“It’s not too late to walk away,” Maya cooed from across the table, amber colored eyes coyly tempting the man seated across from her. “In fact, buy me another drink and I’ll forgive you. Everyone wins,”
Across from her sat Dalton Franks, a bounty hunter not exactly known for his tact. Here he was, an unsettlingly large gun facing her, ready to cash in on the biggest score of his career. Maya was amused at his audacity. To walk into her bar and expect her to just quietly walk back to face trial for her crimes. The last place she wanted to be was in some stuffy jail cell while a bunch of old politicians from Earth decided her fate.
“Tempting…” his voice trailed off with a lustful growl. “I’m curious to see if the stories about you are true,” he replied, the thick scent of alcohol clung to him with each exhalation.
“Oh, they are, I assure you” she teased, the odor of sweat and dirt washed over her as she leaned in closer. 3… the number ticked in her head as she waited for his next move.
“You make an enticing offer,” he replied, his gaze lingered on her curves. “But the bounty’s just too good to pass up. I hope you understand.”
2… She silently dropped her right hand to the holster under the table. “And who knows, maybe we can still find ways to keep each other entertained. It’s a long trip back,” he continued, smugly unaware of the danger he was in.
1… A wave of heat emanated from the expulsed round as it ejected from the weapon held under the table. She watched in pleased ecstasy as his face shifted from lust to surprise in the span of a second. He attempted to reach for his own weapon, she squeezed the trigger a second time. The rowdy atmosphere of the bar froze, the bounty hunter’s body slumped forward onto the table with an echoing thud.
As she rose from the booth, her hands hastily straightened out her black vest and white shirt. The gun swiftly slid back into its holster as she addressed her nervous audience. “Free drinks on me!” she shouted, reinvigorating the startled patrons back to their previous levels of enthusiasm.
“Subtle as always captain,” her first mate, Kol Brymbenth, commented sarcastically. A handsome fellow, with dark ebony skin and intense grey eyes.
“Get some of the boys down here to clean this up,” she commanded as if ordering him to take out day old trash.
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied calmly as she continued towards the bar.
Carelessly, she stretched herself over the counter, plucked a bottle of whiskey from its holdings, and poured herself a drink. “To freedom!” she cheered to her customers before taking a long throat singeing gulp.
She awoke the next morning to a loud rap at her door. Her head spun with the familiar pain of too much fun. Groggily, she surveyed the results of the night’s festivities. Specifically the muscled frame of the Sivian lying next to her, his green and yellow scales shimmered in the sunlight that poked through the partially drawn drapes. She affectionately stroked a hand across his smooth, scaled abdomen, a mischievous smile on her lips as she considered recreating their steamy affair from just a few hours before. A second knock at the door, caused the ache in the back of her mind to roar louder.
Irritated, she rolled out of bed and threw open the door. The young messenger’s jaw unintentionally dropped at sight of her naked presence.
“What is it, kid?” she asked, right arm braced against the doorframe; partially to steady herself, partially to demonstrate her annoyance. Her head thrummed and the last thing she wanted to deal with was some hormone-riddled errand boy. When he failed to respond quickly, any semblance of patience she might have had prior vanished.
“Well? I don’t pay you to stare. Out with it,” she chastised him.
The words shook him from his trance. In the blink of an eye his demeanor shifted from awestruck to fearful, “A…a-Anna…w-West is here, she-she says you-you’re expecting her?” he responded.
“See, was that so hard?” she teased him with a wink. “Tell her I’ll be right down.” With a quick nod of his head the boy anxiously fled back down the stairwell to inform their guest.
“Everything alright?” asked her guest in that deep gravelly voice that she loved so much.
“Everything’s fine, but I’m afraid I’ve got business to attend to,” she replied as she grabbed her clothes from off the floor. Obligingly, the Sivian followed suit and calmly retrieved his strewn clothing. Normally she’d have ignored her guest and indulged in base desires, not many Sivians came to Boca Alacran and she loved the feel of their smooth, ridge-like features against her skin. Today however, something more important came up, something she’d been hunting for a very long time.
