The Raid On Zeta Station

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Part 16

TSNS Hunter

24 October 2326

The small remote observatory, which had been Sejora’s and Neeshu’s home for the last five months, had been taken in tow by Strike Force Alpha’s flagship.

While his wife was enjoying her first actual shower in almost half a year, Bannerman Sejora lay on his bunk, reminiscing about their arrival aboard Hunter. Their cabin was neither spacious nor particularly comfortable, but compared to the wardrobe-sized compartment the couple had slept in during their long-term mission, their new accommodation might as well have been a five star hotel.

Something as simple as being able to stretch out without worrying about pushing off a wall was a welcome change, and Sejora swore to himself that he would never take gravity for granted again. The artificial gravity in the cabin they had been assigned was set to 0,7g, allowing them to get reacquainted with the proper use of their bodies while not overwhelming them with their full weight.

TRO 2256, the miniature station they had been confined to, had been reeled in by TSNS Hunter soon after the strike force had assembled and properly reorganised itself. Sejora and Neeshu had been glued to the viewports, watching in awe as the massive cylindrical warship grew larger and larger, until it filled their entire field of vision.

At first, it had appeared like a dark mass, looming in the emptiness of interstellar space, that could barely be discerned from the void surrounding it. As they came nearer, however, more and more details had become apparent, and the two ended up spotting a multitude of bay doors that came in various sizes.

These apertures housed many different things, from defensive and offensive armament to hangars for scoutships and small transports. Coming even closer, they had been able to make out a wide range of sensor arrays that were scattered about the flagship’s outer hull in strategic locations.

By the time the remote observatory had docked with one of the ship’s external attachment points, they had travelled along a formidable warship that reeked of military might even without any of its weapons deployed.

In the handful of hours that had passed since their arrival on board, they had been briefly greeted by Viceman Mohtop’s Chief of Staff before being ushered into their cabin. There would be a formal debriefing later, and Sejora and Neeshu had nothing else to do until then except relax in the comfort of artificial gravity.

“What’s on your mind?”

Sejora raised his head, and his eyes landed on his wife, who stood in the doorway leading to the small adjacent bathroom, completely naked.

He blinked twice, then replied, “Honestly, I just forgot.”

“Then it can’t have been that important.”

“Definitely not as important as you are right now,” he said, a mischievous grin appearing on his face.

“Is that so?” she asked, while moving closer to her husband, who sat up on the edge of the bed.

Neeshu slowly walked towards Sejora, until she sat down in his lap and put both arms around his neck.

Sejora instinctively wrapped his arms around her as well, and buried his face in his wife’s neck, inhaling her scent.

“Recycled water and hygiene gel, how romantic,” he murmured against her skin, causing her to snort.

They both ended up hugging each other tightly and laughing uncontrollably for a minute or two, until they were able to calm down again.

“As much as I’d love to jump you right now, dear husband, I don’t think my body could handle the strain.”

“Same here. We should probably get used to gravity again first. It feels like my body has forgotten how to sex,” he laughed.

“My body has forgotten how to most things,” she added, smiling.

“Besides,” she added, the smile quickly disappearing from her face, “we have other things to talk about.”

“Indeed we have.”

Neeshu placed a soft kiss on his cheek before getting up again. She carefully walked to the locker that contained their personal belongings and began looking for some underwear and a fresh jumpsuit.

She got dressed under her husband’s watchful eye, who tried very hard not to get too aroused by the scene unfolding right in front of him.

Once she was done, they both settled down on the bed comfortably and looked into each other’s eyes.

“Are you sure you’re okay with this?” he asked, a slight frown forming on his forehead.

“Yes. The love we share is more important to me than my allegiance to the military. I’m with you.”

“Thank you, love,” he said, his frown turning into a smile.

“So. Have you picked up on anything that might be useful to us?”

“Not so far, unfortunately. But from what I’ve heard, we’ll have some more down time after the debriefing, and we should try to roam about before and after our next meal,” he paused shortly, before adding, “They have no reason to confine us to quarters, so we should be able to have a look around the non-restricted parts of the ship.”

Neeshu nodded, then added, “And we do need to get back in shape, so us moving around after having been confined in that tiny pod for half a year won’t seem overly suspicious.”

“Agreed. Hopefully the strike force will prepare for a while longer, so that we can figure out a way off this ship before we make the jump into the target area.”

“That would be ideal. Definitely better than having to improvise the whole thing.”

Sejora looked deeply into his wife’s eyes and spoke softly, “I know you’re scared. But we can do this. We’ll make it through this together.”

They then both smiled at each other and fell into each other’s arms.

Hours later, the couple went for a seemingly casual stroll around one of the upper decks of the massive ship. They had just left the Viceman’s office, where they had been debriefed by Mohtop himself, as well as a few other high-ranking officers.

They were walking arm in arm, as much out of desire for closeness as to steady each other, for they had yet to fully regain control of their bodies in standard gravity.

