Captured by the Hawk

Captured by the Hawk - a Space operetta



Follow the adventures of interstellar spy Grey Kat and space pirate Black Hawk in
fast-paced action, mystery and romance.
Battlecruisers and intelligence agents roam the galaxy to maintain peace. On the busy spaceport of Hassam, the Solarian and Emperor’s sectors are separated by the Independent sector to prevent brawls. Mistress Trina Sligo, daughter of the Solarian Ambassador, is courted by the Emperor’s son. In secret, she is Grey Kat, the notorious code thief. Kat is escaping with key codes from the battleship the Emperor’s revenge, when she is caught lurking near the Rogue Star. She is interrogated by the captain, Black Hawk, who hides his face behind a mask. He persuades her to assist in his next piracy attempt, and they are plunged into a series of mishaps as they dodge pursuit. At the same time, Kat struggles to discover the tragic secret in Black Hawk’s past before she suffers the fate of his unfortunate ex-wife.

Buy Link

This novella was included in the bundle of 8 stories: Sing a Song of the Stars (ended Aug 1, 2015)

Note: Kat imagines the secretive Captain Black Hawk as a mix of Bluebeard, Captain Nemo and Captain Hook. Which one is closer to the real Black Hawk?

Katrina Sligo has a spaceship called the Shamrock.

Character Interview with the heroine, Katrina Sligo

Interviewer: You go by several names in the story. Which one do you prefer?

Heroine: The different names come from my full name and reflect different aspects of my personality. I am both Grey Kat, the interstellar spy, and Mistress Trina Sligo, daughter of the Solarian ambassador. Not many people call me Katrina, but they include my favorite people.

Interviewer: What is Captain Hawk’s best feature?

Heroine: His green eyes of course! They are the only visible part of Black Hawk’s face in his sexy black outfit.

Interviewer: People say he is a charming rogue. What is your opinion?

Heroine: He’s not charming me! I like to see a man’s face when he kisses me. And, what about his dead wife? Her cabin on his spaceship hasn’t been touched since her death. He has too many mysteries in my opinion.

Interviewer: Didn’t you agree to help him steal a ship?

Heroine: Yes, and it was a total disaster. It went from bad to worse; I was knocked unconscious three times! And all he can say is “Kiss me Kat!”

Excuse me, she hisses, I have target practice. If he doesn’t stop singing “When Irish eyes are smiling.” he’s in real trouble! Cormac must have told him how much I hate that song!  She reaches for the nearest heavy object.

Chapter 1:

A slight brown figure crept soundlessly down the ladder from the cargo hold at the rear of the Emperor’s Revenge, scanned the space dock warily, and seeing nobody, slipped into the shadows. Grey Kat, in her covert persona of ghost thief and spy extraordinaire, crept cautiously out of the Revenge’s docking bay, and raced through the connecting passage toward the sector barrier. The secret codes were tucked into a pocket of her dingy brown coveralls. It was imperative to deliver the codes safely to the Solarian Intelligence Service, or SIS, as it was colloquially named, before she switched out of her disguise.

Kat halted before the exit ramp, hearing excited voices from the space cruiser. She rotated swiftly on her toes. No one was visible behind, so she strode boldly around the corner and out of the Emperor’s sector. She ran lightly along the passageway to the adjacent sector, and darted into the crowds milling through the central hub of Hassam port. She sighed in hopeful relief. There were no sounds of hunters at her heels, and she was eager to return to her officially sanctioned persona of the wealthy Mistress Trina Sligo, daughter of the famous diplomat, Master Fingal Sligo, the Solarian ambassador.

Loud yells from the Emperor’s sector alerted her to pursuit. The cruiser’s guards had found traces of her forced entry. The crowds were moving toward Neiman’s sector for the tradeshow and circus. She weaved in and out of the lively groups of people, aiming for the Solarian sector.

Shouting from the rear, and the stamping of heavy footsteps from the pursuing guards impelled her into a narrow side street. She dashed to the end, dodged around the corner, and raced past the sleazy inns and brothels of the old portside town. Another turn took her into a broad thoroughfare lined with gaudy tourist shops, and cafes with tables spilling out into the street.

She slowed her frantic pace to the casual stride of a tourist visiting the old town. She strolled down the crowded street, scanning the passersby for a potential ally. At length, she spotted two junior officers of the Solarian interstellar fleet. The grey uniformed men lounged at a small table in a cafe, drinks in tall glasses in front of them. Kat sidled over to their table and leaned nervously toward the younger of the two officers. 
She proffered the codes, whispering in a conspiratorial manner, “Take this to your intelligence officer. It’s a gift from the Grey Kat.” The officer stared at her ragged clothes in disbelief. “Take it,” she insisted. “I’m in great danger!”

He stretched out his hand and clasped the com, almost unwillingly, glanced at his companion and nodded. As she sped away, they lifted their glasses, and sipped casually as if nothing had happened. Good, she mused, they would deliver the urgent codes to SIS. Now, she had to escape and switch her identity.

