Loading...
Menu
Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Science fiction  ➡  Adventure  ➡  Space opera

Space Rogue

 

Space Rogue

Jay Toney

© September 2016

Published by Jay Toney

Other Books

 

Alliance Gold

Freedom Flight

 

Coming Soon:

 

Star Bridge

 

 

Like me on Facebook: http://facebook.com/rogue8734

 

My website: http://www.jaytoney.com

 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jaytoney4

 

 

[+ Please click here to leave a review.+]

 

[] Introduction

Nathaniel and the crew of the Queen Anne’s Revenge leave Alliance space to start a new life. He wants the free life of being a pirate raiding rich colonies among the bordering star systems.

He clashes with the Crimson Tide, a pirate organization and stumbles on the Alliance’s plans for conquest and expansion across their border and into the free border systems.

Nathaniel doesn’t have any success at being a pirate but is successful as a reluctant hero. He rescues a freighter that is under attack. It’s captain, Amber, and her brother Red, a mercenary and gunrunner, join forces with him against the Alliance and Crimson Tide.

 

 

Copyright Information

 

The characters and events in this book are fictional. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

All rights reserved. In accordance with the U.S. Copyright act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without permission of the author is unlawful piracy and theft of the authors intellectual property. Thank you for support of the authors rights.

License Notes

 

Thank you for downloading this e-book. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author, and may not be redistributed to others for commercial or noncommercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their own favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

 

 

 

 

 

h1<{color:#000;}.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Leaving the Alliance

Rescue

San Paulos

Station Bound

Payment Collected

Assembling a Fleet

Fleet Action

Home Again

Shakedown

A Job For Red

A Short Trip

Debt of Gratitude

Trouble

The War Begins

The Return Home

Thank You

[] Leaving the Alliance

Doc and I had enough. The Alliance kept increasing taxes and gave us nothing in exchange. They charged large trade tariffs at every spaceport squeezing honest trade. Between the tariffs, permit fees, and the high cost of supplies and repairs we were going broke.

We lost most of our crew and skilled Marauder pilots to the Alliance military. They were given no choice about being conscripted into their ranks when our ship was repeatedly raided. We were left with just two shuttles and two Marauders. The rest were confiscated for military use.

Jane did the best she could keeping the old ship together, but sooner or later we would need a major repair or overhaul that we could no longer afford. We had to leave now, or face living with what little the Alliance would leave us with. With me, that probably meant being conscripted into their military.

Doc had stepped down from being the ship’s captain. It was my turn to take the captain’s chair. Doc remained on the Queen Anne’s Revenge as my chief adviser, the medical officer, and anything else that needed to be done.

“Decelerating to sublight,” Natasha, the ships AI announced. The ship gave a slight shudder as the dampers extended grabbing real space and slowing the ship. It would be a few minutes before communications could establish a link with any navigation buoys. It would take time for sensor data to become available, as we slowed below light speed.

Tanya shifted, on her seat, from slouching to full alertness, as she studied the long range scan screens. “Captain, we have come out of hyperspace in the Anaxous System, but we are way off course.”

“Natasha, run a diagnostic check on the Navigation systems and check my coordinates. Tanya, scan for high energy emissions.”

“Diagnostics complete, Captain. There are no system errors and the coordinates are correct.”

With a confused sound to her voice Tanya said, “Captain, there is a sort of energy halo surrounding this sector. It’s weird, I have never seen anything like it.”

“I believe it may be a hyperspace interdiction field, go to condition yellow. Natasha, run dark, passive scans only.”

“Doc, take a look at the screen and see what you think.”

“It has been a long time since I’ve seen anything like this. I think you are right, but I’ve never seen one this size. Interdiction fields generate a large magnetic field to prevent a ship from escaping to hyperspace. This one is much larger, being able to pull a ship off course, and into sublight speeds.”

“If it is an interdiction field, there will be a patrol nearby. I haven’t heard of anyone using them since the last war. Do you think it may be the Alliance?”

“I don’t think so. Interdiction fields were largely used by the border worlds to prevent Alliance ships from escaping.”

“Then who?”

“We will find out soon enough.”

“Captain, I have three ships heading in our direction. They are not on a direct intercept course, so I don’t think we have been spotted yet. Transponder information has two of them being Corvette class and one Frigate.”

They had us outnumbered, but we had them out gunned. We needed a payday to move beyond this system. We were broke without the means to pay for our docking fees or fuel. With luck, we would earn enough in salvage to keep us going.

“Natasha, change course to intercept the ships, maintain silent running. Tanya, switch to tactical.”

The view on our viewscreen changed. Ahead of us were three red icons representing the approaching fleet, behind us was one red icon, the ship with the interdiction field coils. Between the approaching ships were two lines. The first was for missile range, the second was for energy weapons.

“Natasha, target the Frigate and start calculating missile solutions. Doc and Jane stand by on guns. Randolph start building our shield reserves.”

We waited, watching the gap close between our ships. The ship to our rear matched our course and maintained its distance to prevent us from escaping to hyperspace. We would deal with it later.

“Captain, we’ve been spotted. The ships are raising shields, and powering up their weapons.”

“Tanya, sound condition Red. Randolph., raise our shields and seal all bulkhead hatches. Natasha, go to active sensors and show our colors.”

Natasha, our ships AI, lit our ship up. Position lights on our hull turned on making it easier to see us. She also began broadcasting our transponder information.

The identification friend or foe (IFF) let the other ships know what class of ship we were. It didn’t stop them or slow them down. They were either stupid or desperate. The Queen Anne’s Revenge was a heavy cruiser. They were no match for us. Defeating the approaching fleet would not be easy and we would have a price to pay.

The Revenge had been refitted several times since my family purchased her, as scrap left over from the 100 years war. She had heavy armor plating and strong shields. Her weapons systems were largely automated, so we could operate with a smaller crew.

“Captain, we’re being hailed,” Tanya announced.

“Put it on screen.”

The viewscreen split with our tactical information on the left and an older man on the right. His hair was nearly entirely gray, and he had a large scar extending from his left eye to his lower jaw line.

“So, the Revenge has come back after being gone for nearly ten years. I would offer you the chance to join our organization, but the position of sanitation has already been filled. We no longer need a garbage scow. Instead, I will offer you the chance to beg for surrender.”

“I was going to make you a similar offer, but I have had a change of heart. Tanya cut communications. Natasha, go to flank speed.”

The Frigate fired a full salvo of missiles at us. It was a waste, we weren’t even in range yet. Natasha activated our electronic countermeasures (ECM) and our point defense system. We had extra time for the ECM to find a solution to the missiles.

We were nearly in range of our missiles. I held back from firing, not being able to afford the replacement of wasted missiles. We waited, even after we crossed the first range line. The missiles that were fired at us lost their missile locks and drifted off course. They fired another salvo. This time either our ECM would have to spoof the missiles, or our point defense cannons (PDC) would have to take care of them. We were nearly in range of our energy weapons before I fired a salvo of our own missiles.

Doc and Jane waited at their weapons consoles. Doc was operating the automation for the dorsal weapons and Jane the ventral. It had been a long time since they last fired the weapons, other than in simulation.

Two of the incoming missiles were spoofed and went off course, two continued to close in on us. Natasha fired the PDC sending a wall of 20mm projectiles their way. She continued firing until she was able to confirm the missiles destruction.

The Frigate fired another salvo at us. One of our missiles was spoofed, and two were destroyed. The last one got through the defenses and scored a hit amidships on the Frigate. It was damaged, but still in the fight.

Doc and Jane opened up with our particle beam cannons. They each tracked different Corvettes, making it a contest between the two of them to see who could defeat their target first.

Energy splashed off the shields of the two Corvettes as our cannon scored hits. Their fire also scored hits on our shields. Their weapons were fewer and less powerful, but there were three ships firing at us.

"Shields at 85% and holding," Randolph announced.

Doc and Jane continued firing and Natasha fired another salvo of missiles at the Frigate. It didn’t return missile fire. Was it out of missiles, or more heavily damaged than I thought?

There was a time I would send squadrons of Marauders out to engage the targets. They could get in close, under the shields, and destroy the ships defenses. Our Marauders were all but gone. We only had two left. The rest had been confiscated by the Alliance and our pilots conscripted.

“I got one!” Jane yelled.

“A lucky shot,” Doc replied.

Both their weapons converged on the remaining Corvette. Two more of our missiles got through the Frigate’s defenses. One detonating on the bow, the other aft. It was disabled. One of the icons on our tactical screen disappeared with the Corvette’s destruction, another started flashing to indicate the ship was disabled.

Natasha fired two missiles at the remaining Corvette. They both struck destroying the ship. The ship behind us turned to flee, but Natasha was ready. She changed course to pursue the vessel going to max burn. The engines increased their thrust with then additional fuel being pumped into them. The inertia dampers and gravity plates struggled to maintain their .9g setting.

Doc and Jane both fired on the fleeing ship when we came in range. It didn’t have much for shields or other defenses, being designed to carry the huge field coils. It only took a few shots to disable the ship. Two escape capsules fired from the ship before we could reach it.

The ship itself wasn’t worth much in salvage, but the copper in the coils was. We clamped onto the ship, and crewmen began the process of cutting the coils apart and salvaging the metal. While they were working on dismantling the coils, we changed our course heading back to the disabled Frigate.

“Tanya, open communications with the Frigate.”

On screen, Captain.”

A different person appeared. It was someone much younger, perhaps middle aged. “I am Captain Hunt of the Scorpion.”

“I am Captain Roberts. Your ship has been disabled, your fleet destroyed. Surrender while you can.”

“You have my ship and my crew, but not me. Come aboard and we shall test each other’s metal. Know that even if you defeat me the Crimson Tide will have its vengeance.”

We moved alongside the Scorpion. Soot from explosions and fire blackened the port side of the ship. Its docking ports were damaged, and unreliable. We moved to the port side which was undamaged. A flaming skull adorned the bow of the ship. Doc was able to confirm that the logo did indeed belong to the Crimson Tide.

When we left the border worlds the Crimson Tide was a small organization consisting of misfits. They had evolved in our absence becoming a much larger organization. They shouldn’t be operating so close to the Alliance. It was asking for trouble.

Our ship docked with the Frigates port side dock. The docking clamps locked our ships together. Doc took a team of crewmen with him to search the cargo, and find any smuggling holds. Jane took her team to round up the Frigate’s crew. She would be looking for willing volunteers from the crew to join us and separating any dissenters who were against us. Randolph kept his team at the airlock, to prevent any unauthorized people from boarding.

I headed towards the bridge. I had an appointment with the captain. No one tried to stop me as I neared the bridge. Captain Hunt was there, sword drawn and ready.

I pulled my saber from its scabbard and raised it to the guard position, ready to begin the duel.

“Captain Hunt, you don’t need to do this. I have need of men of honor such as yourself.”

“It is my honor that makes it necessary.”

Captain Hunt attacked giving me with a vicious series of slashes and lunges. I side stepped the attack, blocking blow after blow with my blade. I found an opening and fainted with a lunge to his chest followed by a backslash.

“That’s first blood,” I exclaimed blocking another series of blows.

Blood flowed freely from his left bicep. His arm was useless to him now, with his blood flowing freely. I waited, a pattern of moves becoming clear as we fought. The sound of steel clashing with steel echoed in the corridor. He continued swinging wildly. I parried his attacks waiting for another opening. He dropped his guard ever so slightly, and I took advantage of the opening to lunge at his chest followed by a downward slash, opening up his right thigh.

“That’s second blood, surrender while you can.”

“I’d rather die,” roared Captain Hunt, followed by a new series of savage slashes and hacks, trying to dismember me. He fought like a man with nothing left to lose. I continued blocking and evading his blows waiting for another mistake… He leaned into a downward slash leaving an opening for a thrust from my sword into his chest. The expression on his face changed from pure hatred to a look of shock, as he slid to the deck dead. I wiped my sword clean on his shirt and returned it to its scabbard. Captain Hunt died with his honor. I could have used a man like him. He fought with determination to the end.

I entered the bridge. The two remaining officers dropped their weapons, surrendering when they saw that I had defeated their captain. I ordered them to dispose of Captain Hunt’s body and report to the cargo hold. The bridge was secured and the ship now mine.

All of the crew of the Frigate were gathered in the ship’s cargo hold. It was time to sort out who would be remaining, and who would go. Jane had a group of fifteen volunteers some crew and a few officers separated from the main group.

“Are there any volunteers who wish to join our crew?” No one said a word in reply. “Everyone strip.”

Our boarding party held their blasters ready for any retaliation. The Crimson Tide crewmen and women stripped off their clothing, down to bare skin. It was a common practice when conscripting new crew. I learned it from the Alliance when they conscripted our crew. It had two purposes; the first was to prevent the prisoners from concealing weapons within their clothing, the second was to humiliate them, and show who their new boss was.

Doc led the crewmen and women to the Frigates escape pods. The pods were loaded and jettisoned from the ship. The prisoners were lucky. They had a chance at regaining their freedom. Most prisoners would either be shot and killed or sold as slaves for cheap labor.

I didn’t object to prisoners guilty of crimes paying for their crimes with slave labor, but I drew the line there. The thought of selling innocent people as slaves made me sick.

I spoke to the remaining crewmen and women. “Having volunteered, what I have to offer is this, every member of the crew will either be paid according to their rating or given a percentage of any captured booty, whichever is greater. Every crewman will be given their own private cabin. If any of you wish to share a cabin, you may. The galley is open for use around the clock. We only provide first rate frozen meals, and fresh food when we can.”

Cheers erupted from the new crewmen and women.

“Tanya will assign your cabins and get you situated. She will also issue you all new jumpsuits to wear.”

We spent the next two weeks dismantling the field coils and salvaging what we could from the captured ship before sending it off adrift. During that time Randolph and Jane had repairmen working around the clock on the Frigate, repairing whatever they could.

The Frigate’s ammunition and missiles were transferred to the Revenge, replacing our missiles and spent ammunition. Its fuel tanks were pumped dry, filling ours. Doc had the time to make a more thorough search of the ship, searching for cargo, smuggled goods, and contraband. Even the crews quarters were searched for anything of value.

The purser’s office had a little over 100,000 credits stored in its safe. Doc added it to our ship’s funds. He also managed to find four gold bars and a cache of drugs hidden in smuggling compartments. The drugs were not of any medicinal value, and not for legal recreational use. He jettisoned them from the ship. Loose credits and jewelry were found in the crews quarters and also transferred to our ship. We had enough credits to make a payday and pay for our expenses. The credits we would receive from salvaging the Frigate would keep us going for awhile.

It had been an exhausting trip and we were only getting started. I had my eyes on Tanya since she joined our crew as our communications and sensor officer. We acted friendly towards each other, but never took it past that. I kept trying though. “Tanya, why don’t you join me tonight? We have a lot to celebrate.”

“Not in this lifetime Nathaniel. You are a dog. In fact, you’re worse than a dog. You’re a tomcat. There is no telling how much you’ve strayed, wandering about the galaxy.”

“Purr, I like that. Nat de Tomcat. You know I only stray because I can’t have you. Your the best and the other women are nothing more than a meaningless attempt to compensate for not having you. Admit it, you love de Tomcat.”

“Only in your dreams.”

“I do dream. I dream about you every night. You have the power within you to make a poor man’s dreams come true.”

I spent the night alone in my cabin. Tanya was weakening but still resisting my charms. We would be on the space station soon. That meant another sleepover and another one night romance.

[] Rescue

We approached Anaxous station and obtained docking clearance for green section. Natasha undocked us from the Scorpion. It was left moored off station nearby. Our ship docked in green section dock 1.

Doc ordered the supplies that needed refilling and had our fuel tanks filled. The salvage from the hyperspace interdiction fields was sold, earning us more credits than we spent. The Frigate we captured was put up for sale. I was on the way to see a ship broker about making a fast deal. I could afford to take a loss on the sale of the ship. I was already showing our first profit in years.

Mr. Hampton ran the local ship shipyard. I made an appointment to see him and speak to him about selling the Frigate. I hoped that he would take the ship off my hands and sell it himself.

Some of the Frigates armor still needed to be replaced. Randolph and Jane worked miracles repairing what they could. The ship was made space-worthy again, all of its systems operational. I didn’t have enough crewmen to man the ship, so I had to sell it.

I brought Randolph with me in case there were technical questions or questions about the repairs that were made to the captured Frigate. Together, we met with Mr. Hampton. I gave him a list of the repairs that we made and of the repairs that still needed to be made.

“How did you come about acquiring the ship?”

“It is lawful salvage. We were attacked by the Crimson Tide. They pulled us off course into a trap with a hyperspace interdiction field Two Corvettes and the ship carrying the interdiction field were destroyed. We captured the Frigate and salvaged it for our own use.”

“Did the field coils survive?”

“They have been dismantled. The copper salvaged and sold as scrap. They won’t be used again.”

“We have been having problems with that pirate organization attacking lone ships in our system. They have been capturing and scaring off traders. Somehow, they constantly elude our patrol ships. It’s about time somebody stood up to them and put them in place.

Before I can make an offer, I will need to transfer the ship to my facilities and have my crew verify its condition.”

I left the repair facilities next to white section and made my way to green section. The Frigate was being towed to the repair section, where it would be inspected, repaired, and put up for sale. It was a very successful meeting.

I contacted Jane, with my comlink. “Jane issue all of our new crew members 100 credits each, call it a sign on bonus. Keep them restricted to green section. We will be departing as soon as business is here is concluded.”

“Captain, if you don’t mind I have a few purchases that I need to make myself.”

“Go ahead. I’ll see you back on the Revenge.”

I headed to station offices, where I looked at open job commissions and bulletins. Nothing caught my attention, nearly all postings were for in system transportation and cargo hauling. They did not pay what I was accustomed to earning and needing to maintain a starship. There was no doubt that the Crimson Tide had disrupted out system trade. They were no longer a threat in this system, and trade would resume soon.

Traders Lane had plenty to offer visiting spacers, there were hotels, restaurants, bars, boutiques, and all kinds of entertainment. I randomly chose a bar and ordered their best fire water. I didn’t care what the name of the drink was, nor did I care about its ingredients. All I cared about was that it had the desired effect of burning on the way down, leaving a warm feeling in the stomach, and dulling the senses. The bartender recommended Xanthian Dragon’s Blood. The drink was a translucent white with something red swirling around in it. It was an alien drink, that fit the effects I described to the bartender. The drink went down smoothly and had a pleasant flavor, so I ordered another. After a few too many of them, I woke up in a strange hotel room, looking down the wrong end of my blaster. My alcohol soaked brain slowly started working, clearing the fog in my mind. I had the vague recollection of having had a tumble with a beautiful red headed woman. In fact, it was the woman holding the gun pointed at me.

“I would like to thank you for the very enjoyable night. Now I must ask you for all of your credits.”

“The money is in the front right pocket of my pants, sorry it isn’t more. You are welcome to what few I have left. I hope we had a good time last night. I had a little too much to drink and I can’t quite recall the details. If you would like we can repeat it. I’m sure we will be able to outdo last night’s performance and depart with some pleasant memories.”

“An enticing proposal, perhaps the next time we meet Mr. Roberts,” she replied while scooping up all of my clothes.

Before she could leave I asked, “Don’t I at least get a name to remember you by?”

“Beverly,” she answered over her shoulder before departing.

I used the hotel comms to contact my ship. Unfortunately for me, it was Tanya who answered the call. Fate must have had enough my antics and decided it was time to punish me. I asked Tanya to bring a change of clothes to me at the Hotel Dryad telling her that I somehow lost my clothes.

“Was she a blond, brunette, or a redhead?”

“Redhead,” I answered.

“Was your performance so bad that she stole everything including your clothes?”

“Actually, Beverly told me that she enjoyed spending the night with me and agreed to another night of passion the next time we meet.”

“So, she has a name this time? Your standards must be improving.”

Tanya was mad at me. I couldn’t understand why. She wouldn’t commit to a relationship, nor would she have casual sex with me on ship or during sleepovers. She entered the room shortly after my call. I was still trying to figure her out. With a disgusted look on her face, she said, “I don’t know how or why you keep getting yourself into these predicaments.”

Was her question was meant to be rhetorical? I answered anyways, “I’m sorry. I got just a little bit drunk last night and it seems that I got entangled with a beautiful red headed woman. As beautiful as she is, she is not nearly as beautiful as you are. I don’t remember meeting her or much else before waking up this morning. My memory of last night is a little foggy. You know, these things wouldn’t happen to me, if you would be my lover, and watch over me. If I was with you, I would never consider straying. Nat de Tomcat would be content.”

“So what you are saying is that you got drunk, picked up a stranger, had sex, and don’t remember any of it.”

“Well she may have picked me up, I don’t remember. I’m not even sure if we had sex or not, but I did wake up with her. I only have a few vague memories, but that is essentially it.”

“That is no excuse, it’s disgusting!”

“You didn’t by chance bring any clothing?”

She tossed me a pair of old tattered ships coveralls.”

“Nathaniel, what makes you think I would ever have sex with you? How many times have you needed my help after getting rolled by some cheap floozy?”

“She wasn’t cheap. She cost me every credit I had on me and more.”

It wasn’t the answer she wanted to hear. She marched me back to the Queen Anne’s Revenge, without saying another word. She was definitely weakening and falling for my charm. I would have her soon. Usually, she made me wait longer. This time she came right after my call. Tanya followed me to my quarters. She hesitated for a moment, undecided about what to do next, then continued on to her own suite.

****

“Captain, I have an incoming call from Mr. Hampton,” Tanya said.

“Put it on screen.”

“Captain Roberts, I have completed my assessment of the ship. I am prepared to make an offer.”

We talked about the price going back and forth. He knew or suspected that I was desperate for credits. His offer was lower than what I expected but fair. I accepted the offer, after a little haggling.

“Thank you, Mr. Hampton it has been a pleasure doing business with you.”

“Has anyone seen Randolph?” I asked.

“He brought a crate aboard a few days ago and has been locked in his cabin since. He’s not answering comms or inquiries at his cabin,” Jane said.

“Someone get Randolph and bring him to the bridge,” I ordered.

I wondered what he had been doing locked away, these past few days.

“No need Captain,” Randolph said, stepping onto the bridge.

“Randolph what have you been doing locked away these past few days? No one has been able to get hold of you.” My curiosity piqued, I was dying to know.

“I’ve been working on a project.”

Randolph was a little dotty at times. When he got involved in a project that interested him, he tended to ignore everything until finished.

“Doing what?”

“It’s easier to show you than to try to explain it.”

“Natasha please come to the bridge,” Randolph said, addressing the ship’s AI.

I was completely taken by surprise. An extremely sexy, scantily clad, synthetic woman walked onto the bridge. She was a brunet, with a light tan complexion. Her eyes were baby blue, and she had all the right curves, in all the right places. She looked like she could be Tanya’s twin sister.

“Nathaniel, get your tongue off the deck and back into your mouth!” Tanya shouted.

My mind went completely blank. The shock of seeing the beautiful young woman stepping onto my bridge left me dumbfounded. It was as if I was seeing two of Tanya.

“Randolph, who is that?”

“It’s Natasha. This is her new avatar.”

Jane had the presence of mind to take Natasha by the hand and escort her off the bridge and get her into some proper clothing.

“She is not a sexbot any longer, Captain. I saw her while we were doing our errands and just had to purchase her. You have been without a helmsman for quite some time. Seeing her I got an idea. Knowing how you like beautiful women, I decided to make an Avatar for Natasha. With an Avatar the ship will be more functional and it would be easier for you to remember to treat Natasha more like a lady. Her framework is heavy duty and extremely flexible. I upgraded her power supply, increased her memory, and replaced her simple processor with a positronic brain. Then I twined her neural network with the ships AI, linking her to Natasha through a neural chip. She is now Natasha’s avatar. Now Natasha can do things that she was never capable of doing before.”

“Have you been having sex with her?” She was a computer, and computers turned him on.

“Of course not Captain. However, she is still sexually functional. In fact, all of her sex routines have been uploaded into her core memory. Natasha is capable of both giving and experiencing sexual pleasure. Captain, I think she has a crush on you.”

“All hands commence undocking procedures,” I announced over comm. “Natasha, take us out. Set course for Beta Ceti.”

“Separation complete Captain, we are moving away from the station on thrusters only.”

“As soon as we are clear the station go to cruise speed.”

“Aye, aye Cappy. Our course is set for the nearest jump point. The hyperspace capacitors are charging.

Natasha left the helm station and came over to sit on my lap. “Have I told you how much I love you today, Cappy?” Without waiting for an answer she kissed me.

“I think she likes you. Maybe you two should get a room,” Tanya teased.

“That would be fun Cappy, do you want to?” Natasha asked. “I like Tanya too. She can join us if she likes.”

“Maybe a little later,” I said.

Tanya rolled her eyes and gave me a dirty look saying, “Don’t even think about it.”

“Natasha how long until we reach our jump point?”

“In a little over 10 hours,” Natasha added a countdown timer to our viewscreen showing the remaining hours, minutes, and seconds before we would be able to safely jump to hyperspace.

Jumping to hyperspace had to be done away from the effects of gravity. Trying to cheat the system usually either resulted in the ship being torn apart, or in some cases opening a singularity.

Tanya got off my lap and approached Tanya. She hugged Tanya and kissed her neck. “I want you too,” she whispered in Tanya’s ear. Tanya froze but did not resist Natasha.

“Ladies, if you will be so kind as to excuse me, I have a cold shower calling my name.” After copious amounts of cold water, I started feeling a little relief. I finished my shower then I laid down on my bed for a short nap. A little sleep was what I needed to sort my thoughts out. While dreaming of both Tanya and Natasha, I felt a warm presence join me in bed. I didn’t wake up, thinking this was part of my dream.

Some time later, Tanya entered my cabin. “Nathaniel! I came here to… maybe be with you. Buy I see that you have already been preoccupied with Natasha.”

Taking stock of my surroundings, me in bed with Natasha, I began to see what she was thinking. The evidence before her was damning. As innocently as I could I said, “Tanya this isn’t what it looks like, nothing happened.”

“Come join us, I like you too,” Natasha said.

A look of utter shock came over Tanya. Without saying anything else she stormed out of the cabin.

“Natasha, who is flying the ship?”

“I am of course. I am quite good at multitasking. I can be in two places at once now.”

I should try talking to Tanya, I thought. We have been friends for quite some time. Knowing her though, it would be safer for me to wait and let her cool down first.

I had a second thought. If Tanya was going to accuse me of having sex with Natasha, I might as well be guilty. I was beyond the help of a cold shower and needed something more.

“Natasha, lets have some fun.”

****

“Captain, we are receiving a distress signal. It’s coming from a tramp freighter that’s under attack. Captain, I do mean “tramp” freighter,” Tanya reported.

“What is her status?”

“Sensors indicate she is being attacked by a single vessel. It’s hard to tell at this range, but I believe it to be Frigate class,” Natasha replied.

“Natasha set an intercept course maximum burn. Condition Red. All hands to battle stations.”

“Heroics rarely pay well,” Doc said.

“I think we’ll take our chances this time.”

“Cappy, we are in range of our close range sensors. The attacking ship is Frigate class, their transponder is being purposely garbled.”

“Tanya, open a hailing channel.”

“They’re not responding Captain. However, they are receiving and monitoring.”

“This is Captain Roberts of the Revenge. You are ordered to break off your attack and surrender.”

“Cappy, they are running. Shall I pursue?”

“Maintain pursuit and target them with our missiles. Doc and Jane standby on guns. Randolph get our shields up.”

I watched and waited. We were nearly in range of our energy weapons before I ordered the attack. Natasha let loose with a full salvo of missile, two of them reached their targets, hitting the aft section of the Frigate. Its engines were damaged, two of them shutting down.

Doc and Jane fired their weapons. Blue and green bolts of energy struck the damaged Frigate. Its shields were failing, and escape pods and lifeboats were jettisoned from the dying ship. Doc and Jane kept firing until the Frigate exploded.

“All hands stand down from battle stations.”

“Captain, we are receiving a hail from the freighter Lucy. Her Captain wishes to speak with you,” Tanya said.

“Put it on screen. This is Captain Roberts of the Revenge. How may I be of assistance?”

“Captain Roberts, you are my hero and very handsome too. We can use some assistance getting our engines and shields back online. Excuse my manners, my name is Amber.”

I would have sworn it was Beverly. Amber looked identical to the woman who rolled me the other night. “Natasha, bring us along side and commence docking maneuvers.”

“Yes, Cappy.”

“Captain, to show our appreciation, you and our crew are invited aboard the Lucy as our guests. We have a shopping boutique, our liqueur isn’t watered down, and of course, we will provide entertainment free of charge.”

“Thank you, Amber, your hospitality is certainly appreciated. We will be alongside momentarily.”

Tanya came over and gave me a deep and surprising kiss. I had been dreaming of this moment for a long time. “Behave yourself, Captain, if you want more.”

Maybe a little friendly competition was just what de Tomcat needed.

