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Episode 5 Part 12

By:  Wynn

“Oh, thank Me that you’ve come!”

      Bullet couldn’t restrain a wince at the shrill pitch of the voice of the creature standing before him. “I came as soon as I could,” he managed.

     “Oh, such good luck that a Nathian Guardsman was in the area after we were attacked!  Praise to Me!” The creature beamed up at Bullet through watery eyes. “Come this way, if you will.”

     As Bullet walked behind the creature out of the luxury cruiser’s docking bay, the analytic part of his mind struggled to remember the species of the person that had greeted him. ‘Ah, yes, a Diyetian…Small planet, high gravity, not much light, hence the pale skin and short, stocky frame.  Why do I remember Lance talking about them?’ He thought for a second more before the answer came to him. In his cultural lessons at the Academy, Instructor Lance had used them as an example on how strange some species can be, especially when it comes to religious practices.  ‘If I recall correctly, the Diyetians are a race of people that actively worship themselves as gods…which is why he keeps praising himself.’ Bullet struggled to keep a smile from his face. ‘Well, I guess he does deserve some credit, since he was the one that sent out the S.O.S…unless there are more of them on this ship.’ He winced at that, and shook his head in an effort to clear it. 

     Instead, he glanced around him at the corridor leading out of the ship’s small docking bay.  The small, cavernous compartment had barely had room for his ship, as it was already shared by two smaller fighter craft, the luxury ship’s guard ships.  Oddly, he noted, the pair were not damaged, which is not something he had expected to see after a pirate attack.

     The utilitarian corridor came to an end at a small door, which the Diyetian paused at. “I am sorry; I neglected to introduce myself to you.” The small creature’s voice became imperious. “I am Cruluxiam, God of Luxury Cruises.  My blessings upon you, Guardsman.”

     “Ah…thanks.  My name is Bullet Riussir, Nathian Guardsman…on leave of 36th District.”

     The Diyetian nodded to him, although he saw a small twitch on the creature’s face at the words ‘on leave’.  ‘Nathian Guardsmen rarely take leave off planet, and certainly aren’t allowed to take their cruisers when they do so.  Everyone knows that.’  Bullet swallowed, fighting to keep memories of ruined Colony 96 out of his mind.

     The door swung open into opulence.  Bullet managed to keep his jaws together, but just barely.  The room they stepped into was massive, with plush carpet that Bullet swore would come up to his ankles and elegant wall hangings coating the walls from the floor to the ceiling far above.  Chandeliers provided the light, but they were obviously electronic.  Tables dotted the center of the room, seating dozens of obviously shaken occupants, each of them dressed extravagantly.  The food on the tables was mostly going untouched, but merely the sight of it made Bullet’s mouth water.  He resolved to keep his distance to keep the smell of it from reaching him; after all, he had been living on ship rations for…how long now?

     “Let’s get to business, shall we?” Bullet asked, reaching into his uniform and pulling out a pad of paper and a pencil.  “First off, have you signaled for medical attention for the wounded, or are your on-ship facilities sufficient?”

     The Diyetian quickly looked away. His voice was considerably quieter this time.

     “Pardon me?  I couldn’t make that out.”

     “I said, there weren’t any injuries.”

     “Oh.” Bullet’s eyebrow rose. “I didn’t see any damage to the ship, but I didn’t get a good view…can this ship move under its own power to make it to repair facilities?” Another mumble met his question. “Hmm?”

     “I said, the ship isn’t damaged.”

     Bullet lowered the pad. “They used EMP weaponry?”

     “They didn’t use weaponry.”

     “They didn’t?”

     “No.  But they threatened to.”

     Bullet looked at the assorted clusters of people sitting at the table.  Their dress and the glamour of the room’s accoutrements suggested that the ship’s passengers would all likely be extremely wealthy, and he knew that few of that class traveled without bodyguards or other protection.   “Must have been a pretty convincing threat.  Do you have any clue as to the identity of the pirates that attacked you?”

     Cruluxiam looked up at Bullet, rage in his eyes. “Yes!  I know exactly who it was, may I cast him into torment!”

     ‘Him?  Well, there goes THAT lead.’ “What was his name?”

     “It was Vonter!”

     Bullet scratched his head. “Not familiar with that one.”

     The Diyetian sighed dramatically. “He is Derek Vonter.  He came onto the ship as a paying passenger, just as he always does; luxury cruises are his only target.   He called himself Frederick Donote.  He played the casino, he ate the food, he enjoyed our service, but apparently he didn’t approve, because he called in his pirate gang to rob us!” The thing wailed, reaching a note so high that Bullet’s hands unconsciously moved to cover his ears. “Do you know what the insurance people are going to say about this?”

     ‘Must…keep…professional…attitude…’ Bullet frowned, closing his eyes. “What is he, some kind of overly enthusiastic cruise critic?”

     “He’s styled himself as such, yes.”

     ‘Could be worse; at least the guy just held them up and didn’t hurt anybody.’ “Do you have some sort of heading I can follow?”

     “Well, yes, we can send your onboard computer the information, but…”

     “Then I should be off before the trail gets cold.  Thank you for the information.”

     “Wait!” The Diyetian cried as Bullet walked away. “You can’t go alone!  They didn’t use guns, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have them!”

      ‘The sooner I finish this, the sooner I can go back to hunting the Red Death.’ “I suppose they will have lots of guns, yes.  We’ll call that evening the odds.”

     Cruluxiam watched the Guardsman go, respect and worry in his watery eyes. “Myspeed, Bullet Riussir.” Turning back to the crowd of people at the tables he clapped his hands together. “That’s taken care of now!  Enjoy your dinner, goodfolk!  Be merry!”

      Outside, in the cold of space, the Guardsman’s Cruiser departed the Decadence, hot on the trail.

 

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