Authors: Austin Rogers
Copyright 2016 – Austin Rogers
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. The book portrays real religions, but it is not the author’s intention to denigrate any religion or its adherents.
Cover Illustration by John Harris,
Formatting by Rik –
Wild Seas Formatting
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For Trey, my first writing teacher.
Carina Arm of the Milky Way, somewhere near the Owl Nebula . . .
Davin’s eyes almost flew out of their sockets at the scene outside the porthole. Never in all his life had he gazed upon a more beautiful sight.
Light gleamed off a massive heap of jagged, floating scrap metal, prime for the picking. But this time, it was what lurked within the scrap that drew him.
punched through an ocean of space debris that had once been a hull and solar panels and wires, closing in on the intact half of a ship—an enormous, flamboyant yacht with three of its blue-green tail fins still clinging to the bulbous fuselage. The colors signified Carina—a Carinian merchant or general, maybe. The flashy tail ornaments served about as much purpose as a peacock’s ass feathers, so the ship must have belonged to someone important. Davin pictured a white-mustached man in a top hat smoking a fine cigar behind the glossy wooden steering wheel of his space yacht. He went giddy imagining the contents of this floating treasure chest.
They had made it to the wreckage before any other scavengers. Lady Luck had smiled upon them.
Sydney Strange, Davin’s peerless pilot, piped in some smooth reggae over the comm. “Nice tail on this one, eh Cap?” She sounded as giddy as Davin felt.
“Keep it in your pants, Strange,” he replied as they drifted between tail fins twice as long as the
. He shifted around to look through another porthole in the airlock hatch.
“Don’t care what you say this time,” Strange replied. “We’re about to
. I can already see it: Lounge chairs on a white beach, clear, turquoise water hittin’ the sand, and two hot bitches on either side of me.”
Davin smirked. Her lesbianness was, alas, as unyielding as her stellar bod.
“And lucky bitches they will be,” he said with a wistful sigh.
main muscle, slapped Davin on the shoulder of his dermasuit as they passed over a glass bubble in the middle of the yacht. “Check it, boss. Weightless dance floor. Those rich bitches was gettin’ they groove on, then—” He made a loud suction sound, amplified by his helmet mic. It was like a hurricane in Davin’s ears.
“Easy on the sound effects, buddy.”
Jai, also suited up and floating upside down—or maybe downside up—pointed at a gaping, chaotic hole blown in the yacht’s hull. “Whoever attack, tear this ship new asshole,” he said in his Mandarin accent.
“Who’s ready to see some
?” Jabron exclaimed.
plowed through a tight cluster of frozen scrap and passed over the saw-toothed front side of the yacht. It looked like a cross section in an informational booklet. The projectile, whatever it was, had severed the nose off the ship, leaving an open view of the main capsule’s three levels. Crew quarters, staterooms, lavatories, and kitchenettes were splayed out for all the galaxy to see, all shiny chrome and marble.
Strange flicked on the brights, and Jabron burst out in a half-gasp, half-laugh. It turned into a full laugh.
Dozens of bodies floated in the vacuum, their skin, hair, and clothes flash-frozen into crystalline frost. One woman drifted through the nothingness completely naked except for an icy towel clinging to her leg.
“Frozen at the peak of ripeness,” Jabron lamented.
Jai slapped Jabron’s bulky arm, a harmless gesture. “Have no respect for dead?”
“I got a helluva lot of respect for the female body, my friend.”
Jai huffed. “You must learn to lust in silence.”
Strange came back over comm. “You think this was the Sagittarians?”
“Wait, what? War’s already started?” Jabron asked, suddenly serious.
“About damn time,” Jai added.
“Simmer down, people,” Davin said. “This is a
, not a warship. If the Sagittarians wanted to fire the first shot, why would they do it at a harmless target like this?”
“Could’ve been a military officer on board,” Strange suggested.
“Or a weapon,” Jai added. “Transporting to front line.”
