Sky in the Stars, Part 19

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Skylar engages pirates as a Gray Hunter.

1 October 2933

Truax Supply Depot 14

Planet Redreon V

 

A gunshot rang out inside the supply compound. It was nothing but a giant warehouse full of large metal crates and containers. All the workers knew this would be a day to haunt them forever, the fate of them or their coworkers were now in the air as they were in the midst of being robbed by a band of no-named pirates. The warehouse men thought this would be a quiet, monotonous and methodical job free of the stresses of busy cities and space stations, but the remote location of the depot proved to be a tempting target.

A dark nova of gore now decorated the concrete wall just to the left of the door to the manager’s office. The hostages that were huddled against the wall opposite had been able to see the old manager crawling from his office where he had been hiding since the suited and masked pirates had arrived. They watched, as silent as he could, pick up a fire extinguisher and hoist it above his head, ready to bring it down upon one of the masked unassuming pirates.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t quiet enough. The, once thought oblivious, pirate only known as Skrull, spun round and shot him with a scattergun.

At such a small distance the damage was horrific. The manager was torn in two. There was now a gap of several meters between his chest and his legs. Several people, one of which was a pirate named Oddjob, had vomited. The fire extinguisher clanged loudly to the floor as the echoes of the buckshot faded.

Skrull stood frozen for a few seconds, blinking at what he had just done. He then, after collecting himself, spun back to those on the floor. Several people ducked, several more whimpered.

"Any one of you shits tries anything like that again and I will kill the whole fucking lot of you! YOU UNDERSTAND?!" the Skrull screamed.

"Come on, we gotta get a move on.” beckoned another raider, Lobo. “We’re about loaded up." He turned to one of the pirates who was still vomiting on the floor. "Steve, will you stop throwing up all over the fucking place and lock up?"

"No names for Christ’s sake!" another pirate hissed, insisting they use their codenames. Lobo glanced over at Steve and saw that he was still violently retching with his partially lifted helmet.

"Oddjob!" Lobo shouted. No response. "STEVE!" Oddjob looked up, "Lock it up!” He rested his gun on his shoulder. “We cut off their comms. Ain’t no police-merc squad showing up here. But we ain’t playing the risk game here.”

Lobo was cut off by a blinding flash and deafening boom from a flashbang that had been thrown in from seemingly nowhere. It made no sense. The doors were sealed. There was no communications. They even had radar watch for incoming ships.

When they regained their senses, the lights of the warehouse were out. They looked around with their rifles. They cast the beams of their flashlights all around but could find nothing.

“I’m switching to thermal.” said Skrull. Just as he made the adjustments, he saw a lone figure that was definitely out of place standing in front of him. His helmet’s HUD then flickered and cut out leaving him in the dark. “Fuck! My optics!” He said, removing his helmet and tossing it to the floor. His flashlight was out as well.

“Mine too!” Oddjob muttered.

“The fuck is goin’ on?” Lobo growled. They heard a distant scream from a few aisles away. One of their other members was still finishing up with the supplies. A few gunshots followed. “I can’t see anything!”

“Shhh!” Skrull hissed.

Footsteps clacked along the metal floor. The three of them took their guns and fired in the general direction of the sounds, unloading all of their ammunition at once. Once their clips were empty and guns overheated they could only pause and listen for sound. There was nothing. They proceeded to reload as carefully as they could in the dark.

“What the shit man…” Oddjob stammered.

“Someone’s trying to fu—“ Lobo began, his voice cutting to a gargle followed by the sound of splashing fluid and the thud of a suited body hitting the floor. The warehouse lights came back on. There stood a young womanly figure in a thin gray spacesuit and helmet with nothing but a pistol in hand. Before the pirates could open fire on her, she double-tapped Oddjob and then shot Skrull in his knees, then his shoulder forcing him onto his back. The woman approached with slow footsteps as Skrull grunted at the pain. He tried reaching for his gun, but a small-heeled boot stepped on his hand, then proceeded to crush his fingers. Skrull screamed, the newfound pain seemingly greater than the old ones. The woman leaned forward, resting a forearm on her knee as she stared at Skrull through her helmet.

“Life is cheap.” said the woman through her helmets microphone. “Were the lives of your friends worth it?”

