The drone flew away, dodging the Xiniti ships by moving into the routes reserved for traffic coming out of the gate.
Even though most ships slowed down before using a gate, they didn’t have to, and could come out at theoretically any speed, so cutting across lanes wasn’t smart.
At the same time, the drone was freakishly fast, accelerating away from our ship in a blur.
The Xiniti were just as fast, however, and their ships changed direction instantaneously, making ninety degree turns.
I’d have tried to follow the fight, and possibly help the Xiniti out, but the alien spaceship drives in the League jet weren’t as advanced as theirs. We had another problem to deal with.
“Exiting from our approach to the gate,” I said into the comm unit. “Relaltive to Earth’s orbit, we’re going up.”
Hopefully the Xiniti’s translation programs would interpret it clearly.
I fired off the directional jets, pointing us upward, and then activated the main drive, aiming so that we’d fly above the gate.
It didn’t take much power to fly above it. We hadn’t had much momentum when I decided to change course. Within seconds we flew above the top cylinder of the gate’s three.
Not taking her eyes off the screen that showed our position, Haley said, “They’re all behind us. Turn around!”
While I turned the ship, she reactivated the shields.
Outside, the space around us turned completely black except that the cockpit windows and even the ceiling above us glowed, showing the space around us as well as it had before.
When we came around, it wasn’t easy to see the drone or the Xiniti ships. Not directly at any rate.
They all had their shields up, and while they weren’t trying to be stealthy, only weapons discharge gave away their positions. Beams of bright light seemingly appeared out of nowhere, and then disappeared.
The Xiniti ships fired as a group, hitting the drone, then scattering almost randomly, and firing again, nearly simultaneously.
The drone fired back. In fact, it never stopped firing. It had no choice in the matter. Good shields absorbed almost all the energy thrown at them. If a ship absorbed more than it could use or bleed off somehow, the best case scenario involved burning out its shields and any systems closely associated with them. Worst case scenarios depended on the ship, but could include explosions.
It hit a few Xiniti ships, but not in a way that made any of them explode. Meanwhile the Xiniti kept on firing at it, scattering as it fired back, and reforming into groups that almost all had clear shots.
The drone didn’t last long.
When the Xiniti reformed their lines the next time, and fired, the drone’s shield fell, allowing the hull to be hit by lasers, particle accelerators, and who knew what else.
It exploded, fragments shooting off in all directions.
While I doubted it had intended anything good for us, I wasn’t sure it deserved what it got.
“It’s just gone,” Haley said.
I’d barely adjusted to the idea that the drone had been destroyed when the comm started beeping. We were getting two calls. The screen showed the first as SoCal Defenders Podjet. Raptor had said he’d meet us near the gate. He could have been faster.
It labeled the second Gate Command and Control.
Haley said, “Raptor can wait.” She clicked on the button for Command and Control.
The screen showed a room full of Xiniti busily checking screens, their hands manipulating ghostly controls that floated in the foggy air. Grandpa had told me the Xiniti preferred a more humid atmosphere than we did.
The Xiniti themselves looked just like I’d always heard—grayish skin, big black eyes, big heads, and child sized bodies. They looked like “the Grays” in UFO literature except for one thing.
Their mouths were wide, and they had too many teeth, multiple rows on each jaw.