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Episode 8 Part 1

By:  Wynn

“Whew… that’s the last of them.”

     Bullet Ruissir raised an eyebrow as the ‘dread pirate captain’ Vonter walked up to him, dusting his hands and wiping at his brow free of nonexistent sweat.  Behind their leader, the group of pirates who had actually been responsible for loading their soon-to-be-returned loot onto Bullet’s ship shook their heads bemusedly at their captain’s antics, distracted for the moment from their previous glaring at the Guardsman, their ire growing with every crate and bag they had manhandled into Silverfang’s prison cells.  To Bullet, however, it seemed that they should have been a little more appreciative; after all, it could have been them being loaded into the cells, instead of the latest additions to their plunder.

     “So, as you can see, I am a man of my word,” Vonter pointed out benignly, smiling boldly at Bullet. “And, considering what I have heard about the Nathian appreciation of honor and honesty, I am sure that-”

     “Don’t worry, I’ll hold up my end of the bargain,” Bullet interjected, unable to keep the edge of a growl from his voice.  Pushing himself away from the wall of the docking bay where he had been leaning to watch the pirates, he glanced over at Vonter, his eyes cold and hard. “Are you ready?”

     Vonter returned the expression with a smile, though a slightly pained one.  It was obvious to him that his new comrade had had just enough time to begin to regret their arrangement. “Almost, almost.  Give me just a moment to change into suitable attire; my efforts just now have left these soiled.  It would hardly be fair of me to make my public apology in anything but my best.” He brushed at an invisible speck of dirt on his sleeve.  “I will return in the blink of an eye, and then we can be off.”

     Bullet shook his head, a nascent smile tugging at his lips despite his foul mood. “Alright, fine.  The Silverfang will be prepped and ready when you get back.  But don’t take too long,” he cautioned, obliquely gesturing to the sad shape of the Fickle Fate’s guard craft. “It would be a shame if any of your other pursuers caught you, ah, with your pants down.”  

     Vonter swallowed, staring blankly into the distance for a brief moment before turning a brilliant smile back to Bullet. “Don’t worry, I’ll be back before you know it!  We pirates are, after all, known for our haste.  Else your esteemed fellow hounds, I mean law enforcement officials, would have caught the lot of us.”

     He marched off towards the lift, and Bullet watched him go, shaking his head and letting a reluctant chuckle escape.  Finally he turned, and stepped towards his own ship, fully intending to keep his word to have it ready for whenever Vonter returned.

 

******

 

     “Are you sure about this, captain?”

     Derek Vonter didn’t turn to face his second-in-command, instead holding up two brilliantly-colored shirts and inspecting them one after the other, his brow slightly furrowed as he debated the merits of each.  Behind him, the burly pirate shifted his weight uncomfortably, scratching his bald, scarred head.  While his victims tended to be considerably surprised that Vonter was a pirate, a reaction he greatly appreciated, few tended to be shocked when Rocin Taen introduced himself as such.  Burly, scarred, and with a pair of scratched sunglasses seemingly inextricably attached to his face, he was rarely mistaken for a gentleman.  He had indeed lived much of his life as a common thug, until he had met Vonter.

     “Let me ask you this,” Vonter mused, lifting the red shirt higher to better catch the light. “How do you make a Nathian Guardsman stop chasing you?”

     Rocin scowled darkly.  As a criminal, and later as a pirate, he had had plenty of opportunities to become well acquainted with the Nathian’s police forces, considering how widely that race had spread and how involved they were with intergalactic law enforcement.  Some had even taken to calling them the Council’s Hounds, and for any pirate it seemed a particularly apt appellation.  “Kill him,” Rocin offered coldly, glancing towards the door as if considering the fate of their visitor.

     “Or surrender,” Vonter offered off-handedly. “But, when you think of it, neither is really an appealing notion.  After all, did you catch a glance at his ship?  Or, more importantly, its guns?”

     Grunting, the pirate nodded.  The Guardsman’s cruiser was obnoxiously well-armed for a ship of its size, sporting heavy cannons and six missile ports.  Considering the sad shape of their own fleet, a direct conflict with even such a small craft would prove devastating. “So, catch him off guard and kill him, and take the ship for our own,” he suggested glibly.

     “Ah, yes.  That shiny little bundle of destruction would be a nice addition to our armada… until you remember how fond those Nathians tend to be of each other.  After all, what good would one cruiser do…” The captain glanced from the corner of his eye at his chagrined second, “When ten of them show up at our every port of call, shooting first and then asking questions.  Or, rather, just shooting again.”

     Rocin grumbled his assent, his mind returning to the pile of wealth that his subordinates had loaded into the Nathian’s ship.  It had taken all of his considerable persuasive power, which typically consisted of looming and shouting, in order to convince his fellows to go anywhere near a Nathian’s containment cells, let alone with all of their treasure in hand.  Honestly, he had all but expected whispers of mutiny from the crew, but this far their captain’s overwhelming charisma had kept such dark scheming at bay. 

     “On the other hand… There is a phrase from the planet I am from that might describe my thoughts.” Vonter frowned as his lieutenant gaped at him, shocked by the rare mention of his captain’s planet of origin. “Ah, yes. ‘It is best to achieve two objectives through a single expenditure of force.’” He sighed deeply, shaking his head in shame. “Poetics, sadly, never came easily to them.  Nor did subtlety.  Or any of the things that make existence worthwhile, really…” Rocin waited patiently for his commander to recover from his melancholy. “Ah, but yes.  It would be far wiser for us to use the situation we find ourselves in to our advantage, rather than to find ourselves in even more trouble.  As we have agreed, good Mister Ruissir has, at his disposal, a flying armory.  With such at our side, we stand a better chance at surviving.” Vonter turned slightly to smile at Rocin, and the hulking pirate shivered at the hollow expression. “And, anyways, should he die in our defense, it shall be our enemies that the esteemed Nathian military shall be pursuing, and not us.  A better alternative, don’t you agree?”  When his lieutenant tensely nodded, Vonter turned back to inspect the shirts once again, nodding sagely at the black one with ruffled sleeves.  

     “Oh, and one more thing,” the leader of the pirates noted as Rocin turned to leave the room. “Once I am out of scanning range, announce to the crew that their shares of the loot shall be recompensated from my own private funds.” Rocin’s eyes widened sharply behind his sunglasses. “That should give any malcontents the time they need to act against me, should they be foolish enough to try; any that speak of mutiny will be safely dropped off at the next port, with our fondest farewells and only the smallest of threats towards the notion of return.  I will trust the distribution to you, should anything happen to me after I leave with our new friend.” Vonter glanced again to his lieutenant, and this time his smile was far more kind. “I shall leave the rest to you, Rocin.  You’ve earned my trust, of course.”

     “Yes sir!” The pirate snapped into an awkward, if enthusiastic, salute. “Everything will be keep in good shape as we wait for your return!”

     “Good man.” Vonter waved dismissively towards the door, taking up the clothes he had chosen for his next batch of theatrics. “Now, if you will excuse me…”

     Rocin Taen stepped out of the captain’s chambers, new purpose in his step and a grin upon his face.  While many of the crew had balked at the notion of serving someone that most tended to dismiss as a dandy, Captain Vonter had won their affection and loyalty time and time again.  He knew that their leader blamed himself for their latest sufferings, but it was obvious that he already had schemes in place to keep them safe.

     Captain Vonter would lead them to safety, and to wealth.  He never failed.  

 

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