|Forum Home > Now This Ain't No Frak > It's the Bishop! (Part 4)|
“Come on, come on…” Stumbles chanted like a mantra, watching the lift door with one eye, while with the other, watching Gabrielle playing with the bridge’s comp.
“Jostling my elbow ain’t making me go faster,” the bishop warned her imposing bodyguard. “It’s not like I can download a star control ship’s database onto my minicomp.”
“What are you looking for that’s taking so shebing long?” the friar shot back.
Gabrielle shot a glare at him. “Watch—your—language.”
Stumbles was taken aback at the verbal lash. He blinked and then sighed, “Sorry, Gabby.”
The bishop shifted past the navcomp data and moved onto the personnel files. “The problem is that I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for.”
“Not making it easier, Gabby,” the werewolf warned her, “we don’t have a lot oftime.”
“The navigation data told me nothing I didn’t already know. And apart from Sarlok’s asteroid, they don’t seem to stop anywhere else. With only one supply port, I’m amazed they’ve been able to last this long.”
“Maybe the Emperor doesn’t care enough about the corsairs to fight them,” the friar suggested.
“That’s ridiculous,” Gabrielle shot back, but stopped. It was not that ridiculous, she realized. After all, they were only hitting House transports. Anything Imperial was protected by the Horadrim ships. “That’s brilliant!”
“I’ve got it—the key to the corsairs’ success!”
“Good—tell me on the shuttle out of here,” Stumbles went to grab his charge from the comp when he heard a familiar whirr. “Crap.”
“Lift,” Gabrielle realized the sounds too. “We’ll take the ladders.”
“No time,” Stumbles reached into his jumpsuit and pulled out his plasma revolver. Somehow he knew they wouldn’t make the corridor in time. As the hatch opened, the werewolf fired a bolt through the opening…
…hitting no one. Plasma fire came back from the lift. They traded shots a couple times before they heard an order bark to “Cease fire!”
There was a piercing silence before a familiar voice said, “Might as well surrender now. Nowhere to go.”
“Got a better idea,” Gabrielle shot back. “You surrender to us. We’ve got your bridge and we’ll destroy your controls if you try to storm us.”
Roquefort’s voice laughed at her. “Never served on a ship before, have you?” A few seconds later, suddenly all the controls and holoprojs on the bridge went dead. “The bridge is for captains, the CIC is for admirals. In case of battle damage, it’s always good to have a spare.”
Gabrielle looked at Stumbles, who simply shrugged, now only lit from the light in the corridor.
“So let me say that again,” Aaron’s voice called out, “Surrender now.”
The bishop sighed, annoyed at herself, and finally looked over at Stumbles. “Go ahead.”
The werewolf didn’t like the idea of surrendering any more than she did, but for lack of an alternative, he threw his plasma revolver out into the hallway. “Coming out.”
The two of them stood up as the pirates did, having hunkered down in the lift, now scarred with plasma damage in the back. Roquefort led the way, followed by Clawson, and four other corsairs. Butch picked up the spare plasma revolver as Aaron activated a comm button on his sleeve. “Gill? Fire it back on.”
In a moment, the bridge came back to life. The pirate admiral stared at the two of them and focused on Gabrielle. “Let me guess, Imperial Bodyguard? House Halen? Or are you just out for the bounty on my head?”
“Gabrielle Lajvard, Bishop Rive Gauche, Chief Defender of the Faith,” she introduced herself.
Roquefort looked confused. “Butch, you make any sense of that?”
“Says she’s a priest,” the pirate replied, shifting his eyepatch to the other eye.
“Thanks, I caught that,” Aaron rolled his eyes. “Chief Defender of the Faith. What does that mean?”
“I’m in charge of the Office for Defense of the Faith,” the bishop explained, “standardizing religious doctrine, rooting out heretics…”
“Well, honey,” Clawson chuckled, “you hit the mother lode of heretics here!” He generated a small audience of laughter.
Roquefort didn’t laugh. “So you’re an Imperial spy.”
“No, I’m a Cult spy,” Gabrielle corrected with a shrug, “and not a very good one.”
“I fail to see the difference.”
“Well,” the bishop gave a limp smile, “if you promise not to throw us out an airlock, I’ll explain it to you.”
“Make ‘em walk the plank!” the one-eyed Butch roared, followed by a cacophony of agreement.
Aaron spun around and glared at his crew. “Clawson, stop with the two-dee act and listen. First off, we don’t have a plank…”
“And second,” the pirate admiral cut him off, “they got on this ship without us noticing. I’d like to know how, wouldn’t you?” Butch looked as if he would reply, but the glare in Roquefort’s eyes cut him off. His subordinate finally nodded his head in acceptance. “Okay, get some inertial restraints on them, then take them to my office. I need to get to the bottom of this.”
Fifteen minutes later, Aaron and Butch sat across from the two prisoners in what used to be the admiral’s ready room. There was an exercise vid running on one wall, a stellar map on the other, and the flag of some old naval service draped behind the corsairs. Taking a sip of tea, Roquefort took in all they said andasked, “So let me get this right—you’re not interested in destroying us?”
“I don’t have to,” Gabrielle smiled. “Now that I know how to destroy you, I’d much rather work with you.”
“Work with us?” Aaron shook his head. “We have completely different aims.”
