[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 8
“Argmon! What is taking so long?”
They had been sitting for far too long. Surely that police cruiser was going to be on them at any moment. Vic had thought they’d at least have enough charge in the engines to get them out of the solar system. Sitting in the Kuiper belt they were sitting ducks. At least outside of the system they were in galactic territory and away from the local authorities. They weren’t moving nearly fast enough to get out before they were caught.
Argmon snarled and growled.
“I don’t care if you’re doing the best you can. What’s everyone else doing?”
Argmon barked and snorted.
God I hate my crew.-
Vic had been trying to convince Tootsie, the ship’s computer, to let him in to change the ship’s codes.
“Now, Vic, you know I can’t let you do that.”
“Tootsie, do you realize that they’ll arrest you too?”
“I’m a computer. They can’t do anything to me.”
“They can shut you down.”
“I’ve got backup batteries, besides, I didn’t break any laws. I can’t. . .”
“You allowed your codes to be changed once, they’ll know that. Plus, they can remove your backup batteries.”
“Vic, do you really think they’d allow me to be deactivated. I’m a valuable asset.”
Leave it to me to get the only computer in the galaxy with a moral code.
“You’re so sweet, Vic, but no.”
Vic banged his hands on the wall of the ship. “Now look here Tootsie, I don’t have much time. I need you to let me change those codes or I’ll let Mike get in there and we’ll see what he can do.”
Mike was the ship’s engineer and prone to fits of sudden randomness.
There was a long pause from Tootsie. Now he was making some headway.
“Vic, you wouldn’t.”
“Alright, alright. I’ll change the codes. I don’t feel good about doing it, but I’ll do it.”
“Thanks babe, I owe you one.”
“I don’t know, maybe I’ll hook you up with a computer dating service computer.”
“Vic!” Tootsie’s electronic voice sounded as if she was actually embarrassed.
Vic landed in his seat and it instantly reformed to his body shape. The view screen still showed the same blank area of space. At least they weren’t spinning anymore. That had gotten old fast.
“So please tell me we’re almost ready to go.”
A speaker crackled overhead with a scratchy voice. “We’re almost ready to go.”
“Great, Mike. How much longer?”
“Five, maybe ten minutes.”
“I’m kidding, I’m kidding. We’ll be ready to go in one minute.”
“Great. Tootsie, get me on the general con. And how’s it going with changing out numbers?”
“Almost done with the change. You didn’t tell me, but I assumed you wanted me to change them after we jumped.”
“Right, general con please.”
“SS ACID RAT!” the voice over the speakers was loud. Far too loud. It had to be the police. No! It couldn’t be the police. They were so close to getting away. What they’d taken wasn’t even worth that much anyway. At least not on the Bamda planet it wasn’t. Why were these local officers going out of their way to catch him?
“SS ACID RAT! You will cease the charging of your engines. We are en route to your position and we will be arresting you momentarily. If you attempt to flee, we have been given permission from GCP Central Office to give chase. You will not get away.”
Permission from GCP Central Office? That was the Galactic patrol. They never gave any local system permission to leave their own solar system. It had to be a bluff.
“Almost there, boss. Thirty seconds.”
“We may not have thirty seconds.”
And they didn’t. The police cruiser grew larger in the rear monitor. The ship looked nice with all its blue and gold. Too bad they were being pursued by it and Vic spent little time admiring.
“Mike! Get us out of here. I need what ever we got and I need it now.”
“Boss, if we don’t charge the engines fully, and they aren’t lying about chasing us, we’ll never get away. They’ve got enough power charged to follow us and we wouldn’t be able to change course enough times to get away. Fifteen seconds.”
The port for the tractor beam opened on the police cruiser. This was going to be too close. Vic wanted to shout, but his jaw was locked tight. Argmon had two hands on the wheel and his other two hands ready to hit the buttons at Mike’s word that the engines were fully charged. Vic leaned back into his seat.
It couldn’t have been two seconds before Argmon hit the button when a vaguely familiar sound of rustling leaves followed by charged air wafted to his nose.
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