Monday, July 7, 2008

Space Pirates, Episode 12

Thought I was going to slow waaaaaay down on the blogging, give myself a break for this month, put Space Pirates on hiatus, but it just ain't happenin'.

For those of you who happen to stumble upon this site, Space Pirates is an ongoing work of fiction presented in short episodes on a frequent but irregular basis. I have fun with it; hope you do, too.

Also, I'm eagerly awaiting the final comments from a couple more readers so I can make revisions and get that puppy out the door to some agents and -- I'm confident! -- a willing publisher. (Note, July 8: I must have been having a one-sided conversation with myself. "That puppy" is the fantasy manuscript I've been writing. Just never said so in the paragraph!)

That said, please stayed tuned.

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Previously, on Space Pirates: The Martina Vega, captained by Helmer Kristoff, was boarded and inspected by the crew of the Orpheus, a freighter constable captained by Iona Zoltana. The Vega's illicit cargo escaped detection, but the constable crew planted a few interesting devices. There is also a governor's daughter and two men aboard, passengers who are more than they seem.

And now, on Space Pirates:

Captain Iona Zoltana stood on the bridge, hands clasped behind her back, and watched the Martina Vega glide away from the Orpheus. The old boat veered to port then ascended to the next plane on the grid, on course for Port Henry per the registered flight plan and the cargo manifest. For a near wreck, the tub was a sweet goer.

Good pilot, too. Every time Zoltana saw Finney’s work, she mentally deposited a few more credits into the bribery account. How much before she could lure the pilot over to the right side of the law?

“Lieutenant McNair, as soon as the Vega drops past that moon’s horizon, follow her.”

“Aye-aye, captain.”

The Vega’s sturdy silhouette entered the penumbra of the moon, was lost for a few seconds, no gleam from her hull betraying her position, and then she reappeared, silhouetted once more against the light of a star. Per orders, Lieutenant McNair altered course.

“Captain.” An ensign saluted with academy precision. “Lieutenant Mars reports at least a dozen spiders already inoperable, and a dozen more emitting uncertain signals.”

A cold chuckle rolled from Zoltana’s throat. “Of course they are.” Turning at a crisp right angle, she stepped down from the bridge and entered the lift. “Thank you, ensign.”

A silent five seconds upward, and the hatch on the surveillance and navigation deck hissed open. Only three crew per shift manned this deck, a larger and more comfortable version of what would be called a crow’s nest on an old tub like the Martina Vega.

As soon as Zoltana stepped on deck, all hands stood at attention. There were no salutes; those were saved for formal occasions, and this was a workaday matter.

“Lieutenant Mars”—Zoltana descended the two steps onto the deck—“tell me about our spiders.”

The crew returned to stations. Mars waited beside his console. “All but five are out of commission, ma’am, but their signals are garbled. The tracker in the airlock has been untouched.”

She took the offered palm-sized scanner and read the screen: a virtual blueprint of the Martina Vega, with the decommissioned spider locations in red, the garbled ones in yellow, and one green dot indicating the spider in the airlock. “I give us a quarter hour before they find that one, too.”

Two orange dots—one moving through the cargo hold, another in the wheelhouse—flickered a faint signal.

“We wouldn’t have been able to place any, if she were newer. You’d think Kristoff would have pirated a sweeper before now.”

“And ruin his fun?” Zoltana handed back the scanner. “His crew still uses pencil and paper.”

Mars’ eyes lit with enthusiasm. “I’d like to get my hands on some of those old Earth radios they use. Did you notice they’ve been modified to no longer require batteries? So ancient they’re virtually undetectable by new tech.”

Placing a hand on the young man’s shoulder, Zoltana smiled. “Port Henry has its share of antiques shops. Meantime,” she clasped her hands behind her back once more, “have you heard from Omega?”

“Just a few blips, wide apart.” Mars tapped in a sequence on a keyboard, and a large screen split to show the original coded message on one side, the translation on the other. “Best I can tell, ma’am, the Vega’s crew has been a little too—hospitable. Omega’s unable to leave passenger quarters.”

“No need for alarm yet, lieutenant.” Zoltana moved toward the lift. “We have sixty-five hours before Port Henry. I can be patient.”

c. 2008, Keanan Brand

6 comments:

The Texican said...

Peer pressure can be a good thing. I am enjoying the series. It's simple enough for me to understand. Pappy

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

I echo Pappy....I am finding it easy to follow the thread of this story, and thank you so much for not using gobbledygook techno vocab!

So glad you reversed your earlier decision to give this story a hiatus....

I am enjoying each new episode...this one is another winner...

Jadesmith said...

Puppy? I think it's a full grown animal! ;)

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Hey Keanan, just popping over to say "hi" and see if you're about....

Eaglewing said...

Yes! More Space Pirates! I like these stories a lot.

Good luck on getting the "puppy" polished and out the door. Glad its coming together for you.

KEANAN BRAND said...

Thanks, guys. Another episode coming up.