Its never too late for some trouble
by HRogge with parts from BlackAeronaut
Late Summer 2016
Somewhere in the emptiness between the planets, a space station was floating slowly towards its target.
Three weeks ago Catgirl Industries had acquired a larger contract to equip multiple asteroids in the Jupiter Trojans with a new defense system. Some Fen liked to live off the normal traffic patterns, but that also meant that they had to care themselves more about security. So instead of sending half of the crew far away, they decided to move Jenga to the Trojans for a few months.
Since the birth of Serina and her Exocomps Catgirl Industries had worked hard to redo all of the Modules of Jenga, but most of them were still without a dedicated engine. Because of this the maneuvering speed of Jenga made the journey to the Trojans a three week trip. The catgirls planned to stay there for a month and then return to the inner system.
Some of the Catgirls had protested against this ‘stupid boring trip’, but had no other suggestion how to deal with the distance and still get the job done in a reasonable time. Currently Mars was nearly 8 hours away by car, so everyone was camping the stations cinema in their free time or used the Interwave link back to Starbase 1. Some catgirls even thought it was nice to get some rest for working on interesting private projects without being interrupted.
Jenga was close to the middle point of their voyage as an alarm suddenly sounded through the tower and Cortanas avatar appeared in the holo tank.
“Something horrible happened, the Interwave is gone!” Cortana shouted agitated.
Harina, on of the two Catgirls in the tower switched off the acoustic alert. “Okay Cortana, calm down and tell us what is going on. No need to panic that quickly.”
At least not until the rest of the base began knocking on the towers door to demand to know where their Interwave was.
“The Interwave link to Starbase 1 just vanished without warning. No logoff, no signal degradation. Its just gone!” Cortana replied and suddenly looked thoughtful. “I just fired up my private backup link to Hedwig. According to the Trekkies Star Base 1 twitter, there should be nothing wrong with their transceiver.”
“Maybe its a problem with out transmitter station, I will ask someone to have a look at it, quickly.” Harina decided, still sitting at the command station of the tower. She quickly sent out a message to a few friends who had helped to wave Jengas backbone station.
Cortana shook her head. “It shouldn’t happen this way. Starbase 1 is not receiving our signal according to their status logs. And our transmitter has not raised a single warning in its logfile. Its still consuming the same energy, it does not produce more heat, nothing. That’s not right!”
“Could it be that something got into the path between us and Mars? Maybe some asteroid large enough to block the transmission” the other catgirl asked.
But Cortana wasn’t convinced. “No, Interwave connections are not electromagnetic waves, they cannot be blocked by normal matter that easy. Only active waved field generators like special shields or a jammer could...”
Cortana suddenly stopped talking. The lights of the holo tank flickered as a the radar of Jenga went to full power and sent out a pulse. But not a single other object appeared on the screen.
“Okay, that is strange” Cortana finally said. “The screen is clear and the radar seems to be working. But my receivers in the Stargazer could not detect them. I think something is actively disrupting communication and active sensors.”
“Cortana, call Space Patrol, we might need their help” Harina shouted and began to hammer the keys on her console. A series of images of starfields flashed on the screen and finally froze. The picture zoomed on a certain part of the screen, which turned a series of dull points into a group of incoming Fencrafts.
“Got them. Raising station wide alert, we might be under attack” she said and an alarm sounded through the control room. “Let me see if I can get them on radio.”
A few moments passed, but nothing happened.
“Different frequency, similar problem. Our radio signal is not getting very far, I would estimate we have a range of a kilometer at maximum.” Cortana said disgusted.
“What the hell do we now?”
A phone rung.
“Space Patrol, Heimdal office, Office Tom speaking. What can I do for you?” a voice could be heard through Cortanas communication line.
“Here is Cortana, the AI of Jenga... we are somewhere between Mars and the spin-ward trojans of Jupiter. And I think we will be under attack very soon.”
“Tell me what happened Cortana.”
Always good to flag a ‘did once work with OGJ’ tag on the screen of Space Patrol Cortana thought.
“We are still two weeks away from our target. Approximately five minutes ago, we lost our Interwave link to Star Base 1. Whatever took down the Interwave also blocks our radar systems. Oh, we also see a small fleet of vehicles incoming on our optical systems.”
The line stayed silent for a moment.
“You lost your Interwave connection?” a skeptic voice said.
“Yes, went down just like that, without any warning. The transmitter is still drawing power, but nothing goes out. Same for the radar, maybe some kind of passive jamming. We are speaking over a backup link I have with Hedwig. Different tech, I like redundancy.”
“Okay Cortana, I will see what I can do. That’s damned far out in never never land where you are at the moment. I will send the Roughriders a message, please coordinate it directly with them. If they cannot help you, call back immediately.”
“Thank you” Cortana said and cut the line, already dialing a connection to 36 Atalante.
A girl’s deadpan voice was quick to answer. “This is 36 Atalante. Please state the nature of this call.”
“Hello, here is Cortana, Catgirl Industries. We are just in the middle of nowhere between the Jupiter Trojans and Mars... and I think we are under attack. Radar, radio and Interwave jammed... and a small group of ships coming!”
“Understood,” replied the girl’s voice, utterly unexcited. “We are dispatching a strike package now. Can you provide more information about the assailants?”
Cortana focused outwards for a moment. “A truck, two small vans and two planes... I can see some missiles on the planes on optical, but I am not sure about other weapon systems. They are coming in slowly. We will try to hit them with a communication laser.”
“I see,” came her voice again, implying curiosity without the inflection in tone. “Is it possible to keep this line of communication open?”
“I have an faster than light backup link to Hedwig, I can keep open it to stay in contact with you. Just the signal delay to your ships from your base will become a problem. I don’t think we can receive or send radio calls at the moment” Cortana replied.
“There will be no issues with our coms. ETA will be in four hours. Ganbate, Cortana. I will continue to monitor your situation as it develops.”
Cortana sounded relieved to hear that. “We will delay them as much as we can, but I don’t know what equipment these guys have. Sorry to call you that early, but everyone here is a bit scared at the moment.”
