Post Sat Jan 28, 2006 9:06 pm

Beyond Space Spiders -- Ep #2 -- The Thief Who Would Not Die


<font style="font-size: 20pt">Voyages of the Solomon Grundy<BR>
<font style="font-size: 18pt">Beyond Bugs, the Second Quest
<font style="font-size: 14pt">Episode #2 — The Thief Who Would Not Die

<font style="font-size: 12pt">

James and Jelita wandered around in the airlock for a few moments until Jelita decided to pick a direction. They didn’t go far.

“A door,” James growled. “Another damn door, did they have to put doors everywhere in a man’s way?” He punched obtusely at the locking mechanism. “Damn doors, had ‘em uninstalled on my ship. Gives a man a little freedom. The engineers mumbled something about airlocks and safety, screen doors and submarines or some such. Dammit, can you do anything with this?”

Jelita peered at the locking mechanism. “It says external hatch disengaged.” She pointed to the yellow light glowing fervently over James’ head.

He frowned. “I knew it was a door’s damn fault. Guess we have to close up t’other one fore this’n’ll open.” He paused and looked at her. She was not a big woman, but well built, dusky skin, a chiseled nose and a strong jaw. He’d seen her before in the penal colony. There were rumors that she’d been associated with law enforcement. No one ever proved nothin of course, and she kept to her self. “So, Darlin, what were you in for anyway?”

Jelita froze for a moment, then stared at him with a cool expression. “I don’t know why they locked me up.”

James rolled his eyes. “So that’s how it gonna be, huh? Gonna be cagey with me?”

Jelita shrugged.

“Well, whatever, lets get that other door shut so wees can get the hell outta here.”

They went back to the cargo hatch and grunting and straining dragged the door closed with a clunk. He engaged the lock. There was a low ding, and behind them the light over the door turned green.

“Well, that looks a might more invitin’,” James says.

Through the door it’s a simple chamber with a couple lockers and engineering access and another cargo door. James checks the lockers and finds that there are two light duty spacesuits, a couple of LOX air bottles, some tethers and other assorted emergency gear. As he picks through the papers and such on safety procedures, a small object glints in the far back of the locker. He picks it up.

“Well, lookie here, a comm-link! We can listen in on what they’s doin here on the ship.” He starts to put it in his ear but Jelita grabs his arm. “What?”

“Shouldn’t trust that.” She says with a serious face. She didn’t trust much of anything related to science fiction. It was all so strange…

“Naw, no worries,” James said, putting it in his ear. “Hmmm,” He pressed the channel scan. “Doesn’t seem to be much goin on right now.” He furrowed his brow. “Guess we should put on these here suits, better than bein half-way butt naked in these cryo outfits.”

Jelita nods and the two of them begin suiting up.


Meanwhile, back at the airlock, a very miffed Felix stares at Blaster through the airlock hatch. Images of a stun-baton repeatedly stabbing into a twitching body dance through the synth’s imagination.

Since it didn’t appear that the synth soldier would do anything drastic (like break the airlock window). Blaster turned his attention to the far door. The moment he touched the panel it went black.

He frowned and reset the panel. It went black again. Dammit, someone was drekking with the panel remotely. He could fix that… He yanked the panel access off and pulled on the computer control leads.

He glanced back. The glaring synth was no longer at the window. A little tremor of unease went through Blaster. It would not be good when that burly synth caught up to him.

He focused back on the door lock mechanism--ignore the synth, work the lock, ignore the synth, work the lock… dammit he’s going to kick my ass. Blaster gave up in frustration, the lock was taking too long. He went back to the inner hatch, yanked the control panel off, ripped out the computer control and shorted the wires for the door cycle. With a rasp, the doors unlatched. With a heave he pushed them open. Why couldn’t the other door have been as easy?


At the same time, Hilda who had been womaning the security monitoring station, called Bengal and Doc MacDougal--(she would have called Fingers too, but he was lost in a daze and didn’t know his stats…).

“On my way,” Bengal growls.

“I’m not leaving medbay,” the Doctor tells Hilda. “I might get shot or something, then who would fix everyone up? I’ll send Mercedes to assist.”


The doctor turns to Mercedes. “Meer, there seems to be one of those victs running around in the cargo bay. One of the ones that took me hostage as I recall. Be a dear and go help Felix get him, I give you permission to use unnecessary lethal force if at all possible.”

