Title: Retreat
Rating: PG
Fandom:
Criminal Minds
Universe: Pirates Of Pellinore (Part 2)
Characters/Pairing:
Aaron Hotchner, Spencer Reid, Emily Prentiss, David Rossi, Penelope Garcia - gen
Genre: Science Fiction/Drama
Summary:
Because not even space pirates can withstand the mightiness of Aaron Hotchner.
Author's Notes: Muchos gracias to yellowsmurf6 for dealing with my neuroses with regards to Hotch's weapon placement, and for generally being particularly helpful. The posting may slow down somewhat, with academia returning to kick my ass, but in the meantime, I have fic offering for the help_chile auction, the link for which can be found at my profile page. This is written for the cm_crackfic prompt, Pirates.

* * *

Retreat

The warship Quantico followed a set path through the asteroid field, designed to cover enough ground that the Pirates of Pellinore might be dissuaded from attacking any ships on their way through the system. It wasn't a small asteroid field, though, and going through it was the fastest way to travel from Ptolemaeus to Hyperion. Quantico was only one ship – they couldn't well patrol the whole area with one hundred percent success, even though he'd tried his hardest in the five months that they'd been there.

Time and time again, Captain Aaron Hotchner had lobbied with his superiors for a more intimidating presence in the area, but alas, the universe was a big place, and the Government was evidently more inclined to spend their time waging war with those that could provide real estate upon their defeat.

But that didn't stop them from trying. His crew was a dedicated bunch – freedom fighters, some called them. "The Valkyrie" was another name that had somehow attached itself, refusing to let go, never mind the fact that most of his crew were men.

'Two ships coming on radar,' said Rossi, and Hotch turned his attention towards his second-in-command. 'Looks like the pirates are hitting up a merc ship.'

'Set course, and keep it stealthy. Any tags on the mercenary ship?'

'None detected.'

Hotch pulled up the hull camera footage of the two vessels, and zoomed in on the mercenary vessel. The pirates had done some damage, but it didn't look as though they were fighting back. 'There's a name on the side of it…The Whale. Garcia?'

'Searching for "The Whale" my good sirs,' came the voice of Penelope Garcia from the other side of the bridge. 'Oh, my. This is interesting.'

'Garcia…?'

'The Whale – which, I assume is so named for the spaceship used by Malachi Constant in the Sirens of Titan – is said to belong to one Emily Prentiss, daughter of Elizabeth Prentiss, whom you might recognize as the Ptolean Ambassador to Grünwald.'

'Wasn't there that thing… ?' Rossi started, and Hotch cut him off with a sharp nod. There most definitely was a "thing," and it was the kind of thing that was fraught with politics.

Still. There were lives to protect, and Hotch wasn't about to let politics get in the way of that.

The pirate ship didn't attack as they drew closer – the fact that their cloaks were too good for Pellinorian sensors was one of their only advantages in the slap-dash fight. The docking clamps managed to hook into The Whale without any unnecessary drama – evidently this fight was going to be close-combat, and since they were a skeleton crew, it meant that Hotch had to prepare himself to engage what might possibly turn out to be a three-way battle. Five of his men he sent into the pirate ship, to subdue anyone left aboard – it was a small ship, albeit a well armed one, which meant that there was probably just the pilot. Still – better safe than sorry.

His sword was strapped to the belt that held up his dress tunic, but it was unlikely that he would use it. It was a ceremonial sword – a rapier that had seen as many battles as his superior officers back on Olympus, which was to say not many at all.

Aaron Hotchner did most of his fighting with the modified Remington 1858 strapped to the other side of his hip. The configuration looked somewhat unbalanced, but thanks to his ambidexterity, it worked. The knife in his boot came in handy when all else failed.

'Garcia – you have the deck.'

'Aye, aye, sir,' Garcia saluted, with flourishing hand movements. 'Nothing will get past me and Quincy.' She gestured towards the computer that housed the rudimentary ship's AI – advanced enough to stop them from dying, but not quite advanced enough to plot their deaths while they slept. Of course, Garcia was still working on that part. With any luck, they wouldn't even need to patrol the asteroid belt once Quincy had achieved omniscience.

