Ariadne can see the lights of the Shen Nong II winking at her out of the darkness up ahead.  At this distance, it’s still a dark silhouette, rising up out of the water.  The boat has slowed right down, just a black shadow against an equally black sea; they’ve slowed because the lights of the trading platform are not alone in the night.

Two more sets of lights are visible in the distance, off their starboard bow.  Ariadne experiences a shock of recognition, as the familiarity of their configuration asserts itself to her; she’s seen them just hours before, tailing them as they slipped away into the dark.  The pirate interceptor, and its milchkuh, which having lost them, have locked on to the lights of the trading platform.  She can see the same idea taking hold amongst the rest of them in the boat: there’s a soft exchange between Dupree and Yakir in the stern, but she’s unable to make out what they’re saying.

The conversation is interrupted, and all heads turn as the bright, halogen-white beam of a spotlight emerges from the interceptor and is directed at the platform.  With it, Ariadne can see the detail of the Shen Nong II; a squat octagon, covered in gantries.  The light works both ways however; the flare of light also reveals animated figures waving rifles standing around the spot on the interceptor’s deck.

The light is quickly answered with a projection of flame from the platform, accompanied by a sound like Poseidon’s own dirt bike rolling across the sea.  An incandescent line reaches out from the platform, crossing the gap to touch the interceptor; a coruscation of sparks erupts where the tracers meet the vessel, followed by a gout of flame.  Flare compensation in her goggles kicks in, but it doesn’t prevent Ariadne from squinting and looking away automatically.

The light on the crippled interceptor has gone out, but the fire on board keeps it clearly visible.  Through her night vision, it appears as a spearmint sun, flickering on the surface of the sea.  There’s another burst of fire from the sea whiz and an explosion flowers from the interceptor, spreading burning wreckage into the sea like stars.  In the distance, safely out of range, Ariadne can see the lights of the mothership ponderously turning away.

She hears Dupree’s voice again, and this time she can make out the Afrikaans-accented words:

“Now, while the pirates have their attention, vinnig.”

She feels, rather than hears the boat begin to accelerate, heading in towards the platform.


~ by Electro-mechanical Man on April 26, 2011.

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