Star Justice: Eye of the Tiger | Chapter 17

Star Justice: Eye of the Tiger | Chapter 17

Chapter 17

“We are free,” Eve gasped as soon as we pulled into orbit around Trappist - 1e. “The stars look so beautiful.”

“Yeah. I can’t believe we pulled this off. Damn.” Z let out a low whistle, and the two women stared at the display of stars on the view screens.

I’d been in space more times than I could count, but this view did feel different. It wasn’t the alien arrangement of the stars; it was the feeling of freedom. Every other space journey I had made was either as a slave to the scientists that experimented on me, or as a Jupiter Marine. One might have argued I wasn’t actually a prisoner with the Marines, but my service left little decision about where I would be stationed, or what assignment I would be given. I had been good at my job, so my assignments had been many, and each of them had been dangerous.

“Well, Captain, where are we going?” Z asked me.

“Ha. I’m not the captain.” I nodded at the beautiful vampire women. “Ask Eve.”

“This is a military vessel. Our missions will involve military strategy and combat. You are most fit to lead us,” the vampire woman said as she fixed her red eyes on me.

“You say that Eve, but this was your idea. I didn’t know anything about this ship, or how to captain it. I am just a grunt.”

“You are not just a grunt. You are a marine, and you have survived years of torture when those mad men changed your body. Most went insane from their transformation, but you became stronger. Your will is unbreakable, and your code of honor is even stronger. You need to be making the split second decisions when all our lives are on the line. I am fine to give you counsel and help plan our next mission.”

“Wait, who are these men that changed you? You weren’t born--” Z began to ask, but I interrupted her.

“It’s a tale for another time.” I sighed and then felt a flare of anger slam into my body. It had been too long since I killed, and the animal inside of me hungered for violence. I needed to change out of this form quickly, even if it meant that I had to pass out for a few hours.

“Eve, where should we go next?” I asked.

“We need to leave this system. Elaka Nota will launch pursuit ships in less than a day.”

“Not gonna happen,” Z said with a sigh.

“They won’t launch the ships?” I asked her.

“No, we can’t leave the system.”

“Ahhh,” Eve also sighed, and she leaned into her copilot’s chair.

“What am I missing, why can’t we leave?”

“I haven’t looked to get a visual, but--”

Alarms rang out across the bridge, and the three of us turned to the control deck at the front of the room. The bottom corner of the screen blurred and a trio of ships was displayed there. Each of them was instantly highlighted in a red outline, and a flurry of matching crimson text scrolled down the screen.


Harrier Class Battle Sentry. HCS-78990-413-345.

Manufactured by: Elaka Nota Corporation: Trappist - 1e

Branding: Elaka Nota Corporation 3rd Fleet 1st Array

Hyperdrive: EN - 5789TALLEY- 40 hours to 1 light year.

Warpdrive: No

Foldingdrive: No

Length: 240 meters

Minimum Crew: 50

Estimated fighter craft: 8

Estimated drone payload: 24

Heavy plasma cannons: 4

Light plasma guns: 8

Laser arrays: 8


Beagle Class Battle Sentry. BCS-89876-956-308.

Manufactured by: Elaka Nota Corporation: Trappist - 1e

Branding: Elaka Nota Corporation 3rd Fleet 1st Array

Hyperdrive: EN - 5200TALLEY- 45 hours to 1 light year.

Warpdrive: No

Foldingdrive: No

Length: 80 meters

Estimated Crew: 20

Estimated fighter craft: 2

Estimated drone payload: 8

Heavy plasma cannons: 2

Light plasma guns: 4

Laser arrays: 4


Beagle Class Battle Sentry. BCS-89876-956-314.

Manufactured by: Elaka Nota Corporation: Trappist - 1e

Branding: Elaka Nota Corporation 3rd Fleet 1st Array

Hyperdrive: EN - 5200TALLEY- 45 hours to 1 light year.

Warpdrive: No

Foldingdrive: No

Length: 80 meters

Estimated Crew: 20

Estimated fighter craft: 2

Estimated drone payload: 8

Heavy plasma cannons: 2

Light plasma guns: 4

Laser arrays: 4


“I don’t know what any of that means, but I’m gonna guess we are about to die. Again.” Z moaned.

“These are short distance battleships. They are meant for solar system or planet defense,” I said. “The two on the right of the screen are escorts for the larger one.”

“Can we outrun them?” Eve asked. “The screen says they are five thousand, five hundred kilometers away.”

“Maybe. If they fire up their hyperdrive, they can get to us in a minute, but then we can use our drive to get away. Z, do you know how to use the drive?” I asked the hacker.

“No.” She shook her head.

