’s not very maneuverable. So when I told her that my ship could fly circles around it, I wasn’t kidding. But the idea is to make them try to trap us so that by the time they’re on top of us I can maneuver my ship to be on the opposite side, so they can’t see which way I went when I go to light speed. Are you with me? Okay good. Now, they were coming. They had their cargo bay door open at the center of the ship just like I thought, and now I do a short burst of my bow and aft thrusters, and do a one-eighty and then I touch this button and we jump a short distance to the rear of their ship. Okay we are now at the aft of their ship and now to go to light speed. Once I did that we were clear. By the time they could maneuver their ship to track our oh-two, plasma trail, we had already changed course to our real heading. We set a course toward the Liamole Galaxy. In the Liamole Galaxy they have this small planet inside a Cats Eye type nebula. This planet is a prime spot to recharge the ships sub-atomic- particle accelerators, (a little invention I cooked up), and fill our oh-two plasma tanks. That’s what makes my ship so fast. “What are we looking for?” “Huh?” “What…are…we…looking…for?” “We’re looking for a place to recharge.” “Don’t you mean refuel?” “That too, but this thing doesn’t just take the normal fuel that’s known for polluting the universe. It also has batteries.” “Okay, how long do we have to be there to refuel and recharge?” “It’ll take less than a universal minute.” “Oh good I thought it was going to take all day.” “Why? These batteries are almost self sustaining.” “Yeah, but the batteries I know about have a very short life span.” “Well trust me; these are nothing like the ones you know about.” “Well thank your ship for getting us out of danger for me will you?” “Yeah sure, no problem, it’s only going to take us an hour to reach the next stop, so go relax” “Aye-aye captain” she said trying to make some kind of salute. Man, she’s really starting to bug me. Take it from me ladies this has nothing to do with women in general, just this one in particular. Okay so a little detail I forgot to mention earlier, this delivery was supposed to be done in ten hours. If it doesn’t get completed in that time frame I don’t get paid.

Chapter 4 Vanishing Princess

We arrived at the planet without incident. Now if all goes smoothly through the atmosphere it might just be a good trip, with an expedient delivery and exchange. Plus I still have five hours left. “Oh good you’ve gotten yourself ready for the exchange.” “Oh good you’ve gotten that lobotomy you needed.” “What’s the matter princess? I thought you’d like the idea of being off my ship.” “Yeah, I definitely need to get away from you. You’re a crackpot, Captain.” “Hey what’s with the personal attacks? What did I do to you that made you feel I was unsafe to be around?” “Just that little run in with the Pilej.” “That wasn’t my fault.” “I didn’t say it was your fault. I just said I was blaming you.” “That’s not fair.” “The Universe isn’t fair. If it was, I wouldn’t have been sold into slavery!” “What? You’re a slave? I didn’t know, honest.” “That I believe.” “So Maija, what are you going to do next?” “I have no idea.” “Well I pray that you will have all the time you need to figure it out.” “I’ll make the time.” Now we were docking at the station. This isn’t the final stop, but we only have a fifteen minute trip ahead of us at max output. We’re almost out of the woods. I can finally get this bucket fixed up like I want. We’re finished recharging and now I’m running through the checklist. However, I wonder what’s keeping Maija. She was going to the market for a new headdress or something like that. I better go and look for her. I’ve never lost a houseguest yet and she’s no exception. Well, after an hour at the market searching for her, all I found was her bag of holding. This is not good. I asked around and a local owner said that he saw a woman matching Maijas’ description being hauled off by two very large Pilej and a Werthite. A Werthite looks kind of like a wolf walking on its hind legs wearing spiked armor with a micro magnetron amplifier. It looked like it was up to me to save Maija. It was going to be perfect. She was going to be so mad that she had to be saved by the likes of me. Oh man, I wish you could see the look on her face. Man, it’ll be priceless. I got back to the ship as fast as I could and started computing the tracking sensors for Junkers leaving the area. That’s also a little something I rigged for the ship. Ships can scan, no problem, but to scan for a specific ship that has come or gone, is a different story. Oh well, well, well, what have we here only twenty minutes out? That was the one, but the Werthite High Command came with them. Those guys are insane. I needed a plan. I went about devising a plan to swindle the swindlers. However, I had no uniforms and no weapons like theirs. I couldn’t sneak onto their ship, or could I? I used the distress beacon trick, and hoped like Heaven it worked. ‘Please God let this work’ I pleaded. I started setting my ship to a crippled state. I put my engines at the least output, added a little carbon monoxide gas, mixed with helium, methane, and hydrogen, to mask my ships obviously working environmental systems, set the illuminators for emergency capacity, and started setting things up for the sparking electro systems all over the ship. Then I added steam to the air to add the final touch of realism. I hoped it didn’t take too long. I didn’t have much time to rescue her.

