Space Pirates against the Federals: Who wins... ?
|Cutting it Close
"Blast that blaster," Illuan cried righting the craft.
The whitish blue charge dashed past our left wing leaving a charred edge behind. There were more to follow but that was secondary. Our first focus was to keep us afloat in that crisscross of flying charges and fly right into the Federal's transporter.
"I'm on it," I replied aiming for the nearest firing port of the ship. "You focus on getting us on that thing in one piece." I never doubted his potentials. For an inhabitant of planet Volera, flying was in his blood.
Illuan turned the craft in a lengthwise full circle to avoid an oncoming charge and banked left towards the ship. Velco, the green spaceship belonging to the Federal was on its way to Krazar, its military base. Orpal Minus, infamously known as the Red Giant, had been drooling over it. Not for the ship, not for the crew but for what it contained in its hold.
"We are about there," Illuan cried over the static that our radio had been giving off. Something had thrown it out of frequency. "Scan her."
"I'll if you only hold her steady," I said preparing the scanner.
It was easy said than done. Velco was a guarded by the Federal army and armed to the teeth. It attacked us from three sides and created a mask of laser. You as much graze it, you are dead. Our fleet of thirteen pods danced like flies around the transporter trying to dodge the charges. Two of our pods were already blown to dust and the third one was running with fire on its tail.
There were about twenty six men with only one mission in mind. Grab the cargo and hand it over to Orpal Minus. The prize was great and punishment severe. Our Mother Ship, The Red Star, waited miles behind us and watched us fight against the Velco and among each other. Well the later hadn't started yet, but it will soon enough.
As charges flew around me, I concentrated on the screen in front of me that held the wire frame detail of Velco.
"Found it," I clapped. "It's near the tail, third deck under the radar."
"Blow it off," Illuan said and ducked to avoid an on coming laser. "I'm taking us closer."
As I activated the cannon, I could see one more pod approaching. "Kay and Al are after it too," I warned.
"Let them," Illuan said. "But you take a sure shot."
I knew I had only one shot so I aimed carefully. The view through the eyepiece was crisscrossed by charges and other pods dashing past us. One wrong shot and I might blow up our own men.
"Ready?" Illuan asked taking us just a few meters away from the ship.
My thumb was buffing the button. A pod passed us by and was soon followed by a charge. The window remained clear for a second, I depressed the button. A red flash erupted from the cannon, rushed forward and hit the ship in full force. A red smoke unrolled on impact and left no mark.
"What the hell?" I yelled.
Illuan ducked under the ship like a small fish swimming under the belly of a whale.
"A force-field," Illuan remarked. "We need something more."
"What more do we have? It was the cannon I'an."
"What you say on Earth? Chill. Yeah. Chill Paola," he smiled. "A force-field can only take as much but it would definitely not take a pod."
I shrugged and instantly sat up straight. "You don't mean it."
He grinned. "Put on your gears."
We were already suited, just added the helmet. Illuan dodged two charges, flew out of one side, traveled over the ship and positioned us exactly over the bridge.
"Ready?" he asked.
I nodded and swallowed.
He opened the gas to the full.
"You are the best friend I'd ever had."
The tremor in my voice made him smile.
He threw the throttle to full and launched the pod straight for the bridge.
The ship rushed towards us. Illuan counted till ten and shouted. "Pull."
I had the ejection stick in my grip. I pulled it with all my might. The canopy detached itself and our seats blasted off taking us into the space. The pod fell like a meteor onto the bridge of Velco creating a cloud of smoke and fire and when it cleared there was a gaping hole. Our crumbled pod was floating like trash.
Illuan pointed his two fingers towards the hole. I depressed a button on my chest and activated the thrusters attached behind our back.
It took less than a minute to reach the devastated bridge. All the air had been sucked out. I didn't see any dead. They had already taken shelter inside the ship. There was only one door leading inside. Illuan and I took position on both sides with our guns drawn. Illuan counted till three and then pressed the button to open the door. It slid on both sides revealing a dark passage.
The passageway took us to the gallery and two decks down there was the hold. Other than stunning two of the crews, we didn't encounter any other obstructions. Most of the Federal crew was posted to guard the ship on the outside.
At the hold we faced another problem. The door wouldn't open.
"It's a bio-metric and time lock combined," Illuan said passing his hand over the thing.
"Can't we blast through it?"
"No," Illuan shook his head. "Not with the blasters we have but..."
He stopped and stepped back pressing himself with the bulkhead. I heard footsteps. Two men from the Federal crew appeared just round the corner carrying laser blasters that were capable of frying the hull of the spaceship. Before they were ever aware of our presence there Illuan jumped on them taking them both down. He let go of one and pinned the other to the deck. I swung the butt of my shot gun under his ear.
