by English Bob
A space opera in progress.
| (I have tried to work on this story with a few different methods. It keeps coming out like 'Dick and Jane' and that doesn't sit well with me. So back to what works for me. Please, enjoy Ascension's Requiem.)
Falling with Claudia I had to shut my eyes as the rush of reconstituted air forcefully assaulted my eyes. Plus, what she was doing was calculated insanity and I certainly did not want to witness the possible error. I could only imagine what was going on in her processors. The descent slowed as her legs tensed, clattering along something metal skidding to a diagonal stop. Chancing a look, I could see the expanse of the impound port going down as far the eye could see. In a normal station there would be the hustle and bustle of ships coming and going. This was an impound ring, no traffic going out unless you had deep pockets.
Claudia held on to me like a piece of cheap luggage, her other hand holding on to a hose of one of the magnetic impound claws. Glancing down at me, her lips twitched into a thin smile, "Ready?"
Shaking my head, "No- not really." trying to puzzle out what she had in mind as my lungs worked in overtime to catch my breath.
With a wink the android hurled me seemingly without effort out horizontally towards the center of the impound ring. Flailing, I try to form a scream as Claudia launches herself after me. Slipping her arms around me, she giggled in my ear as our bodies twisted around the other. The hull of the ship went into vertigo as the android contorted her body to protect me from the impact. Arms closing over my head, knees tucked under my hips, rolling perfectly along the top of my ship. Finally, we come to a stop with me on top, my face buried in the expanse of her chest. The texture of her 'skin' was very uncanny valley. It almost felt human. Almost.
Arching her back slightly, Claudia gazed towards the rail we originally took the plunge from. "Was it as good for you as it was for me?" She asked teasingly.
Placing a hand on her chest I pushed myself off and lay face down on the deck. The cool metal doing little to calm my hammering heart. "I...next time we are taking the stairs." I didn't have to see her to know Claudia was pouting. "I keep hearing about how humans have a sense of adventure. What happened to yours?"
Staggering to my feet, I field my automatic response. "We have gone over this a dozen times already. Adventurous humans-"
"Get deported back to Earth." Claudia completed my statement with a mirthless huff. "But you are a-"
"Don't" I snap. "Just don't." My cheeks flushing with a mix of anger and embarrassment.
Looking around the android whispered loudly, "You are an Aldrin. You come from a line of risk takers." Her eyes dilated until the striking green was overtaken by black. "And judging by the reaction in your pants, the fall was thrilling."
Snapping my long coat closed, I stamped my foot. "Get in the ship." Claudia shrugged and sauntered by with a mock airy sigh. "Right away, Captain Aldrin."
Settling in behind the controls, I open a channel to the station listening for news on the emergency. Claudia busied herself checking the ship systems, "When are we going to trade this ship in?" She inquired, instigating one of her favorite rituals.
Rolling my eyes, I play along. "I inherited this ship. She handles fine, never for a lack of fuel. Did you have your eye on some other junk pile?"
Pointing out the viewport, "How about that one? The cozy looking blue box." She replied moving her eyebrows suggestively.
Squinting at the tiny craft, "Leave it to the Manks to impound an escape pod. Look at those view ports on the side. So tiny and impractical."
Shrugging her shoulders, "It is probably bigger on the inside. Still, that blue is eye catching."
"Makes me wonder what luxury liner it came from."
The comm crackled dragging my attention back to the task at hand. 'Begin evacuation of the station. All personnel and patrons are required to proceed to the nearest vessel. This is not a drill. I repeat, this is not a drill!'
Level by level the docking ring of impounded ships lit up as clamps unlocked. Dozens of turbo lifts began to move as the station began to evacuate. Claudia brought up a schematic of the ship, the all too familiar metal box on long legged tripod thrusters flashed on the screen. "Core is online. Thrusters are hot." Drawing out the last word and batting her eyelashes.
Taking the controls, I whistled at the growing space traffic. Several near collisions occur as ships jockey to achieve escape velocity. "Someone is going to lose it and start blasting their way out."
