He leaned back in his chair. There was a fine mist of smoke on his bridge and the temperature was high enough to be slightly uncomfortable for your average human. He didn’t really notice any more.
“Bossss, we have a live one. Minimal essscort. Only four sssmall fightersss and it’sss headed thiss way.”
“Do we know their cargo?” he asked.
“No,” she answered. “Their computer sssecurity isss exemplary. I can’t accesss their manifessst.”
“Then I say we board them and check,” he stated. “If they’ve got the good stuff we can knick it and it should fill our cargo enough for a drop off. Prepare the EMP cannon to disable their fighters. Not too much power. We wouldn’t want to knock out their life support.”
“You’re too sssoft,” she chided. “It’ss going to cosst you eventually.”
He grinned. “What can I say? I like the added danger.”
Their ship closed in on the signal. It was practically a routine at this point, disable the escort ships, keep an eye out for hidden reinforcements, disable said reinforcements and board the main ship.
The escort ships powered down under the volley. Cautiously, they pulled up to the main ship.
“The esscortss sstill have power!” she shouted.
“Pull back!” he ordered. Rear thrusters to full.”
“I can’t!” she said. they’ve fired anchorsss into uss. We’re caught! We need a clever plan.”
“I’ll come up with something,” he said.
“They’re hailing usss,” she reported.
“Good,” he said. “Put it on the main viewer. See if you can stall them. try telling a story, doing a little dance or something.”
Their large screen flickered to life.
“Elijah J. Tawaig, I assume,” the captain said. “We’ve been looking for you.”
“And what do an akumillian, a human and an android want from me?” Elijah asked.
“Impressive,” Ophelia stated. “Most people can’t tell that Yuri’s an android from a glance. I’m Captain Ophelia Wester. These are Luciverianna and Yuri. Your aunts asked us to escort you home. We would prefer that you cooperate.”
Elijah stopped surreptitiously messing with his control panel. “My aunts did?” He shrugged. “All right. I’ll come along with you. As you noticed, I’m Elijah and this is my companion, Ussie. Don’t even try to pronounce her full name. Just release your anchors and we’ll follow you out.”
“Actually, Mr. Tawaig,” Lucy jumped in “We would prefer it if you would come aboard our ship as our guest first.”
“Elijah,” Ussie whispered. “You can’t agree to thiss. It could be a trap.”
“I shouldn’t think so,” Elijah said. “We both know how Akumil feels about Drothos. Besides, their offer to take us out of the Drotor system will make things considerably easier.” He rose. “Captain Wester, I will gladly board your ship.”
“I’ll send Yuri in a shuttle to pick you up,” Ophelia said.
“You’ll have to do an attach pick up,” Elijah stated. “My docking bay doesn’t have room for a proper shuttle.”
“Understood,” Ophelia said. The transmission ended.
“I don’t like thisss,” Ussie said. “At leassst let me go with you.”
“Someone has to stay behind and make sure the cargo’s okay,” Elijah said. “Don’t you worry about me. At worst, I’ll just have to use my wits.”
He left the bridge and made his way to the docking bay. His own ship wasn’t even half the size of the Cerberus so it took very little time.
It didn’t take long for the shuttle to arrive and attach its own doors to the latch. Yuri exited a moment later.
She looked around the docking bay. Under normal circumstances, it could have fit the shuttle, even if it would have been tight. However, it had been re-purposed for growing plants. They were hanging from the walls, planted in pots and with a powered lighting and watering system.
“I had heard that you are a noted horticulturist,” Yuri stated. “Do you actually cultivate anything besides Cannabis Sativa?”
“Nope,” Elijah answered. “The truth, Miss android, is that I’m not much of an expert. I just do some recreational growing. Shall we go to your ship?”
When the shuttle returned, Lucy was waiting directly outside of the bay to greet them.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mister Tawaig,” Lucy said. “We’ve made the conference room available to you for your stay here. I’m sorry that we don’t have anything in the way of guest quarters.”
“No problem,” Elijah said.
“Please don’t smoke that in the common areas of the ship,” Lucy stated. “I’m afraid our engineer is allergic.”
“Oh sure thing,” Elijah said, putting it out. “Will it be all right for me to smoke in the conference room?”
“That’ll be fine,” Lucy said. “We’ll be sure to have it cleaned after you go.”
“Sweet,” Elijah said. He looked around. “If you don’t mind my asking, how are you going to avoid the Drothos patrols?”
“”well, we could leave your companion and ship behind,” Lucy stated “But I’m getting the sense that you’d object. So, we’ll have to come up with something else.”
“I have a device on my ship that sends a false signal,” Elijah said. “If you can mask your ship from their sensors, even for a little bit, we can bounce it somewhere far away from our exit point and gun it.”
“That is interesting,” Lucy exclaimed. “You use it to smuggle your pirated goods out?”
“All the time,” Elijah answered.
“That might be a problem,” Ophelia said, approaching the three of them. “I didn’t come here to help you steal anything. We came to bring you back.”
“You’re saying that you won’t bring my ship?” Elijah asked.
“I’m saying that we may have to jettison your cargo first,” Ophelia explained. “Would you mind telling me where it is?”
“I’ll make you a deal,” Elijah said. “I’ll tell you where to find it, but you have to toss it out personally. If you can bring yourself to do it.”
“Tell me and I’ll go over with Yuri and Leon,” Ophelia said. “Because we’re leaving without it.”
“Trust me,” Elijah said. “You’ll change your mind.”