Anna was seated at one of the smaller tables that populated the center of the bar, as opposed to one of the many booths that lined the walls. Anna West was some sort of big hero for The Council, part of their infamous Orothros training program. Apparently, she was particularly famous for killed some big name revolutionary or something, Maya couldn’t remember what the guy’s name was and frankly didn’t care to. She liked Anna though, she was always willing to do whatever it took to get the job done. She’d have made a nice addition to the crew.
“Anna, so nice to see you again,” she greeted her guest eagerly. Anna was about the same height as herself, maybe a few inches taller, with wavy, dark-blonde hair and a pair of emerald green eyes that she envied. Maya had long ago realized that men were generally much more susceptible to a pretty face. Guess those Orothros fellas knew what they were doing bringing her aboard, she thought as she assessed her company.
“Sorry, to wake you,” Anna responded with forced politeness.
“Oh, it’s fine. You drinking anything?”
“No, I won’t be long-“
“Two glasses of Sky Rum for me and my friend here,” she waved to the barkeep.
“Anyways, I managed to get a hold of that thing you wanted,” Anna continued as she reached into her coat pocket and retrieved a shiny black datapad. Maya’s eyes lit up with excitement; finally, after all these years, she’d found it. Instinctively, she reached out to it, her heart beat faster, and then Anna pulled it back. “First, my payment,” she scolded the anxious pirate.
“Right you are,” Maya responded, embarrassed that she’d lost her composure like that. “Kol, send our guest the promised information,” Maya commanded with a haughty wave of her hand. A half second later Anna’s wrist computer dinged in confirmation that the document had been received.
“A pleasure doing business with you, Maya,” the operative answered with a smile before sliding a data chip over to her.
“The pleasure was all mine,” she replied absentmindedly as she slid it into her personal device. The screen fared to life with information. It wasn’t until the sound of glasses hitting the table that she realized the ex-operative had already left. She grasped a glass with every intention of enjoying its contents, cool condensation slipped between her fingers, yet she found it difficult as she intensely analyzed every aspect of the treasure map in search of verification that it was authentic; much to her excitement, it was. In her hands was the map and coordinates that would finally lead her to Vincent Cosland’s lost vessel. Victorious, she sipped her Sky Rum and motioned for Kol to meet her in the office.
“You can’t be serious, it’s in Kulrathi space. That’s suicide,” her first mate replied upon hearing the news.
“Yes, I’m well aware of then risks, but I think you fail to see the benefits of this. We find this treasure we can live like royalty, no more bounty hunters trying to take us down, no more running at the first sign of a Council ship. We’ll be untouchable.” It was a dream she’d had ever since she was a little girl, hearing stories of adventure from her father.
“That’s if it’s there and, assuming the map is correct, we don’t get killed on the way.”
“Come on, what happened to the fearless young man that helped me raid every merchants throughout Council Space, that helped me buy a ship and get out of those damned slums on Atlantis. We can do this, it’s our destiny to find this treasure Kol. I know it.”
They’d been through a lot together. Despite coming from a rich family, he’d left it all behind to travel the galaxy with her. Together they’d snuck aboard a transport ship, with but a few credits to their name, swindled a fool of a man from his prized vessel, and helped her become the most infamous pirate in the sector. He was her conscience, her tether to a simpler time. Life was good, and it was about to get better if they found Cosland’s treasure trove of merchandise.
“Fine, but we’ll have to hire a few more hands. We lost a few since you last took The Jackal for a spin. Most notably we need a new pilot.”
“What happened to Dutch?”
“Dead. Shot, after his wife caught him with another man.”
“Huh, guess we better get searching” she announced before flinging open the door connecting her office to the bar room. The place had come alive since she’d met Anna an hour ago. Patrons of all shapes and races filled the seats. The majority were human, but a few Souri mingled about as well, gliding through the place with an elegance that seemed out of place amongst the regular drunken rabble. Their long hair seemed to flow behind them like a silk cape it was one of the most beautiful things she’d ever seen, and they were probably shit faced drunk at the moment.
