Chapter 32

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"Aunty's down. We're on our own." I skidded to a halt behind Gabel.

He nodded.

I touched his shoulder. "Can you see them?"

"Nah, they're still near the armoury."

It would be ironic if they ended up using our own weapons against us. "How did you two get your weapons then?"

Rafel gave me a shy grin. "We kinda... hung on to them after Suzanne showed us how to use 'em. Figured we was security, you know, so..."

At least something had gone right. I looked down as Rafel pressed a blaster into my hand. I nodded. He thought me to be unarmed. He held a long blaster over his shoulder and another hand blaster was slung at his side.

I took the offered blaster and checked the charge. "Set weapons red. We're not taking prisoners here. No quarter given. We have to hold out long enough for Chase and Suzanne to save us from a big pair of bastards outside."

Rafel nodded and offered me his shield. I waved it away. His three days of training from Suzanne wasn't much, but it was more than I'd had.

Gabel looked over his shoulder at me. "What's the plan, Captain?"

Damned if I knew.

I looked back the way I had come. There was a crossroads in the hallway fifteen metres behind us. Both of the intersecting junctions led to emergency supply rooms. They were also lined with the bright yellow personal ejection pods. It looked to be a better vantage point, and we could maybe catch them in a crossfire. The pods would provide limited cover.

I could station Gabel and Rafel in those junctions with their shields. If I then kept going a further ten metres down the hall, I could fire from the cover of the elevator and support the other two. A three-way crossfire.

Better than standing in an open corridor.

I explained the plan to the other two. They nodded and rose. "I'll wait here until I see them coming. I'll fire to slow them down then I'm retreating back to the elevator. Try not to shoot me as I run through the junction."

Gabel grunted and passed me a small round casing. A lob bomb. He grinned. "Only got one, sorry. We were gonna try and shoot it in the range to see what happened."

"It's not going to blow a hole clean through my ship, is it?"

"Dunno. Suzanne just said to be careful with it. Press here and the button will flash red once. Don't miss it. You have five heartbeats to toss it." He smiled again. "Then you got none heartbeats."

Very funny.

I lay down and inched an eye around the corner. Nothing yet. I heard the other two retreating behind me. I pushed my blaster out around the corner. The muted lighting in the corridors of the 'Daya could be a blessing. The boarders might not see me immediately.

I tried to calculate how long we would have to hold them off. Chase had said thirteen minutes. Call it ten minutes left to go.

A lifetime.

All of that training I had done at the range and I had never once practised from a prone position. Or even a kneeling one. I shook my head and cursed myself. It was hard to believe how complacent I had been before I met Partridge. I still had a lot to learn.

"You there, Aunty?" Just in case.


I wondered if it was possible for the boarders to not only shut down Aunty, but also turn her against us. An icy tremor ran down my spine. Nothing we could do if that happened.

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