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Chapter 83[]

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Breaking away from the JumpShip[]

DS Phaidin, Leopard Class 'Mech Carrier DropShip
St. Ives, St. Ives Compact
April, 3030

Roweyna watched Anastasia as she quickly "fixed" the DropShip's comms system. She turned the video back on and fixed the sampling rate for the audio. She changed a few more settings and then looked up at Roweyna, "Everything is restored."

Roweyna waited for the Jump Ship crew to start opening the sails, then she took the mic. "JumpShip command deck, request ye release the Leopard Class DropShip Phaidin tail number MCFS-61738."

>>"Who is this? Identify yourself."<< The JumpShip crewmember sounded confused.

"Identify yerself first." Roweyna answered.

Another voice got on the radio net, this was a smoother, more experienced sounding man. Everyone listening knew he was a senior. Military officer, <<"This is Demi-Precentor Nikholas Haze, Captain of the Jump Ship Glorious Light, now young lady, if you'd kindly identify yourself.">>

"This is Roweyna McFinnigan, I have legal and command authority of the Phaidin and her crew. I am requesting you release the Phaidin and allow us safe passage."

<<"I'd like to speak with Demi-Precentor Norton.">> Demi-Precentor Haze answered. <<"May I ask where he is?">>

"Dead." Roweyna said flatly, "If necessary I will compensate ye fair market value for star system travel. 30,000 C-Bills. Transferred to any account ye gave me routing numbers for."

<{"Get the security team on that ship now."}> A member of the JumpShip crew could be heard yelling.

<<"Ms. McFinnigan we're not in a position to accept any money you're offering us. We have orders to deliver you to…">> Demi-Precentor Haze paused, realizing he was about to say too much. <<"To our leadership.">>

"I'll double the money. 60,000 C-bills, jest send me yer routing numbers." Roweyna said.

<<"We're sending security forces to your ship now. It would be in your best interest to stand down and allow them to board.">> The Demi-Precentor said calmly.

"Yer men will meet the same lethal resistance Norton and his boys met. 100,000 C-bills is as high as I'm willing to go." Roweyna said. "If yer not willing to release us, we can start shooting."

>>"Disable the grav drive, they won't survive a zero-gee fight."<< One of the Jumpship crew said.

Roweyna put the mic against her shoulder. "Miss Berlin, fire at will on the CV."

The Phaidin's forward battery of LRMs,PPCs and lasers fired on the Leopard CV. Most of the energy weapons and missiles hit the port wing and turret mounted weapon blisters on the Leopard CV.

>>"What the hell is going on?"<< The Cee Vee Pilot asked.

"Keep firing, Miss Berlin." Roweyna put the mic back to her mouth, "You can either release us, or we'll continue damaging anything we can target.">>

<<"I'm certain you know the various treaties and agreements you're currently breaking.">> Demi-Precentor Haze said, he now sounded annoyed, <<"Our security team is preparing a breaching package. They'll kill you if you if you resist, and I personally assure you that you will be brought to justice. Further your mercenary company will be sanctioned. ">>

"We've already fought off invaders once. What makes ye think yer lads will be successful? Further, if you sanction us we'll just have to find a Successor State to join, I'm sure the Capellans would be more than happy to take us in, especially after we give them the evidence of who hired us for the raid, and return what ye had us steal. I'll also add if yer security team so much as knocks rudely on my airlock we'll begin targeting your recharge sail."

There was a pause as the Demi-Precentor seemed to consider his options. <<"You cannot fire on a JumpShip.">> Any charm or calmness was gone from his voice.

"Seeing as how yer going to kill me, what have we to lose? Target their Jump Sail with a barrage of LRMs." Roweyna said to Kate, "We'll put enough holes into it so they can't recharge, and tell our friends on St. Ives there's a Jumpship waiting for them, jest needs a new sail, ripe for a new nation's taking. Since yer threaten to ruin my mercenary career I'll need to start makin' finding friends in the Successor States. Yer move, Demi Percentor."

There was another pause and Kate continued to hammer the Leopard CV. She destroyed the port wing and was starting to target the slender connection to the tail section. Between reloads and the weapons recharging there was the alarms began to signal that they were breaking connection with the JumpShip.

"Oh, well that's all it took. Cease fire." Roweyna said, as she flipped the mic to the 1MC. "Henry, did ye have any trouble."

"Negative, Mum, no one attempted to board the Phadin."

Kate reached over and punched Hawkins shoulder, "Keep us facing the Cee Vee."

The Leopard kept its nose toward the other DropShip as it started to leave the JumpShip. The shift in gravity was difficult for everyone not sitting down. Roweyna fell back into her seat, as Hawkins maneuvered the DropShip. The Leopard CV was released from the JumpShip and started to move away from both the JumpShip and the McFinnigan's Leopard.

"You going to shoot that?" Hawkins asked.

"He hasn't quite cleared the Jumpship, and in spite of what we said. I still can't bring myself to maliciously target a JumpShip or risking hitting the K-F drive."

"Thank god for that." Anastasia said.

"I'm pleased they didn't force the issue." Roweyna said as the Leopard CV moved quickly to put the JumpShip between the Leopard and itself. "But it looks like the Cee Vee pilot is calling our bluff."

"Where's the Cee Vee going" Sarah asked. "I can hear his transponder, he's moving away from us."

"Moving away to launch his fighters." Kate said while unbuckling her harness. "Hawkins get us ready to launch the Stuka."

