Disciplinary Action

You walk down the line of slaves, carefully considering the faces of each one. To one unaccustomed to the brutish faces of the Gor-Tal, it might seem that all of them are the same. To one such as yourself, however, the resting expression of a Gor-Tal can tell you much more of their personality than a cursory glance at a human face.

You've heard it theorized that less of the Gor-Tal body language is manual, so deception is harder for them. To you, after dealing with the big, ugly yeti-like aliens day after day, you're partial to the more common conclusion that the Gor-Tal are dumber than swine and twice as smelly.

Finally, one of the creatures catches your eye. You had quickly moved past the rows of them staring at you with varying mixes of animosity and stoicism. Anger and hatred were expected of these things. The expression that arrested your wandering eyes was one of peace and serenity.

Without hesitation, you leveled your pistol at his head and pulled the trigger, an overcharged plasma pulse liquifying about half of his head.

You're second in command, Tevan, quickly ran up to you.

"Hey, boss, why'd you dome that one?"

You have to give a bit of credit to Tevan. At least he's eager to learn.

"He wasn't upset about being captured," you explained. "The only thing that keeps the monkeys from going ballistic when you capture them is religion, or a plan. Both are dangerous."

Tevan's scaly brows crinkled in clear confusion. "Won't killing him inspire revolt?"

You shrugged. "Not really. In my experience, the ones who fight back will. It doesn't matter how you treat 'em. The thing to do is to cut down anybody who might give them an edge in the brain department."

You gesture to the Gor-Tal corpse on the floor. "I can take on any number of these things bull-rushing me without strategy."

Tevan smiles. "I get it. 'Cut off the head and you've defeated the snake.'"

You frown, spitting a glob of mucus into some dark corner of the ship. "If you feel the need to distill my years of experience into some pithy aphorism, sure."

As he stutters about an apology, you just walk away. Cutter, your translator and oldest associate quickly catches up to you.

"I hate working with these ugly lizards," he say's, looking at you. "I always thought they were too smart when we fought against 'em in fifty-seven."

You look at him with a serious gaze. "I don't care one way or another about whether you trust them. Just remember before you do anything stupid. We work under the Dragoness now."

He groans and rolls his eyes slightly. "I get it. No treason here. I just miss the good old days."

Your expression softens as you sigh. "You and me both. Anyway, let's get these dumb apes off to market.

You and the crew quickly get to work rounding up the slaves and putting them in the hold of the ship. The Sojourner (known in some sectors by the more pejorative: The Exliler) is fairly large for a slave ship. Of course, there isn't much of a standard for slave ships anymore. The trade is dying fast, and those that have perfected the art are dying even faster. You run a hand through your greying hair at the thought.

As soon as the last of the slaves are placed in the holding area, you quickly walk to the bridge and activate the hardlight shields in front and behind the doors. One couldn't be too careful with the Brownian cult on the rise. As soon as you did, you heard a weird, high-pitched, raspy voice behind you.

"Uh... Captain, did you authorize drinking among the kitchen staff?" He asked, knowing the answer.

You smiled. That was another point in Tevan's favor. He was a born snitch. No matter how harshly you punish wrongdoing among this crew of misfits and morons, nobody could ever hate you as much as Tevan. "I sure didn't Tevan," you respond. "Bridge, prepare for takeoff. I have discipline to administer to my kitchen staff.

The Sojourner may be a slave ship, but you still have no use for slovenly and drunken crew members.

You march down the corridor, taking the elevator down to the mid-level and marched to the kitchen. The whole way, Tevan shadows you, his feet clack-clacking on the solid floor announcing the two of you long before you arrive. As you stride into the kitchen, you witness the tail end of the scramble to clear out all the incriminating evidence. As soon as they see you, the head chef and a few of the lower kitchen staff stand stiffly at attention, a habit some of the military types have a hard time dispensing with.

Not even those who have no military experience at all dare to move as you walk around the kitchen looking each of them in the face though. Tevan does have the good sense to hang back at the door while you do. All but a scarce few of them have reddened faces, and a clear scent of alcohol hangs tellingly in the air.

A you finish your round with the last individual, you notice that he doesn't have the white uniform that adorns the kitchen staff. He's wearing a black combat suit. He's one of your guards. You look at his back and his hip, noticing the lack of weapons.

"Where did you leave them?" you ask simply, an angry edge creeping into your voice involuntarily. You meant to say that in a calm, even tone.

"They're on a shelf in the hallway." His voice carries a hollow, defeated tone.

You sigh, half in disappointment and half in relief. He knows the consequences of his actions, but still confesses. A lesser man would have lied and told you that he had left them in the locker. You choose your crew well.

You ask, "Tell me why I ask that my guards always stay armed whenever their weapons are out of the locker?"

"A misplaced weapon is a weapon in the hand of the enemy, sir."

You draw your pistol and aim it at his forehead. "Exactly."

You pull the trigger, blasting a hole out of his head and splattering it messily along the back wall. You turn to the kitchen staff. "This is a health and safety hazard. I don't tolerate drunkards or corpses in my kitchens. You all are on half rations until we reach the next port."

The head chef nods apologetically as you turn on your heal and march out, Tevan tagging along close behind.