Note: This is a concept story that came out of my head. Might not be developed.
The Winged Sword
In the outer reaches of the systems, the cargo ship Seraph shuddered as he pushed the engines to the limit. The Captain, Iridium Metrano was twelve years its master. He loved the position. Out away from the worlds, trading with the different outworld’s. It was a great life, an adventurous one. Pirates, traders, empires, rogue black holes that were uncharted.
And the lovers in each port. Captain “Eye” (as his crew called him with affection) slipped a soft, secret smile into his morning as he recalled the last port of call.
One Captain he had met a year before and had kept in touch with the woman adventurer in a virtual world of “Spacelife” for the out-system shippers. She was… Fun.
An alert light at the navigators position lit up, bringing the Captain out of his pleasant memory. It had been an uneventful trip thus far, well more than half-done. This trip was to be well profitable with their trading for a pure solvent and coolant purchased at Storis for a pittance. One-hundred thousand metric tons of oxidane and another ten-thousand metric tons of oxane — oxidane binary solution. The bottom line would be very profitable. The biggest problem was more of the fact that the cargo was not as dense or compact as it could be. The danged stuff was potentially hazardous.
As a solid it could fracture bulkheads if the cold of space got to the loads. In the gaseous state, the potential of lethal burns was very real. It took only a little of it to be inhaled to cause health problems up to and including death.
Handled properly? It was very safe. But bulky. At a kilogram per cubic meter, it was a lot of cubic meters. The engines strained with the Alcubierre drive doing it’s best to contain the volume of the mass. The weight was not a serious problem, it was the volume that kept the warp bubble unstable.
For the twenty-fifth time the intercom beeped on the captain’s headset from the engineering department, another complaint from Engineer Lockesly from the outworld systems. He was closed about what he was doing on a boomer.
The colloquial names of the big cargo ships. Long lost to history, the name boomers had a long and proud tradition. Occasionally called outlaws or even pirates. They did not rob, but did strive for freedom on the shipping lanes outside the empires rule.
Another light on the navigator’s panel lit. A proximity alert. Something had entered the ship’s sensor range.
Sir! Incoming electromagnetic pulse!” Yelled the weapons officer. “It’ll knock out or drives!”
The worst had happened, the warp bubble collapsed and they dropped to normal space. Seraph was built as a very tough ship, but the sudden change in speed put the entire ship under strain. Noises and groans as the ship held together as the structure was strained to the limit.
“Incoming message.” Kitt the burly male human-siberian tiger hybrid whose arms were more the size of most men’s legs with shoulders to match. Kitt would laugh and say that the only exercise he ever did was to lift a beer to his lips and pour. His striped white fur so very fine on his skin, it gave him a look that glistened in the light.
“Prepare to be boarded.” was the only message as impacts of weapons fire lit up the weapons officer’s panel.
“They are hitting the hanger doors, Sir!”
“Hail them! Tell them to stand down, we surrender.” The Captain responded.
But it was too late.
Facet II. Captain’s Log Found
The pinging of the emergency beacon, detected on the coded sub-channel by the incoming rescue ship. A channel often used by Boomer’s when wanting to keep conversations out of the ears of pirates or empire raiders.
The cargo ship power section, that included crew’s quarters and medical facilities responded. Leaving their cargo orbiting a planet, the good ship “Katrina” was pushing her graviton engines to the maximum while relaying the beacon’s coördinates to other cargo-haulers in the area. The “Copper Nugget” was responding but was a half-day away at full speed.
Another ship answered the call for help, from the distant outlands. “Fireball Express” was pushing its Alcubierre drive until they reported that they had set a personal speed record and would be there shortly after the Katrina. The Seraph was going to have all the help she could use.
The super-cargo hauler “Alexandra the Great” had dropped its load in the orbit of a gas giant and was responding. Known as one of the most modern superships in the lanes. The captain was a good friend of Captain Metrano.
“Keep it to the wall Mr. Tox. I don’t want to lose a single heartbeat to the clock.” Captain Phoenix Alexandra, owner and operator on this mission. Her own messages had alerted her company and all ships were responding to the broadcast location of the Seraph.
A few hours after the ships had arrived in the area. Evidence of a violent battle had taken place on the Seraph. The ship’s log by Captain Metrano had been found.
Facet III. Captains log:
We are under attack, hanger doors were hit first when we dropped out of light-speed. The first attack has disabled our dorsal engine (number-2 engine) and the warp field collapsed. We hove to and signaled that we were just a merchant ship. No injuries initially but they shot their way through the hangar doors. Crews set up defensive positions but we have only minor weapons and cannot hold out.
