Deeper: Part Four
We got on board a ship and Buzz got into the pilot's seat. I slipped into the copilot's seat, buckled in, and then started flipping switches. I'd been taught to do this in my two lessons on how to look like I had a clue about fighter ships. I knew I had to flip those switches, but my knowledge ended there. I had no clue what the switches were doing. I'd only had three weeks to prepare, and most of my preparation had gone into learning weapons and hand to hand combat.
"Buzz, can I?" I left the sentence vague in case it wasn't safe; he'd know what I meant.
"It's safe," he replied.
The hangar bay doors opened and he flew the ship out.
"Okay, what are we doing?" I asked.
"Space Pirates ambushed a supply ship of ours. We're going to cripple their ship, board it, and bring anything we find back with us," Buzz replied. "I'm flying, which means you're on the guns. You need to take out their engines. The ship's targeting computer will help you, but you'll still need to line up and make the shot yourself. Do not bungle this; we need this to look good."
"I'll do my best," I replied, trying to sound confident, as turned my seat to the controls for the ship's weapons. It was easy enough; I'd actually been trained to do this, not to just pretend I knew how to do it. Still, my heart started to pound in my ears as I readied the weapons systems.
"We'll be on them in a minute and a half. They'll be running so be ready," he warned.
I closed my eyes and focused on keeping my breathing even as I waited.
"There they are," Buzz announced.
I took a deep breath and held it as I opened my eyes. Using the computer's targeting systems to help me find the engines, I took aim, adjusting for the movement they would make in the time between when I fired and when my shot would hit their ship. I released my held breath as I fired. A beam shot through the empty space and made contact with the other ship, sparks erupting from it. Its acceleration slowed to a drift.
"Well, you did it. Good shot, Starender," Buzz said.
I put my head down on the console, taking deep breaths to calm myself. "I can't believe I actually hit that. Three weeks ago, the most I knew about a blaster was not to touch it because I'm a disaster. I can't believe I did that."
"Well, put back on your confident Starender routine, because we still need to board that ship and recover the cargo. We'll be bringing back all surveillance video from the ship, so you'll need to stay in character over there. We'll probably run into resistance, so be ready for a fight," Buzz warned me.
I took a deep breath and sat up straight. I pulled out my blaster, set it to maximum stun, and grinned at him. "Better hang back and let me handle this, old man. Wouldn't want you to pull a muscle."
Buzz snorted derisively. He docked the ship against the pirates' and connected the hatch. We both got into position, our backs against the side of the doors, out of range of their attacks.
"Ready, Eva?" Buzz asked.
Buzz opened the doors, our computer hacking theirs and forcing their doors open as well. Immediately, the blaster fire started. Since our ship was a fighter, the area immediately behind us was made of solid Tiranium, capable of taking those hits.
Buzz held up his paw, four pirates. He then started counting down. The blasters had an overheat point where they would automatically shutdown to prevent an explosion. The weapon fire ceased exactly when Buzz said it would. We swung out of our hiding place, two shots each at the four pirates, and then back into our hiding place. I heard three bodies slump, and a scuffling sound I knew to be someone coming up from a sommersault. One of the pirates had been quick enough to dodge. From the sound of it, he was right on the other side of the airlock wall from me.
I put my blaster back in its holster and let go of the analytical part of my mind and just let my training take over. I whirled around the wall, catching the pirate's blaster arm and raising it to the ceiling, away from me. Then I wrenched it, causing him to let go of the weapon. I could hear running footsteps coming down the hall. I spun, bringing a roundhouse kick to his head, coming around to face the doors.
Setting the pirate's blaster to the maximum stun I started shooting when the doors opened. The pirates were caught off guard and I hit all but one. Buzz took care of that one.
I counted the downed pirates, eight. "How many more?"
"It's not a big ship. Captain and the First Mate aren't here, so probably five or six more crew. These are likely the muscle--" Buzz said.
