We set down on Maldiara-4 in the middle of one of the biggest penal colonies in the human owned territories. The place stank. So did the situation. Victs were screamin to get out, the ground was shakin, and the admins were cutting every corner they could to save a bean or two.
The plan was to load up the Grundy’s thirty-two external cargo pods with frozen victs and transport them to Denar-5. The loadin is going okay. Bengal and the rest of the loader crew was plugging modules in at a good clip. Problem is, the ground keeps shakin. The victs are all around the complex yellin at the fences ‘cause they don’t want to get left to die on this dung-heap of a planet.
Smellin trouble Terry has me ‘n Hilda break out the guns and set up a perimeter around the ship. Felix is on patrol lookin for trouble as usual. Captain Kessler has him armed which makes me nervous. Those milspec Synths are known to be a little unstable—trouble distinguishin friend from foe in hot situations. Fingers and Sabre are pullin ground duty too, this place is poison. Too many victs and nothing but an electrified fence and some auto-turrets to keep em out of the yard.
The shakin gets worse, the victs are really freakin. Bengal pulls the heavy gun out of storage and mounts it on his loader. The penal guards are startin to get twitchy—makin us rush. We’re already processing cold meat as fast as we can. We want to make sure them victs stay cold, last we need is some psychos bouncin’ off the walls in the cargo pods.
Then it happens. Mass stupidity. A bunch of the victs start fightin. Some poor slobs get slammed up against the fence and starts fryin. Flesh is sizzling, people are screamin, and the guards start tweakin. Some drek-for-brains gets the whiz idea to start shootin. Blood starts flyin and a thousand odd victs go ape-snot.
That’s when the shakin just had to get worse. That’s when the power had to go out. That’s when the drek hit the proverbial friggin fan.
Victs start pourin over the fence. Terry is screamin orders, but nobody is listening. Bengal opens up with the rotary and starts chewin up the horde rushin the ship. Felix, me, Hilda, Fingers and Sabre are running for the hatch shootin everything that comes close.
Screw valor, I’m getting the frell out of this hell hole. Fortunately, the captain feels the same way. On board, we keep the victs back while the engines run up for dust off. It’s bloody, it’s ugly, it ain’t much fun fightin guys that just want to stay alive. Problem is, they’d kill us to do it.
We blast out of there with only two thirds of our cargo, a little under 500 deep frozen victs. Not exactly the kind of ballast you write home about, but the kind that puts creds in yer pocket. With a start like that, you know the ride to Denar-5 will be smooth…
Continued in … Convicts, Space Spiders, and Meteor Storms—Oh My. (Part 2 – Spactastrophy)