The Nebula's Tide

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Dissecting Circuits

The Ship was dark and resting. After the doctor was returned to the brig, Captain Treta ordered an immediate withdraw from orbiting the star. The Monoceros was set adrift, headed deeper toward the Deep Space boarder. Patrols of Federation ships were more frequent around this area than the previous slave planet and with their cargo broadcasting its distress signal, Treta knew that they had to keep the Monoceros moving ensuring the trail was as difficult to follow as possible.

After finishing his Captain’s duties on deck, Treta returned to his cabin. The room was dark. The holographic window behind his desk, now turned off, let in the dazzling spectacle of nebulas and star mist as they gradually floated by.

He discarded his coat and hat and took a seat, calling the ship’s computer to activate the master screen. A portion of the desk cleared, previously camouflaged to replicate the swirling wood of the the table, and awakened the technical display of the tablet’s interface. Asmurian symbols scrolled down from the menu screen, taking their places as a news feed of the Federation’s hacked patrol updates began to scroll along the bottom.

The Monoceros, like its Captain, was a beautiful mix of contradictions. The ship was as technologically advanced as it was traditionally refined. Infused with the best modern tech money could buy -or steal, as it were- no other pirate vessel could compare.

For beast species and the Quarantined Galaxies alike, elite programming and hardware such as this was exceedingly difficult to find. The Federation had long since held a monopoly over the galactic technical trade, a tactic Treta believed they used to purposefully stunt the evolution of those they deemed inferior. Similar techniques were infested throughout the system. It was their clever attempt to maintain power by asserting the 'status quo'. Even the 'common' terms propagated by the Federation were designed to oppress.

The "beast species." The "Quarantined Galaxies." In a universe where all creatures were alien in comparison to one another, who had the right to establish what was normal and what was beastly?... Treta was forever appalled that such prejudice was so widely accepted.

That is the state of things, another man might say. That's why I defy it, Treta would have replied.

The Captain brought up the holding pod and, using a pair of heated wires, removed the small piece of government plastic. He made a quick alteration to the screen, programming it to the appropriate temperature, and then placed the chip carefully upon its surface.

“Identify and decode," Treta commanded, "I want personnel files in the left column, health readings and current monitoring systems in the center, and broadcasting and technical settings in the right.” The screen sprung to life. Graphics swirled around the chip and instantly began extracting the desired information. After a few minutes, and endless strands of scrolling code, the screen finished its dissection as the three requested columns appeared.

Peering down through the orange light of his monitor, Captain Treta smiled with proud satisfaction. He was not, by nature, a technically savvy man. But even the galaxy's greatest hacking programs could be bought for the right price. And what the Pirate Lord did have, was an obscene amount of money.

“That was easier than expected." It was time to get to work.

Treta tapped the center column and brought up Kala’s health readings. A record of her every breath and heartbeat lay before him. Charts appeared that showed when her heart rate had elevated in times of stress or excitement. He hesitated a moment but then selected the time sequence of when she had entered his cabin to when she had left. The Captain had to admit he was glad to see such an obvious reaction to his presence. Swiping the screen he cleared the charts and turned instead to her chip’s technical settings.

Treta soloed out the broadcasting signal and quickly replicated it, storing it as a new program in the corner of the screen. He then pulled up a file of previously created codes and, bringing the two icons together, applied it to the doctor’s transmission.

The health readings instantly went to full alert. Doctor Leahy’s heart beat seemed to increase severely, spiking in periodic bursts as her nerve receptors recorded dangerous amounts of aggravated activity. Captain Treta had done his research, studying and gathering data on the Hantae body’s reactions to pain. The program he had requested was simply titled “Torture”, and now it was broadcasting its message from Leahy’s sensor chip all the way across the stars to the Federation’s monitoring systems.

No doubt this would rally quite the response. Setting their battle cruisers on high alert, the Federation’s fleet in the Beta Quadrant was sure to double their pursuit in hopes of saving the valuable doctor. This was to Captain Treta’s liking.

The Beta Quadrant was one of the Federation’s farthest territories. Their number of lawmen and defense stations were few and greatly dispersed among the area. It had been unbelievably fortunate finding Kala way out here where at most the number of Federation war ships that could come to her aid were enough that Treta could count them on one hand. But as the only member of her species under the Federation’s employment, and therefore sworn protection, they would undoubtedly send all four to her rescue -if they hadn't already- leaving the rest of the Beta ungoverned territory.

So far, Treta had used the star racer's speed and stealth to prolong the Federation's pursuit. He knew he needed to draw them out to the farthest rim while perfecting the details of his plan. Now that he had it, the chase was up. He wanted them to catch him.

The plan itself was simple: Lure the battle cruisers out into Deep Space with her distress call. Once they gathered and were far enough out, cut the transmission -supposedly ending her life and spoiling their rescue. Then, using the Monoceros to her special advantage, Quantum-jump to the other end of the Beta where the Tractatio medical center would be waiting unprotected and ready for the taking. The Beta would become open space, free to pillage and ransack to the pirates' content.

Captain Treta was very pleased with himself. His ingenuity and cleverness would not only get him and his crew the treasure they sought, but would humiliate and shame the Federation as well.

Oh, they will suffer dearly for losing sweet little Kala, he thought, and chuckled to himself, reveling in the triumph of knowing that he would be to blame.

For the Captain knew, as everyone did, that the Hantae were a very reserved race, relatively new to the Federation and extremely cautious when it came to outer-planetary interactions. Besides their galactic ambassadors, Dr. Kala Leahy had been one of only seven of their species to actually leave their home planet. Though the Hantae have accepted alien guests into their atmosphere for roughly 200 galactic years, they maintained a very peculiar distrust with what lay beyond their skies. That made Kala an extremely valuable asset. Her loss could break the fragile relationship between the Federation and the Hantae, and might even bring about the propagation of war.

Thinking on the race’s natural timidity with galactic expansion, Treta couldn’t help but admire Kala. To do what no one else in your species would, and to not only have the ability, but also the drive to venture out into the unknown and face it with such intensity… he respected that.

Treta paused. Then nodding to himself, he brought up her Federation file. His curiosity on the woman was piqued, and after telling the computer to transfer her information to his Glass Pad, he stood from his desk and took it with him as he went outside. Leaning on the balcony railing behind his cabin window, Captain Treta read over the doctor’s information, learning more about the intriguing Kala Leahy as his ship sailed on through the twinkling black.

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