Kat halted in dismay. A line of blue uniformed troops advanced toward her from the far end of the street. Swinging around, she saw the Emperor’s guards emerging from a side street.

Where could she hide? Quickly, Kat dashed inside a small art gallery and sprinted to the back, forcing her way past the confused owner and racing through his living quarters. She leapt into the back street, and fled down a narrow alley. A six foot barrier blocked the end. She scrambled over the wall, clinging to the top briefly while she examined the other side. The area beyond the wall was littered with ancient rusty vehicles. She dodged around the miscellaneous clutter, vaulted the barrier on the other side and crouched beside a smelly dumpster at the rear door of a small shop.

Kat waited patiently. There was a distant crashing noise from her pursuers, which gradually faded into an uneasy silence. She had evaded the guards. She stood quietly and brushed the dirt from her coveralls. Then, she marched boldly in the direction of the docks as if she owned the place. Parts of the spaceport were indeed likely to be the property of her alter ego, Mistress Sligo, she mused wryly. Finances were not her forte. She would be safe if she only could reach the Solarian sector, where her compatriots waited with their fast scout ship. 
Her best route led through the Independent sector. She paused warily before entering the sector. Would her enemies be waiting for her there? Surely, they would avoid the lawless Independents. She peeked swiftly around the wall. No one was visible.

She slipped into the narrow passage, with a nagging premonition of disaster. Leaning against the smooth wall, she scanned with all her senses for irregular motions or sounds. Still nothing! She must gain the safety of the Solarian sector, and join her companions in their scout ship, the Shamrock. The walkway was only a few steps ahead, and extended along the whole length of the sector with individual docking bays branching off at regular intervals. Kat stepped into the open space, and walked cautiously through the Independent sector toward her sector. She exhaled her breath in a long sigh. She was nearly home free.

Suddenly, she heard soft voices approaching and the heavy tread of booted feet. She dived into the nearest bay, hiding behind a large container ready for loading into the hold. Two men strode past the container where she crouched silently. They spoke in low, cheerful voices as if their business had prospered in the port. Kat did not recognize their
nondescript dark clothes, but they bore stunners in their belts. She watched them walk down the bay toward the ship, which was blocked from her sight by a stack of boxes.

When they had vanished, she turned quietly, intending to creep away. She squeaked involuntarily, as her arm was grabbed roughly from behind.

A man said in a gruff voice, “It’s the thief!” Kat wriggled vigorously, trying to escape his grip, to no avail. Footsteps sounded, and a second man came up behind her.

“The Captain wants to question the thief,” he said. “Something valuable was stolen from the Emperor’s Revenge.” 
They dragged Kat, kicking and wriggling in their unrelenting grasp, down the docking bay and into the spacecraft. All she saw was colored black. A black ship crewed by black clothed men. They towed her, still struggling, through the ship’s passages, searched her meager garments thoroughly, removed her knife, and flung her into a small featureless room.

She was left alone for several hours, while the vibrations and noises marked the ship disengaging from the dock and lifting into orbit around the spaceport. The small room had no windows. Only a simple bed platform on one side and a utility pot relieved the monotony of the white walls. She sensed the shift as the spacecraft left orbit and ventured into interstellar space. The vibrations damped as the ship entered the eerie vacuum of hyperspace.

After several hours in isolation, Kat grew increasingly uneasy. She paced anxiously up and down the small room, questions churning through her mind. Why had they captured her? Did they mean to starve her? She hoped fervently that the young Solarian officers had taken the com with its stolen codes to their intelligence officer as she had asked.
Eventually, an armed man entered her prison cell and left plain food and water for her. Her spirits rose; they did not mean her to starve. She ate and drank, and then lay down on the narrow cot and slept.

In the morning, more food and water appeared, and her pot was emptied. She sighed and wrestled with the decision as to which persona she should adopt when questioned. Should she appear as Grey Kat, the notorious ghost thief, or as Mistress Trina Sligo, the upper class diplomat’s daughter?  She decided her story would depend on what her captors knew.

Finally, she had her interrogation. Two armed men escorted her through the ship’s narrow passages and into a large cabin. A tall man stood by a table displaying galactic charts. Strikingly, he was clothed entirely in black. He wore black leather boots, black gloves and a black turban covered his head. Even his face was wrapped in folds of black cloth, exposing only his piercing green eyes. She stared at him curiously. Sexy outfit, she mused, and judging by his broad shoulders, he would strip well. But, why did he have that black mask over his face? Was it a cultural obligation, or was he hiding some hideous facial deformity? 
He scrutinized her small figure with equal intensity. He saw a slim woman with alert tawny eyes, short brown hair and skin. She was dressed in coveralls of a faded, nondescript brown, almost matching the color of her skin.
He spoke in a cool, dispassionate tone, “My men say you are the cunning thief who stole the secret codes from the Emperor’s Revenge. Where are the codes?”

She stared back in silence, tilting her chin in defiance. Who was he to question her?

