Log 13

 

When the order to flee was broadcast, Montag put Li Ming in charge of Willis, Xavier, and the probationary Todd Lian with instructions that they were to maintain guard on the stubborn Chan and William, along with the ungrateful Marsh. Cindy was ordered to bring the two nurses wit her and join Montag “due to her critical skills, so useful for the Cause”. The wounded aboard the ‘Ghost would have to hope God’s providence would protect them until the leadership could regroup. Cindy nodded in agreement and Montag rushed to board General Jessica Taylor-Leigh’s ship, a high-speed Arrowhead-Class courier.

 

As the fredd Crew was unarmed, with their weapons locked in a large case at the back of the cargo bay, retaking the ship was going to be a challenge. There were three revels on the bridge, two in the engine room, and four deckhands were suiting up to man the manually launched missiles. Cindy headed for the infirmary to see if she could trick the two nurses to leave per Montag’s orders. As the medic made her move, the freed Crew freed the rest of the Crew, giving the Crew plus Todd Lian nearly equal numbers to the Neo-Browncoats at eight to nine.

 

Chan led William and Marsh toward the bridge, as Li Ming led Willis and Lian toward the engine room. Xavier followed the bridge team as she wasn’t much of a fighter, but had critical skills needed for the Crew’s escape.

 

Cindy’s initial attempt to fool the nurses failed miserably. This forced her to switch from request to a barked order. The two nurses still hesitated, but yielded to her ‘Doctor’s Glare’ and moved out without further delay. As the nurses fled the ‘Ghost; Chan, Marsh, and William approached the bridge. The three slipped into position and on Chan’s signal, sprung into action. Once again, William belied his size by moving first. William closed on the man sitting at the scanner console. Chan lunged for a female pilot and Marsh at the co-pilot. Attacking the flight crew was a dangerous move as the ‘Ghost had lifted before the Crew could get into place. William’s attack may have been fast, but it was less precise than Chan’s and Marsh’s strikes which were bone crushing and knocked out the pilot and co-pilot instantly. William traded punches with the desperate rebel, but the man never recovered from the initial surprise and soon joined the rest of the Neo-Browncoat flight crew in the deck.  

 

As the Crew freed the bridge, Li Ming, Willis and Lian approached engineering. Willis moved silently, but Li Ming’s shoes clattered on the deck and alerted the two rebels running the engine room. Li Ming lashed out at the woman nearest her with a solid punch that drove the woman back, while easily sidestepping her counter punch. Willis dodged the male mechanic’s attack and landed a weal punch in return. Li Ming pivoted and helped Willis finish off the last of the defenders giving the Crew control of their ship for the first time in ten days.

 

Chan contacted the engine room and relayed as she heard Li Ming reply. Chan reported she and Marsh were at the controls with Xavier at the scanner console. William and Cindy were in the process of gathering up the rebels and would be along soon. However, things were probably going to get bumpy as the ‘Ghost was part of a sacrificial breakthrough group of six ships expected to blast a hole through the Alliance cordon so that Neo-Browncoat leadership could escape!

In front of the ‘Ghost was an Alliance Ocean-Class Patrol Cruiser and a pack of eighteen ASREVs. Behind the ship were a dozen rebel freighters spewing missiles along with launching thirty fighters. The Alliance formation consisted of the cruiser in the center by six ASREVs to her left and twelve to her right. The rebels were in a six ship wedge in front with the ‘ghost being the lead ship of the right wing. Followed by another six ship wedge consisting of the high-speed couriers, and followed by a final six ship wedge with the carrier freighters bringing up the rear.In addition, Taylor-Leigh had the fighters trailing the formation in a loose gaggle slightly above the three wedges.

 

The two sides closed at high speed until reaching medium range, then the Alliance made their move. Having an advantage in range, the larger wing of ASREVs pivoted ninety degrees to create a cross fire and all Alliance ships opened fire. Marsh easily avoided the missiles targeting the ‘Ghost, but the Treefrog leading the left wing and the lumbering Kuiper, also in the left wing each took two direct hits and were blown to ribbons.

 

The two fleets closed to short range and the three wedges closed on the six ASREVs screening the cruiser’s port side. Chan ordered the ‘Ghost’s cargo door closed to keep the ship from being responsible for firing on Alliance forces. As William, Cindy, Li Ming, and Lian armed themselves with liberated rebel sidearms to confront the rebel deck crew in the forward airlock.

 

The deck crew commed the bridge demanding to know what was going on and Chan was able to buy a little time with a terse ‘change of orders, standby’ response. The deck crew called again as the airlock cycled, but Chan’s imperious ‘standby’ gave William, Li Ming, and Lian time to get into place. As the hatch opened, two of the deck crew drew weapons and fired. In the furious exchange of shots, Li Ming managed to wound one rebel, but both she and Lian only just barely dodged being hit in return. Li Ming responded with two lightning fast shots that felled one rebel and wounded the second. The rebels fought back fanatically wounding William before Li Ming killed two of the Neo-Browncoats with three shots, while William and Lian finished off the last rebel. Cindy came running once she heard the gunfire and immediately hustled the wounded William to the infirmary. This left Li Ming and Lian to secure the surviving Neo-Browncoats in the cargo bay.  

