Saturday, July 31, 2021

Flash Fiction # 469 -- Raiders/19



The enemy didn't expect us to shoot at them.  They reacted slower than usual.  I listened to their communications, and though I couldn't tell one fighter from another, I did start picking out the Mother Ship's messages.

"They don't sound happy," Lisel said and shot down two more craft.
"I suspect they are going to start coming at us.  Krisin?"

"I think I can start the fighter.  Simple controls.  We'll need to drop out of the bay before we hit the Mother ship, so make sure you aim at her and get down here in time."

"Krisin, if --" I began.

"I'm not leaving without you."

Lisel grunted.  I couldn't think of anything better to say.

I aimed us vaguely toward the Mother Ship, drawing a few more of the craft our way.  Another five launched, though.  Did they volunteer for a suicide mission?

Did we?
"We have a massive disturbance ten degrees from the were ship," Lisel warned.  "I didn't think they'd have a second mother ship in the area.  Damn --"

"Not were," I said and grinned.

Though not for long.  The communication was weak, but I heard enough of it to realize we had real trouble.

"This is Captain Dundas of the Belgium," the woman said, her voice harsh.  "Sailfor, we are now aware that you are working with the were --"

Belgium's canons began to fire up.

No time for subtlety.  I hit the full comm on, not a private link, and even opened it up to the whole ship --

"Don't shoot!" we all three shouted.

We couldn't have done better if we'd practiced.

"What the hell?" Dundas said.  "Tana?"

"Yes, yes.  Kind of busy -- Lisel one's going under --"

"I got it."

"We have something we need to do, Captain," I said.  "Trust us."

"The Belgium hasn't been gone 24 hours.  Do you see the destruction out there?"

But the canons were no longer tracking us, and we were almost to the mother ship.  They still didn't know.  It was apparent they didn't understand human speech any better than we understood them.  And maybe that was the problem, right?

"We're running out of time, Tana," Lisel warned.  "Set it on auto, and let's go."

"You should --"

"I will pick you up and carry you if you don't get your ass out of that chair right now."

Dundas laughed, but I thought there was a touch of hysteria to the sound.

"See you soon, Captain," I said.

Lisel was reaching for me.  I got up on my own and raced him down to the bay.  Lisel has longer legs and better speed, but I wasn't far behind him.

And we all three laughed.  Yes, we were laughing in the face of death, and we knew it.

"What -- what do we have," I said with a breathless wave toward the strange craft.

"I can get the door to open and close.  No airlock," Lisel said.  He threw safety suits to them.  "I cleared the interior atmosphere, but we'll only have the air from the suits.  Get in fast."

He was right.  They had no time to talk about it.  

Lisel mumbled something about his suit being a bit small.

"Largest one they had, Lis," Krisin said.  "Just be sure to keep your claws in."

Lisel nodded.  I was already in my suit, helmet in hand, and went to look at the door.  It had a simple press button again.  She hoped the rest was as easy.

No time.

"Opening bay door," Krisin warned as they settled into uncomfortable seats.  I assumed I was at the ship's controls, but it was mostly a guess.

The bay door opened, though I couldn't see it.  We felt the vibration.  I knew it was right in front of the fighter's nose, though.  So I looked over the controls and then hit three buttons in quick succession.  One moved us.  I thought the other two fired weapons remembering how their shots usually came in two close bursts, but I couldn't see --

Krisin got the screen to work.

It was an odd screen, but I could make out a few things.

We were, as far as I could tell, within fifty yards of the mother ship.  And yes, I had hit it with those two shots.

We were about to enter the Mother Ship bay with the Sailfor following right behind us.

"Tana --" Lisel said with a sound of tried patience came over the suit's communit.

"Just push buttons.  Both of you."

"What if --" Krisin began.  "No, never mind.  It won't matter."

We learned things.  The screen changed colors.  Were liked the sound of chants.  What a suspected were increasingly strong warnings sounded like bird chirps.  They had intricate star maps.

We got closer.

How?  Up and Down.  Left and Right.  They were enough like us --


I found something that looked right and shoved it forward.

We dipped, nose first, straight down.  These fools appeared to have no safety webs to hold them in place.  I hit my head.  Lisel hissed, and somewhere else, Krisin was calling on every known god in every language he could manage, which turned out to be far more than I ever would have expected.

