Hallifax S’Tarnay watched the battle-worn blue hands grasp the sides of her captain’s head, as he snarled in frustration. Two hours, the screams had bounced off the metal walls of the ship’s interior, and she could see the man was about ready to pop a blood vessel.
“Tha’ boy don’t cease his damn shoutin’ Imma put ma arrow thru ‘im.”
Halli, scoffed lightly as she picked at the dirt under her claws with her favourite knife, “Ya just abducted a eight year old boy from tha only home he ever known Cap’n, course he gonna scream bloody murder.”
Yondu turned his glare up a notch as he levelled her with it, “I ask you girl?”
Halli sighed deeply, unperturbed by her captain’s murderous gaze, “Nah, Cap’n.”
Yondu’s first mate scratched his bearded chin, either unfazed or immune to the screams, “Question sir?”
The captain ceased his wild pacing and threw himself into the final chair at the table, “Spit it out Krags.”
“How you gunna explain to tha crew we ain’t gettin’ no paycheck fer our trouble?”
Ever the calm, sensible one. That’s what made Kraglin such an asset to the crew. Halli, was woman enough to admit it, even if the captain wasn’t.
An irritable exhale left his throat, “Ain’t got tha’ far. I’ll figure somement out.” He scrubbed his eyes tiredly, “All I knows is, I ain’t lettin’ tha’ bastard kill another kid. Ain’t right.”
Halli scratched behind a pointed ear, “Could train ‘im Cap’n. He’s small, quick, could get ta places we ain’t able to. Could make fer a good distraction too.”
His fist hit the table with a force that made the leather pouch in front of Halli tip, and a collection of thumb-nail sized metal balls roll out. A quick series of clicks from her tongue had them rolling back in, she collected the bag calmly and refastened it to her belt.
Yondu snarled, “Again, I ask chu girl?”
Halli replaced her knife in its holster on her thigh, “Nah Cap’n. Just thinkin’ out loud.”
Kraglin raised a scruffy eyebrow, “Not a bad idea sir.”
The Centaurian gave them both an exasperated look, “Ya’ll gangin’ up on me now?”
His first mate held up his hands innocently, “Just sayin’ sir.”
Red eyes flicked quickly between the blue and gold sets, “Ya both mighty mouthy today.” There was a pause before he glared at the woman next to him, “Halli! Go talk ta tha boy, get ‘im ta stop screamin’ at least.”
She raised a brow sceptically, “Me Cap’n? Dun think my ugly mug is gunna calm ‘im none.”
The blood vessel at Yondu’s temple rose to the surface of his skin as he ground his teeth, “Ya half Terran ain’t ya?”
Halli blinked her reptilian eyes, the golden colour shimmering under her second eyelids. Scoffing, she gave her captain a crooked smirk, “Not sure I can convince ‘im o’ tha’.”
Yondu’s patience for her lip had clearly worn thin as the room was illuminated in a soft red glow, that would be soothing if she wasn’t aware of what always came next. The Centaurian pursed his lips and she shot out of her chair like someone lit a fire under her.
“Read ya loud ‘n’ clear boss, ain’t no need fer that.”
She felt the mean smirk of victory that followed her out.
“Ya really oughta keep yer mouth shut sometimes girl.” Kraglin murmured to her as she passed.
A series of clicks from her tongue and three of the metal balls at her hip flew out of the pouch and bounced in quick succession off the back of the Hraxian’s head.
“Same could be said fer you Kraggles!”
She smirked as he treated her to a string of colourful curses. Yondu’s rumbling laughter followed her out.
Halli rapped her knuckles gently on the door, “Boy?” The incoherent screaming continued. She sighed, “Cap’n’s loosin’ his mind wit’ all this screamin’, ya gotta stop.” The only thing she achieved was making him scream louder, she heaved in an even deeper sigh, “I’m comin’ in, don’t throw nothin’ at me.”
The boy, all big wet rimmed eyes and snot covered face was cowering in the corner when she entered. Halli winced attempting to make herself as unthreatening as possible. Rather hard for a near seven-foot bipedal half-breed.
“Let me out.”
Halli shook her head, “Can’t be doin’ that ‘til ya stop tha’ racket.”
The boy whimpered pathetically, and Halli’s cold-blooded heart broke.
