Duress and Egress
Man of science though he was, the first thing Asher Mir did was shoot the damned thing. The Pyramid hovered inside Io's atmosphere, close enough to be impacted by a projectile flung at sufficient speed. In the time it took Asher to blink twice, he knew the angle of attack and the mass of the projectile. Asher finished building the mounted railgun before his coffee had cooled. He charged the magnetic coils, waited for the wind to die down, and broadsided the ship. He had expected the projectile to hit a Kinetic barrier, or best-case scenario, impact the Pyramid and cause utterly infinitesimal damage. Instead, at the moment of impact, the projectile stopped existing. Asher's brow furrowed while an irrepressible smile crept over his face. His metal arm clicked and hummed gently of its own accord. This Pyramid had the audacity to park in front of his laboratory and pull such a cheap trick? Clearly, it had not thought it would meet Asher Mir. He assembled another missile, one with a detectable radiation signature and a radio signal. He fired it at the Pyramid. It similarly disappeared on impact, its signals snuffed out, no longer detectable from Io's surface. Another payload followed, this one a miniature relay station. He routed it through his console and fired. At the moment it touched the Pyramid, it transmitted a spike of radiation and radio broadcast. Asher smirked. They were still there, held in the field of the Pyramid. Visually undetectable, signals squelched, but still physically there. How the Pyramid was accomplishing this feat was unimportant at the moment, though his mind flooded with fantasies of zero-point energy. The question that gave him pause was the what: What was the ship doing to the projectiles as they sat suspended in space in the periphery of its loathsome shape? And why?
Deputy Commander Sloane watched the overloaded Vanguard skiff dip close to the waves. "Watch it!" she barked into the communicator, and the craft straightened out. "That's liquid methane down there, and if it don't kill you, the Leviathan will." "C'mon, ain't no Leviathan," said the pilot, his voice crackling. He was some boy from the City who couldn't have been more than 17 years old. "And if that's methane, how come you don't even got a helmet on?" Sloane grinned. She wasn't used to backtalk. "Because I moisturize, short-timer," Sloane said and squelched the comms. A Fallen Ketch screamed overhead, and Sloane was on the catwalk outside the rig in a flash. She bellowed at the men working on the deck to cover clear of the cargo as she drew her Scout Rifle and dropped to a knee. The first few Dregs were dead before they hit the ground, but the winds whipping off the seas sent her next shots wide. She figured the landing party would go for the cargo shuttle over her men, so she spun to take a sightline toward the craft, but the things were charging for the supplies instead. She cursed and leapt over the railing, landing like a crash of lightning. Her earpiece sprang to life. "Siren's Watch, this is supply craft Vienna Stinger looking for a place to put down." "Landing pad five, south side!" she shouted over the crack of her rifle. "Offload what you brought, and I'll have a supply team swing by in a minute." She plugged two more Dregs and the Ketch's engines changed from a roar to a whine. A halfhearted volley of Wire Rifle fire spattered the landing pad from the Ketch as it blasted away. Sloane called out to her team. No fatalities, nothing taken but two crates of fresh supplies. She ordered the team to the next landing pad and began climbing the long stairs back to her perch. They hadn't hit while they were loading the Golden Age technology for shipment back to the City. They were after the supplies. They were leaving. She looked up at the Pyramid in the sky and frowned. The door to her office closed and sealed with a hiss. A soft blue light on the panel promised that the seal was airtight. Sloane walked across the room to watch the seas through the open hole blown in the side of her rig.