“I’m leading an expedition,” She announced, leaping onto the counter arms held out wide like a performer welcoming their audience to a show. “If you seek fame and fortune, report to my first mate, Mr Brymbenth here. Otherwise, enjoy tonight, my friends,” she stooped down to pour a shot of whiskey. “For tomorrow we go in search of riches beyond your wildest imaginations!” A great cheer swept through the room as one by one men and women approached Kol, seeking a chance to leave the dusty hellhole that was Boca Alacran. Victorious, Maya stepped down and refilled her glass. She had a good feeling about this, everything was finally going to work out.
“Captain, I believe I have someone you might be interested in,” Kol announced from behind her.
She turned back towards him and came face to face with a young woman, with brown skin, tightly braided hair, and hazel eyes. She was a skinny thing, but carried herself with a toughness that Maya was well acquainted with.
“Miss Allison Tavik. She claims she’s just the pilot we’re looking for,” Kol clarified.
“Is she now?” Maya grinned with delight. “Tell me, what exactly makes you qualified to fly, my ship?”
“I’m the best pilot in this room. That good enough?” The declaration caused Maya to look at Kol with a skeptical raise of her brow.
“Listen kid, I don’t have time for making dreams come true. Come back with something more substantial and we’ll talk.”
“Fine, good luck finding another pilot at such short notice with experience navigating through Kulrathi territory,” Allison beamed victoriously.
Maya sighed. “You’ve flown the dark zone?” she asked skeptically.
The girl smiled confidently back at her. Maya shook her head and poured herself another drink. “What makes you think that’s where we’re headed anyways?”
“He told me,” Tavik replied with a tilt of her head towards Kol.
Maya groaned with annoyance. “Very well Miss Tavik. Clearly I’m out of options. Report to the docks at 0500 tomorrow morning; if you’re late I find someone else. Are we clear?”
“As crystal, ma’am,” she replied with a mocking grin before walking back to her table.
Maya cautiously watched the young pilot stride victoriously away. She shook her head, poured another drink, embraced the burning sensation, and poured herself another.
Boca Alacran’s docks were probably the nicest thing on the planet. Unlike the rest of the facilities in the dusty desert region, the docks had the cleanliness and sophistication not found outside the inner ring. That was thanks in large part to the automated drones that had been tasked with repairing and cleaning the modest space port. Icy air washed over Maya as she stepped through the entry way. It was eerily silent, making her feel mildly uncomfortable as her boots echoed through the crisp white corridors. She stopped in front of docking bay seven, her heart hammered with anticipation. With a deep breath she crossed the threshold, the dry heat immediately assaulted her senses.
Sure enough, the young female pilot was waiting for her front of The Jackal’s Heart, Maya’s prized possession. It had a sleek design, built more for speed and stealth than intense firefights. Of course, modifications had been made to improve its durability and firepower over the years, but it still wasn’t enough to survive a lengthy fight against better equipped vessels. Just a little farther baby, she thought as she gazed longingly at the worn black and red paint that covered the vessel.
Entering through the loading ramp, their boots echoed across the dull steel flooring. The maintenance crew had yet to arrive but their repair drones whirred about like a hive of insects.
There were four levels on The Jackal’s Heart, the cargo bay/engine room, the crew’s quarters, the bridge, and the captain’s quarters. After a short trip via the elevator, they found themselves on the bridge. In the center of the room sat a simulated image of the ship. Green highlighted sections blinked on and off, cycling through each individual section of the ship. When they reached the cockpit, Tavik quickly dropped down into the faded leather pilot’s chair. Maya watched warily as her new recruit examined the control panel.
“It’s all yours, but if you crash it I’ll personally throw you out the airlock. Are we clear?” she asked, but no response came. The girl was too entrenched in the icons and lights splayed out before her.
