Poisoned Ice part 5
This is the fifth part of a science fiction short story. The earlier segments are earlier in this blog. (Worryingly, I haven't posted anything since last SFFSat - I knew life had been hectic this last few weeks!). Anton is in trouble; his spacecraft in the rings of Saturn has been poisoned, and he can see no prospect of surviving.
The murderous pirate was making slow progress harvesting. Anton briefly sneered at its incompetence, knowing that he could have cropped the Svenskites far more cleanly and swiftly.
Anton looked across the ring core and then glanced at his chronometer. Before seperating from Titan-D station, he had been talking to Kellerman. She had mentioned that she would be working in the Cassini Division between the rings: she had a contract to repair one of the navigation beacons. He had nothing to lose by trying to punch a laser signal through the core and trusting to luck that she passed through the beam. A corner of his mind briskly computed the probability, but he coldly suppressed the answer he got.
He reset the laser, boosting the power to maximum, and set a simple, short, desperate cry for help to repeat. The beam shone briefly, already breaking up as it passed through the ice crystals in the core mist. There was ten kilometres of ice between him and the ring surface: the beam would be negligible by the time it passed through. He noted wryly that his crop of photo-synthesising Svenskites seemed to like the beam: where the laser shone, the Svenskites were turning to face it, forming a clear line in the ring as their solar grids changed orientation.
Anton watched the line for a few moments, and began to wonder. He gingerly adjusted the direction of the beam, and swung it across the ring core. After a few moments, more Svenskites turned, their snowflake lattices shimmering in the laserlight. Anton chuckled, beginning to see a chance, and started moving the beam across the ring, the path turning those Svenskites that the beam crossed.
As always, comments welcomed.