Commander's log, 18 MAR 3303
It is with a heavy heart, I write this log. The Zenith's shore leave was cut short, when a request for help came in over the wire today. A total of 24 people had been kidnapped in what I can only assume was a coordinated effort. I received word while docked at Colonia Hub and was asked - more like begged - to assist. Needless to say I scrambled for Jaques Station immediately. Before taking off, I sent a sub space message to Napoleon ordering him to assemble the crew post haste. On the way to Jaques I praised the higher powers that I had taken the precautions to outfit the Zenith with more firepower, after having docked her a few days ago. It didn't take long to fit a hatch breaker limpet system and an FSD Interdictor and so, merely an hour after having received the first call, the Zenight rose from its berth and joined the search for the kidnappers.
We'd gone a few systems over, when a sub space message blinked to life on the screen. The kidnappers had been tracked to the exact system we were patrolling. The culprits were flying three Type 7 transporters, by the looks of it. An easy task for the crew of a Cutter. Even a skeleton crew as mine is.
We dropped out of supercruise in what must have been a terrible surprise to the kidnappers, hardpoints deploying, demands blaring on all channels, to release the hostages. One transport immediately turned tail and ran, while the other two opened fire at once. Their fixed pulse lasers didn't do any damage to our shields at all, so I programmed two hatch breakers and deployed them at the two attacking vessels. The contents of the cargo holds started spewing into the void, but they must have been prepared because all that the scanner picked up was canisters of biowaste and non-lethal weapons. I launched more limpets and more cargo came tumbling into the fray.
This is where it all went wrong.
This ring of kidnappers must have been more organized than any of us could have known, because suddenly klaxons and proximity alerts went blaring. An Anaconda had jumped in right off our port bow and she opened fire at once, targeting our power plant. I had no other choice than to break off the efforts of freeing the hostages and engage our new opponent. Under the pressure of the Anaconda's massive onslaught, our shields started to buckle. I ordered Napoleon to fire up the GU-97 and even the odds out, while I routed the firing controls of the Zenith to my station. A few seconds later Napoleon brought the fighter screaming out of the hangar and down the neck of the Anaconda, plasma repeaters blazing. I shall never forget the sound as my four beam lasers engaged and tore screaming through space. The sound it made through the hull is unlike any other. The Anaconda put up a strong fight and while I had expected the two transports to cut and run, they apparently felt bold enough to keep pushing the advantage.
The shields of the Anaconda buckled and collapsed. I recon they must have had bi-weave generators mounted because they started recharging almost immediately. At this point our shields were gone to, and the combined force of the three attacking ships tore swaths of seared metal in our hull. Integrity was down to 51 percent with both of our seeker missile launchers and three of our four beam lasers malfunctioning when help arrived. Three system's authority vessels jumped in and started unloading on the Anaconda. In mere seconds her hull gave in and the mighty adversary exploded in a huge fireball that quickly consumed itself. Our cheers quickly turned to shouts of desperation as the three vessels turned their guns on the kidnappers. Our attempts of hailing the police crafts went either unnoticed or ignored. With the transporters clearly outgunned there wasn't much time. I fired all my remaining limpets at the two ships, already succumbing to the massive rain of laser fire, and out came canisters of biowaste along with pods containing the hostages. To my horror the police crafts seemed to not care, as one of the vipers launched a volley of pulse fire straight through two of the hostage pods, flash-incinerating them in the blink of an eye. I cried out and screamed for the opening of our cargo hatch while I tried to maneuver our massive ship to save as many hostages as possible.
In the end we saved six. Six hostages out of the total of twenty four. The two transports were torn to shreds and many of the hostages were either killed by police laser fire or by their pods crashing into hulls. The last transport had high waked it out of there and we didn't find it again. Lord knows how many were on that ship.
Upon returning to Colonia Hub, it was my sad duty to inform the officials of our failure. Needless to say, this was not well received. I understand that the officers of the patrol vessels will be dealt with harshly but they are not the only ones. I have taken full responsibility for our failure and I bear not a single thread of doubt in my mind that if my standing with the Empire had been any lower, I and my entire crew would have been court marshalled on the spot.
The crew have returned to their shore leave but I understand that many of them prefer to stay onboard the Zenith while repairs are underway. I can't say I blame them.
Today was not a good day.
CMDR Zinnsei, signing off.