Read Hold the Star: Samair in Argos: Book 2 Online
Authors: Michael Kotcher
Hold the Star
Samair in Argos: Book the Second
By Michael Kotcher
Copyright 2015 by Michael Kotcher
All rights reserved.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental. All events and characters depicted herein are the results of my imagination.
Proofread and copy edited by Maureen Nealon.
Cover art by jamajurabaev on Deviantart.com, used with permission.
Other books by Michael Kotcher
Samair in Argos – Novel series
Pursue the Past
Special thanks to all those out there who cheered me on, who read book one and asked for a second. I really appreciate all of your support.
Table of Contents
Waves of tachyons washed over the shields of the bulk freighter
as the ship cruised through the void between star systems through hyperspace. An outside observer would see a brightly red-colored object moving through space streaming a swirling wake behind it. The ship was not moving at a great rate of speed, not compared to other starships, despite the fact that she was moving at several times the speed of light. She was a big vessel, over a kilometer in length, a construction of metal and propelled at insane speeds by fusion generators. She was a welcome sight in many of the star systems she traveled to, bringing goods from other places, always willing to trade. Her captain was known as a hard trader as was his cargo specialist, but they were always open to talk about trade and profit.
A closer inspection would find that she’d seen some combat and recently. Her main sublight engines were torn up, in fact, only one was working, though it wasn’t needed here in hyperspace. Parts of the hull had taken damage, cargo bays and the main sections of the ship showed signs of recent hasty repairs. Sensors and shield generators were damaged or outright destroyed. In short, she looked as though she’d been put through the wringer, but despite all that she was still flying. Little would anyone outside the ship know that she was no longer the free trader she had been for so long.
Only a very select few knew that the
was now under contract, if you could call it that. A very serious and bloodthirsty pirate, one who was working to expand his influence in this area of space was now in control of the freighter. She was going to be used to haul his swag and other things from system to system, perhaps even doing legitimate transport between various planets under the pirate lord’s control.
But the pirate lord himself wasn’t aboard the
. No, he was off in another star system acting on plans of his own, but he had left a platoon of his soldiers on board for security and control, under the command of one of his personal Armsmen. So for all intents and purposes, the pirate lord’s orders were coming from that man’s lips. Which made him the de facto captain aboard the freighter, though the Armsman was maintaining the illusion that the ship’s official captain was still in charge.
But the ship sailed on, her crew aboard continued on with their jobs.
The captain was in his quarters; he’d sequestered himself there for days, ever since the incident in the wardroom. He had his meals delivered there, regular reports delivered to the terminal in his room, he communicated any orders needed via his datapad to the bridge. There were few orders actually needed because the ship was in hyperspace. No course changes were necessary, as the navigator had already calculated and locked in their course, all the way from Ulla-tran to Amethyst. The crew knew their jobs, despite the soldiers being underfoot. The ship essentially ran on autopilot until they reached their destination, but they were going to be in hyper for over two months. The captain really wouldn’t be needed for any serious decisions until that point which suited him just fine.
There was a hammering on the outside of the door, followed by the chime ringing five times in a row. Vincent Eamonn, captain of the
was seated on the edge of his bed, a mug of tea growing cold in his hands. He was staring at nothing; his display was active and an image of the ship’s position was indicated there. The green dot indicating (and helpfully labeled)
was only a short distance from the star system indicated as “Ulla-tran” and with quite a long way yet to go to reach the destination at “Amethyst”.
With a sigh, he got up from the bed, setting his cup down on the small table. He passed the hatch, but didn’t stop. He continued on into the refresher, ignoring the chime and the pounding. Stepping inside, he stripped off his robe and stepped into the shower, turning on the water to drown out the summons from the hatch. Finally, after a few minutes, it stopped, whoever it had been deciding to give up instead of continuing to try and get his attention.
He didn’t want to see anyone. He was avoiding everyone, and he didn’t care what they all thought of it. He hadn’t spoken with anyone since Armsman Gideon Jax had done his little show with his Engineer, Tamara. Eamonn was still sick about that. The Armsman was smart, manipulative and brutal, more than willing to use unconscionable tactics to get what he wanted. And what he’d wanted at
particular meeting had been twofold. He’d wanted control of the ship’s industrial replicators, and for that he needed the compliance of one of the ship’s Engineering officers, Tamara Samair. He’d gotten that in a rather brutal display of having her beaten and then dragged through the ship to the wardroom. He’d attached some sort of device to her neck which interfered with the devices implanted in her body to interface with the ship’s computers and then had her tossed in the brig.
What sickened Vincent Eamonn most about it was his own helplessness. He’d just sat there and let it happen. He was a strong man, a proud and powerful man, a ship’s captain. And not only had he just sat there and let that bastard do that to one of his crew, he’d given her up to him. Jax had threatened him, he’d threatened Eamonn’s crew and to keep the bastard’s bloody fingers busy he’d given up the replicators and secret to operating them: Tamara Samair. The instant he’d done it, Eamonn knew his mistake; he’d instantly regretted it, but the doom was pronounced at that moment. It was too late to stop, too late to hold on. Vincent only hoped that when the fall he’d begun was finally over that he might be able to walk away from it.
Or die with his honor restored.
Quesh Trrgoth was unhappy. He’d been cooped up in
’s sickbay for far too long now and while his neuro-regeneration therapy was still ongoing, he needed to get out of here and back to work. His body had absorbed more stun blasts than any organic had any right of taking; in fact he was very lucky to be alive and that the freighter had such an accomplished doctor. The four-armed Parkani, in more quiet and reflective moments, realized and appreciated this. However, it didn’t mean that he was willing to accept this on a more regular basis. He was sick of the antiseptic smells, of the privacy curtains, or the ever-increasingly familiar noises of the sickbay equipment. Most of all, however, the Parkani engineer was sick to death of being stuck in the bed.