“If you need me, I’ll be in my cabin. We leave at 0900,” Maya announced before briskly walking back to the elevator. She was eager to spend a few more minutes analyzing the map before they made the jump to Kulrathi space. She’d waited ten years for this chance, she’d be damned if she let anything get in her way.
The time to take off went by rather quickly as she lost herself in the scattered notes and coordinates Anna had uncovered for her. It wasn’t until she heard the click of her bedroom door opening that she looked at the time. Kol moved wordlessly to stand beside her. “We’ll be fine, Kol,” she reassured him.
“I don’t doubt it, Captain,” he replied knowingly. “All crew have reported in. We’re ready to go.”
Maya smiled, sliding her chair over to the communication tablet on the far side of her table. She pressed the red icon to initiate contact with Tavik. “Take her up, helmsman,” she commanded.
“Aye, aye, captain,” her pilot responded, unmistakable mock enthusiasm clung to the faceless words.
With a lurch the ship began its ascent, causing Maya and Kol to brace themselves momentarily. The rumbling intensified momentarily before settling back down. Maya gazed upward with a grin. So far so good, she thought as she leaned back in her chair. A faint hum beneath her feet signaled the warp drive activating in the deep recesses of the vessel. The brief wave of nausea that followed signaled they’d begun the jump to their destination.
“You know captain, you might not like what you find. That ship’s been missing a long time,” Kol mentioned curtly.
“So what? You expect me to just turn back? I’ve been looking for so long, I can’t give up because of a few old smugglers’ tales.”
“Nor do I expect you to. I just want to make sure you don’t let your curiosity get you killed.” Having said his piece, her first mate turned on his heel and walked back out the door.
Her heart pounded in her chest, as the seconds ticked by, each beat felt like an eternity. She tried to sit still and pass the time, but each distraction paled in comparison to what lay ahead of her. Eventually her impatience got the best of her resulting in a trip towards bridge. The holographic layout of the ship glowed brightly before her, the green highlighted sections were mesmerizing in their consistent blinking. So much so that she was caught off guard when Tavik’s voice echoed over the ship wide terminal that they were exiting the jump.
With a shudder, the ship reentered normal space. Silence followed as the entire room, maybe even the entire ship, waited for word from their captain.
“Helmsman, set course for-” she began when her words were abruptly cut-off by a violent impact that sent her face first into the hologram. Thousands of pixels scattered from the disruption, returning to normal once she regained her composure. Sections of her ship had changed from green to red.
“Tavik! Report!” She shouted down the walkway.
“Scouts! Must have crossed right in front of their patrol route!”
“Already on it!” she called out, as the ship jolted once again. Determinedly Maya clawed her way up to the cockpit, maintaining her balance with each missile barrage that shook the cabin.
“Sit rep, helmsman!” Maya barked as she stood behind her pilot. Tavik’s fingers deftly danced across the golden control panel, with a mixture of panic and focus that impressed her captain.
“Four Kulrath Scouts on our six, I’m trying my best to avoid sustained fire, but if reinforcements show up it might not be enough.”
“I thought you said you were good at this!” Maya accused her acidly.
“I am!” she barked back. “If it wasn’t for me you’d be choking in a vacuum, so shut up and let me work!”
Maya found herself momentarily shocked at what had just happened. No one ever called her out on her own ship, even Kol knew to bite his tongue when they were around crew members. That said, she made a good point.
For a moment, Maya wished she’d been outside the vessel so as to properly get a glimpse of the complex maneuvers Tavik was putting her baby through. She could only imagine the profound elegance of their larger vessel spinning and dodging as hot plasma bolts were lobbed in their direction.
“Damn it!” Tavik cursed. Sweat beaded down her neck. She intensely hunched over the console, fingers rapidly dancing as she put the ship through its motions. “The canon’s fried! Will have to give it time to cool off.”