I couldn't actually see what was going on behind -- above -- us, but I had the timing right.  The Sailfor had made it into the bay.  Everything flashed, and vast pieces of the ship began to fly by us.  We were hit, but I had the feel of the craft now.  I also could read the more significant bits of the ship on the radar and worked at avoiding the worst of them.  Krisin and Lisel were shooting the back canons and taking out a lit more debris of any size.

I wanted to know how badly damaged the mother ship was.  The thing was huge, and I couldn't tell if the damage in the bay had spread.

Fighters from the Belgium were heading our way.  Good.

Then they started shooting at us.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Flash Fiction # 468 -- Raiders//18

 There were holes in the Sailfor.  I could even hear a slight hiss of air loss.  Frost had formed on one wall, and from that, we found the hole.

"Not big enough to worry about," Krisin decided.

I supposed he was right.  What we did was going to be over fast.  So we went on by and up to the control deck.  A couple bulkheads had sealed off areas breached by our attack, but overall, the ship had stood up to the battle.

It still had power.  I suspected Sima of that work, reluctant though she must have been to help the aliens.  She had kept the ship -- and her people -- alive.

We saw signs of were in what might have been words carved into the walls.  Lisel took shots of them, and I thought he sent those off to the station if we didn't make it back.

Not that we had any doubts about this.

The control deck was a mess with several pieces of alien technology in place.  I had a moment of consternation before I realized that the regular controls had to still be there since the Sailfor had no trouble maneuvering into the dock.

Krisin made a growling noise that sounded as if it should have come from Lisel.  Then he threw himself into the work.

I listened to the odd sounds at the communications station and realized I was hearing the were trying to contact the Sailfor.  I had heard their voices in the past, the sounds for which they'd been named.  The words all seemed to be high-pitched variations of w and r.  Wr.  Wwwr. Wrrrr.

Did they leave the communications open?  I signed for silence and went to examine it.  There was one little device stuck in the comm board with an indention on the top.

I grinned at Lisel.  He looked worried.

I jabbed at the indentation -- up and down several times while I made were sounds.  I had heard them often enough that I did a reasonably good imitation while hoping the off-and-on link would make it sound as if we had a bad communication board.  I only tried for about fifteen seconds before I yanked the link out and tossed it to Krisin.  He took it out of the room.  When he came back, he sealed the bulkhead behind him.

"Can we fly her?" I asked.

"Systems are intact," Krisin replied.  Lisel was at the weapons board and gave a grunt of approval there.

I settled at the pilot's station.  The chair had been restructured to fit a were, and I was not comfortable.  No matter.  This wouldn't take long.

"Krisin, have them turn us loose," I said.  He had his communit on, and I'd heard him mumble now and then to people on the station.  "I don't want to do more damage to them."

It took a moment, but I felt the Sailfor drift free of the constraints.  The boards came on, and the screen flickered to show -- strange colors, sharper shapes, and more contrast.  That must have said something about the were.  It was giving me a headache, though --

Krisin had done something.  The screen changed back to normal.  I nodded my thanks, not that it was a better scene.  I counted eleven were fighters, and the Mother Ship was still limping away so slowly that I had the odd feeling it might turn back on us.

"I don't want them turning back on the station," I said.

"Yeah, I had that feeling," Lisel replied.  "I'll take the ones on the right.  The fighters will lose interest in the station, and I think we can worry the ship."

"There's a were fighter in the bay," Lisel said.


"We'll need safety suits," Krisin said.  "They should have some in the bay.  I'll go check things out while everything is still calm."

He hurried off.

"This is insane," Lisel mumbled.

"Well, it really is calm compared to most of what we've been doing," I replied.

"That's not what I meant."

"Oh.  Do you mean deciding we can fly a were craft with no idea how they work?  I've seen part of the fighters they've brought in.  We know the were are shaped a great deal like us in the basics -- two arms, two legs -- and hands with six to eight fingers of sorts.  The three of us have had more contact with were craft than anyone else."

"That's still insane!"

"Of course it is," I said.  There was no denying it.  "But --"  I waved toward the controls in front of me.  "The were flew this ship.  We can fly theirs.  Do you have a better idea?  Other than be on the Sailfor when it goes up in a blaze of glory?"

"Somewhere between your species and mine, I think some switch got put in place," Lisel said.  He sounded entirely serious.  "Some sort of defense against insanity --"

"It's not species," Krisin said over the comm.  "It's just her."

"I'm not sure that's better, especially given that we're in this with her."

