Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Lost Calling - Chapter 12

Present Day
Near  planet Kor'Daren
Imhari system, Inner Laskaris Arm

Jett was laying unconcious, strapped to a bed to keep from floating away in the micro-gravity. A tall feminine figure drifted over him, scanning his body with an attachment connected to her CDT. Large almond-shaped eyes glanced back and forth from the med-scanner display to her patient.
"What happened?" Calrose asked as she entered the med-bay. She pushed herself up to the bedside, grabbing its siderails for support. "Is he alright?"
The woman hovering over Jett was the Salacean Calrose had seen on the communication feed. Up close the more alien features of her face were more apparent. Her eyes were much larger than a humans with long eyelashes and thin eyebrows. Above her eyes, at the center of her forehead were the small slits of her nostrils, subtly opening closing with her breath. The space between her eyes were completely devoid of the nose structure of a human, instead the soft rust-red skin sloped down gradually to big full lips. Her mouth was perhaps her most humanoid feature, opening to reveal a human-like tongue and teeth.

"He is unconcious," she spoke calmly. "A bump to the head, with no cranial injuries. He has suffered a fractured wrist and damaged some of the ligaments in his arm, but he is in no danger."
The Salacean looked up from her CDT, carefully twisting her head to not spear the overhead lamp with either of her long horns. The hollow structures connected to the nasal cavity in her forehead, giving her voice a distinctive tone as if it were spoken through a dozen layers of cloth. The horns pointed upward from the orbital sockets of her skull, gently sweeping inward. Unlike the large curled horns of the Zygoshans, Salacean horn structures were more tall and straight. Together with their wide pointed ears they directed attention to their large beautiful eyes and pouty lips. They were incredibly alien, and yet by most gynophilic human standards, they were incredibly attractive as well.
"I am sorry," an electronic voice came from behind Calrose. She had not noticed the synth holding on to the wall. "We finally opened the engine compartment. I think Jett was far too excited to dive right in, feeling he needed to make up for the time we lost while getting into the compartment itself. While attempting to pry apart the twisted debris of the damaged engine, the crowbar came loose, and the lack of gravity allowed Jett to propel himself right into the pile."
"Some minor cuts and abrasions to the head, head wounds always make the bleeding look worse than the injury," the Salacean stated pointed at where she had cleaned up and bandaged Jett's forehead. "I have reset and wrapped his wrist and forearm, proper treatment with bio-gel and a splint and it should heal within a few weeks."
"And how long will he be out?" Calrose's voice still showed her concern, she accepted that it was an accident, but since things went sour, she felt extra protective of her crew.
"I have given him a few things to help with the pain. He came to not long after the injury and is just sleeping now."
Calrose sighed with relief. "Thank you for helping him," she said to the Salacean.
Keona, who had been lurking out of the way near the door after leading Calrose to the med-bay spoke up. "And thank you, Ori."
The synth nodded in return.
"Where is Uden?" the Krahl commander asked.
"He stayed behind on the GRV, he has been making some progress on getting the remaining sections of the engine bay back online."
"That is good to - " Keona was interrupted by a shout from down the corridor.
"Keona! Captain Hakar!" came the echoing shouts of Driz and Arabel.
The Krahl turned and stuck her reptilian head into the hallway. Her four eyes opened wide as the Bantonian tech nearly plowed right into her.
Calrose turned toward the commotion in the doorway as Arabel came into view. "What is it?" she asked, nervous to know the answer. What more could go wrong.
"We have to get out of here," Driz warned breathlessly.
"What? Why?" the Krahl seemed impatient.
Arabel explained more calmly, "Driz and I got the ship's scanners back up and running. It isn't a permanent fix, but it proves we can get some systems back online by rerouting their protocols through other terminals. The scanners were an experiment to see if the idea could even work."
"Arabel," Calrose stopped her, "what is wrong?"
"When we got everything back online, the long range scans were picking up a ship headed this way."
"What?!" Calrose shouted. "Who?"
"I checked it against our own scanners," Driz tapped the modified CDT on his forearm, the jack looked very similar to the one Arabel had built for herself. "It appears we aren't the only ones responding to your distress signal."
"Shit," Calrose muttered.
"What do our detailed scanner show?" asked Keona. "Any chance they could be non-threatening?"
"Not unless you know anyone who takes a leisurely stroll in a Tallonian Star-Scythe," Arabel said sarcastically.
"That's a marauder-class assault ship!" Calrose intoned.
Driz pushed himself forward forcefully. "And it's headed straight for us."

