“Did you see that?”
“Negative, Seven. My screen is clear,” came the wingman’s response.
She shook her head inside her helmet, “No, I mean did you see something. Using real eyes. At about…three-five-five by zero-four-one degrees. Between us and the ground.”
A pause, their turn was leading them away from the massive body at an angle. “You mean that…fuzzy looking thing that tells me some bantha-brain didn’t wipe down our canopies? I see it now, thank you.”
She gave a frustrated grunt, then canted her convexed wings back toward Vawarc, the lonely moon rising over their horizon in their path. “I’m gonna go check it out, Eight. You can stay with the bricks if you want.”
The stabbing points of her partner’s TIE Interceptor quickly came back into view on her right, “And leave you with all the fun? Never. We’ll send Shrike Nine and Ten on their way for just a moment. It’s not like we can’t catch them.” The two Imperial fighters snapped away from the double-hulled TIE Bombers they had been in formation with and accelerated, curious and unafraid.
Yellow klaxons flashed in the corner of his eyes as Shin entered the bridge. The darkened ceiling and floor lights gave an ominous vibe to an already tense situation, broken only by the flurry of beeps and sweeps of his officers and crew balancing excitement and vigilance. “Report.”
“Two TIE Interceptors have broken formation and are an intercept course, bearing zero-zero-zero by three-one-zero, almost head on,” Semil rattled off without looking up.
“Can they see us? Or was this an expected break?”
Suvan shook her head, “None of the other fighter groups have split, and we detected several short transmissions between the ships as they came about. Nothing toward Vawarc, the Maleficent Wind, or St. Petersburg.”
That gave the Captain a moment of relief, but it wasn’t long before his Andorian first officer broke that, “Captain, they may be picking up on our visual distortion due to our lower orbit.”
Shin snapped over to Tactical, “Possible?”
The Vulcan raised an eyebrow, “Possible, Captain. As I have studied it, SHIMMER may produce a visual reflection or haze in such a low orbit. However, that probability was assessed as ‘low’ in the technical assessments.”
“Damn,” Shin muttered. Their one trump card, their cloak of invisibility that made this whole mission possible, was seeming to have more issues than anyone had bargained for. Now he had to weigh quickly what to do with that handicap, “Options? Can we raise shields or destroy those fighters before they see us?”
“We can, however, the increased energy output of either system would be detectable from the surface or by any vessel conducting active scans. Which, I must point out, is what the defense platform below and the Star Destroyer are currently doing.”
“Why? It’s not like those fighters are going leaving the system…” al-Imir began, a question that his Science Officer had an answer, “Captain, it looks like, based on traffic between the Destroyer and planetside, is that they are calibrating the weapon for small, fast-moving targets and multiple simultaneous targets. It’s a test flight.”
“You have their communications?” Suvan asked in shock, to which Paige nodded. “They’re using an Imperial encryption the New Republic provided us, so we’ve copied most of their comms and status updates sent out of the system. Anything relayed to or from the St. Petersburg is still unknown.”
The Captain nodded his approval of their find, though losing the option of combat soured him. “Can we divert more power to SHIMMER, or compensate for the distortion effect?”
The Andorian quickly tapped her combadge, “Bridge to Engineering! Lt Varoe, we need to adjust SHIMMER to compensate for atmospheric interaction, is it possible?”
The response was not promising, “Uhh, yeah, we can do it. Give me three minutes to recycle to frequency scatters and then tune them to a specific range.”
A timeframe that the Vulcan shook his head at, “Sixty seconds until visual acquisition becomes possible. I propose a more…radical solution.”
“Transporting the pilots directly into the brig. It prevents them from relaying our position as well as provides a potential intelligence source.”
Suvan’s antennae stood on end, “You’re joking!”
“The armor of the Interceptors should mask enough of our transporter energy to make it possible.” Semil stated plainly, fingers swooshing over keys to begin the targeting.
The Captain saw one major flaw with this, “And what about the fighters? We can’t just leave those floating…”
“What if we beamed those into the shuttle bay at the same time?” Paige posed.
It was a dangerous idea to be sure, trying to catch a speeding bullet in a jar without touching the sides or bottom. But if we can’t do anything else, at least O’Shea will have a field day… “Prep Security details at the brig, shuttle-bays and vital systems! Energize when ready! Helm, move us away from our current position as fast as you can, get us behind that moon!”
It was an order given mere seconds too early, because it was easier to move the Artemis than to lock on the transporters.
“Eight, I’m reading motion from that distortion!” She hollered into her mic as what she once thought of as a haze suddenly rolled its face away from her.
“Standby, Seven! Vorpal Eight to Control! We’veeeeee……” Her wingman’s voice faded into static, followed shortly by the ethereal blue energy surrounding her as well. On instinct, she squeezed the triggers, a quadburst of cannon fire leapt from her Interceptor before the world went white.
I hope you all enjoy.