2003 - Katie and the Space Pirates
Final word count: 52,664 (Incomplete)
Katie inadvertently stows away aboard the wrong ship when she decides to escape from her home on Caracas and find out who she really is. This is the beginning of many adventures as Katie, Scorch and the rest of the crew of the Star Sparrow travel through High Space looking for any traces of Katie's parents.
Will she ever find them or will Space Fleet catch up to her first?
The thunderous sound reverberated around her echoing off the metallic walls. They had been hit. This was the only thing she was certain of from her confinement in the brig of the Star Sparrow.
The Star Sparrow was the fastest ship in all of The New Frontiers and she could easily out run even the biggest of the Space Fleet's cruisers. Under the command of Captain Steel Patch, she was also on of the most feared pirate vessels in The New Frontiers.
Katie was now imprisoned in the Star Sparrow's brig after being caught as a stow-away and she was living to regret very much the fact that she had hidden aboard the wrong ship. Katie had been hoping to catch a nice, uneventful, if illegal, trip to The Outer Reaches when she had secreted herself away in one of the lower deck's air vents. One trip and she would be free but fate, having other plans, had stepped in and placed Katie right where she did not want to be. The infamous Star Sparrow was not the place for an escaping girl to be, especially not one with Katie's past, however unknown to her it might be at that moment.
Katie had never known who her real parents were as she had been abandoned at the local tavern when she was just a baby. The owner of the tavern and his wife had seen this as an answer to their prayers and had raised her as their own. On her sixteenth birthday, she had been given a gold ring and an old compass hung on a chain by the old couple and told of how they found her. These things were Katie's only connection her real parents and she hung onto these precious connections to her past.
Even now, trapped in the brig as she was, she had them with her. She rolled the ring around her finger while she listened intently to what was going on outside her metal box. It was all deathly silent outside now and she began to think of the possible things that could have happened to the Star Sparrow.
The most probable option was that somehow the Space Fleet had managed to ambush the Star Sparrow and had fired their immobiliser cannon at them to bring the ship to a halt. That option did not comfort Katie at all. It was one thing to be imprisoned aboard a pirate vessel for stowing-away it was quite another to be possibly arrested by The Fleet for illegally leaving a containment area.
Sitting in the damp dark Katie's heart began to race as the fear of being caught slowly took control of her senses. Frantically she began to think of a way out of this predicament. There was no way she could escape from this brig as she had discovered earlier when she had searched it so she would have to get someone to come and open for her. Just as she finished, that thought she heard the heavy door being shoved open and brilliant light streamed in slicing through the pitch-black darkness of the cell.
Quickly she hid herself in what remained of the shadows hoping that if it were a Fleet officer who had opened the door he would not see her. A rough voice barking orders to others outside the cell revealed that it was a pirate who had indeed opened the door. Katie sighed in relief.
"Where is that girl now?" Scorch barked, "We need to be getting out of here."
Quickly Katie moved from where she had been hiding in the shadows into the light. "I am here! Please do not leave without me!" She pleaded with the faceless voice.
"Okay, then you better keep up with us," Scorch growled at her as he pulled her roughly from the cell before locking the door again behind her. "Do not let her out of your sight me mates," he bellowed to the group milling in the passageway before setting off at a run towards the escape pods.
Katie was jostled into the middle of the group of about fifteen pirates but managed to keep up with the fast pace despite the fact that she had not eaten in days. From what she heard the other pirates grumbling about, her worst fears were confirmed. The Star Sparrow had indeed been ambushed and immobilized by one of the Space Fleet's cruisers, the SS Stingray.
The SS Stingray was under the command of Brigadier Smith, one of the Space Fleet's fiercest pirate hunters. He was famous for apprehending several of the most notorious pirates to scour The New Frontiers. Smith's greatest achievement was the capture and imprisonment of Johnny T-Spark captain of the Moon Stone. No one had ever heard of Johnny again after Smith had shipped him off to one of the Outer Reaches prison colonies. Smith was also known for being merciless when it came to prisoners arrested during his raids.
Katie for the moment was glad that it was the pirates she was running with instead of being marched off by the Space Fleet's officers to meet her Maker at the hands of Brigadier Smith.
They wound their way through the bowels of the ship always aiming for the escape pods. Abruptly they came to a halt at an unfamiliar T-junction while Scorch listened for any signs of movement down each of the passages. "We are continuing now on the left in silence," he ordered and promptly disappeared around the corner headed in that direction. As silently as any bunch of pirates could be, they all followed him one-by-one around the corner.
Katie kept with the bunch trying not to step too loudly on the grate flooring. Up ahead she could just make out the back of Scorch as he ran silently down the passage always alert for any sounds of officers ahead of them or pursuit behind them. After what felt like an eternity running through the half dark in silence the passage finally opened up to reveal the docking bay for the escape pods. Scorch was busy organizing everyone into the two remaining pods.
Organized chaos was the best way to describe this process as Scorch simply pushed and shoved his fellow pirates into the pods as they came around the corner. Katie felt his large hand on her shoulder and he motioned to her to stand next to him. He did not want her out of his site where one of others may carry out their plans for her which he knew would be far less charitable than what he had in mind.
She was quite valuable to him as a hostage but he felt there was more to her than what they had originally managed to find out when they had caught her. Not many girls travel through space and even fewer stow away aboard ships to do their travelling. "No, " he thought, "there is definitely something more to this girl's story and I want to find out what it is before putting any other plans into action."
The sounds of hundreds of marching feet reached them just as the last few pirates crammed themselves into the escape pods. Scorch grabbed Katie and forced her ahead of him into one of the space pods just as the other one closed it doors to eject into space. As soon as they were inside, Scorch hit a large button by the door with his fist and yelled for everyone to brace themselves. There was not much room to move in the pod anyway as they were over filled but the pirates did their best to stop crashing into each other as the pod blasted its way away from the Star Sparrow.
Moments later, in a spectacular display of lights and pyrotechnics the Star Sparrow exploded taking a large portion of Brigadier Smith's armed Space Fleet force with her. Scorch watched the display through a pothole on the pod with a heavy heart. He loved that ship but it had been the only way to make sure they would not be followed nor their secrets discovered. Rumours would soon be flying of how the crew of the Star Sparrow had out smarted the Space Fleet and struck them a tremendous blow when they gutted their ship. It was an expensive loss but the rewards may still make up for it. The next things they had to do were pilot these two little pods to the closest safe port and acquire a new ship so they can continue on their journey.
Reluctantly, Scorch pulled himself away from the porthole and made his way over and around his fellow crewmen to the steering column. After a few more moments of drifting aimlessly through space while Scorch did a system check and plotted a course to Hazena, the pod lurched to life and began gaining speed along the course plotted. Its twin pod caught up with them shortly after they had begun to move. They had obviously been waiting for a signal that all was well before taking any action.
Together the two pods sped along the currents of Deep Space, making their way as quickly as they could without being picked up on anybody's scopes. They had had one narrow escape today and no one was in the mood to risk another fight soon.
--- end of chapter ---