"Something we can discuss over a couple beers.  The were fighter looks intact.    I'm not sure how to get in, though.  Blowing a hole in the door seems counterproductive."

"Did you find safety suits for us?"  I asked.

"Huh.  Yeah. I suppose it doesn't matter if it can't hold an atmosphere, does it?  I've found the lock on the scan.  I think if I blow that --"

"Safety suit first, my friend," Lisel said.  "No telling what might come out when you open it.  And be ready for trouble."

"Yes," he said.  "Good point."

I could hear a flurry of were voices on the comm.  I didn't attempt to answer them, but I could see the fighters were starting to respond.

"We're about to come under attack," Lisel pointed out.

"I noticed.  Start taking them out.  I think we can still get there."

I didn't, however, say that I thought we could survive it.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Heart Problems (not a flash fiction)


 At about 1:30 am on Saturday (7/17/21), I started feeling awful.  It passed quickly into terrible with a headache so bad I can't even describe it, and horrendous pain starting in my neck and spreading down both arms and eventually to my chest.  By then we were heading to the hospital.

They took me right in and called the cardiologist and prepared for a closer look at the heart.  The first guesses were a stroke because of the headache, but they soon realized I was in the midst of a major heart attack.  It held on for over an hour until they found a completely clogged artery and got it cleaned out and put in two stints.  I think I remember it getting better.  

All I really remember is staring at the ceiling and wanting someone to make it stop hurting.  An hour or more of this pain was just too much.  Five minutes had been too much.  I do remember one odd thing, though, after they were into the work.  Someone said something (I don't remember the exact words from either of us, just the gist of what was said):

Him: You want us to go in and fix anything we can and stop the pain, right?

Me: Absolutely

Him: You all heard that, right?

At that point they didn't think they even had time to ask Russ's permission from the next room.  

After they were done, things got better.  Tests, tests, blood tests -- my arms are bruised and sore from elbows to wrists.  My wonderful husband stayed with me except for a couple hours when he had to go to work before they could get someone in.
(Yes, it was important he do so.  They proctor tests and they are not allowed to have less than two people working.  If he hadn't shown up, many people -- some of whom had come from out of town -- would have been told they couldn't test.  Another of the workers hurried in as fast as she could, too.)

Now here is an odd thing.  I have always had very high blood pressure.  For insurance reasons, I'd been off my meds for over a month.  However, my blood pressure stayed fine for this entire mess and even went low a couple times -- and since it was a clogged artery causing the problem, being without the pills was not what brought this on.

The worst part, once the pain was gone, was just lying in that bed for hours and hours with noting to do but watch the main monitor.  I learned how to direct one line by moving my arms -- lift the right arm and the line went up.  Lift the left arm, and it went down.  I considered trying to draw pictures.

I had excellent care.  I didn't realize how serious the problem had been until Sunday when the cardiologist said something like "It was a difficult procedure" and the next time he came by he said 'We won one.'  It turns out that a lot of people don't survive this particular kind and strength of heart attack.

All day Sunday, people who had been there at various phases, stopped by to see how I was doing.  "It turns out that the "We won one" attitude had spread.

I am grateful to these people. Even though I was anxious to go home, I was always aware of how much work the nurses put into making sure I was doing all right and helping make me comfortable.

They turned me loose on Sunday afternoon.  We stopped to pick up prescriptions.  I fell asleep three times while we sat there as Russ got the pills and some cat food.

I came home.  I went to bed and slept for hours.  I came out and sat in a comfy chair and slept for more hours.

I still feel off, of course.  Actually, I feel pretty horrible and keep panicking at any little flutter of a feeling.  Russ will be home for a day or two.  I have instructions.  Because of heart damage, I need to go easy for a while.  (Yeah, well, that's never been a problem.)

So, that was my weekend and the start of my new changes in life.  I hope to do well.

Right now, though -- I think I'll go nap.

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Flash Fiction # 467-- Raiders/17


At least we had a warning. Lousy timing, of course, but there couldn't be better given the circumstances.    We stood ready when the airlock door popped open, and a were tumbled out.

We were not ready for him to be dead.  Nor the next two.  Their helmets had been punctured.

By the time a woman showed her face, I had enough curiosity not to shoot her.

"We found a wreck," she said without prompting.  "Human ship, but it turned out those bastards had already taken her.  They took over the Sailfor, killed our Captain and a few others, and held our children hostages against mutiny.  We took our chances here.  We have seven more dead aliens.  All we ask is that you take our five children and try to keep them safe."