Inside a couple of minutes they were gagged and tied. Illuan practically melted the door of the hold with their laser blasters.
After he was through we only had a gaping hole in front of us welcoming us to the hold.
Illuan shouldered the blaster and bowed gracefully.
"The door's open," he said dramatically. "Complements the Federal Army."
I laughed and went ahead.
Inside was empty.
Not a scrap of paper lay anywhere.
"We are duped, I'an," I cried looking around.
Illuan was already patting his pocket for the metal sweeper. "Scan every corner."
"You are wasting your time," I voice said.
Illuan and I whirled around to see a man in Federal Army's captain's uniform standing at the doorway, alone.
"There is nothing here, or anywhere on this ship."
Illuan smiled sliding off the blaster from his shoulder. He let it hang casually in his hand. I noticed his sweeper was still on and was at that moment was scanning the man.
"You know captain we don't raid without a reason. You are carrying..." he paused, "Rodium. They are here. Behind these panels. Release them."
The captain seemed to relax, but it could have been my imagination.
"Well," he made a expressive sad face. "You seem to be well informed." He raised his hand and pressed a button. The panels slid down to the floor revealing stacked shelves. Illuan held the captain under his stunner and raised his voice, "Alright, you two. Come in."
I tilted my head and found Kay and Al trotting down the passageway. Before they reached our hearing range, Illuan lent towards me and whispered. "Let them take most of the loot."
I didn't understand why but nodded.
"The ship is under our command," Kay said picking up the first crate. "Captain's order, not to leave any man alive."
"We'll see," Illuan said and gestured to hurry.
Kay and Al made some successive tours continually decreasing the contents of the hold.
"Finish the job," Kay said taking the last crate out of the door. "We are taking the ship apart." Illuan nodded. After Kay and Al had left Illuan went to stand in front of the captain.
The man had his hands raised. He didn't object when Illuan unclasped his suit and revealed his tunic. From an inside pocket he brought out a box. The captain's face twisted like a coiled wire.
"I don't believe in killing men," Illuan said turning the box in between his fingers. "So, I'll just leave you stunned. In return I'll take this. Hope this isn't worth more than your life."
The captain ground his teeth and flared his nose. "You blasted pirates... You'll be... awk." The captain's eyes rolled up in his head and he swayed forward. Illuan and I stepped aside and he fell flat in between us.
We looked ahead and found Al with a smoking gun in his hands and its laser pointer was hovering over Illuan's chest. There was a nasty smile plastered on his face.
"Collecting souvenirs, are we?" He asked.
Illuan quietly pocketed the box. "Lower the gun pal."
"That's Hipernium, ins't it?" Al asked taking a step. "Hand it ..." Velco shook like a bus on a bumpy road. Al lost balance and Illuan took the chance to jump him. But before Illuan could box him in, Al kicked him in the stomach. A second one sent Illuan crashing down the opposite bulkhead. I raised my gun but stopped. Al's gun was now trained on me, but his eyes were on Illuan.
"The Hipernium," he laid out his free hand, palm up. "Or she gets it." The tip of his laser gun glowed red.
"No, wait," Illuan cried and stood up. "I have the box."
The ship shook again. I could hear the crew shouting and even some engines of the escape pods revving up. Over here, Illuan had put his hand inside his pocket.
An explosion very close made the deck and the bulkheads vibrate.
Al's eyes widened at the sight of the box that had so recently made its appearance in Illuan's hand.
I took my aim.
The floor shook beneath our feet.
Illuan and I exchanged glances for a fraction of a second before he tossed the box. Though Al wasn't human, but was no less greedy. The moment the box had left Illuan's hands he leapt for it.
I fired. The laser hit Al under the arm. He crashed on the deck missing the box that Illuan picked up like a flash of light. We dashed for the bridge, leaving Al behind.
Velco was falling apart like a doll house. By the time we had reached the bridge most of the parts had detached themselves from the main ship. I could see the stabilizer floating past us. The Red Star was just showering it with charges.
We stopped at the edge when a laser flashed past us. We turned on our heels to find Al with his gun raised. Before we could even reach for our guns, he shot.
"Easy Po." I heard Illuan's voice very near.
Carefully opening my eyes I found Illuan smiling down at me.
"That was silly," he said, "taking that shot but thank you for saving my life."
"Al? What happened to Al?"
"Orpal Minus blew him to smithereens. You know how he hates traitors and he saw Al shooting at us. And besides, we had the box."
"What happened to the box? Is it really Hipernium? Can we sell it?"
"Yes and we have the honor of doing so. In fact, we get to keep fifty percent of the share."
"I am on, partner," I said extending my hand. "Where are we going to sell it?"
His smile broadened. "Where I found you." He held and shook my hand heavily. "Earth."