Leon moved down the corridor. They still had some time until they reached their target and it wouldn’t take him long to reach the docking bay. It was a habit of his before any dangerous mission. He always went to see his radiant healer.
The med-bay door slid open. Paul was occupied with checking his instruments.
“Hey, Fuzzy,” he said, not even looking up.
Leon moved behind Paul and hugged him, gently.
“I’ll come back to you if it’s humanly possible,” Leon said. “But if I don’t make it you need to know that I love you. I’ve never stopped loving you from the moment I first said it.”
Paul brought his hands up to caress Leon’s. They felt soft and warm.
“I love you too,” Paul said. “Make sure to come back and tell me all about it.”
Leon kissed the back of Paul’s bald head and held him in silence.
“Farah, what’s our ETA?” Ophelia asked.
“Ten minutes, thirty seven seconds, Captain, Ma’am,” Farah reported.
Ophelia looked at her quizzically and sighed heavily. “I told you, there’s no need for formalities.” She flipped on the ship’s speaker. “Attention, Everyone. We’ll reach the target in less than ten minutes. Allison, hurry up and find a save point and put the game away. Leon, leave the med-bay.”
“Not going to tell Kat anything?” Lucy asked.
“She’s just reading,” Ophelia said. “I’ll bet she hasn’t even left the docking bay.”
“How do you know what they’re doing?” Farah inquired.
Ophelia shrugged. “People all have their own ways, their own rituals, of coping with the stress of going on a dangerous mission. Especially on a small ship like this when they can get back to docking pretty easily from basically anywhere. Tell me, Farah, what would you have spent the time doing if I was sending you out?”
“Me?” Farah asked. She thought about it for a moment. “I’m not sure. Played with Baron, maybe.”
“No wonder Grace likes you,” Ophelia laughed. “Any other ships in the vicinity or just the target?”
“I’m picking up three others,” Farah stated. “One is moving away from us. One is five minutes away from the target and the third is barely in range. Even if it is an ally of the enemy it’s going to be too far away to do anything.”
“We should also consider the possibility of ships with stealth technology,” Lucy advised.
Ophelia nodded. “I don’t think any of the pirates around here’ll have anything sophisticated enough to fool us, but it is possible. We’ll hit em hard and fast. Try to cripple their weapons and life support.”
“Not a problem,” Lucy said.
“But won’t Katie and the others need the life support?” Farah asked.
“They’ll have their own air supplies on their flight suits,” Ophelia said. “She’s a small ship, but our tech isn’t exactly sub-par. If anything taking out the enemies’ life support will lower the risk to them. How long until we’re in range?”
“At this speed we’ll reach them in a minute and a half,” Farah reported.
“Any sign of the other ships coming toward us?” Ophelia asked.
“Not yet,” Farah said.
“They either haven’t picked us up or they’re luring us,” Ophelia muttered. “We’ll pass them at this speed. Lucy, drop the stealth and open fire.”
“Dropping stealth,” Lucy said. “Preparing weapons. Firing.”
It was a tricky maneuver. The Cerberus moved past the target ship at full speed, her weapons blasting at full power. Lucy calculated her shots perfectly. They not only hit the target, but they managed to avoid anything that would destroy the ship. Leaving it half crippled but stable.
“The nearby ship has turned towards us,” Farah reported. “It’ll be here in minutes.”
The enemy ship fired at them. Ophelia took evasive maneuvers while Lucy returned fire. Blasting their weapons’ array.
“Their weapons are down,” Lucy reported.
“All fighters launch!” Ophelia ordered. Through the bridge’s screen, Farah saw the three fighters launch towards the damaged ship. “We’ll intercept the other ship. Feel free to destroy this one.”
“It won’t be as easy,” Lucy said. “They know we’re here.”
“We’ve got two more readings heading this way!” Farah cried. ” At their current speed they’ll be here in twelve minutes, forty seconds.”
“They must’ve been hidden in a base of some kind,” Ophelia said. “We’ll finish the one heading towards us, pick up the fighters and get the hell out of here. Hopefully, we can be gone before they arrive.”