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Episode Nine

Episode Nine

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The docking arm and main stem of the base were deserted. Presumably the remaining crew were in the spinning section. Nar'Bon scouted ahead. We had no need for helmets as the hull was pressurised, but I at least preferred to keep my vacsuit on. We drifted towards the rear of the base, past the eight arms that lead to the fighter docking points.

Nar'Bon heard or saw something ahead and waved us into cover, then darted back. I ducked up one of the eight fighter docking arms. The Human disappeared up a tube at a 90 degree angle to mine, Nar'Bon up the opposite one and the Pak'ma'ra followed me.

Nar'Bon and I are used to zero-g manoeuvering, but both Russell and the Pak'ma'ra were very clumsy. The Pak'ma'ra was in my way, annoying me - useless creature! I had to wriggle and struggle to get around him so that I could see what was happening. Nar'Bon and I used hand signals to discuss how many beings there were and how close. Close, but not as close as I wanted them to be. Their voices changed from vague murmurs to intelligible words. They were talking about inconsequentialities in Earther. Their scent confirmed that they were Humans - good, so easy to dispose of. Nar'Bon and I watched each other and waited for the shadows of the Humans to appear in the main stem.

A flicker of movement appeared, and we heard the sound of ppg fire at close range. The Human had broken too early. There was only one thing to do. Nar'Bon and I cannoned out of our tubes, neatly avoiding each other, and opened fire upon the two Humans floating there. We both hit the same man, and the other turned to flee. Nar'Bon's line of fire was spoiled by Russell, and for a moment there was a tangle of bodies. I managed to get myself out of the mess and chased the other human, who was trying to get to the lift up to the gravity wheel. I shot him in the back as he reached to punch at the lift button. He wouldn't live long without treatment, and was inconveniently bleeding a little, spreading red blobs through the atmosphere. Shooting him again would only provide the possibility of more blood to spatter my clothes, so I quickly broke his neck and shoved the body into a nearby locker.

Droplets of blood floated through the air, impacting upon my vacsuit and face. All the better - I wanted to look like a creature from hell when I took on the humans in the gravity wheel.

I am Death and my way is paved in blood.

The Pak'ma'ra was treating the Human Nar'Bon and I had shot. Don't know why - he was one of the Enemy and did not deserve to live. He was very badly wounded - two shots in the chest - and could not be expected to live long without better medical treatment than what we could offer. Better to kill him straight out. However, the Pak'ma'ra insisted that he treat the "poor unfortunate" Human.

Have I said how much this Pak'ma'ra annoys me? I let him have his way just to keep him shut up and not actively fighting me. For someone who is peace loving, or so he says, he seems to go out of his way to stir up conflict. We were wasting valuable time by stopping a dying being from dying too quickly.

Finally the Pak'ma'ra was satisfied. Nar'Bon dragged the half-dead Human back into the Na'Ka'Ri'Tal. We left our vacsuits in lockers and then took the lift up to the gravity wheel.

Nar'Bon scouted again and I took the rear watching behind us as we checked out the living quarters and command section. We quickly disabled one Human, then I found one who claimed to be the cook hiding in a larger room attached to the galley. He seemed to be an agreeable, useful type who could come in handy later, so I only gagged and tied him to a chair with some polymer sheets.

Whilst I was busy tying up my pet Human, Nar'Bon had found a room with sounds of voices and movement inside it. After carefully listening, Russell suggested that it was a vid of some form. Nar'Bon crept into the room. There was only one being in there, but he was a Narn.

Normally, I would have given him the opportunity to turn from his life of depravity and join us, but all I heard was the sounds of a full-on fight. Russell was jumping around at the door to the room, trying to get a clear shot at the stranger. I pushed past Russell and waited my chance at the strange Narn.

I struck hard and quick, and whilst the Narn was off balance, pinned him in a shoulder hold. This gave Nar'Bon the chance to focus his punches. The male struggled against the hold I had on him, but could not break the shoulder lock. Nar'Bon was dealing out terrible punishment with his fists, but the Narn refused to surrender. His ribs cracked one by one and still he refused to surrender. They must have been paying him very well. His struggles grew weaker until he finally sagged in my arms. I dropped the dead body with a certain amount of disgust. This Narn had contributed to the near destruction of my ship and the endangerment of my life. It was slightly satisfying to allow my violent tendencies their way, but I still had not found the master of this setup.

The Pak'ma'ra had found another group of raider crew, it seemed - the sounds of ppg fire burst just outside the door. Russell was looking one way from the door, and Nar'Bon kept watch on the other. I quickly checked the corridor and leapt out, sprinting in the opposite direction to the ppg fire.

