This is the 93rd in a series of 365 Flash Fiction stories I’m writing. You can find out more about the challenge here.
Mail Call, by Jonathan L. Lawrence, 4th March 2013
Word count: 729
“Bring her round three degrees starboard, and ceiling minus two degrees, and then cut engines,” the man on the end on the end of a tinny intercom instructed.
“Left over, and down,” the space suited pilot repeated casually, but they followed the instructions perfectly. There was a soft bump, a click, and inside the ship there was a hiss as pressure was increased inside the ship, as an earth like atmosphere was breathed into the ship.
“Docking complete at oh six thirty seven,” the pilot reported. Checking the atmosphere read outs, they decided it was safe to remove their helmet.
The first thing that came spilling out was long wavy red hair, then as the opaque helmet came completely clear the lovely features of a young woman appeared. She unclasped herself and walked back into the craft and through the airlock where an official met her.
“You’re a day late,” he said sternly without bothering to introduce himself.
“Excuse me,” she said giving him a glare that immediately caused him to wither, like he’d been struck by a pin and his pomposity was leaking away. “I am never late, in fact I’m here a full day early.”
“Oh,” he said, “Then the earlier delivery hasn’t made it.”
“There wasn’t any news of delays, before I set off,” the pilot said.
“Pirates most likely, they’ve been getting more brazen in these parts sadly. We’ve commissioned the Garda for more patrols, but the needs of one space station aren’t considered important enough.”
“Yeah well I’ve got parcels, deliveries, and several gigs of data that need unloading,” she said refusing to deal with the rigors is space travel right now.
“We’ll get you unloaded,” the official said, not actually apologising.
Six hours later, one set of post and packages delivered and another picked up and the pilot was detaching from the docking port. She punched boosters and the main engines and peeled away.
En route to the jump gate her scanners picked up rapidly approaching contacts from three directions.
“Stand down and prepare to be boarded,” a voice said, there was no video shots.
“Negative, back off,” the pilot warned.
They didn’t they pressed in.
“Stop your engines, or we will open fire,” the radio threatened again.
The pilot quickly assessed the situation, with three ships coming ahead effectively blocking her route. If she continued on, she could punch it and hope she didn’t take too much fire before she completed the jump gate she’d been heading for, but that was minutes away. She could drastically alter course, head back towards the space station or another jump gate, but they were already accelerating towards her, they would gain on her, possibly more time in weapons range.
She made a snap decision, spun the ship and pushed everything towards the stopping her inertia, and accelerating away.
The pirate ships went into high burn, closing the distance to the mail ship. They opened fire, though at the long range most shots missed, or bounced off the armoured hull.
The pilot moved the ship around within the limited range inertia allowed, keeping the ship out of the ranged shots as much as possible.
“Hey lady,” the voice on the radio said, “Last chance or you’ll be dead in minutes. We’ll just take what you’ve got you’ll be free to go on your way.”
The pilot didn’t respond, she was moving in the right direction again, but shots fired were getting more accurate as the ships drew in close.
The early warning proximity alarms were already starting to go off, she flipped the ship again, arresting eBay little momentum she had built up. The targeting receptacle turned green on all three targets. She pulled the trigger.
The pirate ships were ready for small arms fire and peeled off, however streaking from under the mail ship were three contrails.
The missiles hit in the blink of an eye. One ship was destroyed, the other two potentially grievously injured.
“Don’t worry I’ll send a patrol to help you,” she said over the radio.
The pilot pushed down hard on the boosters and engines and made for the jump gate satisfied. The mail company was offering eight thousand credit rewards for every pirate captured or killed. The missiles and launchers jag only cost for thousand for a set of four.
She left a marker and vanished into the night.