Excerpt from "Collaborators"
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”
– Herman Melville
“Alright, while we’re here we may as well make it worth our while. Digger I want you to get us refueled. Yard, go and get what we need for food stores, figuring on four more mouths to feed. Eve, go see Eric Best about replenishing our laser charges stock. We will be maintaining com silence until we have the Nasons in hand,” said Iain.
“Yes sir,” Digger, Yard and Eve all said in unison then they ran down the ramp.
“How are we going to go about this?” asked Jaime.
“The warehouse is just across the dock so it won’t take long to get there at least. I think our best bet will be to go in the backdoor so we’re less apt to be seen. Jaime, you’re with me, Jared, watch the front door from the vendors,” answered the captain as he pulled a red bandana from his pocket and tied it over his head to hide his distinctive hair. Jaime pulled a band from his pocket and tied his back as well, Jared, already having quite well maintained hair had no need to worry about it, he looked very little like a pirate when it came down to it.
The captain motioned Jaime to stay put as he started across the street to a building across from the landing pads.
He walked up to the rear of it, moved an oil barrel against the wall to a position just under a grungy window, climbed on it and slowly brought his head up to look inside. He couldn’t see anything at first then he saw movement to the left. He saw what he thought was the end of a foot moving behind the crate across from him.
He motioned Jaime to come forward and try the door a few feet from him.
The quartermaster took a quick look up and down the street then came across. The door had a padlock on it. He held it off the door to show the captain.
Iain nodded and climbed down off the barrel. He pulled his lock pick set from the cuff of his sleeve and came up beside Jaime. Within seconds the lock came open. He whispered that he had seen movement along the left side of the building so they started in that direction.
Just as they came around the corner of the final crates Iain saw the back of a man about Thomas’ height and build dart down the next aisle. He started to call out to him just as a CRF soldier stepped into the aisle before him. Iain froze, went for his pistol and looked for a place to take cover. Jaime was doing the same just behind him. He heard someone call for Nason to come out then a scuffle behind him. He turned around to find a soldier behind Jaime trying to get him in a neck hold.
Jaime was trying very hard to get out of it but the confined space was keeping him from being able to throw his attacker as he wanted to.
Captain Bryce started to go to him to help when another three guards appeared behind the quartermaster and three more from the end of the hall before him.
“Damn!” said the captain out loud. He motioned Jaime to stop struggling.
Jared was pretending to be interested in a box full of porcelain figurines but he’d had to tell the merchant three times that he was just looking. He was about to move to something else just as the front door of the warehouse came open and three people stepped out quickly, moving up the street. They were disguised but he knew who they were immediately. He started to call out to them but knew that wouldn’t be smart. He couldn’t call Iain either since he had told him to maintain com silence.
He started to cross the street to follow them, hoping to catch up to them.
He stopped and turned when he saw a squad of CRF soldiers moving up the road toward him. They walked past the Nasons without noticing them at least. The weapons master stepped into a fruit vendor’s space and looked over a pile of red apples as he waited for them to pass him. He started to leave the space and go after the Nasons when one of the final soldiers stopped and grabbed his arm. He had no time to react as he was pulled around and his left sleeve was pulled up to expose the tattoo he had there.
“I can explain that,” said Jared quickly, “It was a dumb college frat prank.” He shrugged as if he knew it had been stupid as well. He might have gotten away with it except one of the men knew him.
“I was stationed on Colum with this man for a few months, sir. This is former Lieutenant Commander Jared Way. He deserted to join a pirate.”
The pirate captain and quartermaster were pushed into the center of the warehouse and told to get down on their knees.
Iain really didn’t want to do this but did.
Jaime followed suit.
The captain was about to tell the men they were only dockworkers when five more CRF came in pushing Jared before them. “Damn!” he repeated.
Jared was told to get down beside his two companions and the soldiers took up positions around them.
Iain wondered what they were waiting for. He was about to ask that very question when a man dressed in an admiral’s uniform stepped before the men. None of them recognized the high-ranking officer, which seemed to upset him greatly.
“Pirate captain, Iain Bryce, quartermaster, Jaimes Cable, and weapons master, Jared Way, of the pirate ship Phoenix, if I am not mistaken?”
“Admiral,” said Iain, trying to sound just as pompous, “You have us at a disadvantage, since we don’t know you.”
“Pardon my ill manners. Admiral Richard Humbolt, at your service,” said the man. “I command a battlecruiser you should be very familiar with, Archimedes?”
It bothered Iain to think Anders’ former ship would now be under the command of an asshole, but then he had thought Anton was an asshole most of the time he was in command of it, so… “Well, Admiral Humbolt, might I ask why you are holding us?”
“Because you were all pardoned by former President Nason?” asked the admiral.
“That’s part of it, unless you have some new charges against us?” said Iain, trying very hard to keep from getting too sarcastic.
“Tell me where the Nasons have gone?” said the admiral
“Why would they have been here?” asked Iain.
“We tracked them to this warehouse and I’m guessing you were here to fetch them? Offer them safe harbor?” asked the admiral.
“Now that would be a criminal activity, wouldn’t it?” said Iain, not hiding the sarcasm any longer.
“As is breaking and entering,” said Humbolt as he held up the lock Iain had picked from the back door.
“Who is to say it was me that picked that lock? I say it was already open and my man and I just happened to stroll inside. Unless you have a witness it is merely your word against mine,” said Iain.
“Then let’s try assault and battery,” said the admiral.
“We’ve assaulted no one,” said Iain.
The admiral motioned one of his men, a lieutenant commander, forward and slapped him across the face with the back of his hand. “Who just hit you, Lieutenant Commander?”
The man was wiping blood from the corner of his mouth and regaining his footing as his commanding officer asked this. He stood stiff and rigid and quickly said, “The pirate there did, sir,” indicating Jaime.
Iain shook his head and whispered, “Son of a bitch,” under his breath. He never thought he would wish he was being captured by Flint or Wallace. They both had enough honor to show them the respect of equals. This man was obviously willing to do anything to get them, which meant he would be hard to predict.
The next several minutes was anything but fun for the three men as a bright flash of light lit up the warehouse, blinding them, then billy-clubs, fists, feet, knees and rifle butts were hitting them from every side. They could do nothing to stop them or defend themselves since they could not see their attackers.