Author's Note- Hey everyone

Author's Note- Hey everyone! Here we are with another chapter! It's time to find out about this mission that the business man was talking about! What perils await our two heroes this time?

Freelancer is © Microsoft and Digital Anvil

Chapter 3- The Unknown Attackers

After the party at the bar had ended, it was early in the evening, and Tayls and Lily were walking around on a stroll through the Hood. The battleship had seen better years, sure, but it was still home.

"Say Tayls, I got an offer for a mission for us. What do you think? Maybe if we tag team, we could be the best duo in Sirius!" Lily said excitedly, looking at Tayls with earnestness.

"Hmm… well I could use a break from racing. Ok, so where is this mission offer?" Tayls asked her.

"He said that if we were interested, we should meet him in the docking bay, near our ships. I'll meet you there; I have to grab something real quick. Also, we might be gone for a while. I know you've been working on some more weapons and shields. I'd suggest you grab the containers and store them in my ships Cargo Bay. By the way, those TIGER LILY lasers you gave me work like a charm. Thanks!" She said, and then ran off quickly.

"Man that girl sure has a lot of energy… oh well, I guess I'll grab my stuff and stow it in her ship." Tayls said with a shrug and then proceeded to his room, grabbed all his containers of weapons, tools, blueprints, and unfinished projects. He also grabbed a few sets of clothes. Just because Lily had a self-cleaning jumpsuit from her vast money stores doesn't mean that an engineer like him could afford the same luxuries. After setting the containers in the Bloom's Cargo Hold and locking them down with chains in case Lily accidentally pressed the eject cargo button again, he proceeded to wait for Lily and the mission briefing.

Lily proceeded to her room quickly and then grabbed a small, concealed package from her vanity chest's top drawer. She opened it slightly, marveling as the crimson glow from within calmed her nerves. She had found this treasure on a trek into the omicron systems, near a weirdly constructed battleship that seemed to be made from a blue organic material. She would've stayed longer, but the radiation in the system was eating her ships hull like termites through wood. She took the object out and looked at its ancient beauty.

It was a crimson jewel, cut in a star pattern, and trimmed around the center with a gold ring with ancient lettering on it. At the tip of each star point, there was a platinum cap with more symbols on it. She held the object close to her chest and breathed deep. This was her treasure, a token of deep space's mysteries and treasures waiting for those who would take the risk of exploring it. She hoped more than anything that she could see the wonders of the universe together with a certain redheaded racer. She blushed slightly as she thought about him, then realized she was supposed to meet him in the docking bay for their mission! She hurriedly put the jewel back into it's container box, which she then slipped into an internal pocket of her jumpsuit, keeping it close to her heart, like a picture of Tayls and her as children, happily playing together. She relished those memories just like the artifact, and vowed to protect Tayls on this mission if the need arises, so that they can make more memories together.

As she dashed out of her room after grabbing her pilot's shades, she ran into Uncle Verne, and then bade good-bye, and told him that she and Tayls would be back in a few days. He smiled and waved her off, saying he'd hold down the battleship while they were gone. She quickly got onto the loading elevator and told it to take her to the loading bay, praying that she'd make it before the mission briefing, as showing up late shows a lack of experience.

Tayls saw Lily come running up to him, and stood next to him while they waited for the mission briefer, who came in through the bar door a few minutes later. Tayls recognized his uniform as a Kusari Samura Industry uniform. Which would mean they were probably leaving into Tau 31 or one of the omega systems. No wonder Lily said to take along all his stuff. They could be gone for up to a week on this trip!

The commissioner bade good day to both of them then got down to the point. They were actually heading to the Magellan System, a known Lane Hacker system! They were to hunt down a rogue fugitive, known as Blitz Tyson. He was an Outcast Veteran Pilot who had been preying on their shipments of Ocular chips for quite some time, and it was getting to be a bother, since Freeport 1 was a large buyer, and was the only Zoner base in the system. In exchange for their services, a bounty of 12,000 credits would be given to them, which meant 6,000 credits each! They both accepted the mission and then got into their ships and prepared to take off…

Meanwhile, across the system, in the asteroid field near the old Gas Miner's Guild station, the Glorious, which had been abandoned for years, a weird Jump Hole was ripped in the space. A strike force of several, odd-looking blue fighters, made of some organic material emerged from the makeshift hole, which vanished behind them. They translated over the comlink in a weird, unknown language. They would wait for a few minutes, and then strike the Battleship Hood, where a reading of one of their missing artifacts seemed to have emanated from a few minutes before…

Tayls and Lily launched into space, and then after checking their mission waypoints they proceeded to launch their cruise engines and travel to the Jump Gate near the edge of the system. After identifying themselves to Border Station Braum, they docked with the Jump Gate, whisking the two to the Leeds System. After arriving, they took a Trade Lane to Leeds, and Tayls said he knew a shortcut to Magellan that they could use to get there faster. It was located in the smog cloud behind the planet. Both of them entered Cruise Speed, and then located the Jump Hole on the fringe of the cloud, and took it to the Magellan System.

Verne had just jumped into his ships cockpit, it was a basic Cavalier light fighter, but it suited him fine. He was headed to the Leeds system to visit with an old friend of his named Tobias, who ran the equipment shop there. He proceeded to launch into space and dock with the Trade Lane, to whisk him to the Leeds Jump Gate. As he docked with the Jump Gate, a large explosion blossomed behind his ship, as his home, the Hood was blown to shrapnel in the wake of space. In too much shock more than anything else, he saw a squad of weird looking blue ships launch missiles at the Jump Gate, blowing it up right behind him as he jumped to Luminal Speed and was the last one to ever see the Dublin System ever again…

When Verne emerged from the Jump Gate, he docked with the Trade Lane, and then took the Docking Ring down to Leeds, where he slowly set his ship down on the landing pad near Tobias's equipment shop. He slowly staggered into the equipment shop, and then rang the bell for the dealer. Tobias came running around the corner, saying he'd just heard the news and was thankful that Verne was all right.

The balding chubby man ran a hand through his light brown hair. "I don't know what happened out there. You say these blue fighters suddenly came in and simply blew all the bases to scrap?" Tobias asked Verne, who nodded.

"Yes! It was awful! I think Tayls, Lily, and I are the only three who made it out… I thank all the powers that be for letting us go, but still, all my racing buddies, some of my best friends, died on that station… this is a dire time, Tobias." Verne said shaking his head, as his friend tried to comfort him as best as he could…

Meanwhile, Tayls and Lily just emerged from the Jump Hole to find a small squadron of Rheinland Valkyries waiting for them. "What are Rheinlanders doing in the Magellan system?" Tayls asked Lily over the secure channel.

"Attention Rheinland ships, this is Veteran Bounty Hunter Lily Zelfos. Please state your business and destination, over." Lily transmitted to the ships, who maintained radio silence. "Rheinland vessels, please respond… over." She tried again. Still nothing but silence.

"Tayls, I don't like this, make sure your guns are ready…" Lily told Tayls over the secure line.

Suddenly the fighters zoomed forward and opened fire on the two ships…

Author's Note- Hooray for cliffhangers! HA HA HA! Anyway, who are these unresponsive ships? What do they want with our heros? Will they be shot down before their mission starts, and what is that weird artifact of Lily's? Find out next time on Freelancer: Racer's Trials!