Seconds passed by at a snail’s pace. The Captain’s eyes moved from woman to woman on the security detail. They were jittery, spooked- afraid. Then her eyes fell on Lt. Petton; her eyes weren’t afraid, they were anxious. She had been the first one to be attacked by the Yrch; the Captain was there the moment the nightmare started. Captain Fawx’s security officer had to suffer the longest of everyone on the ship. Judging from Petton’s eyes, the Captain sensed that she wanted closure more than she feared the oncoming attack.
Fawx turned her attention to the airlock. Bright sparks spewed from the security hatch. Most mercenaries would have attempted to hack at the circuitry of the door, in order to cause as little damage as possible to the ship they were capturing. It was also cheaper to try and hack at the security hatch considering that in order to force the hatch open you had to sear the beta carbon nitride seals keeping it shut and to do that required military strength plasma torches- a luxury most mercenaries didn’t have. But Irium apparently had invested in one and since he was just going to blow up Captain Fawx’s ship anyway, didn’t care how much he abused it. For Irium, time was the most important thing.
It was the most important thing for Fawx, too. He knew that in one of the escape pods, Lt. Moden was working on the delicate task of hot-wiring the scuttle bomb. Once she was able to activate it, a twenty minute countdown would start. Somewhere on the other side of the ship, the assassin Xaen was hurrying to where the battle would occur. The scuttle bomb and Xaen were the only trump cards Fawx had. The more time she had- the better those trump cards became.
But there was also the matter of Irium’s trump card- the Yrch. It had sabotaged the light plus drive and hidden their weapons. Fawx had direct hits pass right through it. It had thrown her against walls. It had transformed her into a woman- and Fawx doubted that was the limit of its abilities. Would it be able to sense Xaen’s approach?
That was if Xaen didn’t just try to backstab them from the offset. Fawx had set her free on the condition that she would kill the Yrch and help fend off Irium’s boarding party then escape on the Silencer. But it would be no problem for her to just run by the boarding party and step onto the Silencer without killing anyone. Fawx was banking that her yearning to “hunt” wouldn’t let her pass up the opportunity of battle.
Lt. Moden’s mousy voice piped over Fawx’s communicator. “Sir, I have to make one more connection and the scuttle bomb will begin its countdown.”
Fawx grasped her communicator in her left hand, her right still aiming her gun at the security hatch which looked like it could be compromised at any time. “Excellent work Lt. Make that connection then set that escape pod to launch- make sure the pod’s magnetic couplings will reengage once it has left the Sabine.”
“Uh- yes Sir. But why do we need the magn… I get it! Great idea Captain. I’m going to arm the scuttle bomb. We’ll have 20 minutes to repel the boarders before it blows. Good luck.”
“We’re going to need so-” The Captain was interrupted by a tall, hooded figure materializing to her right. “The Yrch!”
All the women turned their weapons on him, each desiring revenge. But he wouldn’t allow it; he stretched his hands as if to calm an audience. Fawx felt her arms being pushed down by an irresistible force. She struggled in vain to keep her weapon aimed on her target. “No. Not. This. Time.” Glancing up, she saw that everyone in the room was having the same problem.
The Yrch flicked its six fingers outwards. Fawx was stunned to find her fingers did the same. The clack of 14 weapons falling to the ground echoed through the corridor.
Each girl struggled to regain control of their arms, but to no avail. The Yrch then pointed at Com. Novak muttered something in a language Fawx had never heard, then pointed to the ground. The Captain could only watch as Novak labored to stay on her feet; but despite her groans of resistance, she soon was on her knees, bowing in the direction of the door as if in worship of it.
One by one, the Yrch forced each girl to face the door and bow. Despite the resistance each offered, they each found themselves coerced to their knees.
The sharp finger of the Yrch pointed itself at Fawx. Unable to move her limbs, she spit at it. It smirked at her. Fawx hated that smirk. The Yrch pointed to security hatch and was alarmed to find her feet moving without her permission. She tried with every ounce of willpower she had to stop herself, but found her feet would not obey her.
Her legs moved her from behind the make-shift blast shield and into plain sight of the security hatch. She saw the sparks caused the plasma torch fade away. They had cut through the locks. She could hear the grunt of men on the other side as they forced the door open manually. It had been a while since male grunts had been heard on the Sabine.
