The Titan ship Thea was going where she wanted, which at the moment was fine as far as Saniya was concerned. As long as she was away from any Terradyne officials she was happy.
Sitting back in the seat, not the pilot's seat, the ship hadn't said she couldn't sit there but Saniya got the impression that Thea would be much happier to have a pilot of her own choosing. That was one of the weird things, she wasn't alone on the ship even though she was the only one on board. The AI system on board Titans were first class and Saniya didn't feel like she was talking to a computer, but a real person. Perhaps it had to do with the fact the ship itself was partly organic. It was the best of science as far as Saniya could tell. It was wrong that they'd been outlawed!
There were a lot of things wrong these days though. Saniya thought back on the events that had unfolded recently. She had gotten a communicade from Carla that Alonso was seen stopped by two black-suits and escorted into a land cruiser. No one had seen a report about him getting arrested or anything on the news links. He was the type of guy that wouldn't even spit on the side walk. It wasn't surprising though. This was not the first of her friends to be picked up by officials and things had at this point stopped being odd or coincidental. Saniya tried to warn Carla to just lay low for a while till some news came out about Alonso, but either Carla didn't listen or she was already on the list or whatever. A week later Carla didn't show up for a dinner.
The thing that linked all the people she knew that disappeared was their outspokenness about their disdain with Terradyne Federation's latest treaties and laws. They spoke of Genesis Coalition as a positive thing despite the growing number of reports relating to Genesis as a terrorist organization. Saniya wasn't outspoken, but she knew what was right and what was wrong and knew that guilt by association was going to take affect if it hadn't already.
As Saniya read the star chart on Thea's screen, she started to wonder if the ship knew where it was going. It didn't seem like there was much out here. Granted there wasn't much a Carlik Station where she found the ship.
In secret Saniya had packed her bags. Despite still living with her parents, her father was almost never home and wouldn't notice any change in her behavior and her mother had been distant and cold in regards to her since she was a teen.
Knowing that she likely had people that were watching her movements, Saniya took the chance and went out to the old station on the other side of the planet. Not many people came out there anymore, but if she was going to find someone to help her, or let her help them, she figured that somewhere that was fancy wasn't a good idea.
It was depressing in fact looking at the ships in dock. Out of a mixture of boredom and curiosity she walked along and looked at the ships trying to bring to mind what types they were. Some were obvious and some she wasn't familiar with. Normally she thought one ship was much like another.
Then she saw a ship unlike any other. She walked up closer to it and touched it. It wasn't cold like she expected. It was metal, but also something else. Already she was curious, so when a door opened a few feet away from her she only hesitated a split second before walking in.
Saniya didn't want to linger on what she saw, the corpse of the last pilot who the ship couldn't keep alive before they landed, the mess in the hydropods where the food was suppose to be produced. She made a deal with the ship though, after the shock of finding out what kind of ship she was on. She'd clean up the ship and see that the pilot was sent into space. In return the ship would take her off planet.
It worried Saniya she didn't have any idea where she wanted to go yet, but the ship seemed to have her own idea of what to do. Now she was at the mercy of the ships whim and Saniya wondered if she should have taken her chances trying to make a contact at the station instead of taking off.
There was an odd tone coming from the ship. Communication coming through. Audio only.
"Illegal Titan ship, reduce your speed and prepare to be boarded."
Saniya sat up straight. Terradyne Galactic Officer? It had to be. "Thea, can you out run their cruiser."
Yes. But at the same time Saniya noticed they were in deed slowing down.
"Good. Get a team of five and meet me at the hatch. We don't know if the crew is hostile or not." replied the Commander, standing just behind the panel and frowning at the image on the screen. A Titan. Those had been branded illegal by the Terradyne at least four seasons ago. When one was found, they were to be captured immediately. Of course, they tended to have pirates on board. This ship stopping when requested was suspicious at best.
"Are you sure you should be entering an enemy ship yourself, Kelran?" came a female voice at his side. Kinala Gantoon was another Commander sent by the Terradyne to do what she called "Inspections". Commander Jasper Kelran thought it to be more of a pain in the ass.
