The Adventures of Captain Arcolier, Part Six

(Welcome back. In our last installment One-Eye and Sergeant Riker had begun to fight the Cantrellans while waiting for Captain Arcolier to come to the rescue. If you're new to our tale you'll want to start here.)

     Captain Arcolier drummed her fingers impatiently on the arm of her chair, silently studying the tactical display and willing the Revenge to close with the Cantrellan destroyer. In the upper right corner One-Eye's viewpoint swam nauseatingly as he jumped through the impromptu Cantrellan hatch. She watched the opening blows of the combat with a fraction of her attention, but she knew One-Eye and the First Marines could handle themselves for a while. The problem was making sure she could arrive before the Cantrellans overwhelmed the marines with superior numbers. Making a sudden decision she clicked her pointer opposite the bay where Assault Pod One had vanished. "Port Battery. If you have a clear shot take it. The intent is not to cripple, but let's see if we can push her around a bit."

     She frowned slightly as she continued to speak. "But only take it if it's a clear shot. Remember that we have crew on that bay opposite. Anybody who holes that bay had better hope they can breathe vacuum, because they'll ride home on the outside of the ship. Clear?"

     She clicked One-Eye's viewport. It brightened slightly and she knew she spoke both to One-Eye and the Marines fighting aboard the unnamed destroyer. "Brace yourselves lads. We're going to give that wallowing hog of a ship a bit of a love tap. With any luck it will be a bumpy ride." One-Eye was too busy to respond but Captain Arcolier knew they would be ready when the impact hit. As One-Eye drew his sword back into a ready position the tactical display showed a crimson trace connecting the Revenge to the enemy destroyer. One-Eye's viewport tilted crazily as the destroyer shook violently. The seasoned Marines rode out the shock, knees flexing as they bobbed like cork boats sailing a choppy sea. Unfortunately the Cantrellan opponents were too canny for such a maneuver and rode out the shaking with equal aplomb.

     Stinky Pete's station chimed and a small icon pulsed on the left edge of the main viewport. Captain Arcolier snapped her attention to Stinky Pete who frowned as his fingers raced over his keys. "Incoming transmission Cap'n. It's from the frigate."

     She nodded sharply and took a deep breath as the icon swelled into the center area. As it grew it cross-faded from the stock communication blip into the face of a Cantrellan military captain. A sneer dominated his aquiline features as he huffed pompously. "Temper temper. You'll need longer claws than that to scare me. Might I suggest you surrender now, before anybody gets hurt?"

     Captain Arcolier scowled and stood upright, drawing her rapier in the same smooth motion. As she pointed it at the camera the decking underfoot trembled and she stumbled, taking a small step to regain her balance. A muted klaxon sounded from a station behind her and warning diagnostic icons flared into life on the left edge of the screen. "Multiple laser hits!" Stinky Pete announced unnecessarily.

     "Tsk," huffed the Cantrellan. "I already saw your cheap theatrics when you thought you faced an unarmed freighter. They won't impress an officer of Her Majesty's Imperial Navy. If you persist in foolishly threatening me and my ship I'll gut your ragtag little vessel. Don't believe for a moment that those were full power. Or that we don't have missile batteries. This ship is fully armed and completely operational, I assure you. Again I ask for your surrender. Come now, there's no need to be barbaric."

     Captain Arcolier glared at the gloating Cantrellan officer, her lips compressed into a thin angry line. "You Cantrellans are all alike. Under pressure you act like cornered rats, but get the upper hand for even a second and you turn into the smuggest bastards the galaxy has ever seen." She scanned the the smaller images ringing the display, hoping that Stinky Pete had enough foresight to . . . Yes! a small orange icon pulsed in the upper left corner, just awaiting her approval. She made a show of slumping her shoulders and slowly replacing her rapier in it's sheath. As she maneuvered she unobtrusively clicked her pointer on the icon. As she sat back down William executed the order and the Revenge bucked sideways, sliding at full delta-V as the craft swung onto an escape vector.

     Stinky Pete jabbed at his console triumphantly, crowing "Away!" as the Cantrellan gaped in surprise and rage at the sudden shift. Just as Captain Arcolier had hoped a tractor beam speared out from the destroyer, ostensibly to catch the now-fleeing Revenge. A small bit of luck was all they needed and the gods came through once more for the daring pirates. The Revenge had three main engines, all mounted on remote pylons away from the main body of the ship. This was a safety feature - keeping the antimatter safely away from the main hull. Stinky Pete had reprogrammed one engine pod to detach and aim straight back at the destroyer. The tractor beam caught the engine instead of the main ship and the full burn of the engine caused it to close with the destroyer almost unbelievably fast. William wrenched the ship around again, revving the remaining engines hard to compensate for their missing brother. Just as the engine impacted into the tractor beam barrel Stinky Pete collapsed the magnetic containment field. The antimatter hit the matter just as the kinetic force of the engine itself crumpled in the hull. A brilliant white flash erupted from the side of the Cantrellan ship and the comm signal cut off, as did the signal from One-Eye's feed.

     Jaimie watched without breathing, waiting for the sensor overload to clear and to reestablish visual contact. One question remained: Had they destroyed the entire ship and doomed One-Eye and the Marines with it?

(Tune in next week to see if there are any First Marines left to rescue!)

(See the next installment!)