"Ito Min-Hee's journal, entry 109. We found a child today, abandoned on a planet of the Rim. Her name is Kala. We took her in. She is not a normal child, I can feel it. She is hiding her potential, behind her innocent eyes and big smile. Oh, she is innocent, but she is far from harmless. There is something predatory about the way she moves. Most would interpret it as the carelessness of youth, but I think it's something else entirely. The captain wants to drop her off somewhere, but I doubt it's going to happen. After all, I am the last stray they took in before that, so I know what I am talking about."
"This plan seems a little too optimistic," said Min-Hee. "It relies too much on people's honor and good heart." She was cleaning fish over the side of the river. It was the night of the second day after their crash and they had wandered to find shelter as far away as possible from the burning wreckage. Eventually, they stumbled upon a cave behind a waterfall, at the foot of a small mountain. They hid there during the day, avoiding the few ships they could hear flying over, surely looking for them.
This planet was a recent independent colony with barely a few settlements, overseen for now by the three nations. As far as they could see, no human activity could be found for kilometers around them. They were lost in the wild.
Tonight, they were in the open, the night sky filled with stars over their heads, two moons shining bright. Under the blue moonlight, the crew members appeared like ghosts haunting the river.
"My plan is the best we've got for now," said Allan as he fumbled with the communication device Hopper and Jessie managed to take out of the Capricieuse before abandoning her to the flames. A good part of the forest had been burning since. The smoke could be seen darkening the sky during the day.
Kala was helping him, giving the device enough juice to craft a message, ready to be sent into the void. Standing this close to the captain, she could feel his very aura overlapping her own; so much grief. He was doing a good job of hiding it from the rest of his crew, but the loss of his ship hit him hard. Harder than any of them.
"I don't understand. Who are we contacting again?" asked Kala, eager to keep them all thinking about something else than the crash.
"Naked inmates," said Moira from the river where she was washing her feet.
Memphis, seeing Kala's confused look, laughed and said, "Long story short: when we were looking for you, Hopper went to prison. And there he made some naked friends. And we gave them some clothes and a ride. And now they owe us."
After a few seconds of silence, Edwin sighed from the grass where he was sitting, "This is even more confusing..."
"Doesn't matter who they are," cut the captain, waving an emitter over his head. "What matters is that they owe us. And that they better drag their asses here to pick us up, or I swear they will regret it."
"You did promise that Kala would fry them if they didn't answer your call for aid," Jessie said.
Kala laughed "...I will what now?"
"Okay, hush now," said Allan. "It's ready." He cleared his throat, then recorded a short message with the most serious and authoritative voice he could muster. When he got to threats, and shortly after to seduction, Kala exchanged a barely suppressed smile with Hopper. The captain dropped the emitter, "Well now, all we can do is wait for an answer."
* * *
Five days passed as they roamed the forest during the day and found their way back to the cave each night, hidden behind the waterfall. The fire could still be seen burning the horizon, spreading over the land, farther away from them. They hadn't heard back from the naked inmates. Soon, they would need to find a plan B.
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Capricious - Lightning Sprite Book OneScience Fiction
The universe had no secrets for Captain Allan Roy and his crew of space scavengers. They had traveled to most occupied territories and to the confines of the Rim. Or at least, that's what he thought until the day they landed on a remote planet calle...