“Is this going to be okay?” Farah wondered.
“Nervous?” Allison asked, putting an arm around Farah. “Don’t be. You have the wonderful space adventuress, Allison Aiza, with you. I hear she’s never lost.”
“I hear she used to crash during training and then developed an ego,” Kat stated. She looked at Farah. “I understand. We’re not in the best of positions. We’re probably outnumbered. We have no doctor if we get hurt. We have no engineer if the ship gets damaged and our backups are already shot. If this were an Alliance ship, we’d turn tail and run, or surrender.”
“Then…” Farah began.
“But,” Kat continued. “We aren’t an Alliance ship. We don’t give up when things aren’t going well and we only run when we have to. We’ll stay, we’ll fight and we will win. That’s who we are. The group of mercenaries that can turn the tides and thrive when faced with a difficult situation.”
“That’s the stuff!” Allison declared. “Kat and I have been through worse with this crew, just follow our lead.”
“I’ve been through worse,” Kat said. “You haven’t.”
“What about the Omitheta thing?” Allison asked.
“Not quite this bad,” Kat stated.
“You think?” Allison asked.
“I’m going in,” Ophelia said. “Prepare to open fire.”
“Just stay calm,” Lucy advised. “remember, you don’t want to let them know that you know that something’s amiss.”
“Yes, Dear,” Ophelia said.
She maintained speed and went into range of the sensor echoes. Immediately, the enemy ships appeared. Lucy opened fire as soon as she saw them, decimating several small fighters.
“Sortie,” Ophelia ordered. “We have thirteen fighters and a larger mother ship. We’ll focus on the mother ship, take out those fighters!”
“Five for me, four for each of you,” Allison said, her voice quivering very slightly. “That’s not so bad.”
“We’ll go in a close formation,” Kat stated. “Stay close to the ship and prevent any of them from breaking through. Don’t worry about any that pull back, at least not until we thin their numbers. Watch each other’s backs.”
The three fighters left the bay, Kat took the centre with Farah on her right and Allison on the left. They moved away from the ship, but kept between it and the enemy fighters.
“Let’s try to lure the mother ship in,” Ophelia said. “Give our girls more breathing room.”
Lucy didn’t respond, she stared at her display, her eyes wide open.
“Something wrong?” Ophelia asked.
“The movements are erratic,” Lucy answered. “This isn’t regular evasive manoeuvres, either. Those have some kind of pattern based on the pilot but this… it’s like they’re shifting pilots. I can’t get a good sense of how they’re going to move.”
“Maybe they are shifting,” Ophelia said. “They did research on our crew, correct? So, they might very well know about your skill at predicting enemy movements.”
“It seems likely,” Lucy agreed, still staring. “Give me a moment. I’ll figure out how many they’ve got.”
“For the moment, fire some shots to lure them in,” Ophelia said. “I’ll pull the Cerberus back a little.”
“No problem,” Lucy said. She fired, several hits grazing against the enemy ship. It flew towards them, opening fire while Ophelia took evasive action.
“Not one clean hit,” Lucy muttered. “I tried, but not a single clean hit!”
“Calm down!” Ophelia exclaimed. “I know you, you’ll get it. You just have to remain calm.”
“You’re right,” Lucy said. “Just be careful. We can’t even afford to get grazed too many times.”
“Don’t I know it,” Ophelia stated.
The enemy fighters moved quickly, but the trio from the Cerberus were slightly quicker. they managed to evade the initial volley and bring down two of the enemy ships.
They stuck together, flying in sync. Unfortunately, they were still heavily out-numbered. One of the enemy ships fired off a small orb, which moved towards them.
“EMP missile,” Kat warned. “Farah, it’s locked on to you. Lose it!”
Farah broke away, forcing the orb to turn towards her and giving Kat a chance to shoot it down. Before she could return to the formation, three of the enemy ships broke off and moved against her, forcing her to move back, even further away from the others. The remaining eight ships went after Kat and Allison, preventing them moving to rejoin her.
“So much for sticking together,” Allison said. She hurriedly, instinctively evaded some torpedoes. In the process she separated from Kat and three of the enemy ships moved to prevent her rejoining, sending her in the opposite direction as Farah had gone.
“Damn,” Kat muttered. She turned her communication equipment back on. “Looks like They’re going to try and bring me down first. You two focus on dealing with the enemies in front of you. I’ll try to avoid these guys as long as I can.”
“Roger,” Allison stated.
“Don’t worry about me,” Farah said. “I’ll lose these three and get to you. Just hold on!”