KHV Complete The Adventures of the INVSP: Old Friends, New Enemies (Five Year Anniversary Special Project)

Discussion in 'Written Works' started by Lauriam, Oct 24, 2016.

  1. Lauriam I hope I didn't keep you waiting...

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    Hey, anyone reading this! Today marks the 5 year anniversary of the gang of Intergalactic Ninja Vampire Space Pirates!!! To celebrate, the crew of the INVSP have worked together to share with you one of our many adventures.

    Before we get started, I wanted to make sure to thank the crew who helped to put this together, especially @Midnight Star for doing the bulk of the writing and formatting, @Loxare for helping out a lot with the writing, @DarkTraitor Pine for giving us the idea to do a project in the first place and joining in the writing when she had time, and @Glen for helping out in general with ideas and also for being a good sport with us turning his character into pretty much an element of comic relief. XD

    Now that I've thanked everyone, we can move on to the story!

    If you want to join in on the shennanigans that happen aboard our ship, new crew mates are always welcome. (We're super desperate for a cook.) Join up here.

    We really hope you enjoy reading about our adventure and all comments and critiques are welcome.


    The Adventures of the INVSP

    Old Friends New Enemies


    It was a night, or perhaps it was day. Really, not easy to tell in space. Either way, it was a time of day, just like any other and the ship’s internal clock made it about 7am in the morning. The stars were shining with their usual luster. The nebulae glistened with reflected light. The ship, the glorious space sailer herself, with timbers of finest wood-alloy did not match her crew at the moment; some of them were still scruffy and disheveled from sleep, while others had either already been up and working for a few hours, or had even worked the whole night through. But a good meal would do quite a bit to get them to wakefulness. And slowly but steadily, the crew of the Saber made their way to the mess hall.

    The first to enter was Captain Marushi, looking around with a slight sigh and then heading over to where an industrial coffee machine was set up in the corner, beginning to make probably too much coffee for their skeleton crew. She scooped in a few extra tablespoons, just to make it extra strong. Sometimes people said she made the coffee too strong, and once or twice, members of the crew had been known to water it down before drinking it, but today, she felt like they’d be grateful for something a bit stronger.

    A seemingly younger girl, with shoulder length blonde hair, scrunched up her nose as she popped her head into the room and caught a whiff of that coffee, “I hope that’s not for me, Capt’n. We’ve been on this ship long enough that you should know me better than that.” Her cheerful voice had a distinctive British accent as she teased the Captain, clearly in a good mood. Smiling, she leaned on a wall to talk, not coming in properly as she had jobs to do and there weren’t enough people here to pick up any slack.

    “Don’t worry Midny,” Captain Marushi said, smiling and pushing her long black hair, which went down past her hips, out of her face. “Ye don’t have ta drink it if ye don’t want to.” The Captain liked to speak like a pirate, since, as she put it, ‘we be pirates after all, why not talk like it?’ But it was all an act, and most of the time, she forgot and slipped back into her normal American accent without thinking.

    Midnight shook her head while smiling knowingly at the Captain’s speech, “I’ll get myself something cold or a hot chocolate later but I’ve got stuff to sort beforehand. I’ve put the ship on autopilot for now so I’ll be in the med bay for a while.” She pulled a white lab coat up over her arms as she spoke, hiding a plain blue fitted top and skinny jeans. The lab coat seemed a little big on the small girl as it went almost all the way to the floor and half covered her hands when they were by her side. She was both the ship’s helmsgirl and their only doctor, so she was constantly going between the ship’s helm and the med bay with barely any chance to catch her breath.

    “Oh, just make sure you take the time to grab some breakfast,” Captain Marushi said. “Or at least a snack. Too bad we don’t have a chef anymore, or this would all be much easier.” She knew her crew worked really hard for the sake of the ship but that just made her worry that they were forgetting to take care of themselves.

    “Do you seriously think Loxare would let me skip meals?” Midnight asked with a slight roll of her eyes. “I think she’d force me if I refused. It’s not my fault there’s sooo much to do that it’s hard to take a break. You worry too much, Capt’n.” Loxare was the ship’s highly efficient first mate. She was the main reason that this ship was running ship-shape and despite the tiny crew, everything still got done.

    “Aye, ye be right,” Captain Marushi smiled, holding a hand up in surrender. “If ye need any assistance, let me know. Not that I’d be any good in that high-tech fancy lab of yours. Er, yers.” She paused, correcting herself to try and sound more like a pirate. “That be too much fer me. Hey, I’m gonna grab some chips. Er, I mean, crisps.” This time, the change was because she wanted to sound more British, since traditionally, pirates were of British origin. “You want me to get some for you?”

    Midnight smiled with approval at the correction; while she wasn’t as bothered about authenticity, she was British after all. “Nah, I’m fine but thanks for the offer. I probably eat too many crisps as it is. I’ll just pick something up when I get the chance. Like I said, I’ve got some of the boring jobs to do so I’ll probably be in the med lab all morning.”

    “Okay,” Marushi nodded with a slight sigh. “Well, I’ll grab a bunch of snacks from the kitchen anyway, for whoever wants some. So if you change your mind, feel free to join me.” Captain Marushi, despite being the Captain in title, didn’t really do much Captaining. She was too unfocused, and oftentimes would just disappear into her cabin for days with no warning. The reason she was the Captain was because she was the one who had bought the ship in the first place, and advertised “LET’S BE PIRATES, WHO’S IN!?” one day. But she always tried to help out where she could, and if that meant gathering a bunch of snacks or making too much coffee, so be it.

    With that, she hurried into the Saber’s kitchen, which was mostly just for general use ever since the loss of the crew chef. Hardly anyone did any cooking, the crew usually survived on crisps, cookies, and soda, but there were always ingredients around for whenever anyone felt like cooking. Or if anyone even had the time to.

    “We need some more help around here,” The Captain could be heard muttering under her breath as she left. “Hmm, I’ll have to think of something special…”

    Elsewhere on the ship sounds of a fight could be heard. While it did seem to be an intense fight, anyone watching could easily see that it was a bit of a one sided fight. This was considering that the ship’s combat and weapons specialist was on one side and the other side was a training robot, which was getting thoroughly beaten up. While the robot did attack back, it was nowhere near as fast compared to it’s spiky haired opponent who always dodged, leaving the robot attacking empty space.

    “Hey!! Don’t you think you’ve beat it up enough already, Glen?” A female voice said from behind him, making Glen jump and almost take a hit from the robot. He quickly recovered and finished his fight in one decisive move to be able to turn around to the person who had snuck up on him. There stood a uniformed young woman with short auburn hair, done up perfectly neat without a spec of dirt on her. A few whispy curls escaped her bun, breaking the near-perfect picture of tidiness. Quite a contrast to him, with his casual clothes and covered in sweat.

    “Seriously! Don’t sneak up on me like that! I don’t know how you manage to be so quiet.” He sighed, sheathed his weapon and started to take off his shirt, completely unphased by the presence of a woman there as he did that. His blue skin seemed to almost sparkle with sweat on his chest. Wandering over to the side of the room, he grabbed a towel to dry himself off. “So what’re you here for anyway?” He asked, his Australian accent clearly pronounced. “It’s more common to see you shooting targets than working on close range combat.”

    “Oh, I was just doing my morning rounds” Loxare said. “Checking everything is running smoothly. Can’t have things getting out of order, you know?” It was her responsibility as first mate to make sure all was shipshape and the lack of crew was not going to stop her from doing that. “Anyway, have you eaten yet? Surely all that exercise would make you hungry. I’m heading over to the mess hall in a moment, want to join?”

    It was at that moment that Glen’s stomach growled, and he responded to Loxare’s question by simply nodding and giving a slight grin. “Aye,” he said. “Food would be great.” He began wandering towards the mess hall, still shirtless because he was under the impression that ‘bitches love scrawny blue men without shirts.’

    Upon entering the mess hall, Glen joined Pine, the diver-slash-engineer for a hearty breakfast of chocolate chip cookies and sour cream and onion crisps. Expecting Loxare to join them, Glen cleared the seat next to him of the usual assortment of ropes and hodge-podge machinery. However, Loxare took one look at the food on the table, said, “Enough is enough,” and turned on her heel out the door.

    Glen just shrugged and turned to Pine. The girl wasn’t quite as tall as he was, but still towered over everyone else on the ship. “So, how’s the repairs coming?” The ship had been damaged in a recent battle with a space serpent.

    Pine wrinkled her nose. “Not bad. But I still don’t know why I have to fix the ship.” She fiddled a bit with the silver braid hanging below her left ear.

    “Because you’re the only one who fits in the suit.” Glen reminded her.

    “Aye,” chimed in the Captain, rustling her space-newspaper. “Plus, when you signed on, you said you had some mechanical experience.”

    “Fixing bicycles! I didn’t know how to weld!” Pine cried out in frustration. But it was a losing battle, so she just huffed and shoved another cookie in her mouth. After a few minutes of silence, she stood up and peeked over the Captain’s shoulders. “What are you looking at? You never read the paper.”

    It was true. The only reason Excasr, the former battle strategist of the ship, had gotten the subscription was for the comics. Marushi just hummed. “I be looking through the classifieds. If we don’t get some more crew, we’ll be sleeping with the space-fishes next time a solar storm blows through.”

    Glen raised his glass. “Hear hear! We need a cook. Unless you know where Krown went?”

    “Nope. Lost him in The Playground quadrant to the Mafia.” The Captain sighed. “A moment of silence for our fallen comrade.”

    “He’s not dead. He sent us a text last week of him in a fedora.” With an irreverent smack on the arm that she knew would be forgiven, Pine grabbed the newspaper. “What about this one? He’s already a ninja.”

    “Yes, I was thinking of that one as well. I could-” Whatever Marushi was going to say was interrupted when Loxare kicked open the door. The Captain frowned. She was the only one allowed to kick open doors. But her very soft rebuke died on her tongue when she saw what Loxare was carrying.

