Meadowsweet, S1 E11

Season Notes: This is essentially a heavy nonconsent/dubious consent story set in space that’s as close to erotica as I come. If you are uncomfortable with noncon, explicit sex and/or rape, or fictional slavery, skip this story entirely. Violence.

Moira, watching on her datapad, was shocked at how fast the fight had been. She had never seen a real fight before — brawls, teenaged dust ups, yes. Tournaments, many. But not this kind of life-and-death violence where nothing was for show and every move was calculated for maximum damage.

She was still grappling with how quickly everything had changed when Zdenko stuck his head back through the door.

“Stay here, I’m locking the door behind me. We need to take out the rest of them and find their ship.”

Moira nodded convulsively, staying safe behind a locked door sounded like the best idea she’d ever heard. Still… “Wait… how can I talk to you?”

Zdenko looked at her like she’d been talking an old Earth language — Mandarin maybe, or Thai, rather than galactic standard. “What?”

She waved the datapad at him. “I can see what they are doing. Shouldn’t I have a way to tell you?”

He blinked, then said, “We can monitor the security feeds through the bridge.”

Skullfire, able to hear better than most of the crew, shouted from the common room, “Don’t be a fool captain. We can’t leave anyone behind to monitor security, we need every claw we have.”

“But–”

“Lock her in the bridge instead. She’ll have full access to security there and if they try to take the bridge, she’ll be able to tell us.”

Zdenko looked like he wanted to argue, but after a moment gave a curt nod. “Fine. Get in the bridge. But no funny business. You can use the ship’s intercom from there.”

It took a moment for everyone to realize there was no way she was getting herself to the bridge. So set up something like an old-fashioned bucket brigade, with Moira as the ‘bucket’ being tossed from one to the next until she was strapped into one of the bridge seats. Ildar gave her a 30 second class on using the ship’s intercom, and then she was alone and locked in an area of the ship she’d never before set foot in.

After a tentative attempt at controlling the security panel, she decided to continue relying on her datapad for everything except the intercom. Use what you know was the most common sense law of any combat.

She didn’t pay attention to the plans the crew were making, instead turning her attention to the cargo hold and eternal cameras. The two hijackers she and Zdenko had seen in the cargo area a few minutes ago were still there. But instead of searching for the crew, they were searching the cargo itself, reading off the numbers stenciled on various cargo containers. Carefully she flicked on the intercom, trying to activate it only in the crew common area. “They’re looking for something in the cargo.”

Apparently, she got it right, as the hijackers didn’t react to her words and the crew all looked toward the camera and Zdenko gave her a thumbs up.

On the externals, she didn’t see anything. Which made no sense — there had to be a ship somewhere. They weren’t in what the crew called the Deeps — the vast empty space between solar systems. They were, however, on the far edge of an Oort Cloud, which meant they had to be at least 10,000 AU from their destination. (Moira didn’t know much astrogation, but she knew that much at least.)

For the hijackers’ purposes, they might as well be in the Deeps — they had to have a ship somewhere nearby.

Of course, that raised the question of how another ship had found them. This wasn’t a random hijacking, not if they were looking for something specific in the cargo. Moira might not know anything about spaceships, but she knew enough history to be able to figure that much out for herself.

Moira didn’t stop to wonder why the ship had exterior cameras. Those with some knowledge of space ships and space navigation tended to assume that visual navigation would be useless to a space ship. What good was light detection when traveling faster than light? They were right, as far as it went. But to each task it’s tool. Video was useless, even at the best enhancements available to anything the size of a ship, for seeing much further than a couple dozen miles away even in the airlessness of space. But gravitonics and other sensors used to avoid asteroids, rogue comets, other ships, and the rare deep space hazard at high speed were completely useless for such critical (if low speed) tasks as aligning with a stations’ docking ring or zeroing in on a landing field.

And since they needed to have cameras anyway, and cameras were cheap, most ships had lots of them. If nothing else, it was easier to use the cameras to check for external damage than send someone out in a spacesuit.

Because Moira didn’t know that there ‘shouldn’t’ be cameras or why, she didn’t know about the other sensors any ship had as a matter of course, or how to check them. So she didn’t see the small high-speed cutter sitting with its lights out a short distance (in interplanetary terms) from Meadowsweet.

While Moira was searching the space for the ship that had to be there, the crew was zeroing in on the remaining hijackers. “Sneaking” wasn’t really possible in a cargo hold. Especially one with the gravity turned off. So they didn’t even try. Just spread out a bit and moved toward the noise the hijackers were making.

The fight itself … well, it would probably be a mistake to call it a fight. It ended up being more a complex game of hide and seek that ended when Efe got a clear shot at one of the hijackers and Skullfire pinned the other against one of the cargo pallets.

The two surviving hijackers were tied up in the crew’s common area. The bodies were searched and tossed out the airlock. Later, when Ildar reviewed the logs, he found the hidden ship. It started building acceleration immediately after the two bodies went out the airlock.

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