"There is a were mother ship out there," I said with a wave of my hand.  "We're not exactly a safe location."

"Any port in a storm," she replied.  She was pale, thin, and had a few too many bruises.  "They still have a better chance of survival with you than on the ship.  Hell, we hoped when the fight got going between the crew and the station people that you'd take the ship."

"Get the kids," I said.  She gave me a brighter smile than I expected.  "And all the crew, too.  Brick here will take you to the core.  They'll need to be watched, Brick.  Just to be safe.  Go!  Get them!  The core is the only place even marginally safe now."

She turned and shouted to the others.  Lisel dragged the were bodies off to the side and somewhat out of sight.  I couldn't imagine why until the first of the children appeared.  The youngest was barely old enough to walk.  They froze at the edge of the airlock, looking equally terrified and amazed.  The first woman made her way past them.  I counted five more crew besides her.

Brick and Lisel herded the children into a group.  One small girl seemed intrigued by the Catchin fur, so he sat and let her and the others pet him.  That helped to stem the panic, I thought.  I was glad when he handed the last child to another man.  

"What's your name?" I asked of the woman in charge.

"Sima.  I was assistant engineer until they killed Trey.  Since then, I've kept us running."

From the way she said those words, I knew she'd considered blowing the ship to hell, and she still wasn't sure she'd made the right choice.  I couldn't blame her, given the situation.

"I'm Tana.  I was on the fighter that attacked your craft.  I'm sorry.  We had no way --"

Sima put a hand on my arm and nodded.  "You did what needed to be done."

"I think we might need to do more with your ship."

"Do it.  None of us will ever want to go back to her.  The codes are all open.  We had to do that for the were.  She's yours."

Sima walked away with the others, taking that youngest child in her arms.  Lisel watched with me for a moment, but that's all the time we had.

"We will save them," Lisel said.  "We will save them all."

I looked back at the screens and nodded.  I scanned positions and realized it was not going to get any better.

"Showtime," I said.

"Well, I hope it is entertaining," Lisel replied.  He took out another were fighter.  They'd gotten a bit careless since we hadn't been shooting for a while.

I took one last moment to go over my program and make a slight adjustment.  I double-checked my links as well.  I couldn't say that I thought it would really work, but hell -- they trusted me with all this power, I might as well make good use of it.

"And here we go," I mumbled and typed in the sequence I'd set up.

The robo ships came to life, engines firing at full power, all of them turning in one direction -- and surging straight at the mother ship.

"That is a joy to see," Lisel admitted with a true purr.  "One of those rare moments you can only hope to experience once before you die.  And we are going to die, you know."

"Maybe not today.  The fighters are a bit slow to respond."

It felt like an hour, watching those little ships head as fast as they could for the mother ship while the enemy dithered.  By the time they did turn their attention to the unmanned craft, I had adjusted their flight, and they were heading straight for the nearest were bay.  Other fighters were coming out and starting to shoot -- but I'd made plans for that, too.  My little ships began to move in an intricate braiding pattern that took them in wide swings, back and forth.  We lost four.

The rest went straight into the bay and impacted somewhere in the interior.

For one brief moment, a light like a star blazed.  In the next, pieces of the enormous ship broke off.  More fighters tumbled out as well, and Lisel was taking out more than his share that came back at us.

I had the feeling I'd made them angry.

Then, from one heartbeat to the next, the were fighters suddenly spun and sped away straight for the larger ship.  She was turning as well, in an awkward jerking sort of motion that I'd never seen in any kind of ship.  They were trying to pull out.

And for one moment, I thought I would let them go.  Then I looked at the still open airlock to the Sailfor and glanced at Lisel.

He nodded.

"Krisin?  You still there?  I think we're going to need you --"

"Already -- on -- my -way," he answered, breathless as he ran.  "Don't leave without me."

I went to the airlock and looked in, thinking it might have been better if I hadn't already shot the ship full of holes...

Friday, July 09, 2021

Flash Fiction # 466 -- Raiders/16

My brain went into hyper mode.  That happened on the fighter in situations like this --

Well, not exactly like this.  I don't think anyone could have imagined this nightmare.  Not in my fighter.  Not on a ship at all.  Were craft darting out of the Mother Ship and that craft moving in closer as well.

"Befly, Brick -- round up everyone, and all of you get into the core.  No, don't argue with me.  Do it.  I don't want to worry about things other than just the fight.  Go!"

