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|Unwelcome Advances: A Starflight Story (standard:science fiction, 7465 words)|
|Author: Brockleigh||Added: Jul 12 2002||Views/Reads: 1933/1272||Story 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 Click here to read the rest of this story (793 more lines)
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