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Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 15~The Long Way to N’sen

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 15~The Long Way to N’sen published on No Comments on Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 15~The Long Way to N’sen

The water of the tank sent shards of cold through Arekan as chilly as the deeps of space. With a shiver, Arekan realized this compartment had no shielding for the cold of the black, and if he didn’t drown first, he’d die of hypothermia.

The only positive outcome of this disaster was that the chilled water stopped the pain in his seared back end. But that was cold comfort against the two deaths he now faced.

Raised in space, Arekan was no stranger to the extremes of astronautical living, but his adventures on The Rogan pushed him to the limits of his patience. This was the third time this tub threatened his life. The first was his induction in the Heavenly Court when his shipmates tossed him out of an airlock without a spacesuit. The second was when the first mate Grokin whipped him for saving a crew mate’s life against orders, and now this. He had enough. Anger bubbled through him as he resolved to kill the captain. 

Arekan somersaulted in the water to correct his downward trajectory and propel his body with powerful pulls of his arms to the hatch. If he misjudged, he would drown. If he didn’t get out of this water quickly, he’d lose body heat, pass out and then drown.

It’s always good to have options, he thought sarcastically.

His head hit metal, and as a sharp pain seared through him, he gasped. Fortunately, he sucked in air from the pocket of air at the top of the tank.

Not dead yet, you bastards, though Arekan. Above him, heavy footsteps vibrated, and the creak of the hatch signaled someone, probably an Impie pulling it back. When a dim light hit the water, Arekan pushed back into the shadow. A flashlight plunged its beam into the water. Arekan sucked more air and sunk into the water, holding his breath while he watched the beam of light sliced through the darkness in a wavy sword. His lungs begged painfully for another breath, but he hung on even as he shivered in the water. He had to get out of this cold soon, or there would be no reason to.

The light withdrew, leaving only the muddled light seeping into the water from the open hatch.

Arekan’s limbs grew heavy, which was a danger sign in the depths of space or an unheated water tank. He didn’t feel or hear boot falls, and he hoped the Impies had moved on. Willing his limbs to move, he pushed his head out of the water and immediately felt his body hauled out the water and tossed harshly on the deck. Arekan searched the engine room quickly, but Cripin disappeared, and the grate to the ventilation system where he entered the

“Think we found him,” said one Impie. Arekan blinked to clear his vision.

“Could be a stowaway,” said another.

“On this wreck? With those degenerates?” said the other.

“Go tell the lieutenant,” said the first. “He’ll sort it out.”

A rush of fresh energy hit Arekan at this new threat. He sprang to his water-logged feet and smashed the first Impie in the jaw, and the man staggered and fell to the deck. The second leveled an energy weapon at him and fired but missed. This gave Arekan the chance to propel into the man’s knees and sack him. The man’s head hit the deck with a sharp crack, and he lay unmoving. Arekan checked the man’s pulse and found the man’s heartbeat.

Arekan shook his head. He had hoped to wait out the Imperial Navy’s visit in hiding, and now that was impossible. As he shivered again from the chill of his wet clothes, he glanced around the engine room. There was a hatch he hadn’t noticed, so he opened it to and found a storage area, though the light inside didn’t illuminate the space. He heard a familiar hiss, in fact, many hisses. He grabbed the Impie’s flashlight and swept it inside to find a knot of snakelets writhing on each other.

His stomach turned as he stared at the wriggling tangle of vipers he had not seen since he brought them on board. These he had filched from the planet where they picked up the new crew member, Peppen, or Rastan, or whatever the hells his name was. Damned Grokin confiscated the snakelets, and Arekan allowed it because the first mate was the expert on keeping the snakes.

Grokin owned an adult version that he used to keep the crew under control. He used the psychotropic venom of these creatures to addict The Rogan’s men to the snake’s dubious charms. The crew had used the poison on Arekan after Grokin had whipped him nearly to death to keep the pain manageable as he healed. Maybe it was the pain, or perhaps just his individual body chemistry, but he detoxed from the venom once in an experience he never wanted to repeat. The crew member who tended to him most, and the only decent one of the lot, Egrin, warned him that further exposure could addict him irrevocably. But remembering the crazy visions he had while he healed, Arekan reasoned he had a way to make the Impies doubt they had even seen The Rogan at all.

After grabbing the thick gloves he used to push the batteries, he reached into the knot and yanked three snakelets from the pile. Needle-like barbs sliced through the gloves, and when he looked down, he noticed the baby snake had vestigial front legs with sharp claws. Damn, the things stuck like hook-and-loop strips. Behind him, he heard the groans of the two men stirring.

