(21) Twenty-one

206-1118 to 220-1118

206-1118 (cont.) : ? (0304) / N / ?

The Anastasia has loaded nukes in all missile turrets. They coast (to reduce emissions) to intercept the enemy ships where they will halt.

As usual, Linda Gregson is computing jump points. Steve Howard points out that they should be considering different jump destinations for in-battle jumps than they would for a routine jump to the next system -- Helen agrees that he has a point. They pick a suitable safe place to end up at.

The engineers now notice that the Anastasia is overdue for annual maintenance -- this would explain the rash of failures they have had recently.

It is 14:40 when the Anastasia gets a passive lock on one of the five ships in the cluster.

Avon fires the four missile turrets at #1, and hits with all of them. There is no defensive fire from the target. It's rather hard to tell what's going on there now, but they still have a lock on an object, so the ship must still be in one piece. They reload with more nukes. The enemy ships are trying to send radio messages, but the Anastasia jams them.

It is now 15:00. #1 maintains course and speed, trailing fuel. The Anastasia locks on #2, which is still clustered with the other three ships. #2 appears to be the same as the transport ships they encountered in their last engagement; it is already heavily damaged. Avon blasts it with nukes, vaporizing it. He then continues the pounding of #1 with the lasers. They reload with more nukes. #3, #4, and #5 maintain course and speed. #5 achieves an active lock on the Anastasia, and fires a single missile salvo which is on target. Brock frustrates the incoming missiles easily with the sandcasters.

It is now 15:20. The Anastasia passes across the path of the enemy ships, but clear of any likely collisions. Avon lets fly at #5 with all four nuke batteries again, but one salvo loses guidance and drifts off into space. #5 is vaporized; it appears that it was a BOXER, unlike the other ships which all seem to be the usual cylindrical 2kt transport ships. The missile turrets are reloaded with nukes. #1 is the only other ship they have a current lock on; the sensors indicate that the three ships all still have functioning power plants, although the output is fluctuating a lot. Rather than continue to smash the apparently crippled #1, they get a locate and lock on #3 and blast it with the lasers. There is nothing currently approaching from deeper in the system, and the enemy ships have by now stopped transmitting. #1 undergoes very wild power fluctuations and explodes too.

A short discussion follows about whether they should leave the system soon, now that they have probably been noticed. They decide they should, given how many nuclear explosions have been going off, and how many ships have been exploding, and the fact that there was a military ship in this convoy ... It is decided to blow up all these ships first, as they probably contain nothing of interest.

By 17:00 they have vaporized the remaining transport ships. They decide to wait for a while and see if anything happens, then jump out of system. The intention is to make the next rendezvous with the Sir Walter Raleigh, scheduled for 250-1118 at Nexus. The engineers are reminded that the nearest place they can do an annual maintenance is the IFSS base at Karakus, a long way from here.

At 19:00, Rufus finally picks up three large powerful ships approaching from the mainworld. Fostriades suggests jumping to a deep space location on the way to Nexus, and strongly suggests jumping now. The others want to find out more about the new ships first. They are approaching at 3G, and are probably in the 50kt range each.

"A good time to leave," observes Steve.

"Can we get a lock and lob another round at them?" asks Mich.

"No!" says Fostriades, "No! We can't afford it, it wouldn't hurt them enough. 6MCr to thumb your nose at them is silly! Let's leave!"

Fostriades prevails, even though certain crew members think it would be fun.

The Anastasia jumps for N-0605 (deep space) at 19:10.

213-1118 : deep space (0605) / N / ?

At 19:10, the Anastasia arrives from N-0304. There is nothing there in deep space when they arrive (surprise!), so after a short pause to check the systems and fix a couple of minor things they jump again at 21:00, this time for N-0607.

220-1118 : ? (0607) / N / ?

At 21:00, the Anastasia arrives from deep space. They will need to refuel in this system, and can replenish their air here too. They will wait until they reach Nexus before stocking up on their food supplies.