"Ava. Sarah. You two might have company soon, what's your status?" Comes the familiar voice of Tah-Kuell from their omnitools.
"We're just a tiny bit lost," Sarah responds, the two women standing in front of a terminal installed on the wall, typing slowly on the keyboard. "This is taking longer than we thought, and we're just sort of skimming by on what you've told us about this 'code' we're suppose to put in. It doesn't help that it's all in an alien language."
There's a pause, before Tah-Kuell speaks up. "That's odd. Sophia got back a bit ago, she told me her instructions and the terminal's keys all turned into your English when she asked for it. Maybe you could try something like that."
"Wait, that actually worked?" says Sarah, stopping what she's doing to mull on the idea.
"Whatever," Ava sighs, nervously peering at the doors, leaning against the wall near the terminal. "Let's just get this over with before we get caught and wind up dead."
Sarah shoots Ava an annoyed look, before looking down at her omnitool. "Okay, uh.. can we get a translation in English? Please?" For a moment, nothing happens, but then the keys on the terminal begin to shift, all of the console's keys re-arranging themselves as if by magic. Though this time, the instructions stay the same.
"And the instructions?"
Silence. No response.
"We've got a problem, Tah-Kuell. The keys are all English, but the instructions didn't change, so I'm completely lost. Can you translate them?"
"That will take some time. Just getting the instructions together was very touch and go. Stand by, I'll send the translated version shortly." Gradually, the instructions begin to change, although very slowly, each letter converting to English, one by one. The door furthest from the two buckles from an impact, causing the lights in the room to flicker. It's as if the marauders are trying to break in.
"I can hear talking in there!" R'rith snarls, audible from the other side of the door, though muffled. "Help me bring this down, will ya?" The sound of numerous boots on the ship's grating, muffled by the closed door, soon stop moving. The sound of drilling can be heard and then, another loud metallic bang causes the entire room to shudder.
"Tah-Kuell, we need those instructions!" Sarah yells, trying her best to hide her anxiety, as the deafening clang of metal on metal gets louder. She doesn't dare glance at the door, not wanting to see what sort of progress is being made to get to them.
"I'm working as quickly as I can," Tah-Kuell says, calm, though only because his door isn't the one being broken down by mercenaries.
Ava stares at the door, chest heaving, with wide eyes and a look on her face that says this sort of terror isn't something she's felt before. "Sarah, if they break open that door, I am leaving you here I swear to God. I am not dying here!"
Sarah lets out a frustrated noise, typing the last few commands into the terminal as quickly as she can. Or at least as quickly as the instructions appear on her omnitool. "Ava, please, shut up."
Another bang, louder this time than the others. The door finally begins to buckle as the door's integrity starts to waver. "Oh, God, this is really how we're going out, isn't it?" Ava says, breathing more heavily. The lights flicker again as the door lets out a loud noise followed by a small explosion. From where the door typically splits down the middle, a hole has been created by some kind of device, large enough for R'rith to look inside of. And so, he does.
"I see them! Stand back, you idiots! I'll break down this door myself!" R'rith roars in anger, moving away from the door, backing up to take speed.
"Oh shit!" Ava cries, realizing what R'rith is trying to do, quickly moving toward the opposite side of the room, where another exit is. She approaches it, her presence triggering the exit door to split down the middle and open in response. "Forget this, Sarah, let's just go!"
Ignoring Ava's pleas, Sarah continues to type commands into the terminal. "If you want to go, just go. I got this."
For a moment, Ava looks conflicted, but one glance at the hole on the opposing side of the room makes the decision for her. "Suit yourself." She turns and rushes out of the room, but the door doesn't close behind her. Instead, it stays open, likely Tah-Kuell's doing.
With Ava gone, nothing really changes for Sarah, who takes advantage of the quiet to work a bit faster. "Okay. I think that'll do it." Sarah finishes up moments after the last of the instructions translates. She presses a button to send the commands. A green light on the console indicates that the commands were received. "Tah-Kuell. I did it. I'm coming back now."
