“Captain!” the ship’s doc called again. “We have a problem.”
“What?” Qaiyaan leaned around the corner. Tovik and the doc stood over a cargo box, staring down at a portal in its surface. Blinking red light bounced off both their faces.
Tovik rubbed his hand vigorously across the small window. “Is that a girl?”
“You’ve got to be effing kidding me.” Qaiyaan slapped a mag clamp against the container he was securing and stood. “A cryo-pod? Who the hell picked that up?”
“You said grab everything,” Tovik said. He looked up to meet Qaiyaan’s gaze. “Can we keep her?”
Noatak came over the com again. “Captain, the troopers are hailing us.”
Qaiyaan scowled and thrust a finger at the cryo-pod. “She’s not a netorpuk puppy, Tovik. Just secure the damn thing so we can burn. We’ll figure out what to do with it later.”
“That’s the problem,” doc said. “The cryo’s failing. She won’t survive a burn in this state.”
“Fuuuck.” Qaiyaan stomped over to the pod. He should have known things were going too easy. Looking at the face through the glass, his mouth grew suddenly dry. A young woman with long charcoal hair lay inside, a crescent of dark lashes against her high cheekbones. The blinking red light near her head illuminated her perfectly sculpted features as if coating them with blood.
“Just vent it,” Noatak spoke over the line. “Let Syndicorp pick it up.”
Tovik grabbed the end as if claiming the pod as his own. “You can’t do that. What if they miss her?”
Noatak answered, “Not our problem.”
“You should see what she looks like…” Tovik continued.
Now wasn’t the time to argue over crew shares of the spoils, but Qaiyaan felt a sudden desire to wrestle the pod away from his engineer and claim the contents for himself. He tamped down the feeling. If they didn’t get moving immediately, Syndicorp troopers would shoot first and ask questions later.
Noatak’s voice boomed over his thoughts. “Anaq! They just obliterated the human ship!”
Syndicorp is out for blood today. Clenching his jaw, Qaiyaan shoved Tovik aside and began pushing the box toward the airlock, averting his gaze from the breath-taking face inside. “If we vent her, they’ll have to stop and pick her up, which’ll give us more time to get away.”
“But, Captain—” Tovik started.
“We’re not murderers!” Doc shouted, moving to intercept the box.
The comm filled the bay again. “Captain, you’re not going to like this.” Noatak’s voice had gone from excited panic to deadly quiet. Qaiyaan ceased pushing, turning to face the speaker as if he could read his first mate’s face from here. Noatak only used that voice when something deadly was going on. “They took out the passenger ship, too. There’s nothing left of either vessel but a haze of space dust.”
The breath left Qaiyaan’s body. Syndicorp’d destroyed their own ship? Why would they do that?
Doc moved close to the captain, his voice low. “Venting her is a death sentence.”
Qaiyaan squeezed his eyes shut. Why could nothing ever be easy? This woman was probably some scrawny human female on an exorbitant corporate cryo-vacation or some such nonsense. But he couldn’t just leave her, not to the mercy of space, and definitely not to a ship that was blowing up everything in its path. “How long do you need to wake her?”