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(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 2

It had been a hard time for the pirates, too, otherwise they wouldnít have bothered with mutants. Mutants didnít fetch a high price in the slave markets of the Core.

Unsurprisingly, the pirates faced no resistance to their invasion; but they soon grew aware that there were still some minds still functioning, and they set out to track them down, one by one. They, naturally, had brainwave detectors which let them know exactly where to look. And one by one they got them all, pulling them out from wherever they were hiding, and crammed them into the slave cages aboard their longships.

Then there was only one left, and they found her easily enough.

So they came for Moolora where she sat with her back to the steam pipes on McCoy Avenue, near where the heating vents from the deep power plants underground opened out into the city. They crowded around her in their tough metal suits and their helmets with the visors pulled down to cover their faces as she sat, her tall, frail body almost lost in the folds of the clothes she wore.

"This is the one?" one of the pirates asked the one who carried the brain wave monitor. "Are you sure?"

The second pirate, who was a longship captain, glanced at him scornfully. "Of course Iím sure," he said. "Look at the readout."

"But who would find a use for such a creature?" the second pirate said, looking at Moolora. "Nobody will ever buy something so ugly. You can barely tell itís even meant to be human."

"Letís see," the captain said. He prodded Moolora with the toe of his boot. "Hey, you!"

Moolora turned her head slowly towards him. She didnít say anything.

"Who are you, slug?í the captain asked. "Do you have a name?"

Moolora didnít say anything. Her voice didnít want to work in her throat.

"Too stupid and too dumb to be of any use," the captain said, disgusted. "Iím amazed it has any brain at all."

"Letís kill the damned thing," the second pirate suggested. "Itís too ugly to let live."

"No," the captain said. "We canít spare the ammunition Ė or the time. Get the booty on board and letís go."

So the pirates left Moolora where she was sitting and went back to their longships. And after loading what little there was to loot, and pushing the remaining captives on board, they rose up through the atmosphere, the fading screams of their engines echoing long after they had gone.

Then Moolora got up slowly from where she had been sitting, and began wandering through the deserted city. As she walked, she began picking up things at random Ė here a broken chunk of metal, there a smashed piece of electronic equipment left over from the brief pirate occupation, and from somewhere else a length of corrugated pipe and a mass of cable. Eventually, laden with her booty, she reached the metal scrap dealers which were located on Scotty Boulevard back then, and where the old drop tanks from derelict space freighters used to be cut up. There she dumped it all and went back for another load.

Then, when she had apparently found all she needed, she took a cutting torch from the nearest workshop, crawled into the biggest of the drop tanks, and got to work.

The pirate mothership Jack Sparrow had already left the system and was settling down for the cruise through interstellar space.

In the control room, deep in the heart of the huge mothership, Grand Captain Rajinder Singh Redbeard had just begun congratulating himself on a successful mission. The planet had not been a rich one, and so there had been little booty, but the haul in slaves had been worth the effort. Even though they were only mutants, once theyíd all been sold in the markets of the Core, there would be enough money to finance a larger expedition to a more lucrative target.

Yes, Grand Captain Redbeard was almost content. And he was not at all pleased to have that contentment disturbed by the news that the scopes had picked up something coming up very fast from astern.

[ Continue to page 3 ]

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Genre:Science Fiction
Type:Short story
Rating:6.55 / 10
Rated By:13 users
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