“I can definitely do it. It’s just very delicate work. I can bypass the security measures with a steady hand. The problem is if I activate it the countdown will start at the default twenty minutes with no way of stopping it. If this is the backup plan I recommend we hold off on actually activating it until we have to.”
Fawx nodded. “How long are we talking about to hotwire it?”
“Uh, conservatively speaking, fifteen minutes. It seems simple enough but it’s something that if I mess up once I don’t get to try again. I’d have no room for error.”
“I understand. Moden, can you transport the scuttle bomb to an escape pod and work on it from there?”
“Uh, yeah I guess. It will take a few minutes and some manpower but I could do that. Kind of a strange request.”
“I’ll explain later. Just get that ready. We only have eight minutes before we have boarders.”
Novak and Petton arrived at the airlock where Irium’s crew would board the ship. Petton and her security team were setting up tables and anything else she could for covering fire. This confused Fawx. “Lt. Petton. Why aren’t we using the blast shields that are built into the walls? They are designed for this exact situation.”
Petton sighed. “We tried, but they have been welded to the walls and won’t budge a centimeter.”
Fawx smacked the wall with an angry fist. The airlocks on every TSF ship had been designed to be very difficult to storm. With the blast shields out there were several layers of defense any boarding party would have to get through; but without the blast shields available storming the Sabine would become exponentially easier.
Novak shook her head. “Looks like Irium really planned this out.”
“Would certainly seem so. At least we’ll probably have the scuttle bomb if things Xaen betrays us.”
“Sir, you’ll likely have to give the order to activate the scuttle bomb before Xaen even comes into the picture. What are we going to do if Xaen keeps her word and the scuttle bomb has been activated?”
Fawx nodded, taking a sidearm the security handed her. “That’s why I’m having Moden load it into an escape pod.”
“Sir, both you and I know that an escape pod doesn’t fly fast enough to move us our of the blast range.”
“I know but I plan to-“
Picking up her communicator again, she answered. “Yes Dr. Teffri?”
“As you commanded I grabbed a few spare airmen and have two teams ready to bring any wounded into the sick bay. I’ll be waiting to work on any injuries. I’ve already informed Lt. Petton to call them as soon as someone is wounded.”
“Thank you Dr. Teffri.”
Fawx looked up at a clock. It wouldn’t be long before they would be boarded.
Petton and her team finished setting up the last of their cover. “Sir, we’re as ready as we’re going to be for the attack.”
“How many men- how many do we have armed?”
Petton bit her bottom lip. “Including me and you, we have fourteen. The one positive we have on our side though is since they want us alive they’ll probably be shooting with suppression guns- nothing deadly.”
Fawx scoffed. “Yeah, just enough to throw us into incapacitating convulsions.”
Novak added. “Assuming the Yrch doesn’t just neutralize us first.”
Fawx sighed. “I’m actually counting on it.”
“Garrick to Captain Fawx.”
The communicator was once again gripped by the Captain. “Yes Garrick, what is it?”
“Sir, they’re approaching the airlock now and have begun to scan our ship.”
“Thanks. Keep a sharp eye out and as soon as you see they’re done scanning our ship, send Xaen down. Keep a sharp eye on us, Xaen, and the insurgents. Should Xaen betray us or her attack fails for some reason, on my authority have Moden activate the scuttle bomb. But don’t order it until you’re absolutely sure. Understand?”
“Uh- yes sir. I understand.”
Fawx put his communicator down. She sighed. Novak broke the silence. “Well, we’re facing off against Irium. He knows both of our tendencies. He knows our weaknesses. He also knows everything about basic TSF anti-boarding procedures. His crew will be well informed.”
“We also know his weaknesses.”
“He only really had one. His arrogance. You really think he won’t see our deal with Xaen coming?”
“Well, what was his strategy for any attack? What would he always ask me before giving that order?”
Novak answered. “What would you do if you were in their shoes?”
Fawx nodded her head. “He’d always ask me that. Irium loved playing the part of the guy who was always one step ahead. He would play it like a fox. He wanted to know what they were going to do before they did it. So he’d try to cut them off at the pass- shoot where they were running, pop out from where they would try to hide, etc.”
Fawx lifted up his fingers and began to count off. “Look at us. One- he set up surveillance so he could know where we were at all times. Two- he got his Yrch to wear us down mentally before the big fight. Three- he disabled our engines and offensive capabilities. Four- he had our weapons hidden, destroyed, or whatevered so that we couldn’t fight back to our full abilities. Five- made it impossible for me to voice activate the scuttle bomb. Six- and this one really showed his ability to think ahead- he had the Yrch render our blast shields useless to lower the degree of difficulty of boarding the Sabine. He took care of everything ahead of time so taking care of us would be as easy as possible. If he thought we’d use Xaen, why wouldn’t he have had the Yrch take care of her before now? Why would Irium wait to tie that loose end up when he tied all his others up before now?”
Novak shrugged her bare shoulders. “Knowing him- maybe just so he can catch her before our eyes and gloat?”
Fawx shook her head. “Novak, seriously, he’s turned us into a crew of nubile babes that can’t walk without heels on, have uncontrollable shakes to their asses, and have voices that sound every bit as inviting as we look. Throw in the fact that if his plan works he’ll be able to enjoy even more of our company on a more personal basis and he’s got a nice stack of I-wins built up. You think Irium is seriously looking to find one more thing to gloat about?”
Novak smirked. “This is Irium we’re talking about.”
Fawx leaned back and chuckled. Brushing a blue bang from her face she sighed. “Yeah, maybe he just wants one more thing to taunt us with.”
The ship lurched. Fawx and Novak stumbled a bit. Garrick’s voice peeped over the communicator. “Sir, they’ve just docked with our airlock- probably have about two minutes before they break through the security hatch. They also appear to be done scanning. Shall I send Xaen?”
“Yes, but don’t have her come in until the Yrch shows himself. I don’t want to tip our hand too early.”
“Got it Sir. She’ll take a while to get there anyway. She has a long way to run.”
Novak and Fawx gave one another anticipatory glances. Each took position for the fight; Novak behind an overturned table and Fawx behind a filing cabinet.
Fawx observed his security team. Each had various levels of experience ranging from battle tested to battle neophyte. No matter how experienced they were, not one of them looked a day older than twenty. Delicate flowers each one of them; not exactly who he’d pick to go to war with.
Fawx sighed. But go to war they would. No other choices existed. Looking down examined her young, sleek body. She cursed Irium and what he and his Yrch had done. But in her heart she cursed herself all the more for not doing what she should have done those many years ago.
She vowed to not make the same mistake again.
I really struggled with this chapter for some reason. But in the end I liked it a lot. But in the end I really liked how the ending turned out. I thought it was pretty good. Had a nice dramatic flare I feel I sometimes lack.