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I put down the data drive, silent for a moment. Finally, I clear my suddenly dry throat to speak. “I’ll check these coordinates. Are you coming along?”
Yuyuko looks at me sympathetically. I wish she’d rather not. “Are you okay, Youmu?”
“I’m fine, really.” I swallow, trying to force back the lump in my throat. “Father died more than ten years ago. I’ve moved on. Let’s go.”
“Right now?” she raises an incredulous eyebrow, not quite believing my display. “Drop everything and go?”
“Yes. The trail’s getting colder by the minute.” I drain my glass in one gulp and get up. “Coming? I’d rather not leave you here surface-side with the locals. They aren’t exactly the most refined bunch.” I retrieve Hakurouken and holster from its normal spot in my desk drawer and strap it around my waist.
“I suppose I should,” Yuyuko sets her own glass down, leaving it half full.
“We can finish the bottle when we get back,” I promise her, tilting my head towards the door. “Come on. The garage is in the back.”
The Myon spacecar is parked in the garage in the back, still sporting police colours, albeit those of a jurisdiction far, far away. “You still fly one of these?” Yuyuko queries lightly as she sees it. It’s a robust spacecar, not the most elegant, nor fastest, nor sleekest, but handles well enough to get the job done. With a deceptively boxy shape that favours durability over aesthetics, many suspects have thought it a slow, unwieldy vehicle - and every time they have been proven wrong.
“They were going to decommission the Myons and replace them with the next generation spacecar, so the department figured that no one would notice if a few never turned up at the scrapyard. It beats a gold watch as a retirement present, that’s for sure.” I open the cockpit and climb into the pilot’s seat while Yuyuko rides shotgun. “It’s useful in my line of work. People don’t usually ask as many questions when they see a police car.”
I start up the engine and run through the preflight checklist. Everything is ready to go - life support functioning, fuel topped up, shield generators running, garage doors opening. “Strapped in?” I glance over at Yuyuko, who has most decidedly not yet put on her seatbelt.
“It’ll wrinkle my dress,” she complains.
“Ms. Yuyuko!” I roll my eyes in exasperation.
“All right, all right,” she grumbles like the little child she does not look like at all, as she reluctantly snaps the seatbelt in place with a little click.
I start the anti-gravity drive and gently nudge the Myon out of the garage and into the warm rays of the autumn sun. Turning onto the road that connects to the rest of the colony, I keep the Myon a few feet above the ground, high enough to avoid the worst of the dirt but still low enough to qualify as ground transport.
“Tower, Myon One, requesting escape permission,” I comm local aerospace control and request permission to leave the planet.
“Myon One, Tower, permission granted. It’s a slow day; skies are clear. Check in with GenBoCaC if you’re passing by the Hakurei Gate. They’re calling for any militia.” Gensokyo Border Control And Customs is based at the Hakurei Gate, a bit further from the local sun than Gensokyo Prime, which in turn connects via faster-than-light to the rest of civilized space.
“Copy. Any idea what they want?”
“They wouldn’t say. Godspeed and Tower out.”
The Myon rapidly gains altitude as I push the throttle to its maximum and channel the energy into the anti-gravity drive. “Militia, eh?” Yuyuko teases. “I never thought you were the soldering type.”
“Anyone with a laser on her spacecar was coerced into the militia, whether they wanted it or not,” I explain. “Out here in the boondocks GenBoCaC wouldn’t be able to muster even a single flight otherwise.”
The colony soon becomes a speck on the ground, then disappears altogether as we climb ever higher. The sky becomes darker, and before long when we look up it is into star-filled space instead of bright sky. I plot a course towards the coordinates on the data drive. It lies on the ecliptic plane, but further away from the sun, and we would pass near the Hakurei Gate on the way there.
The minutes pass uneventfully as the Myon makes it way through the void, its un-aerodynamic shape meeting no resistance in the vacuum of space. I put on some music and pass the time catching up with Yuyuko.
A uniquely accented voice interrupts us over the comm as we pass by the Hakurei Gate. “Myon One, Hakurei Two. Come in, overz.”
“Copy. What’s up Marisa?” Marisa Kirisame is GenBoCaC’s “space combat consultant”. There are rumours that she was an ace pilot in the war before her discharge, credited with scores of confirmed kills. Now it’s rumoured that she smuggles contraband into the system whenever she is not patrolling the Gate against, ironically enough, smugglers trying to smuggle contraband into the system.