    A massive steaming pot of what smelled like spaghetti sauce. Big enough that she needed two hands to carry it. “I am sick and tired of the food we’ve been eating. Chips and cookies will either make you fat, give you scurvy, or both.” With a tectonic thunk, she dropped the pot on the table. Reaching behind her, she pulled off a backpack with a container of noodles inside. Grabbing the stack of dishes from the side cupboard, she filled one for each crew member currently present, leaving a generous dollop of sauce on each. Three meatballs topped each plate.

    Still muttering angrily, she grabbed another full plate and headed down towards the med-bay, leaving a small bowl of freshly grated parmesan and a slightly shell-shocked crew in her wake.

    Glen poked his food cautiously. It smelled good, but he wasn’t entirely sure the first mate could cook.

    “...Well then,” Captain Marushi smiled. “How did she know I love spaghetti? A TOAST TO FIRST MATE LOXIE! A hot meal is just what this crew needed!” Grinning around at the crew, she raised her coffee mug into the air.

    Meanwhile, in the med bay, Midny was lying on one of the patient’s beds, glaring at a medical book and muttering about the inaccuracies of it. Seriously, a Balarean, with only two livers? This author didn’t know what they were talking about.

    “Midnight!” The call was her only warning before the first mate strolled through the already-open door. “When was the last time you ate?”

    The small doctor shot up at the sound of the first mate’s voice, sending a wave of medical books tumbling down in the process. “Umm,” she pulled a face as she seriously tried to figure out when the last time she’d had a proper meal was, “Well, I was in the mess hall earlier?” She said, fidgeting as she was aware she hadn’t actually ate anything while she was there. “...I’ll eat something now?”

    “Yes, yes you will.” Somehow, Loxare pulled a plate of spaghetti out of thin air, setting it on a table normally used for surgical instruments.

    “No, no, don’t do that! That’s for surgeries and I literally only just sterilised all that. Now I’m going to have to clean it again.” She sighed, “I know, it’s my own fault and I will eat but here isn’t the best place. Sorry.”

    Loxare just raised a single eyebrow. “But it is the best time. When we’re not under attack by space-serpents or solar-storms. If we get into a crisis, and you’re weak from not eating-”

    “I’m not debating that now isn’t the best time, only your choice of table. If we get into a crisis that needs to be sterilised. Gimme that, I’ll eat it, just let’s move from here.” Midnight took off her lab coat as she talked, hung it up and walked over to take the food.

    Loxare sighed happily and handed over the bowl. “I’ll re-sterilize it for you while you eat.”

    “Thanks, cleaning stuff is over there.” She indicated their location as she took the food. She couldn’t actually remember if she’d had any of Loxare’s cooking before so she wasn’t sure what to expect. However as she took a bite, she was pleasantly surprised. It actually wasn’t that bad at all. “Hey, you should cook more often. This is good.” Between mouthfuls she continued talking, “But anyway, I was wondering if our Capt’n has given you any indication of where we’re heading off to next. We’re a bit aimless at the moment, I’m waiting on your next route.”

    Loxare pulled a face as she made a start on sterilizing the table. “If I knew, I would tell you. But Cap’n hasn’t given me a destination yet. So for the time being, I’ve planned out a route for the Lounge planet as it’s pretty much in the direction we agreed to head anyway. I’ll give it to you once you’re done eating. This just means if she takes too long to decide, at least we can have a rest.” Loxare usually worked together with Midny to get them to wherever they needed to go. She usually just planned out the routes but when Midnight wasn’t there or was too busy with patients, Loxare was also one of the few Mid could trust to take the helm and not to send them accidentally hurtling towards a supernova. Or purposefully. That had been a weird Sunday.

    Midnight nodded, while eating another mouthful of spaghetti, unaware of the splashes of red now at the edges of her mouth. A rest would be nice, the lack of people on this ship meant that it was rare for them to get one. Additionally the battle against the zombie-pirates, and then the space-serpent, had been hard on all of them.

    BEEPBEEPBEEPBEEP!! Both of the two in the med bay jumped as loud noises came from their pockets. Apparently they wouldn’t be getting a rest for a while yet. Food and cleaning stuff quickly put down, the two quickly removed the beeping devices from their pockets to see what it was alerting them to. “What is that?” Midnight asked with a puzzled face as she looked at the screen showing what the ship’s sensors were now detecting. “The energy readings seem...strange.” Even as she spoke, she had begun to move towards the door.

    Loxare was doing the same thing, “I’m not sure but whatever it is, it’s coming in our direction. We should get to the helm.” The two girls broke into a run as they headed across the ship to the bridge. Fortunately, due to Midnight’s dual responsibilities, the two rooms were not actually that far apart. Loxare was the faster runner but that may just have been due to having longer legs; neither of them were out of shape. As they ran, Loxare was using the device to contact the Captain, “Cap’n! The ship’s scanners have detected something strange. We’re going to check it out now but I suggest you head to the bridge. The rest of the crew might want to be on alert too.”

    “Acknowledged,” Captain Marushi said over the com. “We’ll be right there.”

    They reached the Bridge, immediately heading to their stations to see what was happening, Midnight at the helm and Loxare going over to the scanners, which were pinging loudly. “Any idea what it is? Do I need to get us the hell out of here, just move out of its path or what? Gimme a clue here!” The helmsgirl asked with a strong sense of urgency. She couldn’t quite see the thing, it was too far still, but it was moving steadily closer on the scanners.

    With a snarl, Loxare moved pushed off from the scanners, moving instead to the bow. “Whatever it is, it’s messing with our equipment. Can’t get a clear reading!” Pulling an old-fashioned telescope out of her uniform jacket, she expanded it and trained it on where the object should be.

    Captain Marushi chose that moment to burst out onto the deck. With a nod at Midnight and a quick exclamation of approval at her first mate’s telescope (“Very pirate-y!”) she climbed into the rigging to get a better look. Plus, she liked it up there. There with her pirate hat, long cloak and knee-high boots, hanging off the rigging of a proper pirate ship, she looked like a true pirate. As she scanned the vast reaches of space, she called instructions down to the rest of the crew, who had followed her out. “Battle stations, Glen! Don’t know what we’re dealing with yet!” Her pirate accent slipped a bit, being too preoccupied to remember to affect it. “Pine, go get your kit, then find a laser cannon.”

    Glen gave a jaunty salute, then raced for the ship’s weapon controls. Pine groaned, grabbing her toolbox and making sure it was close by her chosen cannon. She wasn’t quite as good a shot as Rienzel had been, but at the very least, the enemy wouldn’t walk away whole.

    “Loxie, do you have eyes on it yet?” Marushi called down to the First Mate.

    “Almost!” The auto-telescopes that were commonplace on most every ship focused faster, true, but Loxare didn’t quite trust the screens on them. So many things could shield themselves from being picked up. Better to use a traditional telescope with its lenses. “Got it! It’s a derelict, Cap’n!” The sighs of relief from the crew were audible from her perch. A derelict ship couldn’t hurt them. But something about it… She leaned in, looking for distinguishing marks, hoping for the absence of familiar ones.

    The telescope fell to the deck of the ship, lens shattering. Loxare closed her eyes a moment, then called down, “Cap’n! It’s the Flash!”

    The implication settled on the crew like a weight. Midnight’s hands flew to the med-kit she had stashed in the helm, to help, to save. Glen stood frozen, one hand on the cannon that many times had fired a laser playfully between the masts of the other ship. Pine dropped to her knees, looking at the speck in the distance as if staring long enough would cause her former crewmates to pop out of the rigging shouting, “surprise!” And the Captain...

    The Captain of the Saber stared at the derelict, the ship she had once called her rival in all things pirate, looking stunned for a moment. “Captain Droid…” She sighed, before straightening, frowning in a sad determination. She would find out what had happened to the ship and its crew of scalawags. And there would be hell to pay for whoever was responsible.

    “Midnight!” She called. “Bring us alongside her. Everyone else, get ready for a trip. Anyone wanna stay behind and watch the Saber? We should be good as long as we’re not gone too long, but I guess someone probably should stay behind…”

    Midnight promptly nodded, “Will do, Capt’n.” With skilled hands, the smallest crew member carefully moved the Saber to the side of their former rival ship, dreading what they might find there. “You know I would normally stay behind for a quick get away, but if any of them are still there and need help…”, her voice trailed off near the end. They may have been their rival ship but not one of the crew wished real harm on them, in fact meeting with their rivals had been something they all used to look forward to. Midnight gazed out at the beaten up ship, just hoping that the crew was okay.

    “Aye,” Marushi nodded, looking around the region of space. “Well, we’ll all go ahead and check it out. I’m sure things will be fine, the place looks abandoned. To the shuttle!”

    Everyone made their way to the shuttle bay, where the Saber’s trusty small shuttle, the Blaster, was awaiting it’s next mission. “We all ready for whatever we’ll find?” Marushi called out, fastening the sheath for her katana around her belt, clasping the black and gold, worn-looking hilt, at the ready. Along the way, Midnight had suddenly somehow gained a rucksack that seemed far too big for her small body, apparently filled to the brim with medicine for whatever situation arose. This was plonked down in the Blaster by her seat at the controls of the shuttle.

    “Seatbelts on, mates. The stabilizers haven’t been fixed yet.” The expressions her crew wore as they seated themselves and fastened their seatbelts were mixed, ranging from complete stoicism to looking vaguely green. And not alien-green. I’m-about-to-hurl green. With a sigh of her own, Captain Marushi set her jaw as Midnight pulled the Blaster away from the Saber and set out for the derelict Flash.

