“….and the hydroponic process is state of the art,” Furieux said reverently. “After the middle run they analyse it by advanced gas chromatography, and that is why this drink” – he paused, raised the glass to his lips and took a mouthful – “is the finest in the galaxy.”

Adamantium didn’t particularly care for gin, but since Furieux’s return to Coney Gateway he was somewhat enjoying the customary lectures that followed consumption of half a bottle of Centauri. Adamantium’s beer was taking effect, and he found the subtle glow from the glass to be somewhat hypnotic as began another tale of gin-themed adventure.

The first flicker of the lights went almost unnoticed. The second lasted longer, and the bar became hushed. Distant booms could be heard echoing around the station and the Star and Garter was suddenly bathed in the green glow of emergency lighting. While patrons gathered against the viewing windows, gazing out in search of some clue as to the source of the power failure, the darkness was cut by bright, blue light that washed the very colour from their surroundings. The station defences were firing, and two unauthorized Vipers disintegrated as they boosted into the docking port, setting the debris into a gentle, tumbling drift across the station interior. The thunderous sound of their destruction resonated throughout the structure. More and more ships were shredded as they attempted to boost into Coney Gateway in order to avoid the defences, but by now the laser blasts were quickly becoming ineffective. The apparent damage to the station’s power plants reduced the power to their internal batteries and their usual blinding luminance dimmed even as they fired. Soon, they would do little more than cause superficial damage to the flickering, pulsing shields of the invading ships.

An ever-growing cluster of scrap remaining around the Orbis docking port was suddenly and violently dispersed. A crippled Python burst through the cloud of wreckage, its core modules exposed through its lacerated hull, sparking and spitting flames as it crashed down unceremoniously onto a landing pad at the furthest side of the station. Adamantium recognised the markings instantly. The crowd in the Star and Garter rushed, looking for an escape, and swarmed around the emergency exit that suddenly crashed down blocking their path. The two Dragon pilots at the bar eyed the shadowy horde as it grew, the sounds of panicked cries and shouts forming a dark chorus. From the other side a voice suddenly boomed and the crowd hushed.

“Get away from the door! Move away! Get away from the door!”

The following explosion sent the mob tumbling to the floor, but it was controlled, deliberate. A cloud of smoke swept through the space that used to be the bulkhead door, and an imposing silhouette approached.

“DowCow!” quipped Adamantium, recognising the figure. “You look like crap! Have you been out at Hutton Orbital again? We thought Archon had turned you into a burger and fed you to the pirates!”

“I should have known you’d be drunk,” replied Dowcow, breathlessly. “I’ve sent several comms messages, trying to warn you. He’s here.”

Furieux grinned at DowCow. “Who’s here?”
It was the sort of grin he employed when his bar tab was due and had no means to pay it. DowCow looked uneasy and seemed to be stalling for time. The swift and heavy-footed arrival of fellow Dragons, Erbaran and DragonxFangz was a welcome distraction from the awkward silence.

“Guys, we ought to get to our ships,” urged Erbaran. “The station is running on 40% power, defences are offline, security has been compromised. The best chance we have is to defend from outside the station.”

DragonxFangz, observing the destruction within Coney Gateway’s interior, turned back from the observation window. “I don’t think that is an option.”

Furieux and Adamantium moved to look. A squadron of enemy Fer-De-Lance and Viper ships now occupied the station. The few vessels that had tried to run had seen their shields decimated in seconds and their ships disabled before they could launch. This invasion force displayed the infamous arachnid skull logo on their hulls. The Kumo Crew. Among the hush and confusion a dark shadow loomed at the station entrance. An Anaconda drifted regally into Coney Gateway, crushing and splintering the stray, dismembered husks of destroyed ships as it set down on the landing pad.

Within moments of its docking, the announcement system clicked, buzzed, and crackled. The sound resonated throughout all occupied areas of the station.

“I am Archon Delaine. Who is in charge of this ‘Dragon Squadron’?”

All four members of the 8th exchanged glances. DragonxFangz looked angry. Furieux took a drink.

“Judging from that elaborate entrance,” Adamantium said, “I think I need to see what he wants.”

Furieux nodded. “Agreed, brother. This joker sure seems eager for a chinwag.” He snatched the quarter full bottle of gin from the tabletop and snuck it into a leg pocket of his flight suit. “But if, gentlemen, we are about to head to meet our collective demise, I’m taking this bloody bottle with me.”

Image credit: CMDR Xandyr

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