“Perhaps I may be of some assistance. What are your liabilities right now?”
“I can give you a short summary, there is not much to tell you.”
“Virtually anything can be of use in a situation like this. Even something as simple as a wheel barrel and a holocaust cloak.”
Cortana grinned. “I am living together with a bunch of crazy catgirl engineers and tinkerers... and a lot of small crazy construction addicted drones. We might not have many weapons, but I think there are some things we can do. I will tell you what we are planning at the moment, but it might change during the next hour...”
“You see Jerry, no need to worry about at all. It will be a walk in the park.”
Jerry sighed silently. “Of course Mr. Randers, I just wanted to be careful. If we would have waited a few more days, we might have got a larger boarding group and the Stinger.”
Mr. Randers smiled. “You are sometimes too careful, Jerry. Sometimes you have to grab an opportunity if you see it, and you have to do it quickly.”
“NO but...” Mr. Randers said a little bit louder. “You have to see the big picture. A whole basket full of Catgirls, most of them already know how to keep the head down. We are out in the middle of nowhere, they cannot see us, they cannot cry.” He looked over to the crew member at the station with the proud label ‘communication and electronic warfare’. “Isn’t it true?”
“Yes Mr. Randers, jammer is online and operational. Neither Interwave nor sensors are working for them. Unless they look out of the window, we are invisible.” the man replied.
“You see Jerry, everything is right. It will be like stealing money from a rich fat kid in a dark corner of a street. Everyone will be proud of us when we come back.”
Jerry chose not to reply while their ships slowly moved towards their target.
Minutes passed while the small fleet of ships continued towards the space station in front of them.
“Mr. Randers, we are being hit with a communication laser,” the man at the communication station said. “It seems they somehow found us.”
“Damned!” Randers cursed, “next time I want a fricking real cloaking device, not these cheap wannabes. Hit them with one of ours too, lets see if they are bright enough to surrender. Might safe everyone a lot of trouble.”
A loudspeaker cracked, and a nervous female voice could be heard.
“Here is Catgirl Industries Tower to unknown ships, state your business.”
Randers smiled as he replied. “Hi... I am just here to get a few valuable things to sell them later. It will not take long.”
“I don’t know who you are, but you are advised to keep a distance of at least 1000km. The base is closed for outsiders until the blackout is over.”
“I will make you a counter offer. I am a business man, if you just open the hangars and surrender, I promise you I will not hurt anyone.”
“If you will come closer than 1000km, we will fire on you. Stay away!”
“Fire with what? With your unarmed second hand cars? Safe me the bullshit, either you will open the doors or we will do it from the outside. It might take days until someone notices that you are not there anymore.”
“I give you twenty minutes to think about it. After this I will knock at the door.”
A wave of panic rushed through the corridors of Jenga, followed by a lot of anger. After more than one year of happy freedom and peace, the Boskonians were back to grab them again.
At least a few of them were back.
Some catgirls were running around scared, others were getting all weapons together in a central module of Jenga. A small group were working on locking some of the larger windows with waved steel bars.
“Is that really all of them? Just six damned little toys?” one of the catgirls cried, looking over the guns they had. One shotgun, three large pistols, a machine pistol and Cathys gyrojet pistol. And not that much ammunition.
“We will never drive them away with six lousily guns...”
“Seven!” Cathy said loud, carrying her steampowered cokelauncher, “and we don’t need to drive them away!”
“What you are talking about” one of the other catgirls asked.
“They have cut our radio and Interwave communication. They think it will take hours until someone is worried enough to look for us, maybe days... they are WRONG. Despite their jamming we still have connection to Hedwig, Space Patrol is already informed and they are on their way. We just need to delay them long enough!”
One of the catgirls eyed Cathys weapon. “Can I use this one?”
Cathy didn’t looked pleased. “Wave your own one, that is MINE!” She looked around. “Damned, what you are still waiting for? Each one with weapon training grabs a gun, the rest start preparing Jenga for defense! Build barriers, improvised weapons, anything that will keep them away until the cavalry arrives!”
Some of the catgirls looked thoughtful and suddenly run towards the lab areas of Jenga, others headed towards their private rooms. A large horde of Exocomps followed them, the small drones were always heading towards any kind of crazy construction they noticed.
Jenga wasn’t heavily armed, but it was made of thick plates of waved steel and transparent crystal from Venus. The attackers would not get it without a fight.
The noise of the speakers on the bridge became silent again. “The communication laser was switched off on the other side Mr. Randers.”
Finally the furballs were quit with talking. Panic would do the rest.
“Keep the speed until its time for breaking. Signal our fighter screen that it should take guard positions north and south of the station, we are going in.” Randers ordered, he wanted to play this by the book.
He looked at the picture of the space station in front of him.
“Looks like a series of huge containers smashed together. I wonder why they did not start with an asteroid, much more material to work with and much thicker walls.” He pointed towards the plan. “We will go in through this two gates, that way we can heckle them in the middle from two sides.”
He increased the magnification to maximum and looked closer to the doors he had marked.
“Make sure the boys have their toolkit ready, we might need to wield them open. And make sure that none of their small crafts escape. Shoot everything down that leaves the hangars!” He nodded, then Randers turned to leave the room.
“I will be taking on my armor, inform me at once if something unusual happens.”
It had been one of his greatest deals when he got the damaged Space Marine armor in early 2015. The original owner had died after the fight at Boskone Prime, but his damaged armor had been carried away on one of the few ships that managed to escape the Fen blockade.
It had cost him quite a sum of money to repair it to a working condition, but it had already proven its worth during earlier raids, just by ignoring pistol and rifle shots as they were dupes. It just was always a pain to get in and out of the armor. Luckily he had enough time, the speed of the main truck with the jammer was quite low as soon as the thing did its magic.
He quickly checked if the armor was still connected with the support frame that held it upright, then he removed his normal clothing and took the sensor jumpsuit out of the closet.