    She looked out of the thick window at the ship, noting its’ sleek, aerodynamic design. The BAPU had decided on a more modern design for their ship opposed to the Saber's traditional Pirate ship look with it's huge masts and solar sails, which made the two vastly different. The Flash was decidedly futuristic and rather sci-fi, focusing on the ‘space’ part of ‘space pirates,’ instead of focusing on the ‘pirate’ part like the INVSP had. Still, despite the major differences, both ships considered the other a ‘sister ship,’ and seeing it in such a state made Marushi get a very bad feeling in the pit of her stomach.

    She just hoped everything was okay with the BAPU crew...

    The landing deck of the Flash was eerily silent. No shouting or singing or people chasing each other with paint-filled water guns. Pine’s footsteps sounded loud in her ears, echoing on the titanium-alloy floors. Captain Droid would be disappointed in the condition of the ship. There was no dust, no cobwebs, not in space, but that was the only thing separating this ship from a derelict she had seen once, grounded on a jungle planet. There were panels missing from the ceiling and walls, although she couldn’t think of anything tall enough to knock them loose. Tables were upended, and the doors to the crew's quarters were all ajar at best, lying in crumpled broken heaps at worst. The doors to the Captain’s cabin were of the latter, broken, twisted, one lying ten meters down the hallway. She placed a hand on the wall, tracing deep scratches that hadn’t been there when she’d flown with this ship.

    Loxare and Marushi wandered the deck, looking for clues as to what may have happened.

    “It's so quiet,” Captain Marushi noted in a hushed tone. “We should all be on our guard; anyone- or anything, could still be on board.”

    “Actually, the entire ship is deserted,” an unfamiliar voice spoke up from directly behind them.

    Everyone gasped and jumped, whirling around in shock and facing the source of the voice, as every gun in the place was trained on him and every sword or katana unsheathed and raised in defense.

    The man standing there drew in a slight breath himself, raising his hands in surrender.

    “Don't shoot!” he said. “I don't know what happened here, either, I’m just here to raid a derelict.”

    “Pfft, likely story,” Glen scoffed, relaxing and looking around with a smirk, as if he were trying to make sure no one had seen him jump along with the rest of them. As the only man on the Saber, he liked to believe everyone thought he wasn't scared of anything.

    “No, really,” the man said. “Though I’m afraid my shuttle was unfortunately damaged, and when I landed, it ended up giving up the ghost completely. Fortunate you all got here, I’m stranded.” He blushed just a touch at the helpless situation he claimed to be in, rubbing the back of his neck before turning back to them. “Anyway, I’ve only been here for half an hour, maybe. Just long enough to know the ship’s completely empty.”

    “How do we know you’re not some sort of alien monster disguised as a human, or some kind of evil hologram, or even just an evil human?” Captain Marushi asked suspiciously, not lowering her katana, the blade of which glowed red with a plasma coating.

    “Um, well,” The man said. “I’m not a hologram. That would be easy enough to prove. But, I suppose you don’t know that I’m not an evil human or alien disguised as a human. I hate violence, actually, and I can tell you I’m not evil, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.”

    “Yeah, well, take my word for THIS!” Glen yelled, jumping forward and swinging his scimitar at the man, who dodged it and held his hands up again.

    “Hold on, I surrender, I surrender!” The man said. “I’m telling the truth; I’m just here to raid a derelict.”

    “Stand down, Glen,” Marushi said, stepping forward herself and having to stand on her toes to put her hand on Glen’s shoulder. “I think he’s telling the truth, and we have more important things to do than attack this guy.”

    “Well, he shouldn’t have jumped out to try and scare us,” Glen sulked, completely forgetting to pretend to be not-scared.

    Without saying a word, Midnight, who was standing a bit behind everyone else listening in, put her huge rucksack on the floor and started searching through it. She’d been disappointed to hear him say that the ship was empty and that there was nobody to find or save. That said her bag of medicines and drugs might not be completely useless. She muttered to herself as she read labels written in code to find the thing she wanted.

    “How’d you find this ship?” Marushi asked the man, ignoring Glen. “We’re asking because it belonged to some… erm, friends?” She turned and looked around at everyone with a shrug. Everyone shrugged back. “Well, we were sort of arch-enemies, but also basically friends. But if a single person here says Frienemies, I swear, your cookie privileges will be revoked for a week.”

    “But Glen just got his privileges back,” Pine pointed out. “He hasn’t had cookie privileges since That Sunday.”

    “Let’s not speak of That Sunday, please,” Marushi shuddered. Behind her, Midnight shot a glare at Glen, his actions on that day were yet to be forgiven. Turning back to her bag, the small doctor found what she was looking for, pocketed it and shut her bag.

    Glen, very carefully not mentioning Frenemies, pitched in returning to explaining their strange relationship with the crew of the Flash. “Depended on the week really.”

    “True.” Loxare nodded. “Or time of day. Remember when we had that battle scheduled?”

    Midnight rubbed her forehead as she thought about it, “Do you mean the time everyone showed up six hours early in order to get the best position? And then the positions turned out to be irrelevant anyway?” In a space battle, they’d found that normally involved attempting to somehow hide behind nebulas.

    “Oh yeah, so we just sort of had tea until the battle had to start.” Pine concluded with a fond sigh. “Good times.”

    “I see,” the man said. “So this was their ship? Well, I’m between jobs right now, so perhaps I’ll be able to help you find your friends.”

    “Thank you, that will be very helpful,” Marushi said, offering a smile. “Since you’ve already been poking around the ship, maybe you might’ve seen some kind of clue or-”

    Clang

    Everyone froze, the sound echoing eerily through the silent ship. It sounded as if it had come from below deck.

    “...Maybe the metal’s expanding,” Pine offered.

    “...Perhaps,” Marushi said, biting her lip. “At any rate, until we find out what’s going on, we all stick together. Aye?”

    Everyone nodded, glancing around them uneasily. “Aye,” they all said as one. (Well apart from the quiet “-ye” from Glen who’d got a bit too caught up in looking around and missed the cue).

    Gathering together slightly closer than they had been before, following Marushi’s lead they set off to go investigate further into the ship. There must be clues somewhere on this ship that would tell them what had happened to their old friends.

    The ship itself was in quite a state of disrepair, it clearly hadn’t been maintained or cleaned in quite a while but at the same time there were also parts in the ship that were damaged. Marushi held her hand out to stop the rest of the group as she stopped to look at a dent in the wall. “I wonder what could have caused this. These walls are made out of a strong metal and this would take some force to create.” She felt the dent with her hand as she tried to imagine what could have caused it.

    “There were gunshots too,” Loxare spoke up from the back of the group, on the opposite side of the corridor to the dent. “Look there is a scorch mark here.” The first mate pointed to a dark spot on the wall, she’d seen plenty of marks like that as it was similar to the marks her own laser pistol left it hit walls. “I wonder if this was made by one of the BAPU crew’s guns or if their opponent had guns. Either way, there was a fight here.”

    “Well surely we know better than anyone that there was no way those guys would go out without a fight. They weren’t weak either.” Glen’s words made the group feel a bit better.

    Midnight nodded, “Yeah, I can’t see any bodies or blood here, which is probably a good sign. Might mean the fight wasn’t concluded here. It is also possible that they were knocked out and taken away but that would mean they were still alive. I can’t see any reason why they’d remove dead bodies if they were just going to abandon the ship. We really need to search the rest of the ship to be sure, tho-”

    Clang

    The crew froze as the sound came again, this time louder than before. The sound coming from further down the corridor in the direction they had been heading.

    “Um you said it was just the pipes expanding...right?” Pine asked, clearly a little unsettled by the unexpected noise, her imagination running wild.

    “Yes.” The Captain answered firmly, her voice sounding much more confident than she actually felt. “It’s probably just some pipes expanding. There’s no reason to think it’s anything strange.”

    Which was odd, thought Loxare, because the Cap’n never misses out on a chance to go look at weird things. Part of the reason she set sail. The comradery of a few close mates and adventures into the unknown.

    “Well the corridor leads in the direction of the sound anyway, why don’t we go find out?”, Glen said with a slight grin. Some unexpected noises didn’t scare him even if the captain was trying to reassure the crew it was nothing. If it was something bad, then he’d just cut it to pieces, simple as that. “You guys can just hide behind me if things get scary."

    Midnight silently rolled her eyes behind him, she’d patched Glen up enough times to be well aware he wasn’t as invincible as he thought he was. Glen was a great fighter, no doubt about that, but being the one doing the most fights also meant he was the one most likely to get hurt. She was on hand to treat them if they got hurt, but if given the choice she’d rather they didn’t get hurt in the first place. Not that Glen was likely to listen to any words of caution from her.

    “Well…” Marushi bit her lip, looking conflicted. “We need to find the crew of the Flash… And I want to know what’s making that noise… but I don’t want anyone to get hurt… And I know I can’t go alone. So, everything all stacked up, I say we all go investigate, together. But everyone be careful, alright?”

    Midnight frowned, “Was there ever any option? That kinda goes without saying, Capt’n?” The indecisiveness made her feel uneasy, Marushi was normally a lot more decisive than that.

    “Erm, right,” Marushi said, offering a nervous smile as she blushed just a touch. “‘Be careful’ goes without saying. Let’s move out.”

    They all began slowly making their way down the corridor, looking around cautiously and listening to the dead silence of the ship. It was very eery, as there wasn’t even the familiar hum of engines running somewhere, there was just… quiet.

    Until there was another bang from directly above them, seeming to come from a ventilation duct.

    Everyone let out a gasp, jumping and backing quickly away from the spot underneath the origin of the noise, as they heard something moving through the air ducts, fading away as it left the area.

    Glen let out a shaky laugh, stepping forward and drawing his scimitar. “Whatever happened to the crew, there’s something alive on this ship!” He said with what could only be described as an insane grin. “I say we go after it!”

    “No,” Loxare said decisively. “We have no idea what we’re up against, we should investigate thoroughly before doing anything with it.”

    “Where’d Pine go!?” Marushi asked, looking around.

