They popped out of hyperspace on the edge of the battle. Himson’s armada had already engaged the grand premiere’s escort and it was clear the fake beacon had done its work. The escort was spread apart, separated from each other with Himson’s Veruzan class ships spread between them. They looked like an octopus with the tentacles spread wide, flailing at the gaps between them, desperately trying to protect the head, the grand premiere’s ship.
Both sides had taken quite a bit of damage, but the escort had gotten the worst, of twenty ships only twelve remained in the fight, including the flagship. Five ships had been disabled or destroyed in the initial volley as the ship with the postal beacon revealed its true nature. And three more had gone down since, being caught unprepared for the attack. Himson’s armada lost four ships as well, three of the smaller attack ships and one Veruzan class ship.
“What’s that?” Sarah asked, pointing to a ship five times the size of any others.
“Son of a Crackdaw, that’s a peacekeeper.”
“I thought those were scrapped a century ago.”
“Ok. What’s your crazy plan?” Sarah asked.
“I’m going to get on board the flagship help out the grand premiere’s escort. I’d only planned on you grappling with Veruzans, but if you can take out that peacekeeper, it’ll go a long way to evening things,” Gideon said.
Sarah turned and looked at him. “And just how am I supposed to do that?”
“Remember those uranium chips we got from the postal carrier wreckage?” Gideon asked.
“We don’t have a catalyst.”
“No, but the integrators from your plasma pistols’ll do the trick.”
Sarah frowned. They’d been a gift from her father. “We don’t have a delivery system.”
“No, but we’ve got a freight sled and an extra anti-grav bike.”
“What do you mean by extra?”
“How else would I get to the flagship?”
“You’re going to ride an anti-grav bike? You’ll have no way to maneuver.”
“I’ll have my suit thrusters, plus you’ve got the hard part, getting close enough to the peacekeeper to make those makeshift missiles count. They’ll wallop it good, but they’re nowhere near a tactical nuke, so use them wisely. You should also get half a dozen shots out of the turret. Won’t pierce a deflector, but you’ll have it all the same.”
“You were right,” Sara said. “I don’t like this plan.”
“Target the engines and the bridge. I’ve hooked up the sled to the cargo bay’s automatic system, but the hover bike will have to be jettisoned manually.”
“You’ll be dead before you get out of the cargo bay.”
“Not if you’re as good a pilot as I think you are.”
“Great a compliment and responsibility for your death all in one.”
Gideon pointed at the display where two federal ships fought side to side against Himson’s armada. “If you can drop me between the Republic and the Sentry I should be able to shoot down that corridor right to the flagship and the aft airlock.’
“With the counterfeit postal beacon the federals won’t trust us no matter what we say.”
“That’s where your flying skills come in.”
“If you die it’s your fault.”
“See you on the other side.”
“You better,” she said.
Gideon headed toward the cargo bay and whatever fate lay ahead. They hadn’t drawn any attention from either side thus far, but that would change soon. Sarah started the computer crunching on a hyperspace escape route just in case. Sarah flexed her fingers as she reached toward the throttle. “Don’t die,” she whispered.
“Who are you talking’ to?” Gideon asked over the comm.
“Both of us.”
Within minutes she was dodging laser blasts, plasma cannons and missiles. Alarms blared and red lights flashed all around her. Both sides seemed to believe she was against them and what artillery they could spare from each other were sent her way. She dodged and zigged, zagged and barrel rolled through the deadly obstacle course till she slipped between the massive federal ships. She knew she only had a minute before the ships decided to take their chances at cross fire so she gunned the thrusters and made for the far end. Three quarters of the way down, before she was in range of the flagship’s giant plasma cannon, she cut the lower rear thrusters and fired the lower forward maneuvering thrusters. She did a neat flip, pointed the cargo bay at the flagship, cut the thrusters, opened the door and prayed she wasn’t sending her partner to a cold, black death.
“Divine providence, Sarah,” he said.
“Divine providence, yourself,” she said.
Gideon had cranked the throttle on the hover bike with the hammock beam in reverse, holding him inside the cargo bay, trying to make every last inch of cargo bay deck count. The door opened. Sarah dropped the hammock beam and he flew into the battle torn vacuum of space, hoping he calculated his angle properly and that he really was too small to be targeted by a plasma cannon. Even a graze from one of the guns on the ships beside him would fry him instantly.
The distance was vast, but Sarah had laid on the speed in her approach and he had used the deck well. He hurtled through the darkness. Soon he left the protection of the ships and entered open space. Lasers and plasma cannons fired all around him, a spectacular, deadly light show.
Sarah had made it halfway across the battlefield. The grand premiere had lost two more ships and another three were in deep trouble. Two of Himson’s armada closed in to board the grand premiere’s ship.
Sarah prepared to engage the peacekeeper. “Frazzled plasma cannon with only a shot or two, check. Makeshift missiles that’ll probably blow up in the cargo bay, check, check. Giant ship intent on my doom, triple check. Just another day at the office.”
She aimed her navigational computer at the forward bridge and programmed the lift to drop out as soon as she passed it.
She pushed the engines to full and careened through plasma cannon, laser and missile fire. One of the Veruzan class ships was on protection duty, trying to keep small ships like hers from doing exactly as she intended. It moved to intercept. Sarah pushed the engines to critical. “Come on Savannah old girl, don’t let me down.”
To Be Continued…