Chapter 52

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Daniah watched Rauoo and his squadron rocket towards the Kur'zo with their plasma cannons blazing. They executed a picturesque strafing run, nimbly darting over the hulking Kur'zo, slagging two plasma turrets and a tractor beam emitter in their wake.

"Suck it down," Rauoo gloated over the comm.

Meanwhile, the Halcyon continued an evasive pattern towards the H-point, its plasma turrets returning fire. Daniah and Anakin hunted past the Kur'zo's disruptor fire, when their proximity alarms tripped and they were both thrown in their seats violently to the right.

"You are gnats. Gnats in my flame!" the Kur'zo roared over the channel.

"Will someone please shut up that lunatic?" Daniah asked as she muted the Kur'zo. "Now what the hell was that?"

"The biggest disruptor blast ever recorded in our databanks," Echo responded. "It appears to have come from the center of the corvette."

"Rauoo, take a big plasma sledgehammer to the center disruptor cannon. Now." Daniah ordered.

"Copy that," Rauoo replied, his squadron returning for another strafing run.

This time, the squadron darted along the belly of the Kur'zo, eliminating another tractor beam emitter and destroying two more plasma cannons. As they came around the Kur'zo, they flipped to face it, allowing their inertia to carry them around as they brought their weapons to bear.

A writhing ball of energy formed in the center of the Kur'zo, and unleashed itself with fury. Like a scythe, the Kur'zo's disruptor cannon fired across Rauoo's squadron, disabling the incoming missiles. The blast broadsided one of Rauoo's wingmen, instantly shutting down all systems in the interceptor. A few moments later, the Kur'zo's remaining plasma cannons tracked down the disabled interceptor and disintegrated it.

"Buy me thirty more seconds to the H-Point Rauoo," Daniah said, then flipped to Engineering. "Sergeant Fett, we ready down there?"

"We've done what we can. Only one way to find out."

"Anakin, fire everything we've got. Every last missile, flak, cannon. Shoot the garbage at him. Just give me ten more seconds."

Another disruptor blast sizzled through the space next to them. This time the outer corona of the blast grazed the starboard deflector, causing the field to collapse.

"Hyper jump in five," Echo counted down.

"Four." Rauoo and his remaining wingman returned for another strafing run, providing as much cover for the Halcyon as they could.

"Three." Daniah escaped between three disruptor blasts, as the Kur'zo adjusted tactics to increase the odds of striking the Halcyon before the H-point.

"Two." Anakin used the Halcyon's tractor beams to deflect two incoming disruptor missiles into each other, before they could strike the Halcyon.

"One." The ship's autopilot rotated in the precise direction of the hyper jump, and Daniah prepared to see the lights streak by as they made the jump to hyperspace. Instead, she saw nothing.

"Jump!" Rauoo yelled.

"Report!" Daniah yelled, quickly taking back control from the hyperspace autopilot to avoid more fire.

"The Kur'zo caught us in a tractor beam just before we jumped." Echo whined. "Oh, now I'll be chopped to pieces by the jookees for sure!"

"Then why can I maneuver?" Daniah interjected, ignoring Echo's outburst.

"I don't know Mistress. Rauoo eliminated two of the Kur'zo's three tractor beam emitters. Take out the third." Echo whined on.

"Rauoo - you hear that?" Daniah asked.

"Yeah. Time to slice up some more Kur'zo." Rauoo and his remaining wingman rocketed towards the Kur'zo's last remaining tractor beam emitter, located in the nose of the ship. The nose was shielded to an extent by the hull of the ship, meaning they would have to destroy it head on, or so Anakin thought.

Instead, Rauoo's squadron aimed for a path they had already carved along the Kur'zo, minimizing the incoming fire received. Then Anakin realized Rauoo's plan. Rauoo could also fire missiles into the tractor beam, and the tractor beam would pull the the missiles into the emitter and destroy it. The Kur'zo's defense cannons would shoot down missiles from the Halcyon, but Rauoo was close enough to the Kur'zo that its flak cannons might not have the chance.

In the next moment, Anakin sat stunned as the Kur'zo's forward hull rolled open and several flak cannons rose into place.

"E'choota!" Rauoo swore over the channel, firing off all his remaining missiles in one last ditch attempt to overwhelm the flak cannons, then going evasive.

The flak cannons sprayed space with an impossible wall of flak, mercilessly crushing missile after missile and along with them the Halcyon's hopes of escape. With flak to spare, the Kur'zo aimed some of its cannons at Rauoo and his wingman, overwhelming their shields and puncturing their spacecraft. A curious mixture of skill and luck saved the two pilots, but only barely.

Rauoo's voice came in, ragged. "We're no good to you here any more, Daniah. All our systems are yellow or red and we've got no missiles left."

"I understand," Daniah said tonelessly. "Echo, hail our surrender, and get me the Kur'zo." Rauoo's squadron jumped and blinked out unceremoniously. A wave of sickness passed over Anakin, like someone had just pulled out his stomach and tossed it on the floor.

Deep vicious laughter came over the channel. "You are mine, Captain Daniah. Tell your crew that you will be taken to space station Zadu. If the reward is sufficient I will sell you as hostages. If not, I will sell you as pleasure slaves. If no one wants you, I will sell your meat."

As the Kur'zo closed in its tractor beam abruptly strengthened, and the Halcyon could no longer maneuver. Anakin had the awful feeling that the entire skirmish had been nothing more than freakish entertainment for the Kur'zo, like some twisted child tormenting a worm.

With a tear in her eye, Daniah caressed her captain's chair, and stood up. "I'll go tell the crew," she said to Anakin in a voice that was almost a whisper. It was a stark contrast to the brash, confident Daniah that Anakin had seen only moments earlier. He had the sense of crashing a funeral, only, this might be his funeral too. Anakin started to get up from his seat when Daniah put her hand on him.

"Stay here," she ordered. "Someone has to stay at the helm, just in case." Daniah paused for a long moment, a grave look on her face. "I'm going to say goodbye to my ship."

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