    “Um, your crewmate took off running that way,” the man in the cloak said, pointing down a secondary corridor they had passed on their way.

    “What do we do Capt’n? It’s your call. Should we split up? I could go look after Pine but if there is something out to eat us, well, I’ll be lunch. I’m not a fighter. Your call.” Midnight gazed at their Captain, waiting for guidance and leadership.

    “Um, um,” Marushi looked between Midnight, who was standing near the secondary corridor, and Glen, who was looking impatient as he waited a few feet down the main shaft.

    “Oh for-” Loxare cut herself off, then sighed. “Glen, go find Pine and bring her back. Midnight, Pine might be hurt, so you go too. Cap’n, you, me, and weird guy are going to investigate this creature. Let’s hurry up. The longer we stand around, the more likely something will happen.”

    “Aww, I wanted to fight the alien,” Glen sulked, but did as he was told and went over by Midnight. Loxare could really get quite scary when she wanted to, he’d never seen her like this before.

    “‘I want’ never gets, now go and do what you’re told before I get angry with you,” Loxare commanded sharply.

    “Right, I’m doing it, I’m doing it,” Glen said, glancing at the first mate in surprise, not sure what had gotten into her. They’d been in more tense situations than this before, but she’d never reacted like that.

    “Weird guy?” The man repeated with a half-smile. “I’ll take it.”

    “Good plan, Loxare,” Marushi said quietly, drawing her katana and holding it in front of her. “Sorry, I don’t know why I couldn’t make a decision…” She chuckled a little nervously. “I’m, I’m not very good at this whole ‘captain’ thing, huh? It’s a lot easier when the only decision you have to make is what vacation planet you’re going to first...”

    Loxare didn’t answer Marushi, instead, she drew her own blasters and narrowed her eyes at the dim corridor in front of them. “Cover me,” she said. “We’re following the ventilation shafts til we get to the source.”

    Marushi nodded. “Alright,” she sighed.

    “Actually,” The weird guy said. “I’m not much of a fighter myself, I could accompany the rescue party.”

    “Yeah,” Marushi said, smiling a little at him. “That’s a good idea.”

    “Right,” the man nodded. “I’ll catch up to them.” Turning, he went after the others down the secondary corridor, while Marushi followed Loxare down the main shaft.

    Meanwhile walking down the corridor to find Pine, “Soo... how are you going to get injured this time? Get impaled by some creature as you do a heroic dive to push someone else out of the way? Poison? Slashed across the chest? Crushed by falling debris?” Midnight asked Glen with a completely serious face.

    “Well all those could happen to me but I’d still keep going, that creature don’t stand a chance against me.” Glen lifted his arm up flexing his muscles. “Now where has that damsel got to? You wouldn’t think with her size, she’d need saving.”

    “Idiot. She’s probably already been eaten by our mystery creature. I can’t hear anything, are we sure she came down here?” Midnight huffed.

    “Yes, I saw her come this way myself,” The cloaked man said, suddenly behind them.

    Midnight span and slapped him in the face. “Why are you here? You’re supposed to be with Miss Bossy Boots.”

    The man let out a slightly surprised laugh, reaching up and touching the side of his face where she’d hit him, and took a step back. “Miss Bossy Boots, as you call her, was alright with me joining the two of you,” he explained. “As I prefer not to fight.”

    “Pfft. A raider who doesn’t like to fight? What is this world coming to?” Midnight scoffed. “We’ve got just as much chance of getting into a fight as they have you know. You do realise he’s our best fighter. If we had no chance of a fight, he wouldn’t have been sent this way. Likewise I’m a doctor who can patch people up when they get injured and, surprise surprise, that normally happens in fights.” Midnight rolled her eyes and turned back to keep looking for any sign of Pine.

    “That may be true,” The man said with a slightly-dramatic sigh. “I’m only a raider between jobs. But I did see your friend go down this corridor. Hey, isn’t this the way to the airlocks?”

    “And how exactly do you kno-”

    “Hey, why are you being so cynical today, Mid? You’re normally way more trusting than this. He’s just trying to help. He’s fine.” Glen cut her off, lessening the tension a little.

    Midnight frowned. “And why are you so sure he is? On any other day, you’d be sharpening your scimitar and giving him significant and threatening looks.”

    Completely ignoring her rebuttal, Glen threw his usual idiotic grin onto his face and said, “I think I’m gonna run ahead, I want to make sure all the airlocks are safe so nobody goes flying outside.”

    “We really shouldn’t separate more than we already have,” the man noted.

    “There they are!” Glen said, ignoring him and rushing forward toward the entrance to the airlocks, pulling the door open. “Hey, she’s in here!”

    Pine had definitely looked better. The normally stalwart sailor was curled up in the corner of an airlock, with the gear for a space walk around her, shaking and muttering to herself. “Something’s on the ship, I can feel it, it’s already gotten everyone else-”

    Midnight smiled kindly, the normally well practiced gesture strained and tight. “Not everyone, Pine. Look. Me and Glen are safe and sound, and Loxare and the Capt’n are waiting for us further in.” Slowly approaching her crewmate, she held out a hand. “Let’s go. They’re perfectly safe, and you can see that for yourself.” Even with an edge to her voice - and where had that come from? - the familiar tone of the ship’s doctor was enough to calm Pine down, at least a little.

    Swallowing, Pine nodded and grabbed Midny’s hand. Midny did her best to pull her out of the airlock, but there was a height difference issue, and Glen had to intervene before the both of them went tumbling. With one crewmate on each side to steady her, they made the walk back to the stairs, weird guy trailing behind.

    When they reached the top, Pine swallowed again and straightened her spine. “Thanks guys. I think I can take it from here though.” She touched a hand to her head. “No clue what came over me though.”

    Glen obliged, letting go of her arm as Midnight did the same on her other side. “Well, this is your first ship. It can’t be easy seeing it like this.”

    “No, that’s not…” Pine paused, one foot dropping down onto the top step. “I think there’s something else. Something to do with… Oh! I’ve got it! I know what’s on the ship!”

    From the corner of his eye, Glen saw weird guy flinch, and reach for his weapon. But before he could call him out on it, or, more likely, reach for his own sword, something large, dark and fast swarmed up the stairs, grabbed Pine, and vanished almost as fast as it had arrived.

    “PINE!” Midnight cried, looking around frantically for a sign of their missing crewmate.

    Weird guy let out a slight gasp, moving into a defensive stance and looking around in apparent fear. “What was that?” He demanded. “Was that the alien!?”

    Glen let out an angry yell, almost snarling, really, and drew his weapon, turning in a circle and brandishing it wildly. “‘EY ALIEN!” He shouted, his Australian accent becoming even more pronounced as he yelled. “COME OUT AND FACE ME INSTEAD O’ SLITHERIN’ ABOUT IN THE PIPES! YOU COWARD!”

    “Glen, control yourself!” Midnight said. “We have to think about this and come up with a solid plan for how to find Pine!”

    “PLANS ARE FOR THE WEAK AND UNCERTAIN!” Glen shouted. “MY WEAPON IS THE ONLY PLAN I NEED! I’LL CUT THE ALIEN TO PIECES AND RESCUE PINE MYSELF!” He brandished the weapon a few more times. “ALIEN, DO YOU HEAR ME!? I’M COMIN’ AFTER YA AND THERE’S NOTHING THAT WILL STOP ME FROM DESTROYING YOU!” With that, he took off bolting down a random access corridor.

    “He’s being rather reckless,” Weird Guy noted. “Should we go after him?”

    Midnight didn’t answer immediately, a conflicted look on her face and her hand clutching the straps of her bag very tightly. “I don’t know, this is all wrong. Capt’n and Loxare would know what to do but Glen’s gonna get himself hurt and I need to be there to help him but I can’t fight. Everyone’s acting weird. I need a plan. I need to do something.”

    “Well…” The weird guy said thoughtfully. “How about this, then: I’ll go after Glen and try to talk him into regrouping with you and the others, and you go back to the Captain and First Mate, and come up with a plan to beat the Ideophile?”

    Midnight bit her lip, trying to think about what she should do… She just needed to come up with a plan, if there was a solid plan for her to work with, she would be just fine…

    Wait... “Ideophile?” And then everything went black.

    As Loxare and Marushi made their way down the corridor, Loxare had taken the lead with her gun held ready for action. The sounds had got noticeably louder and both girls were tense, the enemy was close. “Cap’n, please do your job. If you keep hesitating like this, you’re going to make the crew nervous. You normally drip confidence. I don’t know what’s going on in your head, but you need to get into gear before someone gets hurt.” Loxare paused, brow furrowed, then added, “I can’t do everything for you. You have to pull your own weight.”

    Marushi bit her lip, nodding. “Sorry, Loxie,” she said. “I’ll try harder, I don’t- I don’t know what got into me. I don’t want anyone to get hurt, and you’re right, I should be taking charge more, I just, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do…” She sighed and hunched her shoulders a touch. “You’re better at being the captain anyway, all I do is joke about stuff and kick doors open.”

    “Anybody would be a better captain than a ‘whiny, feel sorry for myself’ Marushi,” Loxare agreed. “But then again you’re not usually like this and actually get the job done.”

    “Well, I wouldn’t be able to if it weren’t for you managing the ship and crew,” Marushi said. “My job is easy, that’s why I can get it done. You should have stayed being Captain when I got back from that solo trip a few years back. You did so much better at it.”

    Loxie sighed, rolling her eyes a bit. “How oblivious can you be? Did you ever even notice how glad and relieved the crew were when you got back? I mean sure I kept the ship working efficiently but keeping the crew happy and motivated is easier said than done. I’m pretty sure a few of them wanted to murder me for nagging at them to get things done.” She shook her head before turning to look Marushi straight in the eye. “Listen, you somehow just make the place a good place to be, simply by being here. The crew would follow you blind into battle, or gladly into a supernova. I still don’t get how you’ve managed to get everyone’s trust that much. You may be wishy-washy and get lots of random whims but you always come through when it counts and protect the crew no matter what is against us. You’re a good captain. You just need to remember that more.”