The original owner had been equipped with a series of cybernetic implants to control the armor as easily as his own body, but he had no plan to fight elite troops of the Fens head on. One of his fathers engineers had waved this jumpsuit to allow him to control the armor without implants. It was sometimes a bit quirky, needed lots of maintenance, but it was worth the effort.
The next step was to get into the lower part of the armor. This was one of the time consuming steps, because the armor had to be resealed with a special ‘blessed’ wax while whispering a prayer to some Emperor. He had tried to work around this time and time again, but neither recordings nor other people saying the prayer worked.
He checked the status lights that had activated and then slowly crawled into the upper part of the armor that was hanging on the wall. In his room on their asteroid base he had a higher ceiling and a mechanism that could lower to armor on him, but on a truck like this space was limited.
Finally the two parts of the armor connected and he could feel the servo motors of the armor started vibrating. The armor detached itself from the framework on the wall and he took a step forward.
“Close helmet” he said, making the voice recognition instantly close the armored visor. He smiled and opened the visor again. Everything worked fine and it had only taken 15 minutes to get into the armor.
With heavy steps, he entered the ‘control room’ again. He liked the moment when people looked with a mixture of awe and fear to him.
“Nothing happened, Mr. Randers, we will be in weapon range in a few minutes” someone told him.
“Make sure everyone knows... its showtime!” Randers replied with a smile.
Cortana and Serina were watching the incoming fleets through their cameras. In fact, they were watching them very hard.
Jengas optical cameras had never been designed for watching spacecrafts thousands of kilometers away. That’s what radar was for, they never had built a real telescope. Combining multiple camera systems and data from curious Exocomps on the outer hull into a three dimensional map of space was not that easy to improvise.
“Why are they approaching that slowly” Cortana noticed, updating the picture in the tower with a new batch of sensor data. “They should be able to get here within moments, but they are just crawling forward.”
But nobody had an answer to it. The space-fighters of the incoming craft had quickly moved into two polar positions around Jenga, ready to intercept any craft leaving the space station. Trying to get away with some of Jengas waved cars would have been lunatic at best and suicide at worst.
“They are changing their formation, I think we will get some warning shots soon” Cortana said, still keeping most of her attention on the incoming crafts. “If they continue with this speed, they will be here within less than 10 minutes.”
Harina wasn’t happy about this at all. “I still have no clear confirmation if their trucks and cars are armed at all! We just know that these planes have some kind of machine gun mounted at the nose, and two kind of missiles each. This will get very ugly soon.”
Cortana nodded. “Ugly or not, if they think we will just roll over and play dead, they are about to learn that they are wrong. Serina just told me that most of the external airlocks have been wielded shut now, same with the larger windows.”
Everyone looked at the steel barrier that now blocked the normal view at the stars all around the Tower. Nobody wanted to bet that the crystal from Venus could hold off the attackers alone and the Tower Module always had the largest windows.
“Would not be nice to abandon the Tower to them, these consoles were expensive and time consuming to build” Harina said quietly and turned her attention back to her screens.
“Heads up, I know that our friends in the labs are already working on all kind of defensive things against our visitors” Cortana said. “We will teach them that crashing a party is a risky thing to do!”
“The fighters are closing in slowly. They will get into zone 1 within 30 seconds.” Harina noticed with a vicious grin.
“Mr. Randers, both of our fighters have entered missile range. It will take another minute until we are in machine gun range.”
“Good. We might need them to shoot a few holes into the hull of the station to get in quickly. Signal them to fly around the station, then fire one missile into the Hangar with the ‘One’ on it.” he ordered the man at the optical communicator before facing one of his gunmen.
“Tell the boarding crew to get ready and keep the plasma torch in hand, we will have to cut our way in.”
“Yes Sir. Any special orders for them?”
“No. Get in, grab catgirls and anything looking expensive, get out before Space Patrol even knows we are here. That’s all. The other boarding shuttle will follow us, the truck with jammer stays back. Lets go!”
“Mr. Randers, there is some movement on the surface of the space station!”
Randers turned around instantly to the large screen that showed the magnified picture of the station. Yes there was something moving, he even recognized it But before he could shout a warning it was already too late.
A few seconds after the boarding shuttles started to make their run, two concealed laser turrets rose from Jengas surface and opened fire.
The first fighter didn’t even have a chance to dodge as two bright blue beams of light burned into its left wing. One of them burned clean through the wing, the other hitting a missile mounted below the wing. The whing wing just vanished in a bright red explosion, sending the wrecked craft spinning out of control.
The two boarding shuttles drives peaked as their pilots threw them into evasive maneuvers, waving up and down like mad to make themselves harder to hit while the two laser cannons recharged for the next shot.
Moments later the other plane launched both of its missiles, which quickly began to raced towards the two exposed turrets. The first turret fired at one of the missiles and missed. The second scored a glancing blow of the fighter, then the two missiles had closed the distance to their target and detonated.
The only things left of the turrets were two smoking holes, small lightning arcs crisscrossing the remaining the power cells.
The two shuttles eased their evasive maneuvers, heading towards their target again towards one of the hangar doors. Which was the moment the third turret rose and fired a beam of light at one of them.
“Evasive action, now!” Randers shouted, but there was nothing else he could do. He saw the two blue lines intersecting with one of his space fighters and the bright flash moments later. The damned ‘unarmed’ Kitties just had killed one of his precious crafts, his father would not be amused.
“Helmets, everyone” he ordered and closed its own visor while the missiles of his second fighter launched to take out the two cannons. For a moment he feared for the other fighter, but then the two cannons died.
The pilot stopped his evasive maneuvers and Randers just wanted to calm down as the window screen from his boarding shuttle lit up in the blue shine of the third turret.
Which luckily for Randers only managed a glancing blow. He thought he could hear the air leaving the craft.
“Get us to the hangar door NOW” he spit out, “or we all will be dead before we even reach our target.” He hoped that the fighter would take care of the last turret with its machine gun.
‘What if they have even more of this turrets?’ he thought, but then he pushed the idea aside. Laser turrets would not matter as soon as they were inside.
At least turrets on the outside of the station.
