Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1 - Cover

Volume III of Legacy: Black Star, Part 1

Copyright© 2023 by Uruks

Chapter 12: Captain James

While the research team theorizes possible ways of safely extracting tissue samples from the main specimen, I have looked into other avenues of the project. Demihuman donors. For this phase, live subjects will be required. It will be risky if the media gets ahold of this info, but I need live specimens from young, healthy donors. They may not survive, but at least they will become part of something greater that will save countless lives. To proceed, I’ll use adoption agencies. There are always plenty of orphan Demihumans to be found in these turbulent times.

“So tell me about this Captain James Morgan. Is he trustworthy?”

Mozar gave a derisive sniff without looking away from the controls of the ship. “Asking about the trustworthiness of a pirate ... you might as well ask a journalist if they’re politically neutral.”

As he leaned over the console next to the Werewolf and stared out over the viewscreen in front of them, Leon could only shrug and say, “Fair point.”

“Though personally, I would prefer a pirate over a journalist,” commented Kormal as he stood on the opposite side of the Werewolf.

“Why do you think this one suffers their company over others? They might try to kill you, but at least it feels as if they’re more honest about how they go about killing you.” The Werewolf added almost hesitantly. “And they do make for ... entertaining drinking companions on occasion. But this one still prefers the hunt over drinking.”

“But I still need some details,” said Leon. “Given our change of plans, do you think he’ll be able to get us into Nirvana’s Inner City without being detected? We’ll only be able to find the Pirate King there.”

Mozar growled impatiently. Leon tended to think that conversations in general simply annoyed the Werewolf. “Morgan is young but ambitious for his age. And he’s also very popular with the other Captains, so I imagine he would. However, convincing him is another matter. Originally, he agreed to help us keep tabs on the Pirate King’s dealings in the outer quadrants of Nirvana. But tracking down the Pirate King himself may be a little much. You will have to convince him that it is worth his while. Keep in mind, offering more money may not be quite enough. He has a reputation for caring for his crew and refusing jobs he thinks may be too risky for them.”

Leon rubbed his chin as he considered. “Hmm. You said he’s ambitious, is he?”

Mozar groaned quietly. “Infuriatingly so at times. He has a strand of that Uruks pup in him, prone to bouts of stupid heroism. It became all too apparent when we worked a few bounties together. He doesn’t like risking his crew if he can help it, but he’ll take on almost anyone despite not having any Elemency.”

Leon smiled, a plan already brewing. “Prone to bouts of stupid heroism, huh? I think I can use that.”

As Leon continued watching through the viewscreen, Nirvana soon came into view. It was one of the largest space stations in the universe, and it looked ugly as hell. Actually, it wasn’t simply one space station, but several all haphazardly welded together with blatant disregard for most safety protocols. And yet, despite that, the pirates had somehow kept the burgeoning city together for almost five centuries now. It was constantly under construction and renovation. Some sections fell off completely, floating into space and orbiting the space station as satellites. The pirates simply repaired any sections that started to give away, or jettisoned what could not be salvaged into space. Living most of their lives as spacers gave many pirates natural, if unrefined, engineering skills which they put to work keeping Nirvana running somehow.

Nirvana looked similar to a bulbous, metal beehive with several other hives smooshed together on the outside. The Inner City of Nirvana consisted of a gigantic brown metal orb almost the size of a small-class moon with countless lights and hundreds of holes and openings. Some of the holes along its hulls were entry points where groups of authorized vessels lined up to get past security. Other holes in the hull were simply the results of degradation. However, the station’s defense systems automatically targeted any vessel, cloaked or otherwise, even attempting to approach the unauthorized entry points, so Leon doubted they’d get in that way.

Surrounding the largest orb that made up the Inner City of Nirvana were at least a dozen smaller halves of orbs squished into the larger one, each one more run down and rusty than the last. Some of the smaller orbs resembled gigantic metal mushrooms with the only thing connecting them to the Inner City being thousands of metal cables, causing the outer orb to dangle around slightly as the station orbited the star Voraxis.