Chapter 5 Big Trouble

Well, it had been over an hour and I only had two and a half hours left. I wondered what was taking them so long. Ah speak of trouble, and guess who shows up to dinner? I took a closer look at my guests. “Oh no,” I thought… “Okay I can handle this.” Here’s where it gets interesting. The guests included a convict transport ship, and a junk ship. The junk ship doesn’t look like the normal salvage ships. It’s a Galaxy Fed ship. This meant I was getting paid a visit by a High Counsel Member. This was way worse than I had figured on. However I thought I could still handle it. It would of course take a little improvising. “Unidentified craft, this is the Unified High Command for the Galactic Federation, do you comprehend, over.” Okay there they were. I pushed the button to bring it up on the win. Screen, and in a weird old fashioned Texas style accent, I answered, “Well howdy, thanks for answering my distress call. Did you get the part I needed?” “Yes, how did you get all the way out here? What are your origins?” This was the High Counsel Member speaking. “My origins, what does my origins got to do with me been out here?” “TELL US WHAT WE WANT TO KNOW!” demanded the GFO, (Galaxy Federal Officer) basically the second in command. “Okay, Okay, don’t have a calf. I hailed all the way out from the Cats Eye Nebula, in the Beta quadrant.” “Who knows you’re out here?” politely asked the High Counsel Member. “Just my employer and his client. Got some sort of thingy-ma-jig to deliver.” “We’re coming aboard to inspect this, thingy-ma-jig,” said the GFO in his usual tone, “prepare to be boarded.” Their idea of boarding a ship is for them to dock my ship in their cargo bay. This is exactly how I planned it would go. But I still needed to figure out how to get to Maija once they take me to their con transport ship. This was where improvising came into play. “Welcome to our cargo bay captain, I’m sure your ship will find it to our liking.” said the very uncouth GFO. “What do you mean to your liking, I’m getting her back, right?” “No, we’re confiscating it. Your ship now belongs to us. Talaxar take this con to the con transport, immediately.” “Yes sir,” said the lower ranking officer as he nudged me with the butt of his Carrion Maker. That’s a type of gun by the way. It kind of looks like a double barrel sawed off shotgun, that’s been sawed all the way down to the stock. This thing makes a serious mess. The officer restrained me with plasma strips. Then we instantly commuted ourselves to the con ship using a device on the officer’s wrist. As we walked toward a big set of white double doors, I got an idea. Maybe I can catch this guy off guard. Talk to him nicely and try to get him to let me take him prisoner instead of the other way around. It was a long shot, but heck all I could do was try, right? “Hey Talaxar, you know I got the feeling you’re really a nice guy under that tough guy façade. I’ll bet you really hate this part of your job. Am I right?” “Just keep walking human,” he said with a hint of disgust. “In fact I’m willing to bet you hate it so much that you wish the Universal High Command for the Galactic Federation, would be overthrown. I know I do.” “Just keep walking” he said with more impatience than disgust. “Look if you talk real quiet like no one but I can hear you. It’ll be our little secret, nobody has to know, honest.” “Look even if I wanted to say that the UHCGF needed to be overthrown who’s going to do it? Who’ll stand up and fight them? I can’t I’ll lose my standing with the counsel” he said conspiratorially. “I will. I even have a plan for it, but it will require your help, if you’re willing.” “I already told you I can’t stand against them.” That’s the beauty of it, you don’t need to, all you have to do is let me trade places with you. I won’t even put you in a cell I’ll leave you somewhere safe so that when you wake up you’ll have a fresh uniform and a weapon. It’ll be like you delivered me and no one will ever find out otherwise.” “That’s your plan? How would you leave me somewhere safe, that don’t include a cell?” “I could leave you in the clothes closet, with your weapon, would that work?” “No that wouldn’t work, there needs to be a body in the cell.” “Hey that’s it. You can take me into the cell, I can make a bunch of noise and you call the other guard for help and we jump him and take his uniform and weapon. You still don’t get found out.” “That might work, but it might take some tweaking.” “So we have a deal?” “Yeah, we have a deal,” then he said, “but I have to treat you a little rough.” “I understand, but don’t hit me in the face… please.” He thought about it and finally said, “Okay, not the face.” We got to the end of our little walk through the maze and he opened the double doors. We walked towards a large desk with a Werthite sitting at it. He looked up from his Galactic Times and said, “They’re expecting you in holding block one,” and he went back to reading his paper. As we walked down a corridor Talaxar said, “That’s a bit of luck” he said. I noticed he wasn’t as tense as he was a minute ago. I could only trust that he knew what he was doing. At this point if I so much as whisper, there’ll be one less human in the universe. I just hope that the cell is in a good spot. We pass another check point. At this point I’m keeping my head down. The last thing I want is for this guy to recognize me. I didn’t do that with the Werthite, because I needed him to recognize my face. Werthitians are more for muscle. They have very short memories and one sitting out front means that he’s guarding the doors. When I go out there again he’ll recognize my face and think he’s seen me as the guard who brought me through no more than half an hour ago. As we walk into the cell block, there was no going back, we were locked into the plan. So we got to my new home, and we started phase two. I made a ruckus and Talaxar yelled for the guard to come and help. “Hey, stop, no you…get away from me. Hey Dar, don’t just sit there help me, this prisoner’s trying to escape.” “I’ll call it in.” “No, just get your tail in here will you, by the time they get here he will have escaped.” “Alright, what’s he doing that’s so troublesome?” As he gets in the room we both jump him. Talaxar gets him from the top as I go for his legs. We topple him then we start the wailing process. We wail on him until he’s knocked out, which only takes a few seconds. We take his uniform and I put it on, as Talaxar puts my clothing on the much sedated guard. Then Talaxar locks the cell door. I make my way to Maijas’ cell to move her. When I get there I got a surprise, right in the back of the head.