“Sorry, guys,” said Arekan. He regretted this action because it went against all his father taught Arekan about honor. A fair fight was one thing. This was a dirty trick that could have consequences for these men for the rest of their lives. But he didn’t have time for moral dilemmas. Arekan tossed a serpent on each of the men, and the beasts, alarmed at their rough treatment, struck the Impies. One man moaned with pain, but both passed out again.

Arekan found a pail and dumped a knot of the creatures inside. He peered out of the ruined hatch into the hallway and saw no Imperial Navy personnel with caution. He sucked in a breath and clutching the pail of unhappy snakelets. He opened ventured into the corridor. He made his way to the ladder that brought him to the lower deck.

As soon as his foot hit the lower deck, he heard, “You. Stop.”

Arekan turned to see an Imperial sailor pointing an energy rifle at him. Arekan whipped out a snakelet and tossed it at the Imperial sailor. The man tried to bat it away, but the serpent used its claws to cling to the man before he sunk his fangs into the man’s hand. The sailor cried out as his knees buckled under him, and he fell forward. Arekan snatched the baby snake and returned it to the pail while it spat and hissed at him.

“Yeah, I love you too,” said Arekan sourly.

Arekan wondered how long his luck would hold out. While he got lucky three times, the odds could shatter from his favor to against. Arekan detested suffering the consequences of putting his sword to the law policing the spaceways of Kyn. It was bad enough they could execute him on sight. If he murdered one, they would hound him throughout the Kyn Empire—worse because they would have a name and a face to pursue. It didn’t matter whether it was Arekan Mor’a’stan, Thad Grane, or any other moniker he wore.

It boiled the blood that he faced danger each time he crossed Kyn international boundaries for being born in a family that the government despised. The constant threats to his life, including Cripin’s latest attempt, burned him deep. Every muscle bunched, and his jaw set as he strode through the hallways of the ship with his bucket of dangerous weapons toward the cargo hold. At the hatch, he stopped and peered into the hold. He spotted the Lieutenant and six of his men holding energy rifles to the pirate crew.

“But I tell you,” said the new crew member Rastan, “Peppen is not my name.”

That fool Peppen leaned toward the Lieutenant to talk his way off the ship. The officer scowled at him.

Grokin stepped forward and cuffed the boy who fell on his butt while the Impies rushed toward them both.

“Shut your mouth,” snapped the first mate.

“Aye, boy,” growled Etharin. “Everyone knows on ITU ships, people work under aliases if they care to, and most do.”

With Grokin and Etharin shooting murderous glances at Rastan, the young man slunk back into line with the crew of The Rogan. Arekan noticed Cripin there too, standing still with an unconcerned expression on his face.

“With this last one, all crew accounted for,” said announced an Impie with a compad in hand.

“Not exactly,” said Arekan.

All heads snapped to Arekan, who sprinted into the hold and tossed one handful of snakes after another at the Impies. The serpents’ vestigial claws dug into the soldiers’ uniforms, and their fangs struck. While one man screeched, others swore, and two hopped around trying to rid themselves of the creatures, the men of The Rogan laughed at the Impies predicament. Within minutes, the Imperial military men lay on the floor.

“What the hells,” groaned the Impie lieutenant. He sunk to his knees and his eyes rolled up.

Etharin took two steps to the Lieutenant, grabbed the man’s hair, and jerked the man’s head, forcing him to look at Etharin.

“That’s what you get for messing with my ship,” he said. He pushed, and the man fell backward with his head striking the deck.

Obon, the least dependable of the crew, sprang forward to grab a snakelet wiggling toward a bulkhead seeking a place to hide, but Arekan stepped in and snatched it.

“That’s my property, Obon. And if you touch it, you’ll die.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Obon sneered but backed off.

“What about the ones searching the ship?” said Etharin.

“Two in the engine room and one in the main corridor on this deck. All unconscious.”

“Good work, lad. You’ve earned your pay for the week.”

Arekan almost snarled. He had no use for the pirate captain’s praise. Nor did Etharin pay a single crew member until the end of the run, and so far, there was no end in sight.

“Grokin,” said Etharin, “take who you need and drag those Impies into their patrol ship and set them adrift. And then we’ll be underway too. Tinnen, make the engines ready. Cripin, plot a course back into Oshijia. We’ll take the long way to N’sen spaceport.”

Arekan turned to walk out of the hold.

“Where are you going, boy?” said Grokin. “There’s work needs doing.”

“You heard the captain. I’ve done my work for the week. And here.” He set the pail of snakes on the deck and kicked it to Grokin. “Take care of these.”

Arekan strode from the compartment shivering, wet, and sick to his stomach from his dunking in the water tank and the day’s events. Etharin and Cripin planned his death before he set foot on the ship. How creepy was it they chose him based on his looks?