Stomping forward with all his might, R'rith leaps into the hole with his fists in front of him. The impact of the Blith's body against the already weakened doorway is enough to force it inward, the hole becoming larger, allowing R'rith entry; though the wall corrects itself again flexibly, ensuring that it'll be at least a few moments before the rest of the Marauders can easily enter. R'rith breaks through, entering the room angry and zeroes in on Sarah immediately, claws scraping on the grating below, quickly rushing towards her.
Sarah pushes off the terminal and makes a run toward the open exit on the other side, but the Blith is much too quick for her; the impact of flesh on flesh causes the girl to scream as she is sent flying toward a wall, hitting the floor and tumbling on the grating. She grabs her shoulder in pain but doesn't hesitate to stand, turning toward R'rith with a defiant look on her face. "Why are you doing this?" She growls, slowly backing away from the creature. R'rith laughs, confident that he's finally caught one of the ship's inhabitants.
"I want this ship, you pathetic creature. Your vessel is made of Precursor technology, who long ago disappeared before any of us existed in this galaxy." R'rith gnashes its teeth in an aggressive manner, just to get a reaction from Sarah. When she doesn't so much as flinch, the Blith lets out a low snarl. "The last man who got his hands on one of these ships.. he's very rich, very powerful now." He lets out a few low puffs of air, like a very odd chuckle. "If I have to kill you and your friends to become one of the galaxy's wealthiest creatures, well.." It reaches out to snag Sarah by the leg, easily pulling her in closer despite her struggles. "So be it."
Desperate to try to buy the others time, and to give Ava enough time to run, Sarah desperately clutches the grating beneath her. "Go to hell." Sarah speaks through clenched teeth. By this point, the Marauders have setup a machine at the hole, opening it wider so they can enter. The deafening metallic knocks of the device are not enough to get R'rith to flinch. As the lights in the room flicker from the impacts, it only makes R'rith look more intimidating, as he fails to react to it all.
"I know Tah-Kuell must be watching. I want him to know that he failed to save one of his little friends.." R'rith grins, opening his maw slowly. Just past the thin line of his lips, several rows of sharp teeth are visible, similar to a shark, more than enough to rend the flesh from Sarah's bones. There's no doubt in Sarah's mind at this point that she's about to eaten. At first, Sarah feels like crying, but then something inside her awakens, a firy boldness. She purses her lips, narrowing her eyes, staring down the reaper with the most defiant look she can muster.
As that maw widens even more, something whistles right past Sarah's ear, hitting R'rith straight in the eyes, forcing him to close his mouth out of instinct. Confused, R'rith steps back, as pieces of the fruit come tumbling off him. He grabs a piece of it as it rolls down his face and sniffs it, as if trying to determine what it is. "What is this?" His eyes suddenly widen, and the Blith begins to thrash violently. "Tukchi fruit! I HATE TUKCHI FRUIT!"
Spotting her opportunity, Sarah quickly kicks R'rith and pushes herself off of him, freeing herself. She turns to rush for the door as the Blith rolls back and snarls, spitting out pieces of green fruit all over the room. Upon turning, she realizes who it was who threw the fruit. "I thought you'd run!" Sarah yells, grabbing Ava's hand as she leaps past the door, pulling her out of the room with her. As soon as they're past the threshold, the door shuts immediately, a safe barrier between them and the bloodthirsty creature.
"Yeah, well, I couldn't just leave you there to die," Ava smirks, triumphant as the two head for the bridge. With a better knowledge of the ship, and the doors helping to lead the way, the two girls run through a couple of hallways until, finally, arriving at the bridge. Sophia intercepts the two of them, leaping up and throwing her arms around Ava in a friendly gesture.
"I can't believe it. You saved her!" Sophia cries in her excitement, though it's short lived as Ava gingerly pulls the smaller girl's arms off her neck. Barely moments after Sophia's feet touch the ground again, she quickly throws her arms around Sarah, who's much more welcoming.
"I must say, that was a very risky move. I should have guessed someone like R'rith would hate Tukchi fruit," Tah-Kuell chuckles, turning back toward the cameras and typing into his console again. "It seems you and him share something in common, Ava."
Ava gives Tah-Kuell a warning glance, before stepping over to look at the live video feeds in the room. "Where's Nick and Darius?"
