The lethal chaos receded astern, and Alicia cursed herself viciously. Monkoto had planned for her to play the part of a battlecruiser, slightly damaged in the inevitable engagement with Howell's screen, and she'd blown it. Howell had killed her SLAM drones-exactly as intended-but she could carry the same word in person … unless he stopped her. Yet thanks to Megaira's damage, he knew what she was. Dreadnoughts were built for speed as well as power; Procyon might have overhauled a battlecruiser with battle damage, but nothing he had could hope to overtake an alpha-synth. So he wouldn't even try, and -
Her head jerked up as Megaira's drive died. The ship sped onward, but she was no longer accelerating, and Alicia's mouth twisted bitterly.
"Nice try, but you don't really think you can trick them with a fake drive failure, do you?"
Who the fuck is faking? Megaira snarled back. I just lost the entire after quadrant of the drive fan!
I said somebody threw a goddamned wrench into the works! The AI snapped as diagnostic programs danced. Shit! The bastards took out both Alpha runs to the upper node generators!
Can they be repaired? Tisiphone demanded quickly.
Sure-if you can think of some way to keep those creeps from killing us while I do it! The alpha-synth's point defense stations took out the first spattering of incoming missiles even as her maintenance remotes leapt into action. In the meantime, no drive means no evasion and no nice SLAM-eater. If those battlecruisers get their shit together, we're dead.
Alicia gripped the arms of her command chair, face white, monitoring remotes that ripped out huge chunks of broken hull and buckled frame members to get at the damaged control runs. There was no time for neatness; Megaira was inflicting fresh and grievous wounds upon herself as she raced to make repairs which should have taken a shipyard days.
More missiles sizzled in from Verdun-but only missiles. She must have exhausted her SLAMs against Megaira's mad charge, yet her two surviving sisters hadn't, and they were closing fast. One would reach firing range within fifty minutes; the other in an hour; and Procyon still had SLAMs in plenty once she came out from behind her shield.