“This is Captain Herald of the Skyscraper. Unidentified vessel, please state your business in this sector.”
I awoke and sat up abruptly. A Confederacy vessel. Great.
I grabbed the comm piece and tuned into the frequency.
“Uh, hi, sorry, USS Taylor-Marie reporting in. I was just taking a nap here in low orbit before making another shipment to station…” I looked around at the papers strewn all over the console. I guess it was a good thing I hadn’t disengaged the gravity in my sleep again. It’s a lot harder to sift through floating papers.
“Station November Sierra Four,” I finished, taking my finger off the comm button. Should just be a routine search, I thought.
“USS Taylor-Marie, this is the Skyscraper. You failed to mention your name or identification number for your vessel or yourself.”
I rubbed my eyes in frustration at my mistake. It occurred to me that now, they’d have to do a full scan of the vessel and I was going to be even more late.
“Sorry about that, like I said, I just woke up. Captain Peru of the USS Taylor-Marie, callsign Tango Mike Niner-Niner-Six-One-Eight. Personal identification Alpha-Zero-Four-Zero-Six-Niner-Two-Eight-Eight.”
“Captain Peru, do you have any other crew members aboard your vessel?”
“No sir, I do not. There would simply not be any room for them.”
The dead silence that followed indicated that my joke wasn’t fully appreciated.
“Captain Peru, is it safe to say that, given the preceding letter of your identification code and the acronym preceding your ship’s title, your planet of origin is Solar-Three?”
A colonist? Who the fuck let a colonist pilot a Confederate ship? I was a bit more wary about my response this time:
“Yes, though I prefer to call it Earth.”
More silence. Hopefully, he wouldn’t assume I was trying to be cute. Then again, I assume a colonist in charge of a Confederate vessel would be well aware of the pride we have in ourselves on Earth.
Just as I was considering what the hell this was all about, I saw a light come up on my console. Their weapons were armed. Oh shit.
“Captain Peru, have you had any contact with Solar-Three lately?”
There it was again, “Solar-Three.” My ship’s computer brought up a schematic of his weapon systems: EMP’s, missiles, lasers, the works. All of which were charging and loading as necessary.
“I haven’t gotten any transmissions from Earth in a while. I’ve been on this job for a month or two now, and seeing as my base of operations is on the Confederate Alpha Centauri Station, I haven’t been able to get any transmissions.”
I put full power to my engines. If I needed to get away, I needed to get away FAST. The only advantage I had over them was that I was small and insignificant. When you have a spaceship two-hundred times bigger than your enemy and with a thousand more people onboard, it’s a little tough to chase a one-man vessel.
“Then I suppose I come to you with unfortunate news. The Confederacy has fallen. Their reign of terror is over. And anyone still loyal to the Confederacy must be killed, even if it’s just in title.”
Their weapons were all fully charged. One barrage and I was done. Hell, one missile and I was done. My FTL drive was charged, and all power was in the engines.
“Well, I guess you’ve got me with my pants around my ankles. So now you’ve got two choices: go and rule your new empire…”
I put my hand on the throttle, the other on the comm, and got ready for a massive acceleration.
“…Or you can chase a pantsless man.”
I punched it to a deciparsec per second and never looked back.
Drew Schackmann is a contributing writer for Gutai-Pravda Assembly. You can contact him on Twitter.
© 2014; David “Drew” Schackmann, Jr.