Chapter 15 – Boarding Party!
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What a dumb question. Of course I’m having fun.” Alicia thought to herself.

    She was in her element doing something she had trained to do all her life and this time she was doing it not because she was ordered to but because she wanted to. As far as she was concerned this was living the dream. She stood on the side of the Osprey as she eyed the incoming corvette timing her leap. The trick to landing on the other ship undetected was to fool the AI into thinking that you were a piece of harmless debris moving too slow to cause any real damage. At the same time she needed to be going fast enough to reduce the chance of missing. Missing would be bad, very bad. She never missed though so that was barely a concern for her. She hefted her bag of hastily collected goodies as she gazed upwards waiting patiently.

    The corvette was of Federation design so it was fairly utilitarian in nature. A blocky mass of black metal sliding through space silently. It was lightly armed with a couple rocket pods on the stern and a single turret slapped on the belly that was primarily used for shooting down incoming projectiles. Its running lights were on so Alicia had a fairly good visual gauge to how close it was but she was always surprised at how much bigger the corvettes looked in person than on a screen.

    As the corvette began to reach the desired range she heard Mar continuing to argue his case with Ryu. She smirked. It was enjoyable listening to Mar stall and buy her time to do what was needed. She crouched and ground the ball of her right foot into the Osprey a couple times resulting in a squeaking sound inside her suit. She sighted her target and lept carefully controlling her strength to apply just the right amount of force. It was so serene as she crossed the gap between the Osprey and the corvette. It was moments like this even with the impending chaos that she found moments of peace. There was nothing to do but wait in the silence of space as she approached the corvette. She had been trained not to worry about things outside her control so she didn’t. She just calmly waited to wait for the right time to execute a roll to land with her magnetized feet on the hull of the corvette.

    The moment came and like an olympic swimmer Alicia rolled and landed feet first on the corvette and carefully cushioned the blow with her legs to make as little noise as possible. She also triggered the magnets on her feet to ensure she remained attached to the corvette. She tugged her tether a little to get some slack as she prioritized the tasks she needed to complete. First she headed towards the airlock that the boarding party would most likely use. When not in use the airlock was in a vacuum. It was a well known security feature of airlocks that if there was not a solid seal that the system would refuse to pressurize the airlock. Alicia reached into her bag and grabbed a couple long metal shims she had grabbed from the cargo bay. They were used to secure shelving after adjusting their height so they were extremely strong. This worked perfectly for her as she lined the shim up on the door of the airlock. She wedged the shim in with her hands and then pushed down on it with her foot to get it fully seated. She then wedged another shim right next to it to ensure that there was enough of an opening in the airlock door that it would determine that the seal was sufficiently broken.

    Her next task was blinding the corvette which would be an intimidating venture for most but Alicia was intimately familiar with the ship’s design and knew where the three sensor arrays were located. For maintenance purposes there was an external access panel that was easily pried open using a spare shim and Alicia’s considerable strength. After that it was just a matter of severing the cabling inside using a knife. This was by far the lengthiest part of the process and she wished she had proper wire cutters. After a few minutes she had managed to disable the sensor arrays and she could hear via Mar’s line that Ryu had figured out the ship was blinded. It was only a matter of time now until they either tried to shake her off or sent someone out to scrape her off. The former she had a plan for as she had brought some patching foam used to seal minor breaches in the hull. It was also great for smearing on things in a vacuum due to its purpose. She jogged over to the main viewport for the corvette’s bridge and smeared a nice thick film of foam over it. Due to the polarization she couldn’t see inside but she could hear the other side of the conversation through Mar’s channel. She couldn’t help but smile broadly. She was effectively pranking the corvette in a high-stakes game.

    Mar told her time was getting tight so she would have to get back to the Osprey soon. He didn’t sound very pleased which surprised her. She thought he would be happy that they would be avoiding the whole getting kidnapped by the UEU scenario. She made a note to ask him about it when she got back on the ship. For now she jogged over to one of the bow thrusters where she was a little beyond what she had planned a solution for. UEU ships used several embedded bow thrusters positioned around the bow to provide all the adjustment vectors that a pilot could want. This approach was generally less error prone and a more aesthetically pleasing design. While the UEU certainly cared about looks they wanted their ships to be as dependable as possible. The Federation did have the same resources to put into ship design so they typically had two thrusters that rotated around gyros. Alicia considered the mechanism for a moment and failed to find any elegant solution to disable either the flow of fuel or gyro with any of her remaining tools.

    “Screw it.” She muttered to herself.

    She lowered herself into a combat stance and unleashed a powerful side kick using all her strength, something she had specifically been told not to do, at the gyro of the thruster. She’d rarely used the full strength of her legs, even then it was exclusively for jumping. Her instruction had indicated that their legs were heavily augmented in order to be able to effectively carry the extra weight of some of the bulkier armors. The result being that if she wanted to, and given proper leverage, she could puncture the reinforced hull of a ship with a well placed kick. While in armor this would probably result in getting your leg stuck in the ship, which was bad. Unarmored, she was informed that such a maneuver would result in considerable injury, which was also bad. Fortunately she was not kicking the hull of the ship but instead its bow thruster and her foot cleanly sheared the thruster from its housing and sent it flying into space.

