16 August 2022

Playing with fate. Part 1

4621st year, New Eden Station

The company of mercenaries was sitting in a bar again, drinking away the money they earned.
Putting the glass on the table, Graham thought of the long time ago executed contract. That year, their echelon was completing an order from Larry Seldon. Greybeard paid good money for the job. Although it wasn’t the only thing to thank him for. Larry has saved the world several times with His predictions, helping ordinary people. There have already been several times when Larry saved the world with his predictions, helping ordinary people. What did he say? Psychohistory? If there was an opportunity to talk to the scientist personally, Graham would definitely ask him about everything. The greybeard has not made announcements to the whole galaxy for a long time. To be exact, there was nothing at all. 
— Hey, Graham, are you sleeping? — The mercenary sitting next to him pushed Graham in the shoulder, bringing him back to the real world.
— No, no, I’m fine. I just got lost in thought.
— Okay then. The job smells like big money.

A tablet with an announcement was handed over from the opposite side of the table. One order was highlighted among the contact list. A certain Ancestral Heritage organization was looking for a group of mercenaries to eliminate pirates who had settled on an abandoned Federation station on the borders of Helion. To destroy every little thing that moves. But the important thing is that the organization required to use its own communication systems to coordinate actions. Everything else was forbidden. Well, the rich have their quirks.

A few days later.

The covert ops interceptor echelon has come out of the warp. According to plan, each ship activated its camouflage systems and took its place in the formation. Graham once more made sure of the working capacity of the radio station temporarily installed on his interceptor.
— Hawk-1 is on the line, do you copy?
— This is Hawk-2, I can hear you well.
— Hawk-3, the connection is established.
— Hawk-4, currently taking a place in the formation. 
— I see the station. Keep a distance, forty kilometers — Graham gave the order. The echelon began a turn in order to bypass the cordon from the west. Now it was possible to size up the situation. The ship's sensors indicated the presence of a huge number of missile turrets around the perimeter of the station. Luckily, the missile compartments of the detachment were packed with nuclear warheads. A few run-ins will solve the problem.
 — Hawk-1 to the other Hawks. Split up and start bombing the station. 
Graham made a sharp maneuver and headed for the station. The rest of the interceptors also launched an attack.
The on-board computer made a shrill squeak. The warhead was ready to launch. Graham once more checked readings of the target tracking system. It was four kilometers to the group of three turrets. The mercenary exhaled heavily, tightly grabbing the steering wheel. 
— On target, on target — the on-board computer yelled.
Graham dropped the warhead and took away the ship behind the station structure, in order to avoid the explosion. Bright light flooded the cockpit. The system reported the destruction of targets. 
— This is Hawk-3. The pirates are leaving the station.
— Copy that, Hawk-3. Let them split up, then we will start hunting, guys! Hawk-4, continue air defense suppression. 
Graham activated the camouflage and began searching for the enemy. After half a minute of flight, two Piranha-B2 attack aircrafts appeared on the scanners. The mercenary switched to the main armament and began to prepare for the attack. Soon the enemy was right in front of the interceptor. The camouflage was still working when Graham started shooting with a course blaster. In the twinkle of an eye, both pirates were destroyed. Graham smirked. 
— Shield lost, shield lost, — the computer reported. The ship was shaken with great force, and the on-board assistant made a high-pitched squeak that almost deafened the pilot. Euphoria has gone and Graham began to maneuver. The specific trace of a Gauss cannon flashed by. A turn, then another one. The computer reported the automatic capture of the target, followed by the launch of the plasma net. The ship shook again, the squeak repeated. Graham was finally able to activate the camouflage and withdraw into a steep maneuver. Following the mercenary, having previously released two drones, the pursuer activated invisibility. 
— This is Hawk-4, finished the job. Proceeding to destroying the pirates.
— Copy that, Hawk-4, — Graham replied. — I'm temporarily out of the fight.
— Don't expose yourself, Hawk-1.
Snuggling up to the mantel of the station, Graham was hiding from the enemy. The on-board computer has completed diagnostics and reported critical damage to the right afterburner engine. The left one was only slightly hurt, but it also had to be turned off. The ship's speed dropped drastically. The mercenary blamed himself for inattention and enervation. A little more time and his body would have been removed from the wreckage. 
A few minutes later, the computer reported an incoming communication session. Graham wanted to give the command to disconnect, but the contact was established automatically.
— Ancestral Heritage welcomes you, mercenaries. We thank you for agreeing to fulfill the contract — an artificial voice began to mint, — Currently, we have become aware of several targets, the destruction of which will seriously increase your payment. Thank you for your attention and good luck. The on-board computer marked the communication antenna and the hangar gates on the tactical map.
— This is Hawk-2, did they get access to our systems? — The mercenary shouted in dismay.
— Calm down, the main thing is that they do not harm us. Hawk-4, the hangar is yours. I'm right next to the antenna.
— Copy that, Hawk-1. 
Graham has prepared a second warhead. There were several kilometers left to the goal. Fleet glance at the displays, in ten minutes of battle, the enemy was almost completely destroyed.
— On target — the computer signaled.
The mercenary dropped the warhead and began to get closer to his comrades.
— This is Hawk-3, the enemy's number is minimal. Wait a second, what is it...
Suddenly, the scanners reported tracking new signals. Two Crusader-type frigates emerged from the warp jump and began to fight their way to the station hangar with mortar fire. At the same time, a message about the fulfillment of the contract came. Ancestral Heritage demanded to leave the sector, and after returning to the station, destroy the installed radio stations.
— All Hawks, move away. Great job, guys!
The covert-ops interceptors took up positions in the formation and began the transition to a warp jump.
Now they faced another evening at the bar, celebrating the completed order.



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