As I arc the vacfighter o’ertop the station, three crimson blips appear in my lower peripheral. These are missiles. “Shit!” I pronounce, “I wonder, do these people play their music on 8-tracks?” Mawhrin’s sophisticated irony circuits make a tinny chortle, and the blips knot closer. But then his brand new intelli-jammer routines send some radio magic out into the vacuum, making the red blips blue. “Bees,” he tells me. I thank him for saving my life in yet another interesting way.
The blue bees will now follow me at a respectful distance, since Maw has capped their velocity. I could shake them with a flare, but I want whoever’s sitting at this station to register my presence. So I continue the arc, but whip back round at the precise moment that Maw drops our radar profile. Bereft of a target, the bees buzz along a straight vector, heading home to the station.
Maw detonates the warheads 50m from the hull, enough to shake the sensors but leave nothing broken. This seems like a superfluous flourish, and so I question his judgement loudly.
“But there may be people on board, Captain!”
“You’re funny,” I reply.
Now someone wants to talk. I park the fighter in a loose and weavey orbit pattern and flick the screen up. A girl!
“Hey-” I begin
She replies: “Station security regrets to inform you that, unless you immediately cease h-”
I claim to be a dodecahedron and threaten to explode with the force of a million suns. This sort of surrealist non sequitur is a good way to tell if you’re speaking to a person or just an AI answerphone. “No games,” she says. She’s not a bot. “Cut power or we retaliate.”
“With more missiles? Go ahead. But I warn you, my robot and I will not show clemency twice.”
Mawhrin is chuckling his spinning robot head off, as he does at times of great excitement.
“This is a civilian vessel,” the girl reproaches.
“Don’t lie! I know full well it’s not, else I wouldn’t be here. Now please throw a rope so we can climb aboard.”
She seems to tut before closing the channel. No dice. I look for my mala beads so I can have a quick think. Mawhrin says, “Er.”
I bring up my HUD. The sky is full of tiny red dots.