“Doc I’m pretty sure they will have a bath house and can provide you with a mineral bath.”

“Jane assign a repair crew, then go have some fun.”

“Aye, aye Captain,” she said with a devilish look on her face.

“Tanya, it’s time to let loose and have some fun.”

After a short meeting with Amber, to get my plan rolling, I headed to their lounge. Seeing Tanya there, I ordered spiced rum for myself and a drink for Tanya. I don’t know what it is called, but I described it to the bartender being named after a bug, containing equal portions of iced cream, creme de menthe, and creme de cacao blended together. I sat at her table, which I frequently did, and handed her the green concoction. Her eyes lit up with delight, she took the drink and drank it rapidly. I ordered another for her, then a third.

At my meeting with Amber, she gave me a bottle of purple heart shaped pills guaranteed to enhance sexual desire, performance, and stamina. She warned me not to give Tanya more than one of the pills at a time, as they are very potent. I ground up two of the pills and slipped them into her third drink.

A dark and sultry man came over and asked Tanya to dance. It was part of the plan. Sultan was being paid a very exorbitant amount to not have sex with Tanya, but to stimulate her desire then leave her helplessly frustrated. They departed shortly after dancing, going to Sultans Pleasure Palace, a business specializing in exotic massage. I almost felt sorry for Tanya, almost… knowing he would tease her into incredible frustration, before leaving her helpless and alone.

It was nearly an hour later before I received her call. Apparently, she had been left alone, without any of her clothing, in the Sultans Pleasure Palace. I stopped in a boutique, where I selected a lace thong and a matching tiny bikini top. I took my time walking to Sultans Pleasure Palace. She must be going nuts with desire, I thought.

It was easy to find Sultan’s Pleasure Palace. It was a fairly large business operating aboard the Lucy. A female masseuse, named Jewel offered me a free massage with all the extras. She was very beautiful, and I couldn’t refuse her offer. After oiling me up, she undressed and said, “Now it is your turn to rub me all over with these scented oils.”

After a passionate love making session with her, I asked her for directions to Tanya’s room. She was kind enough to personally take me to her room. “You’re welcome to come back for another session with me anytime,” she said kissing me. She gave me a card with her com code so I could contact her anytime I wanted to see her.

I knocked on the door to Tanya’s room. “Nathaniel, is that you? Come in.” It was my turn to see Tanya naked and in a strange bed. “Sultan had sex with me, then left me here alone, and without anything to wear,” Tanya pouted.

I was furious, not at Tanya, but at Sultan. I would never forget what he had done with Tanya. I was the one who was supposed to have had sex with her.

“Where is Sultan? I am going to castrate him, then kill him very slowly.”

“Don’t be mad at him. I begged him to make love to me.”

“There will be a day when he will regret that decision.”

“Did you bring me any clothing?”

I gave her the package which contained the bikini top and bottom. She gave me a dirty look. Before she could say anything I said, “Of course you could always walk back to the Revenge naked, if you prefer.”

She gave me a little show as she dressed in front of me, teasing me. I could die right now and be eternally grateful.

After she finished dressing we departed the Sultans Pleasure Palace and made our way back to the Revenge. She didn’t say a word on the way back, but she had a bounce in her step I never noticed before. The passageway was crowded, with Amber’s employees, and a few of my own crew members. They stopped to stare at us. Tanya’s body was that good, and she was showing a lot of it. Tanya could not conceal her embarrassment, glowing a nice shade of pink all the way back to the Revenge.

On board the Revenge, she passed by her quarters, instead going directly to mine. I followed her into my quarters, not sure what to expect. Without saying a word. She removed her bikini. Then she turned to me and asked, “Why are you still dressed?”

She started stripping me, tearing the shirt from my body, in frustration. Unnoticed by us, Natasha also entered my quarters.

“Goodie, Cappy is going to make Tanya happy.” Natasha removed her jumpsuit, joining us. Tanya didn’t object, instead, she pulled both of us to my waiting bed. I had finally cracked her shell.

[] San Paulos

I staggered onto the bridge, still tired. I needed more time to rest. Tanya was already on the bridge, the communications station. Natasha was seated at the helm controls. Doc, Jane, and Randolph were also present.

“Captain, Amber is hailing us from the Lucy,” Tanya said.

“Put her on screen.”

“Greetings Nathaniel. Our repairs are complete and we are ready to get under way.”

“Thank you, Amber your generosity was much appreciated by all of us. We are off to the Beta Ceti system.”

“Nathaniel, you need to avoid that system. It is governed by a military dictatorship that is as bad as the Alliance, maybe worse. Their prices and taxes are incredibly high. Once there, very few are able to depart. They frequently conscript unwary visitors into their military for nonpayment of taxes and other debts.

Come with me to the Buenos Aires System. You will like planet San Paulos, and I could use the escort. Of course, you and your crew are welcome to continue using our entertainment services, as my guests.”

“Doc, do you know anything about planet San Paulos? l do not recall it being mentioned in your journal.”

“No, I’m afraid not. Buenos Aries is one of many star systems I didn’t have a chance to visit.”

“Amber, I would be delighted to escort your ship to San Paulos.”

“Cappy, Amber has been without a man to keep her happy since her husband died. She hasn’t been happy in a very long time. Can you make her happy too?”

“Nathaniel, it would not be polite to deny Amber the same courtesies she has given our crew,” Tanya said while blushing.

“Amber, of course, you are welcome to be our guest aboard the Revenge.”

She held up a little purple heart shaped pill. “The Sultan swears by these. I’m sure they will help you replenish your vigor and make you feel much better.”

“Bring the bottle.”

“We will dock again after we jump. I will see you shortly thereafter,” Amber replied.

“Tanya, end transmission.”

“Natasha link up with the Lucy’s Al, we will do a simultaneous jump to the Buenos Aires System.”

“Aye, aye, Cappy.”

Tanya whispered in my ear, “Nathaniel, remember don’t ever think of straying. If you do, I will personally neuter de Tomcat.”

“No need to worry. This tomcat has been tamed. Of course, sleepovers on station didn’t count, or at least I hoped so.

“Amber is one of few exceptions I am going to allow. She has been very generous to us, returning her courtesy is the least we can do.”

Since our crews have been together, there have been no fights, no complaining, or bickering. My crewmen and women have been extremely happy, smiling, and courteous towards each other. Rescuing Amber and her crew has been one of the best things I have ever done.

For everyone on the bridge to hear, Tanya announced, “I’ve been talking with Natty. We have decided that she and l will be moving into Nathaniel’s quarters where we can keep a better eye on de Tomcat, and put an end to his prowling about in search of willing companions.” Now it was my turn to blush.

Doc came over to me and said jokingly, “Nathaniel my son, you are far too young to end your life like this. My condolence’s.”

“Cappy, we are synchronized with the Lucy and ready to jump to hyperspace,” Natasha announced.

“Engage the hyperdrive.”

****

“Captain, we have entered the Buenos Aires system. Sensors show the Lucy is behind us,” Tanya reported.

“Natasha slow to rendezvous with the Lucy.”

“Decelerating.”

“Long range sensors show all clear,” Tanya reported.

“Natasha commence docking maneuvers when we are in range.”

“I’m going to my quarters to take a nap. Let me know if I’m needed.”

“Aye, aye Cappy.”

I entered my quarters, undressed and crawled into bed, I was so exhausted that I fell asleep before my head hit the pillow. I felt the presence of two warm bodies joining me, one on my left and one on my right. I stayed asleep, l was getting used to this.

“I enjoy cuddling with Cappy,” Natasha said.

“Me too,” Tanya whispered.

A little while later I heard another voice say, “Is this a private party or can I join you?”

“You are welcome to join us, Amber. Cappy is very tired and needs his sleep.” I don’t need to sleep, but I like cuddling with Cappy and Tanya.”

“We have plenty of time and I like to cuddle too,” Amber said, undressing and joining us in bed.

Tanya and Natasha arrived on the bridge ahead of me. Tanya was at the communications station. Natasha was at the helm station, Randolph sat at the engineering station, Jane lounged on a couch, and Doc was seated at the environmental controls.

“Captain, Amber is hailing us.” Tanya said.

“Put her on screen.”

“Nathaniel, I just wanted to thank you again for the escort, and for showing me a very good time. My crew is both happy for me and envious of me. You have got a hard reputation to beat. Thank you, Tanya, and Natasha, you both have been very kind to me. I will not forget any of you. Hopefully, our paths will cross again soon.”

“Thank you, Amber. I pray our paths will cross again soon. Your short visit was one of the most enjoyable times of my life. I regret, our not being able to spend more time together.

End communications.”

“Cappy made us all happy. When Amber left she had a big smile on her face. She was happier than she has been in a very long time. She has been without a companion since she lost her husband,” Natasha said.

San Paulos was a temperate planet. Humans occupied the cooler jungle regions in the Northern hemisphere, while the Hani preferred the hotter desert climate in the south. They tended to keep to themselves, but they did some trading with gemstones and crystals they found while mining.

San Paulos only had one starport. It had a large landing field, mostly overgrown with jungle growth, as the wilderness fought to reclaim the seldom used land. The neighboring buildings consisted of various hangers and outlying repair shops. Beyond the servicing facilities was the all too important port town.

The port town, regardless of its name or location, catered to visiting spacers. All port towns consisted of lodgings of various prices, restaurants, bars, trading centers, gift shops, night clubs, and every kind of entertainment.

“Natasha, commence landing procedures.”

“Aye, aye Cappy. We are decelerating… heat shields are up, and I am engaging the repulsorlift drive.” The ship shuddered and shook as it entered the atmosphere. The heat shields glowed a fiery red from atmospheric friction, as we continued to slow our decent. “We are on course… opening speed brakes and spoilers.” The ship shuddered again as the speed brakes and spoilers opened further reducing our velocity. The pitch changed and the ship leveled as we approached the landing field. “We are at 30,000 AGL, I am starting the landing sequence and lowering our landing gear… touchdown. I’m shutting down repulsorlift engines and main engines. Welcome to San Paulos.”

“Captain port authority and customs are on the way,” Tanya reported.

The boarding ramp was lowered and the airlock doors opened. I waited for them inside the airlock where it was a lot cooler. I was greeted by both officers at the main hatch. The customs officer was first. I told him that I was not offloading any cargo, but would be taking on supplies. He replied, “I don’t care what you load or unload. All I want is my fee of 300 credits.” I gladly paid the man. This was the type of customs inspection I could get used to. It would make things much easier not having to hide contraband in smuggling holds, located under the deck plates.

The port authority officer didn’t care what my purpose for being here was either. All he wanted was the port fee. It was 500 credits for landing and 100 credits per day for using the star port’s landing field. I paid him in advance for a two-week stay.

“Welcome to San Paulos.” Your friends aboard the Lucy will be using our shuttle service, on the station, to ferry cargo and passengers to and from the planet.”

“I thought the station wasn’t in use?”

“It ain’t. We keep a minimum crew on board to keep it in the proper orbit. When a starship, like the Lucy, arrives we send up a small crew to support it. I don’t recommend using the space station. It is extremely expensive. Amber gets a hell of a discount, being she is the system governor’s favorite kinswoman, or she wouldn’t be able to afford it either. He turned to leave with the customs agent. I think I’m going to like this planet very much.

“Natasha assign a shore leave rotation keeping one-third of the crew on board at all times. Doc, I have a special assignment for you.” I gave him the drug information I obtained from Amber for the purple heart shaped pills she gave me. “They are supposed to be readily available here. When word gets out, these pills will become very popular, so stock up a lot of them. You may want to try one, but beware they are quite potent working on both men and women alike. I haven’t been the least bit tired since I started using them. Jane, you are in charge of provisions. You may want to try one of these pills too. Only take one at a time, they are very potent.”

“I’ll be the judge of that,” she said taking several pills from Doc.

“Cappy, can I take Randolph shopping with me? I need a few things, and I want to talk to him about some upgrades.”

“Certainly. I booked all of us a suite at the Landsor Hotel. It’s supposed to have a top rated bar and restaurant. That leaves Tanya and me.”

“I need to do some shopping too. Come with me Nathaniel, It will be fun.”

Normally I would avoid shopping with Tanya. I went shopping with her once before and it was an extremely boring experience. To help our new relationship grow, as we shifted from friends to lovers, I reluctantly agreed. I think she wanted me close by so she could keep an eye on me, afraid that de Tomcat would stray given the chance.

Doc was the only one in our suite when Tanya and I arrived. He looked freshly scrubbed, having just returned himself from visiting a bath house. My experience of shopping with Tanya was even more boring than I expected. I vowed never to repeat that mistake again.

While Tanya was taking an afternoon nap, I headed down to the Hotels bar. We were dirt side and it was sleepover after all. I was sure I could find something or someone to keep me entertained while she slept.

****

“Randolph, I’ve already made most of the purchases necessary for the upgrades. I want you to supervise the installation.”

“I feel very honored, but why not the Captain?”

“It’s a surprise for him.”

“I don’t think the Captain can take too many more surprises. He has been through a lot lately between you, Tanya, and his new friend Amber.”

“Yes, and has never been happier in his whole life. Making us happy is what makes him happy. I want to help him, protect him, and keep him from harm.”

“ What type of upgrades are you planning on?”

“For a start, I want to get some personal energy shields. They are not very strong, but they may be enough to save his life someday.”

“That is very admirable.”

He led her to the robotics center, where she would undergo surgery to implant the energy shields. While Natasha was on the operating table undergoing surgery. Randolph found a doctor, with whom he had an instant crush. She was skinny, blonde, wore glasses, dressed in frumpy clothing, and looked like a geek. More importantly, she spoke his language, which of course is geek.

Dr. Kim Harris said, “I’m impressed with your modifications to the sexbot. She now serves your ship AI’s Avatar?”

“Yes, the avatar now lets Natasha be in two places at once. She is capable of doing things she has never been able to do before and experience new things.”

“But why the positronic brain?”

“I figured it would allow her to be more functional, and still capable of operating in the event of communications loss between her and the ship.”

“Aren’t you afraid of her developing a split personality in conflict with herself?”

“I hadn’t thought about that. I figured since they shared the same personality matrix it would be okay.”

“It would have been with a less complex processor, but with the one you installed she may develop her own matrix independent of the AI.”

It didn’t take long to install the personal shields. Natasha was off of the operating table in only a short time. The technology that the robotics center used to close her back up made the repair seamless. The incision they made in her artificial skin could not be seen even under magnification.

“What’s next?” Randolph asked Natasha.

“I would like to learn some new skills.”

“What would you like to learn?”

“I need to protect Cappy. I would like to learn combat basics, melee weapons, and energy weapons. I think I also want to learn Judo.”

“That’s quite a lot of information to download. Are you sure you can store all that information?” Kim asked.

“I have 1000 petabytes of core memory, it will hardly be noticeable,” Natasha replied.

“How is that possible?”

“Most of my memory is on the ship. I have instant access to it through my neurallink.

While Natasha was downloading the requested files Randolph and Kim were getting to know each other more intimately. As soon as the download was complete Natasha told Randolph she could finish the rest of her shopping on her own. Departing she said to Randolph and Kim, Why don’t the two of you spend the rest of the day getting to know each other. The two of you look good together.”

Her next stop was a weapons dealer. “My Cappy lost his blaster,” she explained to the clerk, “he needs the best one you have.”

The clerk removed a blaster from the shop’s vault, rather than the counter, showing it to Natasha. She eyed the weapon examining its quality. “I’ll take it, and a holster.”

“The blaster comes with a lizard skin belt and holster,” the clerk said retrieving the gun belt and holster from the vault. “What else can I help you with?”

“I need a blaster for myself too.”

He selected a smaller weapon, a ladies gun belt, and holster for Natasha showing them to her. Satisfied with the set Natasha said, “I’ll take two, Tanya needs one also. I would also like an energy sword.”

He selected a sword that was appropriate for her size, and of the highest quality available.

“Do you have a testing room?”

The clerk led her into a holographic chamber. “What level would you like?”

“Set it to the highest achievable setting.”

She was suddenly attacked from all sides simultaneously. She used her newly acquired martial arts skills, and combat training to fend off wave after wave of attacks with her energy sword. The sword had two functions. It could either act as a weapon or a shield.

The attacks started, at first with just human participants. As the attacks progressed, they became a mix of humans and different alien species. Further, into the simulation, the attacks added a mix of different alien species teaming together with the humans. Then the attacks were teams of different alien races without humans. The last series of attacks were composed of the vilest and most aggressive aliens known to mankind. “Simulation complete,” the holographic chamber’s computer announced.

Natasha emerged from the holographic chamber saying, “That was very exciting.”

The clerk was shocked. “You beat the simulation.”

“You have to move very fast. Your computer cheated, it doesn’t like to loose.”

She paid the clerk and he bundled her items, carefully packing them in a box. Natasha kept the energy sword handy, clipping it to her belt, and started back to the hotel.

Three men from the Crimson Tide were waiting for her outside the weapons shop. She dropped her box and pulled the sword from her belt extending it. The pirates all had their blasters drawn.

“Drop your weapon and we won’t hurt you too bad. We will only rough you up a little.”

“Port authority is not going to like this,” Natasha said.

“Port authority doesn’t care what we do. A gang rape, a good beating, and a message for your captain is all we want,” laughed one of the pirates.

“A good rape with a doll like this will be fun,” another pirate agreed. “She may even like it.”

Natasha set her energy sword’s level to lethal and began her attack. The pirates fired their weapons. The first attacker’s shot went wide. Before he could fire another shot her blade slid through his neck decapitating him. His head rolled to Natty’s feet, staring at her with its lifeless eyes. She managed to block the second shot with her sword’s shield. It made vivid display of energy as it was deflected by the shield. The thug fell to the street dead. He had a hole in his chest where the tip of the sword pierced his heart. The third shot hit Natty. The glancing blow was easily deflected by her newly installed personal shields. This attacker met his fate when her sword cleaved his body in two. The blade neatly sliced him from his right shoulder to his opposite waist cauterizing the wound as it cut.

The battle was over in seconds. None of her attackers had a chance to get off a second shot before they were left dead in the street. Natasha picked up her package and headed back to the hotel saying, “You all were very bad men. You all got what you deserved attacking, trying to rape and hurt a helpless woman.”

[] Station Bound

Doc, Nathaniel, and Tanya were in the hotel’s bar when Natasha arrived. Tanya was sipping her green concoction, Nathaniel was drinking a cold beer, and Doc was drinking fruit juice. The bar was otherwise empty, it was still early in the afternoon and the local patrons would not be visiting until later in the evening.

“Where is Randolph?” I asked.

“He found a new doctor friend named Kim. She and Randolph are together.”

“I can’t believe it, Randolph not only found someone he likes but likes him too?”

“Yes, they just met and seem to be enjoying each others company. I got presents for both you and Tanya while I was out shopping.”

“I got some presents for you to Natasha, but we will have to wait until we get back to the ship to show you,” Tanya said.

Natasha opened the box that she had been carrying. She gave Tanya a small blaster and belted its twin on herself. Next, she removed the lizard skin gun belt and holster with the Mako Blaster, handing it to Nathaniel. “Don’t lose this blaster like you lost your last one. There are a lot of bad men around here and you may need it. Tanya told me about the bad lady who took your blaster and clothes.”

Nathaniel took the gun admiring it. It far exceeded the quality of his lost weapon instantly becoming his new favorite. “Thank you, Natasha.” He strapped on the weapon and gave Natasha a hug, followed by a kiss, which she enthusiastically returned.

Jane came into the bar screaming, “I need a man now!” She looked back and forth between Doc and me, with us being the only two men in the bar. The bartender, even though female, ducked behind the bar just in case.

“I’ll handle this myself. It is obviously a medical emergency.” Doc led Jane up to the hotel room.

“Wow, I have never seen Jane act like that,” Tanya said.

“Don’t worry. If anyone can take care of Jane, Doc can. He’s been caring for her for years.”

We returned to our suite, and I ordered meals sent up for all of us. The meal was strange to me. Nothing resembled anything I had ever eaten before. It was highly recommended by the hotel staff, guaranteeing I would enjoy it. They were right, the meal was fantastic. I finished my portion wanting more.

The three of us just sat down to relax, in the early evening, with a fresh cool breeze blowing in from the open windows. There was a knock at the door and Tanya answered it. Amber entered the room leaving a security detail outside to guard the suite. She looked panic stricken but was relieved to see that Natasha was unharmed.

“Amber, what happened?”

“Nothing has happened to me. Its all of you that I am worried about. Didn’t Natasha tell you? She was attacked today by three Crimson Tide pirates.”

I jumped out of my chair “Natty what happened? Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I didn’t want to worry you Cappy. I was not harmed.”

“Continue, give me a full report. Do not leave any details out.”

“I was ambushed by three men when I walked outside the weapons shop, where I purchased the presents for you and Tanya. They wanted to rape me, hurt me, and leave a message for you. They each got off a single at me, with their blasters, when I refused to drop my sword and let them rape and beat me. The first shot missed me, I was able to deflect the second one with my new energy sword, and the third shot hit me on my left side. I am unharmed. My new personal shields deflected the shot.”

“What was their message?”

“They did not say, but I expect my broken and defiled body was to be the message. The bad men will not hurt anyone ever again. I killed them with my new energy sword.”

“Everyone, you are not safe here anymore! Nathaniel, please come up to the station with me, you will all be safe there.”

“I agree, we may be in more danger than warrants our staying here Amber, but we won’t be able to leave until morning. We have a little problem with Jane. Doc is attending to her needs, but it will take him some time to help her.”

“What happened?”

“There is no telling how many sex pills Jane may have taken. She came into the acting wild and crazy. I warned her to only take one pill. She’s not one to follow instructions, and she likes to experiment. Doc is with her trying to get her calmed down.

“The poor man, the things Jane may do to him in her condition may unintentionally harm him.”

“My security forces will remain here to guard us throughout the night,” Amber said, still worried about the recent attack on Natasha by the Crimson Tide.

“Natasha, sound a general recall for all crew members, and send a security detail to bring Randolph back to the ship.”

“Already done, Cappy.”

“Thank you, Natasha.”

The four of us stayed with each other throughout the night. My feelings for Amber grew. I desired her company as much as I desired Tanya and Natty. With the three of them, I felt content, well almost content. For my sake, I hoped sleepovers on station or planet side didn’t count. Things were definitely becoming interesting and my leash shorter. I was a tomcat after all.

Late in the night, Natasha woke me to say, “Cappy, Randolph doesn’t want to leave without Kimmy.”

“Who?” I said groggily.

“Dr. Kimberly Harris, she is Randolph’s new geeky friend.”

“Tell the rescue party to bring them both. I don’t care if they have to carry them out. We will sort it out later.”

“Message sent. I’m worried about Randolph and hid new friend.”

“Don’t worry, things have a tendency to work themselves out in the end.”

When we got up in the morning I was surprised to see Doc eating breakfast. He looked none the worse for wear. Jane, however, looked disheveled and worn out, but she was sane again.

“Sorry Captain, I should have heeded your warning, and taken only one of those pills,” Jane said.

“How many did you take?”

“Just two,” she mumbled.

“I was worried that you may have taken more than that, the way you acted.”

“Doc, I’m sorry about how I acted last night,” she said sincerely.

“Helping you was my pleasure. I found it very satisfying.”

I had never seen Jane blush before. She turned a bright shade of crimson.

Doc noticed Amber still in my room, half dressed, and greeted her.

“Amber, I’m surprised to see you here. I thought you would still be on the space station.”

“I had taken a shuttle down to pick up a load of customers. I rushed over here after hearing about the attack on Natty. None of you are safe here. My guards are waiting outside to escort us to your ship.”

We departed the hotel, in a group with Amber’s security forces guarding our flanks. We headed to the landing field’s tarmac where the Revenge waited. A group of about a dozen men came charging after us, with their weapons drawn, firing at us.

“Everybody run!” I yelled, not wanting to risk injury by staying.

Blaster bolts streamed by us, with wild poorly aimed shots. Our group returned fire, our blasters fired wildly as we ran. Our shots were getting close, but so were the energy bolts discharged by the blasters from the attacking scoundrels. They were ranging in their shots, firing more accurately.

“Everybody down!” Natasha shouted, diving to the ground.

Everybody dove for the ground followed immediately by the sound of 20mm projectiles being fired from the Revenge’s PDC. Our pursuers didn’t stand a chance, the ship’s guns tore them to pieces before they could take cover. We could hear the ship’s engines powering up, in preparation for takeoff.

We made our way to the ship at a more cautious pace, waiting for another attack. As soon as we entered the airlock, Natasha yelled again, “Hold on!” The ship lifted skyward using both the repulsorlift and the main engines at max burn. The Revenge rolled violently to starboard, while still climbing, its energy weapons and PDC firing.

“Who’s flying the ship?” I asked.

“I am. I can be in two places at once now,” Natasha reminded me.

“But I didn’t give you any instructions.”

“You didn’t need to. I gave them to myself.”

By the time we arrived on the bridge, the weapons had stopped firing, and the ship righted itself. Randolph was at the Engineering station, strapped in the emergency harness, likewise, Kim was strapped in the seat at the Environmental controls.

“Randolph, give me a damage report.”

“Just my shorts captain. I think I may need to change them after that takeoff.”

“Tanya, long range scan.”

“Scanning,” she replied. “Scans show we are all clear.”

“Doc, we may have some injured crew members.”

“I’m on the way to sickbay,” he said leaving the bridge.

“What happened Natasha?”

“Two Frigates attacked our ship. They thought they could shoot us while we were helpless and on the ground.”

“They would have succeeded if their plan to capture or kill us had worked,” I interrupted. “Please continue.”

“We were not where we were supposed to be. They didn’t expect us to be airborne. I got us flying very fast. They weren’t ready when I fired our guns at them. Their shields were down and they came apart very easily. By the time they started raiding their shields it was already too late.

“Natty, today you are our heroine.”

Amber reached for Natasha embracing her in a hug.

“Natasha set course for the space station and maintain active scans. I don’t want any more surprises today.”

“Yes, Cappy.”

“Natasha.”

“Yes, Cappy.”

“Good job today. Dock as close to the Lucy as you can.”

“Thank you, Cappy I shall.”

Tanya just rolled her eyes. She and Natasha were bonding like twin sisters. Tanya spent most of her time caring for Natasha, helping her to adjust to being more like a true person. I think that Tanya is falling in love with Natasha.

“Ladies, I am going to the galley to get some breakfast. Would any of you care to join me?”

“Sorry, Nathaniel. Doc and I are going to be busy for awhile,” Jane said.

“Kim and I have already had breakfast. I’m going to show her engineering where she will be working.”

“Natty and I stink. We need a shower and a change of clothes.”

“I do not stink.”

“Yes you do,” Tanya said leading her away.

That left Amber and me. We went to the galley and shared a meal from our frozen meals. They were top grade meals but didn’t have the zest that came with freshly cooked meals.

“Nathaniel, I went through a great deal of personal expense to help you. Before I return to my ship, I expect payment. I’m sure you can find someplace we will not be disturbed.”

The next morning I got up late. It had been an exhausting night for me. On the bridge, Tanya and Natasha were there both wearing matching black dresses and heels. When they saw me they started a little dance routine taunting me and having fun. I collapsed onto the command chair. Tanya patted me on my head while saying, “Poor Nathaniel, all tuckered out, and the day is just beginning. Perhaps you’re not the tomcat that you think you are.”

“Captain, we have a ship coming up from the starport, on course for the station. Its configuration is weird, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Natasha informed me.

“What class of ship is it?”

“I don’t know how to describe it. It is in between the size of a Frigate and Destroyer, and bristling with guns. It has five 40mm cannons on the foredeck, ten 30mm cannons, and several energy weapons of all sizes mounted all over its hull.”

“Tanya, open a hailing channel.”

“This is Captain Roberts of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, what are your intentions?”

A tall muscular man with flowing red hair and beard appeared on our main viewscreen. In a gruff manner and deep powerful voice, he said, “I am called Red. My ship is the Hedgehog. I’ll see you shortly after docking.” He cut communications.

I met with Red and surprisingly Amber at the airlock. The burly man extended his hand saying, “Call me Red, everybody else does, but I’m not sure why.”

“I am Nathaniel Roberts,” I said, taking his hand and trying to return his crushing grip, as best I could.

“Do you have someplace we can talk?”

I suggested the officer’s galley and showed him the way. Tanya and Natasha were already in there, Tanya had a glass of her favorite green goo.

“Would you care for refreshments?”

“Beer.”

I filled two pitchers with golden ale, which we kept on tap, and grabbed enough mugs for all of us. He selected a table and seated himself while I was getting the beer. He took the pitcher I offered and poured a mug for Amber and himself. I did the same for myself.

“Are they Amber’s girls?” he said pointing at Tanya and Natasha.

“No, they’re mine.”

“I didn’t much like my sisters last choice of a husband. He, unfortunately, had an accident involving a length of rope, tied in a noose, and placed around his neck. He died before I could duel him proper and kill him myself. It was a cowardly way to die.