He watched as the closed hangar door quickly grew larger as his shuttle raced forward to meet its target as soon as possible and finally stopping in front of the huge hangar door he had designated as the target.
“It will take a few minutes to burn a hole into it” a man with a large plasma cutter floating in front of the closed hangar informed him as he left the shuttle. “As we heard they use Battlesteel both for the hull and for the doors.”
“Cortana, this is Ruri,” came the deapan voice once more. “By my estimates the enemy should have made contact with you by now. Requesting a report.”
“Here is Cortana... good news first, we are still here... bad news next, most of the bad boys are still here too. We nailed one of their planes, its out of the fight and the pilot will be injured... if he is lucky. But two of my three laser cannons have been killed and the third one is damaged. Oh, and I think I hit one of their boarding crafts, but its still coming towards the station.”
“Understood. First to arrive will be the Black Betty with a pair of VF-1S Valkyries. They will disable the enemy ships. From what you have told us this appears to be a slaver team. The worst they will do at that point is take you hostage. After that, the Tough Love with Team Atalante will arrive. They should be able to get you out of whatever situation you may find yourself in.”
“Just promise us one thing. It doesn’t matter whats the situation, do not let them get away with one of the catgirls. Most of them had pretty bad experience with the Boskones and they would take the risk.” Cortana said quietly. “The only good thing is that everyone here is a catgirl biomod, so any non-lethal wounds can be healed later.”
“Nothing outruns a Blackbird. The Magnificent Midnight is on hot standby. And she does not like to be kept waiting.”
Cortana chuckled. “I still remember her from Serenity con, she was the only ship not standing on the ground on a parking slot I think.”
“Confirmed. She can hardly even wait for maintenance to finish.” At this, she actually sounded a trifle annoyed.
“Our life would be boring without Fen like this... wish us luck, our visitors are cutting open the hangar door at the moment.”
They had finally taken the first hangar.
Jerry was cursing silently about this idiot that organized the raid. The whole attack had already lost a lot of momentum and got worse by the minute.
‘First this damned thick outer door, then we find that all of the doors of the four parking boxes have been wielded shut... on both sides’ he thought and sighed.
It will be easy, like taking the cookies of a small child they had said.
Maybe they should have just continued with the extortion rackets, at least these were making profit.
But now they were inside the station and slowly advancing through one of the car boxes towards the corridor. An engineer had repaired the airlock with some waved plastic sheets and the room had filled itself again with an atmosphere... one of pure nitrogen.
So much for opening the helmet for a moment for a breath of clean air. Damned catgirls.
The loud sound of huge metallic foots made the boarding group to look for cover. through the door of the hangar they could see a huge shadow of a humanoid figure coming towards them.
With some weapons instead of arms.
With some strange boxes on the shoulders.
And at least five meters large!
“Call for backup, the have a mech” someone shouted and Jerry could hear weapon reloading close to him.
The shadow casting mech finally stepped around the corner into the field of fire and everyone started shooting.
‘Aim for the cockpit’ Jerry thought and opened fire too. The whole hangar became a blaze of bullets for a second.
“Hold fire you idiots!” their Mr. Randers in his Space Marine armor shouted and everyone stopped firing, taking time to look at the mech for the first time.
It was a Madcat, Jerry recognized it from some Earth books.
Twin particle cannons, two shoulder mounted missile launchers, just bare metal without colors... and 60 cm high.
With a small spotlight mounted at a stick on the back that created a huge shadow on the wall.
“Some of these Catgirls had not enough beatings” Jerry cursed silently while Randers just laughed.
The miniature mech suddenly twisted his upper torso and fired with both his missile boxes. A swarm of tiny missiles shot towards the intruders, exploding in a a series of tiny green blobs.
Paintball ammunition. Did the catgirls even had real guns at all?
A few shots were fired and the Mech fell on his back. Jerry was about to join the laughing when it was suddenly replaced by an outburst of fury of his boss.
“DO SOMETHING” his boss shouted, pulling his gauntlet back and forth over his green colored visor. Two other of the boarding group were also frenetically trying to get their helmets clean without much success.
Someone tried to wipe the visor clean himself, but the paint stuck to it, leaving their only Space Marine and two other good men blind.
‘WAVED paintball ammunition’ Jerry thought again and sighed as the door to the hangar suddenly slammed shut, blocking their view on the miniature mech they just had shot down.
This ‘easy’ operation was just getting better and better.
Three catgirls rushed forward, tools in hand to secure the the large door to the hangar that they just had closed. A group of Exocomps brought a steel bar to wield the door shut.
“I will try to cut them off from the electrical power” Lisa shouted as she opened a maintenance hatch and crawled into the hollow wall of the Module.
They could already hear some of the intruders shooting against to door.
Another group of catgirls were standing around the remains of their ‘toy mech’, one of them weeping. “It was such a brave little bot... why did it had to die that early?”
“We should get the parts back to the inner station, we cannot let these bastards get them and throw them out. Our friend has earned itself something better than this.”
“Cortana, how much time do we have until they will break the door” one of them shouted, while beckoned to a few Exocomps. “Help us to get the poor mech moved... quickly!”
“I think it will take them ten to fifteen minutes to burn through the door, a few minutes more with some additional Battlesteel for reinforcement” Cortanas voice announced through a speaker.
“We better hurry, they won’t stay on the other side forever” one catgirl mounting the steel beam on the door murmured.
Suddenly a bright spark illuminated the maintenance shaft Lisa had crawled into a minute ago. The lights in the Module flickered for a short moment and the speaker crackled, then everything was silent again.
Everyone stared at the opening until the arm of a Lisa appeared, fur still seared and hair standing on end. Another catgirl tried to grab the hand, just to get zapped with a small electric arc.
Lisa pushed herself up to the normal floor level, her limbs still shivering. “I think... I think I cut their power” she said and giggled weakly. “Uh, that hurt.”
An Exocomp flew close to Lisa, carefully poking her as another lightning arc zapped it.
The Exocomp squealed as tiny lights on its surface began to shine bright, then it turned around and raced out of the module, too fast for anyone to stop.
