Hidden 7 days ago Post by Penny
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Penny

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Jessica Scarlett, or Red Jess as she was known to her friends and enemies, both of which she had in abundance, cursed the day she had ever come up with this clever plan. Doubtless the six other crewmen with her on this were cursing her all so, but given they had all been hardsuited and in vacuum for the past day and a half. The starfield appeared unchanged, even though they were hurtling through it at over seven hundred miles per hour. Their vessel, nicknamed the "Abortion', was a collection of beams of structural plastic, air tanks, gyroscopes and pieces of glass etched with engineering marker. The guiding design principle of the Abortion was that it could contain no metal or other material that might scatter radar. The resulting craft had no sensors, no life support and no abillity to manuevur other than break. In every sense it was a collection of junk which had been launched into space on a ballistic course.

The problem was that the ship they were trying to board was one of a half dozen which had been shot up by a Hegemony squadron four days earlier. The attack ships had moved on to other engagements leaving a picket and a single salvage tender which was in the process of hauling the derelicts back to a Hegemony controlled world to be condemned as prizes of war. Luckily the process was a slow one, and the ship she was looking for, the slave ship Blackbird, was a low priority to the Hedge. The picket cruiser was orbiting a gas giant two hundred thousand miles distant. Its orbit was calculated to sweep the derelict ships constantly, but due to the nature of the orbits there was a twelve minute gap in its coverage as it passed behind the gas giant.

Jessica's plan to approach the problem was simple. Insane, but simple. Certainly if she presented it to her instructors back at the naval academy on Capella she would have been laughed out of class before being sent for yet another psyche eval. She and her crew had constructed the Abortion, attached it to a stolen tug, and then jumped out of parallax during the picket ships blind spot, accelerated for nine minutes and then released the Abortion before dropping back into parallax. The Abortion, small and non-metallic, hard flown on her ballistic course for thirty seven hours. Thirty seven hours during which her crew with no protection except suits. Thirty seven hours with what snatches of sleep they could grab. Jessica looked at her chronometer, on old fashioned pocket watch which had been sprayed with a synthetic resin to protect it against vacuum. Thirty eight hours. It was nearly time. Jess climbed forward hand over hand past one of her crewman, asleep and tethered to a tie down, to the nest of cables which served as the Abortion's controls. There was no instrumentation, merely a sheet of glass which had been etched with navigation markers. All of which were just about aligned. Jess checked the pocket watch again and then grasped a lever and yanked. The ship slammed into her butt, jolting her spine as cylinders of CO2 on her port and starboard began to vent, slowing the ship. The other spacers, jolted awake by the sudden deceleration, clung on to the vessel as gyroscopes fired smaller jets to control the ships attitude.

"Twenty seconds," Jessica said, though no one could hear the words without air to carry the sound. Ahead of her she saw a metal hull swelling larger. Amazingly they were on course. She drew the single piece of metal equipment she had allowed herself, a laser range finder that was low powered enough that the scatter wouldn't be visible for more than a few hundred kilometers, and pointed it at the approaching ship. It returned a relative rate of close and she adjusted the gas release slightly with the twist of a lever, then she stood up and took one of the lines of woven plastic.

"Ten seconds," Jess muttered, the hull completely occluding the starfield now. The rate of close was now only a few meters a second, still a little faster than she had calculated but it was too late to worry about it now.

The Abortion hit the side of the blackbird with a crash that every soul aboard felt in their spines. As a group the sailor leaped from the ship and onto the hull, tying lines to whatever they could find as the Abortion rebounded away. It sailed ten meters back before snugging on the cables. One of them snapped soundlessly under the strain, but the other five cables held. Jessica let out an explosive breath. They were aboard.

_____

The hatch slid away as the burn gel cut through the metal. As expected the interior of the Blackbird had been depressurized by battle damage so the hatch didn't blow out. Jess slid the hatch away, letting it drift off into space and sliding into the ship. Without power, the artifical gravity was gone also, and debris floated everywhere, They were on the ceiling above the main hold. On the floor below them were several dozen cryo tubes. Many of them were cracked open, leaking globes of bluish cryo fluid into the weightless void. Those tubes which had lost integrity were caskets now, their occupants frozen and dehydrated. Jess growled. She didn't like slavery or slavers, and it was a comfort to her that the crew of the Blackbird had died when Hegemony guns had ripped their tub open. She made a hand signal to one of her crew, a slender woman named Jacobis, who kicked off and floated over to her. Jessica caught her and then pressed their helmets together so that the vibrations could transmit between them.

"Get one of the escape pods warmed up," she instructed, "I'll see what..." She paused as one of her crew, already down among the tubes, made an urgent gesture. Jess arched an eyebrow and then kicked off, sailing down towards the deck, she hit and rolled, catching the deck grating with her fingers. She straightened, the soft magnets in her boots barely enough to keep her grounded. The crewman made a gesture to the translucent tube. Inside was an angelic looking face of deep blue, with bright red hair.

"A starborn?!" Jessica wondered. Then made a gesture to Jacobis. The other woman nodded then reached out and pressed the emergency release. Their was a puff of air and the tube slid free of its metallic clasp. The two women man handled the tube into an escape pod. Unlike the rest of the ship, the escape pod could generate both atmosphere and gravity, as they passed the tube through the shimmering mag field it settled to the ground. Jessica rolled the tube over and tapped at the controls, initiating the thaw. Fluid drained away as inbuilt injectors pumped drugs into the veins of the sleeping slave. Her eyes snapped open, starring up at Jess unseeing. The pirate pulled her helmet off to reveal her own shock of red hair, tied into a severe bun to keep it out of her face during weightlessness.

"Hello there," she greeted the Starborn.

@SporkoBug
Hidden 5 days ago Post by SporkoBug
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SporkoBug The Aspiring Novelist

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Star-Born, Ms. Nova, Nessa, Ness. And more frequently; Star Hopper. The woman had been called many things in her life....

Nessa didn't remember how she got captured, she was just glad to have Ra with her the entire time. She used to ponder how she was captured before they shoved her and Ra into a tube together and everything went black; was she careless to not hide her identity? A starborn, on its' own was a rare find, but one that was seen as a war criminal to a crucial part of one of the councils made her worth higher than it already as.

She remembered fighting the chill that flooded through her body, but when they transferred her from her cage to the cryotube they had a spacial band around her eyes to stop her from seeing starlight, meaning she had no power left on her.
She felt weight suddenly hit her body again as she breathed in a gasp of air.
Her eyes were blurry, there were figures with her. She went to move her hands, only to be reminded they were tied up behind her for the Slavers safety.

She opened her mouth as her vision slowly came to, her ears slowing their ringing as she heard a females voice speak to her.
"R...Ra." She uttered weakly, her voice croaking at first before she looked around. She tried to struggle against her restraints again, to no avail. "Where is he?" She asked in a cold voice, struggling a bit more. "What have you done with him!"

Just out of view, Ra uncurled from the tube. He had climbed into Nessa's hood to stay safe, but as she thawed, he fell out onto the glass.
At first he didn't seem to be breathing, a casualty like the rest of the ship. But the small dusty orange creature's ears started to flick, lifting himself up from the ground with a bit of a stretch.
He moved sluggishly to leap up to his humanoid companions shoulder and gently pressed his head against her head.

Nessa's fear washed from from her face as she looked to Ra and leaned her head into him.
"You're safe." She croaked quietly before she looked back to the Pirate carefully. "Lemme guess, 'large price, high liability'?" She asked almost disgusted, she hadn't really come to senses of where she was, to her she was given to a new 'Owner'.
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