Writing Exercises

Silver Pod Part 27: Giving Up Control

Author’s note: My mind has been stretched in many directions lately so much that I feel filmy and transparent. The start of the school year looms and I’m quite looking forward to it, but also feeling all the anxiety of what that means. I’ve been spending more time lesson planning than writing. The time I have spent writing has been on a new project. I feel good about that. Pushing through, trying to finish my other loose ends has felt like slamming down the pedal on an engine with no oil. It would be a terrible time to burn out. I’d still like to finish the freewriting experiment that is Silver Pod, so here’s the next section…

Link to part 1

Link to previous part: 26

The anomaly spun a deadly, posthuman ship into reality off the bow. Earth was a black cut-out, rimmed in yellow light behind. Luna shined bright and half full ahead. Between the Silver Pod and the moon, a shoal of angry missiles closed. Their drive trails jagged, taking preemptive precautions against point defense fire.

“Give me the controls,” Ohnsy demanded.

Fife’s eyes flicked to the threat indicator. Red kilometer numbers plummeted toward zero, each less significant digit spinning down exponentially faster than the last. Her own threat assessment flashed across her neurons. Her broken arm tipped the balance. She had a lot of skills, but operating an unfamiliar ship one-handed while a competent pilot waited it out was foolish.

“Sit there,” Fife stabbed a finger at the nearest acceleration shell. Ohnsy swung into the seat. The shell swelled around her, taking her into its embrace. The seat slid forward so she could reach the controls. Fife took the seat beside Ohnsy where her good arm would be within reach if the other woman tried anything.

Beryl’s mug suddenly obscured her vision, his hairy nostrils flaring. “What are you doing? We can’t trust her!”

Fife turned her best glare on Beryl. He flinched back. “We can cooperate with her without trusting her. Now get out of my face while I save your ass.”

Beryl stepped aside, muttering, “She broke your arm.”

“What can I do?” she asked Ohnsy.

The bald woman grinned. “You can verify that I’m not about to kill you all.” Her hands danced across the controls faster than Fife could track. She focused on the screens that sprang up holographically in front of Ohnsy.

The helplessness clawed at her. Fife was used to taking charge. She was pretty sure she could have successfully commanded the defense of the Silver Pod, but pretty sure wasn’t certainty and she was certain that Ohnsy could do it.

“Twenty-four fish in bound,” Ohnsy called out.

“Could be multiple vehicles on each of those warheads,” Fife pointed out.


Fife took her eyes off the displays for a moment to order Besh and Beryl into their own acceleration shells. A flick of Ohnsy’s wrist copied what she was seeing to each of their display panels.

“Thank you,” Fife said.

“Thanks for letting me break your arm,” Ohnsy replied. “You didn’t have to do that.”

“I would have hurt you if I hadn’t. Badly,” Fife said.

Without shame, “I know. Now let me solve our missile problem.”

“Please,” Fife said.

Ohnsy raised a new display. A cone composed of red lines sprang up from the moon’s surface, converging on the Silver Pod.

“Guidance lasers,” Ohnsy said though Fife didn’t know if she was talking to herself or informing the others.

“Engaging electronic countermeasures.”

Blue lines stabbed from Silver Pod down to the moon. The red lines on the moon swung outward from the Silver Pod’s location, tracking phantoms generated by the ship’s ECM. Some missiles veered off course toward the false ships.

Too many missiles remained on their bee line. Fife willed herself not to reach for the controls. Her palms itched. Non-action was action, she reminded herself.

“Weapons are hot,” Ohnsy said.

“They take time to warm up?” Fife asked.

Ohnsy winked at her, equivalent to a nod if the shell had not held her head tight.

“I was wondering what you were waiting for,” Fife said. The red ticker spun down toward zero.

“Wonder no more.” Ohnsy dramatically stabbed a single key. The Silver Pod’s hull had been largely opaque beyond the forward viewscreens and displays. All that hull opacity disappeared. The cabin lights went dark. It was as if the four of them floated in space, space that was suddenly lit by a firestorm. Pulses of incandescent plasma shot away from the Silver Pod. Chains of magnetically accelerated metal wove forward like jets of water. One by one the incoming missiles winked out of existence.

The threat indicator went dark.

“Now to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Ohnsy said.

The blue lines extending down from Silver Pod to the Moon sub-divided, turned red, painting not only the Moon’s own guidance systems, but lancing the missile launch sites and habitable domes as well. Silver Pod’s guns swiveled toward the lunar surface.

Fife reached out and disabled the weapon systems with a single keystroke.

“What was that for?” Ohnsy demanded. Fife could tell that she was impressed that Fife had been paying enough attention to countermand her so easily, but she was still angry.

“I don’t punch down,” Fife said. Neither figuratively nor literally. “Don’t worry. Your precious Silver Pod won’t break an arm.”

“They attacked us first. We’re well within our rights to retaliate.” Ohnsy reached out to take back the controls.

Fife was out of her shell in an instant, one good arm grabbing Ohnsy, folding the blade of her hand down and out, taking away Ohnsy’s leverage, the only free direction of movement sure to cause more pain.

Ohnsy glared, but refused to cry out against the pain. Fife glared back, said, “We eliminated the threat. You eliminated the threat easily. We still have the advantage. Just like I still have the advantage, even one handed.” Fife nodded to the control panel. “Make the call. Figure out who’s out there.” She dropped Ohnsy’s hand.

Ohnsy rubbed her wrist, but obediently keyed up a broadband transmission and began speaking. “Peary crater, Luna, this is the starship Silver Pod. We mean you no harm. Stand down.”

They waited.

“Peary crater, Luna, this is the starship Silver Pod. Come in.”

Ohnsy shut off the mic’s pick up, said to Fife, “This is stupid. I can see their dishes tracking us. Someone is listening and refusing to respond.”

“Could the tracking be automated?” Fife asked, genuinely unsure.

“Ok, there’s an AI refusing to respond.”

Fair enough, Fife thought. “Alright then. Prepare to land.”

Link to next part: 28


3 thoughts on “Silver Pod Part 27: Giving Up Control”

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