That day was a long way away, though, and today he'd have to fight his battles the old-fashioned way.

* * *

As it so happened, there was little need for his presence, save to clean up the aftermath. The two mercenaries had taken out the majority of the pirates, but not without taking a hit of their own.

A young man – maybe twenty-five, if he was a day – had his hands pressed into the wound in his companion's stomach. The companion, who, if Garcia's information was correct – and it almost always was – went by the name of Emily Prentiss.

Hotch reholstered his weapon, with only a single bullet fired. He knelt down beside the man, his rapier touching the ground.

'Why are you using bullets?' the man asked, not taking his eyes away from his unconscious…Colleague? Lover? Just friends? Hotch wondered. It was hard to tell sometimes.

'I don't miss,' Hotch answered, sounding far more pretentious than he'd intended.'

'You're Aaron Hotchner. The Valkyrie. They say you've destroyed entire ships, executed pirates where they stand.' He choked out a cry, and Hotch ushered Rossi over.

'Where are the medics?'

'On their way,' Rossi answered, his face grim. It was an ugly wound, her shirt already soaked in wet crimson. Unwounded though he was, the man seemed to be going into shock.

'What's your name?'

'…Spencer,' he said eventually, as if he had to really try and think to remember. 'Doctor Spencer Reid…Ph. Ds, though. I don't…I can't.' His voice was filled with exasperation, but Hotch managed to extract the meaning – he couldn't help his friend.

'It's okay,' Hotch said soothingly. 'The medics are here now.' He took Spencer by the shoulders, expecting the resistance that came as he pulled the younger man out of the way. 'She's in good hands.'

Spencer stared down at his blood-covered hands. 'I don't even know why they attacked. We have cargo, but statistically speaking, it's not particularly valuable, and whatever trade-in value probably wouldn't have been enough to cover the cost of the resources used to disable the ship. I suppose they could have stripped us for parts, but then…' he trailed off. 'Sorry, I uh, ramble sometimes. Emily doesn't mind.' He smiled. 'I think she likes it, really.'

'She's going to be okay,' Hotch assured him. He'd seen people come back from far worse, and from what he understood, Emily Prentiss was a fighter. You had to be, to spend so much time out in the depths of space. Most people went insane. Others died because they were either too stupid or too cock-sure to follow the un-written laws. It wasn't really that fair, but not much was anymore.

Spencer got to his feet, ignoring Hotch's help, and instead grabbing the blood stained sword that was lying on the ground, deprived of its owner. 'She never really wanted to talk about her family,' he said, a sword hanging loosely in each hand. 'But the crest is on the pommel, so I guess she doesn't want to throw away everything…' His eyes were unfocused, as though staring off at some point in another dimension. Definitely in shock. The look in his eyes spoke of melancholy, as though the whole situation was some kind of painful reminder.

The universe was a pretty terrible place, when it came down to it.

'We need to get moving,' Hotch said decidedly. 'If they send reinforcements, I don't think we'll be able to fight them off. We can tow your ship to Hyperion, but our course doesn't take us that way for another two weeks.' What he didn't say, was that it would probably take at least that long for Emily to take the first steps of recovery.

'You know…' Spencer said as they walked towards the second shuttle that would take them back to Quantico. 'The Valkyrie were traditionally seen as the "choosers of the slain"…I think that "Einherjar" would probably be a better description, considering the circumstances – the "lone fighters" brought to Valhalla by the Valkyrie, where they wait in preparation for Ragnarok, or the "final destiny of the gods." Perhaps one day soon we'll see a final destiny against the Pirates.'

Hotch raised an eyebrow. 'Ph. D?' he asked.

'Three, actually,' Spencer corrected, buckling himself into the shuttle seat. 'But for some reason, I found that academia didn't particularly appeal to me with regards to career options. In addition to that, I kind of wanted to see the universe.'

Hotch gave a half smile to that. The universe might have been a hell of a dangerous place, but damned if it wasn't worth it sometimes.

To be continued in "Recovery"