“What… how did you guys get in here?” asks the Rocket, truly surprised to see the Inventor crawling out from behind some sneythium pallets.
“Ow… argh. My knees were shoved up into my chest like a folded-up accordion,” says the Hero as he falls off a storage shelf in the back.
“You too?” says the Rocket exasperated.
“Well the Inventor was dying to stow away and I couldn’t let him go without tagging along,” says the Hero nonchalantly
“So this is the universe?” asks the Inventor, staring out the window into the vast expansiveness of space. His eyes reflect the iridescent nebulae that slowly drift by the Phoenix Dawn.
“But you both cannot be here,” says the Rocket, swiveling his captain's chair towards a control panel containing various navigation screen readouts. He twists numerous knobs and types in multiple inputs trying to determine the best course of action for returning these stowaways home.
“Sir, three ships are approaching from the Omega system,” says ART.
“Great, the Guardians are here. They must have been in the area, their response time is impeccable. I’ll explain what’s going on,” says the Rocket, then turns his head to the heroes “and then we’ll get you two back to where you came from.”
The Hero rolls his eyes, the Inventor is still staring out the window, enamored by the beauty of intergalactic travel.
“Sir, these are not Guardian ships,” replies ART flatly.
The Rocket stares hard into the darkness of space, toward the rear starboard side of the Dawn. Despite the ships being many kiloclicks away (and not yet visible to the naked eye), they would be upon them in a matter of seconds.
“Those aren’t Guardians,” mutters the Rocket to himself, “ART, power up the forward cannons and the gunner pods. Focus the deflector shields to the rear starboard of the craft, in the direction of the approaching craft.
Suddenly three craft materialize, speeding toward the Dawn. “Sir, they are slowing to combat speed and moving into attack configuration. I am detecting a Martian signal,” says ART.
“Understood ART, weapons free. Prepare to engage,” says the Rocket, confirming that the ship is free to engage the aggressive craft that are racing toward it.
A flurry of ruby red streaks leap from the spinning barrels of the Dawn’s gun as ART tracks the incoming ships. Two of the martian ships break off, moving parallel along the Dawn’s starboard. The third martian ship turns hard, breaking wide to the left, before cutting the main thrusters and rotating the nose of the ship back toward the Dawn while drifting along it’s port-side. Several bright green lasers burst forth from the martian ship’s guns. The martian ship’s impressive maneuver made for difficult target acquisition, so many of the lasers sailed harmlessly around the Dawn, however, some of them find their way home, cutting through the thinned deflector shields and rattling the Dawn.
The Rocket slams his fist against the console, frustrated that the Martian so effectively countered his strategy. “ART take evasive maneuvers, level out that deflector shield, and give me a damage report, NOW.”
“Right away sir,” answers ART thoughtfully as the AI takes stock of the Dawn’s current predicament, “Systems look mostly good, however, the gunner pod is down.”