Friday, December 3, 2010

Chapter 45 - PIRATES

It was taking me hours to bring us to a relative stop and I was feeling the drain. Shortly before we achieved it, we were hailed by another ship.

“Hail, passenger liner Bradshaw One. Stand to and prepare to be boarded.”

“This is the Bradshaw One,” I replied. “We have no engines. I estimate I won’t be able to come to a full halt for at least another hour. Who is this?”

“If you don’t have any engines; how are you slowing your motion?”

“I’m working on it. Identify yourself,” I said again. I was tired and getting irritable.

“That must be a pirate ship,” said my companion. “Otherwise, they would have identified themselves with the first thing they said. We’re sitting ducks.” A note of panic was showing in his voice, but I didn’t have time for that.

“No, we’re not,” I replied. “Tell me what to do.”

“What do you mean, ‘tell you what to do’; what can we do? We don’t have any engines, so we can’t run, and we don’t have any guns, so we can’t fight. Like I said, we’re sitting ducks.”

I continued sending out our distressed call, and in the process, I felt them trying to jam the signal. In a moment of irritability, I reached out and took their jamming equipment. Let them try to figure that out when they tried to fix it.

I was starving. It was tempting to take what I needed directly from our unwanted visitors, but I still wasn’t sure they were pirates. I also was determined not to kill again. I didn’t remember the one time I did, and I had never tried to, but the very thought of sucking the life out of someone to feed my hunger was repulsive.

In an effort to distract myself from my hunger, I turned my eyes in to the cabins again. The people in the common cabin were still safely buckled into their seats, and they were being tended and comforted by the stewards as well as Colin.

The view in the first class cabin wasn’t nearly so quiet and there was ample evidence why. There were bodies floating around everywhere, gruesome evidence of why it was important to strap in before we dropped down into sub-light speed. I found a quiet line directly to the stewards that caused a small light to blink.

“Frank speaking, how’s it going captain?”

“The captain is dead. My name is Liam; do you need gravity in there?” I asked.

“There’s no one named Liam on the crew. Who are you?” asked Frank.

“I can give you gravity if you need it. I can help you clean this mess up if you want my help. Yes or no.”

“We’re making headway in the clean up. It’s easier to move bodies when they don’t weigh anything. We’re fine here.”

“Okay,” I said. “Let me know if you do need something and I’ll see what I can do for you.”

“Right, just how do I find you?” said Frank with no little sarcasm in his voice.

“I’m sitting in the pilot’s seat trying to save your ass,” I said in response and cut the connection.

As we got closer to a complete relative halt, I began to draw my awareness back into myself. I maintained my connection with the closest object out there and with the internal systems in order to keep them working. Now I could focus more attention on our visitor.

Using my experience with this ship, I infiltrated the systems of that ship. My presence didn’t go unnoticed however. I heard one crewman say, “Someone has accessed our internal systems. They’ve touched most all of them. I think they’re in the audio/visual systems now.”

“What!” replied another man, ostensibly the captain. “Get them out of there.”

“I’ve tried, sir. Nothing works. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

I found the men who were talking and watched them for a few minutes as they tried to trace my passage through their systems.

As I looked through their ship, it occurred to me that I might as well draw my food from there. Under normal conditions, we would have almost a month of travel left. Now that we had been forced to come to a halt, it was entirely possible it would take us considerably longer to reach our destination, so our supplies might need to be rationed. Judging from the amount of supplies on board the pirate ship, they were based somewhat closer.

I drew on their supplies to make me a thopper leg and began to devour it. (God, I was hungry) I made a big fat sandwich after that and washed it down with a fat glass of milk followed by an apple. The rest of their supplies I transferred to our own galley.

After going through their logs, such as there were, I found that they were definitely operating under the line of legality, so I didn’t feel so bad about taking from them.

I saw them maneuvering closer to our hatchway and melted their maneuvering thrusters, and then I gave them a gentle shove away from us. My ear into their bridge told me they were scrambling for explanations and the captain was getting furious. Things like this just didn’t happen on his ship. Wait until someone tells him there’s no food in the galley.

I continued to play this kind of game with them. An hour after my last meal, I made myself another, much to my companion’s disgust. “You shouldn’t be eating in here,” he said. I ignored him.

Two hours and another meal later, our distress call was answered by the police cruiser Prometheus. The pirate ship’s communications were so screwed up by now they didn’t hear it, so they were the sitting ducks when the Prometheus arrived on the scene.

They tried to run, but I disabled their engines and they ended up tumbling slowly away. I pulled my awareness into the ship after that. We had long since come to a relative halt and the pirates were no longer a threat. All that was needed of me now was to keep our internal systems functioning; I felt like I could sleep for a month.

An investigative team boarded to assess the situation and began to take statements from the crew and some of the passengers. When they saw the damage in the cockpit, it was obvious we were in real distress.

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