This here’s my entry for Chuck Wendig’s “Acts of Rebellion” flash fiction challenge. It’s part of the Wrath universe, and may be part of a longer thing.
When Koshmar stepped into the cargo hold, the rest of the crew was sorting through the meager spoils of the last salvage run, while Rachel and the monkey ran around between them, fighting over a doll the the captain had brought back for her.
“This is crap,” Nergüi said, throwing a broken engine part on a growing pile of scrap metal.
“Can’t you fix any of it?” Jae-shin asked.
“Nah. And this is also crap.” Another part joined the refuse.
Then she held up a fuse and inspected it, lips pursed, before throwing it aside as well. “Crap! Everything from that boat is crap. No surprise it killed its crew.”
She crossed her arms in front of her chest and looked over the crates of parts they’d managed to retrieve an hour earlier.
“Entend yé all,” Koshmar said. “I’ve good news. Work, that is.”
Everybody turned toward him.
“Does it fait parti robbing a magnif’?” Tangi yawned. “Please say it does.”
“Nan,” Koshmar said. “It does involve stealing a cruiser, though.”
“Like a battleship?” Tangi looked suddenly very much awake.
“Yes. Joli new one, too. Currently in the docks above Gateway.”
Autumn looked up, frowning. “The new UC flagship?”
“That’s the one, captain.”
“Ah compran you have a plan quoi on fait with it?”
“Vengeance.” Koshmar said it like it was a delicious dish, his pointy teeth bared in a cruel smile.
“New crew need to know what happened on Ndoye’s Misery first.”
Tangi rolled his eyes. “Nang mai cut to the chase, Koshmar. We can appran to ’em later.”
Jae-shin leaned against the cargo door. “No, I wanna hear this.”
“Alright then.” Koshmar looked around briefly for a place to sit, then chose the nearby stairs leading up to the walkway.
“It’s thirteen years Commonwealth got ras-bol… fed up with Sanglantes robbing their precious merchants. They send their fleet, bomb every rock on the planet, kill ten million people, most of them got nothing to do with piracy. Survivors don’t look trè joli anymore, take Mangtas here,” he added.
The other pirate looked up when he heard his name, his scarred face half hidden behind tangled strands of dark brown hair. Rachel ran over to him and gave him a hug, and Koshmar couldn’t help laughing when he saw the confused look on his lover’s face.
“But you’re not going after the UC with that cruiser, right?” Nergüi looked alarmed at the prospect of another war.
Koshmar shook his head. “Nan. One ship ain’t not enough for that. But moun’ Ndoye’s dying. We tried to fix it, but… malchance.”
He shrugged and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket.
“It’s so bad now even Wastelanders can’t deal with fallout and toxic air. Anybody still planetside try alé… try to leave, but they don’t have enough ships. Commonwealth destroyed them, too. All they have is pirate boats like Gorgo here and a few ancient freighters barely space-worthy.”
He paused to light his cigarette.
“That cruiser, though… Holds four thousand crew and sixty thousand passengers. We can double that if we fabrik some of the hangars. Seal and refit them for housing, tou compran. Plenty cargo space for provisions, too.”
“Sounds more like a humanitarian mission than revenge to me,” Jae-shin said.
Koshmar scratched his chin. “Maybe? Either way joke’s on the UC.”
Jae-shin frowned. “How so? UC will hunt ’em.”
“Yah, and they’ve nowhere to go. But they’re still better off vi on a battleship, has weapons and heavy armor, than on those freighters.”
“But why not ask the Scavenger Pact or Emberfall for help?”
“We don’t have enough resources and infrastructure on Emberfall,” Autumn said while trying to keep the monkey from chewing on her dreadlocks. “And Wastelanders can’t breathe the air. Same on Blackout… Rachel, pran ce maudi macak and get it out of my hair, mèsi!”
Rachel whistled to summon her pet, not bothering to get off the crate she had climbed on a minute earlier.
“And the sacré Pact can’t make up their minds,” Koshmar added. “Some want aider, but got not enough for themselves, and those can afford to patagé are too attached to comfy lives, tou compran. Independent colonies got it all, but hate Wastelanders, think they’re all pirates or cannibals or both.”
Nergüi raised a gloved hand. “Um. How about the Protectorate?”
“They’re already abord. They fabrik a drift in orbit, but it ain’t no big enough for everybody. And they have no ships we can use. We ain’t immune to radiation as much like you Carcosans, and most still vi… live planetside are sick already.”
“Right.” Nergüi looked miserable. “Damn. Might as well take a ship from the folks who caused all that.”
Koshmar nodded. “That’s the idea.”
“It’s gonna be embarrassing for UC,” Autumn said. “Get their joli new flagship stolen right under their noses. Might make folks unhappy with them think they ain’t as powerful as they like to appear. Give ’em hope, maybe fait attak ’em.”
Koshmar raised an eyebrow. “Yah, someone might do us all a favor fini those salopes de merde running the show.”
“If we can pull that heist off,” Tangi said.
“True. Ah compran you got a plan for that, too?”
Koshmar nodded. “I got Technomancer trouvé intel and tech. We go abord as mechanics. They’re behind schedule, security’s low to get the ship prêt on time.”
“Um.” Tangi held up a hand. “Can we pilot it? It needs a large crew, yah?”
“Partial autopilot. Engineering is automated. Technomancer provides override codes and slaved AI. You just have to mê le trajet and navigé out the docks.”
“Hm.” A broad grin appeared on Tangi’s face, his fire-colored eyes glowing brighter. “I always wanted to pilot a sacré battleship.”