    Marushi didn’t seem all that convinced, but nodded. She looked like she felt a bit better, and stood a little straighter. “Thanks, Loxie,” she said. “I’m glad to have you here to make me feel better. I’ll do better now, I promise.” She gave a little smile to herself. That was the most she’d heard from her normally stoic first mate in quite a while.

    “Don’t get used to it. Just be useful now. Actions speak louder than words and all that. Res non verba.”

    They heard the sound of footsteps coming behind them, and turned to see the weird guy walking quickly to catch up.

    “What are you doing here?” Loxare said, frowning at him. “Where are the others?”

    “Is Pine okay?” Marushi added.

    “Ah, there was a bit of an incident,” the weird guy said. “Pine has been taken, by the alien, and Glen and Midnight went after them. They sent me back here to tell you what happened.”

    “Pine’s been taken!?” Marushi gasped, her eyes widening. “W-what’ll we do!? We don’t know where the alien is, how are we going to help Pine!?”

    “What did you just promise me? Deep breaths or I’ll take charge again.” Loxare warned.

    “R-right,” Marushi nodded, taking a couple deep breaths. “Hmm… Let’s, let’s keep going down this corridor,” she said. “If the alien was in another part of the ship, he moves very quickly, and we’d be more likely to find him if we keep going, as opposed to doubling back every time there’s a new sighting. We could go around in circles if we do that.” She paused, glancing at Loxare. “Right?”

    Loxare let out a rather irritated sigh, but nodded. “Right,” she said. “Let’s go, then.”

    Once again taking the front, Loxare led them on down the corridor, the place seeming more and more damaged as they went on, with some walls appearing to be ripped through completely, showing the other rooms on the other side.

    “I’m glad the alien didn’t breach an outer wall,” Marushi noted as they passed one such hole. “Or we wouldn’t be able to breathe, and… And we’d know that Droid’s crew wouldn’t have had a happy ending…” There was a significant silence. The spaceman’s worst nightmare was floating in the void, no chance of a proper burial unless they got caught in some planet’s gravity, no way to tell loved ones what happened.

    There was a sudden clang from directly in front of them, and the sound of a hiss, coming from the dark corridor. Loxare and Marushi brandished their weapons, while the weird guy stepped back a touch, in a defensive position, but without a physical weapon himself.

    “It’s the alien,” Marushi whispered, as the hissing got louder.

    And then suddenly, the thing was there, rushing at them from the shadows, a huge, scaly, reptile-like creature, only it appeared to have tentacles of some sort, which it was using to scurry across the hall at great speed, taking up almost the entire corridor, walls and all. As it shot towards them, it opened it’s mouth, hissing and spitting angrily.

    And suddenly, though they’d faced all sorts of enemies before, some larger, more dangerous, and more grotesque in appearance, total fear overtook the group, and they all of them turned, running down the corridor away from the alien as fast as they could.

    “This way!” Loxare shouted, breaking ahead of Marushi and Weird Guy and veering off into a side room, the two of them following her.

    She turned, punching at some buttons on a control panel, and the door slid shut, the alien letting out a sort-of roar and punching at the door behind them.

    “It’s still gonna get through!” Marushi gasped breathlessly. “He- he can rip the walls, you saw the holes!”

    “And he has access to the vents,” Weird Guy said, looking a bit pale and shaken himself. “That door won’t stop him!”

    “But it at least got him off our tail,” Loxare said. “This is the Engineering room, it has manual locks, so that the room can be sealed in the event of a power failure. And the walls are a bit more reinforced, so it might be harder for him to get through. But let’s keep moving, because we don’t know how strong he is.” She crossed the room hurriedly, pushing open another door with some difficulty. “This way,” she said. “We should try to get back to the shuttle. We have more weapons there, and the others might head that way to in search of us.”

    Marushi nodded. “That’s a good plan,” She said, as she and Weird Guy followed Loxare into another corridor.

    “I wish Pine were here,” Marushi sighed. “She would be able to tell us the fastest way to get back to the shuttle.”

    “I’m sure your friend is fine,” Weird Guy said. “We’ll find her.”

    “I think this door leads to their treasure room,” Loxare said, stopping in front of a door they were about to pass. “If I’m remembering correctly, from all the old raids. This is probably the safest room in the ship. If the crew are still here, hiding out, they’d probably head for this room.”

    “Let’s go in,” Marushi said. “See if anyone’s still here, trapped or something.”

    Loxare nodded, starting to try to pry the door open.

    “It seems to be stuck,” she said.

    Clang

    “It’s coming!” Marushi gasped. “Hurry, hurry!”

    “Here,” Weird guy sighed, stepping forward and helping Loxare pull the door open, and the three of them rushed inside.

    The room was dark, but there was a faint greenish-bluish glow illuminating the room, and Marushi and Loxare both froze at the sight that met their eyes. There, attached to the walls of the treasure room, were the crew of the Flash, appearing to be unconscious, and covered in slimey-looking string, visible through slightly translucent chrysalis type pods.

    “W-what is this!?” Marushi breathed in shock, looking around. “They’re- they’re dead!? No, I think they’re breathing…” She stepped closer to one of the pods, peering inside. “It’s Teddy!” She gasped. “But- But I think he’s alive…”

    “Captain,” Loxare said sharply, hurrying over to a pod that looked freshly spun. “It’s Pine!”

    “Pine!?” Marushi said, hurrying to the new pod herself. “Ohhhh, we have to get her out! But, we don’t know what happened, we can’t risk hurting her!”

    Suddenly, Glen barreled into the room, his scimitar brandished, and paused, blinking in confusion at the sight of Marushi, Loxare, and Weird Guy, before he saw the pods and his eyes widened in horror. “EYYY!” He yelled angrily. “WHAT IS THIS!? WHERE BE THAT ALIEN!? I’LL RIP HIM LIMB FROM LIMB!”

    “Shh, shh, it’s looking for us,” Marushi gasped. “If it finds us in here, we’re dead!”

    But then Glen saw Pine, and let out an even louder yell of rage, stepping forward and raising his scimitar as if to slice through the pod.

    “NO!” Loxare barked, drawing her knife and stepping forward, using it to block Glen’s strike and wrestle his arm down. “You don’t know what that could do! Stand down, pirate!”

    “BUT THAT THING TOOK PINE!” Glen shouted. “IT’S KILLING HER, I HAVE TO KILL IT FIRST!”

    “C-calm down, Glen, and for heaven’s sake, quiet your voice!” Marushi said in a panic. “It’ll hear you! Shut up!”

    “I think I know what these are,” Weird Guy said hurriedly, glancing at the door. “And there’s nothing we can do for them, at least, not with the alien closing in. Hurry, let’s get back to the shuttle, I’ll explain everything.”

    “No, explain now,” Loxare commanded. “If there’s any chance of rescue, I won’t leave them here.”

    “Aye, nor I,” Marushi said, for once not hesitating.

    “...Oh, alright,” Weird Guy sighed. “It would take more time to argue with you than we have. They’re… well, they’re digestion pods,” he said. “The alien covered them in that sticky stuff to break them down, so he can eat them, but they’re not too far gone yet, we can save them, but we need to leave now, or it will be too late, and we’ll all end up inside one.”

    The captain and Loxare exchanged a glance, not sure if they could trust the word of a stranger, but then there was a closer clang from down the hall, and they nodded.

    “Alright,” Loxare said. “We’ll go back to the-”

    “I wouldn’t do that if I were you” A soft, weary voice came from the door, “In fact I’d recommend you get as far away from that repulsive man as you can.” A dishevelled Midnight stood in the door, supporting herself on the doorframe with hair all messed up and a visible red mark covered in dried blood on her forehead.

    Marushi, Loxare, and Glen all let out a gasp, before Loxare drew her blaster and pointed it at Weird Guy, stepping back as the man let out a sigh, his countenance suddenly shifting as he shot a dark glare towards Midnight.

    “Midny, what happened!?” Marushi asked.

    “DID THE ALIEN DO THAT!?” Glen shouted. “I’LL KILL IT AND THEN AGAIN AND AGAIN UNTIL IT’S DEAD A HUNDRED TIMES OVER!”

    “You,” Loxare snapped to Weird Guy. “What are you doing here!? What did you do to Midnight!? No, wait, don’t speak, don’t even breathe unless you want a hole where your brain used to be. Midnight, what did he do to you!?”

    “It wasn’t the alien,” Midnight told Glen before turning back to Loxare and Marushi. “He’s not who he claims, he knew things he shouldn’t be able to. He slipped up but knocked me out before I could react.” Looking around the room, she frowned, “Wait what’s with the stasis pods? Is that the BAPU crew? Why are they in stasis pods?”

    “They’ve been- Wait, what?” Marushi asked. “Stasis pods? What do you mean?”

    The small doctor walked slowly over to one of the pods, still feeling a bit dizzy from her injuries. “These look like medical stasis pods. Um... it’s like a medically induced coma, usually used to help with healing or if someone is badly injured to keep them alive until you can get to a medical facility. Though I can’t see any obvious injuries on the crew. From a glance, the crew seem fine, they’d just need waking up.”

    “Stasis pods?” Marushi repeated in confusion. “Why would the alien put them in stasis pods?” She shook her head. “No matter, right now,” She said hurriedly, pointing to the pod with Pine in it. “Pine’s here, do you know how to wake them up!?”

    “Pine’s in one of these? Um, yeah, I think so but well I’m not too familiar with these ones in particular and I don’t want to mess it up so I’d need a little bit of time.” Midnight walked over to the pod that had been pointed to and started examining it.

