Previously, Menagerie: Infiltration (part 1).
Fleex sank back into his command chair and studied the static-filled viewscreens now showing the planetary body of Hydera at the edge of viewing range. Around that desolate rock spun a long-ago terraformed moon, now called The Watering Hole, its original name known only by dust-covered antiquarians.
His eyes narrowed. He hated calling in outside help, but whatever it was that held the “captured” shuttle—and his docking bay—was too much for his troops to handle. But he had at least one marker to call in here. Unfortunately, the Hole attracted more than its fair share of pirates and displaced (i.e., fired ignominiously) security types and as such he expected word to travel quickly once he touched down that he had something hot.
So, the idea was to get, get someone to flush out the docking bay, then be gone before anyone had the chance to act on that information. Now, where had Helm Spear gotten herself to?
Spear ducked back into the crawl space emptying onto the docking bay floor. She rubbed her beak in irritation. Despite the chill air in the bay, the scent of dead flesh wafted to her, reminding her she hadn’t had anything since breakfast several hours earlier. She counted slowly to thirty and, when the vultures at the door poked their carbines into the room and began shooting, ran in a crouch toward the forward landing gear of the shuttle.
Whoever or whatever was in the shuttle didn’t appear. Didn’t rush out to slaughter those at the bay door. Didn’t seem to notice as she slipped into the shadows beneath the shuttle. She took a deep breath, trying to slow her racing heart, and gazed into the recess around the landing gear, wondering why she was doing this in the first place. She wasn’t a warrior. She wasn’t a spy, nor a sneak thief. She was an engineer and very good with tinkering, and she knew vehicle design.
The shuttle was a HorizaMax 2500, designed for half a dozen life forms not exceeding 500 kilograms in weight although, in a pinch, it could accept fewer, larger creatures with a downward adjustment in expected life support efficiency. She opened her beak in a silent laugh. The primary reason for the shuttle over the years had become one of convenience—star faring vessels required an escape pod, and the HorizaMax filled that requirement. Never mind the fact that little over one quarter of the life forms in this sector of space could actually fit aboard the shuttle. Laws were being re-written to make up for that mistake.
No time like the present, she thought, and pulled herself into the opening.