Saturday, March 11, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.11

“It’s gorgeous from up here,” Mims said.

We were all standing on the landing ramp of the pod bay looking out over the valley below. From up here, safely tucked away on our rock shelf, the golden valley rolled out before us dotted with oasis’ of green trees. We could see small herds of the grazing animals and the sky was a drift with the red birds sailing on the lower wind currents.

It was a beautiful sunny day with pristine white fluffy clouds salted throughout the sky. Some, we were even above, and they cast shadows across the plains below as they drifted to the west.

Off in the distance I could see the remains of an ancient civilization. It was a large ornate entryway carved into the cliff face on the opposite side of the valley. At one time, far earlier in its history, this planet must had housed a civilization which died away before it was chosen as a penal planet. That entryway might be where the criminals took shelter. I would pull out my binoculars later and have a closer look. Right now, I took a deep breath and thanked all the little miracles which had come together in order to get us this far safely.


I took in another deep breath. It was cool up here and would get downright cold at night, but the air was clean and high in oxygen content, so my thinking seemed inordinately clear. We were going to be okay. We could make this work for us until the Galactic Forces showed up. And now, I was able to fool myself into thinking they just might.

“I don’t know about you all, but I have worked up an appetite. I’ll go get some lunch ready for us. If you guys want to pull a couple of the mattresses out here on the ramp, we can enjoy the sun and the fresh air for a while.” I squeeze Callen’s shoulder as I turned back into the ship. “Well, done.”

He smiled and looked relieved feeling as though he redeemed himself a bit getting us out in the nick of time. “I’ll work with Ma-rye-a to get the rest back online.”

“You do that. I want some of Moby’s chocolate cupcakes by this time tomorrow,” I joked.

He gave me a ‘thumbs-up.’

I ducked into the ship and headed straight for the galley. Action always made me hungry.

*****

I could hear the kids joking as they lugged the mattresses out to the ramp. I fixed a pile of sandwiches and pulled out some Cheesy Chips from under the counter.

I didn’t hear him come in. I didn’t even know he was behind me until I stood up to find my own blaster, in his hand, pointed at the base of my skull. I felt so stupid. So, incompetent and so scared.

“Easy now,” he cautioned. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

“Yeah, right…”

He stepped back. “Turn around slowly.”

I could try for a kick or a jab, but I really didn’t know who, or how big, the person was behind me. I decided having a look to size him up first was the better call. I turned slowly as requested, the Cheesy Chips still in my hand.

“Chips?” I asked sarcastically as I turned.

It was the one who appeared to be the leader of the criminal element on the planet. The big dude with the red poncho. This is where my brain kicked into gear and realized my mistake in the assumption I made when I saw the flash of red out the window earlier.

“Maybe later,” he replied. He took two steps backward and placed his hand beside the door to palm it closed. He waved the muzzle of my blaster toward a chair. “Sit.”

I sat.

“You rode in the gun turret here?” I asked with a frown. It was the only way I could think he got here.

“Yep,” he confirmed.

“Pretty ballsy,” I complimented. “Of course, the mount makes a good handle and the seat wasn’t too damaged from the crash.”

“Well, the seat was taken, but the flight wasn’t so long I couldn’t hold on.”

“You’ve got someone else with you?” I came to my feet. There was another one with the kids. Damn it!

“Sit!” He ordered again. “Nothing is going to happen as long as we all stay calm.”

I didn’t want to point out I had four young kids, including two young girls, out there with a criminal who had to have at least committed murder to be placed on a penal planet, and could have done unthinkable things to women or men prior to that murder.

“Believe me,” he said as he perched his ass on the edge of the table in front of me, “this is the best possible outcome you could have orchestrated, even if you had known what you were doing.”

I had to cock my head in question. “Tell me how having two murders on my ship, while stuck on a cliff, is a good outcome?”

“Because I, Travis Haven, murdered out of anger, and I am no longer angry. And Thomas Nelson, doesn’t deserve to be here in the first place.”

I leaned back in my chair. “So, why don’t you tell me what you want then, Travis.”

“If the Galactic forces show up to get you and your passengers, and I am hoping they will, I want you to smuggle Thomas out of here with you.”

“Yeah, right… in your dreams.”

“I’m not looking to leave. I belong here and to tell you the truth, I find this life a notch above what I had out there,” he waved with my blaster toward the universe beyond. “I was a mercenary and spent the better part of my time getting shot at. The adrenaline rush can only take you so far. I was tired of it and pissed at the assholes I fell in with. They're gone, I’m here, and I’m in charge here. My word is law. The only time that is tested is when they dump a new recruit on our doorstep and even than I got my crew in line so well, that mostly they set down the rules for the newbie. I rarely have to raise my voice. We have proper accommodations to keep us out of the heat of summer and the cold of winter. There is plenty of game and recently we even had a couple of farmers dumped on us. We are hoping for bread soon.” He took a breath. “Life is good, but not for Thomas.”

“Why not for Thomas?” I asked, since I knew that was where he wanted the conversation to go.

“If you can stay calm and not get anyone hurt, you can come with me and I will introduce you.” He stood. “You can talk to him and see for yourself.”

I decided the best thing right now was to hear them out. I wasn’t taking a murderer off the planet, but then again, I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize the lives of my charges. It wouldn’t hurt to listen to an ex-mercenary with a blaster in his hand.


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