“Whoop, whoop, cough, whoop,” blared the Afterthought’s older-than-dirt emergency alarm.
Daniel was surprised the alarm worked at all.
It hadn’t gone off when Alitma hit the Afterthought with a pulse blast, or with a missile, or with the high intensity energy weapons that he continued to fire upon the ship.
But whatever was happening inside the Z-klik cannon was so powerful and dangerous, it was enough to activate the ship’s antique warning system.
“Trak, you said there wasn’t a chance you could link with the cannon,” Daniel said.
“Very nice, Daniel,” Alitma said, his voice thick with sarcasm. “And believable too.”
“What are you going on about?” Rachel-7 said.
“This whole 'The cannon’s going to overload' charade!'” Alitma yelled. “Can't you just give up? You're out of options. Yes, your friend may have activated the shields, an excellent move—”
“Thank you,” Rachel-7 said.
“But it doesn’t help!" Alitma said. "You’re still trapped. The instant you exit that shield, you're mine. You can’t leave your ship. Your ship can’t leave its landing zone. And I’m not leaving until you tell me where you hid my property."
"Oh, and just so you're aware," he taunted, his voice full of hate, "I can fire on you until the stars burn out.”
“Daniel,” Trak said, ignoring Alitma’s sneering voice, “I did say I couldn’t link with the cannon, but there was a small chance it was possible."
Daniel raised his eyebrows in surprise.
"I rounded the percentage down to zero to save time," Trak said. "Remember, I always estimate when I speak with you. ... Did you really want me to say, ‘There’s .000000000007483808483048 percent chance that I could make the cannon operational?”
“When we’re facing that?” he said, pointing at Alitma’s face on the floor, a viewscreen Daniel hadn’t even known the Afterthought had. “Yes! Tell me the whole number when it’s life or death.”
“Always give exact figures during life or death instances. Noted,” Trak said, making a literal note of it in his datacore.
“Sensors, such as they are, are reporting a 700 percent increase in Belmont radiation from the cannon,” Rachel-7 said.
“Convincing,” Alitma said, still sarcastic. “So convincing.”
A subordinate leaned over and whispered in Alitma’s ear hole.
“Of course, it looks like it’s going to overload!” Alitma snapped. “It’s a trick. A trick.”