The heavily armed warship Peacemaker traversed the void between systems at speeds that would be considered unsafe in most realms.
Prince Bren had the shields up to protect the hull and they were taking a beating.
Standing on the deck in front of his command chair, he turned to the second in command.
“Captain Soofy, I hope the shields hold.”
“Your Majesty, I hope the ship is in one piece when we make the interception, speeds like these are not advisable in normal operations.”
“This is no normal operation.”
“No sir. But with all due respect, the Stellar class ships are no ship to be dealing with on less than a hundred percent ability.”
“Agreed.” The Prince nodded. “Throttle engines back to maximum speed and make ready for combat.”
“Contact,” The navigation officer called out. “We have a long range contact near the predicted interception point, they are two-minutes ahead of schedule.”
“Adjust for intercept and hail them.” The Prince orderd. “Weapons officer, charge all the rail-guns. When in range, drop to sublight-speed and drop shields. Leave shields down and divert power to the weapons as needed for charging. Raise shields only if they turn to fight.”
“Aye, sir.” Weapons officer called out from her station.
“Line open, Sir.” Communications officer said. “Dual-channel, clear link. We have data and video.”
“This is Prince Bren U’Maile of the Royal Pirate Ship Peacemaker. Surrender, shut down all engines and lower your shields. Prepare to be boarded.”
“Sir, they are turning, preparing to engage, they are powering weapons.” Weapons officer said matter-of-factly. “Raising shields.”
“Terrelian ship, this is an Orcus class ship of the Pirate Confederacy. Good as your ship is, you will not survive an engagement. You are overmatched in every category.”
“Peacemaker, you are non-believers in the true path of enlightenment. The reason we are allowed to live is through our human side, not the blasphemy of what you are. A hybrid of species. Only humans will survive this bioweapon and purge our planet of any who have DNA that is other than human.”
“This is Prince Bren, to whom do I have the pleasure of speaking?”
“I am Cygnus the Learned. I lead the disciples on this ship. We reject all that your technology has wrote, we will live as we were intended and live off the land without the vile blasphemy that is what you are. Anyone who is not fully human we will not suffer to live on our lands.”
The Prince paused for a moment.
“Cygnus, if you infect your world.”
“CLEAN! You’re the infection!”
“As you wish, but if you open the jar and spread the spore of that fungus, everything not of human DNA will perish.”
“That will be our promised land.” Cygnus nearly cackled.
“Including feedstock? Plants? Cattle? Fish? Poultry?”
A long pause as the image of Cygnus’ mouth dropped open.
“You had not considered this problem? This is why the planet you stole this weapon from had not used it. Did not ever plan to use it because it would sterilize a world forever from an agrarian point of view. Nothing organic can grow in a world like this except pure human.” Bren let it sink in for a heartbeat. “And the *purified* humans will forever be quarantined to keep the fungus from spreading.”
“Plant proteins are…”
“Not human, Cygnus. You have not opened the containers. Have you?” Bren looked at the eyes of the man who realized the depth of his error.
“Then we will spread the fungus through the colonies and you are too late to stop it.”
“Cygnus, have you opened those containers?”
“We opened them when we took over the ships.”
“Ships? There is more than one?”
“We took three.”
“Captain Soofy?” Bren looked away. Then pointed at the communications officer. “Mute.”
“We need to find those other two ships right away, alert all other ships in the area and the government of Terr and inform them of three ships taken and we have only accounted for one.” Bren said to Captain Soofy off-camera. “And tell them that the containers have been opened.”
“Sound on.” Bren ordered.
“Cygnus, you have opened the fungus containers that were stolen from the Terrelian research facility?”
“Prince Bren U’Maile, while you were giving orders, I spoke with my own people. We will not starve or live on technology and eat the synthetic proteins to pollute our bodies. We will choose our own path and take you with us.”
“Cygnus,” Bren sounded like a man who had to tell another of bad news. “You cannot live on any planet. You will be quar…”
“Your Highness! They have reactor overload.” The weapons officer called out.
Jets of plasma shot out of the ventral plates that covered the Terrelian ship’s engineering section.
“Get us to a safe distance, emergency speed.” Prince Bren said. “There is nothing we can do here.”
“Aye, sir. Setting a course.”
Suddenly the weapons officer spoke. “Not possible!” Lieutenant Derek Jeffcase at the weapons and defensive systems said. “Blast radius of half of an AU, they have begun emitting neutrinos from a proton-proton fusion reaction. This is not the technology that is meant for this vessel.”
“Lieutenant, explain that to me like I don’t know what you are saying?”
“Normally they use matter-antimatter reactors, it is a low pressure system and far more advanced than the high pressure systems of old fusion style reactors. The shape of the reactor-core lends itself well to low pressure antimatter use. This makes it safer in normal use. But they have changed something. I am picking up the neutrino emissions, they have no shielding for that anymore — not needed with matter-antimatter systems…”
“Lieutenant, short version please.”
“They are building to an explosion that is two-orders of magnitude larger than it should be. The blast radius is one-half of an AU. We have two minutes until they breach containment.”
“Copy that, Lieutenant Yoa? Get us out to a half-AU away.”
“Aye sir, but we don’t that speed, yet. We need five minutes to get that far away.”
“Oh, thank you.” Bren covered his eyes for a moment. “Emergency acceleration. Lieutenant Jeffcase, full power to shields, divert power from forward shields to the aft shields.”
“Aye sir.” Lt Yoa said.
“Aye aye.” Lt. Derek answered. “Your Highness? I have an idea.”
“Speak quick, clock is ticking.”
“I can launch a series of shaped charges behind us. Set them to detonate when the ship explodes, the opposing shock waves will reduce our exposure.”
Prince Bren nodded. “Make it so.”