The remaining six raider crafts gave chase. Doggedly they pursued the giant, not quite as manoeuvrable Aluen, forgetting all about the five escort ships. This gave Arronanto the opportunity he needed. He and his escort ships swarmed the nearest raider craft, quickly knocking out shields. Arronanto managed to hit the raider craft’s tail before having to swoop away as the raiders began baring down on the annoying gnats that were the escort ships.
Arjuna tried to get a hit on the damaged raider craft to finish it off but the craft just barely got away before she was forced to turn her attention back to the other five raiders. Luckily, Dennethom, who had been watching the battle intently from the control room was able to use the grid to swiftly destroy the burning ship hurtling towards the ground.
It seemed dishonourable not taking them as prisoners, but the raiders worried him. They were not warriors. They didn’t have a code. And they wouldn’t give up without a fight. Drawing the combat to the ground would be a very bad idea. As he watched the defence grid take out a second raider in a giant fireball, he knew this was the right thing to do.
Up in the air, Arronanto whooped as his escort ships took out two more raiders. The Aluen had destroyed a second raider ship that refused to quit. Arjuna fired off more volt cannons which quickly knocked out the last raider’s shields. The ship had nowhere else to go. The rest of its group had already been destroyed. Arjuna tapped her comms. “Attention raider craft. There’s no one left to help you. Surrender immediately, land your craft and we will let you live.”
The raider craft responded by firing another volley that did little against the Aluen’s impressive shields.
Dennethom could almost feel his sister’s hesitation. There was no honour in executing the conquered. But raiders didn’t have honour. They wouldn’t surrender easily. “Do it,” he whispered into Arjuna’s headset aboard the Aluen. Arjuna agreed.
With a press of a button the raider ship exploded in a giant smoke plume that for a few seconds made it impossible for Arjuna to see anything. Finally, as the smoke subsided and the wreckage fell to the ground, thankfully, well away from the township, she gave the order to Jora to land the Aluen.
“Power up the engines, Jora. We have contact,” Arjuna said as she sat down in the co-pilot seat.
She could suddenly feel a flood of adrenaline run through her, and something different, something feral, a need to protect her child from the evil ravaging raiders that would scorch this planet if they got the chance.
On his small escort craft, Arronanto found himself having similar feelings as he lifted off. He thought of Drapaudi and his mother, sitting at home with his niece and nephew and his unborn child. No, he would make certain the raiders failed.
First contact with the raiders occurred 50 kilometres north of the township. Four escort ships greeted the raiders, their volt cannon ports open. Dennethom had wanted to save the escort ships as a second line of defence, however Arronanto suggested they wait to reveal the Aluen. Let the raiders think they were only dealing with a few colony ships and use up precious fuel and ammunition.
It was a game of tag and the raider ships were “it”. The escort ships took carefully aimed pot shots before darting away. The smaller crafts whizzed between the larger, though equally agile, raider ships. Arronanto had been a little worried about the piloting skills of the local escort pilots, but seeing them in action he knew he needn’t have worried.
“We’ve warmed them up. Now they’re all yours,” Arronanto said into his comms link.
With that he pulled away, and the other escort ships followed him. Silently, almost invisible, the Aluen appeared. With a powerful, thundering boom, the Boentu ship fired its heavy volt cannons at one of the raiders knocking out the ship’s shields in one blow.
The startled raider ships turned to swarm on the Aluen, but Arjuna wasn’t worried. The Aluen swooped up and out of reach of the raider crafts just as she fired a volt cluster, destroying an already damaged raider ship.
“One down,” she murmured and ordered Jora to pull back out of the fray.