“The scanners are getting quite full now… I mean, take your pick at this point.”
“Are you going to respond?”
“I am quite aware, of what is right in front of me.” Responded Angael.
“Well, if you’re not even going to acknowledge my existence, why did you hire me?” Ameld retorted.
“For the view, now fuck off.”
Ameld stood speechless, eyes like daggers piercing the back of Angael’s head, before promptly storming out of the bridge. They had been in Mehet for a few short hours, half a day at most. The local authorities had offered substantial incentives for bounty hunters to assist them in ridding the system of the more undesirable sort. So far as Angael was concerned, money was money. How you came to acquire it was only note worthy should someone with a larger gun ask.“Ameld. Report back to the bridge. Immediately.” Angael nonchalantly slurred into the intercom. With almost the same immediacy as she had left, Ameld returned. Her expression one of severe detest.
“Mmhmm.” She all but spat.
“That’s no way to address your Commanding Officer Ameld.” Angael crooned with a hint of sarcasm.
“Fuck. You.” came the inevitable reply.
“That’s better. A word of advice Ameld, this ship and all of her contents are worth many hundreds of times more than either of our lives. Joe Bob of the SS Stolen Eagle with his 4000cr bounty is not worth the fuel it would cost to chase him.” Angael spoke without any hint of agitation, taking Ameld back some. She was half expecting a lecture on insubordination.
Angael was often an unresolved bastard. But there was a fairness about him. He almost commanded individuality through outspokenness. Something that many or indeed most within the military Ameld hails from utterly abhor.
“I understand that Commander, it’s just tha-”
“I didn’t ask for reply on this issue.” Angael interjected, cutting Ameld off mid sentence. Once again infuriating her beyond the point of lucidity.
“Fetch the bourbon, some ice and two glasses. This week, you’ll learn far more than the Navy could have ever taught you…”
Sometime later, Ameld returned with two somewhat clean glasses a jug of ice and a bottle of rather expensive Indi Bourbon snug in her armpit.
“You know, when I left the Navy, I had imagined that I’d be travelling across hundreds of systems chasing infamous villains for gargantuan piles of credits.” she began, Angael raising his eyebrow and peering out the corner of his eye. Noting the distinct lack of agitation in her voice.
“I’d not imagined for an instant that I’d be sitting aboard the bridge of a rather…uniquely outfitted Corvette. I’d certainly not imagined that Corvette would be owned and commanded by one of the most insufferable beings in the galaxy.” She continued.
“Could be worse.” Angael responded, his tone flat.
“And how might that be.” Ameld enquired.
“Could be a Cobra.”
Ameld rolled her eyes and began to pour the expensive bourbon into the glasses.
“Don’t you dare.” Angael berated with his usual neutral tone.
“You literally just asked me to-”
With a sigh Ameld dropped some ice into the glasses and poured the bourbon. They sat for a time silently peering through the lightly tinted bridge window. Watching other bounty hunters chasing wanted criminals through the ice fields. Mehet had developed something of an organised crime problem in recent times and the once lucrative ice mines had become plagued by pirates, thus the initiative concocted by the Mehet Ltd corporation to combat them.
“This stuff is quite strong.” Ameld mused, looking at her glass.
“Mmhmm.” smirked Angael. “Should want to be given it costs nearly 10,000cr a bottle.”
“So how long do we sit here, doing nothing?” Ameld enquired. Obviously becoming rather impatient. Angael either oblivious to the question or simply ignorant.
“For fuck sake, you’re impossible.” Ameld once again huffed. “Why can you not just behave like a normal person, do we sit here all day getting increasingly drunk and feebl-”
“Speak for yourself.” Angael interjected once more, finally drive Ameld over the edge.
“So you’re just willfully ignorant? I ask a genuine question of you and you ignore it. But I threaten your poor insecurities and you’re spurred into action!” she exploded.
Angael turned towards her with a bemused look on his face.
“Did they teach you to use such accusatory words in the academy?” he chortled. “You asked a question I had no answer for.”
“At least acknowledge that you’ve heard me, please.” she responded attempting to quell her temper.
“How’s the drink?” Angael asked, baffling Ameld with his seemingly deranged thought patterns.
“It’s nice, thank you.” she once again responded. “Do you have a time frame in mind at all. It would just be nice to have some idea, you know, some rough idea as to when me might head back to dock.”