"It appears they've befriended one of our visitors, and they're moving toward the area I've been herding most of the Marauders to. It's a room full of conduits meant to transfer power to some vital part of the ship. Sophia's work allowed me access to new areas on screen, and the work you and Sarah just did have allowed me to divert power to that area again. We've been successful so far, with a few close calls. Let's hope the boys know what they're doing, trusting their lives to that woman."
"What woman?" Sarah says, moving in closer now, practically carrying Sophia as she does, who is still clinging to her. She notes the two boys and the female marauder moving about on the screens, which flicker to new angles as they move out of range of the camera they're currently on. "Wait. Who are they with?"
"From what I've been able to listen to, she's from Earth."
"She's human?" says Sophia, finally letting go of Sarah, standing to stare at the displays with everybody else.
"Indeed. The odds of such an occurrence are astronomical. It would seem the boys were lucky enough to find one of your race in the midst of all this. Certainly hitting the galactic lottery, so to speak."
Elsewhere on the ship, Nicholas and his group walk past several empty translucent tanks on their way into the bowels of the ship. The orange-haired mercenary leads the way, her suit making mechanical noises as she walks.
"So, uh.." Nicholas speaks as they walk through the hallway. ".. I don't think we ever got your name."
The woman peers over at him, before looking back in the direction they're heading. "Not important."
"Come on, you gotta give us something," says Darius, who is following behind at a steady pace, his metal pipe in hand. "I mean, we told you our names."
"Fine," The woman says, without looking back at them. "My group calls me Raven."
"Well, Raven. Thanks for not killing us back there. We thought for sure we-"
"Please. Save the thanks and mush for after we get out of this," Raven says, slowing to a stop as they enter a room filled with rusty pipes and wires on the walls. "We're not out of the woods yet." She peers at the pipework and the wiring, before turning to look at the teenagers. "So your friend.. he's going to do what exactly?"
"Apparently, he can send electricity through these walls and create an electric shock by overloading the wiring here with power," Nicholas responds, his attention briefly distracted by the conduits. "If we can get your Marauder friends all in here, we should be able to electrocute them if they get close enough to the walls."
Raven chuckles, examining one of the nearby conduits. She shakes her head. "No, that's not going to work. You won't kill any of them. Our armor is designed to withstand any kind of directed energy surge, including electric shock. They'd recover." She knocks her knuckles against one of the conduits, which lets out a hollow clang of armor against metal. "But it should incapacitate them long enough for us to get them back on their ship."
Raven scans the room for a moment as if deciding the best course of action, before turning back to the boys.
"Okay. Here's the plan: my group probably won't all pile into the room at once, they're not stupid, so even if you incapacitate a few of them, you'll still have a few stragglers that'll cause trouble. But, I'm going to pretend I've managed to find you and your friends, get 'em all in here at the same time. They'll trust me." She pauses a moment, giving the two teens a sly look. "What exactly was your plan anyway? Take a hostage, or kill a few of us, or something?"
"Uh... we didn't really think that far ahead," Darius peers around at all the tubes running through the room; many of them are metallic, the low but growing buzz echoing through the walls proving that electricity is being moved through them. Some of the tubes have already been damaged, likely the result of deterioration, releasing the occasional shower of sparks. "We were sort of improvising."
Raven smirks, reaching into her pocket to produce a blade. Although it seems to be made from metal, even as she easily cuts through the wiring of the room, she isn't electrocuted. "You two get out of the room and let me take care of this. I'll consider your friend's omnitool as hazard pay," she says, gripping the sparking wires and pulling them out of the wall. She reaches into the helmet attached to her waist, pressing a button on it. "This is Raven. I've found where they've been hiding. Come to me. I've got all five here. I'll transfer the coordinates to you. Might as well bring everyone, 'cause these guys are a handful."
The voice of R'rith echoes through the helmet. "Excellent work, Raven. I'm going to make the pretty girl suffer for forcing me to taste that wretched fruit. We'll be there shortly."
