Thankfully with Dayn’s quick astrogation calculations it doesn’t take long before we’re off. I take advantage of the brief respite to make sure I have the right language chips loaded up for Solamni pirates when I tell them to surrender or face evisceration… as well as familiarize myself with the available blueprints of the mining facility. If there’s any feasible chance for us to sneak in and get them out without too much hassle, I’m willing to take it.
After a few days of planning, the alarm goes off on deck as the ship drops out of orbit right in the middle of an attack on the mining facility. I rush on deck and in a flurry of activity the guns blaze as they rip holes in the enemy fuel tanks and the pirate ship starts venting fuel before going dead in the water, so to speak.
“Make sure we get a salvage operation out there to that ship,” I shout to one of the crew before slamming my paw on the blinking com button. “Come in, what’s your status?”
“They’ve taken over the town! They took the children… somewhere off planet… oh gods please help us!”
“Please calm yourself.. we’re here to help, but we need information. Where are they located?”
The voice on the other end breathes deep for a moment before they begin again in a shaky but calmer voice. “The leader… he’s a dark-skinned and heavily scarred man with one blind eye. I think he was attacked by an animal of some kind. He’s in the mining chief’s house. We don’t know if he’s THE leader, though.”
“We need to know what kind of ships we’re dealing with here,” I mutter to myself before turning to the crew. “Dayn, get on the sensors and see what you can tell us what they’ve got to throw against us.”
“Other than the ship we incapacitated, there’s nothing in the vicinity, Ma’am. I’m not sure about what’s behind that gas giant, though… the sensors are having a hard time dealing with its interference.”
“There’s a large pirate ship that turns up to collect their dues from us once a month… he’s actually overdue and could show up anytime,” warns the voice over the comm.
“Maybe we should use the gas giant as cover for our own ship?” suggests the good doctor.
“Not a bad idea, but unfortunately by the time we got there for cover it could be too late.” I pace back and forth for a moment before snapping my fingers with an idea. “What we’re going to do, however, is send a fighter out there with a sensor package as a scout. We don’t want any unnecessary surprises while we’re down on the surface.”
I take a deep breath and activate the comm. “You need to get yourself and any other escapees out of there on your tug now that their ship has been incapacitated. My crew and I are going down to the surface to take care of the pirates there, and do our best to find the women and children. You have my word.”
“We can’t thank you enough.”
I turn off the comm as I run a hand through my hair. “I’m sure we can figure something out once this mess is taken care of,” I chuckle.
After two hours the ground forces are prepped and ready to go, and the scout fighter returns with his findings. “Asteroids have moved in, ma’am, but other than that, no signs of any other corsairs or large ships.”
“Great… then maybe we’ve got a chance to get this base under control before they show up.”
One of the marine sergeants strides purposefully out of the lift and salutes. “Ready to kick some pirate ass… ma’am. If your crew is looking for a lift, we’ve got room.”
“Sounds like a plan, Sergeant. Return to the shuttle and inform them we’ll be joining you shortly.” I raise two fingers to my temple with a grin before turning to the others. “You heard the man… our ride is getting ready to leave! Let’s hop to it! The sabotaged mining ships are going to require engineers and any survivors we find are probably going to require medical attention, so I expect Zeb and Ulfbert to be joining us as well.”
As the shuttle reaches the atmosphere of the planet, I can’t help but notice a storm is brewing. Must be the constant shaking and rocking knocking us about like rag dolls. That is… all of us except one marine who seems to have taken the opportunity for a well needed pre-battle nap. Lucky bastard. I’m about to tell someone to smack him over the head when my attention is instead demanded by the pilot suddenly cursing up a storm as his console lights up like a dance club.
“Goddamnit! One of the circuit boards must’ve been fried by that last lightning strike that came too close,” he growls as he struggles with the now sluggish controls.
“On it,” says Ulfbert as he moves past me into the cockpit and works his way underneath the control panels. “I’m going to need some eyes on the panel while I fix the connection,” he warns as sparks fly.
“Got your back,” I reply. We work frantically together pulling wires and narrowing down the problem before with a satisfied grunt from the Vargar the controls reactivate and the lights return to normal on the control panels.
Dayn leaps into the co-pilot chair and with the help of the pilot they pull back on the stick just enough for the retro rockets to flare, and we manage to land the shuttle in a relatively controlled way.
“Everybody ok back there?”
“You heard her, grunts! If any of you pansies want to complain about your hangnails, this is the time!” shouts the sergeant as the ground forces suit up.
“Somebody wake up Carston, damn it!”
“Now that’s not what I meant…” I mutter as I roll my eyes and check the charge on my laser pistol. Military… I swear, I’ll never understand them.
“No injuries from what I can tell, Kenari ma’am,” replies Zeb as he pulls a small packed of syringes from his shirt pocket. “If anyone would like, however, I can offer a cocktail of my own creation that could help provide you an extra ‘boost’ during combat.”
“I’ll pass, Zeb… I wouldn’t want to crash in the middle of a fight. Thanks, though.” I pat him on the shoulder before checking with the pilot. “Do you think they might’ve seen our landing?”
“With the way that storm was messing with our sensors and raging out there, I’d be surprised if they noticed us at all, ma’am.”
“Excellent. All right, commandos… fan out and do your thing. We’ll need some snipers around the perimeter of the town, as well as some recon as to where these guys are holding up.”
“I don’t know why the cat doesn’t go sneaking off… she’s suited for it,” I hear one of the marines whisper to another.
“Because this cat prefers watching hairless pink monkeys scramble about as they shut their mouths and do their jobs,” I reply with a snarl as the marines disappear into the night.
It’s not long before one of the marines appears by my side like a ghost. “20 pirates in town.. most of them in small groups guarding the perimiter. The people seem to be allowed to move about town, but all of the women and children have been herded into the chief’s hut, which is guarded by at least five pirates. If I may offer a suggestion, ma’am…”
I raise an eyebrow in his direction and nod for him to continue.
“We should be able to pick off the patrols one by one with our sniper nests as a small group infiltrates the town to attack the main target.”
“We want to do this quietly, though… any extra attention might put the lives of the prisoners at risk. Proceed with the sniper plan on my command. Dismissed.”
I gesture for Ulfbert to join me as I scan the map of the town. “Do you think you can create a device to generate some interference to keep these patrols from talking to each other? I’m talking about something that could be mistaken for storm interference.”
“Ja… it shouldn’t be a problem,” Ulfbert nods. “Let me get my tools.”