Chapter 146: Honour Among Thieves
(Planet Calypso- Smuggler’s Cove)
The technology to terraform planets was not a closely guarded secret and it could even be sold at a reasonable price on the virtual net.
Of course, these sales were only allowed to go through once the buyer was a citizen with a sufficient social credit score, but the grey market always had solutions to these minor problems.
Pirates would often get bored staying onboard their mechanical vessels for months or even years on end so it was important to have a home base where they could relax and unwind.
Naturally, these bases could only be planets hidden in the outer regions of the star systems as the Federation usually adopted an attitude of ‘out of sight therefore it is out of mind.’
This was based on the silent understanding that the pirates would not harm the interests of the larger noble factions.
Commoners were not afforded such luxuries and would have to deal with the problem themselves.
One such planet belonged to a pirate commander called Edward the Merciless who would rent out plots of land to smaller crews.
An entire society was built on this hidden planet and Edward ruled over it with an iron fist as all would bow down to his commands.
Despite the security risk of allowing outside forces to stay on his base, the commander would receive quite a substantial amount of wealth in protection and rent fees.
In addition, all the brothels, bars and fighting arenas were operated by his own people so the riches generated was far beyond what most speculated.
At one such bar a certain man was celebrating as his luck had finally changed for the better.
“Bring me more whores and wine,” bellowed a fat middle aged man as he cheerfully downed another glass of beer.
“Drinks are on me today!”
Raucous cheers and applause rang out from the patrons hanging out at the bar as the middle-aged man bought another round of cheap booze for everyone.
These patrons were all rough, muscular, and tough men with a variety of scars, injuries and bio-modifications that hinted at their brutal nature.
Scantily clad women swayed their hips seductively while blowing kisses at any gentleman who caught their eyes.
“Aren’t you in a good mood today Darius,” a rat faced teenager approached the older man with a smirk.
Darius was obviously drunk and laughed merrily at the boy before eagerly telling him the source of his newfound happiness.
“Luke is that you? Ha! Your old quartermaster did well for himself today!” Darius boasted.
“I managed to rob that idiot John of some new treasure that he picked up from god knows where and got my mate Charles to give it an evaluation.”
“He said that he ain’t never seen nothing like that before but reckoned that it was worth a mighty fine fortune….
What the middle-aged man failed to recognise as he continued to speak was that his companion’s eyes were now sparkling with the hint of a strange emotion.
If only Darius had been a little more observant, he would have realised that the emotion was……
(Holodeck Training Center)
(Practice Room- A273)
The harsh sounds of a whip echoed around the training field as a young hybrid girl furiously kept activating one qi technique after another in succession.
Black Dragon Swallows All!
King Cobra Strike!
Poison Mist Eruption!
The ground splintered and fractured as the girl erupted with a force far beyond what those in the qi spirit stage should be capable of.
“Not good enough,” Sophie growled as she continued to swing her whip at the practice dummy.
She had been relentlessly practising for several hours and her shirt had long been drenched by sweat.
It had been fairly easy to get permission to go on a bounty hunting mission as the university would only require students to register their identities and the name of the mission on the school website.
The mission that Sophie and Cleo had selected after careful consideration was to go after the notorious pirate Long John Daggers who was a known smuggler in the Hydra Star System.
He was nothing more than a small-time petty criminal, but he had managed to steal some goods from a transport vessel belonging to a powerful merchant family.
The merchant family had offered up a generous reward for his capture be it dead or alive, so it was the ideal mission.
Plus, an additional reward was offered for the recovery of the goods lost which was worth almost as much as the bounty itself.
It was rated as a one-star mission as Long John was only a cultivator in the upper stages of the qi body and his crew were even weaker than him.
On the surface there should be no problems even if Sophie went by herself but months of training under her father had caused her to be wary.
Duke Peterlor had made sure that his daughter understood that one could not let down their guard no matter how weak their opponent seemed.
You never knew what strength a person would erupt with when pushed into a corner.
Sophie was desperately learning additional cultivation techniques especially those with high area damage.
She also planned on bringing three vials of poison given to her by Katarina as a final ace in the hole.
Hopefully, she would not have to use them.
Sophie had also extended an invitation to Astrid and Qiana, but the pair had declined due to various reasons.
Qiana had tactfully refused because some personal issues had recently come up and she had to contact certain figures in the Abazin estate.
Poor Astrid on the other hand was being locked up by her mentor in the magic tower.
Archmage Hollystorm had discovered that his student did not respond well to the traditional long lectures and readings associated with mage teachings, so he decided to improvise….
…. by beating the knowledge directly into Astrid’s thick skull.
“Urghhh,” Sophie wobbled slightly as she felt the all too familiar exhaustion from depleting her qi reserves.
She casually popped open a vial of nutrient solution and sat cross legged on the ground while trying to regain some strength.
“You want to take a break?” came a voice from the distance.
Sophie glanced up to see Cleo walking over with an expression of concern on her face and holding some white towels.
“It’s fine…. I can go for one more hour,” Sophie tried to smile but what came out was more of a painful grimace.
“Cleo you should know that my body can heal unnaturally fast. I’ll be all right in about fifteen minutes or so.”
“No. You have done enough for today,” Cleo ‘s frown deepened when she observed the sorry state of her girlfriend.
“But….” Sophie tried to argue but shut up immediately when she saw Cleo’s infamous death stare.
“Okay,” she hung her head and said meekly.
Cleo sighed softly as she knelt down behind Sophie back and started to massage her shoulders gently.
Sophie closed her eyes as she felt the warm hands of her girlfriend firmly grip her body and unwind some of the tension in her muscles.
It felt so good.
Fifteen minutes passed by peacefully as all thoughts of training had long disappeared from Sophie’s mind.
Gradually the circular motions on her back started to slow down as Cleo finished up her massage session.
“Thanks babe,” Sophie smiled and then turned around to peck Cleo on the lips.
“You’re the freaking best.”
“As long as you know it,” Cleo teased back and gave Sophie a playful pinch on her bottom.
Sophie ‘s eyes glowed darkly under the artificial light of the holodeck and Cleo was suddenly struck by the thought that she had made a big mistake.
“Hmm…. it seems to have been two days since our last ‘study session.’ Maybe I can show you a few new techniques tonight,” Sophie growled in a husky tone as her golden eyes shook with desire.
The girls ended up renting a spaceship two days later than expected as a certain princess had found herself temporarily unable to walk properly.