This is a story for the prompt that can be found on this Blog Battle thing. I’ve wanted to do it for a while, but this is the first time I’ve done it. It features Klate, captain of the Deathhorn, but he forgot to introduce himself.
“Ma’am, the pirates are on an intercept course,” my pilot said, his fluffy tail twitching nervously.
I could see as well as him that there were pirates closing in, their ship a pale bone-white against the blackness of space.
“What chance do we have to escape?” I already knew the answer.
“If we run, I estimate they’ll intercept in ten minutes.” Arati’s tail kept twitching. I’d never seen my pilot this nervous. “There’s no way our freighter can outrun a warship.”
I nodded, my stomach boiling. We couldn’t outrun them, and we couldn’t fight them.
Our com buzzed. I flipped it on, already knowing it would be a pirate.
The pirate’s face appeared, a huge brown-furred Elba with piercing green eyes. I took an involuntary step backward. Even just seeing him onscreen, I knew he had to be truly massive.
“If you surrender without a fight, you will not be harmed.” His voice carried no Tupran accent, giving me a little comfort. Even if he looked like a huge predator, he at least sounded civilized.
“There are children onboard.” I wanted to plead with him to get him to leave them alone, but I couldn’t bring myself to beg.
He nodded. “Meet me in the cargo hold. We won’t hurt them, not if you surrender.” His ears perked a little. “How many crew are there?”
“My son and daughter, they’re just kids,” I said. “I’ve got a Chix pilot, and his wife’s the mechanic. They’ve got a kid too.” There wasn’t any reason to lie to him. He’d figure it all out soon enough.
“Come to the hold,” he said. “Remove all your weapons. We don’t want any shooting.”
I nodded my whole body tense.
The pirate’s gaze softened. “You won’t be harmed.” The com flicked off, leaving us alone.
Arati stared at me, his eyes wide. “You know they’ll sell us as slaves on Tupra, right? They’ll really want the kids. They’re young enough to brainwash.”
I hurried from the cockpit. “We don’t have another choice. If we surrender, the kids will at least be alive.”
The three kids were all in our little dormitory.
“What’s going on?” Bessin asked. Being the older of my two, she’d noticed something was wrong.
I scooped both of my children into a tight hug. “Pirates are going to board the ship. They say they won’t hurt anyone. Whatever happens, remember I love you.”
Dakkor clung to me, his body shaking.
I finally released them. Arati held his daughter. His wife had arrived too.
“Let’s get to the hold.” I took Dakkor and Bessin’s hands and led them to the hold. As we reached the hold, the ship shuddered. The pirate ship had docked with us.
I glanced at my tiny crew. None of us had weapons, so we stood, huddled together, as the hatch opened and the pirates leaped through. Because the ships were belly to belly, the pirates had to dive through their hatch and then came up out of our hatch. The reversing gravity didn’t bother the leader as he landed in the hold and stood, towering over us. He wore twin belts across his furry chest, weapons strapped to them, and he carried a rifle, even though he could’ve killed any of us with a single blow of his clawed hands. His crew filled in behind him, a Skallan, a couple Humans, and a pair of Torfs. The Elba leader towered over them all. His green eyes focused on us as he approached, his stride long.
Dakkor started crying. He’d never been this close to an Elba, let alone a pirate.
The Skallan pirate glared at us.
“Get the supplies onto our ship,” the captain ordered.
I crouched and hugged Dakkor, trying to get him to stop before one of the pirates decided to shoot him. “It’s okay,” I whispered. “It’s okay. Don’t cry.” My voice nearly cracked. They’d take the kids, maybe stun them if they weren’t quiet.
The captain strode to us and crouched. “Hey,” he said. “It’s okay. No one’s going to get hurt.” He spoke gently, like some sort of friendly uncle, not a space pirate.
“You’re taking our ship,” Bessin squeaked.
The captain shook his massive head. “We’re here for the supplies you were hauling to the military. We don’t have any use for a ship like this.”
“You mean—you’re not going to—” I couldn’t finish.
“We’re taking the supplies, just the ones you were paid to haul,” the captain said. “Once we leave, go on your way and haul something that isn’t going to the military.”
“You’re not going to sell us?” I could hardly believe it, but I saw nothing in the captain’s expression to tell me he was lying.
“Of course not. We don’t sell civilians, at least not without cause.” His eyes narrowed and his voice grew serious. “You may not think you’re doing any harm, but you are running supplies for a military, and that puts a target on you. Some of the other pirates aren’t as merciful as I am. There’s a reason the Company pays so well for this sort of job.”
I nodded. “We’ll find another line of work.” I stared up at the huge captain. “Thank you.”
He glanced at his crew as they hauled the supplies through the hatch. “That’s normally not what people say after I take their freight.”
“You didn’t take my ship or my children,” I said. “That’s what matters.”