“You’ve got forty-five seconds to figure it out.”

“I was afraid you were going to say that.” The hacker grunted and then turned away from me so she could dance her fingers across the various controls.

The alarm on the bridge continued to howl, but Eve was also messing with the controls, and the annoying sound cut off as soon as I saw her press the screen on one of her monitors.

“I believe they are trying to open communications with us,” Eve said to me as she pointed at her screen.

“Can you do it so they can’t see our faces? I just want the audio,” I said.

“I will try to do so,” the vampire said before she began to press her fingers against her screen. The contrast between the two women’s movements was apparent. Z’s hands, fingers, and arms waved around the screen, keyboards, and controls as if she was trying to tame an out-of-control orchestra. Eve made careful, methodical movements after she studied the terminal screen for a few seconds.

“It is simple. Audio on in three, two…” Eve said as she counted down with her fingers above her head.

“This is Captain Mariah bin Kulthum of the Elaka Nota Corporate vessel HCS Three Four Five. You are committing an act of galactic theft. Cut your engines and weapons systems immediately.” The woman’s voice was gravelly, and she had the thick accent of most natives on Trappist - 1e.

The two women turned around in their seats to glance at me, and I gestured for Z to continue working at her station.

“HAD Three Five. I see that you have opened up the communication channel. I know you hear me. Surrender immediately. You have stolen Elaka Nota Corporation property. Cut your engines and weapon systems immediately.”

“Mute our line, but I still want to hear her,” I whispered to Eve, and the vampire nodded as she carefully pressed a button on her screen.

“I have no idea what I’m doing. Shit, I’m sorry,” Z moaned.

“Keep looking. You figured out how to turn on the engine to get us into orbit, you can engage a hyperdrive,” I said.

“Yeah, but that was just the main thrusters. This thing has that plus a hyperdrive, a warpdrive, and a foldingdrive. I thought a warpdrive was the same thing as a hyperdrive, so I’m obviously not the right person to be looking at any of this.”

“You are doing fine, and you are the most capable person here.” The beast was angry at the hacker’s complaints, but I forced his rage down into the pit of my subconscious. “Hyperdrives are slower and are measured in terms of how many hours it takes to go a lightyear. Warpdrives are measured in how many light years a vessel can travel per hour. Foldingdrives--”

“I thought were just experimental. The specs I got from the control tower didn’t say anything about one, but I see a control interface for it.”

“Can we use the folding--” Eve began to ask, but Z interrupted her.

“I don’t know how to do any of this stuff! I’m like a fucking monkey trying to drive a car in reverse while adjusting the radio,” the hacker shouted.

“This is my last request. If you do not cut your engines and disarm, we will attack and destroy you.” Captain Mariah bin Kulthum’s voice was angry, but I also sensed the undercurrents of fear there. I guessed she didn’t want to attack this ship. I doubted it was because she thought we could retaliate. It was probably more that her orders were to only destroy the vessel if she absolutely had to.

She would try to capture us first. This strange ship was no doubt worth too much to them.

“I’m going to find the gun controls so I can buy you some more time.” I unbuckled the harness on my chair and turned toward one of the many other stations on the bridge. One of these chairs would have access to the weapon controls.

“I will help,” Eve said as she climbed out of the copilot’s seat.

We moved to the other stations. It was hard for me to fit my large frame into the space, but I managed to squeeze into the first “gunnery” station and put my hands on the controls there.

Z’s comment about the monkey driving a car couldn’t have been truer.

There were dozens of monitors, three different control sticks, small map displays, and terminals that seemed to scroll an endless vomit of text. Most of the displays still had the plastic wrap on them, and I pulled a large sheet off before I could actually lay my tiger hands upon what looked like the master control switches. My changed hands were much too large to fit over the controls comfortably, and the rage came to my throat with a thunderous growl.

I’d been on plenty of ships, and seen pilots work. I’d also manned guns and assisted with drone controls on occasion. I picked this one because it seemed to have appropriate controls, but I couldn’t make sense of how to turn on the weapons or set the targeting display. Most of the ones I had used were either already set up, or the old fashioned “point at the bad guy and pull the joystick trigger” style.

“I found the engine user interface! Wooooo! Now I have to figure out how to tell one of them to go. Do you have a destination?” Z shouted across the bridge.

“Anywhere but here,” I growled.

“That doesn’t help. Space is a big fucking place, also we can’t go very far because--”

The alarms howled again, and a red light flashed from the ceiling of the bridge. The three cruisers on our display stretched as if they were made out of rubber, and they blinked from view. The bridge screens adjusted a second later to put the ships in the center of the view screen. Their images were a bit sharper now, and the distance measurement on the side read that they were now four kilometers away.

