The Pirates 7
The first thing Sieznull saw in Lannetay’s stateroom was the arch of the fashion mirror. “Oh.” The pirate’s eyes widened. “Do you own the pattern for that?” The pirate’s holographic image wore the outfit Lannetay had tested earlier.
“I do. But that severe blue clashes with your complexion. Watch what happens when we program your skin tone in.” Bill, could you take care of that?
Leaving aside a snarky comment, yes.
The brilliant color deepened a bit toward indigo, and the retro business suit suddenly looked natural on Sieznull. The matching pants grew a pinstripe of charcoal down the side, and the blouse sprouted eggshell highlights.
Sieznull gasped. “It’s beautiful.” She turned to one side, then the other. “Can I buy this from you?”
Penn growled. “We’re here to steal, not buy. Put a gun to her head and make her give it to you.” He peered into every corner and looked under Lannetay’s bed. Then he moved toward the sanitary facility.
“You know nothing of fashion.” Sieznull huffed. “One does not steal designs.”
Are these guys for real? Bill asked. They have to be the worst pirates ever.
Penn did a cursory search of Lannetay’s other rooms and found nothing.
Lannetay smiled inwardly. “We could trade, though.”
“We could?” Sieznull looked at Penn. “Could we?”
Lannetay put a hand on Sieznull’s shoulder. “Wait until you see what else I have.”
“I think we’ve seen enough of what you have, Captain.” For emphasis, Penn tapped Lannetay on the shoulder with his Grackle. “Show me the rest of the staterooms.”
Lannetay gave Penn a wry frown. Bill, let Penn search the rest of our quarters, okay?
Are you sure that’s wise? Bill sent back. He might break something by accident. I swear, they’re related to Olthan.
He’ll get in one way or another. “I’ve instructed my Core to allow you access for the next half-hour. That should be sufficient, Captain.” Lannetay turned back to Sieznull and the fashion mirror.
Penn rammed his pistol into its holster and stalked out, muttering under his breath.
“Let’s try this one.” Lannetay selected a skin-tight lime leotard with a diaphanous coral poncho.
From the pirate ship’s airlock Goofball looked at the packed cockpit of his fighter. He might just fit inside with all the other boxes and loose packages. He floated across the two-meter gap to Tabitha and climbed in, surveyed his cargo, then thought of one more thing he needed to do.
Some programs never left Goofball’s memory. In grade school he’d developed a simple, elegant routine to erase all electronic memory of himself and what he did. He’d gotten away with so many hijinks because of that program. He carefully climbed out of his cockpit, floated back to Olinerie, and made his way back to engineering.
I need to input a program, Goofball told the pirate ship’s Core. After another level of security was bypassed, the display at the engineering station allowed him access to the inner workings of the Core.
Proceed, the Core responded.
Fifteen lines of code completed the base program. Just in case, he added a sixteenth line to have the program delete itself. He didn’t want to spend the time to add code to overwrite the memory locations. He doubted the pirate crew had the knowledge to look for that anyway.
He set the code to execute in one hundred seconds, then sprinted back to the airlock and jumped back to his ship. Goofball closed his canopy and flew off. A silly grin erupted as packets of Furanto truffles slid across his lap. He hated mushrooms, but Carnifor would love them.
He looped around the two docked ships and approached William Placard from the side opposite the pirate ship. Bill, I’m back.
Wait a minute, the AI told him. I’ll be right with you.
Lannetay had just demonstrated a tenth outfit for Sieznull, who still primped in the fashion mirror, when Bill’s message came. Goofball is ready to dock.
Then it’s time to wrap things up, she sent back.
As if he’d been following the same itinerary, Penn stalked back into Lannetay’s quarters, weapon in hand. “There’s nothing to see here. Let’s get going.”
“Can’t you go look for something else?” Sieznull kept her focus on her holo image. “There must be something of value on the ship.”
Penn glared at Lannetay. “It appears you were telling the truth after all. Tractors and seeds.” He shook his head in disgust. “And your smallest tractor won’t fit in our available space.”
Lannetay returned a black look. “I’d say I’m sorry, but I’m not. You’ve threatened me, my crew, and my son. I won’t be sorry to see you go.”
“Maybe.” A cryptic smirk crept across his face. He stomped toward the common room and called through the open hatch, “Cabon, go take a box of seeds. We have the room, and these idiots won’t miss it.”
Pot, meet kettle, L-T quipped. He fought to keep a smirk off his face as Lannetay and Sieznull joined the rest in the common room.
The man in the ratty t-shirt glowered at Carnifor. “Why not take the whole ship?”
Penn scoffed. “For a puny fifty thousand credits? Not worth it. We have more than that in our hold.”
“Then why the seeds?” Cabon brandished his gun, pushing it toward Carnifor’s forehead.
Penn ground his teeth. “Because I said so, that’s why.”
Cabon grumbled to himself, then rammed his pistol into its holster and headed toward the hold.
“If you’d all just sit tight for a couple more minutes, we’ll be out of your hair.” Penn glanced at the bristle on Olthan’s scalp. “So to speak.”
“You have my permission to leave any time.” Lannetay stood beside Marc’s seat. When the boy shifted to stand, Rantaal swung his stunner around to cover him. Marc sank back.
Cabon returned with two boxes of seeds, one under each arm. “Got it, boss.”
Penn waved his crew toward the airlock and covered Lannetay and her crew with his pistol. “It’s been an experience.”
Sieznull produced a credit chip and placed it on the deck where Penn wouldn’t notice it. She motioned to Lannetay it contained fifty credits – enough for all ten of the patterns she’d viewed.
Carnifor shot a questioning look at Lannetay, but didn’t ask for clarification.
Penn stopped at the airlock and pulled out a five-credit coin. “Rantaal, call it.” He flipped the coin into the air.
Penn caught the coin in his right hand and slapped it to the back of his left. He peered at it and sneered, then left the ship.
Sieznull paled, then mouthed, He’s going to kill you.
Lannetay sent to Bill, Can you tell her we’ve prevented that?
Certainly. He paused. Done.
Sieznull blanched as she received Bill’s message.
Lannetay gave a small nod of encouragement as Sieznull and the other three pirates backed through the airlock. Both hatches closed.
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.