“Wow, that was the fastest Exocomp I have ever seen” someone murmured, but Lisa just sighed relieved.
“Oh, that’s much better” she said, “that tickled a lot!” she said as another catgirl helped her to get up, the electric charge had run out. She was still shivering and had problems to stay up.
“Lets get you out of here while the others build some barricades to keep the boarders at bay” the other catgirl answered as she helped Lisa to walk out of the Module.
They were slowly burning a hole into a door of the space station. Again.
Jerry wasn’t sure if this was just a sick joke or something designed to frustrate boarding parties. Shortly after the door in front of them had locked, the tech guy had detected the energy level dropping quickly. A few moments later the hangar was pitch black, just a bit of light came through windows and the outer door.
The boss had finally stopped shouting and the second tech was working on his visor. Jerry had no clue how to solve the problem, but that wasn’t his job. He had to focus what was going on in front of him.
“Why the hell are we even doing this?” one man murmured while they were working on the door, “there is a much easier to reach door below their tower!”
Jerry sighed. “Yes, and they still have one of those laser cannons in an unknown place. Do you want to look out and see if you find it? We have enough time to do this the safe way.”
Jerry did not add that he didn’t really believed in this central door. The laser cannons proved the catgirls had expected some trouble, so most likely the door would not open easily.
The man with the plasma torch signaled him that he was nearly finished with a small hole in the door. Jerry watch three of his men walking towards the hole.
‘This training pays of’ he thought when the the first 10cm hole was finished and all the men simultaneously opened fire through the hole, spraying the room behind it with bullets. He heard someone crying on the other side.
“Time to give up” he shouted, then he turned to the man with the torch. “Get this damned door open, this is getting annoying.”
“Jerry, give me a status report” a voice behind him. ‘Damned’ he thought, ‘did not notice that the boss is ready again.’
“Yes Mr. Randers. We have got the primary hole in the door, now we can use the larger tools. In ten or fifteen minutes we should be through. Still no evidence that the cats want to give up.”
“Good work Jerry, keep going." Randers said and nodded. "I am pleased how you handled everything, now get this damned door open.”
Randers was impatient to get through the door, it had taken too long to mill the waved paint of his thick visor.
Cathy was cowering behind a large crate they had moved into the corridor, her Gyrojet pistol in her hand. She looked to the other catgirl on her right and nodded.
It had taken the intruders nearly 50 minutes to get through this door, the reinforcements had delayed them a lot. But now it was clear that the barrier would not hold together much longer. It was there job to delay them here for some time.
Cathy heard as another part of the airlock door broke and concentrated on the the image on her augmented reality display. Using the system for combat had been a quick hack, but they needed every advantage they could get.
An armored helmet looked through the broken airlock on the left side of the Module, just to vanish before any of the two catgirls could decide to leave their cover or not. A few moments later a man with an submachine gun in hand stepped out, carefully looking towards the corridor into the station. A second one followed soon.
‘A Thompson with a drum magazin?’ Cathy wondered, ‘who the hell are these guys?’
“Thompson M1928A1 replica, 50 shot magazine,” Cortana whispered out of the headset in her ear, “either El Capone Gang or Tanglewood Boys I think. Did not know these guys had spaceworthy armor.” But they had, and Cathy had to admit this ‘Gangster hat’ with the transparent large helmet below looked crazy but creative.
“Cortana, three second countdown” she murmured and concentrated on the position of the two enemies beyond the barricade. The countdown dropped to zero, Cathy rose and fired her pistol.
The small rocket from her Gyrojet pistol raced towards its target, but Cathy was not waiting for the impact, she already dropped down behind the crate. She heard a man crying out in pain and a long burst of bullets hit her cover.
She watched through Cortanas cameras as one of the men went down crying and as the other one sprayed the cover with bullets and finally drawing the wounded man back through the hole in the door.
‘We lost surprise, but we won more time... I hope it was worth it” Cathy thought.
Randers watched horrified as his wounded man was drawn back into the safety of the hangar area. This wasn’t some thin waved spacesuit, this had hardened materials, armored to resist incoming weapons! He could not stop looking at the leg of the man, where whatever hit him had blown a small hole through the armor and his leg.
“How the hell can they do this? That’s waved armor, it should have protected him” he cursed.
Jerry was already trying to patch up the wounded person, glad that he got these emergency medic patches with him that might prevent the poor guy to need a biomod right now.
“The shot looked like a Senshi style gyrojet pistol” he said, “small ammo capacity, but very good at penetrating armor. We have to make sure the damned catgirl doesn’t get of another good shot.”
He looked to Randers. “Mr. Randers, I would like to keep one man here to see if Joe has stabilized, the rest of us can press our advantage. We need more overlapping fields of fire to guard our movement!”
Randers just nodded, he just noticed that he might be the only one who could not be one-shotted with that damned rocket launcher. “I will go out there with two men and clean them out from this damned cargo boxes. Its time to take of the gloves and play by the hard rules.”
Jerry sighed silently. “Please take four men with you Mr. Randers, they can make the cats keep their heads down while you force them out of their cover. This way two man can reload while the other are ready to fire.”
Randers was about to protest for Jerrys attempt to modify his orders, but then he thought about it again. “You are right Jerry, good idea. Now lets get this mission done, I am sick being stalled by the damned catgirls, they just delay the unavoidable.”
He ordered four other men to him and walked to the door. A few bullets and another one of these infernal rockets hit the door frame, but he just waited until the firing stopped. He nodded to his men, then he stepped out, his personal tommygun in both hands.
“Eat bullets damned cats” he shouted, spraying the whole room with projectiles from his 200 shot drum-magazin. “Get out and cover me” he ordered and moved forward.
He felt a number of impacts on his armor, one of them even damaging the outer layer, but nothing to worry about at the moment. “This is the end, just admit it” he shouted and laughed, still firing short bursts at the to boxes that blocked his view.
“Shit, the Spacemarine finally got his hands our of his ass” Cathy cursed as the armored stepped out into the corridor, “and he has company with him.”
