The Adventures of Captain Arcolier, Part Five

(Welcome back. In our last installment Captain Arcolier had set out to rescue One-Eye and the First Marines, who were facing a Cantrellan trap. If you're new to our tale you'll want to start here.)

     This was always the moment where One-Eye felt the most incongruous. Seconds ago he had been piloting a spacecraft through the inky interstellar void, traveling incomprehensible distances using mankind's most advanced technology. Now he stood watching a torch cut through the main hatch, clutching a sword straight out of some penny-dreadful novel from the Victorian era of Old Earth. Oh he knew all the arguments, that modern weaponry could all-too-easily pierce a hull and vent the atmosphere but it didn't make the transition any less jarring. Besides, there were plenty of things more high-tech than swords that could be used, all sorts of non-lethal crowd suppression gear. For that matter, the Cantrellans could simply gas the pod, either with knockout gas or with something far more lethal. No, the pirates used swords because it made for good theater. One-Eye never quite understand why the Cantrellans did, not truly. Some sort of misguided sense of culture and of chivalry. In his darker moments he theorized it was exact same reason as the pirates - simple theater. He shook his head, clearing it of this useless reverie as the intense torch flame closed the rough circle it traced. He glanced over at Sergeant Riker, a roguish grin crossing his features. "Reckon it's time to show these laddies the depth of their mistake? Attempting to fight against the Beauteous Revenge? That's just foolishness."

     Riker nodded grimly, drawing his sword upwards in a rough salute. "Aye sir, they'll learn soon enough." Without taking his eyes from the hatch he barked orders at the rest of the Marines. "You heard him you lazy roustabouts! Today we earn our pay, and tomorrow these sons of mangy dogs will respect the name of the First Marines of the Beauteous Revenge. We'll be outnumbered and it's a long while before the cavalry gets here, so fight hard and fight dirty."

     "We're outnumbered and on our own. So this must be Tuesday again." came a waggish reply from the massed crew. Riker grinned a reply as the thick piece of hull finally broke free. Riker nodded again, this time eying a Marine who stood just to one side of the hatch. He slammed on the free-floating piece of hull with a halberd and strained, his feet thrust through tough fabric loops on the floor. In freefall the hatch floated away from the pod. If they were very lucky and the Cantrellans were very stupid somebody might get caught on the still red-hot glowing edges. The Marines listened carefully but were rewarded with no curses or screams. The Cantrellans weren't that stupid, and instead a fine spray of cooling gases and flame retardants hit the rough-carved edges of the hull. Steam billowed from the sullen cherry cuts and the entire hole disappeared into a white cloud for a brief moment.

     An amplified voice carried through the hissing steam. "By the authority of Her Majesty, the Empress of Cantrella you are all under arrest. Lay down your arms and step out of the craft with your hands up! Failure to comply will result in the usage of force!"

     "Oh, it's to be force is it? In that case I'd think we want to stay armed, wouldn't we?" One-Eye darted a quick glance at Riker and a miniscule nod. Like synchronized clockwork both men launched off the deck and sailed through the ugly hole. One-Eye quickly evaluated the edge and decided it had cooled enough to touch briefly and hooked the edge with a steel-toed boot as he went through. It was a quick motion but it pulled him to the left and altered his trajectory just enough to surprise the Cantrellan soldier standing hard outside the white hazy cloud. He twisted at the waist and brought his boots close enough to the decking for his boot magnets to latch down. The last of his momentum was used to spit the young soldier in the thigh with his sword. The soldier, no older than William back on the deck of the Revenge went down, his face suddenly ashen. But he was a non-combatant, and he would live. One-Eye had no patience for the type of officer who would send a boy that green to face battle. He heard Riker's battle cry from the other side of the fog and the rejoining cry from the other Marines as they began to boil through the small opening as fast as possible.

(Tune in next week to see if One-Eye can fight off the Cantrellan assault!)

(See the next installment!)