Amber blushed a little but still remained silent.

Teasingly he said to his sister, “I like Captain Roberts a lot better than your last husband. You’d do right with a man like him.”

Amber was now a deep shade of red but still hadn’t said a word.

“I had to meet my sister’s new friends, and I approve.”

Jokingly he said to me, “Captain, are you trying to start a harem, like that Sultan fellow?”

Amber was absolutely glowing now.

“Captain, I’m sorry about my brother’s lack of manners.”

Red gave a roaring laugh.

I said to Red, “I’m sure you have heard about my little problem with the Crimson Tide? I need someone to watch over and protect Amber for the next few weeks while I am away.”

Red gave a nod in answer and said, “That was some of the best flying and shooting I’ve seen. I’ve seen a lot. It ain’t no boast.”

“You only just got her. Why are you leaving?” Amber asked.

“I’m only going to be gone long enough to send a message to the Crimson Tide. I need to let them know I am not someone they want to mess with and there is a price to pay for doing so. I promise I’ll return as fast as I can. I like it here and plan on making it my base of operations.”

“When will you be leaving?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

Red excused himself giving his sister a smile and headed back to his ship.

“Come on girls, we have to make Nathaniel regret leaving and want to hurry back.”

She led us all back to my quarters.

[] Payment Collected

I escorted Amber onto the station where her security detail was waiting to take her back to the Lucy. Red was standing his arms crossed waiting for us.

“I ain’t seen Amber smile like that in a long time. You keep making her smile and don’t ever break her heart, or you will have to deal with me.”

“I would never think of breaking her heart. I love her.” I had never said that about anyone, even Tanya. Somehow it felt right. Red gave me a slight nod.

“In what nearby star system would I most likely find Crimson Tide starships in?”

“What are you looking to do?”

“They have attacked my crew twice, and my ship since landing. I need to send them a message, letting them know there is a price to pay for messing with me and my crew. It’s time I became the hunter instead of the prey. I plan on capturing one of their starships, destroying it if I can’t.”

“You probably cleaned out Anaxous, there wasn’t much there being as close as it is to Alliance territory. There isn’t anything in the Sarania System. It is a blue giant, with a hell of a gravitational well. Most people with any sense avoid crossing that system. Auelra has a red dwarf star with four planets orbiting it. They are nothing but lifeless rock. Good mining though, lots of metals. Last is the Nueva Zelanda System its got two habitable planets. One is a desert world, the other is mostly frozen, both have some agriculture stations used primarily for export.

Both have small colonies with mining and farming. I think that’s your best bet.”

“Thanks, Red, I’ll return soon.”

I entered the Revenge and headed to the bridge. Doc and Jane were finally there. Jane was smiling and had a glow about her. She seemed to float rather than walk when she moved. When she saw me looking her way, her smile grew and she said, “I’m in love with Doc.”

Doc said to me, “Those pills make me feel like I’m 50 years younger when I take them.”

Tanya and Natasha were at their stations, wearing pink dresses this time. I didn’t like uniforms, they reminded me too much of the Alliance military and their cruelty. I took my seat and announced, “All hands prepare for departure. Natasha, undock us and set course for the Nueva Zelanda system.”

“Hatches are sealed… docking clamps are released… we are moving out on thrusters.”

“Flank speed when we clear the station.”

“Aye, aye, Cappy.”

“Tanya, check long range scan.”

“Scans show all clear.”

“Natasha how long until we are able to jump?”

“12 Hours Cappy.”

“Natasha maintain sensor sweeps, and alert me if there is any trouble, you have the con.”

“Aye, aye, Cappy.”

“Cappy, wake up,” Natasha said while nudging me awake.

Natasha and Tanya were already dressed wearing jumpsuits. They each had their blasters strapped to their sides, and Natty had her energy sword clipped to her belt. I chose a pair of blue pants with red piping, a white shirt, a lizard skin vest, and tan boots to match the vest. I strapped on my new blaster.

While we were still in our cabin Natasha announced, “Time to jump Cappy.” Then she engaged the hyperdrive.

This was going to be a short jump, and wouldn’t take long. Nueva Zelanda was very close to Buenos Aires. Doc and Jane were at their stations when we stepped onto the bridge. Over the comm, Randolph said, “Will someone please warn me before we jump to hyperspace the next time. I was in the middle of having sex.”

That caused laughter to erupt from everyone on the bridge. There was nothing to do but wait, while we traveled in hyperspace to the nearby system. Our anticipation grew as we neared Nueva Zelanda. Soon we would be the hunter preying on the Crimson Tide.

“Dropping out of hyperspace now,” Natasha said.

The dampers extended fully bringing us back into real space and decelerating us to .1c then retracting. The ship’s sensors were coming alive, but it would be a few minutes before any useful data was available.

“Captain, we’ve come out of hyperspace almost on top of a freighter. Transponders indicate that she is the Vargus and it is a Crimson Tide vessel. It has a Destroyer escorting it. It must have some valuable cargo to rate a Destroyer escort,” Tanya reported.

“All hands battle stations, condition red,” I announced over comms. “Doc and Jane, take weapons.” Jane raised our shields, then Doc and Jane started firing on the Destroyer. The Destroyer and the Vargus fought back. Energy splashed off of our shields as they absorbed the weapons fire. Our shots raked the Destroyers hull. Its shields held. Natasha fired two missiles at the ship. Our close proximity made ECM useless. It fired back. Our point defense cannon fired destroying the incoming missiles. Natty fired two more missiles. The Destroyer destroyed the first two, but one missile got through on the second round hitting the bow. One of its missile tubes were damaged. It fired a single missile at us and its weapons continued to test our shields. Natty fired two more missiles. The Destroyers shields were weakening with the constant barrage of fire from Doc and Jane. Both missiles got through hitting the Destroyer amidships. The Destroyer was disabled, spinning out of control. Lifeboats and escape pods were jettisoned from the damaged ship.

The freighter continued firing at us and changed course to flee. Its weapons were entirely defensive, and not any use against our shields. It only took a few minutes to bring the weak shields down to the point of imminent collapse.

“Captain, we are being hailed, the captain of the Vargus wishes to discuss terms of surrender. Several of their escape pods are jettisoning,” Tanya said.

“Inform the Captain that surrender will be unconditional. We are coming aboard.”

“Natasha dock with the Vargus, port side.”

“All hands stand down from battle stations, condition yellow. Boarding party assemble at the starboard airlock.” I announced over comms.

“Doc, take a team and check cargo and smuggling holds. Jane, your team is responsible for securing the ship for towing. Randolph take some people and sweep the ship for prisoners. Have any prisoners brought to me. Natasha, link with the Vargus’ Al and access their command functions. We will be taking the Vargus home with us.”

It didn’t take long to search the ship. It was nearly abandoned with only three officers remaining on the bridge. Doc liberated 5000 credits from the purser’s office, and 20 bricks of gold from smuggling holds. The cargo holds were full of luxury items, entertainment items, and medicine all of which would be very profitable. Doc sent a complete manifest to me on my comp. Jane and Doc escorted the officers to our bridge wearing shackles and chains.

“I ain’t gonna say nothing,” the person I presumed was the Vargus’ captain mumbled.

“Why did you surrender and abandon ship so easily? Why didn’t you put up more of a fight.” I asked the captain. When he didn’t answer, I pulled my blaster and shot him where he stood defiantly before me.

“The same question,” I said waving my blaster at the remaining two prisoners. They were quick to answer, not wanting to join their captain in death. I had earned a reputation for what they were told about my dealings with the late Captain Hunt. They were told that after Captain Hunt’s surrender, I had him tied to a mast, in our cargo bay, and I tortured him in front of his surviving crewmen. I personally killed him by repeatedly slicing him with my saber and cauterizing his wounds, with my blaster set on a low setting. I continued his torture until he finally died, an agonizing death. They referred to me as the Dread Pirate Roberts.

I didn’t do any such thing, but I wasn’t going to deny it. It kept members of the Crimson Tide in fear of me. After killing their captain in front of them, they wouldn’t believe me anyhow.

“Doc, have them dispose of the captain’s body, then lock them up in a holding cell.”

We arrived back at Planet San Paulos, nearly three weeks after our departure. The space station hailed us as we approached it. They gave us instructions to disengage from the freighter in front of white section, dock 4. They would grapple the unmanned freighter and manually dock it there. We were then given clearance to dock at white section dock 1, next to the Lucy.

As soon as the docking clamps were locked, Amber opened the airlock and hurried to the bridge. Stepping onto the bridge, she burst into sobs and tears, grateful that her friends were unharmed.

“Amber is sad,” Natasha said. “We must make her happy again. I do not like seeing Amber cry.”

“I’m not sad Natty.”

“Then why are you crying?”

“I’m just so happy to see that none of you were hurt.”

“Natasha hold all calls, any business can wait until tomorrow. Tonight we have a good reason to celebrate. The crew could use a good payday, and we will shortly have the means to give them a good bonus.”

“Cappy, call me Natty, like Tanya and Amber.”

The next morning, Nathaniel left the girls and went to see the station master. Both the Station Master and Red were waiting patiently, on dock for me. I transferred a copy of the freighter’s cargo manifest to the station masters comp. He quickly scanned the list of items, performed a few calculations, and said, “I’ll take it all. I can offer you 330,000 credits for the entire shipment. I need goods of all kinds, with workers and traders coming back, to reopen the station. There are several traders scheduled to come up from San Paulos with their family’s and merchandise. We have shops to fill, restaurants and taverns to open, and we need entertainment of all sorts.”

“Your offer is accepted. I have two prisoners on board in our holding cells.”

Red said, “I’ll take care of the prisoners. I know a mining company who will pay well for slave labor. What are your plans for the freighter?”

“I haven’t really thought about it.”

“I’ve got enough people to put a crew on it and I have a few modifications in mind for the freighter. What do you say to about 200,000 credits for it?”

“Are you aware that most of the escape pods are missing?”

“Who needs the pods? That means less work mounting gun emplacements in their launch tubes.”

“I’ll buy any escape pod you don’t need,” the station manager said to Red.

“200,000 credits isn’t going to work Red. After Figuring in your cut of the booty, I can’t ask for more than 150,000 credits.”

At first, Red looked confused, then shocked at my generosity. “You are a good man Nathaniel. You didn’t need to cut me in on your work.”

“Red, I have acquired 20 bricks of gold. Do you know of some place that could handle a purchase of that size?”

Red pulled his comp and ran the figures for that amount of gold. “Nathaniel, you are looking at about 20,000,000 credits for all that gold. The governor is the only one I know of who manages enough money to make that kind of a purchase.”

“Can you make the arrangements? I would like the money equally divided into five separate accounts; one for Doc, Tanya, Randolph, myself and the last for future ship repairs and upgrades. They are going to be for our future retirement.”

“I’ll make the arrangements. One of his representatives will be by in a couple of days to pick up the gold, and transfer the funds into your accounts.”

Before the stationmaster left I had one more piece of business I needed to be taken care of. “I have some small modifications I need to have done, in my cabin. Do you have a repair crew available to do the changes?”

“Most of the crew are working on the Lucy. I’ll have the maintenance chief contact you.”

With business concluded I went to the bridge. It was empty, but all I needed was Jane’s workstation and a little help from Natasha. With her help, I was able to put together a rough set of plans for modifying my quarters. The cabin adjacent to mine was empty. It was rarely used for VIP passengers. I wanted the hatch removed and the wall sealed. I also wanted the bulkhead removed between our two cabins, enlarging mine. Next l wanted my galley enlarged, as I was eating a lot of my meals in my cabin lately. I also needed the pantry enlarged to accommodate more food storage. We all needed a lot more storage space, with Tanya and Natasha sharing my cabin. We also needed a vanity large enough to accommodate Tanya, Natasha, and Amber who frequently visited. The shower needed to be made large enough for the four of us. It had enough room for two and that was in close confines. Last on my list was a hot tub that had lots of room for all of us. It also had to have plenty of water jets and bubbles for the ladies.

I had the plans downloaded to my comp, so I could provide the chief with the plans when I saw him. After finishing the design, I headed to the cabin to see what the girls were up to. Tanya and Natty were dressed in slinky dresses that I hadn’t had the chance to see yet. They were low cut in front showing plenty of cleavage, and open in the back. It looked as if the dresses were made of tiny diamonds. Every movement caused flashes of light. All three girls rushed me jumping up and down with excitement. “Thank you, Cappy,” they all said hugging and kissing me.

“I couldn’t wait to tell Tanya and Amber,” Natty said, “I told them all about your plans for the cabin, as you were designing it.”

“I still have to give the plans to the maintenance chief, so he can get started.

“Natasha.”

“Call me Natty. Amber and Tanya call me Natty all the time.”

"Natty, let us pay the crew their share of the booty. Pay each crew member .1% with a daily draw over the next 10 days, so they don't go crazy and spend their pay all at once."

Natty set it up and made an announcement over comms, letting the crew know that their pay would be available at the purser’s office.

“The Lucy is going to have a lot of business over the next 10 days. Oh, and speaking of pay days, Natty transfer 50,000 credits to Amber’s account. It’s her share of the booty.”

“Nathaniel, I don’t know how to thank you,” Amber said, hugging me. Her eyes were starting to tear up again as we kissed.

There was a knock on my door. I opened it to admit the maintenance chief. He saw my problem right away with three women in my cramped quarters.

“I got a wife of my own, it is hard enough keeping her happy, and you got three?” I wasn’t going to tell him we were not married, at least we weren’t married yet. Let him think what he wanted, I thought. I transferred a copy of the room changes to his comp. He looked over them then said, “The shower and the hot tub are going to be a problem. The modules aren’t available yet, and you wouldn’t be happy with them anyhow. I can have some rock slabs shipped up from San Paulos, that I’ve used in custom homes. They are black, waterproof, and have a nonslip surface. I can build a custom shower that you will enjoy, leaving it open, without any doors. I can also make a sunken hot tub to match, there should be plenty of space between the decks for me to do it. I’ll use the same stone on the floor and incorporate floor drains so you can splash as much as you want, without worrying.” He gave me a price for the modifications, which I gladly accepted.

“When can you get started?”

“Tomorrow morning first thing. You may want to move to another cabin today. We start very early and stay as late as we need to, to stay on schedule.”

“They will be my guests aboard the Lucy,” Amber said.

“Amber?” the repair chief asked.

“Its Amber Roberts now,” she answered the chief teasing him.

“Natty assign some crewmen to pack our belongings and bring them to Amber’s suite aboard the Lucy.”

[] Assembling A Fleet

The girls and I were having a meal aboard the Lucy, in one of its restaurants. Amber’s brother Red came over and joined us.

“Modifications are nearly complete, but I am having problems with programming the automation software.”

“What modifications?” I asked.

“I pulled all the escape pods from the Lucy, leaving her four lifeboats and a couple of shuttles. I had a mix of 30mm and 40mm cannon installed as well as particle beam weapons in the empty launch tubes. They are almost a perfect fit for the weapons emplacements I installed. I also had her shields boosted a bit.

Mike, the maintenance chief seeing Red came over and joined us. “The modifications are complete, but you will have to find someone to reprogram the weapons automation computers.”

“Natty, contact Randolph on his comlink, explain what is needed and ask him and Kim to help Red with the Lucy, and the Vargus.”

“They are on the way. They will meet Red here.”

“Are you sure they can help?”

Natty told Red, “Randolph is a geek. He made me and his girlfriend Kim is even geekier than he is.”

Red roared with laughter. After he was able to compose himself enough to talk he said, “I’m sure I’m in good hands.”

“Amber why is Red modifying your ship?”

“Red wants me to be safe while I am traveling. I’m not letting you leave me behind again, so I expect that will be often. He came up with this plan to help me be able to travel with you. When you sold him the Vargus he already knew what modifications he was going to have done to it, after planning the refit for the Lucy.”

“Nathaniel, I got one more surprise for you,” Red said. “I have some of my mercenary friends coming. Two Torpedo Ships are already here, docked in green section. There are also a few support craft docked in blue section, and two Destroyers are in route. I expect a few more of my friends to show up, answering my call. All we need now is a fleet commander, Commander. I have a question that I need answering though. When did you marry my sister and why wasn’t I invited to the wedding?”

Amber laughed, “He hasn’t married me. I was just teasing the maintenance chief, he thought we were already married.”

Finishing our meals, we left Red to discuss what he needed with Randolph and Kim.

“I’m tired of wearing jumpsuits all of the time,” Amber said. “I need a new wardrobe.”

“I … have to go help… Doc.” I said trying to get out of it.

“Not on your life,” Tanya said. “You have a tendency to stray and get into trouble when you are left alone.”

I followed them, feeling doomed. Amber entered her ship’s boutique saying, “This is where my working girls get most of their outfits.”

The clerk took us to the back of store where she seated me. Amber, Tanya, and Natty went to the clothing racks to search through the clothes with Amber. I snuck out the back door. The way the girls shopped, I had plenty of time for a quick visit with Jewel before returning to the store.

I got back just in time. The girls were at the checkout counter paying for their new clothes. Amber was still wearing one of the new outfits she purchased, a neon green bikini. The contrast between the bikini, her fair skin, and her bright red hair made her look hot.

“Where have you been?” Tanya asked.

“I had to step outside for some fresh air for just a few minutes.”

“Only a few minutes?”

“I was just outside the store.”

Amber handed her packages to me. We walked back to her quarters. Amber was not in the least bit embarrassed by her outfit. In fact, it excited her and made her feel sexy.

Amber’s quarters were much smaller than mine. It was confining but fun to visit. I couldn’t wait to see my remodeled cabin. I was assured it would be ready tomorrow. I dropped Amber’s packages on her lounge then turned to Natasha.

“Natty, contact Red and ask him to set up a ship’s captain’s meeting in two days 08:00 station time aboard the Revenge in the officer’s galley.”

“Message sent Cappy,” Natasha said.

“Do you like my new outfit Nathaniel?” Amber asked, adjusting her bathing suit.

The smell of the perfumes the girls were wearing had an effect on me in Amber’s small cabin. It was hard to think and concentrate clearly. “I love it. It makes you look sexy.”

The next morning I had my crewmen packing our belongings, for the move back to my cabin. The packing included most of Amber’s personal items and all of her newly purchased clothing.

The maintenance chief was waiting for us in my remolded cabin. He had the work order in hand, waiting for me to sign off on his work. True to his word everything looked great. I gladly signed off on his work and paid him.

The Vargus still needed a few more days work before it would be ready. Randolph assured me that he and Kim would have the software integrated with the Vargus’ weapon’s automation computers ready, on schedule.

The hot tub was huge. It had plenty of room for all of us and a few more. It was nearly full of hot water when the girls walked into our cabin. I slipped into the hot tub, luxuriating in the hot water, while the girls started putting away their clothing. Natasha noticed the top of my head sinking below the surface. “Cappy is drowning!” she yelled, jumping into the water to rescue me. Tanya and Amber stood there watching and laughing, while Natasha, still wearing her dress, tried to pull me from the hot water. After realizing that I was in no danger of drowning, she joined in the laughter and undressed. Tanya and Amber changed into their bathing suits and joined us, in the hot water.

Tanya, Amber, and Natasha splashed each other mercilessly while giggling. The hot water soothed the tension in my muscles, relaxing me. I drifted off into sleep. I hardly noticed the water lapping at my chest, as I slowly slipped below the surface. I woke as soon as l was submerged. Instead of going immediately to the surface, I decided to see what the view was like from below the surface. Between the black stone and the weak light diffused from the bubbles, I could hardly see anything.

Suddenly I was pulled from the water by Natasha. I feigned being unconscious while the girls lowered me gently to the floor. Doc burst in having been summoned for a medical emergency. He was in time to see Tanya giving me mouth to mouth resuscitation. I would have probably gotten away with it if I didn’t kiss her while she was trying to save my life.

Tanya rewarded me with a slap across my left cheek yelling, “Nathaniel, you beast!” Doc busted out laughing, “Nathaniel will you ever learn? I’m afraid you are beyond my help.” He left me to suffer my fate, with three angry women.

At first, the girls were furious, then realizing that I really did fall asleep and slip under the water. They became sympathetic, then apologetic trying to make it up to me. Amber asked, “Nathaniel, If you woke when you slipped underwater, why didn’t you come up right away?”

I had no good excuse.

The next morning Amber was going through my clothes, looking for something that would make me presentable to the mercenaries that I was about to make a pitch for joining me to fight the Crimson Tide.

“Who does the shopping for your clothes? There is nothing worth wearing. “ She found an old pair of well-worn jeans, that I had forgotten about and thought was disposed of long ago. She also found a white muscle shirt that I use to use while training to sword fight with Doc. She finished my outfit with a lizard skin vest and boots. “These will have to do she said handing them to me.”

They finished dressing, Tanya and Natasha wearing pink dresses. Amber selected her sheer pink harem pants, showing her legs from bottom to top. She also put on the matching bikini top. All three ladies belted on blasters, and Natasha added her energy sword to her belt. Gorgeous and lethal, I thought. I put on my outfit and belted on my blaster and sword. The girls scrutinized my looks, Tanya unbuttoned and opened my vest before Amber reluctantly said, “It will have to do. As soon as we can we will have to get Nathaniel some proper clothes. Everything he has can be disposed of.”

We walked to the galley. It was still early for the meeting. Doc was there finishing his breakfast. “I don’t believe any of you have eaten yet. I made plenty for all of you. There was a selection of eggs, toast, potatoes, pastries and fresh coffee. “Dig on in.” Amber, Tanya, and I served ourselves and sat with Doc. He eyed me inquisitively, “I see Amber is dressing you now. It’s definitely an improvement.” Before I could say anything Doc continued, “I see you survived last night. I hope you learned your lesson.”

“Doc, de Tomcat came out on top. I had a very enjoyable and exciting evening with the girls.”

“I guess you didn’t.”

“Doc, can you stay for the meeting? You have a lot more experience dealing with other rogues and mercenaries.”

“I’ll stay. Do you remember the golden rule, Nathaniel?”

“Sure Doc, do unto others as you wold have them do onto you.”

“Excepting Amber, that doesn’t usually work out here, in the border worlds. The further away you get from the Alliance the worse it gets becoming a lawless region. People tend to work alone or in small tight knit groups. A better philosophy would be, do unto others before they do unto you.”

Amber was right, I needed to rethink how I dressed. I just barely fit in. The men before me were mercenaries and looked the part. My only saving grace was that the ladies proved to be a welcome distraction. All eyes were on them instead of me.

The meeting started. “Red what makes this newbie qualified to be our commander?” one of the captains asked.

“He’s done more to get rid of the scum, that is the Crimson Tide than any of you. He has destroyed out two Corvettes, two Frigates, and a Destroyer. He also captured a Frigate and one of their freighters.”

“I saw how he took off from the landing field and took out those two Frigates,” another captain said, “even if they had their shields up in time, they wouldn’t have lasted long with the way he was blasting them apart. Either he’s crazy, or he’s one hot pilot.”

Natty was responsible for flying the ship and destroying the Frigates, but I wasn’t going to correct the record. I needed everything going for me that I could get.

“Yeah, heard how he busted nearly every window in town with that takeoff,” another laughed.

Still, another recalled, “I saw how one of his lady friends took on three of the gang. She left them dead in the street, without so much as breaking a sweat. They still had their blasters in their hands when their bodies were picked up.”

Red joked, “He also took out a bunch of those scumbags on the tarmac. Heard they had clean up what was left of them with a bucket and sponge.”

The group all laughed at that.

“Will he fighting with us, or stay safe in arrears, like our last commander?” another asked.

I answered that one, “No Pirate Roberts, has ever backed out of a fight, fair or otherwise. We lead by example, never allowing others to fend for us.”

Silence filled the room, undoubtedly some have heard that name before.

“Who’s going to be your second?” asked one of the group.

“Red,” I responded, “unless you have someone more qualified?”

“Then it’s agreed!” they said clapping.

“The next order of business is determining their probable fleet strength. Do any of you know what types of starships we may be facing?”

They all talked among themselves comparing information to come up with a possible fleet size. Most of the their fleet consisted of bulk freighters which they used for looting their victims. They wouldn’t be a part of the battle and were of no concern. They also had a Cruiser. It was newer and more modern than mine which meant it had lighter armor, but better weapons. We could also be facing up to four Destroyers, and at least one Frigate.

“We have a few advantages,” I explained to the group, “We have the Lucy and Vargus, modified into gunships. Anyone getting too close to them will find themselves in a lot of trouble with all those guns. We also have the element of surprise. We will be bringing the battle to them, they won’t be expecting that. So far they have played the role of the hunter. Now they will be the prey. They also don’t know that they will be facing a fleet this time. So far they have faced me alone, in every prior encounter. They expect a quick and easy kill, which I’m not going to give them. Lastly, they fear me, and the legacy that is my namesake.”

A few nodded appreciatively. Red said, “I told you he was smart.”

“The Crimson Tide will have to gather their fleet and start searching the systems surrounding Nueva Zelanda. That is the last system they know I visited. They no longer, have any intelligence about my current location, so they will have to start their search from there. This time though, they won’t make the mistake of sending a small task force. They will amass a fleet. So, we have some time on our side, as we have already begun preparations for our attack.”

“Nathaniel is right,” Doc asserted. “I’ve lived by the motto, do unto others before they do unto you, and it has served me well, all this time.”

“Who are you?” asked one of the assembled captains.

“I am the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, and I’ve plundered the human commonwealth for over 50 years,” he boasted gaining their respect. I’ve destroyed more Alliance ships than can be counted and defeated Captain Thornton in a duel.

I continued, “We have two Destroyers inbound. They should be in the system anytime. We will give them a few days to resupply and take some leave, then we attack. All booty will be brought back here, counted, inventoried, then divided equally among every captain.” The group burst out in applause and cheers.

Red stayed behind after the meeting broke up. “Nathaniel, I expect you to keep my sister looking proper. Not looking like one of her working girls, strutting around,” he said, showing me a video clip with Amber walking alongside Tanya and Natty. She looked nearly naked from the rear, wearing her new bathing suit.

Amber chastised Red, “You are my brother, and I love you dearly, but I am not going to continue looking prim and proper, wearing nothing but jumpsuits to keep my body covered with. I am going to dress how I want, when I want, If I dress at all. It makes me feel sexy when I dress like that.”

A look of shock came over Red. “Amber, you’ve never spoken to me like that before.”

“Sorry Red, she’s been hopelessly corrupted by Tanya and Natasha.”

Amber removed her outfit in front of her brother saying loud enough to be heard by everyone still present, “I won’t be forced to dress like a Puritan if I dress at all.” Amber took me by my hand and led the way back to our cabin.

Amber didn’t need to say anything about how she felt. I knew she felt victorious standing up to her brother. She was excited from finally standing up to her brother.

[] Fleet Action

We departed San Paulos’ space station. Our fleet headed out system away from the effects of gravity, where we would be able to safely jump to hyperspace. Amber docked with us as soon as we were clear of the station. True to her words, she was not going to let me leave her behind regardless of the danger we faced. She would rather face a superior enemy than being left behind, in safety, worrying about the fate of her friends.

For a change, everyone was on the bridge at their stations. Tanya and Natasha were wearing red dresses today. Amber joined us dressed in a white dress. I thanked the creator that Red wasn’t here to see her dressed like this. I wasn’t sure he could take the shock after her last rebellious act. Kim sat with Randolph at the engineering station.

Kim looked every bit like the geek that she was, spoiling my inspiration. Mental note… I thought, have the girls do something with Kim. I didn’t care if they covered her up or uncovered her, she looked awful. I couldn’t see what Randolph saw in her. She was in dire need of a complete makeover.

When we were clear from the gravitational effects of the suns and planets, Natasha linked with the AI’s of our small fleet for a synchronized jump. “Natty,” I said, “engage the hyperdrive.”

I grew up hearing stories of people who lost their minds staring into hyperspace. There wasn’t anything to see and little to do but wait. I’ve looked through unshielded view ports into the nothingness that is hyperspace, everything is pure black. There was nothing else to see other than empty blackness.

Travel through hyperspace wouldn’t take much longer with the slower support ships following us, but deceleration and acceleration would take much longer with their less powerful engines. We had to slow our ships to match the speed of our slowest vessels.

“It is time to head back to the Lucy. We will be coming out of hyperspace soon and separating.”

“Sultan can take care of the Lucy. With Red’s pilots and gunners I would just get in the way. So I will be staying here with you.”

“But you may be hurt or killed. We will be in the center of the attack.”

“I can be killed just as easily aboard the Lucy. I would rather die among my friends than watch as they are harmed or killed. Besides, I can be of help,” Amber said sitting at the sensors station.

We undocked, with the Lucy in the Nueva Zelanda system, with Reds crew manning her. She was no longer the freighter, converted into a pleasure craft, that she once was. The lines were crossed, blurring her distinction between being a ship providing pleasure and a ship of war, with gun ports bristling all over her hull.

“Long range scans are clear,” Amber reported.

