Chapter 1

"Shit. Sir, Three contacts at...mark two three. Should I cover for you, sir?"

"No, Brad, I have this one...put me on with the formation leader."

Hands deftly sliding over the keys, Bradley connected his captain to the oncoming pirates through the main com channel. "Connection in 5, sir."

"Thanks, Brad," Captain Taryn Throve prepared herself for a battle of wits. The screen flickered on, "Hello, friendly flyers, how may we—"

"Cut the crap," interrupted the captain of the lead ship, a specialized Pirate Corvette, "You know what we want. Prepare to be boarded, or we will take your ship by force."

"Well, excuse me, sir. I wasn't aware that you had that authority," Captain Taryn said, a look of extreme amusement, and mild anger shone in her eyes, "I don't think you really want what we've got. Are you sure you can handle it?" Taryn made the signal, behind her back, telling her crew to prepare for battle, "Catch me if you can boys!" She waved tauntingly at the screen, to intimidate the Pirate captain.

Bradley cut the signal.

"Alright, red alert, put the turrets on computer control, and get everyone to the pods, just in case we have to bail. Prep the afterburners! Anyone who wants to leave may do so now. I promise I won't hold it against you."

Everyone on the bridge stood unwavering. None moved, twitched, blinked. None voiced even a grunt.

First Mate Elena got up from the Second Command seat, and gave Taryn a quick pat on the shoulder. "Sir, I think we've got a job to do."

Taryn viewed all her crew, looking down towards none, and said, "Thank you. I hope you don't mind my saying so, guys kick ASS! Alright, everyone, let's move, seal the bridge. Put all other airlocks on standby. Security teams to the main hatches and everyone here...grab a disruptor or two, because I think it might get rough." Taryn began to prepare for the routine boarding kickoff. Again. She only hoped that these pirates were sissier than the last few who tried, and failed.

This can not be happening, thought Taryn, The doors didn't hold up to the cutters like they should have. I hope the rest of the crew is alright. Taryn crawled along the maintenance section as fast as she could. She had to get to the engine room, to the last escape pod. Man, if they let me live, it'll be the worst mistake they ever made. Taryn was pissed. No pirate had ever successfully taken her ship. But this group had decided to prove her wrong. They will pay for this! Luckily, as far as she knew, the rest of the crew had jetted. I hope they make landfall very soon. I'll meet 'em at the rendezvous point.

She had arrived at the hatch for the engine room. I'll just open it slowly and quietly, and sneak over to the pod...then trigger the self-destruct. She prepared herself for the hardest thing she had ever done...destroying her own, and best ship. Here goes...she opened the hatch, ready to sneak away, only to find that the captain of the pirate ship was standing right in front of the hatch, waiting for her.

"Heh. I knew you'd come here. Why do you have to be so predictable? Get up here."

Taryn stalled.

"Now," the captain pulled her out of the hatch, and onto the floor, "I'll take it easy on you if you don't resist. Tell me the access code to your cargo, and I'll let you leave."

"If not?"

"Then," said the captain, motioning to his first mate, "I'll take it out of her, too." He gestured towards the newly produced Elena, Taryn's first mate.

Taryn was in a panic. "I'll tell you the code, but you must let her come with'll have to kill me."

"That...can be arranged..." He pulled out his pistol, aiming it at Taryn's head, and his first mate did the same towards Elena.

"Please, let her go," pleaded Taryn, "She doesn't know the code. I'll let you into the cargo, but first, let her go."

The captain gestured to his first mate, who released Elena, and kicked her to the floor. "Go."

"Taryn. Thank you. I will wait." Elena walked cautiously to the escape pod, looking back only to glare at the man who kicked her down.

"Now," said the pirate captain, "Tell me." He squeezed Taryn's throat with his left hand, and pressed his pistol harder into her temple.

Taryn cringed, and prayed that she would be spared from the pirate's wrath if she told him the code. "Don't get too feisty," said Captain Taryn, witfully "Maybe could we discuss this over tea? Or something else, maybe? Whiskey?" Taryn felt his grip tighten. "Maybe loosen my throat, so I can annunciate. I'll open it myself," again, tighter, "Uh uh...if you want the cargo, you have to let me open it, dontcha? It's coded to my voice, and my voice ONLY. K?"

"Alright, you. Open it. But if you pull anything, your first mate will be breathing vacuum, alright? And you might just find yourself floating home, as well..." With that, the pirate captain pushed Captain Taryn violently towards the cargo locker.

Taryn stumbled, paused to compose herself, and cleared her throat. "Taryn Throve, Captain. Security Clearance Alpha Pi Zeta. Open Secure Cargo Locker Theta 8."

A Loud Clank resonated throughout the cargo hold, and a small series of clicks proceeded, followed by a loud hiss, and much steam, as the heavy bulkhead door swung open. If only these doors were all over the ship... thought Taryn.

"Alright. You can go...after we offload the cargo. OK, boys, round 'em up! Let's go, pack it on! Move, move!" The pirate captain chuckled. "Thanks, lady, but don't expect to get off so easy next time. If you put up a fight again, we won't be as nice. Nice workin' with you."

"My pleasure," said Taryn, I wonder how long it'll take them to realize that this isn't the real stuff...hopefully not until after I'm off the ship. "May I leave now?"

"Not yet, ma'am. I'd like to take you up on that Whiskey, if you wouldn't mind."

"I don't actually have any. Sorry to disappoint." Bullshit, thought Taryn I'm not sorry.

"Well, that's just too bad. Well, you'd better have some next time."

"I'll keep that in mind."