They landed their ship on the far side of Glix, the largest town and the one closest to their target. Toliver, Gerard, Fishmonger, and Masq dressed in the clothes common for local freighter crews and headed toward Glix’s main market. It wasn’t far from the landing pads since most of the commerce on this world, legitimate or otherwise, happened either at the spaceport or directly outside the mine.
Cy and Pyrite finished putting together the explosives that were twitchy enough to be set off by a spaceship’s landing. There were three main types: small targeted “poppers” for door locks and other small direct needs; a mid-range flash grenade style called “flashers” that could incapacitate guards and other personnel for a short time; and finally Pyrite’s favorite: “Big Betsys.” These were built for maximum damage.
Cy had helped Pyrite throughout the voyage, but nothing had been volatile then. He’d never put things together that might take you apart. He dropped three poppers and would have lost a leg each time if he hadn’t been a Moorvat. When he dropped a flash grenade, though, and incapacitated Pyrite for ten minutes, Pyrite tried to fricassee Cy’s internal organs. Cy, taking the hint and leaving Pyrite to finish the task alone, found Ox in the cargo bay preparing parts and supplies and tweaking the truck they planned to use.
Cy tried to help Ox load equipment until he dropped a crate on Ox’s foot. Ox threw him across the room, which Cy also took as a hint to leave.
Finally, Cy quadruple-checked his slipstream ballistics suit and clubs. His job would be neither quick nor painless, but it would be necessary. He practiced his kicks and punches and whirled his clubs. Fishmonger had found an iron neck brace that came up and covered the soft, pale spot under his chin, the only place anything could penetrate his skin. The weak spot, engineered into all Moorvats, was a failsafe in case the perfect soldiers turned on their masters.
But the Moorvats hadn’t been the ones who turned. The politicians who’d pegged their last hopes on them in the first Ftharan war had barely tolerated them once the war was over. Sure, there were still a few elite units in the Colonial armed services and a handful of spies in the Colonial Intelligence Services, but most had been pushed out to the Aphelion worlds, neither welcome nor wanted even there.
Cy had heard of a secret sanctuary somewhere that Moorvats had built to live their own lives, but rumors couldn’t feed you or keep you safe.
Toliver, Gerard and Fishmonger returned to the ship.
“Where’s Masq?” Cy asked.
“Infiltrating,” Toliver said.
“There’s gotta be a better way,” Gerard said.
“And what’s that?” Toliver asked. His voice was louder and his face was redder than Gerard’s statement would normally inspire. “Cuz if you’ve got them, I’m all ears. Show me a better way.”
Gerard looked defiantly into his eyes. “We may mean nothing to you, but we’re still people, still worthy of dignity.”
“She was fine with it. Accepted it.”
“That doesn’t make it right. That doesn’t excuse you.”
“We’ll break her out. It’ll be like it never happened.”
“It did happen.”
“Go prepare for this op so that her sacrifice won’t be for naught.”
“There were other ways…”
“Go now or I blow your head off and run the op myself.”
Gerard cursed under her breath and kicked Toliver in the shin, then walked off to finish preparing. Toliver pulled out the tablet with the controls, but thought better of it and hobbled off toward the cockpit.
Cy looked at Fishmonger. “What was that about?”
“Toliver sold Masq to one of Boss Clawf’s goons.”
“Like a slave?”
“A love slave.”
“You’re an idiot, Hero.” Fishmonger walked off.
Cy looked after him.
To Be Continued…