- - -

Driz and Keona lead the way down the corridor, with Calrose and Arabel floating quickly behind them. By the time the two humans caught up with them in the cockpit, the Krahl was already strapping herself into her seat, clawed fingertips tapping away at data screens.
"Who  is it?" Calrose demanded to know. She looked about nervously, suddenly reminding herself that this wasn't her ship. She added, "Do you think it's pirates? Or just salvagers looking for an easy pick up?"
Driz rotated himself around the console he was floating near to look at the human pilot. "The long range scans seem to match their broadcast ship signature. They certainly aren't feeling the need to hide who they are."
Keona interrupted, "Can we get a fix on them? How long until they arrive?"
"They are coming in hot," Driz responded. "I am reading an FTL jump signature a few hundred lightseconds away. They must have jumped right into this area after getting the distress call."
"Maybe they will try and negotiate," came the distinctly nasal voice of Nirea, the Salacean medic as she floating into the control room.
"That didn't seem to be the case the last time we ran into 'rats," mumbled Arabel.
Calrose turned to the horned woman as she floated past, "Is Jett alright?"
"He is just fine," Nirea smiled, her full lips mimicking the human gesture perfectly, putting Calrose more at ease. "He is resting now. Ori will look after him and alert me if anything changes."
"Thank you," Calrose said sincerely.
The voice of Driz broke the moment. "We need to make a decision, Captain." At first, Calrose thought the Bantonian was speaking to her, so used to the title now. "That thing is barreling down on us and we are going to have a hell of a time getting anywhere still coupled to the other ship."
"I know, Driz," Keona held up a scaled hand to silence him. She sat there, strapped into her chair while everyone else floated silently behind her. Her four eyes wandered across the empty viewports, slitted pupils searching through the facts in her mind. She finally rotated the chair to face them. "How close did you and Miss Creed get on rerouting the GRV's systems?"
"Not as far as I would have liked," Driz replied. "There are still a number of subsystems inoperable due to damage, and an entire series of protocols that had to be taken offline to allow for the reroute."
"And Uden? Where is Uden?" Keona looked at the other occupants of the room. Getting no immediate answer she reached for her comm-unit. "Uden? Are you there?"
"Here," responded the small voice, tinny and mechanical as it played through a speaker in the control room.
"I need a status report. We have incoming hostiles and I need to know how you are faring on those engines."
"Engine one, gone. Other engines, I am fixing. No working," came the broken sentences of the Bantonian.
"Uden," Keona said calmly over the comm. "I need to know, is the ship worth salvaging? Or is it a lost cause?" The Krahl looked up at Calrose sympathetically.
There was no response over the radio.
"Uden," Keona repeated. "Can we save the GRV?"
The Bantonian's voice finally came with a simple, "no."
"Damn it," Keona muttered. She looked up at the two women, "I'm sorry."
"Wait!" Arabel shouted. "You can't just scrap our ship!"
"I have no choice," the Krahl said reluctantly. "That star-scythe is decked out in weapons we can't defend against, and engines we can't outrun."
"She's right, Arabel," Calrose said looking at the teenager.
"I promised you I would get you to the nearest port. I can't do that if we all die right here." Keona spun back to her console. "Driz, get Uden back over here, prepare to detach the umbilical."
The dark ashen-blue Bantonian pushed away from his console. Trying his best not to look at the two humans as he floated past them and out of the control room.
"Wait," Calrose said. Driz grabbed the edge of the doorway to stop himself. Calrose looked at him, her eyes set with the confidence of a ship's captain. "I will go with you."