The ship jolted violently as they came under fire once more. A wave of vertigo came over Maya, followed shortly by a loss of balance that resulted in her gripping the back of Tavik’s seat. “Sorry, I had to turn off a few things to avoid getting blown up,” the pilot announced upon sensing Maya’s weight pressing down on her.
Next thing she knew Maya could clearly see the enemy scouts heading right for her. The Kulrathi scouts had little time to react as The Jackal’s forward plasma cannon released a decimating volley, leaving nothing but frozen blood and rapidly cooling shrapnel in its wake.
“Now, where’re we going?” Tavik asked with a calm smugness that stirred feelings of loathing and admiration in Maya.
“Arlax,” she answered.
“The planet. I already programed the coordinates into the ship.”
“Oh, right,” the cocky helmsman replied ashamedly.
Arlax was gorgeous, yet unbearably humid. Lush foliage, carpeted the terrain with various shades of green, orange, and yellow. On the fringes of the field they’d settled upon, moved hidden creatures, curious as to what the giant metallic beast was doing invading their home.
“Alright mates listen up!” Maya’s voice boomed as she walked down the loading ramp, gun in hand. She stopped upon reaching the bottom and surveyed her expeditionary crew. It consisted of ten hired hands from the bar on Boca Alacran, plus Kol and herself. Tavik would stay behind with an engineering team in case the locals showed up. In which case they’d probably all be dead anyways.
“Our destination is approximately 32 kilos from here. What we’ll find along the way I’m not sure, but the end result will be greater riches than you can even believe. If any of you want to stay behind, I understand, just don’t expect to get paid.”
Her crowd of followers remained silent and unmoving as she inspected them for signs of dissent. They were a motley crew of drunks and failures looking to redeem themselves. Pathetic, but determined she thought. Most still wore the same dusty rags they had on when she’d found them in the bar. As she stood before them the stench of piss and air surrounded her, apparently they didn’t bother using showers either. These really were the bottom of the barrel. Another thing she’d have to work on after this excursion was finished. “Very, well. Let’s move out,” she commanded, leading the way into the dense jungle.
Their trek was difficult to say the least. Thorny vines snagged on their clothing, roots tripped them up, and low hanging branches pummeled those that failed to pay attention. Fortunately, they only lost two crew members on the way; one to a carnivorous beast that pulled him up into the high branches, the second to a swarm of insects. Though technically the bugs didn’t kill him, he ran into a luxurious lake to rid himself of the pests only to be snatched up by a rather large cross between a frog and an alligator. Maya took solace in the fact she still had a majority of her crew alive, she’d write letters to their loved ones of course. Assuming anyone actually cares. She imagined getting such a letter when her own father disappeared on one of his smuggling runs. It would have saved me a lot of wasted nights hoping he’d return, she mused.
Two hours into their trek they ran into them, the Kulrathi. Maya had heard the stories, but had been very young during the Crystal Wars so that was all she’d thought of them. Stories to scare children. Of course, she’d also heard tales of ships disappearing from this territory of space. Cosland’s crashed ship certainly provided some validity to such accounts.
There were four of them, likely scouts sent to find their ship. Their armor covered them from head to toe. The helmets were faceless, no visible visor or lenses. The armor on their arms, chests, and legs was so dark in seemed to absorb and distort the light around them. Hardly appropriate jungle attire, she thought as she stared at the sentinels. Then as if they could read her thoughts they slowly faded into the foliage around them.
Everything became eerily silent, the creatures that had moments ago been making tons of noise suddenly ceased their cawing and growling. A scream of agony from the back of the caravan, followed by the drumming of rifle fire, signaled they were under attack.
“Run!” she shouted to anyone that heard. They took off, smacking away branches and leaves with the grace of cattle in a storm. Eventually she lost sight of her crew altogether. She was alone, and suddenly worried that she’d die on this barbaric planet. She wanted to call out to Kol, to anyone, but fear of alerting the Kulrathi stilled her tongue.