Her knees compelled her to the ground. She attempted to force herself up but she had no control of herself, as if she had become a passenger in her own body. Her waist bent, pushing her face to the ground. Her arms stretched out, her body fully prostrate to the security hatch.
As the hatch opened she heard the clomping of several pairs of boots move past her. She tried to look up to get a look at the boarders but, with her face directed at the floor in complete submission to those stepping onto her ship, she could only see out of the corner of her eyes.
“Ramirez, stand watch at the doorway into here. Saderinnis, make sure the rooms to the sides are secure. I don’t want any surprises.” Judging by their conversation, Fawx assumed the boarders were taking all the usual precautions. They were getting the room ready for others to step inside. “Area is secure Captain. You and the medical staff are free to walk in.”
The hiss of a door opening itched at Fawx’s ears. Where was Xaen? Several more footsteps rolled down the airlock. Fawx grimaced as the chuckle of one man came closer to her. A calloused finger reached beneath her chin and gently lifted her head upwards. Her angry eyes were greeted by Irium’s wicked grin. “Didn’t I tell you that you’d be kneeling Foxy?”
Irium removed his finger, but Fawx’s face did not move. Still smiling like a devil, Irium patted her on the cheek. “But don’t worry about it sweetheart. I’m sure you’ll get used to that position in no time. In fact, I’d guarantee it.”
“Damn you, Irium.” Behind Irium stood the Yrch. It was talking with one of the members of the strike team that first stepped onto the Sabine. The strike team member wasn’t wearing combat armor but was armed with some kind of energy rifle.
As Irium stood gloating over Fawx, another of his men came up to him. He wasn’t carrying a gun but a small medical bag. “Captain Irium. Shall we proceed with the sedation?”
Irium nodded. “Yes, go ahead. Once we sedate all the girls in this room, Yecter will go ahead with the strike team and take down any resistance. Work quickly so we can get the rest of the babes on this ship before they try something stupid.”
Her body frozen, the Captain could only watch as the medic nodded his head and knelt down to open his medical pack. Where was Xaen? She saw syringes. Dozens of them.
Fawx’s breath was heavy. She could hear some of her crew panicking. Some were even weeping in fear. Petton had told the security team about Xaen but not about the scuttle bomb. And considering that Xaen hadn’t shown up yet, the scuttle bomb seemed to be the only thing that was going to prevent them from being taken to Artes II. Her breath slowly evened out. There was no way Irium would have all the girls sedated and off the ship that quickly. The worst that could happen is they would all die. It wasn’t the most comforting thought; but the afterlife had to be better then being brainwashed and tramping around some sleazy businessman’s brothel.
Fawx began to think back on her life and on the things she had done. She thought back on her many years of service. She had enrolled in the Space Force when a young boy and had fought in two wars. Fawx had advanced quickly for going by the book and for being reliable. He didn’t regret all that he had sacrificed so much for his people. And yet-
She thought on the relationships she had over her life- or the lack thereof. Duty always seemed to stand in the way. Other men had wives and girlfriends, but Fawx had always been too wrapped up in work to pursue a relationship. Fawx had never let life slow down. How many missed opportunities had there been? She was sure there were too many too count.
But at least she kept good to a promise she had made back when a young man named Bennis Fawx promised to never go out without a fight. She was happy that when she did go down, she went down with first mate and best friend Novak at her side. Neither had ever been very religious so neither would have any clue what came next when the scuttle bomb went off. Was their even an afterlife? It was a question that had always been in the back of Fawx’s mind that she wouldn’t let occupy her very long. But no matter what came next, at least her crew would still be there.
As she thought about her crew and how despite all they had gone through together, a peaceful serenity came over to her. Her life had mistakes and things she’d like to do over, but she had lived at least a life of duty and honor- something that Death couldn’t take away. She didn’t fear what would come next- tranquility had replaced whatever fear there was.
Then something moved in the corner of Fawx’s eye. It had come from the ceiling and only been there for a split second, but she definitely saw it- the head of a certain assassin she knew. The tranquility left her- she was no longer ready to die now that she might be able to live. Hope filled her soul. Though time was running out, hope now existed.
The Yrch and the strike squad guy discussed more plans on how to overtake the rest of the ship. The medic pulled out his first syringe and began moving towards the Captain. Irium gloated. Then a ghost white body fell through the ceiling, face down. Over her shoulders was a bulky power pack. In her hand a weapon specially designed to take down Irium’s trump card.
All of Irium’s crew turned around as Xaen let out a Stasian war cry. The Yrch hadn’t even had time to turn around to catch a glimpse of its assailant. Xaen pulled the trigger; with a puff of smoke that was uncharacteristic of most electromagnetic wave projectors. The beam of energy split through the temple of the Yrch. Fore a moment, Fawx held her breath. She had shot the Yrch before only to have the shot pass through innocuously. Would Moden’s invention work?
The Yrch’s eyes emptied. Its limbs went limp. It slumped to the ground like a rag doll. The Yrch, the center figure in the assault of the Sabine, was dead.
Fawx felt control of her body return to her. She gasped in relief, as if being let out of a choke hold. She quickly searched her surrounding for a weapon.
In the confusion of the Yrch being shot, Irium and the entire boarding party focused their attention on Xaen. When she landed on the ground, the straps of the power supply to the now useless anti-Yrch gun passed through the assassin’s shoulder. She threw down the gun and dove at a member of Irium’s strike team.
He braced himself for impact but was surprised to feel nothing. Xaen passed threw him as if he wasn’t there. As she did this, she ripped his battle rifle from his hands.
Trying to hit Xaen, other members of the strike force accidentally shot the man she phased through. Xaen smirked as the man collapsed to the ground in a pool of blood. She laughed as more weapon fire came at her, but passed through her like a ghost. She giggled at their futile attempts to shoot her.
She turned off the governor on the weapon she had stolen, disabling the non-lethal power setting it had been on and enabling it to become a deadly tool. It was at that moment, right before she unleashed her fury, that Fawx saw into the mind of Xaen.
Xaen’s eyes rolled back into her head as she exhaled exuberantly. Her smirk morphed into a smile that Fawx could only describe as devilish. When her eyes returned to a normal position, they were extremely dilated.
“It’s the Stasian! Kill her!”
Xaen let out another battle cry and charged into a group of armed men. She tagged three right between the eyes. Before the bodies could fall to the ground, she kicked one into a would-be shooter, knocking him off balance. She phased through another guard as he attempted to striker her with the butt of his rifle. Once behind him she put her weapon to the back of his head and pulled the trigger. Her expression was one of pure ecstasy.
Fawx understood Xaen better now than she ever could have talking to her. She was a killing machine- pure and simple. She didn’t just enjoy her work, she reveled in it. She had told the Captain before that she was a predator and wanted to hunt, but that was an understatement. She didn’t just enjoy the thrill of the hunt; she needed it. She was hooked on it. And judging by how she was taking on two dozen armed men at once and easily winning, she was good at it.
The attention of the entire strike force was on Xaen. The medics were inspecting the Yrch’s body in vain hope that their cash cow could be salvaged. Irium’s attention was split between firing at Xaen and glancing back at the Yrch. No one was noticing that all the girls had regained control of themselves and were reaching for the weapons the Yrch had forced them to drop.
Irium was occupied and right in front of Fawx. The opportunity for redemption was right in front of her. She moved slowly, not wanting to draw his attention. Xaen shot one of Irium’s men, a Minalonian, in the chest.
Fawx found her side-blaster a few feet from her. She stretched her left hand to grab the weapon. Xaen kicked another gunman in his gut followed by a shot to the throat, his blood spewing from the wound.
Fawx gripped the weapon and pulled it into both of her hands. Her right finger wrapped around the trigger. The Stasian laughed as she shot another man in the face. Irium’s men started falling back as Novak, Petton, and some of the other girls found their weapons and assisted Xaen in the task of beating back the crew of the Silencer.
Fawx rolled to the side of Irium. Moving to her feet she stood up slowly. The chance she had been waiting for, the chance to redeem her past mistakes, was moments away. Irium’s attention was to his front; in the confusion Xaen had caused he had completely forgotten about his former first mate. He was barking orders to his men. Xaen pressed her attack, not relenting for a single moment.
Fawx pressed the gun to Irium’s right temple. She hoped that he knew it was her there. She watched as he instinctively tried to jerk away from the impending shot. But she wasn’t going to let the chance to kill him slip away again. She wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.
Captain Bennis Fawx squeezed the trigger.
The gun fired.
It may have been seven years late, but Walter Irium, traitor to the human race, was dead.
I ended this chapter before I thought I would but it turned out to be a great spot to stop. I think it adds a good deal of closure for the Captain ending here than if I kept going on.