His traitorous legs were still refusing to support his weight. Quesh wasn’t a small individual, not by anyone’s measure, and as such his well-muscled form needed strong supports to keep him upright. Well apparently his legs hadn’t gotten that message and every time he tried to hoist himself out of the sickbed they wobbled like gelatin on a plate before he went crashing to the deck. On his more lucky attempts, one or more of his hands managed to catch hold of something to break his fall. But more often than not, he would flop unceremoniously to the deck, cursing.
Like this time. He’d landed hard on his back and his flailing arm had caught the edge of a small table with some medical instruments and a few cups of water. It all came crashing down to the deck, making an awful clatter, the water dumping all over the struggling engineer as he thrashed on the metal deck plates.
Normally, there would the thunder of feet as orderlies and nurses would rush over to help him, but not this time. This time, the soft padding of the doctor’s small feet was the only approaching noise. Quesh looked up in humiliation.
Turan, the ship’s chief medical officer, stared down at him. His gray-skinned arms were crossed over his chest. Doctor Turan was not human; he was a member of the Guura species. The Guura were an amphibious species, their home planet of Gom Rayan being over ninety percent water. He was quite tall, extremely slender, with a very long neck. His head was proportional to the rest of his body, and his face was a mix between a series of overlapping scales and a rather elephantine like trunk of only about ten centimeters in length. He had very long gills on his very long slender neck, as well as lungs in his thin body. His large, liquid eyes were staring disapprovingly down at his patient.
“Having a good time?” he asked, not moving to assist.
Quesh growled, a rumbling in his throat. He was sputtering in frustration as he tried to get himself to flip over onto his stomach so he could lever himself back up and onto the bed.
“Don’t get all belligerent with me, Mister Chief Engineer,” the doctor said mercilessly. “I keep telling you that you’re legs aren’t ready to hold you up, but you don’t listen. You clearly are looking for the attention, otherwise you wouldn’t keep flopping down on my sickbay floor.”
…” the Parkani began.
But Turan cut him off. “No you won’t, Quesh. You can’t even get up off the deck. And I keep trying to help you but you’re too stubborn.”
The Parkani finally relaxed and let his arms fall to the deck. “I can’t keep doing this, Turan,” he complained, looking as desolate as the Guura had ever seen him. “I can’t. And the ship can’t afford to have me down. If what you say about Samair is true, then the Captain needs me on my feet.”
The doctor nodded his gray head. “Yes, Quesh, you’re absolutely right. But neurological damage isn’t something that I can cure overnight. Unfortunately, you just have to continue with the treatments, with the nanite injections and just be patient.”
The Parkani pounded a meaty fist against the deck. “To hell with being patient! I’ve been stuck in this purgatory for weeks now.”
“You’re not the only one,” Turan replied, snorting.
Quesh levered himself to a sitting position, his legs completely useless. Using his four arms, he managed to flip around and haul himself back up and onto the bunk. He settled himself back down, a sour look on his face. He looked up to see Turan still standing there, not having moved.
“You make a mess in my sickbay and then don’t even clean it up?” the Guura asked, waving his hand to encompass the spilled tools and pool of water.
The Parkani glared at him. “You’re going to make me get all the way back down there and do it again?”
“You’re the one who’s been complaining about being cooped up in that bed all the time.”
Quesh frowned. “Is this one of those things where you’re trying to actually chase me out of the bed?”
Turan sighed, which through his gills on the side of his long neck, made a burbling sound. “Quesh, I would like nothing better for you to be on your feet and not taking up space in my sickbay. But you’re not better yet. We’ve got another week of nanite treatments to repair the damaged nerves.” He shrugged. “At that point, you should be far enough along that I could clear you for light duties.”
Turan chuckled, and with his small snout it came out as a snuffling noise. “Try not to look so glum,” he said, signaling to one of the orderlies to clean up the mess. “Only one more week. As long as you don’t injure yourself further!” he said severely. “I mean it, Quesh. I will sedate you if I need to.”
The Parkani grumbled, but made no further argument. Picking up a datapad, he brought up the latest diagnostics on the sublight engine assembly. Turan, chuckling again, walked off, to look in on other patients.
Tamara Samair came to consciousness slowly. Everything hurt. She was lying on the hard deck, arms and legs akimbo, as though she had been dragged inside this room and just dumped on the floor (which she had). Pulling herself to a sitting position, she leaned against the bulkhead in the cramped cell. She recognized her surroundings; she was in one of the cells in the brig. Her legs and the tops of her feet were scraped raw from having been dragged through the corridors of the ship, banging on the knee knockers on all the hatches. Her neck throbbed fiercely and she raised a shaking hand to the right side of her neck, and touched metal. A quick inspection determined that a circular metal device shaped like a coin with a two inch diameter was attached to her neck. Her fingers touched dried blood that had trickled down her skin and she could feel the neck of her t-shirt had been stained by the blood.
How long had she been lying here? Tamara wondered. She tried to access her neural implants, but they didn’t respond. Concentrating harder, her HUD activated, but it flickered and spat, as though the signal was being jammed. Her hand still quivering, she used her fingertips to explore the device on her neck, remembering what the Armsman Jax had told her.
“And in case you’re curious, the device in your neck is interrupting the implants in your head. You will no longer be able to send or receive signals via those implants unless I disable the device.” He frowned a little. “The good captain here informs me that those implants are how you actually interface with the fabricators, but I’m sure we can work something out until we can come up with a more permanent solution.”