Haunting Blackie Page 3

“Sometimes I dislike you,” he growled, rubbing the injured spot. “I forgot where I was.”

“We’re on the Bridden. Bad dream? Your breathing increased 7.3 minutes ago.”

He carefully maneuvered out of the sleeping berth and stood, watching his roommate turn onto his side to stare at him from the upper bunk with a concerned look. “I remember where we are. Now.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”


“Were you contemplating the Markus Models? I’ve had a few bad dreams about them. They are creepy things.”

“It wasn’t about the fleshy androids.” He turned and walked over to the mirror, checking to see if he’d have a bruise. He wasn’t bleeding at least.

“Was it about Fleet? I know he’s recently been harsh with his assignments. He’s grooming you for leadership.”

Blackie glanced at his friend, realizing he wouldn’t give up until he had an answer. “I was reliving part of our escape from Earth.”

“That wasn’t a bad thing. It was the best day of my life.”

It wasn’t his best day but he kept that to himself.

“It was stressful. I was certain we’d all die but we got away without massive casualties.” Gene’s voice deepened. “It shouldn’t cause you to experience bad dreams.”

Blackie turned back to the mirror and adjusted his head to peer at the darkened mark at the top of his forehead. It wouldn’t bruise but it would be tender for a few more minutes. He hated to remember the day the shuttle landed to pick him up. He’d searched for Hellfire onboard but she hadn’t been present. In space he’d contacted the other ships they’d stolen, only to discover she wasn’t among the survivors.

She’s long dead. She had to have been killed during the escape. Those thoughts always disturbed him.

“You were rescued from one of the termination centers. You were spared the fighting the other cyborgs endured while fleeing the detention camps.”

He rolled his shoulders and faced his friend. “That’s accurate.”

“Is this about that woman who rescued you? The one you told me about? I thought you stopped dreaming about her a few years ago.” Gene slid out of his berth.

He thought he had too. “I had another one.” It would be pointless to lie. It was Gene’s gift to detect deception.

“She’s got to be really old by now if she’s still alive. You know how they age.”

“I believe she was killed for saving my life.”

“She knew the risks. All of them who helped us did. Do not feel guilt. It was her choice.”

He evaluated his emotions. “I’m angry.”

“You were injured and outnumbered. She gave you instructions while you were heavily drugged. They were orders you would have followed under those circumstances. To go after her would have been suicide and she told you to leave her behind.”

“She promised to meet me.” He instantly regretted the words, knew they revealed too much.

Gene’s gaze softened. “You said you didn’t know her long.”

“She was very memorable.”

“Obviously.” His friend sighed. “We should get ready for our shift. Use the cleansing unit first. You look like hell.”

Blackie winced. Hellfire.

* * * * *

Eve gazed at the monitor, bored. “Where are you? I’m sitting right here, smack-dab in the middle of where you should be.” She glanced at the flashing emergency beacon lighting up her console. “Screaming to get your attention.”

“I guess you’re not seeing anything since you’re muttering to yourself?”

She turned her head to glance at the other woman. “Nothing yet, Danica. Our calculations were either wrong or pirates got them.”

Danica snorted. “We’re not that lucky and those bastards are too damn mean to go out that way. They could probably scare those freaks.” She rubbed her arm. The healing cut that she’d earned during battle was evident. “We could go out farther.”

“We run the risk of coming into contact with pirates if we venture deeper into the Bevias sector.”

“So? It beats the shit out of sitting here playing games with the computer. I could totally go for a round with those mutant bastards after the last encounter we had.”

“We blew them up and there were no survivors. I’d say that was a win. There’s no reason to feel slighted.”

“But they targeted my favorite section of the ship. It’s toast.”

“Get over it.” Eve watched the monitor again. “It’s not our job to clean out this sector. The military can deal with them.”

“Speaking of jobs, we aren’t even going to get paid for this. We could be at the way station on Titan right now.” A wistful sigh filled the room. “Where men are.”

Irritation flashed inside Eve as she glanced at her crewmate. “Is that all you think about?”

“Yes. Maybe I could bag a twofer in one of the bars. Some of those criminal types are pretty hot. I could take him back to my quarters, have some fun and just keep him in cuffs afterward until we reach an outpost to hand him off. We’re going to have to pay for those repairs we need somehow. You’d be thinking about those kinds of things too if you weren’t a robot.”

The snort was instant. “Is that how you see me?”

“You may as well be. When did you forget how to have fun and live a little? You’re all about hunting bad guys lately.”

“They attacked three space stations and killed everyone aboard. The military isn’t going to do anything about it but I am. They are deserters no one wants to bring attention to. They stole a shuttle and are targeting innocent outlanders.”

