Without an order from Rab or Reese, the group moved forward as a unit, spreading laterally and moving around the trees so as to avoid clumping into a more visible group.
It didn’t occur to him that she might do something like this?
Reese fought back the frustration with Rab. She could have made the same mistake. It was ironic, really—Trig hadn’t even wanted to go on this job, because it’d been given to them by the Galactic Coalition. She’d only come because she detested the idea of slavers.
And that same hatred that had been so conveniently appeased to was about to compromise the entire mission and probably get Trig killed.
No one in the the Blood Letters liked slavery—slavery was a generally hated hated thing in the galaxy—but that hatred was primarily intellectual. Most sentients could go their entire lives and never see a slave or even meet someone else who’d seen a slave.
But for Trig, with the way she’d been treated by those GC thugs on Ronden…It hadn’t precisely been slavery, but it was more than close enough.
Close enough to die for, Trig?
Reese had never found any part of her that wanted a family in the traditional, Human sense—she’d grown up on the streets and that had ground any kind of nesting instinct from her psyche. But the Blood Letters were a kind of family—and she was their protector, galaxy be damned.
Nothing was said, but Reese took command of the group. She almost felt Rab give it back to her.
Not that orders had to be given. They were obvious—get to the perimeter of the slave camp and hope that Trig hadn’t done anything stupid. If she had, figure out how to get her out of whatever clusterfuck she’d created.
They reached a tree-line—obviously artificially created in this dense jungle—the stumps of giant trees dotting the ground in front of them. About six meters from the tree-line, Reese saw how they’d made the actual clearing.
Instead of tolerating the tree trunks in the ground, the slavers burned everything within the area they wanted to build structures on. The ground was scorched and black. There was an oppressive charcoal smell in the air—Reese felt fair in assuming that it would be there for a long time.
T-12 saw her first. The war bot slowly raised his left arm and pointed to the edge of the camp, to their right.
Following his gesture, Reese saw Trig at a distance, crouching and moving between a series of crates—probably extra munitions or foodstuffs. She hadn’t been seen yet. The group watched as Trig came up behind a Human guard. He looked bored, standing at attention guarding supplies he was sure no one was planning on disturbing. And he was right—Trig wasn’t interested in the slavers’ supplies.
Trig, like, Reese, wasn’t as tall as most Human men. Reese had taught her several ways to handle that.
She couldn’t help but smile as she watched Trig dart from behind the final crate—her right foot kicked straight, directed at the inside of the guard’s right knee. They could hear the snapping of his leg from here. What they didn’t hear was the guard’s scream—because Trig was already up, grabbing his head from behind and covering his mouth.
The guard was so consumed with the pain in his leg that he didn’t fight as Trig held him in a ‘sleeper’ hold. He passed out quickly—she dragged his body behind the crates and left it there.
Been keeping up on her upper body workouts.
Reese could guess from Grox’s agape mouth that the rest of the crew was equally impressed.
But none of this meant that Trig should be infiltrating an entire camp on her own—from this vantage point, Reese could easily count two dozen armed guards. This didn’t take the barracks tents into account.
On the opposite end of the camp from where Trig was making her approach, Reese saw a group of armed guards leading a line of what Reese had to assume were the natives of Oomtpa.
The natives were huge—ranging from seven to nine feet tall. Even from this distance, Reese saw that they were an intimidating people. Every part of their dark green bodies appeared to be covered in organic blades and spikes.
They looked beaten. Most walked with their heads bent to the ground, staring at the dirt. All of them were chained together at the ankles. One of them turned their head to look at a guard and Reese immediately saw the reason for the general passivity—the guard reached out with a small baton and jammed it into the side of the alien’s torso.
The screaming was clear from here.
Reese, trying to remain analytical, noted that the native didn’t go into any kind of seizure—which meant that these batons likely weren’t electrified.
Are they burning them to keep them in line?
Reese looked to her left and right. The rest of the Blood Letters, whose faces were visible, all had the same expression that was on hers.