Chapter 7. A Line In The Sand (3170), Deep space: Lave system.
The old man stood his ground. The gun levelled at him didn't move one iota. After 3 months on a ship, you'd think you know people; he was loosing his touch. The voice behind the gun was smooth and articulate. "Chasing scrap from a space battle, what? 15 years ago? Now suddenly we're going station side?"
"Almost 20, has it really been 20 years? Things blur as you get older. I assume your looking for a pay rise?" the old man retorted, he already knew the answer, but he needed a little more time to think.
The gun smirked "oh come on Zorr! A man like you paying this amount isn't out here sifting wreckage for strongboxes! You've found something. Something big, What is it?" The figure raised his left hand, it was clutching something burned, blasted, charred green in colour and to Zorr, precious "What is this?".
Zorr stretched, visibly in pain, determined to stifle his growing panic behind a veneer of dejection, he leaned back against the console of the star ship. "Skull shafted if I know what you've got there sonny, looks like another piece of ol ship scrank to me. Anyway why would the Imperium care how an old man spends the last of his gal-creds? Sure as fac won't be worth anything in a year or two, the way things are going."
The gun wavered slightly "Imperial?" Heeden had been quiet for a mechanic. That should have set off alarm bells straight away. Honest mechanics were never quiet. Then there was his accent, a little too clean for a man who spent most of his time around alignment rods and cooling coils.
"There's your gun, Heeden, sonic pistol, rare outside Imperial space and your voice skips dialect when your pushed. The others are dead, yes?" The figure with the gun shrugged. "The old collateral damage thing eh, no witnesses?" Zorr continued. This was a pity; Zek had been a good pilot and Torin was a sweet girl, always acting tough, soft as down under it all. They didn't deserve do die, no one he had caused the deaths of did. He wasted a moment with sorrow, he didn't have time for any more. Not with a sonic pointed at him. Maybe later after he'd hopefully spaced this piece of shit in front of him. Still, young man with a gun vs an old one with a vague plan. Not great odds.
Zorr smiled slightly "Very cold though, living cheek to joule with people for months. Eat with them, work with them, laugh with them and flirting with at least one of them, if not all.... Then one day, Bang! Space them all and it's just another day. I assume they didn't suffer too much?"
"I am professional. Now what is this? Quickly please. Or I'll take your left foot off." came the curt reply. Zorr looked at Heeden with tired eyes. The barrel moved fluidly down to his foot.
"yes, yes I suppose you are professional, but possibly a little too cock sure of yourself?" His hand slid over the grav plate controls. With an accompanying hum he felt the claw like attachment of his old fashioned automag-boots. Instinctively he pulled himself down to a foetal position. Heeden, the gun and barrel, floated free from the ground, ruining his chance of an aimed shot. Disorientated and confused by the sudden lack of gravity he foolishly fired. The sonic tore through the air that Zorr had been occupying only moments before. It shredded the damage control console. Not ship critical but Zorr had to shield himself from the spinning glass shards and sparks.
The effects on the firer were however some what more catastrophic. Heeden was thrown violently backwards, tumbling towards, then connecting sickeningly with, one of the bulkheads. His skull shattered like an eggshell sending blood, skull shards and brains twisting lazily around the cockpit. There he bobbed, his head undulating unnaturally from the residue of the impact, vaguely held together by his scalp skin alone.
Zorr braced himself against the remains of the damaged console and brushed the gravity control. Making a strange cacophony, the floating body before him fell like a dead weight, accompanied by assorted head parts and fragments of broken glass. The small charred metallic green shard tumbled from Heedens lifeless left hand. Zorr stooped to reclaim it.
Purposefully he drew a tiny cut along the side of his index finger. A single drop of blood splashed onto the shard and was absorbed. Slowly, the remnant began to pulse and glow. "Hello old girl, did you miss me?" as if responding to his voice the lump of burned and broken space debris cycled slowly. "Awake, setting: Manus, slow draw. Subsist." he whispered to it. Silver spider web like tendrils pushed out from the blackened and jagged lump, crawling across his left palm. They sparkled like hyper roads at night, pulsing with traffic in an endless chain of movement. It had begun....