Chapter 26 – Ancient Chaos

30 Minutes Later

Silence. Eerie silence.

Mote shifted uncomfortably, his grasp on his blue and silver battlehammer tightening as he watched the corridor in front of him. No movement

It had been twenty minutes since CSF-1 achieved communication contact with Genesis and relayed Kate’s plan. To say that Captain Krick wasn’t thrilled would be an incredible understatement, but Saito eventually convinced him to come around — even if only because of the fact that the Dreadnought’s Subspace Drive was so large that it couldn’t possibly fit aboard Genesis. Any work on it would have to be done while still aboard the Dreadnought, regardless of if it was attached to Raenaros.

Silence. Uncomfortable silence.

Mote dismissed his hammer and clenched his fists, sparks flying and wreathing his arms as he watched the corridor in front of him. Still no movement

It had been fifteen minutes since Krick deactivated Genesis’s beaming jammer for just the split-second required to beam CSF-1 onto the Battlecruiser, and the Dreadnought’s Subspace Drive into the fighter bay that contained Raenaros. However, that split-second was just long enough for the Drakkars to beam in another large squadron of fighters — but this group didn’t go after Genesis. Instead, they immediately turned around and focused on the shipyard’s shield emitters. To everyone’s surprise, the emitters seemed to have shields of their own, but the focused fire from the Drakkar fighters would be sure to drain the emitters of power at a rapid pace. It couldn’t be long before the shipyard shield failed now.

Silence. Deafening silence.

Mote crossed his arms impatiently, glancing over his shoulder at the docking bay behind him before turning back around to watch the corridor in front of him. Still nothing

It had been ten minutes since Kate requested that he disable the artificial gravity generators in the docking bay, to allow her to maneuver around the bay more easily. The Dreadnought’s Subspace Drive was truly massive — over a football field in length, and at least a quarter of that in the other dimensions. It easily dwarfed Raenaros in size, but Kate claimed that she could make the system work anyways. Mote simply had to pilot the Corvette to just above the Drive and then activate the ship’s newfound object fabrication system to link the Corvette to the Drive. This was where shutting down the artificial gravity generators came in; it was simply one less force to put stress on the connectors between the Drive and the Corvette. Then again, wouldn’t maneuvering put even more stress on the connectors than a single g? Mote mused, I suppose Kate must be planning to extend the Corvette’s inertial dampeners to include the Drive, then…?

Footsteps. Echoing footsteps.

Mote snapped his attention forward, summoning his battlehammer back into his hands as he glared forward. He had hoped that the half hour of relative inactivity would continue, but he had suspected that it wouldn’t. That’s why he was standing guard in the hallway, after all — to protect Raenaros from the Drakkar approaching slowly down the corridor.

To protect it from Telregina.

The Faction Leader walked steadily, holding a gun in her left hand and a polehammer in her right, that she casually rested on her shoulder. She glared forward at Mote, locking eyes with him; he involuntarily shuddered as he beheld her and her black and silver robing befit of a regent — though torn and singed after her fight with Kate. Both of his previous encounters with her had resulted in her immediately fleeing, but now she approached him openly… just what was she hiding?

Without moving a single muscle, Mote launched a fierce lightning strike at Telregina. The burst of light momentarily blinded him as it lit up the hallway brighter than the brightest day, and the immediately resulting thunderclap deafened him and left his ears ringing for several seconds. The blow clearly struck the Drakkar, as her robes were even further damaged than they were previously. But Telregina herself remained unscathed and unfazed.

((Over a hundred thousand years))

What…? Mote narrowed his eyes as the Drakkar stopped approaching around ten meters away from him. She maintained her casual stance, shifting her weight to rest on one leg while she kept her eyes on Mote.

((Over a hundred thousand years have passed since our war with the Aldredas,)) she continued, slowly sweeping her gaze across the corridor before returning her attention to Mote. ((It has been over a hundred thousand years since I last laid eyes on a craft of Aldredian construction… over a hundred thousand years since the Aldredas fell… over a hundred thousand years since I last laid eyes… on that hammer.))

