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July 04, 2022

Anachronocity v7p6

By Josh Brown

What a Mess - Part Six

"What do you mean, we can't?" Alex's muscles tensed. He stared across the table at the frail old man seated there. Even though Anthony's body looked like it would fall to pieces at any minute, the strength in his eyes startled Alex.

"For now we let them deal with the situation," Anthony said, looking around at those gathered. "It'll be more difficult without the full crew, but I'm sure we can manage."

Jared frowned. "Can we? Yerik is the engine man. How are we going to know what is needed for minor repairs and, more importantly, who is supposed to refuel the ship?"

"We do nothing?" Alex said, disbelieving this complete and utter lack of realization that had overcome these lunatics. Half their crew was missing in a void with an Elder and they were talking about ship repairs--not to mention Katlyn! They had Katlyn! "We have to help them!"

Bethany leaned toward Alex and said softly, "Unless you know an Elder that is willing to help us, there is nothing we can do. The best course of action is to keep this ship running and make our way to the next system. Sela will figure out a way back."

Alex gave up. He stormed from the room, leaving the insanity behind.

Up in his quarters, he paced around, randomly calling out for Daniel. A lot of good that did him. His brother's triumphant return from death had momentarily filled that ever-present void Daniel's suicide had left in him. Now that Daniel was gone again, the void returned. He needed to talk to Daniel. Daniel was smart. He might know what to do.

Still no Daniel. No amount of calling out for him seemed to help, either. If anyone happened to walk by though, he might seem like the crazy one. Did crazy people recognize other crazy people on sight?

The feeling of helpless made Alex fidgety; he needed something to do. So he did the only thing he could think of--he went to the lab and hunkered down on his project. There wasn't much he could do, however, without the missing parts he needed. He managed to find enough to keep his hands busy while not accomplishing much.

Bethany appeared several hours later. Her hair was a mess and her face needed washed several times. For once she said nothing, didn't even look at him really, and just dove into the shelves in search of something.

Her lack of acknowledgement left Alex a bit lost. For the past few weeks, the girl wouldn't keep her hands off of him or stay away from him and all Alex wanted was to be free of her advances. Now, though, when she didn't even offer him so much as a nod, he felt abandoned and wanted the attention. It made him sick to his stomach.

"What've you been up to?" Alex asked.

A clunk of metal echoed hollowly as it struck the ground. "Working on the engines," she called out from behind a stack. "Yerik is the primary engineer, but he's gone. So, it's up to me to figure this eetee mess out. Anthony is knowledgeable. Still there's a great deal he isn't familiar with so that makes this tricky."

"Need help?"

"Not really much you can do, old timer. I grew up around these things and this is difficult for me. Even with the Goog, you'd be lost for months or even years trying to determine the most basic of components."

"There's nothing I can do?"

Bethany stepped out from behind the stack and headed for the door with a box of parts swaying on her arms. She gave him the briefest of glances before shoving open the door. "Yes," she said. "Go to security and arm yourself. Soon as we land we're going to get all the supplies we can while Jared and Anthony attempt to refuel the ship."

Armed? Guns and Alexander Sterling didn't mix. The only gun Alex had ever held had been a water pistol, and still he managed to squirt himself in the eye.

He reluctantly made his way to the security room.

Maybe if he just armed himself for looks, things would be okay. Wandering around an outpost without the air of protection seemed foolish--with a gun on his hip, maybe that'd be just enough to keep people at arm's length.

He rummaged through several lockers before locating the weapons. The holsters for the guns had several belt loops, none of which were big enough to fit around any waist. As he stood there trying to figure out how to wear such an apparatus, the door opened and in lumbered the beast Franky. His bulky frame squeezed through the door, eyes lighting up as they landed on Alex.

Gulping, Alex offered a nod before averting his gaze back to the holster in his hands.

Unfortunately, trying to ignore a mammoth the size of Franky proved impossible. The large man came over and shoved Alex hard on the shoulder, knocking him into the next locker. "Franky excited!" Franky said. "Love getting off ship."

It dawned on Alex as he rubbed the back of his head that the only time he'd been off of this ship was before he got on it--and then he was a prisoner of Interpol.

Franky seized a holster from the locker and wrapped both loops around his leg, yanking them tight. Ah ha! The gun's resting place was mid-thigh. Mimicking Franky, Alex strapped on his own holster to his right leg.

While Franky strapped another on his left leg, Alex realized he was watching Franky preparing to arm himself and a shudder ran through him. "Uh, Franky? Are you supposed to be playing with these guns?"

Franky shoved him again, denting the locker in the process. He let out a rough laugh and then removed two pistols from the shelf and dropped them into each holster. "Franky thinks Alex is a funny guy."

Alex could feel the bruises forming on his back as he peeled off the locker and removed a gun of his own. It felt heavy in his hand. He had no idea how to use the thing and for a moment considered asking Franky to show him. That temporary lapse of judgment corrected itself before Alex ended up with several deadly wounds.

Instead, Alex just dropped the weapon in the holster. "How much longer?"

"We landing now. Franky can't wait to get more peanut butter."

Alex's stomach churned.

Down in the cargo hold, Alex and Franky met up with Mama and Bethany. Franky handed them each a gun and holster. As they strapped them on, Anthony joined the group.

"Mama has the list of supplies that are necessary. Get anything else you can find that might be of use after you've gotten all that we need."

Alex cleared his throat. "Uh, how do we pay?"

"Your ID has 500,000 credits."

"That thing Mama implanted in my forearm?"

"Yes. Just don't get arrested. We don't have the time for that right now." He looked at everyone in the group, one at a time. "I mean it. Any of you caught and we're leaving you behind. Understood?"

Nodding all around.

Alex rubbed at his forearm where the tiny chip with his new false identity had been injected. Half a million dollars in his bank account? Some things weren't all bad after all.

"Alex?" Bethany prodded through his thoughts. "These people are pirates and not exactly law-abiding, but that doesn't mean they like the League or the League's actions. After the latest lies by the media, don't be surprised if these people are out for League blood."

"No proclaiming my allegiance to the League--check."

"No mentioning the League at all. If anyone asks, you work for Mama."

"What's my job?"

"Sex slave."

"What?"

Mama and Bethany cracked up laughing. Franky painfully slapped Alex on the shoulder. "Franky jealous," he said. "Lucky guy."

"Franky's going with Mama," Bethany said, once she recovered from her fit of laughter. "They'll be getting the big stuff. You and I are after the food and smaller computer components. If anyone asks, we're her computer technicians."

"And she's some bad ass pirate captain?"

Mama grinned and winked. "Was before I signed on to the League, dearie. And my name still carries a lot of weight in these crowds."

Jared's voice filled the cargo hold from the intercom. "We're down, people."

Anthony nodded to all. "Good luck. Hurry back and stay safe."

Alex didn't like the sound of that one bit.


To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-09-11
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