"Yeah, I know," I cut him off. "Honestly, I don't need your lessons every time. I was hoping you had actual numbers."
"Don't take that tone with me, Eva. I've been doing this longer than you've been alive. You're not--"
"Oh, just shut it, and let's get this job over with," I snapped.
Buzz nodded. I closed my eyes and refreshed my memory of the layout of this type of ship as I had seen it displayed on the computer in our fighter. I confidently, I led the way to the bridge of the ship. We put our backs against the wall on either side of the door before opening it.
"We're offering you one chance to surrender," Buzz shouted.
"Okay!" a voice cried from within.
Buzz rolled his eyes as the pirates opened fire. They hadn't even waited to see if we'd come into the doorway. How stupid did they think we were? Again, Buzz counted down until their weapons would reach the overheat point.
We easily took down the Captain and First Mate. The rest of the crew quickly dropped their weapons and surrendered. We hurried them into one of the rooms in the crew quarters and locked the door.
"You download all the information from the ship. I'll get the cargo," Buzz told me.
I nodded and went back to the bridge. All I had to do was allow our ship access to their systems and it did the rest. I leaned on the control panel looking bored, keeping my mind blank, while I waited. The computer finished the download and I terminated the connection and wiped their computers, turning off their surveillance system so there would be no trace of us left.
"You done yet, Buzz?" I asked over our coms.
"Yeah, just got the last of it. Get yourself back over here."
I hurried back to our fighter and buckled into the copilot seat. Buzz closed the hatch and we disengaged from the pirate ship.
"So, what happens to them?" I asked. "We aren't just leaving them helpless in space, are we?"
"They'll wake up in an hour or two, let the rest of the crew out, and send off a distress beacon. The Resistance will pick it up and come rescue them. Better for them to deal with it anyway, as they'll hand the pirates over the proper authorities for punishment. Still, we could probably bring them in, if you want. I'm sure Sloth probably needs more test subjects."
"I think we can let the Resistance deal with them," I replied.
"Ah, poor little girl. You can play tough, but you'd never make it for real."
"I'm rather proud of that still," I replied with a shake of my head.
A cheer went up as I walked into the café that evening for a drink. I looked over at the group of lieutenants gathered at the usual table, a smug grin on my face.
"What's got you people riled?" I demanded.
"Are you kidding? We saw the surveillance footage from your mission. You were amazing," Nigel cried.
"It was pretty good," Andrea said. "Your reputation is well deserved. You're every bit as good at Buzz's last partner."
I snorted. "Well, if you want to be insulting, I'll be on my way."
"Oh, come on, ignore Andrea. He hates to praise anyone," Sharron said. "Sit down, drinks are on us."
"Well, I never turn down a free drink," I said as I sat down at their table. "So, I think we inspect Nicola's men tomorrow. Are they going to bungle it as badly as Nigel's men? That is my new favorite form of entertainment, watching the surveillance footage from that."
Nicola just chuckled, "No way, we're ready to impress you two. Nigel's always been sloppy, I've been telling him that all along."
"You have not, and you'll be sorry. I doubt Buzz is going to play this inspection of your men the exact same way he did mine," Nigel warned. "Right, Starender?"
I just snickered as I took a sip of my Galactic Space Punch. "Don't look at me. I'm not giving out any of our secrets."
"So, do you like us enough to share more of your stories?" Miles asked.
"Aw, come on," he wheedled.
"I've got an idea, Miles. Why don't you tell me some of your stories? I need a good laugh after spending so much time with that useless old relic today," I said.
They all looked a little uncertain, like they weren't sure whether to share their stories or just drop it. Before anyone could decide what to do, my computer pinged. I took it out and looked at it.
"Bah, got to go. Looks like another stupid generals meeting. Those are such a waste of my time," I complained as I got up.
They all looked surprised. I didn't let anything slip, realizing this was part of Buzz's plan to show how deep my access went. I just walked off, dreading having to sit in another boring meeting.
To be continued...