Literary Challenge #41 : Call to Arms
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Join Date: Feb 2013
04-13-2013, 06:49 AM
God damn them all! I was told
We'd cruise the seas for American gold
We'd fire no guns, shed no tears
Now I'm a broken man on a Halifax pier
The last of Barrett's Privateers
-Stan Rogers, "Barrett's Privateers."
He stood in the main atrium of the space station, arms folded as, around him, smoke billowed and flames crackled between toppled pillars and ruined walls. Ruddy red light flickered from the alarm klaxons, and the air was ripe with the tang of flame, smoke and blood. Just to his left, a portion of the wall had been blown out into space, a forcefield now covering the hole and giving him a glimpse of the magnificent starscape and the sleek shape of the Oricar hovering menacingly in the void. Before him, gathered in a huddled, terrified, weeping mass, stood the remaining crew of this space station-- eighty, all told, barely half of the original number. The other half had made the mistake of trying to fight the Orion boarders.
He felt like a conqueror, like a true corsair, like a terror of the void. For the first time since he had lost everything, Lynathru felt satisfied.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said with a wide, beaming smile to the prisoners, "please stay calm and try not to make any sudden moves. As of now, you are all prisoners of the good ship Oricar. I have no wish to hurt any more of you, and I am certain that a lot of you are quite nervous. Rest assured, if you all behave yourselves, then I promise you will not be treated badly." The prisoners, by this point, was too frightened to respond. The last man among them who had shown any sort of defiance was now lying at the back of the pile, barely conscious and almost black with bruises, courtesy of the Oricar's enforcers.
It had, Lynathru reflected, been satisfyingly easy. A small depot station like this, located far at the edge of Federation space, had had almost no chance to defend itself when the Oricar had dropped out of warp in front of it. A few crippling volleys of disruptor fire had been enough to drop the station's shields and knock out what few phaser emitters it had. With the shields down, Natari had given the order to board, and as Natari's mate, Lynathru had been given the honour of leading the boarding action. It was an honour that Lynathru had accepted all too happily.
Two dozen of the ship's brutes had beamed onto the main halls and concourses of the station to eliminate the Federation security teams, while Lynathru and his own handpicked enforcers beamed onto the station's bridge itself, aiming to eliminate or imprison the station's command staff. The ensuing firefight had been quick and brutal: two members of Lynathru's party had been felled by phaser fire from quick-witted Federation officers, but they were no match for the combat experience and brutality of the Oricar's enforcers. Almost everyone in the bridge was killed or subdued in under a single minute, and Lynathru had personally gunned the station's commander down with his twin disruptor pistols, blasting the human before he could so much as yell an order. The rest of the battle for the station had been just as quick: the crew of this station were the dregs of Starfleet, low-level officers qualified for starship duty, along with civilian contractors, labourers and merchants. They had put up a spirited, but futile fight against the more seasoned Orion boarders, and had died in droves for their efforts. Before long, the fight was over, and those who hadn't been butchered by the Oricar's crew had had the good sense to surrender.
And now, here Lynathru stood with his armed enforcers in front of the pitiful remnants of the station's crew, waiting for reports from the rest of the boarding party as they scoured the cargo holds. A depot station like this usually served as a hub for whatever trade went on in the region, and indeed, two trading vessels-- a Pakled merchantman and a Koberian freighter-- had had the misfortune of being docked here when the Oricar had attacked. All told, there was plentiful bounty to be harvested from this station, and the remnants of the station's crew would be useful as well-- either as slaves back on Terjas Mor, or as hostages in case any Federation ships arrived on the scene. Though hopefully, the Oricar would be long gone by the time Starfleet picked up the station's distress call.
At Lynathru's side, Raco, his subordinate, glowered at the prisoners, his ugly, slab-like face twisting in a frown. "They're a sorry-looking bunch," he grunted. "If we take them back to Terjas Mor with us, they'll likely only sell for medium price." He rubbed his chin, a chin that had been bent out of shape by the same numerous brawls that had broken his nose several times over. "If you ask me, we should just space the lot of them. It would save more room in the Oricar's cargo holds."
