The Pirate’s Kiss: The Tavern Etudes p.II

Originally published January-March 2015 by L.Brown and HGW. Copyright 2015 L.Brown (SiriusMoonlight) and HGW.  Used with permission.

Winter frowned and checked the CORE status.  Life support and cryogenics appeared as green lights on her display board.

“Fred?” She inquired again.

“My apologies, Winter. Internal and external diagnostics temporarily shut down my voice command. We have sunk six feet into the marsh, and there are several angry villagers outside.  They are asking to speak to the Captain.”

“Great.” Winter muttered. “Good thing she’s not here then.”  She unstrapped herself from the navigation console chair and turned to Grace.  “Let’s get this over with shall we?”  Winter stood, tugged the armrest compartment open on her chair and withdrew a pouch of credit vouchers.  She slapped it shut, and made for the bulkhead doors.  Grace checked her spine sheath and tucked the handle of the long bladed knife up under the hair at the back of her neck.  Her waist length braid swung into place, effectively concealing the blade.  She stood and strode after Winter.

Winter neared the airlock and slowed down to punch in the code that would extend the walkway.  The airlock glowed green but the ramp stubbornly glowed red.  “Malfunction!” chimed the door unit. “Ramp hydraulics damaged.  Unable to extend ramp.  Warning!  Warranty expired standard Galactic date …”  Winter brought her fist down sharply onto the control and the warning ceased.  “Fred?  Over ride the door please so we can at least get out.  Seal it behind us and keep the ship locked.  Also, keep an eye on that cryotube and keep a continuous monitor on it.  We don’t want our permanent guest to thaw any time soon.  Notify us if there is a problem.  We’ll be at the Don’t Arrr!”

“Affirmative, Winter.  Are you certain going out there now is a good idea?  They seem angry enough to kill the Captain…” Fred trailed off, uncertainly

“They can get in line.” Winter growled, “I get to kill her first.”  The airlock glowed blue as the blast shield around the portal activated.  The gears of the gangway ground partially extending the ramp six feet but no more.  The mechanism overheated and a shower of sparks caused the gathered group to retreat up the crater formed by the crashed ship.  The iris shaped airlock opened and Winter stalked down the gangway and jumped off into the muck.  Grace followed behind, her hands hovering over the knives concealed in the thigh pads of her flight suit.  Winter stomped through the cloying goo and turned around to help Grace wade through the murk.  A villager, perhaps more brave than possessing common sense, approached her and began dancing up and down waving his arms excitedly.  Winter translated his outraged diatribe in her head while  Grace pushed disgustedly at the glop on her suit.  Her fingers ghosted over the concealed knives as she watched the villager carefully.

Winter sighed and pointed to the field.  “We plowed it for you.  Consider it an early planting gift from the Goddess and us as her emissaries.”  The village farmer was not assuaged and continued his harangue a minute more.  Winter smiled slowly, showing her sharp, elongated canine teeth.  The farmer glanced at the tattoo at her throat and strangled on his words.  Winter grabbed Grace by the arm and flipped a golden coin at the farmer which he deftly caught and dubiously bit.

“Sorry for the mess.” Grace smiled brightly as Winter propelled her past the milling crowd and out of the crater.


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