FFFTTD Day 7: Theme: Weird Space Ships
Nix woke up when the first lines of radio chatter brushed up against her sensory tentacles. She ran her consciousness throughout her shipself and unfurled the feathery receiving wires that lined her delicate sensory limbs. The wires flicked back and forth in the void, scanning for more radio signals.
Nix’s selfself was plugged into the pilot stem, intubated and wired and cushioned in impact gel. She had been inside her selfself for only a few brief moments over the last few months in order to run the standard checks on her selfself’s vital systems. For the rest of the time she had inhabited the Man of War, drifting along shipping lanes and waiting for an opportunity.
She identified the ship as a mining company transport, carrying ore from a nearby asteroid field. Nix often took on corporate contract jobs, harrying a company’s competitors and inducing stock drops in exchange for credit and legal protection. She ran the ship’s ID code through her shipself’s processors. When it pinged, her shipself smiled, curling her grasping tentacles into a great set of parentheses. She retracted all but a few sensory arms into the body of her shipself and waited.
Nix stayed perfectly still for days. The Man of War was an ambush predator of a ship, huge and silent and powerful. It did not bore or tire, and neither did Nix while she was operating it. She stretched her mind throughout her shipself and dragged her tentacles lazily in her wake, tasting the microdebris that brushed up against them. Whenever Nix docked in a port to spend her credits in her selfself after a long run in the Man of War, she felt wobbly and dysphoric. Her body was suddenly too small and heavy, her arms too few. After a few days she would regain her land legs and get used to her selfself, but she always waited a month or more before returning to her shipself. She had heard tales of sailors who had lost themselves within their Man of Wars entirely. They kept hunting, those krakens, wandering the dark edges of known space and destroying any unwary vessel that wandered into their grasp.
Nix had no intention of following them. Piloting a Man of War was a glorious thing, but there were a great many other glorious things in the universe that Nix enjoyed. And those things required credit and a body.
The cargo ship didn’t know she was there until she had already embraced it. Her grasping tentacles whipped out of her belly and coiled themselves around the hull of the ship.
She sent out a continuous wave message to the cargo ship’s captain.
YOU ARE HELD BY A MAN OF WAR STOP YOU KNOW WHAT I AM ABOUT STOP YOU HAVE ONE HOUR STOP
Time passed differently when Nix was within her shipself. If it was not for the clocks running within her shipself’s processors, she could not say if waiting for the cargo ship’s response took an hour or a minute or a day. Her grasping tentacles twitched and scraped restlessly against the other ship’s hull. The wires on her sensory arms spit static out into the void, blocking any distress signal they might try to send.
Nix waited. If they did not surrender the ore, she would start to slowly tighten her grip. She held the ship too closely for it to fire its defensive weapons without the risk of damaging its own hull. She would slowly crush through their energy shields and their kinetic plating until she crunched the bones of the ship into powder.
She didn’t have to.
The cargo bay doors opened and crates drifted out from the belly of the ship. Nix reached out her arms and took them in, one by one.
Stuff I spend a lot of time thinking about: outer space and ocean space, making two things kind of the same thing (a ship called a Man of War that is both a Man of War and a Man of War), and how space ships that never land can be any shape they want because space has no friction and no drag. And cephalopods.
This was definitely one that I wish I could have spent more time on. I might end up returning to it at a later date.
Go check out the other FFFTTDers’ weird space ships:
Christian – “A Narrative Voyage”