My Family, The Mercenaries/Space Pirates: Chapter 03

*****

Morning came, and the ship's computers had already turned on all of the main power, almost like the sun rising to indicate morning on Earth. All the clocks on the Scavenger were set for Earth time, and it was 0730 (or 7:30 am, since the crew all went by military time).

Ace hopped down from her bunk and immediately started getting dressed. Patch was already up and about somewhere on the ship, so he wasn't in bed. She threw on her usual wardrobe of old ripped cargo pants, black tank-top, a heavy gun belt with phase pistol (Patch only allowed her to have one on permanent 'stun' mode), and big clunky boots.

She rushed out of her room and ran straight into Big John, literally.

"Whoa, easy there kiddo, what's the rush?" John greeted her with a hearty belly laugh.

Ace smiled. "Hey Big John. Sorry, I promised Friday I'd meet him for breakfast by 0745. He said he was gonna cook."

Big John laughed again. "Well you better hurry then, you've got about 2 minutes."

Ace glanced at her watch, confirming the time. She waved at John and raced down the halls.

*****

Patch was just coming down from the bridge, after checking up on their schedule, when he saw a blur skid by him. "Hey Ace!"

Without stopping, she called back, "Can't stop now, I gotta get ta the galley quick!"

"Hold it right there firebug." Patch told her firmly.

Ace stopped, hunching her shoulders and sighed. "What?"

"We got some traders comin' on board in about an hour. We need some supplies, more food among that, and we gotta trade in a warp reactor. You know what ta do kid." He gave Ace a half smile and a wink.

She rolled her eyes. "Aw man! Do I gotta wear the grease monkey suit though?"

"Yep." Patch paused at Ace's audible groan. "C'mon, don't fight with me on this. You know the drill, now go'n get changed."

Ace frowned, turning in the opposite direction she was heading. "Fine, fine. But I hate those stupid traders...They always make me do everything for 'em and treat me like their little slave." She grumbled.

Patch just grunted, stifling a bit of a laugh. "Jus' play the part of the apprentice like usual, and no one'll bug ya." He headed down the hall to prepare the others for the people coming onto the ship.

Ace left at a jog back to her room, still griping about the traders and having to wear the monkey suit.

*****

Patch and Friday were at the connecting bridge, helping the traders bring in supplies once they had arrived. Friday eyed the strangers suspiciously as they unloaded things, noticing how heavily armed they were. He whispered to Patch as they carried a large supply box. "Think these guys are feds? Look at all those weapons."

Patch grunted. "Yeah, I noticed that too. Doubt they're feds though. Too rough lookin'."

"Other mercs?" Friday questioned as they turned the corner to the storage area.

"Yep. Most likely. Keep a close eye on the main weapons locker. They might be thieves too."

Friday nodded, and they both walked past some of the traders on their way for more supplies, watching them wearily.

*****

Ace ran down to where the traders were taking in supplies with Friday and Patch. She had on her grease monkey suit, prepared to play the part of the 'apprentice'.

When she got there, a big chubby man with a greasy black mustache, and even more greasy hair walked towards her. One of the traders, she figured. He glared at Ace, smacking her in the back of the head. "Don't be so lazy boy, get'cher ass movin' and make yoreself useful!" The disgusting man snarled at her.

This is why Ace hated playing the little boy apprentice. The traders, mercs, etc, whoever they were, they always pushed her around and treated her like crap. She frowned at the man, knowing there'd be trouble if she didn't keep her mouth shut. Ace moved on like the man said, and started up the latter, towards the connecting bridge so she could help bring in the supplies.

While all this had transpired, Patch was returning from the supply room and saw everything that went on. He started past the fat man, giving him a terribly dangerous looking glare.

The man looked nervous and shrugged his shoulders. "Heh, dumb kid huh? Apprentice needs ta learn ta do what he's told. Smackin' the kid 'round a little should do th'trick." He said with a smirk.

Patch stopped infront of the man, glaring at him hard with his good eye. In a dangerously low, threatening voice he said, "You touch that kid again, I'm gonna hand you yer testicles in a jar. Got me?" He tapped the knife on his belt for emphasis.

The fat man gulped, eyeing the knife by Patch's side, no longer a smirk on his face. "Yeah," He cleared his throat loudly, surprised at the squeek of his own voice. "I got ya pal, won't touch the kid, right."

Patch nodded, striding past the petrified man and back toward the remaining supplies.

