Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Shortcomings Of Plasma Cannons

"Why are we fighting?" Sara asked, nimbly rolling to avoid a white-hot plasma blast.

 "Why are we fighting?" Evryn parroted, her voice incredulous. "You've forgotten already?" She fired another plasma blast, melting a large crater into the face of the derelict starship Sara had taken cover behind.

 "All the plasma fire is pretty distracting," Sara said. "Easy to forget things when you're concentrating on not being turned into a loose cloud of rapidly dispersing atoms."

 Evryn fired another plasma blast; Sara peeked over the edge of the derelict ship, winced, and began looking around for another ship to take cover behind.

 "You're pathetic," Evryn spat, ejecting the spent power-cell from her plasma cannon with the ease of long practice and clicking a fresh one into place. "You come here, probably trekking across half a continent filled with biomechanical monsters that have forgotten every word but 'kill' - and maybe 'eat' - to the only starport on this godforsaken world - and you forget what you came for as soon as you got here?"

 Sara, who'd taken the opportunity provided by Evryn's rant to scurry across the tarmac to a more durable, less-melted-looking starship, breathed a sigh of relief. "Oh yeah!" she said. "I was going to grab a starship and burn my way off this dirtball!"

 "NO!" Evryn screeched, firing a quick pair of shots from her cannon. Some long-disused energy tank buried inside the derelict starship ruptured, sending a rumble through the ground; Sara winced again. "I fought my way here, too!" Evryn screamed, watching for any sign of motion as she let the plasma cannon's red-hot barrel cool. "I suffered and bled and starved, and I got here, and I found the one spaceworthy ship still on this dump, and I pulled together the parts and made the repairs and nearly got it ready for launch, fighting off every single biomech that tried to eat me while I worked, and you are not taking my ship now!" She fired another blast, burning a hole through the already-scarred hull but just missing Sara, and immediately began changing out her cannon's power cell.

 " this one of those one-person ships?" Sara asked. "Because if not, couldn't we just share it? I could do the grunt-work, finish up the repairs, do the dishes, whatever. You know, to even things out."

 "No!" Evryn wailed, slotting the fresh power cell into her gun. "It's big enough for ten people, and it's MINE and you CAN'T HAVE IT because I HATE YOU!"

 "I think you're a little unhinged!" Sara called out, running towards the ship she'd identified as most likely to be the one Evryn had repaired. (Among other things, it was the only one still standing upright.) She didn't feel like wasting more time with cat-and-mouse games; that last shot had come rather too close, and she could hear the sound of biomechs in the distance, attracted by the noise.

 "I HATE YOUUUUU!" Evryn wailed. A trio of shots arced out from her cannon, neatly bracketing Sara. One came close enough to set her jacket on fire, provoking another drop-and-roll. Sara, extinguishing the small fire, looked up at the tower from which Evryn was delivering her fire, swore, and prepared herself for death.

 But -

 "She's not firing?" Sara wondered.

 The biomechs' cries grew louder; rose to a triumphant pitch. A tiny speck fell from the tower, tumbling slowly, end-over-end.

 "Oh," Sara said.

 "She probably should've saved some ammo for the biomechs."

 Later, it turned out Evryn hadn't done a very good job repairing the ship at all!