Monday, January 25, 2016

Nano-Fic: A Gentleman's Duty (9)

The Type-20 Patrol Cutter was a type of spacecraft that both the massive Sagkal and diminutive Ruku had seen for most of their lives.  The Cutter’s nose was bullet shaped, with four thick, stubby fins attached at cardinal points.  Aft of the forward hull was the craft’s tubular neck, where the belly hanger held the ship’s Launch.  Opposite the hanger, on the spine of the ship, was a personnel airlock used for damage control.  It was to this airlock that the Scoundrel’s Gunner and Navigator.  
“What’s the hold up?” Sagkal pestered Mat as she adjusted a piece of equipment. “It’s hot out here.”
“Broomsticks are finniky,” Ruku Mat replied. “Gotta adjust or my extra mass...”
Spring pole EVA tools - the iconic “broomstick” were older than the current spacefaring civilizations that used them.  It was a meter-long tube, padded on one end and with a magnetic pad on the other.  There was a jump ring on the padded end of the broomstick, which Ruku attached to a ring on wrist of her vac-suit.
    “You know, I could just throw you across.” Sagkal offered. “Be faster-”
    “Hush!” Ruku centered the magnetic pad of the broomstick onto Scuondrel’s hull and switched it on from a switch on her forearm.  Another switch turned off her suit’s boots, allowing Ruku Mat to float with only the broomstick and tether holding her to the hull.  Carefully if somewhat clumsily, She maneuvered herself around until the padded end of the broomstick balanced on her stomach.  
    “Still one-nine-six. And you’ve got two twenty-five of slack on the safety line.” Sagkal waved at the patrol craft in the distance.  “Quit stalling.”
    “I’m not stalling!”  Ruku said.  Nonetheless, she took a few extra moments before finally hitting the trigger on the broomstick.
    The tube on the broomstick suddenly doubled in length as the spring in side pushed out and away.  The trigger also turned off the broomstick’s magnet, letting the stick - and the squealing Ruku Mat - fly away from Sagkal and the Gentleman Scoundrel.  As she sailed through the empty space between the two ships, Ruku furiously rotated the shift of the broomstick in a circle.  She herself spun around in the opposite direction, until both broomstick an woman were facing the opposite direction, toward the Patrol Cutter.  The other ship, nearly two hundred meters away from the Mercant, looked to be no closer in the too-clear brightness of open void.  Ruku bagan to pant, then breathe as deeply and evenly as possible.  The patrol craft finally began to increase in size, then rapidly grow as Ruku’s speed finally became apparent to her eyes.  The timid woman couldn’t help but flinch.
    The broomstick hit the Cutter’s outer skin with a force that Ruku could feel through her hands and arms.  Normally, the same spring that propels a broomstick absorbs the shock upon reaching its target.  Ruku’s flinch, however, put her off center.  Instead of smoothly absorbing Ruku’s energy, the broomstick bounced her off the padded in and spun her half way around.  She hit the hull of the Patrol Cutter with enough force to knock the breath from her.  Fortunately, the broomstick’s magnet had successfully attached the Cutter. Ruku, having bounced off the ship, was dangling in open space from her wrist, still attached to end of the pole.
    “...It’s not that funny, Sagkal.”
    “Yes it is,” Sagkal’s stoney voice boomed despite the speaker’s low volume. “‘Cause you’re the Navigator!  And you can't hit the broadside -
    “- Shut up, Sagkal…”

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