*****

Once all the supplies were on the Scavenger, and the crew loaded the warp reactor onto the trader's ship, their ''guests'' were about ready to leave.

Patch eyed them wearily, backed up by Big John, Friday, and even Ace. Murphy wasn't anywhere near all of this, because of last night, Patch ordered him to keep mostly to his quarters today. He knew these strangers were up to something, he just didn't know what it was. Yet.

Suddenly, the man that appeared to be the leader, nodded towards his other men. The one that Patch had threatened quickly drew a shock pistol and shot it straight at his chest.

Ace screamed. "PATCH!" She started rushing towards the shooter angrily, when Big John grabbed her from behind.

"Careful little one." He looked up, gesturing towards the other men who now had more guns drawn at them. "What's the meaning o' this lads?!" Big John demanded.

The leader of the traders had an evil glint in his eye and looked from Big John to Patch, who was lying unconscious on the deck. "There's a price out on your friend's head. We aim to collect. He's worth over ten times as much as the warp reactor you traded us, and we could use the money."

"Don't even think about it you creepoid!" Ace struggled in Big John's grip and yelled at the man.

The traders had all taken their eyes off Friday as he slinked off into the shadows.

The leader of the traders looked at John again, ignoring Ace. "We promise to let you and the rest of your crew live, that is, if you allow us to leave without a fight."

"Fat chance!" Friday yelled from the shadows, pulling out a lock-on laser rifle and shooting at the strangers.

The traders fought back, but they didn't have any weapons like Friday's with them. They realized they'd been beaten, by the sure power of the rifle and retreated back into their ship. "We'll be back you dumb gits! We'll be back and next time, we ain't leavin' any survivors!!" Their leader yelled as he closed the hatch and disconnected from the Scavenger.

Friday put down the weapon and rushed over to Patch. "He's still breathin'!" He called over to Big John, waving him over.

"We better get 'im to sick bay." John and Friday carefully picked up their Captain and started down the corridor. Big John glanced back at Ace as she hurried to follow them. "We'll take care of him Ace, you jus' stay outta sick bay 'till we're all set."

Ace frowned, but didn't fight him. After all, Big John was just trying to protect her. She wasn't scared though, she'd seen people get hurt before, and she needed to make sure Patch was okay herself. He was like her father, she couldn't stay out of it.

*****

Inside the ship's sick bay, Patch lay on the bed, still unconscious.

Friday was pacing back and forth nervously until Big John called over to him. "Friday, get the medical scanner, now."

Friday rumaged through the cabinets before pulling out a small hand-held scanner. He walked slowly toward the bed and handed it to John. "Hey, you think he's okay?"

Big John took the scanner from him and smiled sympathetically. "I won't know until we check." He clicked a button on the scanner and traced it over Patch's still form. The machine beeped and Big John smiled with a sigh.

"What's it say?" Friday asked impatiently.

"He's had a bit of a shock, and some electric burns on his chest. The ol' boy's gonna be fine kid."

Friday smiled, then turned to the door when he saw Ace peeking in. "He's alright Ace."

The small girl grinned and walked into the room. She sighed with relief. "Good, now you guys better tell Murph that, he probably thinks he's takin' over."

Big John laughed, looking to Friday. "Go'n, get back to work and I'll finish fixin' up Patch."

The red haired boy nodded and took off, winking af Ace. "You still owe me a breakfast date kiddo."

***

Later on, Ace skipped into the infirmary to check on Patch again. He was sitting up in bed and had a bandage wrapped around his chest. She heard him groan, and leaned up against the doorframe as she entered. "Heya. Feelin' better?"

Patch looked up at the sound of her voice. He rubbed at his sore chest. "Yeah, just a little crispy."

Ace laughed, then furrowed her brows, giving him a concerned look. "What're you doing gettin' up anyways? You still needta rest ya know."

Patch stood up, grabbing his shirt from beside the bed and putting it on. "What I need is ta go find out why the hell Murph didn't show up when he heard all the racket. He had to've heard the shots."

Ace frowned, crossing her arms. "That guy's just a creepoid, he probably didn't give a shit."

Patch merely grunted and stood up, heading for the door. Without turning around he said, "Don't follow me kid, ahright?"

She nodded, knowing very well that her being there would just make Murphy even angrier. "Fine."

Patch took off, to give Murphy a piece of his mind, in one way or ther other. Though chances were, neither of the two was going to be in a good mood afterwards.

*****

To be continued...