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mcgrew's Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty One

Journal by mcgrew

Interception
        I had the computer wake me up at six so I'd be ready for the pirates. Of course, when the alarm went off I thought "damned whores" until I looked and was reminded that I'd set the alarm myself. I started coffee, took my shower, and ate a quick breakfast. Huh? Steak, egg, and cheese wrap. A small one.
        Then I went downstairs to do a quick inspection of the engines and generators. Thankfully, nothing was broken or being worked on and everything was all right except number seventeen and the port generator. I only did a cursory check looking for red or yellow lights. I usually spend two or three hours down there, sometimes a lot longer if there's trouble, checking readings, but the most time I had then was forty five minutes or so.
        I went back to my quarters and checked the holo map; they'd be here in forty five minutes. That would be about quarter after eight.
        Destiny was awake by then, so I had coffee with her while she ate and we watched the news. Nothing new in the news. More people dead in orbit around Venus and everyone on the station was sick. Cops had tried to arrest a nest of Pirates in San Diego, but ten cops and two pirates died and fifteen cops and five pirates were hospitalized. The rest got away, more than fifty of them.
        About quarter 'til eight I went to the pilot room with a cup and a full pot of coffee, and at eight I did my normal checkouts. Good, everything was okay.
        At five after eight I picked up the fone and addressed the PA system. "Strap down, ladies," I announced. "Gravity changes in two minutes and it's going to be dangerous." I masered Bill to change course and gave him coordinates to change to and had the computers lazily turn the boat around and head towards the pirates.
        I lifted us to point eight nine gravity, the best I could do on one generator. Better than pirate boats can do, unless they've captured some of ours, which I didn't think was very damned likely.
        They took chase when they saw me, and I turned around and headed to Mars on a different course, one that wouldn't take us anywhere near Bill's boat. The droppers were going to be happy, even though it was an hour later when I changed course again to a more direct route towards Mars and dropped it to half a gravity, a bit more than we'd been going before eight but we needed to go that fast to outrun the pirates.
        I unstrapped and went back to my quarters, and alerted passenger and cargo that it was safe to unstrap.
        "John, you need to talk to Tammy," Destiny said.
        "Huh? Why? Talk to her about what?"
        "Pirates and droppers!" she said. I didn't get it. "Look," she said, "Tammy has a last ditch weapon; you read her book and didn't get it but it's clear to me what she can do. Tell her about the pirates, I promised you I wouldn't. I know even telling me about any danger was against the book and I understand, but she might wind up saving our lives. I'd say she has an operational need to know."
        Women. "You're right, I don't get it," I admitted, "and it looks like you have an idea. Talk to Tammy for me, would you? No restrictions, I trust her. But I still don't get it."
        "Christ, John, you can really be dense sometimes but at least you know you can be. Why can't you understand? These women are incredibly dangerous! I can't believe you read that book and missed that!"
        "I know they're dangerous, but they're a danger to you and me and themselves and the boat, not the pirates."
        "Tammy's a psychologist and an anthropologist, dumbass. She can handle these women!"
        She's right, I'm a dumbass. I don't know why she likes me so much. I still didn't get it, though, how in the hell can anybody handle a redeye monster? Christ, tasers have no effect at all and bullets only work if you hit an artery or a vital organ, and there weren't any guns inside the ship, anyway.
        "Okay, okay," I said. "I told you, talk to her. I hope we don't get boarded," although I still didn't see what she had in mind.
        "Boarded? You said we were safe! She might be our last chance if they actually manage to board," Destiny said. "That's what I was talking about."
        "Yeah, usually we're okay but shit happens, you know? I like to be as prepared as I can. They'd need a hell of a lot more boats than are after us to do it, and they can't catch us, anyway."
        She kissed me. "What you lack in education you make up for in wisdom," she said. I have no idea what she meant by it. "Look, I'm going to see Tammy, try not to get into any trouble."
        I laughed. "Want to watch something when I get... SHIT!" My phone was alerting me; pirates ahead of me. How the hell did that happen?
        "Destiny," I yelled, "Pirates ahead!"
        She laughed. "Poor pirates!" she said. I didn't get it.
        I went to the pilot room, calling Bill over the maser with my fone. "Bill, we got pirates, see 'em?" I didn't know how far away he was, and hoped he was too far away to hear me or to get picked up on the pirate's radar; our boats are stealthy but can be seen if you're close enough. "Go to zero gravity if you can hear me and they haven't spotted you so you won't leave an ion trail, I'm gonna nuke the sons of bitches."
        I switched to the PA system. "Strap down, ladies, weird gravity almost immediately. We don't need nobody getting hurt today."
        Rather than changing my heading away from them, I kept on course to intercept. Yeah, I learned that word in boat training. And yeah, this was strictly against company regulations, but fuck regulations. I was in too much danger from my cargo to have to worry about a bunch of God damned pirates.
        Ten or fifteen seconds later I got a "roger" from Bill, he must have been pretty damned close. He should have been way away by now, did that damned fool follow me or was it orbital mechanics? Orbital mechanics is way over my head. Ten minutes later the pirates were coming towards me. I grinned. Poor bastards... die, you motherfuckers! I dropped my atomic right when it would be in the middle of them, and made the boat's portholes, which were all in the bow on the ceiling, turn black. Not sure how this shit works but it works. I plan on going to college.
        Gravity got a little weird, of course, but not near as much as I thought I'd have to make it.
        That bunch was easy, the blast from that one atomic got all of them... but there would be more, I was sure of it. There were half a dozen pirate gangs and they all hated each other, but they hated us so much more that sometimes they would band together. This was probably one of them times.

Next: Boarded!

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Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty One

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