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The doors of the square brown troop-shuttle opened and an Association leftenant wearing an officers uniform stepped out, accompanied by eight titanium-plated, heavy-metal security droids and a squad of twelve Association troops in green uniforms, wearing helmets and body armour, and armed with zap-machine guns.

Captain Bones saluted his ex-commanding officer, "You still have a flair for the dramatic entrance, Sir."

Leftenant Reilly drew his vap-gun and aimed it between the blue-skinned mans eyes, "I should kill you now, Billy.", he sighed, "But Admiral Durake insists that you face a court marshal first, you know what a stickler for rules the old man is."

Commander Silver stood next to his captain, with his hands on his head. Two of the Association soldiers strip-searched the pirates and accompanied by a security droid, escorted them to the brig.

The doors of the elevator opened with a soft squishing sound and Leftenant Walter Reilly stepped onto the bridge of The Quadagh Mercenary, followed by two titanium-plated security droids, the metal doors slid closed behind them. A bald, pale-skinned woman stood at the science-station with her hands behind her head and Ensign Hawkins sat at the command console, with his arms held high in the air. Graccomali gurgled in her aquarium, staring into the glowing red eyes of a gleaming white robot. The elevator doors slid open and four Association troops marched onto the bridge, armed with zap-machine guns.

Walter Reilly sat down in the captains chair, "Put them in the brig with the others.", he ordered. Leftenant Reilly stood up and wiped the sticky brown goo from the backside of his trousers with his right hand. He put a finger to his nose and frowned, "Has anybody got a tissue?", he asked.

"Chiki! Chiki!", chirped the small white monkey, hiding under the captains chair.

Ensign Kruso handed a white handkerchief to his captain and Walter Reilly used it to wipe the mess from his trousers.

He looked towards the ginger-haired man on the view-screen, "Mission accomplished, Sir.", he smiled. "The ship is secure."

Admiral Durake smiled, "Excellent. Good work, Captain Reilly."

"Thank you Sir.", replied the grey-haired man in the captains chair.

The elevator doors closed with a 'Splat!', squashing a small grey swamp rat between the edge of the door and the wall.

A young Human, wearing a green uniform, sat down at the command consule. "The Golden Hind has full control of the ships functions, Sir." Ensign Kruso took off his helmet and tucked it under his chair. "Course is set for the Association colony, Sanctuary Three. We should reach it in two days at light-speed."

"I thought Sanctuary Two was closer.", sighed the captain.

"Sanctuary Two was destroyed last year, Sir.", replied Kruso.

"I didn't know the war was over.", replied Reilly, "I expect the colonists on Sanctuary One are still celebrating."

"That planet was destroyed by Sanctuary Three, Sir. They used a thermo-neutreno, radioxide bomb, there were no survivors."

"I thought T.N.R.'s were prohibited by intergalactic law."

"They claimed diplomatic immunity Sir, the governer of the planet is the son of President Roddenberry.". explained Ensign Kruso.

"I'm surprised that he's still alive, he must be at least one hundred and ten by now.", sighed Captain Reilly.

"He's not exactly alive, Sir.", replied the young ensign. "His brain was transplanted into a new host, before his body died."

"Who was the volunteer?"

"One of his servant boys, I think.", answered Kruso, "But I really don't think he had much choice in the matter."

A huge white security droid stood guard at the doors of the elevator, the metal doors slid open and three Association troops stepped onto the bridge. "The prisoners are under 'lock and key'.", announced Crewman Nelson, saluting the captains chair.

The brig of The Quadagh Mercenary is a small dimly-lit room on the lowest deck of the vessel, a trickle of orange water ran down the rusty metal walls of the prison cell. Two white titanium-plated security droids and two Association troops, wearing green uniforms and body armour, and armed with zap-machine guns, stood on the other side of the rusty metal bars.

Commander Silver and Callico Jack Rackman sat with their backs against the only dry wall of the prison cell, playing a game of Kra-Pokah with a pack of Venusian playing cards. Reed and Ebony lay on the lower bunk of a flat two-tier metal bed. Morgan lay on the top bunk, still clutching his broken snout.

William Bones stood in the centre of the brig and Slimus Hands stood behind his captain, massaging his shoulders.

Hawkins paced up and down, muttering to himself.

"I wish you'd stop doing that.", sighed Reed, "We're trying to get some sleep."

"How can you sleep at a time like this.", asked the Nubian youth.

"Conserve your energy.", hissed Ebony, "You're going to need it."

"Try and relax.", suggested Callico Jack, shuffling the pack of playing cards.