"If you would like to inspect the Titan, Gantoon, be my guest." Jasper replied, giving her a hard stare. As expected, the snooty bitch just rolled her eyes. Didn't want to get her manicured hands dirty, he was sure.
Giving some final orders when the Titan had finally stopped and his cruiser had connected for boarding, Jasper marched out of the control center for the hatch. There was something nagging him in the back of his mind that something wasn't right, but for now, he ignored it.
"Open her up." he ordered, pulling his gun as he met his men. The hatch door opened allowing passage to the other ship. It came as a surprise that no one was there to greet them. Weapons bared or not. Being the first the step inside, he pointed his gun around as he scanned the first hall. Nothing.
"Fan out and find the pilot. This thing can't be flying itself."
There was a sick feeling in her stomach as she saw the Terradyne ship had connected with Thea. This was a very bad idea, but telling the ship that didn't seem to work. Instead the ship just repeated that he might be the right kind of pilot.
Since Thea was going allow the group in, Saniya wanted to see them and activated the viewing screens from inside the ship. They were spreading out, which was neither good nor bad as far as Saniya was concerned.
Thea it seemed had a different opinion. The largest screen was dedicated to one man. He looked the very model of a military officer and from the first moments aboard the ship looked to be in charge of this boarding party if not the whole vessel.
That was when Saniya saw the ship light up the walkway for the man, with a path that Saniya was sure lead right to the cockpit. With anxiety growing she found herself checking the folds of her sari, then looking up at the screen frowning. "And if he's not the right kind of pilot?"
The ship didn't answer Saniya, and they both waited for his arrival.
Jasper pressed a button on the collar of his shirt. "I've got lights on the floor. Any signs of life, yet?"
'Nothing, Commander. It looks like no one has used this thing in ages.'
Heaving a heavy sigh, Jasper was pretty sure that wasn't true. Stepping cautiously down the hall, he'd turn quickly around corners ready to shoot if necessary. Every room was empty, just like his men said.
The lighted path finally opened up in to a fairly large control room and just what he was looking for. A pilot.
Gun raised and ready, he kept his vision trained on the woman. "I am Commander Jasper Kelran. This ship is now the property of the Terradyne Federation. State your name and your business."
Painted eyes blinked at the gun now pointed. Saniya was very aware of the lack of anything like a breeze in a ship and for some reason wish there was one. She felt the layers of her skirt and sari, the fabric of her choli against her skin. "My name is Saniya Karamchand." He'd either not recognize the name, only slightly recognize the name because of her father, or know who she was. She hoped it wasn't the last.
Welcome aboard me Commander. Have you come for me?
Thea's feminine voice seemed to come from the pilot's chair. Saniya thought that the ship could have thought of a better way of asking her question but so be it.
"The fuck...?" Though his gun didn't waver, Jasper did cast a quick surprised look over at the chair before casting Saniya a scowl. Titan class ship. How could he have forgotten... They were called living ships for a good reason. It seemed this one had yet to choose it's pilot. That could work for his advantage.
Raising his hand, he pressed the comlink on his collar. "I am in the control center. There is no pilot, but there is a Saniya Karamchand on board. Have you found any crew?"
'Negative, Commander. Ship is empty.
'Commander Kelran, this is Gantoon. That woman has been labeled as a possible terrorist threat to the Terradyne Federation. Orders are to execute on sight.'
"She's unarmed. I'm taking her in to custody and brining her onb-"
'I repeat, Kelran. Your orders are direct from the Terradyne to execute.'
"It's my ship and I give the orders. This woman is being taken in to custody."
'Note, if you don't follow direct orders by the Terradyne you will be relieved of your position, labeled as an enemy to the state and arrested for treason. This is your final warning. Execute the captive so that we may claim the ship.'
"Gantoon, get that stick out of your ass. No one i-"
The comlink FZZT as the connection was cut. Jasper tried to call up his team and back to his cruiser, but received no reply. That traitorous mutinous bitch...! Jasper was already turning on a heel to leave the control room and return back to his. He was going to straighten this shit out, even if it meant strangling Commander Gantoon with his bare hands. The unarmed woman was the least of his concerns!
