Swift Fox and the Pirates of the Jackai, Part Sixteen
“Colonel Dawkins,” Crena called out as she began to put away her equipment. “Prep the fighter crafts. Take Left-tenant Felix and her squadron with you.”
“Aye, Captain,” Dawkins replied with a quick salute. “You heard the Captain lads, get the birds ready. We could be in for a fight.” He motioned Felix over to him. “Get your unit ready and follow in with us. I’ve got a feeling that a joint effort by our squadrons will give these filthy Jackai something to think about.” Felix offered a quick salute, then turned to Billings and Maneyard and gave them their orders.
“Dr. Re,” Crena called out as she straightened her dress shirt. “Perhaps if you could take Ambassador Grey Back and his charges with you to sick bay. I have a feeling we’ll give a good punch to these Jackai, but I’d feel more safe in the knowledge that we’ll have extra hands at the ready.” She turned to the Ambassador. “If that is alright with you, sir.”
“Of course,” he said with a firm nod. “I will help in any way I can. My specialty was medicine before I became a diplomat after all.”
“Excellent, Ambassador,” Dr. Re said as he escorted Grey Back. “Perhaps after this affair, we might be able to sit down and chat, compare methods. I hear some of the older methods are quite a lot better than newer technologies.” Dr. Re and Grey Back exchanged short stories as they left the cargo bay. Meanwhile, Crena called out to Talia.
“Miss Talia. Keep the engine hot, just in case. I want to be able to survive, and if we have to, we take flight. Take any help you need.”
“Aye, Captain,” she replied quickly then turned to White Fang and Krillis without hesitation. “Fanger, Krilly. You’re with me. Come on.” As the three ran off to tend to duties in the engine room, and help prepare the squadrons for take off, Crena and Lonny rushed back to the main bridge. There was tension when they arrived, but it was a controlled tension. They’d been through this before, and even the temporary crew was fairing very well under the threat of attack.
Through the titanium glass, Crena could see the Jackai ship. A monstrosity, cobbled together from other ships, either derelict vessels or sacked ships they managed to capture. As Crena took her jacket off the console and put it on, Lonny pointed out a section of the in coming ship.
“That looks like Pantheran,” he said with amazement. “They haveta have a lotta guts ta claim parts from the Pantheran fleet.” It was an unwritten rule that no ship would use the parts of a vessel of military origin. From either Vulpine or Pantheran fleets. Not before the central command of the military the vessel was associated with was informed first. This was standard protocol that the Sifter had begun, and continued on throughout the rest of the sector.
“Readings on it, Miss Norrin,” Crena called up to the crow’s nest.
“Lonny’s right, Captain,” she called out as she read from her scanners. “If I peg this right, that bulk head jury rigged into the side of that vessel is from the missing Pantheran patrol we were told about.” The records Tor gave them included missing ships suspected of being hit by Jackai raiders.
“Mr. Griffin. Any success with the hails?”
“None, Captain,” he called back from the crow’s nest. “Aside from the warning for us to run back to our prides and hide.”
“Ten to one these pirates want a fight. What do you think, Mr. Gor’lan?”
“I’d take that wager any day, Captain,” he replied with a firm nod.
Crena flicked a few switches and called up the hangar bay. “Miss Talia?”
“Yes, Captain,” came Talia’s quick reply.
“The Jackai ship is bearing down on us from the port side,” she said as she watched the ship before them get larger. “And from top side. Have Dawkins take both squadrons on a run, but keep beneath the belly of the Revenge until my signal. I want the element of surprise.”
“Understood, Captain,” she replied.
“Mr. Gor’lan,” Crena called out with a grimace as she continued to watch the ship. “Have crew at battlestations and ready to fire. But not before I give the command.”
“Aye, Captain,” Lonny replied and then began to bellow out orders to the crew. They scrambled madly as they went about preparing the weapons for a full scale attack. As the Jackai ship came closer and closer, Crena raised her hand in preparation. Lonny did one last check of the crew, each group giving him the okay. “Ready to go, Captain.”
“Sporting nature usually dictates to wait and see what an adversary will do,” Crena stated through a hiss. “But these are Jackai, and experience has taught us that one does not wait to find out what their intentions are.” She narrowed her eyes and watched the Jackai ship come closer. “Mr. Gor’lan. Fire at will!”
Gor’lan bellowed out the command even louder and the guns of the Revenge began to sound out. The energy cannons were a good match, and could fend off any ship, even some of the smaller military vessels. These shots weren’t meant to warn, they were meant to drive home the point that the Revenge meant business.
The first volley struck the on coming ship, knocking out it’s shielding with ease. The result, the Jackai returned fire. The crew braced for a hit, and one was felt. Crena hit the communicator to the Midnight Squadron. “Colonel Dawkins.”
“Ready and waiting in position, Captain,” Dawkins quickly called back. “What sort of strategy are we looking at?”
“The first volley of energy cannons knocked out their shielding,” Crena announced, never taking her eyes off the Jackai ship. She, and the crew, kept themselves braced for weapons fire. “Come out from underneath and begin making bombing runs.”
“We’ll buzz them like mosquitoes, Captain,” Dawkins replied with a laugh, then directed his orders to the rest of the squadron, including Left-tenant Felix’s crew. From the bridge, the crew could see the Mavericks and Nighthawks begin their attack, striking without warning, and never letting up. They worked in pairs, save for the Nighthawks that would float from one pair to another, acting as that one confusing element in the mix.