“We’re taking the god down, missie,” Butch barked. “You’re praying to him!”
“For a god to truly be worshipped, he has to die,” she gave a predatory grin. “Even prophets aren’t revered in their lifetime. I need to take the Faith to the next level.”
Clawson was horrified. “My God! You’re a cold bitch!”
Stumbles came unconsciously to his feet—if he wasn’t slower than molasses, due to the restraints, he would have punched Butch through the hull. Thankfully, Gabrielle put a hand on his arm. “Sit down, friar. He’s right. But we need to be honest, or we’ll find ourselves out the airlock.
“Bishop Lajvard…” Aaron began.
“Gabby,” she corrected. “Call me Gabby.”
The pirate admiral was amused. “Gabby, I don’t believe there’s an honest bone in your… lovely body. Frankly, the plank idea is sounding better by the minute.”
“I don’t believe that, Rocky,” she smiled wider. “I think you of all people recognize an opportunity. You’re attacking House convoys that aren’t as protected as the Imperial ones. Even the Imperial Fleet will figure that out eventually. But if you have a girl who’ll tell you which convoys are traps and which are legitimate, then you stay alive.”
“And what do you get out of it?” Roquefort asked.
“Your fleet—when Vin Dane finally needs a shove—and if certain political enemies are on the convoys you strike… well, that’s the price of flying commercial, isn’t it?”
Clawson wasn’t convinced. “I don’t like it, Rocky.”
“You’re going to have to offer something better, Gabby.” Aaron admitted.
“Baron Sarlok’s got a pretty sweet deal. In exchange for all those excess goods, he gouges you on the price. Now I have a friend in Wolf who can cut you a deal at twenty percent under wholesale…”
The admiral’s eyes widened—Sarlok had been paying them only half the whole sale price. But that didn’t stop him from demanding “Ten percent under.”
“Rocky, please!” Gabby had the temerity to blush. “My friend is generous, but what could I offer him for that price?”
“Your life,” Aaron said bluntly.
Stumbles growled, but the bishop only nodded. “You have a point. Ten it is. May I have a datapad?” Aaron hesitated for a second, but finally fished out of the desk and handed it to her. Gabrielle typed in two lines of information. “Here’s the contact information. As a sign of good faith, tell ‘em Gabby sent you and the terms of the deal, and he’ll agree to everything. I can’t possibly get a courier to Wolf before you do. If he doesn’t, the second line is the location of a monastery on Mars.”
Roquefort furrowed his eyebrows. “I don’t understand.”
“The monastery is a front for a black market warehouse under my protection. Raid it,and not only do you get a sizeable bounty, but I lose face in the Faith… and with the Jackals. I believe you’ve heard of them?” They didn’t reply—they didn’t have to. “Even if they don’t kill me for that, my network will suffer anywhere outside the Core Systems without them. That’s the stick to my carrot.”
Aaron looked over at his friend. “Butch, what do you think?”
“A little risk,” Clawson scratched his eyepatch, “but high reward.”
“You might even get some new dataports for your ship,” Gabrielle gave a cheesy grin.
The pirate admiral didn’t have to think too long about the deal. “You’ll need to return the shuttle I send with you.”
“I wouldn’t know what to do with it anyway,” the bishop concluded the deal.
On the Imperial transport Reason Be Dammed, the bishop was dragging after so many hours awake. As she reached her stateroom, Gabrielle put a hand on Stumbles. “Thank you. I don’t say that enough to you.”
“You got us out of there,” the friar looked away. “Didn’t do much.”
“And I’ll believe that when you believe I’m planning to overthrow the Emperor,” she smiled. I still can’t trust him with my plan completely, Gabrielle knew, not as long as a kernel of his faith is genuine.
The friar snorted out a laugh. “Convoy tunnels to New Paris in two hours.”
“Good. Get some sleep, Stumbles.”
“You, too, Gabby,” he said as he walked down the corridor.
The bishop opened her hatch and stepped inside. It didn’t take long for a weak voice to call out, “Ummi?”
“I’m here, Fayza,” Gabrielle called back, and walked over to the side bedroom where her daughter slept. The nine-year-old girl was as tanned as her mother, but the slanted eyes and oil black hair of her father.
“Where have you been?” Fayza yawned. “The sitter was so boring."
“Ummi was taking care of some bad guys, sweetheart.”
“Did you beat them?”
“Better, Fayza,” her mother smiled adoringly, “I made them my friends.”
The sleepy daughter looked confused. “But if they were bad…”
“Lots of people are bad,” the bishop admitted, “but you still have to play with them.”
“Why?” Fayza asked.
“Because, sweetheart, if I only played with good people, Ummi would never get anything done.” Gabrielle gave her daughter a kiss on the forehead.
The bishop went to leave when Fayza begged. “Stay with me.”
“Okay. I need to change for bed, then ummi will come in and sing you to sleep.”
“Forever and ever?”
“As long as I can,” Gabrielle promised, and left the room.
Cool. Although I cringe at Gabby as head of the Empire, anyone is better than Scyr.
It'll take me a while to get to the podcast - I've got some other projects that'll take priority. I'd like to combine all four parts into one podcast someday...
Wow. So I guess there are even crazier levels of religious fanatacism.
I did love the bit about having a spare bridge.