Cian and Vanna hid in the entrance to their tent, obscured by the stealth field generator. The gunship, presumably full of raiders, sat on the opposite side of the small pond.
They watched quietly as the boarding ramp opened. Three armed and fully armored figures were coming out of different parts of the ship, heading down the ramp. They spoke, and Cian felt the same static shock in his head as he had felt when first talking to Vanna. They were speaking quickly in a monosyllabic language. He could understand them, but it felt strange ‘knowing’ what they said as complex English words despite hearing it as a string of single syllables.
“Why’d you have to dump our dang cargo, Jean? That was most of our haul!” said one, a large revolver on his hip.
The one referred to as Jean, with a sleek black gun on his back that reminded Cian of a scaled up P90, spoke “Coris told me to do it! I didn’t…”
“Shut your traps! We had to ditch the weight. Would you rather we take another missile and scatter our cargo and ourselves across the whole dang planet? We barely escaped that patrol ship.” interrupted the third in a feminine voice, presumably Coris. She had a pair of bulky pistols in a cross-body harness.
“Sorry, boss. I really hate dumping our haul like that. We killed good people for that loot!” said the first one, laughing at his own joke.
Jean groaned and rolled his eyes.
Coris scornfully looked at the first one like he was the most insufferable idiot.
“How long till you get the engines back up?” said Coris.
“Eh, ‘bout a day.” replied the first one.
“Fine. Get your ass back in there and see to it. Jean, refill our water tanks.” commanded Coris.
“But it smells like burnt Kel rat in there. Can’t we let it air out a bit?” whined the first one.
Jean quickly moved to get out of her way, walking toward the ship to get the water tanks.
With inhuman speed, Coris backhanded the as yet unnamed one across his armored face, knocking him back against the bulkhead.
“If you don’t get your scrawny ass back in there and fix this ship right now, poor Jean’ll be cleaning up blood for a week and I’ll have to fix it myself!” she yelled.
The other two looked at her timidly, obviously not doubting her sincerity. Jean quickly got out of sight.
“Yes boss.” the other said, holding his head and going back in the ship.
Coris took off her helmet and shook out her hair. In spite of the sweaty helmet hair, she was beautiful. She had shoulder length, platinum blonde hair and flawless pale skin with a light greenish tinge to it. She didn’t look sickly, the color simply looked natural. Other than the strange skin tone, she looked human – like a supermodel in body paint.
Cian’s interface identified her as a Celduran.
Celduran – Sentient. Humanoid. Original origin unknown, largest population existing on the planet Celduras. Ranging from 4.5’ to 6.5’ in height. Intelligence similar to humans. Highly resistant to UV radiation. Known to have slight photosynthetic properties.
Vanna gasped. “I think that’s Corissa Vannu. Real bloodthirsty. She been raiding shipping lines around Kiana for years. Big bounty on her. I thought she had a bigger ship.” whispered Vanna.
Cian tried to see if he could check her bounty, but his interface just gave him an error telling him he was offline. It seemed he could access pre-programmed info like species, but trying to get live information like bounties didn’t work.
“So, do we fight them? I doubt we could slip away without them noticing, and if they stick around for a whole day they’re sure to stumble on our tent. Plus, we have no food. They probably do.” Cian whispered.
“Mm, yeah. Don’t think this pistol is penetrating that armor. If I aint mistaken, that’s an automatic pulsed laser cannon on Jean. If he opens up on us with that thing, we dead. The other guy’s gun looks like a big revolving slug thrower, low rate of fire but good at getting past energy shields – not that we got any. Can’t tell what Corissa has. Looks like energy cells in the back, with magazines too. Maybe coilgun? If so, high rate of fire and plenty of hurt. Could be some kind of plasma too. If it’s plasma, low rate of fire but enough bang to stop a raging rinjorn in one shot.” Vanna whispered back.
“Where did you learn so much about guns?” Cian whispered, clearly impressed.
“Pa wasn’t one to leave our fates to chance. Can’t be a good trader in these parts without repelling a few boarders. Been learning since I could talk and shooting since I could walk.” Vanna replied.
