Tana had a date.
She'd been leery about dinner with someone from crew, rather than one of the fighters. Simus had a nice smile and seemed polite, which was something the fighter pilots often lacked. She spent too much time with them, she decided as they at at dinner in one of the crew's dining halls. Nice place. The crowd wasn't loud. A few looked her way with surprise, though. She wasn't in uniform, but Tana and her crew were well known these days.
They'd saved the Belgium a few months ago when they realized a were mothership had gotten far closer to their home ship than it should have. The Captain had suggested her for section leader. Instead, she convinced the ranks to take her ship out of any section control and let the three of them do what they did best, which was fight the enemy.
"You are thinking about something else," Simus said.
"Yes. Sorry. It's not easy to simply step away from it all."
"You haven't been out in battle for weeks," he reminded her. She feared she heard a little sound of annoyance there. Then his face changed, but she could say for the better. "Though I suppose it is something you worry about, having to go out there with your crew."
"Why should I worry about my crew? It's the weres we have to worry about. But lets not talk --"
"You can't tell me that crewing with a Catchin doesn't bother you."
There was the one statement she'd hoped he wouldn't say. She sighed and put down her fork, mostly out of fear that she'd use it on something other than her food. "My crew is none of your concern, Simus.
"I suppose not," he said with a smile that was more condescending than friendly. "But you can't tell me you wouldn't be relieved if your kitty had an unfortunate accident."
Maybe it was her training as a fighter that told her this was more than an off-hand statement. Something in the shift of his shoulders, the narrowing of his eyes, and the slight smirk that made her stand, already reaching for her commlink. She hit in the number to Krisin. No answer.
Simus started to frown.
She called Lisel.
"Tana, really -- unless there are weres on the ship, now is not the time for a chat."
"Let me guess. You are out to dinner with a nice member of the crew. Has she gotten to the part about how we'd be better off without Krisin?"
"She did mention -- oh damn."
"I can't reach him."
"Meet me down by his quarters."
She shoved the commlink back into her pocket. "You better hope I'm just paranoid."
"You can't prove --" he started and looked worried this time.
She didn't stay to lecture him or to pound him into the floor, which would have been her first choice, if there hadn't been something she feared was happening elsewhere.
She ran down the hall, taking the curve to the lower levels rather than waiting on a lift. People got out of her way, especially the closer she got to Fighter Quarters where they knew her. Catchins had an area in a back corner, and others rarely went there. Lisel apparently had, though, since she caught up with him as he headed for a door on the right.
No answer. She frowned, then saw something and reached out to touch the claw marks on the wall.
"He wouldn't have opened the door," Lisel said with a shake of his head.
"Didn't have to. We're dealing with Belgium crew and they can get doors open. They can't have dragged him far? Where are the other Catchins?"
"Probably locked in. Call the captain, Tana. This doesn't look good. Where would they --"
"Airlock. Closest one," Tana said. She pulled out the commlink. She put in an emergency call straight to the Captain, and if it hadn't been her, she probably wouldn't have gotten through. Afterward, she couldn't remember what she'd said and didn't care. They were going down the curve again and toward the bays. There were people here. Were they all in on the trouble? They had to have seen --
"Not these," she said, breathlessly. "Pods."
"Yeah. They took emergency lift. Damn --"
And they were running again. Too late, she feared. They were taking too much time. Down to the bottom level of the ship, even below the bays. Down --
And heard a growl. She ran faster, which might not have been the best decision, but Lisel kept with her. They hadn't expected the rest of the fighter crew to show up and that was all that saved them from being killed outright. Everyone had their weapons aimed at Krisin, whom they were dragging towards an airlock where an emergency Pod had been removed.
Krisin looked surprised to see them. So did everyone else. They had lasers, which were illegal to carry inside the ship. She and Lisel did not -- but these were ship crew, and none of them appeared to be security, so they didn't know what they were doing. Not that it took much -- one shot grazed her arm as she leapt straight at the four holding on to Krisin.
Lisel was smarter. He got Krisin free of the ropes they'd tied him up with and just let him have a go at the six who had so unwisely stayed around, thinking they still had things in hand.
Security got there a little later. They didn't have much trouble with the prisoners, though they did have to call in some medtechs. Once everything was secure, the Captain even came down to get a full report and all the names they could give. Two days later, when all the conspirators had been locked up for transfer to earth for trial, Tana, Lisel, and Krisin had a celebration dinner in the Fighter cafe. No one complained about the Catchin joining them. Not then or ever again.
For more about Tana and her team read:
Flash Friday # 106 -- The Replacement
Flash Fiction # 141 -- The Outpost