Thursday, April 19, 2018

Flash Fiction #299: Catchin Can/Part 1

Note:  I have dropped in on Tana's little scout ship and her crew a few times before.  If you would like to read the sequence here are the previous flash fiction pieces:

Flash Friday # 106 -- The Replacement

Flash Fiction # 141 -- The Outpost

Flash Fiction # 161 -- Illusion

Flash Fiction # 211 -- Team work

"That looks like a good hiding place," Tana suggested as she tapped the screen.  "I can't see how far the opening goes, but the asteroid is stable, and I think we can slip just enough of the fighter inside that we can stay out of sight and keep watch."

Lisel leaned forward to look at her screen, his cat-like whiskers brushing against her cheek.


"Sorry, sorry."  He pulled a little to the side, but not very far. Did he do that on purpose?  She'd started to believe that Lisel liked tormenting her.  "Can't get a good read through that rock.  It's pretty dense.  Wish we could see farther in there, but that's the best spot we've seen in days."

Krisin grunted agreement.  Tana turned the craft in that direction, scanned everywhere around them, and then swept over and down toward the opening.

The cave went farther than she expected.

And they were not the first to take refuge here.

"Out!" Lisel shouted and hit the power back to the engines. 

Tana had already started the pivot, but a shield flared up in front of the ship, and Lisel cut power before she even cursed.  They couldn't throw themselves against that wall.  The fighter would tear apart before it went through.

"Not weres," Krisin reported.  "Breathable atmosphere.  Shall we go pay a visit?"

Tana mumbled something impolite and hit the release on the door.  It swung up and out, showing them a bit more of the cavern.  Laser cut, beyond a doubt.  She could see lights in the distance as the three of them climbed down.  The air tasted better than what they got on the ship, and she could feel the slight sweep of a breeze.  That probably meant a relatively small area and not many people.

She had her weapon in hand, ready for trouble.  Tana would rather have faced weres than humans, though.  She had no doubt the weres would be enemies.  Having to decide if she trusted humans always put her in a bad mood.

They had gone several yards when she realized their catchin partner was not behind them.  She started to look back and stopped herself.  She trusted Lisel and having him not go in with the two of them made her feel a bit better.

The equipment looked odd.  A single cot rested against the wall to the right.  Was there only one person here?

"Stop there," a woman said from somewhere behind lines of flashing equipment.  "Drop the weapon, Tana, or I swear I'll shoot you.  And you, Krisin -- the same."

Did she know that woman? Tana couldn't place the voice, but she didn't doubt the order and dropped her pistol.  Krisin did the same only a moment later.  He frowned at Tana.

"Where's the other one?  Your catchin?"

"Didn't come out this time," Krisin said with a bit of a snarl.

"I should believe that?"

"Look around," Tana replied with a slight wave of her hand.  She could see a bit better now and picked out three shapes, all of them with lights behind them.  The woman who spoke was the tallest and easiest to track, even while she paced in the shadows.

The woman finally gave some signal to her two silent helpers.  They rushed out past Tana and Krisin, moving so fast that she barely had a glimpse of them.  Definitely not human.  Metalic, she thought.

Then the woman stepped into the spotlight.  A rather dramatic move and it suited her.  Tana did know her, and it wasn't for any good reason, though she supposed that was to be expected by now.

"Alika," she said with a nod of her head.  "We thought you dead years ago."

"And I'm sure you mourned, too," Alika replied with a snarl. She moved oddly, but then considering her ship had been blown to hell, that wasn't much of a surprise either.

"The captain sent out ships to find your body. They never did."

"No, they didn't.  I had other help."  She stopped as the two shapes rushed back to her.  Bots of some sort.  Interesting.

Other help?

And how did she know about Lisel, their catchin crew?

Krisin had caught on as well.

"We've lost a lot of fighters out this way lately," Krisin said.  His voice stayed calm, but Tana could hear the rage just below the surface.  "That's why we were sent here.  You have a contact on the Belgium.  Does that person know you work with the weres?"

"Oh yes," she said and smiled.  Part of her face didn't work.  "Where is your catchin?"

"Back on the ship --" Tana began.

Alika lifted a pistol and fired.  The light burnt across Tana's leg and she gave a cry more of surprise rather than pain.  Krisin grabbed her before she fell and that kept him from going for his dropped weapon, which was what Alika had expected.  A flash of light scorched the floor where he would have been.

"Didn't -- didn't your person tell you Lisel was injured?  Attacked?  A few days ago.  Didn't want him along if he's not ready."

"And he's not been happy since it happened," Krisin added, the snarl clear in his voice this time.

"Ah.  I had heard."  Alika sat the pistol down again.  "Well, the two of you are quite a catch.  My friends have been happy with all the kills lately, but you two -- you are high up in the line.  You know codes I can't otherwise get.  You can get us aboard the ship."

"It's not going to happen," Tana replied.

"And you think you can hold out against me?"

Tana tried not to look nervous -- or too nervous -- as the bots came out from behind her equipment again.  They moved slowly this time, waist-high pieces of metal an flashing lights in colors that didn't look normal.

She hoped their catchin could do something.

And the ceiling fell.

To Be Continued....

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