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Stories from the Verse
Chapter 72: Brown 263
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Slade 232
A text came through on Derek’s laptop, routed to him by the ship’s computer which he controlled. It would take them more than a little effort to track his location that way. The message read, This is Lieutenant Commander, some untranslatable name, Third Officer aboard Seeker. I have reason to believe that I am currently ranking officer.
Derek nodded, and typed back, Lieutenant Commander, we previously contacted your ship to act as negotiators between you and the indigenous intelligent avian people of this planet, and were rebuffed. You are now fighting a war you cannot win. We are willing to negotiate between you and the avians, offering to persuade them to cede to you territory in an unsettled area of their planet to settle in peaceful co-existence with them. If you decline, I will be forced to take final action against your ship.
He waited. He wondered if the lieutenant was trying to trace his position, but reassured himself that he was protected. Finally the response came.
We believe that you are bluffing. You are one person, and cannot destroy the ship.
Very well, Derek thought. I could fly it into the star–but something inside him checked this. The King would not approve of him killing all these people, and particularly since they would be dying for the crimes of a few leaders. Had his bluff been called?
No, he thought. He couldn’t kill them; but he could imprison them in their own colony spaceship for centuries, and it could support them for at least that long. He just had to put it somewhere where they couldn’t fly it and couldn’t leave it.
He pulled up a map of the surface of the planet below. “Commander Vashti,” he said, “plot me a landing solution for,” and he pointed at the map, “right there.”
“But Derek,” she said, and he interrupted.
Clearing her throat, she started over. “But commander, that’s the middle of the largest ocean on the planet.”
“Absolutely. Their launch bays are designed to keep pressure in, not out, so once they’ve submerged they will be trapped on the ship their ancestors designed to house them for millennia. My course?”
“Yes, sir,” she replied, and turned her attention to the navigation console. It took only a few minutes.
“Very good,” he said. “Initiating programmed landing. Now we wait until we’re confident they can’t save it before it reaches the water, and then we exit using that gate spell Shella taught me. Get some rest while I watch; it’s a long time to the ground.”
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eleven other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #487: A World in Space. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: