Fawx didn’t have time to enjoy her moment of redemption. There were still many hostiles in the area and the panicked sounds of the medic staff had somehow stole some of the attention that was on Xaen.
The Captain dove behind some cover that had been set up in anticipation of a gunfight. While it was shielding the girls from stray blasts from battle, the cover had almost become a moot point seeing as the girls were letting Xaen do all the work. Not that letting Xaen enjoy herself was a bad strategy. The men who were dumb enough to turn their attention from Xaen to Fawx or any of the girls were usually punished quickly. Fawx mused to herself how Xaen seemed to take it personally.
By now most of the boarding party was eliminated. Most of the men that weren’t dead went into a panic once they realized Fawx had blown away their captain. They fought like frightened children. But a few were booking it for the airlock to return to what they hoped to be the safety of the Silencer. Fawx watched Xaen’s eyes. When she noticed some trying to escape, they changed from wickedly confident to angry.
The Captain had never seen a live animal hunt, but Xaen’s reaction to the men trying to flee from her reminded her of seeing a cheetah chase down a gazelle. She phased through all the men who tried to attack her. The airlock security hatch was still open but none of the men who ran got through it. She shot two in the head and one in both ankles. As he collapsed to the ground, she licked her lips and returned to those foolishly trying to still shoot her.
Fawx noticed one of the fighters talking on a communicator despite all the chaos surrounding him. Xaen decided she didn’t like that and charged through his buddies around him and smashed his throat with the butt of her weapon.
The ship started to rumble A sound came over the Captain’s communicator. It was hard to hear over the cacophony of carnage Xaen was orchestrating. “-aptaifawx? Kinyu herme?”
She scrambled for her communicator and shouted, “Yes Garrick, I can hear you but speak a little louder! It’s kind of noisy in here!”
Garrick raised the volume of her voice. “Captain! The Silencer is making preparations to detach from us. In about a minute they’ll be ready to leave! They’ll be depressurizing the airlock soon so they can leave and our security hatch is wide open!” Images of everyone being sucked out into the vacuum of space danced in Fawx’s head. Whoever was now running that ship must have heard their Captain was dead and a battle-thirsty Stasian assassin was on the loose. Everyone needed to be out of the room quickly but with a battle going on that wasn’t going to happen.
Fawx figured the boarding party were outnumbered enough that if all the girls joined in at the same time they wouldn’t get a chance to fire back. Now the Captain just had to figure out a way to get all the girls to know to interrupt Xaen’s fun and open fire. She decided actions would speak much louder than words in this situation.
Standing up she took aim at the back at one of the remaining boarders. Before firing, she made eye contact with the other two officers in the fight. “Novak! Petton!” The two looked at her confused. But as soon as she opened fire it became very clear what their Captain wanted them to do.
Once the officers started firing, the girls had no trouble following their example. Just as Fawx had planned, the men had no time to respond. Xaen’s eyes grew furious. Fawx knew she would not be pleased that they were interrupting her long awaited play time, but she had bigger concerns. “Get out of here now! Move!”
The girls looked confused and hesitant. Lt. Petton made sure the Captain’s orders were followed. “You heard the Captain! She said get out of here, so let’s move! Now!”
They filed out quickly although a little confused as to why. Petton and Novak stayed behind. Fawx pointed to the Yrch’s body. “Grab that thing and get it out of here. We’ll need it if we’re to have any chance of getting back to who we used to be.”
“WHY did you do that!?” Xaen pushed Fawx against the wall and pointed the gun to her head. The Captain hadn’t predicted she’d be this pissed about it. “Why did you interrupt my fun? I’ve been cooped up for weeks now! I finally get to step out and do what I do best and you take it from me?”
Fawx figured the facts were her best friend at the moment. “The other ship is undocking and the very heavy security hatch that separates us from the void out there has been cut through and isn’t going separate us from said void! If we don’t get out of here in hurry we’ll all die. Also if you don’t hurry you’re going to miss your ride and you’ll be stuck on my ship and that’s a scenario I don’t think either you or I want to deal with!”
Xaen said nothing. She stared into the Captain’s eyes as if she was looking for something. Fawx kept his face as in a rush as possible. She prayed Xaen didn’t sense anything was up.
