Nate carefully pulled up alongside the vessel and then sent a couple of men over to check and see if there was anyone aboard after there had been no response to their attempt at communication. The men reported back, “It’s a salvage vessel. Still has plenty of fuel and it was shut down properly but there’s evidence of blood on the deck that has been partially washed off and lots of blood inside the bridge that hasn’t. No bodies though.”
Miguel handed Nate the ship’s log that revealed they had only docked two days earlier and that four men that had gone on board had failed to call in. The captain had suspected they were running loose trying to find small but high value salvage before turning anything over as those same four men had done that before.
Emi rolled her eyes, at the stupidity of the crew of the abandoned ship and at some of Nate’s crew. If they were too stupid to think the obvious then she wasn’t going to bother enlightening them.
There was a brief discussion. Some of the men wanted to salvage and some definitely did not. Nate, knowing the men as he did said, “You’ve got two hours to salvage unless you run into trouble. You know the drill compadres, you turn over everything you find and it gets split by percentage. I catch you holding back and you get nothing. At the end of the two hours it is straight back and we take off fifteen minutes later with or without you.”
Emi looked at Nate like he had suddenly developed crazy but she didn’t say a word.
Nate noted it and explained. “Deal fell through that was gonna pay for this little outing. They were already griping after having to leave the salvage behind in Galveston. They know this is my last time out. Regular jobs aren’t all that easy to come by, especially good paying regular jobs. They can’t afford to come home empty handed on this last voyage any more than I can.”
“I can see that. And have seen it before when a ship wouldn’t get enough catch to make it worth leaving port. I’m talking about these that are refusing to board the liner. You really gonna trust them to still be here in two hours?”
“No. Which is why Kiko and I are staying here.”
“But I thought you said …”
“Thems just the breaks.”
Emi looked at the large ship then back at Nate, then at the ship again. “OK. Two hours. Where do you want me to look first?”
“You? Now wait just a minute …”
Kiko had come back on deck and said, “It’s a good idea. She can take care of herself but I’d put her with someone all the same. Especially with that arm that is going to limit how much she can carry.”
Nate chewed his lip for a moment then nodded. It was decided that they would go aboard the liner in teams and each team would have a communication device. The teams would break down into those that were willing to investigate the interior of the ship, those willing to at least go as far as the exterior passage ways and decks. Those that would only go as far as the exterior passages and the decks would collect what the salvagers would put out there for them. They would then transport the salvage down to the open hatch and the men remaining on board would start stowing the salvage on both vessels.
Emi was teamed up with a younger crewman named Alfredo who immediately took some pretty good ribbing. Already determined to prove his manhood to his crewmates, this only caused him to act like a bigger jackass. As soon as he was out of sight of Nate he left Emi, taking the communicator with him. Nate believed in covering his bases, or knew what could happen, and he’d slipped her her own communicator with none of the other men the wiser.
Actually Emi preferred working alone. First she hit the bridge and captain’s quarters as requested but found nothing worth anything, both having been cleaned out before she got there, by other salvagers or perhaps even during its initial infection stage. There weren’t any lifeboats on board so anything was possible. She did find a competition style rifle in the security chief’s quarters along with the ammo for it that looks like it had been confiscated if she read the tags right. She decided to re-confiscate it for her own and slung it over her shoulder after loading it. She’d learned during the Second Wave that empty guns were just fancy clubs and since she’d also found a blackjack that she attached to her waist band, another club she didn’t need. She also grabbed a wind up flashlight that wasn’t corroded beyond good use. And a good thing she did because the enclosed decks were dark.
With only two hours … now more like 90 minutes … Emi started looking for high value items rather than something that a crew with more time would salvage. She used the handy wall map and headed for the medical bay, picking up a pile of those eco-friendly bags from one of the fancy stores on board. The medications in the medicine cabinet had all gone over but there were still enough small items that could be sterilized that she made a couple of bags of that and put some in her own back pack. The two bags she dropped off in the agreed upon corridor and she continued salvaging sector by sector.
Emi was deep into the bowels of the ship when she ran into fire doors that were sealed and taped off though it looked like someone had tried to break into them. She suddenly got a good idea of what had happened to stir up the crazies on board. Unwilling to breach such a blockade and risk reigniting trouble if there were more crazies on board, she began to return topside since the time was running out. She’d put down how quiet the radio had gotten to her location but it remained silent all the way to the rendezvous deck. And that’s where she saw several of the men hiding and mumbling something about waiting until they saw who won. Emi took one look and silently growled, “Idiotas.”
It took only a moment to level the rifle she’d found and use the laser sight to blow the head off of the man who had been holding a gun on Nate and yelling orders to those around him. She hadn’t expected the kick and the stock nearly made her scream as it tore open the wound in her arm. Still, she managed a quick body shot to the one near Kiko that had simply looked at suddenly decapitated corpse that hadn’t even begun to fall yet. The women, who’d been brought topside and obviously gotten slapped around a bit, practically tore a third man apart leaving no doubt that he’d been part of the mutiny too.