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Adventures Across the Starways - Chapter 20

Contributing Authors: rbo 

Sive lifted her chin as she gazed up at Murdock, with snarl she replied “Treacherous scum!”

In the Captain's quarters, Sive continued to poke around the Captain's things thinking, “Yes, very nice quarters Captain. Too bad I can't hide here until we docked at some planet where I could slip away.”

Sive ordered herself a cup of java with lots of cream from the food dispenser and sipped it slowly while she considered her next move. Hiding as a crew member was one option, but she was pushing her luck. As much as she hated to admit it, making some sort of deal with that despicable pirate was her best option. With a bit of luck, she would talk him out of selling her to the bounty hunters.

She drank the coffee while formulating a plan. Finally sitting down at Murdock's computer console, she activated the program options.

“ Voice control!”, she smirked adjusting her vocal cords, so she sounded like Murdock.

Sive programmed the computer so that when she said a password, it would open the brig door for two seconds, just long enough for her to enter or exit. She also programmed the computer to delete any record of her passage to and from the brig. She smiled to herself, satisfied with this part of her plan, "Now it's time to see Murdock."

With a grin, Sive left the Captain's quarters changing into Cain as she did. As an added precaution Sive produced some more pheromones so if she came across any hostile crewmen, they wouldn't give her a hard time.

She made her way to the elevator passing some pasty-faced men who looked like they were still under the weather from her stew. Sive groaned as she passed them, giving a good imitation of being ill. She nodded her head as she hurried past them.

In the lift, Sive commanded, "Brig," and soon found herself in the lower level of the ship. She stepped out and walked down the corridor until she came to what was obviously, “The Brig.”

Stopping in front of the door, She uttered, "Sive," it quietly slid open; she stepped inside glancing around to make sure she was alone. As the door closed, she couldn't help but grin smugly to herself whispering, “Things should get interesting now.”

Sive noted it wasn't a large brig, having only a half dozen cells. The cells themselves were pretty modern being well lit with their own toilet facility but no privacy. The front of the cells didn't' have steel bars like in the old days. Instead they had force fields to contain the prisoners. To Sive’s surprise, she found not one man, but two were being held. One lay on the floor while the other turned to look her way. They were across the passage from each other. She eyed the man who looked at her, wondering what he was in the brig for.

The man studied Cain with a slightly puzzled expression. He watched him for a full minute. When Cain looked away, he spoke up,

"I'm Zark, the ship's medical officer and you my good man are not Cain!” He looked Sive up and down before adding, “You don't stand like he does... in fact, I'm not sure you're even human." Sive turned back quickly looking surprised. Zark, narrowed his eyes, "No I was wrong, you are human, a female disguised if I'm not mistaken. A shape-shifter or something along those lines. Tell me are you anatomically correct?" Sive could only blink as he rambled on.

While Sive was busy trying to figure out this strange man, Murdock groaned. She turned and glanced down at the prone man in the opposite cell. Murdock groaned again as he slowly became conscious. Blinking rapidly as he took in his surroundings his face took on a grim expression. Jumping up he roared,

"What the hell is going on? Why am I in the brig?"

On seeing Cain, a smile started to form on his face as he relaxed. Apparently, the pheromones were still working on him, just not as strong as previously. “The nanites in his body must be counteracting mine!” Sive frowned slightly.

Zark glanced from Murdock to Cain, "So you're the one responsible for the pheromones flowing throughout this ship....interesting.”

He stared closely at Murdock noticing his emotional conflict. "The herbs I gave you Captain are helping counteract the effects of the stun you received. I programmed the computer to pump an antidote to the pheromones into the air as soon as it has finished analyzing them." The computer beeped, and the air vents hissed as they came on. Zark shifted his glance back to Sive,

“And that would be the antidote to your pheromones. One part per million should clear the air within ten, fifteen minutes tops. It won't matter how many pheromones you produce now. They will no longer affect the crew."

Sive continued to frown as she listened to Zark. Finally, she raised an eyebrow and retorted, "Well, aren't we the clever one?" She moved a little closer to his cell looking him up and down before adding, "I'll have to thank whoever threw you in along with your Captain. It wouldn't have been Fido by any chance would it?"

Murdock stared at Cain as he realized who stood in front of him, "That's quite an ability you have... Alayna McLeod....no wonder there's such a big bounty on your head."

Sive suddenly became silent and swallowed, "Keep calm," she thought to herself. She bit her bottom lip for a moment before replying, "You have the wrong person. I have never heard of an Alayna McLeod.” She tried to sound convincing but knew she hadn't succeeded.

She turned her back on the two men. Grimly she realized Murdock was unlikely to deal. She needed to find out what was going on. She had to get off this ship. Hiding amongst the crew was also now more challenging. What if there were more men like this Zark on board? Men who could tell she wasn’t who she appeared? She needed more time to think.

