That was the thought going through Lance Sunquencher’s head. He was being chased by an Araknos bounty hunter across the Tipocco city skyline.
Araknos are a bipedal spiderlike sentient only found in the Arasah system. Their diamond hard shell made them the only creature capable of surviving on their home planet. Their planets ozone layer had been wiped out a millennium ago. All of the previous owners of the planet had been wiped out by the radiation of their own sun, leaving the Araknos as the planets only inhabitants. Hell only knew what they ate.
Unfortunately for Lance, its exoskeleton made the plasma blast from his pistol absolutely worthless. Not to mention his own armor could only with stand so much of the fire coming from the plasma pistols griped in each one of the Araknos’s six claw like hands. Normally under such circumstances the best thing to do would be to double check your will and make peace with God. But Lance wasn’t ready to die just yet.
Lance pulled out his plasma pistol and fired at one of the only weak spots in the Araknos’s exoskeleton. Its eyes. It began screaming in pain as plasma splattered across its eight eyes. Lance took a quick breather. All this for 100,000 credits. The Araknos had been acting as the body guard of some stuck up politician who had the audacity to take loans from the local crimelord to fund his election and then not pay it back. So Lance had been called in, the politician had been taken out, and the chase began.
A wooshing sound brought Lance back to his sences. He leapt back instinctively. A scraping noise made him swear. The Araknos’s claws had gouged nine holes in his armor.
“ Hey !! I just had this thing buffed last week!” Lance yelled as he raised his plasma pistol.
The Araknos reacted instantaneously. Its claws lashed out and knocked the plasma pistol right out of Lance’s hand. Lance reeled back in shock from the blow.
Idiot. The Araknos were the only species in the entire galaxy with a spacial awarenes . They didn’t need their eyes to know where you were and what you were doing. Lance had let himself be caught off guard.
He struggled back to his feet. The Araknos’s ruined eyes were fixed upon him. It rushed at him, but this time Lance was expecting him. The Araknos’s exoskeleton made it practically indestructible. However, it had one more weakness. The joints of the older members of its species became more brittle than a sun baked Aquaneid(an alien that must always remain in water and away from sunlight do to its extraordinary reaction to even the slightest amounts UV rays) due to the large amount of radiation they experience in the course of their lifetime.
Praying that his assailant was past his prime Lance brought down his fist on the top shoulder, snapping all three of its left arms off. It slashed viciously at Lance with its three remaining arms, but Lance ducked underneath the blow and rolled straight to his plasma pistol.
He leveled his weapon and fired three shots into the hole where the Araknos’s middle left arm used to be. Lance could only imagine the creature’s pain as its internal organs burned up. Finally the fire burned out of it eye sockets. It remained frozen on its feet for a second be for it crashed to the ground, a lifeless smoldering husk
Lance let out a sigh of relief and lowered his weapon. He activated the relay system. Static filled the helmet for a few seconds before it cleared and a woman’s voice said. “You’re still alive. When you said an Araknos was on your tail I began to compose your eulogy.”
“Thanks for your confidence in me.” Said Lance irritably.
“Are you sure you don’t want to hear it? I became rather poetic at the end.” The woman’s voice spoke again.
“ No just get the ship down to my location ASAP.”
“ Righteeo. Mar-Cii out.”
Static filled the helmet again. He shut of the relay system. Then for the first time in 30 minutes he relaxed. He could hear the sound of the hover cars flying past him a thousand feet above ground.
“ THERE’S THE ASSASIN! SHOOT HIM!” a voice shouted from the side.
This just wasn’t his day. First the Araknos and now Peace Keepers. They were the police force of the CIPMDAA, the Confederacy of Independent Planets for the Mutual Defense Against Annexation. It was a political organization that cropped up a hundred and fifty years ago when the Humans and Anoconduan empires began to have a border war and the little planets were afraid of being swallowed up by the two giants.
A plasma bolt streaked by Lance’s head. He raised his plasma pistol and fired four shots. Three of the Peace Keepers fell but the last bolt splashed against an invisible barrier and dispersed.
“Shit”, Lance thought. Energy shields. They were a fairly new technology that had yet to work out all of the kinks. But that did not take away from the usefulness. That’s why Lance had had them installed into his armor.
He activated his energy shield. They came up for and instant the sputtered and disappeared right as a plasma bolt slammed into Lance’s left shoulder. The armor which had already taken a beating from the Araknos’s plasma bolts melted and burned his shoulder.
The energy shields must have damaged by the slashes from the Araknos Lance thought as pain ripped through his senses. It was ironic. Even though it had died the Araknos had still managed with that one blow to seal Lance’s fate.
Lance hit the ground and looked angrily at the still smoking shell. What did it care about delicate wiring and energy shields. With its indestructible exoskeleton it was immune to plasma bolts, but there was no cover for him on this blasted roof top.
Wait a minute. The exoskeleton! Lance thought in a flash of inspiration. He rolled over to the lifeless shell and heaved it up in front him. Plasma bolts impacted uselessly against the corpse. Lance began returning fire, trying to overload their shields. He was far from safe however. One of the more intelligent Peace Keepers decided to stop trying to go through his defense and just go around it.
