Challenge #00732 - B001: The Better Part of Valour

Person #1: A ‘strategic withdrawal’ is running away. But with dignity.
Person #2: So lay in a course and let’s get the dignified hell out of here.

Human ships. A fleet’s worth. Just hanging around in space, as one of their own authors was wont to say, in precisely the way that bricks don’t.

The crew of the Expendable Question could instantly tell that these vessels had been made by humans. They showed a deathworlder’s evident disregard for basic safety.

“Sir?” said science officer K'cops. “Might I recommend a strategic withdrawal?”

Captain Mij was busy staring, transfixed, at the view screen. “Very carefully, if you please.” Her hands were shaking. “Passive scanners only, gas thrusters only. Do not do a single thing to earn their attention.”

“Aye, Sir,” said Ulus, at the helm. She even moved to manipulate her controls carefully.

It was as if the entire bridge crew were.

Lieutenant Aruhu, the only male on the bridge, focussed his attention on the ear-bud that was near-permanent equipment as a comms officer. “I’m monitoring their communications, Sir. There’s no signal whatsoever. No radiation… nothing.”

“Best to be safe and certain, Lieutenant,” said Captain Mij. “Let’s be sure we’re out of scanner range before we engage the big engines.”

“Aye, Sir.”

Probes, sent much later, would verify that this particular patch of space was a dumping ground for decommissioned terran space vessels.

Captain Mij refused to feel silly about it. Those were deathworlder ships. For all she knew, they were rigged to explode.

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