Markings on the ships involved show them to be of the Momo Empire, we have identified one as a capital ship of the DreadStar class. We sent a general distress call but they have jammed all frequencies. We do not know who have answered and if any are en route with help, but they will be too late I fear. We will try to hold out, but our ship is no match for Imperial weapons. They have blown holes through the doors and pushing through out of the hanger. They are assaulting the cargo area where we are carrying twelve-thousand units of Oxonium in armored containers for trade to the Oriak Mining Syndicate as coolant that they desperately need.
Captain’s Log final entry:
I sent a message to the Pirate Hegemony, but there is none that is close enough to answer in the time on the channels I have used. All other communications are down, I have no other access for standard frequencies. How this will pan out, I will only ever wish and hope against all odds, it is too late we have lost the ship. I have been sending out surrender message on all channels but no response….
They have broken through the below decks and have taken over. They are attacking up the stairs, there is no time to finish. I will launch this log to outside the ship with a beacon.
Tell my family I was going home for the holidays. Tell them I love them.
They are coming.
Captain and Master of the Merchant ship Seraph
Facet 3. Investigation
Teams from the four ships went through the Seraph. Shattered metal from high speed projectiles littered the floor. Here and there, overturned tables lay about, cargo containers upended and used as barricades. Smoking bodies were testament to the futility of the resisting crew.
Edged weapons were in evidence of a very pitched hand to hand combat had been widespread. The raiders had taken to using combat swords that strongly resembled those used by the Pirate’s of the outlands.
“Pirates? This is not their way!” The first officer of the Copper commented over the intercom system between teams.
She picked up a slim bladed sword that glittered evilly. Wider at the tip, the single edge, serrated in a way that promised hideous wounds.
“This is Royal Pirate style! Damn them! I don’t know why this would happen!”
Captain Alexandra walked through with her armored entry suit. “Life support systems are nearly repaired. We should be able to…”
The lights illuminated and ventilation of the air began.
Emergency lights flashed on a panel, they were venting atmosphere in the bridge somewhere.
Four of the repair crew found where a railgun had blown a hole the size of a fist in the outer hull. Nearly a meter thick of Fendrik Alloy, it was exceptionally tough material that could absorb radiation and meteor impacts without appreciable damage. Very durable and widely used in the boomer ships.
Captain Metrano remained MIA. Worries that he was ejected out into space by the raiders nagged at the rescue teams, but laid to rest when they performed micro-fine object scans for dozens of kilometers around the ship. Several bodies were found within a few hundred yards but it appeared they had not been forced out of any airlocks. They showed signs of being sucked out the holes during explosive decompression.
“Captain to the Alexandra.” As the master of the big ship called over the communicator that hung on her shoulder. “Contact the nearest Pirate Hegemony outpost and request if they had any ships in the area.”
Releasing the mic, she looked at the first officer. “We have to find out if there was anyone in the area. The PH has more information on movements than any one kingdom. If anyone was here, the best odds are the pirates know who it was.”
“The log said they were in Imperial ships.” First mate Modoc of the Fireball said. His handheld readout reflected off his eyes as he read the transcript.
“Until we can get verification of what the Captain Metrano recorded, no one can say for certain, right now it is all preliminary and we cannot settle this with the conflicting evidence. A written account and then we have pirate weapons stuck in some of these crewmembers. ” The Katrina’s engineer pointed out. “Until I can get the computers data banks back online and we get access to the sensor logs.”
“Agreed. We need to return to the ships and organize the information thus far recovered. The confederacy of buccaneers will wish to take charge of the investigation of this crime.” Communications officer Kitt had brought up over the intercom system while he worked under the flooring with the internal data storage units.
“Negative. We are the only ones here. My ship is the most advanced and has the complete facilities to perform a preliminary investigation of the attack. If any of the pirate kingdoms or clans wish to get involved they have to establish their jurisdiction. ” The communicator buzzed in their ears.
“Copy, no need to get short on the radio. You have the more current equipment. But the Buccaneers and Pirates normally have the best of everything.”
“We have contacted them already.” A voice recognized as the second engineer of the Fireball. Those that had readouts recognized his transponder codes.
Captain Alexandra keyed up her communicator “Crewman, identify yourself, you are not transponder address is not on the crew manifest.”
“No surprise captain, as we are not in the ship, we are outside. You should find
“They have?” The distracted voice of Carla Qualy as she was running file scans of the memory core.
“Yes they have, we have three ships pulling up outside now. firebrand has broadcast their arrival first.” Captain Alexandra spoke. “I’ll be having a word with my ship over this.”
A collective “OOooo” came from the several teams over the com network.
Outside three medium-sized ships with crossed lightning bolts and a forward facing skull painted on the side approached and stopped a short ways away from the collection of ships and the smoking wreck.
The Thunderbolt had arrived.