Bolts of plasma from the Dwarf's cannons, streaked silently past the front viewport.

“That was too fucking close!”

The Starbug rocked violently, buffeted by the nearby explosion.

“You're still alive - What are you complaining about?”

“That's not the fucking point – Left! Down! Now!”

“You mean: 'Two ninety, mark three ten'”

“Oh, fuck!” Cass screamed, tightly gripping the arms of her chair as the ship spiralled into the manoeuvre “Don't get smart with me Chrysler, it really doesn't suit you”

“There are another two drones ahead of us!”

“Yes, Artemis” Jay snapped “I know”

“And what the hell are you even doing on the bridge?” Cass demanded

“Well, I just -”

“Stow it” Jay barked, banking the ship violently to bring it in close to the alien cruiser. Laser light flickered all around them.

“There's a gun emplacement!”

“Yes. I know”

“Fucking hell!” eyes wide in terror, Cass pressed herself back into her seat as Jay weaved in and out of a series of laser cannons.

“How do we get onto this damn cruiser?” Jay demanded “Have the sensors found us a way in?”

“Not yet” Cass bent over her console, eyes narrowing as she absorbed the readings “The alien attack craft must have launched from those ventral nacelles; maybe there?”

“That's no fucking use – We don’t have time for a docking manoeuvre. Brace!”

Another explosion buffeted the Starbug as Jay hauled it around a sensor cluster and out into open space, hotly pursued by a swarm of drones.

“We're going to get torn to pieces out here” Artemis yelled “We need to get inside”

“No? Really!?”

“Yes. Really – Ms. Jones: See if you can find a weak point in the cruiser's hull; maybe we can blast our way through?”

“With what?” Jay snapped, pirouetting the ship through a drifting cloud of debris “This Starbug isn't even armed”

“You are fucking kidding me?” Artemis' mouth would have hung open if he'd still had one.

“I told you I had a bad feeling about this” Cass grumbled, still scrutinising the display “There – Got one” she jabbed a finger onto the console, highlighting an area in the aft section of the alien ship's hull and sending it to the navi-comp.

“I'm on it” Jay hauled the 'bug around in a tight arc.

“What the hell are you going to do?” Artemis spluttered as the cruiser rolled back into view “Ram it?”

“I've no idea – I just thought I'd make it up as I went along”

“Slow down” Cass yelled

“But that'll put us within the range of all those drones”

Another blast of plasma blistered across stars ahead of them, forcing Jay to take evasive action.

“Yeah, that's what we want – A big cluster of the fuckers”

"What!?" Artemis splutterd.

“Gotcha” Jay fired the retro thrusters and banked hard, the manoeuvre earning the Starbug a few hits from the pursuing drones as they arced and wheeled around them.

"Fucking thing" Jay snarled and hammered his fist on the intercom "Jamie" he bellowed "I need more power. Now"

"She cannae take it" Jamie's soot smudged face flickered into view on one of the monitors "The reactor's bypassin' -" he stopped and cleared his throat "Sorry - I meant: No - I can't squeeze any more out of the reactor"

"What the fuck are you even doing back there?" Jay snapped in frustration "Picking out Laura Ashley prints for a new fucking dress!?"

"How about the ancillary systems?" Artemis suggested.

"Life support" Cass supplied " - Shit!"

Jay banked the 'bug hard, arcing the ship around to bring it into line with the cruiser, closely followed by a tight swarm of drones.

"Life support's essential" Jamie protested.

"At this rate, we're going to be past needing it in a few minutes!"

"Ah. Good point" Jamie cut the connection.

The lights and power to a myriad of other vital systems, like the coffee machines, all died across the ship a few moments later.

"I hope this works" Jay yelled above the sudden howl of the engines.

"What!?" Artemis snapped "You mean there's a plan!?"

"There" Cass pointed out at the cruiser, pinwheeling in front of them.

"Yeah, I see it" Jay nodded.

"See what?" Artemis narrowed his sensors and peered past them "The frigging garbage chute!?"

"No - It's the badly painted section, a couple of decks above it"

"Dear science," Artemis' yelled, his voice getting higher pitched, as the cruiser loomed ever closer, into a solid wall in front of the Starbug "That's could be solid zortium"


Jay hit the retro boosters at the last moment, spiralling the 'bug into a dizzying spin and plunging it back, deep into the swarm of pursuing drones.

Shrieking unintelligibly, Cass clung onto her chair for dear life as the world span outside the windows, wildly lit with flickering laser light.

Crowded in as tightly as they were, many of the drones found themselves with too little space to manoeuvre and streaked past the Starbug, several of them hammering into cruiser's laser scorched hull; the explosions illuminating the bridge with a stark, white light.

Blasts rocked the Starbug as it took multiple hits to it's mid and aft sections.

"Go!" Cass yelled, but Jay was already ahead of her; he ramped the thrusters up to maximum and punched the 'bug into the weakened hull.

Mining exploration vehicles were built to be tough. The Starbug slammed through the armour plating and several decks, shedding landing struts and control surfaces as it went.

The last thing Cass remembered was the viewport windows exploding inwards.

"Cass? Cass, wake up - We've got to go"


"Cass, come on"

Someone held something under her nose that made her sinuses ache “Wake up”

“Fuck off” her eyes flickering open, Cass angrily pushed the foul smelling thing away.

“Ah,” Jade smiled “she's fine”

Coming-to, Cass looked dazedly around. She was lying on the roof of the bridge, covered in granules of broken safety glass. Jade was leaning over her with Jay hovering in the background. Joribel could be heard through in the next room, complaining about health and safety nightmares to anyone who would listen.

Her head hurt.

“Oh, no, no no” Jade seized Cassandra's hand as she attempted to probe her aching head “You've got a cut on your forehead. Nothing too bad, so I'll see to you when we get to safety”

“Yeah, we really need to go” Jay urged “Security could be down here any moment”

“Can you stand?”

Groaning with the effort, Cass rolled over and pushed herself to her feet, shedding glass as stood “What happened?”

“Everyone's alive” Jade soothed “We've got a few nasty bumps and bruises, but it's a miracle nobody died”

“How wonderful”

“Yeah, but we need to get out of here” Jade chose to ignore her sarcasm “C'mon – Let's move”

“Guns? Ammo? Munitions?”

“Yeah, yeah, we got all that” Jay offered his hand to help her though the hatch, into the mid section of the Starbug. Everything was in disarray.

“Nice job, flyboy” Cass gave him a wan smile. Experimentally probing her forehead, her fingers came away smeared in blood.

Tense and edgy, Jay proffered his hand “Come on - It's this way”

“Aw, what?” Cass wrinkled her nose in distaste as she stepped out into the alien ship.

Artemis turned to regard them “So, what you think?” he said, bracingly.

“That's just... wrong!”

Where are we?

What's so distasteful and just so downright wrong about this place?

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