Lieutenant Chantana Chisidori was the Gunnery Officer for Gunnery Station Four, except for the purposes of the Academy training exercise which had given his duty station and a third of his gunnery team to a first year cadet. He had talked to those of his men who’d been assigned to her command and the worst he’d heard of her had come from Tabanta whose reported comment had been, “I’d call her a tight-arsed bitch, except she knows her stuff.” More than one of them had expressed doubts that she was, as alleged, a newly minted first year cadet. From what he’d heard, Chisidori wasn’t sure what to think except that Petty Officer Lok had assured him that after the exercise they should welcome onto their gunnery team any of the several newly minted ASes that had been assigned to Cadet Gens’ command.
The current situation was outside his experience though. Not only had they gone straight from being in an exercise to genuine battle stations but there was apparently already an enemy boarding party aboard the ship cutting its way into his gunnery station. His current assignment, as apparently local sensors were down, was to reconnoitre from a safe distance, otherwise known as the closest corner he could get to, and relay information about the enemy makeup and armament so that the Marines making their way up from their station on the lower decks didn’t walk blindly into a fire trap. Unlike, he had to swallow hard before he reported his first findings in, the crewmembers who’d been in the vicinity of the airlock closest to Gunnery Station Four.
“Bridge, this is Lieutenant Chisidori. We’ve found evidence of a plasma burst at Airlock Six.” He waited half a second for his team to confirm what he thought. “Four crew fatalities, two with close range headshots.”
“Lieutenant Chisidori, this is the Bridge. Roger that. Proceed with caution.”
“Aye, sir.” As if he wasn’t going to proceed with caution. Heart in his mouth he motioned his team on, taking point because he’d most recently of all of them done the anti-boarding module.
Fortunately he knew which corner was the last one before Gunnery Station 4 and although he found war kit clunky to wear unlike, say Petty Officer Sabat who’d serve on frontline ships the entire war, he could use the useful attachments including the one that let him see around corners without exposing himself. What he saw would have made him swear if he hadn’t had to report it in. Because their helmets were almost touching he heard Petty Officer Sabat expressing both their feelings inside his helmet with the comms off. He found himself almost whispering, although it shouldn’t have been necessary, “Bridge, this is Lieutenant Chisidori. Gunnery Station Four’s outer blast doors have been just been breached. The intruders are a three man team without armour markings who appear to be in a Kizmat infiltration and data extraction configuration. Their combat engineer is clearing their entrance now.”
“Lieutenant Chisidori, this is the Bridge. Roger that. Continue to observe. Do not attempt to engage the enemy at this time.”
“Aye, sir.” Chisidori knew very well that only Petty Officer Sabat in his hastily appointed reconnoitring team had a weapon that could do any good against the armour the enemy was wearing. He had to wonder if the entire war had felt like this, or only those early panicked days following the Kizmat surprise attack when nothing they had seemed to work against the enemy.
There was weapons fire from the gunnery station and the enemy combat engineer was bringing his weapon up to bear while his clearance man was swinging into position to take out the defenders. Chisidori didn’t want to keep looking but he didn’t dare look away, not in front of his men and because the Marines coming up behind him would need everything he could tell them. The defenders would be wearing war kit like his which frankly wasn’t a match for the sort of armour the intruders were wearing and although whoever was in the outer chamber should be armed with a 58, the vulnerable area on the enemy’s armour was so small-.
The combat engineer went down, his weapon dropping from his gloved hand as he fell. The clearance specialist fired once, twice, then collapsed as well, the shattered faceplate of his helmet visible on the screen of the equipment that let Chisidori see around corners. The data collector was returning fire, taking shots to the head but nothing to the faceplate until suddenly, in the small gap between his bursts, a figure in war kit stepped into view and fired a 58 held in an extended hand at shoulder height straight into his face.
“Bridge, this is Lieutenant Chisidori. The intruders are down, repeat, the intruders are down.” Chisidori couldn’t quite believe it. He knew it was theoretically possible but theory wasn’t always translatable into reality.
“Lieutenant Chisidori, this is the Bridge. Rodger that. Approach Gunnery Station Four with caution. We’ve told Cadet Gens and her team that you’re coming but let’s avoid misunderstandings.”
“Aye, sir.” Chisidori stepped out from behind his corner, hands in the air followed by Petty Officer Sabat and the rest of his team. He heard the click from his comm set as they were switched to another communications channel but he spoke so that he would be heard without using the comm set. “Cadet Gens, I’m Lieutenant Chisidori and this is my team. We’re on your side, don’t shoot.”
The female figure, the one who’d stepped forward and shot the data collector he realised, holstered her weapon, took two more weapons off the fallen body she was kneeling beside and saluted. “Sir.” She then went straight to comms and he heard her say, “Bridge, this is Gens. The intruders are confirmed dead, disarmed and have no signs of self-destruct activation. Lieutenant Chisidori has arrived.” She paused for half a breath and then went on, “Sir, if I may, if the intruders are following standard Kizmat doctrine then they’ll have killer teams moving on the power plant and life support. Sir, life support is on this deck and I’m six decks closer than the Marines. Do you wish me to conduct a delaying action at life support?”
Chisidori was surprised to hear Captain Niblitz’ voice come back over the comm channel. “That’s consistent with our degrading internal sensor data. Chisidiori, you have Gunnery Station Four. Gens, you and your fire team to life support, now!”
Gens’, “Aye, sir!” wasn’t finished before she, Cruz and Tabanta were gone, sprinting towards life support.
This is now followed by The Cadet: Part 18.