“Rach, if you know why we’re still alive, just tell us,” Trak said.
“Before he finds a weapon that works...” said Daniel, impatient.
“He'll be looking for a long time,” Rachel-7 said triumphantly. “The reason I thought the cannon was an Onean headlight? Because the cannon actually has an Onean headlight installed inside.”
“Ah,” Trak said, relieved.
“Ah,” Daniel said. Then he smiled.
“So?” Alitma said.
He didn’t understand why Daniel looked so happy.
Alitma had never heard of the Onean species before and had no idea why the warlike Z-klik would have merged their brilliant weapon with a flashlight.
Alitma’s science advisor leaned over and whispered into Alitma’s left ear hole. The advisor spoke for three minutes before Alitma finally understood.
“Ah,” Alitma said, as his advisor stepped away.
“How did you know—” Alitma began to ask his enemies.
“You know your weaponry … we know our garbage,” Rachel-7 said.
Here's a bit of background: traveling the universe is dangerous for a number of reasons. But one reason you may not have thought about—because it doesn’t come up that often at social functions—is that the faster you go, the more deadly tiny bits of matter become.
A pebble is nothing to worry about. Unless you hit it at 99.999999999999 percent of the speed of light. Then that rock hits your ship like a diamondglass mountain.
To defend against such collisions, starfaring species meticulously shield every part of their ship's hulls against even the smallest particles.
Many vessels have double and triple collision shielding overlapping critically important areas, like the weapons bay, the engineering section, and the food court.
Alitma knew this well.
However, until his advisor explained the matter, Alitma did not know that the Oneans considered their headlights “critically important.”