"How can I relax?", asked Hawkins, "They're going to execute us."

"Sit down and play a game of Kra-Pokah.", suggested Silver.

"They're going to kill us, and all you want to do is play a card game!". The young Nubian sat down on the metal floor, opposite the silver-haired Venusian, "We should be working on an escape plan.", he whispered.

Silver pointed a finger to the two security droids, guarding the prison cell. "And what chance do you think we'll have against them?", he sighed.

"We're not dead yet.", whispered William Bonnay, leaning over Hawkins shoulder, "They haven't got a full-house yet."

Exquimilan turned his head to face his guard, "I don't suppose that you play Chess, by any chance?", he asked. The security droid did not reply. "I didn't think so.", sighed the cyborg pilot in a sharp metallic voice.

Two Association troops, in full body armour, patrolled the engineering room, armed with zap-machine guns. A third officer sat at the engineering console and a large titanium-plated robot stood guard at the metal door of the thermo-reaction chamber.

"Have you any idea where the coffee machine is?", asked Crewman Verne, "I'm thirsty."

"There's probably one in the galley.", suggested Ensign Asimov.

A young Officer, wearing a green uniform, sat on the bed of the sick-bay, armed with a zap-machine gun. Crewman Kelly picked his nose and wiped the bogie onto the underside of the bed.

Two security droids remained in the docking bay, guarding the troop shuttle.

Kruso turned his chair to face the grey-haired man in the captains chair, "Sir, four of the pirate crew are still un-accounted for."

"Captain Reilly to armoury, who's down there?"

"Leftenant Maynard and Ensign Ogle, Sir.", replied a deep voice over the inter-communications speaker.

"Are all the hand weapons accounted for?", asked the captain.

Ensign Ogle unlocked the door of the weapons locker with a silver key and opened the black cabinet, "Six vap-guns are missing, Sir.", he reported.

Walter Reilly slammed his right fist on the arm of the captains chair, "Four of the pirates are still missing, watch your backs."

"Yes Sir.", acknowledged the guard.

"Captain Reilly to all crew, we still have four fugitives on board, probably armed. Find them and shoot to kill."

Graccomali swam about in her aquarium, splashing her scaled, green tail. Captain Reilly turned his chair to face the alien in the fish tank, "Did you say something?", he asked.

"Just muttering to myself.", gurgled the beautiful mermaid.

Ben Gunn was still curled up in a ball, under the communications console. Graccomali splashed her tail again and the young cat-like boy pricked up his left ear.

"Dis-engage the trans-communicator.", whispered the mermaid, under her breath. So soft was her voice, that no Human ear would be able to distinguish it from the gentle rumble of the Quadagh Mercenarys' engines.

Ensign Kruso gazed down at the command console, "The impulse drive has been engaged, Sir."

The Quadagh Mercenary was still engulfed in a force-field and five green Association Viper-class battle-cruisers escorted the pirate vessel.

Ben Gunn stretched out his legs and crouched behind his chair, he reached up with his right paw and pressed a couple of buttons on the communications console.

Kruso span his chair to face the small red Felitian boy, he drew his zapper-gun and aimed it at the childs head. There was a loud 'Crashing' noise, and a large purple Aculian blood-beast leapt towards the young ensign, dragging a heavy steel chain attached to a metal table leg. Kruso span round to face the beast and pulled the trigger of his zapper-gun. A bolt of red lightning pierced the dogs chest as it leapt through the air and the purple beast fell, crashing to the floor, lying motionless in a puddle of green blood.

Captain Reilly stood up and kicked the purple dog in the back, "Good shot, Ensign, we can cook it for supper."

Kruso turned his chair to face the captain, he looked puzzled.

A pair of gloved hands picked up Ben Gunn by the scruff of the neck, the Felitian boy growled at the guard and scratched at the mans face with his claws. The Association officer slammed the boy against the wall, knocking him unconscious.

Captain Reilly sat back down in his chair, "Kruso, throw the fur-ball in the brig with his friends.", he ordered.

"Pardon?", replied the young ensign, in a French accent.

"Take him to the brig.", commanded the grey-haired man in the captains chair.

"Je nes vous Anglais, Monseur. Parlez vous Francais?", asked Kruso, hopefully.

"I'll take him.", suggested Crewman Nelson.

Captain Reilly pointed to the red furry alien and ran the tip of his right fore-finger across his neck. He looked at Ensign Kruso, "Pour les.... guillotine." He suggested.

The young French officer stood up.

