Freya's Tears

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Chapter Ten - Yacht

Mission: Book Two - Ginnungagap
Location: New Pacifica - Freya's Tears
Timeline: Day Fourteen

“Would you look at that? Is she not the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen?” Austin asked.

Els stepped down into the nose of the bridge, peering out the windows at a shiny space yacht gently tumbling in space. The body was made up of a pointed nose with three concentric circular sections. The tail swung into view, revealing an ugly gash across the rear hull, the guts of one of the drive engines spilling from the gap. “She’s a beauty, all right.”

“Are you kidding?” Austin sounded affronted at her lack of awe. “That’s a Jove-class yacht, top of the line, used by interstellar dignitaries to get around. It’s got speed, defense armament and excellent armor.” Els turned to watch as he stared at the space yacht, avarice gleaming in his eyes. “It’s got an auto-sickbay feature, two luxury cabins, a half dozen offices. A light alloy laminate armor, thirty tons of hangar space and thirty tons of weapons cargo for the turret. What I wouldn’t give to get a closer look.”

Els looked again at the yacht. The fuel tank they’d salvaged several hours ago had given them plenty of juice to get to the next system. Now it was simply a matter of travel time to reach their exit translation point. There’d been no need to continue shuttle explorations, so the three pilot capable crew members had enjoyed some time to catch up on their rest. Austin’s discovery of a Jove-class yacht along their projected route was a fortunate happenstance. “What’s her name?”

“The Kusanagi.” Austin tore his gaze away to access the database. “It says she belonged to one of the ambassadors from the New Indian Republic.” He shrugged. “That ship can’t land, so it had to have been in orbit or in flight when whatever happened here…happened.”

“And you’ve tried contacting survivors?”

“C’mon, Skip.” A grimace twisted his face. “We’ve been broadcasting for days; no one’s responded yet. The system and everyone in it is dead.”

“We aren’t.” Els sighed, retaking the steps to the main bridge level. “Still, is it possible anyone over there survived?”

“Anything’s possible.” At her level stare, Austin muttered under his breath and accessed the sensor data. “Their communications could have been knocked out as well as their propulsion. Do you really think they had three months of air and food for a dozen people on board?”

She had to admit he had a point. Without engines to power life support, the internal atmosphere of Freya’s Tears would go bad within three days. Maybe four. The Kusanagi was a much smaller vessel. She doubted the crew and passengers could have lasted longer than a few hours, even if their undamaged second drive engine had continued functioning.

The rules of salvage were universal. A derelict wreck with no surviving crew or passengers was fair game to any and all scavengers. If even one space hand remained alive on board an otherwise destroyed ship, the rights of salvage were rescinded. There were plenty of ways to get around such legalities of course. A well-placed round made the difference between a ship in distress and an “abandoned” derelict. Hence the reason why authorities and people of means tended to look down upon those ships that made a living from such actions.

Els turned, standing on the top step between the navigation and pilot stations, hands gripping the edges of each as she frowned at the yacht. Not just any ship, but an ambassador’s transport. I wonder what’s on board? Thirty tons of armament alone would make it worth our while. Her fingers drummed against the plastisteel while her mind conjured various daydreams of treasure. “How long before Folsum’s estimated arrival?”

“About twelve hours.”

Two hours to hook up to the yacht and ten hours to search for valuables. A diplomat might have a safe somewhere on board, items of monetary value. Maybe even that rarity of rarities, real cash. Coming to a decision, she slapped her palms on the stations. She turned and grinned at Austin. “Get us closer. The least we can do is make certain no one needs our help, right?”

A wide grin broke Austin’s usually blasé expression. “Right! Just doing our civic duty, Skip.” With an alien eagerness he accessed the helm and changed course. “We’ll be there in thirty-nine minutes.”


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