*Author Note: This is a prequel/supplemental story that feeds into The Invasion of Allegra and the series The Battle for Allegra*
22 June, 2284
“I’m telling you, Pete, this is a horrible idea,” Ransom Williams mutters forebodingly.
Looking over at his first mate, Peter Petrova can’t help but chuckle. Ransom had always been far too cautious and doubting to make it as a smuggler on his own, which is why he and Peter partnered up a few years back. Ever since then, they had always been several steps ahead of any local, regional, or any other level of security force.
All it took was Ransom’s worries and Peter’s cool and prowess.
“If you stay with the ship, you’ll be better off than if you come with me,” Peter tells Ransom, “I’m doing this. We’ve come too far not to.”
“But what if they’re expecting us!?”
Peter lets out a loud laugh and he motions around the busy spaceport, “Tell me, who in their right mind would expect us to come to Thessalonia of all places? A place known for its security and upstanding citizens?” Peter lowers his voice as he continues his usual, friendly smile firmly in place, “If the Coalition could even figure out that we’re on Allegra, they wouldn’t think we’d be dumb enough to come here.”
“If it’s such a dumb idea, then why did we have to come here?”
Pulling out a small bag of gold dust, Peter tosses it lightly up in the air and lets it land back into his hand. He offers Ransom a face that says, ‘are you really asking this?’ before he slips the bag back into his pocket.
This bag of gold, plus the other few that Peter has hidden on his person, were supposed to buy them a new ship.
Not just any ship, but a Thessalonian ship. One of the best built ships in the galaxy.
Knowing that the Allegrians were a people who didn’t like the Coalition to begin with and knowing that they all had an affinity for real money and not the paper the Coalition churned out in the trillions every second, Peter knew that he had finally made it big.
All it took was five or so years of hustling and grinding.
“Are you sure I can’t come along?” Ransom asks after a few beats.
“Can you keep your cool?”
“Um… Maybe,” Ransom answers honestly.
Sighing, Peter shakes his head, “I’m sorry, Ransom, I can’t risk it. Can’t you just stay with the ship? I’ll come by to pick you up once we get our new ride. You can double check everything to make sure we’ve got all of our stuff out of the Night Sky.”
“But I never get to leave the ship!”
“You never keep your cool! When you’re constantly making a show of looking over your shoulder, people notice!”
“What if I promise not to?”
“Then you won’t be able to tell if someone’s following you. Trust me, we’ll be better off if you just stay here. Just this time! After this, we’ll be home free, and no one will ever have to know how we were able to buy our ship in the first place!”
“Ransom, stay with the ship. You can talk to the passengers, play some of your games, anything. Just stay here. We don’t want a repeat of last time.”
“That was a one off—”
“It’s happened several dozen times,” Peter interrupts. Taking a steadying breath, he tried to be as kind as he can as he says, “You can wander to your heart’s desire next time, for now, I’m going this alone and you’re staying with the ship.”
Ransom frowns and he crosses his arms. Letting out a pitiful groan, he relents, “Fine.”
“Thank you,” Peter nods to the man.
Smiling, Peter then looks back over the concourse that is stretched out before him, and he looks at all the people. Unlike a lot of the other planets that they visited on the Alexandrian side of the galaxy, most of the people here are all human. A few small groups of aliens are making their way around the landing area, but it is anything but representative of the number of aliens in the galaxy. Sighing, he shakes his head and wishes that things were different here. He wished that the Coalition would fall already, and everyone could be free once more.
A few moments pass and Peter realizes that his smiles had long since disappeared. Now he is just about searing, and he can’t help but notice that he is looking at the nearest group of Coalition soldiers with his hand on his hip where his concealed weapon is.
“And who’s the one who can’t keep their cool?” Ransom asks unhelpfully after a beat.
“Yeah, yeah,” Peter waves him off. Shaking his head, he quickly pats down his clothes to ensure that he still has all the baggies of gold and sighs in relief. Closing his eyes, he thinks, They’re all still here. We’ll all be able to get out of here soon.
Taking one last breath, Peter begins walking down the ramp of the Night Sky and he stops in front of the Coalition soldiers who were waiting for him.
“Peter Petrova?” the sole officer in the squad nearest Peter inquires.
Nodding, Peter answers, “Yes, sir, that’s me.”
The officer looks up from the paperwork they are holding, and he grimaces ever so slightly. Shaking his head, he then looks at the rest of his team and whispers a few things to one of them.
Feeling uneasy, Peter gets ready to draw his weapon and shoot his way out of things. It wouldn’t be the first time that he had to shoot people at this close of a range, however he always wished that things were this up close and personal. There was something about looking someone in the eyes when he killed someone that hurt more than when he shot at them from afar.
What hurt Peter even more was being the one who shot first. There were always the questions of who could have been spared, if the person he shot was a threat, and so many other things.
But that was the price that Peter paid every day in order to get as many people as he could out of Coalition space.
