This is part of series that began with Kamikaze: Preface. For a complete listing of the entire series click here. All material is the property of the writer and cannot be reproduced without the authors written consent (and all the rest of that “please don’t steal my stuff” stuff).
A Kamikaze never leaves home without three things: a team, a weapon, and a bottle of grog. I suppose it would be more accurate to describe it as a “jug” of grog and not a bottle but who cares? This is a story not a nuclear operations manual. Now my ma was noted for not drinking. She’s often quoted as calling K-grog “the unholy bastard child of tequila and sake,” but I had no such objections to my preferred poison while Artie and Wilson were known for their outright drunkenness. So much so that I made sure to load a couple of extra barrels on our tiny dragonfly as we flew through dead space to Mars.
“Hey Joshie,” Wilson said as he saw earth shrink with distance. “You’re going the wrong way. Earth is over there.”
“We aren’t going to earth.” I said. “That wasn’t the mission.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m sorry,” I replied. “Did I stutter?”
“Hey Joshie,” Artie this time. “Earth is the other way.”
“If either of you had asked about the mission before we left, you’d know that we’re going to Mars.”
“Mars?” They said in unison.
“It’s a long trip so I packed extra grog. I’m sure you didn’t bring enough.” A part of me hated myself for what I was doing. It was low and manipulative. It was a terrible way to start my career and it felt like a layer of slime on my face.
But they knew about Anna.
“Anyways,” I said. “I’ve got this first leg if you two want to take it easy for now. We have about eight weeks to kill.”
“I thought the trip normally took about three months.” Artie said. Of course he had to have learned something.
“We may not be going to earth, but we’re time sensitive. I’m cutting through dead space.”
A grin cracked Wilson’s face. “Alright we might get to see some action after all.”
“Well not yet.” I said. “We’re still at least three days out.” Turns out that three days was just long enough for the boys to get bored and break open the grog. I also made sure that those three days we spent with extra shielding over the cargo areas which most pirates would interpret as a sign that we were protecting cargo. And since this was a dragonfly ship, it could only be cargo of the human variety that could be sold into slavery, or ransomed.
I did everything I could think of us to make us look like low hanging fruit to the leeches in dead space. Four weeks out they caught on.
Wilson was on duty piloting. Artie was passed out drunk and I was going over the information the Captain had given me on the target. It wasn’t much although he did seem to have been born and operated out of Fist of Lightening like us, there was no background information on who he was, his family, past assignments, friends, favorite crew or anything. Just his name, rank, and notes on his last mission before he left for Mars. That’s when Wilson lit up the alarm.
“Unidentified galley approaching.” He said over the ships com. “Intercept in five minutes. Looks like she just fired up her engines.”
Pirates favored the galleys because they had a standard engine but also had solar sails that made them mostly invisible to standard scans that looked for energy signatures. I took a seat at tactical just in time to see pirate galley enter weapons range.
“Why aren’t they firing?” Wilson asked.
“Because they’re pirates,” I replied. “They want us alive.”
“Preparing engine burn.”
“No.” I said. “That thing can out run us any day of the week. We need to fight, tear up their sails before we rabbit out of here. Bring us about.”
Wilson’s strengths were in his directness and combat abilities. Unfortunately he did not have a hand for piloting. For all intents and purposes my plan was going well (assuming I survived of course). Artie was drunk and could easily be taken care of. Wilson was piloting which was the first thing any good pirate targeted.
We came about faster than they were expecting. They didn’t have any of their skiffs ready and the sails were still unfurled. The dragonfly, designed to give as good as it got, tore through the sails easily. I trained our cannons on the main engine next, but Wilson was slow on the controls. I saw my display flash a warning: their guns were fixed on engine control and navigation. I knew for a fact that the first salvo wouldn’t completely disable the controls, but would severely damage them. I also knew that the power surge from that first attack would destroy Wilson’s station and likely kill him.
I was counting on it.
The impact of the blasts knocked me out of my chair. There was a flash of light, a small explosion on the bridge. Wilson made a strangled noise as the explosion blew him and his chair to the far side of the room. I got up and ran to the secondary controls to reestablish control of the engines. This was the part of the plan that I had no control over. Would I be able to get control back in time? Would we be able to escape the pirates before they boarded?
The ships perimeter alarm went off. It would seem the answer to my questions was “no.” The skiffs had launched faster than I had expected. They were attached to the hull and preparing to drill in. I hadn’t noticed that during the first blast they hadn’t just taken out navigation control, but most of our defenses as well. Internal security grids were running at a fraction of the power they should have been, but I turned them all on anyways while I tried to take back some control of this rapidly worsening situation.
Over the ships com, I heard the pirate captain speak. “Dragonfly vessel. This is Captain Forest of the pirate ship Babylon. Surrender yourselves and your vessel and no further harm will come to you.”
I remember my stomach turned into a nauseas sinking pit. My little scheme had been so good that I had managed to attract the attention of the most wanted Captain of the most feared ship in dead space. If I was the kind of man to soil my pants, I very likely would have done just that. Instead, I wiped the ship board computer. I don’t know what was on there besdies my mission notes. Could be there was nothing, could be that there was a whole of information linking us back to the K’s. Either way I knew I was caught and I was going to make them work for anything more.
I said that a K never goes to work without a team, grog, and a weapon. Well my team was pretty much dead at my own hands and it was a bad time to start drinking so I grabbed my weapon of choice and got ready to fight. I had a pistol of course, and enough energy cells to hold for a while, but I never liked guns in a fight. I preferred my power staff. It was a steel rod about six feet long that when activated carried a plasma current hot enough to hurt.
I’d love to be able to give you a blow by blow account of the fight but my memory isn’t that good. There were a lot of them. I remember that. I remember giving them a real run for their money too. The bridge was too small to make guns effective, and when they did try and take pot shots at me they were just a likely to hit their own. Eventually, when the bodies on the floor made it impossible to moves without tripping, five or six men managed to pile on top of me and deprive me of my weapon. The next thing I remember is waking up in a bare cell with sore muscles and a killer headache.
I looked up and saw a man with a dark beard on the other side of the bars. “It would seem you’ve been captured by pirates.” He said.