Cha initiated the drone exit sequence. The hobgoblin hummed into action, and made it's smooth entry into infinite space. "Hmm," mumbled Cha "- let's not make that too infinite in this case."
Shiny perfect, sunlight glinting off it's alloy hood, the drone looked exactly the way it was supposed to look. Surprisingly. Apart from the waving little strand of ductape then, but what would perfection mean without a little flaw here and there? "No roses without thorns", she thought, "and no him without -"... well, sometimes the image of the ultimate perfection only holds up if you don't look too close. The drone blinked, as if he acknowledged such wisdom.
"Let's see if the merry midget can find an asteroid", Cha said to noone especially, but the ship's comp picked it up anyway, and nudged the drone into electronic compliance. Cha held her breath, but the drone whirred and buzzed as expected, and floated swiftly towards the rock. "I'm an engineering wizard", Cha told the ship, and the ship agreed in silence.
"Target and hold". The drone seemed to hesitate a moment, then slowly turned around. It hicupped.
"Being targeted." Poss dryly said in her unconcerned Aurora voice. "Wut? wwWHAAT?". Cha sped to the scanner but there were no ships nearby. Something cloaked?
The bwip-bwip-bwip from the targeting scanner brittled on. Cha's eyes opened wide when truth sank in. Rrraaargh! The drooone! Did it just go rogue!?
She dived to the drone data readings, just in time to see its weapon sequence start up. Cha screamed furiously. "Put it offline! Put it offline!" The motion array wooshed to zero, but not so the targeting system. "Target locked", the ship continued, oblivious of the pending disaster. "Weapons offline!" she yelled.
Alas, the drone chose to disobey, cycling his servo loop and aiming straight for the stabber, scrutinizing its target. It blinked slowly. As if it took time for a smoke before the kill.
Sheer torment. "Of course, why not. Of course this has to happen to me. Of course, from aaaaaall people this has to happen to me. Floored in an own-goal." She already saw Mrs Read, lifting one eyebrow but otherwise staying totally unemotional, asking the giggling receptionist: "Chacacha did what?".
"Think, Cha, think! Put both your braincells in sync!" No way she'd shoot her own first drone. Although - having her first drone shoot her wasn't exactly the next best option either.
The solution jumped to her, or at least a possible solution. Hopefully a solution. The asteroid. "Fast jump 2 o'clock then fall sideways 127° SSE." The ship flapjacked up, then spun around, leaving the asteroid between itself and the drone. "Harrrrr. Eat that, you dirty midget!"
The drone blinked again, shocked, as it had lost its target, unable to follow. The targeting signal stopped abruptly. Cha almost felt sorry for the little bum. "Okay," she told it, and commanded the scoop. "You are forgiven. Let's try establish a friendly relationship. Come back to mommy." The hobgoblin seemed to chew on that for a while, processing its options. It emitted a series of clicks, then finally started behaving logically. Data carefully started to flow in, as if they knew some apologies were appropriate.
The hobgoblin moved. It rounded the corner, and then there was a hope-dashing crash.
"All drone systems down", the ship comp said, and Cha was convinced it could barely hold its laughter. "Try again", she hissed. "Environmental interference. Data corrupted. Elements static. Processing complete. All drone systems down.", it repeated.
"My salary is ludicrously too low for this", Cha sighed. She stared at the asteroid, where she barely could make out the little shred of duct tape, still waving enthusiastically at her. The drone seemed to be stuck between two rocks, sunken halfway in what looked like a small rift. No way the basic ship's crane could get the damn thing out of that hole on his own.
She parked the ship as close as she safely could, aimed the crane, and recalculated. She sighed even deeper. There was no other way.
Nausea struck her as soon as she stepped, eyes closed, into nothingness. She swallowed. "Go to your happy place, Cha," she self-instructed. She thought of - nope, she would not think of that. Not now.
Reluctantly she opened one eye. She caught a glimpse of herself mirrored in the metal of the energy shields, sprawled against the side of the ship. "A truely ass-kicking pose", she thought, and then remembered how she had proved him a billion times again she wasn't a starfish, unlike his previous girlfriend. Not there, then not here either! All she had to do was simply throw herself forward with all her weight (although that wasn't much to start with already), not minding that it was going to hurt.
"Come on, Cha, you cant fall in space." She swallowed again. "Just orbit perpetually." She giggled. Another floating female frozen corpse for a disturbed collector. Nevaaaah! She pushed off, soaring high. Beware, evil forces of space, for the ever so deadly, legendary, amazing and sexy Chacacha is prowling the planets and the stars!
She maneuvred herself towards the drone, crawling, floating, drifting, tumbling. Disorientation galore. Nearing the surface of the asteroid, she had no idea anymore of what was up or down. But she landed reasonably elegant, even if she had to say it herself. Only slightly fluky.
She bobbed towards the waiting crane gripper, and then pulled it along, bobbing back towards the hobgoblin.
It looked a lot larger and heavier than she remembered. And frayed and eew - greasy. And horrifiying distant still - she couldnt get the grip arm close enough. She leaned over as far as she could, but she still lacked length. She tried from her knees. Damn. She got on her belly, praying her space suit would hold without chafing or tearing, and writhed herself closer, dragging the gripper behind her. One of her dreadlocks chose this moment to spring loose, getting in her eyes without any chance to put it back behind her ears. And then another one. She sighed. The joys of tribe symbolics in a space career. Blowing them out of her face again and again, she thanked the powers that noone else was nearby to witness the entire self chastizing endeavor. Especially men. They wouldn't understand anyway. She managed to crawl close enough, and with a superhuman effort hooked the grip to the drone, the tip of her tongue between her teeth.
She watched with surreal anticipation how the drone jerked its way out of the caving, pulled back by the retracting crane arm, tottering with electronic glee towards the rocky edges and then lamely bouncing off towards the waiting ship. Yeaaaaaaaa! She had done it! "Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's suuuuper Cha!" She jumped carefully, then tried a few triumphant swoops.
The duct tape joyfully winked at her before disappearing in the stabber's belly.
She knew the worst part still had to come. Even drowning slaver puppies would be more fun than writing a cold objective corp report on this day's happenings. After which it undoubtedly would seep in chuckles and chortles into the Waterdrop Bar.
She could swear the ship comp replied to her warp command with a barely hidden robotic relish.