Chapter 6 The Get Away

I’m now lying on the floor feeling like my brains are falling out. “Take that you vile guard,” she says with complete disdain. “Wait, it’s me, though I almost forgot who I was. So you’re alive after all” I said as I wobbled warily to my feet, rubbing what is going to be a very nasty goose egg. “Of course I’m alive, once they realized I was of some use to them, they let me live.” “Okay, now I’m curious. What kind of use were you? If you said anything about me or my ship, I’ll leave you here in their very capable hands.” “That’s not the kind of help I was talking about. They were going to torture me into giving up information on the family I was a slave to.” “Umm, why would the UHCGF want intel on your slavers?” “They’re a powerful family in the Universal Command Counsel.” “Wait a minute, how powerful?” “Look, can we discuss this after you get me out of this horrid place?” “Oh, uh, sure.” “Here let me slip these on you” I said putting plasma strips on her wrists. Very loosely, of course. I might have needed her to help me with the guards. “Okay, I take it you have a plan” she said skeptically, proffering her wrists. “You bet your assets I do. Just follow my lead.” “You know you’re going to get us both caught, right? “Oh ye of little faith. Look I just happen to have all of this under control.” “I know I’m going to regret this, but lead the way.” As we made our way to the desk where Talaxar sat waiting for our arrival, we encountered a small dilemma. The guard who was accompanying the High Counsel Member was coming straight toward us. “What do you think you’re doing with that prisoner?” “I’m taking her to the High Commander on the captured vessel, sir,” I said without hesitating. “Good then Talaxar gave you the message as ordered.” “Yes sir.” “Carry on then.” “Yes sir.” We got to the big set of double doors. After opening them we made our way down the corridor to my ship. “Great now what do you have planned from here, genius?” “I’m working on it.” “What kind of answer is, ‘I’m working on it’?” “An honest one” I said with the urge to leave her stranded on a deserted planetoid. “What!? You mean you didn’t plan for this part of the rescue?” “Honestly, no, I didn’t think we’d make it this far.” “Oh great.” “Hey wait a minute; I have the guards instant transport device. I can configure it to land somewhere else on the ship.” “Which means?” “Which means, that I can land us in the weapons bay. You do know how to reconfigure semi-warp rockets… right?” “Yeah, sure, no problem” she said with a cocky tone. “Are you sure?” “Yeah, piece of cake just give me a few minutes with them and they’ll be reconfigured” she said with confidence. “Alright, that’s where we’re headed then.” “The armor bay?” “You bet.” “Won’t they detect us?” “Nah, the radiation levels in that part of the ship, though faked are real to the sensors. They won’t be able to detect us.” “Well, that’s reassuring.” “Here we go.” As we landed in the armor bay, I noticed that someone had been poking around. As Maija opened one of the rockets, she found nothing inside. “Great, now what are we supposed to do?” “Umm, okay just give me a second, I can figure this out.” “Well you better hurry up I’m sure they’ll be back. Even if they weren’t, you still have to take me before the High Commander.” “Yeah I know that. Wait I know, I’ll use my fogger to release some of my stored exhaust from my ship.” “Wait, you store exhaust from your ships exhaust ports?” “Yeah, it acts as fuel when I’m running low, that way I can make it to a fueling station.” “Wow, that’s kind of interesting.” “Okay, releasing exhaust… now.” As we walked toward the cockpit of my ship she asks, “So, how is this supposed to help us with our escape?” “You are joking… right? I guess not. Look is fuel flammable?” “Yeah, of course.” “Well, isn’t exhaust just expelled fuel vapors?” “Okay Mr. Wizard. Don’t pull that brain magic on me. So how do you plan to detonate it?” “Actually, I won’t. They will.” “Look you’re being way too cryptic for me. So I’m going to do something I really don’t want to do.” “What’s that?” “Trust that you know exactly what you’re doing.” “Oh that’s really… honest of you,” I sigh. We get to the cockpit of my ship and see the High Commander standing there. “Well there you are. I was expecting you ten minutes ago.” “Sir, I’m unfamiliar with the ship. I got lost. Sorry sir, it won’t happen again.” “I’m tired of your incompetence,” he said as he raised his Carrion Maker, “You’re right it’ll never…” Out of nowhere a blast from another Carrion Maker, hits him right in his butt. As he gets hit, he raised his blaster and fired at the ceiling. It all happened like a three -d-motion viewer, in extreme slow motion. You knew where it went frame by frame. Luckily it hit the armored plating covering the self destruct button. I had my micro laser primed just in case he decided to shoot us. I hit the firing mechanism and the laser shot out cutting off his fingers so he couldn’t fire again. He dropped his blaster immediately. Now, understand that I wasn’t so cruel as to leave his hands in the condition where someone else would have to feed him for the rest of his life. No, He can still have his fingers reattached. I did however make note to have his trigger finger reattached backwards, so he couldn’t fire his blaster again. I’ll bet you’re wondering who shot the High Commander in the butt, right? Well it was the High Commanders’ second in command. “I never really liked the way he ran the counsel. He was mean” he said as he gave us a smirk. “This might be a long shot, but are we allowed to go now?” I asked wondering if he was going to shoot us next. “Yeah, you’re free to go. I’m sorry for all of the trouble that he caused you two. Is there anything I can do for you… seeing as how I need to make this up to you somehow?” he asked with a smile. “Well there is one thing, if you don’t mind that is.” “Name it.” “I have a delivery to make and a couple minutes to deliver it.” “Yeah, I think we can help you with that task.” “Thank you, we appreciate it” she and I say in unison. “The way I see it, the UHCGF owes you. Hold on, we’ll use the instant transport. Ensign, lay in course…” he looked at me to provide the coordinates. “Two-eight-zero mark three-one-nine” I finished. “Yes sir.” “Don’t worry we’ll be there in minutes” said the new High Commander. After about three minutes we dropped out of the synchronous singularity. “Well, kiddies we’re here, all ashore that’s going ashore.” “Hey Commander, if I might ask for one more thing.” “Well, you are pressing your luck, but go ahead and ask anyway.” “May I have my ship back?” “Is that all, I thought you were going to ask for a million aktars. Of course you can have your ship back. Ensign open the cargo bay.” “Cargo bay open Commander.” “Release