When he reached the crew quarters, he closed the hatch and shoved a piece of metal in the locking mechanism. Then he changed from his sopping clothes to his one other set. He needed sleep, and he’d get it, but he didn’t trust these pirates not to murder him. Arekan grabbed his sword from the pile of clothes on the floor and lay it at his side as he rested his head on his pillow, contemplating his dilemma. His eyes grew heavy, and he decided the problem of Etharin and his murderous crew would wait for another day.

 

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 14~The Dead Zone

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“Damned-to-the-seven-hells stupid pirate captain.”

Arekan cursed Etharin while he crawled in the ventilation shafts of The Rogan, a spaceship thirty-years too old, and sixty-years behind in repairs and upgrades. The tub was not fit to sit in, let alone travel the black depths of space. In his short life, nineteen-year-old Arekan Mor’a’stan never thought he’d land on a pirate ship, or as the captain called it, a salvage vessel. Arekan also never imagined he would need to use an alias, or sell his sword skills honed since he could walk to land a berth on the decrepit scow.

Worse yet, the Kyn Imperial Navy had boarded the barge which put Arekan’s life in danger. Arekan continued to spit venomous words born from the roiling bile in his gut. Etharin illegally recharged ramjet batteries and stored them in the engine room, the energy signatures of which must have attracted the Impies attention. Arekan could not afford this. The Impies would find him on board. As a member of an outlawed Kyn family, the Imperial Navy would automatically kill Arekan as soon as a DNA scan confirmed his identity.

From his perch in the ventilator grate that overlooked the cargo hold, Arekan watched the Impies march onto the metal deck. Their heavy boots rang through the large compartment. A man walked up the line with the swagger of one in command. Arekan couldn’t see because of the angle and the grating the man’s rank on the collar of his dark blue uniform.

“Who’s in charge of this tub!” called the officer.

“I’s is,” said Etharin, who stepped forward from the ragged line of crew. This surprised Arekan who’d only seen the enigmatic ship’s master twice. Once when the captain hired him, and earlier today when he took the new crew member Rastan, AKA Peppen, to the bridge to meet Etharin. Arekan counted the number of heads and found one missing, besides him. He peered through the grate again to find First Mate Grokin, Engineer Tinnen, General Hands Obon and Egrin, the new crewmate, Peppen, and Cook standing in line. They were a foul-looking lot, and they had nasty habits. Arekan also noted Cripin, the navigator, was missing.

Arekan couldn’t worry about Cripin. Job one was to solve the problem of the contraband ramjet batteries. There were a dozen of them in the engine room. They were dangerously close to the null space generator which was the piece of machinery that made space travel to distant stars possible. But in the batteries in their present state were unstable and moving them could blow up the ship.

–> Read More

Arekan’s Blog: MORE Laundry Problems

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Arekan: So the scribe is still writing the trash that “pays the mortgage” but since it seems to keep her in coffee and milkshakes, I won’t complain too much, though I’ve heard there a bit of clamor for her to finish the Arekan’s War Series.

[scribe, um Beth:] One reader is hardly a clamor.Continue reading Arekan’s Blog: MORE Laundry Problems

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 13 ~ Laundry Problems

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Pirate's Luck Chapter 13Rastan cleaned his body in the sonic shower, while Arekan stood at the door preventing any of the curious crew from entering. The fact was Rastan, or the alias he used, Pepin, the new crew-member they had picked up illegally, was too pretty for a group of hardened criminals to resist. Arekan worried about this and feared for the day when the riffraff would storm them both. This worry grew the closer they drew to the Kyn border.

Arekan had four causes for worry here. One was the illegal turbo-ramjet batteries that Captain Etharin stored in the engine room. The irony was that the turbo-ramjets made up very little of the ship’s actual propulsion capacity it lifted the vessel off planets but did nothing else. But they weighed heavily on Arekan’s mind. Captain Etharin illegally recharged batteries never meant to be so, and they were extremely unstable. Each time the ship jolted in and out of Null Space, Arekan was sure they’d blow and ignite the fuel in the two large tanks of turbo-ramjet fuel. When they passed the Kyn border, they’d drop out of Null Space, triggering another opportunity for disaster. Read More —>

Pirate’s Luck~Chapter Ten-Discount Skin Ticket

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Pirate's Luck Discount Skin Ticket Free Serial Fiction

Chuck Wendig’s Flash Fiction challenge was to pick one of ten titles and write a story to it. At first, my inner muse said “write something pretty,” but then that old dog, Arekan whispered, “You’d been looking for a entree into the next chapter of Pirate’s Luck.”  Though it is part of the larger work, I’ve tried to make it as standalone as possible. So, here is the next chapter of Pirate’s Luck. Warning: Adult themes though more a suggestion than action. 