- - -

Uden was pushing against a wrench when Calrose and Driz entered the engine room of the GRV. The human designed tool looked comically large in the small hands of the Bantonian. His feet planted against the floor, he was putting all of his strength under the wrench to push it upwards, loosening a large bolt holding him back from accessing the inner workings of the accelerator compartment.
"Keona says we have to go," Driz said sternly as they floated in.
"I know problem," Uden said before spilling into a long explanation in a language that Calrose didn't recognize.
"We don't have time," Driz floated up to the smaller, lighter skinned member of his species. His hand grabbed Uden's shoulder to pull him away from his work. "It's too late to do anything now. We have to uncouple from the GRV and get out of here. There's a star-scythe headed this way and I am pretty sure it has a blaster array with our names on it."
"No, I fix GRV," Uden said stubbornly, brushing off Driz's hand.
"There isn't time!" Driz shouted at him.
The pale blue Bantonian glared at him defiantly then returned to the wrench.
"Dammit, Uden, this isn't the time for engineering heroics."
Calrose looked at the two Bantonians and then to the opened engine casing. "How much longer would it take to get at least one of these engines running?"
Driz looked at her, his oversized eyes angered with frustration.
"Just wait, Driz. How long would it take, Uden?"
"No long. Open this," Uden indicated the bolt he was working on. His hands mimed what he had to do next, filling in the words he didn't know, "Then replace...thing, change thing to do other things, and then engine works." He smiled confidently.
"Let's give it a try," Calrose said, half pleading to Driz.
"We don't have time. Keona wants to separate the ships. The longer we are attached, the longer we are a sitting target." The dark-skinned Bantonian would have stood his ground if the gravity had let him stand at all. He tried his best to puff out his chest. "We go now."
Calrose pushed Driz away from Uden. "This is my ship, damn it. If there is a chance to save it, I am going to take it."
Driz huffed angrily. He fidgeted with impatience before relenting. "Fine! But we hurry!"
Uden smiled, the thin slit of his mouth stretching across his azure cheeks. He turned back to the large wrench and continued pushing. Calrose and Driz grabbed hold of the tool as well, propping their feet against the floor, they heaved the wrench and it finally gave way. The creaking damaged bolt released under the strain and broke off. It couldn't be put back into place, the metal sheared off cleanly, but it gave them access to the accelerator housed within the engine compartment.
"There! Now do your thing!" Calrose said excitedly.