Execute? They couldn't be serious, even if the whole government had gone nuts she hadn't done anything. Then it occurred to her that guilt by association and being the daughter of people in high positions was likely a more deadly combination then she had realized. It was surprising she'd gotten away at all if this were the case. Or perhaps because they couldn't find her she was considered more a threat. All the possibilities were swirling in her mind.
She wasn't dead though, and she really wanted to stay that way. "Wait!" She also didn't want to see someone else die for her. "Are your men loyal to you, or to Terradyne?"
They are now receiving orders from Commander Gantoon. I am blocking access to the control room.
Well that answered that question.
Commander Kelran, I ask once more, have you come for me?
"Thea, this isn't a good time," Saniya muttered to the ship.
The control room doors slid shut in his face. Accidentally letting out a growl of frustration, he leaned an arm on the door and rest his head against it.
There was no time to panic. Think it through. Gantoon had it out for him, and whether it was by legal means or not, he was now the enemy threat. Even if his men were loyal to him, trying to make the choice in the middle of a fight was risky. Going against Terradyne orders worse. He didn't want to see his men dead and sure didn't want to see himself dead.
Choice was obvious.
Muttering some really interesting curse phrases under his breath, Jasper holstered his gun as he marched across the control and dropped in to the pilots seat.
"Get those men off the ship and detach from the cruiser. As soon as the hatch is closed take off as fast as possible. We want a heard start before Gantoon realizes what happened. Then we're going to have a chat about kidnapping Terradyne Commanders."
Thea quickly followed Jasper's orders, or perhaps she just didn't like all the Terradynes poking around in her. Using some sort of gas that must have irritated the men's eyes and throats they cautiously backed away until one genius mentioned the idea of bio-masks and the 5 men did a full tilt retreat back to their ship.
Once they were no longer inside of Thea she closed the hatch and severed the attachment to the other ship.
Saniya had quickly found her own seat when she noticed Thea closing the hatch, she was not going to be taken by surprise of the sudden acceleration of the ship. Not that the gravity generator wouldn't compensate, but they had the outer view screen on and that could be very disorientation. Especially the first time.
In fact there was almost no warning as Thea went from being engine dead in space to going into overdrive in what almost amounted to the blink of an eye.
Now then Jasper Kelran, we must discuss if you are to be my pilot.
The tone of the AI's voice in fact almost matched the studying look that Saniya was now giving Jasper. Though the ship was confident, Saniya was just curious.
"I'm pretty damned sure I'm already your pilot." replied Jasper to the ship's voice. For the time being, he was ignoring the woman in the sari. A Terradyne fugitive she might be, but it was clearly obvious that she was no threat to himself and quite possibly not even able to control this cheeky little vessel.
Jasper knew Titan ships well enough to know they were pretty damned picky about their pilots and crew. But that was another issue he really didn't care about. He tapping in to the system, looking up the specs on the ship. Previous pilot, as expected, had no affiliation with the Terradyne. A tradesmen of legal goods. ...Ah, Genesis Coalition. This particular vessel had been missing a long time, possibly since the start of the terrorist group.
"Thea. Your name is Thea. ...Well, Thea, we need to get somewhere outside of Terradyne influence. Not affiliated with Genesis. I refused to be dragged in to rebel nonsense." That is when he turned around in his chair to eye Saniya with a cool stare. "Any nonsense."
Saniya gave Jasper a slight frown and shrugged her shoulders. She had no desire to get involved in nonsense after all. Granted she had a desire for the truth, but there had to be ways to get that without having half the Terradyne Federation after her!
If you are going to be my pilot then getting out of Terradyne influence would be advisable. I will not be used against my function. I am a trade vessel. If you are agreeable to this. Will be loyal to the crew then you will be my pilot and we will have the navigator set a course for you.
Saniya thought that Thea's demands were very reasonable. She wondered if a military man could become a privateer though. "Wait, what navigator?"
"Welcome to the crew, Navigator Karamchand." Jasper replied with a rather grim smirk. It was dark humor for sure, accepting this outrageous proposition. But when choices were few and far between, he'd rather be the one making them than that bitch Gantoon or anyone else.
