The Geralos, scourge of the Anstractor universe, have set their eyes on the Nusalein cluster of colonies. Lieutenant Helga Ate and the Nighthawks, having completed a mission on the planet Genese, are called in to assist with holding off the invasion. Now, the team finds themselves involved in a crisis where trust is short, and the enemy is varied. Will Helga’s luck and knack for survival be enough with an inexperienced crew and a ship only partially repaired?
“What’s the intended flight path of this vessel?” Cilas asked, pointing to the bulky mass of a Geralos ship that had ventured out from the clutch of invaders as if it meant to charge them.
“Looks to be attempting to engage us ahead of the rest,” Xiomara Yul replied.
“The model is strange,” Helga said. “Signature comes up as a Genesian freighter, but I know of no freighter of this mass with mounted cannons and obvious Louine-built engines. What is this thing? Can anyone give me a read on that vessel, ignoring signatures. Use the general shape, thrust, and mass—”
“It’s the Rugila,” Ina replied from the flight deck. “A Louine corvette reported missing some time ago. Looks like the lizards gutted and modded it with all manner of ship parts, including two high-capacity railguns.”
“Wonderful.” Helga sighed. “Absolutely wonderful. Strange, don’t you think? Another Geralos warship originating from our supposedly neutral neighbors. Such a coincidence.”
Cilas, who stood next to her at the tactical table, pressed his knee into her leg. When comfortable, Helga would sometimes let her sarcasm out, and he disallowed outspoken conspiracies on his bridge. The message was received clearly by Helga, who knew better than most how those little comments could do damage to the crew’s confidence. Sorry, she mouthed, annoyed at herself. “Whatever it is, we know it has railguns.”
“More experimental tech employed by the Geralos,” Chief Alon Weinstar contributed. “Short-range capabilities but critical against energy shields, even overloaded on reinforced armor.”
“Those things could put holes through the maker’s palm,” Ina remarked offhandedly.
“A threat then,” Cilas decided. “This is their best warrior stepping forward to challenge us to send what we have as answer, knowing the Genesian Guard will be outclassed. We’ll answer that call. Tell me, could our tracers knock the rails out of commission before we close or would it be suicide?”
“Tracers may not be enough,” Helga said. “We should match thrust at torpedo range, focus our cannons to chip at their shielding, and despite whatever strategy this is, they will have to commit to an action. If they call in help, pulling in the faster vessels away from the main force, our aces will have the advantage. If they take evasive measures, we can give chase and torpedo those guns. Whichever way they choose, we’ll have an answer, as long as we stay out of range of those rails.”
“Let’s get it done,” Cilas decided, and Helga nodded with satisfaction.