- - -

Arabel pulled herself closer to the terminal. Trying to work in zero-g was difficult enough. Trying to make sense of the systems used on an unfamiliar ship were another thing entirely.  The sooner they could decouple the ships the sooner they could get the gravity-nets back up and running. With the two ships attached belly to belly, if they turned the g-nets back on it would put a tremendous strain on the mechanisms holding the ships together. She had no choice but to continue working in microgravity. But she did have a choice in how she helped out.
With Keona's permission, Arabel connected a series of data cables from her CDT into the terminal in front of her. The Crash Data Terminal, strapped to her forearm, was her pride and joy. She was never without it. She had a sleeve of deep purple fabric made to protect her arm from the added amount of time she wore the device. It was heavier than most CDTs but she had gotten used to it. Outwardly it appeared no different than any number of models of CDTs designed for human use, but inside, Arabel had reworked the entire unit into a powerhouse of portable computing. She secretly joked to herself that it had enough power to run a dozen ships. It was perfect for her real passion.
To most individuals who shared her skills, CDTs were commonly called 'jacks' for their ability to jack into any unknown system, and through a series of prebuilt programs, access information and take control. Like many tools in the galaxy, it wasn't illegal to own one, but most legal systems had strict laws against their use for such purposes.
The skills needed to use a Jack in such nefarious ways were honed in the day to day maintenance of a ship or station's onboard systems. But any run of the mill systems tech didn't know their way around like she did. Slender pinkish fingertips deftly clicked on the datascreen as Arabel raced through an analysis of the Dasaq'wen's systems. It was far different and much more complex than the systems she had help elaborate on in the GRV. As she explored, she found herself growing more and more impressed with Driz's work. The Bantonian's hand was apparent in every minute system she came across. The complex routes in which information flowed from the central processing computer to each terminal. The number of redundancies and backups built in to each protocol to keep them running throughout the ship. Even the complex algorithms in place to monitor and repair the ship's system almost like a living organism, undoubtedly modeled after the Operational Repairs Intelligence system at the core of the synthetic brain controlling Ori, the ship's resident synth.
After gaining some familiarity with the Dasaq'wen, Arabel began applying her own knowledge to the ship's setup. Running more complex scans of the nearby cosmic region to better get a lay of the land, pinpoint their position in the galaxy, and find out all she could about the incoming star-scythe. It was the latter that really grabbed her attention.
Long range scanners could pick up two things when it came to other ships. The easiest to detect was the SIB, or Ship Ident Broadcast, which was sent by a ship to notify all other ships in the area any information the crew of that ship wanted to share. In most sectors of the galaxy, this was required on most ships. Though she knew all too well how easy they were to fake. The SIB sent out a data packet detailing the type of ship, its armament or utility attachments, crew information, and any known political or military affiliation. Pirates commonly broadcast false SIBs to hide who they were and what they were doing.
This works well up to a point. Beyond a certain distance, this broadcast signal is all there is to identify a potential threat. But eventually that ship will be in range of another bank of scanners. The long range visual and radiometric scans can quickly prove the information of an SIB false.
Arabel looked at the scans she and Driz had found of the distant craft. The SIB was strong, confidently blaring the ship's location. It detailed the inbound vessel as a star-scythe. A large assault ship nearly three times the size of the Dasaq'wen. Decked out in numerous arrays of blaster cannons, it was a ship built for a singular purpose. To destroy.
This was frightening enough. But it wasn't unheard of for underequipped marauders to broadcast the SIB of a much scarier ship in hopes that their target will abandon their valuables, or even their ship, and flee into the nearest gate or port long before the attacking vessel even arrives. Arabel had really hoped this was the case. She had already had one run in with skilled and well funded attackers once this week, she didn't need another.
A disheartened sigh escaped her purple lips as she read the results of the latest scans. Checking them against the SIB, the late comer to their party wasn't boasting. As far as she could tell, the SIB had actually undersold the terrible visage of the approaching ship. The broadcast was more indicative of a star-scythe straight off the line, pristine and well armed. The visual scans showed a ship worn and beaten, but it appeared anything other than weak. It looked like a reinforced armored quilt. The sharp angular sides of the ship's hull had been built outward, adding more weapons and auxiliary structures. The aggressive design of the wedge-shaped ship now looked like the barbed-beak of some terrible bird.
"Captain Hakar?" Arabel called to Keona. "The approaching ship is close enough for visual scans. It's burning excess fuel resources to close the gap between us. I hope you have some idea of how to deal with this thing when it gets here."
"We still have a few options on the table. This ship has a few moves in her. If we can detach from your ship soon, we may still have time to make a run for it."
"A run where? That star-scythe will be within blaster range within minutes."
Keona pointed a clawed finger toward the viewport nearest to Arabel. The numan girl looked out at the pale disk of the nearby planet.
"Our closest option is on the planet surface. We may not be able to outrun a star-scythe in space, but this ship can be pretty surprising in atmosphere."
"That's assuming we can even get to the planet before they blow us apart."
"Now that is where I may have a plan," Keona smiled a sharp-toothed grin. "I have Kando and Zar preparing to jettison our cargo. A few hundred-thousand squib in contraband, plus the salvage on your ship should make for a tempting target. They will mostly likely go for the easy score than trying to take this ship."
