SHELLPERSON WITH A MISSION
Simeon was bored. Not with being a shellperson - like Helva or Tia, he rather pitied softshells their mayfly lives and absurdly limited senses - but with running the mining and processing station that made up his "body." So when the arrival of an out-of-control refugee ship interrupted his latest wargame (Simeon's hobby) the excitement was welcome.
Then the refugees told their story: Attack by space barbarians. Soon, long before any help could arrive from Fleet, Station SSS-900 would be in the Fist of High=-Clan Kolnar, and nobody would be bored, least of all Simeon. If anyone ws to survive, somehow he must transmute his hobby into the real thing, and become
STRICTLY AN EITHER-OR SITUATION
The data-input jumped and fizzled through the jury-rigged inputs. Pain jagged along Guiyon's nerves in sympathy with the overstressed fabric of the brainship. Anxiety ate at him as sector after sector went blank, a spreading numbness like leprosy.
Behind him, the rosette of pursuing Kolnari ships was mostly hidden by the blaze of his own drive energies. the sleeting particles of their beam-weapons were not probing and eroding at the drive coils of the ancient, crumbling weapons. Ghost memories of the ship when it was young and strong haunted him, confusing his response. His own nutrient and oxygen feeds kept slipping past redline, and each time the emergency adjustments took longer to swing the indicators back.We will not make Rigel Base,
Guiyon knew. He would not, and the ship would not. And if they could, the softshells on board most certainly would not. I must select an alternate destination
If there was one. There was one. Station SSS-900, which will soon become
The City Who Fought - or the City Who Died.