“Bastards was probably just trying to freak the Carinians out,” Jabron said. “Make ‘em think twice about hangin’ around these border systems.”
Davin stared out the porthole at the bodies drifting ever so slowly away from the yacht’s messy interior. In one of the bigger, mid-level rooms, amidst all the fine, floating paraphernalia, a faint, blue light blinked every few seconds. Davin pressed a button on the side of his helmet, and a circle in his visor zoomed in on the light. The source was an inflated black bag about six feet long that looked like a burnt sausage in the dim light.
“What the hell is that?” Davin muttered.
Jabron and Jai pressed their faces close to their respective portholes, trying to spot whatever Davin was looking at.
“Mid-level,” Davin said. “Big room.”
Jabron recoiled. “Whoa, that’s a preserve bag.”
Davin shot him a glance, suit joints whining with the quick movement. “Preserve bag?”
“My money says there’s something more than a bunch of mangoes in there,” Strange said.
“Let’s go, fellas,” Davin ordered as he initiated the depressurizing sequence. A red light spun in the ceiling—or the floor, from Jai’s perspective. “Jai, fleece the place of small valuables: jewelry, salvageable electronics, that sort of thing. Jabron, siphon the water and fuel. I’ll get the preserve bag. Strange, I need you in the DJ booth.”
“Aye aye, Cap,” she replied, turning up the reggae.
Davin pressed the button on the control pad, and the airlock doors cracked open with a muted rumble.
* * *
The giant burnt sausage wafted around the
’s mostly empty cargo bay. Jai pushed a packed duffel bag into a storage nook as Davin whipped a knife from his boot and slashed the jet-black phallus. It popped like a balloon and crumpled around a body.
“No surprise there,” Davin said to his crew, each clutching handholds as they watched the procedure.
He sheathed his knife, then grabbed both sides of the ripped preserve bag and yanked it open. The tear spread wide enough to send its weightless occupant—a petite girl with nut-brown hair and goose-bumped copper skin—flying right into Davin’s arms. Definitely Carinian. She was curled into a fetal position with a plastic oxygen mask suctioned to her face. Freckles peppered her cheeks and nose. Davin’s eyes slithered down her graceful, curled body and came to rest on a nice section between her slender legs and lower back. Her spandex shorts and tank top gave a rather intricate depiction of her parameters.
Davin positioned the girl in the middle of the hold and set her into a slow spin so they could examine all sides of her. He felt his crew gawking. He would’ve gawked too if six other eyes weren’t doing it already.
“Alright, let’s be professional about this,” Davin said.
“She’s fine!” Jabron declared.
“Yep,” Strange seconded.
Jai shook his head. “Too rich for my blood.” His fixed gaze said otherwise.
“Really, guys?” Davin said. “You’re gonna go there?” He glanced back at the floating, unconscious girl and felt an odd protective urge. “I found her. That gives me right of first refusal. I’ll decide what we do with her.”
“I recognize her,” Strange said in a more serious tone. She pushed herself off the wall and floated closer to their unconscious guest. Strange grabbed her in midair to examine her face, half covered by the breather mask. “Oh, God. Wow.”
“You know who she is?” Davin asked.
Strange looked at the others in shock. “This is Sierra Falco.”
The three of them stared.
Davin scratched his head. “Sounds familiar.”
“Heard the name,” Jabron added.
“Actor?” Jai asked.
Strange rolled her eyes. “Do you guys know nothing about politics? Do you even read the tabloids?”
Blank stares all around.
“You know the Carinian prime minister, Elan Falco?”
Her crew mates’ faces lit up.
“She’s his daughter!”
“What?!” Davin pushed off the wall to check for himself. He’d read headlines with her name in them and seen pictures of her, but here her face was half-hidden by the breather. He examined the visible parts. “Huh. Yep, that’s her alright. Didn’t recognize her in the volleyball outfit.”