- Small Worlds
- Chapter Twenty-Two
"Ship, Wooster Class, prepared it for Captain Holt myself." Miyuki said as she brought them to the launching bay. There werent any guards around, or maintenance crew. The group stood alone in the long hall, just them and the metal behemoths that surrounded them. The scrubber, a nickname for all unarmed fighting ships, was a squat, ugly thing. It was half engine by all appearances, it'd be a cramped fit.
"You know how to fly this?" he asked Visstor.
"I jump worldssss, I do not waste time in the empty placesss," the shedim replied, giving the dark space beyond the shields a nervous glance.
"That'd be a no." he looked to Werther.
The girl shrugged. "I can fly a skimmer," she said, "No reason I couldn't pilot this hunk of junk." she then turned to Miyuki. "Do you want to come with me?" she asked, sounding a little hopeful.
"Who ssaid we would-" Visstor began irritably before Vaniah forestalled him.
"I-" Miyuki looked uncertain.
"Run away with me," Werther added, taking her by the hand.
"I-no, I can't," she said, "I can't be like you Werther. I can't-I just can't."
"You never told anyone about us," Werther replied bitterly, "It doesn't matter. Goodbye Miyuki, we could have had something special." She kissed Miyuki lightly on the check, then brought her fist around, knocking the woman out cold. She took Miyuki into her arms and laid her out carefully a fair measure away from the ship. Vaniah winced as Werther strode past him. She opened the ship's hatch. "Let's just go," she said to her new companions, scrubbing tears from her eyes.
"Yesss, letss," Visstor snapped irritably, pushing his way into the ship. They piled in. It was as cramped as he had expected. Werther had already moved to the ship's controls, while Visstor collapsed into a seat.
Vaniah closed the hatch behind him. "Let's shuffle off," he sighed with a tired smile as Werther started up the engine.
Abigail Vayne-Flyte, Sabre First Class, came running down the hall with Captain Holt at her shoulder. What they found, once they reached the hangar, was a complete mess. Noonjack, the fiery, red haired bounty hunter, was currently being pinned to the ground by a collection of SDF troopers while Captain Peters looked ready to blow a hole in the man's head, his heavy carbine poised in a shaking grip. He had a bloody nose, and a bruise was beginning to form over his eye. Doctors were working furiously on the other two Jacks. The scrawny dark haired one, Pulpit, was moaning as his attending physician took a saw to his badly mangled leg. The other, the hulking blond, was sitting on the floor, drool falling from his mouth, eyes glazed as if he'd been doped up.
"Commander on deck!" she barked, breaking some of the tension.
Both Peters and Noonjack looked to her, then to Captain Holt.
"Sir, this insubordinate little wretch struck me when-"
"When you were gonna deny treatment to my brothers!" he spat, "The son of a bitch was gonna shoot Bushjack, try and mercy kill him!"
"Where's Vaniah?" Holt replied, his voice soft, barely more then a whisper.
"Sir, I...." both Peters and Noonjack fell silent under his cold stare.
"Gone," Abigail replied. She pointed out the port door, to a fleck of light burning in the cold dark. "Must have stolen a transport, that's a Wooster Class scrubber, from the look of that light."
"And how did he come into possession of an SDF navy ship?" he asked, voice cold enough to chill a desert. "Why were their no guards posted? Why did you take so long to react to this situation? I'm talking to you, Lieutenant Peters."
The man looked as if he'd been struck. Demoted in a single sentence.
"Sir, it was this piece of-" before he could finish the sentence Holt's shock-lance smashed into his face.
"No excuses," he said, standing over the bleeding man, "You screwed up Lt Peters. You should have been on the hunt, not playing a pissing contest with one of my freelancers. What I'm trying to figure out is why you'd waste time pissing around. Maybe you didn't want to stop Vaniah, maybe you were scared he would kill you. Don't worry Peters, that's a fear you'll never need worry about again. I'm reassigning you, to liaison officer. you get to debrief the Magistrate in my place."
He looked to the others. "This behavior, your performance, has been lacking. This is our ship, our system. None can come into it without our permission, none can leave it without our permission. We are the sons and daughters of Terra-Prime, servants of the Gilded Throne. We do not stop, we do not retreat, we do not let a little piss ant world thief make a mockery of us. Is that understood?"
"Captain, yes Captain!" the soldiers bellowed back.
"SCRAMBLE THE FIGHTERS! WE PURSUE!"
His troops roared in response, lifting their guns high overhead. Their blood was up now, a terrifying sight. Abigail had not seen a group so roused since the Battle of Costa Nova. The SDF had taken no prisoners that day. Abigail wondered if they'd restrain themselves this time. Vaniah was wanted alive, would they remember that?
She hoped they would, and that they didn't kill him, telling herself it was duty alone that spoke such words.