Her heart thumped in her chest as her breaths pushed out slowly. She waited for anything that might emerge from the foliage, be it friendly or hostile. Her hand gripped the hilt of her pistol. Sweat trickled down her neck. A crunching twig signaled something was near. Pistol drawn, she whirled around expecting to be caught in the gaze of that faceless Kulrathi helmet. Instead she came face to face with Kol.
“Oh, good, it’s you,” she panted as the adrenaline of the moment refused to leave her. He didn’t say a thing, he just raised his gun at her, a grim expression on his face. She felt extremely confused, thoughts of his actions over the past few days flipped through her mind. Has he finally had enough of being second fiddle? she wondered. Her hand slowly inched towards the grip of her pistol. She maintained eye contact, hoping to give him a reason to think about his actions. They were after all the closest thing to family either had left; that had to count for something. Then she noticed his eyes weren’t trained on her, but almost looking through her. She counted to three, then spun around, pistol at the ready. Her finger haphazardly depressed the trigger, projectiles from both hand cannons slammed into the metallic armoring of the Kulrathi scout. She was almost afraid that it wouldn’t be enough. It felt like she’d should have run out of bullets faster than she did. Boogeymen aren’t killed by bullets, her fears echoed in her mind. Luckily for her, Kulrathi aren’t quite the monstrous boogeymen the galaxy had made them out to be. The combined firepower managed to overwhelm their attacker’s defenses, leaving it lying face up on the jungle floor.
Maya looked down at the faceless mask, curiosity begged her to see what was under the hood. She began to reach forward when Kol’s voice stopped her.
“Captain, we found it,” he whispered anxiously.
Her eyes lit up, all thoughts of curiosity or fear fled her mind. Without another word she rushed past him, eager to find her long awaited treasure.
Kol led her to the edge of a clearing overlooking the wreckage that she’d hunted for so long, a sense of pride and accomplishment swept through her. She spotted maybe half of the crew that had ventured out with them. She reminded herself once more to notify their next of kin. The location itself was a frigate. The Gambit, now overgrown with various plant life since its crash landing ten years ago. A knot formed in her stomach as she realized its aft section was gone, she was looking at only half a ship. That was when her deepest fears resurfaced. What if there’s nothing there? Not only has it been ten years, but its entire cargo may have been scattered across this entire godforsaken planet. NO! She fought herself. I haven’t come all this way for nothing. I’ll strip it for parts if I have to, I am not leaving this place empty handed.
“Captain?” Kol called out from behind her, shaking her focus. “Orders?”
She realized they’d probably seen her change in demeanor. She refused to back down now, not when they were this close.
“We head down, take whatever isn’t strapped down, and maybe a few things that are,” she commanded, regaining her composure.
“You heard the lady, get moving gents!” Kol called out before returning his attention to Maya. “You think we’ll find anything?” he asked her quietly.
“I know we will,” she replied before trotting across the vine covered ground, a determined sense of hope leading the way like a beacon.
That beacon began to dim as she looked upon the inside of the frigate. Small alien creatures scurried about, fearful of their new arrivals. The stench of blood and dirt blended with that of decomposed flesh, creating an almost deadly concoction that stagnated in the humid heat. Maya stifled a desire to vomit. She fearlessly plowed forward as her hired hands anxiously attempted their own brave entry.
The farther she progressed through the ghostly remnants of the vessel the more it became clear that any cargo that had once been here was long gone. Whether from the crash, scavengers, or the local fauna, she didn’t care. Eventually, she reached the command center. Deactivated terminals, and skeletal remains sat as a glaring reminder that it was too little too late for a salvage operation. A feral wolf of some sort, with black snake-like skin that covered its body except for a line of thick fur that ran down its spine, snarled aggressively at the intruder. Instinctively, Maya pointed her pistol at the beast. It simply stared back at her, fangs bared, ready to pounce.