"All right then, Thea. You've got yourself a pilot. If the Navigator will chart our course..." he started, already bringing up the schematics, and more importantly, the infodex. If this was his ship now, he was going to do it by the book. A crew log, supply log, mission agenda... A snort escaped him. Mission indeed.
Mission One; Contact Terradyne not in Gantoon's pocket. Get job back. ...Investigate Saniya Karamchand.
"But what do I know about being a navigator?" she muttered under her breath as she placed her palms on the arm rest that then wrapped around her hands. A helm connected to the back of her chair wrapped around as well and there was now the sensation that she was in fact in the mapping system of Thea.
It was disorienting. Saniya after a moment realized that she could in fact explore the whole mapped universe this way, which was very exciting for a hobby star watcher. However she would have to do that in her own time right now she needed to find them a planet and a safe route that wasn't aligned to anyone. That told Saniya they needed to go to the Ambe systems. They were a loose federation of planetary powers that was able to keep Terradyne out and had no desire to be connected with Genesis because it didn't have to be.
As for the exact planet. Belpir was the most well known and the last place Saniya would ever want to go. From her impression of Jasper Kelran she doubted he would have ever gone there as well. It was perfect.
After a few moments Jasper had a course that avoided super novas and army bases.
PLANET BELPIR, AMBE SYSTEM Belpir. It was one of the last places Jasper wanted to set foot on. Especially without a team of armed men and a few explosives strapped to his back. Yet, here he was walking in to a large building - a warehouse - looking for the supplies that Thea so urgently requested. Had he known that the living ship would be a constant nuisance to his personal space, he might have jettisoned himself out the airlock.
Thea's eagerness to learn about 'her pilot' had prevented him from investigating Saniya Karamchand. For two days he answered questions to the ship as he himself attempted to get to know it better. Were he not so annoyed by the presence, he might have been impressed with how intelligent the ship could be. It's construction was equally as impressive. Thea could adapt and repair. Besides the main bridge of control, there was a galley with full kitchen, supply room, public shower and bath, conference room, holding cells, cargo bay, and even private quarters. That was just the areas he was able to examine and get cleaned up before they had arrived in Belpir.
For now, Jasper was hunting down oddly named parts and fuels in the warehouse. They were going to need communication links built specifically for use with Thea. Secondly, he was going to have to hunt down contacts. People he could trust inside the Terradyne Federation - if they even existed. The one thing he did not want was to get involved with Genesis. He was already on the Terradyne's shitlist thanks to Gantoon, he was not going to make it worse.
"How the fuck can it get any worse." he muttered under his breath.
For what it was worth at least they were not in the sleazy part of the planet. At least not yet. They were looking for supplies for Thea and when they first landed in port it was suggested they might want to do their shopping here.
Here was a warehouse that was only in slightly better repair than the station she found Thea in. Jasper could have given her a list of things to look for so they could finish this up faster, but when she mentioned the idea he turned it down. He didn't trust her, it was obvious and while a logical part of her could perhaps understand his paranoia, that was not the part of her that needed to be convinced that he wouldn't turn her in as soon as he could to Terradyne.
So instead of doing something useful Saniya was following behind Jasper. Trailing behind was more accurate. She wasn't feeling much motivation for keeping up, but she wasn't going to lose him either. Oh no, she had no intention of being stuck on this planet!
Hearing Jasper muttering Saniya smirked though her back was turned to him at the moment. "Do you really want me to answer that question?"
"No." Answered Jasper curtly, despite the fact the question was probably rhetorical. As he stalked by a big empty crate, he hefted it up. Now with something to drop supplies in to, he would periodically stop near stacked shelves in the warehouse and drop objects in to the crate.
Eventually one of the clerks approached them. An older man with an awful sunny disposition for the run down looking place they were in. "What can ah do far ya?" he asked.
Resting the crate at his side, Jasper pulled a hastily written list out of his vest. "I need it all in two hours. Delivered to ship at the docks called Thea. Don't try to load her. Just drop it off."
Though the clerk looked curious, he just nodded as he took the list with him. It wouldn't be the first time getting requests like that!
"When we leave here, we're going to find a communication station." Jasper mentioned directly to Saniya. "Someone is going to clear this shit up." he muttered under his breath, grabbing another item off the shelf to toss in to the crate.
