Author : Roi R. Czechvala, Staff Writer

“umm… Skipper? You’ll want to take a look at this.”

Immediately, the bridge dissolved into a holographic display of the space around the Crimson Sky. Her Captain, Iulia, pushed an errant wisp of flaming red hair from her eye as she regarded the freighter that appeared to be floating just above her helmsman’s left shoulder.

“She’s adrift Captain. No response to hails. No emergency beacon.”

“There wouldn’t be. She poked a careless finger through the aft end of the projection. See there? Blaster damage. Took out all power before they could react.”

She continued to survey the freighters virtual image as it slowly rotated before her. “And look here,” she continued, stabbing at a scorch mark towards the bow. “This was the second shot. Anybody not suited would have died from asphyxiation in seconds.” She grimaced. “Not a pleasant way to go.”

“Still, we should take a look and see what they left us. Boarding party to the shuttle. Let’s go people,” she barked to the bridge crew.

The shuttle was dwarfed by the sheer bulk of the ore freighter. It contained an automated refinery for smelting the iron and nickel from asteroid mines. In brilliant red and gold, the Rising Sun above a Hammer and Sickle of the Asiatic Alliance was boldly emblazoned across the ships bow.

A thorough search of the ship yielded nothing. Whoever had attacked had cleaned out the factory freighter’s hold, leaving behind nothing but the desiccated corpses of her crew.

Iulia assembled her crew on the devastated ship’s bridge. A metre wide gap in the overhead looked out into dead space. “Report” Casually, she pushed aside a motionless carcass as it floated by.

“Sir,” Master Sergeant Shania Gatsby snapped, “the drives have been removed, and the refinery has been damaged beyond repair. There is nothing of value left.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t say that.” She smiled widely, revealing two vicious rows of teeth filed to needle points. Casually plucking a floating body from above she asked, “Anyone for Chinese?”

Twenty toothy grins winked back at her.

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