“Well, it seems we’re outgunned. Our spears should cut through their armor. Maybe we can ambush them?” Cian quietly suggested.
“Maybe. I could probably put a laser through her head from here, but if she got as much metal in her as I hear that probably wouldn’t put her down. I’d expect a energy shield, too. Guess we gotta wait.” Vanna whispered.
“Metal in her? Like implants?” asked Cian.
“Yeah. Pretty face now, but from what I heard she once took a railgun round to the head and survived. More metal than meat.” Vanna whispered back.
The duo watched from their stealth field as Jean brought out a large hovering sled full of empty barrels and a big pump. He hooked up the water purifier to the first barrel and dropped a hose in the pond.
Corissa motioned to him, saying “Alright, set up a perimeter. I’ll finish the water.”
Jean nodded and went back in the ship, coming out with a large rolling case. Inside was a bunch of little stakes with sensors on top.
“Uh, are those going to detect us?” whispered Cian.
“Not unless they put ‘em right on top of us. They connect with the ship and make a sensor bubble, anything in or out and they trip. We should be good, long as they don’t focus their sensors on us.” answered Vanna.
They watched as Jean walked out about 300 feet and started setting up the sensors. He made a broad circle around the ship and the pond, far away from their tent. Once the last one was down, they all made a low hum for a few seconds when the field activated. Afterward there was no indication that they were active. Jean went back over to the water filter apparatus, where Corissa had filled half the barrels already.
“I can finish these up, boss.” Jean said.
“Yeah. Do that.” replied Corissa.
She went over to the pond, taking off her boots and dipping her feet in.
“Well, they set a wide net. Must be paranoid. Too bad they didn’t scan the inside of their little oasis.” whispered Vanna.
“Good thing for us.” replied Cian.
“True. The biggest threat is gotta be Corissa. Unless we can get ahold of one of their big guns, we probably need to cut her head off with a spear. Just to be sure she stays down. Other two are probably not as badass, but overkill is better than underkill.” whispered Vanna.
“How are we going to cut her head off? Think we can catch them sleeping?” asked Cian.
“Maybe. If they’re too reliant on their sensors. Maybe we should wait till dark to see.” answered Vanna.
“It’s still morning. That’s a long time to sit in this tent with our stomachs rumbling.” whispered Cian.
“Yeah.” agreed Vanna.
Not having a better plan, the two of them got comfortable laying on the edge of the tent facing out. Watching the raiders as they moved about. Jean finished gathering the water and went back in with it. Corissa splashed about in the water a bit, then went back in too.
Several hours later, Jean and Corissa came back out. They had removed their armor, but still had their weapons. Jean was a Celduran like Corissa, but was more homely in appearance. His olive toned skin was darker, almost brown, and his hair was a muddy blonde.
They had a large glass bottle of amber colored liquid – likely strong alcohol of some sort. They were sharing it and commiserating over the past.
“And you remember the Red River? Ah, that was a good ship. Best one we ever flown in. Still sore about that mutiny. I mean, yeah, we blew ‘er up with all the treasonous hands aboard. But it was a good ship. This little thing just don’t cut it. We almost got blown down by a peacekeeper patrol craft. One patrol craft! The River woulda taken five down by itself!” said Corissa.
“It was a good ship. You know, everyone aboard wasn’t in on the mutiny. Ol’ Gorgie and his boys woulda helped you retake the ship.” Jean said as he took another swig and passed the bottle.
“Oh, don’t get me started on Gorgie. He woulda cut out my heart and served it on a platter if he thought it would get him ahead.” said Corissa coldly.
“If you think so, boss. Seemed alright to me.” said Jean.
“Everyone seems alright to you, Jean. Remember that time on Pelrune? Haha, I had to kill five of those goons just to get you back aboard.” said Corissa, taking a heavy swig of the bottle.
“Yeah, yeah. You always bring up Pelrune. Aint I saved your skin enough times too?” asked Jean.