Mercedes nods to the doctor and rushes out…


Blaster looks around the cargo bay, decides that maybe the other side of the ship is better, runs to the starboard airlock and starts over-riding the lock…


Felix screeches to a halt on the far side of the airlock. The stun baton goes limp in his hand, the lock is empty and the inner seal is open. The synth allows himself a snarl. “Hilda,” he growls on the comms. “Open the forward airlock outer seal.”

**Can’t,** Hilda responds on comms. **The little puke frelled up the computer control.**

Silently, Felix fiercely counted to 2361, of course for him it only took about a hundred milliseconds. He grabbed the manual seal crank, and started winding the door open.

About that time Mercedes slides to a stop behind him. She speaks to Felix over the synth to synth private comms. **Doc told me to come help. She said to hurt the vict REAL bad.**

**Good,** he responds. With a final shove, he had the door open wide enough for her slender figure to slip through. **Get him, hurt him… a LOT.** He briefly entertained the idea of giving her the stun baton, but discarded it. That pleasure he would save for himself. **I will be along immediately--go.**

Mercedes slipped through and raced through the lock. It was easy to tell where the vict had gone with the sparking wires hanging out of the airlock control…


Blaster went to the outer airlock seal and didn’t bother to try to finesse the lock. He just yanked open the junction box, ripped out the computer control, and shorted the door activate leads. He was getting the hang on the doors on this ship. Pushing through into the corridor he wondered briefly whether to go fore or aft. Was there anyplace safe on this damn ship..?


Bengal tethered his loader, punched through the airlock and stepped into the hall. A few steps brought him to the first of the victs that he had handed over to Felix. The man was laying face down on the floor and twitching. “Damn Synth, can’t he do a simple job?” he growled to himself.

RTFM’s body spasmed again, sparks of electricity fizzling. Images of stun-baton-wielding military synths danced in his reeling and thoroughly incapacitated brain…

This puke wasn’t going anywhere, Bengal determined. He could hear crew members yelling in the cargo bay. Apparently, that’s where the action was. He jogged toward the lift…


Felix raced through the airlock and caught up with Mercedes who had paused at the outer lock hatch.

** Did you see which way he went? ** Felix asked her.

Mercedes shakes her head. ** I thought I might have heard footsteps aft. Not sure. **

Felix sniffed. Decisions. He hated decisions. He made seventeen million four hundred and twenty one decisions every second. He hated ones that required hunches the most. He didn’t get hunches. They didn’t allow you to have hunches in the Marines. **You go aft, I will go forward.**

Mercedes acknowledged and rushed off.

Felix headed forward in a thunder of pounding synthezoid feet…


“They seems to be chasin some vict around,” James informs Jelita as they finish putting on their suits. “He’s givin them a terrible time. It’s good for us, they’ll be distracted.” He went over to the engineering access and levered in open. When it looked clear, he made sure to close up the suit lockers and make sure that nothing gave away they’d been in here.

The two of them stepped through into the engineering passage and James sealed the door behind them. They walk around and find a maintenance junction. The atmosphere is stiff with electricity and the air smells of ozone. The thrum of a huge powerplant vibrates the hull under their feet.

James looks at the small one-man access lift and the two crew-access ladders and nods to himself. He scans the far wall in which hundreds of power junctions and circuit breakers are housed. “Yep,” he says. “A man could get himself in a fair bit of trouble in here…”


After stopping at a few doors, Blaster decided they were all
going to take too long to open. That pissed-off synth was just
too damn fast for him to slow down. Feet clanking on the deck
panels, he turned the corner past the aft cargo access and kept
running. What to do? All he could think was to go back to the
upper decks. There didn’t seem to be anything down here. There
was nothing but cargo on this stupid cargo ship--that and pissed
off synths and big-gun™ wielding mech pilots. What a bunch of
losers. They didn’t see his talent, his brilliance™, his magic
hands, his extremely fast feet… Dammit, he was getting off this
crap wagon if it killed him…


Felix and Mercedes, running opposite ways around the cargo hold saw and heard nothing. The fast moving Blaster had beat feet and left no sign. Staying in comms contact they continued to move, knowing that eventually one of them would have to meet him if they were running in the same circular hall…


Blaster ducked through the port airlock. Nice and open. One more and he’d have cracked every lock in the cargo bay. He glanced around, some of the crew were wearing suits. He’d pretend to be one of them and head back up to upper deck. He heard the lift coming down, and decided to be nonchalant and slip past whoever was getting off. He jogged over to the lift.

