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The Coming Storm

Posted on Wed Jul 21st, 2021 @ 12:05am by Client The Narrator

Mission: A Knife In The Darkness
Location: Interplanetary Space, 1 Light Second Aft Of SS Albatross
Timeline: After ‘Field Trip’

It is always wise to have a knife in the darkness.

It was an old Belter saying, a way of highlighting the precarious nature of their survival in the void. It was spoken of by spacers who always carried extra fuel pellets even though they had enough for their reactors. Or traders who always found a void space in the hull where a little extra could be stowed, far from the eyes of customs inspectors and chemical sniffers.

It was always wise to have an edge on unexpected circumstances.

But as the cloud of non-reflective plastic shrapnel sped through the void, the old saying took on a new meaning. Of the cloud’s ten thousand parts all were uniform in size, tulip shaped plastic flowers around a barely magnetic metal core as large as a nail. They were cheap to print, cheaper to assemble. The slums of Pallas Station did a brisk trade in their manufacture, an important part of a child's education in handling delicate tasks in null gee.

Like a hollow point bullet these were not the ultra dense slugs fired by a railgun, but were instead far slower moving kinetic weapons. As they struck a target the small dart within would compress the plastic coating, transforming it in a moment from a narrow profile to hammer blow. Where a cloud of rail gun darts might shred a target to pieces, this grape shot was designed to maim and injure a ship.

Mangle a tight beam transmitter.
Poke holes through the drive cone.
Take out manoeuvring thrusters.
Vent exposed reaction tanks.

But not kill. That was not the intent of this cloud. The cloud was stealthy, travelling on a straight line that would see it reach Tau Ceti in about seven thousand years. Of course it wouldn’t reach that distant target. The flight plan hacked out of the ISA Database detailing the cargo drones flight path had been meticulous. Plotting the intercept, and the firing solution for the grape shot, had been easy with such precise navigation data.

Not that the barge had changed course, drifting only slightly from the ideal flight path by two meters. The cloud was a kilometre across and nearly as thick, but would rain down over its target for a mere ten seconds. But not yet.

Soon though.

But not yet.

 

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