"Who put you in charge?" Hawkins asked.

"We're about to have a Chippewa and a Corsair harassing us. I can go out there and Hap or someone can man the guns and help me dismantle them, or we can try to pick them off as they harass us."

"She's right." Roweyna said, "unless ye have better plans, Ms. Berlin, get to yer fighter."

"Alright, Hap Get up here." Hawkins said.

Hap climbed into the co-pilot seat as Roweyna grabbed the Mic and got on the 1MC, "All crew be advised we're under attack and will be makin' evasive maneuvers with no warnin' so strap yerself in and hold tight. I also need a few able spacemen to report to Aerobay 2 for an aircraft launch."

Kate walked back over to the Navigation system. "I'm reactiving this station. Do what you can to help." Sarah acknowledged her as she left.

"Alright Hap right now the co-pilot is in gunner mode, so you see this switch?" Hawkins gestured to a switch marked, "SYNC" in the center of the control panel.

Hap pointed to the switch, "That switch?"

Hawkins slapped his hand, "Don't touch that. It will take you out of 'gunner' mode and make you a co-pilot, which will probably get us all killed."

"Alright." Hap said as he gave Hawkins a sideways look. "How do I alternate weapons."

"See the touch screen?" Hawkins said.

Hap looked at a monochrome green screen and started to reach for it as Hawkins swatted his hand again, "Not that one. That's the navigation system, the one on the other side."

"You want me to sit here and not touch anything or do you want me to actually help defend this boat?"

Hawkins looked frustrated as he leaned over and pointed directly to a large screen. "This is your weapon status and fire control guide." He said. "Use the buttons on the side to toggle modes and weapons. It will map them to buttons on the control stick, I think that's how it works in your 'mech. Also this is a ship, not a boat, jackass."

Hap tentatively pressed a few buttons and checked the status on the Leopards PPCs, LRMs and lasers. Tentatively he checked the mapping to the controls and made a few adjustments as Hawkins continued to fly the DropShip. "Yeah, this looks about the same. Where's the heat scale?" Hap asked as gingerly put his hands on the controls.

"You shouldn't need it unless you fire everything including the aft weapons." Hawkins said, "but it's located here." Hawkins reached over and pointed to a small gauge on the instrument panel.

"Anything else I shouldn't touch?" Hap asked as he cautiously moved the controls and watched the cross hair on his heads-up-display track.

"Yeah every damn thing that isn't the fire-controls." Hawkins snapped, then he straightened the DropShip and sat up a little straighter, "Sorry Hap, I don't usually have a 'mech jock sitting next to me, you guys make me nervous."

"Up until about a minute ago, I would have thought we were pretty cool with each other."

"We're still cool. I just don't want you to screw up and get us killed."

"Your confidence is very reassuring." Hap replied.

"I hear additional transponders." Sarah said, "I think the Cee Vee launched its fighters."

Hap glanced at the radar. "I can see them on the radar they're off the right, or uh, starboard side, how do I change my view to see-" Hap started to reach for the system marked, "View Screen", but Hawkins hit his hand again.

"Damn it, Hawkins, stop hitting me."

"Stop reaching for things you're not authorized to touch." Hawkins answered, "Just turn your cross hairs and your view will change. It's intuitive, this is a space craft, not some ancient badly welded together walking battle tank."

"Hawkins, did I do something to upset you, or is it Kate out there in the Stuka that's pissing you off?"

"We all got jobs in the company, Hap." Hawkins said, "but, yeah I'm happier when her job has her next to me."

"I'd also like to add that I recently spent several hours crawling through the maintenance areas of this spacecraft, and I saw a lot of ancient wiring and many things that were poorly welded together." Anastasia said.

"Steady lads, we're on the same team." Roweyna put her hand on Anastasia's wrist, "don't add to the problem."

"Hawk, I'm ready to launch." Kate's voice came across the intercom.

"Stand by." Hawkins said as he made a few more adjustments on the controls, "Clear the bay and open the hatches."

"Bay is clear." Kate answered.

A few alarms and lights began to go off on the control panel. Hawkins was watching a particular set of lights that were flashing between amber and green, when they all went steady green he got back on the intercom, "Launch in 5…4…3…2…1…Launch."

Another set of alarms sounded and more lights flashed before going steady green, "Hatches secure."

"I'm clear." Kate said, "Hap, if you and Hawkins can swing it try to take out the Chippewa first, it has a lot of weapons, but not as much armor. Once he's a drifting hulk, we'll move to the Corsair."

Hawkins turned the Leopard hard and began flying toward the JumpShip's sail. As he changed direction he also altered the Leopard DropShip's posture, "I'm going to 'fly-normal', more like Aerospace Fighter, it'll make it easier to target all our weapons on the fighters, but gravity is going to get weird."

Roweyna groaned as the Phaidin settled into using its aft thrusters and everyone felt themselves pushed back into their seats. It felt sort of like they were now sitting with their backs to the floor.

"Those two fighters are going to try and hit us from all different angles trying to make sure you never get an opportunity to hit them with everything. If I stay close to the JumpShip it will limit their attack angles and maybe keep them from using missiles." Hawkins said. "Also, like Kate said, try to take down the Chippewa first, if these guys know what they're doing they try to confuse you and hope you miss."

"Got it." Hap said trying to get use to the shift in the ship's pseudo-gravity.

Kate brought the Stuka to fly just off the port side of the Leopard. The Chippewa and Corsair were arrayed side by side and coming straight toward them.

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