Screaming Metal (Part 010)
©2017, Made in DNA
"Yeah, it seemed like they were kind of half-joking," Deshel shrugged. "More concerned with the mood interruption the noise made."
"But the transmissions are real, and they emanate from this junkyard," Priyanka said voicing her thoughts aloud.
He nodded. "They seem to think that there's a busted transceiver in one of the older heaps buried somewhere."
"Someone alive, buried under all that junk?" Priyanka shook her head.
"That's why they think it's haunted. Ghosts calling them from the great beyond." Deshel shrugged and threw up his hands.
"Might be an automated distress beacon," Suen put in almost thoughtfully, now seemingly trying to diffuse the situation.
Priyanka made a face. "Why haven't we ever picked up any broadcasts before?"
His reply was simple. "We weren't listening in."
"So why do they?" Suen's aggression returned momentarily, but this time it didn't seem to be directed at him.
"They're not. It's breaking in on their waves. I don't think they really have a choice if they want to continue using radios." Deshel shrugged.
"Stupid," Suen commented.
"Radios are low power and little trouble to operate. Even a child with a basic education can repair one," he pointed out.
A suspicious look returned to Suen's face. "When were you even in contact with the locals?"
"When we went into town drinking last week," said Deshel, surprised she didn't recall.
She wasn't satisfied. "I don't remember you talking to any locals."
Deshel shook his head. "You got all hot-headed over the dirty looks they were giving us and left, remember?"
So Deshel had spent a little time with the locals. Priyanka had never forbidden her crew to mingle with the locals. It sometimes even helped.
Had it been a mistake this time? Was there something afoot? Were they being led astray? By someone on this planet? By someone in her crew?
Dark thoughts settled into her brain once more.
"Pree, if the Metal's functioning…" Deshel's voice faded, unsure of how to finish the sentence.
Suen also turned to look at her, her mouth slightly agape, brows raised in worry.
The eyes of her crew snapped her out of the grim vicious circle of thoughts.
"We don't have any concrete proof that Il'on is functioning," Priyanka said it, but part of her didn't believe it anymore.
Deshel's next question was fair but loaded. "Did your source specifically tell you it wasn't functioning?"
Priyanka gave him a scornful look. "What are you on about? A functioning Metal has never been recovered before."
"Until now. Maybe." But Deshel's eyes didn't meet hers and she recognized the worried look on his face.
Priyanka's lips drew into a thin, flat line. Her voice was soft but determined. "You think I've been taken in."
Deshel clarified, "I think we're in dangerous territory here."
Priyanka had had enough. Her voice took a stern, icy tone, "Are you finished?" Her eyes met the both of theirs in turn.
She reminded them of their contract with her, "You know the risks of the profession. This job is no different. This Metal is going to bank us."
She continued, "So unless you'd like to forfeit and disembark here and now, back to your stations. Discussion over."
Suen looked as if she might say something but instead returned to her console without a word.
Deshel, if anything, looked relieved and somewhat ashamed. He nodded and slipped back into his couch.
With a deep breath, Priyanka followed suit.
She called over her shoulder. "We have three to four hours of sunlight at best. ScrapHounds will probably be back around then, too."
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