It’s been a while since I’ve updated this space. The 4th story in the Kal series is out, and I have a teaser below. The 5th story is still in the works and should come soon. I have some big exciting news that I will share pretty soon, but for now enjoy Kal’s Revenge.
One more item before the story, the Playlist of the Ancient Dead kindle edition is only a dollar right now, and it won’t be for long. I suggest getting it now rather than later.
“Damn it, Hayden. Where are you?” She yelled at the airlock door between her and the void.
She stood on what would be considered the ceiling of a tiny airlock in the belly of a Tricore deep space mining vessel. However, ceiling was a relative term because she was in a Zero G zone, which was helpful because she was about to hand deliver several large crates a Teristaque Mech would struggle to carry. They were drifting in a carbon nanotube mesh sack that she had used to haul them to the airlock.
The vessel, a Tricore class A0C1H7, was almost entirely automated. It would travel through the most outer reaches of space with a solar sail on one side collecting starlight to power the ship. The other side of the sail collected space dust. Since almost every element floated through space from some long forgotten super nova explosion, the ship collected the raw materials that kept Tricore a leading supplier of replicator cartridges essential for every space faring culture.
The space dust caught on the collection end of the solar sail would eventually make its way down to the center through micro vibrations created from the interstellar wind. It was a genius design. In the center of the craft, an automated refinery separated the material into its elemental components. Then they were packed in to ready-to-be-used cartridges for small to medium sized spaceships. A nearby ship in desperate need of supply would dock and purchase a cartridge for a price a dying man would pay a warlord for water, and the A01CH7 would generate gobs of money for being one of the only deep space pit stops.
The crew of the Tricore vessel was only seven people, and four of them were advanced robotic repair crews who kept the refinery going. The other three would keep the ship from breaking down, and repaired the solar sail when the occasional asteroid would tear a hole in the thin material. They all acted as a flight crew. None of the men and women on board the long-term deep space vessel were responsible for security. In fact, there were no weapons on board. They had no reason for protection when they would never see the customers. A ship desperate enough to do business with a Tricore vessel, wouldn’t even see the crew as the transaction was entirely automated. The customers would dock, pay a fee, and find an airlock full of goods minutes later. Kal had no intention of paying for her goods.
It was an ideal target for a robbery had Tricore not been a Teristaque owned and operated company. The Teristaque, who called themselves humans, were one of the most brutal races in the galaxy. They enforced swift and decisive punishment, especially for deep space thieves. A pirate looking to score some replicator materials from an unarmed vessel would be on the wanted list of one of the largest armadas in the galaxy. Only the suicidal and the stupid robbed a Tricore vessel, especially because every approaching ship was carefully logged. The logs were then transmitted to the Teristaque network in the event a pirate’s reach be longer than their wit.
Six of the crates taking up most of the space in the airlock were Tricore Solution Number 3, a mix which supplied an average twenty person vessel with replicator supplies for about a month per crate. Kal’s vessel would use about half that, so the crates surrounded by her carbon mesh netting would last about year or so. However, six crates from an A0C1H7 was small in comparison to what she could have scored from the vessel, but a heist that could be misconstrued as inventory error was a much more desirable outcome than her vessel being tagged as an enemy of the Teristaque Empire, or as humans said (because humans under exaggerated their terror), The United Planets of Earth. Six crates would be enough to refuel with the five-finger discount, but not enough to do any more than confuse a crew and maybe earn one of them a chewing out from a superior. It was that seventh crate that was too intriguing to leave it in the possession of the Teristaques.
A day before Kal found herself in an airlock waiting for Hayden. She found herself waiting for Hayden in a different capacity. Grannork, Seayolar, Maker, Haath-Nlo, and the couple other prisoners who decided to stay after their escape from the Fendpaake Asteroid Mining Prison were all waiting for Hayden. Grannork, who was an Orcandu with a foul temper like most Orcandus, was the first to vent his misgivings. “I will hoist Hayden by his entrails if he takes any longer.”
“Then you wouldn’t have any more of my delicious SPAM cakes,” Hayden said as he brought a steaming dish of canned meat products arranged as circular patties, stacked in a pyramid shape. He sent the tray down in the center of the mess hall table and everyone took a few patties, where as Grannork took a mound.
While the SPAM was decent considering they had run out of raw carbon for their replicator a week ago, it was nothing like a fresh banjer from back home. The memory of Kal’s village seemed like it was out of the distant past, even though it was a little less than two years ago. She had almost forgotten what her mother looked like. It didn’t happen overnight. It was subtle. During her months in prison and the year they had spent petty thieving in the stolen vessel of Dr. Feslerk, she thought about her mother less and less. Soon she forgot what it was like when her mother smiled, when she sang, and when she laughed. The only image that remained was her mother’s face contorted as she died under the fire of the Teristaque. She cried the morning when she couldn’t remember the sound of her mother’s song.
