Fiction Friday! Escape pod here!
The Raid Part 2
They could bleed 16 a time so would need 20 cycles each lasting several hours. He could return to base in a few days with full tanks, or be back within a day with live captives. The outpost could bleed their captives much more efficiently. Whilst some might question why the tanks are so low, the number of live captives would negate any questions over his competence as a Blood Raider High Priest. He'd return to base and drop the cattle off before heading out again to sell the slaves. The days travel would allow him to enjoy himself with her. Once the slaves had been sold he could take the ship in for some well needed maintenance.
"NavCom. Set a course for home and spin up the warp drive. We've got too many to bleed here, we'll take them back to base. Operations, seal the airlocks and detach from that Matari rusk bucket."
"Yes sir!" the two bridge officers barked in unison.
There as a pause and they both said in unison again "Sir, there is a problem!"
Raysere looked surprised. "NavCom, report."
"Sir, I've got a green light on the warp core but it is not responding."
Strange thought Raysere .
"Airlock 4 is jammed. It won't seal."
Raysere sighed. He had hoped this industrial would have a valuable cargo. He needed money for repairs to the ship and never had that been so evident. He hit a button on his console and waited. He rubbed his forehead as he heard his officers barking orders to get the problems fixed.
Hakar crawled through the ventilation duct. His chest throbbed but the pain was easing. He'd been lucky. Of course being shot in the chest by a solid-stage laser could never be described as lucky. However, in this case however he'd been twisting as he fought the two Raiders and the laser had skimmed across his chest. It had knocked him out and made enough mess of his flesh for them to think he was dead. The old Caldari medical kit he'd found in the store room had patched him up sufficiently for now.
He slowed as he approached the vent. Looking down he saw the vast engineering bay stretched out before him. An officer was briefing two groups of crew. He couldn't make out what was being said from such a distance but he could guess. One team jogged to the exit and the other strolled towards a massive set of blast doors. He counted the remaining crew, only three in the entire area. So far things were going right for him.
He pulled the sack behind him as he crawled. The store room had various tools and supplies that he knew he would find useful.
Chief Engineer Ezion muttered under his breath. May be this would help the Captain realise you cannot neglect maintenance like this. He'd been going on for months that they need a break from raiding to overhaul the ship. Not only that, it needed some real money to be spent on it. The Sect they belong to believed that the Captains should be able to run their ships without handouts from the leadership. As well as raiding starships for the crew, they were expected to steal the cargo and sell it to make themselves self-sufficient. A tax was levied on all loot of 30% which kept the outpost maintained and the support staff paid. A jammed airlock and a problem with the warp core which left them exposed for longer then any of them would have like may reinforce the notion that the ship needed maintenance.
"Turem, what's the result on the core diagnostics?" he shouted out over the hum of the engineering bay.
Ezion saw the blinking indicator that signified the outer blast doors had sealed and the inner blast door to the warp core was opening. His team would be in there in five minutes and he needed to know where the problem was.
"Turem, report!" he said angrily.
Still no response.
"Liaret, can you see Turem?" he shouted again.
The Chief Engineer spun round in a rage. He'd just sent one team into the core and another team to the jammed airlock. He had neither the time or the patience for this. He stomped over to towards the warp core station. A bank of consoles that was partially hidden behind a row of heat exchangers.
"I ASKED YOU....."
Ezion froze as he emerged from behind the last exchanger. Turem was slumped on the floor. Her neck was cut and a large pool of blood had formed beside him. Liaret was hanging by his neck from a power cable lashed around a conduit, slowly swaying back and forth. Something jabbed Ezion in the ribs. He didn't dare move. He felt hot breath by his ear.
"As you can see I have no hesitation in killing your kind."
Ezion gulped and slowly nodded.
"Walk to the core control panel slowly. If you do anything I don't like, things will get very messy very quickly."
Ezion slowly walked forward towards the console. He thought about hitting the emergency alarm but knew that would be the end of him. He might survive if he did what this lunatic wanted.
"I'm going to rescue my family and kill your Captain. I need time to do this. I am going to give you 60 seconds at this console then I'm going to knock you out and hide your body in inspection tube 34 after disabling the bio-scanners in there. So it is in both out interests that you come up with a creative way of disabling the warp core so we can both achieve our goals."
Ezion started to sweat. inspection tube 34 was off limits during warp. The radiation from the core system was flushed through there. A few seconds of exposure and your DNA would crumble like a dried leaf. It was a slow, painful death. They had bio-scanners in there to stop the ship from warping if there was someone in there.
"First off the warp drive is already offline, we have a problem. Secondly the bio-scanners are fail-safe. The ship won't warp unless they give the green light" Ezion whispered hoping to buy some time.