Callico Jack Rackman handed the playing cards to Commander Silver, "Your deal Mister Silver."

"Statu Communika?", asked the puzzled young Venusian.

"What did he say?", asked Hawkins, scratching his head.

"Qe viadre taraba.", explained Morgan, clutching his broken snout.

"I don't understand a word you are saying.", sighed Captain Bones.

"Ith peakth bicth Human.", slurped Slimus Hands.

There was a sudden loud explosion in the coriridor, outside the prison cell and the room filled with a cloud of thick green choking smoke. "Tagruthi Garud!", shouted a gruff voice. There was a short burst of gun-fire followed by two loud 'Clunks'.

Captain Bones coughed, "Well, it sounds as if the rescue party has arrived.", he rose to his feet and dusted himself down.

Ensign Ogle sat on a metal desk in the armoury and lit a cigarette. Leftenant Maynard took the orange tube out of the young soldiers mouth, dropped it onto the floor and stamped on it, grinding the butt into the metal floor with the heel of his right boot.

"What did you do that for?", asked Ogle.

Maynard pointed to a "NO SMOKING" sign on the wall.

Ensign Ogle stood up, "I'm going to the toilet, I really need to take a leak.", he clutched his groin with his left hand, "I don't suppose you know where the loo is?"

Leftenant Maynard winked at the young ensign, "I can show you if you like?"

The blonde-haired ensign laughed, "Don't worry, Sir. I'm sure that I can find my own way there."

The doors of the bridge opened with a soft squishing sound and Ensign Kruso stepped into the elevator, carrying the unconscious red Felitian boy under his right arm. He was closely followed by a one-eyed white monkey, the metal doors slid closed behind them.

A red button flashed on the communications console. Crewman Nelson sat down in the Felitians chair, "It's that Vontarin mothership, Sir. She's back."

Walter Reilly pressed a button on the captains chair and a large, blue, whale-shaped ship appeared on the view-screen, chasing two green Association Viper-class battle-cruisers. There was a burst of phaser fire, coming from the Vontarin mothership and one of the battle-cruisers exploded into a ball of orange flames.

"Engineering. Engage plate-shielding.", ordered Captain Reilly.

There was no reply.

Cheng Lo raised his gleaming bronze fist to the sky and smiled. Three Association officers lay dead or unconscious, on the floor of the engine room, scarlet blood oozing from the wounds in their heads. A battered security droid lay flat on its face, outside the thermo-reaction chamber and green sparks fizzled from a gaping hole in the robots chest cavity.

The Golden Hind was heading in the direction of 'The Victorious', closely followed by three green Viper-class battle-cruisers. A beam of white light flashed across the pitch black sky and one of the ships exploded into a burning fireball. A golden torpedo raced towards the Vontarin mothership. The blue whale-shaped vessel shook from side to side with the impact of the blast and red and orange flames exploded from a hole in her damaged hull.

Captain Reilly stood up, "Captain to armoury, arm the trimorphic torpedoes."

"Yes Sir.", replied Leftenant Maynard.

"Captain to engineering. I said, 'Engage the plate-shielding.'"

"I heard you, but I'm not listening.", replied Cheng Lo, over the intercommunications speaker.

Graccomali splashed her tail in the pink water. She opened her mouth and a high pitched scream reverberated around the bridge for several seconds, shattering the view-screen. Shards of broken glass smashed onto the metal floor like a crystal hail-storm.

Captain Reilly clasped his hands to his ears and yelled out at the top of his voice. Two of the Association officers fell to their knees, blood pouring from their ears and Crewman Nelson lay dead, slumped over the communications console.

One of the security droids aimed his blaster at the aquarium and opened fire. There was a loud fizzing sound, as a bolt of white light shot from the robots blaster, rebounded off the aquarium, and hit the other security droid in the head. The robots head exploded into flames and fell to the floor with a clanking "Thud". The headless security droid span round on its feet, shooting its blaster. Bolts of white laser-beams bounced off the plastenite fish tank, hitting anything that got in their way, including the other security droid and two of the injured officers. The bridge of the Quadagh Mercenary was engulfed in a cloud of thick, grey smoke,

Graccomali splashed her tail and gurgled.

Ensign Kruso pressed a yellow button on the right hand side of the elevator, the metal doors slid open with a slight squeek. He gazed up at the stony face of a tall muscular bull-headed man with a burning black beard. The giant was dressed in full plated body armour and six vap-guns were holstared in a green bandolier slung over his heavy shoulders, his thick black beard was platted and tied with red ribbons and the tapered ends were on fire. Teach aimed two zap-machine guns at the young Human, Kruso put down the ball of soft red fur and lifted his hands in surrender. Chiko, the Aculis monkey ran between the young ensigns' legs and leapt onto the captains shoulder.

