“Nine days. Nice work,” Yermak Halpan said as the Tanlian ship slowed its approach to XR309’s largest moon. The commander gripped his viewer’s console as the moon came into view.
“Hug the surface,” he barked. “I don’t want the colonists to see us.”
Rolid nodded as he piloted the raider toward the surface, getting as close as he dared.
“Locate that ship. I’m sure they’ve launched landing parties by now. Find out where those colonists are hiding on the planet. We may have to attack quickly, not take the time for a two prong,” he said referring to the Tanlians’ favorite maneuver of assaulting from two directions.
The wait seemed interminable, but four turns later the Earth ship came into view as it orbited Verde Grande.
“Look at the size of her!” Rolid shouted. “How many of our favorite cargo do you think she’s carrying?”
Yermak stared at the Colonia Nueve. It was the largest colony ship he had seen. “The ship obviously was built for transporting a great number of people and equipment,” he said. “It looks like a cargo ship, but it’s sleeker. It might be armed.”
The commander frowned. “Any movement on the surface? Any communication going on?”
“Not that I can find, commander,” Ossor Vallon, the comm operator said. His fingers flew over his console and then tapped at his earplugs.
“I don’t like it. That’s not a good sign — silence,” Yermak said, looking at Rolid.
“Commander, I have something,” Ossor reported. “Magnify sector C3 on your viewer. A lander is coming from the planet heading toward the mother ship.”
“Excellent, we’re in time,” Yermak said, smiling. “We may just have a good hunt, yet.’ Can you open a channel? I want to hear what they are saying. We need to find out how far they are in to their little adventure.”
“Yes, commander.” Ossor’s fingers flew over his board, there was a loud crackle, and then voices came over the speaker system.
“Lander One requesting permission to dock. We need fuel,” the voice said.
“Fuel already?” a second agitated voice asked. “That’s only been two trips pilot. We need to move faster than that.”
“I’m sorry, captain,” the first voice said. “The equipment is taking longer to load and unload than we expected.”
Yermak and Rolid looked at each other, smiling.
“They are still transporting to the surface, equipment, and perhaps people,” Yermak said.
“Do we go now?” Rolid asked, looking forward to an easy hunt.
“No, we need to find out where the people are,” Yermak said. “Are they on the ship or on the surface and where? We don’t want to strike the wrong target and have them warn the others.”
Rolid raised his eyebrows, but didn’t challenge his brother.
“Patience,” Yermak ordered his crew, but directed the remark toward Rolid. “If we listen and watch we will find out where the supplies are going and what kind of cargo they are hauling. That captain is impatient. They will lead us to the women. In the meantime, tell the crew to prepare for attack. I want all four scavenger flyers powered up and their crews armed and ready.”
“As you wish commander,” Rolid said, now smiling. This would occupy the crews until they were ready to attack. And from experience, he knew Yermak would not wait long now to strike.