Shifting Loot: Chapter 1

Hello and welcome to the first serialized chapter of Shifting Loot. There’s a few things I’d like to say from the start.

  • 1st: This is a first draft. It’s not perfect. There are even a couple scenes at the end that I just kind of threw one because 1) it was NaNoWriMo and I hadn’t reached 50k words yet and 2) I wasn’t happy with the ending and I was experimenting.
  • 2nd: This is my first time attempting a serialized novel on WordPress, so there are some formatting issues with italics not showing up when I paste from the source document.

Hope you enjoy and feel free to comment!

Chad Sexington dashed backward, dodging a blow from his right.  With a cockiness he couldn’t contain, he easily blocked the next block, winking at the girl behind him.   Then he kicked his foe, knocking them back as he pulled out his blaster and fired.  The alien slammed into the wall, its green blood smearing against the wall.

He spun around, gun still raised.  The girl squealed, her breasts jumping enticingly before he fired.  She screamed, then froze as the last alien dropped behind her.  She looked behind her then back at Chad.  “You saved me,” she said breathlessly.

He smirked, stepping up to invade her personal space.  “That I did.  How would you like to reward me?”

Eyebrows raising, she smiled back, running a single finger down the center of his chest, the silky material only adding to the sensual caress.  “Oh, I could think of some ways.”

He wrapped his arms around her.  “Why don’t you show me?”

She leaned up and snaked her arms around his neck.  “Maybe I will.”  She pressed her lips to his, sneaking her tongue inside.

“Oh, gross, Cass,” Jessie said, jarring Cassandra out of the moment.

Cass dropped her feet from their perch on the console and turned around to face her younger sister.  “What?”

“Could you not have Angus read your smut novels aloud in the cockpit?  You have a bedroom for crying out loud!”  Still just a teenager, Jessie’s thin arms threw up in the air.

“I could…”

“Then why don’t you?”  

Jessie’s shoulders hunched forward, the cut of her bright purple shirt accentuating  her budding breasts, much to Cass’s chagrin.  God, when did her little sister grow up?  

She still remembered when their parents abandoned them, leaving to responsibility of caring for her sister on her teenaged shoulders.  It had been too much, but it hadn’t stopped her.  She would never forget the look on Jessie’s face when their parents didn’t return.  “Where’s mama?” five year old Jessie had said, who’d still lived as a boy back then.  The hurt, lost look in Jessie’s eyes had gutted her, leaving her determined to do whatever it took to keep them together.

It hadn’t been easy.  Barely an adult herself, she didn’t know what the fuck she’d been doing, let alone how to care for a five year old.  Things had been hard, nightmarish really, until they’d found the shifter community.  That caravan had saved them.  No more crappy apartments with pest infestations.  No more working two jobs while Jessie stayed home by herself.  No more worrying what might happen while she wasn’t there to watch her.

“What did you say?” she asked, having lost the train of the conversation.

Jessie glared, propping her fists on her hips.  “I said, ‘Why don’t you?’ ”

Right.  She shrugged, then smirked.  “Probably because I’d be too tempted to masturbate, then I’d get nothing done.”

Jessie’s face screwed up.  “Oh gross!”

Gross indeed.  She rolled her eyes, enjoying the exaggerated facial expressions and mannerisms her sister gave her.

God, I love her.

Jessie stepped forward, her long brown hair bouncing in its ponytail.  “So, were you working before you got distracted.”

Cass smirked at her before facing the console once more.  “I had Angus running a search on likely places to scope out targets.”

Jessie nodded, leaning over her chair.  “Any hits?”

Cass ran her had over the display where the search had been running.  “Yup, got one.  A planet, relatively low traffic on the port, minimal port security, and we haven’t hit it before.  Should be an easy in and out.  Low risk too.”

“Good.  How long?”

“Two days travel time in sub-space.”

“Kay.  Heading to the kitchen.  I’m starving,” Jessie said before skipping out of the room.

Cass looked behind her, smiling at her sister.

I love you.


“We will be landing in five minutes,” Angus’s thick Scottish brogue called over the intercom.

Cass smiled as she left her bedroom, heading toward the cockpit.  She smiled at the hallway, where she’d let Jessie paint the walls years ago.  It had been plain metal walls, but was navy blue with pinpoint stars and planets drawn out in intricate detail.  Her sister was such an artist.

The cockpit, on the other hand, was fairly boring, though both of them had given it their individual flairs.  The consoles limited their ability to personalize, but their chairs had been decorated.  Jessie’s was purple with stars on it.  Cass’s was decorated with nebulas, something she’d always found beautiful, soothing.

She dropped into her seat and strapped, calling out behind her.  “Jess!  Get your ass in here and buckle up.  I don’t want you flying around the ship like a pinball!”

“Bitch!” Jessie yelled back.

