Friday, May 18, 2018

Flash Fiction #303: Catchin Can/Part 5

"Not bad for a mostly not working ship," Lisel admitted.  "Can we go home now?"

Tana glanced at her boards.  Only one screen gave a slight pulsing red light, as though faintly trying to yell for help.  Okay, she could take a hint.

The rest of the fighters had arrived and took on the other weres.  It hardly seemed worth the effort to take out the one craft that slid their way, trying to escape two different fighters.

She destroyed it anyway and grinned, thinking about the curses from those two other fighters.

"Heading home," she said and heard sighs of relief from Lisel and Krisin.  She almost smiled.

The flight wasn't without a few moments of worry, but they slid into the same bay and prepared to face to the bay master's rage at the marks they'd left behind.

The man scowled, but he didn't berate them.  Not yet, at least.  "Captain wants you up on the control deck right away."

"All of us?" Lisel asked, a slight hiss of surprise in his voice.  Catchins rarely got to the control deck for any reason.

"Yes.  Immediately."

Tana started away, Lisel and Krisin following.  They said nothing, know this could be good or bad.  Under the circumstances, she had no way to tell.

They found an incredible amount of activity everywhere they passed, which was only natural given how close they'd come to disaster.  Tana tried not to snarl, but her leg hurt, and she didn't want to think they were in trouble for ... well, for any number of things they'd done today.  Bringing Alika back -- yeah, that had been stupid.

They were let straight into the control deck and then escorted to the captain's office.  Tana could see glances their way, and probably some longer stares at Lisel.  She didn't look back, but she suspected that he strutted a bit.


Captain Dundas looked up from her desk when they entered and keyed the door closed behind them.

"We have a problem.  So far, I've kept Alika's presence mostly a secret.  A medtech was taking care of her down in a cell.  Then Alika died.  The poison was implanted, and there was no way to have stopped it."

"Damn," Tana said with a shake of her head.  Others could see through the glass wall to where they stood.  She wondered what they thought.

"News about her is bound to get out soon, despite my warnings to everyone who saw her.  Meanwhile, I'm afraid others think that you and your team, being daring and a bit stupid, led the enemy our way.  We think a mothership might be following."

"Hell."  That had not occurred to her.  "Can we move?"

"We had to take out the were fighters first.  Good job there, by the way, but it's lucky you couldn't hear what others were saying."

"I had that feeling."  She looked at Captain Dundas and frowned.  "What about the other one?"

"Everything related to that position has been erased -- constantly erased -- for as far back as I can find.  The person here on the ship had to be prepared for this work.  I can't begin to figure out how to track them down.  The position isn't on a strict rotation, either, since there are other similar boards and people take the one that's open."

"We don't get a lot of new crew," Lisel said.  "And this person had to have come in after Alika disappeared, don't you think?  I suppose they could have had someone in place and waited to grab one of the fighter crew -- but then they'd have to tell the person on this ship that they were ready.  I suspect that someone would have noticed."

Captain Dundas gave a quick nod and began keying up information.  Tana shifted slightly, hoping her leg hadn't started bleeding again --

"Sit down," the captain said without looking up.  "All three of you sit down. Get your ears up, Lisel.  You make security nervous when you look like that."

They dropped into chairs, all three of them worn and worried.  Tana glanced out the window and then gave a wave to those who were staring.

"Stop antagonizing my bridge crew."

"I was friendly."

"Right."  She keyed a few more things and frowned.  "Down to five people who all came at the same time.  That doesn't seem likely, does it?  It would be difficult to slip someone in a group -- oh."

"The entire group," Krisin said softly.  "And we better move fast because I get the feeling they're already going to be moving."

"They're spread out," Captain Dundas said as she leaned back.  "Two are in security.  I don't dare try to call up a force from there to hunt the rest.  None of them are showing on the trackers."

"Do you have pictures of them?" Tana asked. 

"They're IDs when they first boarded.  Nothing lately.  They can't have changed much.  Two in security, but the other three aren't permanently assigned anywhere.  They're listed as comptechs."

Captain Dundas turned the screen.  Tana leaned forward and then sat back.  "We have a problem."

"Yeah," Lisel said.  "And we had better move fast because he's already working at something."

Captain Dundas gave a quick glance past the glass wall.  "Damn."

"Lisel --"

"Yeah.  I can get to her the fastest.  Key the door open.  Order us out, Captain."

Tana wasn't sure the captain was going to take an order, even a wise one, from a catchin. 

But she did.

"We need all the fighters out there we can get," she said as she opened the door and stood, following them out into the open area.  "Otherwise, I'd deal with you right now.  When we clear up this mess --"

Lisel didn't waste time.  He had made a half turn to the Captain and turned that into a leap at someone most of the way across the room.

It was up to Tana, Krisin, and the Captain to keep security from killing Lisel outright.

There were always complications.

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