Damn it all! The flyer would have been here in the morning, and they could have left this Freemen outpost for their real base. With a flyer and harvester, they would have been able to step down dangerous jobs like raiding, and make the easy money grabbing the spice. And now everything was falling apart!
Blackstone was late checking in on the sentries outside, so she sent five men to find out what was going on. Four never made it back. What was left of the fifth was so badly mangled she could tell it was only the combat stims that were keeping him on his feet. One arm hung limply by his side, and blood flowed from a plethora of wounds, including one nasty one on his forhead.
“It was a shuttle, boss! Couldn’t see it, but I heard it. We just got outside the curtain, and saw Blackie lying there with ‘is throat cut. Then, next thing we know, shuttle opens up and launches a missile at us! Marko took it to the chest, there wasn’t anything left of the bastard from the waist up. We were all hurt, but the others, they tried to fire at the shuttle, and the blasters cut them down like dogs. I ran to the tunnel. Had to… let… you… know…” Towards the end, the raider’s voice cut off as the sims either stopped working, or were no longer able to counter the blood loss, and he slumped to the ground.
Sana was about to give orders when there was a loud bang echoing from the tunnels headed towards where the captives were being held, followed by gunfire. Damnit, they were under attack, and whoever it was had an assault shuttle in support. That was not good.
“What the hell are you waiting on? Get your asses in gear! Everyone suit up, and weapons hot, we’re under attack!”
The former Confederate commando grimaced as she watched the raiders attempt to come to some kind of order. It was taking them entirely too long to get into their armor and get the weapons ready. A couple had still been sleeping! Damned slobs. She missed the professionalism of her old team. Too bad that captain seemed to think letting him tap her ass was part of her duties as a commando. She only broke his jaw, but he was connected, so she was out with a dishonorable discharge.
Since then, work had been hard to find, so she had eventually ended up a raider, and this time, when someone got handsy with her, she just killed the bastard and took his stuff. That was how she’d come to be the boss of this band of misfits. The old boss didn’t take no for an answer, and tried to drug her. Too bad (for him) she had full toxin screens implanted, and the military hadn’t ripped them out when they let her go. She made the bastard choke on his own cock before she killed him.
FINALLY, the men were armed and ready to fight. Of course, Sana hadn’t been idle this whole time. She’d had the first three guys who were ready for combat guarding the main door into the sleeping area they’d taken over as a barracks. Now that the whole crew was ready to fight, she six of them towards the prison area to check on the guys who still hadn’t responded to the radio, and sent the other four to guard the harvester and make sure no one took off with their payday.
They had almost made it to the prison chamber when gunshots were heard over the radio, and the bastards started screaming about being attacked. Then, everything went silent once again. That, of course, had everyone on edge. Who the hell was attacking them?
She was about to give the order to push forward when she saw a glint in the air. “COVER!” And with that, she dove behind an outcropping, hoping to hide from the worst of the grenade’s blast. She was surprised when it turned out to be a flash-bang, but her combat augments filtered out most of the light and sound as they were supposed to, leaving her unsteady from the blast, but uninjured and still able to fight. Her men, however, were cut down in a hail of gunfire. Poor bastards never had a chance.
Damnit! At this rate, she’ll lose everything, all because some damn raider scum couldn’t put down a handful of fighters. Peeking out from behind the rock that covered her, she saw five people, all dressed as Freemen. One of them was one of the prisoners they had kept tied up! Fuck, that was why none of them had resisted too much once the killing was done. They knew others were due back soon!
She ducked back as a bullet ricocheted off the stone in front of her. Fuck, if there were Freemen here, then she couldn’t take on however many warriors they had. Especially since some had gone to the Harvester, and were likely making their way back now to flank her. There was only one way she got out of this alive. Calling out at the top of her lungs, she said, “I demand an honor fight!”
“I demand an honor fight!” Looks like the last surviving raider was trying to do something desperate in order to get out of this with her skin intact.
I looked over to Shanni, and said, softly, “Honor fight?”
She whispered back, a look of disgust on her face, “If one commits an offense in sietch, then one can demand a trial by combat. By tradition, so long as a Freemen warrior hears the claim, the fight must be honored. Damn it!”
I sighed, and said, “What are the rules for an honor fight?”
“It is a duel, one on one, skyclad, without armor or shields. You may use no weapon other than a single blade. The duel can be to first blood, until one yields, or to the death.”
“I see. So she’s hoping she can beat one of us in a knife fight to at least get out of this alive and free. Well, that’ll make things easy.” Shanni did not look happy with this, so I said, “If she wins, we let her walk home alone in the desert. That’s pretty much a death sentence, anyways, but it is so much easier to arrange an ‘accident’ far from prying eyes, if that’s what you like.”
That calmed her down somewhat, so I began pulling off my armor. ‘Skyclad’ meant butt naked, so that’s how I was going to do it. Also, it was nice to get out of the suit for a while. I kept Widowmaker in my hand when I stepped into the hallway, watching as the knelfi woman, also naked, stepped out as well. I took a moment to look her over, and smiled lecherously. “Oh, I’m going to enjoy taking you down.” Let her underestimate me, thinking I’m just a guy who can’t think because of the blood leaving his brain for other places. I saw her look of disgust, and just smiled. She had experience with that kind of guy, it seemed. Good. Anger made people careless.