Befly looked at the screen, then turned, grab Brick, and started shouting orders.  I didn't listen.  I did glance at Lisel --
"No.  I won't listen.  Krisin, get your people into the core, too.  We have the control we need, and they're going to need help.  Just do it, or I'll send Tana to root you out."

I kept going over the boards.  I was aware that one ship cut and run -- I wished it luck.  Really.  I tried to get the were fighters interested in us, so they didn't go after them.  I wanted someone to survive.

And I became aware of the odd silence around us.  We were alone on the bay.  I knew the others would still be heading into the core, but here ... it was empty.

"Lisel, you know this is insane, right?"

"Tana, my friend -- it has always been insane.  All the war, the making of the Catchin, us being here -- I don't look for sanity in humans."

"Oh, don't give me that," I said.  "You're human.  Just with fur."

He blinked.

"I suppose that's an insult?" I asked.

"I'm considering it."  But I thought he sounded pleased.  Had I never pointed that out to him before?  Did he think I didn't consider Catchin to be people?  Damn.  I needed to think about that --


"What do you see here?" I said with a wave of my hand toward the screen.  "Any ideas?"

"We need to scare the Mother ship off."

"Right.  That's going to happen."

"We might if they think we're crazy."

"We are crazy.  What's your plan?"

"We have roboships filled with explosives.  Maybe -- a minefield?"

"That might work."  I leaned over the controls and shot at a couple more of the were craft that had come closer again.  They might have thought we'd run out of power or something since I let them get so close.  "Okay, how about this.  Send a couple robos out to take off a few of the smaller craft.  Stop firing with the upper gun and let it cool -- we can bring it up fast enough if we want it.  Make them think we're running out of resources."

He agreed with a quick nod.  I let him handle the one gun, and I started programming the roboships.  Befly had put in enough info on the explosives that I had a good idea what they would do.

With no humans aboard ... oh, that might be interesting.

"They never shoot at craft once the crew is dead," I said.

"So if we kill ourselves, they'll stop shooting?"


I didn't have time to discuss what I planned.  Lisel was used to that, of course, but there were times when I wondered why he put up with it.  Granted, everything had worked so far, but even I thought most of my plans were more insane than inspired.

Like this one.

Oddly, Befly went along with what I asked, too, and the only questions were technical, not anything about why.

I don't know how long we worked on the problems.  I was aware that the Mother Ship was coming far closer, and the were fighters had begun to fly in more frantic circles.

Just what I had hoped to see.

"I need to take out one of the ships.  Then you can take out all the others you can get.  Just let me have the first, Lisel."

"Sure.  Of course."

I thought maybe I was coming close to his acceptance without question level.  I supposed I had better do this quickly.

I tracked the most likely were fighter through one circle, held my breath, and shot it on the next, clipping the nose and sending it tumbling --

"Tana, it's going to hit us --"

"Yes, it will.  I was afraid I couldn't do it."

"But --"

The were craft impacted low on the station structure and sent a jolt through the shell.  There might have been some damage since bulkheads went down.  I paid it little attention as my fingers played over the controls Befly and I had arranged.  The tiny work ships tumbled out of the bay, and a few broke loose from their holds on the side of the station.

I now had a dozen unmanned craft filled with explosives heading in vaguely the proper direction.  Lisel had taken our five more craft in that time.  I got one more.  The last few pulled back out of range, moving closer to the larger ship.

The Mother Ship hadn't noticeably slowed on the path toward us.  I wondered if they intended simply to plow into us.  I would have to let it get a lot closer before I moved to part two of the plan.

I happened to see that Brick was still with us, his eyes darting from the screens to us and back again.  I offered him a smile, but he looked more panicked afterward.  Maybe I needed to work more on not looking crazed.

The Mother Ship now practically filled the entire screen, making it harder to see the smaller were fighters that might be heading their way.

I would have to do what I could soon, or else the larger ship would get far too close, and no matter what happened after that, there would be extensive damage.  I looked over my board and my controls.  At least this would be fast.

"Tana, Lisel -- reading a laser pistol battle in the Sailfor and heading for the airlock," Krisin warned.


Thursday, July 01, 2021

Flash Fiction # 465 -- Raiders/15

 At first, I didn't understand why everyone got out of our way.  I suppose it helped that we looked like trouble.  Lisel had his ears back and his teeth showing in a snarl I had never seen before.  Krisin walked with a laser pistol in hand.  I almost told him to give it to me -- but that would have been petty and ruined our image.