“Captain,” Norrin called down from the crow’s nest, her voice one that displayed urgency. “The scanners are picking up something on the ship. Something big.”
“What is it, Miss Norrin?” Crena said as she watched the fighter crafts buzz and smack the vessel with their own fire, while the Revenge kept up the barrage. Just as Norrin was about to describe it, the starboard side of the ship came into view, and all could see the laser lance jury rigged to the side. Crena and Lonny’s eyes widened as they saw it. A lance that size could take out the Revenge with ease.
“I see, Miss Norrin,” she said as her hands flew over the controls, once again opening up a hail to Colonel Dawkins. “Colonel, there’s trouble on the starboard side of that vessel. They’ve managed to jury rig a laser lance to their ship. And knowing the capabilities of the Jackai, I doubt it’s stable.”
“Never got it attached with Red Streak’s help, obviously,” Dawkins sneered as he took in the information. “Then again, knowing Red Streak, she’d probably have destroyed this garbage scow by now.”
“Colonel Dawkinth,” Senia’s voice came over the comms. “Captain. If you don’t mind a thuggethtion, perhapth the Nighthawkth could take a run at it. We’d need a diversion, however.”
“Excellent idea, Left-tenant,” Dawkins announced. “Felix, bring your squadron back to us. We’ll form up in formation and begin a run. When I give the signal, we’ll try to keep their attention on us while you run for the lance. Ready, Left-tenant?”
“Yeth, thir,” Senia replied quickly. In the space between the Revenge and the Jackai ship, the crew watched as the Midnight Squadron and Nighthawk Squadron formed up, and began a run along the belly of the vessel, firing relentlessly. Lower guns on the Jackai ship began returning fire, aimlessly attempting to swat away any of the Vulpine fighter craft. The crew watched, knowing when Dawkins gave his signal, as the Nighthawks began to veer toward the starboard side of the vessel, holding fire until they needed to let loose.
The crew watched carefully, nearly holding their breath as they saw the laser lance begin to light up, a sign that it was charging to fire. Just as they thought all had been lost with this strategy, the first of the Nighthawks opened fire, striking the lance dead on. The other pair joined in, never letting up until they had flown past. The lance began to buckle, and the bulkhead split, a sign of the shoddy workmanship in jury rigging the weapon. The ship itself began to list, partially from the attack on the lance, and partially from the diversion created by the Mavericks and the constant barrage from the Revenge. It was done, the ship was a sitting duck.
“Miss Norrin,” Crena called out, smiling broadly as she watched the fighter craft returning to base. “What is the situation with that ship?”
“There was only fifteen crew members, Captain,” Norrin called back as she read off the scanner report. “Lead by none other than Captain Ring Tail. He’s got fifteen warrants out by the Vulpine and twenty by the Pantherans alone. They’re all holed up on the bridge, as most of the ship is splitting at the seams.”
“Mr. Griffin. Open hailing frequencies, if you please.” Griffin acknowledged and began to hail the Jackai ship. Soon, the face of the dreaded Captain Ring Tail appeared on the screen before the crew. “Ah, good morning, Captain,” Crena greeted with a touch of venom in her voice, and a little bit of gloating.
“Whaddya want, Vulpie?” Ring Tail snarled. He had jet black fur that seem matted, even against the more tan fur around his muzzle and neck. It was shorter, which indicated he had suffered from the mange at some point. A scar traced his face from his left eye down along his jawline.
“It would appear as though your ship has taken a great deal of structural damage,” she said as she tucked on arm behind her back and one hand on the hilt of a rapier that hung on her hip. “My options are limited, but I am as custom permits, going to offer you mercy. It’s something I’d consider, even though we fired upon you first, but given the fact you have multiple warrants by both the Vulpine and Pantheran authorities, I like to think it was a preemptive strike.”
“So what do you plan on doin’. Captain.” He called out her rank with a spit, showing just how much contempt he had for anyone not a part of his crew. And even his crew would often feel his contempt, as many a story would tell about the dreaded Captain Ring Tail.
“My options are, seeing that blowing you completely into space trash and allow you to drift are not on the table,” she looked to Gor’lan and chuckled as he smiled and shook his head. “Either let you drift and hope you make it into Pantheran territory. Which, I doubt, considering you’ll most likely wreck upon on of the meteors in the Belt. Or, contact the closest vessel. Which is…” she asked open endedly as she looked back to Miss Norrin in the crow’s nest.
“The Sifter is the closest vessel, Captain,” Norrin informed Crena. “I’m pretty sure Red Streak could salvage that ship for parts, and she’s got a pretty decent brig on board as well.”
“Excellent, Miss Norrin,” Crena said as she looked back to the view screen. Ring Tail was panting heavily, the thought of Red Streak, a Jayna tribe Jackai, locking him up was a bit more than he could take. “Make it so, Miss Norrin.” As Ring Tail began to bark his protests, Crena looked back up to the crow’s nest and called out to Mr. Griffin. “Please end transmission, Mr. Griffin.”
Gor’lan came up beside her and chuckled. “Pretty weak for what’s considered the scourge o’ the shippin’ lanes.”
“Yes, most often these types are more bark than bite,” Crena replied with a slight chuckle. “Mr. Gor’lan, would you be kind enough to inform Ambassador Grey Back that we’ll be a tad delayed in our rendezvous with the Wolves of the North. Best to watch over this vessel until Red Steak arrives.”