Ballistic Logistics Saga - Part IX

August 2941
Freelancer - 'Course Correction'
Min System

An explosion blasted the Course Correction and rocked it hard to one side, knocking both Matthias and Gedion off of their feet. In an attempt to catch his fall, Matthias had let go of his pistol, and the reverberations that shook the ship caused it to fly past Gedion and down the hall into the cargo area. The Course Correction was taking heavy fire from the incoming pirate fleet.

Matthias stared at Gedion, waiting for him to make his move for the pistol so that Matthias could give chase. But Gedion didn't go for it.

"Whatever you think I am, I'm not your enemy." Gedion tried to assure him, half-shouting over the noise of rocket debris bouncing off the shields.

"We'll settle this later," Matthias replied.

"If there is a later, I could us some help up here!" Saskia shouted back at Gedion and Matthias. They both picked themselves up off the floor, Gedion returning to his seat behind the cockpit area, and Matthias to his co-pilot chair.

"Ok, sitrep" Matthias said to Saskia, getting back to the business at hand.

"We've got a large pirate fleet making for Spider, presumably to attack our base. They are fielding over 20 Cutlasses, looks like 6 Caterpillars, and a few Heralds for good measure. We have 4 or 5 Avengers and a few Auroras, but that's it. We won't hold up for long." Saskia observed.

"I'll get Commander Ruiz on the comm, we need to throw everything at them or we'll lose the base," Saskia replied. He pressed a few buttons on the comm panel then… nothing. Waiting a few more moments he tried again and… nothing.

"Damn!" Matthias exclaimed, pounding his fist against the comm panel in frustration. Just then, another missile came in and exploded against the shields, rocking the Course Correction hard again.

"Head for that debris field to your nine o'clock, we'll try to lose them there and land at the base," Matthias instructed.

Saskia weaved the Freelancer hard and to the left, dodging two more incoming missiles. A third slammed into a chunk of derelict hull as the ship ducked behind it and into the debris field of old abandoned ships that floated around Spider. Multiple Cutlasses launched waves of dumb missiles at the Freelancer as Saskia deftly weaved in and out of chunks of wrecked freighters and old military vessels. The missiles slammed into the wreckage, pelting the Course Correction's shields with shrapnel, but causing no real damage.

Realizing that they were being pulled too far away from their primary engagement, the Cutlasses broke off and returned to the main battle, the elimination of the rest of Ballistic Logistics' Spider fleet. This allowed the Saskia to sneak the around the far side of Spider and quietly approach the secret entrance to the base.

Saskia instinctively began to punch the base i.d. into her comm as she rounded the last corner, but to her surprise, the secret hanger door lay completely open.

"Something's not right, what do you make of that?" Saskia asked.

"Someone's leaving the front door open," Matthias replied grimly.

The Course Correction entered the hanger door and touched down on the first landing pad.

The base was in complete disarray. Most of the ships had been launched except for Commander Ruiz' private Jump 890. Only a few Auroras were left in the hanger, and from the looks of them, they weren't fit to fly. Matthias, Gedion, and Saskia, quickly exited the Freelancer and entered the chaos of ground crew and personnel running around frantically to prepare for the incoming attack. Matthias grabbed the first man to run past him.

"Where's Ruiz?" He asked, shaking the man perhaps a little too hard.

"He… he… he's not in the command center?" the crewman replied, shaking with fear and adrenaline. Matthias turned him loose.

"Come on, let's go to the command center, we've got to try to get a hold of the situation and find Ruiz," Matthias instructed and waved for Gedion and Saskia to follow him.

They raced down a series of hallways and corridors, against a steady tide of evacuating personnel. The sounds of explosions thundering in the distance filled the passageways. Finally rounding the last corner, they entered the control room and found it completely empty.

"Damn, where could he be?" Matthias vented his frustration again. The base was falling apart and the commander was nowhere to be found. The three of them walked over to the main terminal in the middle of the room to survey the situation. The scanners were picking up the battle, and it didn't look good. Almost all the Ballistic Logistics ships had been destroyed, and it would only be a matter of minutes before the pirates would begin boarding the base.

The pneumatic hiss of the command center door opening caused the three to look up. It was commander Ruiz, with laser pistol pointed right at them.

"It's over Stormfury" Ruiz confidently said with a grin.

"You bastard, I'm going to kill you…" Matthias marched towards Ruiz with hands outstretched and ready to strangle.

Ruiz fired a shot into the air, then re-aimed at Matthias.

"I wouldn't come any closer if I were you." Ruiz cautioned. Matthias froze where he was, but trembled with rage. "Just give me a reason. I'd love nothing more than to kill you, but I've been instructed that I'm to hold you for… delivery."

An explosion rocked the base and caused everyone to stagger.

"And that would be our guests arriving now, let's go!" Ruiz shook the pistol and Matthias and waved him to the door. Matthias, fists still clinched in furious anger, complied and moved past Ruiz and out into the hallway. Ruiz, so enamored with his catch, realized his tactical error. If he pointed the pistol at Gedion and Saskia to kill them, he would have left himself open for Matthias to tackle him. So rather, he kept his weapon trained on Matthias and followed him into the hallway. The door hissed shut behind them.

Gedion and Saskia waited a few moments to give some safe distance between themselves and Ruiz.

"Come on, we have to go after them!" Saskia urged and started for the door. Before she could take a third step, the command center computer blared out a message:

Warning, intruder alert, the base is being boarded.