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Vengeance – Part 7
Gantor was at his new desk when his aide entered. Through fake certificates, phony ID's and more than a few bribes he'd used a shell-company to lease a small office on a commercial station in low-sec. He'd been very careful to ensure nobody would know that it was the Guristas faction that had opened an office in Empire space. There were obvious dangers, but he needed to be closer to where the investigation was heading. He had relocated to the low-sec region of Black Rise where all the problems in his life appeared to be sprouting from.
"Why do I feel we have another dead body?"
The aide took out his datapad and activated the big screen in Gantors office. A personnel file flashed up.
"Melisa Tankena, aka Fingers. She was Navigation Officer on the Night Terror."
The screen switched to a shot of her tied up. The bloodied, fingerless stumps of her hands were clearly visible.
"Well I think we can safely say the capsuleer has done another one. How did she die? Blood loss from those wounds?"
"Erm, well no sir. He first cut off all of her fingers, then forced them down her throat which choked her."
Gantor just nodded. These were not just summary executions. No simple bullet to the brain. They were something else. Why? The first two fed to slaverhounds, this one 'de-fingered' and choked. What was significant about the way he was killing the ex-bridge crew of the Night Terror?
"Any luck tracking down the remaining bridge crew?"
"No sir. Seemo Kapella is off grid, Rico Rancher the same. Captain Jorn is on deep space patrol and his comms are off as usual. We assume he doesn't want anyone finding him."
"Keep looking. We need to find them before that capsuleer does."
Seemo 'Slasher' Kapella lay back in the soft comfy seat of the luxury yacht. The champagne had gone to his head. He couldn't believe how his luck had turned around. A few days ago he was in a casino gambling away the very last of his money. It must have been a good night as he'd passed out at some point and had little memory of what happened. The next morning he'd woken in the Casino's presidential suite, a ton of cash laying around and THE ticket. He'd won an all inclusive, all expenses paid holiday to the pleasure resort on Botane IV. The only thing that slightly soured his mood was that he'd had to leave his knife behind. On low-sec stations he could easily get away with his activities. At a high-class resort like this, there would be no chance.
The hostess topped up his glass and turned to walk back to the galley. As she did he slapped her firmly on the backside. She turned and smiled at him before disappearing through the door in the front of his private cabin section.
He just had leaned back into the seat and closed his eyes when he felt he ship accelerate and turn heavily. Most people would not have felt the movement but he had spent years on combat vessels and could feel how the artificial gravity flowed. He wondered why the pilot would make such a violent course correction but didn't dwell on it and went back to fantasising about the hostess.
Unbeknown to him, she'd already left the transport ship in a small compact shuttle along with the rest of the ships skeleton crew. The 'staff'' on that transport had been paid mercenaries. They were now en route to the nearest station with a sizable amount of credits and instructions to forget the last 16 hours. Seemo was blissfully unaware that there was only him and the pilot left on the luxury transport craft.
An hour later the unsuspecting passenger's dozing was interrupted as he felt a massive acceleration. He gripped the sides of his chair and his knuckles turned white as the lights in the cabin flickered. It no longer needed Seemo's experience to tell something was wrong, the ship was spinning out of control.
After a few minutes the AV system activated. However, this was no movie on the screen in front of him. It was the face of a man.
"Hello Slasher. Unfortunately I cannot hear you at the moment as this is a recording, but I assume you are begging for your life. Just to let you know I've ejected your cabin into space. The good news for you is that these cabins serve as their own lifeboat. However, the bad news is the power-core don't last too long and I've recalibrate the emergency beacon to a specific, little used, frequency. There are only a few ships in this area that will detect the broadcast. However you still have a slim chance to be found before the life support fails. This is my gift to you, that slim chance of survival. Which is more than you and the others gave my wife and daughter."
The capsuleer! Slasher froze in terror as the screen went black.
It was several hours before he found the nerve to unbuckled his belt and float around the cabin to one of the viewports. The capsuleer was right. He was trapped in this small room with the cold, hard vacuum of space all around. He knew the life-support systems wouldn't last long on emergency power. He was in trouble.
"Who are you? What do you want with me?"
They did not speak, they simply dragged him into their ship.
Seemo tried to understand what was happening. The ship he was on was Amarrian by design. But the colours were red, like Minmatar rust. For a horrible second he thought Blood Raiders, but he'd been aboard a captured Blood Raider vessel before, this was not the Raiders. They were something else.
He was dragged into some form of ceremonial chamber, stripped and forced him to kneel. They pulled his head back and poured a foul tasting liquid down his throat before they hung him by the wrists from the ceiling before leaving.
"Well this isn't going well!" he thought as he hung alone in the chamber. "Oh well, worst case is I have to play along and convert. I can chant and pray to the Empress until I get to a station where I can escape or call for help."
12 figures in gold and red robes entered the chamber and surrounded him.
"Enjoying yourself Slasher?" the capsuleers voice was inside his head.
"What? What? Where are you?"
"I'm watching from my cloaked ship. The headache you got the morning after the casino was partly the doping I gave you, but also the tiny implant I had installed in your head behind your ear so I could chat to you."
Slasher jumped as the robed figures all stamped their right foot in unison. All together they slipped out of their robes. He was now surrounded by twelve naked Amarrians of both sexes, all holding wicked ceremonial daggers.
"I did a lot of research to find this group especially for you. They are a very old off-shoot of the Blood Raiders. Only a few hundred in number, very little known about them. However, one thing that is known is that the main difference between them and the Raiders is that they think it's wrong to use technology to extract blood. They say it contaminates the holiness of the red liquid. The proper way is slowly bleed your victim, by knife."
Slasher started to panic. He looked down and realised he was hanging above a golden disk set into the floor. It was slightly dished with a drain in the centre.
"Apparently if the 'doner' dies in the first hour it is a bad sign. Therefore the acolytes undergo years of training on how to make small, numerous incisions to drain the blood slowly. They even give you an ancient potion before they start. It's made from natural herbs and stops the blood from clotting. Therefore you can still bleed out from tiny wounds. I heard it described as one of the worst ways to die in the whole of New Eden. Now I'm not sure I agree with that, but I'd love to hear your feedback in an hour or so."
Seemo "Slasher" Kapella took nearly two hours to die. The High Priest decreed his blood was especially holy due to this. The capsuleer didn't agree himself as his cloaked frigate aligned and warped off.
"Seemo Kapella checked out from a casino hotel room three days ago sir." Gantors aide stated.
"Any chance he ran?"
"I would doubt it, the logs showed he boarded a private transport. If he was running he’d have not used a registered transport. The ships tansponder was hacked and investigations shows it was a fake registration. The captain was a Joseph King."
Gantor looked through narrow eyes.
"Are you serious? Docking control didn't pick up on the name Joe King?"
"No sir. The humor obviously went over their heads. We found that ship fourteen jumps away. It had been abandoned and one of the life-boats was missing. We assume the capsuleer piloted the vessel and jettisoned him somewhere. No distress beacon was picked up by the local monitoring stations. It was deep into Blood Raider territory so more likely they picked him up, and, well you know what they do."
"Yes. And it fits. The capsuleer is arranging very specific deaths for that bridge crew. His handle was Slasher so we can assume he was handy with a knife. Probably some connection to the Raiders there. So the one known as Horse, the one called Bull and the captain left. God only knows how he’s planning to kill those first two!"
"Yes sir, and we've finally got a location on Rico "Bull" Rancher. He's on a station near the Amarr border zone. We've asked agents to pick him up but they have yet to make contact."
"For the sake of the faction get him into protective custody ASAP. I dread to think what cattle-related death the egger has planned for a man named Bull!"