Cass rolled her eyes, but couldn’t say anything.  It was her own damn fault.  She’d never bothered to cut back her cursing around Jess and the girl had lapped up every obscene word.  

Granted, as a pirate, nobody expected them to speak all prim and proper.  But had she done her sister a disservice?  Looking back over her shoulder at the intricately painted hallway, she wondered if her sister could have done someone more socially acceptable with her life.

When at least a minute passed without Jess showing, Cass yelled down the hallways again.  “Jess!  Get your ass in here!”

“Come on!” Jess said, her voice growing closer.  “I’m coming already.  God, you’re so impatient.”

“Comes with the territory, babe.”  Pirates didn’t have good manners or any virtues to speak of. 

Finally, Jess showed up, moving slowly down the hallway.

“If you move any slower, we’ll be landed by the time you reach the cockpit.”

“Yeah, right.”  Jess waved her hand in front of her and rolled her eyes.

“Just hurry up and get buckled in.”

“On it,” Jess said as she rounded her chair and dropped in place.  “So, same old, same old?”

“Yup.  I investigate possible ships and you monitor security channels with Angus.”

“Come on, Cass!  What the fuck!  You know Angus could do that all by himself.  He’s a fucking AI for crying out loud!”


“No,” she shook her head.  “You should take me with you.  I could help. I could watch your back.”

Cass opened her mouth to refuse, but stopped, considering it for the first time.  Jess wasn’t a baby anymore.  Though not quite an adult either, she could help.  “Fine, you can watch my back.”  She looked down at Jess’s outfit, a belly shirt with a plunging neckline and booty shorts.  “But you’re changing your outfit first.”

“What the fuck, Cass!”

She held up her hand.  “Non-negotiable.  Part of the job is portraying the right image.  We want to blend.”  She waved her hand up and down at Jess’s outfit.  “That doesn’t blend.”

Jess looked down and chuckled.  “No, I suppose it doesn’t.”

“Descending to the planet’s surface,” Angus said, his brogue thick and dreamy.  Her friend, Ellie, might complain constantly about Angus’s heavy accent, but she loved it.  It was just a pity that Ellie could hardly understand him and he was installed on her ship too.

Well, too bad.  Victoria, who’d designed their three ships, had asked Cass to program the AI, knowing it would be needed for sub-space travel.  Cass had happily agreed, loving being able to use her computer skills for something other than hacking for a change.  

Suddenly, the force of entering atmosphere shoved her back into her seat.  She gripped the armrests, waiting for the force to let off.

Just for a little bit.

The viewscreen flared red before them and the planet’s surface grew before them.

“Damn, that planet sucks,” Jess said beside her.

She couldn’t disagree.  The surface reminded her a bit of Tatooine, though it did have the dark mass of a city center off to the right.  Up ahead, a large ocean loomed, but they passed that by quickly too.  She checked the display.  Two more laps of the planet before they slowed down sufficiently to land.

The ocean disappeared and the sands returned.  The enormous desert covered almost eighty percent of the planet.  She couldn’t imagine living here, and it seemed obvious why there was so little traffic.  On the second lap, she spotted an enormous waste field not far from the ocean’s shore.  Brine waste from converting the ocean’s salt water into drinking water.  Highly toxic.  Very dangerous.

These people were nuts.

Finally, they slowed and the port came into view.  It doubled as a sea and space port.  In the distance, large ships with cargo containers on top of them waited just off shore, the seemingly endless sea all you could see behind them.  Below a handful of spaceships sat parked and people who looked like ants from this height scurried about.

“This is Flight Control.  Please state your name and purpose.”

“This is Captain Cassandra Allen of the Trojan.”  She held in a chuckle.  She’d gotten a kick out of the name.  First, because of the classical reference that no alien would ever pick up on.  Second, because of the brand of condoms.  Yeah, no one would ever say she didn’t have a dirty mind.  “Just a short stop-off to stretch our legs and restock.”

“Cleared to land.”

“Thank you, Flight Control.”

“Sending your landing coordinates now.”

“Thanks again.”  She sat back, shaking her head at how easy this was.  How come no one ever seemed suspicious of them?  Were they really that good or was everyone really damn gullible?

Wind howled around the ship as the thrusters lowered them to the ground.  Because Angus was driving and not Cass, they dropped to the ground with nary a bump.  Cass could fly, but she had a bit of a lead foot, so to speak.  She never seemed to manage anything short of full speed ahead.  Jess banned her from landing the ship years ago.

“We’ve landed.  You’re free to move about the ship again,” Angus said.

“Thank you, Angus,” they said in unison, causing Jess to giggle.  

Cass smiled over at Jess before popping her harness and pushing herself out of her seat.  “Time to get to work.  Jess, change.”  

“Are you changing?” she asked, still buckled in.

