Starlight Antiquities

by

Spacerin

Chapter 17 - We Are Coming to Get You

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As soon as he got into the ship’s bridge, Timothy glued his eyes on the big monitor showing the whole scanned space around them

“Twenty you say?” he asked Rummy who was nervously twitching his knee.

“Yes. I saw them by… accident. Running diagnostics and then I looked at the monitor, and there they are.”

Timothy stared at those twenty green dots coming their way. “We’ve been careless. How far are they?”

“Still far enough that we can’t see them, but…”

“AI,” Timothy called on the ship’s CPU. “Calculate their interception time.”

“At their present speed, their interception time is 30 minutes.”

“Can the engines give more power? Can we speed up?”

Rummy scratched his head, then wiped the sweat of his forehead. “Almost impossible. I was going to tell you. Only one of the power transmitters is working properly. It’s incredible we can maintain this level of acceleration as is.”

“Only one of them? Out of Eight?”

Rummy nodded his head as he swallowed a saliva ball. “ All the other eight are offline. Busted. I think it happened when I…”

“I know, when you were getting off Reinaxys.”

Rummy nodded his head. “And without three of them working right, we can’t even think about starting the jump drive. It would be a suicide.”

“I know. Do we have any in storage?”

“Maybe. I’m not sure. I was going there now to check out.”

“Can we take some from the transporters and plug that in? How many transmitters does that transporter have?”

“Probably just two,” Marv said. “It does not need more. Does not have a jump drive. And it might take some time to modify them, to make them fit. Maybe I could make it work if I have a whole day.”

Timothy snorted. "Well, I don't think we have a day. So, you guys, have like half an hour at most to fix something up. At least for the jump drive to work.”

“That is just not enough time,” Marv said.

“Is there anything else we need to know about our ship?” Timothy asked Rummy.

“Well, I was fixing the shields, and they are now, fully operational. Hundred percent. They were down to twenty percent after the liftoff.”

“Shit, one lift-off, and this old rusted old bird goes all bust,” Timothy complained.

“This is an old ship.”

“We need a better one.”

“Maybe with the money from this job, we’ll do just that.”

Marv bumped Rummy on the shoulder. “Let’s go. You hit the engine room and I’ll work on the transporter. Take out all the transmitters that are malfunctioning. Maybe they are not all busted, maybe a bot can fix some of them,” he told him as they left the bridge.

 

With Marv and Rummy gone, Timothy could turn his full attention to the screens displaying the ships in pursuit.

“They even look evil," he muttered before he asked. "AI… how long till you can scan the ships?”

“At present speed, they will be within our scanning range within 20 minutes.”

“That will give us ten minutes to know what to do. I don’t like that.”

“Neither do I,” Sornia said as she set down beside him. “Why don’t you drop a probe?”

“A good idea. Actually, I’m going to drop two of them. A droid to… head to… let’s see, what planet we have nearby… What is that there? Slightly bit closer to us now than Reinaxys, isn’t it?” Timothy asked.

“RV30. Some mining colony. Just a space rock. But, still, it’s the closest human outpost here. Ten hours at present speed.”

“That seems good enough,” Timothy said and pressed a few keys to load the droid to its missile bay, the one with the Captain’s uniform in it, and launch it to RV30.

For the next one, he picked a small scanning probe from the inventory and just fired it toward the oncoming ships.

“Give me an estimated time till we can pick some reading from that scanning probe.”

“Two minutes,” AI answered.

“That’s better. Now, let’s activate our guns and see…”

“Is that wise?” Slicky said behind him. “I mean, on account that we have only one transmitter working. We need all the juice to the engines, no?”

“Well, that is true. Let’s scrap that order. Let’s just wait and see how fast Marv and Rummy can give us another transmitter before starting to play with guns.”

“One more minute till the probe…”

“Turn the probe around,” Timothy decided suddenly. “If it comes straight at them, they just might shoot it down. Let it fly toward us, and let it scan them as they pass it by,” he explained as Sornia gave him an inquisitive look.

“Okay. Well, now give the probe another two minutes.”

“Better be safe than sorry. Let it just remain at the safe distance,” he said, looking at the stats that started to pour on the screen from the probe, including the video of its camera. “Okay, there they are.”

“Still unclear,” Slicky said.