Fighter craft began to launch from the bays of each ship like angry space bees.

“Z!” I yelled at the hacker.

“I see them. Where the fuck are we going?”

“Far away!” I shouted back.

“We can’t!”


“Because we don’t have any fucking food! There is just water on board and only a few hundred gallons. That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you. If I fuck this up, we might be months away from another planet or station. You both say you aren’t going to eat me, but I’m going to look pretty delicious after a few weeks of starva--”

“Go to the closest inhabited solar system,” I ordered.

The fighter craft spun toward us like angry darts.

“Which is?” she asked.

“You don’t know?”

“Don’t you know?” she shouted back. “You are the damn captain!”

“Gliese Eight Seven Six,” Eve said, and her words cut through Z and my shouting match like a knife.

“Thank you! I’m going to engage the warpdrive. Partially because it sounds cool, and partially because I’m scared shitless of using the fold--”

“Just hurry the fuck up!” I shouted as the fighters shot out their first blasts of greenish-yellow plasma fire.

“Oh. My. Sweet. Baby. Jesus. Here we go!” I saw Z raise her arms up over her head and brought a single finger down to press a button on her display.

Nothing happened.

“Uhhh. I didn’t expect that--” she started to say, but then our ship rocked as the initial wave of plasma blasts slammed into the hull.

Except it didn’t hit our hull. One of the displays in front of me showed a semi-transparent, twisting, strange cloud of smoke had emerged around the vessel.

“What is that?” I asked Z.

“I don’t know. Some kind of shield or something? What kind of ship did we steal? I’m not an expert, but I didn’t think starships had shields that could stop plasma.”

“They don’t,” I confirmed. I’d never heard of such a thing, and the Jupiter Navy had the latest in technology.

But then again, technology could evolve rapidly, and in many ways when each solar system was an island which could only be reached by starship.

“I have figured out how to access our side cannons,” Eve said the words as if she had found what she wanted for dinner next week, instead of just figuring out how to prolong our lives for a few extra moments. “Access them with the orange array of buttons on the top right of your terminal and then grab the rightmost control stick.”

“Confirmed,” I said as I followed her instructions. My screens all flickered as soon as I hit the buttons, and I saw a series of six gun ports that I could control. It looked as if I could actually man any of the cannons on the ship by toggling through the selector, but my sights first appeared on the flank of the ship where the other craft were attacking.

“I’m going to figure out why this thing isn’t work--” Z was interrupted by our ship rocking a bit. The motion was much less than the initial attack, but my anger still made my hackles rise. I almost ripped the control stick out of its mount when I whipped the guns around toward the enemy fighters.

Eve was already shooting, and I saw her cannons spray red streaks of laser punctured with slower moving balls of tumbling plasma. My shots were of similar color, but the enemy craft was taking evasive action.

They weren’t evasive enough.

It took me three shots to get a feel for the lag time of the lasers. They traveled much faster than the plasma balls, but it was taking them about a second to make it between the space between our ship and the twisting craft. My fourth shot lanced through the wing of one of the craft, and the metal turned dark red a fraction of a second before it imploded.

“The lasers make the plasma globes explode to roughly twenty times their original size,” Eve said.

I looked over at her screen and saw what she meant. The plasma balls moved achingly slow, but the woman shot one that was near a group of enemy fighters. The globe instantly exploded like a mini sun, and the craft around the detonation were vaporized.

“Confirmed,” I said as I turned to my own guns and began to launch more of the globes along with my lasers.

I hit another fighter with my laser and then got a hit off on the plasma ball to fry another one of the fighters. These were manned craft, and I saw boarding mechanisms on the undercarriage of a few of them. The sight further convinced me that they still wanted to capture our vessel, or they would have just launched offensive drones first.

Then I saw the sentry cruisers launch their offensive drones.

“Z!” I shouted over my shoulder.

“I see them! There has to be sixty. Why won’t this piece of shit drive work? Do I need to suck its--”

“Use the foldingdrive!” Eve actually yelled, and I turned to look at her.

“Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope. Sorry!” Z said as our ship rocked again.

“Z!” I shouted at her again.

“Fuck! Fine. Damn! I plugged in the coordinates. Get ready!”

“Just do it!” I screamed, and my voice sounded more like a tiger’s roar than a person.

“Three! Two! Oh, this is going to suckkkkkkkkk!” The blonde hacker’s voice seemed to echo off of the walls of the bridge like a dance club screech.

Her voice cut off suddenly.

Everything turned to black.

As if someone had turned off a switch on my vision, hearing, touch, and smell.

As if someone had turned off a switch on my life.

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