When they first broke free of the prison, they took inventory of the vessel. There was a lot of scientific equipment and experiments from the mad doctor. Since Haath-Nlo, her crippled insectiod cellmate from prison, had interspecies medical training, he was able to help them figure what they could sell and what they could keep. After they sold a bulk of the equipment, they cut the leaving prisoners their share and the rest decided to stay onboard.
Kal had found herself in command of the group not because she was qualified to lead a band of space pirates, but more because she was the one who always stepped up to make a decision when no one else would. She was also the one who had ideas when the fence who bought their medical equipment asked them about a job. She never called herself captain, but it was Maker who said it first, and the nickname stuck.
Ever since she fell into the role of captain, she reserved all her tears for the shower. In prison, she did everything to fight back tears. The inmates would serve her for all three meals if they saw her crying. Once she was out. It was like all the bottled emotion exploded from her. She mourned the loss of her village for the first time. However, she suffered in silence. To the rest of the crew, she was confident and capable. They didn’t know she was falling apart on the inside. She didn’t even talk with Hayden, who was human, and despite their feared reputation, seemed to always want to negotiate peace between the crew.
Hayden was the only Teristaque member of the crew. Through persistence, and grudging acceptance on Grannork’s part, he convinced the crew to start using the word human at least in reference to him. Since Grannork’s clan had been all but wiped out by the Teristaques, the hulking Orcandu seemed to have a personal quest to kill all humans on sight, Hayden being one of the only exceptions. Half of Hayden’s job, aside from piloting the ship was advocating on behalf of the humans. It was a little beyond most of the crew to discern the difference between a human who was a part of the corrupted government system bought and paid for by the interstellar corporations, and a human who was just trying to eke out a living for themselves.
Hayden also worked his way into Kal’s sleeping quarters. The attraction to Hayden wasn’t a surprise because of her half-human DNA. They both were attractive and liked each other. The surprise was that Kal had existed at all. Very few alien species were compatible sexually speaking. Even on the off chance that two species who evolved on different worlds had similar enough physiology for the desire for sex to occur, it was rare when a child could be conceived. Most interspecies couples used advance scientific methods to create offspring. A half human and half Nigramotoian natural birth was rare.
After breaking free from the prison, Kal had contemplated going to her homeworld of Nigramoto several times to gain insight into her origins, however, the trip would be a suicide mission since her planet had the largest army of Teristaques in the entire galaxy. The decrand coming from the planets core was worth more than half the UPE’s worth. Since everyone in her vessel were escapees from a Teristaque prison, going to Nigramoto was too risky for just information. Even though they had secured fake IDs and could dock on Teristaque stations, she couldn’t justify the trip. She had to hold out for a day when a job would lead her home.
Sarge, another escapee from the prison, who got her into this mess in the first place ended up on Nigramoto. Kal had a suspicion that he had information about her origin. It seemed like more than a coincidence that of all villages, he ended up skulking about hers. Both Hayden and Kal knew Sarge was up to something on the planet, but they didn’t know what and didn’t have time to find out. They had the more immediate concerns of running the ship. Which was why after a series of petty theft and small heists, Kal found herself plotting one over a casual SPAM dinner.
“I can make our ship disappear on their sensors,” Maker said. “I only need to plant the device on their array.”
Seayolar, a snouted alien with a raspy laugh said, “Then they’ll have already registered our S-ID by then. We spent a lot of money getting a stolen S-ID with a clean history from the Teristaques.”
“Ah that is why Grannork will fly me on a shuttle to purchase some supplies. I can attach myself to one of my space resistant bodies and ride on the outside of the craft. It will be a simple matter of floating to the array while Grannork completes the transaction.”
“What’s the point of stealing if we are going to pay for it?”
“The point,” Hayden interjected. “Is that we will be taking much more than we have bought. My friends used to do this back home. One of us distracted the clerk with a small purchase while the others leaned over the counter and stole the baseball cards.”
Seayolor roared with laughter. “You stole child cards!”
“Enough,” Kal interjected. “The point is that we can fly within their proximity sensors without being registered. Once Grannork and Maker fly away, the Tricore crew will not see anyone in the area unless they happen to be looking out the window. Meanwhile, one of us will go inside and secure a couple of crates.”
“Who’s going to be stupid enough to climb inside?” Seayolar interjected.
“Easy,” Kal said. “Me.”
To read more get the kindle edition here.