The venting plasma acted as an ion thruster—an ancient human method of spaceship propulsion— pushing the weapon and the still-docked Afterthought alongside the Garage.
Faster and faster, the cannon moved past an unending gallery of spaceships.
Thinking about Alitma's daughter, Daniel ignored the pretty vessels.
Instead, he looked on sullenly as superheated matter continued pouring from the cannon’s ruptured hull.
At the fissure’s mouth, it looked like the flame of a giant welding torch. Every few seconds, spatters of molten metal shot from the breach and mingled with the neon purple of the plasma.
Daniel swore he could feel the heat … then curiosity cut through his melancholy.
“Guys,” Daniel said. “How are we still alive?”
“You already asked that,” Rachel-7 said. “You and Trak repeat yourselves. A lot.”
“Rach, if we survive, I swear I’m burning ‘Must shut up’ into the first page of your contract.”
“Lucky for me we’re not going to survive,” Rachel-7 said. “And that your species hasn’t used paper contracts for hundreds of years.”
“Fine. You haven’t answered my question!” Daniel asked. “That plasma's hot as a star. We’re alive because …?”
“Headlight shield’s still holding,” Trak said quickly.
“Barely,” Rachel-7 said.
“Oh. ... Wait, wait, wait! Alitma’s gone!” Daniel said. “We can undock from the cannon without him killing us!”
“Do that and we lose the shield," Rachel-7 said. "Then the plasma plume turns our ship into slag.”
“We could … Ok, I got nothing. We have any other options?” Daniel asked.
Rachel-7 was impressed—some part of Daniel refused to give up.
Probably the drunkest part, Rachel-7 thought pessimistically.
Then she resumed singing.