Lynathru turned and fixed Raco with an icy glare. He was slightly taller than Raco, though not as stocky, and while the former wore only a pair of faded brown coveralls and a flimsy tunic that exposed his muscular chest, Lynathru was clad in an armoured suit of black iron plates edged with the indigo blue of Natari's house. The armour denoted him as Natari's mate, and, therefore, as someone to be taken seriously among the Oricar's crew.
"Well as it so happenes, I wasn't asking you," he replied. "If we have room on the ship after Sharrad and his lot have finished their looting, then we'll take them with us. If not, then we'll leave them here for Starfleet to deal with."
Raco raised an eyebrow at Lynathru, the motion barely visible under the metal plates that adorned his bald scalp that denoted him as one of Natari's serviles. "You'd leave them alive? Mistress Natari might not like that."
Lynathru's response was heralded by a confident, charming smile. "Oh, leave our Mistress to me, Raco," he replied. "I know how to talk to her."
The statement was true, after a fashion. His marriage to Natari had been one of convenience: after Lynathru's inheritance had been squandered by his idiot of a mother getting herself and the family barge blown up, he had been forced offer himself as a mate to the leader of the third most powerful corsair house in the whole of the Syndicate. Natari was a shrewd-- and admittedly beautiful, woman-- who knew that a corsair as experienced as Lynathru would be a valuable addition to her forces. Both of them knew that theirs was a partnering of convenience, nothing more, and were happy about it. Natari got to absorb what little wealth was left of Lynathru's house, and Lynathru...got to see action again, out in space, instead of suffering the hellish limbo of near-poverty on Terjas Mor.
The only real bone of contention between the two of them, though, was the matter of handling prisoners. Natari and her crew had earned a grisly reputution, both in the Syndicate and the Federation, for murdering prisoners who were either too worthless or too numerous to be taken as slaves. This had never sat well with Lynathru: massacring prisoners was a sure way to make more enemies than a corsair could afford. Blood, in the long run, was too expensive, and he had pointed out as much before to Natari. She had simply given him a whistful smile, and had told him, in that typically playful voice of hers, that he was adorable when he worried over nothing.
As if on cue, Lynathru's communicator beeped. He pressed it. "Lynathru here."
"Ah, Lynathru, so nice to hear that the Feddies didn't kill you," came Natari's teasing voice. "I was worried that I might have to go hunting for a new mate if things didn't go well."
Lynathru smiled. "Yes, that would be terrible, wouldn't it?" he replied. "It would be damned selfish of me to inconvenience you by dying."
He heard Natari's soft laugh on the other end. It was a disarming, girlish giggle, a sound that always set Lynathru at ease. "I take it the action went well?"
"Very well. We've lost only half a dozen men. Sharrad is down in the cargo holds, gauging value and tagging crates for transport as we speak." He glanced at the prisoners, who continued to stare at him with uncertain terror. They were mixed-race lot, like all Federation crews, and Lynathru could spot Humans, Bolians, Vulcans, and even the odd Caitian in the mix. "We have also taken quite a few prisoners, Mistress. As far as I can tell, the majority of them are labourers, tech specialists, and the odd engineer here and there. I think they could be useful to us." He wondered, idly, if these prisoners understood or even appreciated the favour Lynathru was trying to do for them.
He heard Natari give a whistful hum on the other end. "Hmm, perhaps," she replied. "Though you should probably hurry. Our longe range sensors have picked up a warp signiature at the periphery of the system. We may have company soon."
Lynathru felt the skin on his neck prickle at the news. Starfleet's response had been much quicker than he had anticipated. He glanced out the ruined wall again at the sleek, galley-like shape of the Oricar floating in space. "How soon?"
"Unknown so far," came Natari's response. "The gas clouds at the edge of the system are throwing off our sensors...oh dear."
What happened next happened so quickly that Lynathru's senses barely registered it in time. There was a brilliant flash of light, like the birth of a new star amidst that endless starscape, and a second later a long, silver shape glided into view just below the Oricar. Lynathru caught the impressions of a disk-like saucer, an elengant, elongated body and a pair of gleaming blue nacelles. A Federation cruiser, he realized. An Excelsior-class.
And then, with a deep hum, there was the brilliant white flash as ten humanoid shapes materialized into the atrium.
