"That's a Big One!"

By Ryan Matejka

Written: 2016
Words: 703
Genre: Sci-Fi

Based on the writing prompt: "Fuck, that's a big one. You sure we can take that one down?"

The Captain's eyes studied the cruiser that appeared suddenly before him. To the gargantuan ship, his humble vessel must have seemed like no more than a stray bit of asteroid floating aimlessly through the vast black ocean of open space.
"That's it, the hyperdrive is done for," his Pilot said from the seat on the deck beside him as she examined the gauges and meters to her side. "We'll have to recharge it at the next -" she stopped mid sentence as she finally looked out the forward window at the behemoth wall of titanium. "Fuck, that's a big one. You sure we can take that one down?"
"You know we have no choice," the Captain said, his voice struggling to get the words out. It was the first time his Pilot had ever heard anything other than absolute confidence and certainty in his voice, and that, more than the immense ship itself, frightened her.
"What about the Malgamites?" she asked. "Maybe there's something we can trade for their help, or maybe there's someone else we hadn't thought of to consider."
"Damnit! There's nothing left to trade and nobody stupid enough to take on a Syndicate Cruiser!" The Captain shouted, pounding his fist on the console. "Unless you want to take the last pod, it's just you and me now!"
"Yes, Captain," she said, timorously.
The Captain sighed, sat down in the adjoining seat, and pulled a photo out of his coat pocket. He held it tightly in between forefinger and thumb as he fought the tears away from his eyes. "You're all I've got left," he said, his voice breaking.
They were both silent for a moment. The only sounds throughout the small ship were the creaks and groans of its age mixed with the echoes of the better times they'd both had on it. The communal dinners with the rest of the crew in the dining room, in which there now sat not a single item of food or piece of furniture. The late nights drinking in Gerry's bedchamber, in which now held the last of his remaining personal effects covered in stray bits of his dried blood. The long talks with friends and family in the comms room, the communicator of which had since been ripped out and sold for scrap.
"They really were beautiful," the Pilot said, looking at the photo of the young Captain with his wife and boy.
"He loved this old hunk of junk, you know?" the Captain said, covering his mouth and unable to hold the tears any longer.
The Pilot leaned over and put a hand on his. "He loved it because you were always in it," she said, and squeezed gently. This all seemed so surreal to her. She'd never seen her Captain so vulnerable. Even now, seeing it with her own eyes, she couldn't imagine him crying.
She let go of her Captain's hand and returned to the console, checking and re-checking several readouts and status gauges. "If I reroute power from the life support and direct it to the hyperdrive, we can ram them at fifty times the speed of light. If there's any energy left, the resulting explosion might just do enough damage to ensure we take a few hundred of them with us. So what do you say, Captain?"
The Captain fell silent. He wiped away at his tears, then checked the same readouts and gauges to do the math himself.
"Let's make these bastards pay," the Pilot said.
After another moment of thought, the Captain finally nodded. "Get in front of it's lower decks as close to where the engines should be. We'll want to take it on lengthwise to do maximum damage."
"Yes, Captain!" The Pilot said, emboldened by the return of her Captain's familiar fearlessness. She began to reroute power and steadily steered their ship around to the front of the cruiser, aligning their small craft with the lower half of the beast. "Ready to engage."
The Captain took one last look at the photo. Quietly, he whispered "this is for you," and ran his thumb along the faces of his deceased wife and child.
"Sir?" the Pilot asked.

© 2018 by Ryan Matejka