    “Glen, guard the door,” Loxare said, still not taking her eyes off Weird Guy, glaring at him. “Midnight, see what you can figure out. Meanwhile, you have a lot to answer for. Start talking!”

    “You are all rather thick, aren’t you?” Weird Guy said, the corners of his mouth twitching into a smile. “So busy fighting amongst yourselves to pay any attention to me. You never even asked me what my name was. But now, I suppose the gig is up, thanks to that smart little doctor of yours figuring out what’s going on.”

    “What is going on?” Glen asked from the door. “I don’t get it.”

    “I’m not a raider!” The man said, letting out a chuckle. “Well, I mean, I am, right now, between jobs, but this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing! And then I come here, and there’s such a fascinating alien prowling about, and you lot bumbling around like you lost your heads, and a room full of treasure stolen from all over the galaxy, just asking to be stolen!”

    “You- you did all this for a treasure raid!?” Marushi asked in surprise.

    “It should have been easy,” Weird Guy said. “All I had to do was send you all wandering around the ship for the alien to pick off, and cart off the treasure while you kept each other busy. And hey if you beat the alien I’d just kill you all and sell the alien corpse for a massive price. But, the telepathy caused a hitch in the plan.”

    “What do you mean, telepathy?” Loxare snarled. “Answer me!”

    “I will, I will,” the man laughed. “And it is rather obvious, I’d say. This alien is a rare creature, an Ideophile, known for its amazing telepathic abilities. When the alien isn’t feeling threatened, he can communicate with humanoid life forms by sending telepathic messages into their minds, but when it’s on the defense, the alien can’t help but send out huge bursts of telepathic energy, which magnifies a person’s... traits? Personality? I’m not sure what to call it exactly,” The man let out a laugh. “But a person’s most defining trait is magnified, until it eclipses all other emotions. Or at least, the most defining trait at that moment.”

    “Your most defining trait?” Marushi repeated. “What does that mean!?”

    “It means,” The Weird Guy said with a sigh. “That the first mate, who, I would say, probably takes charge when needed, suddenly turned into a control freak, while Pine was overcome with massive, uncontrollable fear and tried to go for a space walk. Captain, you became a nervous wreck, unable to face or make decisions, and Glen seemed to lose his head and turn into little more than a reckless idiot.”

    “And how exactly did it affect you then? If you’re so clever and know everything.” Midnight asked with clear disdain for him, however her eyes never once left the pod she was working on.

    “Now, that’s an interesting question,” The man said with a smirk. “It’s rather difficult for people to see their own most defining quality. What would you say is yours, dear doctor?”

    “You’re the one under scrutiny, not me. Can’t you see I’m busy over here?” Midnight responded still not turning away from Pine’s stasis pod, clearly doing something to the pod. “Umm I dunno really. Don’t tell me my most defining trait is being cynical. As if. I really don’t know, gimme a break I’ve already had a head injury today which you are most definitely not forgiven for.”

    “Well, then, I won’t bother with an apology,” The man sighed. “Though you did make it rather irritating, I dislike violence.” He let out a long-suffering sigh, as if it were Midnight’s fault he’d hit her.

    “Oh boo hoo, cry me a river. Don’t make out like you’re the victim; that’s more irritating.” The small girl replied to him, with clear dislike in her voice. While she spoke, she did not turn around to glare like she would have usually as she got out something from her huge bag and injected a clear liquid into the side of the pod. With this the walls of the pod became much looser and Midnight was able to peel back the walls to reveal Pine inside. “Got it!” She cried with delight at her success. “Welcome back to the land of the living, Pine. You may feel a bit dizzy and headachey but those should go pretty fast.”

    “Wha…?” Pine muttered, stepping out of the pod and shaking her head a little, rubbing her eyes and blinking down at the slimy string she was covered with in confusion. “What happened?”

    “The alien took you,” Marushi explained, biting her lip and looking guilty.

    “AND I’LL KILL IT FOR THAT!” Glen shouted.

    Pine’s eyes widened as she took in Midnight’s appearance, the doctor being the first thing she really was able to see clearly. “Midnight!?” She asked. “What happened to you!?”

    “Nothing you need to worry about, the weird raider guy turned out to, well...not be the nicest.” She tentatively put her hand up to her head injury and winced as she touched it. She’d not really had time to treat it properly, getting to warn the others had taken priority so she ideally needed to do that as soon as she could. It was actually going to be harder to treat herself than anyone else on the crew would have been.

    “And he’ll pay for it, too,” Loxare snarled. “But first, we need to try and save as many of the BAPU as we can, before-”

    There was the sound of a loud roar as the alien suddenly appeared in the doorway, rushing into the room as Glen let out a yell, swinging at it with his scimitar. Marushi also ran forward, attacking with her katana, while Loxare turned her blaster to it out of habit, letting her guard down for just an instant, long enough for the Weird Guy to duck out from behind her and run past the distracted alien towards the door.

    “It’s been nice knowing you all,” he said with a smirk. “But I think I’ll head to your handy shuttle and wait outside for awhile. I’ll be back to slay the victor and claim my prize, but, uh, have fun.”

    “WAIT!” Loxare shouted, shooting her blaster at him, but he ducked out of the way and disappeared running down the corridor outside, leaving them with the alien.

    “DEFEND THE BAPU!” Marushi ordered, finally seeming to get over her hesitation as she helped Glen fight back the alien.

    “W-wait!” Pine said hurriedly, staggering forward (still apparently a bit weak from her ordeal) and holding Marushi’s arm back. “It’s okay, it’s not dangerous!”

    “Not dangerous!?” Marushi repeated. “It dragged you off and- and put you in some kind of stasis pod!”

    “Yeah, I know, but, but he was just defending himself,” Pine said. “That weird guy must have been attacking it, and when it saw us with him, he probably thought we were together. It must have happened with the BAPU crew too, but I know what this alien is, I’ve heard of them before! If we stop fighting, it will stop attacking us!”

    Marushi looked between Pine and the alien hesitantly, and then let out a sigh, stepping back and sheathing her katana, the gleaming red plasma no longer visible and the room going back to the dimly lit greenish light from the pods. “Alright,” She said. “I trust you. Glen, stand down!”

    “AGGGGH!” Glen yelled, gritting his teeth as he stood back. “Am I gonna get to fight something or not!?”

    “Back away from the creature,” Loxare said, though she holstered her own blasters. “Give it a chance to see we’re not fighting anymore. ”

    Everyone backed away slowly, holding their hands up in surrender and watching in apprehension as the creature let out a few warning hisses, looking around the room with narrowed eyes, seeming to size them up.

    After a few moments of tense silence, the alien seemed to relax a touch, lowering to the ground as a few spikes they hadn’t seen before settled against it’s back, and everyone let out a breath of relief, their moods seeming to instantly dissipate.

    “...Oh woah,” Glen breathed out, putting a hand to his head. “That’s so weird… I’ve only ever felt that reckless when I’ve been drunk… Wait, this day has been so weird, am I drunk?” He turned to Midnight quizzically.

    Midny smiled at him gently and shook her head. She was currently sat on the floor by a wall rummaging through her oversized bag, she’d moved as soon as the tension had been released. “The telepathy thing appears to have gone. Pine’s plan worked.”

    “Yeah,” Marushi said, looking a bit weirded out. “I, uh, feel less… indecisive."

    “Except about your word choice, I heard that pause!” Glen said teasingly.

    Marushi let out a slight laugh. “Yeah, yeah,” She said. “But it’s gone now. I be back to me old self now, don’t worry.”

    An unknown planet. The alien is there along with another one just like it. Circling each other, nuzzling, getting close to each other. They seem almost affectionate. Two terrifying creatures acting calmly and harmlessly?

    Back on the BAPU ship. A stunned silence was abruptly broken. “WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?” Glen was the first to speak up, very loud as usual. “I just saw that creature but there was another one just like it!”

    “Oh my gosh,” Marushi said, her eyes widening as she looked at the creature. “There were two of them!?”

    “I-I think we all saw that,” Loxare theorized. “A vision, a shared vision somehow?”

    The aliens can be seen again but something’s not right. They look agitated. A net shoots out of nowhere and encaptures one of the creatures. It thrashes about and is trying to escape but it can’t. The other one attempts to help but the net is too strong. Human shouting can be heard. Gunshots. They are getting closer. The creatures fight even more to try and escape. People appear, there are lots of people and all of them have powerful weapons. The free alien tries to fight, tries to guard the other one but is no match for the guns. It screams in pains as it is hit. Still it wants to stay, wants to protect, but the people are drawing closer, trying to capture it too. At the last possible moment before it is also captured, it darts past all the people into the undergrowth. The hunters don’t bother to chase after, they are satisfied with their catch. The alien can now only watch helplessly as its partner was taken away.

    “The creature’s telepathic, right?” Glen said, biting his lip and trying to look like he wasn’t affected- and failing- as he glanced at the alien. “Maybe it’s trying to show us what happened to it.”

    Hand covering her mouth, Marushi let out a distraught gasp of breath. “Th-that’s what happened to it? That’s awful! Why are people so mean?”

    “But be honest, what were your first thoughts when we came across him? We just assumed they were a monster, we assumed the worst, a monster that needed to be defeated. We never gave them a chance. It may be bad but it’s true, we just judged it on it’s appearance.” Midnight spoke softly, still sat on the floor looking down at the ground, almost too ashamed to look up.

    The remaining alien can be seen travelling the surface of the planet, continuously gazing up at the stars where it’s partner had been taken away. The injuries on it slowly heal and scar. It still continues to move, searching, gazing to the stars. Time passes. The BAPU ship lands on the planet. The crew can be seen laughing and joking. The alien moves towards them, meaning no harm. Hides when close, scared that what happened before might happen again. When the BAPU crew were away, it sneaks onto the ship, it’s passage to the stars.

