Commander Yermak Halpan paced in his cabin aboard Brak’s Revenge, the pride of the Tanlian space fleet. It had been eight lunar cycles since his ship had taken trophy. The last two raids on Earth colonies had been disastrous. The colonies had launched early warning satellites and installed ground defensive weapons with enough firepower to ward off his lightly armed ship.
The colonists were not only aware the raiders were coming, but also had their weapons powered and ready. Yermak had to call off the attacks before they could even start.
The Tanlians were renegades, descended from prisoners who had mutinied against their overseers and taken control of the planet, Tantalum 2, a Colonization Alliance of Independent Nations (CAIN) incarceration and mining camp. Yermak’s grandfather, Brak Halpan, had helped lead the revolt.
After capturing a fleet of deep-space Earth ships, it had not taken long for Tanlian raiders to discover how easy it was to attack and plunder Earth colonies. These new bio-formed worlds had no defensive systems and the colonists were lightly armed at best.
A buzz at Yermak’s door comm brought an agitated response. “Who disturbs me?’’
“This might brighten your mood,” said Rolid, the commander’s brother and second in command, his scarred face breaking into a predatory smile.
Yermak knew what the smile meant — a raiding opportunity. “What have you found?”
“It looks like colonists have arrived at XR-309. We just received the signal from the beacon we set up on the planet’s large moon,” Rolid said.
“I thought CAIN had abandoned that planet because it was so far from their other worlds. We restocked supplies and hunted there two lunars ago. There was no sign of colonists,” Yermak said. He recalled the great sport his crew had hunting the wildlife, especially the four-legged and winged predators.
Many trophies were taken and bragging rights declared for the biggest creatures killed and most kills. The bloodletting had been a welcome respite after months of frustration for the Tanlians.
The grazers were plentiful and easy targets. The killing spree meant the ship would have fresh meat for weeks. His crew had filled up with raw supplies and water, leaving after a week.
“It appears, brother, the colonists arrived just days ago,” Rolid said, his bright blue eyes shining.
“Recently arrived?” Yermak repeated, not believing their good fortune.
“They may not have had time to set up their defenses. Their cargo may still be waking,” Rolid said.
“How far away are we?” Yermak asked as he pulled up star charts on his monitor.
“Ten days at trans-light nine, but we will be stretching our fuel reserves at that speed,” Rolid answered. “We will need enough fuel to reach the nearest GEMS (Galaxy Exploration and Minerals Syndicate) buyer.”
Yermak stared out his portal. “It might be too late if we take that long to get there. It may give them time to put up their defenses. I might lose this ship and crew if we return to Tantalum with nothing to show for it. If we are successful, I’m sure one of our Tanlian brothers would be more than happy to send us supplies—for a cut, of course.”
Rolid nodded. Taking longer to arrive would be a dangerous gamble.
“See if you can get us there in less than ten days,” Yermak said, walking toward his brother and looking him in the eye. “We need this raid. It’s the best chance we’ve had in months.”
Rolid turned to leave, prepared to give the orders to speed to XR-309, but Yermak stopped him.
“One more thing,” Yermak said. “Locate the nearest Tanlian ship and inform the crew we’re going hunting. Tell them we will do the work if they bring us fuel. We will be happy to work a trade. But, delay that message until we are halfway there. I don’t want any over-eager friend taking our prizes from us.”
“Yes, Commander. That’s a good plan.” Rolid bowed to his brother and left.That colony better be soft, Yermak thought. We don’t have any extra reserves for a long fight or to chase them around that planet.
The commander could not wait to get on with the hunt. He would have no trouble convincing his crew to be thorough when harvest time came. It also had been months since they had had women to enjoy for themselves.
First plunder is always so delicious, he thought as a vicious smile spread across his face.