This is the final section of the fifth chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. The novel starts here.
The next section is here.
Laurence pushed his way down through the corridor which was filled with a mass of people all floating in the same direction, towards the airlock.
“Looks like we’re not the only ones to be curious.”
“Yeah well it’s a small space and there are a lot of people here, come on.” She pushed herself off one of the grapple points on the bulkhead and floated towards the cargo bay where seemingly half the crew and passengers were all heading to get a look at what was going on. Fortunately the cargo bay had been designed for rapid movement of extensive cargo and people.
When they reached the docking bay there were less people there than Laurence thought given the bustle of the corridors leading to the bay. A bit of experimentation with where to float to get a good view was rewarded when the airlock opened. First one person then a few dozen more drifted out after a brief talk with the captain.
The PA system crackled into life and announced “The crew here of the Prefect are all okay. A simple supply mission to Saturn that went awry. We’ve done the calculations and if we get all the water from their ship we’ll be able to take both the crew and their cargo onboard. Please welcome them as passengers and crewmen alike and for now return to your quarters. That is all.”
“It’s all good, let’s leave them to sort it out and go back to bed” said Laurence watching a few people disperse. “See there are people moving out to the medical bay, there on mag-stretchers” he pointed to a group of people in medical gowns heading out of the doors. Various people streamed out of the bay and into the corridors around. A few crates of cargo were soon being brought over.
“No I think you might have been right something is wrong, too many of them have their hands in their pockets” Jane looked quite nervous.
“Safety procedure as part of travel on their vessel?” pondered Laurence “Keep hands from flailing around in zero gravity?”
“I doubt it, like a tail on any animal, arms will help you maintain your stability” replied Jane “Disabling one only hurts you.”
“Maybe a hangover from something on mining duties, it was a mining supply ship after all.”
“No that doesn’t make sense either, why would they all be miners here?”
“What do you think they are then?” he eyed up a couple of the visitors who were slouching in a corner.
“Up to no good.”
Laurence watched people begin to file out of the loading bay “What do you think they are then?”
“I don’t know. Until now I’d always said space pirates made no sense. Now I’m not so sure. The economics of piracy mean that you need to have your pirates with vastly superior vessels to the target vessels and for what reward? Limited cargo? And in space you cannot hide. To have such a superior vessel means you have an engine flame out the back that is visible from the next star system. No hiding places means no pirates. Even then you need a covert way for the pirates to get their supplies. However I’m just worried here that a few of those problem have been annulled.”
“They just need a way to get away with it then?” questioned Laurence “I guess it depends what they’re after.”
“Not sure, but I think we should get out of here”
“Too late” said Laurence seeing guns being drawn by the visitors “always too late.”