[READING] [V & A Shipping] Chapter 76
Sheriff Justice rubbed the stubble on his chin. He’d need a good shave once he had the SS Acid Rat in custody. A shave, a massage, and a long nap. He’d have to look his best when they arrived back on Bamda. Parades were sure to ensue as well as interviews, media appearances…
“Sir, we’re getting a transmission from Planchar.”
“Put it through.”
A tight smile crossed his lips. He’d called ahead so the local authorities on Planchar could detain the SS Acid Rat. This must be their call to notify him that they’d succeeded. All he would need to do was collect the ship and return to Bamda. Of course he’d owe a debt of gratitude to the local Sheriff, but he’d make good on that debt.
The vibration of the ship had settled to an annoying buzz that tickled his feet. They couldn’t be more than twenty minutes from the planet if that. The speed at which they traveled spurred his adventurous spirit. For a brief moment he thought of himself traipsing across the stars and going from planet to planet…
“Sheriff B.T. Justice, you are to maintain your present course en route to Planchar. If you deviate from your course, your punishment will be even more severe. I am waiting for you.”
The image of Counselor Pitrine caused the thin-lipped smile to curl into a snarl. He narrowed his eyes and glared at the officer that had put the communication through. The officer held up his hands with a look of complete surprise. He’d been duped. They must have been turned in by the Planchar local authorities.
Justice stood straight, adjusted his uniform, and turned to address the counselor.
“Counselor Pitrine. What a pleasure…”
“I’m warning your Sheriff Justice. If you deviate from your course and force me to pursue you, you’ll find yourself on Brakthanian for the rest of your life making big rocks into little rocks. Stay on course.”
He leaned conspiratorially down to the officer and whispered. “Could we change course even if we wanted to?”
The officer typed on the controls. “Sir, I think our brakes are out.”
“Well, we can just reverse the engines.”
“Sir, the engines are not responding. They may have been damaged during the pursuit.”
“Are you telling me that we have no engines and no brakes?” Justice asked, louder than he needed to.
“Counselor Pitrine, I’m afraid you may want to clear a path for us. We’re coming in fast and have no way to slow down. I shall have to use the atmosphere of Planchar to slow us down.” He leaned back in to the officer. “Get those engines running.”
“Sheriff Justice, I’ll not take your comments lightly, but I must insist that you not approach the planet. You must slow your speed, you’re coming in far faster then we anticipated.”
“We just used two black holes to increase our speed and the gravitational force has hindered the operation of our systems. I’m afraid that we won’t be able to slow down.”
“Well…uh…We shall clear a path for you. But you are not to land on the planet.”
“I’m afraid we may not have much of a choice. If we don’t have brakes or engines, we’ll have to circumnavigate the planet in order to slow our speed and then land.”
“Negative! We will track your ship’s course and once you’ve slowed enough, we shall use tractor beams to tow your ship. Once we have your ship under control, you’ll all be placed under arrest.”
“Daddy, er, sir, I have an idea.” Junior’s face beamed. There was no time for such foolishness, but the boy persisted.
“What? Cut audio on the transmission.”
“If we slingshot around the planet, it’ll slow us down, but we can then use the thrusters to break orbit and head here.” He paused to point to another planet in the Planchar system. “They’ll take up pursuit, but due to our speed, they’ll never catch up. We’ll slingshot around that planet, back to Planchar, now clear of the blockade, and head down to the planet surface and pick up the Acid Rat and be on our way.”
“You get your stupidity from your mother. Get out of my way!” he hit Junior with his hat.
“Counselor Pitrine, we’ve nearly got what we came here for. Dammit, turn the audio back on. Counselor Pitrine, we’ve nearly got what we came here for. Just let us pick up our target and be on our way.”
“I’m afraid I can’t do that. You’ve broken more laws in the past two days than the entire crew of the SS Acid Rat has broken over the past several years. I’ve deployed twenty drones to intersect with the Apprehension. They will slow your ship as you traverse the planet. I’ll see you in my office in one hour, Sheriff. Don’t be late.”
The image of Pitrine faded from view.
That was it. It was over. Finally all over. Not just the chase, but everything. And without anyone to blame it on. He’d spoken to Pitrine several times. He thought about trying to talk his way out of it in order to catch the Acid Rat and get back home, but Justice was painfully certain that would come to no avail. Not even a clever plan from Junior would see them out of this one.
“I need a hamburger.”
“Daddy, I need a hamburger.” Junior walked away.
“Now the boy gets that from me.”
Justice sat in his chair and planted his face in his hands.
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