The halls weren’t crawling with raiders, as I had come to expect. Instead, it seems we were beset by pockets of raider groups — all the same team, but divided into squads of three or four who roamed about the ship, trying to pick us off one by one.
It meant they weren’t prepared when the Farseers and I fell upon them.
In some places, the Sentinels just stepped out from around a corner and did their steel tentacle thing. Other times, I would creep forward, wait for the squad to pass, and then stab them all in the back — well, it was more like the neck, since that was the weak point guaranteed to drop them without fuss, but I like the other visual better.
Along the way, I acquired one of the raider’s rifles, so now we had a little firepower — and I didn’t have to do my sneaky throat-cutting trick as often anymore — but it was still lackluster in the face of who-knows-how-many raider squads. I offered each of the Farseers a gun, but they seemed content with their armor and whatever tricks it could come up with.
Couldn’t blame them, even though I did. If we got killed because those steely ropes couldn’t quite reach the target, when a well-placed bullet could, I was going to be really pissed.
As we continued approaching the bridge, we heard regular reports from Gator and T’Vosh.
“They are opening fire.”
“They tried to come around to the door.”
“I think I hear them on the deck below us. They might try to cut through.”
“Got one! We got one. He came too close.”
And so on. While it wasn’t a constant stream, it was enough chatter to keep me optimistic. If they had enough spare time and attention to talk to us, that meant they were doing okay.
Then the alarm bells went off when Gator said, “Oh, shit. They got through the doors.”
Everything in my body tensed and I bolted forward, heedless of whether or not the Farseer Sentinels would keep up. I rounded a corner and my muscle-memory snapped off two volleys of fire before I even realized I’d seen a squad of raiders. They were as surprised as I was, but half of them were dead by the time we both recovered and I managed to dive behind cover before they managed to get their weapons trained on me.
I had to get to the bridge. If they were being flanked, I had to pull some pressure off them by hitting their attackers from behind. But that would take too long. It had been my plan all along, of course, but then I had expected to have more time. Now, with Gator and T’Vosh beset on both sides — if not more — speed was of greater priority than tactical quality.
The Sentinels caught up to me and strangled the other two raiders. I stood up and switched on a local channel so I could talk directly to them.
“They’re being flanked,” I said. “We need to reach them ASAP.”
Q’Laren nodded. Then I heard his voice over my comm. “What is plan?”
“I wanted to come up and around behind the raiders,” I said, illustrating as best I could on the bulkhead. “But we aren’t nearly close enough, and we’d have to run the entire length of the bridge to get there.”
Q’Laren nodded again. Then he pointed at where I had roughly indicated the raiders would be on the bridge. “Come up from below. Cut through deck plating and catch them from side.”
“Can you do that?” I said.
The Farseer nodded to the other sentinel. “Demolitions package.”
“Comes standard to a trio,” said the other Farseer.
“Perfect,” I said. “Let’s move.”
It was still a trek to get into position, but we were there in seconds, instead of minutes. The Farseers threw up a gridded patch onto the ceiling — almost like a checkered cloth — and then stood back.
The ceiling blew open, rending a hull in the deck plating above and exposing the bridge to our view. The Farseers used their steel cords to haul themselves up into the operations pit and immediately began strangling all the raiders within range. Once they’d dispatched about half a dozen or so, Q’Laren reached down for me with a pair of cords and hauled me up between them.
I looked around and spotted Gator and T’Vosh beset by raiders. Gator was on the ground, pinned by a handful of foes, while T’Vosh was clearly being overwhelmed — though still standing — by another handful.
I trained my sights on the backs of the raiders assaulting the office and loosed a volley of shots.
Immediate effect. While it was clear that some were already turning their attention, due to the explosion, witnessing several of their number dropping from an unknown assailant immediately fixed all their attention on me, instead of the two Farseers beside them.
That was enough for T’Vosh to gain the upper hand. He throttled the raiders around him and then threw off the ones pinning Gator. With Gator on his feet again, the two of them were able to clear the room of the rest of the enemies.
The bridge was ours. More or less. There were still raiders pouring in from the exterior doors. But at least now we had Gator and T’Vosh free.
The five of us scrambled back down through the hole we had created and raced toward the hangar bay. Raiders dove in after us, though they were clearly somewhat more reluctant to pursue us than they had been before.
“Cap, this is Hatchling,” I said, relying on my nickname as though it were a field name. “I have Gator and T’Vosh. Prep the ship for departure.”
“Done,” said Cap. “Get them here.”
I made sure to loose a volley of bullets at the pursuing enemy from time to time, but soon enough I ran out of ammo. We passed enough fallen raiders on our way back to the ship that I could have resupplied, but that would have required us to slow down, and we didn’t really have that luxury. Every now and again, we came across a flanking group of raiders, but the three Farseer Sentinels were more than a match for them.
Ultimately, we came out onto the deck and reached the ship.
“Go!” I said into my comm, and felt the ship takeoff.