Suddenly, Timothy became very nervous and groaned. “You’re making me nervous standing there behind me. I do not know if you want to strangle me or hit me with something. So, there is a seat on my left. You can sit there. Right there by the rail gun joystick.”

“You’ve mounted a rail gun on this old freighter?”

“You never know when it may become handly. You would not have any experience with it, would you.”

“A silver medal on a Regional 40 competition. The score of 98. Out of 100 max.”

“I guess that might come useful today.”

“Let’s hope not,” Sornia said in a sour tone.

“Look, two of them are splitting off the group, following the droid we sent to that mining colony,” Slicky said.

Timothy sighed with disappointment and shook his head. “Only two. I was hoping for three at least.”

Suddenly Slicky got up from the seat, all excited, and pointed his finger at the screen.

“Those are not Union vessels,” he said as the blurred images started to sharpen up. “I know all the ships in Armada, and none look like that.”

“I think you are right.”

“On top of that, what are those strange yellow and green paintings on their hull?”

“Yeah. Do we know anyone who does that?”

Both Sornia and Slicky shook their heads.

“Those seem to be single engine flyers. More like planetary fighter jets, just modified for space.”

“Two seaters.”

“Yes. Can we see inside?”

“No, they have darkened screens. But we detected... humanoids. Twenty four of them.”

Suddenly Timothy felt better. "Well, if they are humanoids, they can be killed."

“But why sent twenty ships at us?” Sornia said. “On an old freighter? This is not random.”

“We must have pissed off someone really bad. And, really, the list is not that short. Could they be from Reinaxia?”

“Not likely. The local government does not have such resources. Besides we’ve already some major distance away. These little flyers are all fired up. I don’t think they would have enough power to fly all the way here from Reinaxia.

“But they are not Union’s. That’s for sure.”

“Marv, if you have a second, can you look at these ships and see if they look familiar?” Timothy called on to his friend, passing on all the images to his comm.

“Nope. Never seen those colors before. I mean, they seem to be two-seater space fighters, but… send me the stats when you get them. On the other note, the transmitters from the transporters are a no-go. This engine was built… kind of strange. It’s all just one unit.”

“Crap. Did you hear that, Rummy?”

“Well, I’m doing a bit better. I… kind of scrapped two of them. Activating them now. They seem to be stabilizing, pushing power through.”

“Good. AI, give us a probability of the jump success.”

'The probability of the JUMP drive performing a quarter of a JUMP is now 15 percent.'

“Shit. That’s not enough,” Timothy muttered.

“Okay. Let’s look at the stats. They are finally coming in,” Sornia called on their attention.

“What, what happened?” Slicky suddenly asked as the image from the droid suddenly went dark. "Where did it go?"

They looked at the screen for a long moment until Sornia finally decided to give them the bad news. “It's not there because they blew it up.”

“So we know now that they…”

Timothy offered. “Do not like to be scanned?”

Sornia sighed. "Not funny, not now. Maybe some kind of pirates?”

“Twenty plus of them in small crafts like those? Looking all new? All painted the same? Knew pirates like that? And where is their mother ship? The scan shows no other ship around.”

“Did we get any stats?”

“Yes."

“AI processes the stats and give us the ship's origin.”

'The statistical has been processed. The object in question is of unknown origin.'

“Unknown origin, huh? It would not surprise me one bit if those ships belong…” Timothy started to talk but then suddenly fell silent.

“Yes? To whom?”

“To the same fuckers we had to deal on the battleship.”

“The Shadow Men?”

“Yeah.”

“Shit,” Sornia said as the picture of the decoy droid they sent out suddenly became nothing but an orange ball.

“They blew the droid up as well.”

“No questions asked.”

“I guess we now know they are not friendlies. And I bet they plan to do the same with us.”

"Fuck," Slicky said.

"I bet you regret now I had not pulled a trigger," Timothy told him and smiled.

Slicky sighed. "Not for the first time, to tell you the truth. And the way things are going, who knows if I'll have a chance to regret it again."

Timothy chuckled and then pressed a few keys on the keyboard. "AI, open up the comm link with the surrounding vessels. Open line communication, please."

"Open line established," AI answered.

"This is," Timothy started to talk but was instantly interrupted by very loud static.

"I know who you are, Timothy the Seventh. And I'm coming for you," said a throat-rasping voice. "We are coming to get you all."

 

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Spacerin

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