“Good to see you, Youmu. Reimu’s with me too, overz.”
“Hello Reimu.” Reimu Hakurei is the person in charge of GenBoCaC. The fact that one as young as her can have this position speaks volumes about the insignificance of this system in galactic affairs. She also really likes to cosplay as a Terran shrine maiden, for reasons that only she can fathom. Worse still, she actually believes that she is one, but at least her delusions do not interfere with her work and our freedom to fly in space - most of the time.
“You’re just the right person we’re looking for. Change your callsign to Hakurei Three for now and fall in formation on Reimu’s starboard. We’re going to check out these coordinates, overz.” Marisa’s tone isn’t the kind that leaves me a choice. A pair of blips on my scanner inform me that Marisa’s and Reimu’s spacecraft have undocked from Hakurei Gate.
“Hakurei One, Hakurei Three acknowledges and assuming formation.” I comply with Marisa’s demand and fly into position. Her words are backed by the lasers and missiles on her military-grade spacecraft. Mine’s a modified civilian spacecar retrofitted with a bank of surplus weapons, definitely no match. Besides, her set of coordinates are suspiciously similar to mine.
“Are you going to play along with them?” Yuyuko pipes up beside me.
“They’re headed the same place we’re going. It can’t be coincidence.” I answer her and turn the comm back on. “Can one of you tell me what exactly is going on here?”
“We intercepted an encrypted transmission an hour ago and traced it back to these coordinates. The encryption was too strong to crack, but I recognized it from the war. It uses Bug protocols, overz,” Marisa explains, bitterness creeping into her voice.
“I thought the bugs were driven back to their home system during the war-” I ask.
“Yes, they were supposed to be,” Marisa replies. “And my gut tells me to bring as much firepower as I can to blow this fu-”
“Hey, Marisa...” Reimu interrupts hesitantly.
“I’m fine,” Marisa claims, sounding about as sincere as I did. “It’s probably nothing more than a leftover spy drone, anyways. Anyways - thanks for coming along, Youmu. Overz.”
“Don’t worry about it,” I answer politely.
“We’ll finish up as quickly as we can and let you go on your way,” Reimu assures me.
In the end I figure that this detour is not going to take Yuyuko and I far out of our way, and so it can’t hurt to effectively have an escort see us there. I adjust the autopilot so that it will maintain formation and let it do its thing, while I force myself to relax and pick up our catching up where I left off with Yuyuko.
Still, as we draw closer to our destination I can’t help but to scan the instruments over and over again. Life support is chugging along as usual, plenty of fuel is left, heading and velocity are locked on the correct values, shield generators continue running, engine heat is within acceptable levels, and even the weapon diagnostics are all green. Yet, I can’t shake off a feeling of unease.
“You’re nervous,” Yuyuko states the obvious.
“Thanks, Ms. Yuyuko,” I reply dryly.
A high-pitched alarm suddenly reverberates through the cockpit as multiple red blips appear on my scanners. “Incoming bogeys dead ahead, overz!” Marisa shouts out a warning, proving that I have more than a simple system malfunction on my hands.
“Unidentified spacecraft, this is Gensokyo Border Control and Customs. Identify yourselves and power down at once,” Reimu announces over an open channel. In all my years of experience I have never had a single suspect comply with such a demand. This time is no different, as the unknown craft remain silent and accelerate towards us while maintaining a perfect formation beautiful and ominous, as though controlled by a higher power. The Myon’s sensors count twelve of them.
“They aren’t responding. Making a few shots across their bows will change their mi- damn it!” Marisa swears unexpectedly. “Those are bug fighter drones and that’s a bug attack formation, overz.”
“What’s our plan?” Reimu asks.
“Take them head on and take them down hard,” Marisa responds decisively. “Youmu, you don’t have enough shielding to survive the initial pass, so hang back and engage only after the furball starts. We still need you, overz.”
“Are we really going to get mixed up in all this?” Yuyuko asks worriedly. “Shouldn’t we just steer clear of everything?”
[ ] Do as Marisa says.
[ ] Leeroy Jenkins!
[ ] Remain in formation for the initial pass anyways.
[ ] Execute the RSLG maneuver (look it up if you don’t know what it is).