Around the station itself was a ring of debris from waste and unused segments of Nirvana. Within the ring of junk were a few smaller stations orbiting Nirvana, each one roughly the size of a capital ship. Their first destination would be one of these smaller stations, the orbiting platform Karma-1. It was little more than a giant gray metal tube with openings on either ends for ships to come and go. Navigating through the debris field was a little dangerous. Leon had heard that a few pilots occasionally crashed into floating junk piles simply trying to land on the orbiting platforms. But he felt confident in Mozar’s piloting abilities ... for the most part. The Werewolf was more accustomed to piloting a small Fang Ship, not a large shuttle with passengers.

As they moved to Karma-1 to dock. Mozar did make a few turns a little rough for Leon’s liking. But they made it unscathed without bumping into metal debris or other various ships leaving and entering the orbiting platform. As they came to land on a large floating metal platform with a slight thud in the cockpit, Leon breathed a silent sigh of relief. He didn’t get nauseous when flying, but anything that wasn’t under his direct control made him uneasy.

Leon exited the cockpit to come into the recreational area of the ship where Squad 99 were tinkering with their gear and new outfits. Like everyone else, he had donned some more grungy attire. A dirty brown vest and baggy trousers. He had removed his glasses and replaced them with mechanical contact lenses invisible to all others, giving him his usual readout for maximum analytical sight. He also wore a belt buckle with a low-yield energy pistol in a gun holster. He didn’t know which part annoyed him more, the outfit or the gun. The pistol could only inflict small fist-sized wounds most of the time, perhaps cause disintegration to a single human-sized target at the loss of a great deal of energy. With Elemency fueling his swords, Leon could reduce nearly any target, regardless of size, to tiny pieces almost instantly with minimal energy cost. His Psionic Swords – with range equaling that of most rifles – could also be used defensively by creating wind barriers, whereas a gun was practically useless in that regard. Everyone else was similarly dressed with a few exceptions.

Grafael and Tork looked mostly the same, though lacking the golden medallions that usually hung around their necks, indicating their allegiance to the Fire Ministry. Grafael wore black sleeveless leather armor and padded pants often used by Minotaur mercenaries. His large war hammer lay in a strap on his belt. Tork had his sword and shield strapped behind his back and was bare-chested as per usual. The Space Dragon, already looking fearsome and roguish despite his polite mannerisms, simply donned a black eyepatch over his left eye. Given how silly it looked, Leon wondered if the eyepatch was Torsha’s suggestion. Rachel wore a black leather vest and a white undershirt as well as black leather pants and boots. Her outfit was complemented by black sunglasses. Leon had tried to tell her that wearing shades indoors made no sense, but she insisted. Given the common eccentricities of pirates, he supposed it would be fine. Like Leon, she also sported a holster and pistol at her belt, but seemed more taken to it than him. Kormal and Mozar already looked fine in their normal attire as traveling Werewolves and Sages rarely deviated from their preferred fashions.

Torsha probably looked the most unique. She wore a white sleeveless tank top that showed off her golden furred, but graceful, shoulders and arms, as well as her lightly furred belly button which was surprisingly humanlike for a Werewolf. She also wore a strap over her chest with several knives and guns, none of which she actually knew how to use being trained only with a Corruck by the Monks, but the show was the most important bit. She also had a blue skirt with her bushy tail sticking out the back. Topping off her outfit were gaudy braids and jewelry she hung from strands of her hair and ears. She looked fine for the most part, but the coloring of the blue skirt and white tank top reminded Leon of something Éclair would wear.

When his squad mates saw him come in, they immediately stopped what they were doing to stand at attention.

“Stop that!” snapped Leon.

As Leon was greeted with blank stares, it was Rachel who broke the silence by saying, “Stop what?”

Leon rubbed his eyes as he had already gone over this with them before they landed. “I told you earlier. We’re undercover. Stop ... stop acting disciplined and militaristic. We’re not trained Elementals here. We’re unscrupulous roughneck mercenaries who don’t give a damn for military decorum.”

Grafael raised a clawed finger like he was a child at school, and said uncertainly, “So what does that look like exactly?”

Leon sighed, annoyed that he had to say it at all. “Just ... just act like Ryan.”

