"That," Mays intoned with an air of respect, "is a big-ass ship." It was a spoked wheel, spinning, presumably for gravity. It had appeared out of nowhere, like a magic trick. "FTL but no gravity plating? Odd…"
ELLE's computerized voice spoke through the comm systems. "This configuration does not appear in Company or Government records. Caution is advised."
"You bet your—"
"Is it possible they have not seen us? Perhaps they are here to mine the asteroid just as we are." Rebbo was at his shoulder; far above his shoulder, actually, at ten feet tall.
"That'd be one hell of a coincidence. ELLE?"
About what he expected. "Are they on an intercept course?"
"At their current speed and heading they will pass within ten kilometers of this side of the asteroid. So far they have made no detectable adjustments to speed and heading. I suggest a radar scan."
"Just start radiating at them? I don't think so."
A sudden dazzling light; Mays covered his eyes. "We're under attack! Bring up—"
"Searchlight only. They are illuminating a wide area of this face of the asteroid, centered on our position. There is no damage to the hull," ELLE reassured.
Rebbo observed, "It appears they are less concerned with radiation than you."
"Fine, ELLE, scan them. But don't blame me if they start shooting at us."
An hour later Mays was a hundred meters from the ship in a pressure suit, secured to the surface by piton and line, waiting while the visitors made their careful way across the rock towards him. "I can't see into the crawler very well, but I think there's three of them." He dialed his visor lens up a few points. "They're small. Half the size of a man. I wonder how many of them there are in that thing."
"It could be a colony ship," Rebbo observed. "Or a spacegoing colony. It's not unheard of for some species to—"
"I'll be damned."
"One of them is waving."