Day 26. 105 pages, 47,820 words.
San Genevieve angled the modular so her rec dome was facing the Black Honey Wings and the oncoming fighters, and Tippy’s lander shot out of the momentarily-opened docking blister under cover of the bulk of the starship’s body.
“They look pretty well-equipped,” the helmsman said, as they swept back and resumed course. Some more random fire hammered their hull, and the A-Mod 400 fired back.
W’Tan looked at the two fighters, and then used her lower right hand to dedicate a monitor to the developing fight as they moved on. She didn’t imagine she would need the monitor for long, but if things went badly and those two fighters came back into the A-Mod 400‘s volume, she’d need to know about it.
They were indeed well-made, she saw, a pair of standard landers fitted out with an assortment of weapons she couldn’t readily identify and clearly-enhanced subluminal drives that allowed them to leap into the attack. Considerable effort had been put into their conversion, and if W’Tan hadn’t already seen the relative suppressor rig first-hand, this would have convinced her of the shadiness of the Black Honey Wings situation. Evidently, they had a lot of authority behind them, even if it was an authority unwilling to identify or incriminate itself.
The fighters were not, however, terribly well-armoured. With small ships, it was all about striking a balance between attack and defence, and if it came to all or nothing you generally got all and nothing. Tippy’s lander, for example – Kelley, he called it – had some reasonable ordnance but it was mostly based on the existing drive and functionality. It could carry that ridiculous armoured lower section and nose, and nothing much else. The two fighters out of the Black Honey Wings, on the other hand, had massive clusters of guns and accelerators and recoil bands, but no real armour to speak of.
The person who had contracted their design clearly had no understanding of prehistoric warfare.
“Don’t worry about Mister Ghee,” W’Tan said, “he will be back on board to take the next shift at the helm. You will neither lose sleep nor gain much-needed flying hours.”
“Flying hours this,” San Genevieve muttered, in a voice that would have been too quiet for a human to hear – but stringing together a sequence of words, perhaps, that a human would have understood.
Behind them, Tippy flew straight at the two fighters, which stayed in close formation and fired at him for just a fraction of a second too long. He banked without decelerating – a catastrophically non-AstroCorps-approved move that almost tore his engine out by the roots – exposed his dented gunmetal-grey belly to the enemy, and careened full-speed into both ships in a spray of deflected weapons-fire and molten fragments. There was a pair of tiny white puffs as the oxygen in the fighters burned out, and then Tippy’s lander was rolling clumsily, scattering more debris, and swooping back towards the severed docking spar-end of the Black Honey Wings. He pinged the primary bridge a moment later.
“Permission to yee-hah, Commander?”
“Permission deferred until after your combat report is filed,” W’Tan replied, “and I remind you once again that it is ‘Acting Captain’ at this point.”
“Copy that, Commander – uh, sorry, Acting Captain I mean.”
“Now,” W’Tan went on calmly, “Mister Krader – the cargo bay, please?”
“Acting Captain,” Ruel’s voice said over the comm. “We’re seeing signs of some sort of activity on the Nope, Leftovers.”