The Colchis Job Snippet Two

Here is the second snippet of The Colchis Job, coming on August 3rd.    The Colchis Job is a military science fiction novel, set in Mark Wandrey’s and Chris Kennedy’s Four Horsemen Universe.  For snippet one, go here: (Link)

“Good morning, sir,” Ruel met me on the bridge only a few minutes later. I squinted at him suspiciously. Ruel seemed far too chipper and he wasn’t normally a morning person.
“What’s so good about it?” I growled. I clutched at the back of the command chair in the microgravity and I noticed the former squad leader from Third Platoon handled the lack of gravity remarkably well.
“I got to kill people,” he grinned. “Plus, couple of those pirates had some nice equipment.” He lifted his uniform blouse over his potbelly and patted a silver inlaid pistol he had tucked in his belt.
I started to say that was a good way to make sure he never had kids, but I thought better of it. For one thing, he’d probably unloaded it already and he’d be insulted if I suggested otherwise. For another, the idea of the slimy Sam Ruel having kids sort of gave me nightmares.
“Sure, sure,” I dismissed. “Take it out of your paycheck. What happened with Reedie at the armory?”
“Your boy is fine, I just took his radio since he was getting a little excitable.” Ruel rolled his eyes. “What about that,” he waved his hand at the tumbling pirate cutter.
“What about it?” I asked. I was more concerned with ensuring that the pirates didn’t have any friends and that no one was coming to investigate. Anauros wasn’t a beacon of law and civility, but they still might have questions about what had happened.
“Well, it might be valuable, we could probably juryrig something and get her flying again.” His beady little eyes gleamed with greed. I couldn’t help but think he looked rather porcine. “They might have something worth salvaging, and if nothing else, it probably doesn’t stink like rotting fish over there…”
“There might be survivors, sir,” the female technician interrupted. “Also, it’s a navigational hazard.”
“The navigational hazard part is accurate, anyway,” I nodded. I squinted at the readouts and displays, understanding most of what I saw, but still not familiar with the way the starship’s displays prioritized and sorted information. “They’ve lost power and atmo?” I asked, thinking that was what the sensors all seemed to show.
“Yes, sir,” the tech said. Heather, I reminded myself, Heather Valsaint. I’d had time to get to know all the surviving personnel from the company, at this point and should at least remember their names. Besides, that was what commanders did, right?
“Right,” I looked over at Ruel. He’d been a squad leader in Third Platoon. A smiling, greasy man, who somehow, I felt he’d have been just as happy being a pirate as he was a mercenary. I trusted him about as far as I could throw him and given his girth, that wouldn’t be very far. Still, he knew how to get things done and he was good in a fight. But, as soon as we got back to Karma, I planned to pay him off and get rid of him.
I watched Ruel’s face as I gave the order, “Miss Valsaint, open fire with our main weapons, destroy the wreck.”
“What?!” Ruel demanded. His jaw dropped and he stared at me. His piggy little nose wrinkled up and for a second, I thought he might even go for his pistol.
“You want to hang out here and be a sitting target while we do zero-g salvage operations?” I gazed at him, challenging him to disobey me. “Maybe we should see if these pirates have any friends, maybe a mothership with comparable weapons to the Argos?” The Styx-class patrol ship had once been a Peacemaker ship, but those days were in the past. The Cartar had dismounted most of its weapons. Besides that, the ship had a dozen or more maintenance issues, ranging from the sewage venting system being clogged to the constant reek of rotting fish from the environmental system. Without a full work down of the ship’s systems by real engineers, we didn’t know how bad things might be. The damned sewage thing is a real nuisance, what the hell am I going to do with two metric tons of solid shit?
Ruel scowled. Odds were that these pirates had been a local operation. Most pirates operated on the fringes, with whatever cobbled equipment they could manage. There weren’t really that many powerful pirate fleets… but we’d barely survived the encounter as it was.
“Fine,” he scowled.
“I wasn’t asking your permission, I already gave the order,” I snapped. He glared, but gave a small nod. He understands. I’m the one in charge. I looked back at the tech and I didn’t bother hiding my smirk. “Miss Valsaint.”
“Yes, sir,” She straightened in her seat and brought up the Argos’ weapons.
She only had to fire once. The small cutter vanished in a visible flash of light. It hadn’t been a vast explosion, so there’d be debris, but hopefully none of it big enough to be a navigational hazard. “Plot the bigger chunks,” I noted, “and smash them up. Good weapons training for you. Be sure you get recordings on all of it so we can pass it along to the Peacemakers once we hit Anauros. Maybe we’ll get lucky and there’s a bounty on these guys.”
“It’ll teach no one to fuck with us, either way,” Ruel chuckled. Now that I’d established I was in charge, he didn’t seem to have a problem with my decision.
True. Maybe Ruel would be worth keeping around… if I could trust him.

***

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