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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Pirates 4

Lannetay nodded for Bill to comply. Both hatches opened and four people strode in, hand weapons drawn.

The four were a study in opposites, if one could even have four opposites.

A flamboyant woman in a startling orange/black patterned blouse and tan pantaloons stood out the most. She also wore a patch over her right eye. As she crossed into the William Placard she glanced at Lannetay’s outfit and smiled. The distraction didn’t last long. She held a small Hummingbird 92 disrupter pistol. Not a powerful weapon, but it could tear a person in half when set on full power and steady stream. That would exhaust the power supply in two seconds, though.

Only slightly less splashy, the haughty leader’s outfit was inspired by a blue sky on Earth. Patches of cirrus clouds interrupted the cerulean button-down shirt, with the azure pants fading toward gray just above obsidian calf-length boots. A Grackle 7 blaster of Wanti manufacture waved from side to side, covering one corner of the room after another. The weapon’s emitter would burn out after a dozen shots, but each bolt could kill a man – two if they stood one behind the other.

Another man with shifty eyes wore denim pants and a retro t-shirt from another era. Some unreadable beverage logo covered the front of the torn shirt. He carried a projectile pistol with a rather impressive bore.

The last man looked dressed for dinner at a vice minister’s estate. The muted colors he wore blended together in an unoffensive style popular on busy colony planets. This man could wander the streets of Inglep and be noticed as someone important. He held a mid-sized Pony J-12 sonic stunner in an easy grip.

The leader glanced around the common room. “Sensors initially said there were six of you. I see five.”

Lannetay shrugged, trying to keep her eyes on the pirate captain. The orange and black shirt kept pulling her gaze to the side. “Only five aboard, so I can’t tell you about a sixth. You only mentioned scanning five before you boarded.”

The lead pirate glanced at the woman, who merely looked back at him. “Well?” he demanded

“Well, what?” Her attitude led Lannetay to wonder who was actually the leader.

The cloud-dressed man scowled, and pointed his Grackle at Lannetay. “Is she lying?”

The pirate woman smirked, but answered. “She’s telling the truth.”

Bill sent to Lannetay, That eye patch is a sophisticated sensor. Best be careful what you say.

Always, Lannetay replied. She prayed for wisdom in dealing with these pirates.

The leader spoke up again. “Cabon, keep your eyes open. If someone magically appears, shoot him.”

The man in denim gave a nasty smile and pointed his weapon at Marc’s head. He mouthed “bang” and laughed when Marc’s eyes widened.

L-T took one step forward, but Cabon turned his pistol toward the lieutenant.

The t-shirt man nodded and gave an accented, “Aye, boss.”

The pirate leader’s ice-blue eyes speared Lannetay. “I’m Penn, captain of the Olinerie. You are?”

“Captain Lanny Tae, of the William Placard. I own this ship.”

Penn smirked. “We’ll see how long that lasts. Rantaal, check out the hold. Captain, if you’d instruct your ship’s Core to give us access, we won’t have to damage the ship just to look.”

Lannetay nodded. Bill, give them access to the hold.

The man in formal wear headed aft toward the crew quarters. That hatch opened as he approached.

Penn scowled and waved his Grackle. “If there’s any resistance, we’ll end someone’s life. Don’t doubt me.”

“We won’t resist.” Lannetay ordered chairs for her crew. Everyone but Carnifor sat.

Carnifor looked ready to defy in full, but Cabon’s firearm shifted to provide sufficient deterrent. He glanced at Lannetay, who refused to meet his gaze. He sat, then leaned back and crossed his legs.

Just sit tight, Carnifor, Lannetay sent. I have this under control.

Carnifor’s scowl deepened, but he remained seated.

“I’m curious,” Penn said. “You bring a boy along? Isn’t that kind of dangerous?”

Lannetay glanced at Marc, who was too stunned to react. Cabon’s aim covered one person after another, and Lannetay had no doubt he’d kill anyone he wanted – even a nine-year-old boy. When Lannetay finally spoke, her ironic smile only added to her words. “Apparently it is, at least today. Usually it’s more dangerous leaving him behind. My nanny quit just before we left.”

Penn looked at the woman in orange who shook her head. “Don’t lie to me, Captain. Sieznull will know, and it won’t go well for you.”

“Not trying to delude you. As you already know, crew on a trading ship cannot afford to hire people to look after their children.”

Penn raised an agreeing eyebrow as he nodded.

The aft hatch admitted Rantaal. “There’s nothing but seeds and farm equipment, Captain Penn.”

Penn spun toward Lannetay, his expression a mixture of disbelief and humor. “That’s what you’re carrying? You’re heading from Inglep to Rubineker and hauling tractors?”

“Uh, yes.” Lannetay’s response sounded more like a question than a statement.

***

Goofball soared. He could reach out and touch the stars, gather them in, and keep them safe. Their faint illumination caressed his metallic skin, almost like a tickle. He wanted to protect them from the evildoers moving between the stars. First, though, he had crew members to defend. Then he could see about the larger cosmos.

For months, since he’d been informed about the secret Tromant fighter, he’d flown simulations. Nobody aboard the William Placard had ever seen a Tromant, so he could fly the simulation with others watching.

Some nights he’d descend through the hatch in his quarters to the fighter. He’d sit in his new toy, pulse pounding with excitement, and he’d lose track of time. Half of his nights were spent sleeping – dreaming – in the fighter he’d dubbed Tabitha.

Then the pirates attacked.

The Tromant’s computer system wasn’t sophisticated enough to be termed a Core, but Tabitha certainly qualified as a Node. Goofball swung the fighter around the curve of the William Placard. Tabby, scan the pirate vessel.

A representation of the enemy ship built in his awareness. Power distribution, life support, engine status, weapons, layout, life signs. The only sign of life was aboard the William Placard.

Stupid of them. Goofball smiled. Time to go to work.

The Tromant had six independently targetable high-powered disrupters. Variable power, though, made each capable of precision strikes or hard-hitting penetration. Goofball had Tabitha dial them all back to minimum power.

Edging the fighter into position took some skill. The lack of precision flying might be considered a design flaw, but Tabitha was configured to spend her time at nearly six hundred times the speed of light. Maneuvering at sublight and closing in on a motionless target complicated normal flight characteristics.

Goofball mentally drew dots on where to strike. The low power attacks should inflict just the right amount of damage.

Tabitha, fire.

The six disrupters each fired twice in the space of a quarter-second. Four attacks disabled the redundant Core connections with Olinerie’s crew. The other eight bursts shredded the power supplies sending energy from micro generators to individual weapons.

Goofball laughed aloud. He could break into the ship and infiltrate its Core without worry.


If you're wondering more about these characters, their origins are detailed in Ebony Sea: Origins. If you appreciate this story, please share on social media, and consider supporting the author's ability to continue writing by purchasing the Origins story and leaving a review at the link above.



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