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Pirates Reprise




Time to decide whether to
aim the cannons or strike your colors

 
Length: 5K

Blurb:
Since the early days of sailing ships, pirates are part of legend and fact. Outer space, while posing technological challenges, offers greater rewards to those who in the future, follow the pirate banner of the past. The short story, Pirates Reprise, takes piracy from the era of cannon and sail into the future.

The first officer of the space-liner Halycon lost his wife and daughter to pirates. When he is trapped along with a young yeoman and the daughter of the colony's governor, the fate of the ship and crew rests not on the squad of marines, but the first officer and his two charges.

Aim the cannons and decide whether to fight or strike your colors. Come along on the journey into the stars.

 



Excerpt:

Taking his customary place, Roberts leaned against the wall beneath the framed hologram of the first Halcyon.

"First, let me introduce Commander Delrom," Captain James began, after silencing the room with a stern glare. "I'm sure you've all heard the scuttlebutt about pirates and lost ships. And are wondering why we have a platoon of space marines onboard. Over the past three months, pirates attacked four passenger liners, murdering the crews and most of the passengers. Those that survived, usually the very young, just disappeared. Fleet assumes they were taken by the raiders."

Before the stunned officers could digest the captain's revelations, the marine commander stood up. His ax-and-anchor insignia glittered with each movement he made. "The Halcyon's hold contains medical supplies critical for the Martian Colony to survive. The fleet admirals feel because of its new portal drive the Halcyon can hold its own against any ship in the ether. We have no firm intelligence the Halcyon is in danger; we're just along as added insurance."

With one ear attuned to the rest of the briefing, which covered the usual shakedown issues, Roberts evaluated his fellow officers. They're all good men, he thought. They'll stand true if the alarm goes up. So engrossed in his thoughts, he almost failed to catch the captain addressing him.

"Mr. Roberts, although experienced spacers, the marines still need to be certified. Coordinate with Commander Delrom and give them the standard deep space orientation."

The briefing concluded, the officers left for their various assignments. Those going off duty headed to the mess for a meal or down to the recreation level. Seeing the captain signal him to stay behind, Roberts hung back and didn't join his fellow crewmen's retreat. James knew his first officer harbored strong feelings of loss over his family's deaths. Guilt compounded the emotions since the deaths occurred while Roberts was away on an extended reconnaissance patrol in the Centauri galaxy. Knowing how his friend would react, the senior officer carefully closed the door and triggered the room's shields before giving Roberts his new assignment. The precautions were justified as soon as Roberts requested permission to speak freely.

"Captain, I object. I am not a babysitter. She's already protected by marines. Why do I have to watch her when I'm off duty?" A vein throbbed in Roberts' neck as he fought to control his emotions.

"Krella is the daughter of the colony's governor. Although traveling in the company of the marines, she needs someone from the ship's crew to show her around and put her through the space certification. As first officer it's your duty to handle all training."

The captain waited for a few more seconds, before continuing. "We've already caught her trying to sneak onto the bridge. I want you to not only make it clear what areas are off-limits, but ensure she obeys the restrictions." Seeing the obstinate set of Roberts' face, James hardened his tone. "Are my orders clear, Mr. Roberts?"

"Yes, sir."

 

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Copyright 2013 by Helen Henderson 


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