“I wanna go home.”
She folded her legs up underneath her, coming down to his level, “Yer Momma’s gone boy, ain’t nothin’ left on Terra for ya.”
He sniffled loudly, wiping more snot on his sleeve. Halli’s nose crinkled up, she’d forgotten how much Terrans leaked.
“What are you going to do to me?”
She sighed, a lot of bad things could happen to a little brat like him on this ship, and apparently this was now her problem, at least that’s what her heart was adamantly telling her head.
“Ain’t nothin’ Imma do to ya boy. I wanna help ya.” She paused, looking into his big hazel eyes. “What’s yer name?”
“Peter. Peter Quill.”
“Alright Peter, my name’s Hallifax, but you can call me Halli.”
He shuffled forwards a little, curiosity getting the better of his fears, “What are you?”
She snorted, smirking a little, “Believe it or not, I’m half Terran. That’s what chu are. Terran.”
He shuffled forwards a little more, a grubby hand reaching for hers, until he snatched it back and gave her a terrified look, “You look like a lizard.”
She chuckled, anyone else had said such a thing would have had a painful time at the business end of her Sic’tars, but the boy wasn’t out to be mean, he was just inquisitive.
“That’s ma other half.” She replied, “A very ancient, very extinct race called the Oros. Imma kinda lucky there ain’t none left like me. I’d be an outcast, a Stolara. In the ancient one’s language, it means ‘dirty blood’. See, the Oros always prided themselves on the purity of their race, in fact, that’s what Oros means, ‘pure of blood’. It was eventually their downfall, but that ain’t a story fer now.” Halli sighed, giving Peter a kind smile, “What I’m tryin’ ta say Pete, is that I know what it’s like bein’ alone out here. Tha Cap’n saved ma ass, just like he did wit’ chu. It may not seem like it right now, but ya’ll will be grateful fer it one day.”
Peter moved forwards so he was almost touching knees with the large woman in front of him, “You’re scaly.”
Halli smirked, “Yep.”
“It looks like the oil slick on the roads back on Earth, ya know? When it gets all wet an’ goes rainbow colours.” He paused staring at her face, “It’s pretty.”
Halli’s mouth dropped open revealing a row of needle sharp teeth, the honesty in his face was plain and simple. She snapped her jaw shut with a click, blushing purple to the roots of her fiery hair, “Ain’t never nobody called me pretty before.” She paused, “You ain’t scared of me?”
He sniffled, and shrugged a tiny shoulder, “A little. But it’s kinda hard to be. You’re bein’ so nice.”
She smiled at him, “Ain’t many nice people on this boat, so ya gotta learn ta be tough. But dun worry I’ll help ya. Gunna teach ya ta be a Ravager.”
Her grin was both menacing and genuine, “Only tha best damn thing in tha Galaxy Pete. We’s space pirates.”
His eyes became impossibly wider, awe crept into his tone, “Really?”
“Really, really boy.” She held out her hand gently, keeping her claws away from his fragile skin, “Come on up now, you gonna come meet tha Cap’n.”
Peter clung nervously to the back of her floor-length, red leather duster. “This is Cap’n Yondu Udonta.” He pushed his face into her leg at Yondu’s scowling mug. She shot the captain a light glare. Looking down at Peter she said gently, “Come on now, what I say before?”
“Be brave.” He said quietly into her knee joint.
“Yeah, that’s it. Cap’n ‘n’ ol’ Kraggles here won’t hurt ya none.” She turned to the Centaurian, “Cap’n, this is Peter Quill.”
He snorted, rolling his eyes, “I know his damn name!”
She blinked, “Well on Terra, people introduce themselves wit’ a handshake instead o’ an arrow Cap’n.” She deadpanned. His glare could’ve cut through the hull. “Respectfully, o’ course sir.”
Peter took a deep breath and stepped out from behind Halli. He held trembling hand out to the terrifying man in front of him, “Nice to meet you.” Halli felt a flush of pride as his voice only wavered a touch when he spoke.
Yondu’s eyes flickered from the boy to Halli, she jutted her chin towards the boy. The captain’s eyes spoke of a night in the brig for her attitude today, but Halli found herself uncaring. Someone had to protect the little Terran until he got his legs, and that someone was now her. Though she couldn’t tell you why, she felt the need to do this kid a favour. Maybe because no one ever cared a damn to help her, when she was dumped face first into the Ravager crew.
