Aug’s voice in Song’s aurals:
Leash is stable. Steady at .9LS. Shall I sound all-attend?
Yes, Song pushed the thought through her ontologic bridge. It was all she could do in her pressure suit. Find me their bombard platforms. Priority.
In Song’s eye: Cornucopia, on approach.
Nearlight. Song never really adapted. Her body was long, lowgrav, bad for the Navy.
Still, Cradleborn gets you in chairs made for others.
Song gritted her teeth best she could. The dampers around her cut the G enough to grey out, no room to move.
Drop in ten, Aug whispered.
Harvest had been a rout, but they had saved some. The world, a moon Song had loved, was dead now.
A warm sea, now barren. An atmosphere choked by vapor.
Pips of light filled Song’s vision. Lorenzo’s ships, and the survivors of Harvest.
The August was not alone for this.
On target. Disengage from NL bolt on my word, begin spool in realspace. Song telegraphed.
Copy. The Market Hall. A gunboat.
Lorenzo’s subaltern wings sent positive pings. Three bombers and fifteen skip-fighters, leashed to the Aug.
Can’t wait. D Company leader, onboard.
Aug had given them low chances, but Song had orders.
Delay. Harass. Report.
Dropping, Aug cast.
The pressure on her chest gave, slammed her forward. The k-shell adjusted. She clamped her eyes shut to keep them in her head.
Arkady’s was the first voice she heard:
Song would review this if she lived, playing over and over the engagement that followed.
The Aun orbital was a broad plain shining below them, between them and Cornucopia.
On its back, blisters: Barracks, depots. The meat of an invasion.
Closer: three daggers, trailing glories.
One moment: The Aug dropping from nearlight, spiraling, PDCs flaring already. In pace, a skirt of torpedoes, waiting for the right moment to launch.
The next moment: Lorenzo’s skip-drones dropped from nearlight, sighted their targets, and bolted.
In the same moment: two Aun daggers folding, shattering as a handful of drones punched through armor like paper, hurtling at .9LS through their targets.
The debris cloud bloomed.
The next moment: the Market Hall, in dive-comp like the August, blasting away with its short-cycle batteries.
Song’s heart swelled: the Hall’s lances scored black hits across the orbital.
The final Aunic ship, that last dagger, engaged.
“Main batteries charging, Commander.”
“Find me cover!” D Company lead in her aural. No name for this one: she had lost Deva in the last engagement and she knew better now.
Lorenzo’s bombers flew in close formation, broad wings. They had no payload. They rolled, exposed their dorsal lines to the dagger’s weapons.
D Company used them as a screen, diving mere meters off the Aunic Orbital’s edge. Their shells screamed red as they punched through the atmosphere.
Song let out a long breath. D Company was in, arcing towards Boundary Industrial.
“Commander, eyes up,” Arkady cautioned.
The August lurched, rolled, launched torpedoes at the Aunic ship.
Song trembled always: the August’s PDCs stitching stuttered lines across the black, slicing missiles away. The best defense.
The dagger swept away one of Lo’s bombers. Still, its front tracked the August.
The orbital grew close, close.
The Aug hurtled down. The Market Hall was below, trailing debris and 02 from its reserve -- it had been hit, but Song could hear its commander calm in her aural:
“PDCs engaged. Resolving target. Kinetics ready to drop -- keep us eyeballs-back, Rigo.”
“Away, away, away, all rocks away -- Rigo, break!”
The Market Hall spun to the side, a single PDC peppering the broad plain of the orbital, shells exploding and skittering off the heavy platform’s armor.
“Take us down, Arkady!” Song ordered.
The Hall’s kinetics hit the orbital.
The platform, easily two kilometers in long, dipped down, wobbling on its axis as the kinetics hit. 02 vented in a tremendous plume, vomiting up debris and bodies, Aun sucked out into vacuum.
“Batteries are charged, commander.”
Sparing a glance at the dagger, Song gave the order.