"I know." Hakar replied "It should take your team in there only a few minutes to realise the problem is that someone rewired a control board mid-ship and created a feedback loop. There is nothing physically wrong with the core. However if I can disable your warp core and prevent the diagnostics systems from seeing what is wrong do you think the bio-scanners will give me any trouble?"
Ezion got straight to work. He certainly did not want to die of radiation poisoning for this crew of pirates.
Raysere look at the scene in front of him. The remaining engineering crew were stood well back. His Chief Engineer was slumped over the sparking console with a knife sticking out of his back. Two other dead techs framed the grim picture.
"What is the status of the warp drive?" he asked through gritted teeth.
"Its offline. We found the original problem was sabotage. A control board near the shield generator in the centre of the ship had been rewired. When the crew came back after inspecting the core they found this. The sabotage, well the original one anyway has been repaired, however something has been done to further disable the core. We assume the saboteur forced the chief to do something, killed him and then destroyed the primary control console."
"And the airlock problem?"
"Sir, that has been repaired. Again sabotage. Someone shorted the control board in the controls by disconnecting a power line and simply running over the board."
Raysere took a few steps forward. There was a smell of burnt electronics and death. Whoever had smashed up the consoles had done a proper job. He was no engineer but could see they would be beyond repair. With the airlock repaired they could uncouple from the Mammoth class industrial but now that was the last thing he wanted. That ship shill had an operational warp drive. That was their escape vessel now if they couldn't get their own warp drive back online.
"What about the core back up consoles?"
"We've got a team heading there right now. The back up console is the other side of the drive in sector 22D. They are substantially separated so that if one sector is damaged then...."
The officer stopped as there was a rumble in the distance. The entire ship shook for a number of seconds.
"Bridge report!" Raysere spoke into his datapad.
"Sir there has been an explosion. We're trying to get details. It appears it was somewhere around....."
"22D?" the Captain guessed.
"Sir.... yes it could be. Emergency teams dispatched."
Raysere turned to face his men behind him. Veins bulged on his neck and forehead.
"Gentlemen, we have a guest. I want them to have a warm welcome and to be in a bleeding chamber within 30 minutes."
The men looked at him in shock.
"GO!" he screamed!
Waninna sat in the corner of the cramped room staring at her knees. She was numb. All around her the other captives were sobbing or eerily quiet. They all knew what was coming. The first group had already been taken. A group of armoured men with stun guns had come in and pulled some of the screaming men and women away. It was not a good way to die. Hooked up to a machine slowly draining your blood. She thought about her family. He husband dead, her son to be sold into slavery and her daughter.... She broke down thinking about that. The way the raider's leader had looked at her. What horrors were happening to her right now? May be she would move to the front of the room. Not resist when they come for the next ones to bleed. At least then it would be over.
Ten decks above her daughter, Aellike, sat in a soft chair. She had been bathed and dressed by three young Matari women. Slaves. They had been silent throughout and had ignored her pleas and question. They were now brushing her hair and doing some very subtle make up.
"Please. What is going to happen to me? Where is my mother and brother? Please say something!"
She caught the eye of one of the women in the big mirror she sat opposite. The woman looked pained and quickly broke eye contact. Another woman dabbed the tears from under Aellike's eyes. He thoughts turned to her kid brother. What was he going through?
"Well I say we rush them when they come in again" the biggest of the boy said. The others just looked at him in fear. "We are Matari! We must not let these Amarrian dogs sell us like cattle!"
Bynshar sat with the others listening to the boy who had elected himself head of the resistance. He glanced around. Some resistance. A dozen boys and a small handful of girls. A single armed Raider could take them on and they'd only ever entered the pen as a team of four. They carried stun prods as well as guns. This kid didn't seamed to mind that though. He was trying to persuade them into a suicidal rush.
The hiss of the door opening made them all jump, especially the big kid who was stood telling them all they should be resisting. A single Amarrian entered. Bynshar looked at him and rather than the angry scowl they usually had on their face his was different. He looked... afraid. There was a loud crack and his eyelids fluttered and he crashed to the ground.
"DAD!" Bynshar shouted jumping up and running to his father who was stood behind the guard. The others watched confused as the stranger scooped the boy up and lifted him from the floor. He walked over to the huddle of children.
"You!" Hakar said pointing to the larger kid.
"M, m, m, m, me sir?" he stammered. His bravado completely gone.
"Yes you. You're the oldest?"
The kid nodded.
"Take this datapad. Follow the route back to the Mammoth and hide everyone in cargo bay 2."
"But the Amarrians!" he protested.
