First Mark

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, Into the Darkness, The Family BusinessJewel’s Place, and Shanghaied. Like any story you will get the most out of it by reading it in order.

First Mark

At first Jamison did not sleep, but after he was the last one awake as far as he could tell he finally nodded off.  One hand on his weapon and the other under his head.

He startled awake a few hours later. A sharp sound from the front of the cell had awakened him. He rolled over with a start and aimed his weapon in that direction. Through his sites he saw two men in a fist fight. Several other men sat up and watched but no one intervened.

The two men alternated wrestling and throwing punches. One of the men was still fighting strong and the other was getting visibly winded. When the man who appeared to be winded put his hands on his knees. The stronger man lowered his guard. Then the winded man grabbed him by the collar, rolled over on his back with his foot in the other man’s belly throwing him into the force field.

The doomed man screamed ever so briefly as his body was vaporized as it passed through the deadly barrier.

“Never show mercy. It’ll get you killed.”

Jamison looked to the right and noticed Tyler’s eyes were shut. He was already trying to get back to sleep. Jamison however was confident sleeping was a bad idea. He was still lying there, with his mind churning, when the breakfast trays were slid into the cell.

The count down on the display was down to 12:10:09, and clicking closer to zero as each second passed by. Between breakfast and lunch the timer hit exactly 10 hours and a bunch of additional information came up. The class of the target ship, what they all called the mark, in addition to its defenses, information on expected crew and their instructions as to what they should do when they were transported aboard. There was even a live feed of the ship they would be attacking. The visual was still too far away to be impressive, but it would be helpful when they got closer.

Some men crowded up waiting for this information. Others sauntered over after the first wave of men were already done. Jamison was the last to look, and he probably studied it for the longest time. This ship was a frigate, cargo was weapons, less than a dozen people were expected in the inexperienced crew, and they were supposed to kill the men and lock the women in the cargo hold.

He could imagine what they wanted with those women. He didn’t plan to cooperate in this mission in any way. He laid on the bed trying to figure out how to avoid it. When the countdown reached 1 hour, they started putting ammo into the cell for the men with projectile weapons, and batteries for the men with energy based weapons like his own.

Jamison accepted the batteries and put them into his weapon while Tyler watched. He slipped the old batteries which were still very fresh into his pocket. And then he paced to see what would happen next. When the clock said 2 minutes. Tyler gathered everyone under the display. They saw the ship being fired upon, and its engines being knocked out.

Jamison was expecting a speech or plan or something. What actually happened was everyone in the cell dematerialized and reappeared on the bridge of the mark. Jamison expected to be on the back of the pack, but when a bullet zipped past his ear and into the head of the man in front of him he knew he was on the front, and had his back turned the wrong way.

What he found was a couple of dozen well-armed troops, who were apparently prepared for them. He had no intention of drawing his weapon, but with death happening all around him, this seemed too foolish. He knew the weapon was on stun, and he used it to drop a defender, and dove to the side. He found a console to hide behind.

This plan was aborted when he saw a grenade fall behind one of the other consoles. He stood up and stunned a man about to blow up his cover. They started far better defended than expected but now there were only a few defenders left. He ducked back down and a second later the fight moved into the corridors.

He followed the sound and by the time he caught up with the battle it was over. Four women were held hostage as planned and the number of pirates that survived were gathered and transported back to the cell.

Jamison went straight to his bunk. He thought about the battle. He thought about his role in it and how at any second he could have died instead of one of the other shanghaied pirates. He also realized that the defenders he had stunned had either been captured or killed. His use of the stun setting had been useless. He could not get out of the battle, and trying to minimize damage to innocents was useless.

The pirates in his cell cheered. The survivors were adrenaline pumped from the battle. Of these a couple boasted of having their way with the women before confining them as ordered. It made Jamison want to vomit, but he was afraid to show any weakness.

A shout of surprise and dismay went up from the group when the display switched to 10:43:19.  In just a few hours they were going back to battle. This time a military vessel, better defended, and there were less pirates than before.

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