the docking shackles.” “Docking shackles are being released, sir.” “Alert me when the ship is ready for departure.” “Aye, sir.” After five minutes we were off of their ship. Two minutes after that and we were docking at one of the planets many moors. “Well, we have a little less than two hours, where would you like to go first?” “As I was going to tell you before I was woman napped, I know this beautiful little café in the mountains overlooking a vast lake.” “Sounds… romantic,” I say as I wiggle my eyebrows. “Oh, shut up… you really don’t know anything about women do you Captain?” “I can honestly say that women are alien to me.” “Well, at least you’re honest about it. Look, I’ll pay for the ride there, but you have to buy the meal, deal?” “Oh all right, you leave me no choice.” “There is one condition.” “What condition is that?” “This is not a date” she said emphatically. “Oh really, don’t flatter yourself.” After a long ride in an ancient Earth styled peddle cab, we arrive to the base of the mountain. We get in a short line and get into a gondola that looked like it was from the same era as the peddle cart and start a very long trip up to the point where we get out at the café. Honestly it doesn’t look like much from the doors. We entered the huge French doors that look like something from an old earth bed and breakfast. The café was built in the classic Victorian style of ancient earth houses. It was all, how should I put it… quite quaint. We were seated at our table and she ordered a very old earth delicacy, a bacon cheese burger. I had a beer. I had never tasted it before. It was gross. So I sent it back and had an old fashion soda. The Cooky Cola was delicious. She loved her all mutated beef patty. The cloned pork bacon and the real Wise Acre cheese. It came with freeze dried lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and a pile of fries. They have a new freezing company that works wonders on veggies. The company that clones the veggies is a different story. When the servant brought the check, I about died four times over. “I’m not paying that price for this smudge. You tricked me. I wouldn’t pay that price if we were married!” I exclaimed indignantly. “Well I’m not paying for this,” she said crossing her arms. It was at that time I looked into her eyes and saw the beautiful way they glinted and sparkled. What was happening? Why was I looking at them like this? Then it hit me. “Oh you’re good” I said with a smirk. “Why are looking at me like that?” she asked with a funny look. “Cause you like me” I said with a hopeful look. “I’ll admit it, you’re cute, but not that cute” she said with, an oh so wickedly sexy, gleam in her purple eyes. Then I conceded, “All right I’m paying the check, but it's because we need to get out of here, not for any other reason.” “What ever you need to tell yourself, Captain.”

Chapter 7 The Second Vanishing

We were being scoped out by some of the freakiest Dermons I’d ever seen, as we were getting ready to leave. I spotted them trying to look inconspicuous. You couldn’t keep from seeing them. They stood out like a cat at a mouse convention. She wanted to step out onto the balcony before we left the café and as usual I had to be the bad guy. That is a feeling I never enjoy. Well okay, almost never. This was one of those uncomfortable times. “We can’t stay Maija” I say trying to keep the urgency out of my voice. “Look, I’m going outside, you’re welcome to come with me, and I promise not to throw you over the edge. Deal?” she said with more than a little sarcasm. “I want to see the view, but not at this moment, we’re late and we’ve got to get out of here.” “What is with you, are you afraid of heights?” “No, heights don’t bother me, but the fall will surely kill us.” “I promised you I would behave myself, didn’t I?” she asked making her way to the balcony. “That’s not why I’m in such a hurry to leave” She turned and looked me in the eye, “what is it?” “Look over my shoulder. Do you see a pair of Dermons trying to look incognito?” Her eyes lit with fear, she stammered the words, “n no, b but I do see a pair of Dermons heading right for us.” I turned around just in time to dodge a huge flying fist and time enough to get out of the way of the second one too. “This is no time to be playing hero. Though it is a nice gesture” he said as he retook his stance. I grabbed an old fashioned silver pitcher and clocked the first Dermon with such force that I knocked his head around. He stood there for a second with a smile that was missing teeth. Then I used the same amount of strength to shove my elbow into his companion’s throat. I moved back into my fighting stance, and had enough time to duck a third Dermon about to hit me from behind. Then I saw him. It was my old friend. The one who gave me the delivery. He was sitting in a booth across the room watching with a kind of sly look on his squat face. He was not a nice looking alien in the least. So far as aliens go anyway. The females were staying as far away from him as they could. He wasn’t very pleasant in general. I started to move in his direction, but was immediately headed off by a goon the likes of which I’d never seen before. He stood at least thirteen feet and weighed as much as a freighter. It was all muscle and I wasn’t about to mess with this thing. Besides, he had four arms as big as me. “Time to go” I said as I grabbed her arm and dodged the big brute. We started running down a row of tables and managed to make it half way to the door before we were blocked by the first Dermon that woke up after I knocked him out. Maija did a flying jump kick that landed in the middle of his chest. She surfed him to the floor. We made our run for it, running over him and intentionally stepping on his face, and made it to the gondola. We started down the mountain and got about ten feet before we heard a bang from atop the car. The big brute swung down with one hand, grabbed Maija with another and managed to keep the car from moving with the other two. This thing was skilled. What was this thing? Where did he come from? Questions for which the answers would have to wait. I ran and reached for Maija, but only grabbed air. He let go of the car and I sped down the mountain. The loose cable coming taught again almost threw me out of the car. I managed to grab the side of the window and kept myself from taking a short but deadly flight. The car stopped at the dock just in time for me to catch a glimpse of my friend’s ship leaving the Café. Some friend he was. Now I was faced with another dilemma. Do I go after Maija again or do I just leave her in the hands of my so called friend? Well I do want to get paid. However, somehow I doubt that‘ll happen. I knew my answer. I ran to the dock my ship was at and started to take off. It was