The Indian Continent
It was a strange name for an inter-galactic cruise liner; still when the owners of the vessel come from the plane New Mumbai, I suppose it was no small wonder.
I checked the instruments on the flight panel for what seemed the umpteenth time during my shift. I hated night duty; it sucked the hell out of you, left you deflated like a when the skin of a balloon has been pricked by a needle.
Still it was one of the prime articles of faith that a star-flight cruise ship member should always be alert, helpful and honest. I did by best to make sure I lived up to the articles, I didn’t want to be a junior helmsman forever, I had ambitions and I had drive.
It was great riding the light stream, the name we give to the inter-galactic highway network, set navigational routes that large craft stuck too to avoid horrendous accidents. They work a little like the old Earth flight plans for primitive aircraft, what the ancients used to quaintly call ‘aeroplanes’ they had given flight heights, speeds and directions, not too different from us in 2715 I suppose.
The only danger we had to face was space pirates; these were men who chose to stand outside of conventional morality and attack passing civilian craft; cruise ships were a favourite target, what with all the wealthy passengers on board.
Normally pirate vessels were small; they would attack in a series of waves, normally a standard V formation with the largest and best armed vessel acting as the point craft.
Once their attack had succeeded they would drag their victim vessel back using a hyper photon beam. The vessel would be taken to one of the ‘Island’ planets, a loose confederation of independently minded and economically poor planets that depended on piracy for a way of life as they were devoid of any mineral deposits of real value.
I wasn’t concerned though, we were light years away from any Island planet, and our ship was armed with the very latest in weapons defence systems, in fact it was more a battle cruiser than a cruise ship.
I settled back at my command console and stared in the screen in front of me, nothing worth noting still.
Just as I was beginning to relax the screen went crazy before my eyes, five, ten, fifteen vessels appeared upon it, all of varying sizes, but all in the classic wave attack of the Island pirates.
My stomach dropped as I sounded the alert upon my console, soon the echoing boom of the alert could be heard all over the ship as passengers were herded to the safety zones and the crew began to arm or take positions in the gun mount bubbles.
The captain strode in to the command room and looked at my console. His face froze in shock...