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Tiny eyes of doom

AragmarDec 2, 2021, 11:28:00 AM
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It was a lonely transport ship they trailed, flying without escorts and certainly, not heavily armed. “Terran Minarchy vessel” their Ops specialist said, and everyone on the bridge laughed. Fringe space was apparently rife with all sorts of naïve fools these days; the Hinams or whatever these sentients called themselves, were to be their new target.

The corsairs considered themselves vicious, nearly on top of the “food chain” in this part of space. Clanners were, of course, the real rulers here and everyone who wanted to run an operation, they had to pay them their cut. No matter if they were slaving, boarding or raiding, the corsairs always gave ten percent from their loot. Otherwise, one day they would not wake up...

Normally, boarding such a small starship was simple. Their craft was far quicker, nimbler, and heavily armed, therefore most civilian vessels simply surrendered. Then their captains would bargain for their lives and, being pragmatic – the corsairs obliged. Everything of value that could be looted, was. Sometimes these cowards sold members of their own crews into slavery, just to save their hides.

This time, however, the otherwise lightly armed, sluggish starship did not give up. Her Hinam crew fought back and even with their small cannons, inflicted a considerable amount of harm. The corsairs eventually disabled their vessel, docked and deployed their boarding parties atop her hull.

No matter the damage their starship had sustained, nearly all of these stubborn Hinams were still alive. Plenty of decats to be made on the slave markets, a sizable sum at the very least, a small fortune at best. In fact, so many were the passengers, the corsair captain calculated their profit would be so great that their crew could buy one brand new spaceship!

Boarding teams flew through the hull breaches, engines glowing and vibroblades swinging, only to be met with an absolute hail of gunfire. In but counted few star-minutes, the first group of corsairs perished, suits blasted apart by railguns or lasers. Startled by such a response, the rest reorganized, planned another attack and flew into the breaches once more.

The corsair vessel was bigger, and her crew complement much larger. However, instead of relenting, their would be victims resisted. With the stubborn tenacity of wounded, cornered beasts, these Terrans fought back.

To the corsairs' amazement, everything on that Hinam ship was thrown against them. Some used the automatic fire-retardant system to distract, while others charged in suicidal melee, armed only with vibro daggers. These people were shielded by improvised shields made from sliced bulkheads. For a while, this insane tactic worked and, cornered by literal pieces of the starship they were trying to conquer, more corsairs died.

Angered, their captain sent those crewmates of his who were willing, to join the boarding teams and flank the Terrans. Every single non-lethal armament they had was now issued, and another wave of seething with rage corsairs swarmed the Terran ship. Despite the casualties, they were still inspired and ready to fight since their cut from the loot became bigger.

Stun pistols, batons crackling with electricity and even the more expensive stun grenades, everything was used against that stubborn Terran crew. It should've worked, yet these mad people, if that was even possible, fought back harder!

Power cables were used as a weapon, arcs of plasma frying many a corsair and Hinam alive. Those who could, dragged their stunned comrades away from the boarders. Others, who were about to be captured, used their last shot to end themselves, lest they be taken alive. Those without power packs either sliced their necks with vibroblades or simply opened their spacesuits, letting the vacuum end them.

At the center of this terrible, mind boggling and logic-defying resistance stood a tiny Terran. Armed with a diminutive compared to his masters weapon, nevertheless that sidearm killed many corsairs. The critter was small, yet with fearlessness never before witnessed by any of them, charged their boarding teams, pistol constantly firing.

More and more of the Terran and passengers crew died after each attack, but the little one, seemingly no one could kill. By now, more than half of the corsair crew was dead, and the rest were absolutely livid. Their captain ordered that if they could not best the crazed Hinams with their last assault, he'd fire all point defense cannons and kill them.

Everyone, without exceptions, even the captain, they charged the Terran vessel from all possible breaching points. Wounded, bleeding, and dying, their would be booty still found strength to oppose them. Those who couldn't walk crawled, grenade or pistol in hand. These soon to depart people, they made sure to drag as many corsairs to the underworld with them, as they possibly could.

There were barricades on every intersection, portholes cut in every door. Everywhere the boarders went, they were met with blistering fire. What was left of the Terrans armed themselves with beam weapons taken from dead corsairs. They scavenged every power pack, every weapon and some even welded corsair corpses into their barricades.

Then there was the little one...

Most of his comrades were dead and in nearly all cases, he fought surrounded from all sides. Yet, no matter how many times the corsairs assailed him, he kept breaking through! His backpack was overflowing with spare power packs and that tiny pistol of his, it never stopped shooting. Covered with tiny blast holes from head to toe – that was how most of the boarders died.

Unrelenting, the critter began chasing them and, having faced such brutal, death delivering madness, even the most experienced corsairs wavered. It didn't help that he was picking up their power packs and grenades as he vigorously chased them, shooting everyone in their backs. A sizable bundle of bloodied equipment, secured with space duct tape and wire, dangled on the critter's back, as he mercilessly assailed them.

Hit by a stray shot, the monstrous little pistol which this tiny-legged horror used to slaughter them, was finally destroyed. The horror, it would seem, had ceased chasing them and retreated. Yet most of the Hinams were still alive, holed up in their improvised strong points, steadfast behind hastily built barricades, captured weapons in hand.

This was intolerable!

Shaking with rage, the corsair captain ordered a full barrage. Aimed by their scanners, the point defense turrets shredded every Terran they could hit. Particle-beams blasted even bigger holes in the transport ship's hull. Then, only then what was left of the corsair crew dared board their quarry again. Their scanners were now flooded with radiation since a stray beam hit the Terran reactor. The prize ship was no longer such and even if the corsairs wanted to make money out of it, they couldn't.

There were literally no crew or passengers left among the living... or so they thought.

Suffering multiple wounds after being shot at, stabbed, slashed, blown up – the critter even survived their cannon fire! What was left of the boarders retreated after they witnessed how their wounded, weaponless nemesis picked something up. The creature's faceplate became transparent and they saw its grinning snout.

It was about to perish, everyone on this ship was doomed from the get go – they all must have known that! Instead they resisted, stubbornly and to the last, nearly killing all corsairs. Their captain, after counting how many of his crewmates remained among the living, shuddered. It didn't take much brainpower to make a decision most prudent and he gave the retreat order, mere star-seconds after seeing what that engineered for murder, biological warmachine did.

Oblivious of its many wounds, the fearless little monster kept smiling and, with an evil look in his eyes, viciously ogled the corsair starship. In his little hands he held another weapon and no, it wasn't even a normal pistol, but a full sized rifle...

***

This is episode one of the Starshatter Clips, a new series inspired by reader feedback. I will write and post these on my Patreon page. You can read many short stories there, all set in the Starshatter scifi universe of my books.

First scene - Dying Starlight

Third scene - Tomorrow is another day

Those of you who like space opera and science fiction, follow the adventurous crew of IMS Starshatter!

Art by @lillyput , you can visit her page here.