Alien Relations - Part XV

October 2942
Pirate Asteroid Base 'Haven'
Unknown System

Photeus' head bobbed slowly as exhaustion was taking it's hold on him. The low murmur and soft vibrations of the Redeemer 'Renewal', inbound to the Haven pirate base was lulling him into a dreamlike state, half asleep, half awake.

"Convusco, you ready for your big day?" Traven Cliff yelled back to Mavor across the hold of the Redeemer from the pilot seat. The other men in Idris Squadron 268 laughed together at Mavor's expense. He was nervous, but he couldn't let his team see that.

"Yeah, you excited to catch the bouquet?" The other men laughed again in response. Even though he got a bit annoyed whenever Cliff chided him, their banter definitely took the edge off. This mission was a big one, they had another chance to capture a Vanduul cruiser. No one else knew, but Mavor knew this would be a perfect end to his military career. After this, marriage, kids, and a quiet life were what was in store for him. He could go through anything to get to that life. He was prepared.

"Alright, enough chit-chat. This is going to be rough. Cliff, ETA?" Mavor yelled back to the pilot seats.

"2 minutes. We'll have to sweep below the Vanduul away from the battle group for a moment, catch them off guard," Cliff then touched his helmet, keying back his radio, "Say again? Shit. Roger!"

"Get cozy and hold on tight. The Vanduul know we're coming and their gunning for us specifically. Two Scythes inbound!" Cliff warned the boarding party.

Mavor looked out the viewports and saw the ships Cliff was referring to. Two hornets from the battle group moved in to engage them. Mavor went to the other side of the hold and saw four more Scythes inbound with no hornets trying to stop them.

An irrational thought popped into his head, "So I'll be responsible when these men die. They are under my command. I should protect them."

"Cliff! Evasive maneuvers!"

Photeus yelled to the pilot of the Redeemer 'Renewal', "Evasive maneuvers!"

The pilot, looking deeply confused, replied back, "Sir?"

"The Vanduul!" Photeus began to snap out of his trance and realize how crazy he sounded.

"Sir, I don't think they look pretty either, but that's a friendly. That's our Herald, the 'Soothsayer'," the pilot looked back at him, "Are you OK sir?"

Photeus rubbed his hands through his eyes and then hair, "Dammit. Yes. Sorry." He sat back down to wait to board Haven.

The special forces men we studying him with some concern on their faces. They are wondering if they just brought a crazy man with them.

"Uh, I know we haven't spent a lot of time together, but who's in charge here?" Mavor asked the group.

"Technically me," spoke up Disciple Roger Lynn, "But Stormfury gave us direct orders that if you give an order, we follow it."

"OK, yeah, that's good," Photeus was relieved. The last hour had been a blur. He was grabbed from his room on the Unity, rushed to gear up and board the Redeemer. He was only told they were boarding a space station attempt to secure it and get all information possible, but otherwise try and stop the inevitable destruct sequence. Photeus hadn't been in the best shape since the Xi'an dumped him off. He felt like he could have done more to keep Reef alive. He could deal with his own mortality, but getting others killed was starting to dredge up old memories.

"So, uh, my only order right now is for you to do your thing."

"Do our...'thing'?" Lynn must have felt like he was dealing with an amateur.

"Yes, let’s board, but don't let me get in the way of your usual boarding approach. If we see anyone, we'll try to catch them for interrogation. Otherwise, we need to find the central command center." At least Photeus sounded more reasonable the second time around.

Lynn nodded, "Fair enough."

The pilot called back to the crew, "The Herald has dropped back, we're inbound for the hanger. Not sure if I can put it down, there’s a crashed ship or something in the way."

"Clear a path, Patterson."

Patterson, the pilot, nodded back and keyed up the weapons on the Renewal.

Weapons fire from the redeemer signaled its final approach into the open hangar of the station. Metal shattered and exploded under the hail of energy fire followed by ballistics to sweep the area. Since the hangar was open, there was no need of fancy maneuvers, but it was obvious there had been another ship that came in hot before them and wrecked part of this landing bay.

Once the firepower had died down the 'Renewal' landed onto the station. Photeus was unsure what to expect. Matthius had a hunch the pirates would attempt to self-destruct their base before anything could be learned of them or their plans; Photeus' role was disable any explosives and save the base so they would have time to hack the central computer for data.

Once the ship landed, the marines left the cargo hold and went straight for the nearest cover, 'Big John' and Rankers lead the way, taking cover behind the nearest piece of wreck. Lynn and Peters followed out slowly, but only to the base of the drop plate and looked around. Patterson, last to arrive from the pilot chair, joined Lynn and Peters. The slag and remains of the previous ship the Redeemer shot to hell to land made good cover for the Renewal and gave Photeus a place to get a good look. He quickly climbed up to just under the top, peeking his head out.

The landing zone was open to space, but containment shields seemed to be holding the black at bay. He could see they were in only one half of the landing area, the other half had itss own airlock door which had not been breached. Initially he was only able to see the repair equipment and disassembled ships across the landing pads. A ship on the other side caught his eye, a busted up Vanguard. It looked like the pirates may have acquired it forcefully, a story told by the various laser burns and few jury-rigged pieces of fuselage from another ship. Repairs had been hasty on it, but Photeus wondered if it would still fly.

Movement caught his eye. He snapped to attention and stared over at three figures who had just entered the bay. They were moving quickly in spite of the limping and shuffling he noticed. They had not spotted his men.

"Attention!" Photeus pointed their direction, "Three. Capture them alive for interrogation. They are wounded."