Friday, June 20, 2014

Scout's Duty - Chapter 111

< Chapter 110                                                                                                   Chapter 112 >
David, Martin, Rupor, and Harris are about to lead an attack against the pirates in the docking bay!

I pulled Callan to me and kissed her.  "I'll be back for you soon."

Her cheek tight against mine, she whispered, "You'd better be!"

Martin and Megan broke apart at the same time Callan and I did.  Then the four of us swam off toward the lip of the docking bay.

"Laura," I called over the comm, "have you got your teams ready to go?"

"It took some persuasion on my part to keep them from taking up swords to join you in your glorious charge into the docking bay," Laura replied, "but they've got the charges and are getting into place now."

"Good.  Blow the charges as soon as all your teams have gotten to safety.  Pick up Callan, Megan, and the wounded marine before you do anything else.  After that, you're in command until Martin or I get back on board.  Follow your instincts."

"Aye aye, Captain Rice!" Laura said.

There was something in the way she snapped off her response that made me ask, "Are you saluting, Laura?"

Laughter erupted over the comm.  "Um, yes, sir."

"At ease, Chief Engineer!"

We reached our position just below the lip of the docking bay.  I pulled myself up enough to see what was going on.  I guessed there were at least four hundred pirates taking up positions throughout the bay.  Half of them were formed up around the Aashla's Hope, swords sheathed but close at hand.  Most of the rest took up various positions close to vital controls, leaving a couple of dozen formed up guarding Quint.  Chapman stood just behind Quint, subservient and available should Quint wish to speak to him.

I looked at my companions.  Rupor wore a grin of suppressed excitement.  Martin wore a grimace of suppressed pain.  Harris wore a set face of suppressed nervousness.  I could only imagine the faces of the marines on board the ship.  I felt as if I should say something before we charged out against such superior numbers -- something to settle their nerves and calm their excitement.  I was drawing a blank until I remembered something from ancient Terran history.  Without a hint of shame, I stole it.

"Gentlemen, Tarteg and Mordan expect all men to do their duty."

Next to me, Martin spoke but his voice was drowned out by a roar from the men.  Martin stopped trying to speak and just gave me a thumbs up.  Then we pulled ourselves up and into the docking bay.

The pirates glanced about, nerves set on edge by the roar they'd just heard.  Heads turned toward Quint, looking for guidance.  Irritation crossed Quint's face and he prepared to speak.  That was just what I'd been waiting for.

"Heidi, broadcast my comm outside the ship so everyone can hear me," I said.  "And crank the volume."

"You're on, David!"

"Git yerselves under-" Quint began before I drowned him out.

"To all pirates within this base, in the name of the Terran Federation, I order you to lay down your arms and surrender!"  I began walking forward, flipping my sword in the casual manner of one who has been forced to live by the blade.

A few pirates spotted us and pointed.  Within seconds, all eyes were upon us.

"Yer an idiot, Rice!"  Quint was shouting but his voice was still weak compared to my amplified one.  "We got you outnumbered four hunnert to four!"

"Marines, form up!"

With a whoosh, the airlocks opened and the marines charged out, taking up positions around the ship.  The pirates surrounding the ship stirred nervously.

"You miscalculated the odds, Quint," I said.

"Maybe so, but we still got more than twice yer numbers!" he shouted back.

"And if you were facing a bunch of merchant spacers or the crew of a space liner, that might make a difference."  I waved my arm toward the marines.  "Do these men look like they're afraid of you?  You pirates are used to being the foxes rampaging through the hen house.  Now your fox's den has been invaded by wolves."

I pointed my sword at Quint.  "You can stop the slaughter, Quint.  Surrender!"

Quint glared across the docking bay at me.  "I'd rather die first!"

"So be it."  I raised my sword above my head and cried, "For Milo!"

With a roar, we charged into battle!

The battle lines have been drawn and blood is about to be spilled!  Find out what happens next in Chapter 112, coming Monday!