Birth of a Leader: Grinder's Respite

December 2919
Tiber System 'The Grinder'

Hours felt like days to Matthius, but he knew the only hope he had was to drift along with other debris. In an attempt to remain unnoticed, he Pvt Johnson and Lt Ayers all took turns using quick short bursts to position their wounded hornets into debris field around the Ajax.

The process was long and risked all three running out of air, but as the battle came to a close, the Vanduul would begin carcassing what they could of the wreckage and the retaliator would catch the eyes of the would be salvagers.

Finally the trio reached their destination and split up amongst the debris. While retaining visibility amongst one another, they opted to place their damaged machines into nooks and cracks of the various chunks of twisted metal. Matthius took a long gulp as the body of young medical officer floated past his cockpit. In her twenties, and without the protection of a space suit, she stood no chance.

"Ok, minimal contact, try and catch some shut eye to conserve air." He ordered the other two. All three were critically low on Oxygen, but Matthius could see larger vessels in the distance approaching. Now the trick was figuring out how to make his plan work.

Finally the larger Vanduul ship arrived and Matthius began to watch as it's doors opened up. This was far more seat of the panths that he would have liked but options were limited. Setting up a direct beam communication to the other two he sent a single ping pulse across the channel. Pvt Johnson pinged back immediately but nothing from Lt Ayers. Matthius, risked it one more time and sent the same ping signal to Ayers a second time. Still nothing. The Lieutenant may have run out of air, he thought. Matthius couldn't risk another as several Scythe were now patrolling the debris field and two larger vessels were beginning to tear apart debris with tractor beams.

Checking his fuel gauge, he estimated he had enough for 1 hard burn to get into the captial ship but any more than that and he would be dead in the water. A thought he was none to comfortable with. As he watched the enemy work, his radio crackled to life unexpectedly.

"Sir, He..." Johnson spoke up. "... Dead." He barley finished the sentence as two chemical reactive missiles lit up his carcase. Matthius had no chance to silence the soldier. Moments before making the fateful mistake, Johnson caught a glimpse of Ayer's corpse floating in his cockpit. The Green private began to fear his own death and forgot all of this commanding officers orders.

Overly hyped now, the Scythe's fired a few more Missiles and Heavy Masers into various hornet pieces. The real price in their eyes was the Retaliator, not the inferior fighter anyway. Mathhius was suddenly shoke as blasts hit the side of the debris he was hiding in. Twisted and burnt metal shoved the war machine into a tighter wedge between the retaliator's hull. Matthius suddenly realized, he was stuck and the only way out would draw far to much attention. He was planning the quick burst to get inside the capital ship but that was the extent of his plan. Now that would no longer be possible. A few more explosions ripped across the debris field when Matthius suddenly felt the nauseating sense of mostion. Two ships above his position had locked onto a larger hunk of the retaliator and was dragging it into the capital ship.

The vessel was largely intact and he could only imagine how much the Vanduul were going to learn from her hull and computers. His focus right now was on surviving though. He quickly double checked everything. He had his blade out and disconnected the complicated seatbelt system. His suit's reserves were registering 40% Oxygen. He had used some of that to conserve the hornet's air supplies which were currently reading 10%.

Twenty minutes passed as the crews worked to drag the hulk into the massive cargo bay. Matthius knew his chances of survival were slim, so he spent the full time formulating a plan. As he sat contemplating his full plan, the whole debris shook. Crews were trying to get the bulk into the bay door but apparently the width wasn't enough. Another tremor occurred and the retaliator squeezed further around his ship. This time however, Matthius was greatful. His cockpit was virtually encased inside the retaliator now and the last jolt, which appeared to resolve whatever issues the Vanduul crew were dealing with, had shook open a compartment where he could see a few marines bodies. Dangling from one of the marines was a satchel pack, which if he recalled, would include as standard issue some explosives. If he wasn't going to make it out alive, he sure as hell wasn't going to let them take him hostage. With little need for the hornet at this point, released the emergency pins on it's hatch. Free of her constraints, Matthius worked his way towards the retaliator and the marines. As he stepped across some beams, he could see the cold drop of space below. The ship wasn't fully into the Vanduul captial ship yet.

Rifling through two satchels, Matthius was able to find a stick of C4. While the amount wasn't enough to do much, boarding parties often carried some in order breach interior doors. He quickly fashioned the explosive, when he noticed leaking fuel on the other side of the wreckage. It was a slow leak which either meant there wasn't much left of the leak wasn't significant enough yet.

As he made his way to the source of the leak, a small shard of metal penetrating the rear of the cabin, the wreckage stopped moving and landed with a hard thud. Through the hole, Matthius could make out quite a bit of liquid remaining. Shifting to the side of the wreckage, he peered through a few holes in the retaliator. Just beyond he could see workers tearing apart bits and pieces of various ships and repairs being made on a few Vanduul ships. The wreckage was entirely on the capital ship now which had gravity and apparently oxygen.

Moving quickly, as he feared workers would soon be upon him, he moved back to the source of the leak and placed the C4 charge. He set the timer at 5 minutes. Sliding back over to the vantage point, he double checked the situation. Just beyond the wreckage he could see a couple of Vanduul Scythe fully loaded. He knew this was a gamble, but those bay doors wouldn't be open long and he was willing to bet they wouldn't keep ordinance on a fighter that was undergoing repairs.

Matthius shifted once more to the leak and pressed the button to start the countdown. Pushing through the wreckage near the deceased marines, he was able to break free of the make shift compartment. Catching the enemy totally off guard, Matthius reached the first Vanddul before anyone reacted. Unfortunately for him, there was no access to it as the cockpit was closed. Rushing past, he caught a glimpse as a Vanddul warrior was now moving to intercept him. The second Vanduul was fully open with access to the cockpit, Matthius hoped it wouldn't mean the ship was incapable of flight. As he reached the base of it's steps, the warrior tackled him. Twisting and catching the giant off guard, he thrust his blade under the Vanduul's chin doing enough damage he released Matthius. By this point, the whole room was abuzz and time was of the essence. Either the C4 was going to go off or he was going to catch a blade in the back.

Racing up the steps, he reached the top when to his surprise another Vanduul, a bit smaller in size than the warrior, popped out of the cockpit. Apparently trying to determine what the commotion was he was equally surprised to see Matthius. Without hesitation, Matthius shoved the blade into the technician's neck and pulled him towards the stairs.

Frantically pressing levers and buttons, the steps closed. To his delight, the engines were already powered up and the ship appeared flight capable. Matthius settled into the cockpit and pushed the flight controls. Foreign and under an immense adrenaline rush Matthius struggled with the controls. While he got it going forward, his initial attempt also took the Scythe to the left and then too far right as he over corrected. The Ramming blade, now down slammed into several racks of supplies. Unphased, Matthius punched it. The Scythe barely broke out of the exterior bay door shield when the retaliator lit up into an inferno of debris across the entire cargo bay. The Scythe twisted uncontrollably shooting out of the bay like a torpedo.

Matthius fought the unfamiliar controls until he finally was able to get the Scythe under control. His cockpit now facing the capital ship, Matthius was stunned to see just how devastating the retaliator blast was. It's full tanks must have been at least half full as the now exposed bay was ripped open much like the barrel of a clogged gun after firing. Taking a quick scan of the area, Matthius sighed a small sense of relief as there was no way this ship nor it's crew were going to be chasing him for some time.

Making his way behind the planet's moon, he would use it to shield him until he could figure out how to set the jump drive's controls.