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The metal doors of the elevator slid open and a young, slim, dark-skinned man stepped onto the bridge, dressed in a blue and black striped woolen sweater and tight, gold plasteen jeans, "Ensign Christopher Hawkins, reporting for duty, Sir. Permission to come aboard?", he asked.

Captain Bones swivelled round in his chair to face the new arrival. "There's nothing like fresh sea-man to brighten a dull day."

The Nubian smiled a broad, white toothed grin.

Commander Silver leant over the back of the captains chair and whispered into the blue mans ear, "Just remember, Billy Bones, I'm still Number One."

The Captain kissed the young silver-haired Venusian on the cheek, "My dear boy, if we are ever going to learn how to fly then we should be spreading our wings, not clipping them."

Silver smiled, he sat back down at the command console and pressed a button, "All ships functions are now operational and working at maximum efficiency, Sir."

"Captain to pilot, what is your status?", asked the blue man.

"Morgan has reconnected all my circuits Captain.", replied the cyborg.

The captain turned his chair to face his navigator, "Where now?", he asked.

Graccomali gurgled in her aquarium, "Uragi Prime is the nearest planet, we should reach it in about two hours on impulse."

"Captain to pilot, set course for Uragi Prime, impulse power.", ordered the blue-skinned man.

"Aye, aye, Captain.", replied the sharp, metallic voice of Eqcuimilain.

Two hours later, The Quadagh Mercenary took orbit above Uragi Prime. Commander Silver looked up from his console, "I'm detecting a Ptach freighter, heading away from this sector, distance one thousand disecs."

"Plot an intercept course, Mister Silver.", ordered Captain Bones.

"Yes Sir.", replied the silver haired Venusian.

"Captain to pilot, activate plate shielding and engage forward thrusters."

"Aye Captain.", acknowledged the cyborg.

There was a loud clanking sound, like a suit of armour falling down a flight of metal stairs, and the plate shielding engulfed the ship like a cocoon.

Ben Gunn pressed a button on the communications console and the main viewer crackled into life, the image of a Ptach freighter appeared on the screen. It was a large orange box-shaped ship, about three times the size of the Quadagh Mercenary.

Captain to armoury, "Charge the sonic cannon and trimorphic torpedoes.

"Aye Captain.", replied Cheng Lo.

Reed turned her chair to face the viewscreen, "The ship is armed with quantum lasers. They might scratch the paint-work, but there is no way that they will be able to penetrate the plate-shielding."

"Mister Gunn, hail the ship, I want to talk to her captain.", ordered the blue-skinned man.

The image of a Ptach merchant appeared on the viewscreen, he was a tall, thin, slug-faced man with two tentacles for eyes and slimey green skin.

"Trans-communicator is engaged.", stated the small red Felitian boy sitting at the communications console.

"Woth your bithinith?", asked the slug-faced merchant.

"Shut down your engines and prepare to be boarded.", ordered Captain Bones.

A bolt of green light shot from the hull of the Ptach freighter with a loud whizzing sound, followed by a dull "Thud.", as the laser hit the plate-shielding of The Quadagh Mercenary.

"Shields holding at maximum strength.", reported the chief engineer.

"Your weapons are no match for us.", sighed the blue man in the captains chair, "Stand down, or we return fire."

Another bolt of green light flashed across the pitch black sky.

"Shields still undamaged.", reported Morgan.

"Captain to armoury, fire a warning shot across her bough."

There was a thunderous roar followed by a loud explosion, the Ptach freighter shook violently with the blast.

Ben Gunn turned to face the captains chair, "I've lost their communication signal."

Mari Reed pressed a button on her consule, "I'm detecting nine life-signs, all Ptach."

Captain Bones stood up. "Mister Hawkins, how good are you with a vap-gun?"

The young Nubian smiled, "I am a fully trained marksman, Sir."

"Have you ever shot anyone?", asked Silver.

"I came third of the class in combat training, Sir.", replied Hawkins.

"But have you ever killed a real person?", asked the Venusian.

The boy shook his head, "No Sir."

The blue man shrugged his shoulders, "Captain to armoury. Mister Lo, meet us in the arsenal. Silver, Teach, Ebony and Hawkins, you're with me.", Captain Bones stood up and walked towards the elevator.

"Yess Sssir.", hissed the snake headed woman.

The elevator doors slid open with a soft squishing sound, "Miss Reed, you are in command while we are gone."

The bald headed clone sat down in the captains chair.

"I'll meet you there in five minutes.", acknowledged Teach.

"Can I come ppleeease.", purred Ben Gunn.

Captain Bones patted the small Felitian boy on the head, "Not this time. I need you here, at the communications console."

The red furry cat-like child raised his right paw towards the blue mans face and extended five, razor-sharp claws, "Don't patronise me, Captain."

A skinny blue hand grabbed the boy by the scruff of the neck and lifted him out of his chair, his claws retracted. "I said, 'No'."

Cheng Lo handed out a variety of weapons to his crew-mates,

a vap-gun and a long gold-plated cutlass to Billy Bones, a Felitian disrupter and a zip-knife to Silver and a sonic rifle and plasma grenades to Ebony, he also took a vap-gun and a laser-whip for himself. Silver slid the zip-knife into the top of his boot. "Where is Teach?", asked the Captain.

"Here I am.", came a gruff voice from behind the blue man.

Captain Bones turned round to face the giant, Teach had tied his black beard in red ribbons and set fire to the tapered ends. He formed such a figure, that imagination cannot form an idea of a fury from Hell to look more frightful. The bull-headed Minovan looked at the array of weapons on the metal table of the armoury, "Are these for me?", he asked. He took six vap-guns and put them into the empty holsters of his green bandoleer.