 

Outside the ‘Ghost, Taylor-Leigh’s gamble paid off when seventeen of the stinger fighters missiles hit the patrol cruiser. Most of the small missiles bounced off the cruiser’s thick armor, but a few managed to cause enough pinprick hits to add up to heavy damage as well as causing severe system shock throughout the ship identified as the IAV Halberd. While the rest of the rebel fire managed to cripple one ASREV. Alliance counter fire crippled the second Treefrog in the breakthrough group, damaged a Chariot and a Traveler in the VIP Group, and one of the Shellbacks in the trailing Carrier Group.

 

Cindy reported to Chan that William’s wounds weren’t serious “no thanks to that hag Taylor-Leigh.” Chan thought how easily it would be to end the rebellion if the “General” were to meet with an accident and asked Xavier how difficult would it be to have the missiles on board track Taylor-Leigh’s Arrowhead. Xavier replied that it would child’s play. Chan asked Li Ming how many missiles were in the airlock and the gambler responded that there were sixteen.

Chan ordered Marsh to keep pushing for the small opening in the Alliance’s line made by the crippled ASREV falling out of position. After a moment’s thought, Chan ordered Xavier to make the modifications and instructed both Marsh and Willis to stand by for Hard Burn. Chan and Xavier then raced to the airlock to begin modifying missiles.

 

Working quickly, Xavier programmed half a dozen missiles as Marsh obtained a precise scan of Taylor-Leigh’s ship and Chan worked out the proper vector for the launch. Chan pushed the unmodified missiles into the cargo bay as it was her idea to fire the missiles in a salvo and the massive back blast would detonate any other missiles in the airlock. Li Ming rushed over to assist Chan and by te time they had the airlock cleared, Xavier was ready. Chan sealed the airlock and commed Marsh to open the other door and to take a specific course while standing by for Hard Burn.

 

The two fleets intermingled with all thirty fighters swarming the stricken Halberd. Nine more missiles hit the patrol cruiser and again the systemic shock proved telling as the Halberd lurched to a halt. Neo-Browncoat fire also disabled four more ASREVs.  However, Alliance fire finally found the range crippling the slow moving Basurero, lightly damaging one Chariot, Heavily damaging one Chariot, one Shellback, both Prides, and completely destroying one Shellback and the Stinger Flight Leader.   

 

Chan called for the launch and fout of the six missiles hit the wildly dodging Arrowhead causing sever damage despite the fact that the ship was nearly as heavily armored as the Halberd. Xavier immediately began programming more missiles as Marsh closed the outer hatch and Chan and Li Ming began pushing the missiles into place of the bomb bay cargo hatch.

 

The rebel fighters scattered with most attempting to reach a carrier, but leaving enough to engage the remaining ASREVs continuing to fight. The Neo-Browncoat Pride-Class makeshift Carrier Stalwart noticed the ‘Ghost’s missile launch and fired on her, but the missile malfunctioned The rebels lost a Chariot and a Pride crippled, plus a fighter destroyed for one more ASREV crippled and tow damaged.

 

Xavier gor four more missiles programmed as Chan and Li Ming go them into the lower airlock. Marsh sealed the cargo bay and triggered the missiles. Taylor-Leigh’s ship was already severely damaged and this time, was unable to dodge effectively. All four missiles struck home and blasted the leader of the Neo-Browncoats to oblivion. Marsh then punched Hard Burn and cleared the battlefield.  

 

The disorganized rebels, shorn of their leadership, also scattered leaving fourteen fighters behind. The fighters attempted to scatter as well with nine successfully returning to Regina. Of the five that failed to escape, one was destroyed and four were crippled. The rest of the Light Group’s attacks faired better as there was less fanatical resistance and the Neo-Browncoat forces were routed for light casualties, mainly among the ASREVs with only the Halberd of the alliance heavy ships being disabled.

 

The Alliance propaganda mills crowed extensively about the victory, with the death of the rebel leader Jessica Taylor-Leigh reported lost due to treachery by one Wu Chan Juan, the captain of the Firefly-Class Mid-Bulk freighter Lattimer’s Ghost. While no ship of that name was identified during the pitched battle, a ship of that name and owned by the person claimed by the captured revels did exist in the Alliance records.

 

Regardless, if this story was true or not, the Neo-Browncoat movement quickly collapsed without Taylor-Leigh. By the time the ‘Ghost reached Skyplex Sanctuary two days later on 27 November 2518, the Crew found that word of their actions had preceded them. Cindy over saw the transfer of seven wounded, five able, and four dead Neo-Browncoats, plus tow wounded civilians to the proper authority, as Li Ming unloaded five missiles for fifty credits while Chan went abut getting the basic supplies for the ship taken care of, the Dock master pulled her aside to tell her that she had done a good thing. The Neo-Browncoats were making a bad situation worse and making life for true Browncoats even harder than normal. Word had gone out that what was once said about Wu Chan Juan was wrong and the Dock Master made sure Chan knew that she was fully welcome where ever Browncoats called home.

 

However, he warned her that she had made a deadly enemy out of what was left of the Neo-Browncoats. Chan said thanks and then sent a wave to Harvey Killian about the lost cargo. He responded that the cargo was insured and that the Crew had done the ‘Verse a big favor by knocking the wind out of the Neo-Browncoats and that he still had plenty of work for them. In fact, he was advancing them five hundred credits as a bonus. Chan sighed in relief and said she’d be back at his office on Beaumont as soon as she had some repairs made. Chan then informed the Crew and headed to take a well deserved nap.