Arabel stared at the Krahl. "But if you dump your cargo, and abandon the GRV, assuming we survive this ordeal, won't you lose out on the whole deal?"
"We have a had a few close calls in this ship, so giving up is a hard call for us to make. But I will always chose to lose money over losing my crew."
Arabel smiled. She liked Keona. She wasn't as hard and cold as other Krahl she had met. In fact, she reminded her of Captain Calrose wrapped up in a tall reptilian shell. The cool calculating mind of a military pilot, but one that answered to her own heart above all else. It made for a good captain.
The CDT on Arabel's arm chirped in warning. The teenager tapped through a series of menus in lightning succession, pulling up the electronic notification. It was a signal hidden deep within the SIB coming from the star-scythe.
"What the hell?" Arabel muttered.
Keona turned to the numan girl, "What is it?"
"Holy shit!" Arabel exclaimed.
The Krahl cocked her head at the odd phrase she couldn't translate.
Arabel looked up from her CDT, just long enough to see if she had Keona's attention, before returning to the portable computer. She tapped away at the device, absorbing the incoming message as she talked. "There was an outgoing signal buried inside the SIB. Drek, this is genius!"
Keona stared at her, waiting for an explanation.
"The signal is a malicious protocol," Arabel's voice shifted as the admiration for the hacker's skill gave way to the realization of its power. "When our system intercepted the ident broadcast, it was also taking in a packet of data containing a malicious program that could get into a ship's system."
"You mean someone is attempting to take over my ship from the inside?"
"That is theoretically what it could be used for. Once inside the scanner system it could potentially travel through the ship via any number of subroutines."
"Theoretically? You mean this one isn't?"
"No. I caught it as the infectious protocols were accessing the long range communication systems. It appears it needs to establish a more stable two-way link with the host ship to transmit the remainder of the program."
"Thank you, Arabel," Keona said, her voice once again calming to its usual gravelly timber.
"Don't thank me just yet," Arabel returned. "I caught the program trying to use the long range comms, but I haven't isolated it within the system yet. That will take more digging, until then I - "
Arabel immediately silenced herself as every datascreen in the cockpit went black. Each viewer was quickly replaced with the same feed. A video of a grizzled Jurraga staring back at them.
"What the hell is this?" Keona exclaimed. "Arabel? Did they take control of the system?"
"No," Arabel shook her head. "This was buried in the original data packet we received. The program is still hidden in our system, but it is inactive. I think this is a prerecorded feed intended to play if the stable datalink couldn't be established.
Keona and Arabel stared at the alien face on separate screens.
He looked nothing like the Jurraga Arabel had met in her short lifetime. Growing up she was told stories of the two and half meter tall sloth-like creatures that were dedicated to peace and diplomacy across the galaxy. Their story of redemption was key to the founding of the Republic of Sentient Species a quarter of a million years ago. But this Jurraga was far from the wise old monks she had read about in her youth, or the stoic diplomats she had met in the years since.
The feed only showed the creature from the shoulders up, its broad furry head taking up much of the screen. Its fur was thick and matted, disheveled patches of grey and brown sweeping back from a flat face. But where its kin would have soft fur surrounding a flat black button nose, this creature had lost much of the fur on its face. A crude network of scars ripped across its left side, leaving bubbled pink flesh. A dark patch of metal and fabric covered what was undoubtedly an empty eye-socket, the eye damaged too severely by what had happened to the Jurraga's face.  The black eye-patch was mirrored on the right side of its face by the natural mask-like patterning of dark fur around the eye. The undamaged eye glared outward like a pitchblack orb.
The flat, ursine muzzle snarled, baring rounded conical teeth, not as sharp as the Krahl, but certainly not as flat as the teeth in Arabel's mouth. She looked at the creature with disgust. The mammalian aliens had always seemed majestic in her mind, and this creature was a disturbing perversion of all she knew about the ancient species.
Despite what Arabel had experienced since leaving home, she still struggled with the alien concept of genders. On her homeworld, gender wasn't as fluid as in other human colonies. After leaving she was confronted with the strangeness of not only other human concepts of gender, but how complicated gender identity got among other species. For some, gender was exclusively tied to their biological sex, but for others it wasn't. Even the Salaceans had multiple genders despite their species only having a single sex. Jurraga, on the other hand, were the complete opposite. They had long ago abandoned the concept of gender. The outward appearance of their males was indecipherable from their females. This lack of sexual dimorphism hindered the development of what most humans would classify as genders. That is what Arabel had learned at least. She also knew that what one databank said about the entirety of a species couldn't always be applied to every individual. This Jurraga hadn't come out and said that it was male or female, but in Arabel's mind, she couldn't help but assign the male gender to it. She wasn't about to start dissecting her own thoughts on whether that was just her culture's gender stereotypes leading her to that assumption.
"This is Captain Scalyn Darikys of the Star-Scythe Dralen. You have entered our territory. Prepare to be boarded, any resistance will be met with extreme consequences."
The message repeated numerous times before Arabel overrode the program hijacking the system. She began to trace the source of the feed back through the subroutines to find the hidden program. Before she got too far, her readouts blared with warnings. The ship shook as the hull took an unexpected barrage of blaster fire.