"Captain to engineering, prepare a shuttle for immediate launch."

"What about me?", asked Hawkins.

The blue-skinned Captain smiled at the dark-skinned youth, "Look after the armoury while we are gone, I'm promoting you to Gunners Mate."

Teach picked up a pair of ammo belts and swung them over his shoulders.

Commander Silver piloted the small grey shuttle towards the large, orange, box-shaped ship. "Activate magnetic grips and prepare to board.", ordered Captain Bones, polishing his cutlass with the sleeve of his jacket.

"Magnetic grips secure.", acknowledged the silver-haired Venusian.

The shuttle doors rose with a 'Katchunk'.

Mari Reed massaged her forehead with her fingers and sighed.

"Are you still suffering from those headaches?", gurgled Graccomali.

The bald-headed clone span round in the captains chair to face the fish-like mermaid, swimming in the aquarium, "It's the third one today, maybe I should have told the captain, before he left."

"Graccomali to sick-bay. Doctor required on the bridge.", gurgled the mermaid.

The P'tach were unarmed and put up no resistance to the pirates, they seemed a little too eager to surrender and Teach slaughtered three of them anyway, just to make sure that his vap-guns were working properly. The black bearded pirate pushed the young green Ptach crewman down to his knees and unbuckled his belt. "I thurrender Thir, I thurrender.", pleaded the alien, waving his tentacles in the air.

The Minovan giant unzipped his trousers and fumbled inside his briefs with his left hand. "Suck this.", he ordered, pulling out his huge thick black spikey cock and waving it in front of the young Ptachians face. The alien turned his head away from the giants penis and Teach crushed the young crewmans skull between his fists, like a golf ball in a vice, a fountain of creamy white blood splattered over the rusty orange walls of the freighter.

"There wath no need for that.", protested the captain of the P'tach vessel.

The giant Minovan zipped up his trousers and shrugged his shoulders, "I have a reputation to protect."

"So, what is in the cargo hold?", asked Captain Bones, prodding the merchant in the belly with his sword.

The slug-faced man frowned, "Uragian ore, of courth.", a stream of yellow slime, dribbled down the merchants chin.

The blue man pressed a button on his wrist-communicator and the pale-skinned face of Mari Reed appeared on the face of the watch.

"Yes Captain?", asked the science officer.

"What do you know about Uragian ore?", asked the blue man.

Mari Reed smiled a toothless smile, "It's mined on Uragi Prime."

"I gathered that, but what is it for and how much is it worth?"

The bald-headed clone looked puzzled, "Your guess is as good as mine, Sir."

"We uth it to make fire and fuel our enginth.", splattered the P'tach merchant in a slow, slurred voice.

Doctor Bel-Ami sat on the arm of the captains chair, poking and prodding the bald-headed clone with his four hands, "Describe the man in your dreams."

Mari Reed closed her eyes, "He is a Human, he has orange hair and is wearing a green uniform. "

"Is it always the same dream?", asked the four-armed Mormosan.

"It is more like a nightmare than a dream.", explained the clone, "He takes off his jacket and pats his flabby, fat, pink belly with the palm of his hand."

"Carry on.", prompted the doctor, patting the pale-skinned woman on the knee.

"He unbuckles his belt and leans close to my face, he whispers into my ear, but I can't understand what he is saying. I am very frightened, so I push him away. He shouts at me, picks me up and throws me against the wall. I wake up after each dream with a splitting head-ache."

"Are you a virgin?", asked the grey-skinned medic.

"What has that got to do with anything?", asked Reed.

"Would you describe yourself as frigid?"

"I need pills for my headaches, not a psychiatrist.", insisted the bald-headed clone.

Doctor Ami stood up, "I just thought that you might be having a few hormonal problems, it might explain the fantasies that you are having."

"I would hardly describe rape as a fantasy, Doctor."

Captain Bones held a red nugget of Uragian Ore in his left hand.

"Somehow I don't think that this will be of much use to us.", he squeezed the rock and it crumbled like Martian dust, between his fingers.

Ebony stood behind the P'tach merchant, she rested her head on the green mans shoulder and licked his face with her long forked tongue, "I could kill you with one spit of venom, it would be a very slow and painful death.", she whispered.

Cheng Lo pulled back the hood of his cloak, "It would seem that we are all dressed up with nowhere to go."

"At least my vap-guns work.", sighed Teach, extinguishing the flames of his burning black beard with his fingers.

William Bones pressed a button on his wrist-communicator and the face of Commander Silver appeared on the screen. "Captain to shuttle, prepare for take-off.", ordered the blue man.

"Can I come with you?", asked the slug-faced alien.

"Why?", asked Captain Bones.

"Have you any idea how boring thith job ith?", The P'tach merchants' green tentacles waved in circles above his head., "Back and forth, back and forth, day after day, week after week, year after year. Uragi Prime to Ptathia, Ptathia to Uragi Prime, Uragi Prime to Ptathia, Ptathia..."

Lo interrupted, "We get the idea."

"It ith a very boring job.", insisted the slug-faced man.

Teach scratched his thick black beard, "I killed four of your crew-mates."

The green-skinned man shrugged his shoulders, "Accidenth will happen.", he spluttered.

"Can you cook?", asked Captain Bones.

The slug-faced man laughed, "I can try."

"Good.", smiled the blue man, "I am sick to death of Jacks eel-worm stew."

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