The enemy didn't expect us to shoot at them. They reacted slower than usual. I listened to their communications, and though I couldn't tell one fighter from another, I did start picking out the Mother Ship's messages.
"They don't sound happy," Lisel said and shot down two more craft.
"I suspect they are going to start coming at us. Krisin?"
"I think I can start the fighter. Simple controls. We'll need to drop out of the bay before we hit the Mother ship, so make sure you aim at her and get down here in time."
"Krisin, if --" I began.
"I'm not leaving without you."
Lisel grunted. I couldn't think of anything better to say.
I aimed us vaguely toward the Mother Ship, drawing a few more of the craft our way. Another five launched, though. Did they volunteer for a suicide mission?
"We have a massive disturbance ten degrees from the were ship," Lisel warned. "I didn't think they'd have a second mother ship in the area. Damn --"
"Not were," I said and grinned.
Though not for long. The communication was weak, but I heard enough of it to realize we had real trouble.
"This is Captain Dundas of the Belgium," the woman said, her voice harsh. "Sailfor, we are now aware that you are working with the were --"
Belgium's canons began to fire up.
No time for subtlety. I hit the full comm on, not a private link, and even opened it up to the whole ship --
"Don't shoot!" we all three shouted.
We couldn't have done better if we'd practiced.
"What the hell?" Dundas said. "Tana?"
"Yes, yes. Kind of busy -- Lisel one's going under --"
"I got it."
"We have something we need to do, Captain," I said. "Trust us."
"The Belgium hasn't been gone 24 hours. Do you see the destruction out there?"
But the canons were no longer tracking us, and we were almost to the mother ship. They still didn't know. It was apparent they didn't understand human speech any better than we understood them. And maybe that was the problem, right?
"We're running out of time, Tana," Lisel warned. "Set it on auto, and let's go."
"You should --"
"I will pick you up and carry you if you don't get your ass out of that chair right now."
Dundas laughed, but I thought there was a touch of hysteria to the sound.
"See you soon, Captain," I said.
Lisel was reaching for me. I got up on my own and raced him down to the bay. Lisel has longer legs and better speed, but I wasn't far behind him.
And we all three laughed. Yes, we were laughing in the face of death, and we knew it.
"What -- what do we have," I said with a breathless wave toward the strange craft.
"I can get the door to open and close. No airlock," Lisel said. He threw safety suits to them. "I cleared the interior atmosphere, but we'll only have the air from the suits. Get in fast."
He was right. They had no time to talk about it.
Lisel mumbled something about his suit being a bit small.
"Largest one they had, Lis," Krisin said. "Just be sure to keep your claws in."
Lisel nodded. I was already in my suit, helmet in hand, and went to look at the door. It had a simple press button again. She hoped the rest was as easy.
"Opening bay door," Krisin warned as they settled into uncomfortable seats. I assumed I was at the ship's controls, but it was mostly a guess.
The bay door opened, though I couldn't see it. We felt the vibration. I knew it was right in front of the fighter's nose, though. So I looked over the controls and then hit three buttons in quick succession. One moved us. I thought the other two fired weapons remembering how their shots usually came in two close bursts, but I couldn't see --
Krisin got the screen to work.
It was an odd screen, but I could make out a few things.
We were, as far as I could tell, within fifty yards of the mother ship. And yes, I had hit it with those two shots.
We were about to enter the Mother Ship bay with the Sailfor following right behind us.
"Tana --" Lisel said with a sound of tried patience came over the suit's communit.
"Just push buttons. Both of you."
"What if --" Krisin began. "No, never mind. It won't matter."
We learned things. The screen changed colors. Were liked the sound of chants. What a suspected were increasingly strong warnings sounded like bird chirps. They had intricate star maps.
We got closer.
How? Up and Down. Left and Right. They were enough like us --
I found something that looked right and shoved it forward.
We dipped, nose first, straight down. These fools appeared to have no safety webs to hold them in place. I hit my head. Lisel hissed, and somewhere else, Krisin was calling on every known god in every language he could manage, which turned out to be far more than I ever would have expected.
I couldn't actually see what was going on behind -- above -- us, but I had the timing right. The Sailfor had made it into the bay. Everything flashed, and vast pieces of the ship began to fly by us. We were hit, but I had the feel of the craft now. I also could read the more significant bits of the ship on the radar and worked at avoiding the worst of them. Krisin and Lisel were shooting the back canons and taking out a lit more debris of any size.
I wanted to know how badly damaged the mother ship was. The thing was huge, and I couldn't tell if the damage in the bay had spread.
Fighters from the Belgium were heading our way. Good.
Then they started shooting at us.