- - -

"Driz, are you back aboard?" Keona's voice transmitted directly into the Bantonian's inner ear.
"No, Captain." Driz replied with a nervous grimace. He glared at Calrose as he pressed a finger against his ear to block out the external noise. Realizing what he was doing, Calrose's only response was a subtle shrug.
"I need you onboard now! Now, Driz! We have to -" the communication was drowned out by a loud rumble. The entire engine shook around them with enough force to have thrown them to the ground if they had been standing on it.
"What was that?" Driz looked at the ceiling as if it were about to fall in on him.
"Blaster fire," Calrose responded coldly. "They are here." She wanted to kick something. How could she be so stupid. She put an entire crew at risk, because she wanted to save her ship? It was a pile of bolts. A hideous garbage hauler. Why was she willing to risk all of their lives to save this hunk of junk? She even told Alolrabel it was past saving and that Keona was making the right call leaving it behind.  But it was her hunk of junk. It was all she had left of her dreams of becoming a pilot and commanding her own ship.
"We have to go," Driz said to Calrose and Uden. Turning to the human, "I am sorry, I know you want to save this ship. Trust me, I get it. But if we don't get out of here, we die!"
The last word stung Calrose's ears. She was almost ready to go down with her ship. The heroic pilot's death. That's absolutely frething stupid, she reminded herself. She didn't want to die. She looked up at Driz, his eyes wide, beckoning them both to get moving.
"You're right. Uden, we have to go, there is nothing here to save."
"No," Uden's little voice came from within the engine compartment. His small legs were the only thing visible from the opening they had made in the metal construct. "I fix."
"You don't get it, Uden!" Driz grabbed Uden's legs and pulled him from the compartment. Staring straight into the younger Bantonians bright wide eyes, "There is nothing to fix." He slowly enunciated each word, "We go now, or we die."
Uden squirmed out of Driz's grasp and pushed him away, sending Driz drifting across the room. Uden grabbed an object floating near him. Tucking the bundle of assorted metal parts to his chest, he dove back into the engine compartment.
Driz reoriented himself, twisting in the air to hit the other wall with his feet and push himself back towards Calrose and Uden. "Dammit, Uden! Why won't you listen to me for once!" he shouted. As he grabbed Uden's legs once again to pull him out, the room became a deafening roar. A dozen lighted indicators flared to life across the entire bank of engine compartments.
"You did it!" Calrose yelled over the din in amazement. "You actually got the engines running!"
Uden popped back out of the cramped compartment, his pale blue face smudged with grease. "Only one engine work." He turned to Driz, whose look of frustration had faded. "Now we go, and have extra thrust to really go!"
Driz smiled, his eyes bright and wide like someone had lit a fire within them. "Uden, you genius! We can use the added thrust to try and outrun them!"
"That isn't going to work," Calrose interrupted. "A single engine without a peak drive isn't going to make up for the added mass of the GRV."
Driz didn't look deterred, "no, but it will certainly help. I still have an idea."
The GRV rumbled, the lights in the engine bay flickering from the impact of another barrage of blaster fire. The two Bantonians and the human propelled their way through the engineering bay toward the air-lock. Driz called in over the comms to tell his captain his new plan.

- - -

"It isn't a stupid plan, it is a brilliant one," Driz declared as the three floated into the control room of the Dasaq'wen.
"No, you idiot," Calrose said irritably, "I know it is a stupid idea because we were stupid enough to try it before!"
"You just don't want to lose your ship! I get that, it is a nice little ship," Driz's excitement for his plan was making him sound more and more condescending.
"It isn't that. I admit, in a lapse of judgment, I hoped Uden could fix the engines and save the GRV. But this isn't about saving my ship anymore. It is about attempting something that won't work."
"What are you talking about," Arabel interrupted them.
Calrose turned to the teen, suddenly noticing that half the crew of the Dasaq'wen were in the cockpit all staring at the arguing human and Bantonian. "Driz wants to use the GRV to help get us moving, then detach the umbilical, releasing the ship into the oncoming star-scythe. Sound familiar?"
"Like we did with the waste containers?" Arabel asked.
"Yeah, because it worked so well then." Calrose glared over at Driz.
"Well," Arabel paused hesitantly. "Just because it didn't work on those pirates, doesn't mean it's a bad idea."
Calrose looked at Arabel silently. How could she not have her back? Am I being unreasonable? she wondered.  Her mind whirled with thoughts and doubts. Her attempts at ridiculous plans had helped them escape their run in with the pirates, but it had also cost the lives of everyone on that station. But this was much bigger than her own crew. She voiced her concern, but it really wasn't up to her. She couldn't decide the fates of the people aboard a ship that wasn't under her command.
Calrose sighed with a modicum of relief. Taking in a deep breath to calm her nerves as she allowed herself to let go of control. She turned to Keona who still sat in her command chair at the piloting controls of the ship. "This is your ship and your decision."
Keona sat there for a moment. Her thoughts were interrupted by the rumbling of blaster fire streaking across the hull.
"We try it. I am afraid we are out of other ideas, and we can't just sit here getting fired at much longer. One of those shots is going to get lucky and we won't have a chance at other options. Everyone, strap in."

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