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   Chapter 3 No.3

Dead Beckoning By Christina Engela Characters: 6341

Updated: 2018-06-30 12:02

"Comply and your lives will be spared!" One of his crewmates mimicked sardonically in a shrill falsetto. This was followed by a run of tense and slightly nervous giggles from the others, suggesting their captors might as well have pursed their lips and said "resistance is useless".

Kilroy was a hard man, a smart man too, and he took pride in always having a plan 'b'. For those troubling occasions when plan 'b' didn't work, he would strive to also have a plan 'c' in place. In short, he was the kind of man who always had something up his sleeve besides his funny bone. The pilot, his trusted second man, gave him a worried look.

"What do we do now, Admiral?"

Kilroy grinned before giving his number two a tired, desperate yet meaningful look. A few minutes later, the airlock door of the shuttle began to open, and the boarding ramp began extending to the deck of the Terran ship.

"Ok, look sharp!" The security marine team leader warned over his headset. "They're coming out!"

Four figures dressed in tattered black clothing, some with long hair or braids and bandanas, came out cautiously with their hands behind their heads. Some sported bloodied bandages here and there, as if to back up the argument that they were real tough guys. They walked down the landing ramp slowly, eyeballing their captors in a guarded fashion.

The marines had moved closer and deployed around the shuttle entrance, twenty well-armed and armored soldiers stood covering them from a short distance with fast-firing energy weapons. Suddenly, one of the black-clad figures casually lowered an arm and tossed something away just as he reached the foot of the ramp – and the others followed after him. Without pausing, the would-be Corsair prisoners dove to the ground, and began crawling quickly, making for behind the ramp. At that, some of the marines opened fire, setting off a sudden flurry of activity.

"Grenade! Take cover!" The sergeant barked.

The shout of alarm brought sudden action to the already tense situation. Marines scattered, energy bolts whined across the deck space and struck the shuttle around the Corsairs, who now began to return fire with light hand weapons. Just then, four explosions boomed in short succession. Shrapnel from the grenades thrown by the Corsairs tore into unlucky marines who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bits of metal rattled and pinged as they struck objects around them. In the midst of the chaos, a few more men came running down the ramp from the shuttle entrance, bristling with what could only have been portable heavy artillery! They advanced quickly down the ramp, firing continuously, offering no respite to the beleaguered marines. As the Corsair reinforcements passed, they tossed their lighter armed comrades better weapons and moved forward to capture the hangar deck. Smoke billowed, obscuring the view. The din on the hangar deck was deafening.

The security marine sergeant saw the potential for disaster looming ahead of him, like the lights on an oncoming tube train. It was clear these Corsairs were used to hard fighting – in fact, they had all but cut their teeth on it. The marines w

ere scattered, pinned down and too thinned out to be effective. They'd been taken completely by surprise! Cover was minimal here! He looked back towards the entrance to the flight deck, standing wide open, like an invitation.

"Secure the exit!" He ordered any of his marines who might have been listening. "Shut the doors! Don't let any of them through!"

One of his juniors nodded, turned, and ran for the exit, just as the sergeant took two hits in the shoulder pad and lower back armor. The force knocked him to his knees. He collapsed, blood spraying from a wound in his neck, eyes opened wide. The last thing he saw was the burst of fire from a nearby Corsair that took that marine down as well.

Sona Kilroy, strode towards the open doorway, and stepped over the sergeant's body. With an old auto-rifle in his left hand, he gave his favorite sword a twirl in his right. The sharp melodic din of bolts and bullets rang in his ears like an old favorite tune he knew so well. Sona Kilroy, 'the Hammer', grinned an evil grin to himself, well pleased. He wished he could've seen the look on the face of Indomitable's Captain when he realized the tables had just been turned on him! The thought amused him. It was bloody hilarious! Kilroy cackled, reveling in this complete reversal of fortune! He paused to unleash a short burst of fire into a security marine, and waited for the man to crumple to his knees before disconnecting his head at the shoulders with one swing of his sword. Then he stalked onward with conviction, a grim smile on his lips – intent on taking the ship for himself.

* * *

Bernardus was the mother of five worlds, three stillborn – lifeless and uninhabitable, and two bright, young and thriving Terran colonies, Tremaine and Andronicus. Tremaine was one of Earth's oldest extrasolar colonies, well-established colonial worlds, and typical of the older colonies of the Terran Empire. Andronicus was somewhat less developed than Tremaine – and more industrial, while Tremaine was by now almost on a social par with the mother world itself.

Clear blue skies framed pristine natural landscapes. Tremaine was most often described in the Interstellar Tourist Guide using the word 'lovely'. Indigenous wildlife lived alongside imported Terran species in a carefully planned biosphere. Its cities, although slightly smaller and further apart than Earths', and its population only about a quarter that of Earth itself, left much open, unspoiled space, and gave the impression of very careful planning and fastidious regulation.

People over-regulated things here – living on Tremaine was like living in a big, gated complex – the size and number of pets one could keep, the number and type of private vehicles one could own – you couldn't even paint your mailbox in a color of your choice unless it was one of the approved colors specified in the regulations! People in the streets walked about with vacant, meaningless smiles displayed on their faces as they went about their business in a city that looked like something from one of those awful 1950's color brochures for 'the modern kitchen' brought to grotesque, nightmarish life!

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