"This shit, as you put it, is the result of decay and corruption and if you think this is going to be cleared up with one little call to your superiors then you likely would have been better off to have let your people take you," granted Saniya would likely have been dead if he'd done that, but she didn't see anything good by contacting people higher up in the command. Saniya didn't believe everyone involved in Terradyne was corrupt and only interested in their own best interest, but enough would be.
All that was said in a hush voice that carried no further then Jasper's ears. She wasn't inclined to have anyone overhear what she had to say. This man though, she'd already figured out he was headstrong, maybe a bit of a bully. He'd taken to being Thea's pilot with easy, grumbling perhaps, but with ease. She had avoided actually talking to him on the ship. There wasn't anything to say after all and Thea seemed very interested in knowing everything about him. He would contact someone and Saniya could almost hate him for it. Almost though, he was brain washed like so many others.
She'd only gotten a glance of the lists but it had been enough to see what they were shopping for. Not that she understood even a third of it. Grabbing one of the few pieces of equipment Saniya recognized from the original list that Jasper didn't put on the heavy parts list she silently put it in Jasper's crate.
"That decay and corruption you are so apt to condemn has protected this galaxy for the past six hundred years." Jasper snarled at her in a hushed hiss. This was just what he needed. A fugitive that was sympathetic to the terrorists. They call them bleeding hearts. Blinded by passionate speeches and promises of 'a better galaxy', but never seeing the truth behind what needed to be done to keep it all in order.
Another couple of items were dropped carefully in to the crate. Once the last was set inside, Jasper hefted it up and started hauling it down the isle. He was strong enough to carry the thing with ease, despite the fact it was filled to the top of heavy equipment.
"The day we lose faith in the system is the day we become savages. You would do well to remember that, Karamchand, before you end up entangled with the wrong types of people."
"Isn't it a little too late for that?" she asked. This stupid, illogical man. Could he not see what was plainly there? They were both wanted, and for what reason, because he would not kill an unarmed civilian. Even if he did not know that her only crime was knowing people who spoke ill of the Terradyne, what sort of proper government would condone such an action.
Her dark eyes had no warmth in them as they proceeded to finalize their purchase. Saniya hoped there would not be many more purchases like this, there was a limit to funds available to them from the ships coffers. Saniya had her own funds, some she dared not touched without being tracked. However she was not a complete pauper without those.
Not that she was about to tell Jasper that little secrete. He didn't trust her, and honestly she wasn't sure she trusted him yet. They might have been stuck together, but they were obviously on two very different paths. Saniya knew that she wouldn't have to worry about him doing something that would get her killed, but beyond that his interests were what came first for him. So be it, Saniya would look out for herself.
Once outside of the warehouse, their supplies purchased, Saniya looked up at the alien sky. Was her future somewhere out there? It certainly wasn't around her.
Though Jasper was tempted to escort their supplies out to Thea, there were a few things he needed to get settled straight away. He said little to Saniya as they wove their way through the busy city streets. Being a Terradyne officer himself, he knew what areas to avoid running in to government officials. Where they headed was not a part of town he enjoyed stepping in to for "business". It was one of the Black Markets and somewhere here was his contact working underground.
"Kelran." Called out a voice, followed by the click of a lighter and a puff of cigarette smoke.
Jasper stepped in to the alley with Saniya not far behind him. His eyes narrowed. "You're not Haylen."
The figure shrugged, raising up his hands to show he wasn't armed. "Haylen couldn't make it. Sent me in his stead. He wanted to warn you... Terradyne has put out a bounty with your name on it. Haylen seems to think you might be needing to contact someone interesting. Genesis interesting."
Frowning, Jasper ran a hand down over his face. He trusted Haylen. This stranger was a different story. Haylen wouldn't send someone in his stead when Jasper's message was so important...
"Thanks for the advice. We're going Karamchand." He turned on his heels and started walking.
"...wait! Is that all? I can help you, you know. Get you in contact with Genesis!"
Jasper just shook his head, not bothering with a reply. Knowing there was a bounty on him was a valuable piece of information, at least. But he needed to think this through.