Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Z Is For Zero Margin for Error


You come blundering your way into the Leonis Expanse: our Leonis Expanse. You manage to survive the First War by the skin of your inner eyelids. You force a stalemate in the Second War through Throgg’s own luck. You try to weaponize the Question.

Goddam I like you.

Except when you come down on the necks of hardworking pirates like myself. Piracy is a galactic convention. If you can’t defend it sell it and buy something you can defend or at least hide. If you can’t win a fight for it it wasn’t yours. The muck dwellers, the voles and the beanpoles all understood this before you affected them. You’re like the Question yourselves.

But I like you guys for all that and you have let me go a couple of times. So when I see the Tesla being hammered in a hairball of Slug ships I pile in on the side of my fellow vertebrates. Slugs define brain food differently from humanoids. I do not like the slugs.

My decision is not popular with my crew. I have to kill one before they fall into line. I am wary of those seeking my captaincy. That is a word? After all it is how I turned pirate and got my first command. But my old captain was a fool.

The Tesla is rescued. Huzzah. Korsa gets his ship in order. Huzzah cubed! One Slug ship escapes their little civil war, much bigger than Tesla or the Wanton Courtesan. We stick together and lay in a course for ‘the hell outta here’ as Tesla Captain puts it.

Which brings us to this impasse, running out of the galaxy we can find on maps. A bloated and deadly Slug battlewagon behind us. If we split up that’s one of us dead for sure. Neither of us is sure which species the slugs will prefer dining on. So we still hang together and dodge the occasional pot shot by our filmy menace. Besides, I will not break before these Space Fleet bubbleheads. I am a pirate but I have my courage to live by. Or die by. My father, the Commandant would be amazed at this state of affairs. He expected me to die in front of a firing squad, or in a courtesan’s arms or both.

After a couple hours I decide I’m heading into the system primary before us. Better to be plasma than 1 from column A. Sue me. I like Easterner cuisine from Terra.

Tesla Captain gives me the talk about soldiering on, not giving up. Calls me a deranged pirate bastard. I like Tesla Captain. Then the beanpole tech buzzes in his ear for a bit and then we start talking on tight beam. Pity it is on a comm beam. Face to face we would have to imbibe several bottles of wine to work out our plan. You cannot plan with a dry throat.

We are headed for this Sun, Tesla and Korsa. We are ramping up our acceleration. We are cutting it as close as we can to the corona. 

Maybe too close. Then one of three things happens.

We make it through and the Slugs do not. Problem solved. Very unlikely. The quality of their shields is pretty well calculated. Better than ours.

We do not make it through. Well it’s a cool death anyway. I make sure to set the black box to eject. It may last. Maybe someone will get a song out of it. Who cares if the Slugs make it or not?

Most likely we will make it and then we will have our forward shields in the full fury of a star that is far too close for sane men to control their bladders. I know not if the Slugs have bladders but their forward shields will be getting hammered as well. 

Only they are chasing Tesla and Korsa. We will be shooting at their weakened forward shielding. They will be firing on our undamaged rear shields. That will give us the edge, if we hit them together, if we cut the perigee just right. There is no margin for error. But my crew will not make errors. They fear disappointing me worse than death. I hope Tesla Captain can say the same for his crew.

 If I get out of this I need to get some Eastern Terran food. Perhaps Tesla Captain will join me for the bibimbab.


I can’t wait for you to realize you are conquerors as ruthless as my own people with your ideals. On that day we either form a great alliance that will rock this galaxy or we begin the final war for one of us.

But right now the slugs call.