The Younger Brother Pear drops out of hyperspace in the midst of the asteroid belt. It is a place of serene chaos. Immense space rocks tumble silently towards each other for millennia, eventually crashing into each other with extraordinary violence resulting in peaceful coagulation.

"Okay." Steve spits out bile and attempting to regain some of his fortitude. "Start the asteroid collision tracking program," he manages to force his tongue to say.

Veronica brings the program up on the screen. Steve begins inputting a series of queries on his console.

"What are you doing?" Doc asks Steve.

"Trying to find a crater we can time-jump into."

"To where? I mean when?"

"The future. Home."

The alarms go off again. Veronica cancels them quickly.

"They're back. They followed us. They are maneuvering to flank us."

"Move, then!" Steve shouts.

"This ship cannot outperform theirs at sub-light speeds."

"Go to warp!"

"In the asteroid field? Are you insane?"

"Well, do something!"

They watch on the viewscreen as Veronica pilots the lumbering Pear around a large rock, trying to keep it between them and their pursuers.

Another alarm sounds. "Shots fired!" Veronica shouts. A streak of light blasts forward across the viewscreen and annihilates a small asteroid in front of them. "Warning shot. 20 gigawatt proton pulse passed 100 meters from our starboard side."

"Damnit!" Steve shouts. "Now the collision tracker has to recalibrate! It will take hours to recompile!"

"They're hailing us again."

"Do not answer," Steve tells her.

"Normally, you don't call a ship if you're trying to basilisk them. You just hack their monitors.'"

"They can't hack this ship. I designed the security systems myself."

"I hacked it," Veronica replies.

"Well," Steve thinks a minute. "I made you. I used some of the same security routines when I programmed your remote access system."

"Did you use the same routines to hide your anime porn collection?"

Steve is silent. "Just fly the damn ship."

The Younger Brother Pear dives close to the surface of the potato shaped asteroid. The two gunships fly in high orbit around the rock in opposite direcions, followed soon by the bigger and slower cruisers. They stop just above the Pear, where "up" in this case is relative to the asteroid, surrounding them. The large destroyer makes it's way over the asteroid and into the center of the circle that the other ships are forming.

All the ships are smooth yet triangular, and look a lot like shoes with wings. The gunships are the smallest and most angular, with sharp wings poking out of its slightly rounded pyramid structure. The cruisers are bigger, only slightly smaller than the Pear. They are more elongated and more rounded. Their smoothed noses are only interrupted by an intimidating pair of particle cannons. The Destroyer is much larger, nearly four times the size of the cruiser. It reminds Doc of the Star Destroyers from the old-timey Star Wars movies, except these are much less angular. It has sort of gull-wings that bend in a way that matches the top contour of the cruisers. The ships must dock together for long trips. To prove that point, two more gunships fly out of the underbelly of the destroyer, joining the circle.

"Shit," says Steve.

"Can we fight them?" Doc asks.

"I might be able to take out the gunships and maybe a cruiser, " Veronica answers, "but not before that destroyer turns the Pear into another floating wad of iron."

Another alarm sounds.

"Firewall intrusion detected!" Veronica shouts. "They're hacking our computers and attempting to plant a message in our com system."

"I told you!" Steve yells back. "Fuck the simulations! Doc, on your console is a command sequence for the ship's outboard Q-TIP. I want you to start running through it. Veronica, turn us around and launch a string of 20 megaton drilling warheads at the asteroid. We're going to tunnel through it, or at least make them think it. Doc, when the sequence is ready, open a wormhole at the nearest convenient crater, and Vernoica, fly into it with an explosion as cover. We're getting the hell out of here!"

Thunderhorse and Jazelle lie in the grass beside the pond on the observation deck, staring up at the rock filled sky and sharing a bottle of Chanana brandy.

A burst of violet light jumps from one of the other star boats and transform into green auroras dancing above them.

"Oh, how beautiful," says Jazelle.

"Yes," says Thunderhorse. "The spirits of the dead dance with us even here. The old man says they protect us from the fires of our enemies."

"I see."

Another particle beam hits the shields, creating another dance of lights which lingers a bit after the beam is gone.

The two sigh in wonder.

The sky above them turns 180 degrees as the ship comes about.

"Oh, my! The stars do dance differently here."

The four gunships begin to swarm around them, circling closer and closer. Their beams of light stir the auroras around them, creating a tie-dye of colored ribbons that spin as if on gymnasts' wands.

"Ooooh," they sigh together.

A new light show begins as bright flares and large flashes begin tearing away the mountain of rust colored rock at their feet. Streaks of white-hot glowing rock burst like fireworks from the stone. Giant boulders start barreling past the sky, brushing aside the circling sky-boats.

"Ahhhh," they sigh.

The flashes get bigger and brighter and shorter in between. The beams of light and the dancing auroras intensify. The boulders get larger and closer. The mountain splits in two, parting for them like the Clashing rocks after Jason had sent a dove. The thrill of whether they will smash together again strikes them giddily as they pass through.

They slip into the yawning mountain as the flashes glow and the lights dance. The bursts come ever faster and brighter, until one last flash, brighter than all the rest, engulfs the entire sky then shrinks away into the shadows of nothingness. In an instant, the Universe is reborn.

Jazelle applauds enthusiastically. "That was brilliant!" she says. "Have them do it again!"


Doc said...

"Who are these guys?" Are we being chased by the Exkoreans or are these the time cops sent to stop people from messing with time?

Either way, I'm glad to be rid of them. I'm still wondering if we totally dicked up time by giving Father Nathan the star map.

I'm tickled that Jazelle is connecting with Thunderhorse as I don't want to come between him and his lady. That could be messy and I would lose.

The images were wonderful and really brought home the peril we were in, but it was a little hard to read with the extra the's and of's here and there. I think your brain works faster than you can type.

I'm eager to find out where and when we are.


ERR said...

God, you're right. I didn't proof read at all, did I? I blame my computer here at home. The wireless keyboard sometimes fucks up and either doesn't type a letter or types too many of them. Plus its monitor is a TV so it's hard to read.

Random "of's" are par for the course since I tend to tack on way too many clauses while then backtrack over the redundancies, also leads to stupid commas, and missing participles.

ERR said...

"bursts of come" wow that's unfortunate.