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The Fight's Begun
hippeastrum
rix_scaedu
This was originally going to be a 15 minute ficlet prompted by "The fight's begun, but not yet won / And I won't become one more casualty" for http://unorthodoxcreativity.com/15minfic.php but it took on a life of its own and kept going.  It follows on directly from "Maze" at http://rix-scaedu.livejournal.com/2011/04/11/.

Maze was working on the door. The most dangerous part, the transition from their ship to the enemy one, had been accomplished successfully. Now they had to get in and take out the controls for the drone and slaved fighters that were attacking their own vessel. Maze’s job was to get them in through the airlock without blowing the seals or decompressing the ship – the enemy had long put in fail safes that worked against those tactics. Essentially, she was picking a cyber lock while wearing battle armour in a vacuum. Fortunately hers came equipped for the job.

Meanwhile Dark was standing high overwatch. His task was to take out any fighters or drones sent to wipe them off the home ship’s hull, or his enemy equivalent if they sent their own team out for hand to hand. Steel and Carbon were on hull watch to take out the combat crawlers that came over the hull to remove intruders. They were an interesting variation on automatic maintenance equipment, proactive maintenance was what an engineer card-playing friend of hers called them. This vessel looked liked a cannibalised and converted Quillain ship, so she wasn’t expecting anything too surprising in that arena.

The lock yielded to her persuasions and blandishments and cycled through to admittance mode. A quick check for booby traps and they were all in. The outer door had only just closed behind Dark when Maze began work on the inner lock. “Be ready for trouble,” she whispered over their team-only link as door signalled acquiescence, “That was too easy.” The team moved to the sides of the airlock, Dark and Carbon in front as the door opened.

Dark’s heavy weapons barked between the opening shutters and took out the deck mounted weapon on the other side before it fired. Then they were into the corridor and the sole surviving gunner was overwhelmed, the gunshield had been his sole defence. Down the corridor, the enemy layouts were predictable enough, then left into the centre of the ship, shooting out the drop down guns as they went. Mowing down the crew trying to conduct a defence.

The control room door was locked, Maze’s job again, but this was still the original Quillain bridge lock – she had the backdoor password on file. They were in. Drone and fighter controllers looked up from their boards, woefully unprotected, Carbon took out the sole armed and armoured security with one shot. Steel lifted the nearest operator out of his seat with one hand by the nape of his neck and began the process of moving them all up to the far end of the room.

Maze plugged in her other suite of tools and made her way into the control system. She was faster than their security program, if that was what you could call it, and went straight for the command protocols. Drones, shut down. The deadly little needles of steel, engine and warhead all stopped, even firing their control jets to stop them dead. Half the fighters were out now, returning to their bays, that was the best way of dealing with them. That last group though-.

Maze switched to the circuit that let her speak to her own bridge as well as well as her team.

“Lollord, this is Maze, you have a suicide breacher inbound. Repeat, you have a suicide breacher inbound. Searching for second part control system, over.”

“Maze, this is Lollord,” the Captain was as crisp as she was, “Find it. Out.”

Carbon and Steel were searching for another compartment leading off this one. Dark was guarding the prisoners. Maze stayed linked to the system. When Steel found it the door was merely flush and catched. The two of them exchanged a glance as she went into smaller control hub, both thinking “Psych ops.”

The sole occupant was chubby without being fat, unshaven for several days, wearing a sweat soaked tee shirt and smirking in an almost insufferable “I’ve won” way. This close Maze could detect his peripheral connections through the spectrum. All that flesh over the system would severely limit his linking range. His ports were protected, but not the system ports, it wasn’t that hard to get in. Once in, she found the coding on his account impenetrable in the time she had and the loopholes in the operating system had been patched, so she forced a roll back of the operating system. He was so busy controlling his fighters and breaching craft while gazing at her unmoving armour that he didn’t notice that he was no longer alone in his hardware.

Fortunately this was almost an off the shelf system. Also control of assets was allocated from the system to the account, although that was not what the interface appeared to tell you. Most operators didn’t get beyond the interface. Maze dropped a pre-prepared account set up into the system giving herself access to all assets, made sure she was into those last few fighters and the breacher, ordered them to fire retros and come to a stop as she locked his account out of all assets. As his eyes widened in surprise she shot him in the head, the chest and the abdomen. Body fluids and fragments as well as his cybernetic augmentations splattered the room. Fighter control wasn’t the only system he’d packed into himself.

Once the drones and fighters were out of the way, the main boarding party came across and finished securing the enemy ship. Steel, Carbon, Maze and Dark stood down and returned to their ship. Armour was tested, serviced, refuelled and reloaded, and the team went back to the duty room. Steel and Carbon resumed their seats on opposite sides of the baekera board while Maze and Dark started on the post-op paper work. Carbon made his move then waited while Steel gazed at the board over templed fingers.

Eventually he moved his pieces saying as he did so, “What worries me is that this was another cheap trick. They could get twenty of those buckets for the cost of a patrol boat, two hundred for the cost of a frigate and we’ve seen nothing else for the last six months. Either they’ve run out of resources,” Carbon snorted in disbelief, “Or they’re doing something else with them. Question is, what?” He put his last tile in place and said to Carbon, “Your turn.”



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