Renegades: A Murder of Crowes sample

I thought I’d share a short section from Renegades: A Murder of Crowes, which comes out in only a few weeks. This section comes from near the beginning. I’ve tried to avoid any spoilers, but if you haven’t read through Renegades: Ghost Story, then you probably don’t want to read this yet.

“Okay, first order of business,” Mike said. “Lock down the ship. Since Crowe is involved, lock down all the terminals too, until we know more.” He looked over at Rastar and Eric. “You two do manual locks on the airlocks. Mandy and Miranda, you’ll secure the bridge with Ariadne and Pixel. Simon, Anubus, Ludmilla, Run, and I will start the search, Rastar and Eric join us after you’ve secured the airlocks. Run, be sure you bring your medical equipment.”

Simon nodded. The search party and security elements all contained technical and combat elements, which he approved of. Granted, Simon hoped that he wouldn’t need Run’s medical attention.

“No,” Anubus growled. “If Ghost is on the hull, it is after my prowler. We need to go out there and kill it before it steals my ship.”
Simon had forgotten that the Wrethe had clamped the small vessel on the hull of the Gebnar.

“Yeah… with how poorly you docked it, no one is getting it off the hull any time soon,” Pixel said. The engineer didn’t look up from where he worked on the console. “You managed to lock onto an unarmored section of hull over our port sensors. At least one of your clamps punched through the hull. You couldn’t get off with your maneuver thrusters, and you can’t engage the main drive this close to the ship. The Red Hunter is stuck.”

Anubus’s lips drew back over his teeth in a snarl, “Why didn’t you tell me this earlier?”

Pixel looked up after he hit a last button, “Something of an insurance policy, in case you betrayed us. Besides, we can’t do anything about it without a lot of work. And we have bigger priorities just now.” His comment met with total silence. Simon quietly upped his estimation of the engineer. Apparently he’s not as unaware of some things as I thought, Simon realized. A moment later, Pixel gave a smile, then opened up the ship’s intercom, “Attention all passengers of the Gebnar. We have a possible security situation, the Captain will brief you.”

“Okay,” Mike said with a nod. “All personnel, move to your quarters and take up defensive positions. We may have an univited guest. Crowe, if you’re near an intercom switch, please contact us immediately.” They waited a long moment in silence. Mike clenched his jaw, and Simon saw the muscles stand out on the short Asian’s jaw. Mike switched off the intercom and when he spoke, Simon could hear the anger in his voice, “Now that that is settled, get moving people. Whatever Ghost and Crowe are up to, we need to find out and put a stop to it.” Even as he spoke, Rastar opened the storage closet and swept his guns across the entrance. The big alien gave Eric a nod and the two entered the lift.

Simon followed the others as they started down the stairs to the next level down from the bridge. The first compartment was one of the sets of crew quarters they shared. Mike activated the automated door while Ludimilla and Simon took up ready positions with pistols. Despite his dislike of the bountyhunter, Simon admired her professionalism. Not so much with Mike, who held a Chxor submachine gun casually in one hand. We really need to do more of those weapons handling classes, Simon thought.

The hatch swept open. The oversized crew quarters sat empty, other than some litter and trash from where some of Simon’s less tidy companions had eaten their lunch. Once again, the scale of the ship gave Simon a weird feeling of juxtaposition. Even Anubus looked dwarfed by the oversized room as he swept into it. The Ghornath-sized nests that lined the walls were not designed for humans or even the larger Wrethe. The Gebnar was a captured Ghornath ship, after all. The large furniture and lockers, like most of the rest of the ship, were designed for the three meter tall, eight-limbed aliens. Only Rastar felt truly at home with the ship.

The Wrethe paused and sniffed the air. “I don’t smell Wrethe… but I smell blood. A lot of it.”
“Shit,” Mike said. He glanced in the room, “Where? I don’t see any.”

Anubus slowly spun in a circle. Finally he turned and walked back through the hatch. He paused outside the door for the other set of quarters across the hall. “Here.”

Simon trained his pistol on the hatch. The archaic 1911 forty-five felt cool in his hands as he took up a two handed stance. It was pure muscle memory as he readied himself to fire. The world seemed to slow down as Mike moved up next to him and leveled his submachine gun at the hatch. Mike nodded at Run to trigger the switch to the side of the automatic door.

The hatch swept open without a sound.

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