Titles: Guardian, Silent Death, Sharpshooter, Scout, Raider
We moved closer, and started circling each other in the hall, sizing up the other’s defenses. She was higher level than I was, and clearly got there by combat. Lots and lots of combat. She moved like a jungle cat, and was clearly not a pushover when it came to a knife fight.
I also saw that she had one hand clutched behind her, while the other held her combat knife. Probably had some dirt or sand that she could use to throw into my eyes. She knew how to fight dirty, too! That was definitely a bonus. I liked it when my property would do anything it took in order to win. Oh yes, I was already counting the woman amongst my property.
I broke the silence, and said, “You challenged, so I set the conditions, yes? We fight until one side yields, or dies. Is that acceptable to you?”
A feral grin crept across the woman’s face, and she said, “I’m going to look down on your corpse and smile, bastard. I’m going to have to rebuild my crew from scratch now, with you killing everyone.”
I smiled easily at her. “Oh, don’t worry your pretty little head about that, dear. Once you yield to me, I’ll keep you too busy bouncing on my cock to worry yourself about those silly ideas of being a warrior. You’ll be a nice, docile fuckpuppet, just like you always knew you’d end up.”
The grin on her face became a scream of rage, as she abandoned the circling movement, and charged at me, her blade flying wildly as she attempted to slash me anywhere she could reach. She was far better trained than I was, and while I was able to avoid any serious blows (and managed to get a couple shots of my own in), the wounds were starting to stack up, despite the regeneration I had going.
Finally, I got the response I was waiting for. All this time, from the moment I had started pulling off my armor, I’d been seeking contact with her mind. It took me a while to slip through her defenses, but her anger at me distracted her, keeping her from tightening the defenses. Was it cheating? Absolutely. But we were both cheaters. Just as she threw the handful of sand she’d been hiding all this time, I hit her with the new power I’d been working on in secret.
I called it Mindbreaker. Which honestly was what it did. Well, part of it, anyways.
Mindbreaker – Developed based on the Stepford protocol slave collars, this power locks the target’s mind inside a mental prison, forcing them to experience everything while a predetermined mental pattern takes hold. Target must be either unconscious, or you must spend time navigating their mental defenses with Mindread to get to their core thought processes. Acts like a Stepford collar, but only has one setting, and cannot be reactivated when it is turned off. Characters whose Mental Psy Resistance exceeds 50% may attempt to break free from this power after it has been implemented. Costs 1000 PP. Rank 1/10 (0%)
There was a reason why I kept it secret. Part of that reason was because I hadn’t had anyone to test the thing on. Sure, I knew it would work, in theory, but actual practice is different. I did notice there was a bit of an extreme reaction to the power’s use.
Sana screamed in pain, gripping her head as she fell to her knees. She did a decent job trying to resist it. She must have a fairly good Mental Psy Resistance. Unfortunately for her, it wasn’t good enough, as she was now trapped inside her own body. I watched with Mindread as she struggled against the cage, and felt the horror of what the pattern would make her witness. I decided to leave her mind after she sobbed when her body began moving on hands and knees towards me, her voice saying, “How may I serve, Master?”
Looking down at the girl, I slapped a Stepford collar on her, to cover what I’d just done. The Stepford protocols were offline, but no one knew that except me, and Sana. And her new pattern wouldn’t let her tell anyone. It wasn’t something I intended to do regularly, especially since it would show up if anyone decided to do mental scans, but the ability to make someone a Stepford without the collar, or the visible titles, was something that could prove VERY useful in a pinch.
I might never use it again, but one of the other engineers on my last ship was fond of the saying, “Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.” Sure, you could scratch build a lot on board a carrier, but there was no substitute for having a proper replacement part and the right tools to do the job. It was a dangerous universe out there, full of people who would want to kill me if they knew what I was. I wanted as many options as possible when the excrement hit the rotary air circulator.
Nukes were nasty things, too, but having one around was always a benefit when you really, positively, absolutely needed a whole lot of people dead. You might never go for the nuclear option, but if you needed to, it was best to have a nuke ready to go. And if I kept talking, I just might convince myself.
Be sure to read my published works!
Frozen Soul series (Sci-Fi Supervillain story):
Frozen Soul https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071R125QT
Tales of the Void Traveler https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06ZZ52G37
Rules-Free VRMMO Life (Dark Fantasy LitRPG):
Volume 1 - Tutorial https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VPRNDB
Volume 2 - Beginning the Journey https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071VR7M41/
Volume 3 - Wyrmwood https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072QKVBYV
Volume 4 - To the Deeps https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073QSD9S4
Into the Black (Sci-Fi LitRPG):
Book I - Game Start https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071LT5WGL
Book II - Choson Ring https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071X3LL9D
Book III - Alpha Centauri https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073X8J9GF
The Kalipshae Affair (A First Contact Short Story): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0739V6R6T
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