THE TEN FATES: PROTECTION

“Wake up, we’re here.”

Heathen counted to thirty, then pulled the sleeping teenager out of the bunk and threw a bundle of clothes at him.

“You can’t be going round a station in a white Imperial flight suit, it’ll draw attention.”

Heathen himself was in the process of getting dressed; donning dark jeans with the right leg ripped off to accommodate his prosthetic, and allow him ease of access to his hidden weapons. He arched his body, sliding on a thin, black t-shirt that had various rips around the chest and torso, revealing tattooed skin underneath.

“For you, I suggest not speaking. They’ll detect the Imperial in you in seconds. Just have your pistols prepped – you never know who wants us dead.”

Tugging on his leather jacket, Heathen released the rear ramp and started pacing down  it before it even hit the floor. Eyeing up the biggest bloke on the pad, he pulled out a bag of onionhead and waved it at him.

“I have another stash hidden in my leg. Don’t let anyone steal parts from my Vulture,” he told him. The brutish bastard looked at him with disdain, but nodded and took the bag.  All is fine if you speak their language.

The pair made their way through the bustling market, where smugglers were buying illegal goods, pirates selling stolen cargo and corrupt officials making backhand deals. Neither spoke a word as they pushed through the crowds, not wanting to attract unwanted attention. After they were clear of the hustle and bustle Heathen started giving Muninn some background information.

unknown

“Now, when we meet Miss Morgan, don’t stare at her or her bodyguard… I’ve heard stories. She’s the daughter of Rabat Morgan – which, in these parts, is someone you don’t want to upset. She runs the pleasure house here, which means if a cruiser runs by, she’ll be the first to know.”

Heathen stopped in front of a doorway. A short, stocky man and a built woman stood in their way.

“I’m here to talk to your boss. She in?”

The woman stared intently at the Jester’s neck and head tattoos. The trollish man spoke.

“Miss Morgan isn’t taking meetings. She’s dealing with the handover in management.”

Heathen breathed in the stench of onionhead. This may take some persuading.

“I think you misunderstood. I was in the system over when I heard that Marra Morgan, the daughter of the one and only Rabat Morgan, had taken over management of this fine establishment. Now, I grew up hearing of the Morgans and developed a kind of… respect, and admiration, for them.”

The two goons looked at Heathen, a little puzzled by his tone, when a very distinct voice could be heard over their comms.

“The boss says she’ll welcome anyone that wants to pay homage to the Morgans. Even when they are strangers.”

Smiling at the duo, Heathen unclipped his pistol and cheerfully handed it over as he stepped inside. Walking through the main floor to the back was harder than he thought – hearing grunts and moans behind closed curtains, he stepped carefully, wary of the possibility of getting jumped. The reek of the smoke burned his nostrils, urging him to choke. Turning to look at Muninn, he noticed the kid gawping at an open curtain with a disturbed look on his face. A man was whipping a woman chained to the ceiling, her blood dripping in rivulets.

“First taste outside Imperial territory…”

Heathen grabbed the young man by the arm and dragged him away. 

Stepping into the back office, they saw a short, young woman sitting behind the manager’s desk as a large statue kept a watchful eye from a dark corner. Her face and arms were covered in gang tattoos. She wore a black low-cut ‘Pegasi’ fitted t-shirt and black leather trousers that clung to her well-shaped legs, ending in black boots. She was very attractive, even for a potential pirate queen.

“Finally, I get to meet the infamous Marra Morgan. How humbling.”

Heathen slumped down in the chair on the other side of the desk. Looking to the corner, Heathen realised the statue wasn’t really inanimate – just a very still, hulking mass of muscle and, most probably, steroids. Have to keep things calm.

“I do believe we’ve never met,” Morgan sneered at Heathen, taking in his appearance. Heathen leaned forward and looked her dead in the eye, trying to judge her character.

“I’m from a small clan who believed we were descended from Tyr himself. You may not ‘ave heard of me, at least not by name, but I’ve heard about you. My family told me what yours could do, and I know that merc you are – and there’s still some of your dad in you.”

Without waiting for a response Heathen stood up and started idly perusing the ‘ornaments’ on the wall.

“I want information. Half a mill for confirmation, another half for details. That’s all, and that’s it. Easy money for a single word and then double for a few more words – what do you say?” Heathen stared at Marra intently for an answer.

A look of amusement passed over the young Morgan’s face. Heathen must have done something right.

“Fine. What is it you want?”

Heathen smiled, pulled a PDA out of his jacket and dropped it on the table. It showed the face of an aging Damascus.

“Have you seen this maggot around?”

Morgan looked at the picture for a second, weighing up the options.

