"Brace for impact." The clipped tone rang over the intercom. Keile Koare dropped to the deck and pulled up the brace stubs. He pushed his legs into the given slots and waited. Stephen Shera, the chief engineer, dropped next to him, performing the same routine.
"Goddam! Sure the ship was built to withstand it, but this-" Shera was cut off by an immense crash and jarring impact as their ship plunged through another. "But this is getting ridiculous!"
The ship shuddered constantly as it was beaten by enemy fire. The engineering crew rose and returned to their stations. Several coolant pipes had burst in the collision. Keile and two other crewmen rushed to repair the damage. Shera was on the bay-to-bridge comm-set, trying to reach the captain. He turned off the set with an impatient huff.
"Nothing, dammit!" He glanced around. "Knowles, get your ass up to the bridge and tell the captain to get us the hell outta here, or we're screwed!"
The junior deck hand scrambled to obey. He ran out the main pressure hatch when an explosion engulfed his body. When the flames receded, there was nothing left.
Chief Shera pounded at the diagnostics console. "Shit! That was the reactor re-route circuitry exchange! Koare! You're up! Grab a kit and a gun, get up to the captain!"
Keile slowed his work. Shera stared at him incredulously. "Are you deaf? Go!" Keile ran to the storage area and grabbed his gear and firearm. He glanced hesitantly at Shera, but the chief engineer had already moved on, shouting orders at deckhands on the other side of the room. Keile took off running, eager to avoid Knowles' fate.
He made it to the transport shaft, when a massive boom echoed through the hallways. The lights flickered, dimmed, and went out. Keile could hear Shera, two cargo holds away. "Goddam! The transformer! Every friggin time..." His shouts faded, and Keil's attention snapped back to the present. He hit the hydraulic release, and the doors to the shaft sagged in their frame. Keile pulled one open easily. He jumped onto the maintenance car just inside, started it up, and shot towards the bridge.
The rail whined as he pushed the outdated cart as hard as he dared. Keile slowed when he saw the faint lights illuminating the bridge doors. He overshot the exit, swore, and brought the cart to a stop. He jumped out and ran to the door. He hit the release and squeezed through. Dim emergency lights illuminated the floor and handrails.
Keile ran to the bridge, dodging officers and ranking crewmen. As he passed the outward listening post, he heard the cold, rational voice of Captain Iosep Haur. Keile came to a dead halt and turned around. He stood at the door to the transit comms room as the captain finished his business with the radioman.
The captain turned around. Keile came to attention. Haur returned the brisk saluteloosely. "How can I help you?"
"Sir, Chief Shera wants you to know that we need to pull out and retreat. The ship cannot take much more, and we needed repairs before the engagement." Keile finished undramatically. The captain's stare cut off any enthusiasm for the message.
The captain left the room, signaling for Keile to follow. They stopped at a tactical view table. Haur waved an arm over the scene portrayed. Small representations of real ships stood out from the black of space. The ship Koare and his crewmates occupied, the RNSS Highwayman, was highlighted by a green box. It was positioned at the tip of a small pyramid formation. The formation was made up of a group of ragged Outriders highlighted in blue boxes. Dozens of large red boxes outlines the opposing force, arrayed in a tight box formation. The Highwayman had just pierced the box, tearing an opposing ship in two.
The captain turned to Koare. "Do you see why we can't leave?" He pointed at the screen. "We are the only Navy ship in the group. If we retreat, as Shera suggests, those Outriders would be nothing but scrap and dead bodies. I'm not leaving.
Haur walked away in a strange swaying step. He moved to the helm station. The pilot stood still, casually maneuvering through the debris. Keile took one last look at the viewtable before racing back to Engineering. The Highwayman was headed for the centre of the formation, straight for the flagship.
A New Pair Of BootsEdit
Keile ran down the corridors to the transport shaft. He jumped back onto the cart and returned to engineering. The ship rumbled as another barrage of enemy weaponry slammed into it. As Keile left the shaft and turned down the Engineering hall, the ship went quiet. The endless explosions and pings ceased, leaving a torn silence.
Distant orders echoed through the corridors. Among the noise of the engines, Keile could hear the ship's hull creaking slightly. He finished the distance to his department and burst into the room. Everyone looked at him.
Shera spoke. "We're inside the enemy formation, aren't we?" Keile nodded. Shera turned to the other crewmen. "Have weapons nearby, prepare for boarding. By all accounts, they go for the engine rooms first."
The junior deckhands paled. Keile, Shera, and the other engineers holstered their pistols and grabbed the larger automatic weapons stored in a locker near the diagnostics screens. Keile dropped his maintenance kit there. Shera had one of the senior crewmen help the deckhands prepare.Soon, everyone was armed and ready. The crew took cover behind crates and machinery. Shera remained behind the comm screens, ready to initiate repairs.
Small taps sounded across the hull. An explosion rang out, and a section of hull shot through the room. The crew opened opened fire, aiming their weapons at the new opening in the wall A motely bucnh of creatures stumbled out of the hole, alive and dead. None had weapons, and those that could raised their hands in surrender. Shera ordered the crewmen to cease fire. All of the men stopped shooting but one. A junior hand, excited by the action, shot several more of the creatures before another junior clubbed him with his rifle.
Shera ordered Koare to alert the marines. Koare obeyed. He ran out the pressure hatch, right into a waiting squad of marines. Two soldiers caught him and held him fast as the sergeant aimed his weapon. Another marine yelled at the sergeant.
"Sir! That's one of the engineering crew, sir!" The marine pushed through the others and pulled Keile out of his fellows' grasp. He pushed the officer's gun away. "You need to pay attention, sergeant."
The sergeant glared at the offender. "Only you, Higgs. Only you." He turned to Keile. "What's the deal?"
Keile glanced at Higgs, who winked and nodded. "Sir, umm, the boarding party was unarmed. We killed a few before we realized this. Chief Shera is probably taking care of them now."
The sergeant ordered his marines to go in and take over, and followed them in.