I jerked at the sound of shouting in the halls of the ship. Herring shot a glance my direction, eyebrow asking a question. I shrugged. The shouting didn't last long.
Pirates dragged a very battered Fells into the brig. Turner was thrown in after him. That made eight of us in a cell designed for three.
A short man stalked into the room, glaring through the force field. His dark hair was slicked into wavy spikes. The sparkling trim on his outfit blinded me. He slapped hot pink gloves across his hands as he eyed us. “You gave me your word, Captain.”
“I’ve kept my word.”
“Your crew still fight us, sabotage at every turn. We caught these two stealing weapons from the armory.”
“A commendable act.” Herring moved off the bunk, standing just inside the force field. “Unlike you, I reward acts of initiative among my crew.”
I bit back the sarcastic comment I wanted to make. Initiative in the kitchen apparently didn’t count.
“I do not trust you, Captain.” Del’Brugado spat into the force field. It sparked.
“I am a man of my word.”
“You are nothing of the sort!”
“My engineers are cooperating, aren’t they?”
The door to the brig slid open and closed.
Del’Brugado snarled at his guards. “Find out what is causing that and stop it!” He turned his ugly scowl our way. “This past hour, everywhere on your ship, it is like ghosts turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, water running when it should not. What have you done to your ship?”
“Me? Nothing. I’ve been locked in the brig.” Captain Herring played innocent almost as convincingly as I did.
“Pah!” Del’Brugado spat again before marching out of the brig.
The doors slid closed, catching the tail of his over-decorated coat. He swore profusely as his guards wrestled the doors open long enough to pull his coat free.
“Vasha?” Herring questioned me.
The force field faded. The lights cut off, plunging us into darkness.
“Definitely me.” Vasha’s voice crackled from the speakers. “I can’t hold them out for long, not if they activate the manual overrides. If you hurry I can get you into the shuttle bay.”
“No.” Herring’s voice was decisive.
“It’s our chance to escape!” I edged through the cell door by feel.
“By all means, Stevens, steal a shuttle. We’ve been at warp for the last hour. You can’t launch while the ship is in warp. If you do survive that, you’ll be stranded in space. Or can you pilot a shuttle?”
The lights came back on. The force field reactivated, locking the others inside the cell.
“I’m not going to sit and wait patiently. These are pirates!”
“I won’t order you to stay here.”
“You want to be captured by pirates. You want them to take you to their base.” I wanted to smack him in the face. “You could have warned us.”
“You were warned this would be dangerous. You chose to come.”
“Your orders, Captain?” LeGrange saluted.
“You haven’t learned your place yet, Stevens.” Herring’s look was stern. “We wait for Delphi to activate.”
The door to the brig slid open at the same time the ship shuddered, slowing abruptly to impulse speeds.
Del’Brugado’s guards marched into the brig, weapons armed and aimed at us.
“We’re transferring, now.” The lead guard shut down the force field and waved his plasma blaster. “Del’Brugado doesn’t trust you on this ship. We’re scuttling it.”
Herring had enough self-control not to swear though I could read the anger in his eyes.
“Move it, you, to the shuttle bay.” The guards picked me, Herring, and one of the bridge officers in the cell.
“What of the others?” Herring asked.
The guard shrugged. “Not my problem, you are.”
The guards marched us through the ship, never giving us the chance to attack.
The waiting shuttle wasn’t Starfleet. Del’Brugado himself waited on the boarding ramp.
“Welcome to Fellucia, Captain and crew. Your rank will mean nothing soon enough. I think you might fetch a good price at the slave market.”
His evil laugh hung in the air after he swept into the shuttle. The guards shoved us after him.
“Slaves?” I whispered.
Herring shrugged. “I just hope Bradley remembers his orders.”
“So much for a quiet retirement.”
The guards locked us into the back of the shuttle. The bridge officer swallowed nervously.
“Steady, Fredricks,” Herring said, clapping the man on the back.
“Yes, sir.” Fredricks’ head bobbed.
I rolled my eyes. “Maybe we’ll luck out and they make me work in their galley. I could poison them all.”
“You’re cooking isn’t that bad.”
“I’m not flattered, sir.”
Herring smiled. “Trust Bradley, Stevens.”
“Then we’re doomed, sir, with all due respect. Bradley couldn’t find his...”
The rest of my words were lost in a rush of engines as the shuttle launched.
Personal Log 1-9: Mine Slaves