“I am the Black Hawk. You are on my ship, the Rogue Star, and utterly in my power. I recommend you tell me what you know.” His deep cold voice sent a shiver down her spine.

The Black Hawk, she thought. He was a renegade captain of uncertain allegiance who terrorized interstellar space. His ship raided isolated ports and boarded lone ships, especially those registered in the Emperor’s sector. She could never admit to her identity as the wealthy Mistress Sligo to such a rapacious pirate. Only her secret persona as the insidious thief, the Grey Kat, from the sleazy side of the docks was viable in this situation.
“Ain’t got nothing!” Kat whined like a wretched dock rat, as she resumed her role as the desperate thief, using the dialect of the seedier docks.   
His fierce eyes probed her. She flinched involuntarily and lowered her eyes, while stalling for time or inspiration.
“Are you afraid of me?” he asked
Kat raised her head, gazing boldly into his green eyes, and sneered, intending to confound him, “What me? Why’d I fear a slick spacer like ye?”

“What did you steal from the Emperor’s Revenge?” he said in accusation.

“Wha’ ship? Didn’t take nothing from no ship!” she spat out, pursing her lips as if in perplexed anger.

“My men saw you creep out of the Revenge’s cargo bay.”  
Oh, no, Kat thought, I must be getting careless. I didn’t spot his men.
“Ain’t bin in no ship! Ye put me back on dock,” she pleaded, chin tipped impudently.

“Ain’t done nothing wrong!”

“My ship has lifted from the spaceport. You cannot return to Hassam.” He stared at her for a minute, noting the unconscious challenge in her eyes and her defiant stance. “You intrigue me. You’re not afraid, and your replies are too prompt and recalcitrant for the usual dockside thief. 
Kat remained silent, keeping her gaze locked on his green eyes, while pondering her best approach in dealing with this coldly confident pirate.

“Are you ready to talk?” he insisted in a harsh voice, evidently unused to opposition. “What’s your name, thief?” 
It was time to switch her guise and confuse him with the story of her life. She spoke, enunciating carefully, “I am called Grey Kat, and I am no common thief.”

He said in a derisive tone, “Proceed with your story.” 
She spoke smoothly with the hint of the unkempt underclass giving way to the educated voice of a skilled narrator, “With your permission, Sir, I shall begin my story. I was born into a wealthy family on the planet Terra in the center of the Solarian sector. My fortunate childhood did not last for many years. My family’s wealth was lost to the predations of a financial genius affiliated with the Emperor. We were forced to beg for a livelihood. My talents led me in divergent directions. I roamed the streets at night in the service of criminals, and was instructed in the skills necessary for the Solarian Intelligence Service in the daytime.” She paused, noting a gleam of interest in his shadowed eyes. 
“I wish to know what you have done, not your life history,” he demanded in an attempt to forestall her digressions. 
“You can’t keep me imprisoned here,” she countered in her sweetest tone, despite her fear that he had kidnapped her for profit. 
His eyes scanned down her slight figure, lingering over her slender anatomy. Kat stiffened defensively. What was he thinking? But, he lowered his gaze to the table, as if he pondered some unwelcome choice. After a moment’s silence, he raised his penetrating green eyes to her face, saying slowly, “We can provide suitable accommodations for you on the Rogue Star. I realize you are more than a scrubby dock thief.” 

“Thank you, Captain Hawk,” she murmured politely, unsure what to expect as suitable accommodation. 
He called the guard and spoke quietly to him. She could not hear their words, although the guard looked surprised, shaking his head and whispering as if he were raising an objection to his Captain’s command.  
Black Hawk glanced back at her, “Take her away, feed her, and bring her back at the same time tomorrow.”

Snippet from Chapter 2:

Later in the day, she was escorted again to the Captain’s cabin. The Black Hawk was seated as usual at his table, looking at star charts. He glanced up when she was ushered into the room. His eyes lingered, registering astonishment at her red hair and fair, freckled skin.
He stood and paced around her with the supple and deadly grace of a prowling tiger. He spoke in a deep resonant voice, “A dramatic change! Grey Kat is entirely washed away.”
Trina was attracted strongly by the feline grace of his body in motion. When he stood still, the image of raw, feral power was replaced by the enigma of the Black Hawk, clothed entirely in black.
She raised her chin provocatively, and spoke in the haughty accent of the Solarian upper class. “I am grateful for your kindness in providing me with clean clothes and a luxuriously comfortable room.”
Black Hawk circled her again, insisting, “I know your face! Where have I seen it?” He halted in front of her, staring at her face with narrowed eyes. She remained motionless and silent, only her eyes revealing her insolence. 
“Wait,” he cried, with a confident smile curving his lips. “I have it! You are Mistress Trina Sligo, daughter of the Solarian diplomat.”
She made a slight bow and said, tilting up her chin with a mocking, regal air, “You are correct, Captain Hawk! In this guise, I am Mistress Trina Sligo.”
“Amazing!” he said appreciatively, shaking his head. “No one would guess you were Grey Kat, the dock thief.”

No comments:

Post a Comment