then that it hit me. A giant fist. It hit me on the top of my head. That was the brain buster of all brain busters. I collapsed in my seat. When I woke up I didn’t know where I was or how I got there. I looked around my new domicile and recognized it. It was the cargo hold of my ship. Which was now empty of everything but me. He made the first and last mistake. I know my ship better than anyone. There’s a secret passage that leads to the cockpit. I tried to move but try as I might I couldn’t. I was held down by my invisistraps. It’s a unique system that I arranged in a kind of spider web. It adjusts to the size I need for the load that I’m delivering. The field intensity is at its medium setting. Just strong enough to keep me from escaping. At least it would be, if I didn’t carry my key. My key is a plasma inhibiter. It breaks the contact from the chargers. I put my key in the way of a plasma beam and a loud snap told me that the connection was broken. Something was amiss though. Where was the guy who was supposed to be guarding me? The snap would have alerted anyone in the area, but I didn’t hear anyone coming. The port didn’t open. Which could mean something worse is coming. I didn’t wait for the cargo doors to open, I ran for the crawl space before they sent me into space. I pushed the button marked as a second light switch on the wall panel next to the infirmary. A panel lowered about a half centimeter into the floor and slid to the side. I lowered myself down into the tiny corridor. As I made my way to the cockpit, I heard the voices of my friend and his brute. They were muffled but I could almost make out what they were saying. They were talking low but I thought I heard them say something about crashing my ship on an uninhabitable planet. Well I couldn’t let that happen. I heard their steps reverberate on the planks as they walked to the escape pod. I listened for the tell tale signs that they were off my ship. The signs came in the sounds of the hiss from my port that leads to the escape pod opening and the deafening bang of the pods oxy-clamps releasing. I slid the titanium unobtanium alloy plank open and climbed out. I walked over to my chair and tried to start my ship when I felt something hard against the back of my head. It felt like the muzzle of a Monster Mark XII. A handheld blaster that was modeled after a 357 Magnum. An ancient earth pistol that was said to be the biggest handgun of its time. Needless to say I didn’t make any sudden moves. Notice I said no sudden moves. This guy was trying to hijack me and my ship. What was I supposed to do? I grabbed the Monster that was under the console of my ship. Then when he asked me to stand up slowly, I did as I was told. I stood up and acted like I was stepping to the side of my chair. When I was about half way I turned the Monster so that it faced him and fired through my chair. I’m not a very good shot, but my blaster has a wide range. I blew half of his side out. He dropped to the floor immediately and I kicked the Monster towards my chair. That was the same way I got my last Monster. “I guess that you are now my prisoner. So what to do with you. Any suggestions?” “Kill me” the assassin said flatly. “Where’s the fun in that? I think torture suits you better” I said getting a reaction out him. His eyes widened just a little then he gained his composure. “You wouldn’t torture me, I don’t have any useful information” he said with a sinister grin. “Did I ask for any information?” I asked with a Cheshire grin that screamed ‘try me’. He started to sweat a little bit. “You’re not that kind of man. I can see it in your eyes” he said sounding a little desperate. I looked into his eyes and without blinking I asked, “Do you believe that enough to bet your life on it?” “No, not really. You just gave me that ‘dare me’ look and the unobtanium in your eye is very convincing” “I’m glad that you understand I’m not playing.” “I get the idea.” “Good, then this will go a lot smoother.” “What will?” he asked with a certain amount of curiosity. “You being my prisoner” I said haughtily. “Oh yeah, about that,” he said as he tried to pull a Monster Mark IX from his sleeve. I had no choice, I had to shoot him. “Ow!” he howled. “You’re a real jerk you know that?!” he exclaimed as he held the stump that was left of that arm. “Awe, quit your belly aching. The wound is cauterized.” “That doesn’t stop the pain does it?” he asked through clenched teeth. “You still have three others besides, at least you’re not bleeding all over my cockpit” I said with a shrug. “You’re lucky I can have my arm reattached,” he said angrily. “I think you have that backwards,” I said with a look of skepticism. “Okay you got me there,” he said with a look of defeat. I pushed a button on my wrist computer. A centrifugal force field, also known as a z-grav field was initiated. This is a force field that picks up almost anything and suspends it in air so you can move it. It does have a weight limit though. So I carried him to the brig and brought his arm separately. He tried to struggle but after a few seconds he realized that it was useless, so he quit trying. “Is this the new plasma style field?” he asked trying to make small talk. “Ok, seriously, shut up. I know you’re trying to get me talking so that I won’t torture you. What kind of assassin are you? That’s th… Ok you almost got me,” which was the truth; I was going to keep talking. That’s what I get for letting my guard down. He was pretty good. “It’s a shame I have to torture and kill you. I was going to try not to enjoy it, but you screwed up.” “How?” “By trying to manipulate me. Now I’m really going to enjoy it” I said with more than a little annoyance. “What are you so angry about? I’m sure that you get people trying kill you everyday, what’s the big deal?” He asked with feigned innocence. “Yeah, and they die too.” “Oh. I guess that makes a kind of sense. After all you wouldn’t want them coming back,” he said knowing that it’s the only way to get rid of those trying to kill anyone. “Now you get it,” I said as we entered the brig. A cell that fits itself to the size of the prisoner was in the corner of a large room. It’s more like a glorified cage. I have a few places like that for prisoners. “It’s not often that I get guests, so I’ll try to be a less than gracious host,” I said as I walked away. On my way out of the room I pushed a button on the wall. When I pushed it a table appeared right beside the cell entrance. On it was everything that I could use to torture this thing. I had the plasma scalpel, the knives from twentieth century Earth and of course all the little acids. If I really was going to torture this thing I could’ve done it. However I was only trying to intimidate him. I hoped these intimidation tactics were going to work.