“Yes, he was in the dock, getting off a Federal transport and hopping on an Orca.”

Heathen made a mental note of this, then decided to see how far he could push his luck.

“Any idea where they’re going?”

Marra laughed and got up herself. “Because I like you and you’re so flattering – I do know, yes. The system Beta Hydri was muttered by the pilot in this very Pleasure House. Now before you leave, would you care to use our services?”

Heathen looked at Muninn, who stood nervously staring at Mr. Boulder.

“I best not. For one: I’d hate to corrupt an innocent mind by staying any longer, and two: if you’re lying to me I get a million credits of use.” Heathen turned back to Marra and winked. “You’ll find the credits are stored digitally on the PDA, and it’s non-traceable.”

Nodding curtly, he turned to leave. “Come on Muninn, before you lose your virginity.”

Walking away, Heathen could feel Marra’s gaze burn into his back. I’m so glad I don’t make this a frequent thing.

* * * * * *

It took half the trip back to the pad and a cup of coffee before Muninn could recover from what he had seen. Some of those people had tails, coming from their asses.

What made him even more uncomfortable is the way his boss spoke to the merc; the sheer confidence on his face as he made a deal with the devil.

“Boss, how do you know she’s telling the truth?”

This question bugged him the most, though his experiences of these people was very few and far between. Heathen slowed down, looking around, before addressing the question.

“Because by now she’ll know I was from the Sons of Aesir. We were shamed by other pirates, but we were still respected. Well… until everyone was either killed or enslaved.”

They started walking again, making their way back to the pad.

“Besides, from ex pirate to ex pirate, it’s hard to keep in business with live explosives going off in shop.”

Muninn looked up in mild horror as Heathen grinned, winking.

When they reached Huginn, Muninn wandered through to the cockpit, checking to see if there were any messages. Suddenly, there was a bang from the back followed by swearing. Muninn rushed through to see Heathen rubbing his knuckles.

“Damn cunts stole my whiskey.” Heathen opened the rear hatch again, grabbing a stick.

“I’m off to get my onionhead back from those pricks.”

Heathen was still facing him when Muninn saw the three people behind him. He gasped. They were definitely not pirates, nor smugglers – they had to be Feds.

Heathen saw the look on Muninn’s face and swung the stick as hard as he could, cracking the first Fed in the face. The other two were already halfway to him when he pulled his pistol out.

“Take off, take off!” He shouted, as he unloaded his magazine on the two.

Before Muninn could react, the frantic Heathen flipped the bunk and produced a rifle, bursting fire at another small group of Feds as they made their way across the pad towards them. Muninn slammed the door panel and sealed it. Heathen would have to worry about the rear hatch.

Muninn jumped into his seat, punched in override codes and bypassed the normal launch procedure. He released the Vulture remotely and spun it around in the centre of the docks to face the mail slot. Crazy bastard better have closed that hatch, he thought, as he slammed the thruster stick as far as it would go. Then he hit the boost, ignoring the frantic chatter of flight control.

Once clear of the docking window he brought them rapidly to supercruise, away from the station. Then put them in a spin to to create some semblance of gravity.

Muninn tried to hear what was going on in the back, but couldn’t. He gingerly opened the door.

He instantly regretted it. Laying on the floor were three Federal agents- quite obviously left behind to attack anyone on the Fed trail.

“They didn’t send a report before they attacked us, so they don’t know we’re behind them.”

Heathen was crouched beside the only conscious person. Muninn was pretty sure the others were dead. The live man was bleeding and pleading, terrified.

“I have nothing left to get from this man, he just confirmed everything I need to know.” He passed Muninn his custom pistol.

“Kill him.”

Muninn gawped at the man he had thought he respected.

“Why? He’s unarmed! We don’t need to kill him, we can just leave him somewhere where he can’t hurt us.”

That earned him his first smack.

“You can’t make me do this,” he whimpered.

Smack two.

“I won’t do this, it’s inhumane.” He whined as Heathen grabbed him by the collar and pressed the gun into his hand.

“I don’t give a flying fuck.” Heathen spat. “This is my enemy and I thought he was your enemy too. Enemies kill each other. For your protection, I say kill him. You need to learn that this universe is cruel, and some days you need to make shit decisions. If that man-” Heathen pointed at the Fed crying on the floor – “gets picked up by a Federal patrol and tells them that the Imperials are after the traitor, then we are fucked.”

Muninn was crying now, the salty tears running down his face. “I can’t.”

That was what did it. Heathen grabbed his weapon back, walked up to the blubbering mess on the floor and shot him in the head. Then he flipped the pistol around, grasping the barrel, and smashed the ornate handle against Muninn’s head.

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