The great Scythe of Zanclea Station arced against the blazing bulk of the mining planet, Aítne. From Veatriki’s angle of approach, the very blackness of the station made it seem as if a great blade had swung out of the star-filled heavens and neatly sliced the planet in two halves. The illusion fell away as she drew on to the planet, and could see the massive gap between planet and Scythe. The seeming smoothness of the station walls began to manifest protuberances, fractal in nature. Blunted black polyps budded and branched. Each seemed nearly identical, although by the time she was only a hundred klicks away, she could see the blinking sector beacons of her home beckoning.
She opened the communit relay. “Sestos Tower, this is the Picket Ship, Owleye. Pilot: Veatriki Leonides. Have I permission to land?”
Her cousin’s familiar face resolved on the vid plate. “Permission granted, Pilot Leonides. Please proceed along the vector I’m sending to the bay provided.”
“So formal, Hera,” Veatriki teased. “You could at least wish me a happy return. Is Uncle there?”
“He is,” said Hera primly. “Did you have a message for him?”
“The Zaragozan flagship is very near, not quite three AU when I left them. They hope to refuel and rest on Zanclea, make use of our shipyards. I left them to limp into orbit–the Owl’s speedier in-system.”
Her uncle leaned in over her cousin’s shoulder. “Good to see you again, niece. Have you lost any of the drones I sent with you?”
“Few of any kind. None with names.” Veatriki shrugged.
Bonus points if you can guess the inspiration and references without googling. 🙂