Filing A Report
In the small office cubicle at the newly-established headquarters of the Ralpha Dogs, Erbo sat for a moment, collecting his thoughts and willing himself to remain calm. He lifted a small dictation recorder and thumbed it into life.
“Rho Alpha Delta incident report 16-A, Year 106 of New Eden, date code 2009.01.25. Reporting: Erbo Evans, Abbot. Subject: Loss of Ralpha Dogs battle cruiser Mystic Nightmare this date…”
. . . . . . .
The tactical display lit up with red pips as Selenalore approached the old warehouse. “Here they come!” she warned over the communications circuit.
Erbo began trying to target the incoming enemy ships. Several pips began flashing in yellow and red. “They’re targeting me!” he called. Syria Planum began shuddering with the impact of missiles and energy beams from the Serpentis cruisers. Almost at once, interference began filling his display, and his targeting systems began losing lock on some of the ships.
With shields failing, Erbo activated the armor repair and hardener systems; the armor was now bearing the brunt of the attack, but it was apparent it couldn’t hold forever. Outside, his Hammerhead drones were getting in a few licks of their own, but the target jamming was affecting them, too. His railguns fired again and again, searching for targets.
The battle cruiser rocked again, and the computer hooted an alarm: “Warning: Outer hull breach.” Erbo glanced at the indicator; his structure was beginning to absorb damage from the impact. He sent the command for his drones to return at emergency-full speed; once they were safely inside, he triggered the command to warp to the Rumida station where the Ralpha Dogs had offices. He slipped into warp with less than thirty per cent of his structural strength remaining.
“Bugging out, need repairs,” he called over the channel. “Have a nice fight.”
Selena didn’t reply; no doubt, the Serpentis were about to turn their attention to her. Erbo concentrated on getting his ship to the dock, repaired, and out again, as he knew Selena would likely need the same opportunity before long.
The repair bill came to over four million ISK, but Erbo paid it without a blink, hurriedly requesting permission to undock. The speaker crackled with noise as Selena reported, “My armor tank’s not gonna hold!”
Erbo engaged warp, heading for Selena’s last known position. “Get out of there, Selena,” he ordered. “I’m on my way. Just get the hell out.” It probably wasn’t his place to order this–Selena was the fleet commander for this operation, after all–but he hoped she’d listen anyway.
“Losing structure!” called Selena. “Pulling my drones in!”
“Get out of there!” responded Erbo, cursing his ship’s inability to warp faster. “Get the fuck out! Go, go, go, NOW!”
“I’m going!” came the reply. “I’m going…I’m–wait! Wait–“
A burst of static poured through the speakers.
“Selena!!” yelled Erbo. “Selena, come in! Come in!”
Syria Planum dropped out of warp; Erbo quickly scanned the display. There were the Serpentis cruisers…but where was Selena?
“Erbo to Selenalore, comm check, over!” he called.
The speaker crackled to life just as Erbo spotted the telltale pip of a pod near the warehouse. “Selenalore reporting. I’m here, but my ship’s gone. You’ll have to try and hold them while I go back to HQ and try to replace it.”
“Copy that,” responded Erbo. “Get out of here. I’ll do what I can.” He targeted the Serpentis vessels, trying to spot the one with the jammer. “You will pay,” he growled softly as he engaged weapons systems. “By all the hundred suns of the Federation, you…will…PAY!”
. . . . . . .
“Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, I was forced to retreat,” continued Erbo, still dictating his report. “Whereupon we reassembled at HQ, where Selena supervised the loadout of Mystic Nightmare II. Thanks to some high-speed subspace consultation with Tonglil, we were able to optimize our ship resistances and return to defeat the Serpentis. It was fortunate that some of the equipment aboard the wreck of Mystic Nightmare was salvageable, including almost all of the Hammerhead II drones she carried.” He winced as he remembered Selena’s loud shrieks of joy at discovering the drones intact.
“The main lesson here is to pay attention to the types of damage dealt by the opponents we face, and to optimize our armor resistances to match that damage. Doing this will no doubt help to prevent such losses in the future. All members of the Ralpha Dogs are instructed to pay heed to these lessons, which came at such a high price for Selena. No reprimand is recommended at this time, and Selenalore, Sicaria of the Ralpha Dogs, is honorably acquitted of negligence. End report.”
He clicked the recorder off and connected it to the console, allowing the desk computer to transcribe the report. He then sat back, musing on the one fact that he hadn’t included in the report, which should be self-evident to any male member of the human races: When a woman has been wronged, there is nothing that will stand between her and her revenge.