Regardless of whether or not Yondu was considering gutting Halli, he was pleased she had stopped the boy’s racket. He took the hand offered and shook it firmly, “Ain’t no more snivellin’ ya hear? Ya wanna be a Ravager ya gotta play tha part boy.”
Peter stood tall, nodding to him bravely, “Yes Yondu.”
Yondu smirked, “Gud boy.”
Peter turned to beam at Halli, she returned it with a smile, pointing beyond the captain, “That there is Kraglin, Cap’n’s first mate.”
Kraglin nodded to the boy, offering a quick smile, that was gone as fast as it came. Peter waved back shyly.
Yondu looked up at Halli, “Take ‘im, show ‘im tha ship, an’ we’ll covert tha supply cupboard in ma room for ‘im ta sleep in. Dun trust tha crew not ta flark wit’ him. Once ya dun all that show ‘im tha vents, bastards need a clean.”
Halli inclined her hear head, “Aye, Cap’n.” She replied beginning to usher the boy away.
“‘N’ Halli?” She turned herself to face him, “Dun go babying tha boy, I catch that shit an’ you’ll be in tha brig, ya hear?”
“Aye Cap’n. Loud ‘n’ clear.”
Hallifax strode quickly through the bowels of the ship, avoiding any high traffic areas with the boy, she turned her head slightly, “Alright ya –” she paused mid-sentence, “Pete?” She spun in a circle, sharp eyes searching for the kid. He was ages back, jogging to keep up with her. “Shit! Sorry bud. I ferget you got them stubby kid legs.”
He reached her side, panting loudly. He plastered a scowl across his face, “They aren’t stubby, you’re huge! Like, freakishly huge.”
She raised a brow, “You fixin’ fer death yer first day boyo?” His eyes went comically large in his head. “Then I suggest ya quit bringin’ my glarin’ differences from normality ta light. I’m well aware o’ ma ugly ass self by now, dun need a constant reminder, ya got that?”
“I – I didn’t – you aren’t – well I mean you are different – not bad different!” He stopped, going pale, “Mom always told me differences is what makes us who we are, it isn’t bad, it makes us special – beautiful.” His eyes filled with tears, “I – I miss her.”
Halli sighed, anger seeping out of her like the captain’s arrow had pierced her scaly skin, “I know kiddo. I know. I miss my Da too. He did his best to protect me from people who ain’t got nothin’ but murder an’ a quick sum o' units in their heads. The last time – he – his – his best just weren’t enough. Yer Momma did what she could ta stay wit’ ya, o’ that I’m sure. No parent worth their salt would leave such a nice kid behind on purpose.” Her cold hand landed on his shoulder and squeezed lightly, “Ya know, that’s twice ya’ll called me pretty taday. Careful, I might start thinkin’ ya’ll start actually likin’ me er some junk.”
Pete’s nose crinkled in typical childlike honesty, “Ewww, girls are gross.”
Halli barked out a laugh, “We der plenty o’ handsome boys out there too, ya know.”
Peter’s eyes almost fell out of his head, “EWWW!”
The reptilian’s laughter bounced off the walls, “I’m just flarkin’ wit’ ya kid. Now, let’s show ya ‘round this junker.”
Thankfully, most of the crew ignored Halli and her new charge. She’d proved herself countless times, they wouldn’t hassle her unless they were looking to fight her, the last man to attempt it ended up being shot out the airlock. The weekend in the brig was well worth watching his grubby little mitts claw at his throat before freezing over, horror plastered over his stupid ass-grabbing face. That incident had left most of the crew avoiding her for a while.
“Alright Pete, time fer a crash course in tha Ravager pecking order. Cap’n is top dog, what he says goes, all tha time, every time, questionin’ orders generally result in the death of the person doin’ tha questionin’. Kraglin is First Mate, means his orders are next in line ta be followed. Afta that it’s me, Brite, Tullk, Horuz, Czar an’…well that’s it really. Doc, cook, an’ engineerin’ got their own set o’ rules but unless ya workin’ wit’ ‘em ya ain’t gunna need ta know that so we’ll skip tha’ shit right now. Crew’s gunna be tha major worry fer ya. Dun like non-contacteds, ‘specially dun like kids. You tho’, ya small, smart, an’ fast, most o’ tha crew, is big, meaty, slow, an’ stupid. They only clever enough ta follow orders an’ kill shit. Tha vents’ll be yer best friend, learn ‘em an’ ya can get anywhere in this ship wit’ ease.” She stopped in front of a heavy metal door. “Got all tha’?”
