Welcome to another of our short serial stories! This one is another science fiction and is yet another installment in the tales of the Majestic crew! You can find them in “The Silent Serpent” or “The Majestic”. Or you can read on…
“So they brought us all into this room…
Except for a long table with chairs bolted along each side of it, the interior of the room was metallic and featureless. None of them got a chance to speak to one another before the metal door slid open once more, revealing a tall and stately-looking Jorn woman with small pointed horns, sunset-orange skin, and medium brown hair piled high on top of her head. Her lips were pursed in a thin line and behind her came two soldiers. With a small swipe of her hand, she left one of them outside of the door and the other followed her into the room, taking up position behind her chair, his hand on his gun.
Her eyes ran over the lot of them, betraying nothing.
“You contacted the proper authorities and rescued my niece at great personal risk, so am I to assume that you are not affiliated with the Jorn Liberation Front?”
“Of course we’re not!” Captain Xendri stated with undue emphasis, her long Koowan ears flattening back against her carapaced skull. “We were boarded in the Terran system and-”
“Yes, I’ve read your report,” the Jorn woman cut Xendri off.
“Wait, did you say ‘niece’?” Nell asked, leaning forward in her chair, her green eyes piercing.
“Yes,” the woman confirmed, “and I am glad to have her safely returned to me. For that, you have my thanks.” There was an uncomfortable silence following this in which no one spoke. “Yes, well, I have arranged for a notable sum to be placed in your bank account. I simply ask one thing of you: your silence.”
“You think I want to tell people my ship was commandeered by the JLF?!” Xendri exclaimed.
“I can see how that might not be in your best interest,” the Jorn woman continued, getting to her feet. “And one other thing: you will be offered repairs. I strongly suggest you turn them down. The amount I’ve given you should cover your expenses adequately. There will be no further reason for you to stay within Jorn space.”
Vox read the signs that meant Xendri’s temper was rising. “We have business to attend to elsewhere,” he reassured the Jorn representative.
She nodded, speaking over her shoulder as she left the room. “See that you do.”
“Then the ‘real authorities’ came in the room and tried to offer us the moon and sky,” Nell finished, her black and gold tail lashing from side to side.
“Yeah, just as long as we were willing to stay in Jorn space to have our repairs done and be on standby for ‘any questions they might have’,” the Terian, Quattro, chimed in.
“Oh my,” Ulatwam made a sympathetic sound from somewhere within his gelatinous form. “And who was this Jorn woman?”
“We never found out!” Nell exclaimed. “That was the worst part. No one seemed willing to tell us who she was.”
“I suspect she was a Jorn Councillor, or a high-ranking government official,” Vox supplied. “It was obvious by her manner and the way others deferred to her.”
“Well, I just feel awful, truly awful,” Ulatwam said for the twelfth time. “I swear to you, if I’d had any idea that Captain Droon intended to betray you…”
“It’s not your fault, Ulatwam,” Xendri reassured him, patting the Bluaoc on what passed for his left shoulder.
“Yeah, man, and you’ve been more than generous,” Quattro added, grinning. “I mean that new gun is going to be sweet.”
“The least I can do!” Ulatwam told them, though Vox knew full well they were paying for every bit of their ‘upgrades’ with the money the Jorn woman had funneled into their account. Oh well, at least the repairs were free.
“Oh, and I have something for you!” Ulatwam stated, as if remembering something. “A job! And no terrorists this time, I promise!” A chuckle went around the Bluaoc’s office at that remark.
“Is it legal?” Xendri asked, her eyes lighting up.
“Oh yes, perfectly,” Ulatwam answered. “It’s an easy job, just a little time sensitive, I’m afraid.”
“Time sensitive?” Vox had to ask.
“Well, yes, you see I need to deliver a shipment of very sensitive plants. Lysaan funeral plants, to be precise. They don’t do so well without natural light and will survive seven days at best in artificial conditions. Of course, I need them to reach the Lysaan planet of Saigyin alive.”
“Seven days to Saigyin.” Xendri counted on her fingers and then gave it up as a bad job.
“Doable,” Nell spoke up. “It gives you one day of leeway in case anything happens. Without stops, the journey would take six full days.”
“Exactly right!” Ulatwam praised her.
“We’ll do it, then!” Xendri exclaimed. “Just as soon as the repairs are done.”
“We still don’t have an engineer, Captain,” Vox reminded her.
“Yeah,” Quattro added, “Sue decided after the last mission that’s she’s done flyin’ with us. Can’t say I blame her.”
“We’ll figure something out,” Xendri told them. “We’ve got a few days until the repairs are finished, anyways.”
Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally role-playing with her friends.