NOH Fortune was an off planet water refinery with a population of three thousand refinery workers, merchants, and various artisans. I think there would not have been any fatalities if the Habitat Guard had just allowed the pirates to take the water they required from the refining tanks. But such was not the case and as a result of the skirmish nearly twenty citizens were killed and almost the entire guard, the latter mostly in vengeance for being first to shoot and kill a member of the gang. My name is Fangris Grey, a homo-canine hybrid of the wolf clans. Mostly I just get called Fang, which I like more than Fangris. The day the pirates raided Fortune was the day my life slipped out of its mundane routine into the ways of swashbuckling adventure. It was the day, in the midst of the battle for Fortune I stowed away aboard the Python’s Revenge with its rampaging twin vipers and crossed laser pistols against a star-studded black banner commanded by the infamous pirate captain, homo-reptilian, Chant Python. It was a dangerous thing to do just in the fact that it was a pirate ship, but even more so since most of the crew were reptilians and the entire system knew that reps were not particular about what meat they served at the dinner table. It was rumoured they hunted the rare creatures most called Vagabonds, supposedly the remnants of a race called human. I knew this but my heart had longed for the wide open space of the stars and adventure upon the Solar Main. Father often chastised me when I spoke of my dreams but I think it was out of some deep longing he held but had missed his chance when he was a young man…maybe even just a boy like me.
I quickly gathered a grip full of things I would need, ready for that moment when I escaped to advance my exploration of the world and keep my presence aboard the pirate ship a secret,. It was a confusion between fortunate and unfortunate that things did not work out quite the way my imagination had rallied the future. I was tucked away in the hold of the great Solar Sail Galleon when the battle for Fortune concluded and the pirates set sail for distant worlds with their water tanks full and a small fortune in precious metals, jewels provisions and supplies. I heard Captain Chant, as his men called him, say, “What fools they were. We came to them in peace to buy our needs but they decided on war and look what’s happened. We exchanged peace for violence and unneeded death…and they call us brigands and pirates.” He concluded with a chant in the fashion of the Reps, which my canine ears could hear well enough but not understand. Then in a second part of his speech from the Quarter Deck he advanced, “Now my friends and fellow Pirates, we set our sails for the deeps of the Scattered Disc to find RaBark’s Gold laid in secret upon the skin of RaBark’s Comet where that old and ancient buccaneer crashed his ship Moon Howler.” Every kid, pup and tadpole across the solar system had heard the stories about Captain RaBark, the Homo-Coydog hybrid who had terrorized the Terrestrial Planets for a decade and fled to the far reaches of the new colonies of the Jovian worlds perused by the Solarian Guardship Man O War. Both were lost in the scattered disc, nearly three centuries ago when the Jovians were first being colonized. I panicked. It had not even remotely occurred to me that the pirate ship was bound for the remote regions of the Scattered Disc. I had only prepared for a week of hiding in the depths of the ship and would starve to death long before we even entered the disc. “We’ll be months abroad and…well, I’ll be better off as a slave than a stowaway.” I muttered, and while the Captain and crew were still in fair mood I climbed from to the open deck and presented my person. I said in a wild and loud voice. “If you choose not to have my person for a meal I will most gladly serve you as a slave.” Of course my offer was directed at Captain Chant.” Silence prevailed for a long minute as every eye aboard turned on me. Then in a laugh that was mostly hissing Captain Chant responded. “You cannot deny this Homo-canine pup’s bravery unless it is more like stupidity, but he has chosen a good time to stowaway and a good time to reveal himself for I have no servant for my cabin. “What be your name wolf cub?”