    Alicia began heading towards the other bow thruster but heard via her connection with Mar that Ryu’s men had discovered the tampered airlock and were rerouting to one that was further away. Her time was up. She ran around the corvette until she was on the side that the Osprey was on, grabbed the tether firmly in her hand and made a running leap. She quickly began hauling herself toward the Osprey to quicken her return. She was concerned because Mar sounded upset with her. This was unexpected considering that she had achieved her objective of preventing the boarding party and sabotaging the maneuverability of the corvette to prevent pursuit. Things were going remarkably well she thought as she continued pulling herself along.

    Suddenly she saw a flash on the hull of the Osprey as a bolt seared itself into the ship’s armor. She could immediately tell by the burn mark that whomever fired the shot was using lethal ammunition. The smile that had been plastered on her face the entire time dimmed a bit with the realization. The wheels were beginning to fall off her hastily slapped together plan. She quickly realized that her approach vector to the Osprey was currently a straight line. Any decent marksman would be able to make the somewhat lengthy shot even with her varying her speed occasionally. She requested Mar’s help to rotate the Osprey to add a new variable and also allow her to be spun behind the Osprey to provide some cover, assuming they didn’t hit her first. Annoyingly, Mar was very gentle with his rotation but Alicia didn’t want to over-complicate things. She understood that he probably didn’t have a full understanding of her capabilities so there wasn’t much concern of her losing her grip on the tether and being thrown by the centrifugal force.

    Alicia continued towing herself towards the Osprey and she could see the airlock hatch clearly now. She assumed that the crew on the corvette was still firing at her but she had no idea how close they were getting now that she was moving in a perpendicular direction to the UEU soldiers. In a few moments the rotation of the ship would provide her cover and she was confident she could close the rest of the distance before she was out of cover again. She reached up to pull in another length of tether when she felt a tug at her hip. By the time she looked down she could feel the searing pain of the burn as the laser had passed clean through her. Her suit immediately started loudly complaining about a breach that Alicia dismissed as she quickly assessed the damage. The suit’s insulation in the back had clotted with her blood and created a seal of sorts but the front of the suit was actively venting air. The only option she had available was to press a hand on it to slow the leak while using her free hand to continue limping along the tether to the Osprey.

    Alicia relied on her training and focused on solutions but she was beginning to grasp at straws. There was no way she was going to make it to the hatch in time one handed before she rotated around again and she was sure they’d fill her with holes when she came back into view. Additionally the more time she spent attempting to tow herself in with one hand the less time they had to depart before the corvette’s systems were back online. Mar should leave without her, she decided. He didn’t even want her bounty anyway. She inhaled to tell him but to her surprise she saw the airlock door open to reveal a suited Mar.

    “That idiot!” She shouted to herself as she took a couple more pitiful one handed tugs on the tether.

    Her heart leapt into her throat as she saw Mar reach and grab the tether and start hauling her in. She wrapped the tether around her arm and held on as she could feel her strength beginning to fade. Her suit must have punctured more severely than she had originally thought. She kept her eyes on Mar as she neared him and could see the look of focused concentration on his face. Something broke within her as she came to the realization that this was a completely new experience for her. Her training had stressed that the mission always came first and that anyone was expendable. Then here was this man who barely knew her, hell probably didn’t even like her, risking his life to save her stupid ass. None of this made any sense. The pain suddenly flared and she grimaced and closed her eyes, she felt a few tears slip out of the corners of her eyes. She cursed at her damn helmet, unable to wipe them away. She didn’t want to be seen like this. She was just so tired.

    She lost track of time for a moment but suddenly she felt strong hands roughly grabbing her arms and not so gently dragging her through an airlock door. She vaguely heard the airlock pressurize and felt someone remove her helmet and pat her face a few times. She tried to tell them to go away. She was in too much pain. Then she felt a tug at her suit and then started feeling a draft on her stomach. Her foggy brain finally put the pieces together and realized that Mar was attempting to inspect the wound and apply first aid. She knew that the shot wasn’t fatal and she just needed to rest and her body would take care of itself in a week or so. She needed to tell him. She had so many things she wanted to say. She wanted to tell him that she’ll be ok. She wanted to thank him for pulling her into the ship and saving her life. She wanted to ask him why he saved her. She wanted to ask him if she could stay with him, just for a little while longer.

    She reached out and grabbed his arm, a little too roughly but control was difficult right now. She looked into his eyes which were full of concern and worry. She told him none of those things.

    “Get… us… the… fuck.. out… of… here.” Was all she could manage.

Man that was a hard chapter to write. I had a lot of difficulty deciding if providing Alicia's viewpoint would be interesting to provide or not. I hope you enjoy it! I'll shoot to get another chapter out next Friday.