The Colchis Job Snippet Three

Here is the third snippet of The Colchis Job, coming on August 3rd to Amazon.  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) and snippet two go here (link).

“Sir,” Grimes called as I came down the corridor, heading to my quarters. I’d just confirmed with Reedie that Ruel had taken his radio away when he’d been trying to report up during the gunfight with the pirates near the armory. I wasn’t too happy about that, but I hoped that I’d settled things with the display on the bridge. “Private Mulcahy wanted a word with you.” The tall, brown haired young man had an earnest expression on his face. Then again, Grimes always looked earnest. I almost wished I had a face like that, people would have believed any lie I told them.
I looked at the private behind him. Mulcahy was one of the surviving CASPer pilots, if I remembered right, and shown some good promise. I planned to keep him on. He was a tall, lanky redhead, who normally kept his mouth shut and did as he was told. Even better, he’d fought like a demon back on Bedarine Seven. “What’s up?” I asked.
“Could we talk, uh, privately?” He looked around nervously. He was from Third Platoon, which meant he worked under Ruel
I shot Grimes a glance. He’d just let pirates aboard the ship. I wasn’t sure if he’d even contemplate that someone in the company might try to off me to take over. If Ruel sent Mulcahy…
“What is this about?” I demanded and my hand fell to my slung MAC.
Mulcahy gulped and he reached out an arm to a stanchion, like he was going to pull himself away in the micro-gravity. He seemed to realize that he couldn’t get away and he brought his hands up, “Christ!” He swallowed, “Sir, I just, look…” He took a deep breath, “I saw Sergeant Ruel gack a couple of the pirates after they laid down their weapons.”
“Oh,” my hand flexed against my weapon, “is that all?” I asked, not particularly concerned. They’d been caught in the act of piracy. Most mercenaries wouldn’t even give them a trial, they’d be vented out an airlock before lunchtime to not ruin the rest of the day. Some mercs I’d dealt with would sell them into indentured work on one of the frontier mining worlds.
A Peacemaker might care, but only if Ruel had gotten creative in his killing of them. Pirates were scum, worse than scum, for they clogged up the traffic between star systems, the very lifeblood of the Galactic Union.
“N- no,” he looked around, as if trying to be certain no one else was nearby. Since the corridor was deserted, I thought it was somewhat humorous. He leaned closer and spoke softly, “They recognized him, spoke to him by name.”
“Huh,” I said. Ruel had been the one to suggest coming here to Anauros to sell some of the equipment. What if that was his plan, from the beginning? Get us here, have his pirate buddies kill me, take the ship, and then sell the equipment for himself or just keep a nice cut… The system did have something of a rough reputation, the locals probably wouldn’t even care, especially if he sold all of our gear here.
“Interesting,” I nodded keeping my expression neutral. “Thanks for telling me.”
“That’s it?” Mulcahy seemed outraged, “That’s all you’re going to do?” His freckled face grew flushed and his eyes bulged in anger. Behind him, Grimes reached forward and caught his shoulder, restraining him.
“I didn’t say what I was going to do about it, private,” I snapped. He blanched at my tone. “I realize you stuck your neck out by telling me. Now, I could transfer you over to another section, but then it would be obvious that you’d done something and Ruel is either going to figure out what it was or assume the worst. He killed two of his pirate associates because they could finger him as a pirate, what do you think he’d do to you if he thought you ratted on him?”
Mulcahy shuddered.
“Right,” I nodded at him, “so keep your head down, don’t stick out, and let me handle this.” I waited until the private nodded and then I pushed myself past him. Grimes followed behind me, but I stopped him at my quarters. “Professor, I want a two-man team on guard at the armory. Do up a roster, but I want First Platoon people on it the first rotation, Second and Third Platoons not until after we break orbit.”
“Sir?” Grimes licked his lips nervously. All this intrigue and backstabbing was out of his league. Still, at least I knew I could trust him to do as he was told.
“Ruel might try to seize the ship. I don’t want anyone from his platoon in position to do it. Brief Reedie and… hmm I think Miss Valsaint, tell them the threat. One of you is to be on each shift until we make it to Karma.” That should keep Ruel from being able to stage mutiny.
I opened the hatch to my quarters and a warm, wet, stink washed over me. I wrinkled my nose at the fishy stench. “And for God’s sake, get someone over here to clean my quarters again. Stupid mollusks…”

***

 

 

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