The Justice was approaching Tingash, the anti-detector screen was functioning. As long as no visual scanners picked them up, they would be undetectable to all other scanners beams. The crew and the two mercenaries were all gathered in the command conference area on the flight deck, looking over the holoprint of the Federation Advanced Medical Research building on Tingash, one last time.
Zen indicated, "Planetary orbit has been established."
Argus: "Zen have the battle computers continue to track the movements of all Federation vessels within scanner range and inform Jenna immediately if there is any danger of hostile movement."
There were currently four Mark III pursuit vessels and a heavy cruiser in the area but because of Avon's anti-detector screen, the Justice had not been discovered.
"ORAC, direct the orbital satellites to ignore the areas I indicated earlier."
"Let's go," Argus told the group as he picked up ORAC. Except for Jenna, they all followed him out as he headed towards the teleport room.
As the group put on teleport bracelets, Argus asked ORAC,"Is there a safe place for us to teleport to inside the building?"
"Shielding has been added to the building since the last incursion. It is not possible to teleport into the building. Communications will also be affected."
"Alright, we expected that. How about the safest place outside the building you can find which Vila can access with his tools?"
"There is such a place, but it is recommended that Vila goes down first to open the access."
"Oh great, now ORAC wants to get me killed too," Vila complained.
"Don't worry Vila, I won't let you die alone." Argus checked his pulse weapon and headed towards the teleport platform, "Are you coming?"
"This didn't go so well the last time," Vila reminded them. "I'm having feelings of déjà vu."
"We're doing this for Avon," Cally told him as she too checked her pulse weapon. "Avon obtained the original antidote for Pylene-50 in order to fight the Federation, we need to get the antidote for this techno-virus."
Vila stared at her, there was nothing he could say in response to her despite his unwillingness to participate in this dangerous mission, he would have preferred one of Avon's sarcastic remarks about his cowardice or his general limitations. Reluctantly he picked up his toolbox and crossed over to join Argus.
"Put us down Jenna," Argus told her as he drew his weapon in readiness.
The place ORAC had identified was on the roof of the building.
Argus activated his wristcomm on the bracelet and reported, "Down and safe. I will contact you when we've gained access."
"I'm not good with heights," Vila said as he looked around at their roof surroundings.
"Well the sooner you get us into the building, the less time you will be up here then. There's an access hatch over here."
The hatch was locked.
Vila made a visual inspection. "Just a physical lock. Hang on, what do we have here?" He was feeling around the outside of the hatch. "There's a sensor pad. It probably sets off an alarm if the hatch is opened."
"Can you get it open without tripping the alarm?"
"No problem," Vila said confidently, he set to work. Several minutes later, he had it open. "No challenge at all."
Argus looked through the opened hatch. No one in sight, so far so good. He called the ship, "Send the others down Jenna."
At that moment the building alarms began to sound.
"You must have tripped the alarm," Argus told Vila.
"No I didn't. It's impossible."
Argus immediately called the ship again, "Jenna don't teleport. Repeat don't teleport."
"What's wrong? Is that an alarm?"
"Yes, bring us back up immediately."
At that moment, eight Federation assault vessels suddenly appeared surrounding the Deep Space Vehicle.
As they both appeared back onboard the ship, ORAC said, "Zen reports that eight Federation assault vessels have appeared, they are surrounding the Justice. Jenna has raised the forcewall."
They all rushed to the flight deck. Vila set ORAC back on the table in the command area, they all went to their respective stations. The two mercenaries stood off to the side, trying to stay out of the crew's way.
"Zen, visual display," Jenna said as she settled into her flight control console.
Ominous Federation vessels appeared on the screen.
The plotting screen on her panel showed them surrounded.
"Zen, have the battle computers suggest the optimal flight path to escape," Argus told the ship's computer from the co-pilot's console next to Jenna.
"The battle computers report that all paths would put the ship within critical firing range of Federation assault vessels, they indicate the best possible course of action is to surrender," reported Zen.
"I do not surrender," Argus stated. There was a cold determination in his voice.
"There's no way we can outrun them like this," Jenna told him.
"How did they know? It was almost as if they were waiting for us," Cally remarked. She had taken up Avon's old operations station.
"Zen, how did you not detect those ships," Argus asked.
"The scanners did not register the ships."
"How is that possible?"
"The assault vessels must possess a similar anti-detector shield that the Justice has," was the reply from the computer.
"That's possible," Jenna told him, "the Federation does have that capability on some of their ships. We ran into it on the Liberator several months after Avon developed his."
"Then Cally was right," Vila said from his neutron blaster control station, "it was a trap. They were waiting for us all along; I said that this was déjà vu."
"Unfortunately that information doesn't help us at the moment," Argus told him.
Zen piped up, "Scanners have detected that eight plasma bolts have been launched."
"Cally, put up the radiation flare shield," Argus ordered. Cally rushed over to the forcewall control console.
"Radiation flare shield up."
