June 21, YC113, Ralpha Dogs Aclan Station Offices

Erbo climbed up the ladder from the dock where his new Mark XVI capsule had settled, stepping onto the command gantry.  Behind him and over his head, the bulk of the Viator-class blockade runner Tantive IV floated in its mooring beams, cargo-handler droids already unloading the gear he’d flown a long way to pick up.  Running a hand through his gradually-lengthening hair, he walked towards the open pressure doors separating him from the captains’ quarters.

Selena was waiting inside.  After delicately raising herself on her toes to kiss him, she said, “Did you get it?”

“I did,” responded Erbo.  “One Sisters of EVE probe launcher, ready to put on your new Helios.  Least I didn’t have to go to Jita for it.”  Of course, he thought to himself, I probably had to jump farther to pick that up.  The launcher had come from a Sisters station deep in The Forge, where Erbo had bought it on contract for several million ISK cheaper than the best prices available in Jita.  Still, going that far into Caldari space always gave him the jibblies.

“Good,” sighed Selena.  She relaxed audibly and glanced around the interior of the Gallente station.  “Maybe now we can–”

Her words were cut short by the loud klaxon of a stationwide alert.  She whirled to face the main screen of the quarters, as did Erbo.  “What the hell…”

The screen told the story, showing an external view outside the station: cynosaural fields flaring and jump bridges opening, in a system where they had no right to be.  Pouring out from them, multitudes of evilly-spiked frigates, cruisers, and battleships.  A scrolling ticker superimposed itself on the bottom of the screen, telling them all they needed to know.

“It’s the Sanshas,” muttered Selena, quietly.  She looked up at Erbo.

Erbo, his face taut, nodded.  “An incursion.”

. . . . .

Ninety minutes later, orbiting the Meves jumpgate, Lirsautton system (3 jumps from Aclan)

The ships assembled around the jumpgate could perhaps best be termed a “fleet in being.” Very few bore the same corporate logos, and the ships themselves were a decidedly mixed bag.  Among them were Selena and Erbo, representing the Ralpha Dogs in an attempt to field a fleet that could strike back at the Sanshas.

Megathron-class Wolf 359

"Wrought in deepest Hell...our vengeance is freedom!"

Selena was piloting the Myrmidon-class battlecruiser Imala, ill-fit for this mission, but with its railguns and drones primed for action.  She stayed close to Erbo’s larger and newer ship, the Megathron-class battleship Wolf 359, freshly fitted from the shipyards at Dodixie and Aclan, based on Erbo’s rushed design work.  Its seven mighty ion blaster cannons were loaded and ready, and its massive shield generators ensured that it would not go gently into that good night.

Both of them were on multiple communication channels with the other ships, and also monitoring the new constellation-wide channel set up by CONCORD to carry news of fleets being formed against the incursion here in Ysilette.  They had arrived here in response to a call by Ricky Wrath of the International Space Pimps, who was feverishly trying to coordinate more ships, logistics cruisers especially.  Those pilots who could fly logistics were in high demand, and a number of them broke off from the fleet in Lirsautton to assist other fleets elsewhere in the constellation.

Sadly, not even the arrival of a more experienced fleet commander in a high-powered ship, Balin Tovak from Dead Nation Industries, could keep the fleet together, and it dispersed without launching an attack.  In the process, though, Erbo and Selena learned much about the Sansha incursions, as both Wrath and Tovak had flown against them before.  Erbo realized that he and Selena–and Lexx, too–would all have to start taking crash courses in logistics flying.  He might be able to do more good flying an Oneiros-class cruiser than he could with the big battlewagon…and eventually, he might need the option of flying other races’ logistics cruisers, too.

This incursion would eventually be driven back.  Pilots from other sectors of space would converge on Ysilette, their tactics already tried, their ships battle-tested.  And they would reap the rewards of a successful fight, and once again, the constellation would be at peace.

But Sansha’s Nation would return.  And when they did, Selena and Erbo hoped to be ready for them.


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