Chapter 8 The Prisoner

I went back to the bridge and tried to start my ship again. I encountered a tiny problem. My ships computer was locked up. I tried every thing, typing in my password, speaking for my voice recognition, rebooting the system, reprogramming the whole console, nothing worked. I worked for three days trying to get this thing back under my control. I knew exactly what this meant and I was not happy about it. They have my ship under remote control. But this kind of remote access meant that there wasn’t any frequency that would release my ship. The only way that I could release it was by killing the remote. It was at that moment I remembered that I had installed a remote killer. This computer may not be the newest model, because I hadn’t gotten that far yet, but she still knew the few tricks that I taught her. I wish I’d started with it though. I hadn’t needed to use it yet. So yeah, naturally I forgot it was there. If you don’t use it you lose it. I am of course referring to knowledge. A captain is supposed to know his ship from stem to stern, and I do, but I forget things are there when I don’t use them. Okay I’m justifying and there’s no need for that. So I crawl underneath my computer console and flipped a switch to kill the remote. When I did that my whole console started smoking. I immediately turned it off. It was an interesting development for two reasons. The first problem being that at that moment I was unaware of the events taking place just outside of my ship. The second problem being that I wasn’t in any condition to stop those events from unfolding. So as they used to say I was stuck like Chuck. As I’m trying to fix my computer problem my prisoner was secretly laughing at me. What I didn’t know was he was the one who rigged my computer problem to slow me down. Unfortunately it worked. I’m not going anywhere for awhile. I was so confused, but then it hit me. This is a problem best solved with diplomacy and treachery. Now to figure out to make him talk. Then I figured it out. “Ugh! I can’t get this gosh darn contraption to work!” I heard deep throaty laughter coming from the cell. I had him. “Ha ha ha ha! You’ll never figure out the lockout code. I’m engineered to be smarter than Humans.” I give him a look as if I was shocked that he had just insulted me. “You are not smarter than I am and I resent that you would ever tell a dirty rotten lie like that.” “It’s the truth.” “It’s a filthy lie and you’ll burn in Hades for it.” “What in the wide, wide universe is Hades?” “It’s not a what, it’s a where, nimrod. I thought you were supposed to be smarter than us humans.” Then he simply replied, “I am.” “If you were then you’d know everything about our religions as well as our history.” “I said I was smarter than Humans not knowledgeable about them.” “Well then that means that you’re not smarter than us doesn’t it?” “Well now, I’m not sure about that.” “Seriously? I know that’s precisely what it means. In fact I’ll bet you’re not even the one who reprogrammed my ship are you? Its okay you can tell me the truth. I won’t rat you out.” “I did reprogram your stupid ship.” “Oh come on, do you really expect me to believe that nonsense? I mean you don’t even know about what or who we Humans believe in. That tells me that you don‘t know enough to want to get to know your enemy on the most personal levels possible.” “Really?” “Duh! How do you track a human?” “By thinking like one.” “Exactly. So when you think like one you can track us more easily, right?” “Yeah, so where do your beliefs come into all this?” “Our beliefs are the center of why we do what we do.” “Okay well tell me about your beliefs.” “Umm, I don’t think so.” “What why not?” “You want me to betray my race? No way, no how, uh-uh, forget it.” “Just a second ago you were telling me that I need to learn your beliefs and religion in order to more affectively track you. Now you don‘t want to teach me?” “I was talking about you not being smarter than us humans and that you didn’t really reprogram my ship.” “But I did reprogram it.” “Oh yeah? Prove it.” “I know the code to undo what I did.” “No you don’t.” “Yes I do.” “I don’t believe you.” “I can tell you the code right now.” Ok now I was getting somewhere. “So what is it?” “It’s a secret.” “I can keep a secret.” “Nope. I can’t tell you.” That would’ve taken all day, but finally I said, “Look until you tell me the code I’m just not going to believe you.” “But I do know the code. I really do.” “Well then tell me and I’ll believe you.” “Fine. It’s I’m Smart and you’re not 1,2,3,4,5.” “Ok. I’ll punch it in, and if it works I’ll believe you.” “No, you can’t.” “Why not, I thought you wanted me to believe you.” “I do, but if you punch it in you’ll be able to fly out of here. I’m supposed to prevent that at all costs.” While all this was going on my ship was still heading for that deserted asteroid. “I won’t fly away I promise. We can both die as planned.” “I’m not dying, you are. I‘m taking the escape pod.” “You mean the one you jettison before my friend left my ship?” “Yeah… that one. Why would he allow me to die? The boss said that I was the most loyal henchman he had ever had.” “Okay, that means he made more of you and you’re expendable.” “You’re lying,” he growled. “No, I’m not. Look out that window. I’d say we have only a few seconds before we become meat patties.” He looks, and his face drains of blood. “Okay punch in the code.” I sat in my chair and punched the code just in time to avoid becoming a messy part of the scenery. “Thanks, that was a close one. “Yeah, it was.” While he was watching out the window I pulled my monster that was hidden in the small of my back, and shot him in the head. Don’t worry I only wounded him. “What was that for?” “That, was for reprogramming my ship. However if you’ll step over here I’ll clean and dress that wound.” “How do I know I can trust you, you just shot me.” “Precisely, I wounded you instead of killing you.” “Good