Saturday, April 29, 2017

Star Trader Update - Academy Brats - 020.17

Drake, Callen and I struggled to get the turret gun up on Ma-rye-a’s roof. I explained to the kids that the group holding Travis hostage were not going to be very patient. They knew as well as we did that the drone had passed over and that the Galactic Officials might arrive at any minute. They would be pressed to incite us to try a rescue. They wanted the pod as badly as we wanted to escape this nightmare.

I knew they would begin to torture Travis further once they saw us up here moving about. I intended to be prepared.

“Here,” I told the boys. “This will give me a good line-of-sight to the ground.”

They set it up on its tripod and I locked it down. I pressed my eye to the telescopic sight and zoomed in on Travis. He was in worse condition then my field glasses revealed. It was getting hot down there. I scanned the area around him, but saw no one. They must have all been up against the base of the cliff, beneath the slight overhang. I bit my lip and swung the gun up to look toward the cave dwellings.

I could see about a dozen men milling around in front of them, tending a fire, eating breakfast, trying to give me the impression they were all there and that a trap was not sitting right below us waiting to be sprung as soon as we tried to rescue Travis.

I sent the boys inside to get something to eat and hopefully keep the kids calm. Thomas had dropped into a mentally gray abbess. He didn’t want to see Travis or even think of what might happen to the man he called uncle. Travis had trained him well. He obeyed his instructions to stay put with us. He had just turned into what appeared to be a lobotomized state. He just sat on Travis bed in the guestroom. I told the girls to try and get him to eat.


It was mid-morning when the men holding Travis made their move. They came out from hiding below us, as I suspected they were going to start in on Travis again, but I put a stop to that notion.

I am a pretty darn good shot and the turret gun, with its E60 scope, is damned accurate. I placed a few well aimed shots at their feet and they retreated back under the overhang. The kids came rushing out on the pod bay ramp when they heard the gun. They made their way up on the roof - even Thomas came.

“It’s okay,” I assured them. “We just have to keep this standoff until the GO get here.” I was still peering through my gun sight.

I no sooner said that then I saw a knife impale itself in Travis’ leg. He screamed and the kids turned as its delayed sound reached us. Damn! How many knives did they have? I hadn’t thought of that! I should have winged them so they were dealing with injuries rather than lobbing knives at Travis. I hoped they just had the one they were using to carve on him, but I doubted that. These guys would each have one. I racked my brain. I saw four men before my gunshots drove them back into hiding. They won’t kill him, I kept telling myself. They need him to lure us down. They won’t kill him… But they will make him suffer.

Travis took two more knives, one to the shoulder and another ill aimed one to his broken leg. The men didn’t move from their cover, so I couldn’t get in a shot. The girls were in tears and I sent them in with the excuse of listening for Ma-rye-a to announce that she spotted the GO with her limited power sensors. She would tell me as soon as they did. I wore an ‘ear’ outside the ship, so she could communicate with me, but I didn’t really want the kids witnessing the cruelty that was taking place below us.

I studied Travis through the scope. He was managing to spit what I could only imagine was streams of profanity at his former men. He fought at his ropes and I wondered how much of the show was for the kids and me. He was trying to give us hope.

“Captain, the Galactic Officials are hailing us,” Ma-rye-a announced.

I let out a huge sigh. “Put them through.” I waited for Ma-rye-a to connect the transmission to my ear and jaw mike.

“This is Captain Targus of Mobile Tactical Unit #2424. We heard the GO request go out for assistance in retrieving Ma-rye-a and immediately accepted the call. Give us your status, 3su.”

This was the best luck I could have hoped for. I knew this team of officers, Captain Targus, his computer officer, Coal, and his medical expert, Damion. I was grinning like a Taldavian swamp lizard with a newly dug trap, just waiting for a victim.

“Targus, it is so good to hear your voice. We need help as fast as you can get that bucket of yours to move. I am in a standoff with some of the inmates and they have one of their own who was helping us. They are torturing him.” I quickly looked through the scope again. Travis was still ranting at his men. “He’s holding out, but I don’t know for how much longer.”

“I understand you had passengers too,” Targus added. “How are they?”

No doubt, if the parents had been told by the GO that the ship had been found. I could only imagine the uproar they were creating.

“They’re fine, but we all would love to get off this rock.”

“We’ll be there within the hour,” Targus answered. “MT Twenty-four Twenty-four out.”

Now it was just a waiting game. I wished I had a way to tell Travis they were on their way.


The men below had run out of knives and were making an effort to retrieve them, while I was taking pot-shots at them, when Targus arrived in his ship’s pod.

He must have made an assessment of the situation as he arrived, because he immediately lowered his heavily armed pod down level with the rock face of the cliff. He let out a verbal warning and when the men didn’t run he scattered them by firing his guns over their heard. They scattered like chittermills in front of a fast-moving Max Cat.