Mote glanced over at his battlehammer. The long pole, the intricate blue and silver designs, the faintly glowing blue orb and the massive hammerhead in which it sat… there was no doubt that the weapon’s appearance was unique. He had always thought that his ability to summon this hammer — and Mark, Kate, and Danielle’s ability to summon their own respective weapons — was simply a form of Formtechnism, a Chaotic type that entailed fabricating items on the spot out of thin air. But after watching Telregina’s own Formtechnism, and how the weapons she fabricated were different every time, Mote grew doubtful. His hammer was always the same, exactly the same, and he had never been able to summon a different weapon. A thought flashed through his mind that the hammer might be similar to the Aldredian technology that seemed only to respond to him, but he quickly dismissed that thought, and shouted his reasoning to the Drakkar. Impossible. I’ve only been alive for 22 years; this hammer can’t possibly have anything to do with the Aldredas. You must be misremembering.

((…Is that so,)) Telregina responded dryly. ((Then how did you know this shipyard was here? How can you wear that armor? How can you interface with all of this accursed Raen Technology?!))

Raen Technology? Is she talking about all the stuff that only responds to me…? After a second, Mote simply shrugged. Who knows, he replied casually, if this ‘Raen Technology’ is gene-based, well, it is a common theory that the Aldredas interbred with the ancestors of the modern galaxy.

((Is that what you think? How absurd.)) She crouched down into a battle stance, throwing away her warhammer and summoning a second gun in its place. ((But if you insist on being insolent, self-proclaimed descendant of the Aldredas, then I will partake in the pleasure of seizing your Ciei. Then, I will know all that I seek!))

Mote scowled, but had no time to respond as the Drakkar snapped her guns to the ready and fired. His armor’s shielding absorbed the blasts, but the force still staggered him as Telregina aimed her guns backwards and fired once more, using the blasts to propel herself forward. With little time to think, Mote firmly grasped his hammer and supercharged it with electricity before swinging at the Drakkar’s approaching form. She quickly brought her guns up to block, but the moment he made contact, Mote forced all of the charge in his hammer through her guns and body. The resulting electric blast flung the two combatants away from each other, tumbling through the air and to the ground before jumping back to their feet in a race to recover first. Mote promptly discarded his hammer and shot another blast of lightning at Telregina, only for the Drakkar to take the blow head-on and charge forward with a set of newly-materialized laser cannons. Blasts of laser fire immediately began exploding on and around Mote as Telregina fired wildly while continuing her bullrush toward her opponent; Mote’s first instinct was to dodge out of the way, but just before he did, he remembered that the docking bay was just behind him — and if Telregina destroyed the Subspace Drive, then the shipyard and its contents were as good as hers. So instead, he braced himself and held out his hands, charging his right hand with an incredible level of voltage as he prepared to intercept Telregina’s charge.

Once she closed to within a few meters, the Drakkar tossed her weapons aside and materialized a massive club. To Mote’s surprise, she stomped hard on the ground to arrest herself of most of her forward momentum and then channeled the rest into swinging her giant weapon. Mote quickly reached out with with his hands to intercept it, making sure to touch the weapon with both hands simultaneously — and immediately forcing a massive current through the mace from his right hand to his left, practically detonating the weapon mid-swing. Debris smacked against the walls and Telregina staggered back under the blow, at which point Mote quickly pressed the advantage.

Summoning his massive battlehammer back into his hands, he swung once to force the Drakkar back, and then sent an incredible electric charge into the floor and walls of the corridor in an effort to keep her away. Telregina seemed only mildly annoyed by her electrified surroundings, but she quickly backpedaled regardless as she fabricated a humongous cannon onto her shoulder. The cannon’s interior began to glow with energy, before firing a split-second later; Mote managed to predict the Drakkar’s aim and block the laser blast with his hammer, but the force of the blast flung the hammer out of his grasp and staggered him backwards. He quickly dove to the ground to evade another blast before firing off a powerful electromagnetic pulse at the cannon that immediately destroyed it — only for Telregina to instantly materialize a new, working version of the same weapon and take aim.

