A Life of Crime - Part I

Pirate Cutlass running alongside Local Law Enforcement Cutlass
Nexus System

Photeus felt himself black out and come back slowly. He got his bearings and remembered where he was. He was magnetically gripped to the outside of the Police ship crawling toward the main engines. His EVA suit chirped various warnings as he slowly made his way to the engines. The ship's right engine was already burned and ruined but the left and center engines were keeping them going. Blasts of energy fire rippled across the hull of the police cruiser and the law fired back on his friendly Cutlass. Plates of armor tore away from the police ship and whipped past him. Any moment now one would cut him in two.

Not that he cared, he just cared about getting his charge to that engine. More shots, this time the Pirates lost some hull plates and lost some speed. Almost there, he crawed between the left and center engines, and set his charge. Moron, you forget to bring a magnet for the charge.

He removed the magnetic grip from one of his hands, nestled the charge into it and repositioned the wiring. Wow, I'd be court martialed for this jury rigged piece of crap.

He then looked for his Cutlass, gave the signal and they reduced their speed. He stood up on the between the engines and put his EVA suit on full burn. He then released the magnets and jetted across the gap. As he felt himself start to black out again, he realized he was putting incredible force and strain onto his body.

He awoke in time to just miss the open cargo port, but was able to grab onto an edge of the door. One of the pirates grabbed his arm and tried to tow him in, fighting G forces. The Cutlass then made a turn which flung Photeus and his savior into the cargo hold and against the opposite wall.

"Close it!" said the big human Photeus was now crushing. The cargo door slowly closed and the man pushed Photeus off, "Get off me! You're either crazy or stupid. I'm thinking both." He then stood up looking down on Photeus laying on the cargo hold floor, "You pull a stunt like that again, and I assure you I'll fulfill your deathwish."

"Whatever you say Krag," Photeus managed to sputter. His nose was bleeding and his insides felt like they were on fire. Burn you little parasite. Die and take me with you.

"Well?" said a lanky human wearing what looked like a rummage sale, "Was it worth it?"

"Worth," was all Photeus managed to say as he hit the trigger.

Fire and slag exploded from the police ships engines and they went adrift. Krag, looking out the port-holes harrumphed and said, "Well look at that. This is gonna be cake. Thanks, Photeus."

Lanky man helped Photeus up, "Almost done and time to clock out. You ready?"

"Point me their way, Della. I think I went blind." Photeus joked.

These pirates didn't have a plan like the UEE would, Photeus knew. They were just planning to blow the door of the police ship wide open. Yeah, it would cause a breach, but they had EVA suits. They assumed their mark would be piloting the cop-ship anyway. Regardless, it was a dead-or-alive mark, so good enough either way.

"Do it," Krag commanded.

Photeus hit a different button on his trigger and the pre-placed directional charges on the docking ring blew through the hull of the police ship. They had not opened their doors yet, and saw a few of the cops get blown out into the black.

The Cutlass' met in love embrace of metal grinding. Krag was the first to jump over, immediately knifing the nearest officer and firing his weapon several times in the hold. Della was next, but didn't fire a shot. She motioned for Photeus.

Photeus jumped through next turning on his boots and coming to a clean landing. Della and Krag didn't have the boots, so they floated around the hull. However, being experienced with space meant that they were more nimble than they appeared.

They made it to the cockpit doors before Photeus could get there. "Della?" Krag asked, expecting the question understood. Della pulled a scanner from her personal yard sale and said, "Yeah, he's definitely in there."

"Good." Krag held up his weapon, preparing to fire through the door.

"Whoa, hold up!" Photeus protested, "It's three times as much if he's alive. Let's take him alive."

Krag looked at Photeus, not amused, "Look, he's a cop. He might escape. I hear dead bodies have an average of zero escape attempts."

Photeus couldn't argue with that. Money is money, after all. He just needed all he could get, "Fine. What's that…wait!"

Photeus heard a sound, small explosion, sounded like the reactor. Della looked at her scanner again, "Krag, just open the door and grab him. Reactor is going critical."

Krag, looking as if he was just told he'd have to go without desert tonight said, "Fine!" He then fire two precise shots into the door mechanism and kicked it open. Della expertly followed the kick and floated into the room. The cop inside, no more than 20 years old, fired twice, wildly. Della bounced from a wall and kicked him squarely in the jaw. Even in the EVA suit he took the full force. He was unconscious from the blow and spun slowly in the lack of gravity.

