Tsundere Service #2
My scanners picked up five enemy units, forming a defensive cordon around the objective. I would be in their sensor range in 10 seconds.
“Ensign, I’m going past through them.”
“You’ll have to—” Ensign Browning started, until she realized what I was planning. “Oh!”
My screen told me that I was entering effective enemy range in 5 seconds.
“Activating booster, setting inertia dampers to full yield.” My hand gripped the throttle, ready to push it forward.
The radar blanked out. I felt mild discomfort, keenly feeling the vibration inside the cockpit. I deactivated the booster after 4.4 seconds.
“You passed two enemy defense lines, but they’re turning back to pursue you,” Ensign Browning said. She was furious with my stunt.
My radar spiked back to life, detecting seven Gallian-M units around the objective. I smiled. Good odds. I fired my beam rifle at one too slow to react, blowing a hole through its thorax and vaporizing the cockpit.
“Tactical assessment: suggest you use a modified Circus-pattern spread.”
“Accepted, Ensign.” I acquired lock and fired a five-missile salvo for each enemy unit.
They broke immediately into evasive maneuvers. One Gallian was struck in the wing, and went off in a small, contained fireball. Another destroyed three missiles before the fourth blew its arm off. Its gun exploded, rocking it squarely into the fifth missile’s path, which finished it off. One Gallian flew in a wide arc, outrunning my missiles. I took advantage of its distracted state, shooting it down with my beam rifle.
Two units bore down on me from opposite directions. I fired the booster for a fraction of a second, swung Melos Kai around, and finished them off.
The last Gallian drew a heavy, straight blade. If I blew it up at this range, I would be caught in the reactor explosion, so I fired off my verniers and flipped back. Its swing missed Melos Kai’s head by a few meters. I activated the hidden beam blade in my mech’s foot, and sliced it in half cleanly.
“Something’s headed straight at you, lieutenant! One unit, but it’s very fast!” Ensign Browning’s tone was urgent. The enemy has an ace?
A beam went wide. I braked, my shield raised and facing the direction of the shot. An Almazza-type appeared on my radar, a blackness that seemed to distort its surrounding space with its unrivaled speed.
“Just get the objective and get out of there! The rest of the enemy force is closing in!” She turned her head to the side, as if to converse with someone else, and cut off her channel.
The objective was nearby. It fitted in the palm of Melos Kai’s hand. I retrieved it, firing back at the newcomer’s way.
“I’ve secured the cargo.” I hope it was all worth it, I almost added.
“The Aurelius will be moving forward to cover you, Lieutenant. “
My surroundings lighted up as a salvo of beams fired from behind me. I acquired lock and fired all my remaining missiles. Numerous dots blinked out of the radar, but the Almazza was still alive and accelerating fast.
Dead ahead, two thick beams punched through the darkness of space, scattering the rest of my pursuers. The Almazza fired its beam rifle, which barely scorched the Aurelius’s prow. Gun lenses tracked it, and peppered it with a shower of rapid-fire beams.
I switched to my auxiliary camera just to see the enemy Almazza throw its round shield away to take the brunt of the ship’s counterattack. It emerged unscathed from the resulting explosion, retreating quickly out of the Aurelius’s range.
I opened a channel to the Aurelius’s Captain as the cruiser loomed in visual range. “You have my thanks, Captain Dowadge.”
Captain Dowadge’s shadowed, hook-nosed face appeared in my monitor. Strangely enough, his old features were painted with a youthful smile. “You have the Ensign to thank for your salvation, Lieutenant. She convinced me to take a more active stance in securing the objective.”
I nodded, addressing my operator. “Thank you, Ensign.”
Ensign Browning crossed her arms and glowered at me. “Don’t get the wrong idea. I only did it to ensure the mission’s success.”
“Aren’t you opening the hatch, Ensign? I need to secure my cargo and resupply.”
Ensign Browning blinked, caught off-guard by my comment. “O-opening the hatch!”
I heard muffled laughter from the bridge, but I couldn’t understand why.