He was a smuggler, sure, but his cargo wasn’t drugs like so many others. He moved people. Not slaves, but refugees who hoped to get out from under the boot of the Coalition.
Whenever the opportunity arose, he helped people out and moved select cargoes as well, but that wasn’t his focus. He was here to spirit people away to a freer life.
“Mister Petrova, I don’t want you to make a scene, so please listen carefully,” the officer says after a short while of speaking to one of their soldiers, “We know who you are, and you’ve been flagged to be arrested. However, we aren’t about to do that.”
Peter swallows and he loosens up slightly. There was something different about these people. Cocking his head, Peter asks, “What are you getting at?”
The officer that had been doing all the talking takes a slow breath and then nods to one of their soldiers.
Peter looks to the soldier and curiously asks, “What’s happening here?”
The soldier’s eyes dart around, and they slowly answer, “You saved my family a few months back. You smuggled in some medicines to our town and that saved my family and a lot of people I know. Thank you.”
Unsure what to do, Peter remains still and silent. He had never been thanked for his work by anyone in Coalition Space. Up until now, the only people who got the chance to thank him like this were those he snuck across to the Alexandrian side of the galaxy.
“Not only that, but some of us have family that you’ve snuck out of here,” the officer continues, “Plus you’ve brought our people things in the past.”
Peter shakes his head, “I don’t get it, what’s going on here? Aren’t you guys with the Coalition?”
The officer chuckles and shakes his head, “Clearly you don’t get how things work on Allegra! We’re our own people, we just tolerate the Coalition’s presence.”
“And that leads us to a little something else…” one of the soldiers whispers, “We need your help.”
Peter cocks his head and eyes the soldiers. He can tell that they are being honest and straightforward about everything, but he wasn’t used to that. Every other planet that he had been to the soldiers seemed intent on finding and killing him. Now, after all these years of running, Peter is standing in front of people in the same uniforms as those who sought to kill him, and he doesn’t feel like running.
He isn’t sure if this is some sort of elaborate trap or if his instincts about the soldiers are true, but he chooses to remain still, waiting for whatever was to come next.
“We need you to transport something for us,” the officer says under their breath, “A lot of something, actually.”
Peter opts to sound skeptical in order to further feel things out, “Seems awfully convenient that you need me to do it, out of all people.”
The officer chuckles and shakes their head, “Well, we weren’t waiting on you to do it. Believe it or not, we were planning on going AWOL to move this stuff, but it’d make our lives a lot easier if you were the one who transported it instead. It would really help us, and our cause if you did.”
“And what ‘cause’ is that?” Peter asks, his curiosity getting the best of him momentarily.
“The Allegrian militia needs food, munitions, and supplies,” the officer answers, “We’ve got access to the warehouse that has everything we need, and we’ve got everything ready to move too. All we needed was the chance to steal a ship and fly it out to the—ah—the compound.”
“Allegrian militia?” Peter rakes his memory for mentions of such a militia, but he comes up wanting. All he can remember for sure is that the militia on this planet is loosely affiliated with the broader Resistance movement.
“Yes, can you help us?” the officer pleads, “If you do it, then we could stay here and maintain our cover a lot easier—”
“What will I be transporting specifically?” Peter interrupts, “And what will it be used for?”
The officer shifts from one foot to the other as they carefully answer, “Weapons, munitions, food, and medicine. Maybe a few pallets of other supplies too, depending on what our latest batch of instructions say.”
“And what will they be used for?” Peter repeats his question.
“On the war effort,”
“Last I heard, Allegra isn’t in the middle of a rebellion.”
“Oh, you just landed, right,” the officer chuckles and nods, “My apologies. Well… the militia is gearing up for a rebellion and…” the officer takes a few steps closer, and he lowers his voice, “And there’s an alien invasion that is about to begin as well. For all we know, they might already be here.”
“I haven’t heard anything about an—”
“Please!” the officer interrupts, “I know this all sounds impossible, but it’s the truth!”
Peter looks the officer in the eyes, and he can’t tell for sure if the man is being honest or not. All he can tell for sure is that the matter is important.
“We’ve heard stories about some of your runs,” one of the soldiers speaks up, “We know that you can make this one a lot easier than any of us ever could. For all we know, we’d end up getting ourselves killed if we tried.”
“And we’ve all got families to go home to,” the officer adds, “I know it’s a lot to ask you to risk your life for us, but as Hemmings said, you’ve got a better chance than any of us.”
Peter swallows and he makes his decision. Looking the soldiers in their eyes, he says, “I’m in, but I’ve got a hold full of refugees here. I can’t risk them.”
“Oh,” the officer’s eyes drop, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
“But I was hoping to get a new ship… I guess I could break it in with a quick run for all of you.”
The officer looks up, a spark in his eyes, “Really? You’d do that for us?”
Peter chuckles and he looks out over the crowd of people all around them, “You and I both know that this is a whole lot bigger than either you or me. I’m doing this for everyone.”
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