11. In the beginning.

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Zachery hated flying, but he hated crashing more.
He was also tired of running.

This time his little band of fellow anarchists stole a plane but were hit multiple times by a machine gun as they took off. Alice Marie, his wife and their best pilot was hit. She died quickly, and the plane was his to control. It was dying too, spraying oil on the windshield and coughing fire.
Oh, and there was the small matter of them being wanted in 15 countries for a multitude of so-called “robin hood” crimes, and the bounty hunters were getting closer.
The engine coughed. And died.

“This is it, we’re going down. Hopefully we won’t break up…too bad.”
Zachery quickly assessed his landing options. The moon didn’t offer much light and, as luck would have it, he didn’t see a road or anything looking like a town. He banked right, aiming for a bluff and some trees that might hide the wreckage. At the last minute he pulled hard on the yoke hoping the tail would hit first. They hit hard and the plane skidded into a slight recess among the trees. Two people died, that’s three now. Everybody else knew they had to get away from the wreck site quickly, and before the sun came up.

They were having a major stroke of good luck. First, the bounty hunters lost the trail rather quickly once the plane took off. Then the plane fell off military RADAR. Finally they crashed in a area of deep wilderness and the wreckage was indeed undetectable from the air. Just a short distance from the crash they found a cave where they could wait out the day and rest a bit. Their biggest concern were the bounty hunters. The world was at war but it wasn’t organized, it was mostly civil wars, looting and the like. Many of the countries they were wanted in simply let the bounty hunters do the chasing.

Nightfall. Time to move on, find food and heat. Heat would be nice!
They had barely dragged themselves through the thick overgrowth a couple miles when they found themselves heading down into a missile base. It was an out of service intergalactic missle, the sort that was hijacked and used to disable a NASA IGV-class ship orbiting Earth. A lucky shot many said, but 300 folks died. It was also a death blow to a crumbling United States government.
So, here it was, inactive on an abandoned base. They cased the place for maybe 2 hours and saw no movement, nothing, not even a light in the gate house. So, with hunger clearly present they quickly stumbled down the ridge and past the fence. No minefields, and no active alarms. They found MREs in the mess hall and satisfied their hunger.

Then Zachery made an insane proposal.

“Guys,” Zachery started, “this is crazy. What are we gonna do, keep running? Hiding? We have a launch vehicle and we could get away from the bounty hunters.”

There was stunned silence.
His colleagues didn’t think much of Zachery’s latest scheme, but, well, he did have a point.

“We could remove the explosives from the nose. There are 3 fuel tanks and a smaller central tank containing oxygen. Abby, you know computers, you think we could we reprogram this thing to support life?”

She nodded, “sure, but…”

“Hell, we could die here , or in lanch, or survive in space. We ain’t doing any good now, too many bounty hunters! Zachery has a valid idea.”

With that, they all agreed. Abby, with a couple other team members, hacked into the missile systems, disarmed the explosives, and begin assembling equipment for a passenger space vehicle. Once disarmed the remaining team members removed the explosives. Which left a rather large cone-shaped vessel which they began to reinforce and insulate. Lines were added to the oxygen tank for life support. Launch seats and control equipment were added. In all, the conversion took a week and they blasted off with bounty hunters watching from the same ridge they were on just a week before.

The G-Forces of lift-off are really tough and two crew members were crushed like roadkill. Zachery and the survivors passed out, coming to in a weightless environment. With their luck holding they were less than a mile from the disabled IGV. Right on target. They managed to get into lifesuits and aboard the vessel. They got life support and the gravity gyro online within an hour. Comm was an easy fix and soon chatter from Earth echoed through on the ship intercom.

“Well, capt’, now what?” one of Zachery’s crew asked him.

Zachery keyed the mike, “This is Captain Zachery Toes, and I claim this IGV under intergalactic salvage laws. She is now the IGV Alice Marie. Captain Toes out.”

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