point.” He walked over and I dressed his wound just as I said I would. “You’ll find that you can trust my word. If I say I’m going to do something, you can bet I’ll do it.” “Well, I’ll try to remember that.” “So where do I drop you off?” “On the third moon of Dorse.” “That’s on the other side of Delta Sector.” “Yes, but it’s also where my home is. Or it was.” “Alright I’ll drop you off after I get Maija back.” “Aw come on, do I really have to go with you?” “Yes, we’ve already lost a lot of valuable time.” “Fine but no trying to kill me just so you don’t have to take me back home.” “Done.” “Fine.” “Now, what types of skills do you have? I know strength is one of your strong suits, but can you shoot, blow things up?” “Yes.” “Yes, what? Which one?” “All of them. Plus I can rebuild an entire ship” “You’re joking, right?” “I told you I’m smarter than Humans.” “Yeah, I remember you mentioned something to that affect. Since that‘s the case, maybe you could do me the favor of installing the insta-drive that I‘ve been neglecting to put in.” ‘Where is it?” “It’s in the panel behind the wall marked ‘Caution’.” “Okay give me a couple minutes.” “Alright, you have a couple minutes.” I thought he was joking. He surprised me when he got on the intercom. “Give it a try Captain.” “What? Give what a try?” “Your insta-drive, give it a try.” “You’re done already?” “Give it a try.” “Okay, here goes nothing.” As I pushed the button we went from here to nowhere in a second flat. In other words we didn’t budge from our current location. I realized my mistake instantly. I forgot to punch in coordinates. So I punched in the coordinates for my mechanics home moon. “Hold on to your butt.” “What?” We left our system and ended up at his home in a second. “We’re docking at the Station Cremora. I’ll be engaging the docking coupling in a few seconds.” “We’re all good down here Captain.” “Good.” As I docked the ship he came to the cockpit and pushed the button releasing the copilot’s chair. I must confess it nearly made me wince. The thought of him sitting there instead of Maija, just didn’t seem right. Again to be brutally honest I didn’t want him getting to used to being by me, or on my ship, instead I wanted Maija by me and on my ship. I really missed her. I can’t really say why other than I was really starting to go out of my mind. Or maybe I was just lonelier than I thought. I would ponder that, much later.

Chapter 9 Triumphant Rescue

“So what’s your name anyway?” “The boss just called me Four.” “Ah, I see. Well I’m going to need a name for you.” “Why?” “So that when I need you again I’ll know what to call you.” “You mean, you may need me again?” “That was the general thought I was trying to convey.” “Why can’t you call me Four?” “Well beyond the obvious, numerals don’t make very good names, and it was a designation not a name. Just like when you call me Captain…” “Yeah I know it’s a rank,” he stated solemnly. “What’s with you?” “I was just thinking. You might need me for the rescue of young Maija. Maybe you’d like me to come along.” “I admire your bravery, but no. This part I have to do on my own.” “Oh, of course Captain. I’d probably just be in the way anyway.” “Come on, let’s go reattach that arm, and make you whole again.” “Thank you Captain. I’d forgotten all about it.” “Really? I find that difficult to believe.” We went to the brig and found the table just as I’d left it. I pushed the button on the wall as we entered the room and the table returned to its original space in the floor next to the entrance. As we continue walking to the aft of the ship we stop on a very faint, slightly red x. I pushed a button on the wall next to Four and a bed unfolded from the wall. “Have a seat my huge friend.” I pushed a button on my wrist computer and a med vacuum cylinder floated over with Four’s arm inside. As Four sat there watching me attach his arm to the nub with my micro laser sutures, I kept thinking about whether I should let him come with me to rescue Maija. My mind was telling me that doing so would be a disaster, but my instincts were telling me that I would need him if I was going to succeed in rescuing her. “Ow! Hey please pay attention to what you’re doing! The sutures don’t need to go there. That arm works just fine.” “Oh gees! Sorry, I was lost in thought.” “‘Yeah, this I can see.” “Let me see, yeah I can fix that easily enough.” “Okay, are they all out?” “Yep. Now we can head to the bridge and go get Maija. You with me?” “Aye, Captain, I’m with you.” We ran to the bridge and I punched in the coordinates that my friend would most likely be at. I pushed the little blue button and the insta-drive kicked in and we came in on the out skirts of the Cromolean Galaxy. It's in a cats eye type nebula. It's incredible how big nebulas can be. "I'm not taking any chances with this guy." "I take it you have a plan to get Maija back while staying in one piece." "That's right. We'll find where his ship is docked and we'll dock next to a much bigger ship. Then we'll disguise ourselves and walk to Maijas old family's estate. We ring the doorbell tell the slave that answers the door that we're associates of my friend and that he's expecting us. Once we're inside we can get close to her. We ruin the exchange somehow and then when my friend leaves with Maija, we'll maim him and rescue her. What do you think?" "I hope we can pull this off, that's what I think." "Yeah me too." So the next day Four and I found my friends ship just as I hoped we would. I docked next to a vacation transport and we walked to Maijas old family's estate dressed as lawyers. To be honest we didn't look all that convincing, but when we got to the door my friend was already walking out with Maija. A very fortuitous circumstance. So I jumped in front of him nearly scaring him half to death, and adlibbing my ears off. I was so good Four almost didn't have to say anything and to his credit he didn't say anything until he was asked, and eve then it was only