11: Milk Run (2/3)

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April 7, 2180 (New Era Calendar) /
Primendian Corridor, RISF Imperial-class Destroyer Crossbone

Grand Admiral Stack fought to suppress the quake of laughter that threatened to bellow from his stomach. Sure, the Delphinus was a tough little ship, itself designed as an anti-capital ship weapon. It proved its mettle when it launched an attack that knocked out one of his gravity-wave generators. Were Captain Olsen and his crew not attempting to keep Stack and his men from their payday, he might have been entertained by their futile effort.

Instead, all he felt was annoyance.

The audacity of the ship captain to reject Stack's more than generous offer, and then launch an attack on his flagship. Repairs on the grav-wave generator would be costly, and Stack would gladly eat that cost provided they retrieve the Senator.

He stood and approached the tactical plot at the heart of the CIC. On the holographic representation of space around them, the Delphinus continued on its trajectory in attempt to limp out of the Crossbone's interdiction field.

"That's cute. They think they can escape."

He couldn't fight the laughter any longer. Once he got himself under control he waved a hand to someone out of sight, off to his right.

"Launch a squadron and let's earn this payday. Helm, bring us about and prepare the tractor beam."

Stack returned to his seat, took another drag from his cigar and waited for the Captain of the Delphinus to transmit his surrender.

- - -

April 7, 2180 (New Era Calendar) /

Deep Space

The twelve Hammerheads of Alpha Squadron reverted to realspace expecting a diplomatic transport to greet them. Instead, only the empty vacuum of the deepest space.

"Commander, you sure we have the right coordinates?" That question from Kalvyn Jemara riding as Alpha Twelve.

"Stow it, Twelve! The coordinates are correct."

Commander Warren checked the mission clock on his flight board. The Delphinus was late, not an unusual occurrence in and of itself, but as his conversation with Septem reminded him, they couldn't afford to take any chances. Just to be safe, he checked the coordinates a third time.

The squadron sat in silence for what seemed like a handful of minutes until Camilo Ripley, Alpha Five, broke the quiet with a question. "Commander, do they even know to expect an escort?"

Come to think of it, they hadn't. Myles was quick back on the comm. "That's a negative, Five. The chance of a security leak was too high. We were given their nav plan and a rendezvous point at the end of the Primendian Way."

The next voice belonged to Izzy. "If they made it that far."

"You think they've been ambushed?" The question from Antes.

"Gut feeling, Two. This just doesn't sit right with me."

Though he hated the circumstances, Myles was proud of his group. They were developing into fine pilots. The fact that their intuition mirrored his own gave credence to that notion.

"No more idle chat, folks. I agree with you. This doesn't sit right with me either."

"So then what do we do?" The question from Indelli, Alpha Nine.

"We standby for now."

- - -

"We standby for now," rang out Commander Warren in Dara Joyce's comm unit.

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