“Eh. I guess. But thas’ your job as my bodyguard, right?” said Corissa, her speech slurred a little. She took another big gulp of the bottle and passed it back to Jean.
“Pirates don’t have bodyguards. I’m supposed to stab you in the back first chance I get and take your share!” said Jean, throwing back the bottle and draining the rest of it.
“Ha! Like you ever stood a chance against all of this!” said Corissa, waving over her body as she said ‘all of this.’
“It weren’t your winning personality, that’s for sure!” Jean teased.
“Oh oh, you remember dat time on Varlun? Oh, and my leg joints all locked up? Haha. We had to call Spark to come help. With him adjustin’ my legs and you screamin’ that I was smushin you. Oh, I don’t miss those malfunctionin’ pieces of junk.” said Corissa.
“That wasn’t funny Coris! Your dang legs crushed my pelvis. I almost bled to death! I had to get half my pelvis replaced!” said Jean.
“Hahahahahaha. Yeah! Good times, good times.” said Corissa.
Jean sighed. “What ever happened to Spark, anyway?” he asked.
“Oh, I shot him.” answered Corissa.
“Oh, right.” said Jean.
Corissa put her harness with her pistols down at the edge of the lake and started taking her clothes off.
“What you doin’?” asked Jean.
“Whass it look like? Skinny dippin’!” said Corissa.
“Oh.” said Jean, watching her lecherously.
She stripped down and dove in without caution.
Jean stood there staring at her for a minute, then dropped his gun and started stripping. He eagerly dove in after her.
“This may be our chance!” whispered Cian.
“Yeah. If we can sneak around and get their guns we can shoot ‘em with their own weapons.” said Vanna.
Right as Vanna started to slip out of the tent, the third raider came down the ramp – still in full armor.
“What the hell are you two doing? I’m in here bustin’ my ass trying to fix the ship and the two of you are swimming?” said the man.
“Shut up, Spark! Get back to work. You always were too nosy for your own good.” said Corissa.
“That’s not Spark, Coris. He’s, uh… What was your name again?” said Jean.
“Jordan? Jones? Jimmy?” offered Corissa.
Incensed, the man picked up Jean’s gun as he said “My name is Richter, you air headed, stuck up, cheap, metal bimbo! I am SICK of dealing with you! This ship is mine now!”
Both Corissa and Jean moved to get out of the water, but they were too slow.
As he finished his rant, Richter opened up on Corissa with the pulsed laser cannon. Dozens of bolts pelted her. An energy barrier flared to life around her, but it was down within seconds. Half a dozen bolts hit her flesh, leaving bloody holes in her chest and head. She went under, and Richter turned his focus on Jean.
Jean was out of the water and running toward Richter, juking to avoid his fire. He made it almost to him before he took a hit in the leg, going down.
Richter went to fire on the downed Jean, but the gun cycled to cooling – overheated. He tossed it aside and pulled out his revolver, firing four shots into Jean’s chest and one in his head. The high caliber slugs tore him apart.
Corissa was back out of the water, missing one arm, with holes in her face and chest revealing metal beneath. A pink tinged gel had expanded from her body, filling in her wounds and stopping the bleeding. She ran with inhuman speed and stealth toward Richter from the other side. She stumbled a bit as she approached – suffering a little from the alcohol she had consumed despite her cybernetics.
Richter turned to see her as she was almost to him, shock evident on his face. He fired four shots into her chest, but it didn’t even slow her down. He fired his last shot directly into her face point blank, knocking out one of her cybernetic eyes and denting the frame of her metallic skull.
Falling down from the impact, Corissa leapt back onto her feet like a master martial artist.
Richter dove for Corissa’s other pistols, but it was too late.
Her metal arm slammed into his back, knocking him down hard.
“Gah! You know how much this is gonna cost to fix? And you took my last fleshy limb! I liked having a soft hand!” Corissa screamed as she repeatedly beat Richter with her metal fist – now completely devoid of flesh, her voice sounding more robotic now that most of her face and neck was missing and wires in her neck were sparking.