Swearing loudly, Lynathru acted on instinct, springing forwards towards the prisoners. The foremost among them-- an auburn-haired Human woman in a tattered mechanic's coveralls-- shrieked as Lynathru grabbed her by the hair, twisting her around as he pushed her in front of him. Even as the other prisoners erupted into a chorus of cries and screams, Lynathru drew one of his disruptor pistols and pointed it at the squirming human's skull. In front of him, the humanoid figures fully materialized, revealing more Humans, Andorians, Bolians, VUlcans...all wearing the distinctive black-and-primary colour uniforms and triangular badges of Starfleet.
"None of you move!" Lynathru yelled, even as his enforcers and the Starfleet away team all pulled their weapons free. He pulled the sobbing woman's head back further, keeping his pistol levelled against her temple. "Drop your weapons, or the prisoners die!"
Eveything seemed to slow down. The Starfleet team seemed to waver as the enforcers levelled their disruptors at them. Raco was yelling something and then, suddenly, Lynathru felt something nudge against his booted foot.
He glanced down. There, at Lynathru's foot, was a small, metallic sphere, a tiny readout on its surface blinking repeatedly in ruby red.
"Oh, you bastards--"
There was a flash of light like a sun going nova, and a second later Lynathru was staggering backwards, clutching his eyes as he screamed. His eyes felt like they were burning, and his ears were drowned in an awful, shrill ringing. He stumbled backwards, feeling himself brush against scrabbling, twisting bodies as he stumbled drunkenly, tried to get his bearings straight.
Angily, he willed his eyes to open. Painful light intruded on his vision once more, stinging his irises, and everything was blurred and out of focus. A flash grenade, he realized. Those Federation bastards had used a flash grenade on him, and now his human shield was gone. The ringing slowly began to subside, however, and he heard familiar sounds at the edge of his hearing-- the flat, spitting pulse of disruptor fire and the more noisome screech of Starfleet phasers.
Breathing a curse, he pulled both of his pistols free. In the swirling, blurred haze of his vision, he could barely make out a black and red shape moving. Steadying himself, he raised both of his pistols to fire--
--and lurched, his shots going wide, as something slammed into him from the side. He crashed to the deck in a clatter of armour, dazed. The next thing he knew, heavy blows were raining down on him: feet stomped and kicked at him, and his head snapped to the side as a heel smashed against his temple. Colours darted across his vision, and he could feel something cold and liquid trickling down his scalp, even as his ribs buckled and ached beneath his armour as he was stomped on, again and again. Louder than even the screech of weapons fire, he could hear angry voices shouting "Orion," "pirate," "bastard" and "murderer" over and over again.
Shaking himself, Lynathru lurched upright and lashed out blindly with an armoured fist, and felt it slam, satisfyingly, against someone's face. His vision began to clear, and he saw that he was being surrounded by a gaggle of bodies in ragged worker's outfits and ruined civilian attire. The prisoners, he realized, her ganging up on him now that rescue had come for them.
Snarling, he lashed out, hammmering a booted heel into one Human's kneecap with a gruesome crunch of bone, and then spun, his spinning legs knocking another two assailants off of their feet. Spinning back to his feet with practised ease, he saw an angry Bolian lunging at him. Having lost his disruptors in the earlier sprawl, Lynathru was left only with his bare hands-- which he used to catch the Bolion's lunging fist, before grabbing his outstretched arm and, with a deft twist, throwing him into another assailant that had been trying to rush him from behind.
Lynathru's senses returned to him, and in a single moment of wonderful clarity, he was aware of everything: the furious firefight between the Starfleet people and the enforcers, the Oricar and the Federation ship trading weapons fire out in space, and the tidal sprawl of prisoners who were now railing angrily against their captors with fists and curses. And Lynathru, unluckily enough, was caught in the middle of that sprawl.
Unfortunately for these civilian scrubs, however, Lynathru actually knew how to fight.
He exploded into a whirl of movement, blocking easily-telegraphed punches and shouldering and elbowing away anyone opportunistic enough to take him from the back or side. What few blows actually connected with him were soaked by his armour as he laid into his assailants with punches, chops and kicks, breaking ribs, arms and faces with brutal efficiency. His heartbeat pounded in his ears as he fought a path through the crowd. He was stopped, momentarily, as a rather hefty Human caught him from behind, compressing him in a bear hug. Against any other species, this might have worked, but Orion males were known for their prodigious physical strength. Grabbing his attacker's wrists, Lynathru dropped forwards, throwing his assailant into another three of his comrades, knocking them all over like bowling pins.
