Saturday, February 18, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.8

“Ladies and gentleman, grab your weapons! Tiff go to your station. Mims and Drake report to the bridge!”

I ticked through the preparations I set up with the teens in my head. They were all armed. It turned out Mims was the most familiar and practiced with a weapon. She went target shooting with her father at the local course. It was a little father-daughter time they shared each week. I gave her my back-up blaster.

Tiff was not as knowledgeable so I gave her the Rafter Scatter I had onboard. It had a wide enough spread that if she aimed it in the general direction she would hit something. I assigned her the duty of watching over Callen during any crisis. That put her in a more confined area with only one way for them to get in to her, and her to point her weapon.

Drake was husky enough to handle the turret gun from the Maximum Jacket Driver. I unmounted it and affixed the optional tripod to the gun. This also got it out of the turret and the hands of the inmates of the planet, should they find that way into the ship. Drake could carry it to an area, set up and no one would be able to get past him.

Mims and Drake came charging onto the bridge, weapons in hand. They looked flushed and excited, but not in a panic mode, which I found encouraging.

I held my finger up to my mouth and motioned upward. The hull was pretty soundproof for noise going out, but they could both hear the soft tread of numerous pairs of feet overhead. I motioned them to take up their stations.

As I said before, I didn’t think we were vulnerable except through the cracked gun turret. I scrounged up a piece of replacement inner bulkhead earlier in the day. Drake and I dragged it up to the turret door and screwed it down over the opening best we could. It wasn’t the most secure ‘fix.’ If they had a piece of pipe they could wedge it in where the plate didn’t meet flush and with enough of them on it they could pry it open. But, it was better than nothing.

I had stationed Drake and I so we had the plate in a crossfire. I stationed Mims just in the hallway coming onto the bridge, so she could duck back down to help Tiff if they got onboard. I prayed they wouldn’t.

We all took up our posts, but our attention was on the noises above as the muffled footfalls came up over the roof and down onto the viewport which sat covered in rocks and debris from the crash. That’s when the digging started. They were trying to uncover the viewport to look in and see what they had.

I wished desperately that I had been able to bring up any of Ma-rye-a’s systems. I could have fogged the viewport so they couldn’t see in. As it was, we would be like fish in a bowl once they uncovered us.

It was an agonizingly long wait until the first appearance of a hand, swept the last of the dirt aside to peer in.

“Drake, turn your gun this way,” I ordered.

“You don’t want me to shoot at the viewport, do you?” There was anxiety in his voice as he hesitated.

“No, I certainly do not, but I also don’t want to draw their attention to the covered turret.”

It was too late. The intelligent face saw which way our guns were pointed. He could see the half-assed ‘fix,’ I attempted to make on the gun turret door to keep them out. He was smart, he didn’t give his plans away, but I caught the ghost of a smile cross his lips before his face disappeared and a frenzy of digging ensued. Soon there was a large patch of the viewport open and we got our first glimpse of the enemy.

As I expected, they were a rough, all male colony. Some were dressed in the penal suits they arrived in, indicating by their wear how long they had been here. I was mildly encouraged by the sight of two men who looked like they had relatively new clothing. That would mean the Galactic Forces was still depositing criminals to the population. They would eventually come to deposit another. There was a glimmer of hope they might discover us.

The older inmates were in homemade garb of a simple loincloth, a knee length poncho, and thigh high boots. The whole outfit appeared to be made from the skins of the animals I observed out the side windows of the ship.

They were armed with spears, bows and arrows, and clubs. I didn’t want to underestimate the fact that they could be deadly with even these primitive weapons. There was over a dozen of them and they all looked well fed. It they could hunt with those weapons, they could handle us. I reminded myself we had the fire power on our side, but then ammunition did run out eventually, and my ship was a trading vessel, not a mercenary ship. I didn’t carry much in the way of ammo to begin with.

The thing that scared me the most was they were clean and seemed organized. No snarling maniacs or anyone displaying themselves or doing lude gestures once they found out there were women onboard. They all just stood back and surveyed the bridge before them as if taking inventory.

I immediately pegged the big guy in the loincloth and the red poncho, that we first glimpsed through the viewport, as their leader. He had jet black hair tied back in a leather thong. His beard was well trimmed and his eyes an unsettling shade of red rimmed in white. He was a Kelexion. They were an ancient race with a reputation of surviving against numerous odds over their species’ historical timeline. Their original planet’s sun went nova, but most were able to evacuate to another planet before the event. They managed to terra-form a hostile environment and lived to tell the tale. In fact, they went on hopping from planet to planet, terra-forming as they went. Some called them the planet builders. The problem that arose in dealing with a Kelexion was they had no sense of defeat. They thought they were invincible as a race, and individually. A lot of them became mercenaries due to their species inborn desire to remain on the move. They had a reputation of being smart fighters. If he was an ex-merc, he knew what he was looking at when he took inventory of Ma-rye-a.

He would figure a way into the ship.

He walked up to the window and knocked on the glass as though he were requesting a visit for an afternoon tea.

‘Open up,’ he mouthed.

Yeah… Right… like I was going to do that, and he thought I might even consider that option. I shook my head and sat down in my pilot’s chair.

Stalemate, at least for the moment.

The sun appeared to be setting over the ridge of mountains at their backs. The Kelexion gathered his group around him and with a smile at me over his shoulder, they all retreated.

I dreaded what would come with tomorrow’s sunrise.


I left Mims and Drake on the bridge to go check on Callen.

“I’m coming in Tiff,” I called before I stepped around the corner. She was so inexperienced with the Scatter that I didn’t want to end up flat out on the deck sprinkled with shot.

Callen was sitting up in his chair and she was helping him hold a glass to this lips. Her rifle was leaning four feet away against Drake’s chair. She and Callen would have been dead if I had been the penal planet residents.

“How you feeling?” I picked up the handheld med monitor as I approached.

“Horrible,” Callen groaned, as soon as Tiff tipped the glass back from his lips.

“Where does it hurt?” I aimed the monitor at him and began to scan.

“No… No… I didn’t mean I felt horrible,” Callen stuttered. “I mean my head hurts like hell… but I meant I felt horrible about the mess we are in. Tiff told me. It’s all my fault.”

I immediately stopped the scan and gave the kid a questioning look.

“I just wanted to beat Drake at Stellar Speedster.” He pleaded with his eyes.

“He hacked into the program,” Tiff offered up for him.

“I mean that’s where I thought I was adjusting…” Callen stammered, “but somehow, I must have broken in the backdoor of Ma-rye-a’s program, because from what Tiff has told me the ship did, is exactly what I programmed my speedster to do in the game.”

I leaned in close. “Can you fix it?”


He had the confidence of youth. I was hoping he was right.

Art by Sherry D. Ramsey for The Star Traveler Series by Theresa Snyder

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