Discount Skin Ticket

The main drag of the spaceport town flashed and jittered with bright lights, blinking signs and sharp sounds that sprang from nowhere. Walking side by side to Arekan, Obon gawked at the women and boys standing or sitting seductively behind their plasglass windows. One young boy licked his lips salaciously as the men of the Rogan walked by.

“We should grab that one,” said Obon. “He’d be fun.”

“So you like boys?” said Egren who stood on Arekan’s left.

Obon shrugged. “I like them all. A touch of skin, whiff of their hair, tasting them.”

The Rogan’s crewmember ran his tongue across his lips and Arekan shivered. Unlike many of his shipmates, Obon was a pirate born into the trade. That he crewed on the shitehole of the Rogan was a testament to his degenerate nature.
(Click here to read more)

Image by Starry Night Graphix.

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter Eight~Twice Cursed

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Pirate's Luck Pain accompanied every movement as Grokin pushed him up the ladder that led to the engine room.

Arekan stared stupidly at the long cylinder of the null space displacement unit that ran through the center of the compartment. Except for a few class tours on his home ship, he’d never seen one. But this piece of equipment as everything else on this tub looked in disrepair. Its paint cracked and peeled along its casing, and the rust brown of corrosion marked the unit’s seams. Arekan grew queasier at witnessing the poor condition of this major aspect of the propulsion system.

The engineer whipped his head toward Arekan and Grokin and frowned. Tinnen was extremely lean and white-haired. A deep scar cut into his cheek running from his ear to his jaw, which deepened with the scowl he gave both men.

“This is who you brought?” said Tinnen incredulously.

Continue Reading–> Chapter Eight~Twice Cursed

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Pirate’s Luck–Chapter Seven~Hooked

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Pirate's Luck, sci-fi, adventure, SF, SFF“You’re a damned idiot,” said a familiar voice. “Seven lashes were more than enough and you struck too deep. Now, he’s out of commission for at least a month. What use is he now, eh? I’ll be paying for his upkeep and getting no work out of him.” Arekan placed the complaining voice as Etharin as he came to consciousness face down in a bunk not his own.

“I’m tired of his attitude. He won’t do a damn thing I tell him.” Grokin said belligerently.

“And what about you, eh? You disobeyed my order. Should I give you ten lashes, eh?”

Arekan thought that was a great idea. He’d love to see Grokin get a slice of his own treatment.

“Sorry, sir,” said Grokin. He didn’t sound penitent but Etharin didn’t seem eager to prove a point.

“You damn well better be sorry,” said Etharin. “We are short men as and he is a good blade. We’d be the ones spaced if it wasn’t for him.”

“Aye, sir,” said Grokin. His voice was rough with reluctant agreement.

“When will he wake, you think?”

Click here to continue or start here at the first chapter

Cover art by Starry Night Graphixs.

Pirate’s Luck: Chapter 6~Crimes and Punishment

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Chapter Six-Pirate's Luck

Arekan kicked out his leg and clocked the intruder in the jaw. The man staggered back, sword in hand, but he did not fall. His gaze fixed on Arekan with a murderous expression.

“I’ll kill you,” the pirate growled.

“Better men have tried,” said Arekan with more bravado than he felt. “But you are welcome to give it a go.”

The man’s face turned a beet red as he pushed himself toward Arekan, his sword pointed toward the nineteen year old. As the man’s sword came within Arekan’s reach, the youth stepped to the man’s left, away from the man’s dominant arm, whipped around in a full three hundred and sixty degree turn, and slashed man’s torso. The man halted in his tracks, and then tottered falling to the deck groaning and bleeding. As miserable as the man looked and sounded Arekan could have aimed higher and severed the man’s neck.

(click here to read more) or click here to start with Chapter One.

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New Post #Pirate’sLuck–Chapter Five~Let ‘Em Take Prisoners

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Pirate's Luck

Let him die.

“He did not just say that,” said Arekan. He knew the first mate was a hard man, but he didn’t think Grokin would be cold hearted enough to let a member of his crew die.

“I’m afraid so,” said Egren. He had pressed a button at his neck on his spacesuit, and Arekan could not hear Grokin. “Our first mate has a ‘let ‘em take prisoners’ policy. It deters those that try to use extortion to get our goods.”

“Creator,” muttered Arekan. He peered out over the edge of the hatch to see Obon clutching the swaying tether. “We need to get him up here.”

“That’s exactly what those pirates want. They’ll be right in back of him to board this ship with us too afraid of killing our own man to do anything about it.”

(click here to read on) or go here to read the first chapter of the serial.

Image by Starrynight Graphix.

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