Immediately, the gibs unbuckled and donned the remainder of their plates. Meanwhile, Will descended from the dorsal defensive turret and prepared himself to dismount.

"Alright boys." Will said as the clasps of his greaves snapped into the locked position. "We have no idea what state the Bethesda's in, so no fucking around."

"Will." Carter came over the means and into each dismounts headsets as they were making their way through the airlock and into the cargo bay.

Will responded. "Send it."

"I'm uploading schematics-"

"Did you hear that Chase? Schematics!" Michael said, laughing over the means to an inside joke from ages ago.

Chase punched him in the back of the helmet. "Fuck you-"

"Shut up!" Will yelled. The heads up display on his helmet scrolled through levels of the ship. "What do you think John?"

Logan keyed in. "If I could make a suggestion-"

Carter and Will came over the means simultaneously. "Shut up!"

Logan shook his head in silence, frustration boiling in his chest. "Fucking cunts." He said beneath his breath and through clenched teeth.

"Cargo to engineering then up the impact drive." John said, highlighting a section of the schematics on Will's heads up display.

Will nodded and checked his weapon. "Sounds good to me."

"Logan." Carter said. "Bring us in." He pinged a section of the ship on his commanders console.

In the cockpit, Logan watched his destination become highlighted. The computer automatically displayed an optimum trajectory in the form of gateways on the heads up display. He often disregarded the path the computer designated, since enemy vessels also had computers that mapped the most likely path of approach.

Carter's order was answered silently when the thrusters were engaged and they began rotating toward the cargo ship. He dipped the nose of the vessel in order to align the main engines with his intended direction of travel.

From outside, the gunboat's dorsal thrusters sparked to life. Small pinpricks of light flashed in a seemingly chaotic fashion against a jet background. It looked like a pool of water in the night, sparkling with the reflections of silver moonlight.

In the stark blackness of interstellar space, novae of light erupted as the cluster of main engines ignited. The reactor vented, forcing super-heated plasma through electro-magnetic fields that accelerated the gas into empty space, hurtling the gunboat forward.

Logan cut the main engine burn and they drifted for a few moments before he began making corrections with the thrusters, shifting the nose of the vessel as they slid sideways through space. Through his canopy, he watched the approaching cargo ship.

Will also watched, staring out of the narrow polarized window pane that was installed on the hatch of the ramp. "Logan?" He asked, as the ship grew quickly in the small frame until practically filling it.

Carter gripped the arms of his chair. "You're good Logan. I want this fast. As soon as they're out, I want us back in holding pattern as fast as you came in."

"Roger." Logan said as he waited for the last minute to reverse thrust.

The ship lurched and it's forward motion slowed abruptly until it stopped in reference to the Bethesda. The gunboat was now racing to the right, down the length of the target vessel; it's nose still facing the cargo ships hull.

"Thirty seconds." Logan said calmly over the mic. He stared out the right hand side of the canopy, focusing on the engines of the Bethesda as they grew with every passing second. In his peripheral, a blur of cargo containers scrolled by only a dozen meters from the Zephyr's nose. He keyed his mic again. "Hang on." The forces of gravity multiplied on the right as he rolled the ship ninety degrees.

Through Will's small windowpane, the mass of the Bethesda swung like the hand of a clock from nine to twelve. He let go of the bracer; his armored hand shooting out to flip up the yellow-black guard that covered a large red button. From the corner of his helmet, he caught the blurred forms of his men; their armored bodies lurching to and fro as they fought against the turbulence of the ship. His eyes were drawn to them as they hung on to anything that was firmly tied down.

There they stood, like wrath itself; coiled in wait, steeled for the fight. For more than a year their ominous presence on the battlefield had been the harbinger of their enemies defeat. They had thrown themselves into the infinite darkness of the stars. They had faced oblivion, and returned from it; forged by the smouldering embers of battle to become a single, flawless weapon.

Will was proud, looking from one austere and opaque faceplate to the next. He recognized every single man beneath their indistinguishable battle dress; by the subtle differences in posture, by the way they held their weapons or grasped the bracers of the cargo hold. He knew these men like family. He loved these men like brothers and he feared for their safety like a father does for his kin. He turned to face the hatch once again. Light blasted through the window and the muffled cry of the reactor heightened deafeningly as it spewed plasma.

The ship swung along the circumference of the cargo vessels engines, "Ten seconds." Logan yelled, his voice strained as he fought the forces his manoeuvres were subjecting them to.

Will slammed his palm against the button, and the cacophony of chaos ended with one final whoosh when the atmosphere was vented from the cargo hold. The seven men drifted up off the floor into weightlessness. A panel slid down, revealing a red lever. Will grasped it and keyed his mic. "Your call John."

One single word returned. "Dismount."

The End

34 comments about this story Feed