    Time shifts; they’re in space and there the alien notices a small creature also on the ship trying to harm the crew. The alien climbs down to try and protect the crew. It swiftly takes care of the smaller creature but in doing so is seen by the crew. The crew panic at the sight of the alien. They try to fight the creature, giving into their dominant traits, as the alien, now in danger, can’t help but exude the telepathic defense mechanism. The crew get increasingly paranoid, and as they continue trying to hunt the creature, they begin to recklessly endanger themselves and the safety of the ship. Finally, the alien begins to capture them and place them in stasis, to protect them from themselves, and the ship begins to fall into more disrepair as the alien guards them, unable to do more than frighten away the occasional raiding party, until two ships arrive around the same time, one of them containing the crew of the INVSP…


    “So, so that’s why they’re in the pods,” Marushi said, looking around at the BAPU members. “Midnight, I- I think you can wake them up, now.”

    “What are we gonna do about that lowlife that stole the shuttle?” Glen growled, taking his scimitar back out and shaking it in the air once. “I could skin ‘im alive for ye, Cap’n, for what he did to Midny and for betraying us and all that.”

    “No,” Marushi said. “Let’s just wait for him to come back, he said he would. With us and the alien, and… Oh, if we wake up the BAPU, we’ll have twice the firepower! We can take him down easy, and throw him in the brig.”

    “We can bring him to the Staff Quadrant,” Loxare nodded. “Turn him in. They’ll be able to deal with him.”

    “I hope they banish him from the galaxy,” Pine said. “Are you sure you’re okay, Midny?”

    Midnight smiled weakly at Pine, “Yeah, well I still haven’t had a chance to properly treat it yet, but the BAPU crew take priority. I’ve done it once now so I think I should be able to free them faster now.” Getting up slowly off the floor, she started to move towards the nearest pod. She was aware that ignoring her own dizziness and throbbing head was bad but she really didn’t want to make the crew worry about her.

    “No,” Loxare said, holding a hand out for the syringe Midnight had used to free Pine earlier. “You sit down. Tell me how to do it, you take care of yourself.”

    The doctor paused, reluctant to admit to that Loxare was right and that’s she’d just done something that she told them never to do by hiding her injuries. However, reason won out and she handed a syringe and small bottle to Loxare. “Okay, your hand is probably steadier than mine currently. But you’re gonna have to listen carefully because we don’t want to mess up and end up hurting them. First, you’re going to need to locate the Apertus Vein, you can find this by...” As Midnight explained, she slowly lowered herself back down to the floor, not being the most stable as she did so.

    “So…” Glen said as Loxare moved over to one of the pods, listening to Midnight’s directions as she started to try to free him. “We’re kind of ignoring the alien in the room.”

    “Yeah, what are we going to do about it?” Pine asked. “I’ve heard the story before, I think, but I don’t know where those hunters we saw in the vision are…”

    “Well…” Marushi said, looking at the alien thoughtfully. “We can take it to the Staff Quadrant with us. They might have more information about the other alien or the hunters or something.”

    Pine nodded thoughtfully. “Could work. If it’s rare though, someone might try grabbing it if we bring it to such a public place.”

    “If we could get a hold of some black market contacts, we could try and track down its mate,” Glen stated. “If they’re prized ‘cause of their telepathy, then it’ll be alive somewhere. Then we could go in, fight a whole whack of baddies and get it back.” He smiled a bit at the thought.

    “That’d be great,” Pine shot, “if we had any black market contacts.”

    “I know a few people.” Marushi said, nonchalantly. There was a sudden silence as everyone, even Midnight and Loxare, stopped what they were doing to stare at their fairly moral captain. Except for raids on the BAPU ship and certain rich pricks, she didn’t really go out for stealing or smuggling or anything that would require contacts on the black market. She just shrugged. “I met a few people on the year I was gone.”

    The rest of the crew looked at each other, came to a mutual understanding that this was about the only explanation they would get, and went back to doing whatever they were doing.

    Loxare was properly trained and ready to start working on the pods, so Midnight scooted herself over to join the planning group. “So we have a plan then. Keep the alien safe and hidden, go chat up Capt’n’s friends, find its mate."

    “I wouldn’t call them friends,” Marushi interjected, “but that about sums it up.”

    “Well, as long as I get to fight something, I’m good,” Glen said, leaning against the wall and relaxing with a smirk. “This was fun and all, but I’d like a bit more action during our next adventure.”

    “Are we sure the alien isn’t still making him reckless?” Pine asked teasingly. “Or is he just drunk again?”

    “Naw, Glen’s just always like this,” Captain Marushi said, teasing as well. “At least we don’t have months of damage control to deal with this time.”

    “Are you guys ever going to let me live That Sunday down?” Glen pouted.

    “No,” everyone said at once.

    “I’ve got one,” Loxare said, the casual conversation cut short as everyone stood, waiting as the First Mate began peeling back the chrysalis surrounding Captain Droid, and the woman began stirring inside.

    “Droid,” Marushi said softly, stepping forward as she opened her eyes and rubbed at her forehead. “Take it easy, you’ve, uh, been out of it for awhile.”

    Droid looked around, seeming confused for a moment, and then her eyes landed on the alien and she let out a slight gasp, reaching for her weapon and staggering forward. “It’sss dangerouss,” She slurred.

    “Woah, woah, take it easy, Captain,” Glen said, stopping her gently. “He’s a friendly, we’re alright.”

    Droid blinked a few more times, and then let out a deep breath, rubbing at her head again. “Wait,” she said. “Where... ? What happened? How long have we been out? Where’s the crew, are they alright?!”

    “They’re fine,” Midnight said, indicating the other pods. “Loxare’s working on getting Teddy out, now. We… we don’t know how long you’ve been in stasis, sit down, we’ve got everything handled. You’re safe.”

    “...What are you all doing here?” Droid asked as she sat down. “And Midnight, what happened to you?”

    “I wonder by the end of the day how many time I’ll have to explain this,” Midnight mused, with a bit of irritation. “Long story, short is that if you see a weird guy with light brown hair and a black cloak on this ship, he’s not the nicest person ever.” As she spoke, she carefully worked to disinfect her injury with a mirror set out in front of her, wincing in pain each time she touched it.

    “Here’s Teddy,” Loxare said, starting to pull the chrysalis from Te Deum.

    As Loxare continued to free the members of the BAPU, the crew of the INVSP explained matters to them - over and over again - and Glen stood by the alien protectively, as many of them tried to attack it when first awakened. The crew of the BAPU seemed to be in the same situation as the INVSP; there were only five of them total, counting Captain Droid. Finally, all of them were freed and the situation was explained one last time, and they all found themselves feeling very tired after the emotions and excitement of the day.

    “We can’t rest yet, though,” Captain Marushi said, standing. “First we have to be ready for Weird Guy when he comes back.”

    “Aye,” Glen said. “And I’ll try to hold back, Captain, since you want us to turn him in to the authorities, but if I’m a bit rough while tossing him in the brig, it’s not my fault!”

    “Hmm, then maybe Loxie and I should handle it,” Marushi said teasingly. “If you can’t control yourself.”

    Glen let out a long-suffering sigh. “I didn’t even get to punch anything,” He huffed.

    “Before you go,” Captain Droid spoke up. “We owe you a lot. Feel free to take any…” She hesitated, glancing around at the treasure scattered about the storeroom. “Feel free to take any treasure, from this pile here,” she amended, indicating a portion of the room. “As a reward.”

    “No, no reward, no raid, not this time,” Marushi said decisively. “Let’s just say you owe us one. If you ever find us in stasis, with strangers roaming about the ship as it drifts aimlessly through the galaxy, you help us out and we’ll call it even.”

    “Strangers roaming about as we drift aimlessly through space,” Llave said quietly, frowning down at the floor. “Thanks for that imagery. I, for one, think I’m about done with adventure for awhile.”

    “I agree,” Teddy nodded. “This… this cured me for a bit, I think.”

    “Well…” Droid sighed. “We’d already started talking about disbanding, with so few of us left. This… This makes the decision clear.”

    The BAPU crew all nodded solemnly, and Marushi let out a sigh.

    “Well,” she said, offering a smile to them all. “We can tow your ship to the nearest spaceport, and, if any of you ever want to sail the high skies again, you’re all welcome to join the INVSP. Just get a message to us, and we’ll come find you.”

    “Thank you, Cap’n,” Droid said. “It’s been a fun ride.”

    “Aye,” Marushi said. “Rivals to the bitter end, right Captain?”

    “Well at least this end wasn’t too bitter,” Pine noted. “Though, ugh, I just want to get all this sticky stuff off my clothes and go to bed.”

    “Agreed,” The BAPU all nodded, when there was the sound of the shuttle’s engines approaching and then going silent, along with a few clanks or creaks of metal, revealing that the Raider had returned to the ship.

    “Captain Droid,” Marushi said, a glint in her eye. “How would you and your crew like to join us in one last show of just how intimidating intergalactic space pirates and buccaneering undead paladins can be?”

    “Captain Marushi, it would be an honor,” Droid said, standing and brushing some dust off the black pirate coat she wore and brandishing her weapon, the BAPU crew behind her doing the same.

    “Good,” Marushi said. “Look alive, mateys!” She smiled darkly, as they all began to make their way to the deck, Loxare hoisting up Midnight’s large rucksack on her way out. “We have an intruder aboard.”

    The Raider let out a slight sigh of satisfaction as he landed the shuttle, wondering who would be left when he returned. He’d circled the ship for a while, looking around the small shuttle and taking inventory in his head of what all was here. He very much hoped the alien would win- it was, after all, very valuable, even if it was injured in the fight. Hopefully the space pirates would manage to subdue it enough so that it couldn’t fight him, before being taken out themselves. But, even if the fight were to go in their favor, he was certain he could finish them off if he put his mind to it.

