Deep spcae[, Celaeno System, The Pleiades
"The fighter's bought it," Vik called from tactical, "swarm coming in for another pass, more power to shields?"
"No, we need to stay as close to that thing as possible till the limpet's back aboard." Jellicoe replied boosting hard after the Alien ship, "I need everything we've got in engines."
The Resolution shook as the mass of Thargons swept across it, firing all the time punctuated by shuddering impacts as two of the hornet like projectiles peeled off and slammed into the human vessel's superstructure, almost in synchronisation the mother-ship turned as the swarm finished their pass and replaced the probing fire of the drones with its own stinging pulses as it hurtled back toward the beleaguered Corvette.
"Shields at 30%," Vik shouted above the howl of engines and weapon fire, "hull at 83% I need more power if you want to keep the shields up."
"The limpet's on the way back," Claude broke in from his station, "Shouldn't be long now."
"Just sit tight Vik, we need that sample, 30% should be enough to get us clear."
The alien ship, flipped again and accelerated away, whatever technology had produced these things Jellicoe could only admire the blend of grace, manoeuvrability and sheer speed with which they had imbued their creation, he boosted, the Resolution's engines and ship screaming in protest as she made flip turn far tighter than her hull had been designed for and powered after the Thargoid, the sound of another pass from the Thargon swarm adding to the din.
"Limpet destroyed." The computer announced calmly. Jellicoe squeezed his eyes shut momentarily, rage and impotence threatening to overwhelm him.
"Prepare another." He barked. "We'll deploy on the next pass. La'Niyah get another fighter up, try and get that swarm off our backs."
"Skipper we can't take too much more of this, shields at 26%, one cell bank left but no heat sinks."
"Then cross your fingers that Selene didn't cut any corners with the armour." Jellicoe replied with forced good humour,
"Limpet away." Vik called as the Thargoid swept past behind a barrage of fire. "Shields down to 15%, I can cell bank but we'll cook."
"Modules are all good," Claude broke in, "we can stand some heat damage."
"Do it. " Jellicoe said frantically trying to keep pace with the interceptor, the additional target the fighter presented drawing the attention of the swarming Thargons, the Resolutions engines roared as the ship boosted again, every ounce of power going to keeping the huge yet fast and nimble target in range.
"Limpet attached, extracting the sample." Vik called, "shields up to 32% but it's coming in for another pass."
The alien smoothly flipped in a manoeuvre that seemed to defy the laws of physics before accelerating back toward the Corvette firing as it came on, Jellicoe twisted and spun, anything to evade at least some of the punishing incoming fire.
"Limpet incoming, it's got the sample."
"Open the scoop, how far out is it?"
"Less than a klick."
"Timed to perfection." Jellicoe replied trying to keep his tone light.
"Got it, get us out of here."
The Oracle Station, Pleiades Sector IR-W D1-55
"You told me that my wife would be your guest until the job was done, you have the samples now where is she?" Jellicoe asked his voice taut with barely suppressed anger.
"The samples are only the first part of the job Commander, we still have another task for you to accomplish." the sharp faced man replied maintaining his aura of perfect calm. "We have new weapons and scanners that require testing."
"These new missiles that are available? Tomorrow morning every pilot in the Pleiades is going to be launching them at those things, what's so special about me?"
The man gave a slightly condescending half smile, "What we will see tomorrow is chaos in action, amateurs blazing away at targets they do not understand with weapons they have not studied, we need a rather more scientific test. The Alien ships do not work like ours, simply pumping munitions into them will not work, we believe they have a number of critical subsystems that need to be destroyed before the ship can be eliminated and you together with a wing of others will test this theory."
"And after that my wife goes free?"
"You have my word on it Commander."