“Well, now that you ask so nicely.” Ameld trying not to pass out through sheer frustration, “Do you see those two Anaconda’s over there?”
Ameld peered through the starboard window. “Yes, roughly twenty-kilometres away. Do our sensors even reach that far?” she asked.
“No, but note that one has a thruster off line and the other a rather obvious list to port.”
Ameld squinted trying to make out the finer details. “I see the single thruster on the forward ‘conda, but I think the bourbon has gotten to you regarding the list. Even so, what’s your point.”
“Well, my dear.” Angael began, immediately infuriating Ameld once more. “Had you been watching this last hour past, rather than pestering me with utterly facile tangents, you’d have noticed those two brigands having their way with multiple miners and system security pilots. They’ve just now decided to break for repairs.”
Ameld remained silent, a very slight sense of embarrassment and an overwhelming want to slap the condescending grin clean from Angaels face.
“Those two chaps aren’t going to return to port. My bet, given the expense of their vessels, is that they’ve been at this game for quite a while. That usually means quite a number of people and more importantly, corporations, want their hides on a rack.” Angael continued.
“You mean to say that we’ve just spent the better part of a day watching two pirates murder countless innocent people, only to pick them off at the end and count the bounty!?” exclaimed Ameld.
“I’m sorry my dear, had you mistaken this for a security vessel? We’re here for cash. Not glory”.
With that, Angael eased the throttle forward, a rattly hum emanating through the ship’s hull as the two massive thrusters rumbled into life. With a slight positive pitch and rolling to starboard, the Corvette lumbered off in the direction of the unsuspecting duo.
“Do we have a strategy in place to deal with these pair Commander?” enquired Ameld, by now speaking merely to satisfy her own need to hear the question aloud, to her surprise Angael replied “High and smooth. There’s a reason this ship is black. We’ll use the void to hide our approach visually. Keep the hardpoints stowed until I give the order.” he said clearly but sternly.
“Eight hundred meters Commander.” Ameld informed, “Well within effective weapons range.” she continued as she fastened her harness.
With a delicate yet deliberate motion, Angael rolled the Corvette onto its back and pitched down hard to begin the initial strafing run. “Ameld, disengage the flight computer and structure integrity safeguards.” Ameld apprehensively followed the order, her time in the Navy having instilled something of a muscle memory when it came to following orders. There was an inherent risk in what she had just done. The ship systems would no longer attempt to rectify maneuvers that could otherwise jeopardise the structural integrity of the ship. All control was now with the pilot. A pilot who a mere fifteen minutes earlier was sipping on some of the strongest liquor she’d ever been privy too.
“Four hundred meters Commander” she informed once more. Without response Angael once again forcefully drew back on the flight controls, at the same time drawing back on the throttle to the full reverse position.
A thunderous roar bellowed through the ship as the thrusters work double time to keep up with the pilots demands. The entire hull rattling and shaking under the immense strain. “Deploy the hardpoints” Angael once again ordered, Ameld complying dutifully. Almost immediately four bright red beams sprang from the forward most point of the ship. The colour immediately catching Ameld’s attention. Every Navy vessel she’d seen combat with had the standard orange, this was something rather different.
As quick as the unique hue had caught her attention the shields on the dilapidated Anaconda failed, an almost inaudible mayday echoed throughout the intercom. No sooner had the shields failed, the Corvettes primary weaponry sprang to life. Two titanic auto-cannons unleashing a deafening roar. Just as the unusually hue of the beam lasers had caught Ameld off guard, the hellish, violent, cacophony of the eight blazing barrels was nigh enough to cause a concussion for anyone stationed on the bridge.
Each shell from the massive guns ripping holes completely through the by now utterly incapacitated vessel, flames becoming visible inside the cockpit as the stricken ship’s signature dropped from the Corvettes scanners.
Without hesitation Angael once more reefed upon the control surfaces, rolling the Corvette on its back and initiating the afterburners. Performing something of a violent celestial ballet, the Corvette turned to bare arms upon the now lone Anaconda, fleeing as fast as it could in its current state. The Corvette’s beam lasers had ripped the shields from the fleeing vessel in the time it had taken to complete the maneuver, A single well aimed volley from the rear mounted auto-cannons punching holes the size of small houses in the Anaconda’s deck. A direct hit upon the ship’s nuclear reactor. With a blinding flash it was over. The Anaconda’s hull fragments hurtling into space.