She pulled the trigger before it had a chance to react. The high powered projectile tore through the shimmering black skin that covered its face, leaving a red hole where its eye was. As she looked upon the dead creature she noticed something small moving in the shadows. Curious, she holstered her weapon and crouched low on the balls of her feet. What she found was a smaller version of the creature she’d just killed, it hissed nervously at her, blue fur raised upwards along its spine. She removed a piece of jerky from her pack and offered it to the frightened critter. The pup warily moved from out of the shadows and towards what its senses told it was food. When the small beast was close enough, Maya swiftly scooped it up and placed it safely on the defunct navigation panel. As she did, she noticed a lone light dimly blinking beneath a cluster of dried moss.
Her hands excitedly cleared the panel, she stared in fascination at what lay beneath. It was a small button, no bigger than her thumb. Yet it was familiar, she recalled pressing her thumb against a similar device when she was younger. Without a moment’s hesitation, she pressed her thumb to it. Sputtering lights slowly filled in the display as the console sprang to life. The cub ceased its chewing of the rough meat and scooted into the corner of the table, fearful of the hologram that had ignited in the center.
The image flickered indicating that despite their best efforts even this last functioning piece of hardware had begun to feel the toll of time. When the static stopped she saw a man, etched in the air as a series of blue dots. Even in the fading hologram she could see his weary eyes, the blanket of facial hair that covered his strong jaw line, his clean cut hair style that never grew longer, only thicker. There was no doubt in her mind it was Captain Coslund.
“Maya, if you’re hearing this, then I’m sorry. You must know, I did this for you. So you could live a fear-free life, make something of yourself. Knowing what I know now, I would have stayed with you, but I didn’t and now I’ve paid the price for my folly. When this message ends, a tray will open, inside is a storage device containing information for constructing a device. Do with it what you will, just know, I tried my best.”
She was so entranced by the message, and the ghostly visage of her father she didn’t notice the click of the tray being released. As she gazed down at the small, grey device she felt a mixture of excitement and anger. This is it. This is all that’s left of my father’s legacy, after all these years of searching and here it is. Not a hoard of treasure but information; information that could buy me the world.
The grief and hatred she’d buried long ago, bubbled under the surface. A part of her wanted to scream, to destroy it and burn the cursed ship to the ground, but as she held the storage device in her hand she knew she wouldn’t do it. This was all that was left of her old life; it was the only thing her father had left her upon his death. After all the work she’d put in to find this place, to reclaim what was rightfully hers, she was damned if she’d throw it away in a fit of childish rage.
“Any luck Captain?” Kol’s voice called out over her communicator.
“I found something, not sure exactly what just yet, how’s everything on your end?”
“Crap, Ma’am. The promise of anything valuable must have died a long time ago, I’m sorry.”
“No worries. I think I may have found something better than loot, round up the troops and meet me back at the ship.”
“Aye, aye,” he replied.
Before she left the cabin, she glanced one more time at the small black pup looking expectantly up at her from the defunct console. “Alright, you can come,” she said, scooping the small creature into her arms, its scaly skin rubbed against the fabric of her shirt.
She got back to the ship about fifteen minutes before Kol and the rest of their company arrived. Her new pet sat cuddled on the cushioned chair in the corner of the room. The creature startled Kol as he entered the room. “Are you sure it’s wise to keep an alien wolf-lizard aboard the ship? We don’t even know what it eats.”
“Jerky. Do you want to see what I got or not?” she asked, anxious to find out what exactly her father had deemed to trust her with.
As soon as it plugged into the port, her screen lit up, text and images filled it. The flood of information was astonishing, with this power she could sell it off for more wealth and gear than she’d hoped for.
“We’ve done it!” she exclaimed, leaping from the chair.
Kol nodded solemnly. “Maya.”
She froze. The use of her first name instead of her title signaled he had something to say that she wouldn’t like.
He looked at her mournfully. “We have to destroy it.”
“Are you kidding? This is our big break!”
“These weapon designs alone could get people killed! Maybe even start a war! What if these fall into the wrong hands?”
