Captain Arnou and the Rumours Heist by Ndro (critique requested)

Howdy stranger, don't see your type round here often, not these days anyway.
What's that? You want to hear about who?  Well I suppose you're buying the drinks, you get to hear whatever you want. Mine's the crap they don't water down, by the way.

Well, I suppose you've heard all of that early days stuff, serving in the Alliance Navy and all that. I knew him back then y'know, when he was just a young Wolf lieutenant serving with me on the Inflexible. Don't look at me like that; we thought they were still the good guys in those days. Hindsight's a bitch, isn't it?

No, what you want to hear is about the infamous Captain Colman Arnou, scourge of the Alliance, hero of the poor, and the downtrodden and the goddamned hero worshipers. Well, he who buys the drinks chooses the story, as the Britanians probably say.

Last time he resurfaced was about three years back over on Segedunum way-station, y'know, that grubby little bean-tin right on the far edge of the Alliance. He'd spent the last year or so in a prison cell after that botched job over on the Gate Worlds or so I hear. After landing he bursts in to the station cantina, not a classy sort of joint like this place you understand, with this damn crazy look in his eyes and being trailed by this rich looking Lemur, his pilot by my guess they're good at that.

He tells the bartender that he's worked out how to make his fortune. Yeah, I imagine he got that look at the time too. Anyway, he yelled his head off about this one big score he's planning, and if you could understand a word he was saying the phrase "Gold Ship" kept coming up, y'know, the Alliance Treasury shipments to the Rim World banks. This being Segedunum the bar was full of grade-A scum you understand, real rough joint, so the walls definitely had ears. After about an hour of this crap, under protest from his friend all the way, he just upped and left, leaving a trail of curious scumbags who were interested enough to pay his tab for the night.

After making the whole station buzz with rumours and the like, our Captain Arnou decides, being quite plastered by this point as it happens, to entrust some of the details of his plan to some Fennec who worked the docking ring, again against the better judgement of his sober associate. Details such as which treasury shipment he was planning to jack, for instance. So after our hero calls it a night, the dock worker decides to be an diligent little citizen, or something else beginning with C anyhow, and runs to the station security chief, you know what they say about wrong man in the right place and all that. Naturally the news was, shall we say, not well received by our Alliance 'friends'.

So early the next day, completely oblivious to his large eared buddy's nocturnal business, Arnou goes down and hires one of them useless little tin-tub orbital shuttles. An hour or so later it leaves the station heading for the trade lanes flying a little wobbly, and a half hour after that Alliance Security sends a squadron after it, followed by every lowlife able to fly stick. Now this leaves the station with just one gunship for defence, which shouldn't be a problem right? I mean, most of the local trouble just jumped station following the guy who just announced he was going to rob the Alliance, what trouble could possibly come up back home? Well, that would be where you misjudged the situation oh so badly.

As soon as the last gunship left vision range the station suffered what we in the trade call a blackout. Not that uncommon on these old orbital crates, but there was obviously something not right with this one, even the idiot petty officer left in charge of security could tell that. So he sends down the remaining squad of customs enforcers to have a look. Yeah, I know, I'd have seen it too. Anyway, when the squad got down to the circuit breakers they found the place predictably trashed, with the bulkhead rigged to lock behind them. With over half the remaining security force trapped, the guy left in charge began to get understandably twitchy and ordered the last gunship to be warmed up. God knows what he planned to do with it, take off and nuke the site from orbit? Who knows… he sure as hell didn't.

It was round about this point that Arnou decided to make his grand re-entrance. Everyone has their own version of how he got back on the station, but I like to think he spent an hour hiding in a box like an old snake friend of mine used to. However he did it, it was a fairly easy walk from the docks to the main security office. Seems that the real reason he was on the station was to hook up with some old associates and assemble a crew, as it were. So he kicks the security office door in, backed up by this psychotic little panda with what I can only describe as an unholy union of shotgun and jet engine.  She kept the acting chief 'occupied' while Arnou searched out this huge crate, and I mean huge, took two of them to move it I swear. I hear it was some kinda military drone-bot prototype worth top credit on the black market. They drag the crate and the security officer out and no one tries to stop them, no grunt wants to admit to shooting a high-ranking hostage no matter how inept he's been.

So these three head out, uncontested, and make tracks to the secure dock. Halfway there they make a detour into the very same bar Arnou made trouble in the night before, where the other two crew members he managed to pick up. Now this lot, they may not sound like much but they managed to break into an Alliance secure dock and clean house using only a single frag grenade and the panda's insane… gun. Took a bulkhead clean off it's hinges on one shot. Not much of a fight, though, but I'd like to think that a gunship is worth less than a dead officer and holed up space station to the Alliance. I'd like to, but I doubt it somehow.

Since the feds were nice enough to warm up the ship for them, all was set for an escape. Only problem was the hostage. Captain Arnou may be many things but not a murderer, despite what the Alliance says. In his worldly wisdom he decided to let him go only mildly beaten. As he kicks the acting chief out the airlock back into the station, he yells, casual as you like, to tell the guy's boss never to trust what you hear in the cantina, and with that they were off. When the ship hit hard burn and made good their escape lo and behold the lights came back on in the station. Some kind of computer hack I'm told, you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. Don't look at me like that; I swear it's all true.

Rumour has it him and his crew was seen heading out to the very edge of inhabited space a few months back, looking for something. No one seems to have found out what yet. Takes all sorts, don't it?  Make mine another while you’re here, friend.

Say, has anyone ever mentioned that you look kinda like him…?

Captain Arnou and the Rumours Heist (critique requested)


24 November 2012 at 15:20:41 MST

Something I wrote waaaaay back in 2010 as a submission for the RBW2010 Conbook. The theme of the convention was "Space Cowboys" so I wrote it as some kind of pastiche of the Firefly/Serenity style of Science Fiction.

Didn't get accepted into the book in the end, but was interesting to write. May use the format for something else in the future.

This piece is covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. (CC)2010 Dom Barlow, Some Rights Reserved.

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Literary / Story