Cass looked down at herself.  She wore a long sleeved black shirt and cargo pants.  “What’s wrong with this?”

“Well, you look like a commando.”

Cass laughed.  “With this hair?”  She flicked her purple pixie cut.  The bright color teased the edges of her vision.

Jess rolled her eyes.  “Maybe wear a hat.”

She scuffed Jess’s head, messing up the neat ponytail.  “Brat.  Fine, I’ll put on a hat.”  She jogged down the hall, her combat boots clapping against the metal plates.  She stopped at her door, pushing it open.  Her was the largest bedroom on the ship, not that you could tell from the mess.  Hopping over discarded clothes that took up every inch of the floor, she stumbled over a shoe hidden in the pile and fell against the unmade bed.

“Fuck.”  Leaning against the bed, she looked around.  A table and two chairs sat to the right of the door.  Thank God she didn’t have any dirty dishes on it when they landed.  An image popped into her head of moldy food flung all over the clothes on the floor.  She didn’t relish cleaning that up again.

On the other side of the room, a desk waited.  The papers that she’d left there were strewn across the floor along with her tablet, which looked fine on its pile of cushioning cloth.

“There,” she said, rolling across the bed to the nightstand on the other side.  She grabbed the drawer where the edge of her hat peeked out.  The drawer didn’t budge.  Vicky had designed it to lock in place so it didn’t pop open during launch or landing, but the hat had jammed it.  “Come on,” she grumbled, putting her back into.

When it get up the ghost, she fell in the floor, the impact jarring her even with the cushioning.  “I seriously need to clean up this mess.”  She pulled the hat out, a black baseball cap with a single white “A” on it and slammed the drawer closed, making sure it stayed closed.  

Swinging her arms back and forth, she crossed the floor, cognizant that anything could live beneath the visible surface.  “I really need to clean up this shit.”

“Hat, Cass.  Goes on your head,” Jess said as she left her room across from Cass’s.

“Smartass,” Cass said while she put the hat on, drawing it tight to her skull.  It felt uncomfortable, constricting.  She liked her pixie cut.  It feel free.  She valued her freedom.  “Better?”

Jess shrugged.  “I guess.”

“Brat,” Cass said, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.  She didn’t really mean it this time.  

They walked down the hallway.  The exterior door opened as they approached thanks to Angus.  The heat blasted them from several feet away and Cass’s eyes immediately felt dry.  

“So, what do we do?” Jess said, bumping Cass’s arm.

“First, we keep our voices down.  We don’t want anyone overhearing something they shouldn’t.”

Jess rolled her eyes and gestured at the almost empty port.  “Do you see anyone who could hear us?”

Cass pointed at Jess’s nose.  “Don’t ever assume that no one can hear or see you just because you don’t know they’re there.  The universe is complex and vast, far more than we could ever imagine.  Expect the unexpected.”

Jess nodded, solemn for once.  The usual bounce in her step disappeared as she scanned the area around them.  They stepped off the ramp, neither of them speaking.  

Even through the thick soles of her boots, she felt the heat of the desert sands.  In places, the sand crackled from where ship engines had melted the granules, turning them to glass.  She kept her head on a swivel as they walked through the port, passing ship after ship.  Each ship had a different design, coming from different cultures, different species.

Some were sleek, all smooth angles that looked graceful in the blistering sun, light shining brightly off their surfaces.  Others were blunt, with harsh angles that them the ships almost seem angry, like those angles were weapons to fight their enemies with.  Even the colors varied.  Many ranged from white to black or various metallic tints, but others had been painted, every color of the rainbow represented here.

But she didn’t focus too much on the design or aesthetics.  She focused on more important aspects.  She discarded one ship because its paint was peeling away.  Other, she discounted because the engines looked like they were on their last leg.  She was looking for something in particular.  They needed to find a ship in a good state of repair and not just because it meant they would be more likely to have something worth stealing. If the ship wasn’t in good condition, she could end up killing people and she didn’t want that on he conscience.

Then she saw it.  The ship looked a little worn around the edges, but it good condition.  She lingered nearby, chatting idly with her sister as she watched.  The cargo bay door opened, belching out several members of the crew not more than a few feet from her.  Her heart rate kicked up, but she reminded herself she had nothing to fear.  She was doing nothing suspicious.  They wouldn’t notice her.  They never did.

The crew wore a single uniform, but not military.  Most looked like academics with one man she would swear was the captain and one she openly gawked at who looked military.

Probably security.

And damn was he dreamy. He was obviously the same species as Ellie’s beau, Zee, though he wore dark tinted goggles to protect his eyes from the harsh sunlight.  Unlike Zee, his charcoal gray hair was long and only covered half his head.  Exposed metal covered the entire left side of his head, though as she watched, he combed his fingers through his hair, causing it to fall over the left side of his skull.