“That’s not our problem, if anything it’ll be more business. Come on, let’s celebrate,” she said excitedly pouring two glasses of rum in the process.
“You can’t be serious, what would your father say?”
Her demeanor changed, her brow furrowed as her eyes glared intensely at him. “Don’t tell me about what my father would want. He left this for me to find. This is my legacy, if you think I’m going to squander it for a bunch of maybes and what-ifs, you’re dead wrong,” she answered grimly before hastily downing her drink. “Now come, enjoy your drink.” Liquor splashed onto the table as she refilled her glass.
“I can’t do this, I’m sorry,” he replied, taking a step towards the console. The click of Maya’s pistol being drawn caused him to freeze.
Yet he seemed nonplussed at the sight of Maya’s weapon. “So what? You’re going to kill me?”
“I’d really rather not, but you’re making things difficult.” He turned from the console to look his friend in the eyes.
“Maya, you know this is the right thing, deep down you know that releasing this information is wrong,” he stared at her defiantly, eyes pleading her to back down.
“You’re right,” she spoke calmly as she realized what had to be done. “I’m sorry.”
With an audible sigh he returned his attention to the console. “It’s ok. Trust me, we-“. The sound of the high velocity slug entering the back of his skull echoed throughout the cabin. His body crashed into the desktop, bounced off, and thudded to the floor. Somberly, she walked to the desk leaving a footprint in the expanding pool of her former friend’s blood. She pressed the button on the communication terminal. “Tavik, you’ve been promoted. Notify a cleaning crew to my quarters ASAP.”
“Isn’t that Kol’s job?”
“Not anymore,” she responded stoically, before abruptly signing off. She downed her second glass, plucked the bottle of rum and a datapad from the table, and silently walked over to the edge of her bed. The bed emitted a squeak as she heavily sat on it. Her new pet crawled out from under its hiding spot beneath the bed, sharp claws poked through her pants as it climbed onto her lap. It quickly began to purr softly while she looked over potential buyers. She took lifted the bottle to her lips. Let the bidding begin.
That’s your first introduction to Maya Gaige, and a small portion of the Orothros Universe I’m working on. She’s also a blend of two of my favorite pirate characters Jack Sparrow, and Isabella from the Dragon Age games. While those characters generally land on the side of helping the good guys, neutral-good if you will, I wanted Maya to be much more selfish. More of an actual criminal, than just another in a long line of rogue’s with a heart of gold. While I love characters like Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Isabella, Captain Malcom Reynolds, and Han Solo, I wanted Maya to be different.
As for the story itself, it was inspired by two things. The first being I was getting caught up on Breaking Bad when I first started conception of this, and thus liked how Vince Gilligan and CO. made fans of the show cheer for a character that was, by our societal definitions, a bad guy. The second part was Dirty Rotten Bastards by Green Day. I listened to this song on repeat several times while writing this, especially for Maya’s rallying cry at the bar. The song perfectly encapsulates the jovial roguish nature, with a dark undertone that’s inherent of not just Maya, but that entire world she’s built for herself on Boca Alacran.
So I hope you like this story, I know I had a lot of fun writing it. Please rate and review it to let me know if you want to see more of this character’s solo adventures. I’d like to send a special thank you to my sister for editing and commenting on my draft to make this the best story it could be. And for anyone else that purchased this book during its Kindle exclusivity period, thank you. Especially to Jessica and Julie who were kind enough to leave a review for me.
Maya Gaige, an infamous pirate living on the edge of Council space is tired of being harassed by bounty hunters looking to make a name for themselves. One day, an acquaintance delivers some valuable information that could give her enough power to be untouchable. With the help of her old friend and first mate, Kol Brymbenth, a feisty pilot, and a crew of Boca Alacran's cheapest scoundrels she hopes to uncover the secrets and treasures of Coslund's crashed ship. If she's to truly become the pirate queen of Boca Alacran, she'll have to survive beasts, space combat, and the feared Kulrathi, a race that threatened to conquer the galaxy twenty years ago.