Episode 4

“Sirs! Sorry to interrupt your meeting, but we have situation!” The young marine Corporal was nervous. He was just recently promoted, and now he was tasked to give two very powerful superior officers bad news. He would much rather have been boarding a Vanduul freighter or landing in a hot LZ, than dealing with high ranking Navy officers. His Lieutenant told him to report to the ship’s commanding officers on the situation with the escaped prisoner, while the Lieutenant organized the security forces. Admiral Koenig and Captain Shaw both turned from the holo-projector to this interruption. Shaw raised one of his hands towards the Admiral, indicating that Shaw intended to deal with this interruption.

“What is it Corporal? Can’t you see that we are busy here? And what is this security breach alert we are hearing? Why has your commander not reported to me directly?” Shaw snapped back with a series of questions. He enjoyed watching this young Marine squirm. Shaw smiled inwardly; this Marine is probably completely fearless in combat, but obviously not well suited to day to day Navy operations.

“Sir, I hav….” The Corporal started to reply, a bit flustered by the hostility displayed by Captain Shaw and the relative disinterest shown by the Admiral.

“Yes! You already said you have something for us, but so far all you are doing is wasting our highly valuable time! If you don’t get your act together I am going to put you on report!” Shaw knew the marine was just trying to follow protocol, but he wanted to be sure that this mere Corporal knew his place.

“SIR!” The corporal yelled back. His nervousness gave way to anger at his treatment by Captain Shaw “The traitor O’Brian has escaped his quarters. He apparently has help onboard. We found evidence of a systems breach with much data stolen, including all of YOUR personal files. We believe that O’Brian and a team of sympathizers are working to stage a mutiny. The onboard Advocacy team and several Navy security officers were killed outside his quarters. And…”  Suddenly he was interrupted by warning klaxons blaring and an intercom announcement…

“ALERT! SECURITY BREACH ON FLIGHT DECK! ALL TEAMS SECURE FLIGHT DECK!”

Shaw punched in a few commands and viewed the security video from the flight deck. An intense firefight was in progress. But what caught Shaw’s eye was a Retaliator bomber on the flight ling. He never authorized it. He realized that this was not a mutiny but an escape. He looked over at the Corporal and gave a hostile glare in his direction. “Why are you still here? You are dismissed! Get your useless carcass out of MY FACE! “

After the marine left Shaw then turned to Admiral Koenig who has been sitting silently the whole time… “Admiral, they must have stolen our plans for this system and plan to escape back to the core worlds with this information. I think they are going to steal that Retaliator and make a run for it. We can conclude this meeting later once I return from spacing this ‘O’Brian’”

The Admiral looked somewhat worried. He spent his whole life in the Navy, and while he didn’t really agree with Shaw’s plan, the money Shaw offered him was far more than he had earned in his entire time in service. He thought the risk was low, but things have been spiraling out of control. He had a favorable opinion of O’Brian, and felt that what is happening to him was a complete shame, but what could he do? He accepted the money and now was so deep in the plans that any attempt to back out would likely end in his body being jettisoned out into space. He sighed and spoke to Shaw “Do what you have to do, but just remember if you fail, this will be the end of us.”

Shaw continued out of the room breaking into a sprint while heading to the “ready deck” where four Hornet fighters were kept in ready condition. He heard Admiral Koenig’s comments and thought to himself “No you fool; it will be your end. I have bought myself quite a good amount of insurance. You on the other hand, are quite expendable.”

----Meanwhile on the flight deck----

“Cover!” Franklin yelled as she jumped over the loading cart they were hiding behind and began the sprint the last 20 yards to the waiting Retaliator. As she cleared the cart the three others popped up with their guns and began firing towards the Marines that had been closing on both sides. They were lucky that the four Navy security officers they ran into at the exit of the lift did not take the alert seriously and were simply lounging around. All four security officers were overpowered easily and relieved of the automatic submachine guns they carried. The escapees needed to get to the bomber since they didn’t have much ammo, and simply had no chance to win a drawn out firefight against battle hardened marines.

Shots were going past them from all directions. Searing hot laser shots were causing bits of the walls and flight deck to glow bright red, and the sound of ballistic projectiles hitting metal and ricochets filled the air along with the deafening sound of gunshots. Once Franklin was a few paces from the cart, the other three starting running for the bomber. They were firing their guns blindly to their sides in a desperate gamble to force the marines to keep their heads down and their shots inaccurate. As they started running their heard the bomber powering up. Franklin had arranged for two others to remain in the bomber to power it up.

Suddenly Franklin felt a sharp burning pain in her left shoulder. The pain caused her muscles to lock up and she fell forward and unable to catch herself, he face and nose impacting the metal flight deck. The pain was intense. She realized that she has been shot. She tried to get up and look, but something was wrong. She couldn’t move. Her vision was fading.

The three men running behind her saw a faint splatter of blood from Franklin’s shoulder as a ballistic round hit her and passed clean through her suit and body. She fell hard on her face. O’Brian yelled out “We aren’t leaving her behind! Grab her!” and the three grabbed her as they rushed to the bomber.

The marines reacting to the sudden lack of incoming fire rose up and began to move forward and intensified their fire on the four. Fortunately they were close enough to the bomber that it provided some limited cover. O’Brian reached the loading elevator first and was greeted by two people in flight suits, a male and a female. O’Brian thought he recognized one of them, but in the excitement didn’t take the time to double check. They helped get Franklin’s limp, and barely alive body into the elevator. “Get the turrets online! Franklin! Don’t die on us! How do we get out of here!?!” O’Brian begged for an answer as the elevator went up into the bomber.

Franklin now laying on the ground bleeding gathered the last of her strength and replied “B…b….bombs…. here…..” Letting out an intense groan showing a force of will and fighting intense pain she managed to remove with her right hand a small remote control from her flight suit pocket and pressed a button before finally slipping out of consciousness.

The End

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