Author : Patricia Stewart, Staff Writer

The interstellar war with the Luyten Empire was winding down. Although the Luyten home world had surrendered a few months earlier, much of their fleet remained in deep space, unwilling to voluntarily stand down. Consequently, the Earth Alliance was forced to hunt them down, one at a time, to prevent them from regrouping and attempting a counterstrike.

The SS Southern Star and SS Charleston pursued the ILS Battlecruiser Kanyee to the edge of the Cygnus Asteroid Cluster. Caroline Belle, captain of the Southern Star, radioed the Charleston, “Y’all park here, Commander Beauregard,” she said with a distinctive southern drawl, “we’re fixin’ to go yonder to prevent their escape on the far side.”

After both ships were in position, Commander Beauregard hailed the Southern Star. “They’re dug in like an Appalachian tick, Captain,” he reported. “I reckon you have a plan to flush ‘em out?”

“This ain’t my first rodeo, Commander” she replied. “But, if there’s one thang I learned in thirty years of runnin’ a starship, it’s if there’s one rat you can see, there might be a whole bunch more you can’t. We maybe should send in a few hounds ‘fore we go in there with our phasers half cocked.”

Both ships launched Class I probes into the cluster. The telemetry revealed that there was only one Luyten ship within the cluster. In addition, there was no evidence of booby traps or other dangerous devices hidden amongst the asteroids. Convinced this was going to be easier than shootin’ catfish in a barrel, Captain Belle hailed the Kanyee ship to demand their surrender. Seconds later, the image of the Luyten captain filled the viewscreen. Well, I do declare, thought Belle, he looks madder than a wet ‘possum in a tote sack. “This is Captain Belle of the Southern Star,” she said with an endearing smile. “Well, Captain, what’s it gonna be, fish or cut bait?”

“What the hell?” bellowed the captain of the Kanyee. “I can’t understand a word you’re saying, Earthie. It’s your damn accent. Either speak standard galactic, or find somebody that can.”

Well, that ain’t right, Belle thought. I ain’t got no stinkin’ as-sent. She realized that negotiating with this creature was going to be about as useful as a steering wheel on a mule. Then much slower than was actually necessary, “I… said,… Captain,… surrender… now… or… y’all… will… be… blown… into… a… billion… tiny… bits. Was that clear enough?”

The Kanyee’s reply was a torpedo launched at the Southern Star. The Star’s automated defensive system activated, and destroyed the torpedo in a flash of antimatter annihilation. Then the Luyten ship powered up her engines, and shot straight up out of the cluster at maximum warp. It detonated a spread of plasma mines in its wake in an attempt to mask its warp trail.

“That Cap’n is acting crazier than a sprayed roach,” remarked Belle. “Oh well, I love a good ol’ fashion ‘coon hunt. Mr. Davis, bring long range sensors online. Ensign Jackson, pursue a maximum warp.” As the Southern Star accelerated through warp 5, Belle glanced at her tactical display. She noticed that the Charleston was still holding position at the asteroid cluster. “Hail the Charleston. Commander Beauregard, are y’all gonna stay under the porch, or come out and run with the big dawgs?”


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