Carson had just gotten used to the idea of a vacation when Ship told him she needed repairs.
Ship has hit a required maintenance point, which means it’s time to head in for service. She only has rudimentary self-repair that focuses on mission critical systems. there’s no point in having her able to fix the 2-3 year rotational stuff since she’s never on assignment that long (even though she’s out at the rim) They’ve just finished off one assignment and are waiting for another, so it’s a good time to head in for repairs
The nearest repair ship is two days out at full speed, which is closer than they expected. Turns out the repair ship is on the far leg of the circuit and was held up by some unexpected repairs to another Company Ship. They’ve met with this repair Ship before, so they know the crew. Repairs normally take about a week, give or take, depending on what cycle they’re running.
Repair Ships have a staff of five (two pilots/navigators/programmers, three engineers/mechanics), are very slow and very large. Has ‘arms’ that open to enfold the Ship, there are three sets of arms.
The repair Ship is actually a little short of resources, since it spent a lot working on the earlier repair job, but they have plenty left over to fix up Ship. After this they’ll head back into the main hub to pick up supplies.
While Carson and the Repair ship staff are hanging out another ship radios for emergency repair work. It’s not a Company ship, but willing to pay markups. Repair ship lets them dock, turn out they’ve been harassed by another ship, no clue why. The ship is a scout for another corporation looking for habitable locations for future colonies. It has stealth tech, but only uses it in systems where there might be existing habitation. (Alien encounters a VERY rare, but they do happen)
A third ship shows up (the only that was harassing the scout ship) and proceeds to harass the repair Ship. The repair ship is too big for them to really harm, but they can do a lot of little damage. If they manage to take out the repulse field the Ship will be dead in the water, but that’s nearly impossible. At the moment the pirates can really only lay siege and hope the other ships have some place to be.
Ship isn’t a combat vessel and the damaged Ship was just a survey Ship, also weaponless. The repair Ship isn’t armed, but has some rudimentary collision avoidance stuff.
The pirates aren’t out for anything specific, just general pillaging. There’s no ‘we’ll kill you all’ or ‘surrender or die’ just more of a ‘give us what we want and we’ll leave you alone’ sort of bullying
Ship is required by protocol to head for the nearest navy installation when faced with overwhelming force, but managed to convince herself it isn’t overwhelming.
The pirates want basic supplies, medical since they resell well, and some random parts. They have no interest in ransom or ship stealing. Pretty low key pirates, more or less. Problem is the Good Guys have wounded from the scout ship and the repair ship staff will get in trouble for letting themselves get raided.
Pirate ship just waits in front of them since acceleration is linear and the repair ship couldn’t stand up to a head-on collision. Also, it’s a bad idea to try and accelerate with the two ships still in the arms. Ship could undock and try to run, but Scout is stuck where he is.
There is some bartering back and forth, as neither of them has any sort of time pressure. Comms have to be out for a week before anyone notices and the navy/coast guard responds. They are far enough out that it’ll take another five days before anyone can reach them after that.
This confuses Ship somewhat as the humans seem unexpectedly relaxed even though they are in direct confrontation. Carson remarks that what did she expect? They weren’t like the little rodent-hunters from the last planet that blindly hurl themselves into battle, which gives Ship and idea.
Ship, Scout and Repair are all chatting amongst themselves. Each of the AIs is different, Ship and Scout are more loosely defined, and Ship knows a lot of biological stuff the other two don’t. Repair knows just about everything there is to know about repairing things and Scout is very good with covert exploration.
Between the three of them they rig a way to launch projectiles using the collision avoidance system, Scout’s cloaking and a baby AI built by Ship that mimics the behavior of a small (and insane) predator from the last planet they were on.
They shoot a couple of the seekers at the pirate, manage to score some minor hits and drive it off.
And there is much rejoicing.
And the Company bills them for the parts they used, chastises (and fines) Ship for building unauthorized AIs, and then pays them for their creation. In the end it more or less balances out, but they now have a royalty stream from the patent (courtesy of the Company) and enough to take a small (well-earned) vacation.
If they ever hit someplace where a vacation can be taken.