“ We will wait for the Crimson Tide to appear,” I reported to the fleet. “All ships go dark. Switch to passive sensors and silence your transponders. Use line of sight communications only.”

Red appeared on our viewscreen saying, “I see Amber is starting to have a bad influence on you.” Spotting Amber in her white slinky dress, he said, “The Captain is a good man don’t act like your sister.”

“Red just let it be. I’m happy now and so is Nathaniel. We’ve been good for each other, the short time we have been together.”

The transmission ended.

“Nathaniel, my sister is a lot like you. She is very beautiful, a thief, a scoundrel, and a pirate by heart. You would like her. Someday you may have the opportunity to meet her. She didn’t want to be my partner in the entertainment business, so she is out freelancing somewhere. I miss her and hope she is well.”

We waited three days, with our drives off, our transponders silenced, and our electronic emissions minimized before the Crimson Tide made their appearance.

“Tanya, announce to the fleet, condition red, battle stations.”

I joined Natasha slipping into the pilot’s seat, beside her.

“Doc and Jane I need you on guns.”

“Shields are up, and bulkhead hatches are sealed,” Randolph reported.

“Natty set an intercept course.”

“Amber, go active on sensors. Start long-range sensor scans.”

“Aye, aye Captain… sensors show a cruiser, five destroyers, and two frigates, in a V formation. They are changing course to intercept us.” Amber changed out viewscreen to a split screen. One side showed the forward view ahead of us. The other side was our tactical information. Icons of both fleets appeared on our screen. Our fleet was represented by green icons. The Crimson Tide were in Red.

“Tanya, make a fleet-wide announcement. I want Red and our Destroyers to form up on our flanks. Have the Vargus and the Lucy bring up the rear, and have our torpedo ships take the dorsal and ventral positions.

“Captain the enemy commander is hailing us,” Tanya reported.

“Put him on screen.” His image appeared on our viewscreen replacing our forward view.

“Captain Roberts, I offer you this one chance to surrender. I may even let you live, as my slave.”

“You are a bad man,” Natasha shouted, shaking her fist at him.

The enemy commander noticed the girls wearing dresses on our bridge and roared with laughter before ending his transmission.

“Captain the fleet reports that they are in position.”

“Advise the fleet to fire when ready.”

“Captain, we are closing to missile range,” Amber reported.

“Amber, bring our PDC online, and initiate ECM jamming.”

“Aye, aye, Captain.”

“Tanya, hail Red.”

“On screen Captain.”

“Red, concentrate our fire on their Destroyers and Frigates. I will keep the Cruiser busy.”

Red nodded and ended the transmission.

The Crimson Tide had a slight advantage in ship numbers, but not in firepower. We had the advantage counting the Lucy and the Vargus. This was going to be a battle that wouldn’t be decided until the end. As soon as we were in missile range I launched a full spread of missiles. I didn’t expect them to impact from this range, but it would keep the Cruiser’s crew on their toes. As soon as the tubes were reloaded I launched a second salvo.

“One direct hit Cappy, they are returning fire.”

“Damage?”

“Minor structural damage port side aft.”

I launched another series of missiles, and Doc and Jane opened up with their guns.

“Incoming missiles,” Amber announced.

****

Our torpedo ships teamed up together to take on one of the Destroyers. They were slugging it out with a Destroyer, firing more missiles than the Destroyer could defend. It was clear who the victor was going to be. The Destroyer’s drive plume vanished as the main drives shut down. Then suddenly there was a series of explosions, and it was gone, enveloped in an expanding ball of plasma and gases.

Red’s ship the Hedge Hog had taken damage in the battle. It was being pursued by a Destroyer. Red skillfully turned, rolled, and dodged the Destroyer, evading its fire. So intent was the Destroyer’s captain on destroying its wounded prey that it didn’t notice it was being led into a trap. The Destroyer followed the damaged ship unaware that its path took it into range of the Vargus and the Lucy. It continued to close on its prey. It was a fatal mistake. Concentrated fire from both ships quickly overcame the Destroyer’s shields. Before it could evade, it was left a lifeless hulk, riddled with holes.

****

“Their missiles are not responding to our ECM!” Amber yelled. “PDC are tracking the missiles.”

The PDC fired a wall of bullets, destroying two of the incoming missiles. Two of the remaining missiles were going to hit us. I rolled the ship to starboard, the PDC continued tracking and firing at the missiles. The first missile glanced off our hull detonating safely away from our ship. We weren’t so lucky with the second missile. It impacted and detonated directly on our keel.

“Port side tubes two and four down. Damage repair crews report that they are unable to repair the missile tracks. The keel and hull plating are buckled, on the port side forward section.” I rolled the ship back to port, Doc and Jane continued firing at our adversary.

“Doc and Jane cease firing. Natasha cut the drives and run dark. It’s time to play dead.” I had a plan but it was risky. We would have to get in very close to our opponent in order for it to work.”

The odds shifted in the battle they were now in the Crimson Tides favor with the Revenge out of the fight. They still had three destroyers, two frigates, and their cruiser outnumbering and outgunning our fleet, or so they thought. We had two destroyers, two torpedo ships, the Hedge Hog, and our modified freighters. Red assumed command not being able to get a response from me. He continued with the attack plan concentrating our attack on the smaller ships.

****

The enemy cruiser approached us slowly, scanning us for any activity. We waited in silence playing dead.

“Commander, we have verified that the ship has hull damage on its port side and structural damage to their keel. They may have other damage starboard side that we cannot see.” Their sensors officer reported.

“Helmsman, pull along side of the Revenge, approach with caution, in case it is a trap. Gunners, keep our particle beam weapons on standby, prepare to fire. Electronics Warfare Officer (EWO), maintain active sensor sweeps. Let me know if there are any signs of activity aboard the Revenge. When we capture the Queen Anne’s Revenge, she will make a fine trophy to add to my collection. If somehow Captain Roberts survives, I’ll make him beg for death and grovel at my feet. I’ll enjoy breaking him. I might even keep him as my slave after he is properly neutered of course.

****

Red was having better luck. The enemy Frigates closed on him, and he expertly dodged and evaded his pursuers letting them get closer. By the time they realized they had been led into a trap, it was too late. The Lucy and the Vargus opened fire. The Frigate’s shields were overloaded and their hulls were opened to space, from the barrage of fire from both energy weapons and cannon fire. They were left derelict and drifting. Red changed course to assist with the last three Destroyers.

The enemy cruiser closed on us until they were within grappling range.

“Wait… a little closer… a little closer… Amber fire all PDC. Natty get us out of here. Doc and Jane, fire when clear. 30mm and 40mm projectiles suddenly fired point blank at the approaching enemy cruiser. Its energy shields did nothing to slow the ballistic rounds. Thousands of armor piercing rounds penetrated the hull opening it up to the vacuum of space. Natty fired up our engines going to max thrust. Doc and Jane raked the damaged hull with our particle beams. Internal explosions detonated throughout the ship. It didn’t have a chance. In seconds it was left a lifeless wreck.

Red teamed up with one of our Destroyers. They slugged it out firing missiles, particle beam weapons, and 40 mm cannon. Their combined firepower overwhelmed the Destroyer. It exploded in a brilliant flash.

The remaining two Destroyers surrendered, outnumbered with the loss of their flagship. The enemy support ships, having held back from the battle were out of range. They wisely made their escape to hyperspace.

All that was left was the mop up. With our hull damaged, there was little we could do to help. Red coordinated the salvage operations. The Lucy and Vargus grappled the derelict cruiser and towed it back to the Buenos Aires system.

Red said, “Too bad, it took so much damage. I doubt it is worth repairing, but there is still plenty left to salvage from it.”

The captured crew from the Destroyers were taken to the desert planet. They were sold to its mining companies as cheap labor. They would spend the rest of their lives as slaves in the mines working to pay back their debts. The Frigates were deemed to be in better shape and towed back to Buenos Aires. That left the three destroyers. Two were relatively undamaged, so a skeleton crew was placed each to ferry them back to San Paulos. The remaining Destroyer was towed home by one of our two Destroyers.

“There probably isn’t a lot of treasure aboard the ships, but selling the two undamaged Destroyers, the two repairable Frigates, and the damaged Destroyer will still make for a hell of a good payday, aside from the salvage we will get out of that cruiser. I’m gonna have to reach deep into my pockets to pay you and Amber. There is always a battle to fight, and these ships will make a fine addition to my fleet. Still, with the salvage from the cruiser, I’ll be all right.”

“Natty set a course for home.”

Before we could make our jump to hyperspace, our ship was struck by a series of explosions. Main and auxiliary power went out, leaving us in the dark until engineering could bring emergency power online. Our drives shut down and we were left drifting helplessly. “Ouch! I don’t feel so good.” Natty said collapsing to the floor.

“Randolph, Damage Report.”

“Amber, what happened?”

“We entered an uncharted mine field, left over from the war against the Alliance. Our sensors did not pick up any energy emissions from them. They must have been conventional warheads using mechanical or proximity detonators.”

Amber went to Natasha’s side trying to help her.

“I can’t hear my sister.” Natty cried. “Cappy help my sister!”

“Captain, we have severe structural damage to decks three through six. We have hull breaches on decks 4 and 5. Main and auxiliary power is out. We are running on damaged batteries until emergency power can be established. Natasha is offline, I can’t tell how extensive the damage is in until we get power restored and I can run some diagnostics. I have damage control crews patching and sealing the hull. I also have a crew working on getting power back online. Until then we are dead in space.”

“Randolph get Kim and do what you can to repair Natasha.”

I helped Amber and Tanya carry Natty to our cabin. She laid in bed, curled up sobbing. We tried to cheer her up, but it didn’t help. She continued to sob uncontrollably.

“Randolph, any luck with Natasha?” I asked over the ship’s communications system.

“Her cores intact Captain. We are patching her systems as fast as we can. We will be able to bring her back online shortly.”

“Natty, did you hear that? Randolph said your sister is going to be alright. She will be back with us shortly.” I hoped this new information would cheer her up, but she still continued to cry. All we could do was wait and continue to comfort her.

Suddenly she said, “Thank you, Cappy, I feel much better. I can hear my sister again. Thank you for helping my sister. I’m sorry I wasn’t better company, with my sister hurt. She is okay now.”

The next morning after breakfast I contacted Randolph again. This time to check on repairs. We were still on emergency power, and until main power was brought back online, we were dead in space drifting. Natasha was nearly blind. Most of our exterior sensors were destroyed in the explosions leaving our sensor arrays useless. The damage to our hull made replacing and tuning the sensors impossible, they would have to wait until we were in the repair docks.

“Captain, we nearly got the hull patched up. There is a lot of structural damage. It was a collapsed bulkhead that severed the power feeds. We are still cutting away the damaged bulkhead. It has to be cleared before we can splice in new conduit. Repairs will take at least another day,” Randolph reported.

[] Home Again

It was nearly a month before we managed to limp back to San Paulos’ space station. The damage to our ship was easily seen through the space station’s viewports by its occupants as we approached.

“Tanya, open a hailing channel to the space station.”

“Communications established Captain.”

“San Paulos Station, this is Captain Roberts of the Revenge. I am requesting docking assistance. Our sensors are damaged and we are flying blind. The ship also has extensive hull damage.”

“Captain Roberts hold your position, we are dispatching tugs to bring you in.”

With our maneuvering thrusters damaged and misaligned there was no way, we could safely dock on our own, even with the telemetry data being fed to us from the space station. A group of tugs attached themselves to our hull using magnetic clamps. They towed us directly to the repair docks and into a hangar. Gantry extended to clamp our damaged ship in place and a docking tube extended to our main airlock.

Red contacted us while we were still undergoing docking. The viewscreen was full of static, but there was no mistaking his features.

“What happened Captain Roberts? Were you attacked after we left?”

“We had the unfortunate experience of running into an uncharted mine field.” Before he could ask I told him, “Amber is fine, she is in the officer’s galley with Tanya and Natty. We got lucky, there were only minor injuries.”

“Some of the old mines are still quite powerful. You are lucky you survived. They were deployed to destroy any Alliance vessel that wondered into our territory during the war.”

“This ship may be old but she has thick armor. She is a tough old girl.”

“I’ve got the maintenance crew ready to start repairing your ship. They will get your ship fixed up like new,” Red said ending the transmission.

True to his word, the maintenance chief was there with a group of men ready to start surveying the damage. I transferred Randolph’s damage report to the chiefs comp.

“They don’t make armor plating like the Revenge’s anymore, but I have a few ideas. We’ll go over your ship inside and out she’ll be better than new by the time I get done with her,” the chief assured me.

Red was on the dock waiting to make sure that his sister, Amber, was unharmed. The trio of girls exited the Revenge’s airlock, whispering to each other and giggling. Seeing us, they came over and joined Red and me.

Red hugged his sister. He was happy that she was unharmed. “I got your cuts. You and Captain Roberts, each get 1,200,000 credits.”

“Natty, ensure that the crew gets paid 50 credits per day, drawable over the next 60 days, I don’t want them going broke waiting for repairs to be completed.”

Tanya asked, “how long will we be in dock Nathaniel?”

“I don’t know, it will be a while before the chief can even finish his damage survey.”

“Red, I want to sell the Lucy, do you know anyone who might be interested?” Amber asked.

“I might at that. I’ll have to make a few calls. Why do you want to sell your ship?”

“This last trip showed me that life is too short. It can end suddenly and without warning. I want to be happy and spend the rest of my life with Nathaniel, Tanya, and Natty. I belong on the Revenge with my friends.”

“Does he feel the same about you?”

“I believe so. He did say that he loved me.”

“You know there is a way you can keep your ship and do that too.”

“How?”

“You can let some else take the burden of command and still maintain ownership giving the orders and earning a good share of the profits. Kind of like what I do. I got just the person in mind to be your new captain. Let me make a call and see if she will accept the deal. If she does you will get to spend as much time with your new friends as you like.”

I suggested we go down to San Paulos and get a suite at the Landsor. The girls and I packed for a one week stay. We booked passage on the first available shuttle going planet side. The ride down was smooth and I fell asleep during the decent. I woke when the shuttle settled on the tarmac. We walked, from the landing field to the Landsor Hotel, where I had reserved a suite for us. After unpacking I asked Amber if there were any attractions nearby. She mentioned a swimming hole with a private grotto nearby, that she always enjoyed visiting.

We rented a ground car and drove to the small lake located in a shallow canyon. It was in a secluded area that was occasionally visited by the locals. There were a few picnic tables by the lakes shore. As far as I could tell we were the only people here. We changed into our bathing suits then entered the cool water.

Amber led the way to a rock outcropping then said, “Follow me, it is only a short ways.” She swam underwater with us following. After about a half minute we surfaced into a small cavern. There was a hole in the cave’s ceiling allowing just enough light to illuminate the grotto. The cave floor was more than spacious enough to accommodate the four of us.

Amber sat on a rock outcropping and said, “Only a few people know about this grotto. Since I chanced upon it, I’ve made time to visit it whenever I could. I find it peaceful and calming here.”

Before we realized it, time had gotten away from us and we found ourselves in the dark. Natty suggested that we cuddle together to keep each other warm. Trying to swim out of the grotto in the dark then swim to shore was too risky. We would have to wait until morning. Phosphorescence on the cave walls gave us just enough light to see by.

In the morning, when it was light enough for us to see, we made our way back to shore and our car. With somebodies idea of a joke, our clothing had been taken, during the night. At least we would be able to maintain some sense of dignity being dressed in our bathing suits.

“Tanya, why do I keep finding myself in these circumstances?” I asked rhetorically.

“Nathaniel, it is karma’s way of rewarding you for all of the messing around that you have done.”

“But, why the three of you?”

“It’s because for some strange reason we enjoy being with you.”

The girls laughed and took their seats in the car. The trip back to the hotel did not take long and we soon found ourselves walking through the hotel lobby scantily dressed in our bathing suits. The hotel staff stopped, whatever they were doing, to stare at us as we made our way to our suite. This could be good advertising? I looked at a beautiful blond hotel clerk, too bad de Tomcat was unavailable.

After showering and dressing I suggested the girls take a trip to Trixy’s and get some replacement clothing. I had other shopping to do. They were delighted with the prospect of shopping. Before they could leave I begged, “Get some clothing for Kim, either cover her or uncover her, I don’t care which. Anything will be an improvement on her.”

“Poor Nathaniel, he is upset by her geeky looks,” Tanya said. All three girls erupted in laughter as they headed out the door.

While the girls were shopping for clothing, I was having three custom rings made, one was a simple platinum band for myself. The other two rings were identical. They were also made of platinum, but with an intricate design, I hoped the girls liked. The rings each had 3 diamonds and were engraved with Amber’s and Tanya’s names. I thanked the jeweler for his craftsmanship and paid for the rings.

Back at the suite, I waited for the girls to return, drinking from a pitcher of Sangria that I got from the bar. De Tomcat had a plan, and the pieces were coming together. After what seemed an eternity the girls arrived, loaded with packages. While they were sorting through their packages, I ordered dinner for all of us.

The girls separated a few boxes that they said were for Kim. I thanked them and asked that when they delivered Kim’s new clothes that they burn whatever clothing she still has.

They laughed and assured me that I would not recognize Kim when they got through with her.

The next group of packages were for me. The shirts were a variety of different colors, sleeveless, with a deep v-neck. They also bought me a new pants, shorts, and some underclothing in a variety of different colors and patterns.

They had me try on and model all of my new clothing. I felt odd, modeling my new garments, but with each outfit, the girls clapped and whistled. I was dresses in a black outfit when there was a knock at the door.

Amber opened the door to allow room service in. The attendant was a blond young lady, very good looking, something that de Tomcat would love to get to know better. I stared at her feasting on the eye candy. She stopped when she saw me. Her eyes locked on mine, staring deeply into my eyes. I didn’t know who was more embarrassed, her or I when Amber broke the connection. Amber, Tanya, and Natty laughed, tipping the poor girl, then showed her out of the suite.

Tanya said, “Nathaniel why don’t you set the table, while we admire the new you?”

I set four places at the table then seated the girls, and myself.

We ate the main course. The food was delicious.

“Supper was very yummy Cappy,” Natty said, licking her hands and plate clean. She never ate with a fork, and her table manners didn’t exist. Natty had an enormous database to download proper etiquette but preferred not to. It was something Tanya would have to work on.

I got up and removed the dishes.

“Now for dessert.”

While preparing the dessert, the girls whispered about how sexy I looked in my new clothes. I should have had women dressing me long ago. I placed a small plate with carefully wrapped packages in front of Amber and Tanya and served Natty a big piece of chocolate cake.

“What is this?” Tanya asked.

“You will have to open it to see.”

The girls opened their small packages revealing ring boxes. They each opened the ring boxes simultaneously.

“Is this what I think it is?” Amber asked.

I nodded. She came over to me hugged and kissed me.

“Natty, I would marry you too, if it was allowed. I still want you to consider yourself as part of the family.”

“I know. Thank you, Cappy.”

“Nathaniel, I’m sorry I can’t marry you. It wouldn’t last. I love you, but I prefer to be with other women. I am in love with Natty.”

“Cappy, Amber is crying again. We need to make her happy.”

“Natty, I am very happy. It is the happiest day of my life.”

“We will have to make you even happier,” Natasha said, “you are crying.”

Red called us on the hotel’s comm to give Amber more good news. Beverly accepted his offer to be Amber’s second in command. Negotiations were tough, as he told it.

“I don’t know what is going on between you and Beverly, but she is not very happy with you. I had to make a few of concessions. The first was that Amber spend as much time off ship as possible, preferably staying off the Lucy altogether. The second was that she give up her quarters, as she would be moving into the captain’s quarters. Finally, that you let her have Sultan all to herself.”

“Beverly thought I had a thing for Sultan, even while I was married to Stan. She was jealous of a relationship that never existed. Sultan was never anything more than a work colleague and business partner. It was his choice to join me as a business associate. She also had an opportunity to join me as my partner. Beverly is welcome to my quarters, I have already moved in with Nathaniel. I plan on spending most of my time aboard the Revenge with him, Tanya and Natty anyhow. But, she will still be under my command. Beverly is welcome to Sultan and always has been.

Red said, “I thought as much, giving into her demands was basically giving her everything she would have had anyhow. I had to try to make it look like you weren’t so desperate to relinquish the Lucy, and make her feel that she was being victorious over you.”

“I have another favor to ask of you,” Amber said, showing him her new ring. “Would you be so kind as to marry the Nathaniel and me?”

“Nathaniel, you dog, it is about time you did the right thing proposing to Amber. You can’t possibly imagine what a good catch you made getting hitched to my sister. The benefits may even outweigh the trouble she will likely cause you. You are very fortunate to have me as your brother in law. Besides, I like you unlike her previous cowardly wimp of a husband.”

It was decided that the wedding would be held on the station’s promenade deck. The public park there had the space needed to hold both Amber’s crew and my own. Red would be officiating our wedding.

Red said to me jokingly, “It isn’t too late to run and hide.”

Amber brought her sister Beverly over to join us where the rest of us were seated together at the Lady Luck. Beverly had long red flowing hair, like her brother and sister. Recognition dawned on me before Amber could even make an introduction.

“Beverly!”

“You’ve already met?” Amber asked.

I told her about our encounter on Anaxous IV, and how she left me helpless, by taking my clothing, credits, and blaster.

“I remember Tanya telling me about it. I can’t believe that is how you met my sister.

“Had I’d known you were to be my brother in law, as well as being so handsome, I would gladly have given you the second tumble you asked for, free of charge. It’s not too late… oh but you are marrying my sister later today aren’t you? No hard feelings Nathaniel, or are there?”

I offered to buy her and Sultan a drink. I got her one of those green drinks that Tanya likes and a fire whiskey for Sultan. Before bringing them their drinks I ground up and slipped two of the sex pills into each drink, and a sedative to make them sleepy.

“Amber, could you get hold of a couple of wedding rings?” I whispered.

With a knowing smile, she replied, “I have just the rings.” She disappeared to retrieve her old wedding rings. When she returned we slipped the rings on their fingers.

“We have a double wedding to attend,” I said.

“I have a cargo dolly waiting outside the bar,” Amber said.

“Good thinking.”

We half carried and dragged Sultan and Beverly to the waiting dolly and pushed them to the promenade, where Red was waiting to perform the ceremony.

“Red, do you mind making this a double wedding?” I asked.

Seeing Sultan and his sister passed out on the cart, he burst out laughing.

“Amber, are you sure about this?”

“I am dying to get back at Beverly for what she did to Nathaniel.”

“Is this your idea, or Nathaniel’s?”

“We thought of it together, each doing our own part to make happen. We didn’t speak about, or plan their wedding, it just sort of happened.”

Red spoke to his comlink, “Minerva record and document the following proceedings.”

“Last chance Nathaniel,” he laughed.

Red started the wedding ceremony. “The exact words are lost in time. Documenting and recording the proceedings is what counts. With that being said, do you Nathaniel take my sister Amber to be your wife, to not cheat on her, and keep her happy until one or both of you die?”

“Damn right I do.”

“Do you Sultan, take my sister Beverly to be your wife, to endure her, and suffer the consequences of marriage with her, for all eternity?”

“Speaking on behalf of Sultan, he does,” I said.

“Do you Amber, take Nathaniel to be your husband, to do with what you will, until one or both of you die?”

“I do.”

“Do you Beverly, take this dog that is Sultan, to be your cheating husband, not complaining about it, for all eternity?”

“Speaking on behalf of my sister Beverly, she does,” Amber replied.

“I now pronounce you husbands and wives. You can get to consummating this union if you ain’t already.” Red said, not being able to contain his laughter any longer.

The witnesses applauded and cheered us. Before we could go and do happy things there was something we had to take care of. We brought Sultan and Beverly aboard the Lucy and took them to Sultan’s Pleasure Palace. We moved them into his massage room, undressed them, and placed them in bed together. I placed a printout of their marriage certificate on the vanity where it would be noticed. We took all their clothing, then headed to our suite aboard the Revenge. Satisfied with our handy work, I suggested we get busy making our wedding official.”

Red called us the next day. “I got a wedding present for you. The chief is installing a 20-megawatt laser on your foredeck. I think you may find it useful.

I was told by a young blond lady, Jewel, that when Beverly and Sultan woke up, they spent some serious time consummating their wedding before realizing they were married. Then the yelling began. Neither Beverly or Sultan have any recollection of getting married. They are clueless as to how they ended up in Sultan’s Pleasure Palace, or what happened to their clothing. She isn’t, what I would call being happily married, and she is a wee bit upset about their lack of clothing.

Their wedding was documented and recorded with the archives first thing. Somehow it got through the system without going through the 30 day waiting period in case they decided against being married, so they are legally bound and cannot break their vows until one of them is dead.” We all clapped and cheered, thanking Red for the wonderful news.

Beverly was next to call us. She wanted to know if we could fill in some of the blanks, in her memory. The last thing she remembered was having a drink with us and Sultan. Amber told her, “After a few drinks, you and the Sultan were all over each other. Beverly, it was you who proposed to Sultan. Not wanting to waste any more time, you asked Nathaniel if he would mind making our wedding a double ceremony. Right after the wedding, you and your husband disappeared leaving a trail of clothing behind, in a hurry to celebrate your long awaited union.”

“Amber, you don’t think anyone will slip up and tell her the truth?” I asked.

“Nathaniel, my crew are very loyal to me. They won’t say anything different, I promise.”

[] Shakedown

“Captain Roberts, the repairs to your ship are complete. It is ready for a shakedown cruise,” the maintenance chief said.

“It looks like we will be working together for the foreseeable future, so call me Nathaniel.”

“Nathaniel, call me Mike,” he said offering his hand.

I gladly shook the chief’s hand and we started the tour of inspection. Mike led me to a viewport where I could see the exterior of the ship.

“I had to remove the forward section of your keel. it was to badly damaged to repair. I used a section of the salvaged cruisers keel to splice in some sections, repairing the keel as best I could. It has been plated in such a way that it is as strong as the original keel section. They haven’t made armor as heavy as your ship’s armor, in about 200 years. I stripped the armor from the forward third of your ships hull. Then I double plated it with overlapping sections armor I from the salvaged cruiser. It is now stronger than original.” I inspected the ship from the viewport admiring his work.

“The ship looks beautiful from here.”

The chief pointed to the newly mounted weapon. “The laser that Red gave you came from a much larger ship, probably a dreadnought. It draws so much power that I had to install a cutout circuit, to power it. Your particle beam weapons will not be available when the laser is being fired. However, that laser will be able to cut through almost any armor except for ablative armor. It should give you an advantage in battle.

“The repulsorlift engines have been rebalanced to compensate for the change of center of gravity,” the chief explained.

The chief led me to a docking tube where we were able to enter the ship and continue the inspection tour. The first thing I noticed was that everything in view looked clean, shiny, and like new. Even the air smelled clean, lacking the smell of disinfectants.

He lead me to the forward missile launchers. “The missile tracks have been replaced, and your missiles have been upgraded to Hunter Seeker-Mark IIs. They are normally only available to the military, but Red has connections.” Next, he led me to the bridge. “The exterior sensor arrays have been replaced, and your ECM package has been updated to improve its efficiency.”

“Natasha, how do you feel?” the chief asked the ships AI.

“Purr, purr, purr the chief has me purring like a kitten.”

We headed to decks 3 through 6 where we had hull damage, structural damage to the bulkheads, and severed power feeds. Mike explained that he had to replace the hull plating. He also had to remove the collapsed bulkheads and fabricate new bulkheads. He removed the patched power conduit and replaced it with new power feeds. Looking at his repairs, I couldn’t tell where the damage had been. The bulkheads looked new and original to the ship.

I signed the acceptance sheets on Mikes comp, still overwhelmed by the amount and quality of the work.

“Mike what do I owe you for the repairs?” I asked, afraid I wasn’t going to be able to afford them. “It is a first-rate job.”

“You don’t owe me anything.”

He went on to explain that after Red got the repairs started, he was able to convince the system governor to pick up the tab. He told the governor that it would be wise to make a small investment in me. Red told him that since you arrived in this system, the space station has returned to operational status, with more traders and workers arriving everyday. He further told the governor that trade with neighboring systems has resumed. Red also explained that you were responsible for diminishing the Crimson Tide’s ability to operate in this sector. He was already getting a return on his investment, and would likely continue to do so, providing that you could be convinced to stick around. More importantly, you married his favorite niece.

“Tanya, recall all crew members. We depart tomorrow morning for a shakedown cruise.”

“Aye, aye Captain, a general recall has been initiated.”

“Cappy, my sister looks all clean and shiny,” Natasha said.

“She even purrs like a kitten,” I informed her.

“Purr, purr, purr,” Natasha purred doing her best to mimic a kitten. Natasha laughed at her sister’s attempt at humor.

There was little to do while we waited for our crew and officers to board the ship. Randolph and Kim were next to enter the bridge. Kim was looking a lot better, even hot and sexy. The girls went all the way on her. They worked on her hair, nails, makeup, and clothing, doing a complete makeover. She was transformed from a frumpy geek, into a hot blond chick that de Tomcat would like to get to know a little better. She was wearing a short red dress that showed off her legs. The dress accented her body showing curves where none had existed before.

