Captain “Gorgeous” George Owens stands in the back control area of his ship’s bridge. Commander Parsons and two lieutenants stand at the front of the bridge and watch over the Navigational Crew with scorn. The Crew was responsible for manning the general operations of the gigantic floating city known as a Tohoku-class cruiser. It was an Alliance military spacecraft, deployed to patrol along the Rim and Border planets on a diplomatic mission of peace.
One of the Ensigns looks at a monitor. He mostly resembles a secret service man – more bureaucrat than thug. A second man, a midshipman, rolls nearby on a chair behind him, also watching the screen. They look at each other, and then the first man speaks. “Sir?”
Parsons glanced down at the pilot, frowning. “Have you found them?”
The man continues, his voice wavering only slightly. “They’ve cut their connection with the Cortex, sir. The tracking device cut out when they switched off.” He mindlessly tapped the screen in front of him as if to confirm his statement. “However, we locked on to LIBERATION‘s pulse beacon before they rabbited, sir. We can track them using it, if you wish.”
Before Commander Parsons could reply, Captain Owens spoke up from the back of the bridge. “Did the HARD BURN accomplish their mission?” He took a few steps forward, his face lit by the flickering light of a handheld Cortex Datapad. “Were they able to damage the Engines of the tramp freighter?
“Bounty hunters,” mumbled the Commander. “We don’t need that scum.”
The Midshipman shook his head. “No, sir.” He glanced at Parsons, and then back at the Captain. “They launched a missile but the freighter shot it out of the Black before it could hit.”
The Captain nodded, smiling. “Interesting. Did you get a scan of the ship? Do they have any other weaponry? A standard Firefly Class Series Three does not have weapons. Obviously Mr. Clemson has made modifications to his boat. I certainly hope he has the proper paperwork for such modifications…” The Captain’s voice trailed off. He turned, taking a few more steps to the right before looking towards the Midshipman and Ensign again.
“Yes, sir.” answered the Ensign. He looked towards his screen again. “Prow mounted laser cannons. Nothing else.” He hesitated for a beat. “Although one of their shuttles is giving off very strange readings. Heat signatures and toxicity levels are off the charts.”
“Lovely, lovely.” commented the Captain. “I assume that would be our eccentric doctor had at work brewing up his mind-numbing chemicals.” He glanced over at Parsons. “They aren’t scum, Commander.”
Parsons was taken off guard. “Who?” He looked confused for a moment. “What do you mean?”
“The crew of the HARD BURN, Commander. They are not scum. They are indeed bounty hunters, however.”
Parsons said nothing, he just stared at the Captain, a scowl smeared on his lips.
The Captain continued. “They are veterans of the Unification War. Highly trained Elite Soldiers trained by the best of the best in the Alliance. Each member of that crew as scored so many kills that their records simply cannot reflect their ratios. Every single one of them as been wounded in the line of duty, and chose to accept cybernetic augmentation rather than retire from their service to the Alliance. Each of those men are heroes, Commander. You will give them your respect.”
The Commander swallowed hard. He took a deep breath. “Yes, Captain. As you wish.”
The Captain turned back to the Ensign. “Forget the pulse beacon, there has to be another way to track the ship — get a read on the Nav Sat. It’s a registered transport ship, you must be able to locate –“
The Ensign nearly shouted, interrupting the Captain. “Sir, the registration is a false one. I’ve run it several times through the system. It was clever, and professionally fabricated, but fake nonetheless.”
“Very well, then.” The Captain sighed. “Send a wave to Rim’s Dream. I want to speak with Baron Fairchild immediately.”
NEXT: ACT THREE