“Scorch, did you see anything on Nuvaria we can use?”
“There are plenty of ships that have salvageable parts. We should be able to find the parts we need.”
The Bartneder made a hissing noise, the Fuesellian equivalent of a sigh. “I’ll lay in a course. Hopefully we can avoid being nearly eaten this time.”
“You worry too much,” Laurie said with a roll of her good eye.
“If anything, the last couple days have taught me I don’t worry enough. At least on Fuesellia, they would just shoot me.”
“Hey, I’m sure you will still have plenty of opportunities to die in horrible ways.” She grinned at him as he shook his head.
“I’m putting us down somewhere else this time.”
She nodded as he exited the Venturess, and she looked around at her ship, eerie without the usual hum of the engines and the glow of lights. She patted the bulkhead as she crossed back to the Dead Corps ship.
“We’ll get you back together, baby.”
* * *
Nuveria loomed large as they slowed to sublight speed. The Bartneder maneuvered them into a high orbit, scanning for the most promising area to scavenge parts from.
Suddenly, alarms began to blare and red lights flashed in the dark of the dingy ship.
“What do you want?” he growled, looking for the source of the alarm. He didn’t have to look long, or far. “Oh.”
The ship was long and thin with open bays, large enough for ships to dock or be carried. They were full, at least four large ships grabbled there. One by one, they were released, tracing burning paths through the atmosphere.
“That could be good,” he said under his breath as he turned to the opening behind him. “Hey, Captain, you might want to see this,” he shouted. She was already coming through, responding to the alarms.
“Any of those Theeldof ships?”
“Hard to tell at this range. One of those freighters might be what we need.”
“That would be a pleasant break. Let’s get out of sight, shall we?”
He nodded, and turned the ship in the direction of a debris field, shutting down most of the systems, watching the scrap hauler finish its business. It circled the planet once, and was gone.
Laurie patted the Bartender on his shoulder. “Let’s get down there and see what we can scrape up.”
He nodded, cycling the engines up and steering towards the planet. They were about to break atmosphere when the radio crackled.
“Unidentified vessel, stop now and state your business.”
Her lip turned up in a sneer at the voice. “Are you kidding?” she said to herself. She switched the radio on and replied in a more even tone, “This is Captain Laurie Mack of the Venturess. We were attacked and need parts for emergency repairs.”
Two small patrol ships came into view, light gray with fan-like steering vanes protruding from the rear and large cannons to the fore. “You’ll have to get them somewhere else, Captain. Salvaging is not allowed here.”
“Why the hell not?” Any trace of politeness was gone from her voice.
“Because Numeria is ours. No one is allowed to take anything.”
“If it’s a matter of money…”
“It is not. It is ours, so leave this system immediately.”
Her head spun with anger at the idiocy. She switched off the radio and glanced around. “Does this thing have guns?”
“It has turrets top and bottom, and chin cannons.”
“Let’s take them out.”
“Do you think that’s wise? Maybe they will listen to reason, and we are unfamiliar with this ship.”