Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Scout's Duty - Chapter 113

< Chapter 112                                                                                                   Chapter 114 >
The Aashla’s Hope has been freed from the docking bay clamps but the fight against the pirates rages on!

A cheer rose from the marines as our spaceship majestically glided out of the docking bay.  Over the comm, I could hear the ship's crew preparing to pick up Callan, Megan, and the wounded marine.  Around the docking bay, I watched the fight go out of the pirates and swords begin dropping to the floor in surrender.

"Cap'n David, sir!"  Heidi's voice held more life than I'd heard since her husband had dragged her off the Aashla's Hope many hours before.  "A rescue team is assembling in the airlock.  We'll have Her Highness and her companions back on the ship in two minutes."

Tightness I hadn't even realized gripped my chest loosened.  I let out a long sigh, dropped Boost, and turned back to the airlock into the base.

"It's over, Quint.  My ship is free and your pirates are defeated.  Do the smart thing and surrender."

Quint punched one more key on the airlock controls and the airlock door hissed open.  To my surprise, Quint didn't dash into the airlock.  Instead, one of his men walked through the door.

"I don't think so, scout."

"Do you remember the wormhole alarm a few hours ago?  That was a messenger drone we launched just before entering your docking bay.  The drone carries the location of this base, the approach path, and the identity of the senior captain.  Honestly, I'm surprised a Federation Navy task force hasn't already popped out of that wormhole."

"I figgered that out when you done told us who you was, boy."

"If you knew the navy had been alerted, why did you bother fighting us?  Why didn't you just let us go and get away while the getting was good?"

"Yer askin' me why, boy?  Take a gander 'round you.  You think a place like this jest pops up all set and ready ta use?  I remember when ol' Caudill and me stumbled 'cross this place.  It was jest a big rock chock full o' caves.  Me 'n Caudill got us some lads and worked our tails off ta build this place.  My blood 'n sweat be in every nook and cranny o' this place.  You think I's gonna let the man who be takin' it from me just fly away?"

The man in the airlock began handing something out to each of the pirates around Quint.  I couldn't see what they were passing around, but all of my mental alarms were ringing.

"So this resistance of yours was just a big pity party because you're going to miss your old pirate base?"  I sniffed and pretended to wipe away tears.  "I feel your pain, Quint.  Really, I do.  I feel it so much, I wish all the victims of your decades of piracy could be here to shed a tear over your loss."  I waved my sword toward Quint and his men.  "Escape is impossible.  Stop whatever it is you and your men think you're doing and surrender."

Quint's fingers danced across the keypad again.

"Yer right 'bout one thing, Rice.  Escape be impossible fer most o' me men.  It ain't fer me and these lads with me."

"Martin, I'm tired of talking to this old man.  Time to take him down."

We strode toward Quint.  Quint's fingers touched two last keys then hovered over a button.

"Take another step, boy, and I'll drop the atmo shield and flush ya all out inta space!"

We stopped.  Four of us still wore vacuum harnesses, but none of the marines had them.

"You know you'll kill more than my men.  You'll kill your men and yourself, too."

The pirate from the airlock came out wearing a vacuum harness and carrying another.  As that pirate slipped the vacuum harness around Quint, the rest of Quint's guards donned harnesses, too.

Chapman looked wildly around him.  "H-hey, where's my harness?"

Quint shook his head.  "Why would I be wantin' to save you, Chapman?"

"But I helped you!  I told you who these men were!  I was useful to you!”

"Yep, but there be plenty o' useful idiots in the galaxy.  I 'spect I's gonna find you right easy to replace."

Quint looked around the docking bay.  "Sorry, lads.  Wish I could save ya all, but that jest ain't in the cards today."

Quint looked me in the eyes.  "An' now I got ta git busy makin' that impossible escape."

Then Quint's finger stabbed toward the button!

Are our heroes, the marines, and the pirates about to be swept out into space?  Find out in Chapter 114, coming Friday!