The corridor they were following would lead them in a wide loop around the ship. It was regularly used by the crew for physical exercise, and two people walking along it would therefore not draw any unwanted attention.

In this section of the ship, the corridor hugged the inner hull and was lined with rows of escape pods, interrupted every fifteen metres by a viewport, allowing anyone to observe their proper launch.

“Those won’t do,” Neeshu quietly whispered while leaning more into her husband.

Sejora hummed, then softly spoke, “We need something a little more versatile.”

“Maybe we’ll have more luck in the next section. Look, the corridor continues inwards, maybe there’s a hangar bay or something.”

“Let’s go find out.”

Sejora and Neeshu continued to follow the corridor until it turned towards the centre of the ship. Thirty metres after that, it branched off. The couple took a right turn, keeping parallel with the ship’s hull, hoping to find out what lay hidden beyond the corridor’s walls.

A little further along the way, their silent question was answered, as they observed a few crew members of the Hunter who were busy pulling an anti-grav cart with supply containers out of a freight elevator

They stopped on the far side of the corridor and watched as the men finished securing the load, then opened a double-door that allowed them access into the area that intrigued Seejora and Neeshu.

The couple was only able to catch a glimpse of what was behind those doors, but that glimpse gave them hope. The area looked like a small shuttle hangar, and next to a few men and a few more containers, a short-range transport rested comfortably on its extended landing legs.

To the couple, it almost seemed like the shuttle was surrounded by a bright glow and gave off a joyful aura.

They waited a little longer, talking about the most trivial things to appear as inconspicuous as possible. After about ten minutes, the crew members left the hangar again and went back into the freight elevator, presumably to fetch another load of containers.

At that moment, Sejora and Neeshu overheard them talk about the shuttle’s flight schedule.

“Did you get that?” Bannerman Sejora asked his wife calmly.

“Sure did. They’ll be done loading tonight, and the shuttle is only scheduled to depart in the morning, after our jump to the target area.”

“Sounds like that’s our ticket out of here,” he said, suppressing a grin.

“Don’t get too excited too soon. We still have to figure out how to get in there after curfew.”

“I’m sure your sexy software-genius self will figure something out.”

“Fair enough. But you, Sir, have to get us aboard that shuttle and out of here.”

“Shouldn’t be a problem,” Sejora said, squaring his shoulders back.

“I like the confidence,” Neeshu beamed at him, “Now let’s continue our casual stroll, so that no one gets the wrong impression.”

“Yes, Ma’am.”

After finishing their stroll around the ship, Sejora and Neeshu visited the mess hall. They found a corner table and were able to eat by themselves, enjoying as much privacy as possible in a massive room filled with the chatter of a few hundred soldiers.

The meal was nothing to write home about, but after a few months of surviving on nutrition cubes alone, even the most unseasoned, generic cafeteria meal was a welcome and exciting change.

They continued to keep a low profile, and were mostly ignored by the ship’s actual crew. The men and women who served aboard TSNS Hunter had enough on their plates without having to worry about the two newcomers.

They still refrained from discussing anything risky, and instead talked about home and what they would do once their mission was over. This was a perfectly mundane and acceptable conversation for such a setting, and no one would have second-guessed it even if it had been overheard.

Once they had finished their meals, Sejora and Neeshu made their way back to their cabin, where they made the last preparations for their daring plan.

Among other things, they had learnt during the earlier briefing that no one intended to bother them until the following morning, when they would be required to report for duty in the flagship’s comm-room.

A disgruntled NCO had shown them to that room right after the briefing had ended, and they would be required to find their own way the next day.

Their hope was that their absence would not draw too much attention, as everyone would be busy with the preparations for the attack, and that whoever would be in charge of them would assume that they had gotten lost in the confusing entrails of the massive warship.

At that time, they would already be laying low aboard the transport shuttle, ready to make their move.

“One thing is bothering me, though,” Sejora said, while changing out of his jumpsuit, getting ready to lie down.

“What is it, Sej?”

“Idealy, the shuttle will be empty right until they plan to make the supply run. But what if someone comes aboard before we jump to the target area?”

“We’ll have to try and overpower them somehow.”

“Maybe our chances would be better if we let them fly us out of here, and we take control mid-flight, what do you think?”

“I’m not sure. So many things could go wrong, I don’t even know where to start.”

“I guess we’ll have to deal with that if it happens,” Sejora sighed, then continued, “who’d have thought that defecting would be such a hassle.”

“I know, right?” Neeshu giggled softly. She then added in a more solemn tone, “It’s not too late to change your mind, you know?”

“Would you want me to?”

“I will support you whatever you decide, dear husband. I’m just saying that it’s an option.”

“I think it stopped being an option back on three-two-five-six.”

“Alright then,” she smiled at him, “it’s decided.”

“It is indeed.”

Neeshu settled down in Sejora’s arms, and they soon drifted off into an uneasy slumber, trying to get as much rest before their MFD would alert them that it was time to set their plan in motion.

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