Ben Gunn stood up and rubbed his aching head with his right fore-paw. "Prrgg fgaggra", he purred.

"Karani do pladithru?", asked the bull-headed giant, still pointing two zap-machine guns at his prisoner.

"Parrghh mggr daggru translaxxion.", replied the young Felitian boy, (which, translated into English, means , "I think I'd better go and fix the trans-communicator.")

"Darbak carithri.", suggested Teach.

The Golden Hind fired a titanium torpedo at the large blue whale-shaped ship. The Victorious turned sharply to the left and the torpedo missed its target by millimetres and caused no damage. The cargo-bay doors of the mother-ship opened and a swarm of five red, V-shaped Vontarin war-birds emerged, phasers blasting.

The five Association vessels surrounding the Quadagh Mercenary broke formation, and the cellestial fishing net surrounding the pirate ship vanished.

An Association officer lay unconscious on a bed in the sick bay with a large plasteen syringe plunged into the back of his neck, Doctor Ami picked up the guards zap-machine gun and smiled.

Teach kicked down the metal door of the toilet cubicle with a cloven hoof, blasting Leftenant Maynard in the chest with a pair of zap-machine guns, before he had a chance to react. The fat hairy-chested man fell to the floor with his trousers around his ankles and his right hand clasped tightly to his cock.

Captain Bones stood behind a metal desk in the armoury. He handed out a selection of weapons to his crew-mates, a zap-blaster to Callico Jack Rackman, phaser rifles to Ebony and Hawkins, a pair of vap-guns to Mari Reed, a Felitian-blaster and a dagger to Commander Silver, and a laser-pistol and cutlass for himself. Slimus Hands was armed with an Association zap-machine gun and a kitchen knife.

Teach, Ebony, Reed and Callico Jack Rackman managed to overpower the two security droids in the shuttle-bay without too much trouble, the robots were no match for the well-armed pirates. Ensign Ogle was still searching for the toilets when he bumped into a four-armed alien, holding a zap-machine gun. Doctor Ami aimed the gun at the young, un-armed ensign and Ogle raised his hands in the air. "I surrender.", he announced.

Exquimilian turned his chair to face the giant security droid, "Are you sure that you don't want to play a game of Chess?", he asked.

The robot pointed his blaster at the cyborgs head, he was unaware of the hooded figure, creeping up behind him. A bronze metal fist smashed a hole through the robots chest cavity in one punch.

"You took your time.", sighed Exquimilian in a sharp metallic voice. "He was a real bore, security droids have such a limited vocabulary."

Cheng Lo smiled.

The three remaining Association Viper-class battle-cruisers approached the Vontarin fleet and five red Vontarin war-birds swooped on their prey, phasers firing. Two of the Association ships exploded into flames and the remaining battle-cruiser dissappeared in a blaze of white light.

The Golden Hind was now caught in a beam of yellow light, coming from the bow at the front of the Vontarin mothership.

Admiral Durake stood up and stared at the view-screen.

"They have us in a tractor-beam, Sir.", reported the young officer, sitting at the command console.

"I can see that, you imbecile.", huffed the ginger-haired admiral.

"Engine-room to bridge.", came a voice over the Golden Hinds inter-communications speaker, "I'm unable to break free from her grip, the mothership is pulling us in."

The cargo bay doors of The Victorious opened and The Golden Hind was swallowed, like a goldfish, by the giant, blue, whale- shaped ship.

The elevator doors slid open with a soft, squishing sound, and Captain Bones burst onto the bridge of The Quadagh Mercenary, with a golden cutlass clenched between his teeth, he was accompanied by Commander Silver and Ensign Hawkins. The blue-skinned man took the sword out of his mouth and rubbed the corners of his bleeding lips with the sleeve of his jacket, "I've always wanted to do that.", he sighed. He looked towards the young red furry cat-like boy, sitting at the communications consule. "Are you feeling better?", he asked.

Ben Gunn nodded, "Trans-communicator is back on-line and working at ninety two percent efficiency, Sir."

The elevator doors slid closed.

Captain Bones stared at the broken glass on the floor of the bridge, "Captain to engineering. Chief-Engineer Morgan, please report to the bridge, we have a few repairs that need doing."

The pig-faced Hogian grunted, "Unlike the good Doctor, Sir, I only have one pair of hands. I'm still clearing up the mess in the engine-room."

