The Ship Breaker (A Tale of Space Fishing)
The mono-fillament line snaked out through the soupy, interstellar morass of the nebula. It spooled out from the primary mass of the Great Xolotar, drifting klik after klik until it floated megakliks distant, rotating gently on its own axis.
The Xolotar’s arcane, machine intelligence tracked eddies in the dust clouds and mapped the bow wakes of far off freighters. From a million different fragments it ran a quintillion different calculations, and pieced together a pixel fine map of the prey-ships within its sensor-sphere.
And with that, it set its lure.
The lure at the end of the line pulsed with a faint EM signature, matching the obscured siren song of standard navigational pulsar 847-2Xp or as the Xolotar’s data files also called it “The Bright Corpse Star of the Sticky Wicket.”
The lure sent out its ersatz radio pulse. Four weeks later it drew an ore freighter towards it, drawn off course by the promise of a safe passage out of the nebula, and straight into the clutches of the Xolotar.
The lure magnetised and clamped onto the freighter’s hull, digging into the plating with barbed snares and jagged teeth. The line snapped taught, and began to draw the ship in.
The freighter thrashed and twisted, cranking its engines into full reverse, but it couldn’t break free. It was caught. Inexorably the Xolotar reeled the ship in. It would not escape now. It would be landed in the grand, rendering jaws of the ancient ship-breaker. Its grinders and cutting lances would shred this ship. The Xolotar would feast once again. It would consume, and it would grow. And then it would do the same all over again. Just as it had done for a thousand years.