Everyone smiled and said, “Oh!”

Torsha immediately started slouching with a mischievous grin. Rachel drew back her head to spit into a corner, though she did have to wipe her chin in embarrassment as some drool dribbled down her chin. Tork did some kind of strutting swagger when he caught sight of Grafael who was crouching curiously with his knees bent.

“What are you doing, Grafy?”

“I’m trying to get into Ryan’s mindset,” Grafael explained, his brow furrowed in concentration. “He’s so short, you see. I figure the best way to get inside his head is to be his height for a little while.”

Rachel scoffed with her hands on her black leathered hips. “He’s not that short, not anymore at least. He’s actually about as tall as Leon now.”

“And that’s supposed to mean something,” Grafael said with an eyeroll as he continued crouching. “You human monkeys might as well be midgets to us. Maybe that’s why you’re all so sour all the time. Always have something to prove being so tiny and frail. But this, I will soon understand if I can fool myself into thinking I am a monkey too.”

Rachel simply laughed at the jibe, and so did Tork and Torsha.

Leon shook his head. “Well, you all took to that advice disturbingly well.”

Mozar and Kormal soon exited the cockpit, having finished the necessary landing permits. Though considering it was a pirate station, that wasn’t saying much. Mozar appraised the group with a smoldering brown eye. Then he groaned.

“This one supposes that will do. Just one thing.” Mozar then pointed a clawed finger at Tork. “Dragon, get rid of that eyepatch. Pirates, like most normal people these days, use cybernetic replacements if they lose an eye. That just looks ridiculous.”

Tork rubbed his eyepatch sorrowfully. “But Torsha says she likes the eyepatch.”

“It’s a good touch,” complained Torsha as she rubbed Tork’s scaly arm. “Let him keep it.”

Mozar muttered something indistinguishable, and then said, “Fine. There’s enough idiots around here that no one will notice, but do not countermand orders on other subjects. This is a world you are unacquainted with. That means this one is in charge.” Mozar pointed a thumb at his chest as he finished.

Leon cleared his throat loudly.

Mozar growled, gesturing towards Leon with a clawed furry hand. “And so is the Lurranna pup who is somewhat familiar with criminal undertakings.”

Kormal raised a hand, grinning mischievously. “Can I be in charge too? I think I would be good at it.”

“Oh, shut up you baldheaded toadstool!” Mozar said loudly as he stalked away.

Kormal looked towards the others, and they all shared a laugh, except for Leon. He was with the Werewolf on this one ... for the most part at least. Mozar would have to learn who the true alpha was before long.

The Werewolf hit a switch on the wall, and the dull brown portal opened with a loud hiss. A metal ramp descended, allowing them to walk out into the drudgery that was Karma-1. On the hovering platform where their ship had landed, there were purple glowing pathways of translucent energy where they could descend to the lower levels. Leon tried not to look as that might give him a mild case of vertigo. Being inside a giant metal tube meant that there were people walking upside down far above his head thanks to the gravity manipulators that made certain everyone had their feet firmly planted on the floor of the station. Lights, ships, floating energy platforms with people, and dirty-looking buildings filled Karma-1 to the brink with life. Leon could actually see out into space from the large openings on either side of the station. Whenever ships would enter, a thin yellow energy discharge shifted around the vessel briefly. This energy discharge indicated the shield that kept an atmosphere within the station, allowing the inhabitants to breathe normally.

With Kormal taking the lead and Mozar falling behind Torsha, Leon walked beside the Sage towards the energy pathway and stepped off the hovering platform to slowly float down a few dozen meters below. They floated down to an urban area with small, dirty metal buildings caked with rust and spray paint as well as bustling streets filled with all manner of travelers. The dull orange lights of the streetlamps gave almost the illusion of a city at twilight. At least half of the denizens were human with various Demihuman species comprising the other half. Merchants and peddlers lined every corner selling all kinds of merchandise, most of it probably stolen.

The source of this story is Finestories

To read the complete story you need to be logged in:
Log In or
Register for a Free account (Why register?)

Get No-Registration Temporary Access*

* Allows you 3 stories to read in 24 hours.