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     Deep within the interior of the Royal Starr’s cargo Hold, the captain of the Ferryman pulled off her helmet and turned to her first, and tactical officer, Yojel, a large cyclops beast of a humanoid, “It sounds like they believed the drones were real ships,” she stated. “It’s quiet.” 

     For a moment, the large Cyclops blinked at her with his one giant sized eye. Then, listening to the sirens shut off, he just nodded. A low frequency reverberation began to sound.” This ship is under way.” 

     Captain Lucky whispered into a secure comm.  “Green, repeat, Green.”

     Seven decks up, the advance team hovered in darkness in a corridor near the bridge's auxiliary ready room. Gunny’s earpiece delivered his captains quiet message and he silently gave his team the order. His raised fist opened, fingers splayed wide then he pointed toward the ready room with a fast pumping motion.  The halls in the corridor were dark. Long pipes ran through the walls and along the decking beneath their feet.  

     The woman and four men had made their way up from below decks to the bridge of this ship they were about to take, only moments from the time their ship stealthily docked into the Royal Starr's cargo bay. 

     “Tama, get down.”  Gunny grabbed the sash of his friend and tugged quietly while the five of them laid down in the shadows as quietly as sleeping Dogs. 

     Footsteps could be heard echoing, resounding throughout the ship Pops locked his Noctall .30 dead on the Men coming toward them down the corridor.  The men didn’t see them, however. The cyber sight through Pops' socket cameras revealed a heat-read image of three men in casual dress and no armor, swaggering down towards them.  They stopped a second, laughing about something, and then turned down another passageway. 

     Pops nodded toward Gunny giving him the affirmative.  Gunny in turn gave order to the two other men and the woman.  “Let's go.” 

     The woman, Tama, stood and adjusted her earpiece.  She knew she should have been able to hear those men.  There, that was it.  It was simply turned too low to register.  Damn, cheap, Kalize cyber wear piece of crap, slider keeps slipping down. 

     It was quiet as they made their way up the steps to the first station. The team anticipated there would be resistance at the top of the stairs. Theoretically, this would be the only opposing force on the ship.

The sound of weapons being readied clanged in the stillness of the moment, concerning Gunny that they might be discovered. The droning din of the ships engines echoed as they fired up their thrusters and did well to mask the rustling noises of the team. 

     Gunny’s eyes shined in the green glow of the ready room foyer lights.  His four arms poised, two behind him sat on his shoulders and one scratched his neck while the fourth balanced a large weapon between his hand and the toe of his boot. Time crawled. Anticipation stretched on for what seemed like an eternity. Then quietly he pulled a pistol out of his shoulder holster while his two front hands readied the Phalanx cannon. 

     Pops could see through the closed door. On the other side, there were seven heat signatures with armor showing in the body-heated images.  Gunny motioned to Calah and Hendrix as they stood there with Noctall Devastators which they held snuggled close to them like beloved babes.

Their guns were huge. The shiny chrome weapons gave off an air of vanity entangled with the love of destruction. That’s exactly how those two liked their weapons. To them, killing was an art form forged by blood and years of discipline. Those two were pirates to the core. 

     Tama pulled her visor down and opened the valve to her Phoenix pistol, coolly savoring the moment as the cells charged with burning plasma. The weapon was devastating to electronics and personnel, but safe to fire in a starship. She held it tightly in her left hand as her right hand flexed her fingers and turned her head to crack vertebrae in her neck. She looked down and counted four clips, sixteen-hundred rounds. 

     Gunny whispered to his team.  “I'll see you all on back at Xin-Jong’s on Talos after this.  And I’m Buying.” 

     In the darkened hallway, the door opened and Gunny lunged into the room, dropping down on one knee while his targets scattered, caught off guard. He opened fire on one of the men who went for his gun. Then Tama came in behind him, firing on the lights around the room. When they went out pops remained low on one knee, babbling into his mouth mic the coordinates of the six other men.  

     Calah strode through the darkened doorway and annihilated three of the men before they had a chance to sound the alarm.  

     Two were trying to get at the ships communications while one had problems with his gun jamming. The other three were shredded the instant Hendrix spit the chaw from his mouth and looked at them cowering in the corner of the locker area.  Those guys never saw their attackers. 

     Gunny looked at Pops, who was searching the room for survivors.  There were none. Pops nodded back to Gun. Gunny made a round signal overhead with his hand letting the others that all was clear. He then brought his wrist to his mouth and touched the radio, “Phase one clear. Initiating jamming now.  It’s all yours, Lucky.” 

     Just then Tama flipped a switch on a device she’d attached to the ships comm. I high pitched whine emitted from it, then it could no longer be heard. They regrouped and ran back out the door from which they’d come. 

In the hull of the ship, still in the cargo bay, the cyclops watched the captain as she listened to the earpiece. “Good” she said. “We're on our way.” 

     Yojel's monocular was set on infrared and he watched her skin illuminate the wall beside her, when she turned to face him he blinked.

     “They’re ready,” she said. “We got two minutes.” She reached into her collar pulled out her Alonian Pedera and kissed it, then returned it to her bosom. “Let's go.”

     As they walked off, a hollow sound thumped within one of the containers close to where they had been sitting.  A scratching noise came from the container that sat next to the Ferryman in the cavernous hold of the Intergalactic Cruise ship.

     When the silence had grown long, a cylindrical opening unscrewed from the top of that container and a human boy poked his head up over the rim and looked about. Seeing the Ferryman so close made the boy believe it was a much better hiding place. When the guard on the rear door went around the far side, the boy entered and hid himself, unknowingly in the pirate captains’ quarters.

     Lucky climbed up the ladder from the hold to the service corridor. The large Cyclops close on her heels watched their backs. The halls were desolate since the Royal Starr had just dropped its load and refueled to head home where it was to be refit for larger passenger capacity. There was a small group of passengers, the elite dignitaries and politicians from off world trading colonies, but they were all busy being plied with spirits on the upper decks while waiting for the ship to make the H-jump.  Lucky had chosen this day several months earlier for just this reason. 

     As the two of them crossed the hall and headed to the Captains private elevator to the Bridge, Lucky asked the Cyclops a question, “When we are done here, do you think we should tell the crew where we are going, or should I wait until we are near Haiades?" 

     The beast looked at her and said, with a deep voice, “You should tell them as soon as we are underway. The last thing we need on Haiades is a loose tongue.” He licked at his lips and smiled. “Better to get this out in the open, Captain. Besides, I don’t think anyone will see this as a surprise.”

     “You’re right.” Lucky said as they reached a private elevator leading up to the bridge. They got in and lucky entered a code on the pad and then held a holographic block up to a sensor.

     An electronic voice told them, “Welcome aboard Captain. I am initiating security override code: Echo, Charlie, Omega, Five. Security protocols have been changed. Enjoy your flight, Captain Lucky.”

     Lucky grinned as the light on the panel changed from orange to green and the elevator moved up to the bridge. 

     “Captain, your thoroughness is very becoming.”

     The captain smirked. “Why thank, you, Yojel.”

© 2023 Mayachrome Press & D. Paul Fonseca

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