The Captain landed and I saw Coal jump out. The Realdat with his bright lavender hair was easy to spot. He freed Travis from his restraints, threw him over his shoulder and piled him into the pod.

Targus did a fly-by and waved his wings at us, but he must have evaluated the situation, or consulted Travis, because he didn’t land, instead we watched as the pod gained altitude and disappeared.

“He’s taking Travis to his ship’s medical officer,” I assure Thomas. “I know this MT crew. They will take good care of him. Damion is a superb doctor.”

I put my hand on Thomas’ shoulder to console him and he sat down abruptly on the roof at my feet. The other kids huddled around him.

Tiff snuggled up against him and hooked her arm through his. “It’s going to be okay, Thomas.”

Drake had changed places with me and had his eye glued to the telescopic sight on the gun. “Yeah, that MT crew kicked butt,” Drake announced, “the bad guys are still running.”


We limped into space. No one was better with computers than Coal. Once they settled Travis in on board MT #2424 Targus and he came back down for us. Coal shook his head a lot and muttered under his breath about kids and incompetence, but he managed to boost Ma-rye-a’s power by another twenty-five percent.

Thomas was anxious to see Travis, so once we were all out of the range of the penal planet’s guard drones and Coal got them back in operational mode, Targus offered to take the boy and I over to check in on his prisoner. Travis’ status had not changed – just his current location.

There wasn’t room for everyone aboard the MT unit. It was built for a three-man crew and perhaps two prisoners. If they ran into anything larger than that, they called for backup or left the extra prisoners in locked suspension chambers to be retrieved later by one of the GO cruisers. The MT crew were the investigators usually, not the mop-up crew.

My passengers were happy to stay behind and enjoy an almost fully functioning Ma-rye-a. Mobi could tap into the supplies on the MT Unit and now that the power was up, Horus was available for a chess game with Callen, the gaming consul in the lounge was fully operational, and Cassie was already trying to make up for lost time by spitting out all the latest news and fashion information to the girls on a plethora of virtual dropdown screens I had no idea she even had access to.

I sat in the galley of MT #2424 with Targus. Thomas was in visiting with Travis under the watchful eye of Damion. The medical officer and I had a nice hug when I arrived and I managed to pass on some cookies Mobi made for him. Damion found them very tasty last time we met.

“You will have to look into it, but in my opinion he saved our lives and he doesn’t belong on that planet,” I said with conviction.

Targus cradled his mug of pitch and leaned back further in his chair. They made furniture very durable in the MT Units – they had to – all their officers were over 6’4”. Targus must have been over seven and a half feet at least. He was a mountain of a man – a Walhmite with long black hair and a turned-up nose, but also a large man with an equally big heart. I really liked and admired him.

“It’s not my decision to make,” he said between sips of his drink. “I can bring it to the attention of the Galactic Forces and at least give him a reprieve while they make him jump through some hoops, but ultimately he will probably end up back here.”

“I could testify on his behalf,” I offered.

“I’ll put that in my report if you really want to. The gears move slow, it might be months before they get around to a hearing.”

“Well, at least he will have that time,” I conceded. I certainly wasn’t happy about it.

I had grown to really like Travis and what he had gone through to get Thomas off the planet. I wanted them both free. There was no question about Thomas’ status. He was never meant to be condemned to the penal planet. He would be sent to a rehab facility where he would be taught the fundamentals of life as a free man and then released into society. Most refitting stations and some planets had these rehab facilities. I had even lived in one once when I was going to spend an extending length of time in the Gamma quadrant. They were good places to learn the rules and regs of a system so the culture shock wasn’t so bad and you didn’t inadvertently break a law you had no idea might exist. For instance, it is not against the law in the Gamma quadrant to run over a pedestrian who was stupid enough to try running across traffic in front of you, but it was a law that once you ran over them, you had to pull to one side and place lit markers around them so others would not hit them until the responders you had summonsed arrived. I made it a point not to walk anywhere in the Gamma quadrant.

“I think I’ll go check in on him and then I have to get back to my passengers. Now that Ma-rye-a is at least space worthy for the time, I need to get the kids delivered to the academy and then her into the closest refitting station,” I rose and put my mug in the dish sanitizer.

“Coal and I want to secure that patch over the turret gun entrance better before you make another jump.” Targus downed the last of his pitch and got to his feet too. “We’ll keep Thomas with us. He’ll want to see Travis settled in to wherever he ends up until his hearing comes up. I think Coal has located a holding facility that has a rehab location close by – that way they can keep in touch as the boy adjusts.”

“Sure would be easier on him if he had Travis to help him,” I threw out. I knew Targus would be thinking the same thing, but it didn’t hurt to say it out loud.

Join me for the conclusion of this serial story next week!

Art by Sherry D. Ramsey for "The Adventure Begins" by Theresa Snyder

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