Richter tried feebly to resist, but she was far too strong. After nearly a minute of gruesome pounding, his armor was busted and cracked – leaking blood from numerous holes that the suit could no longer seal.
Corissa slammed her fist into his faceplate and with one final, sickening crunch – Richter was dead.
Corissa looked over at Jean. “Aww. Jeany poo. I’ll have to clone you again.” she said.
Cian and Vanna simply looked on in shock through all of this, unsure what to do.
“How the hell are we supposed to kill that thing?” whispered Cian.
Vanna just glanced at Cian and stared at Corissa.
“Is she even alive anymore? Is she a robot? Do you think the spear would cut through that metal? Is there even anything squishy inside that head?” rambled Cian, in shock.
“I don’t know. But I’m glad we didn’t attack.” whispered Vanna.
“Yeah.” agreed Cian.
Corissa dug around for a few minutes, then sat back – attempting to put her eye she had found back in its socket.
“Well, it’s now or never. I’m going to try and sneak up on her while she’s fiddling with her eye.” whispered Cian.
“You sure? If she spots you, she’ll tear you apart.” whispered Vanna.
“If I don’t do it now, she’ll fix her eye and we won’t have another opportunity.” replied Cian.
“Well, I’m coming with you.” said Vanna.
Both of them eased out of the tent carefully, spears in hand. Cian enhanced his attributes, helping him to move silently.
They got to within ten feet of her before her head snapped around, looking at them with her one good eye. The motion sent her other eye loose from the socket again, flying off to the side.
“No! Who are you?! How’d you get past my perimeter?!” Corissa screamed.
Cian wordlessly rushed her with his spear, attempting to swipe it across at her. An energy barrier flickered, blocking most of the impact of the swing and forcing Cian to step back and adjust his grip.
Corissa leapt at him, swinging her arm downward like a hammer.
Cian deftly dodged aside, swiping at her leg as he went, cutting a deep notch into the knee.
Corissa moved to crush him again, but Vanna flanked her and hit the back side of the same knee. It spasmed and sparked.
Cian moved in again, driving his spear into her other knee.
Corissa backhanded him, sending him flying – his spear still embedded in her knee.
Vanna, seeing her chance, hit at the same knee – neatly severing it and sending Cian’s spear flying to the side.
Cian was up, rushing back toward the fight and his spear. He readied a neural spike as he approached.
Corissa spun on one malfunctioning leg, swinging at Vanna. A thin silver line connected with her head and Cian’s neural spike hit mid-swing, disorienting her and making her swing go wide.
Vanna jabbed her arm as it sailed past, pushing Corissa further off balance.
Cian bent to grab his spear as he kept running toward them.
Corissa attempted to grab one of her pistols from the ground, but Cian jammed his spear into her wrist – severing her metallic hand. She screeched and swiped her arm at his legs.
Cian jumped her arm, bringing his spear back down on her head. He jammed it into the back of her skull and pushed.
Vanna jammed her spear into Corissa’s shoulder joint, stopping the flailing arm as Cian continued to press his spear into her skull.
After several tense seconds, Cian’s spear made it through the thick metal skull and rushed forward with a squelch.
Corissa twitched once, twice… and was still. Expanding gel swelled around the spear as a whirring came from her chest. A grinding noise, then a loud BZZT followed by a trail of smoke. The spear tip was ruined.
She was finally dead.
Cian and Vanna sighed in relief.
Cian used most of his spare Willpower to heal himself twice, still missing a lot of health but feeling better. That single backhand had done 380 damage, taken nearly all of his health even with the extra 210 from surpass limits, and left him badly bruised with internal bleeding. He checked what he had gained in the fight.
Combat Reflexes increased by 3.9% to 17%
Mind over Body increased by 0.1% to 32.5%
Polearm Fighting increased by 2.8% to 11.1%
Psionics increased by 0.1% to 27.5%
Defeated Corissa Vannu. Gain 10000 experience.
Level up! +1 Presence.
