He (the Commandant of the space patrol) briefly dropped the handset of the telephone away from his face and looked at it.
Was the P.M. out of his bloody mind?
He returned the handset to the proper position and spoke again.
“Sir, we are unable to fire a warning shot in space.”
“Why not?” The P.M. replied.
Wow, he thought, the elected moron actually asked a valid question.
“Sir, laser beams are not visible in the vacuum of space.”
“What? How can that be? It’s done all the time in the movies?”
The Commandant mentally reminded himself that he was speaking to an elected official. Someone who was ignorant of anything outside of the realm of politics, such as the actual facts of nature.
“This is not the cinema, sir. And in any case the Concord is already off the planet. As such it is now subject to the laws and regulations of the Freyan Republic. We have no valid grounds to board her at this time.”
The Prime Minister responded with anger.
“Do you want your immortal soul to go to Hell? There is a child aboard that ship who is in the hands of unfit parents and who will never know the light of our lord Jesus Christ!”
The Commandant knew that to answer truthfully would result in his being fired by the P.M., but he had to do it.
“Prime Minister, the Concord is an Alissa Two class light merchant built and operated by the Freyaspace Corporation. This vessel is built with two mounts for class two beam lasers rated at five hundred megawatts each. Under Freyan law that vessel is authorized to be armed for self defense. As she is carrying an executive of the corporation and his family I would fully expect her to be so. And the attempt to seize a child passenger from her parents in open space is by interstellar law is clearly an act of piracy. As Commandant of the Space Patrol I must follow only the laws of nations and of nature. And you sir, can tell the Archbishop to go fuck himself.”
With that the Commandant hung up the phone.
He began the process of clearing his desk. The personal items he wanted to keep were neatly stacked in a bag on the desk. Everything else went straight into the trash can.
Within ten minutes there was a knock on the door.
“Come in.” He shouted.
The door opened. The familiar figure of the Executive Officer of the Space Patrol entered the room.
The Commandant spoke.
“Michael, I assume you have news for me?”
“Sir,” he said, “you have been relieved of command. I’ve been promoted and appointed to take your place.”
“So you finally made the rank of commander.”
“I’ve been promoted to the rank of captain, sir.”
The man who was now the former Commandant shook his head.
“Well, isn’t that nice?” He said. “You’ll have a nice title for the letters you’ll have to write.”
The former Commandant almost cracked a smile as he replied.
“The letters that you’ll have to write to parents and wives of the men you are sending up to their deaths. The Freyaspace Concord is an armed merchantman, and she out guns the entire space patrol. But it not my problem now.”
With that he picked up the bag with his personal belongings and departed from his former office.
Above planet the Freyaspace Concord continued to accelerate at the standard rate of ten meters per second/per second. In normal commercial operations to each the safe distance for the jump to hyperspace a ship would accelerate for the first half of the trip through normal space and them brake for the second half. It would to stand still with respect to the planet. For a world of the size and mass of Kennedy the standard trip would take five hours. To escape from the idiots on Kennedy Captain Kovac decided to simply accelerate all the way on the leg out and to perform the deceleration phase after the jump through hyperspace. In this special case the outbound leg would take three and a half hours.
They were a half hour into the outbound leg when they were interrupted.
The guard channel on the radio lit up.
“Freyaspace Concord, this is space guard cutter James Joyce. You will cease acceleration and prepare to be boarded.
Moron, thought Captain Kovac, they actually found an idiot who would take the mission.
Kovac read the sensors from the pilot’s station. He then rolled the ship so that both of the laser mounts would have a clear shot at the space guard cutter.
He then spoke on the intercom.
“Fire control stations, report when you are locked on the target.”
“Starboard mount, clear and locked.”
“Port side mount, clear and locked.”
The pilot of the space guard cutter repeated his call.
“Freyaspace Concord, cease acceleration or you will be fired upon.”
As he learned in basic ethics class while attending primary school the issuance of a threat was itself an act of coercion. And that once the line had been morally crossed that one must respond with open force.
Captain Kovac gave the order.
In the vacuum of space the laser beams were invisible. Only upon striking the target did they become brightly visible and have an decisive effect. Both beams burned through into the cockpit of the cutter. The flight crew was both incinerated and exposed to vacuum at the same time. With the control system dead the life support system of the small craft also died. The boarding party riding aft of the cockpit would expire before the pilots of another space guard craft would dare to leave the planet.
Upon reaching the safe zone Captain Kovac made the jump to Earth.
There was one other casualty from this incident. Captain Michael Herman, the commandant of the Kennedy Space Guard, committed suicide by a gunshot to the head. He was denied a Christian burial by the Catholic Church.