"Don't be concerned," Heller said. "This tug is all engines and made to do this sort of thing.
Tugs are normally built for high-speed dogfights, right?
That flying cannon has to pivot his whole ship to aim and shoot.
Raising a good point about how useful a giant gun designed to hammer capital ships would be when trying to engage a small, fast target. What kind of moron would... Apparatus, right.
I think we'll be too quick for him."
"You THINK?" I cried. "Oh, Goddess of the Seventh Sphere, prepare to take me to your breast and hold me there in peace."
Hey, an achingly rare references to Voltarian religion beyond "oh, gods!" So we're up to that god of voyages and a deity of the "seventh sphere." And the Manco Devil, of course.
"WHAM!" The assassin ship starts firing fifteen miles from its target, and misses because it's shooting a cannon designed to hurt battleships at a small, fast-moving, dodging tugboat. I'm not sure what the cannon is firing, and what it's hitting out there to make it explode. Proximity-triggered ordnance? One shot falls short, the tug flies through it, and in the resulting tumble Gris pleads to the "horned Devils of the Sixteenth Hell" for succor. I guess there was something in the water that day that made Hubbard spit up all these vague numbered theological references.
The tug seemed to be skidding sideways.
Abruptly the skew stopped.
STRAIGHT IN FRONT OF US, NOT TEN YARDS AWAY, WAS THE PORT SIDE OF THE FLYING CANNON!
The other pilot let them get that close? He's not keeping his distance, trying to get a good shot? Just gonna let the seemingly out-of-control enemy ship tumble right at him?
Heller hit a throttle.
The butting bow of the tug, its wide arms made to push ships, thudded straight up against the flying cannon's hull!
Oh. Guess we won't be seeing anyone torn apart by the fierce "magnetism" of a black hole after all.
The two ships' cockpits are right next to each other, a mere ten feet apart. Wanna kill any tension in this scene?
The assassin pilot was right there, red gloves and all! He was glaring into our very viewports!
He shook his fist!
I'm not sure what the pilot could've done to not make this scene silly. Flipping the bird might be more appropriate but still chuckle-worthy, a double-take would be just as comical. The whole situation is farcical enough as is, but the pilots making rude gestures at each other through the windows just clinches the lack of drama or gravitas.
The enemy ships fires its engines, then its cannon in an attempt to dislodge itself through the gun's recoil, but to no avail - they've been impaled upon Heller's mighty engine.
Heller's hand reached over for the Will-be Was main drives. He pushed.
The tug leaped ahead!
A terrible sound of rending metal transmitted through our hull.
Gris could hear the WHAM! of the enemy cannon even when the tug wasn't being buffeted by the explosions, by the way.
The inertia of the flying cannon's weight
fought against the tug's acceleration.
Wait, I gotta think about this. The two ships are flying hella fast, they close from fifteen to eight miles in about a sentence. And then Heller's ship comes out of a corkscrew to a dead stop, right? And there's the other ship, right in front of them. So the assassins weren't moving either? They had to sit there in space, focusing on pivoting their ship to fire that stupid cannon? They couldn't drift on a trajectory while aiming their hull-mounted gun?
But the book said the cannon ship had inertia, so presumably it's moving... Gris doesn't notice the starfield behind moving, but maybe the tug and assassin ship were both moving at the same speed on the same heading? But then when Heller rammed it, they'd - you know what, I don't enjoy physics enough to dwell on this stuff.
I'm not sure if this is better or worse than those bloody teleport-engine dogfights from Battlefield Earth.
The assassin ship disintegrated.
If that's the onomatopoeia the author chose for a deadly spaceship breaking up, I think it's safe to say that we're not meant to take this chapter seriously.
Heller flipped the tug upside down.
Through the viewport I could see the squashed hull, shedding fragments.
Two pale pink mists were all that was left of the assassin pilots, exploded by the vacuum of space.
Heller asks "are you alright?" and Gris nearly answers before realizing he's talking to the cat.
This was a very silly chapter.
Back to Part Sixty-Two, Chapter Seven