I swallowed deeply then found my voice. “Thank you My Lord Captain “I am called Fangris Grey, but I answer best to Fang.” “Well Fang. Serve me well and you will live to see many a day. Serve me poorly or take some clandestine thought and I will gnaw your wolfy bones to dust.” I bowed and upon command retired to the Captains lounge and the tiny room where I would sleep, ushered hence by a Homo-amphibian named Toad, with whom I garnered a friendship that lasted the remainder of our lives. For some reason Toad came to regard me as something higher than itself, though I never took advantage of that station. I will not described the long weeks we spent seeking RaBark’s Comet and the lost treasure, yet there is something to be said about it. Mostly, I learned that the solar system’s view of the Homo-Reptilians is somewhat mythologized. Maybe once they were omnivores but as I saw, mostly they dined on a variety of insects. Chant once said to my query on the subject, “I tried human meat once. Actually eating Homo-anything, hybrids gives me terrible indigestion as it does to most Reps or any other hybrid. I believe when Hom created us he impressed it into our DNA to reject homo-cannibalism, though in a pinch it is vomitously edible.” I was further impressed that under the right leadership all hybrids could get along to some degree of non-combativeness, though they should never consume alcoholic beverages to extreme while occupying the same area. I was surprised that in the early weeks we came across so many vessels sailing the Scattered Disc. Most were Vagabond ships crewed by humans. I never knew there were so many. Most folks across the solar system thought they had all but died out just after the dark age. Mostly Captain Chant avoided them though on occasion we were attacked, to the folly of the aggressor. Captain Chant was an amazing strategist and made short work of the attackers. He also used good sense, not to destroy their ship until it was completely ransacked for anything usable. Then he ordered it sundered with all hands aboard except those who joined our ranks. This situation occurred twice and we took on only five new crewmen, all Reps. Captain Chant came to trust me enough to remove the electrobinds that restricted the use of my arms and legs. His choice of voice commands became more requestful and he often allowed me to spend time with the other Homo-Canine’s among the crew. They were much older than myself and high ranking but they took me in and treated me like a wolf cub, except one, a Homo-Coydog. Rashnock was his name and a wretched creature he turned out to be when we finally found RaBark’s Comet. I think Coydogs are the least like creature among all the homo-hybrids and I learned for a fact they hunted humans and hybrids, sometimes just for sport.
We were three months, one week and four days upon the solar winds when, as we came out of an asteroid cluster we were met by a storm of such proportions that we were nearly sundered to the depths of space. It might have ended that way but for the bravery and skill of the Revenge’s crew and, as Captain Chant addressed the situation, “a good deal of help from Hom and his Interns.” We survived but had to set to in order to repair the solar sails which are not protected by the shield that encompasses the body of the ship. Shielding of any kind would render them useless. My part in the storm affair was minimal I think. I was stationed to assist the helmsman, both grappling the steering wheel with all our strength to keep the ship from being vaulted stern over stem into oblivion. We made an excellent team and Rodak, an emerald coloured Homo-Rep request that I be taken on as his apprentice a plea Captain Chant agreed in part to, “As long as he make sure I get my meals served. Later I convinced the captain to take Toad on as his cabin boy and applied myself to my new lot. In years beyond I discovered Rodak had been a wheelman and mentor of incredible skill, not to mention a devote friend. It was ten days after the storm that we set sail again and another four when we came upon the debris of a ship wreck. Even I recognized it as a very old, even ancient remnants of a Solar Sailor. It was fitted with solid fuel maneuvering thrusters which had not been used in 300 years. The very next day we sighted RaBark’s Comet and were astonished at its size, which Rodak described as a miniature transient moon with a fairy’s tail. The comet was travelling at twenty two thousand mikes per hour. The Captain order two sails drawn in and our speed reduced to run along side the comet. Then he ordered the tech crew to start scanning for remnants of a ship and signs of none comet indigenous anomalies, an order that took weeks to complete. It was in about the third week of the scanning operation that I came upon Rashnock and four other lower rank crewers. They were not at that moment discussing mutiny…exactly, but they were talking about their shares of RaBark’s gold and hinted at acquiring much more than what would be their coded share. Even as a boy I understood the undertones of the conversation and took my concerns to Rodak. “Its good you came to me boy and not the captain. We can not be accusing crew of mutiny when nothing of the sort is evident, but we can keep a keen eye and clear ear open for rumours of such.” Said the helmsman, which turned out to be good advice for the moment and a wise decision for the future for, when things did go a-struck, we were ready.