She fired a few shots at the attackers, but the amount of returned fire made it difficult to even shoot in the right direction.
“Cortana, give me something, do we even have a weapon to damage this monster” she whispered into her mike, already signaling the catgirls behind the nearly closed door that they would need to retreat.
“I am not sure Cathy, it depends on the quality of the armor. If its a cheap knockoff of the” Cortana began, but Cathy interrupted her.
“Just assume the worst, I have got no time for too much speculation” she replied hectic.
A group of Exocomps were moving forward, levitation a large sheet of Battlesteel in front of them. Cathy and the other Catgirl dropped behind it and began the retreat to the door opening.
“Sorry Cathy, I don’t think you have enough ammunition to kill it. And your gyrojet is the only armor piercing weapon we have” Cortana said quiet, Cathy could her that she did not like this.
“We will think about something, now just get this door closed and sealed as soon as we are through” said as the other Catgirl cried out.
“Move” Cathy shouted and pushed the group through the opening, the door closing behind them before the attackers could reach it.
Vivio was waiting for her on the other side and hugged her, but Cathy did not seem to be happy. “Damned... we are not gaining enough time, at this rate they are in this elevator in half an hour. And then they will have cut the station into three parts.”
Another catgirl nodded. “Tower, Lab 1 and the upper apartments on level 1, storage 4 and lower apartments on level 2 and lab 2 with storage 1 to 3 on level 3. That’s a tough choice.”
Cathy shook her head. “No its not.”
That got everyone’s attention.
“Level one is a death trap, two Modules directly attached to the tower base. Level 2 is even worse, only two modules... we have to go down to the cargo stores, grab stuff from the lab and defend down there. Its the only place where we have the chance to win enough time.” Cathy continued.
Vivio looked at her: “I sense a but...”
“Yes, there is a ‘but’ in this strategy” Cathy acknowledged. “We have to work more on delaying them. We cannot except the doors to do the work for us, we will run out of doors before they run out of time. And we have to do it here!”
“Here in the elevator?” another Catgirl asked.
Cathy nodded. “Yes, here. I would like it more if we would be at the top and they would be at the bottom, but its the other way around. Still, as long as the gravity is working they have to come down a 16 meter shaft while fighting us, that will be very hard to do for them. Its the only place where we could do something like this.”
“Two more men down, that’s not good. We are still making a good progress, but if we loose much more, we have to get out of here, taking out this final laser turret from the inside” Randers said while watching his men cutting open another door.
“They have more weapons that the most pessimistic assumption we made. Especially the laser cannons were a bad surprise.” Jerry agreed. He did not add a ‘it was your stupid idea anyways, we should have run after they shot the fighter.’
“I think we hurt two of the cats pretty bad, so its still not one sided. And we still have many hours left until someone will arrive here to look after the cats.” Randers continued. “Hmm... they are good with building things, maybe we should keep them and they can repair the spacefighter. Or even built another one!”
“I am not sure I like the idea Mr. Randers. Giving some catgirls with experience in construction access to Handwavium is a recipe for a disaster.” Jerry answered after some moments. “Think about it, they build flying drones and space stations with laser cannons. Do you want them to build a spacefighter for you?”
“Good point, Jerry, good point” Randers admitted. “Now lets get this damned mission done.” He turned to the other men. “How long until we get through?”
“Its the same door design as the other doors Mr Randers. It took us roughly 45 minutes for the other doors, we had the first hole finished 8 minutes ago, so I think in two or three minutes we will be through.” The man answered.
‘Time to think up how to get down’ Randers thought.
The problem was that the next room seemed to be turned on one end. Instead of having a normal floor, this one was just a huge hole, with doors on each three different levels. At the lower floor the catgirls had built some barricade in the corridor.
More parts of the airlock door fell down the shaft and Randers took one of the few Shock grenades he had.
“Lets do it, boys!” he said and dropped it down the shaft.
Cathy was trying to ignore the stench of blood as she continued to keep an eye on the upper edge of the elevator. Her neck felt stiff, but someone had too keep an eye on the bad guys.
The first shock grenade had cost them dearly, three catgirls had been caught badly in the blast and left stunned in the line of fire, until they were dragged bleeding back into the corridor. It would take her a long time to get the image out of her mind.
The gangsters had installed some kind of winch at the top, to quickly get a man down or up. Cathy was happy that the shaft slowed the attackers down. It made her job a little bit easier.
But their second grenade had nearly allowed them to seize the elevators floor area. It could’ve taken the whole shaft. Just a moment of confusion when they were switching the catgirls directly behind the barricade had nearly cost them the fight.
A single Exocomp streaked past the barrier, grabbed the grenade in flight and transported it back up again. A burst from a Tommy Gun had it apart before it had the chance to drop the grenade up there, but it had bought enough time for anyone to get down into cover.
Niaka didn’t take it well, screaming as her personal pet had been killed, it had taken two other catgirls to pin her down and keep her from running into the elevator shaft to save the remains. She was still weeping back in the cargo area.
After this it had become a stalemate, with the gangsters systematically killing Cortanas cameras up there and enlarging the hole in the elevator door.
“I have five shots left, and Shiara’s pistol is nearly empty too,” Cathy whispered into her microphone, “give me a status report!”
“We are still preparing the cargo bay, but we are running out of Battlesteel for building barricades” another Catgirl responded. “Just hold them up a little bit longer.”
“Just a little bit longer, shall I throw with stones at them?” Cathy murmured. “Make sure that the wounded are somewhere they don’t catch a bullet if the fight moves to the last Module, and ask Lisa if she is making progress is the lab. Whatever she is doing there.”
‘I just hope the cavalry will arrive soon’ she thought.
“Everyone know what he should do?” Randers looked left and right, and anyone including Jerry nodded. Everyone was edgy, but they finally had a plan how to get forward with their mission.
“Then lets go... and don’t forget, as soon as we are down there, the next three will come down. On three... one, two, THREE!”
On one Jerry threw their last stun grenade down the shaft and now Randers and two of his men were chasing after it, a safe distance above. ‘Thank you Jerry for remembering the ropes in our bus’ he thought while the winch dropped him down the shaft.