On cue a Crux saucer opens fire on a much bulkier K'Tar hauler, rapid bursts of heavy laser fire nearly cutting the vessel in half.
The android clucked her tongue, "I am getting readings all over the station. Every panic button has been activated. Look out!"
The resulting explosion turned the rest of the docking ring into a space version of the iconic saloon brawl. Ships bounced off each other due to raised shields and deflectors. Repulsors flared, rail cannons soundlessly fired. Long streams of disruptor fire lit the darkening ring of the station. Slamming the thrusters forward I rolled the ship in a starboard direction as plasma bursts raked the sections of dock the ship occupied seconds ago.
Claudia worked quickly on the console, "Shields are up!" A squealing navigation droid impacted off the shields at our viewport as it ejected from a small fighter. "What are we going to do, Brett?"
Racing the ship along the ring of the station, giving any attackers a limited attack scope as I flicked a switch. "Time to do what humans do best; piss everyone else off. Seismic charge armed, launch!"
My ship didn't carry any weapons, its design was for busting asteroids and mining the smaller pieces for fuel. The released cannister flipped through space and detonated in an orange ring of sonic particles. The generated force knocked several combative ships into each other. Punching the accelerator, I angled the ship to the now clear path.
With the path of panicked destruction fading to our backs, I guided the ship towards the nearest slip gate. Only to find it was already activated as a phallus shaped Mank heavy cruiser spilled out already launching fighters. Everyone's favorite race of law enforcement had arrived...
Picking up speed and barrel rolling to the port side, we clipped one of the Mank unmanned drone fighters sending it spiraling out of control. The comm chimed politely, Claudia smirked. "They are hailing us."
Pushing the reply option on the console. "This is the Ice Breaker; how can we be of assistance?"
A short humanoid face appeared on the screen. Typical Mank, it was more grey hair than face. Its large crooked nose tattooed with warts snorted. Beady deep set black eyes peered unamused back at me. "This is Commander Slen-Bak-Tu. You will power your ship down and prepare to be boarded."
"We aren't a part of the mess going on behind us."
"I will not ask again!"
I nod holding my hands up. "Ok. Ok. You win. Just give me a second."
Claudia posed her face to portray a disgusted look as I cut the channel closed. "Just like that? You are going to just let those as you call them 'space dwarves' walk all over you, again?"
Closing my eyes, I let out a long breath. Claudia was right. I already owed an outrageous sum to them. They would just impound the ship again and I would be deported to a place I have never even seen.
Glancing over to my companion knowing her look never wavered. I guided the ship into docking range with the heavy cruiser, a cluster of ion cannons already trained on my ship. At five meters from the docking port I kicked the accelerator into over drive, rocketing my ship towards the still open slip gate.
The android flickered an expression of shock as we sped along the body of the cruiser, the guns rapidly training on us. The first ion bolts began to work over the rear shields, a price I was willing to pay. Once we reached the gate we were home free...
The ship rocked under the firepower of the heavy cannons, panels blew out in a shower of smokeless sparks. The displays on the console sputtered and died as the ship lost control, tumbling end over end as we entered the slip gate.
"Oh, fuck me." I cursed as the view port went from the blackness of space to the milky white of the slip stream.
"Not now." Claudia replied clutching the arm rests of her chair.
***** *** **** *** ***
The ship at least stopped flipping, settling into a nose downward drift. For the hundredth time I banged on the terminal. Nothing. "Status report."
Claudia pulled her head back out of an open panel in the deck. Her expression twisted from annoyed to concerned. "For starters you need to stop talking. Oxygen levels are dropping to a dangerous level already. I managed to get the basic dialogistic system up again. Nothing else. No navigation, propulsion, or life support."
Ignoring her advice, I sighed and moved out of the command chair. "I'll put on a suit, it will buy us some time. Air is the least of our problems."
Opening another panel Claudia paused, her voice dipping low with worry. "You are talking about when we breach the stream."
Looking out the view port to the swirling brightness of the slip stream. "Yeah. We hit that and we are going to become the tallest, flattest idiots in space. Not even space dust."