Natalia was alone on the bridge. The engines were primed, and she was ready to get the hell out of there. Impatience, having commandeered her foot, kept a steady beat on the deck. Standing in front of Barklay’s engineering station the virtual screen showed Oliver, and the others current location. Move damn it!
The ship was already packed with refugees, and Oliver, Missy, and Barklay were bringing in the last few stragglers they could. The moon wasn’t in the ten occupied systems in Varna but, it was close to the Pleastos system. The new owners didn’t take lightly to their stolen property, as they seemed to view these people, being shuttled off world. With each passing day the number of bounties listed by what was left of the Celestra Defense Forces seemed to double, and with each passing job they found themselves in situations where the need to exercise their consciences was greater than the need to simply grab their bounty.
“Six months and your war has cost you nearly twelve million lives,” Natalia mumbled aloud to herself. “Lives that are needed to continue producing all the things you need to oppress, and all for slave wages.”
Hearing a scuffle behind her, Natalia turned to see a small boy staring at her. She knelt, and held out her hands. The boy took them, and she scooped him up, and set him on the edge of the station. “What’s your name honey?” The boy remained silent, just looking at her with pursed lips, and haunted eyes.
Before the war started the people of this moon were paid decent wages and worked decent hours in many different jobs. Because the moon is incredibly resource rich the traitors wanted it. After the war started most of the inhabitants were moved into the mines, including this little boy, and they were working deplorably long hours, and paid in currency that could only be spent in businesses owned by the new corporate interests; corporate interests that were aligned with the mutinous traitors from Mulintia-2.
Natalia was watching the screen again when the boy pointed, and said “papa”. Papa was being pushed forward by Barklay as they made their way towards the ship.
“Shit,” Natalia said patching into Oliver’s com. “Oliver, you’re going to have company soon. A lot of company.”
Kara tapped into the local security feeds, and Natalia watched two dozen armed guards heading their way.
“Kara, bring weapons on-line and get ready to target anyone shooting at our people and the refugees they’re bringing with them.”
The ship was parked with the port side at the end of a long parkway. Natalia had the door open and waiting for the group to exit a side street, and make the short run. When Kara brought weapons on-line two additional virtual screens rose from Barklay’s engineering station; duel tracking system. Oliver, Melissa, and Barklay were immediately marked in green when they appeared. Kara began marking the refugees as they came into view.
Four streets down, the ground forces rounded the corner riding open topped mag vehicles, and stood three abreast. Oliver and the others were within ten meters when the first shot was fired, hitting a refugee in the leg. The woman dropped, and Melissa stopped to go back for her when Kara opened up with the rail gun mounted on the bow. Three plasma bolts sailed over the heads of the small group, striking the shooter three times in the chest.
Natalia looked over her shoulder towards the door and could see other refugees ready to help get the others on board as quickly as possible. Oliver got a small group on and ran to the bridge. “I’ll take engineering, get ready to bolt,” he told Natalia.
“I don’t know what his name is but Barklay’s bringing his papa,” she said when Oliver did a double take on the small body sitting next to him.
“Your papa’s almost here, buddy,” Oliver said smiling at the boy who retained the same look he gave Natalia.
Barklay got his people on then took a knee and unslung his rifle to cover Melissa. The expected barrage of weapons fire erupted from the security,and Kara let loose her own barrage on the fast approaching vehicles. Barklay ran forward passing his rifle off to Melissa as he made for the wounded woman. He met her, tossed her over his shoulder, spun on his heel and headed back under cover from Melissa and Kara.
“Punch it!” he shouted as he slammed his palm on the button to close the airlock.
Natalia fully engaged the docking boosters lifting them while simultaneously pushing the yoke forward shooting towards lower atmosphere.
“I have detected jump signatures from several vessels now in orbit,” Kara said.
“Who are they?” Oliver asked as he deployed electronic warfare countermeasures.
Simultaneously Natalia shouted, “Shit, they got us!”
Four fighters blew past them, flipped, and then matched pace as an unknown entity held them in their clutches.
“Kara we put safeguards in place to block this. Who got to the helm?” Oliver asked.
“The ship signatures match those of the Trylon navy,” Kara said.
Oliver jumped down from engineering and over to his station to place a call. A woman’s face appeared in the holo. It was a face with slight Asian features that Oliver recognized, but couldn’t place.
“This is Rya Ahana, Captain of the Trylon Carrier Ula. Before you speak understand that an official delegation from Trylon was on this moon for trade negotiations. Their health monitors indicate a deteriorating state, and any harm inflicted on citizens of Trylon during your civil war will be met with appropriate force. I am detecting several others on your ship in desperate need of medical attention.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Oliver said. “First, this isn’t my war. I had nothing to do with this political shit. Second, I came here on a bounty for Admiral Dunn, she’s one of the good guys—,”
“You say you work for Admiral Dunn?” Captain Ahana asked.
“Yes, and in the process of capturing that bounty we took on some refugees. The new owners have essentially enslaved the population,” Oliver said.
“One moment Captain Wheil.”
She closed the mike, but Oliver could see the woman look just off holo and issue some orders. A few agonizing minutes later the helm was released and the mike on the holo opened.
“Captain, please consider the fighters accompanying you as escorts and follow them to the hanger deck. Your refugees can be offloaded and we’ll get them medical care,” Captain Ahana said.
“What about the rest of them?” Oliver asked.
“Admiral Dunn informs me that you’re a man of unimpeachable character, and if, as you say, the rest of the population has been enslaved then we take your word as truth. That said, my orders are to pacify the occupying security, and re-establish rightful ownership. Essentially Captain, this moon is now under the protection of the Trylon/Uumshar Cooperation.”
“Well I don’t know about that unimpeachable stuff, but if you plan to set this right that might piss off some of those assholes who started this civil war,” Oliver said.
Captain Ahana smiled. “Our technology is far more advanced than theirs. If they attack us outright that would bring us into the war on your side. They can’t afford for that to happen.”
“And if Trylon happens to inconvenience them enough then, what? You force their hand?” Oliver asked.
“We can only hope,” Captain Ahana said as Natalia set the ship down on the carriers main hanger deck.
“Does this mean it’s going to go back to before?” a man asked. Oliver and Natalia turned to see the man known as papa holding his son.
“For you it does,” Natalia said, and the little boy smiled.