to agree or answer his question. So my friend and I talked for a few minutes and I had him convinced that I was another buyer for Maija. That is until her old family came in and wanted another chance to buy her. Then things turned into an auction with flying insults as the price rose from one amount to one that was a hundred times higher. By the time it was over I would never in ten trillion years be able to buy her back. However that didn't keep me from continuing to bid. After realizing I was just bidding to see how high a price the old family was willing to bid I finally gave up and gave a customary bow and a smart comment and walked off. "We're not done here Four. Not until we get her back." "And how are we going to do that Captain?" "By being sneaky, underhanded, dubious and smart." "So you have another plan, then?" "Is a matter of fact, I'm working on it right now." "Where to from here?" "The Tigris." We got to the Tigris and went immediately to my den. We sat at the large dining room table and started hashing out a fool proof plan. "Hey Captain, so when we get to the family's front door what disguise will we be starting off with?" "I'm thinking we could disguise ourselves as door to door sale associates." "Canvassers, really, why?" "We get someone to let us in and then we set up a projector on the floor while setting up our wares. When we leave we leave it there and then we go back at night and we turn the projector on and the animorph projection lets us in. Then we make it to Maijas' quarters, wake her up and get the heck out of there. "Okay that's plan A. What about a plan B?" "Plan B. We go back the following night and we drop a button drone under a window. We let it find its way into the house. Once it finds a way in, it disarms the alarm and unlocks the door and we get Maija and get out." "That sounds like a great plan. Why can't we start with that one?" "Actually that is a great plan A isn't it? Okay we'll start with that one. Tonight we'll drop the drone and get Maija back." "I like it." "Now to find where I put the button drones. I think they're in the maintenance closet." We left the den and I went to the closet and opened the door. I looked at my wrist computer and pushed a button then waited for a second. I heard something rustling under a mess in the corner. Then twenty button drones came out. I grabbed one and attached it to the end of my wrist computer to charge. It looks like a small disc the size of an ancient Morgan silver dollar. We tried to blend in the best we could and headed to Maijas soon to be former residence. We went to a café and ordered dinner just to kill a little time. The opportune time to get there would be just after dark. As we were enjoying our meal we heard familiar voices sit down behind us. Four spotted my friend talking to a member of the UHCGF. Only problem is it wasn't our ally. It was a lower ranking officer. As we listened intently we heard them talking about a mutiny within the High Command Headquarters. I looked at Four who was already looking at me with the same look in his eyes that I had. We nodded at each other. Then we left to take care of our current business. "I can't believe my ears" Four stated. "I can, but I didn't know he had such high ranking friends" I said with a touch of disbelief. "Well now we know we have something more to do after this, don't we?" I could tell that when he asked that, he was asking with hope. Hope that I would bring him along on this next mission. "Yes we certainly do. They need to be stopped at all costs. I have absolutely no love for the UHCGF, but they can't be allowed to get away with this." "I agree Captain." "Then let's step up the pace and get Maija back." We got to the estate and I found a window and released the button drone. It was inside in a matter of seconds. It had disarmed the alarm and unlocked the door within minutes. We made our way to Maijas' room and I gently pressed on her arm kind of poking at her and as she startled awake I put my hand over her mouth. I put a finger over mine too. She realized it was me and was wide awake right away. I waited out in the corridor for her to get dressed and then we met Four down in the Dining hall on our way out the front door. I told my wrist computer that we were out of the house and the drone rearmed the security system and locked the doors. It left the window it entered through the same way it found it. Then it climbed up my leg and rejoined my wrist computer. We walked down the street as inconspicuously as possible. When we got to the Tigris I sat in my chair and started to get us out of Dodge. "Hey Four I need you up here." "Aye Captain." He was behind me in a matter of seconds. "Sit down you're making me nervous." "Where Captain?" I gave him a look that made his face redden with embarrassment. Then I just pointed to the co-pilots seat. He sat down and started going through the prelaunch checklist with me as fast I was. We released the docking clamps and just as we were leaving the dock my friends ship was on an intercept course. Four was already on it, "You see 'em Captain?" "Yeah, I see them Four. Maneuver Delta in two seconds. I'll do the rest." I punched in a set of coordinates that would take us safely out of the reach of the UHCGF. "Aye." He pushed the coordinates and hit the button and as we moved into position, I noticed ten other ships trying to ambush and surround us. "Four there's a hole head for it." "Aye." As we reached the straight shot I hit the insta-drive and we caused the ships all around us to buckle and break up. They started exploding as we were already at our designated spot. The one in which I call Home. However once we arrived the Tigris started having engine trouble. It stalled and we used the thrusters to maneuver us to the dock. We went inside my home and had a bite to eat and got some sleep. Thus ends this part of our story, but tomorrows a new day.


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