Peter blinked, “Uh, y – yeah I think so.”
Halli nodded, placing her hand on the bio-lock to the room, it ran yellow and beeped. She tutted her tongue, placing a finger up to her ear, “Cap’n?” Peter watched her inquisitively. “You wanna let me in yer cabin? - Yeah, signature’s yella - two minutes? - Yes'sir.” She turned to Peter, “Cap’n’s gotta get ta a console.” He nodded, kicking his sneaker against the rusty metal grating. Halli grinned, “Wanna see somement cool kiddo?”
Peter shrugged, “Sure.”
Halli pushed her coat back and clicked her tongue, ten little metal balls that resembled large ball bearings floated in the air in front of the boy. Through another series of elaborate sounds, she made them do little tricks until Peter was grinning from ear to ear.
“Wow, what are those?”
A short growl had them floating around her head like a deadly halo, “They call ‘em Sic’tar in Orosian, means…uh – well, loosely, there’s no exact translation ‘victory or death’, I guess it was some kinda battle cry? Anyways they’s a weapon.” Halli made a trilling sound, and the balls snapped open, folding out like flowers until they were covered with tiny metal shards, sharp and deadly. “Oros ‘r’ from tha same system as tha Cap’n, they have weapons controlled by their chemical make-up too, basically our bodies respond to different metals and we can manipulate them ta do what we want, 'course if ya believe the spirituals they's say our spirit is in tune wit' da nature or some bullshit, it's a load of stinkin' primitive shit if ya ask me. Long story short, I can down a whole room o’ people wit’ these, Yondu can do tha same wit’ his Yaka Arrow.”
Peter’s grin turned to an expression of fear when Halli snarled viciously. His heart sped up even more when he noticed she was looking at something behind him.
Halli motioned with her head, “Git back there boy.”
He didn’t need telling twice darting swiftly into the back of her trench coat, clinging to her leather-bound leg like a life line.
The terrifying figure at the end of the hall smiled, “What’s this we got? He looks right tasty. Got ourselves a Terran for dinna?”
Halli’s growl was an inhuman sound that made Peter shiver, “Walk away TF, afore ya dun have a chance ta.”
The man threw his head back and laughed, “Flark you Halli, you protecting that little runt?”
“You know tha Cap’n’s rule Tase, 24 hours fer new recruits, ya wouldn’t be fixin’ ta break that rule would ya?”
Taserface snarled, “He ain’t no recruit, he a dinner ticket. Move Halli.”
“Ain’t no way.” She snarled, clicking her tongue two of her Sic’tar flew at incredible speed, embedding themselves into his cheek before darting quickly back to the group. “Last warnin’ or ya won’t be walkin’ away.”
Taserface roared, drawing the blade at his hip, he took one step before a whistle drew him up short. Peter blinked, one second the big man was moving towards them, the next a red tinged arrow was floating between his eyes.
Yondu’s voice growled out from the end of the hallway, “Ya know tha rules Tasie. Git before I make good on Halli’s promise.”
Thoroughly subdued Taserface high-tailed it out of there before he received an arrow to the brain.
Halli grinned at Yondu, before signalling her Sic’tar back into the pouch, “Remote lockin’ mechanism playin’ up again Cap’n?”
Yondu scowled giving a sharp whistle, his arrow did a loop in the air and glided back into the holster, “Flarkn’ shit, don’t nothin’ work ‘round here?”
Halli stifled a chuckle, “Aye, Cap’n, ya do have a unique ability ta make tech dislike ya some. I’ll take a look at it fer ya, afta I finished wit’ Quill.”
Yondu grumbled something under his breath and stuck his hand onto the bio-lock, “See tha’ ya do.”
Peter looked between the two aliens, he still wasn’t sure why the hell he was here or why these people chose to abduct him but his Mom said his father would come for him. He looked at Yondu. Maybe. Just maybe. He did.