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Unwelcome Advances: A Starflight Story (standard:science fiction, 7465 words)
Author: BrockleighAdded: Jul 12 2002Views/Reads: 1815/1185Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Gault, Hixon and the crew of the Phoenix head to the Velox homeworld to return something of great value. Things don't go as smoothly as planned, however...
 



Unwelcome Advances: A Starflight Story By Kevin Stasila 

Mark Gault looked out the porthole of his guest quarters on the ISS
Halcyon. He never really had a chance to look at the starfield in this 
part of space before; commanding a vessel had always made the stars 
seem like background rather than something to be beheld. The stars 
didn't look that much different to him where he was at that point, just 
outward of Heaven, en route back to Arth. Just enough, however, to be 
of interest. He turned his mind back to the matters pressing on his 
mind, namely the progress of construction on Vell Bralis Nova City, 
which would orbit the world of New Scotland. The orbiting city was 
partially completed and accepted some new residents: dock crew, repair 
workers, and construction personnel inhabited the new project, while 
the entrepreneurs that had won rental agreements were loading up their 
ships and on their way to set up shop. 

The trouble was that all manner of problems we cropping up. The city was
supposed to be a secondary seat of government for Arth, however a major 
design flaw made the parliament area far too small to hold anything 
larger than a provisional set-up. The commercial area was behind 
schedule, so the entrepreneurs arriving were having to either unload 
their ships into cargo bays, or pay the carrier ships to stay put in 
dock. Most troublesome was the dry-dock area, and the quality of 
repairs being performed. Most ships that arrived at VBN City had some 
routine maintenance performed, but a good number of those ship reported 
slipshod repair work, and in one instance the ISS Olympian reported 
having lost a cargo pod in space shortly after having it added at the 
VBN dry-dock. 

Gault considered his options, and seeing as his six
Commercial/Exploration Vessels (or CEVs) had the contract to run 
construction materials and supplies to VBN City, he thought it most 
prudent to go to the City himself and oversee operations there. Someone 
needed to keep an eye on the repair staff, and kick some ass to get the 
commercial concourse up and running. There was one thing left that had 
to be done before embarking on a journey to New Scotland... 

*** 

Captain Craig Joseph Hixon was actually inside one of the huge barrels
of the laser cannons on the ISS Phoenix, studying the amplification 
chamber of the weapon. Lately, the power of the laser blasts seemed to 
be inconsistent, and only a visual inspection of the unit could discern 
its problem. He and his chief engineer, Apiphotex, were both in 
pressure suits in the airless vacuum of the Starport docks, and 
checking out the cracks in the amplifier array. A look between the two 
crewmates said it all: a normal problem, but one that would require one 
or two days in Starport dry-dock to fix. At least they were in 
Starport, not Vell Bralis Nova. Hixon had heard bad things about the 
quality of the repairs there, and was completely uninterested in 
finding out how bad they were. 

Hixon then heard the crackle on his radio, as the ship's computer
sounded a proximity alarm. Hixon and Apiphotex both scrambled out of 
the cannon to see a cargo shuttle approaching the Phoenix. The radio 
crackled again, this time with a human voice. 

"Ah, Captain Hixon. Just in time. Do you have an empty cargo bay on the
starboard side?" Hixon could not make out the voice on his radio. His 
answer was an automatic one. 

"Number Twelve, but who..." Hixon watched the shuttle approach Cargo Pod
Twelve, with its docking clamps ready to latch on to the larger vessel. 
"Hold on a sec...What the... HEY!" The Phoenix rocked slightly as the 
shuttle attached itself to the Phoenix, and Hixon's confusion turned to 
anger, "GET THAT THING OFF MY SHIP!" 

"Sorry skipper, I have my orders," the shuttle pilot responded. Hixon
furiously threw his hands in the air and motioned for his engineer to 
follow him as he walked along the surface of the ship. In the 
weightless environment of the docking bays, the magnetic boots allowed 
him to walk down the side of the ship to the starboard airlock, and 
from there, inside his ship. 

Hixon made his way down to the cargo level and towards Pod 12. He threw


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