"Breach in starboard side." said Taalin, the damage monitor aboard the Ifriit 3.
"Captain I think this is getting out of hand!" Fiira suggested. The carrier was surrounded by enemies.
"Head for the upper dust vein." He commanded.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" she asked. "The radiation—
"We're better off out there than here. Assign all support frigates and repair corvettes to assist us. We should make it. And they'd have to be suicidal to follow us." He said. There was no arguing with that. She nodded to someone on the deck who gave orders to the others.
Well the battle's back on again. No more break. My squad and I can't do much right no anyway. We wouldn't last five minutes out there with the radiation. It's pretty bright, I'd have to say. The supernova I mean.
I've been told no fighter pilots are to go out, so I'm in the all too familiar observation deck alone with Arazis. I've found myself spending a lot more time with her than before. But I won't get into that.
I can't see much from here. It's dusty and quite far from the action. John's fleet went down the lower dust vein and is fleeing to the upper vein. Probes were sent down the upper one followed by the Rancor. So far, we've discovered a minelayer corvette and a group of strike craft. I don't see much of a threat. Our new gravity well generators are a great tool, it makes salvaging fighters and vettes easier.
"Well this is just great, what are we supposed to do!" Isel said walking in the room. "I'm so bored it's unbelievable! We get out of hyperspace for what? Just to get stuck doing nothing?" she wasn't in a good mood. As usual.
"I think she's getting space fever." Arazis said.
"What?" I asked.
"When you feel bored, homesick and restless I guess. It usually happens to travellers.
"Hey I'm not insane." She stated.
"No one said you were." I said. "It would be great to do something though."
"Entering mine field." The captain said. All they could do was watch. In the observation room, Eric, Saiin and Triikor were looking out at the path ahead.
"Hey what's that?" Saiin asked. He was staring off into the distance at something.
"Uh-oh." The Taiidan said.
"What?" Eric asked.
"That." As they approached further, they could make out two destroyers and one larger ship.
"What's that?" Eric asked worried.
"It's a Qwaar-Jet. I need to get to the command bridge." Her voice was tense, meaning this was serious. Eric only wondered what it could be. A ship more powerful than a destroyer? The thought scared him. They followed closely behind.
"Turn the ship around!" she alerted the entire bridge.
"What is the meaning of this?" Captain Sjet asked.
"That thing is gonna blow us up if you don't listen." She said pointing to the monstrous cruiser in the distance.
"Sir it appears to have many advanced weapons systems. I think we should listen." Someone said.
"Why should I?" he asked.
"Because I know Taiidan ships better than anyone here. And when Raiders don't follow orders, it takes exactly two minutes for one Qwaar-Jet it to completely destroy a Lord-class." That got his attention. He looked back and forth between the ship and the Taiidan.
"Turn the ship around!" he announced. But it was too late. The ships were already following them.
"All drives at maximum capacity."
"Sir, they're still gaining on us."
"Send in the salvage teams." He said.
"Are you mad? They'll never make it!" Eric said.
"They need to. We have five aboard this ship, which should be enough to distract them."
"What about the salvagers? Aren't you worried about them?"
"They'll be fine. I'll order support frigates to draw the fire away and repair them. They just need to avoid the ion beams."
"I think we've lost them captain." Paul said.
"Good. Let's go meet up with the Rancor. It looks like they could use some help."
They approached the group and noticed them being followed.
"Rancor to Ifriit 3. Come in. we need assistance. Send salvage corvettes and try to redirect their fire." said the captain.
"You heard him." He said.
"Why do they need salvagers?" Fiira asked.
"Have you seen the size of that cruiser?" just then he pulled up the rear view of the Rancor. "We don't have the firepower to take out that thing and two destroyers. It's the only thing we can do right now."
"And besides. They'd make a great addition to our fleet." Paul commented.
"This is lame!" Isel said leaning over the railings.
"Well I don't know about you two, but I'm gonna go take a nap until the action starts." Mark said walking off.
"He's so . . ."
"Weird?" Isel finished.
"My word was interesting, but yeah I guess that too." She said smiling while gazing out at the yellow background of the galaxy.
"Must be incredible." Isel said.
"Yeah. I've only known of the red nebula of Kadesh." She replied.
"Even that was one of the most amazing sights in my life!" she exclaimed. "We haven't been able to travel into space for very long. And in the Kharak system, we're too far from the galactic core to see anything like you do. It's all dark and grey. There aren't any nebulae or dust clouds. There's our seven planets including Kharak, and all the others are deadly. Even Kharak is deadly if you travel too far towards the equator. And I would know, I was a nomad. Our days are usually windy and brown skies with nothing but sand."