Cass waited in expectant silence, more than happy to lap up the eye candy while she waited.  Hot damn, look at those muscles.  He was big, looked even bigger than Zee and Zee was fucking man candy.  This guy looked like he would tower over a girl and make her feel tiny and since Cass was almost six feet tall herself, that wasn’t easy to do.

Finally, the group wandered off, leaving Cass and Jess to their business.  She wandered up to a panel by the cargo bay door and looked at Jess knowingly.  Jess nodded and saluted with a smirk, turning her back on her sister.

Cass returned to the panel, ready to work her magic.  She pulled a device out of her cargo pants pocket and dug a bundle of wires out of the opposite pocket.  She fiddled with the bundle until she found the one that matched the small port on the panel.  Popping the cable in her mouth, she shoved the rest back and hooked up her “cracker,” a little something she’d come up with to install a backdoor in practically any system.  Since perfecting it a few years ago, she’d yet to have it fail her.

The light on the cracker turned green and she grinned, disconnecting it and shoving it in her pocket once more.  She turned to her sister.  “We’re in business.  Let’s go.”


Kou squinted his eyes, the nagging headache forming even with the so-called UV blocking sunglasses on.  He ran his hand through his hair once more, self-conscious of the bald spot left over from a mission that nearly took his life.  He was glad to be alive, but at what cost?  Kou constantly reminded himself that it was an honor to be a cyborg, that they were respected on his home world, Ateles, but he had a hard time believing it.

Instead, every time he touched the metal, every time he felt the uneven fall of hair, every time he saw himself in the mirror, he felt like a failure.  The mission had failed.  He’d lost the left side of his face, his left arm, and most of the skin and muscle on the left side of his body, but his unit had lost their lives.  He’d been the only one to survive.

I failed them.

Maybe that was why he didn’t live or work on Ateles anymore.  He couldn’t bear the respect people gave him for what he saw as his greatest failure.  At least his crew didn’t think anything other it one way or the other.  They didn’t give him undue respect for it, but they didn’t turn in disgust either.  It was the best he couldn’t hope for, really.

“Let’s move,” the captain said, leading their small team to collect the package.  

Kou touched the guns at his sides as he scanned their surroundings.  Other than a woman and child loitering nearby, they were alone.  No threats.  Of course, he didn’t expect any.  Not yet, at least.  It wasn’t until after they retrieved the package that he expected trouble.

He frowned, not happy with the security on this mission.  He would have preferred an entire team, but it was just him.  It wasn’t enough, not if someone tried something.  He could only do so much and he’d already proven himself a failure.

He didn’t want to fail again.


Cass stepped into the Trojan, her sister on her heels.  

“Did we do good?  Did you see me?”  She bounced around, a big smile on her face.

Cass shook her head, trying not to laugh at her sister’s antics.  Sometimes, it was hard to remember she was almost an adult.  “You did okay.  Now the fun begins.”

Jess rolled her eyes as they headed toward the cockpit.  Cass’s bedroom had a better setup, but remembering the near face plant she’d done earlier, she didn’t want to risk it until she cleaned up a little.

Like that’s gonna happen.

“For you maybe,” Jess said as she trudged along at Cass’s heels, her feet stomping against the metal flooring.  She swore her little sister had perfected her step to maximize the sound it made as she walked on the ship.

Cass shrugged.  “I like computers, so sue me.”

“Wake me when it’s over.”

“Sure kiddo.  You don’t have to watch me, you know.”  She smirked over her shoulder.

Jess had stopped in the middle of the hallway.  “Okay, bye.”  She dashed in the opposite direction, disappearing into their tiny galley kitchen.  

She’s gonna eat us out of house and home.

Cass continued on to the cockpit and sat in her nebula seat, cracking her knuckles with a grin on her face.  “Okay, time to play.”

She brought up the console display, setting up the viewscreen for additional real estate, then pulled up her cracking program.  It probably wasn’t anything special, just a little something she’d come up with to make her jobs easier.

With a swipe of her hand, she moved the main dashboard she would use during the heist to the main viewscreen and returned to the tiny display before her.  Reaching in her pocket, she powered on her cracker.  It automatically recognized the Trojan’s systems and connected, giving her the backdoor sequence into her target’s ship.

Since each ship, each system, was different, she couldn’t create a single simple program for each.  The cracker had been a labor of love, a complex algorithm spanning dozens of programming languages, all of which she’d had to learn from scratch.  But here, she had to use the backdoor she’d created to access the computers then link everything manually to her dashboard so that when the time came, all she had to do was press a button. 

So much easier than trying to code on the fly.

Discover more from Danielle Forrest | Sci-Fi Romance Author

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1 comment

  • Dave Forrest

    Do you want any editing notes sent back to you?

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