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***

“Fuck!”

The word is no sooner out of my mouth when the first barrage hits our shields.

“Shields are at one hundred percent.”

“That was just a warning shot. They are testing our defenses. Reduce life support to the rest of the ship and funnel the excess energy to the shields. Set up a cascading array that re-calibrates upon each hit. Use the standard fib-seq as I am stunted when it comes to shielding.”

With a little mental flex, I slide gunnery on to my console. I drop out of the flight sequence and begin evasive maneuvers.

Chikara is fast; faster than any ship I have ever had before. Staying between the pirates and their pray will be simple. My console shows the pirate’s sensors flashing across us as we skim around them. I settle into a course and hope that the shields are up for my bull-headed style of defense.

They open fire a series of forward arc lasers. The shields don’t even register it as a hit. They spin ninety degrees and try to speed around my port side. I nudge the gravitic drives to keep Chikara and I out in front of the pirates. If they are going to be shooting at something; it will be something that can fight back.

“Chikara, scan the other ship. Let’s make sure we are just rescuing the lesser of two evils while we are out here. It is fun to fight pirates but I want to make sure I’m not just wasting my time on something that is just as bad.”

I see the sensor scan flare to life on my display. The data spinning out before me confirms my knee-jerk reaction when I heard the word pirates. The ship being pursued is unarmed. I can not discern what they are carrying with a much more in-depth scan. I just do not have the time for it.

I fire the pulse cannon on its lowest setting and watch tactical for the results. The enemy ships shields show a slight change in shield consistency but I am unsure if they are varying the frequency or if I’ve done actual damage.

The pirates fire back with a beam weapon that I’ve not seen before. The ship rocks slightly under the hit.

“Shields at Ninety-five percent, Jaxx.”

“What was that?”

“Analysis shows that it is a particle beam. From the amount of damage done to the shields, it would appear to be a rather crude one too.”

“Fuck that shit! I am shutting it down. It gives them way to much range.  If they get away from me they’d be able to hit that transport easily.”

I have to struggle with the targeting while keeping us out in front of the them.  I pinpoint the port on the hull and where the particle beam originated and open fire with the pulse cannon on full. It takes several direct hits before I can see the that the hull is breached and the underlying weaponry is nothing but slag.

I see the comms panel come alive and curse under my breath for not putting that on my console as well.

“What message just got sent?”

“It will take me a while to break their encryption. An educated guess would be a distress call.”

An alarm goes of on the command console in front of me. Five slipspace openings show on sensors a bit behind the Batraxian ship.  Five smaller ships of a similar design careen toward Chikara. I would call it an attack pattern if it weren’t more like a pack crazy drunken monkeys. They assume I am incapable of tracking more than two ships and will be baffled by their swarm tactic.

“I think they have decided that they don’t want t to play nice. Lets show them what a true Captain can do Chikara.”

“Yes sir!”

I tap the Tesla drive and flip us up ninety degrees and pour on the gravitics appearing to flash in and out space without really entering slip space. I watch the comms as they scatter and reorient to my new position. I don’t give them a chance. I bank hard right and loop down behind the slowest fighter. They have some rear arc lasers but they do no appreciable damage to our shields. I open up with an alpha strike; hitting them with every forward facing weapon available to Chikara. We plow through the debris cloud losing some integrity in the shields.

“Fuckers don’t even have shields. This is going to be a piece of cake.”

My crow of exultation is a bit premature as the pirates change tactics. I am flipping around madly in pursuit of the fastest of the fighter when I one of the other fighters plows into us. Shields drop to fifty percent and there is an audible gasp of pain from Chikara.

“I have a hull buckling on the starboard side in the crews quarters. No compromise of atmosphere as of yet but I can not sustain another collision like that with shields not at full.”

“You are going to need to drive then. I need you to keep maximum firing distance between us and them. Nothing fancy, Just turn and burn if you think that they are getting to close for comfort. Swing around for another strafing run once you have things under control.”

I grab the straps and buckle myself in. I close my eyes and feel the ship around me. The chase is fast and furious but I have no energy to spare to watch it. I focus my awareness on to the ships weaponry and drop into the semblance of a death-dealer. Each loop and spin brings me closer to a target until I unleash a burst of destruction with surgical precision; no wasted energy or fillips, just carnage. I can feel my pulse match the thrum of the Tesla rive. Each blast that hits the shields sends jolts through my body. Everything begins to white out as I feel the staccato rhythm of the ships weapons vibrate through me.

A harsh discordant tones cuts through the haze and I drop back into my body.

“They are all dead, Jaxx. You saved the transport and they are hailing us. What do you want me to do?”

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