His armored boots connected with the floor with a loud CLANG, the Catgirls were still cowering behind their barricade because of the grenade explosion. “Keep the line!” Randers shouted and fired a stream of bullets into the catgirls cover.
One of his men stopped shooting, hit by some some strange can-like grenade that covered him in a sticky brown substance. Jerry and his own two goons took his place.
‘There is that damned catgirl with the gyrojet pistol,” he thought as the door in front of him began to close. ‘Yeah, just hide behind another of your doors. This time we have a new tactics!’
He fired a few shots at the last camera in the elevator, it burst in a shower of sparks and glass. He looked to Jerry and nodded. There was no need to talk again about what should happen now.
Cathy took a deep breath as the door to the elevator locked shut.
“We have bought ourselves some time, if we keep this up they will run out of time before we run out of space” she said, then she looked to both sides. “Get the door to the cargo bay prepared, we need to move this barricades inside for our next line.”
The catgirls and Exocomps began moving the shot up plates into the next Module, but Cathy was already looking in the opposite direction.
“Lisa, whatever you are doing, get finished! When they break through this door I want the lab sealed, no need to give them any funny ideas” she called for the last catgirl still working in the lab a few meters right to her.
“I am coming Cathy” Lisa shouted, “we just have to move the coil into the cargo Module!” The catgirl arrived in the door frame and looked at Cathy and the rest of the catgirls on the other side of the Module.
“I think my Exocomps can handle it, give me just another minute... uhh Cathy... watch out, the door!”
Cathy spun around, only to see a quickly increasing red hot circle on the door.
“Cortana, get the doors closed” she cried as she turned around and tried to make a run for the storage Module. She’d made it five meters when the door exploded inwards, showering the room between Lisa and her with hot scrap metal.
A wave of hot air, pushed her forward through the door as it began to close rapidly. Cathy tried roll with the impact, but hit their barricade in the next Module hard with her arm and back. She was sure she heard a bone breaking as she cried out in pain.
The last thing she saw before the door closed was the Spacemarine striding through the hole, jamming a steel beam against the lab’s door frame, preventing the door from locking.
Then everything became black.
Randers smiled as he looked at the airlock to his right which tried to seal the way to the next Module... and could not do so because of the steel beam.
“You get the door to the left open, I will get us the first catgirl. Maybe they get reasonable afterwards” he ordered and began to push the door open again. The servos in his arms began to whine, but he forced the door open piece by piece. He drew his gun again and stepped through the partial opened airlock.
His view into the Module was blocked by a number of large storage racks with all kind electrical devices in them.
‘That’s one of their labs, finally I get to see the valuable stuff” Randers thought as her slowly walked around the rack. There was some strange bluewhite flickering light coming from behind the obstacle.
Randers froze as he was able to look into the rest of the lab for the first time. “What the hell is this?”
In the center of the room was a huge metal column, at least four meters high. Bluewhite lightnight was running up and down the column, sometimes discharging into one of the walls on both sides. Behind the ‘lightning column’ he could see cables as thick as a human arm running to some kind of generator at the end of the Module.
In the furthest corner of the room he could see the catgirl, looking at him through a transparent helmet.
“End of the line, time to be reasonable and admit it” he said with a grin. “You are unarmed, your spacesuit is not even armored. And you have nowhere to run.”
Lisa grinned back under her plastic helmet. “Catch me if you can!”
Randers sighed, raised his oversized Tommy Gun and fired a burst into his obstacle. A group of lightning bolts flared up, meeting his bullets in mid air, and knocked them out of the way before they reached the generator.
“Not enough muzzle velocity?” Lisa said satisfied, “your problem, not mine.”
Randers rolled with his eyes, the catgirl had just no clue about her situation. He carefully extended one hand into the lightning field, keeping his eyes on his armors status monitor. Electric arcs crawled over his arm, but nothing happened. Not even a minor alert.
Randers began to laugh. “Bad choice to bring your toy in a fight with a Space Marine.” He made a step forward, then another one. A corona of small and large lightnings were dancing on his armor without effect.
‘That’s how a boarding should end’ Randers though, ‘I need the boys to make a photo of this.’
Lightning kept playing all over the surface of his armor, unable to penetrate the waved material. And then, just when Randers was standing next to the lightning generator, one of the bolts melted the ammo drum of his weapon.
Randers cried out in pain and shock as the weapon in his hand exploded, sending red alert messages across his helmet display. But then the pain faded and a rush of anger hit him.
“You damned vermin, I will kill you for that” he shouted, stepping forward his left hand forward to grab the catgirl. He would keep the stuffed body as a warning for all these other damned cats.
Lisa gulped hard as the Space Marine finally crossed the lightning field and closed in. “Go to hell” she whispered, closed her eyes and pressed a button on the wall behind her back.
The huge door behind her snapped open, a sky full of stars behind it. Howling and hissing the air began to rush out into space, taking Lisa with her.
Randers starred on the open airlock and the space beyond, his thoughts running at lightspeed as he was pushed toward the edge.
‘There is a handle on the right sight just at the door’ he thought, ‘ I have to grab it and just wait.’
He reached out with his right arm to grab the handle, but nothing happened. He was still looking at the bloody stump of his arm when he was carried through the airlock into the void behind it.
Cathy slowly woke up and she blinked to clear her vision.
“What the hell happened?” she asked, trying to make sense of the last things she remembered. “Whats about Lisa?”
“Don’t try to sit up” Vivio sat, offering her a bottle of water. “You were caught in the shockwave of the blasting charge. Please don’t to try to fly into our barricades again, you broke quite a number of bones.”
“That’s a good explanation why I feel like being run over by a truck” Cathy said and sighed. “But whats about Lisa, I still remember her in the lab when they blew our door.”
“We are not sure” Vivio said. “When they blew it with that damned breaching charge forty minutes ago, the Space Marine managed to block the door to the lab.”
“Just tell me what you know” Cathy spit out, not in the mood to wait.