    He would feel better if he had a weapon… Ah! He spotted a small blaster tossed haphazardly on top of… Was that a pizza box? These pirates were rather fascinating. If only they’d met under better circumstances… He shook his head. No room for thoughts like that, not in his line of work.

    And his line of work was going very well, with two ships for the raiding and a possible valuable specimen he could sell. Yes, he was very satisfied with the way this job had gone.

    Opening the shuttle doors, he stepped onto the deck and let out a sigh, looking around at the room, which appeared empty. Everyone was probably in the treasure room…

    But once he reached the middle of the room, he suddenly sensed movement from the corner of his eye, and he turned to see the pirates stepping forward, glaring at him as they all drew their weapons. He heard movement from behind him as well, and turned to see that the other crew had apparently been awakened from their stasis, also glaring at him, their own weapons in hand.

    And finally, the alien crawled into view and the spikes on it’s back raised threateningly.

    The Raider bit his lip, as the plans he’d just been making were dashed, and he realized… There was no getting out, not this time. Well, if there was no running from this one, luckily he’d not run out of tricks yet. He’d at least take this damn alien down with him.

    “If I can’t have this profit, no one can!” He said, raising the blaster he’d grabbed from the shuttle, and pointing it straight ahead at the alien as he pulled the trigger.

    Bang

    * * *​

    Time seemed to stop. As the light from the flash of the gun faded, everyone’s eyes focused to see what had happened. The creature stood upright, unharmed but in front of the alien, a tall blue body fell to the floor.

    “Glen?!” Pine gasped. “No, no, no.”

    “GLENNNNN” Loxare shouted.

    The weird guy smirked as panic started to ensue. “Hahaha, serves him right f…” His words grew faint as his eyes rolled back and his legs collapsed from under him. As he hit the ground, Midnight was revealed behind him, empty syringe in hand.

    “Midnight!?” Marushi said, her eyes wide as she rushed over to Glen and knelt down. “Oh gosh, he shot Glen…”

    “Now we’re even.” Midnight muttered as she rushed forward. “Let me through! I need to see that idiot. Oh man, please don’t be dead.” She pretty much fell down in trying to get to Glen faster. Everyone heeded her words and made room for her by Glen though they stayed as close as they could.

    Midnight frantically examined Glen, checking all his vital signs then his injuries. After about 30 seconds, where the crew had stayed extremely quiet to let her work, Midnight’s small body began to shake.

    “Oh no…” Marushi said, going pale and shaking her head.

    “Glen…” Loxie whispered, looking grieved herself, while the BAPU stood in shocked silence, looking upset as well. “H-how bad is it? Is he…?”

    The shaking of the doctor’s body got more violent and she got louder before she finally looked up and properly burst out laughing in front of everyone. “Hey, you melodramatic idiot! You can get up now. You’ve made everyone cry. I know you’re awake.”

    “W-WHAT!?” Marushi gasped, hurriedly wiping at her eyes which were, in fact, starting to swim.

    “Owww,” Glen moaned, stirring from his spot on the floor and pouting up at Midnight. “But Miiiiiiidnyyyyy, I was shot…"

    “YOU WERE FAKING IT, YOU JERK!?” Pine yelled. “GET UP, YOU MADE ME THINK YOU WERE DEAD!

    “Well, I am still hurt, you know,” Glen said, sitting up with a slight groan. And it was worth it to see their faces. But, in a moment of self-preservation, he didn’t say that out loud.

    “Shirt off. Lemme see properly.” The small doctor ordered. Glen obliged and she leaned in, a penlight shining on the injury. “That’ll probably heal faster than my head. You’re gonna be fine but this may sting a bit.” She grabbed a small bottle from her bag and sprayed the area.

    “W-who would’ve thought you’re actually a big softy?” Marushi teased, stepping forward, though she still seemed a bit shaken from the scare. “You dove in front of that gun so fast I barely even saw you move.”

    “Well…” Glen defended. “He was gonna kill it. Don’t I get brownie points for self sacrifice?” He winced as something Midnight was currently applying to his wound stung.

    “Glen, when we finally get everything settled, I’ll make you actual brownies,” Marushi promised. “BUT DON’T YOU DARE EVER DO THAT AGAIN.”

    “And make extra for Midnight,” Loxare added. “She definitely deserves a reward as well.” She shot a fond smile at Midnight, then turned back to look at Glen. It was just for a second, but he could swear that she looked almost murderous before settling back into her usual stern expression. Glen gulped. Maybe his little joke hadn’t been worth it.

    “Oh, of course,” Marushi nodded, turning to Midnight in concern. “And I do hope your head heals quickly. If you need anything, just let me know and I’ll help out as much as I can.”

    “And us,” Captain Droid spoke up, stepping forward. “You all saved our lives. Whatever we can do to help, just name it.”

    “Actually, it might be a good idea to have someone else at the helm,” Loxare said, looking at Midnight apologetically. “At least until you’re recovered.”

    Midnight looked over from treating Glen like she wanted to argue. She was not enjoying the prospect of not being able to do her usual jobs and having to be looked after. However her better judgement won out and she didn’t argue, reluctantly accepting it. She placed a large bandage over Glen’s injury, then looked up at him, to find even with her crouched and him sat down normally, he was still a bit taller than her. Midnight didn’t really mind being small, in fact she was a bit proud of it, but when standing so close to Glen, she sometimes did feel a bit like a child. “Okay, that’s everything I can do now. You can put your shirt back on but you have to come to the med bay when we get back to our ship.”

    “Well, we’ll just have to go together,” Glen said with a lopsided grin as he got up off the ground, suddenly bending down and swooping her up into his arms. He tossed her over one shoulder easily as he walked to the shuttle.

    “Hey, hey! Put me down! What are you doing?” Midnight yelled and pounded his back with her fists. “A concussion doesn’t mean I can’t walk. I’m fine, so put me down! Even if it was bad, this is no way to carry someone injured.”

    “Oh, how’s this?” Glen teased, shifting so he was now carrying her bridal-style, and then he threw his head back and laughed.

    “No, no, no! I take it back, this is worse. I’m not some damsel in distress, just put me down!!”

    Everyone else was laughing too at this, while Glen seemed to revel in the attention, throwing a grin over his shoulder as he ignored the small doctor’s protests and continued walking.

    “G-Glen, that’s en-enough,” Marushi managed to gasp between laughs. “Let her down, come on.”

    “But she looks dizzy,” Glen said flippantly, continuing to walk, while Midnight huffed, blushing furiously but ceasing her struggle to break free.

    “Oh, fine,” Marushi sighed, still laughing a bit, and then she turned to Loxie. “Oh man, now that they’ve all three of them had near-death experiences, I won’t be able to tell any of them ‘no’ ever.”

    “I’ll remind you to be strict when you need to be,” Loxare promised with a small smile. “Though technically, I wouldn’t say they really had near-death experiences today. We just thought they all did.”

    “Oh, I’ve missed this,” Droid laughed, letting out a contented sigh and then glancing down at the still unconscious Weird Guy. “Cap’n, I can have Teddy and Kelly take him into your brig,” she offered. “And Llave or Daxa can pilot the ship until Midnight gets better.”

    Marushi nodded, casting Weird Guy a look of dislike. “That’s a good idea, thank you, Captain,” she said.

    “I think I should do the piloting,” Loxare spoke up. “Nothing against Llave or Daxa, but Midnight stresses out when anyone other than me takes the helm, and we don’t want her under any unnecessary stress until she recovers.”

    “Okay,” Droid said, glancing at the shuttle as Midnight and Glen could be heard arguing inside, and then lowered her voice. “So, the three of you can take it in shifts,” she said. “And just not tell her when it isn’t you.”

    “That feels sneaky and underhanded,” Marushi noted. “But… I guess, as long as we get to our destination, it’s fine.”

    Droid nodded, turning and beginning to give directions to the remaining Bapu crew, as they all of them headed into the now rather overcrowded shuttle, Marushi looked around at the lot of them with a smile.

    They’d been doing this for five years now, she realized. Five years of rushing around the galaxy, going on adventures, having rival battles, just doing whatever they felt like without having to answer to anyone or keep a schedule (or at least, any more of a schedule than Loxare’s crew-shift schedule) and it had been great.

    It might have started out as merely a fun way to pass the time, deciding to be space pirates. But it really had turned into a great family.


    * * * * *​

    When they had landed safely on their ship and had tended to the wounded, Marushi went up to the mizzen deck and stood on the center line of the ship, just behind the wheel. She liked standing here, mostly because it seemed like a good place for the captain of the ship to stand. Her first mate, the first one to sign up when she posted the Crew Wanted ad, fell in beside her. “Where to, Cap’n?”

    Marushi smiled as she looked upon her ship. Midnight had insisted on staying on deck and was sitting with her legs between the rails and dangling over the side of the ship. Pine was sitting next to her, keeping her company. Glen, despite the doctor’s orders and all good sense, was climbing the rigging to the crow’s nest, his favourite place. Daxa, Llave, Droid, Kelly and Teddy were working to prepare the Flash for towing, so that the INVSP could bring it to a space station and the small zombie crew could retire peacefully.

    The ship was in fine condition. Her crew was alive and, while not well, well on their way to being so. And there was an infinite universe to explore. “Everywhere, First Mate Loxare. Let’s go everywhere.”
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2017
  2. Lauriam I hope I didn't keep you waiting...

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2009
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    Female
    Location:
    Daybreak Town
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    So! There was actually supposed to be a secret ending, completely unknown by the crew, but I was busy and never wrote it, and still don't have time to write it, so instead, I'm presenting the secret ending to the crew piece by piece in the thread, as a sort of Roleplay venture. It contains a shock twist, so if you're interested, please feel free to go to the thread and follow the story as it's being written out. Please, if you have comments, post them here instead of in the INVSP thread, but yeah, it should be very interesting. XD

    The fun all starts here, so come watch as the Secret Ending is played out, post by post. XD