Once at the doorway, she whispered the password, "Sive." The door again quietly slid open and closed after her. She wasn't very pleased with how things had just gone. Zark knew she wasn’t Cain and now Murdock had said her real name. Last time she had heard that name out loud, it had meant months and months of running. Making up new identities as she went along. The last being Sive.

“Blast it and blast that Murdock for putting me in this position in the first place. He will pay for this, mark my words!” she couldn't help but mutter out loud as she stomped off.

Sighing to herself, she decided she needed another plan, but first, she had to find out what was going on in the ship. Although risky, staying disguised as Cain was probably the best course for now. He was an officer. Therefore it was natural for him to go to the bridge. She needed information. If Fido had made a grab for power maybe, she could convince him to set a course for the nearest planet so that she could slip away. She headed for the bridge. She paused at the door taking a deep breath before entering.

To Sive's surprise, it looked like hell had broken out on the bridge. Some of the men were yelling and fighting amongst themselves. Fido seemed to be in charge, sitting in the captain's chair, with some large armed men standing on either side of him. Sive watched as a smaller man shouted at him only to take a punch to the jaw. Sive folded her arms across her chest and leaned against the wall. She decided it was best just to listen and watch from the side. It didn't take long to see things were not looking good.

One of Fido's men announced he had finally broken the encryption and the ship would soon be under Fido's control. Moments later the chief engineer announced over the com that Fido was now in charge.

Fido smiled to himself as he made his first announcement as Captain over the com,

"I ..Fido now have control over this ship. Murdock is no longer Captain of this vessel...I am the new Captain and if there is anyone who dares to defy me. They will promptly be dealt with. I will not accept any disloyalty...none...get it? "

He chuckled to himself knowing most of the men would follow him. As long as they got paid, they would do as they were told. He then he announced a list of names of men who were to be executed. Men he knew would follow only Murdock. The first name was Murdock. Sive listened intently until Fido announced the third name on his list,“Cain.”

Sive looked around hoping no one had seen her quietly lean against the wall. She had to get out of here before she was noticed. She looked at Fido who had suddenly stopped talking. He glanced at Cain as if he knew she had been there the whole time. He must have seen her walk in earlier. Sive swallowed hard, knowing she was in big trouble.

Fido eyeballed Cain. He had locked him in his quarters, how did he get out? He pushed himself out of the captain's chair signaling the two burly men to come with him as he moved towards Sive.

Sive turned and ran out of the bridge. She heard Fido yell, "Go after him and throw his sorry ass in the brig. I'll deal with him and the Captain together!”

She ran for the lift, was only two feet away when she felt a hand grab the back of her shirt and lift her up shaking her like a dog. The pirate laughed as he continued to shake her until his partner said,

"Biff quite fooling around. Ye heard Fido. We got to take Cain to the brig and get back here quickly. If I know Fido, he will be picking his second and third, and I plan to be one of those."

Once in the lift, Biff dropped Sive; he laughed again as she fell to the floor with a loud thump.

Gritting her teeth, Sive shakily stood up and concentrated on making a mega dose of pheromones hoping Zark's antidote wouldn’t protect these men in such a small space.

Within seconds she saw both men relax and smile, the door to the lift opened letting in pheromone free air. Before they had time to come around, Sive kicked Biff in the balls. With a loud groan of pain, he fell over dropping his gun and blocking his smaller partner. Sive grabbed his blaster and with lightening speed stunned the small man. His expression changed from happy to murderous as he slumped to the floor. Zark's antidote was indeed fast working. For good measure, Sive stunned Biff before racing back to the brig.

“Sive” she shouted, the door opened. "Murdock we need to talk now! Your ship is in chaos. I don’t know if you know this, but there has been a mutiny headed by Fido! His first plan of action is to execute you and any others that are against him! Now here are my conditions, I will help you get your ship back, and in return, you will give me a shuttle craft and let me go my way." She looked at Murdock then at Zark, before adding, "Make up your mind and be quick about it! Cause I am pretty sure, Fido and his buds will be here shortly."

Murdock looked at Sive while thinking about this latest news. He was considering the offer but knew to get the men back on his side he would need a big score. This girl was worth a fortune could he let her go?

"I think you should take her up on the offer Captain," Zark said concern in his features.

"Quiet Zark!" Murdock barked as he stood quietly trying to think.

When done he walked over to the door and placed his left hand in the force field, it flashed and pulsed before shutting down. Murdock towered over Sive who's eyes widened in shock. Folding his arms over his broad chest, Murdock said with a glint in his eyes,

"My father always told me never to negotiate from a point of weakness, as you can see I could have escaped at any time. Your ability could be very useful. How about this offer, you help me get my ship back, and then we discuss a business deal. I give you my word as long as you follow my orders, I won't hand you over to the bounty hunters. But one hint of betrayal and mark my words, I'll let Zark study you in detail before I sell you to the highest bidder! You can start our new partnership by showing me your true form."