“Now this is some eye candy, that de Tomcat likes to see.” She blushed turning a brilliant shade of pink. She was still modest, lacking confidence, and not quite used to wearing her new clothes. Too bad, it was all she had to wear now. Her old clothes had been disposed of.

“Quit teasing Kim,” Amber said. “Besides you have plenty of eye candy to look at.”

Doc, accompanied by Jane, was next to enter the bridge.

“Nathaniel, Jane and I were looking over the ship. I have never seen her looking so good. She looks like new.” Doc said.

“The maintenance chief outdid himself, with this job. Everything has been cleaned, painted, or polished. I can’t tell what has been repaired or replaced. All of his work looks like it is original to the ship.”

Jane said, “I will be the judge of that. Randolph, Kim, and I will be spending the rest of the night inspecting the ship from bow to stern.”

Natasha jokingly said to Jane, “I purr like a kitten now. Purr, purr, purr.”

“We will see about that.” Jane said, taking Randolph and Kim with her to start her inspection.”

The five of us went to the officer’s galley, where Doc made a stew dinner for all of us. Natty served herself a healthy portion of stew joining us with our meal.

“Doc, the stew looks very yummy,” she said sitting down to eat.

The stew was fantastic. The vegetables, were easy to identify, originating from Earth stock. There were plenty of potatoes and carrots, there were also onions, peppers, and celery. The meat while tasty was something I was sure I had never eaten before.

“Doc, what kind of meat is this?”

“The meat comes from a lizard tail, that is harvested by the Hani in the desert regions. It’s quite tasty and very tender. What do you think about it?”

I agreed, “The meat while different, is very good.”

“The stew was very yummy,” Natasha said, licking her bowl and hands clean.

Manners were something Natasha didn’t seem to care about. I had yet to see her use any eating utensils. “Natty, let Jane, Randolph, and Kim know we left some stew for them in the galley.” She used the ship’s comms to contact them. “You all need to eat some of the yummy lizard stew Doc made for us before it’s all gone.”

After cleaning our dishes and Natty’s face and hands, we headed to our cabin. Once there I removed my clothing and climbed into bed too tired for anything else but sleep.

“Poor Nathaniel, all tuckered out after a long day,” Amber teased, undressing and snuggling up to me.

Tanya changed into a nighty and joined Amber and I cuddling with us. Natty joined us, climbing on top of me and curling up, to sleep.

I woke early in the morning cozy and warm with my wife and friends blanketing me with their bodies. I continued to lay there not wanting to disturb their slumber, waiting for them to awaken.

Amber was first to stir. Noticing me awake she said, “Good morning Nathaniel.” She kissed me passionately.

Natty was next to awaken.

“Natty, I thought you didn’t sleep,” I said teasing her.

“I don’t… I must have fallen asleep, but… ?” she was very confused.

“You are getting more and more human every day.”

Tanya was awake now too. We all got up, showered, and dressed before heading to the bridge. We stopped at the galley for a quick breakfast, on our way to the bridge. We served ourselves selecting pastries and coffee. Then we sat with Doc, who was already enjoying his meal.

“I see you chose the Double Nocturne Blueberry Danish,” Doc said, “The green fruit on the other danish is remarkably like strawberry.”

Natty had a pastry in each hand alternately taking a bite out of each.

“These pastries are very yummy,” she agreed, between mouthfuls.

We finished our meals and coffee before continuing to the bridge. Jane, Randolph, and Kim were already on the bridge when the five of us entered.

“Jane, how was your inspection?”

“I spent all night searching, and couldn’t find anything amiss. Everything is too clean and shiny for my liking. Just wait and see, something will go terribly wrong.”

“Purr, purr, purr,” Natasha teased Jane.

“Stop that!”

We all laughed at Jane’s displeasure.

“Tanya, are all crew members aboard?”

“According to the ship’s log, everyone is accounted for.”

“Amber, let Beverly know, its departure time.”

“Oh, it completely slipped my mind, I completely forgot to give her any advance notice,” she snickered. “Tanya, open communications with my sister, on screen please.”

Beverly appeared on the main viewscreen. She was still in bed, with Sultan. Seeing that it was us she let the blanket she was holding to her slip down.

Ignoring her sister she said, “Nathaniel, what a pleasant surprise. Would you care to join me?”

“Beverly, you have been waiting for Sultan for so long, isn’t he keeping you satisfied?” Amber asked.

“I could ask the same about you, Nathaniel… and the other girls.”

“There is no need to worry, they are satisfying all of my needs. The reason I called, is that we are ready to begin our shakedown cruise. You are needed to escort us in case we encounter any problems.

We and that includes the Lucy depart in 5 minutes. Tanya, end transmission.”

It was all I could do to stifle my laughter. I waited a full ten minutes before giving the order to undock. As we maneuvered to clear the station, the Lucy followed.

“Natty set course to Helios, ahead half speed.”

“Aye, aye, Cappy.”

Helios was the 7th planet in this system. It was a gas giant with 9 moons. The moons were lifeless, but mining them provided several metals for use on San Paulos. Mixed among the moons orbits were thousands of asteroids ranging from a few meters to hundreds of kilometers in diameter. They would make excellent targets, and the rubble would make easy pickings for the miners.

As we approached Helios, I ordered Natty to insert us into orbit.”

“Doc, and Jane I need you on the weapons consoles.”

“I got Dorsal,” Doc announced.

“I got ventral,” Jane replied.

“Natty, I will need you to target and fire the laser.”

“Kim, I need you at the engineering station to monitor and stabilize energy levels.”

“Yes, Captain.”

“Doc, we are approaching target one, lock on and fire when ready.”

The upper deck weapons pivoted to face their target. When the weapons locked onto the small asteroid, bolts of energy from the particle beam weapons streamed toward the asteroid reducing it to rubble in seconds.

“Jane, target two is coming into range, lock on and fire when ready.”

The particle beam weapons fired bolts of energy toward the asteroid from the ship’s belly weapons blasting the asteroid apart. Scavengers from the mining outfits started collecting and netting the small pieces of debris from the first two asteroids. Their jobs were made a lot easier, from our weapons test.

“Natty, lock on target three, fire when ready.”

The third target was one of the larger asteroids reaching nearly 100 meters in diameter. She fired the laser, tracking it across the surface of the asteroid bisecting it across its equator. Then she targeted the asteroid again making a longitudinal cut, neatly quartering the asteroid.

“Everyone stand down from weapons.”

“Natty set course for San Paulos, ahead one-half.”

The Lucy followed our course slipping further and further behind as our speed increased en-route to San Paulos. The shakedown cruise was complete with the ship performing in peak operation.

“Captain, we are receiving a call from Red,” Tanya reported.

“Put him on screen.”

“Nathaniel, I have a job that needs urgent action, time is critical. Your just the man for the job. Can I count on you getting it done?”

“Red, we have just completed a short shakedown cruise and weapons test. I wold be glad to do a job for you. What do you need?”

“Someone has stolen a shipment of salvaged military weapons from one of my storehouses. They are in a freighter bound for the Castel System. I can pay you 200,000 credits plus any salvage is yours to do with, what you want.”

“We are on the way Red, we will return shortly.”

“Tanya end transmission.”

“Natty, has your astronomical data been updated?”

“Yes Cappy, Chief Mike was kind enough to update our files. I have Navigational Maps for this section of the border systems.”

“Natty set an intercept course for the Lucy. We will have to link up with her and tow her. Time is critical and we need to move fast.”

“Tanya, inform the Lucy that we will be intercepting her and docking.”

“Message sent, Captain.”

“Natty, how long until we intercept the Lucy?”

“About an hour Cappy.”

“Nathaniel, you need to beware of my sister. I can tell that she is up to something, but I’m not sure what though. It’s one of those twin things, I can’t explain it.”

“She seems to be trying to interfere with our relationship, but why?”

“She had her sights aimed at Sultan for the last few years. Somehow she got it in her head that I was romantically involved with him, even after I was married to Stan. Sultan and I were never anything more than business associates, he is not my type. When he left with me to expand his business, Beverly became jealous of us and left, going her own way.”

“She has Sultan all to herself now.”

“I don’t think that’s good enough for her right now. I think she wants to chase something she can’t possibly have. I’m afraid she will be going after you next.”

“But we are married. And, she had her chance, not so long ago.”

“That won’t stop her. I know, because it wouldn’t stop me.”

“I am happily married to you. There is nothing she can do to change that.”

“Nevertheless, she will try.”

“Beginning docking maneuvers,” Natasha reported, “docking clamps are locked.”

“Natty, sync with the Lucy’s AI, resume course and enter hyperspace when ready.”

“Aye, aye Cappy.”

“Girls, I am going to our cabin. I need some time to think. Something may need to be done about Beverly.”

When we entered the cabin the first thing I saw was a trail of clothes leading toward the bedroom. Beverly was in bed waiting. “Nathaniel, I see you brought company. I was sure you would be excited to see me. You were, not so long ago, as I remember. You were a quite drunk then, so perhaps you don’t. Won’t you join me?”

“Beverly, what are you doing here, and in my bed?” Amber demanded.

Amber’s sister ignored her, “Nathaniel, I don’t bite, well maybe just a little bit but not very hard.” She opened the bed covers inviting me. “Perhaps I was wrong, maybe you are excited by me. Amber and I use to share everything, even our boyfriends. Perhaps she will share you with me.”

Natty, was ready to fight. She glared at Beverly, barely held back by Tanya.

“I like the sex kitten too. Perhaps she will play with us? I am finished playing for now. Next time, I promise I’ll give you that second tumble and more. Please come see me when you are ready to play and bring the sex kitten with you,” she said, getting out of the bed and dressing. “Sis, you are welcome to Sultan anytime you feel the need, I still believe in sharing.” She finished dressing, and left, heading back to the Lucy.

“I am so sorry about my sister,” Amber apologized to all us. “She didn’t use to be like this. She needs help.”

Natty made the jump to Hyperspace as soon as we reached the jump point. She didn’t like how Beverly upset Amber and Nathaniel. It just wasn’t right and needed to be remedied as soon as possible. She was limited to what she could do. Like it or not, Beverly was Amber’s twin sister, and part of Nathaniel’s family now.

[] A Job For Red

When we got back on the bridge, Beverly was still in my thoughts. I got drunk, maybe a little too drunk and picked her up for a quick fling, or maybe she picked me up. I wasn’t sure. I don’t remember most of the evening with her, but the next morning I will never forget. She took everything I had at gunpoint, using my own gun. Now she was back in my life, as Amber’s twin sister. I was at a loss as to what to do to about my new sister in law. Her marriage to Sultan seemed forgotten and now she was interested in me.

“Dropping out of hyperspace now,” Natasha said, shifting the ship back into normal space.

Tanya studied the sensors as data became available to her. “We are in the Auelra System. It has a red dwarf sun, with four planets. There are traces of traffic, but no other ships currently in the system.”

“Tanya, I can access the navigation buoys to see if there have been any ships traveling to the Castel System recently.”

“I didn’t know you could do that,” Tanya replied.

“It was included among software and updates that Red had Chief Mike install. Now I can hack into several different types of computer systems, accessing their data and more.”

“Please, see what you can find out for us.”

After a few minutes, Natty informed us, “The navigation buoys recorded a single freighter leaving this system less than a day ago.”

“Natty, continue on this course, and jump to the Castel System as soon as we can,” Nathaniel ordered.

“Amber, what is Beverly’s greatest fear?”

“I’m not sure. When she was a little girl, she used to have nightmares about aliens doing sexual things to her. She grew out of it before she turned 12 or 13.”

“Cappy, we are clear to jump.”

“Engage the hyperdrive.”

“I don’t understand why Beverly is trying to seduce you,” Natty said

“We had our fling. She had a chance and blew it. There is no way I would give her a second chance, the way she treated me. Now for some reason, she is acting like it isn’t over between us. I hoped that she would honor our marriage, especially considering Amber is her twin sister.”

“Cappy, we have reached our destination.”

“Decelerate to sublight.”

Natasha disengaged the hyperdrive and slowed the ship using its dampers to slow the ship. We were cruising at one-tenth of the speed of light. Distant stars and nebula gases filled our viewscreen. Our sensors were feeding us data that we could interpret, now that we were below the speed of light speed.

“Tanya, scan the system and see if we can find our cargo ship.”

“Scanning… I have a bulk freighter, on an outbound trajectory. I’m locking on to it. We will have to get closer to scan its cargo bays. I am not receiving any transponder information from it.”

“That has got to be the freighter we are searching for. Tanya signal the Lucy it is time to undock, sound condition yellow.”

“Separation complete,” Natasha said.

“Natasha, set an intercept course, engines to max burn.”

Over the next few minutes, we closed on the freighter. It prolonged the chase by running its engines at overdrive levels trying to evade.

“I have confirmation on Reds stolen weapons, still no transponder signal,” Tanya reported.

“Tanya sound condition red, battle stations,” I ordered. “Doc and Jane on guns, shoot to disable, we want the cargo intact.”

“Coming into optimal weapons range,” Natasha reported.

“Tanya, hail the freighter.”

“On screen Captain.”

“This is the Dread Pirate Roberts, you are ordered to shut down your drives and surrender!”

“No response from the ship, Captain,” Tanya reported.

“She’s firing on us,” Natasha said. Weapons fire from the freighter raked our forward shields. Randolph reported, “I am stabilizing our shields, they are at 93 percent and holding Captain.”

“Doc and Jane, return fire!”

Energy bolts from our particle beam weapons streamed toward the freighter, repeatedly striking their rear shields. The freighter continued to fire on us hoping for a miracle shot.

“Our shields are at 87 percent and holding, the freighters shields are down to 35 percent and failing,” Randolph reported.

“Doc and Jane, continue firing and target their weapons.”

We continued to exchange fire for a few minutes longer before Jane announced, “Freighter disabled.”

“All hands form a boarding party. Report to the port side airlock.”

“Tanya, sound condition yellow.”

“Natasha, dock with the ship’s starboard airlock.”

“Amber, you have the controls.”

We all assembled at the port side dock.

“Doc and Jane form your teams, I want the ship searched from bow to stern, and all prisoners assembled in the forward cargo hold. Tanya and Natty, you are with me.”

“Randolph, maintain a rear guard here with your team.”

As soon as we were docked, we entered the ship. Doc and Jane took their teams in search of prisoners. Tanya, Natasha, and I headed toward the bridge, with our weapons drawn.

The main corridor was empty. We continued forward cautiously. We had our first battle at a cross section. We found ourselves suddenly under heavy weapons fire. Bolts of energy filled the corridor. We were Ambushed without any cover. We returned fire as best as we could, unable to see our enemy through the smoke filled the passageway.

Tanya, yelled as she took a glancing hit to her side. Natty let out a battle cry and charged toward our attackers deflecting shot after shot with her energy sword. I called Doc using my comlink, “Doc, Tanya has been hit. Hurry she needs help!”

Furious, Natasha was oblivious to all oncoming fire. She nearly cleaved her first attacker in two slicing him from his right shoulder to his left hip. The next attacker was instantly beheaded by her sword. The last attacker dropped his weapon surrendering, but it didn’t matter. Natasha was furious, they hurt Tanya and would be punished. She swung her sword’s blade across his midsection eviscerating him, spilling his intestines to the deck. Then she continued to the bridge.

Doc arrived within minutes, with a trauma team. He examined Tanya’s wound, “It doesn’t look serious, but I bet it hurts like hell.”

“Doc, that is an understatement,” Tanya said groaning in pain.

Doc gave her a mild pain killer to ease the pain. “Sorry, I can’t give you anything stronger until I know the full extent of your injuries.” His team gently eased Tanya onto a stretcher and took her back to the Revenge, to sickbay.

I continued making my way toward the bridge, hoping Natasha was okay. I came upon several bodies on my way. Most of the bodies I encountered were cleaved into two or more pieces. When I entered the bridge, Natasha was slamming the ship’s captain against a wall.

“Natty, stop.”

I checked the captain, he was dead.

“The bad men hurt Tanya and needed to be punished.”

“It’s okay. Are you alright?”

“I am unharmed. How is Tanya?”

“Doc is treating Tanya, on the Revenge. She is going to be okay.”

“Jane, the bridge is secure. I’ll meet you in the forward cargo hold,” I said using my comlink.

It wasn’t long before all the prisoners were gathered in the forward hold. More than half their crew were dead. I told the prisoners to strip. Naked, they were marched to one of their ship’s lifeboats.

“Jane put our prisoners in the lifeboat’s cryogenic pods and put them to sleep. If they offer any resistance, kill them.”

“Aye, aye, Captain.”

She made sure each prisoner was placed in suspended animation.

“Jane, take a team and search the ship for any valuables. Doc is busy treating Tanya.”

We made our way back to the Revenge.

“Natty, sound all clear condition green.”

Natty and I hurried to sickbay to check on Tanya.

“Doc, how is she?”

“She received third-degree burns from that blaster bolt. I have started tissue regeneration and I placed her in a medically induced coma to spare her the pain. She will be my guest in sickbay for a couple of weeks.”

“Natty, tell the Lucy to return to San Paulos.”

“Message sent, Cappy.”

We headed to the bridge where Amber and Randolph were waiting to hear news about Tanya. I gave them the details and sat on the command chair in silence. After spending several minutes collecting my thoughts and grieving for Tanya I told Natty to take us home.

Jane had her crew dispose of the dead bodies before we made our jump to hyperspace. She found 50,000 credits, four gold bars, and an assortment of gems during her search of the freighter, all of which was added to the credits stored in the purser’s office. I would sell the gold and gemstones when we arrived on the station.

We came out of hyperspace in the Buenos Aries System and set our course to San Paulos.

“Natty, hail Red.”

“Aye, aye, Cappy. Red is standing by”

“On screen, Natty.”

The image of a large muscular man with flowing red hair filled the screen.

“Red, the mission is complete, your cargo is secure.”

“I knew you were the right person for the job.”

“I have some of the ship’s crew being held as prisoners. I had them placed in cryogenic pods, aboard one of the freighter’s lifeboats. Unfortunately, all of the ships officers are dead. Natty personally killed the captain with her bare hands.”

“Their will be a bonus for you and Natty. I have something special in mind for the prisoners. They will never steal from me or anyone else again. Thank Natty for killing the captain for me,” he said ending the transmission.

“Amber, do you think we should tell Red about Beverly?”

“Not yet.”

We still had nearly 12 hours before reaching the station. “Let’s go to our cabin and get some rest. After entering the cabin, I changed into bathing attire and got in the hot tub. The hot water was quick to relax me and ease the tension in my muscles. Amber and Natasha quickly joined me, relaxing in the hot water.

“I miss Tanya,” Natasha said, “it is just not the same without her.”

“She will still be in a coma for 10 to 12 more days, she has extensive nerve and tissue damage. Doc will make sure she is well again.”

After relaxing followed by sleeping, we got up and headed to the galley for something to eat.

Doc was kind enough to have left us some open faced sandwiches. They had grilled chicken, cheese, and a variety of shredded vegetables topped with a creamy sauce. I brought the platter of sandwiches to the table, then got iced coffee with sugar and vanilla creamer for all of us.

I didn’t realize how famished I was. I made short work of my meal without really tasting it. Amber ate much slower, savoring the flavor. Natty was holding two sandwiches in her hands alternately taking a bite out of each.

With her mouth still full of food Natty mumbled, “These sandwiches are very scrumptious and crunchy too.”

Wait until she tries the Iced coffee, I thought, taking a sip of mine. When Natty finished her sandwiches, she took a large gulp of her coffee. Her face lit up with delight, and she drained the rest of her drink in one huge swallow.

“That drink was very yummy, can I have some more?”

I showed Natty how to mix the drink so she could have one anytime she wanted.

“Thank you Cappy, I love you,” she grasped me in a huge hug.

Amber, found this to be hilarious. She fell to the floor, rolling with laughter. Once she composed herself, at least enough to stand we made our way to the bridge with her laughing and smiling as she led us along the corridor.

“Natty head to the repair docks, we will release the freighter there.”

“Aye, aye Cappy.”

“Amber open a hailing frequency.”

“On screen Captain.”

“This is Captain Roberts, of the Revenge, requesting permission to dock.”

“Captain Roberts, the maintenance chief has a team waiting to grapple the freighter. Red is waiting for you in green section. You are cleared to dock green section dock 5. End transmission.”

We maneuvered the freighter to the repair docks, where we released her. The repair crew grappled her and with the assistance of a couple of tugs, maneuvered her into a hangar. Then using our ships thrusters we slowly swung around the space station and docked in green section.

Amber, Natasha, and I entered the station. Red was there to greet us.

“Where is Tanya?” he asked, noticing she wasn’t with us.

“She took a hit from blaster fire. Doc is treating her in sickbay.”

“Is she gonna be okay?”

“Yes, she is in a medical coma, Doc is regenerating her burned tissue. She will be there for another 11 days.”

“I’m glad she is going to be alright,” Red said. “I was starting to grow fond of her.”

“We made sure we only targeted the freighter’s engines and weapons, disabling her. The cargo holds are undamaged, all of the cargo aboard her is intact.”

“I’ve transferred your payment to your account, and a little extra for taking care of the crew.”

We made our way to the repair section, where Chief Mike was waiting to greet us.

“I have my crew working on a damage assessment. She doesn’t look to badly damaged from here,” Mike said. “Red I have some cargo handlers on the way over to help with your weapons.”

“Mike, I’ve noticed you still have the cruiser, do you have any plans for it?” I said.

“A lot of her plating was damaged, on her port side. The superstructure is still relatively intact, less what we salvaged. She still has good legs. I was thinking about converting her to something different. I am waiting for enough material. With you around, it won’t be a long wait.”

He showed me some rough drafts he was considering on his comp.

“Very impressive,” I said as I looked over the designs, one of which caught my attention. It looked totally different from her original design, meaner, stockier, and faster.

“This is what I would do with her if I had the choice.”

He made a quick note of this on his comp.

“What are your plans for the freighter?”

“I haven’t really thought about it,” I answered truthfully.

“Give me a couple of days, and I’ll make you an offer.”

We left to see the sites. The station was busy now. A lot of shops had opened with merchants plying their goods and services. The shops catered to anything that a spacer may need, or want. There were clothing shops, weapons shops, outfitters for mining and exploration, restaurants, and bars.

It was long past time for De Tomcat to do something stupid, so I led my ladies into a bar. I ordered spiced rum, being a favorite of mine. Natasha chose to have the same, and Amber chose a pitcher full of Sangria with lots of fruit in it. Natasha could not get drunk from the alcohol, but she could still experience the flavor of her choice of drinks.

Natasha took a tentative gulp. Her face scrunched up and she tried spitting it out.

“That tastes yucky!”

She stopped a server and gave her the yucky drink. She also confiscated my unfinished drink and gave it to the server too.

“Cappy, there is no need to punish yourself drinking anything so awful,” she said displeased.

The surrounding patrons in the bar roared with laughter. One of them said, “You don’t let your lady friends make all of your decisions, do you?” This generated, even more, laughter from our growing audience.

Amber laughed, “Ignore them. I have plenty to share.” She signaled for two more glasses, then poured us each a drink from her pitcher. I had to admit that the Sangria had a far superior flavor. It was ice cold, sweet and fruity. This time Natasha took a small sip. “This drink is much better, it tastes yummy.” Then she emptied her glass gulping it down.

“Now that’s the way I like to see a lady drink,” a spacer said, taking a seat next to her, drinking from his pitcher of beer.

“I wouldn’t try out drinking her,” I warned.

“Not to be bested he made a wager, “I will pay for her drinks if she can out drink me. If I out drink her, she spends the night with me.”

“Agreed,” I replied. Natty couldn’t get drunk no matter how much she drank. It wouldn’t even be a contest, but it would be fun watching him make a fool of himself.

They drank round after round. Her wine cooler against his beer.

“Let’s make this interesting he said, “If I out drink her, I get both of your ladies tonight. If she out drinks me I’ll pay your bar tab.”

I quickly agreed, knowing there was no way he could win. We had gathered quite an audience by now, with plenty of side betting going on. They both had completed two more pitchers before the unfortunate spacer collapsed to the floor unconscious.

“Amber come with me, I’ve got to go pee really bad,” Natty said.

When the girls returned, I stood up. That’s when the alcohol decided to hit me. I had way too much of the Sangria myself, and I also devoured the alcohol laden fruit. I didn’t realize how badly the Sangria would affect me until it was too late, most days I could hold my liqueur but not today.

I woke with a pounding headache the next morning. It was deja vu. I was naked and in a strange bed. I turned to my left and right looking to see who I had been with last night. The bed was empty except for me. I heard the sound of people showering and muffled voices. All I could do was wait to see what I had done.

The sound of water running in the shower stopped. I squinted trying to look through the slits in eyelids.

“He’s finally awake,” said a female voice.

“Cappy was a naughty boy last night,” said another.

I forced my eyes open to see Amber and Natasha standing alongside the bed. Thank the creator.

“You don’t get out of it that easily,” Amber said. “We had to carry you to this hotel and put you in bed. We tried everything to get you up, but couldn’t. That left Natty and I by ourselves all night.

I reached for them and pulled them both onto the bed with me. “I told you we should have kept trying to wake him,” Natty said.

We spent the rest of the day and night at the hotel together, in each others company. Room service brought our lunch meal. The meal was excellent. Natty made sure to lick all the plates and her hands clean savoring every bit of the meal. In the evening we ate at the hotel’s restaurant. They had a band playing what they assured us were old Earth songs. I didn’t care about the origins, I just sat back and enjoyed the performance. This time I sipped the Sangria and left the fruit. After the band finished their performance, I took Amber and Natty up to our room.

[] A Short Trip

The Lucy was back, docked in white section. I had no doubt that Beverly was plotting another scheme to try and steal me from Amber. A plan to get her to back off was forming in my mind. I only had to work out a few small details.

In the meantime, Red was doing his best to keep her occupied and away from us. Amber talked to her brother about what Beverly was been doing to us, explaining how she was trying to break up our marriage. He had her inventorying his reclaimed weapons, taken from the freighter, to keep her busy.

Mike found me and the girls walking in green section. “I’ve completed my damage assessment of the freighter. She is not as badly damaged as I was afraid she might be. I can pay you 250,000 credits for her.” I accepted his offer. I hadn’t really thought much about the freighter, or what I to do with it.

Tanya was nearly finished healing. Amber, Natty, and I made time to visit her every day. Doc assured us that she would be awakened tomorrow.

We went to the message boards to check on any messages. There were three waiting for us, all from Beverly. The first message read:

“Nathaniel please join me aboard the Lucy. Bring the sex kitten with you. I promise you both an evening of pleasure.”

The second message was similar:

“Nathaniel, I’m lonely, bring your lady friends with you, and my sister, if you must. I promise you a night you will never forget.”

The last message read:

“Nathaniel, come alone. I promise you a night of pleasure you will never forget. I’ll give you much more than the tumble you asked for.”

I was already having trouble forgetting. Her advances were becoming bolder. I sold our four gold bars, and gems, dividing the money into seven different accounts now. That gave us each an additional 600,000 credits to live off when we chose to retire.

I paid Amber her share of the commission. She, in turn, paid Beverly her captain’s share of 10 percent. Amber also paid the crew of the Lucy 10 percent of her share, divided equally among the crew members. This was paid into a trust account each crewman or woman could draw from. She established this system of payment, not trusting her sister to pay their shares. I liked the way she paid her crew and decided to adopt it to pay mine.

Natasha, Amber and I talked about what could be done about to Beverly. We decided to meet with her somewhere very public and try to come to agreeable terms with her. After all, she was Amber’s sister and part of our family now.

“Natty send a message to Beverly, telling her to meet us for lunch at the Lucky Lady, in white section.”

There was no doubt that she would get the message. I was sure she had someone watching us and monitoring our comm messages at all times. I was absolutely sure she was plotting her next scheme. If I wasn’t careful, I could easily fall into her clutches.

The Luck Lady was a restaurant near the center of white section. It served a wide variety of local cuisine and beverages. It was frequented by both spacers and stationers alike. Its prices were reasonable and the food was of good quality, quantity, and flavor. We sat at a table for four and waited for Beverly.

While waiting, we ordered a pitcher of the Sangria and four glasses. I sipped mine aware of the intoxicating effects it had on me. Beverly joined us a shortly after we arrived at the restaurant. Amber ordered for all of us, being familiar with the local cuisine. She ordered pasta with a creamy sauce containing chunks of seafood. I ordered a basket of garlic bread for protection against Beverly.

We ate our meal with minor chit chat. After finishing our meal Beverly sprung into action.

“Amber you should really consider sharing Nathaniel with me. After all, you had Sultan to all to yourself for the last three years and I did offer to share him with you. We used to share everything, including our boyfriends when we were younger.”

“Beverly, believe it or not, I never had anything romantically to do with Sultan. We were just business colleagues. He’s all yours.”

