Author : Thomas Desrochers
“Are you sure this is what you want to do, captain?” First Mate Smith didn’t sound like she thought it was the best course of action, and Ellie had to wonder if she wasn’t right.
“It’s not what I want to do,” she said resignedly, shoulders slumping. “However, I think this may be the only option we have. I think it’s our only shot.”
Ellie, First Mate Smith, and Council Advisor Lucas were the only people on the bridge, or the rest of the ship for that matter. Ellie was nearing fifty and had seen plenty of bad situations in her time on board her aging ship. Smith’s wife had died five years ago and the aged woman had stayed about the ship working, drinking, and generally remembering to forget. Lucas was on board because he had chartered the ship to bring him to Jackal Station under the guise of an ore-purchasing run – he needed to negotiate with the cartel leaders who ran the two and a half million person station and the ‘salvage’ crews and other operations that were run from it.
Negotiations had not gone well; They had left in a hurry.
Lucas looked down at his feet. “I think you’re correct. If they get the device working then nothing good will come of it.”
One of the salvage crews working out of Jackal Station had come across a wreck with a massive plasma caster on it of unknown origin. ‘Massive,’ in this case, meant ‘large enough to liquify Earth’s moon in a single blow.’
“But who says they can even fix it?” Smith objected. “They may not even have that sort of technical ability.”
Lucas snorted. “Have you seen this station? If they can keep it running and habitable then I have no doubt they can get this device working.”
Smith took a long drink from her flask. “’If’ seems like a poor reason to condemn two and a half million people to death.”
Ellen looked out the viewport at Jackal Station, gleaming in the distance. She sighed and began manipulating the ship’s controls. They began moving away from the station, slowly but surely. “You had better get your communique off, Advisor.”
“Alright.” Lucas looked like something in him had died. “Alright, I will.” He repeated as he began initiating a text transfer by way of quantum-mechanical manipulation of two sister atoms.
Minutes passed by. Smith had drained her flask quickly and produced a bottle of whiskey from… Somewhere. Ellen took a mouthful of it off Smith’s hands.
Fifty thousand miles out. One hundred thousand miles. Two hundred thousand miles. They stopped at half a million, and turned back around. Ellen began charging the ship’s capacitors.
Her ship was squat, but massive: Eight thousand feet long, seven hundred wide and seven hundred tall. It was normally used as a cargo hauler for bulk ore shipments, and while Lucas had been in his negotiations Ellen had gone and filled up her hold with solid rock and metal to bring it back to Saturn’s massive orbital refineries in order to make it look like she had a reason to be there.
The capacitors were charged. Everything was ready.
“This is it, then.” It wasn’t a question, however. The more she thought about it the more she realized there was no other choice.
“This is it, I suppose,” Lucas replied.
Smith just swore and began crying.
Ellen gave the ship the go-ahead.
They were going one fourth the speed of light when they hit Jackal Station.
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