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   Chapter 16 No.16

The Galaxii Series Omnibus 1 By Christina Engela Characters: 5531

Updated: 2018-06-29 12:02

They stared at the sight in disbelief. The starbase was a devastated wreck. Black feathery burns mottled the once pristine white hull. Parts of the docking ring – hell, most of the outboard superstructures – were gone, simply blown away. Exposed sections of struts and framework reached into space from large gaping holes that yawned darkly at them. Some wrecked ships and chunks of the fighter squadron stationed at the star base drifted among the debris scattered across the area, dispersing with such infinite slowness. Silence seemed to pervade even the pulsating instruments. It looked like a graveyard.

"Battle stations!" Falcone barked, instantly restoring life to the bridge after the momentary paralysis. An alarm began to sound throughout the ship. "Raise shields, standby all weapons!"

Ensign Samantha Kneal, 27, took the necessary actions.

"Shields up, Captain! All weapons energized and on full standby!"

They drew nearer to the devastated hulk, to within a few kilometers. Falcone gave Ripley a disconcerting look. He was tense. Their worst fears had just been confirmed.

"Scan the area for hostile ships! Report anything suspicious!"

Ripley thought they were looking at a total loss – if there were any survivors, they weren't on the starbase. Perhaps they would have gone to the nearest colony. That would be Tremaine. The lifeboats would make it that far in a few hours. Perhaps Andronicus at a pinch, at a day and a half away on full throttle. Giving him a nod, she performed a sensor sweep of the area.

"A tanker… six destroyers… four loderunners, approximately twelve smaller craft – all heavily damaged, destroyed – d

ound. "The fighter squadron has been launched. We're in full alert status!" The view switched to an external pickup, which showed a random assortment of rag-tag ships, all black, modified freighters, and some unfamiliar looking vessels, all maneuvering in haste.

"They're surrounding us… Moving to strategic attack positions! …They've begun firing! We're under attack! – I repeat, we are under attack!" A few flashes of energy weapons fire dotted the screen. The fighters began vainly engaging the Corsairs, who beat them from the skies with superior firepower. Then they concentrated their attack on the outlying superstructures of the base. Screams of station personnel mingled with loud explosions, creating an auditory pandemonium. Light flooded the viewscreen before static burst onto the audio and the view was blotted out in a snowstorm. A black screen replaced the chaos. There were words printed there. They read: REPEAT IN 20 SECONDS.

"That's enough." Said Falcone dryly. "Viewer forward."

He swiveled round to face Lt. Nordyke. He was ashen-faced and silent, eyes blinking, stunned.

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