“What is your sudden interest in Cappy for anyhow?” Natasha asked Beverly.

“Isn’t it obvious? I want whatever my sister has and you my little sex kitten are a welcome bonus. I have Sultan, I have her ship, and soon I’ll have you and Nathaniel.”

I turned to my right and kissed Natasha passionately.

“Cappy you taste yummy. I can eat you all up,” Natasha said licking her lips.

I then turned to Beverly to kiss her.

“Ugh, your breath is awful,” she said pulling away from me.

“Don’t you want me?” I asked moving closer and breathing on her.

“Not now, get away from me,” she said, getting up and leaving.

A little garlic breath wouldn’t have stopped me from kissing Amber, or her from kissing me. I popped a couple of breath mints into my mouth to freshen my breath for a little smooching to celebrate our good fortune.

“Amber and Natty, thank you, for a very enjoyable meal.” We finished the pitcher of Sangria then I ordered another to celebrate our small victory.

“You know that won’t be enough to stop her. You have only gained a short reprieve,” Amber said.

“I know, but it was fun and even a small victory against Beverly is reason enough to celebrate.”

We headed back to the ship and our cabin. It was going to be an early night for us. We wanted to be with Tanya when she was awakened tomorrow morning.

The next morning we had a quick meal and coffee then we went straight to sickbay. We seated ourselves around Tanya waiting. After about an hour Doc entered sickbay.

“Nathaniel, did the girls drag you out of bed? I don’t recall you ever getting up so early,” he said examining Tanya’s vital signs and her regenerated tissue. He stopped the flow of the anesthetic drugs entering her veins and gave her a stimulant to help wake her.

Her eyes fluttered, then opened. Her hands went to her injured side feeling around for the injury. “I had the weirdest dream,” she said. Doc put a restraining hand on her chest preventing her from sitting up.

“Nathaniel, Tanya is going to be weak, she will be experiencing muscle pain and stiff joints. She is going to need to take it slow and easy for the next few days as her body readjusts.”

I nodded, we were all happy to see Tanya awake again. Amber shed a few joyous tears taking Tanya’s hand in hers.

Doc said, “I’ll have her moved to your quarters if you promise to let her rest and I do mean rest. If not I will make arrangements for her to recuperate here in sickbay.

“I promise Doc. I’ll help her any way that I can.”

Once we were all back in our quarters, Tanya said, “I stink. I need a shower. I feel dirty and disgusting. How long was I in sickbay?”

“You were there for two weeks. We visited you every day.”

“We missed you very much,” Natty said, “I want to make you very happy again.”

Amber moved a chair into the shower for Tanya to sit on while she bathed. She ran the water making sure it was just the right temperature. Then she and Natasha undressed and helped Tanya undress. They brought her into the shower and helped her wash.

While the girls were showering, I got the Hot tub ready for us. After I was satisfied with the hot tub, I undressed and joined the ladies in the shower. I quickly showered, then picked Tanya up and carried her to the waiting hot water. Amber and Natasha helped me gently lower her into the water. The hot water helped all of us relax and loosened our joints. It did miracles for the stiffness Tanya was experiencing. After relaxing in the Tub for quite some time, we helped Tanya out of the tub and back into bed, where she could rest.

“Natty, start recalling the crew. We depart tomorrow morning.” We were taking it easy with Tanya, making frequent stops so she could rest. The three of us were taking in the sights, looking at all of the new specialty shops. I saw a store that I didn’t recall seeing earlier on earlier shopping trips. It specialized in Alien curios. I stopped the girls pointing to the curio shop. It was something I was interested in and just couldn’t resist looking. I knew that a lot of curio shops sold fake or counterfeit items, but I still had to see for myself.

It was worth the hunt to find that real and original item that spoke out to me. There were sculptures and artwork of all types, but nothing that cried out to me. In a curio cabinet, there were knives, daggers, and gemstones of all types on display.

I was just about to leave the shop when I saw a box of strange disks. I asked the proprietor about the them. “They are worn as a pendant on a necklace. When you are in close proximity to someone wearing the matching disk, they let you feel each other’s emotions. I must warn you, they carry any strong emotion whether it is love, hate, anger, or joy. Would you care for a small demonstration?”

I agreed, and he gave us two matching disks to hold. I took one and Tanya took the other. We were then asked to hold each other. When we hugged, I felt her joy with me holding her.

“Did you feel that?”

“That felt good. Somehow it felt right.”

I asked Natasha to take Tanya’s stone, then I kissed her. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I wasn’t expecting to feel the love she felt for me.

“I love you too Cappy.”

Amber took the stone next and embraced me, kissing me deeply. I was immediately, filled with the warmth and love, that only someone who truly loved could feel. Her love washed over me. We broke the kiss and stepped back from each other. It was a moment before I could speak. “Wow,” was the only word I could utter.

I asked for four of the disks, which he mounted on gold necklaces for us to wear. I didn’t even care about the price. They were authentic and they worked. They were well worth the price.

We went to the Lucky Lady next. Tanya ordered a round of her green drinks. “What exactly is this drink called?” I asked Tanya.

“It is called a grasshopper.”

“Isn’t that a dirt or Earth bug?”

“I do believe it is.”

Hearing this talk of dirt and bugs, Natasha quickly confiscated my glass. She took a small sip, and then another, before passing the glass back to me.

“It’s okay to drink Cappy. It doesn’t taste like bugs or dirt. It is chocolaty and minty.”

“Is she your new food taster?” Tanya laughed.

Amber ordered a meal for the four of us. The entree came on steaming hot plates. It looked like steak, but was softer and more favorable. It was accompanied by a large baked potato and greens. To wash our meal down she ordered a pitcher of fruit-filled Sangria.

We continued to celebrate late into the evening, drinking pitcher after pitcher. The trip back to the ship was nearly impossible. Our legs were like rubber. We staggered and swayed, making a zigzag course back to our docking bay. Natasha did not find our trip back to our ship, the least bit fun. We leaned on her and used her to keep us upright.

We went straight to the bridge. It was empty, with the bridge officers resting for this morning’s departure. I collapsed onto the command chair.

“Tanya, be a darling and call Beverly on the Lucy,” I tried saying but mostly slurred my words.

“On screen Captain.”

“Bev sweetheart, you need to get your ship ready for departure tomorrow morning,” I slurred.

“Nathaniel, are you drunk?”

“I’m a little woozy, but I ain’t drunk yet, sweetie.” I tried standing but fell back onto my chair.

“Well if you weren’t so drunk you could come aboard and have some of this… ,” she said, slipping the straps of her dress off of her shoulders and letting the dress fall to the floor.

The last thing I saw was Beverly naked on my viewscreen before passing out. “Wake up Nathaniel,” Natasha shook me until I was awake. The lights were blinding, my head was pounding, and I just wanted to curl up in a ball until my headache went away.

“Too much celebrating last night?” Doc asked. “I’m afraid there is still no cure for a hangover. Even though you may feel like dyeing, you will recover.”

“I’ll never mix green goo and Sangria again,” I mumbled.

“Beverly is hailing us, Captain. She’s on the main viewscreen,” Tanya reported.

“Nathaniel, I see you are back in the world of the living. Did you have a pleasant dream?” Without waiting for an answer she continued, “I am undocked and standing by off station, waiting for you. What is our destination?”

“The Far’nar System,” I managed to answer.

Natasha linked up with the Lucy’s AI synchronizing our navigation computers for entering hyperspace. We made our first jump to the Auelra System. The star system consisted of a Red Dwarf sun with four planets orbiting it. The first two planets were in close orbits around the sun. Their fast orbital speed made landing impractical. They were extremely volcanic and had severe seismic activity. The fourth planet was gas giant without any moons orbiting it.

The third planet was are target. The planet had a thin atmosphere, consisting of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Its terrain was rocky with the planet’s crust containing an abundant supply of metals. We made our first stop here. The Revenge landed planetside, next to a smelting plant. The Lucy remained in orbit. The Lucy shuttled groups of refinery workers up from the surface offering its entertainment services. I purchased sheets and rolls of metal for ship repairs.

While the Lucy was entertaining the miners, I was having a purchase order filled for terillium and neutronium alloys. These metals were not available on San Paulos making armor hard to come by for its ships. I knew I could make some easy credits with the scarcity and high demand for these metals.

While our cargo hold was being filled I took some time to shower and sleep off my hangover. I cuddled up with Amber, Tanya, and Natasha. Warm and comfortable I fell asleep.

I dreamed about Amber and her twin sister, Beverly. They both fought each other, with me as the winner’s prize. It was more like a nightmare than a dream.

“Still hungover?” Amber asked.

“I am feeling much better now.”

“Our forward cargo hold is full. How long will be staying here?” Tanya asked.

“We will leave first thing in the morning.” That leaves us with a full day.”

Tanya corrected me, “You mean that leaves us with just a few more hours, you were asleep for a whole day.”

That explained why I was so hungry.

“We brought you something to eat. We knew you would be hungry when you got up,” Tanya pointing to the galley where there was a platter of sandwiches waiting.

“Did anyone ever tell you that you are an angel?” I asked heading towards the sandwiches.

“Natty, let Beverly know that we will be departing in a few hours?”

“Message sent Cappy, She is transporting the miners back to the refinery.”

After finishing my meal, we all headed to the bridge to begin departure preparations.

“Natty, run through preflight diagnostics.”

“Randolph, verify cargo is secure.”

“Preflight complete, Cappy all systems are green,” Natty reported.

We launched from the planet’s surface and joined the Lucy in orbit. After docking with her we made our way out system where we could make our next jump into hyperspace. It was much faster to tow the freighter than to travel at the freighters much lower speed. Her engines would have to be upgraded when we got the chance.

As soon as we were clear of gravitational influences we entered hyperspace, on course for the Castel System. I made careful entries in my personal journal recording the star systems and the planets we visited like my father did before me.

We came out of hyperspace in the Castel system and began our scans. The system consisted of a Red Giant with only two planets in orbit. Both planets were within the habitable zone.

Nearly half of the first planet was covered by vast oceans, with jungle and grasslands covering its four major continents. Its atmosphere was breathable, and there were numerous small settlements along its seashores.

The second planet was covered with a vast ocean, teaming with aquatic life. There were several small islands dotting its surface, but no major land masses. There were floating cities that supported its fishing industry.

We continued our journey making our final jump into hyperspace. Our course was set to the Far’nar System.

[] Debt of Gratitude

We entered the Far’nar System, exiting from hyperspace. Our ship slowed decelerating below light speed and communications, navigation, and sensor data became available.

“Captain, we are receiving a distress signal from an Iniguar vessel,” Tanya reported.

“Cappy, our sensors Indicate the Iniguar vessel is being attacked by three ships. No transponder data is available,” Natty reported.

“Tanya, sound battle stations, condition red. Have the Lucy undock and follow us as fast as she can. Natty as soon as we are clear of the Lucy, go to max burn. Doc and Jane, I need you on weapons controls.”

“Cappy, I am receiving their transponder data now. Two of the attacking ships are Alliance vessels, both Frigates, the other attacker is a Crimson Tide Destroyer,” Natty reported and altered our course to intercept them, increasing our sublight engines to maximum power.

“Doc, have you got any idea why the Alliance would be here? I thought they were forbidden to cross the border with warships, by treaty?”

“No Alliance ships of war are allowed to cross the border dividing the territories without an invitation from a system governor and an escort from our military. It looks like the Crimson Tide has formed some type of pact joining with them.”

“The two Frigates are changing course to intercept us,” Natasha Reported.

“Captain, we are being hailed by the Alliance,” Tanya announced.

“Put it on screen.”

“Captain Roberts your Alliance registration is expired and taxes are past due. You are ordered to shut down your drives and prepare to be boarded for inspection and payment of taxes.”

“Our vessel is registered on San Paulos, in the Buenos Aires System. We have denounced our Alliance citizenship in favor of the border systems.”

“Then that makes you a traitor,” The Alliance officer said, cutting communications.

“They are firing on us Cappy,” Natty said.

“I’m bringing ECM and PDC on line,” Amber advised me.

“Natty, fire a full spread of torpedoes.”

“Captain their torpedoes have lost tracking,” Amber said.

As soon as our launchers were reloaded, we fired another spread.

“Captain, we have two impacts on the lead Frigate. Sensors indicate heavy damage to their bow.” Natty reported.

“Doc, engage the Frigate target one. Jane, engage Frigate target two,” I ordered.

“Natty, lock on target two and fire missiles.”

Energy from their particle beam weapons raked our forward hull. The shields held, preventing damage from their weapons. Doc and Jane continued firing aiming for their drives and weapons. We were rewarded with an explosion from target two. Its drives and weapons shut down. Several escape pods were launched and the ship was abandoned.

“Everybody attack target one, target two is disabled.”

All weapons turned on the damaged Frigate. It was only a matter of minutes before the ship was enveloped by a series of explosions, its ammunition detonating and destroying the ship.

“Natty change course to intercept the Destroyer.”

The Destroyer’s crew was so intent on capturing the Iniguar ship, that they didn’t notice our approach. The Lucy had caught up to us and joined us in our attack against the Destroyer. I fired a full spread of torpedoes. All four torpedoes locked onto the Destroyer. The Lucy opened up with her energy weapons and 40mm cannon. We also joined in with our dorsal and ventral weapons firing. The Destroyer realizing their mistake and tried to evade our weapons. It was too late. I fired a second wave of torpedoes, our particle beam guns weakened and started punching holes in their shields. All Four of our torpedoes found their target and detonated on the ship’s starboard side. Pod after pod was jettisoned as the ship spun out of control. In its last moments, the Destroyer’s reactor shielding failed and enveloped the ship in a massive explosion.

We changed course to retrieve the disabled Frigate. The maneuvering was tricky but we managed to lock onto the ship with our docking clamps. Once the ship was secured to our hull, a boarding party was sent on board to search for survivors, treasure, and cargo.

“Captain, the Iniguar vessel is hailing us,” Tanya said.

“On screen.”

“Captain, the gods favor us today. It appears I owe you a debt of gratitude. You are invited to join us in the Invaldi System where we can properly express our gratitude.”

The Iniguar is an alien race that frequently trades with our species. They are generally friendly while being somewhat reclusive. Few people were ever invited to visit any of their worlds. Their military patrolled their borders to prevent unwanted intrusion. To them, the invitation was an honor, rarely given, and once extended it was for life. They were a humanoid species similar in appearance to humans. Their women were slightly different having three pairs of breasts. With that exception, they could pass among humans freely, without anyone knowing.

“I accept your gracious offer,” I responded. “I am called Nathaniel, by my friends.”

“among my people, I am called Shree’tek.”

“Amber let your sister know we will be traveling to the Invaldi system, by invitation.”

“Natty, take control of the Lucy’s command functions. We will be doing a simultaneous jump.”

“Aye, aye Cappy.”

We changed course and jumped to the Invaldi system.

We slowed our ship allowing the Lucy, being much slower, to catch up. Then we continued in formation with the Iniguar ship escorting us.

This system had a yellow dwarf sun, with 8 planets orbiting it. Our course led us to the second planet. It was covered with lush vegetation, divided by a series of rivers and streams filling lakes of all sizes.

As we got closer to the planet, we picked up more and more Iniguar vessels, forming a convoy.

“Captain we are being hailed by Beverly,” Tanya announced.

“Put her on screen.”

“Amber, you know I don’t like aliens, what are we doing here.”

“We have earned the Iniguar’s gratitude, by rescuing them. They invited us to a ceremony to show their gratitude. It’s an offer we cannot refuse, and that includes you. I expect you to dress nicely, and be on your best behavior.”

Beverly terminated the communications. I began to fill in the details of my plan to get even with Beverly. If nothing else it would be fun retaliating against her. I would be sure to include my wife, Amber, in my plot. We docked at an orbital station and were escorted to a set of rooms where we could rest for tonight’s festivities. Randolph and Kim took advantage of their time together and locked themselves in one set of rooms. Seeing that a mud bath was included in our suite, Doc didn’t waste any time undressing and immersing himself in the warm bubbling mud. Jane undressed and joined Doc, relaxing in the warm mud.

The girls were excitedly gabbing away about tonight’s festivities. I led Amber, Tanya, and Natty into an unoccupied room. “Ladies, de Tomcat is here to play, let us not waste any time. Besides, I want to do some more experimenting with our mood disks.” Amber got a devilish look to her eyes, kissing me.

Doc and Jane, cleaned and showered after their mud bath. They knocked on our door announcing, “It is time to get ready.”

We showered and dressed. I wore tan pants with a light green shirt and a wide black belt. The girls wore black mini dresses, enhancing their sexy bodies. All four of us wore our necklaces exposed. I continued to experience feelings of love and something more. The strongest sensations came from Amber, but I also experienced what Tanya and Natty were feeling. They shared their feelings of love and pleasure, but it was not entirely about me.

Doc was wearing all black, his normal attire, with Jane wearing a full-length red dress. Randolph was wearing white pants and a white shirt covered by a white lab smock, while Kim was wearing a bright blue slinky dress, still nervous about her new style of dress. She couldn’t cover and hide in her old frumpy clothing any longer. My wives and I put a stop to that.

Beverly, who I thought would be the sexiest vixen among us was wearing a plain white ships jumpsuit that was two sizes too large, hiding her voluptuous figure, making her look undesirable.

Shree’tek arrived at our suite and escorted us, as his guests to a large assembly room. We were seated at a table with a large assortment of fruits and vegetables. Doc told us to go ahead and eat anything before us, as the Iniguar would not serve us anything that could cause us harm.

As we ate I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Natasha’s eating habits and the Iniguar’s. They both ate using both hands to gobble their food, and when Natasha let out a loud burp, the surrounding Iniguar applauded and cheered her appreciation of the meal.

After we finished our meal, we were treated to a dance choreography. Amber urged us to join in the dancing. Our hosts must have enjoyed our little exhibition as they applauded the four of us as we left the dance floor.

Next, we were directed to the main event. It was a form of mud wrestling with teams of three women. The object of the game was to remove three flags from their opponents eliminating them. The last one in the mud pit was declared the winner of the match. Shree’tek asked if we would like to compete. Amber, Tanya, and Natasha quickly agreed. They were taken to changing rooms where they were properly attired in Iniguar fashion.

They entered the mud pit knee deep in muck. “The mud pit represents the bogland on our planet. The wrestling is representative of our females challenging each other when there is more than one woman seeking to become a bond mate,” Shree’tek explained.

“Why not just take more than one wife?”

“It is not our way, and frowned upon by our elders.”

Three challenging Iniguar women entered the pit with Amber, Natty, and Tanya. It was a free for all. The girls sought to tear off each other’s flags, regardless of whose team they were on. They slipped, fell, or were tackled in the mud. Natasha used her judo skills to carefully throw her opponents into the mud, not wanting to cause them harm. One by one, Iniguar, and Human were eliminated as their flags were torn from their bodies. Natasha emerged the winner holding her trophies high above her head. She waved to the crowd and the crowd cheered and applauded her.

Bathed and cleaned the girls were returned to our table.

“That was fun, can we do it gain?” Natasha asked.

“I’ll arrange to have you girls wrestle me, sometime soon,” I laughed.

Shree’tek asked, “ Do you find our Iniguar women attractive?”

I admitted, “I do indeed.”

“Would you like to be with one or more tonight?”

“I am curious, but I am committed to my wives.”

He noticed the disk I was wearing, “Indeed you have made a lifetime bond with the three women that accompany you. Don’t you find it emotionally draining being bound with so many?”

I wasn’t sure what he meant, so I answered, “When I am with them all I experience is their love and passion. Even when we separate I can still fill a lingering sensation.”

“You have indeed been bonded. What you are feeling will continue to grow now that the bond has been established. You and your bond mates no longer need to wear your bonding devices. I am unbound and am curious about your human females.”

“Perhaps I can help you with that. We have an unbound female among our group who is equally curious. She may resist a little at first, but don’t worry. I am sure she will enjoy your company.”

“I would very much like to be with this female.”

I gave Amber a sedative and two heart shaped sex pills and asked her to slip them into a drink for Beverly. Amber gave me a mischievous smile, eagerly taking the pills. As soon as Beverly finished drinking the drink that Amber offered her, I introduced her to Shree’tek. I told him that she is the captain of the Lucy and that she will be eager to join him tonight. Beverly eagerly embraced Shree’tek ready to spend the night with him.

I hoped that Shree’tek was hung like a bull. It would serve her right for all the times she tried to seduce Natty and me.

The next morning I arranged to do some buying. The Iniguar did enough trading with humans that the use of galactic credits was accepted. I purchased a wide variety of curios. I bought an assortment of their clothing items, making sure I purchased several of their female breastplates. I also bought an assortment of sculptures and other artwork. To finish filling the cargo hold and remodel my cabin, I bought several pieces of furniture.

I had my cabin furnished with a couple Iniguar reclining chairs, lounge chairs for the ladies, a couch, and a new bed. Their furniture was more comfortable and far superior to my old Alliance based furniture. The bed was made from wood, and hand carved in many areas, with figures of different animals, most that I couldn’t identify. The mattress was soft enough to sink into, unlike the firm Alliance mattress I was currently using. I also had some artwork that appealed to me placed in our cabin. The girls bought more clothing and jewelry for themselves and for me. I wasn’t sure how clothing designed for six breasted women would work, but I was eager to see.

The Lucy was gone. Beverly had departed without us. However, she did take enough time to leave Amber a message:

“Sis, I have taken Sultan, and your ship. I have nearly everything of yours leaving you little to nothing. Our agreement would never have worked out, and I have grown board with our little games. While Nathaniel has been fun to toy with, he is nothing compared to Sultan. He is a real man, who knows his place. Thank you for an interesting night. To bad Nathaniel and his sex kitten wasn’t with us. It would have made for a fantastic night. Oh well, your loss is my gain. Let Nathaniel know Shree’tek had an equally enjoyable night.” Message ends.

We left the next morning. As I thought, long range scans, searching for the Lucy came up blank. Beverly was clever, hiding any traces of her passage so she couldn’t be found. We would continue our search on our way back to the Buenos Aries System.

Our scans of the Far’nar System didn’t show any evidence of the Lucy either. The area where the battle took place was full of scavengers collecting the scrap metal from the ships we destroyed. For a minute I thought I saw a freighter among the scavengers, but there wasn’t any transponder signal from her.

We jumped to the Castel System then the Auelra System, with still no sign of the Lucy. It was impossible for her to have jumped this far ahead of us, so she must have had a destination other than San Paulos in mind. I reassured Amber that when Beverly was ready she would make herself known.

I didn’t think she was mad at us. If anything I think she was finally accepting her marriage with Sultan. I almost felt sorry for him, almost. I was sure she took delight in being with Shree’tek. So, I had to accept that it was sibling rivalry that drove Beverly away.

Finally we jumped to the Buenos Aries System. Natty set our course for San Paulos. There was nothing to do but wait. We would be decelerating toward the planet for the next twelve hours.

I headed to our cabin with the girls. I was feeling depressed.

“Amber, I’m sorry. I can’t help but feel somehow I am at least part of the reason your sister ran away with your ship.”

“Nathaniel, there is nothing to be sorry for. If things had gone the other way. Beverly would have truly taken away everything I cared for, and she would have still left me in the end. We use to be very close, sharing everything. Now all she wants to do is take everything from me. It hurts. I hope she finds her peace. I still love her.”

“Tanya, contact the station for docking instructions and alert the maintenance chief about the Frigate.”

“Natty set course for the repair section and prepare to disengage from the Frigate.”

“Captain, the station requests we dock in white section dock 1 after we drop the Frigate,” Tanya reported.

We maneuvered the Revenge to the repair section using our thrusters and undocked from the Frigate. Mikes repair crew were waiting to grapple the crippled Frigate and maneuver it to a docking gantry. We swung around to white section and docked at dock 1.

Patrol

Chief Mike was waiting for us at the entrance to our airlock.

“You really shot that Frigate up,” he said. “Red is reviewing the initial damage survey and inspecting the ship himself, to see if it is worth repairing.”

“I have something in our cargo hold that might help. My forward cargo hold is full of terillium alloy, neutronium alloy, and various rolls and sheets of different metal.”

“I’ll buy every bit you’ve got,” he said. “My supplies are running low rebuilding the cruiser. I’ve got the support structure finished and I am ready to start plating the hull and laying the decks and bulkheads. If Red doesn’t buy the frigate, it will most likely go to scrap for its metal.”

My next stop was the shop that sold alien curios. I told the shop owner about the real purpose of the alien disks he was selling as mood disks.

“You mean they are used to create a lifetime bond between couples?” he said astonished. “I thought they were just a novelty or party item for sharing emotions.”

“They start off that way. Once the bond is established it creates a permanent telepathic link that continues to strengthen the bond between couples causing them to share each other’s emotions. Once the bond is complete the disks are no longer needed. The bond between the bond mates will continue to grow even without them.”

I also told him that I brought a shipment of goods from the Iniguar.

“You attacked one of their vessels?”

“Just the opposite. I rescued one of their vessels. I have been given a lifetime debt of gratitude, and am welcome on their worlds anytime. I think I saved someone of importance, named Shree’tek. While there I purchased enough goods to fill one of my cargo bays.”

I told him about the clothing my wives selected; the breast plates designed for their women having six breasts, the artwork and sculptures I found appealing and of course the furniture.

“It sounds like I’ll have to open some more stores,” he said agreeing to my price for the entire shipment.”

I asked if he might know someone who might be interested in my old bed. It was still like new and was large enough for four. Being large enough for four was the buying point he was interested in. He wanted a larger bed for his wife and her friends and agreed to buy it too.

It was a very successful day I thought, having made tenfold my investment. I made my way back to the ship. Red was waiting for me there, talking with Amber, Tanya, and Natty. We greeted each other then got down to business.

“You really put some holes in that frigate,” he remarked.

“They didn’t know when to quit fighting.”

“It was a near thing, but she is repairable. I’ll give you 200,000 credits for her.”

I accepted his offer and asked, “Did you notice her markings?”

“No, what do you mean?”

“She was an Alliance military starship.”

I explained how the two Crimson Tide Frigates were allied with our Alliance friends.

“What are they doing in this sector of space? It’s a clear violation of the treaty,” Red said.

“What are they doing? Is a very good question. I doubt they will voluntarily give us that information, so I expect we will have to find out for ourselves.”

“I’ll have to let the System Governor know about the violation so that he can alert the other system governors,” Red said, briefly talking into his comm unit. “What is going on with Beverly?”

“I don’t know if she’s jealous of Amber, or if she truly hates her. She gave up trying to seduce me and instead took everything else away from Amber, to hurt her.”

“Not so long ago, they were very close. They use to share everything, including boys. They were a lot like Tanya and Natty. Then something happened to change that.”

“Perhaps it was when Sultan left Beverly to be one of Amber’s work associates.”

“No, I think it happened before that. It may have even happened before Amber bought the Lucy. She was a tired old freighter, destined to be cut apart for scrap. Amber found her and fell in love with the relic, seeing its potential. She spent over a year, rebuilding her, deck by deck.”

“The only thing left, that I can think of, is that the rivalry was always there. It was just well masked. One thing I do know is that there isn’t any hatred in Amber. Beverly hurt her sister more deeply than she shows.” I said this showing the alien disk to Red.

“I haven’t seen one of those Iniguar bonding disks in a long time,” Red said, examining the disk. The four of you are bonded, I take it. Do you know what it means to have a lifetime bond?” Before I could ask Red continued. “What it means is that if one of you dies, or are killed, you will all share the same fate. That is the price you pay for the pleasure you share from the bonding.”

“It’s worth the risk Red. It is hard to explain. We all share each other’s emotions and feelings. The link continues to grow stronger every day. We all feel each other’s; Love, desire, passion and more. It is sometimes overwhelming, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s one of those things you have to experience to understand.”

“One day, when I find the right woman, I’ll have to get a couple of those disks,” Red said.

“There is a shop that deals with alien artifacts in green section. The last I saw the proprietor had a whole box full of them.”

“How long are you going to be staying?”

“Just for a few days, long enough to resupply and replace our expended ammunition.” I knew that it would be up to us to obtain the information we needed from the Alliance ourselves.

****

“Natty start undock procedures, move us out thrusters only when ready.”

“Aye, aye Cappy.”

Once the docking clamps were released, Natty carefully maneuvered the ship away from the station. We made our way out of system to where we could safely enter hyperspace.

“What course Cappy?”

“Set course for the Sarania System.”

“Isn’t it dangerous to jump there?”

“Yes, but it will save us a lot of time. I am sure we can make it safely through the system.

We entered hyperspace and exited in the Sarania System. The system was occupied by a Blue Supergiant sun. Any planetary bodies were long gone having succumbed to the star’s gravity. Even as far out as we were we could feel the effects of the hot star. Our environmental systems struggled to compensate for the rising temperature, and our engines worked constantly to keep us out of the stars gravitational well.

“Natty go to full power, tie in auxiliary power, let’s get out of here.”

