Public transport had been the best option. It had been the only option, but it was beneficial is two ways. It was filled with hundreds of other passengers going off-world for whatever reason they desired, and it left the authorities with only a rough time of departure and possibly thousands of ships to trail. Mya hoped the guards hadn’t noticed Prince Kayden’s disappearance for at least several hours. The longer they went unnoticed, the better their chances were. Kayden was notorious for running off from his studies so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for him to be somewhere he wasn’t scheduled, but Mya was also gone and therefore not present to offer an explanation of the prince’s whereabouts. That is why she worried.
They sat on the observation deck watching the planet shrink behind them. Mya kept her eyes out for any imperial ships. She hoped that if any arrived, they would be small and would search the passengers briefly before letting them continue. She had already found a place where she and Kayden could hide during the search. Her greater fear would be the emperor arriving himself in his personal ship; The Eclipse. If that happened, she was dead. She could see it now. The emperor not even asking to see her. He would only ask for the button that would expel her into the void.
Kayden watched in wonder as the other ships passed by and the stars slowly changed as their ship shot further into space. Mya couldn’t help forgetting everything as she watched him. This was the first time he had been off planet. It was his first time even outside of the palace. Everything was new to him and his sense of fascination filled her with love and inspiration. She was never able to have children and Kayden’s mother was killed before he could know her name. If she hadn’t taken him away now, he would have grown into a more ruthless version of his father. She couldn’t bear to see the innocent child before her become a monster.
The stars stretched as the ship accelerated and the planet behind them disappeared. Kayden gripped her leg, frightened, and she patted his head.
“It’s okay little one,” she said, “we will be to our new home soon.”
The boy looked up at her with his big eyes. She smiled.
“Come, let’s go get something to eat.”
She took him by the hand and guided him down to the dining area that was filled with nearly fifty other passengers. They waited in line and humbly accepted their bowls and bread. Mya was concerned the clothes she had picked out for him were insufficient, but no one looked at him twice. As far as they knew, the prince was in the palace and this was some random kid. Too clean to have come from Entori, but perhaps that was now working in their favor.
They found a table in a small alcove where they could sit and eat. Once full, Kayden began to nod off. Mya picked him up and took him to their small room. She hoped he would sleep the remainder of the trip.
Lunder’s men were suited up. If his info was correct, the ship with the prince would be arriving in this sector shortly. It would only stay a few minutes as its crew re-calibrated for the next jump. He kept his hands on the controls.
“All your helmets on?” he asked over the comms.
“We wouldn’t hang out by the EVA door without them on.”
Lunder grumbled. Ryker was always a smart-ass.
The cruiser popped into view and Lunder hit the accelerator. “Show’s on boys.”
“Could have warned us before sprinting this junkheap,” Ryker chimed in.
“Shut up or I’ll conveniently forget to reel you back in. Get ready to jump.”
The small freighter moved alongside the cruiser. Lunder checked the thermo-scans. “Nearly everyone is asleep except for some of the crew. The boy should be located on the third floor center hall. You know the drill.” He punched a button and the EVA door opened. The six men jumped out, shooting small jets of air to maneuver around the cruiser. They got into position and Lunder listened as they checked in.
“Charge one set.”
“Charge two primed.”
Each man pulled away when finished and Ryker commed to Lunder with the all clear. “Ready to burst the bubble, boss.”
“Do it,” Lunder said.
Explosions lit up the side of the cruiser and ripped a hole in its side. Contents spilled out into the emptiness. The frozen void now littered with rubble and bodies. The six men weaved through the debris and onto the ship. They detached their harness ropes as they entered the cruiser.
“You’ve got a straight line to the boy, but security is coming in fast. Make it quick.”
“I hear ya,” Ryker’s voice chirped over the comms.
Lunder watched his men comb through the halls and checking rooms for the boy. He kept an eye on the other heat signatures racing down the stairs. His boys were good, but he didn’t want to risk a gunfight with the fragile prize inside.
Mya had woken to a rumble through the ship. The alarms started a few seconds later. Kayden woke up and clung to her. He was frightened, as was she, but she soothed him. The alarms tone shifted from blaring to a quiet clamor as the captain’s voice came over the speakers to alert everyone that the ship had been boarded. He asked everyone to secure themselves in the nearest room possible and fit themselves with EVA gear if possible.
Mya looked around the room but didn’t see any gear for either of them. She cursed herself for choosing a common room that didn’t offer the basic emergency equipment. She knew the emperor would have ordered the ship seized without damage. He wouldn’t risk his son so he would have the search done thoroughly. The captain mentioning EVA gear meant the hull had been breached, which meant whoever was boarding the ship wasn’t working for the emperor. If they were simple raiders…she wished her luck wasn’t that bad, but if they were, there was a chance they knew nothing about Kayden and would loot the ship quickly and leave. She hoped security would take care of the problem soon.
She heard a noise outside the door. Then a muffled voice say, “You sure this is the one?” Pause. “You better be right.”
They had no where to go. She held Kayden closely to her. He began crying. The door crashed inward and two men walked in. They barely fit in the tiny space. She looked at them but only saw the black masks and EVA suits. No signifying markers. They had paused, looking at her as if confused. The one by the door pressed fingers to his ear, then said, “Alright.”
He pulled out a bag and threw it over her and Kayden. She tried to prevent it from landing on them but the other man wrapped it around them both and zipped it up, pressed a button, and the material hardened into a rectangular container.
“Let’s move.” Pause. “We’ve got the package. Heading out now.”
Lunder watched the heat signatures as three of his men engaged security while the other three, including Ryker, hauled the boy back to the tethers. The small hallway provided no cover and two of his men went down fast and permanently.
“Get us the hell out of here,” Ryker yelled over the comms.
Lunder switched two buttons and the two men who had tethered the package began reeling toward the ship.
“Hurry it up Ryker. I won’t wait for you.”
“Then don’t you wimpy bastard.”
A third man fell in the hallway as Lunder hit the switch and Ryker ran for the tethers, shooting behind him the entire way. Every tether began winding toward the ship. Ryker jumped and gripped the package. He flew through the debris and was nearly pummeled by a large, detached section of wall. A few security guards shot after him but he was well beyond their range.
As soon as the EVA door was secured. Lunder floored the accelerator.
He sat watching an entire galaxy spiral before him through the thick observation deck window. A drink in one hand paused halfway toward his lips as the table to his right alerted him of an incoming call. He tapped the surface a few times and Lunder’s voice popped out of the speaker in the room.
“We have what you want.”
“Good.” He never took his eyes off of the galaxy below. “Bring him to me.”