Quest Alert! – Claim the bounty on Corissa Vannu’s crew. You must bring their remains to the nearest Peacekeeper patrol base or office. Reward: [Error:$Bounty] Credits. +50000 Experience.
The experience reward from claiming the bounty on the raiders was impressive, even if it didn’t show the credit reward due to his interface showing him as offline. This must have been considered a high level quest. Cian couldn’t wait to see how much the bounty was – plus their ship was free to take now, if they could get it off the ground.
He checked his character sheet.
Traits: Iron Will
Minor Internal Bleeding
Combat Reflexes: 17%
Mental Projection (C): 27.4%
Mind over Body (C): 32.5%
Psi Defense (C): 24.2%
Psionics (C): 27.5%
Basic Energy Equipment: 8.4%
Knife Fighting: 4.7%
Small Arms: 7.7%
Polearm Fighting: 8.3%
Unarmed Combat: 3.9%
Vanna was gathering up the guns, looking them over. “Nice haul! These twin pistols are Gauss. Good guns. The laser cannon is pretty nice too. They’re all well taken care of. This ten shot revolver isn’t bad either, but hard to find bullets that fit a gun like this. Bet there’s some clips for the Gauss and revolver in the ship. If there aint, Gauss rounds are easy to get. Just magnetic slugs.” she said.
“Nice. Can I see them?” Cian asked.
Vanna showed him the guns.
Gauss Pistol – Advanced magnetic coilgun, fires ferrous slugs at 1,000 m/s. Damage: 100. +50% against shielding. Selective fire: 5 rps auto or semi auto. Uses 5mm ferrous slugs and class S energy cells, 20 charge per shot. Effective range: 200 meters. Maximum range: 4000 meters. Clip: 25/25 Charge: 1000/1000 Durability: 100/100.
Pulsed Laser Cannon – Advanced automatic laser weapon, fires pulsed lasers. Highly accurate. Highest stability if used two handed. Damage: 100. Selective fire: 10 rps auto or semi auto. Fifty shot firing cycle. Up to 20 second cooling time between cycles. Uses class M energy cells, 40 charge per shot. Effective range: 200 meters. Maximum range: 1000 meters. Charge: 4000/6000 Durability: 99/100.
12.7mm Revolver – Large caliber revolver with inertial stabilizer to reduce recoil, fires standard 12.7mm cartridges at 600m/s. Damage: 200. +50% against shielding. Semi-auto, ten shot capacity. Effective range: 100 meters. Maximum range: 1000 meters. Ammo: 0/10 Durability: 91/100.
Cian checked the energy cell slotted into the laser cannon.
Class M+ Universal Energy Cell – Medium energy cell used for various equipment and mid-sized firearms. Plus variant stores 50% more power than standard. Rechargeable. Charge: 4000/6000. Durability: 97/100
Cian didn’t know what high end equipment looked like, but compared to their other pistol this was some pretty nice stuff. He took the laser cannon and test fired a few shots at a stick a little ways off. After adjusting his aim, he hit it on the second shot.
“I like this one. Mind if I keep it?” asked Cian.
“Go ahead. You need a good gun.” answered Vanna.
“Thanks. Grab the pistols and lets look inside. Might be another one in there that never came out.” said Cian, handing the pistols back to Vanna.
“Right. Lead the way.” said Vanna, attempting to adjust the pistol harness to fit her. It was too big and didn’t adjust down enough to not be loose, so she just stuffed the pistols in her belt and set it aside for now.
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Hello! I'm Paul.
I have been writing bits of things for years for mods, tabletop games, to entertain my three awesome kids, and just for fun - but I haven't ever taken my stuff to a wider audience. This particular story has been rolling around in my head since right before Covid happened and I have been working on and off to actually put it on paper in between working overtime and working side gigs to pay the bills. The few people I have shown my stories to seem to think they're pretty good, so here I am. I'm taking the plunge and hoping for the best. Who knows, if this works out maybe I can quit one of my jobs and have more time to write?
Anyone can read my stories, but advanced chapters are available on my website for Patreon supporters at Weaveborn.com.
I post chapters twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays.