"Captain, Special Team One here. Unknown One is back on scanners at three hundred twenty thousand kilometers. It is putting out 300% of normal maximum scanning ECCM and generating data links to the frigates. We are now designating this as a light cruiser class scout or survey ship. Sensor data seems to indicate the structures we thought were shuttle balconies are phased array antennae. They are directly in our track. We suspect they are analyzing our engine emissions and ion trail. They have launched what we judge to be probe drones onto our ion trail."
"Drop a mine now set for frigate and larger targets. Unknown One can pay for sniffing our footsteps. Navigation, mark this mine on your plot so we don't ram it if Unknown One misses it and we have to maneuver while we wait for the vortex."
"Captain, Astrophysics here. Spectral fingerprint of Vampire Seven appears to indicate it was equipped with a high output antimatter lithium titanium trioxide warhead. Other warheads showed reasonably normal output spectra for conventional nuclear warheads."
"Auxiliary Con to Bridge. Vortex ahead at 170,000 kilometers, warp 2.15 course 21.07 mark 3. No sign of Thiefbreaker. Thiefbreaker is now overdue, or it was not transported. Unknown Three and Unknown Four are closing. They are about ten thousand kilometers apart. Range ninety thousand kilometers off our number three shield."
"Helm, slow to warp 2.2 and turn around when we approach the vortex. I want the science teams to get all the data they can. As soon as the vortex is confirmed in the collecting phase, we will be entering. Power to the disruptors. Overload all disruptors."
"Unknown Three and Unknown Four firing at seventy thousand kilometers. Delta maser batteries appear to be fairly ineffective. The frigates' weapon ports and arcs are being added to our plot. The fire mostly was blocked by reinforcement, but all reinforcement is now down. Heavy power buildup in what we think is Unknown Four's heavy weapon mount. Unknown Four firing heavy weapon."
WHAM! Doomward rocked with a rattle.
"That hit square on number three. Shield number three at 50%; shield number two and number four also took light damage." Unknown Four is angling to pass astern. Unknown Three is on an intercept heading and closing. Heavy weapon fired appears to be a top quark entanglement packet of some type. Our data shows Unknown One does not have one of this type of weapon ports."
"Drop a mine and turn into Unknown Three. Fire all weapons as soon as we have them in our forward arc and at ten thousand kilometers. Open the UIM interlocks and go to a positive level one ECCM status at the moment of firing. Release one ESG at maximum power, radius ten thousand kilometers timed to go up as soon as we clear our mine. If they fire and we both have open shields, I want to transport Special Team One and as many other Marines as possible on hit-and-run raids. Priority to grabbing prisoners and intelligence."
"Transporter room, I want you to get the goods and get out; understood?"
"Special Team One is clear. We plan to ride this barge home."
Thr'Uule looked at his engineering repeaters; his ship was burning through the energy reserves held in the batteries and capacitors. He had to keep his speed up so he could react to the other ships' maneuvers. He was losing the initiative, which was very bad news when outnumbered three-to-one.
Transporter Room, Lyran CW Doomward
Sergeant Sta'Lee looked at the lieutenant commander standing next to him. For once he had an officer he didn't have to nursemaid. This is an officer worth having ... if such a thing is possible ...and he is even a noble, second son of some petty asteroid mining baronet. Would wonders never cease? With a shrug, Sta'Lee settled his armor and made sure his suit was on overpressure and the recycler system was functioning. With a boarding cutlass in his left hand and the heavy disruptor carbine in his right hand (and tied to his shoulder with a polymer strap), he already had his weapons ready for action. With two dozen grenades in a pouch at his sternum atop his armor breastplate and the bulky "engineering synthetic intelligence scanning computer" serving as his backpack, he was one of the more lightly-loaded commandos in his unit. His role was to kill or capture anyone they found, tote the pack, and grab anything that looked interesting. Not much else for the team exo-biologist to do in a ship-boarding action. Luckily, the pack pretty much did its thing without requiring him to nursemaid it, although the engineering nerds sometimes called him over to jack the pack unit into something strange. Just as well, close-quarter battle requires concentration, and lots of grenades are always good.
Bridge, Lyran CW Doomward
"Unknown Three is closing, Captain. I have committed one third of our reserve to assure that they cannot avoid our overrun unless they perform a High Energy Turn. Range twenty thousand kilometers."
"Captain, we are seeing a large power buildup in their main bow weapons battery. Unknown Three is firing!"
"Captain, their heavy weapon hit poorly, our number two shield is down with minor damage to the left warp engine. Right defense phaser is out of action. This was another of the quark weapons. Unknown Four has hit the mine with their number one shield. That shield is down to 63%. Unknown One has hit the mine we left for them. Their number two shield is now at 62% and they have decelerated to a stop. Both of their shields should have taken more damage than we show. The cloud is thickening again. Unknown One has dropped off our plot."
"Get damage control to work fixing that phaser!"
"Unknown Four is firing from a mount on the tail of their engine. A large cloud of quarks are interfering with our sensors and lock-on in the area. Area effect appears to be similar to a Vudar defense mode ion pulse generator, with a different mechanism and larger area effect. It appears that this cloud will also have a significant duration of effect before dissipating. They are slowing to warp 2.1."
"Firing now. Good hits with all disruptors; phaser performance at 85% of maximum. Boarding parties away. Unknown Three has taken moderate damage, but is not crippled. Our UIM is still functional."
"Tractor Unknown Three at minimum range. You have discretion on all reserve power. We need to keep them close, so we can use them to slingshot ourselves around. It will take a bit for Unknown Four to come back in range unless they decide to do a High Energy Turn."
"Tractor locked. Unknown three is fighting it, but it held. Only 33% of reserve power is left. Unknown Three has transported boarders onto Doomward; Marine control reports they are responding. Unknown Four is turning to their left. The cloud they fired is expanding; we have it on our plot. They should be out from behind their jamming cloud in a few chrons."