"Report to the bridge, as soon as you are done.", ordered the blue-skinned man, pulling the body of Walter Reilly out of his chair.

"Captain to sick-bay, we've got injured up here."

"Acknowledged.", replied Doctor Ami, "I'll send up the medic-droids to collect them."

Billy Bones sat down in the captains chair, "Captain to Exquimilian, what is your status?"

"I have regained control of all ships functions Sir.", replied the pilot.

Commander Silver pulled the body of Crewman Nelson away from his work-station and sat down at the command consule.

Captain Bones turned his chair to face the fish-like mermaid swimming about in the aquarium. "I see you've had some fun."

"I don't think they appreciated my singing.", gurgled Graccomali.

The doors of the elevator opened and two, three-foot high, green and white striped medic-droids rolled onto the bridge, carrying a stretcher. They were followed by a giant bull-headed man wearing full metal body armour and carrying two zap-machine guns.

"Your beard is still on fire.", sighed the blue-skinned man in the captains chair.

Teach extinguished the flames on his thick black beard with his fingers. He looked towards the purple dog, whimpering and twitching in a puddle of green blood. The giant Minovan dropped his weapons and knelt down beside the wounded beast, Chomper licked his masters hand with a slimy, wet tongue. Teach picked up the Aculis blood-beast and walked towards the elevator doors, "Teach to sick-bay, I have a medical emergency."

The elevator doors slid open.

Graccomali splashed her tail in the pink water, "We really should find a safe haven to make repairs, Captain.", she gurgled.

"Where do you suggest?", asked Captain Bones.

"Troy is the nearest planet in this quadrant.", suggested the chief navigator.

Commander Silver turned his chair to face the beautiful mermaid, swimming about in the aquarium,"I thought that the Trojan Empire were members of the Association?"

The elevator doors closed with a soft, squishing sound.

"They were, until the natives declared independence.", explained the fish-like mermaid. "The planet is now under the juristiction of the Geeki Imperium. The Trojans were conquered two days after declaring themselves a 'Neutral-State.'"

"How did that happen?", asked the blue man in the captains chair.

"The Geeki sent a gift to the Trojans, two Nova-class gunships, so that they would be able to defend themselves against Association attacks."

"I've heard about them.", replied Hawkins, looking up from his console, "They are massive ships, the size of a small town."

Graccomali gurgled, "What the Geeki forgot to tell the colonists is that both the vessels already had a crew, one thousand Geeki warriors."

Captain Bones turned his chair to face the shattered view-screen, "Captain to engineering, pump up the thermo-reaction chamber."

"Aye, Cap'n.", replied Morgan in a gruff voice.

"How is your nose?", asked the blue-skinned man.

"Still sore, but at least its stopped bleeding."

"What did the doctor say?"

"He gave me a bottle of pain-killers.", snorted the chief engineer.

"Head-ache pills?", asked Captain Bones.

"Nope.", Morgan smiled, "A bottle of Mister Rackmans Aculis fruit rum."

The blue-skinned man stood up, "Captain to pilot, set course for the planet Troy."

"Yes, Sir.", acknowledged Exquimilian.

"Commander Silver, you have the bridge, I'll be in the sick-bay if you need me.", ordered Captain Bones.

The young silver-haired Venusian stood up and walked over to the captains chair, "Commander Silver to pilot, activate forward thrusters.", he ordered.

The metal doors of the bridge opened with a soft, squishing sound and William Bones stepped into the elevator, followed by two green and white medic-droids carrying a stretcher.

Commander Silver sat down in the captains chair.

"I understand that you are leaving us?", gurgled the beautiful mermaid, swimming in the aquarium.

"News travels quickly.", replied the young handsome Venusian, he turned his chair to face the fish tank.

"Why?", asked the mermaid.

"I don't love him anymore.", explained Silver, shrugging his shoulders.

Graccomali splashed her tail, "What has love got to do with anything? I thought the captain was your friend."

"He is.", sighed Commander Silver, "But I can't stay here."

"Why not?", gurgled Graccomali.

"Maybe I'm just not cut out to be a pirate.", suggested the young man in the captains chair.

"Where are you going to go?", asked the mermaid.

"Maybe back to Venus."

Graccomali splashed her tail, "And what will you do there, mow the lawns?",

"My people live underground.", sighed the handsome silver-haired Venusian.

"Well, I'm sure that you will be very happy.", gurgled Graccomali, "Just remember to look after yourself. The captain put all his trust in you, you can repay that by staying alive."

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