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“Captain, we are receiving an emergency alert!” Shomari Eboh called out. “The Rising Star Colony around Cyphon B are saying that they are under attack by pirates!”
Brooks leaned forward sharply in his seat. “How far away is Cyphon?”
“It’s a three-hour transit, Captain,” Ji-min Bin called. “Primary coil is mostly charged. We can jump in thirty-five minutes.”
“Urle, did you hear this?” Brooks asked, his message broadcasting out to his Executive Officer.
“Aye, Captain,” Urle replied. “We’re about to lift off from the surface. We can rendezvous in eighteen minutes.”
“Good. I’d rather have you aboard.”
Urle was slow to reply. “We need to do more for these people before we finish this, Captain.”
Brooks wasn’t expecting that, but took the words seriously. “Understood, Urle. Let’s talk about that more en route.”
“Yes, sir. Lifting off in less than 60 seconds, out for now.”
The call ended, and Brooks began to issue other orders. There were still supply pods readying for deployment.
“I want those that can be ready to go in our window prioritized, forget the rest – we’ll hold onto them for now.”
“Estimating we can drop two more in that window,” Sulp messaged. “But if you give me ten more minutes, I can do four.”
“We can’t keep a colony under attack waiting,” Brooks replied, ending the call. “Get me the colony.”
Chairwoman Addo appeared. Her image was far stronger than it had been before, he was pleased to see.
“Chairwoman, we have just received word from the colony on Cyphon B that they are under attack. We will be going to their aid once my executive officer is aboard and our zerodrive is ready.”
Tension lines tightened around her eyes. “Will you be returning, Craton? There are still many supplies we need, and Commander Urle said that he was going to bring down more engineers.”
“We will do so as we can,” Brooks replied. “But it will be a few days at the least, and I don’t know how many more supplies we can drop. We don’t know what shape the Rising Star colony will be in.”
Addo looked aggrieved. “Captain, our people are facing hunger-“
“We will not let you starve. We have two more pods we will be dropping before we go.”
He messaged Sulp; prioritize food.
Sulp messaged him back immediately, accepting the order and yet creatively telling him off.
“I suppose that is all we can get,” Addo replied shortly. “But I do not think our power system will hold in its present state for more than a day. We will be mostly back in the dark before long.”
“I wish I could do more,” Brooks told her. “But we had no chance to pick up additional supplies before leaving, so we are giving from just what we carried. I promise you we will return when we can, however, and that other relief ships are coming.”
The woman nodded sharply, her eyes cold. “Colony out,” she said, cutting the transmission.
The doors to the command center opened, and Jaya entered. She was blinking blearily.
“I understand we are going into action,” she said, adjusting her uniform cuff.
“The colony on Cyphon IV is under attack. We’re leaving once the zerodrive is charged,” Brooks told her. “But you should be getting more sleep, you’ve only been off-duty for two hours.”
“I will be fine,” she replied. Brooks continued to stare at her.
She saluted. “I formally request permission to return to duty, Captain, given the serious nature of what awaits us.”
Brooks nodded slowly. “Granted. But then you’ll take two days off to catch up on your sleep.”
“Aye, Captain,” she replied. Her face was professional enough to give away little, but he knew she was not pleased with that.
“We’re going to need Apollonia Nor present on the bridge when we get there,” Brooks added. “I understand she’s in a study session with Sgt. Kiseleva. Will you go inform her?”
“Yes, Captain,” Jaya replied.
Brooks turned to look back towards the main screen, the colony world below hidden behind images showing the work going on to prepare them for the dive.
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