“Alert. Alert. Alert, alert, alert. Guys, alert!”
“We heard you, Alice! We’re going as fast as we can.”
The Cerberus rocked violently as it was hit with a blast of energy from the Constellation. Ian held onto the command table, gritting his teeth.
“Aaron, please tell me it’s online!”
The crackle of the radio filled the room, the only other sound besides Abigail’s movements as she piloted the ship. “Three cannons are online, but the fourth one took a hit.”
Ian grumbled to himself. Facing three Agency vessels with three fusion banks was not ideal in any scenario. Four wouldn’t have helped matters much, but every little advantage was something Ian wished to hoard.
“Maeve, update?” Ian said into another speaker on his table.
The Irish voice belonging to Olympus’s medic responded. “Phil is still unconscious, Ian. I’m also getting reports from other areas of damage and injuries. We can’t stay in this fight forever.”
“We can’t leave, either,” Ian said quietly. “Not while Jacqueline’s still here. There are still people evacuating.”
“Ian!” Abigail called over her shoulder. “You may want to call a brace!”
Ian looked over at Abigail’s monitor. On it, the image of the Excalibur was charging a large particle weapon aimed at the Cerberus.
“All hands, brace! Brace for impact!”
The ship shuddered violently like a high-scale Richter earthquake. The cockpit exploded and Abigail screamed in intense pain. She was thrown backwards, her back hit the command table, and she fell to the floor.
Ian had no time to check her vitals, because the ship had no pilot. He grabbed a nearby fire extinguisher and fired at the licking flames before sitting down, checking the controls still responded.
“Maeve, Abigail is down. I’m taking over as pilot, so you’re in command until further notice. Acknowledge?”
“Yes, sir. On my way.”
The console’s beeped blearily at Ian, but still responded to his commands. Ian’s readouts listed hull breaches and damage all over the ship, and he couldn’t tell if anyone was still alive where he was.
Maeve sprinted into the command room and checked Abigail’s pulse. She sighed in relief when she felt it, but she was in a bad way.
“Kailey, patient on their way to you via teleport.”
Maeve attached a teleported tag to Abigail’s lapel, and she disappeared. Maeve’s PDA beeped to confirm Kailey had received her.
“Cameron, take Kurt to the gun banks and back up Aaron. Snezhana, science and engineering are merged under your authority. Keep the ship alive. Thanatos, try to think of an outside-of-the-box idea to take one of those ships out. Ian, try not to let us get hit again.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Ian said automatically. It felt almost better to be taking orders than giving them at this point, but he knew it was temporary.
Cameron and Kurt ran into the gun banks and sat in their own chairs, logging into a weapon as Aaron had done, taking aim at the Agency ships.
“Focus on the Constellation, you two,” Aaron commanded. “They’re trying to break off and hit the Gambit."
“Yes, sir,” Kurt said, taking aim at his target.
Cameron, however, was looking for the other ship, the one that was avoiding the fight. The Ironclad. It was waiting for an opportunity to pass them and hit the evacuees. So while Cameron listened to Aaron, she was prepared to fire at the Ironclad should they get any bright ideas.
“Direct hit!” Maeve cheered as she saw a piece of the Constellation’s hull blow out. “Nice job!”
“New target entering the field!” Ian said loudly.
The Gambit, the ship of White Squad, barrelled into the fight and sheared through the outer armour of the Excalibur. They were forced to retreat, allowing Olympus some breathing room.
“Oh, thank God,” Maeve said to herself.
As she spoke, her communicator started beeping. Maeve hit the yes button, and she heard Jacqueline calm voice despite the storm around them.
“Your ship is badly damaged,” she said. “But it’s also the only one with a drive capable of getting us to November Victor. We have a teleporter circuit that can transport everyone on board here to yours, then we can escape. You need to lower your firewall, though.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea in a firefight,” Maeve said.
“I’m aware of the risk,” Jacqueline said. “But we’ll be keeping their focus on us.”
Maeve sighed and typed a message to Snezhana.
Snezhana received the order to lower the firewall. Odd request during a firefight, but she complied. All at once, the engineering bay was filled with dozens and dozens of people. Snezhana blinked.
“The more the merrier!” she announced.
“Ian, jump to the first set,” Maeve ordered. Ian complied, working his fingers over the controls. The ship blasted into the void away from the firefight as the Gambit smashed into the Ironclad.
Maeve fell to the ground, exhausted from the battle and closing her eyes. She breathed the recycled air around her, though to her it was sweeter than ever. She was alive.
She heard another person fall next to her. “Well... We’re alive.”
Maeve smiled, opening her eyes. She looked to Ian next to her. “For how much longer, though?”
“Don’t think like that,” Ian said. “You have to believe we can survive. We have to.”
The door to the bridge opened and Jacqueline entered with Kaiden. Kaiden sat into the cockpit and began to punch in the next set of coordinates as Jacqueline stood over the two Olympus members with a smile.
“Taking a moment?”
“How do people do this?” Maeve said, bewildered. “How do you... every day?”
“It takes some getting used to. But this isn’t your first or your last day.”
Ian stood up, using the table to prop himself. “You sacrificed your ship. Why?”
“It’s just a ship,” Jacqueline said. “People are more important.”
Ian nodded, helping Maeve up with an extended hand. “So that’s it. We’re renegades.”
“Renegades for life,” Jacqueline said with a silky laugh.
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