“ We don’t know what happened inside because Lisa’s experiments have disrupted Cortanas cameras, but Serina said she has been building some lightning weapon.” Vivio said silently. “But a few minutes after the Space Marine entered the lab, she overwrote the security system and forced the outer airlock open.”
Cathy flinched. “She didn’t had time for her full space suit, did she?”
“No” Vivio replied, “she had one of our emergency suits, but these things have never been designed for long term operations that far away from the sun. She still has oxygen, but I am not sure how much energy for heating the suit it left.”
“She could still be alive, we have to look for her as soon as possible!” Cathy said, but then she turned her attention to the door of this Module. “This is the last door between us and them, right?”
“Yes, it is... they broke the other door five minutes ago, they will break this one in another twenty or thirty minutes. And there is hard vacuum on the other side, when Lisa blew the airlock half of the stations air got sucked out because of all the holes we have in the internal airlocks.”
“So this is where we will have the last fight” Cathy said and nodded. “The Roughriders first group should be here soon, we can hold it that long.”
“But whats about the wounded? I am not sure all of them can still wear their spacesuit, even if we manage to patch the suits” Vivio returned. They had taken a lot more hits during the standoff in the elevator than before.
Cathy thought about it for a moment. “We put them into some metal box and wield them shut. Air and heat should be enough for a few hours, and the fight should be over at this time, one way or the other way” Cathy said grimly. “If we still have enough in the medic box, give them something that they keep sleeping.”
“Whats about you Cathy?” Vivio asked, unsure how to continue.
Cathy made an unhappy face. “I have still a few shots left in my Gyrojet pistol. I am hurt, but I can still sit and shoot.”
“Just make sure that you stay behind the first line and in cover... please.” Vivio knew that Cathy was too stubborn about things like this.
Just when Cathy opened her mouth to respond, the speaker in their ears crackled. ‘Incoming radio transmission’ Cortana whispered.
“This is the Roughriders to the attacker force at Jenga. You are to lay down your weapons and surrender, this is your only warning. Do so or face the consequences.”
The cavalry had finally arrived.
The holes were finally patched and the station was filled with air again. Jenga had reversed its heading and was on its way back to the inner system. There was too much to repair to fulfill the contract in the Trojans right now.
“We can just be lucky that the fight did not go into the tower or through the labs” Cathy said, “otherwise the damage would have been much worse. A couple of tons of Battlesteel and a few weeks, and most of the damage should be repaired.”
Shiara nodded. “Yes, we got lucky... but if we and the Roughriders had not found Lisa, she would have frozen to death during the next hour. She will be okay, but it will take at least a week or two.”
“Its a pity that the Space Marine got himself killed, I bet he would have known some details for Space Patrol.” Cathy said. “Did they said anything they found looking at his armor?”
“I heard from someone that its just an old Boskonian suit, no idea where he got it.The medic system had pumped him full of some crazy pain damper drug, not sure if he event felt when air ran out.” Shiara explained, “they sent his remainder to the White Tower, maybe we will hear about it in a few weeks again.”
“Just make sure that Niaka gets out of the VR rig from time to time. I am worried about her spending all time on the Grid with the virtual part of her pet, I think its still mostly crying.” Cathy wasn’t really that surprised about this, Exocomps never had showed the wish to produce pure virtual software instances. Having the Boskones destroying its physical half had been a traumatic experience for the little machine and Lisa.
“I will make sure Cathy” Shiara promised. “Do you think they will get the rest of the gang after this attack? These Tanglewood boys seem to be really nasty, and that was just a part of them!”
Cathy shook her head. “The guy in the jammer truck blew up their interwave Jammer and their navigational computers. Maybe only the truck had the coordinates back to their base.”
Shiara sighed: “So there will be no repercussions?”
Cathy grinned. “Of course there will be repercussions... just not for the attackers. How often I have tried to persuade everyone that we have to take personal security more serious? Believe me, when we finished the basic repairs, I will have to talk with all of you again. And this time I will not just give in because you complain about shortening your afternoon nap!”
“I don’t know Mr. Randers, I really don’t know.”
The voice of the man sounded frightened, and he was concentrating hard not to shiver.
“I will ask you the last time, Bob... where is Jerry and his boys... and where is my SON?”
“Two days ago, your... your son announced that he would take a boarding team and go on a special mission.” The man answered truthfully. “There wasn’t anyone here with the authority to stop him from doing, so I persuaded Jerry and his team to join him. Jerry has the most experience.”
Randers clenched his fist and breathed in and out. “Okay Bob, I know you are not stupid enough to lie with a thing like this. Tell me what you know!”
Bob nodded quickly.
“He had two of our spacefighters, two full boarding shuttles and a trailer truck with a mounted Jammer. He said he would be back within two days, so I assume he wasn’t heading for the inner system.”
Randers waited impatiently. “And?”
“Two hours ago I got a message from one of our contacts at Space Patrol, they said that Jenga, the spacestation of Catgirl Industries raised an alert that they were under attack. They forwarded the call to the Roughriders, which headed out with a quick response team.”
“Nothing besides the radio pulse that announced the destruction of our Jammer truck eight hours ago.” Bob added. “That pulse was the reason I asked you to come back here from Earth as soon as possible.”
“So Miles did his job and activated the self destruct you think?” Randers asked. This was the one good news of the day, and he feared it would be the last one. He would have to make sure his family would be okay.
“Yes, I think so. The coordinates and the timestamp of the radio impulse say it was coming out of a place between the orbits of the Main Belt and Jupiter. That’s far enough out that it would take your son two days to get there and back. And the time between the generation of the pulse and the departure of the Roughriders is consistent with a spacecraft at 20% lightspeed.” Bob was glad that he had finished all this thinking before Randers arrived home.
Randers nodded. “Keep your eyes and ears open, I want to know what has happened there” he said. “If my son is alive, we have to break him out in the near future. Now leave me alone.”
Bob gulped. “And what if he did not survive?”
Randers looked out through the window into the black sky. “Then Bob, someone will have to pay for this.”