Suddenly, there was another flash, and his entire body shook, almost knocked off balance by a heavy vibration. An overwhelming smell of ozone told him that his personal shield had just taken a hit, and had just shorted out. Spinning, Lynathru saw a Starfleet officer standing amidst the firefight-- a tall Andorian male with short-cropped hair, calmly aiming a phaser rifle at him...
Wasting no time, Lynathru lunged forward, grabbing the end of the Andorian's rifle and pushing it upwards just as he fired his second shot, the ochre bolt fizzing uselessly into the ceiling. He was met by the Andorian's fist, which slammed across his right cheek and snapped his head to the side. Spitting blood, Lynathru retaliated by slamming an armoured elbow into the Andorian's face, and heard him cry out in pain as his nose was broken. As the Andorian staggered back, Lynathru, keeping a hold on his opponent's rifle, pulled him forwards and dropped low, knocking his opponent's feet out from under him with a leg sweep. As his opponent crashed to the floor, it was a simple matter for Lynathru to finish him off with a quick, brutal stomp to the neck.
Before Lynathru could even grab for the Andorian's phaser rifle, however, something exploded quite violently nearby. His entire body was hit by the full force of the shockwave, and he was aware of pain surging through his entire body before he slammed into a bulkhead, and everything went dark...
"Lynathru!" A familiar, gruff voice Said as a pair of hands shook him roughly. "Lynathru, are you alive?"
Slowly, Lynthru's eyes flickered open. As his vision slowly blurred into focus, he could see Raco standing over him, an ugly-looking phaser burn on his shoulder. In the background, Lynathru saw flames and smoke billowing everywhere, and heard the discharge of energy weapons somewhere in the distance.
He blinked. He was lying propped up against some sort of flat surface. A wall...he remembered being propelled into a wall by...an explosion of some sort. His back and arms were a throbbing mass of pain, and pins and needles shot through his right arm when he tried to move it. The side of his head felt wet, and each breath he took felt like a knife in his lungs. "What...happened?" he asked, surprised at how ragged his voice sounded.
"A photon grenade exploded next to you," Raco replied flatly. "Everyone's dead. Dead or dying. The Feddies are going through the station gunning down everyone."
The news was enough to make Lynathru sit upright. Past the smoke and the flames, Lynathru could see bodies littered all over the floor of the atrium. Some were those of Starfleet officers or the station's workers. Most of them, though, were Orions. With a sickening feeling, he realized that the only reason he was still alive right now was because the Feddies had taken him for dead.
He glanced to the side, searching for the hole in the wall. All he could see was smoke. "Then...contact the Oricar...and request that Natari...beam us aboard..." he managed to rasp. Hopefully, the Oricar was still in one piece, somewhere out there...
"I already have," Raco replied. "Mistress Natari sends her regrets."
Lynathru blinked, as Raco's words slowly sunk in. The full, horrible realization of what Raco had meant hit home, just as Raco drew his disruptor pistol.
Moving quickly, Lynathru reached forward, ignoring the searing pain in his ribs as he grabbed and pulled on Raco's wrist, wrenching his hand to the side to ruin his aim. The disruptor fired, the sizzling emerald bolt searing the bulkhead next to Lynathru's head as Raco, off-balance, came falling forwards...
...and was impaled, throat-first, on Lynathru's dagger as he pulled it free from his belt. Warm green blood slithered down Lynathru's arm before Raco jerked back, gurgling wetly as he pawed at the dagger now lodged firmly in his throat. As Lynathru watched, the other Orion toppled onto his back and lay, flailing spasmodically as his fingers tried in vain to get a grip around the dagger's handle. After a few seconds, Raco gave a final, pathetic gurgle and went still.
Leaning back against the wall, Lynathru took several deep breaths, wincing a little as the lingering pain in his spine flared up again. It took him a few seconds to realize that his arm-- the one now soaked in Raco's blood-- was shaking. Thoughts raced through his too quickly for him to dwell on. Natari had ordered this. Natari had told Raco to kill him. Here, in the chaos of a botched raid on a Federation outpost, Natari had tried to have him assassinated.
