Its funny how time slows down when a person is under stress, Gross could see the energy projectiles as they flew through space toward his ship. It seemed like they spent an eternity in transit, but he knew it couldn’t have taken more than a second. The Honorable shuddered as they made contact, alarms began blaring as red warning symbols flashed across the captain’s console. At some point, Will managed to break out of his trance and begin shouting orders, “prepare for evasive maneuvers. Damage report, Mr. Literaff.”
“We were hit in the cargo bay, sir, all major systems are still online. I don’t think we’ll be that lucky next time”, exclaimed the first officer.
“Enemy firing again, sir”, reported the pilot as the ship shuddered again.
“Captain, we can’t hold out against this for very long, we’re not a warship”, said Literaff.
“I understand that. Do we have enough time to phase out again, pilot?”
“If we get lucky, I doubt it though.”
At that moment, the ship decided to make contact. Garbled hissing and popping came over the radio for a few moments, then the ship’s on board translator was able to make sense of the message, “... you can see, your ship is doomed. The remainder of the Exodus Fleet will arrive in minutes. You may surrender to the Glorious Race, and die painlessly. Or you may fight and be killed slowly along with the rest of your species”, said the computerized voice of the ship’s comms console.
“Pilot”, said the captain calmly, “how much time will it take to enter the atmosphere.”
“Too long if they start firing again, sir”, replied Seymore, “we don’t have many options.”
“Very well, these people don’t seem friendly to the Trade Order, and we probably will not be able to escape them no matter what we try. Plot a collision course.”
“WHAT? Sir, the situation doesn’t look good, but making yourself a martyr isn’t the only way out”, exclaimed the pilot.
“I agree, sir. We could escape in a pod to the planet’s surface. One ship cannot threaten an entire planet”, added the first officer.
“You may do as you will, I plan to do all I can to slow the threat that they just made. Patch me through to ship”, the captain replied, still calmly.
“Of course, sir.”
This time, Gross’s voice on the ship’s intercom was less reassuring than it had been before they had arrived in this mess, “crewmen, this is the captain. I did most of what I promised, no pirate will lay his claws on this vessel. However, we are being threatened by a warship that no one has ever encountered before. This vessel doesn’t have much chance of survival no matter what is done. I have decided that I will do everything in my power to stop the violent intentions of our opponents, but there is little chance that you will live to tell the tale if you follow me. I do not expect suicide from my crew, if you wish to abandon the Honorable, the escape pods are open”, silence settled over the ship as the captain clicked off. Slowly, some crewmen began to move toward escape pods, others stayed at their stations as the Honorable banked toward their foe.
Then the pilot spoke, “sir, collision in T-minus two minutes. Permission to abandon?”
“The same for me, sir”, added the first officer.
“Granted, for both of you. It was an honor serving with you”, replied Gross. They stepped off the bridge as the first escape pod was jettisoned. The captain opened the ship’s piloting controls on his own console and watched the radar signatures of the two opponents approached one another. He began a transmission to the other ship, “sir, this is the captain of the BSC freighter Honorable Businessman, I have decided not to surrender.”
The reply came quickly, “then you will die.” As the other vessel’s officer spoke, they opened fire. Energy pulses slammed into the Honorable. Warnings started to flash across the captain’s display as he worked as fast as he could at the controls, keeping the vessel on course and in the fewest possible number of pieces. In the corner, a small display counted down from two minutes toward zero.
At thirty second, Will entered what he expected to be his final command, pushing the sublight engines to full capacity and then some to reach maximum possible impact velocity. Then he opened the comm channel again and said, “I would be honored to know the name of my opponent, if you please.” The ship shuddered as more weapons fire made contact, secondary explosions wracked the chassis.
Over the mic, the enemy replied, “fool, you have dared to disobey the...” the computer tried to translate what came next, but gave up ”... Vasari.”
Will had never heard of them, but didn’t have the time to learn more. fifteen seconds.
As five seconds passed, the radar lit up with thousands of signatures. They varied in size from the same as the ship the Honorable was bearing down on to massive battleships. Gross stared out the viewports with awe at what the aliens had called “the Exodus Fleet.” All he could think was ,”so Seymore was right after all.” Then the Honorable made contact, deceleration flung the captain from his seat into the forward bulkhead of the bridge. He felt his ship break apart under him, the alarms increased in intensity as air began leaking faster from the stricken hulk.
Then the reactor failed, disintegrating everything within a mile radius.