Stray shots were hitting all around me, but I never considered that anyone would actually manage to shoot me. That sort of confidence only comes from lack of experience with ranged combat, and I very quickly learnt to be much more careful.

I was suddenly on the ground clutching my calf, crying out my agony. All I could feel was pain. I had never experienced physical pain like it, and it took me some time to regain my senses. By then Nar'Bon had pulled me into another room and was examining my leg.

I had been shot! Either someone was very lucky or an exceptional shot. Nar'Bon applied pressure in a few places, cutting off blood vessels and causing me quite an amount of pain on top of the agony I already felt. The shot had blasted away a chunk of my calf muscle. Nar'Bon stopped most of the bleeding, but could not replace the lost muscle.

I was in considerable pain and I was still very very angry. I think the pain was making me even more angry, along with the knowledge that now I was effectively useless except as a sitting target. Nar'Bon checked the corridor and the next few rooms. He came back to help me hobble to the command deck, which he had found and cleaned of vermin. There I could sit in one of those wheeled Earther chairs and figure out how to work the scanners.

I hate being useless in a fight.

The Pak'ma'ra took two prisoners and Nar'Bon cleaned up the rest of the crew. Russell, quite frankly, wasn't much good in a fight, but then I suppose I hired him as an engineer. We had six prisoners in the brig, two of whom were badly wounded. Nar'Bon found the medlab and brought me some crutches. I hated using them, but had very little choice if I wished to be even slightly mobile.

One of the Humans identified himself as being a medic. He demanded that the dying Earthers be treated. I asked Nar'Bon to take care of them, telling him in Narn that he should have a little accident with the pain relievers. The Pak'ma'ra was immediately suspicious - he doesn't trust me at all and tried to help with the treatment of the Humans. I told him to keep his tentacles out of the business, and that Nar'Bon is trained in the treatment of ppg wounds. He is, and is very good too. I just didn't want the bother of looking after two Humans who were better off dead.

Once the raiders were safely in the brig, and the other two disposed of, I could start planning the defence of the base against the other raiders, who were undoubtedly returning by now. Russell figured out how to break in to the base's computer system whilst I investigated the com and security system. There were controls for two plasma cannons which were mounted on the rotating ring. I suggested that Nar'Bon and the Pak'ma'ra check out the store rooms and armoury to see if there was anything we could use in our defence of the base.

I opened a broadcast channel on all frequencies and sent another plea for help. It couldn't not help. I included very specific coordinates for our position.

Nar'Bon linked in - he had good news. He had found explosive paste and detonators. It was some time since he had used such things but he was reasonably sure that he could set something up. I suggested that he rig the docking port that the assault shuttle would attach to. Also, if he could sabotage the docking arms for the raider fighters it would reduce the number of people able to board the base. They would be very unlikely to destroy their own base - these rigs cost much too much to destroy. He and the Pak'ma'ra were in agreement with me there.

Russell found that there were nine Narn with access to the computer system. We had taken care of one, but that left eight mercenaries on the assault shuttle. They were Narn and had attacked a defenceless Narn-registered freighter. I would have more than words with them if I had a chance. I was not particularly worried about the fighter pilots - they were all Human and I don't see Earthers as a great threat. Fully armed Narn mercenaries, however, are another matter indeed.

Nar'Bon and the Pak'ma'ra also set up some cover in the main stem of the station. They found the weapons cache, which unfortunately was mostly empty. Still there were three heavy assault rifles and about 60 rounds of charge for them. They also gathered some body armour.

"Incoming signal." Russell turned to me. I was still the boss, it seemed, now captain of a stolen base. I opened the channel and had a very pleasant conversation with a Human who was rather annoyed to find that his base was now under my control. He made idle threats about destroying the base, but he was bluffing. I made idle threats back, saying that I would destroy the base, since we had discovered the self destruct sequence. We were both bluffing and both knew it. What he didn't know was that I had set up the base to be defended as best I could.

I opened a channel to the Narn shuttle and had another less than satisfying conversation, this time with a Narn who seemed to be a sub-moron. He did not listen to my talk of honour - he was bound to his master, the credit paid by the Human leader of this raider operation. I could not believe that any Narn would subjugate himself to an Earther, but this whole shipload had. They would not hold off - they would follow the orders of a Human!

I was totally disgusted. They did not deserve to live.

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Na'Tiel's Story / Lynne / last modified 29 February, 2000