“W-who the fuck are you?” Skrull asked. The woman removed her helmet. As dark brown hair flowed first, there was the face of Skylar Connor, her stare as stern as ever.

She brushed her hair behind her ear. “You know this is depot is Gray Hunter’s supply chain right?”

“Gray Hu—d’ah shit…”

“Yeah. That Gray Hunter.”

“So what then?” Skrull asked.

“That depends. Is this it for your little pirate party or are there more of you?” Skylar asked.

“Nah… just us.” Skrull grunted, motion his head to his fingers. Skylar kindly obliged and stepped off of them, first kicking the gun away.

“And your cargo… got anymore of it?”

“Fuck no.” Skrull answered. “We take and we sell right away. Too risky to hold onto it for too long or to store it some place... else same thing might happen to us.”

“So all you guys have is locked up in your ships?”

“Didn’t you hear what I just s---“ Skylar fired a round in Skrull’s head before he could finish.

“Loud and clear.” Skylar holstered her weapon and sighed. She held a hand to her collarbone. “Ops. This is one-nine. Area secured, ready for clean up.”

“Roger that one-nine. Clean up inbound.” A man said over her radio. Skylar then placed her helmet over her head and began walking toward the exit, passing the hostages by. They were still huddled together, and even scared of Skylar who stopped and looked at them. As she began to leave to another hallway, one of the men repeated ‘thank you’ over and over. Skylar stopped and nodded softly before continuing on.

~

 

15 October 2933

Gray Hunter Station 74

Rushars Prime Orbit

 

Skylar rested in her luxurious apartment situated in one of Gray Hunter’s orbital stations above Rushars Prime, a green giant which gave a most spectacular view from her window. But tonight Skylar kept her lights off, and the windows shut. She laid on her bed, half naked and most of her sheets thrown to the floor. Her eyes were shut tight as her head shifted left and right. She gasped her eyes shooting open as she awoke. For a moment she didn’t know where she was before she stared up into darkness, and listened to the very dull hum of the stations generators. With deep breaths she relaxed herself with repetitious calming techniques to calm her ragged breath.

It’s just work. Cold cash. Good money. If I don’t do it, someone else will. No one is going to be spared if I say no… right?

Her mind reflected on all the work she had done over the previous months for Gray Hunter. Most of which involved a certain degree of violence against individuals she was assured deserved their untimely demise. For the most part, that was true. And other times she was unsure. Most times her eyes were cold, and the screams didn’t bother her. But there were times when she dreamed of screams.

She often woke up after bouts of restlessness and gazed at her hands that appeared covered in blood. Her hands felt warm and wet. Skylar became all too familiar with the scent of burnt flesh, the sound of a knife slicing through skin. She knew the terrified and scared stare of her victims, guilty or innocent, as they watched their friends or family die. Those eyes were what floated in her mind. She was no believer of the afterlife… but the terror her memories began to make her think otherwise.

On the other hand, she remembers the look of her victims who seem to expect her, their face stern, unaffected. They accepted their fate. They know what they did… and they were broken from in the inside. Was there a hell they know they were destined for?  Was she destined for it?

She shut her eyes again trying to rest but it was always the same memories that replayed in her dreams. The sight of a daughter crying for her father as Skylar put a bullet through his chest. The man deserved it, for sure… but did his daughter? She remembered the exact moment blood splattered on her face. Her blue eyes trembled in shock. The father had shut his eyes in acceptance just before the trigger was pulled. It was supposed to be a one-shot kill… but Skylar thought to give the child one last moment with her father. She cried until she ran out of tears as her father’s eyes turned lifeless. Skylar walked away. The girl did nothing but etch herself on Skylar’s eyelids.

Skylar wondered what it was like to die. What did a knife in the chest feel like… or a bullet? Would she be afraid? Would she feel the warmth of her blood distracting herself from imminent death? Death was common for Skylar, the once innocent medical student on Earth. Even then, she was taught initially to become used to it. People died every day. This was truer in her case… she delivered it. It didn’t matter. It was just a job, she constantly reminded herself.

She knocked the side of her head hard, forcing all of them from her mind. The people… the wounds… the trembling scared gazes.

Think of the bed… think of your pillow. Don’t think of the way they cry. Sweet dreams. Sweet thoughts. They’re gone, forever. Sleep Skylar. They are nothing.

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