He grimaced. He had been stupid, he realized, to not have seen this coming. Natari had only chosen him as her mate so that she could assimilate his family`s wealth and territory. And now that she had that, he realized, she had no further need of him-- no one would question Natari if Lynathru died tragically in a botched raid in Federation space. It was the Orion way: Natari was simply securing her place at the top of the food chain.
Angrily, he kicked at Raco's cooling corpse, and winced as the motion caused pain to surge through his ribs again. Around him, he could see the omnipresent cloud of smoke begin to build up further and further. He had to get out of here, he realized: if he stayed here, the flames or the smoke would eventually kill him. Come to think of it, he had to get off the station entirely: no matter who found him-- be they Orions or Starfleet-- he would most certainly be killed on the spot.
Taking a deep breath, he braced himself against the wall and, slowly and agonizingly, stood up. A hiss of pain escaped his clenched teeth as his battered ribs and spine protested, but he still managed to stand up to his full height. The front of his armour was a buckled, scorched mess, and it was a wonder that it was still intact. Taking a deep breath, Lynathru turned and began to limp away from the sound of distant phaser fire. He only hoped that he remembered the brief map he had seen of the station's interior correctly...
Almost ten minutes after the battle had begun, the Oricar broke off from its engagement with the Federation Excelsior, atmosphere and plasma leaking biliously from several ruptures in its hull as it retreated. Those members of the boarding party who could be rescued were beamed back as the Oricar limped away towards the edge of the system. Relentlessly, the Excelsior pursued the Oricar, hammering her with phaser fire until the Orion ship finally jumped to warp, escaping. The remaining Orions on the station, abandoned by their ship, fought with the desperate ferocity of dead men as the Starfleet away teams closed in on them. Furious room-to-room fighting raged across the station, but in the end, the Federation triumphed. Every single Orion left on the station was either killed or injured in the aftermath of the battle. Every Orion, that was, except one.
Unnoticed amidst the chaos of the battle, a lone shuttle had flown out of the station's bays, zipping at full speed in the opposite direction from the Oricar. Aboard, Lynathru sat in the pilot's seat, battered and weary, as he plotted a course. He knew that his options were limited: Natari was head of the third most powerful corsair on Terjas Mor, and had the eyes and ears of Melani Di'an herself. She had agents in every smuggler's haven in the quadrant-- Drozana, Tazi, Deep Space Nine, and even Ferenginar were all off limits to Lynathru now. And no matter where he ran to, he was certain that Natari would try to finish the deed and eliminate him.
And so, he plotted a course for the one place where he knew he would have any real safety: Qo'noS. The homeworld of the Klingon Empire.
The loud, angry buzz of the
shipwide communicator woke Lynathru with a start. He jolted upright, and almost banged his head against the low-hanging ceiling of the Klingon bunk. He let out a tired groan as he blinked rheumily. Even after his rough year of officer training in the KDF, he still wasn't used to sleeping on the flat metal slabs that the Klingons used as beds.
Searching his discarded shirt for his wrist communicator, he found it and slapped it. "Yes?" he grumbled.
"Commander, we've just recieved orders from KDF command,"
came Kovor's voice on the comm.
"We're to patrol the Kahless Expanse until further notice."
Lynathru groaned. "Aren't there any other ships in range who can carry out the patrol instead?"
"Yes sir. The I.K.S. Norgh'a'Qun, under General Ssharki. The General is the one who relayed the order to us."
Lynathru bit back the urge to curse all generals everywhere. "Alright, set a course for the Kahless Expanse then, maximum warp," he ordered. "I'll be on the bridge as soon as possible."
And with that, the communication ended.
Sighing, Lynathru started to dress, slipping on his armour. He had not been sleeping well these past few days, and it wasn't just because of the hardness of Klingon beds or the stress of his new command. It was the fact that he lately kept having the same dream...or rather, memory...over and over again each night. He hated this particular dream, because nothing ever changed: no matter what, he was still betrayed in the end, still forced to flee for his life. Still reduced to a fugitive, where once he had been a prince among corsairs. The fact that he was relatively safe gave him little comfort.
Standing up, Lynathru found the bottle of blood wine he mostly drank the previous night, and emptied its remaining contents into a used goblet. "Here's to you, Natari," he muttered, downing the rest of the foul stuff in a single gulp, before tossing the goblet aside and exiting his quarters.
Last edited by ambassadormolari; 04-14-2013 at