“You realize you’re holding me hostage since you won’t let me off this floating junk pile, don’t you? What are you going to do if we find them? We’re heavily damaged from our encounters with pirates. You wouldn’t signal that luxury liner we passed two days ago. They had men aboard. We could have at least asked for a ride back to our home solar system while they towed this hunk of junk to the nearest space dock. What did I ever do to you to deserve this?”

“You’re still alive.”


Eve smiled. “Whiner.”

“You said it yourself. The military doesn’t even have the balls to go after these ass**les or put up a reward for their capture. They want to wash their hands of the entire mess as if it doesn’t exist. Why do we have to be the ones to hunt them? Do you have a death wish? Has living lost its shine? I don’t want to die.”

“I don’t, either, but someone has to go after them. They aren’t targeting military or drone ships.”

“Why does it have to be us?”

She turned in her seat to study Danica. “You know why. We can’t ignore innocent people being slaughtered. We’re better than that and we care.”

Danica threw up her arms. “You’ve lost your mind. I’m going to my room. I can at least look at vids of men if I can’t see any real ones.” She stood.

“We can take a ride deeper inside the sector and find some pirates if you’re really intent on hooking up with a guy. It shouldn’t be too hard to capture one for you to keep in your room as a sex slave.”

“Ewww! That’s just sick. I might be desperate but they are mutant freaks. I want someone who looks good and who isn’t insane.”

“Picky, picky.”

“That’s not funny. I’m gone. This is the thanks I get for being so loyal to you.” Danica stormed out of the room.

A hint of guilt pestered Eve. It might have bothered her longer but a light suddenly beeped on her monitor. She pushed the button on the coms. “Contact! Get your ass back here now.”

In seconds Danica returned, rushing to take her seat. “What is it? Who is it?”

“Unknown.” Eve waited for the computer to get a lock on the vessel and identify it. “It is coming our way.”

“It better be a freighter full of hot, long-distance haulers.”

“I’ll cut the signal and hide us behind the moon if it is. They’ll think it’s an echo once we disappear off their screens.”


“We can’t exactly dock with them to say ‘hi’. Do you want to start a riot?”


Eve turned to glare at her sister. “I never want to see a bunch of men fighting each other again, thinking the winners get to drag us off to bed. It was disturbing and we barely made it out of there in one piece. I didn’t want to end up being someone’s sex slave until we were able to escape.”

“They were ugly but these ones might be younger and attractive. It was kind of flattering, how they were willing to beat the shit out of each other that way. Look on the bright side. We were hot commodities and only the strongest would have won. There’s something to be said for that.”

“You worry me.”

“Incoming intel.”

“I’m seeing it.” Eve scanned the scrolling information the computer displayed and tensed. “Pirates. There are three ships, closely grouped. They must have docked together to pool resources.”

“Hide us.”

Four additional blips showed on the monitor. Dread pitted inside Eve’s stomach as she read more information as it was displayed. “It’s a trap.”

“No shit.” Danica’s voice came out high-pitched. “It’s a cluster of those f**kers coming at us from all sides and we’re in the middle. They are undocking to spread out. You rang the dinner bell with that distress signal and they are about to serve us up.”

“Seal all sections of the ship and prepare to blow the seals if they board us. We’ll use rapid decompression to expel them into space.” Her hands trembled when she flipped on the engines. “It’s not an option to run since we can’t escape. We’re in battle mode. Charge our weapons.”

“Already on it.” Danica paused. “Damn it, Eve. It’s going to be a miracle if we survive this. There are twenty-three ships in all now that they’ve separated. Make that twenty-four. We don’t stand a chance in hell with those odds. Think it’s too late to hide?”

“They have too much coverage with their combined scanners locked on. They’d just follow us and we’ll be trapped inside a crater.”

“At least they’d have to come at us head-on.”

“We’re better off in the open. The good thing about these old transports is their solid hulls. We can ram them when they try to come alongside us to board.”


“Do you want a bright side?”

“If you say anything about how I was lonely and now there’re at least a few hundred pirates who want to get their hands on me, I’m going to have to get out of this chair to smack you.”

Eve laughed, some of her fear replaced by humor. “I was going to say the criminals we were chasing probably fell into this same trap and that means they are dead but now that you mentioned it…”

“Fuck you,” Danica grumbled. “Not funny.”

“I wouldn’t say ‘fuck’. We’re women and you know what they are going to do to us if we’re taken alive.”

“Gang-raped to death by mutant freaks.” Danica muttered a string of foul curse words. “So not happening. The only man who’s touching me is going to be sexy looking and not covered in radiation sores.”

“Game on.”

“Damn straight. We aim to win.”

Eve kicked off her shoes under the console and shoved them out of the way. She tore open her flight suit.

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