Photeus turned his boots off, letting lack of gravity take control. Della and Krag pushed the boy out of the cockpit and Photeus guided him down to the exit. They pushed him through to the Pirate ship and the three jumped back over.

Krag yelled up through the cargo hold, "Piston, bug out."

The pilot, Piston yelled back, "We're stuck to it, might take some time. 5 minutes."

Krag replied, "No. Now! It's gonna Crit."

Cursing and yelling was the only reply Krag received back. The Cutlass bucked against the law boat, metal screeching.

Photeus pulled a few toys from his satchel. He then put all of them back, save one grenade, keyed a code into it and dropped it back into his satchel. He spun the satchel vertically in a circle, like a sling.

"Everyone hold on!" As Krag and Della gripped the hold bars, Photeus opened back up the door. Peering back into the Police Cutlass he let go of his satchel. It sailed across the void and landed against the wall of the other ship. He then closed the door and called to Piston, "Now try to pull, and keep trying!"

As he tried screeches of metal again filled the hold and then an explosion that slowly dulled out. Krag yelled, "You blew it up?"

"No," coughed Photeus, still recovering from earlier, "Just used the blast to get the cops away from us. It's still going to critical."

A sudden change in force knocked them down, save Della who was holding on, "Hold up ladies and gents, getting clear. Down an engine so might be bumpy," came an explanation from Piston.

Looking out the ports again the three could see the police cruiser explode. Krag laughed and pointed to the unconscious cop on the floor, "You best be worth your weight in credits kid. Hopefully your parents love you enough to pay up."

---Later, back at Spider---

Same as usual, they arrived back at Spider. They took the cop out of his suit and put him on a medical stretcher. They acted like it was an emergency and brought him to the local infirmary. Once there, they gave a certain nurse a bribe and they were allowed to bring the stretcher to a back room. Men in fine black suits came out, gathered up the stretcher and took the kid away. He'll be ransomed for a pretty penny, but not that it matters. He was destined for death and pain anyway.

After they took the kid away, one of them came back and opened his mobi-glass, "I'm downloading the instructions for payment to each of you. You were never here."

The three nodded to each other and went their separate ways.

Photeus later reviewed the instructions and went to the meeting place. It was a secluded corner of Spider, an ancient Merchantman. At least half of what was left of it, welded into various ships that Photeus didn't recognize. He arrived at the location and two men stepped forward out of shadows and patted him down. They removed his blasters and told him they would be returned.

An old man then stepped forward. He looked like some kind of beggar. Definitely a façade. Shadows obscured his face, "Krag said he doesn't want to work with you again. Too crazy for him. I'm impressed."

Photeus grunted, "Krag doesn't have imagination. Now where is my money?"

The man smiled and replied, "We'll get to that. I have an offer for you. There is a certain…trinket…that a friend of mine would like to get his hands on. It's currently being held by a Drake executive. It will be a one-man mission. Should you succeed, you will be well rewarded."

"How do I know that? You haven't paid me for the first job!" Photeus was losing his patience.

"That payment will be used to give you the right to take this job. Here is my offer: Should you succeed, I will pay for continued medical treatment of your fellow miners," the friendliness had left the man's voice.

Photeus was now surprised, but rolled with it, "Even you couldn't afford that. Were it that you could, why should you?"

"This trinket is of utmost import to the dearest friend of mine. My friends are deeply important to me," coldly, his voice cut into Photeus.

"If I say no? What will you do? Kill me? If you know anything, you know I'm a dead man anyway," Photeus countered.

"No. I'll kill them. The miners that is," the man replied, "maybe you don't value your life, but I think they still do."

Photeus bluffed, "After losing their families they are all drunks anyway. Not sure why you think I care about them."

The man called it, "Sorry but your bank statements betray you, for the last year you have been taking the most dangerous jobs and sending the money to them as best you can," the voice became friendly again, "Come now, let's not fight. We're on the same side here. You want to help your friends and be their hero. I want to enable you to do so more completely. Then afterward you can go die in a quasar somewhere for all I care. Do you want the instructions or the executions?

Photeus, defeated, replied, "Give me the instructions."

The man smiled again, "You will not see me again. Should you betray my trust, no edge of the universe will be able to hide you from my eyes," the smile went flat, "I will find you."