Sive blinked in surprise! “How did he do that, some sort of cybernetic hand?” she tried not to step back as he towered over her slight frame. Her choices had been limited before. Now they were even less. “Oh, Shit! Never trust a damn pirate!”

Sive lifted her chin as she gazed up at Murdock. “Treacherous scum!” With a snarl, she replied, "Hold on....I need a moment to think!"

"Take your time. I'm sure Fido and his buds will be here shortly." Murdock repeated with a hint of sarcasm.

She walked a few feet away while Murdock released Zark. She wondered if she should make a run for it, hide amongst the pirates until the power struggle was resolved. That plan could be pretty dangerous in itself. She didn't trust Murdock as far as she could throw him, but right now he seemed the lesser of two evils. One thing was certain, no way in hell was he, or anyone else was going to see her real image.

"What will you do if I don’t agree with your ridiculously unfair conditions? What are you going to do? Fight Fido's men and me at the same time? I don't trust you as far as I could throw this ship of yours.... Captain Murdock!” she sneered. “As for me showing you my true form, in your dreams you pompous ass!."

Anger seemed to have gotten the better of her. She hadn’t meant to insult the dangerously unpredictable Captain. But now that she had, she stood her ground with her arms crossed waiting for his next move. She took a small step towards the door, wondering if she had any chance of making a run for it.

Murdock watched and listened, she wasn't a skilled negotiator but wasn't going to be pushed around either and geez she sure had a temper. "Since we are pushed for time, I suggest a truce. I'm not prepared to give you a shuttle, but at the same time, I don't wish to hand you over to the bounty hunters. Your abilities could make us both very rich," Her eyebrow shot up at those words. He thought a few more moments before adding, "Maybe you help me with this Fido problem, and then we can work on a deal we can both live with?”

Sive slowly nodded her acceptance, knowing if this arrangement went south she could always hide.

"Good first things first, change into someone other than Cain. Since the first thing we need is the real Cain as well as the other men Fido wants to execute. I don’t think you should show anyone else your abilities. The fewer people who know about your skills, the better. Zark can keep this information quiet as it's a medical matter and therefore he is bound by his medical oath and that of his people." Zark nodded his agreement, thinking about obtaining a few blood and skin samples once this was all over. He was fascinated with this creature, as he thought of her.

"After Fido and his followers have been... dealt with, then I propose we sit down and work out something to our mutual benefit. If not then we will discuss where we can drop you off." He looked at her face to see if she was at all agreeable so far, before adding, "I can return you to Jason if you like. He has escaped, but I can track the ship he is on. Though you should know, he did abandon you."

As Sive listened to what Murdock had to say she began to believe this just might work out. At the mention of Jason her lip curled. “Jason wouldn't abandon her! She was positive he wouldn't do such a thing to her!” She cleared her throat before replying,

"OK, we have a deal for now. But and this is a big but, I'll help you and later if I want to leave your ship...I won't let you dump me on any old planet. You will take me where ever I want or give me a shuttle." She looked up at the big man trying to read him, but he kept his emotions well hidden, "Is it a deal or not?"

Murdock nodded, Sive changed her appearance back into Sive. “Call me Sive,” hoping that this form wouldn't have to be discarded anytime soon.

“ Astonishing!” Zark cried with wide eyes, “Maybe after this is done, I could get a sample…”

Murdock raised his hand calling for silence. He smiled at the lovely young woman who now stood before him. He couldn't quite hide the look of desire in his eyes, "Good call.....Sive, You can trust me. I wouldn't dump your pretty butt just anywhere, unlike what I'm going to do to that treacherous blackguard Fido.” Back in Captain mode he then turned to Zark,

“Zark, I want you to head for the medical bay and shut down the air filtration program your running so that the pheromones can affect Fido and his followers. Then prepare several phials of antidotes for my men.” Zark nodded having trouble taking his eyes off Sive. He couldn’t wait to study her more closely. Murdock glanced back at Sive,

“Sive, I want you to produce more of your pheromones. Once we free the real Cain and gather any men that are still on my side, I want you can assume the form of one of Fido’s allies and go to the bridge. It shouldn't take long for his followers to be subdued. I will be heading to engineering with my men and will take control of the ship from there.”

Sive nodded, realizing she was getting the riskier part of the plan. "Well nothing new there!" she thought to herself adding, “I will never trust him!”

Murdock smiled at her as he went over some of the finer details of his plan, all the while watching the woman, knowing how many credits she was worth,"I doubt I can trust her!"  

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