With a scowl, Mote threw himself to the other side of the corridor to avoid being hit by another laser blast, and then magnetically manipulated his hammer that lay on the ground behind him to float through the air — and then fling itself at Telregina. The Drakkar discarded her laser cannon and snatched the hammer out of the air, at which point she charged forward and managed to swing it once before Mote forced it to disappear from her hands and reappear in his. He then forced a tremendous amount of electrical current through the floor, part of the wall, the air around Telregina, and then the other wall. The raw power of the voltage he generated forced the air itself to become a conductor, allowing him to instantly launch Telregina backwards down the corridor like a bullet out of a railgun, slamming her into the wall nearly a hundred meters back and obliterating it. Mote couldn’t see her through the dust and falling debris of the annihilated wall, so he instead attempted to locate her by electric field — only for lasers to begin carving up the hallway around where he stood, tearing into the walls and flooring and blowing them to pieces.

Before Mote could react, the floor under him gave way and exploded downward; he quickly altered the magnetic charge of himself and the ceiling to secure himself in place, and then launched a fierce lightning blast toward Telregina’s previously known location — a blast so fierce that it bathed the hallway walls in white light, and generated such a ferocious thunder that Mote cringed from the pain in his ears. And yet, the moment after the lightning disappeared, Telregina launched herself down the hallway at such an incredible speed that Mote barely had time to react. She tossed aside a laser cannon midair and materialized a massive polehammer, swinging it toward Mote; he prepared to repel her with a blast of electricity, but just before her attack connected, she pulled a feint and tossed the weapon away before fabricating another massive laser cannon instead. His eyes wide with surprise, Mote immediately fired a lightning strike into the cannon in an effort to disable it, but the same moment he did, the Drakkar fired.

KRA-KOOOM

A deafening boom echoed through the corridor as Mote’s world went white, and his ears rang. The sensation of rushing air crossed his face, and he could feel himself tumbling — and a moment later, just as he was regaining his vision, he felt his armor’s helmet spontaneously materialize over his head. Hissing filled his ears for a brief moment, but as he looked around himself, all he could see — aside from the helmet’s HUD — was darkness. He quickly inspected his surroundings, searching for where he could be, but as he moved his body he felt a peculiar sensation of weightlessness. …Shit! I’m in space! That blast was strong enough to cause a hull breach? Seriously?! Mote glanced down at himself, and the armor he was wearing. Seems like this armor is graded for atmosphereless action. That’s good. But how the hell am I going to move myself around in zero-g? And where the hell is Telregina?

((Where are you…?))

Mote reeled from the sudden voice in his head, which contrasted greatly with the silence of space around him. She’s still alive?! Do Drakkars not need to breath? Or is this just part of being a Faction Leader…? He began searching the space around him, but found it difficult to see anything close to him. In the distance, Mote could see the other Aldredian ships in the shipyard as the light from the besieged shield fell upon them, but the area immediately around him lay within the Dreadnought’s shadow — and as such was nearly pitch black. Mote immediately sought to take advantage of the situation; he could still attempt to locate Telregina through her minute electric field, but he was virtually invisible to her.

That is, until he drifted far enough away from the Dreadnought to fall out of its shadow, his armor being lit as though under twilight.

((Ah! So you’re still alive?))

Damn it… Mote muttered to himself, summoning his battlehammer into his hands and honing his focus in an attempt to locate his opponent faster. Where is she…?

((You may wear the armor of the Aldredas, but you wield none of their skill or ability!))

A split-second later, Telregina rocketed into view, a massive hammer in hand. Mote scowled and attempted to block her incoming blow, but was unable to act fast enough as the Drakkar slammed her weapon into him and sent him tumbling through space. She then threw the weapon after him before fabricating a gun and firing it in the opposite direction of Mote, using its recoil to launch herself through space. With a swing of his hammer, Mote managed to intercept her and knock her off course, but the force of the blow altered his trajectory and sent him flying even further from the Dreadnought.

Damn! I can probably just summon and throw my hammer over and over again to move through space, but that won’t cut it when I’m on the clock! He glanced off to the side, where the giant white triangle that was the shipyard shield under fire stood. A moment later, however, a text box suddenly popped up on his HUD — just as a blast of energy exploded across his back and sent him reeling.

((Give in!))

Mote jumped as Telregina seemingly appeared out of no where, holding onto a missile with one hand and grabbing him firmly with the other as she flew past him. He immediately channeled an incredible current through the contact point, creating a burst of electricity that launched the two away from each other and detonated the missile, but the Drakkar quickly materialized a missile launcher, fired another missile, and then grabbed the projectile as it carried her right back to Mote. Immediately after she launched herself, Mote altered the voltage of the tip of the missile, inducing a current that detonated the warhead and changed Telregina’s trajectory — but not enough to put him out of her reach. ((Let down your shields)) She fabricated another hammer and smashed it into Mote’s chest, sending him careening downward. ((And give me your Ciei!))

Argh…! The Electrotechnic’s brow furrowed in frustration, his attention focused largely on the text in the middle of his HUD that refused to go away. What the hell is this? Is it asking for a prompt, or something? I can’t speak Aldredian, I only know one word—! His thoughts were interrupted as Telregina rocketed past him and then fired on him from behind, sending him flying toward a different part of the shipyard. Damn it, I can’t see anything with this alert. Just… fuck it! Kai!

Immediately after uttering the Aldredian word for “yes”, the text disappeared from his HUD. A moment later, he felt machinery on his back whir to life, followed quickly by a familiar draining sensation. Conduits along the armor began glowing a soft blue — and then Telregina appeared in his view, rocketing toward him with her hands outstretched. Reflexively, he made to dodge… and just before the Drakkar reached him, light burst forth from the back of his armor as he evaded her charge. What…? he muttered in confusion, and then glanced at his back, finding several bright golden holographic triangles hovering just behind him, arranged so as to appear similar to wings.

He promptly scowled. The hell? What edgelord designed this? A jet pack would’ve been fine—!

His attention was brought back to the battle as yet another blast of energy exploded across his energy shielding, flinging him in a new direction. However this time, instead of tumbling helplessly, Mote focused on the new armor system he had managed to activate; the golden wings behind him increased in brightness as he altered his momentum, gaining the ability to maneuver through space as though flying.

((So you finally managed to activate it! To take so long, but be able to do so anyways… the mysteries mount!))

Mote quickly searched the surrounding space for the Drakkar leader, summoning his hammer to himself and gradually increasing the charge in its head as he looked. A moment later, Telregina slammed into him from above, grabbing the back of his helmet and whirling around to chuck him at a nearby spacecraft. As he left her hands, he spun around and whipped his hammer through the air, just barely missing the Drakkar as she fired her gun at him and blasted herself away.

((By the end of this day, I will have your Ciei — and with it, the secrets you possess!))

Figures she’d only get mouthy when I have no way to respond. Mote scowled as he chased after her, randomly throwing himself to the left and right in an effort to evade incoming projectiles from a materialized railgun while simultaneously launching lightning strikes of his own, all of which Telregina seemed to ignore. A moment later, Mote counter-fired with an EMP, destroying Telregina’s railgun and giving him a moment of peace — but the Drakkar responded by simply tossing the weapon away and then materializing a dozen giant javelins around her, which then flung themselves at Mote at high speeds. He threw himself to the side to evade the weapons, and then continued dodging in lateral directions as Telregina continually launched volleys of javelins at him. Damn it, she can summon and throw weapons without even touching them? I can’t EMP or short-circuit javelins—!

«Mote! Mote, you there?»

What? Kate? Mote questioned incredulously as he continued defending against Telregina’s attacks. How are you—?

«Your armor has a comm system, dumbass! I can easily contact you from the Corvette. Which is all ready to go, by the way, so get your ass back here already!»

Right, understood! He blocked an incoming polehammer blow with the shaft of his own weapon before lashing out with it, taking advantage of its greater length to force Telregina to evade. As she flew away from him, he quickly spun around, located the Dreadnought’s docking bay, and sped off towards it. It’s almost a kilometer away, it looks like. Just how long have we been drifting here—?

((Where do you think you’re going?!))

Mote snapped his attention behind him just as Telregina flew past him and then launched herself into him from the front, knocking the both of them away from the Dreadnought. The Electrotechnic quickly threw her off of him and then chucked his hammer at her, but she simply deflected the weapon with her own before firing a newly-fabricated railgun and knocking Mote even further off course. She then tossed the weapon before Mote could disable it and materialized dozens of javelins that she rapidly launched at the Electrotechnic, each knocking him further off course. Shit! I can’t get back while she’s on me. I have to lose her, but how?

A split second after the hail of javelins ceased, Telregina was on him again, attempting to grapple him with one hand as she swung a mace at him with the other. He briefly fired up his armor’s maneuvering system to shoot himself up and out of her grasp, at which point she discarded her mace, materialized a flail with an incredibly long chain, and launched the ball out past Mote. He dodged away from the chain, then dodged in another direction to evade a second chain — only to be startled as Telregina suddenly fabricated a gun and launched herself forward, her left arm enveloped in a massive mechanical gauntlet as she slammed her palm into Mote’s chest. The blow sent an astounding amount of force and energy into Mote and his armor, generating a number of alerts on his HUD as the armor increased the amount of energy it siphoned off of him to account for the blow to its shields. Mote huffed wearily; the energy drain was greater now than it had been at any point during his time in Dead Space, but only for a brief moment — until Telregina struck him again with her gauntlet.

((Even Aldredian shields can’t stand against shield-breaker technology,)) the Drakkar declared haughtily as Mote reeled from the blow and the increased energy draw of his armor. ((I’d hoped for a more interesting battle… but now…)) She drew her arms back, fabricating a second gauntlet onto her right arm as she prepared to strike once more. ((Your secrets… will be mine!))

Shit—! Mote bit his lip to restore his focus in the face of Telregina’s approaching form. With little time to dodge, he instead reached out with his arm and grabbed one of the chains that were still floating around him, and then yanked the chain to wrap the end around one of the Drakkar’s gauntlets. As soon as there was contact, Mote shoved as much current as he could down the chain and into the gauntlet, immediately overloading it and blowing it to pieces. Startled from the blow, Telregina failed to land an attack with her other gauntlet — and as her body carried past Mote, he slammed his own palm into her chest and imparted an incredible electric blast that launched the two away from each other. He then spun around and took off toward the Dreadnought, but a moment later something wrapped around his ankle and yanked him back. Instantly, he funneled a charge through the object in an effort to stun Telregina, but she had already let go of the weapon and summoned another long-chained flail to snare Mote with. He managed to dodge this one, and then evade to the side again, only to be forced to summon his battlehammer to block Telregina’s own incoming hammer. I can’t even get a moment’s respite. Damn it! She always ran away before at the sight of my hammer, why not now?!

The sensation of a chain wrapping around his ankle appeared again, prompting Mote to shove as much current through it as he could. But this time, Telregina kept hold of the weapon and simply ignored the electricity as she summoned another shield-breaker gauntlet on her right arm and moved in to strike. His brow furrowed and his mouth curled into an impatient scowl, Mote reached out to intercept her hand with his own, generating a massive enough electrical shock to explode the gauntlet on impact. He then immediately grasped his hammer with both hands and smashed it down on the chain connecting him and the Drakkar, using a combination of shearing force and electric discharge to break the chain. Telregina quickly fabricated another gun in her hand and launched herself toward Mote just as he swung, slamming her own hammer down over his head just as he broke the chain and knocking him away. He immediately zeroed his momentum and then shot to the side to avoid the Drakkar as she charged at him, but she reached over and grabbed his ankle to prevent herself from flying off. She then tried to grab his other ankle with her other hand, materializing a half-dozen javelins that each independently attacked Mote as she did so — but Mote ignored the weapons as they crashed down over his shields. Quickly, he curled up and grabbed Telregina’s free hand with his own before generating a massive current in an effort to drive the Drakkar away. Her hand eventually released his ankle, but just as he thought himself free, she fabricated another gauntlet and attempted to attack. Mote intercepted her fist with his own, resulting in the two vying for control of the grapple as Mote forced tremendous voltages into Telregina, and her gauntlet continuously drained the charge off of his energy shielding.

((I take back what I said earlier. This exchange just now has been interesting)) Her eyes narrowed, glinting with vicious glee. ((But now))

A flash of light from the side startled Mote, followed by an eerie darkness… the same darkness that had shrouded the shipyard before the Drakkars attacked. Mote snapped his attention to his left, to the part of the shipyard shield that had been under siege — the part of the shield that had just given way.

((This yard, and everything within, is MINE!))

She jerked her gauntleted fist forward, momentarily overpowering Mote and slamming her palm into his chest. Alerts and alarm beeps began sounding inside the helmet, and Mote’s HUD turned red as it seemed that every aspect of his armor was screaming at him to move. And move, he tried — but the golden wings dimmed, almost fading completely as the armor struggled to keep itself active by draining energy from Mote, energy that he wasn’t sure that he had. Instinctively, he tried shoving a high voltage across the armor in an effort to raise its power levels, but the electricity didn’t help. It seemed as though the armor was seeking a different kind of energy.

As he struggled to recover, Mote spotted out the corner of his eye Telregina winding up for one final blow. She approached rapidly, both of her arms enclosed in mechanical gauntlets as she drew them back, a dozen railguns and missile launchers appearing around her and firing randomly to force Mote to stay put, a number of floating lights slowly drifting past from behind him…

Wait Mote stared at the lights in confusion. …What—?

Dozens of lights spontaneously burst all around him and Telregina, filling his vision with white — if not for the vacuum of space, then he was certain that his ears would be ringing as well. He then felt something grab hold of his arm, causing him to flinch away, but just before he shot electricity into it, he realized that the grasp felt somehow familiar. …This is…!

A moment later, he could feel himself accelerating through space; a moment after that his vision returned to him, allowing him to look down at his arm — and at Kate, who tightly held onto him with her left hand as she repeatedly fired rockets out of a launcher in her right to propel the pair back toward the docking bay. Mote couldn’t see her face from his position behind her, but he could still tell that she was struggling to hold her breath. Her armor wasn’t like his, after all; hers wasn’t designed for vacuum environments, and while the Eximius Vir were known for being more durable than a normal human, they still needed air to survive.

But he didn’t have long to think about the situation. The docking bay rapidly approached; Mote quickly searched the space behind them, but Telregina was no where to be found. Those lights had to have been Kate’s explosives. I guess she managed to get Telregina off of me, but for how long?

The sound of Kate taking a massive gasp next to him brought his attention back to the matter at hand, and to the fact that they had just passed through the docking bay’s barrier shield. OH my fucking god, Kate swore after taking several deep breaths, and then spun herself around to glare at Mote. Dumbass! Didn’t I tell you to hurry up?!

I was a little distracted fighting a Drakkar Faction Leader in zero-g, Mote shot back. He then slowly engaged his armor’s maneuvering systems, enough energy having returned to allow him to navigate over to Raenaros’s loading ramp with Kate in tow. I apologize if I wasn’t able to just break off at the drop of a hat!

Yeah, yeah, fucking whatever, let’s go already! Kate urged, the ramp closing behind her as the pair landed within the Corvette’s artificial gravity environment. The fucking shipyard shield is down, we need to be out of here fucking yesterday!

Don’t need to tell me twice, Mote replied as he rushed to the bridge and leaped over the back of the Captain’s chair to sit in it. He drummed his fingers impatiently on the armrests, waiting for the neural dive system to engage as Kate rushed into the room behind him. A moment later, everything went black; a moment after that, his field of view transitioned to Raenaros’s exterior, nearly half of which was filled by the massive Subspace Drive that was now attached to the bottom side of the Corvette. …You’re sure this’ll work? he questioned.

Of course I’m fucking sure! Kate shot back, I wouldn’t have fucking told you I was ready if I wasn’t, now would I?!

How do I make it work?

First step is to get out of the bay, dumbass! Then once you’re clear of the Dreadnought, I’ll activate the Subspace Drive!

Alright. Here goes…

Carefully, yet urgently, Mote fired up Raenaros’s engines. The Corvette immediately began to pitch forward, as the Subspace Drive threw off her center of gravity; Mote quickly moved the vectoring engines to compensate, managing to level out the ship before she smashed the Drive into the floor. As he began maneuvering to leave the bay, he realized just how small the space seemed — a large contrast to when he first arrived and the bay was empty. Just how large does this Drive need to be? I know it’s for a Dreadnought, but still…

Several beeps sounded within the bridge, followed by a large number of red ‘X’s appearing on Mote’s HUD. Shit, fighters!

You’re almost out, Kate urged, the Genesis will retreat to a safe distance the moment we jump out… just keep it up!

Easier said than done… Mote muttered, his attention torn between the fighters in the distance and the cramped bay he was slowly flying out of. Thanks to the zero-g environment, the maneuvers he needed to make were minimal, but he still couldn’t help but feel tense. Raenaros herself was inching by barely meters from the top of the bay; Mote didn’t know exactly how big the Subspace Drive was, and so couldn’t risk flying any lower.

Fifty meters from the exit…

Streams of light appeared in the distance, a sign that Genesis was firing her weapons. The fighters Mote saw on his HUD seemed to be primarily distracted by dealing with the Battlecruiser, but a handful of them had broken off to fly in his direction.

Forty meters from the exit…

The Corvette’s shields flared as several blasts of energy exploded across them. A number of blasts scarred the outside of the Drive, as well — but none broke through its outer casing.

Thirty meters from the exit…

A loud snap reverberated through the loading bay as one of the connectors holding Raenaros and the Drive together broke. Several of Mote’s HUD elements turned red and began flashing at him, but he still couldn’t read them; all he could do was focus on the object fabrication system to create a new connector, and attempt to reinforce the others.

Twenty meters from the exit…

The snapped and recreated connector caused the Drive’s weight to shift, resulting in the Corvette beginning to drift downward. Mote adjusted the vectoring engines to compensate, but as he did so, another volley of Drakkar laser blasts peppered the Corvette’s shields and startled him.

Ten meters from the exit…

The screeching of metal against metal filled the bay for several moments as the Drive scraped along the bottom. Mote had no way of actually seeing the bottom of the Drive, so he had no idea how much damage was being done — but there was no time to be concerned now.

With a single thought, Mote pushed full power into the engines as Raenaros reached the exit of the docking bay and passed through the energy shield that kept in the atmosphere. The metallic screeching ceased and the ship suddenly pitched downward as there was no more bay floor for the Drive to scrape across, but just as Mote began to relax, a Drakkar Battleship lowered into view barely a kilometer away, her weapons turning toward Raenaros. What—?! Kate!!

I know! It’ll take a second to spool up, the Drive wasn’t designed to be operated like this!

Tch…! Mote glared at the Battleship in frustration. Attached to the massive Subspace Drive as she was, Raenaros was in no position for quick maneuvering or evasion. All Mote could do was watch the Battleship and the red ‘X’ on his HUD that marked her — the same ‘X’ that promptly began blinking.

Jumping!!

A hole in space opened up in front of Raenaros, opening the way to the odd grayscale spacetime that was Subspace. An instant later, the Corvette leaped through the window — and the next instant, Mote found himself still in real space, with nothing but darkness surrounding him. He glanced around in mild confusion. …What happened? I thought you were going to activate the Drive?

I did, Kate replied from behind him. It was only a split-second jump, enough to take us well over a million kilometers away from the shipyard. But we aren’t done yet!

Right. Mote engaged the vectoring engines and slowly turned Raenaros around. …We still need to launch the Drive bomb.