"Sounds incredible to me." She replied.
"No, it's not. It's a lonely and desolate wasteland. Even before . . ." she couldn't finish.
"Mark told me about Kharak. But he liked it. His side was a little more positive, but I still picture the same thing."
"And what's that?" Isel asked.
"It seems that forever my people have been in hiding from a threat that you are attacking full force! It's like nothing I've ever heard of! It's just all so . . . incredible.
"Or suicide." She said.
"Maybe, but I think we'll make it. If his dreams are so in depth, maybe he can see the future."
"But in them he sees a huge explosion as if a mothership where to explode."
"Maybe it's the enemy."
"Or us. And he's floating in space. What happens to him? Does he get rescued or does he fall to Hiigara?"
"You're very pessimistic."
"Maybe I'm just tired. I think Mark has the right idea. I'll see you around."
She left the observation deck, leaving the Kadeshi alone in the darkened room. She was alone. It felt like she was back aboard the Amun with all her friends. She expected Saiin to show up out of nowhere saying "Hey how are you? Feeling okay? Want company?" but that never happened, which just made her feel even more alone. She thought he was dead. There had been no mention of him to her at all. Not from any Kushan or Kadeshi.
"Oh Saiin, it feels like only yesterday we were together."
The hangar deck was badly damaged. Ion cannons from the destroyers lacerated the walls. The salvage corvettes made it off before then thankfully. Three were destroyed by beams. Some were coming from the Ifriit 3 also, which helped because they didn't expect it. The large ship had been disabled so it was not a problem. The destroyers however were not so easy to get.
"Damn it! Seal that section off too!" the captain yelled.
"But sir, there are still people inside!"
"Losses are expected in war. If we let that section stay open we risk venting all our oxygen. And the tanks aren't as full as they used to be."
"Yes sir." He said grimly as he sealed off the section. "Alright Taiidan, what should we do about this since you're such an expert?"
She didn't know what to say. "Well . . . there isn't much you can do really. The destroyer's ion cannons are placed so it has a wide angle of assault in the front. As you know, the armor is strongest in the front too."
"We have the first frigate." said one of the salvagers over the intercom.
"At least there's only one to deal with now." Eric said. He didn't know what to think of the situation. He felt it every time an ion beam hit the hull. Every time he expected the ship to just crack in half. He looked around for Saiin and found him in the corner shaking and holding onto the walls.
"You scared?" he asked.
"Hell yeah!" he replied. "I was a nervous wreck on the Amun and I'm a nervous wreck here too. I'm so pathetic." He said before another beam hit.
"Well I'm not feeling so confident myself if it helps."
"Thanks but that just makes it worse."
"One thing you could do is turn the damn ship so they're not firing into the hangar." She suggested with attitude.
"Right. Alright turn the ship!" he ordered.
"Ifriit 3 to Rancor. How are you holding up?" said the captain John Nabaal."
"Not too well I'm afraid. The hangar got severely damaged by the beams. We're turning to draw the fire to other sections of the hull. It's about all we can do at this point."
"Hang on we'll even things out." Just then, the Imperator-class dropped from above vertically taking the next shot directly to the top. "Get on outa here we've got this."
"Thanks. We owe you. I'm not sure how long we would have lasted."
"Don't mention it. I'm ordering one of my support frigates to help with repairs."
Eric felt relieved that the battle was over for them. Saiin was still shaking in the corner, and Trix was just relieved not to be giving orders. "So who wants a barbeque after this is all over?" asked the captain. This made a bunch of people laugh. If only they had one of those.
The last destroyer didn't last too long against the Ifriit 3's fleet. Three more salvage corvettes were built and sent to it. It was disabled and sent on its way to the Mothership. "Lousy enemies. I wish we weren't always trying to capture them and just blow them up."
"Maybe after this slow part of the mission. I mean there's bound to be more defenses near the research station." said Paul.
"Right. Well at least the Mothership's engines will get some repairs done."
"Why do you think they'd be let live?" Fiira asked.
"Because this time we're the attackers. They're not the ones who destroyed Kharak. I doubt they even knew we were coming. We owe them at least a chance to live. We're better than the Taiidan. Just look at the Kadeshi part of our fleet. We invaded them. They're working with us to get to Hiigara. The Taiidan could too if they surrender."
"You're actually speaking of allowing them to be a part of the fleet? The Kadeshi are our own blood. There's good reason they're free. The Taiidan are not."
"I didn't say free, I said as slaves instead of space junk. Like the Turanic Raiders."
"I guess that works."
The fleet took formation and continued on down the resource vein.