"The route is clear. The Raiders are busy with a small problem..." the ship shook slightly and there was a muffled rumble "... busy with two small problems on the starboard side of the ship. The route to the Mammoth is clear now go!"
The children started to stand and follow the boy who held the datapad in front of him using the map to guide him back to the ship. Hakar placed Bynshar back on the floor.
"I need to go get your sister and your mother. Go with them and hide."
"But I don't want to leave you." Bynshar blubbed.
"Bynshar! I need you to be strong. Go with the rest. We'll all be back together soon!" He said embracing his son "I promise."
"What in the name of the Blood God was THAT?" Raysere shouted as another rumbled vibrated through the ship.
"Another blast in sector 22. We think the redundancy console for the warp drive was booby trapped. Now we're finding who ever it is was booby trapped other areas around there, especially the fire-fighting equipment. Sector 22D is gone, B, C and E have fires out of control. Engineering teams are pushing through from sector 22A. However we're getting reports of fires on decks 21 and 23 near to D section."
Raysere scanned the screen in front of him. What idiot put so many back-up systems so close together?
"Status of the fire-suppression system?"
"Still offline. We are trying to fix."
"OK, all available firefighting teams to 22A. From there let the officer in charge assign to the adjacent decks as needed. Signal a lock down. Seal all blast doors to non-essential sections and post guards at the others. Non-essential staff are to return to their quarters. And someone get the fracking warp drive online!" Raysere barked. Whoever this saboteur was, he was better than is crew.
Down on the bleeding deck Chief Medical Officer Draclira walked past the rows of alcoves. Her bright white lab coat was in stark contrast to the mottled red walls. She stopped at one to inspect the contents. A Matari male, about 25 was strapped upright to the wall. His skin was a deathly pale grey and perspiration dripped from every pore. She consulted the pumps, he would be empty soon. The Saline solution would be the only thing running through his veins. The end was near for this one. She ran her hand over his cheek like a mother would. His eyes flicked open and he looked on in terror however he was too weak to respond, his head fell forward. Draclira squatted down and gazed into his eyes. Did he know the good he was doing? Probably not. He probably was only thinking about his own mortality not realising the amazing things his blood would help achieve through their research. Leaning forward she gave him a gentle kiss on the lips. She could feel his shallow breathing. He was almost gone.
She moved further down. The people at the end of the line were newer. They still had some fight in them. A few cursed her as she passed, calling her parentage into questions. Others begged and pleaded for help or mercy. She stopped at one particular woman. Matari, mid to late 30's. She looked up and stared into Draclira's eyes. There was no fear, no hate, no terror. This one was different. She looked at the controls. She had only bled for 10 minutes, she should still be fine for a while.
"I do not see fear or hate in your eyes. Why is that?" the Raider asked questioningly.
The woman looked at her and gave a strange smile.
"It was because I didn't care any more. You had killed my loving husband, sold my son to slavery and given my young daughter to your twisted Captain to satisfy his perverted lusts."
Draclira raised an eyebrow. She assumed the husband must have either been one of the first to be bled or was killed in the boarding action. She was only too aware of Captain Raysere's tastes and whilst didn't agree with it, he was her Captain.
"You said 'didn't care' as in the past tense. Why did you say that?" Draclira asked.
"Well that's what I thought minutes ago. Now I know my husband is alive, he will save our family and you will die right where you stand."
Draclira let out a guffaw. It was not unusual for victims believe they would be saved or to hallucinate.
"And how do you know this my dear?" she asked condescendingly.
"Because he's stood right behind you with a really big knife."
Draclira 's eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open in a silent scream. The Raiders chief bleeder looked down. A wicked knife point poked out from her stomach. Bright red blood was spreading from her abdomen over the starched white lab coat. The blade was pulled back and she fell. Hakar stepped over the body and pulled the needles from his wife's body before releasing the straps.
"I'd thought I'd lost you!" she sobbed falling into his arms.
"Where is Aellike?"
"The Captain had her sent to his quarters. Only the Elders know what he has done to her!" she sobbed.
"I doubt he has had time for anything. I've been keeping them busy." he said leaning.
"Help me!" Draclira gasped. Her hands clutched her stomach as blood pumped between her fingers. Hakar ignored her pleas and took the datapad from her belt.
"Take this." he said to his wife. "Save as many as you can here and get back to the ship. This place is on lock-down but the route is clear. Get to cargo bay 2, Bynshar is there with the other children. If there are any pilots get them to get to the bridge and get ready for departure."
He pressed a laser pistol into her hand. She nodded and moved to the next alcove to help her fellow passengers.
To be concluded....