Exactly. I managed to write a script to automate the process, so you don’t have to aim manually. Which would be kind of really fucking impossible, given the utter precision you need at this kind of range!

What about the Genesis? How do we know that they’ve left?

Krick said that he would leave the moment we did, but we don’t have time to manually verify if we want to catch that no-faced bitch in the explosion!

…Right… Mote pursed his lips; he wasn’t sure if the Corvette had the comm systems in place to contact Genesis from their great distance, but even so… he had heard about how devastating a Drive Bomb could be. If Genesis wasn’t able to escape…

Alright! Launch procedure started!

Conduits along the outer shell of the Drive began to glow, indicating that the gigantic device was powering up once more.

Launch in three! Two! One…!

Another hole in space appeared, offering Mote a glimpse into Subspace. The Corvette’s engines fired up, slowly accelerating the Drive forward — and then, a couple seconds later, a deep rumbling reverberated through the ship, signaling that the connectors between the ship and the Drive had blown off. Mote quickly flipped the vectoring engines around and engaged them to slow Raenaros respective to the Drive, so as to remain outside of the Subspace window. The Drive itself continued forward, carried by its own inertia as it disappeared into the grayscale gradient, which then disappeared itself. Mote couldn’t help but stare at where the Drive had just been in bewilderment; for such a powerful weapon, the launch sequence had been rather meek.

Shield your eyes!

Huh—? Mote started, but was interrupted as a bright flash of light in the far distance momentarily blinded him. The hell? What was that?!

That… Mote heard Kate release an incredible sigh of relief before continuing triumphantly, was the Drive Bomb!

Oh… He stared at where the flash of light had originated. It faded just as quickly as it appeared, but even from this great distance, it had seemed to be nearly as large as the moon when viewed from Earth’s surface. As he continued staring at the spot, he gradually noticed that his entire body was tense, and his brow was still furrowed in concentration. …That’s it, then, isn’t it? We’re done.

That’s fucking right! Though Mote’s field of view remained outside of the Corvette, he could hear Kate step up to the Captain’s chair, and then feel her rest her arm on the top of the chair’s back. Way to fucking go, you dumbass! I can’t believe you actually pulled that off!

Mote exhaled warily. Kate’s words were harsh, but he could hear genuine pride in her tone — and she was right, regardless. As he disengaged the neural dive system to take a break, the past twenty minutes quickly played through his mind, from his extended battle with Telregina, to piloting Raenaros out of the loading bay, to finally launching the Drive Bomb. Fighting a Drakkar Faction Leader in and of itself had stacked the odds against him, and yet, here he now stood, alive and victorious.

Alright. Encrypted distress beacon activated… the Genesis should be on it’s way soon. Fuck, I can’t wait for a shower and some damned sleep!

You really can’t complain. I was the one fighting a Faction Leader, after all.

And who had to save your ass from said Faction Leader, huh? I almost fucking suffocated myself doing that, you know. You better be fucking grateful!

Watch the attitude. But… Mote took a deep breath and exhaled wearily. …You are right. He glanced up, meeting eyes with Kate. You were an integral part of this whole plan, and you did your part well. Better than I did, even. Thanks.

She stared down at him, wide-eyed in bewilderment, before averting her gaze and shoving him. Ah, fuck, I just did what I had to.

I mean it, Kate. You’re a valuable part of the team, and as annoyed as I can get with you sometimes, there are few people I’d rather have at my back when the cards are down.

After Mark and Danielle, I’m sure.

Well, of course. Don’t push your luck, I’m not going to sing your praises for forever.

Good! It’s fucking weird when you do that. You should go back to being the humorless stick-up-the-ass bastard that we all know and love.

If anything can make me do that, it would be your attitude.

Ha! Now that’s what I’m talking about! You had me fucking worried for a second.

You ungrateful…! Alright, you know what? If there’s only one free shower when we get back to the Genesis, I’m taking it first.

What? Bitch please, I’ll fucking fight you!…

The two continued bantering back and forth, whiling away the time as Raenaros drifted quietly through space… their mission, complete.

 

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