"Even though we have the superior ship, we can't outfight eight assault vessels," Jenna said to Argus, "We would have trouble with even three."
They all held onto their consoles as the bolts rocked the ship.
"Eight more plasma bolts have been fired," Jenna reported.
"Zen, how long can the forcewall withstand the assault before the energy banks are drained," Argus asked.
"At the present rate of energy expenditure, the energy banks will be depleted in thirty-nine minutes."
The bolts hit the ship, the crew and the mercenaries all hung on. Again Federation ships fired.
"Zen damage report."
"Autorepair units report minor damage. The forward shield is down twenty-five percent."
Jenna crossed over to Avon's old operations flight console and reported, "Four of the bolts were concentrated on the rear deflectors."
The next set of bolts hit. The ships fired again, this time they each fired two bolts at different intervals.
"Rear deflector shield is at fifty percent," reported Zen.
"Jenna rotate the ship," Argus told her. Argus was a land-based commander, not familiar with space combat, but he was a quick study. He had been spending time with ORAC and Zen, learning the capabilities of the ship.
Jenna took the flight controls, the ship rotated but even as the first set of bolts hit the side of the ship, the second set still hit the rear deflectors.
Unlike Argus, the Federation commander of the assault group was very experienced with space combat and he was good, he had anticipated their maneuver and had judged the plasma strikes with precision. Two more sets of bolts were launched.
"Rear deflector shield is at twenty-five percent."
"We're a sitting target like this," Vila stated the obvious. "If we don't surrender, we'll be dead."
"They're not interested in surrender," Cally told him. "If they were, they would have contacted us by now."
"She's right," Argus agreed. "They want to destroy us. If we're going to go down, let's at least bring down as many of them as we can. Vila, clear the neutron blasters for firing."
"Blasters are cleared and ready for firing. This is a stupid idea."
"If you have any other ideas, now would be a good time," Argus told him.
The next two salvos hit, this one did damage. The flight deck lights dimmed, emergency lighting turned on automatically. Ture had lost his hold and had been thrown across the flight deck, there was blood coming from at deep gash on his head. Allren rushed over to his partner and examined him. "Is there a med kit?" he asked out loud.
Cally left her station and brought over the flight deck's emergency med kit.
"Zen, report damage," Argus asked as Cally tended to the injured man.
"Rear deflectors are no longer operational. Autorepair units report damage to primary engines and hull sensor array. Life support systems have sustained damage. The ship is currently on auxiliary life support. Autorepair systems are repairing the damage. Weapon systems are operational."
"Vila, target the ship at…"
"What about the sopron?" Cally asked. She was applying a healing pad to the mercenary's head injury.
"There's no time to speculate on that now. Vila, target…"
"Avon must have built it for a reason and we've run out of options, there's no harm in trying. Maybe it will give us an advantage which will help or it can confuse them just enough to open up a window of opportunity."
"Zen, what is the maximum speed we can achieve with the current level of damage?"
"Maximum speed is standard by two."
"At that rate, they could out walk us without a problem," Vila remarked.
"Go ahead," Argus nodded to her, "We have nothing else to lose."
She indicated to Allren to take over from her and crossed over to the anti-detector screen panel. Cally pressed the black button. For a moment nothing happened, then all of a sudden, a huge armada of Deep Space Vehicles appeared moving all around them, some of them dangerously close.
"Where did those come from?" Jenna exclaimed. She grabbed the flight controls and tried to steer clear from the closest ones.
"Zen, identify the ships," Argus requested.
"They are all deep space vehicles exactly like the Justice."
Cally said, "And they all appear to have the exact same damage as we do too."
"Avon, you're a genius," Argus exclaimed. "Zen, follow a random pattern just like the mirror images of the Justice."
"Is the anti-detector screen still operational?"
"The anti-detector screen has sustained no damage."
"That means that we're still invisible to their medium and long range scanners. The only way they can track us is using their close range visual scanners and that just got a lot harder and if my guess is correct, Avon would have also given us a way out. Cally see if there are any directional controls on that panel. I want the mirror images of the ship to randomly disperse."
Argus may not like Avon, but he did respect the man's ability and intelligence.
The Federation ships had begun firing on the mirrored ships around the position they had just vacated.
Argus directed the ship's computer, "Zen, have the battle computers plot us a variable random escape course which will take us out of range of the assault ship's close range visual scanners and will avoid the focus of the plasma bolts."
"Confirmed." After a few moments, Zen reported, "Course plotted. State speed."
"When I instruct you, follow the plotted course at maximum possible speed."
"Cally how are you doing?"
"I've been going over some of the instructions Avon left on the computer. I've worked out the basic controls, I think I can do what you ask."
"Alright, let's see if this works. Go ahead Cally. Zen follow the set course, imitate the mirrored ships as needed."
The Justice was badly damaged but thanks to Avon, they escaped with their lives. Servalan's trap had been foiled by the man whom she was close to breaking.