Lance only just noticed him in time. He readjusted himself behind the carcass and began firing dozens of shots at the aliens head. The shielding around the head began to glow red. Then with a terrible wine it gave out and the head disappeared in blast of red plasma. The corpse fell to the ground with the base of the neck still glowing red-hot.
The Peace Keepers had Lance in a pickle and they knew it. Their energy shields protected them from all directions. All Lance could do was huddle behind the dead Araknos and pray they didn’t try to flank him.
Maybe Mar-Cii will get to use that eulogy after all? Lance thought as the Peace Keepers began to move to his left and right.
Just then a roaring sound filled the air. Lance looked up their was his ship the Nova Wolf. Red streaks of light exploded from its twin plasma turrets. Explosions ripped through the night The Peace Keepers were engulfed in hot plasma. Lance could see their silluoets for an instant until their energy shields gave out and they vanished in the intense heat.
“Keeping things under control I see.” Mar-Cii said though the relay system in Lance’s helmet.
“Shut up.” Lance said as he activated the rocket thrusters in his boots. He launched through the air strait into the cargo hold of the Nova Wolf. “Just get us out of here!”
Lance tossed aside the Araknos carcass as he exited the cargo hold. He struggled down the passage to the cockpit. Standing there was the holographic image of pretty young woman with red hair and wearing a white jump suit.
“I don’t suppose you could take better care of your equipment.” Mar-Cii said looking at the melted shoulder pad and slashed chest piece. “After all I’m the one who has to set the maintenance robot to fix it and buff it.”
“Never mind that just get us out of this system!” shouted Lance.
A shimmer went through Mar-Cii’s holographic body as she calculated. “Alright we should be exiting the gravitational field … now.”
Lance felt his feet leave the floor and he went floating up and hit his head on the ceiling. “TURN ON THE A-GRAV UNIT DAMN IT!”
“Sorry.” Mar-Cii said wincing. Another shimmer swept through her body as the room resumed a one gee environment. Lance landed far more gracefully than his ascension had been. He hopped into the pilot’s chair. He had just managed to strap in when an explosion rocked the ship.
“ There is a 99% chance that hostile ships are in hot pursuit.” Mar-Cii said in a matter of fact tone.
“You think!” said Lance irritably. “Just give me control and a picture of what I’m dealing with.”
Mar-Cii stepped aside and a 3D display of the space battle. His ship, the Nova Wolf, was being chased by two Arbiter class fighters. Lance let out a sigh of relief. The explosion had convinced him he was in some danger. The voice of the pilots of the Arbiter fighters came in through the speakers.
“Unidentified ship. You are here by ordered to return to us to the surface Where you and any passengers will be charged with Espionage, First degree murder, Disturbing the peace, resisting arrest, assaulting a Peace Keeper, seven accounts of slaying a Peace Keeper, and destruction of public and private property. You have the right to a counselor. You have the right to remain si…”
At this point Lance had gotten tired of the monologue and shifted the Nova Wolf into a vertical position and went full reverse. He slipped between the two fighters. He quickly snaped back into the right position and began firing on the left ship. The two fighters split up and Lance continued to pound the rear shields of the ship with his plasma turrets.
After a few more seconds of that barrage the energy shield gave way and completely disappeared. A plasma bolt hit its engine causing it to explode.
Lance turned out of the way of the inferno. After that he brought the Nova Wolf around to face the remaining Arbiter fighter. It had also turned around and was firing at Lance. “Mar-Cii” he said “divert energy from rear shields to the front shields and prepare to fire the rear emergency thrusters on my order.” While Lance said this he also punched in the code to unlock the colligun.
Mar-Cii noticed this and a shimmer of comprehension and apprehension rippled through her holographic frame. “Alright but just know your crazy
Lance accelerated strait towards the remaining fighter. It must have believed that Lance was playing chicken for it also began to increase its speed. All the while it continued to pound the Nova wolf’s shields with its plasma turrets. Several warning signs came up on the screen. Lance ignored them.
“For your information” Mar-Cii said conversationally “that under current speeds and rate of fire we have eleven seconds until our shields fail and ten seconds until collision.”
“Nice to know.” Said Lance as the fighter filled his view screen
“Five and four seconds now.”
“Just shut up and fire the thrusters… NOW!”
The rear thrusters quickly fired up. The back of the Nova Wolf shot up. It went up and above the Arbiter class fighter, and more importantly perfectly aligned it with the Nova Wolf’s colligun
There was an instant when Lance could see the astonished look on the aliens face as it stared up at him in complete shock. Lance gave a smile which he could not see and waved goodbye. He then fired the colligun. The effect was perfect. The slug quickly overloaded the fighter’s shields and ripped the ship apart.
Lance watched the fragments and frozen air to drift for a few seconds before saying “Alright Mar-Cii we need to drop into sub space. Set the coordinates for Sol.
“Righteeo. And you had better get yourself to the sick bay. In the condition you’re in I’m surprised you were even able to fly this bucket let alone pull off flashy suicidal maneuvers.” Mar-Cii responded in the condescending tone she often employed.
“You’re pretty mouthy for an AI.” Lance pointed out.
“Blame my programmer not me.” Mar-Cii said defensively. “Which if my memory banks serve me was you.
“Shut up.” Muttered Lance