"Titan, of course," you say, hoping they can't hear the edge of panic in your tone. It's screamingly obvious to you, so surely they couldn't miss it.

"What are you doing so far out here?"

"Trying to shake that tick you found on my arse. Thanks for taking care of it for me."

"Happy to be able to help. If we'd known Humans had managed to infest this system, we never would have come here. If our ancestors knew that after all they went through to flee Earth, we'd be right back fighting for our lives again now…"

You manage a smile, even though they can't see it. "Yeah. War sucks." Especially one you never signed up for, but suddenly found yourself in the middle of. "What are you doing so far out?"

The comm goes silent for a moment. Finally, the man on the other end says, "We spotted a strange radiation signature, similar to the Titanic's. It's a long shot, but if it's the Genesis, Command thought it was worth a trip out here to see if we can claim it for ourselves, or take it down. Either way, that kind of victory might help us win this war."

A ship for a ship. Humans had destroyed the Titan colony ship, stranding all the Titan refugees here. Titans had two choices: steal the Human ship, or kill all the Humans and claim the Altan system for their own. The third choice – getting wiped out by Humans – wasn't a choice at all.

You moisten your mouth and manage to say, "Well, I've got a shuttle that can help with the search. I could do with a few hours' rest and some rations I can chew, though. I haven't slept in two days and I'm mighty sick of liquid nutrient packs."

"I'm sure we can find you a bed and a bite to eat. I'll send someone right down to open the shuttle bay doors for you."

Your blank display registers a blip, where before there was only empty space. It's not a big blip, but it's much bigger than any fighter or shuttle you've ever seen.

You twist in your seat to get a better look. The sleek craft appears like a closed-up clam clad in shining armour, marred by a single dark spot, which grows larger and larger until you realise you're watching the shuttle bay doors iris open.

You reach for the thruster controls, setting a course for the floating clam. Omega still looms large in your rear viewscreen, but at least the icy planet is behind you now.

The entrance to the clam's shuttle bay is a tight fit, but you manage to make your way inside without scraping any paint off the hull. Quite an achievement, given how tired you are.

You unbuckle your seat harness, which takes longer than usual with all the fumbling your fingers are doing, but just as the last clip pops free, a light flashes on your console to indicate there's breathable atmosphere outside the shuttle. A quick glance confirms that the iris is closed and the shuttle bay has re-pressurised.

Your first steps toward the hatch are a little stiff, but by the time you've made your way down the ramp to the bay floor, you're confident they won't mistake you for a drunk geriatric.

A man approaches you, holding some sort of scanning device. "Welcome aboard the Plourde. Now, a drop of your blood, if you please, so we can identify you and allocate you appropriate quarters." He extends the scanner toward you.

What do you do?

Love free books? Take the quiz and get up to 9 free books perfect for you!