Saturday, March 25, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.13

“Let’s make a pact.” Travis put one hoofed foot out and rose. He reached down and took the Scatter from Thomas. “You kids play nice while the Captain and I discuss our steps to get you all off this rock.”

I nodded toward my passengers. “Consider Thomas our guest.” I looked at Callen. “Why don’t you see what you can do about helping Ma-rye-a get Moby back online. We have more mouths to feed now.”

Travis motioned me into the bay and toward my pod. I looked down and noted his hooves were wrapped in small leather pouches. “That’s why I didn’t hear you coming,” I commented.


“They do make a bit of racket,” he confessed. “Just a little trick I learned as a mercenary.” He stopped at the pod door and placed his palm on the entry pad. The door didn’t open. I had it locked out. I never left my pod accessible to just anyone. I had learned that trick hanging around mercenaries. “Open it,” he ordered.

I just stood there. I wasn’t sure I wanted to comply.

“Trust me,” he said.

“From the man holding a blaster on me…” I pointed out needlessly.

“Then do it because I am holding a blaster on you. Show some faith.” He smiled at me though his iron-jar beard and I must admit, he looked sincere and I really had no choice at this point.

He was a mercenary and though he would have some time getting around Ma-rye-a’s lockouts, he could most likely do it. In that scenario, what would happen to my passengers if he chose to try to escape from this planet? I opened the door.

He walked in past me and placed the blaster and the scatter on the passenger seat inside and came out. “Lock it up.”

I obliged him and palmed the door closed.

“Now we are on an even footing. I don’t want anything more from you other than your promise you will take Thomas when you leave.”

I must admit, this was developing far different then I had imagined. “You might not want anything further from me, but you need me to fuse those cut for you.” I indicated his bleeding hands before I turned my back on him and headed toward the sick bay.

*****

He sat quietly as I worked with the tissue fuser to close the open wounds on his hands. We could hear the kids down the hall in the galley.

“You think ham is good, wait until you taste a steak,” Drake said.

“Or a Muldavian Spritzer,” Mims chimed in.

“Or chocolate,” Tiff added.

“Yeah, one of Moby’s chocolate cupcakes, as soon as I get him up and running,” Callen’s muffled voice came from where he must have been below the control panel.

“Sounds like they are a good group,” Travis said.

“Yeah, I am pretty sure you and Thomas are the first non-humans they have ever met.” I leaned back. “Give it a try.”

Travis flexed his fingers. “Feels good. You’re not bad with that thing.”

“Had some practice,” I admitted. “How’d he get a name like Thomas? It seems so against species.”

“He was almost a year old and I’d been calling him, ‘son.’ The others in our little community at the time called him, ‘kid.’ A new guy was dropped off and he didn’t survive the landing.”

Inmates were shot down in pods hardly larger than their own bodies. Once the Galactic Council condemned you to a penal planet, they really wiped their hands of you.

“His pod got caught in a seasonal storm, a monsoon. Everything with his touchdown went wrong. The second chute on his pod didn’t deploy. His case cracked on impact and he landed in a place that any other time would have been a stream maybe six inches deep, but at that time was a flooding torrent. It swept him downstream. His pod got lodged under some debris and he drowned before we got to him. His name was Thomas Nelson. I can’t remember who started calling the kid Tommy first, but we all fell into it. It just stuck.”

I put the fuser away and sat down in the chair across from the bed Travis was perch on.

“Have you thought of how lost that kid is going to be out there without you? I can see you want to get him off, but you should do it the right way. Let me present him as a free man and unlawfully incarcerated.”

“He’s too old to be put in a home, and that would be just exchanging one prison for another anyway.” Travis hopped down. He leaned against the bed with his arms crossed over his chest. “I have a stash. He knows how to access it. I also have friends that will take care of him. Good friends.”

“Mercenary friends? Are you even sure they are alive after all this time? How long have you been here? Fifteen… Twenty years? A lot can happen to a mercenary in that time.”

“You’re right, but he deserves better than this,” he waved his hand to indicate the planet and its inhabitants. “If the Galactic Forces don’t know about your crash yet, they will in thirty-seven days. That’s when the low atmosphere drone does its fly-over to check on our status. You positioned your ship well. It will be spotted and they will send in the troops. We just need to wait it out.”

And I needed to have time to talk some sense into Travis. His plan wasn’t going to work. I registered my passengers with N.E.T. before I started this run and there were four, not five. The Galactic Forces were not idiots. They would check the manifest. But, if I pointed this out to Travis, what lengths was he be willing to go to get Thomas off the planet. Would he kill one of the kids to make the head-count tally?


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