Satisfied, Raven begins to tuck the wires behind the myriad of conduits so they touch the grating. Nicholas and Darius, safe just inches beyond the threshold of a door leading out of the room, watch nervously. "So, what are the odds she's setting us up?" Darius leans in to whisper to Nicholas. "Not good," Nicholas says, which earns him a playful shove from his friend. "I mean, we don't really have a choice, Darius. Seriously. Whatever she's wearing is some heavy-duty stuff." He folds his arms across his chest. "If she hadn't agreed to help us, we'd be in way over our heads right now."
Raven looks up toward the two with an incredulous look. "I can hear you, you know?" She grunts, tugging out more wiring from the conduits. "Look, I'm only helping you because those omnitools are worth a mint, and R'rith has a bounty on his head high enough to let me live comfortably for the rest of my life. Honestly, I have no idea how a bunch of kids like you got caught up in all this. Most people.." She grunts again as she yanks more wires free, seemingly struggling to do so. ".. that cross R'rith.." She leans in to push herself between some conduits, hiding more wires. ".. wind up dead, or worse."
Wiping some sweat off her brow, Raven surveys her handiwork. "Okay, I think this is good enough." She motions for Nicholas and Darius to move away from the door, only moments before the pounding of paws on the grating begins to echo through the hallway they'd been through only minutes before. "He's coming. Sit down and act like you've been bound."
"I've got a bad feeling about this.." Darius sits down slowly, and Nicholas follows along with the act, the two pressing their backs against one another before pulling their knees in toward their chests, arms settled in the middle and hands clasped. "How's this look?"
"It'll do. R'rith is smart, but he's still a Blith. He'll fall for it." Raven says, turning to face the door. Mere seconds later, R'rith stomps into the room, narrowing all of his eyes at the group of three. Those yellow eyes move from Raven to the captured teenagers, before they settle on Raven again.
"Mmm. I don't think I've ever seen you without your headgear before, Raven. I wouldn't have pegged you for a female, let alone a disgusting Human. I suppose even the Marauders have to scrape the bottom of the barrel to replace their dead."
"I may be a Human, but I'm the best in this group, and you know that, R'rith." Raven sneers, narrowing her eyes in contempt of the Blith's words. "These little pricks.." She thumbs back at Nicholas and Darius. ".. damaged my helmet. It's useless now."
"Explains why you sounded so strange over the comms," R'rith reasons, slowly moving toward her. "And the others?"
"They're in another room. I moved them away from each other, so they didn't think about escaping," Raven says, dusting her hands off, like she's satisfied with a job well done. "Whatever happens to them now is up to you. I just want my cut of the pay."
Satisfied, R'rith waits patiently for the rest of the Marauders to step into the room. The moment the last one enters, the door closes shut behind them. Raven quickly leaps back, stepping over the threshold near Nick and Darius. The marauders in the room look around, confused.
".. What is the meaning of this?" R'rith snarls, looking around the room as well.
"Oh, you know, just getting my day's worth," Raven smiles. She motions for the two teenagers to stand and move further into the hallway, while she stands guard near the open door; her weapon at the ready. The humming inside the conduit room suddenly increases, before rays of electric energy come roaring through the many tubes. Several cries echo as the Marauders, and R'rith, are all shocked simultaneously by extremely high voltage.
Refusing to give up, R'rith begins to crawl toward the door that Raven stands in, being the closest of the bunch. His strength is put to the test as he claws his way inch by inch while thousands of volts continue to flow throughout his body. "Raven! You...you traitor!" He bellows, slowing down the closer he gets.
One by one, the Marauders begin to drop behind him, being immobilized as their suits malfunction. "When I find you after this, I'm going to rip your throat out!" As R'rith gets close enough to reach a paw out to try to swipe at her, Raven lifts her rifle, pressing the barrel carefully against his face. She pulls the trigger, unleashing a concussive blast from the tip, with enough force behind it to send even the massively large R'rith tumbling across the room. Nicholas and Darius can only stare in disbelief at the explosive power of such a weapon.
"Put a sock in it, you narcissist. They've got holding cells for things like you on Omega Prime," Raven sneers, visibly demonstrating her disdain for her ex-boss, before she turns around to face Nicholas and Darius. "How'd I do? Satisfactory?" As the two teens nod, eyes wide, she chuckles and shoulders her rifle. "Good. Let's get these guys back to their ship, and get me paid."