Shakti had the three wasp ships brought up on the holographic display in the center. Each one had a slightly different color. The one nearest to them, which appeared to be flying an intercept pattern, was shaded yellow. It was followed by red and blue wasp destroyers.
In Shakti’s briefing on wasp technology, the war college made available to her some of their findings on the enemy. Since the wasps didn’t communicate much by sound, they were reliant on other sensory input. They had a highly developed sense of smell and visual recognition, both that surpassed human abilities. Although the wasps existed in different castes for functionality, they discovered the warfighting interstellar ships used by the wasps emitted light in different shades of the visible spectrum for identification purposes. No two wasp ships were colored the same way, although most humans couldn’t tell the difference.
“Bugkiller,” Shakti transmitted to Durga’s crew. “We’re bringing the nuclear propulsion engines on line. We’re powering down the electrostatics to save energy. I see you’re running your reactor already. Good, I want you to move thirty-six degrees from us on the same plane. See if you can lure the yellow wasp destroyer in your direction. We’re going to hit it with a thermonuclear torpedo and see what happens.”
“Give us five minutes,” Durga sent back. “And let me know before you launch the torpedo because I want to be ready to pull pack when it detonates.”
“I will. The yellow wasp isn’t moving fast enough to be inside your damage perimeter, so I don’t see a problem. Yet.”
Shakti turned and looked to the women with her. Dharma was inside her suit armor, just as her co-wives, and working at her station. She filled in for Kamala’s absence. Dharma was focused, but her disappearance still worried Shakti. What if she went unresponsive in the middle of battle? Shakti wasn’t sure they could reconfigure everything while taking fire. It all depended on what kind of weapons the wasp destroyers carried. Dharma’s life signs were displayed inside Shakti’s helmet, but they didn’t tell everything.
Back on the Bugkiller, three women were in control of a ship meant for a much larger crew. They discovered a secondary command center left over from one of the commercial ships used to build the overall pirate ship and made use of it. The secondary command center was located inside the rotating part of the habitat, which allowed them to experience simulated gravity while they monitored the situation. Durga had considered stopping the spin as it turned the ship into a huge gyroscope. This made it difficult to execute any kind of maneuvers. Imperial warships had all kinds of compensators for the spin, but this pirate ship had none of them. The best she could hope to do was avoid any tactic that would put too much stress on it.
“Do we have a lock on the yellow wasp?” Shakti called out. Time was short; in any second, the wasp destroyer could decide to strike first.
“It’s moving in the direction of Durga’s ship,” Tara called out as she did double duty on the panels. “We have a fix on it if you want to fire.”
The damage lights on the Bugkiller illuminated without warning. Durga faced a display panel, which screamed at her as several hull breaches were recorded. The yellow wasp had stung them badly and from a distance, which they didn’t expect. She raced to give commands to the patched computer network inside the ship, which wanted to know what do. Already they’d lost life supports in twenty percent of the Bugkiller.
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