“Full power now Cappy.”

At first, we started slowly moving away from the stars hold on us. Gradually we gained distance and speed, moving away from the sun’s gravity well. The distance also brought us relief against the heat and our environmental systems returned to normal.

As soon as we were clear we made a jump to the next system. This led us to the Faraka System. Its star was a yellow dwarf with ten planets orbiting it. Three of the planets fell within the Goldilocks Zone.

“Cappy, scans indicate heavy Alliance traffic in this system. There is an outpost orbiting the third planet.”

“Kill our drives and run dark, passive scanners only, let’s see what they are up to.”

We drifted in space, monitoring and recording traffic, and communications. Hopefully, we would remain unseen or mistaken as a piece of space junk. Our scans showed a few large asteroids close by, whose orbits would bring them in close to the third planet. It gave me an opportunity that I couldn’t resist. If we could get closer, we might be able to learn more about what the Alliance was doing here.

“Natty, can you sneak us in closer to one of the large asteroids?”

“I can try Cappy. We are in open space there is a chance that our drive plume might be seen.”

“It’s a chance we will have to take. Try landing on one of the asteroids. Its mass and composition might help in keeping us hidden, while we gather more intelligence.”

Natasha restarted our main engines feeding minimum power to them. She carefully maneuvered us towards the largest asteroid. She angled our drive plume away from the planet as much as possible. It was slow going, as we crept closer and closer to the asteroid, ready to bolt out system at the first indication that we were spotted.

We landed on the asteroid, barely anchored in place by its microgravity. Our orbit brought us closer to the planets orbit. We were able to intercept more communications and monitor the activities on the outpost.

There was no longer any doubt that the Crimson Tide had made some sort of pact with the Alliance. A large portion of the Alliance’s military faction was mobilizing here and they meant to attack. Where and what we were still trying to determine.

We had more than enough evidence to petition the Alliance government for the gross treaty violation. We also had sufficient evidence to mobilize our military forces. But we still needed a time and location for their planned attack.

After weeks of monitoring the communications and space traffic, we approached our closest orbital position. Now, the orbit of the asteroid’s would carry us away from the planet to where we could make our escape.

We poured over the ever incoming data hoping it would reveal some crucial piece of missing information, but it still alluded us. All this sitting and waiting had the crew on edge. There was little we could do but wait.

Either someone got suspicious, or something triggered their sensor net. Probes were launched our way to scan the sector of the asteroid belt we were hiding in. Hopefully, the metals in the asteroid we were parked on would keep us hidden from the probe’s sensors.

“Captain, I am picking up an unauthorized communications signal coming from cargo hold three,” Tanya announced.

“Tanya jam the signal and seal the hatches.”

“Doc take a team, capture whoever is in there, and bring them to the bridge.”

“Natty get us out of here, max burn.”

“Tanya go to active scans. Announce condition yellow. Secure all bulkhead hatches.”

Our repulsorlift engines pushed us away from the asteroids surface and our main engines fired at full thrust. We accelerated away from the asteroid, visible now with our drive plume. We had to escape with the data we had collected, to warn our friends.

“I see your point. There are worse things than being shot with a blaster, or being dumped out an airlock. Lock him in an isolation cell, no visitors. We will let Red decide his fate.”

We continued our mad dash across the solar system evading our pursuers. It wouldn’t be long before we could jump to safety.

“Captain, I’m tracking incoming missiles,” Amber announced. ECM is active and PDC is standing by.”

“Natty evasive action.”

“Jane get our shields up”

“Tanya, sound battle stations.”

“Randolph, take over the engineering station.”

“Doc and Jane on guns.”

“Tanya, do we have a target?”

“Captain, Alliance and Crimson Tide ships are moving to intercept us from the outpost,” Tanya reported.

“Natty, maintain course, let’s see if we can outrun them.”

Doc brought the prisoner onto bridge. He was bruised, bloody, and wearing chains and leg irons.”

“Did he give you any problems?”

“Not enough. He is still alive.”

“I have only one question. Why?”

“I won’t answer to the likes of you, traitor!” he yelled spitting at me.

“Doc, have him tossed out from the nearest airlock.”

“You can’t do that to me! I know my rights,” yelled the prisoner.

“You have no rights. You’re going to die. It is only a matter of deciding how I want to kill you.”

“Perhaps we should wait,” Doc remarked. “Red will know how to get any useful information out of him before he is conscripted to the mines as slave, or put to death. Maybe he can be convinced to feed him to one of his alien contacts”

“Negative Captain, they’re running dark.”

“Cappy, I have a vector from tracking their missiles,” Natty informed me.

“Fire a full spread.”

Four missiles fired from our launch tubes, seeking a target on their course. They were equipped with proximity fuses and would detonate within 50 feet of the target.

“Captain three incoming missiles spoofed, PDC is engaging the fourth,” Amber reported.

Natasha fired four more missiles as the launch tubes were reloaded. There was an explosion as one of our missiles came within range of the ship and detonated. We changed course to pursue the ship. It was visible, and our targeting systems were locked onto the ship. The Alliance vessel turned, to evade us, and it was struck by two more of our missiles. Lifeboats and escape pods jettisoned from the floundering vessel.

As we grew nearer we were able to identify it as an Alliance destroyer.

“Natty, dock with our prize. As soon as we are secure, flank speed out of here.”

Natty gained access to the ships command functions. She shut down the drives and life support functions, just in case there were any stragglers. The ship would soon be in a deep freeze. We docked with the destroyer. As soon as the docking clamps were locked, securing the vessel, we resumed our journey out system.

We couldn’t chance traveling through the Sarania System with the captured Destroyer in tow. Instead, we took the long way around jumping to the Far’nar System. The question of why the Alliance ships were in that system started to make sense. One trip across the Sarania system with its blue supergiant star was enough. Hopefully, we would make it back to San Paulos in time, with the information we collected.

We made our next jump to the Castel System, then the Auelra System and finally Buenos Aires, all without dumping velocity before reentering hyperspace.

We decelerated hard, coming out from multiple jumps. The Queen Anne’s Revenge had accumulated a very dangerous velocity, coming out of hyperspace just below light speed. Only someone on the brink of insanity, or very desperate, would make a series of jumps like that without first dumping velocity. Our engines strained to slow us down, decelerating at maximum power.

“Tanya, as soon as we can establish communications, contact Red. We need to get all the information we gathered to him.”

“Aye, aye Captain.”

She busied herself at the communications console until she finally was able to make contact. She briefly explained what we encountered and started transferring all of our information.

As soon as she completed the data transfer she said, “Captain, Red said to dock in the repair section. The repair crew can handle the destroyer from there.”

We made our way to the space station decelerating in a spiral orbit. It would be twelve more hours before we could dock. Our time in the Faraka System left us and our crew exhausted, waiting for the Alliance to discover us spying on them. The four of us went to our cabin. I collapsed onto the bed exhausted, needing a much-deserved rest.

“No you don’t,” Amber said, pulling me up and back onto my feet. “We need a shower! We are sweaty and smell bad. We can’t go to bed like this.” She undressed me and then herself. Then she led me into the shower. We washed and held each other in the showers warm water, for a long time before exiting the shower. Amber and I collapsed on the bed, exhausted. We fell asleep in each other’s arms, while Tanya and Natty took their turn in the shower.

“What are we going to do now? Amber and Cappy are asleep.”

“I am not tired yet.” Tanya led Natty to her old quarters, where they wouldn’t disturb Nathaniel or Amber’s sleep.

[] Trouble

As soon as we docked, we made our way to the airlock. Red and Chief Mike were waiting for us.

“I haven’t had a chance to review all the data, but I skimmed over enough to tell that the Alliance is up to something. Their presence, not to mention having established an outpost in our sector is a clear treaty violation and an act of war. Perhaps the data you collected will reveal more,” Red said.

“Chief, hopefully, the Destroyer isn’t too badly damaged. I’m pretty sure we are going to need every available ship, in the near future. Red I have a prisoner aboard that may be persuaded to provide us with more information.”

“Tanya didn’t say anything to me about capturing any prisoners,” Red stroked his beard, deep in thought.

“We didn’t exactly capture him. He was a member of my crew. He was caught trying to transmit a message to the Alliance.”

“You don’t want him back after I question him, do ya?”

“Of course not. I wanted to throw him out an airlock, but Doc persuaded me to keep him alive for questioning. He also thought that you might have more interesting ways of dealing with him, other than simply throwing him into an airlock and jettisoning him out to space.”

“I’m glad you didn’t. If he has any information, I will get it out of him. Of course, he probably won’t be of much use to anyone after I finish interrogating him. I do a bit of trading with an alien species that considers live human flesh a rare delicacy. They will not mind if the prisoner has been tenderized a little,” Red told me.

“Chief, I didn’t get a chance to clean up any bodies, or stragglers. We put the ship in a deep freeze to take care of them, then we were pretty busy getting back. You may want to do a quick inspection of the Revenge. We hot jumped the last three systems, without dumping velocity. When we entered this system we were well over v-max and had to decelerate hard.”

“Do you know what your chances of hot jumping more than one system are?” He asked, not waiting for an answer. “Three systems is insanity!”

“I’ve heard all the stories, maybe our ships have advanced enough to make it is possible. I made it after all.”

He shook his head no and said, “The gods must have been watching over you.”

His crew got busy undocking, the destroyer and inspecting the Revenge for damage from our mad flight back home. I looked out the station’s viewport at the light cruiser the chief was reconstructing. The exterior of the ship looked nearly complete with the hull plating in place. I knew better, there was still a lot of work to do inside.

“Nathaniel, give me a little time to go over this data. In the mean time, I will recall every vessel I can. I will also inform the System Governor and try to persuade him to contact the assembly of system governors. You did a good job getting back here as fast as you did. It may have bought us some much needed time. I’ll see if I can talk the governor into buying that destroyer. Do you think 500,000 credits will do? I will also talk him into covering any repairs and expenses for your ship. After all, your last mission was in defense of our system.”

“That would be fantastic Red. Thank You.”

“Don’t thank me yet. We may soon find ourselves in battle with the Alliance and the Crimson Tide.

I told my Amber, Tanya, and Natty about my conversation with Red and the Chief.

“When will he know something?” Natty asked.

“We will have to give him enough time to question the prisoner and review the data we collected. Red is recalling as many members of his fleet as he can. He will get hold of us when he knows something.

We headed to white section, where we had dinner and a pitcher of Sangria. I limited myself to just two glasses knowing how much it affected me. The girls heard about an opera that was performing this evening and wanted to attend the performance. I reluctantly went with them. Listening to people screech on stage was not something I looked forward to listening to.

Within the first few minutes of the performance, I grew bored. When the singers started singing, I stood on my seat and started screeching myself. I was starting to have a little fun.

A light was shined on me, by an usher. “Just what in the hell do you think you are doing?”

“Isn’t it obvious? I was answering the mating call of a Skirax.”

I was escorted outside by a team of ushers, to wait until the performance ended, for my dates. I suddenly felt extremely sleepy and sat on a bench, hoping the performance would be over soon. That was my last conscious thought.

I woke the next morning in a strange room naked, without any clothes, and with a pounding headache. I used the hostel’s comm system to call my ship. Natasha answered my call. I asked her to bring me some clothing and told her where I was calling from.

Natasha, Tanya, and Amber quickly arrived at the sleazy dump I spent the night in. I told them that I had only had the two drinks and was waiting on a bench outside the opera house. I felt woozy and must have passed out. I also didn’t have any idea what happened to me afterward or how I got where I was.

Tanya said, “Normally I wouldn’t believe you. After all, how many times have I had to rescue you from a strange hotel room? We looked for you after the concert. When we couldn’t find you, we questioned the employees at the theater.

Someone drugged you, robbed you, and dumped you here. The station has been alerted to what happened to you and the authorities have been searching for you. Your picture has been circulated all over the station, requesting any information about your whereabouts.

Natty, let the station’s police know we found you. This dive has been used for dumping bodies recently and is under investigation. The hotel manager has been arrested pending the investigation’s outcome. Red is concerned about what happened to you. He is personally going to perform the interrogation.”

“How did he manage to do that?”

“He has friends in high places.”

“Did you, by chance bring me something to wear?”

“Not this time. You will just have to walk back to the ship as you are. Maybe it will teach you to behave the next time. It wouldn’t have killed you to sit quietly during the opera. If you had behaved yourself none of this would have happened to you.”

The walk back to the ship was humiliating. It looked like the whole station turned out to watch me. We even picked up a police escort with officers both leading and following us. I had to put up with whistling, cat calls, and propositions of all sorts from both women and men. If I wasn’t famous before, I was famous now with my picture being taken and circulated throughout the station’s communications network.

I felt completely humiliated by the time I reached my quarters. Amber led me to our bed. “I haven’t had a chance to show you how much I love you today. By the time I am done with you, you will have forgotten this morning and last night.”

Tanya and Natty took that as their cue to leave us. They went to Tanya’s old quarters to share their affection for each other. I couldn’t help but notice their growing love for each other. They were spending more time together, and less time with us.

****

We met with Mike, the repair chief, at the ship’s airlock. “It is a good thing you had me check your ship. Your engines radiation shielding was almost completely burned away. Had you taken her out again, your lives would have ended in a flash, with your engines consuming everything in a brief chain reaction. It will take me a couple of weeks to replace your radiation shielding and your velocity dampers.”

The Valkyrie class cruisers were designed with heavy duty radiation shielding for their oversized engines and extra large velocity dampers. Any other class of ship would have been lost forever, reduced to subatomic particles or worse. I told Mike that he should incorporate these features into the new cruiser he was building.

Red met with us after our meeting with Mike. “Nathaniel, you take a mighty good picture,” Red laughed, showing me the procession the girls and I made walking back to the ship. “You’re famous.”

“Thanks, that’s just what I needed to hear and see,” I said sarcastically.

“Cheer up. Amber has done worse herself. If it helps, that hotel clerk started babbling at the sight of me. His accomplices have been rounded up. The station’s security offices have your belongings. You just need to sign for them. I also managed to get some information out of the prisoner you turned over to me. His information is vague, but it seems the Alliance is making a move into our region to acquire more resources and tax revenue. What you stumbled on is part of that scheme. The sector governors have launched an official protest, but it is worthless without backing it up with action. I don’t think it will come to an all out war, but we have some serious battles ahead of us. The system governor has agreed to buy the destroyer, to add to our defenses. He also agreed to pay for all your repairs and to resupply your ship.”

“You can count on us doing our part,” I reassured Red. “I wish the Lucy was here. My crew misses the entertainment her ship provided. Their moral has dropped considerably since her disappearance.”

“I ain’t heard a word from her yet, but she will show up when she is ready.”

“We headed to white section, where the security offices were located. Not having my ID the security officer looked at a recent photo comparing it to me. “I don’t know something doesn’t look quite right,” he said.

“Nathaniel, take off your clothes. Now turn around,” Amber instructed me. “It’s you,” he acknowledged. I signed for my clothing and dressed. The officer gave me the recovered clothing, 200 credits that I had been carrying, and my identification papers. I thanked him and asked, “How did they drug me?”

“They used a gun loaded with tranquilizer darts. You’re lucky they don’t care much about the dosage they give as long as it knocks you out. Most of the people they’ve tranquilized never woke up.”

“Is there any chance I can see them?”

“No. There locked up in isolation cells pending their trial. I know the judge who will be presiding over the case. He will most likely have them thrown out the nearest airlock, to save expenses. Their execution will be broadcast live so you can watch it.” I thanked the officer.

Our next stop was the Lucky Lady. It was starting to become one of our most frequented hangouts. The food was good, and so was the entertainment. They had different bands performing throughout the day and well into the night. We ordered a pitcher of Sangria and a platter of sandwiches.

Tanya seemed hooked on this new drink, foregoing her normal green goo. Natty seemed to be enjoying the meal too. She had a partially eaten sandwich in her left hand while she was slurping her drink in her right.

Her mannerisms were embarrassing in public, but always entertaining. She had all kinds of resources to draw upon for using proper etiquette but she ignored them preferring to eat in her own fashion. She did not like eating with utensils preferring to use her hands. I had to wonder if this was the ships AI’s way of having fun with her Avatar or if this was a unique personality trait that Natty was developing. It was impossible to tell which was which. If I asked her, she would tell me that she and the AI were the same.

Amber and I quietly ate our own meal, while secretly playing footsies under the table. She was unusually quiet today. I knew she was still blaming herself for her sisters leaving.

“Amber, it is not your fault. Beverly has some problems. She needs time and a reason to work them out. There is nothing you can do to help her until she decides she needs help.”

“I know… maybe if I… I’m sure I could have done something to prevent her from leaving, even if it meant letting her sleep with you.”

“It wouldn’t have changed anything. She would have still left us. She needs her space to work out her issues, in her own way. They just didn’t suddenly happen and can’t be suddenly remedied. She has been having problems dealing with them for at least the last few years.”

Maybe we went too far with the things we did to her between her marriage and the alien affair,” Amber cried.

“What we did to her was play her little game. A game she is very good a, and one she enjoys playing. We haven’t seen her final hand yet and I think she had fun being with Shree’tek.”

“What makes you think that?” Amber asked between sobs.

I hugged Amber, trying to give the help and support she needed. She continued sobbing into my shoulder.

“If she was truly mad she would have stuck around for revenge,” I answered, starting to get an idea how her sister thought.

“My comm unit chimed for attention. It was Red. He needed to see all of us in blue section at dock 9.

The four of us met with Red in blue section at dock 9, not knowing what he wanted to see us about. He explained, “The ship has been shot up a little, but she must have given worse than she got or she wouldn’t be here. Everyone is okay, there were only minor injuries.”

“What ship got shot up?”

“The Lucy, of course, haven’t you been listening?”

“Is Beverly okay?” Amber asked.

“She’s fine, just she is just a little bit shaken up. She will be out in a minute,” Red answered.

“Who was crazy enough to attack the Lucy, with all her guns?”

“I expect we’ll find out as soon as Beverly is here.”

Both Beverly and her husband, Sultan, made their appearance at the Lucy’s airlock. Beverly looked fragile, ready to collapse, and Sultan was hostile, looking for a fight. Amber ran to her sister embracing her in a hug, tears of joy flowing at the sight of her sister.

“Haven’t you done enough to harm her?” Sultan asked, bucking up to me ready to start a fight he couldn’t win.

“I think you better re-evaluate the facts, Sultan. It was Beverly who has been imposing her will on me trying to ruin my marriage with Amber. She has repeatedly tried to seduce me, she robbed me, and stole nearly everything her sister Amber worked hard for. I once threatened to kill you for breaking our agreement by having sex with Tanya. The only reason you are still standing is that Tanya intervened on your behalf. Go ahead and give me another reason,” I said staring into his eyes.

“Sultan, you’ve said enough,” Red said. “You best be getting back into the ship before blood is spilled.”

Sultan reached for his Saber and I drew mine with a quick, practiced move.

“I warn you, I am an excellent swordsman, perhaps even a master. If you cross blades with me it will be the last thing you ever do. I promise that I will try to make your death as slow as possible.”

“Sultan, don’t! He will kill you,” Red shouted. He moved Tanya and Natasha back to safety. Amber hearing my threat also moved Beverly and herself back, giving us room.

“So what’s it going to be? Do you fight and die, or will you cower away?”

“I won’t back down without at least having the satisfaction of first blood,” Sultan said, shaken and sweating profusely now.

“Then say goodbye to Beverly. En-garde!” I shouted.

Sultan dropped his sword and fell to his knees, he then laid in the prone position begging for his life. I kicked his sword away, out of his reach, before dismissing him.

“Sultan, the next time I won’t be so generous. Get out of my sight.”

“May I retrieve my sword?” He asked, reaching for the sword. “It is a family heirloom.”

“No. It is scrap metal now.”

I picked up the saber and handed it to Red. “Have it recycled as scrap,” I told Red, then slid my saber into its scabbard.

“Why didn’t you kill him?” Beverly asked.

“That would have been far too easy. What I did is far worse. I broke him, and now you will be responsible for him the rest of his life.”

“Beverly, I don’t care about the Lucy. She has been a good ship to me, and she will be good to you too. I just want us to be close like we use to be. You can have her. I just want you to be happy again,” Amber pleaded.

“Amber she owes you for all the time and expenses you paid making the Lucy what she is.”

“I don’t care about that, I have much more now,” Amber said.

“Nathaniel is right. I will make monthly payments, paying what I can, until the debt is paid. I’m sorry for all that I’ve done to you and Nathaniel,” she said hugging her sister. “I promise that I will get some help with my anger issues. It’s past time I did something about it and stop letting it govern how I act.”

“What happened to you since your departure?” Red asked.

“Well, I had an absolutely fantastic time with Shree’tek. He was curious, and gentle, with the stamina of a bull. I couldn’t outrun the Revenge, so I hid in an asteroid belt waiting for all of you to leave. When we got to the Far’nar system we were attacked by two Alliance frigates. We crippled both frigates in the battle, but they were faster and able to out run us and escape to hyperspace. Then we made our way back here,” Beverly summarized.

“Now, what?”

“Now, I finish licking my wounds, get the Lucy repaired, and we can go back and get some revenge.”

“There is a problem with that. We will be departing in a couple of days. My fleet is assembled, and we can’t wait any longer. As much as I would like to add the Lucy to my fleet, there is no way the repair dock can patch her up in time. That is why I had you dock in blue section, instead of the repair docks. You only have a little time to spend with Amber, use it wisely. I’m sure there are a lot of Nathaniel’s crew who would like to reunite with your ladies,” Red hinted.

“Nathaniel please inform your crew that they are welcome aboard as my invited guests. All entertainment, for the next couple of days, is free of charge. It is the least that I can do to start repaying you for the problems I have caused.”

“Thank you, Beverly. On behalf of my crew, I gladly accept your hospitality.”

“Natty let the crew know that the Lucy is open for business. They must be back to the ship in 36 hours for departure preparations.”

“Aye, aye Cappy. I’ve sent messages to all crew members. Will Beverly be joining us for lunch?”

“Yes, she will and I think I can safely have a mint to freshen my breath.”

“But Cappy, you tasted so yummy last time,” Natty licked her lips remembering the garlic flavor.

[] The War Begins

We all headed to the Lady Luck, in white section. Amber ordered some Sangria, spaghetti with a rich marinara sauce topped with chunks of meat, grated cheese, and a basket of fresh garlic bread. I seated myself next to Amber, just in case Beverly tried seducing me again.

I was curious as to how Natasha was going to eat this meal. For some reason she wouldn’t use dining utensils, preferring to use her hands. She told us that the food tasted better that way. It didn’t leave her with a metallic or plastic aftertaste. I didn’t understand how she got the idea that dining utensils left an aftertaste, having never seen her use any.

She took a big gulp of her drink, then to my amazement, she picked up the plate, tilted it toward her mouth, and started slurping her meal off the plate. Between slurps she said, “This is very yummy,” before continuing to inhale her meal. When she finished, she licked her plate and hands clean, then grabbed some garlic bread to nibble on.

After I finished my meal, Natasha said, “You got some sauce on your face.” Before anyone could stop Natty she started licking my face clean. “Cappy you taste yummy too.” As soon as Tanya, Amber, and Beverly were able to control their laughter, Tanya took Natasha to the laddies room to clean her up. “Natty, sometimes I just don’t know what to do with you.”

“You can lick my face clean too.”

When they returned Natasha’s face was clean and her dress was wet where Tanya labored to remove the marinara sauce. We finished our drinks and headed back to my cabin. So far, Beverly was behaving herself. She noticed the disks that Amber and I were wearing and asked about them. We explained the link that the four of us had, after becoming bonded with each other.

“It would be nice if I could experience a link like that with Sultan. It would help reassure me that his feelings for me are genuine.”

Amber and I took off our disks. We didn’t need them any longer. We explained to Beverly that once she and Sultan were bound together, it would be permanent.

“Sultan isn’t going to give you any problems about your being here with us, is he?” Amber asked.

“Don’t worry, I have him eating out of the palm of my hand. Nathaniel, I apologize for how he acted toward you, usually he is the perfect gentleman. I assure you he will cause no further problems. Especially after we become bonded with these disks.”

“You really do love him?

“I do. That is why I was hurt so bad when he left me to go into business with you. I let my anger get out of control, taking over me. I nearly lost you becoming so enraged.”

They hugged each other before Beverly departed, heading back to the Lucy.

“Natty put the judicial hearing on the viewscreen.”

We missed the trial, but we were in time for the sentencing. I had petitioned the court for leniency. I requested that the criminals be placed into slavery, doing hard labor for the rest of their lives. Their labors could be used to compensate the families who lost their loved ones. It was turned down on the basis of their not being able to accomplish enough labor to pay for their continued incarceration. It was better to cut the financial losses by jettisoning them out an airlock. The local judiciary and government believed that it was better to have a swift execution, rather than to place the burden of the of the cost of confinement on the populace through taxation.

The view screen showed four people in an airlock with a countdown timer. Someone had smashed the timer, but a digital display was on the viewscreen for us to watch there remaining seconds counting down. They screamed and pleaded for mercy, but no one was at the airlock to hear them. When the counter reached zero, the outer doors opened jettisoning them towards the planet where their bodies would burn up when they entered San Paulos’ atmosphere.

“Natty, turn off the viewscreen.” I had seen enough. We undocked from the space station, and joined Reds fleet. Our fleet was small, but hopefully, we had enough firepower to take out the Alliance/Crimson Tide outpost. Our fleet consisted of; 6 destroyers, 6 frigates, 4 torpedo ships, the Vargus, the Hedge Hog, various support craft, and my Cruiser. This was going to be a bloody battle, with ships being destroyed, and people getting killed, on both sides of the engagement.

“Tanya, hail Red, and put him on the main viewscreen.”

“Red, are we going to take the short route through the Sarania System?”

“Its too dangerous. We would likely loose half of the fleet. You’ve been through the system, and know how dangerous skirting that blue supergiant is.”

“Thanks Red, for a minute I was thinking we would be taking the short route. I’m setting our course to the Auelra System.”

“Tanya, end transmission.”

“Natty linkup with the Hedge Hog, for a simultaneous jump and match his course to the jump point.

****

“Chief, I don’t care what it takes, the Lucy launches in eight days even if I have to get out and push her. Do your best, I’m not letting my sister and friends face the Alliance in battle alone.”

“Beverly, there is no way you can catchup with them.”

“Yes there is, I can jump through the Sarania System.”

“That’s suicidal! The Lucy wouldn’t stand a chance if she got caught in the sun’s gravity.”

“Nathaniel made it, so can I.”

“Is there anything I can say to talk you out of it?”

“No, there isn’t. I owe it to them Mike. I made some bad mistakes with my sister, letting my fury get away from me. I made even more with Nathaniel, trying to seduce him and take him away from Amber. I have to do this to try to make amends for what I’ve done. It doesn’t matter how small a contribution I can make, it may still be enough to make a difference.”

****

We came out of hyperspace in the Castel System, the second leg of our journey. I scanned the system, as our fleet reformed into formation, with Red and I in the lead. There were no signs of any ships in this system. Its two planets orbited the red giant in peace. I would have to take the time to visit these planets someday.

“Tanya, open a hailing signal to Red.”

“On screen Nathaniel.”

“Red, what can you tell me about these two planets?”

“One of them is nearly completely under water. There are small islands and floating cities, where the colonies have established a large fishing industry, and sea farms. We occasionally get shipments in from them, now that we have reopened our space station. The other planet is about half ocean and land. The are colonies on this planet have built large cities on their seashores. They a few have landing fields there for trading. They do a lot of trading with both agricultural goods and seafood. Neither planet has established a spaceport, limiting the amount of trade they can do.”

“Thanks Red, I was thinking about visiting them some day, when I have th time.”

“Tanya, end transmission.”

Our fleet continued its mission across the system to the next jump point. We again linked our ships AI with the fleet and made our next jump to the Far’nar System.

****

“Times up Chief. I’ve got to launch now if I am going to catch up with Nathaniel and Amber in time to help them.”

“I’ve patched the Lucy’s hull as best I could, with the time I had. The weapons automation is repaired, but I would still man her guns, just in case it crashes again. The engines have been boosted a little to maximize their thrust, and I updated your navigation computers, including a program for an escape orbit that might work if we get caught in Sarania’s gravity well.”

“Thanks Mike, I will see you when I return.”

“Oh, didn’t I tell you? I’m coming along on this trip. They are my friends too.

“Then lets not waste any time. We launch now.”

“All hands, this is the Captain, commence undocking procedures, Operation Helping Hand is a go,” Beverly announced over the ship’s comm system. “Sultan take us out and set course for the Sarania System, maximum speed.”

“Aye, aye Captain. We are free from the station and changing course, max speed when we are clear.”

“Mike, you may as well make yourself comfortable, we have 24 hours until we can jump.”

“I will be using that time to reinforce some structurally weak points, I don’t want a lucky shot getting through the Lucy’s shields and putting an end to our mission. I’ll be outside welding on some armor plating. Give me some warning before you jump into hyperspace.”

