The smoke grenade was gradually dying out, revealing a dozen black-clad troops moving into the hangar. Ezra’s team had fanned out behind engineering consoles, spare parts and cargo created near the open end the Jotunheim was slowly flying through. The attackers shot up at the spacecraft’s bulbous engine cowlings before taking cover when the mercenaries returned fire.
Levi ducked behind a small mobile crane, flicked a spent mag out of his AR and clicked a fresh one in. “Looks like they aren’t stopping! Get ready to bug out.” He called over comms, icy wind ripping at his armour.
“Ezra, come in brother, over.” …Static. Then a piercing buzz overrode all other sound in the hangar. Levi gritted his teeth and looked towards the sound. The ship was halfway outside, manoeuvring jets suspending its massive bulk off the floor. The thick wire that ringed its hull on two dozen steel brackets was…shimmering and crackling with blue light. A sound like submarine cable being stretched taut rippled through their skulls, jangling every nerve.
Like a baby bird leaving its nest for the final time, the Jotunheim exited Hangar 147 into the fjords of Norway.
The Jo’s shuttle bay
Ezra barely registered the sound of a taser behind him before his muscle memory kicked in. He spun around and swung his rifle at the spider. Its gangly forelegs clung to his gun and back legs scrabbled for a purchase against his chest. Its electric probe glanced off his forearm plate as they staggered around together. Ezra dropped his main weapon and held the robot off with one hand but the spider just scrambled up onto his shoulders and lunged for him again. Though heavy, It wasn’t designed for combat, and struggled to bring its zapper to bear.
In one movement, he drew his sidearm, pressed it against the spider’s underbelly and began firing, sending sharp raps echoing around the shuttle bay.
Darnell had been trying to communicate with the face on the other side of the airlock who he thought was the Captain when they turned away. Upon hearing gunshots, he instantly turned and saw what was happening. He held out his arms in a pacifying gesture.
“Guys! We’re on the same SIDE!”
He moved quickly to Eva and spoke urgently to her.
“I need to talk to the Captain. Tamerlane ran the data from your last test through a different program. If the shields are on and being impacted, and the engines and FTL drive are online, we’re all going to die!”
The sickening sound of the shields coming online simmered up around the engine noises from outside. Darnell cried out involuntarily in despair and grabbed at the slight blonde woman.
“You do get it, right? I don’t want to die! Now get your Captain to open this door right now!”
“Dialling them in now, sir.” Bosko confirmed from the Pilot’s chair at the front of the bridge. Floating one hand, he overlaid both potential routes on a 3d model of the region projected to the right of his control yoke. The Jotunheim was primarily controlled from consoles, but there were some ergonomic manual options too, which Jankovic made good use of.
The doors whooshed open and Zey stalked in on the balls of her feet. The bridge was intentionally darkened to allow her crew to focus on the various consoles and readouts. Light strips outlined walkways between workstations.
“Captain on bridge.” Anselm announced, only looking up from their screen for a moment to acknowledge her. Anselm was the Comms officer, a tall and muscular Danish woman with great facial bone structure, piercing grey eyes and light yellow hair pulled back into a severe ponytail.
“Talk to me. What's it like outside?” Zey ordered, striding to the front and looking out of the wide cockpit window. As she passed by Mallory, she grabbed the ludicrous hat off her XO’s head and threw it into a corner.
“Not good.” Bosko grunted, easing the Jotunheim forward and building the speed up.
The sun was peeking over the horizon at the fjord, and by its light one could see two dozen spacecraft attempting to escape. A giant fire had erupted across the mountain range ahead of them from a crashed ship, and some other vessels were shooting at each other in confusion. The ATC came through as an unintelligible warble.
“Full ahead all aux jets, stay low until we get out of here.” Zey ordered.
“Aye, ma’am.” Bosko increased the power and the change in thrust could immediately be felt throughout the ship. The Jotunheim started to skim rapidly above the black waves of the fjord, building to a speed of roughly a hundred miles per hour.
“Anselm, tell me you’ve got hold of Tamerlane.”
“We’re still jammed, Captain. The shuttle bay stowaways are asking to talk to you though.”
“I’m a little busy. Tell everyone to hold onto something.”
“Aye aye.” Anselm pressed her earbud to activate ship-wide comms.
“Passengers, strap yourselves in for a bumpy ride. We are attempting to exit the fjords.”
The people dressed as Norwegian military had neutralised the spaceport’s meagre security, and were close to crippling the ATC. Now, their quarry had finally emerged from hiding. Its FTL drive, their prize, gave off a unique energy signature that they could trace from miles away.
Together, teams smashed windows on the concourse and wheeled large armament boxes into position. Clicking open the catches, they flipped the boxes open to reveal brand new, man portable surface-to-air guided missile launchers. Spotters located the Jotunheim while others prepared to fire a salvo. Finally, against a backdrop of chaos over the water, they fired a half-dozen rockets that exploded from their tubes to spiral towards the target.