So I just had to look tough without the teeth or the weapon.  Maybe it worked.  Brick was even slow to approach us.  He signaled his people to stay back, and that was wise.  I couldn't say I trusted them.  I barely trusted Brick.

"We need to access the Sailfor's weapon systems," I told him.  No use playing around.  "We don't need to take the ship. Just isolate the weapon's computer from their control.  We can do that from the outside, but it has to be at the bayside terminal, and that's damned close to their airlock."

"We'll keep an eye on it," Brick said.  How odd that I no longer thought of him as a bully boy.  He was one of us now.  I reached over to tap him on the arm and draw his attention back.

"Be careful," I told him.  "Don't forget your family."

He looked at me, a little shocked, I thought.  But Brick blinked and then nodded.  He looked around the bay as though hunting for some ship to steal on his own so he could get clear with his family.

Maybe I'd help him -- after we took over the Sailfor.

The crew did make an attempt to keep control, but Krisin was fast and steady.  He turned the board over to me.

"How are you going to target them if you can't see them?" Befly asked.

Krisin was already pulling a portable screen over and overriding the computer controls to turn it into a low-resolution targeting board.

It didn't need to be better.  The enemy were very close.  I checked the controls, maneuvered two small hull cannons, and fired.  The one were craft we hit disintegrated.

"That's not normal," Lisel said, his voice hinting at a growl of worry.  "That's two.  Why would -- oh hell."

"Some sort of explosives to breach the station.  And we're turning.  They're going out of range."

They were getting too close.  "Lisel, Krisin, run a weapon's check on the rest of the ships in dock.  Find me something that will give us a --" I shot another one but only wounded it -- "give us another chance at them."

Because there was yet another line of weres coming behind this one.

"Why not use the station's weapons?" Brick asked.

I looked at him with the kind of stare that made me look like an idiot.  I felt like one.  "Station weapons?"

Now he blinked.

"Look, we're ship people," Lisel said.  "We don't spend much time on stations, and station people don't often go out of their way to explain things to us."

"We're out here on the edge of nowhere," Brick said.  "There are problems.  We mostly use them to take out random debris drawn toward the station.  I don't know much about --"

"Found it," Krisin said.  A second board appeared on the screen, blanked for a moment, and then settled into something I understood.  "I suggest you change over, Tana.  These weapons are at the top and bottom of the station, and they have a 360-degree turn."

"Yeah.  Switch me over.  The Sailfor's weapons are crap."

I made a quick change, scanned from both weapon locations, checked out the power -- about the same as the fighter, but there were two of them.  If there hadn't been a station full of people at risk, I might have enjoyed this.

I wanted the fighter in my hands.

"Going back to control," Krisin said.  "Do not let us get killed."

I grunted a reply, already targeting more trouble.  "Lisel, take the lower weapon."

He stepped in beside me.  We had to share the same board, which was challenging but not impossible.  We had worked together for a long time now, and I appreciated that Lisel took his directions from what I did and worked around me.  His long, slightly furred fingers moved in around mine with quick jabs, and he took out a were craft before I did.

So I killed the next two.

Lisel just sighed.  I grinned.

But we had a hard fight.  One of the were made it through our defenses.  Krisin ordered people away from one bay area, and I heard the bulkheads dropping somewhere around the curve.

It hit.  Everything shuddered.  Alarms rang.  I wanted Krisin to cut the sound off -- but we weren't on the fighter, and the people here needed to be aware of the problem.  Civilians.  I didn't know how many lives were in our hands.  More than the ship, which I really missed right now.  I wanted to go home.

Just survive this.

Befly put a hand on my arm, startling me and almost getting a curse --

"I have an idea," she said with a hand on my arm.  "I have the robo miners -- those ships you saw.  Four of them in dock, three more attached to the station.  They're used to mine debris.  We have explosives I'm having loaded in, but I don't know what would be the best --"

"Krisin!  Did you hear?  Can you get me control --"

"Working on it."

I saw the info come up on the side of the board.  They were not powerful little craft but looked tough.  Something we could send out and detonate --

"Tana, we have a problem," Lisel warned.

I looked up.  At first, I didn't understand what I saw.  Something was messing with the scanners.  A large sector had dropped off --

No.  A large section was overlaid by a single craft.

"What in the name of the stars?" Befly whispered.

"Mother ship," I said.  "A damned were mother ship.  Okay, that's it.  Now I'm mad."