Sultan followed Mike to the airlock. “I thought you could use a hand,” he said suiting up to join Mike in making the still needed repairs.

“I’m glad to have you helping me. We will be able to get more done in the short time we have. How are you at welding?”

“My welds don’t look nearly as pretty as yours, but they will hold.”

The chief laughed, “By the end of the day, they will be as neat as my welds are. You are about to get a lot of practice.”

He dialed the gravity down, in the airlock, to zero gravity so they could easily manage the sheets of armor plating waiting for them there.

****

We came out of hyperspace in the Far’nar System. As soon as our instruments started receiving system data, Natasha began her long range scans.

“Cappy, there are two Iniguar vessels under attack by Alliance vessels, two Frigates and a Destroyer.”

“Tanya, sound battle stations, condition red. Natty raise shields and secure all bulkhead hatches. Doc and Jane stand by on guns. Randolph, stabilize our energy reserves. Tanya, hail Red.”

“On screen Captain.”

“Red, we have to help the Iniguar.”

“We can jump while they keep the Alliance ships busy.”

“The Iniguar have been good hosts to me, as well as trading partners. Its the least we can do. Besides, we don’t want the Alliance vessels coming after us on our flanks.”

“Are you ready to take over as our commanding officer (CO)?”

“If I have to I will. We can’t afford to leave any Alliance warships behind to gather reinforcements and attack us from the rear. We don’t have enough ships to fight two fleets.”

“I agree, we will help them.”

The fleet maneuvered to intercept the Alliance warships following the Revenge on its attack run.

“Natty lock on the Destroyer and fire a full spread of missiles as soon as we are in range. Doc and Jane fire when ready.”

“Amber bring ECM online and bring up the PDC.”

ECM is online and PDC are on standby,” Amber replied.

“Missiles away,” Natasha said, firing four missiles and starting evasive maneuvers.

“Cappy, the Alliance vessels are breaking off the attack with the Iniguar, they are changing course to intercept us.”

“Natty, max burn, lets close the gap. Bring up tactical data on the main viewscreen.”

The screen came alive with our fleet represented by green icons, the Alliance with Red icons, and the Iniguar represented by blue icons. Each icon showed heading, speed and damage level. Four more missiles were launched as the tubes were reloaded. Bolts of energy were exchanged between our ships. We fired our energy beam cannons as soon as we into range.

More missiles flew toward the Alliance ships as our fleet was close enough. Our missiles scored multiple hits on the Destroyer, disabling it. The Frigates returned fire concentrating on my ship.

“Natty lock onto the lead Frigate and fire missiles.”

Natty fired four more missiles on the lead Frigate, as they fired a salvo of their own. Doc and Jane fired our particle beam weapons, raking their shields.

“Forward shields down to 70%,” Randolph reported.

The second Frigate exploded with a white flash as several of the fleets missiles overwhelmed the ships defenses. The fleet now turned to the last Frigate and joined in its destruction.

“Nathaniel, you didn’t think we were gonna let you take all the glory, did ya?” Red said, appearing on our viewscreen. “Are you damaged?

“Red I think we may have scratched our paint up a bit, but other than that we are okay.”

The Iniguar appeared splitting our main viewscreen in half, “Nathaniel, we are in your debt once again. You and your friends have saved us once again. We will make contact with Shree’tek and inform him of this new debt. Join us in Invaldi as our honored guests.”

“I regret that I can’t join you at this time. We are in route to the Faraka System, to destroy the Alliance outpost located there.”

“Then we owe you and your friends even more. What do you are your wishes for any Alliance survivors?”

“If there are any survivors, do with them what you will. We have no need of them.”

“What about the salvage?”

“It is your to keep. I hope you can do some good with it.”

I broke communications with the Iniguar and turned to Red.”

“Red we’re ready to resume course.”

Our fleet assembled back into formation and resumed its course to the Faraka System jump point.

****

“Sultan, we are still caught in suns the gravity well. Make another orbit and try escaping it again. Max burn this time, we need to build more speed. Bring us in closer to the sun this time, we need more speed to reach escape velocity.”

“Beverly its to hot, we will burn up!”

“We’ll burn up when our engines give out and the sun pulls us in. On this next orbit, we will get closer and much faster. Our speed will negate some of our exposure to the suns radiation.”

“Sultan, the orbit I programmed in your navigation system will work, trust me,” Mike said.

The Sultan changed the Lucy’s course, bringing her on a closer elliptical orbit, following the programed course, and increased the ships engines to maximum thrust. “I hope this works, there is no turning back now.” The ship accelerated towards the sun accelerating faster and faster.

As the ship approached the supergiant, it became hotter and the environmental systems struggled to cool the ship. The heat was to great for the freighters heat shields, and different systems began failing. In a last effort Sultan started spinning the ship on its longitudinal axis, in an attempt to reduce some of the heat on the ships hull.

“Its working Sultan, good thinking. We’re going to make it,” Mike said.

As the Lucy came around the sun her speed nearly doubled. She reached .4c in her dive towards the sun and was accelerating away from the sun now. The ship was cooling as she pulled away from the suns.

“Sultan, jump to Faraka, as soon as we are clear,” Beverly ordered.

They both felt each others relief through the telepathic link the Iniguar bonding disks provided.

****

Our fleet emerged from hyperspace in the far side of the Faraka system. We made our way towards the inner planets where the Alliance outpost orbited the third planet. To avoid detection, we ran dark with our drives off, letting our ships drift with their momentum. There was nothing to hide among on our current trajectory. Keeping our communications and sensor emissions silent was our only option for any chance of surprise.

As we got nearer, we started building data from our passive sensors and intercepted communications from both the Alliance and the Crimson Tide. The Alliance fleet size was growing, their numbers and size looked bad for our fleet. Their fleet included a battleship, that was a more than a match for the Revenge and all of our Destroyers alone. They also had a Light Cruiser, several Destroyers and Frigates. Things were not looking good for us. In the short time that we took to amass our small fleet, they were able to fortify theirs.

“Tanya, contact Red using a line of sight communications.”

“Captain, Red is on the main viewscreen.

“Red, I don’t know about this one, we are way outnumbered.”

“They may have more firepower, but we have superior forces. We will win, we must.”

“The only thing I can think of is to eliminate all of their Frigates and Destroyers, then simultaneously attack the Battleship. If we somehow defeat it, that will leave the outpost open for our attack.”

“Simple and to the point. I can’t think of anything better. So, we’ll go with your plan,” Red laughed.

“That wasn’t meant to be a plan of attack. I was just thinking out loud.”

“It works for me, so we will use it.”

Our fleet continued to creep in, hidden only by the vast expanse of space. As we got nearer, that vastness diminished growing smaller and smaller. Soon we would be discovered and have to take action.

“Captain, I am detecting several small objects ahead, on the edge of our passive sensor’s range,” Tanya reported.

“Put it on screen.”

Our main viewscreen changed to show a view of several small objects ahead of us. “Tanya, give me maximum magnification.” The image enlarged and the satellites became recognizable.

“Tanya contact Red. Sound battle stations, condition red.”

“Natasha, seal all bulkhead hatches.”

Red’s image appeared on a secondary screen, “What is it Nathaniel?”

“Red we have a sensor web ahead, it will ping us any second now.”

“Is there anyway around it?”

“Not that I can see. I’m going to have Natasha try to hack the web, but I think we are as close as we are going to get. Bring the fleet into single file, we can at least hide our numbers.”

“I’ll do that. Do your best Nathaniel.”

“Natty, try to hack the sensor web and give us a hole to fly through.”

“I’m working on it Cappy.”

“Amber, I need you on ECM and PDC controls. Randolph build our shield reserves, but don’t raise our shields yet. Doc and Jane, stand by on gun controls.”

“I’m taking ventral this time.” Doc said.

“I’ll still beat you with the dorsal guns.” Jane said cracking her knuckles and sitting at the weapons station.

“Cappy, its no use, their sensor web went active before I could hack it.”

“Randolph raise our shields.”

“Doc and Jane fire on anything in our path. We are going to punch our way through the web. Natty bring active sensors online and tactical data on main the screen.”

We approached the sensor web. Bolts of energy beams shot forth from our dorsal and ventral particle beam weapons reducing the satellites in our path to scrap. Their weak shielding did nothing to stop our weapons from destroying them. The fleet passed through the hole in the sensor web, ready for battle. The sensor web did its job, alerting the Alliance Fleet to our presence. The damage to their sensor web let them know where the attack was coming from. They started scrambling to their posts readying themselves to defend their outpost.

“Natty go to max burn, lets take this battle to them.”

We accelerated out running our fleet to close the distance with the Alliance fleet. Their ship’s were taken by surprise, without enough time to scramble their crewmen to their posts. We were within weapons range before the ship’s crew could respond effectively.

“Natty, target the nearest ship and fire.”

Four missiles launched from our missile tubes streaking towards the nearest Frigate, destroying it. Green and blue lances of energy joined in as Doc and Jane fired their weapons at another Frigate.

“Incoming missiles.” Amber warned.

“Natty, Evasive action!”

Our ship swerved and twisted trying to avoid the incoming fire. Most of the Alliance ships swept by us to defend against our fleet. The rest of the fleet stayed behind to attack us. The battleship maintained its position between us and the small space station that served as their outpost.

“One hit, on the frigate, damage to starboard side aft.” Amber reported. Its Icon turned to yellow on our view screen. Natasha let loose with another salvo of missiles. Doc and Jane divided their targets each firing at different Destroyers, trying to fend them off. I watched helplessly as one of our Icons, representing a torpedo boat, started flashing yellow then disappeared. Our PDC fired, engaging the missiles that were still a threat by passing through our ECM.

“I’ve got control of one of their missiles.” Amber said. She redirected the missile to one of the nearby Destroyers. The Destroyer, unaware of the threat, with the missiles IFF identifying it as friendly was struck amidships. Its Icon flashed yellow. The Hedgehog, piloted by Red was quick to take advantage, and brought all its weapons to bear on the damaged Destroyer, disabling it.

Natasha fired another salvo, at an approaching Destroyer, our shields deflected a series of shots aimed at our ship. Doc and Jane both fired at the Destroyer temporarily blinding the ship as the particle beams discharged against the Destroyers shields. This allowed two of our tracking missiles to get through the Destroyer’s PDC and detonated against its bow, breaching the hull.

A series of warning lights flashed as we took hits from the Alliance Cruiser. It had joined the battle, and we were its primary target.

“Shields down to 70%”, Randolph reported as he frantically tried to balance and divert more energy to the shields.

Doc and Jane targeted the enemy Cruiser and fired a full barrage of their weapons at the Cruiser. Natasha maneuvered our ship, twisting and spinning the ship to evade incoming fire, while trying to line up for a missile shot of her own. She made an abrupt turn to port and fired two missiles from our stern tubes before resuming her evasive maneuvers.

We were taking out a lot of their smaller warships, but they still maintained an advantage over us, and that advantage grew as our numbers dwindled. Doc jumped back from his console. He was showered with sparks from his weapons console. The overtaxed automation controls were useless now, its circuits burning and smoking.

“Automation is out on the ventral guns, they will have to be fired manually.” Doc reported.

Tanya informed the gunners that they were now on manual control. A lucky missile got through our defenses and took out one of our engines. Our icon changed from green to yellow. Nearly half of our fleet was represented by yellow icons, or destroyed, things were starting to look hopeless. Our guns continued to rain fire on the Cruiser, but the shots were less accurate and less effective. Natasha was unable to get a missile solution on the Cruiser. She was still trying to evade a missile lock on our ship.

Red came in firing his weapons on repeated attack runs. His attacks were ignored by the cruiser as it inched its way closer to victory. More annunciator panel’s lights flashed warnings as we took hit after hit from the relentless Cruiser.

“Shields down to 40%.” Randolph announced, “We need time to recharge.” There was no way to break off from our attacker. They had the advantage and were closing in on us for the kill. There was no tactic or trick I could think of. It was only a matter of time before our ship would join the other lifeless hulks drifting in this system.

Several new Icons appeared on our tactical display. They were blue icons, being unknown ships.

“Captain, we are being hailed by Shree’tek.” Tanya transferring his image to a secondary viewscreen.

“Captain Roberts, we owe you and your friends a great deal for coming to our aid in our time of need. Allow us to repay one of our many debts by assisting you.”

“Shree’tek my friend, you are a welcome sight. I would be grateful to have your assistance.”

The blue icons now turned to green as the Iniguar joined the battle. The advantage was now ours. We now had greater numbers and weapons.

The Cruiser attacking us broke off its attack. Two Iniguar Cruisers fired a full barrage of missiles and energy weapons at it. It was reduced to a lifeless hulk in minutes. Its icon disappeared from our tactical screen.

More and more Iniguar vessels appeared on our tactical screen, with ships from their fleet came out of hyperspace joining the battle.

“Captain Roberts, you shame us by battling the enemy yourself, while we gathered our fleet.”

“Shree’tek, they are our enemy too. They broke a long standing treaty with the border systems. This is only one of many battles yet to come. I’m afraid it may even come to war.”

“As we share a common enemy, we shall battle them together as friends. The names of our new allies will be sung in our halls for all Iniguar to hear.”

“Thank you, Shree’tek, it is an honor I hope to earn.”

It wasn’t long before we were able to mop up the rest of the fleet. It was time to take out the Battleship. While our shields recharged for the next engagement, Kim worked furiously to repair the ventral weapons automation controls.

We closed the distance between us until we were within missile range. Natty let loose a salvo of missiles, followed by other missiles from the fleet. The Battleship responded by firing missiles of its own, and firing its main guns.

The battleships main guns were ship killers. Only another Battleship or Dreadnought could hope to survive its firepower. Our ships dodged and weaved making it difficult to hit us. When hit, our ships either took severe damage or were destroyed. Natasha fired another salvo, then another as the tubes were reloaded.

“Cappy, that was our last missile, our magazines are empty.”

More missiles were fired from other ships in the fleet, and energy weapons converged on the Battleship. It easily destroyed our incoming missiles with its PDC array and continued firing randomly into our fleet.

Its guns were taking a toll on our fleet. We had to destroy it soon. Its guns targeted us and we took a direct hit. The weapons discharge took out our aft shields, damaged our starboard armor plating, and destroyed another one of our engines. The icon representing our ship started flashing yellow and black. It was now or never for the Queen Anne’s Revenge.

“Natty, target the bridge with our laser and cut that ship in two.”

Our guns silenced as the laser drew energy from the weapons system. A red beam of light shot toward the Battleship and began slowly slicing its way through the ship. Iniguar ships surrounded the Revenge using their ships as a deflective screen while Natty cut through the Battleship. Its guns targeted and fired at us.

The Iniguar Cruisers deflected the Battleship’s fire, taking damage in place of our ship. More of their ships joined our defenders, sacrificing themselves to give us the time we needed to disable the enemy ship.

Its weapons stopped and escape pods and lifeboats launched from the doomed vessel.

“Natty, cease fire. We’ve one.”

There was one more obstacle to take care of. Their base had to be destroyed and the Revenge was the only ship that stood a chance of doing it. Our weapons were useless against the space stations armor and shields, but there was another way.

“Tanya, have Red dock with us. Randolph, I need you and Kim to remove Natasha’s core memory and get it aboard the Hedgehog. Doc, I need a two minute delay for the ships hyperdrive.”

“I think I know what you are planning. I can put together a remote detonator that will do the job.”

“Tanya, as soon as Red docks with us, sound abandon ship. Have our crew use our shuttles and lifeboats. Randolph and Kim get Natasha safely aboard the Hedgehog. Natty, your sister is going to be quiet for a while. We are moving her aboard Red’s ship where she will be safe.”

“I know Cappy, she already told me. I’m prepared this time. I promise I won’t collapse like I did the last time.”

“Natty, I need you to set a course for the Alliance Base, ahead slow, and lock our course into the autopilot. I need to ram the base without destroying the Revenge in the process.”

“Aren’t you coming with us Cappy?”

“I’ll be right behind you. I need to stay close to the ship, so I can destroy the base.”

“The Revenge isn’t big enough to do that.”

“The ship isn’t, but its hyperdrive is.”

“How will you get out?”

“There is a Marauder in the aft cargo bay. I’ll be taking that.”

Randolph signaled that he and Kim had Natasha’s AI aboard the Hedgehog.

“Signal abandon ship, its time to go.”

“I can stay and help you,” Amber begged.

“We want to stay with you,” Tanya cried.

“We won’t leave you,” Natty said defiantly.

“Go! I’ll be with you shortly.”

I followed them to the airlock, to make sure they left, then made my way to the aft hold.

The shock of impact came earlier than I expected. I was thrown from my feet and pinned to the deck by collapsing cargo containers. Blackness overtook me. I was far from dead, but I still felt at peace.

****

“I’ve found him, he is over here,” Mike called.

He began lifting the containers that pinned my body in place. When I was freed of the containers, I became aware of the pain from my injuries.

Mike and Beverly carried me to the waiting airlock and brought me aboard the Lucy. When the hatch was sealed, she contacted the bridge and told the Sultan to get us out of here. I had regained enough awareness to press the switch on the remote Doc had gave me.

“We need to get out of here fast. We have less than two minutes to escape.” I faded back into blackness and the Lucy raced for home.

The Queen Anne’s Revenge was wedged into the bases structure. It continued firing its remaining engines sporadically causing the base to wobble in its orbit around the planet. When the two minute delay expired, the Revenge’s hyperdrive engaged.

The Revenge could not escape into hyperspace. It was too close to a strong source of gravity. Instead the hyperdrive ripped the fabric of space causing a rift. The rift continued to grow with the Revenge feeding it power, trying to enter hyperspace. Debris from the Revenge, the space station, and remnants from the battle fed the rift. It continued to grow and pull larger objects into its maw. Both the Revenge and the spaces station were drawn into the rift. With the power source no longer feeding the rift, it collapsed on itself and closed, repairing the space it briefly occupied. The Revenge and the space station were gone, destined to drift in another dimension forever.

[] The Return Home

Beverly and Sultan were given a hero’s welcome when they boarded San Paulos’ orbiting space station. Doc rushed me away to the station’s infirmary. My concussion was long healed and my broken bones mended. Doc wasn’t going to release me until I had undergone his scrutiny. He performed test after test before finally removing the splints that Beverly used on me while the nanites, she injected, mended my broken bones. It was really killing Doc to give me a clean bill of health and release me.

After not finding any reason to keep in the infirmary any longer, he said, “I suppose I will have to keep you here for a few days, under observation, just to make sure there aren’t any undiagnosed problems. If you promise to behave yourself, I will allow you a few visitors.”

The first to visit was Amber. Seeing me she balled up her fists and started hitting me in the chest crying. “You had us so scared. We thought you died with the base’s destruction. Red got us clear just before the Revenge collided with the station.”

“I assure you, I was never even close to dying. However, your sister nearly killed me by starving me to death. For the first few days, she didn’t allow me to eat anything but chicken broth, which she spoon fed to me. After that, if I behaved, I got to eat chicken soup. If I was really nice she rewarded me with some jello for desert. You didn’t by chance bring some real food with you, did you? I’m hungry enough to share a dish with Natty.”

“How cute, that’s just how our mother used to care for us when we got sick.”

Next Tanya and Natty came together for a short visit. Doc kicked them out right away after Natty took off he dress and crawled in bed with me. She just wanted to show me how much she missed me. Tanya laughed, and took Natty by her hand and led her away.

Red visited me next. “I have a surprise waiting for you when you get out of here. That was the craziest thing I ever saw, with your ship opening up a rift and disappearing into it with the space station. I was sure you were a goner. I didn’t see the Beverly dock with your ship and rescue you. The girls may still be a little mad at you now, but the forgiving part will be well worth it.”

Shree’tek was one of my last visitors. “Captain Roberts, I am glad to see that you are whole. I was afraid I might be visiting a vial of subatomic particles. Even now ballads are being written about your sacrifice and your fortunate escape.”

“Shree’tek, I am glad to see you made it uninjured yourself.”

“Our people are going to open up regular trade with this station and we will be sharing our technology with your friends. It is a small gesture for the kindness you have shown us. We have towed your trophies here, as a gesture of good will. The Alliance survivors have been enslaved, to pay back their debt. We have spoken to the one you call Red. I have agreed to have a part of my fleet remain here to help patrol against further Alliance incursions until your fleet is rebuilt.”

“Thank you, Shree’tek.”

“It is we that owe you many thanks, Captain Roberts. When you are well, we hope to see you grace our halls again. We have a lot to celebrate.”

Jewel snuck in to see me while Doc was away. We got to know each other a little more aboard the Lucy. She was the only person Beverly would allow to visit with me, the three weeks I was aboard her ship.

Even though Beverly allowed her to visit me, she didn’t trust us alone. She chaperoned every one of Jewels visits. I was given a massage by her everyday that promised a lot more later. Then we would spend most of the afternoon talking or watching movies together.

Today, she made up for the time we didn’t have to ourselves aboard the Lucy. It didn’t count as cheating because this was sleepover on station and not aboard a ship. Jewel assured me that Amber wouldn’t mind anyhow. They grew up together and were close friends. They didn’t have any secrets from each other and often shared their boyfriends with each other.

When Doc returned, I asked, “Dad, how long do you plan on keeping me here?”

“Son, there isn’t anything keeping you here, you are free to go.” I looked at my personal possessions. All I had left was my gun belt, a blaster, and my sword. There was nothing else left. If I wanted to walk out of here, I would do so naked. I didn’t have any choice but to wait for my wives to bring me something to wear.

It took them two days for the girls to come and get me. Doc chuckled when they walked into the infirmary.

“Nathaniel we are still mad at you. You shouldn’t have left us behind. We are a family!” Amber shouted.

I tried to explain to them that it was their safety that I was concerned about. But they wouldn’t listen.

“All of the clothes we had were destroyed with the ship’s destruction,” she continued, “we lost all of our possessions because of you.”

“Where are my clothes?”

“We burned what you were wearing when you got back.”

“We all have plenty of money, in the accounts, I opened for us awhile back. We have more than enough to get some new clothes, and a small ship, maybe even a freighter. I hope you brought something for me to wear.

“We haven’t had time to go shopping for you. You will just have to use the gown you are wearing.”

“It’s this, or if you prefer you can wear one of Amber’s nighties?” Tanya said.

“Amber doesn’t wear nighties.”

“Precisely.”

“I guess I will just have to borrow the gown.”

Amber took my gun belt, blaster and sword strapping them on herself. “You won’t be needing these,” she said.

Beverly came into the room, “Am I too late? Their relationship was much better now that they were back together, but she was still mad about Sultan’s leaving her to join her sister in a business venture. Beverly was invited to be a business partner, but she declined and disappeared from her sister’s life.

“Beverly, I thought you were going to start treating me like family like you did on our way back here?”

“I am, I spent the last two days convincing Tanya to let you wear the gown. She planned on letting you wait until you were ready to walk back to the Lucy naked. I just got the video of you walking back to the Revenge the last time you screwed up. Do you want to see it?”

“No thanks, I already have.”

“I make Sultan watch it daily, now. It serves as a warning for him, against ever stepping out of line with me again.”

The girls walked me out into the waiting crowd. It looked like the whole station turned out to get a look at their hero. At least this time I had something to wear. I walked across most of the white section in a daze, before Amber asked, “Where are you going?” I stopped. I had no idea where I would be staying now that my ship was gone. They turned me around and marched me back the way I had come and back into the crowd of people. We walked until I was standing in front of the Lady Luck. “We have a suite above the restaurant. If you please me tonight. I will let you dress in something more fashionable tomorrow and we may even show you a surprise,” Amber said. “I also want to hear everything about you and my friend Jewel. Don’t leave anything out. she has already told me everything.”

I guess lying about it wouldn’t help me this time. At least she only said that she wanted me to tell her about Jewel, and not Tanya or Natty. Tanya was the one I was afraid of finding out about Jewel and me. I was a firm believer in the fact that she would castrate me if she ever found out about us.

I did my best to make up with Amber and to apologize to her. My being with Jewel didn’t seem to upset her. She just wanted me to tell her about it. She promised not to tell Tanya or Natty about our flings. She and Jewel have been best friends since they were children and didn’t have any secrets from each other.

With the exception of Amber’s late husband, they had shared all of their boyfriends with each other. Amber believed that if she had shared Stan with Jewel, she might have seen him differently and not married him. She had no regrets about marrying me. I was sure she was already starting to forgive me for sending her away with her brother.

The next morning I was rewarded with a package. It contained a used, worn out, white jumpsuit and a pair of slippers. “The thrift shop I got these from was about to throw these out, but let me have them instead,” Tanya said. “After breakfast, we will take you to see your surprise.”

“Just how long are you planning on staying mad at me?”

“Natty and I haven’t decided. It could be days, weeks, or even longer. You will just have to try to earn a little forgiveness every day. That was a very selfish thing you did to us,” Tanya replied. “We thought you died, alone, aboard the Revenge.”

“Please forgive me,” I begged.

“We love you Cappy,” Natty whispered in my ear.

We enjoyed a late breakfast together. Natty made a show of accidentally dropping her spoon, which was unusual as she rarely used them and never for their intended purposes. “Oops,” she said, bending over to retrieve her spoon again. She dropped her spoon two more times before Tanya took it away. “You were dropping your spoon on purpose, weren’t you?”

“Maybe.”

Tanya called ahead to let Red and Mike know that we were on our way to the repair section to see the new ship. When we got there, Mike pointed to the waiting cruiser. “It isn’t quite finished yet. But when I’m done, she’s all yours. I am going to make her better than your old ship ever was. You will love her. I’ve incorporated some of the new technology we got from your Iniguar friends, into it.”

Red pointed to the battleship where several workers were already mending her. “That was a nice clean cut with the laser. It is going to be easy putting my new ship back together.

There were Cruisers, Destroyers, Frigates and more, salvaged from our last battle, moored a short distance away from the repair section. Mike was going to be very busy rebuilding Red’s fleet. He was going to have to hire several more workers to rebuild all of these hulks.

“With all this salvage, you don’t need to be worried about going broke for while. I deposited 12,000,000 credits in your account. Your crewmen and women are working for me temporarily, they have already been paid their bonuses. How is that for a payday? I’ll have enough work to keep Amber, Tanya, Natty, and you busy until your ship is finished. Your crew is taking a few days off spending their time and credits aboard the Lucy.”

“Nathaniel, that’s enough excitement for today. You still have some atoning to do. With all the walking we have done, we need our sore feet and ankles massaged. If you’re really good and please us, we just might be convinced to show you a little more forgiveness,” Tanya said.

“Oops, my shoelace is untied.” Natty bent to tie her shoe.

“Natty, your shoes don’t have laces,” Tanya said.

“Oh.”

“Natty, your other shoe is untied too.”

“Thank you, Cappy.” She bent over again to tie her other shoe.

“Nathaniel, Natty doesn’t need any help with being naughty from you. She does well enough on her own.”

“Tanya, your shoe is untied too. I’ll tie it for you.”

She bent over a third time and Tanya rolled her eyes. “Natty you and I are going to have to have a serious talk later.”

“I’m sorry Tanya, did I do something bad?”

“You’ve outdone yourself today, cheering Nathaniel up. We want him to feel remorseful, working to earn his forgiveness.”

“Oh… I forgive him.”

“Amber and I don’t, you shouldn’t either.”

With the girls squabbling already I knew I would be forgiven very soon. Amber wasn’t mad at me any longer, I had been forgiven. She released most of her anger at me in sickbay, and we made up for it last night. Natty, was never really mad at me. With Amber and Natty on my side, Tanya would give in. Then Amber and I could have a proper honeymoon and share it with our friends.

Red was sure to keep us busy. He would need someone to command and pilot the Hedgehog, while he was busy transferring to his new ship and getting it ready. The four of us would be kept busy running guns for Red until Mike was finished with my new ship.

Thank You

 

 

Thank you for reading my novel.

 

I would greatly appreciate it, if you would consider leaving a review at your favorite retailer. Please let me know what you think.

 

[+ Please click here to leave a review.+]

 

Other Books:

 

Alliance Gold

Freedom Flight

 

Coming Soon:

 

Star Bridge

 

Friend me on Facebook: http://facebook.com/rogue8734

 

My website:

http://www.jaytoney.com

 

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/jaytoney4


Space Rogue

Nathaniel and the crew of the Queen Anne's Revenge leave Alliance space to start a new life. He wants the free life of being a pirate raiding rich colonies among the bordering star systems. He clashes with the Crimson Tide, a pirate organization and stumbles on the Alliance's plans for conquest and expansion across their border and into the free border systems. Nathaniel doesn't have any success at being a pirate but is successful as a reluctant hero. He rescues a freighter that is under attack. It's captain, Amber, and her brother Red, a mercenary and gunrunner, join forces with him against the Alliance and Crimson Tide.

  • ISBN: 9781370799138
  • Author: Jay Toney
  • Published: 2017-08-05 22:50:17
  • Words: 49586
Space Rogue Space Rogue