“I hope not, I don’t think either race would be able to live down the shame,” Leah said with a chuckle, and the rest all followed suit.
“Man and I thought I was supposed to be the comedian?” He shook his head in fake disdain.
“Nah, we just laugh to make you feel better,” Case added with a look of sympathy.
“It’s not my day.”
“Brighten up, it could be worse, at least you didn’t get blown to smithereens by a nuclear missile or vaporised by a piece of tungsten travelling at nought point two times the speed of light,” Colin consoled him.
“True that! It hasn’t been that bad a day at all!”
On the bridge they were looking at the view screens, the ship that had emerged from the red giant was now making its way towards the asteroid belt they’d crept through like mice, its fighter craft, which it had been launching at regular intervals, sped after the drones that the Ushingi had launched to throw them off of the trail a couple. However, they were sat hidden were able to watch it whilst they were hidden beneath the waves of the gas giants icy clouds. Shortly before the Ushingi has sunk into the depths, it used its mass driver to launch a half dozen objects into the darkness. It had been sending out pulses regularly in an effort to find the vessel apparently unaware of the ability for it to use gravity drives.
On command, the remaining drones activated their electromagnetic warfare suites flooding space with noise designed to throw off pursuers and the Ushingi burst out from the murky depths its vast engines pushing the crew well into the danger zone for g-force. Fighters across the system also flared their engines and headed towards the now screeching probes.
Colin was morbidly aware of what their space combat instructors had drilled into them.
“Combat in space is a simple numbers game, you need to figure out where your target will be and when it will be there and then throw enough energy downrange so that you overwhelm its defences. The problem with space is that you don’t have much choice but to move in straight lines. All you can do is adjust your velocity. Still, there is only going to be so much you can do that, especially without liquifying everybody on board a ship,” they had said. Mostly it was an academic subject, but he’d found it interesting, and the combat simulations were one of the few things he’d found stimulating beyond fighting with his teammates. He’d become quite sure that there were a few other things that could be done to increase your odds of winning that people had just forgotten about.
The information coming in regards to the alien ship suggested it had not caught their scent yet and the crew on the Ushingi was watching it with immense concern. Then it turned from its course towards the asteroid belt to intercept the Ushingi, as the engines of the aliens started it appeared that the ship’s ability to accelerate was more significant than the Ushingi.
“Plotting the point of contact,” Gura said through the ship’s speakers. A second later an image appeared of two intersecting lines.
“Twelve hours, well let’s hope they have engine trouble,” Yori watched the projected simulation.
“When do you think it will be able to attack?” Colin pondered out loud.
“Less than twelve hours.” Leah offered.
They were all sat in their seats on the bridge several lights indicating that they were running full inertial dampening to fight the forces trying to turn them into pancakes.
“When will we get a bead on the fighters?” Colin rested his head on his hands, looking almost relaxed.
“They’ll need to get into range of our active sensors.”
“May as well use mark one eyeball I bet they’ll be the brightest stars in the sky.”
“As long as they’re not coming from the direction of the red giant,” Case noted.
“Point taken. Still, Gura, keep an eye out for any angry-looking stars,” Colin asked and looked at the simulation again.
“And now we wait,” Vivek whispered.
“Welcome to space. I’m going to have a nap.” Yori said, reclining her seat.
It took under an hour for the Mark Ones to detect a collection of fighters heading for them, Colin had decided not to worry much about the impending death of everybody when Vivek almost fell off of his chair.
“Incoming transmission from the alien ship!”
“Really?” Colin looked surprised.
“Yes really, it’s got a visual feed as well,” Vivek said as he rearranged himself.
“Put it on screen.”
On the viewscreen, a creature came into view if he had to describe it then he’d of said it looked like a pig pounded into the shape of a man, a short snout, small beady eyes, but what looked like a collection of microchips stuck out of the side of its head, tubes out of the top of the head seemed to circulate some kind of luminous green liquid. It was wearing what looked like the battle armour you’d see on some sort of tv show about techno barbarians living on a fringe world. In the background, he could see several panels and other controls, as well as other strange looking creatures, moving back and forth.
The creature rambled incoherently for several minutes, and Colin returned the favour informing the beast that they were a ship lost far from home and were simply passing through and that they were very sorry about the earlier altercation. Then it seemed that someone’s translators started working, Yori looked perplexed, but Colin took it in his stride as they heard the aliens words.
“On the orders of the Kelaxu Combine, you have been designated as a banned species. You are to halt all activities, your ship is to be impounded and records collected so that we can purge you from the galaxy. We repeat, On the orders of the Kelaxu Combine, you have been designated as a banned species. You are to halt all activities, your ship is to be impounded and records collected so that we can purge you from the galaxy.”
“Why would you do that?” Colin asked he was feeling a little put out, and the strange pig alien seemed equally perplexed by the question.
“I believe we made that clear, the Kelaxu Combine has designated you as a banned species, and we are to exterminate you with the upmost prejudice, though we need to find out where you came from. It would make our lives an awful lot easier if you simply sent over your records so we could exterminate you now.”
“I don’t see how that would help improve our situation, couldn’t we negotiate?”
“No” Colin felt as though he were talking to a child for a moment. The pig creature was reaching for a large button in front of it.
“Wait! What is the Kelaxu Combine?” Colin played for time and wanted to get something useful out of the aliens.
“The Kelaxu Combine control this galaxy, they are our mighty hive masters! All hail the Kelaxu Combine!”
“So they’re a kind of space empire? Were they the ones that built all the ancient structures?”
“The Kelaxu Combine freed all from the evil clutches of the evil galactic empire! All hail the Kelaxu Combine!”
“How many banned species are there?”
“There are no banned species.”
“But you just said we were a banned species?”
“Yes, and you are to be exterminated like all the other banned species for the glory of the Kelaxu Combine! Now please send over your records, and we will exterminate you.”
Colin was starting to fear that he was facing a ship full of morons which took the fun out of the fight a bit.
“Very well we will do this the fun way!” The pig creature hit the button, and the screen went blank.
“Two launches from the alien ship, missiles” Vivek announced.
“How far off is our encounter?”
“Approximately seventy minutes.”
An alarm sounded, “I’m detecting an attempt to override our computer security,” Gura announced.
“I’m on it,” Case replied and started to type furiously as her companion started to project a virtual net around her.