Tor peered closely at his screen, moving his hand to the control panel to try and increase the resolution on his holoscan.
"That is one weird looking signal. Ejaw are you getting these on your holo?"
"Affirimative Boss. They look like out of system craft, maybe Imperial stealth craft, or some kind of mercenary unit, tricked up to look like something they are not."
"Ahhh, could be, but that doesn't sound right. We have been making enough noise yet to bring the Imperials in, and mercenaries wouldn't be jumping us, they would stay clear of one of my ops."
"Look at those scans. The engine power levels are fifteen percent higher than anything I have seen in military use in the quadrant, and the weapons are military grade if not a little light. What do you make of these scans Ejaw?"
"It couldn't be..." Ejaw's voice trailed off into her comm pickup.
The always impatient Tor deplored her, "It couldn't be what???"
"Let me get a closer look at these readings, and cross reference this on the interstellar net. Hold on."
As Ejaw put her computer console to work on identifying the incoming bogies, Tor watched the scene unfold in front of him. The oncoming starships quickly closed with the fleeing merchant starship. Tor could see the blooms of blue laser bolts cut through the dark of space. The starfighters had opened fire on the merchant starship. The bolts ricocheted and bounced off the blue of the shields that encompassed the merchant tramp. The shields held on the first pass.
"Tor, Tor," Ejaw's voice broke into his mesmerized state. "The merchanter. They are trying to hail us. Pick up your comm on channel alpha oh one."
Tor adjusted his comm equipment and the image of the merchantman captain in military shipboard uniform filled his screen. "...I repeat, this is the CQS Slight Slip. We are under attack from hostile starships. These are not FREP. These are aliens. You must come to our aid. Tor we know that is you and even you would not throw us to these wolves! Answer us. Tor do you copy!"
The officer on the screen rocked as his ship took a hit from one of the enemy fighters. Tor's mind reeled as he came to the realization. For the first time in his life Rafael Tor was meeting the Xothic. The enemy that had appeared from out of the deeps of space. The hostile race that threatened to exterminate life in the Commorium Quadrant. Tor looked back out his cockpit window and his mind froze.
To be continued