Chapter 18

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Mel got to her feet and cracked her knuckles. "Firstly, we are so not coming with you, short-arse. Secondly, what is it with you guys and penises? Seriously, it's getting weird." She advanced menacingly on the Rigellian.

Captain Zlep Flenson held up his hands. "Stop right there. I know you think you can take me, and I know you're probably right-"

"There's no 'probably' about it, sunshine. If we can take out an entire battletank crew, we can certainly take out you."

"But what you don't know is that in orbit directly above us is a ten gigawatt satellite-mounted laser, which is pointed directly at this house. If I say the word, or if anything happens to me, it'll vaporise the entire structure and all of you with it."

Mel stopped advancing.

"But you'd be vaporised as well," said Max.

Flenson smiled grimly. "That's right. That's why I'm hoping you'll see sense and come quietly. I have a shuttle waiting outside. Either you come back to the battlestation with me or we all die."

"Hang on, but aren't we indestructible now?" asked Cam.

"Well-" said EJ, "not really indestructible as such, no. Hard to destroy, definitely. Impossible to destroy, probably not so much. You're more destruction-resistant than destruction-proof."

Max frowned. "How about a ten gigawatt laser? Are we resistant to that?"

"Hmm, hard to say. Even graphene melts at some point. Dunno."

"Dunno?"

"Dunno."

"You know, sometimes I think for an AI, you're a bit lacking in the I department."

"Well, I guess that's it then," said Cora. "It looks like we'll have to go.  Besides, even if we could survive, I don't want our house vaporised."

"Actually," said EJ, glaring at Max. "Despite my obvious I-lessness, I can throw a spanner in the ointment of our officer friend here."

"Fly," said Cam.

"No, we don't have to fly with him, that's what I'm saying."

Cam shook his head. "Fly in the ointment. That's the saying."

"Is it? I thought the fly got the worm."

"No, that's the early bird."

"Is that the one that doesn't gather any moss?"

"No that's a rolling stone."

"What, like Keith Richards?"

"No, he's a Rolling Stone."

"That's what I-"

"SHUT UP!" yelled Mel. "If I hear one more word about bloody sayings, I'm going to punch the Rigellian dwarf right in the nose just so that he does blow us up! Especially you two! Who cares if Keith Richards' mouldy stone flies into a worm? IT! DOESN'T! MATTER! So please, please, please just SHUT THE HELL UP!"

Flenson could feel the situation slipping out of his control.  Well, more out of his control than it had been.  Which wasn't much.  But that not much was more than the bugger all that he was rapidly heading towards.

"Yes, you can all shut up.  Especially the shouty female with the hair that's all bushy on one side. Now, you will all come with me."

"Actually, we won't," said EJ.  "We won't come with you because you're bluffing."  He turned to the baristas.   "I can still access all but the top level of Rigellian military communications and dispositions. I've just checked - there is no satellite-mounted laser pointing at this house. There isn't even a satellite laser pointed at Australia."

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