Savage Stars Chapter 26
It occurred after I finished writing this chapter that listening to the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtrack while typing it out would have been perfect. Looks like I'll have to keep that soundtrack handy for the rest of the book!


"Just first looks, but there's nothing I can save back there without dry dock," Nigel said as he emerged from the airlock between the middle and forward section. "Well, except for this data backup system and hardened screen," he added, gesturing to the components in his hand.

"The inside of this ship isn't made for heavy incursions or big firefights," Boro said, leaning in the doorway to his quarters. He looked drowsy, but better than before.

Shamus came into the outer airlock door and was waiting for the pressure to equalize before coming into the forward hallway. His armour showed no signs of damage despite the shots Spin saw him take. "Mirra, what does the Sector Jumper look like?" she asked through her comm. She sent Mirra and Della ahead to take a look.

"Well, Hal is a good host," Mirra said. "It's really efficient, lots of fold away furniture, enough bunks for everyone and a couple more, other than that I've never seen anything like it. It's almost alien."

"There's a small cooking station here, but not much storage for food. Hal says there's some kinda food dispenser that makes a few thousand different items, but it sounds like forma to me."

"How long would it sustain our crew?" Spin asked quickly. The inner airlock doors were opening, and Shamus was making his armour collapse back into the jacket and boots it hid in before.

"Hal says three months," Della replied.

"Do it, Mirra," Spin said, aware that her order would lead to Mirra drawing a heavy sidearm on Hal at point blank range. Della would be shocked for a moment, but Spin expected that she'd tie Hal up not long after.

Spin strode across the few paces between her and Shamus and drew her weapon the instant before she bumped into him, pressing it against his stomach. "I don't know what kind of built in medical enhancements you have, but this weapon tore whole pieces off my mate's body, so I can promise you'll suffer before you manage to recover. I have it set to burst mode."

Shamus put his hands up, surprised but not afraid. He was smiling a little, in fact.

"Whoa! Spin!" Boro exclaimed from his quarters, stepping into the hall.

"All right," Dori laughed, clearing her dark hair from her face. "Leland! Get in here! Spin's about to gore the new guy for ripping the hell out of the ass-end of the ship up."

"What?" Leland nearly shrieked as he emerged from the medical bay. "The situation can't be that far gone already, can it?"

"Oh, no," Shamus said, a little smirk on his face as he looked Spin in the eye. He was like Boro in so many ways, but Spin was getting the feeling that Shamus had seen a lot more. Perhaps more of the galaxy, maybe more strange things, but definitely more combat and hardening experiences. "Your Spin here is thinking clearly. She's right; even if I turn a personal shield on, she'll get a shot or three off, probably put fist sized holes through me before I can do anything. It's the only thing I didn't see coming, so now I have to listen. Isn't that right?"

"Don't do anything you'll regret," Leland pleaded quietly.

"No, let her put her terms on the table," Shamus said. "I don't know her as well as you lot, but I'm sure she'll shoot, isn't that right, lass?"

"Don't call me lass," Spin said.

"Aye, Ma'am."

Everything about Shamus suggested that he fit the lifestyle of the reckless spacer except for the equipment he came with. He would fit into her crew better than she did, Spin was sure, but she wouldn't let that frustrate her. There were plenty of details that were frustrating about Shamus McFadden. The smirk on his face like she was a source of entertainment was one, his intention to cancel all her plans or leave her alone to pursue them were two of the biggest. "You managed to completely disable my ship, so I'm going to have to borrow yours. I…"

"We," Boro interrupted. He didn't sound as alarmed, but he there was a certainty to his correction that made her feel better.

"Wewere going to the Geist System to steal or copy the data I need from an artificial intelligence called the Iron Mind so I could have a normal life."

"From the little I've seen, you'll never have a normal life, luv," Shamus snickered softly.

"I don't believe your people can fix what's wrong with me; my genetics are locked down, but Iron Mind has the key. I have a map, now I need a ship. I have your pilot, and you're facing a lot of pain if this gun goes off. We'll use your ship, we'll get to the Iron Mind, steal what we have to, then get away. After that you can bring me back here. I'll understand if you don’t trust me enough to take me wherever you want to take Boro."

"Oh, there are plenty of pirates and scheming spacers in the Haven System. You could get good and lost in the seedy underbelly, but I have a feeling you could find legitimate work there just as easy."

"We'll make that decision when we come to it," Spin said. "You agree to give me the command codes to your ship until I have what I need and we're back here?"

"Oh, I can agree to take orders from you until we have your key and we get you back here, but I can't transfer command codes. You have my word that I'm your man, that's going to have to be enough."

Spin looked at him. He had steely blue eyes, salt and pepper stubble on his broad face, and she couldn't tell if he was lying or not. She could read Boro, but Shamus was frustratingly hard to judge; he could have been joking for all she knew. "Can I trust him, Boro?" she asked without looking away from Shamus.

"No," Boro said without hesitation.

Dori's laughter pierced the air, a high hysteria of hilarity that was almost too shrill, then she shook her head and took a breath. "Sorry, sorry, this is just too good." She was still leaning on the heavy cutter, taking the whole scene in.

"I get that," Shamus nodded. He didn't seem too off-put by his brother's statement, but it did darken his mood a little. "I guess the only thing you can trust is that I came here to make things right with my little brother."

"Then you'll do this," Boro said. "You'll do everything in your power to help us get this done, and then I'll listen to you about going back to the Haven System with you. No guarantees. If that place seems more dangerous than this space, then we've got to make the best decisions for ourselves."

Spin was very conscious of the fact that their nephew, Nigel, had been completely silent during the whole exchange. "Nigel? What do you think?"

"I don't fucking know!" he whined. Despite Dori's snickering, he went on. "It's like that stupid riddle; 'If I say I'm a liar, would you believe me?' Boro, who I know I can trust, is telling me I can't trust Shamus - the new cool uncle - but our best ship just had its heart half-melted down, and he has this other ship. A ship I can't get a scan on, so for all we know it's just a really fast lifeboat. What the hell do I know?"

"Kid's right; it comes down to a leap of faith off a rickety dock," Shamus said through that aggravating smirk. She'd seen it before when Boro was flirting and he knew it was going well. "You've done this right so far; putting me at gunpoint, taking my pilot captive. When my superiors ask why I helped you, I can say it started here; you got the drop on me and I had to acquiesce or get a churned gut and a dead pilot. Now it's all you. Trust, or don't." 

"Then your ship, the services of your pilot and you are mine until we get what we need or until I release you," Spin said.

"So I swear on my unborn son or daughter. Oh yeah, you're going to be an Uncle again," he said to Boro over Spin's shoulder.

Spin nodded, activated the safety on her pistol and sheathed it under her arm, happy she didn't have to pull the trigger. "Thank you, Shamus," she said.

"Call me Frost."