Chapter 31

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"Damn it!" Daniah smacked her flight pad in frustration. Yet again, the Halcyon's merc escort was quickly reduced to a pair of floating metal cans.

The autori gunships began to swarm the Halcyon now with impunity, pelting it from all sides with disruptor fire.

Daniah desperately attempted to evade while returning fire, to no avail. 20%, 10%, 5%...and then shield collapse, overwhelmed electrical systems, life support going critical. Her emergency EVO suit formed around her.

Daniah slammed the sim reset button. She had to shine here. This was the second time in a row she'd failed this scenario. It wouldn't matter if they freed the hostages and bagged Krul, if they couldn't get out of the star system.

Lieutenant Til'trius' escape scenarios were unfair, but they weren't unreasonable. The autori might have their hands full with bomb threats on the Rodia space stations, and the quickly unraveling political situation on the planet. Or, the government might just lay the smack down with a heavy-handed military action. Or, her escort might be piloted by a bunch of useless nuggets. Or both.

It wasn't possible to know in advance, and Til'trius was preparing her for the worst.

Til'trius' air cycle shield would help her get the Halcyon off the planet in one piece. What concerned her more were the autori gunships at the planet's space stations. Daniah could delay intercept, but the autori based at the planet's space stations for a reason.

You could accelerate a spaceship a lot faster when you didn't have to fight an atmosphere and gravity well. Anti-grav and shields helped, but there were still limits you didn't have to deal with when you started acceleration in space.

"Think Daniah, think," she caught herself saying aloud. She could always hope the Halcyon's merc escorts were up to the task, but they'd just failed her twice in a row. The Halcyon might not look like much to some, but it was hers, scars in the cargo bays and all, and she didn't intend to lose it.

As Daniah poured over her sim logs for ideas, she saw a freighter drone spiraling off into space several light minutes away on the system map. Til'trius had done a good job modelling Rodia after all, she thought to herself.

It was a story repeated every day. Freight forwarding companies paid protection money to the autori, or ran the risk of having their flight plans tipped off to certain interested parties. Some tried to smuggle out, and some succeeded, but many failed, becoming lingering artifacts in the solar system. This malfunctioning freighter with its escort blown to pieces wouldn't even raise an eyebrow.

Which gave her an idea...

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