Chapter Two: Minor inconveniences

"To all Hacker fighters, this is Mactan, long-range scanners show multiple Mollys Bloodhound fighters closing in on this position. Engage immediately!"

Jake Crowder received this distress call as he was about to guide his squad to the Trade Lane nearby. He immediately changed his direction and activated the cruise engines. He watched as all weapon energy was transferred to the engines, and the Dagger's gears roared as the huge cruise turbines were started. His wing followed suit, and the five proud Lane Hacker members made their way back to Mactan. "This is Delta wing, Colonel Crowder speaking. We're gonna help you out, just make sure you don't get vaporized in the next 2 minutes, will ya?" The Mollys reached Mactan, seemingly undefended, but were quickly attacked by two Corsairs, who just happened to launch from Mactan. The stronger Legionnaire ships kept the Mollys busy until Crowder's squad went in for the kill. The Bloodhounds, now outnumbered and outgunned, were taken down like flies: The Corsairs teamed up on one Mollys, destroying him with their first attack. Crowder attacked another one head on, and killed him with a short-range missile. One was lured closer to Mactan and destroyed by the large stationary turrets. The other two tried to flee but were pursued and killed by the rest of Crowder's wing. "This is Luis Mendez speaking, nice work there. By the way, we are about to attack some Molly Patrols in Leeds, you guys wanna join in?" Crowder smiled inwardly. They were really giving the Mollys a hard time lately. After checking with his CO, Crowder and the Delta wing joined the Corsair fighters. They met more Corsairs at the Jump Hole to Manchester, who were quite pleased to see the Lane Hacker reinforcements. Together they made their way through Sheffield North Ice Field, only catching one Mollys Patrol, which was completely destroyed in a single sweep. "Pretty quiet, isn't it?" – "Yeah… you know, we could pay Kingston a little visit…" The two wings set course for Kingston Border Station, the lightly-defended border to California. "Set long-range scanners for Kingston… seems like the Mollys we searched for are currently attacking a BMM convoy there… seems like we could kill two birds with one stone here…"

The situation at Kingston was desperate. One BMM transport was already destroyed, and the other one was under heavy fire. Kingston sent a distress call, but only managed to alert one police wing. These 3 Cavaliers kept the Mollys busy, but a Mule pirate freighter quickly picked up all the gold from the destroyed transporter and was escorted by two heavy Wolfhounds, who were more than a match for the police forces. "Police Beta 1 speaking, they're getting the better of us. We will not pursue them into the nebula. I repeat, stay at Kingston in case they return!" Beta 2 damaged one of the Woflhounds critically with a missile, but followed the order and retreated to the border station. For a second he thought his scanner picked up a Corsair signal, but it was gone within seconds, so Beta 2 thought of it as a malfunction of his scanner, which was common nearby such nebulas. Little did he know that the Mollys he cursed right then were already being killed in the nebula.

"That was an easy one!" The radio frequency was filled with victory yells by Corsairs and Lane Hackers likewise. "This is Colonel Crowder speaking. My squad took out a captured Mollys transport. We need some Freighters here to get this gold back to Mactan. I'm sending our location now…" Mactan responded by sending 3 Dromedary Freighters. While the Corsairs continued their hunt for Mollys patrols, Crowder's wing escorted the Freighters back to Mactan.

Once docked, Crowder left his Dagger, took off his helmet and stretched. The Dromedaries landed next to his ship, and Crowder watched as they started unloading the precious cargo. He ruffled his hair with one hand and closed his eyes for a second. He took in that mechanical smell which dominated Mactan, listened to a Hacker pilot challenging a Rogue to a drinking contest, and overall enjoyed being back on Mactan. "Pissing off BMM and Mollys in one flight, are we?" Crowder opened his eyes to see his CO, station Captain Lucas Reks, standing in front of him. "Good work out there, the Corsairs praised your squad highly." "Always nice to hear that… what are we going to do with that?" Crowder nodded in the direction of the gold that was still unloaded from the freighters. It was a huge pile. "We'll get it to Buffalo; there the Rouges will take care of it finding its way to the Manhattan black markets… Actually, this escort is going to be your next mission. You and your wing are being dispatched at 2 p.m. tomorrow. Shouldn't be too hard…" Reks left the hangar, and Crowder look at his watch. 18:37. He sighed. He really didn't want to baby-sit some Dromedaries to New York, but then again… he would get quite good money for such an easy job. This reminded Crowder that he just received his weekly wages. He called his squad together to celebrate at the bar in Mactan.

Colorado had been a dangerous system ever since the Xenos built Ouray, their main base in the local asteroid field. But now, time had come to get rid of them forever. A Navy patrol spotted Ouray and within days, a whole Liberty attack fleet was dispatched to destroy the base. It was led by Admiral James Crull, a newly promoted hero from the Nomad war. "This is Admiral Crull from the U.S.S Walker to all forces: We're getting close, cruisers, take flanking position. Radar shows some weapons platforms, and there might be more hidden in the asteroids. Fighters, get ready, we'll be taking them out in one clean sweep!" The hangars of the battleship Walker opened, and swarms of Defenders made their way to the three cruisers, which were the spearhead of the attack. Crull's plan was easy: The Xenos didn't know of the attack, so they were an easy prey for the cruisers. In case they countered with fighters, the Liberty Navy was there to stop them. The Walker only acted as an intimidation and a blockade for any fleeing hostiles.

Marcus Xelus was preparing his Defender for the first strike. But unknown to his superiors, he had a little a special mission on his own: He was a double agent for the Corsairs, and his real purpose here was to warn the Xenos as the fleet was closing in. The Corsairs wanted them to go down with a fight, taking some Liberty ships with them to hell. That's why Marcus hailed Ouray mere seconds before the Liberty fleet appeared on their scanners, telling them to trust the information on their radar and preparing immediately for a counter-attack. It worked well: The paranoid Xenos did take his warning seriously and launched every fighter currently stationed on Ouray. Patrols throughout Liberty space were contacted to help defend the base. More than 200 Starfliers left Ouray in a straight-forward formation, taking on the central cruiser first. Its mighty main turret eradicated half a dozen Xenos in one shot; the weak and old Starfliers were no match for it. Still, their sheer number damaged the Navy ship, especially since some Xenos guided their ships directly into it. The seventh of these Kamkazes crashed into the turrets core, destroying the heavy cruiser instantly. The Defenders now closed in, and although they killed a lot of them, it seemed like the stream of Starfliers didn't end. They ignored all the fighters, simply aiming for the second cruiser instead. They barely even fired relying solely on Kamikaze attacks.