Friday, May 04, 2018
Flash Fiction #301: Catchin Can/Part 3
Tana waved the others away, and they backed up in haste, probably thinking they had serious damage to the fighter. Or perhaps they saw the look on Lisel's face, with his ears back and his teeth showing. The catchin wasn't in a good mood.
Tana hurried to the communit sat on the wall, too far from the fighter. Tana hoped Krisin could hold Alika and keep any of the bay workers away. Lisel paced in a small circle behind her, glaring at anyone who even appeared in the distance.
Tana keyed in a link straight to the command deck. One of the junior officers answered, her eyes narrowed and a frown on her face. "Yes?"
"I need Captain Dundas to come down to the bay right now."
"The Captain does not come running for a fighter pilot --"
"Well, at least you know who I am. So here is what you need to know: if you do not relay my message to the captain, I'll be certain that everything that happens because of this delay will be on your head."
Lisel growled. Loudly.
The woman sputtered and then moved aside in haste. The captain appeared. "Do you really need to upset my command crew?" she asked with an exasperated sigh.
"We need you down here, Captain," Tana replied, and she let some of the desperation through. "Please."
"I'm on my way."
The line went dead. Tana turned around and hurried back to the fighter, Lisel at her side. He might have grinned now and then. It had been a good show.
"Now we can only hope that people think it is a problem about you, Lisel, and not something else. Or about the weres in general. I don't want Alika's partner to realize that we have her."
"I suspect they'll think it is a catchin problem," he said.
"Yes. You did excellent with that show."
The Captain was not long in arriving. She came alone, which was good. Tana wanted to trust people on the ship, but Alika's partner had to be someone of some rank or else they couldn't have easily gotten messages back and forth.
Or a fighter who went out and sent messages that were not intercepted by the ship. That idea gnawed at Tana because she hated the idea of mistrusting the rest of the people she flew with out there. The universe was dangerous enough without trouble among their own kind.
"Captain," Tana said with a proper salute. Lisel did the same. "This way, please."
Captain Dundas looked at Lisel. "This is not a catchin problem."
"No," he said.
For a moment she looked relieved -- and then not. She walked with Tana to the fighter. A few faces peeked in along the edge of the bay and disappeared again.
"I have a plan on how to keep what we show you quiet," Lisel said softly as they neared the craft. "Say we had picked up something dangerous --a message from one of the lost ships -- that seemed to hint at treachery on the Belgium. We wanted you to see it first."
"It's true, but the message is odd," Tana offered. They reached the fighter and Krisin keyed the door open. He'd moved Alika to the edge of the door, and Dundas moved forward, surprised.
"This is the fighter, Alika," Tana said, in case the woman didn't quite recognize her. "We found her in an asteroid, tricked out with all the best in were technology. She admitted to picking off fighters. And she admitted to having someone on the Belgium who has been helping her. She may have even taken a few prisoners and handed them over to the were."
"Yes, ma'am. We wouldn't have gotten free if Lisel hadn't brought the ceiling down. I'm not sure how you did that."
"Shield roof," he mumbled. "But if you hadn't convinced her that I was still recovering from that last attack on the ship -- which Alika knew about, by the way -- then those bots of hers would have noticed. I had the impression they were linked to her."
Captain Dundas had put a hand to the fighter's hull and stared at this gift.
"I think we'll find our traitor in the Fighter Staff," Krisin offered. Alika moved a little -- almost conscious and listening. "Someone who directs the ships to the areas where they should go. The person will not be showy, but someone has put fighters in Alika's direction."
"Let me see who sent us," Tana said and climbed up over Alika. She didn't much care that she kicked the woman in the head, either. Alika's eyes were open, and though she still showed signs of being drugged, she also showed signs of rage. Not a smart woman, given the situation.
Tana did some quick work, careful to stay off the ship's main computer. "All I can get is Station 6," she finally said. "You'll have to take it from there, Captain."
"And what do we do with her?" Captain Dundas asked, a snarl in her voice.
"I am sure there is quite a bit she can tell you about the weres, right?" Lisel said, leaning in closer to the woman.
Alika made a snarling sound, but she looked worried.
Captain Dundas nodded. "This isn't something we can keep quiet anyway. Let's see if we can catch a traitor --"
Alarms screamed, starting Tana to reach for the fighter's weapons, even inside the ship. Krisin shoved the still drugged and bound Alika out of the fighter and Lisel scrambled back in.
"Get to cover!" the catchin shouted at the Captain. "Out of the bay! There must be weres coming in!"
"Tracked us?" Tana asked, almost sick with the idea that they'd led them here.
"No. Tracked her," Lisel said as he keyed the door closed. The Captain grabbed Alika's arm and dragged her away. "What the hell are we going to do?"
She didn't mention the problems with the fighter.
To be continued....