The Silent Serpent by J.A. Dowsett – Part 2

If you haven’t read part one yet, click here. Otherwise, please continue enjoying this short sci-fi serial by yours truly!

***

Boopboop. The door button sounded. There was a long pause, then the door whooshed open to reveal the Captain of the Silent Serpent, James Claw, in his underpants.

He blinked a few times, staring down at Xendri, his glowing blue eyes the most striking thing about him. He was a Terian, like Quattro, and therefore also taller than Xendri, but she was used to being the smallest one in a room, so she didn’t let that bother her. “Did you know there are bombs in your cargo hold?”

Surprisingly, James Claw chuckled at this. “As a matter of fact…”

“Are they supposed to be armed?”

That brought him up short. “Armed?”

Xendri nodded. “Yeah, on a timer, I think. I could hear ticking. Through the side of the crate. There’s more.”

The Captain’s eyes widened further. “More?”

She nodded again. “It’s not all bombs. There’s metal in there. Gold, I think. Can’t be sure unless I open the crate.”

“Let me get a shirt on.” The Captain retreated and was out again in a second, pulling fabric over his exposed torso. Xendri waited, trying not to show her impatience or her disinterest in whether the Captain was wearing clothes or not; some races were particular about that sort of thing, she wasn’t. “Okay, show me what you found.”

Xendri led the Captain down to the cargo bay and between the two of them they were able to pry open the crate Xendri had been inspecting earlier. It took some digging and some scanning, but soon the bombs’ arming mechanism was located and so was an interior canister that was sealed shut. According to the scanner it contained metal, specifically gold, and not more bombs.

“Dammit,” Claw swore. “I knew we were carrying explosives, but they’re supposed to be for a mining operation on Elu. They are NOT supposed to be armed!” He paced a few feet and back again. “They aren’t on a timer, at least,” he commented, looking up at Xendri who was still perched on top of the now open crate. “These’ll blow on impact, so as long as we don’t hit anything before then…”

“But the drop off point…” Xendri pointed out. “I heard what the instructions were. We’re just supposed to open the cargo doors and drop the shipment on the loading dock. Why would the mine owners pay you to blow up their own mine?”

“Gold, huh?” Claw considered this a moment. “Well, that’s the only thing that makes sense. I’d bet all the gold in here that their mine isn’t as profitable as they’d like it to be, so if there’s an ‘accident’ that reveals a hidden pocket of gold, they’ll get all the funding they need to refinance the mine. Even if it means the loss of what they have now, they’ll actually be better off.”

Xendri frowned. Mining in her home system was always done with respect for the land and the lives involved. This just sounded underhanded, devious, and downright evil to her. “Do you think they’ll have evacuated the place first?” she asked, fearing she knew the answer already.

Claw shook his head. “No, they’ll have to make it look like an accident. Whoever’s down there they’ll consider expendable.”

Xendri narrowed her eyes in distaste. “We can’t let them get away with this.”

Claw raised a brow in her direction, but after a moment he conceded. “No, you’re right, we can’t.” Xendri’s respect for the Terian Captain climbed a notch. “Okay, Xendri, here’s what we’re going to do…”

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