Bouncing on his toes, Blaster waited for the lift to finish settling on the floor. A big man with broad shoulders and a crew-cut stopped at the edge of the life. A marine andromech forces tattoo gleamed on his shoulder.

He stared at Blaster’s unassuming a face. A shining halo popped into being over the vehicle thief’s head.

What, did he think he looked like a crewman with only half a space suit on? And that halo? Puleeeze… there wasn’t a single angelic soul on the whole damn ship!

Blaster hesitated for perhaps a millisecond. Okay, maybe his brilliance was a little lacking… but his knuckles were hard and they were crying out for a little blood.

He sent a punch whistling into Bengal’s throat. The big marine gargled clutching his severely injured wind-pipe, he tried to target the vict through a haze of tears and squeezed the trigger. The weapon went off, narrowly missing the vict.


At that same moment, the two synths were converging on the port airlock. They both heard Bengal’s muffled cry of pain and the rasp of a blaster firing. Felix leaped and dove through the airlock only to find that he was still forty meters from the fight. He could fix that. He raced toward the struggling duo.


Blaster saw Felix dive in the room. His ass was in the fire now. He needed a shield and the gargling marine fit the ticket. Blaster vaulted around Bengal, putting the big man between him and the synth. He kicked the lift button.

The heavy cargo lift, designed to carry twenty tons and more whined and began to slowly ascend.

Felix raced toward them. Mercedes, slower than Felix raced into the cargo bay and saw the confrontation underway. She pulled out her sidearm.

Bengal was hurt but not done--after several instants of indecision--gun — stun-baton — gun — stun-baton — gun — he rolled a dice—GUN! He fired.

There was no indecision on Blaster’s part—he ducked—right into the blast. A large chunk of his side vaporized. The smell of burning meat filled the area around the lift. Damn that smarted.

To add injury to the insult, Felix ran over, leaped and grabbed the edge of the rising lift.

Damn, Blaster thought, I have to get rid of that guy—but I don’t have a weapon—or do I?

Blaster leaped up, his motion frozen briefly in a matrix-style slow-mo as the cameras whip around him. Cameras flash. He waves to the audience and slams a kick into Bengal’s chest smashing him down against the clambering Felix.

Smashed in the chest by the powerful kick, Bengal crunches against Felix’s titanium alloy skull, then careens onto the solid metal decking of the cargo bay like a mushy sack of potatoes. He doesn’t move.


In medbay, a severe injury warning begins blaring. Doc MacDougal notes that Bengal’s medic alert braclet has gone off--he is unconscious and in need of assistance. She turns off the warning and ignores it. Help the crew? Unthinkable. She has things to do in medbay like sweep and make the beds--that book on lock picking was fascinating...


Having had a hundred kilo marine bounced off his head, Felix is less than pleased--he’s also injured. Ten times with the stun baton… at least… whether the puke needed it or not. First though… he’d burn a hole in him. Levering himself up, he fired his blaster at Blaster. Confused by being shot by himself, Blaster wheels out of the way of the shot, feeling the skin of his face cooked by the narrow miss…


Below Mercedes stops by Bengal’s mangled body. She called the Doctor on comms. “Doc, Bengal is seriously injured and needs help!”

**Aren’t you a med-tech, Dear?** Doc MacDougal responds. **Fix him yourself. Besides, I need to finish reading this book on lock picking…**

“But he’s really injured bad, I don’t think…”

**Never mind that he weighs three hundred pounds, probably has a broken neck, and might be paralyzed for life if you move him. Bring him here for treatment, I have more important things to do than be the ship’s doctor!**

“But you ARE the ship’s doctor!”

Doc MacDougal ignored her and went back to studying her manual on lock picking…


Unaware of the soap opera unfolding below, Felix had one goal in mind, kick that convict’s skinny ass… He righted himself on the lift and squared himself, preparing to give the trouble maker the tasering of his life…


Blaster didn’t like the looks of the synth nor the stun-baton sparking wickedly in his hand. He had one chance. He leaped up and slammed a heel into the synth’s sternum with all his strength…

Felix looked down at the convict’s heel pressed into his gut smearing dirty cargo-bay grime on his clean uniform. He growled.

Blaster blinked. “Mother…”

The last thing he saw was a pair of sparking taser tines approaching like an oncoming locomotive…


The vict twitching at his feet, Felix called Hilda on comms. “I have the convict in custody…”

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