Zenith Cathedra

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Alarms blared on the deck of the Muramasa. Wojtek sat rigidly, staring ahead at the enemy. Neural link cables, from his skull to the controls, trembled from rushing adrenaline adrenaline. The Catechumen attack fleet spanned the viewscreen, energy cannons blazing. In the distance, caught among the ships, the Federation Excalibur had been overtaken by the Catechumen. The once proud Federation military vessel was now a powerless hunk of metal, engulfed by a twinkling cloud of robotic soldiers. A legion of mechanical angels had breached the Excalibur's hull and were making their way inside. Wojtek and his crew watched the Catechumen forces invade the helpless Federation vessel in the distance -and they knew their ship was next.
Lit by red emergency lighting, the crew worked furiously at their stations.

"Horos depleted," Razz said. The monstrous orange rock alien leaned back into seat. He unclenched his fingers from the specialized controls on the armrests. "So this is what it feels like to lose a battle."

The Muramasa rocked suddenly, and a booming sound reverberated through the walls. "Direct hit," Zahra said, eyes locked on the data display. "They're aiming for the core."

"They want us alive," Wojtek said.

Another blast shook the ship.

"They're gonna board us?" Anwar asked.

"They're gonna try." Lujain spun from her station. With heavy metal footfalls, she walked briskly across the deck towards the rear entrance.

"Where you goin'?" Wojtek asked.

"When they knock, I'm gonna answer." Lujain continued towards the rear door. Her massive cyborg frame sent vibrations along the metal floor with each heavy step. She stopped by the exit long enough to grab a plasma cannon hanging from the wall.

Wojtek nodded. "They'll prob'ly come through the bay."

"Yep." Lujain hit the large button with a closed metal fist, and the door slid open. "I'll hold the main hall. Wait for 'em there."

"You can't be serious." Zahra yelled to Lujain as she walked out into the hall. "There's an army of them out there. What do you think you're gonna do?"

"I'm gonna put up a fight." Lujain continued down the hall.

"I will go as well," the reptilian alien Chaicauhtli hissed from the rear of the deck. "Give me a gun." He stepped forward, long tail raised aggresively behind him, and extended an open hand. "I can help."

"You know how to use it?" Wojtek raised an eyebrow.

"Yes." Chaicauhtli nodded. "I am an expert." His tongue flicked across his mouth.

"Right." Wojtek remembered the implant in the lizard creature's brain, and the many foreign memories imparted to him. Chaicauhtli now shared experiences with Lujain, Zahra, Wojtek himself, and maybe others. No doubt he'd picked up a wealth of combat experience during the implant procedure. "Take yer' pick." Wojtek motioned to the array of energy weapons along the wall.

Chaicauhtli rushed over in long strides and quickly crossed the deck. He pulled a laser rifle from the wall, gripping it with both hands, then charged into the hall.

Cassai LaCroix walked to Lujain's vacant station, stopping to pore over the scrolling sensor readouts.

"You think you're gonna help?" Wojtek asked Cassia. The ship shook with another loud boom.

"Couldn't make things much worse, could I?" Cassia tapped at the console.

"I don't know." Wojtek laughed. "Let's find out."

"It's as bad as it looks?" Nigel asked Cassia, walking to join at her side.

"It's bad." She sighed.

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