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). Also want to apologize for taking so long to get chapter 3 up and running; I wrote myself into something of a corner and had to really work to get out of it. Enjoy!
“So it would seem.” I replied. I remember thinking that it was a pretty lame response to being locked in a bare cell by the most notorious pirate in dead space, but considering the odd colors flying infront of my face I counted it a significant victory to say anything at all.
“You interest me K.”
“I’m not a K.”
“Of course not,” the man with the dark beard said. “And I’m not Captain Forest, and you aren’t a prisoner on the Babylon.”
“Well that’s reassuring,” I said, although God help me I don’t know why I said it. “I’d hate to think this bucket was the Babylon.”
“Now if I were a violent man,” Forest said, “I might take some offense to that. But I am not by nature violent, and would much prefer to avoid such unpleasantness.”
“Ok. You let me go and I won’t beat the shit out of you.” I must have had something slipped in my drink or something. I swear I’m not that usually obnoxious.
“Cut the crap. We have your ship in the bay, it has Kamikaze written all over it. You have a cask of grog, the kind that is only kept on a K ship. You beat off five boarding parties by yourself using a power rod which was a weapon that the K specially develop and train on. So, you are either a K who is very interesting, or you killed one at some point and took his or her ship and gear.”
By this time I had finally managed to get to my feet and lean against the bars. I pressed my face against the cool steel to ease my headache a bit but it didn’t really help. “I suppose you wouldn’t believe a third option?” I asked. I don’t remember why, but I could not bring myself to honest with this man.
“No.” He said. “There is no other option. So you tell me which it is and you better think real careful about what you answer. Because from where I’m standing, it looks like you killed a couple of K’s regardless.”
“Ok.” I said finally understanding. “You want to go home.”
“Now you’re thinking. Good. Now listen. I’m just hanging out in dead space, I’m expecting to hit up a station or something and let my crew get a few days living it up when we pick up a little dragonfly. A little plumb just waiting for us to pick it up. It was clearly carrying some precious cargo maybe even a VIP. So we go in expecting a bit of trouble, thinking we’re going to get a nice little ransom, and instead we get you and two dead men on your ship. All K’s. But here’s where things get kind of fuzzy. What kind of idiot K, puts himself in a position to get his crew killed? Now it may be that you’re just dumb, I can accept there, there are dumb people left and right no matter where you go. But it may be that you set them up. And I’m not ok with that.”
His tone grew dark and threatening. For the first time I saw the man that had children wetting their beds and hardened captains avoiding dead space. Had I never seen a demon before, I would have sworn that there was one hiding in the flesh of the man before me.
“My name is Joshua Kemp.” I said. “I’m on special detachment from the Fist of Lightning to Mars.”
“And the dead men?”
“They were also Kamikaze soldiers. Fresh out of training and a threat to my mission.”
“Is that so?”
“They were only on that ship because they tried to blackmail me.”
“Generally, one must be alive to blackmail a man.”
Captain Forest said nothing for a time and only stared at me through the bars of my cell. “It may seem that it was my ship that landed the killing blow-“
“I’m under no such illusions,” I interrupted. “My hands are bloodied and unrepentant.”
“I like that.” The Captain said. “I like a man who takes responsibility for his actions. However, my crew is expecting some kind of payment and despite my own affection for your prestigious organization, I cannot simply let you go. Nor, I imagine, can I ransom you back to them.”
“Good luck trying.”
“You yourself, seem precious short of coinage I’ve noticed, and even if I were to take your gear, your ship, and everything you have of any value, you would then be stuck here with us.”
“That’s not entirely true.” I said. “I have reserves of grog on my ship that you probably didn’t find. While they may not be worth as much as a merchant’s ransom, I am hardly a merchant.”
“You would put into space without your grog?”
“I don’t drink much.”
“How much are we talking about?”
“A dozen barrels.”
“We found eight already.”
“You found the eight in the secure cargo hold and the hidden floor of that secure hold. You did not find the dozen barrels hidden behind the fake wall of my own quarters.”
“Well in that case, show me the grog, and I’ll show you your freedom.”
Captain Forest touched a control on the wall behind him and the bars slid open. Still a bit unsteady on my feet, it took me a moment or two to make sure I didn’t fall over. I distinctly remember Forest coming over to me and propping me up. Oddly I recall that his beard was very carefully trimmed and maintained and that he must have used an old fashion scissors and razors because he smelled faintly of cologne or aftershave. I also noticed that he had an officer’s jacket that was neatly ironed with no signs of abuse or stains. I also noticed his boots were well polished. For all that he was a pirate, he seemed to fit in better at an officer’s mess than a rag-tag band of robbers and looters.
Somehow when I looked up from my observations we were at my little ship. Looking at her made me cringe she was so beat up. There was a giant scorch mark where the first blast from Babylon had knocked out our navigation controls. There were dents the size of a full grown man where tractor cables had locked on and reeled in the poor little ship, and of course there were three holes along her hull where the boarding parties had been able to get through.
“I find myself in need of reconsidering my plans.” I said.
“Don’t be stupid.” Captain forest said. “Even if we weren’t going to let you go, we would patch this girl up. The work crews just haven’t gotten around to her yet. Probably because you sent most of them to the hospital wing.”
“That was your engineering crew?”
“Toughest, meanest gang of egg heads I ever met.” The Captain said with a completely straight face. “Now show me this extra store of grog you got hiding.”
I took the captain in and opened the false wall in my own quarters. Sure enough, a dozen barrels of grog were piled up and well secured.
“Well Mr. Kemp,” the Captain said, “the good news is that you have now ransomed yourself. The bad news is you still can’t go anywhere until we fix your ship. I hope you manage to enjoy our hospitality for a few weeks while we take care of that for you.”
“A few weeks?”
“Oh don’t worry,” the captain told me as he walked me back into the hangar, “we’ll find you nicer quarters. Not sure who you’ll end up sharing with, but you’ll have something nicer than the cell at least. Mr. Wallows,” the Captain called to a man about my own age.
The man was as carefully dressed and groomed as the Captain. Unlike the Captain however, this man wore a laser pistol at his side and had a couple of knives hidden up his sleeves.
“Yes sir?” The young man asked.
“Please see Mr. Kemp here to the mess while I ask Shawna to find some place for him to sleep.”
“Yes sir.” He said to the Captain. “If you’ll follow me this way Mr. Kemp.” He walked off towards what I assumed was the mess and I prepared myself to enter into a large and rowdy with men jostling one another for a place to sit. Instead it was a quietly and orderly set of tables seemingly divided by either rank or seniority. Young Mr. Wallows led me to a seat by a couple of other men about our age.
I remember stiffening, and tensing for a fight when Mr. Wallows (whose first name I STILL don’t know) introduced me to the rest of the table. The entire crowd went silent and I put down my fork and knife ready for anything, until a woman across the table spoke.
“Well I hope you’re planning on teaching some of us while you’re stuck here,” she said. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen hand-to-hand fighting like that before. You took down what? 23, 24 boarders before they got you?”