A plume of plasma shot toward Alitma’s ship, evaporating all debris in its path.
Watching the rapidly approaching ionized gas, Alitma turned to his injured crustacean subordinate, who had returned to its station and was now nursing a broken claw.
“Take us out of here,” Alitma said bitterly.
“Sure thing, boss,” the mercenary said, still nervous. “But … we’ll have to use the Quantum drive. Belmont radiation’s messing with our other engines.”
“Fine. Take us out of here. ”
Then Alitma’ science advisor spoke up—much to the relief of the crustacean-like alien who hadn't wanted to mention the problem.
“Sir … I am completely in favor of leaving," said the tall, spindly insectoid creature, who was even more nervous than the mercenary. "But … it’s just … we are near large amounts of debris. And I must remind you—you asked me to do so, after the events of 47 years ago—that our … ahem, procedure dictates that we must be … ah … twenty-three miles from large concentrations of matter, so that we can guard against Kep Effect reactions—”
“I don’t care about procedure. Take us out now!”
“Yes, sir. Of course, sir,” the insectoid science adviser said quickly and nudged the crustacean-like mercenary.
The mercenary used its good claw to input the Quantum engine's start code.
Gazing through the viewscreen, Alitma looked at Daniel with hate, one last time. Then the gangster cut off communication with the Afterthought.
Alitma's face disappeared from the walls of Daniel's ship, and Rachel-7, finally back in control, ordered the viewscreens to display images of the Afterthought's surroundings.
Some screens showed the cannon leaking plasma. Some showed the Garage. And some showed a glowing cloud of ionized matter about to engulf the crimelord's ship.
Just as the plasma hit the dreadnought's shield, the vessel entered Quantum space.
From the perspective of the Afterthought's crew, the gangster's enormous knife-like ship shimmered blue, collapsed to a single luminescent point, and vanished.
After 23 seconds, a globe of white light expanded outward from where the luminescent point had been.
The still-expanding globe—better known as the visible part of the Kep effect—mixed with the swirling plasma around it and began creating strange, impossible reactions in the cloud.
"I'm sorry to say," Trak said, watching the plasma spray from the cannon's fissure, "but this small release of pressure will not halt our destruction.
"We have five minutes. At the most.”