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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Clean-up

     Ships in space.  Floating hollow containers shield the fragile occupants inside.  They drift and bump like rudderless canoes.  Metallic shrapnel ricochets like billions of microcomets then is drawn away and collected with powerful targeted electromagnets.  Ceramic and plastic debris is captured in superfine microfilament nets.
     "How's life support on those boats?" 
     The captain can monitor that from her own ship.  This is a gentle reminder for us to hurry up.
     "We have another two cycles before both sides are conscious again.  The Tellurians have secondary systems that survived our initial burst.  The ships are dead but the crews are still alive.  It's the Marsfleet ships, they have emergency oxygen but air scrubbers, recirculators, all their systems are down.  They have about four cycles and they'll be fighting each other for the breather masks."  The captain knows all this.  Is she testing me?
     "Let's get these boats chained and make a path.  Any bits we don't collect make sure they're swept into this system's sun.  Rule one."
    Rule one:  leave no evidence, we were never here.
     We tracked this battle across four solar systems.  Marsfleet pursuing the last Tellurian defenders.   An old story of colonizers against the rebels.  It doesn't really matter now.  Both sides will be slaves and their ships will be salvage.  One cycle after the captain's command dozens of Marsfleet battle carriers along with the remaining Tellurian heavy cruisers and destroyers are linked by a network of invisible energy "chains".  Any uncaptured debris is washed into the nearest sun and the captain gives the order to leave.  In a few short moments our "path", a shortcut through space is generated, and we flee with our booty.
     The perfect crime.  No witnesses.  No evidence.  Did it even happen?  An entire Marsfleet division and the last Free Tellurian Defense battle group vanish.  
     We took them.  They were being wasted anyway.