Under Fire

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"They're locking on to us!" Nigel shouted. The Astrid was surrounded by a squadron of Mangeroma attack ships in a spherical formation, and they were closing in fast.

"Head to the asteroid belt." Cassia kept her eyes forward. "And try to stay calm."

Nigel steered the vessel towards the asteroids, and Cassia tapped rapidly at her console. Combing through the wormhole data, she looked for clues to its next location. With an incomplete map, she'd need a little luck and a lot of math.

Laser blasts rained down on the ship from all directions. The shield flashed brightly with each blast it absorbed, and the lights on the Astrid flickered as the ship's battery drained.

"Shields ninety-five percent... ninety...." Nigel frantically but hopelessly tried to evade fire. The swarmer vessels were far too agile to outmaneouvre. "Eighty five percent... We're not gonna last long!"

"Just get us through the asteroids. Buy us some time."

"And then?"

"I'm working on it." Cassia rapidly plugged numbers into equations thrown together on the fly, and ran the calculations on her console. It could be a twelve dimensional object, projected onto four-dimensional space-time. She ran the numbers. Not quite. The formulas didn't match up.

A salvo of missiles headed towards them. The Astrid's anti-missile laser system locked on to the incoming projectiles and fired back. One by one, the incoming missiles exploded as they were hit by defensive laser blasts. The ship's battery rapidly drained with each shot. Nigel and Cassia watched helplessly as the battery readout bar shrank before their eyes, now less than a third.

Cassia looked up from her calculations. "The big one!" She pointed to a massive asteroid in the approaching belt. "Go through it."

"Through?"

"Burn a hole!"

Nigel redirected the Astrid straight for the gigantic asteroid, and activated the ship's front mounted laser cannons. Firing a continous beam, he melted a hole straight through to the other side. They approached the opening, a circular tunnel carved through to a view of stars on the other side, its edges glowing red hot from the laser fire. Droplets of molten rock scattered about in all directions through the hole. They flew straight in, and the laser fire stopped under the cover of the surrounding asteroid. Pieces of super heated rock bounced of the deflector shield as they travelled the tunnel.

Several of the Mangeroma swarmers entered on their tail, firing down the length of the hole as the Astrid made its way through.

"Drop-mines." Cassia ordered, keeping her eyes down while running the numbers for a seventeen-dimensional Hawking-Funnel.

Nigel punched in a command. "Drop mines away."

The explosive devices ejected from the back of the Astrid. An explosion followed shortly after, consuming the trailing ships, and the Astrid emerged from the other side of the tunnel.

"Three down!" Nigel exclaimed.

A flurry of laser blasts assaulted their ship as the remaining Mangeroma swarmers met with them on the other side of the asteroid.

"I'm sending you coordinates." Cassia shouted over the ship's warning alarms.

"Got 'em."

"Take us straight there."

"The hole's there?"

"I hope so!"

With a partially mapped wormhole, she could only make a rough calculation. Any mistakes and they'd miss it. Mathematics never seemed so important.

"Battery's at ten percent!" Nigel shouted.

"We need that power for the T-drive!"

"What do I do?"

"Dump all the mines and drop the shields!"

The Astrid unleashed its load of drop-mines, creating a cone of threatened destruction in its wake. The trailing attack ships broke off, curving away from the mines, before arcing back and returning fire.

"Drop the shields!"

"We'll be killed!"

"Just do it!"

Nigel punched in the command, and the Astrid's protective layer of surrounding energy faded away. "Shields down!". They heard sizzling, popping, and cracking, as the incoming laser fire melted the outer hull of their now-unprotected ship.

"They're targetting the anti-missile arrays," Nigel exclaimed, monitoring the damage displays.

"Tranferring power to T-drive."

There was an explosion from behind them. The lights went out, thrusting them into darkness, and a maintenance panel flew across the inside of the ship, rebounding and clanging across the wall and floor. Nigel and Cassia became weightless in their seats as the gravity generator deactivated.

"Field up!" Cassia Shouted. "Calibrating!"

As the missiles approached, the Tunnelling-drive hummed loudly. A buzzing, static sensation ran through their bodies, and the Astrid began twisting and morphing in space, transforming into a translucent, prismatic mirage. From within the Astrid, they saw the same spectacular display -the surrounding Mangeroma attack ships and nearby asteroids bent and distorted into a brilliant show of light and colour. The volley of missiles converged, exploding into massive balls of blue flame. When it cleared, the Astrid was gone.

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