The Stasian let go of Fawx and hurriedly walked down the airlock. “Pleasure doing business with you Captain. Stay safe, don’t talk to strangers, use protection, you know the routine.” As she walked she passed the man she had shot in the ankles. He had been crawling down the corridor back to his ship. He was reaching for the handle of airlock when Xaen put the gun to his head. She smiled as she squeezed the trigger.
Before walking onto the Silencer she turned around. “Good luck with your booberific life, Captain Fawx.” She laughed at herself as she walked through the airlock door and onto the Silencer.
Fawx quickly moved to the body of Irium. “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.” She tugged at his grey hair, ripping some out in her small hands. She tried to find a pocket to put it in, but had forgotten about her uniform had nothing to do with functionality. She hurried to Novak and Petton who were struggling with the large, limp body of the Yrch.
Garrick’s voice squeaked over Fawx’s communicator. “Sir! Get out of there! Their ship is going to undock any second now!”
She didn’t want to let go but knew she had to. Fawx let go of the Yrch’s body and made a mad dash for the door. Novak had already beaten her to the door. Petton was right behind her.
The door had been left open by the girls who had left before them. Novak slammed the button to shut it as soon as both the Captain and the Security Officer made it through.
The ship rocked as the Silencer pulled away. The air hissed as it escaped the room they had just exited. Clanking noised reverberated through the metal walls as object were sucked into space. The odds and ends that had been used for cover. Weapons. Dead bodies. Irium. The Yrch.
Fawx’s mind dwelt on those last two for a while. Irium was dead. She had been the one to pull the trigger. She felt as if a great weight had been taken off her chest-
Then she looked down at herself and was reminded of the new weight the Yrch had brought into her life. It had been sucked out too. The chances of them recovering its body for study might as well been zero. A random body floating in space might as well been a grain of sand.
The Yrch would be off the ship permanently. Xaen was gone. Irium and his men were gone. Only one thing was left on the ship. Women.
Fawx gripped her communicator. “Moden. Did you succeed?”
The mousy voice of Moden exuded pride. “Yes sir. I programmed that escape pod to have its magnetic couplings to automatically reengage as soon as they were a safe distance from the Sabine. I monitored its flight and the escape pod is now securely attached to the hull of the Silencer. I have to say Captain, damn good plan.”
“How much longer until it goes off? Will we be out of the blast radius?”
“They’ve already activated their light-plus drive. They’re cruising in subspace right now with their tails between their legs. In about a minute and thirty-two seconds that scuttle bomb will go off and knock them out of subspace harder than jackhammer. Unfortunately, they’ll be well out of scanner range when it happens. I would love to see my handiwork.”
Petton sighed. “So our prisoner we were supposed to deliver is going to blow up with them. The Stasian government isn’t going to be happy about that.”
Novak shook her head. “Let the damn politicians sort it out.”
Fawx nodded. “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the politicians think. Had we let her live she would just go back to doing what she enjoyed most. Killing people. And every death would have been on our heads for letting her go. I don’t want to have to force anyone to walk around with that weight on their shoulders like I’ve had to with Irium’s deeds.”
Silence filled the hallway. Fawx stared at the tuft of Irium’s hair in her hand. She couldn’t erase his deeds- but at least they erased him. It had taken her entire crew to do it, but it was now done. He was gone.
Fawx smiled. “Moden… great job. This wouldn’t have worked without you. I suspect there is a captain of a Warcruiser somewhere who is going to hear about your ingenuity and want to see if they can’t pry you away from me and into his engineering room.”
Moden’s laugh came out as a giggle. “Thanks for the compliment Captain, but I have a hard time believing any team of engineers will find it easy to listen to a cute little girl who doesn’t even look old enough to drink.”
Fawx was brought back to reality. They had to go back. Their lives had been shattered. The Captain considered herself lucky. She had never been married. She hadn’t talked to her family in years. Some of the crew had wives back home. She knew Dr. Teffri had a grandchild and easily forty years younger than his wife. What would she do?
Those questions wouldn’t be settled here. Fawx knew the paperwork alone was going to be a bear to deal with. But they had to start somewhere with the healing. “Moden, get those engines back working as quick as possible. Let’s go home.”
Only one more chapter to go! What did you think? I liked it. The hardest part for me this chapter (and Pip probably got sick of hearing) was how I didn’t know what to do with Xaen’s departure. From fan response I don’t think people will like that I killed Xaen but I think it had to be done. Better than keeping her on the ship. That would cause me all sorts of problems writing! You would not want that kind of stress on me would you, o loyal reader? Would you?