Seeing the shrikeship beginning to withdraw with the tether lines still connected, Ret races down the stairs from the forecastle deck and lunges for the closest line. Seizing the hook in his dwarven hands, Ret jumps over the rail and swings toward the shrikeship with axe in hand. Just behind him, Aysle manages to grab another line and crosses the void to the enemy vessel.
Recognizing the opportunity, Tarith and Apathy rush to the rail and grab the two remaining lines and follow their shipmates.
Sergeant Trandar makes it to the rail after Apathy jumps over the rail and sees that no remaining lines connect the two ships together.
"Good luck!" cries the giff to the crewmen assaulting the shrikeship.
The four attackers reach the underbelly of the shrikeship and land without incident on the reverse-gravity hull. The nearest rail appears to be the port rail that leads to the main deck of the shrikeship. With weapons drawn, the assailants begin climbing "down" to the rail.
Having completely withdrawn from the Starflyer's hull, the shrikeship flies past the squidship and heads for the asteroid field. Once it is 500 feet away, the aft ballista fires a bolt toward the tradesman.
Meanwhile, the Starbug flies past the tradesman and alters course to chase the shrikeship.
The ballista bolt from the shrikeship flies wide of the tradesman and continues its course into the darkness.
The Starbug closes the gap between it and the shrikeship to a mere 200 feet. Since the ballista is still being prepared, no shots are exchanged.
Meanwhile, the four Starflyer crewmen reach the port rail. Being the first to reach it, Aysle cautiously peers over the rail to scout out the deck. Nobody appears to be on deck. With the way clear, the group crosses the gravity plane and land on the deck. Quickly looking aft, Ret spots four men loading the aft ballista. They do not appear to know of the boarding operation.
Aysle decides to take advantage of the situation and begins moving silently up the stairs to the sterncastle deck with short sword in hand ready to strike.
Apathy and Tarith draw their swords and prepare for the attack.
The damselfly draws closer to the shrikeship to be within bow range. Anleef, seeing new targets on the shrikeship, draws back his bowstring and looses an arrow. The arrow flies uninterrupted over the pirates' deck and into space.
Upon reaching the top step, Aysle suddenly stops in his tracks as the wooden step creaks under his weight. The sound catches the attention of the ballista crewmen, and the pirates turn to see Aysle standing at the top of the stairs. The pirates draw swords and move toward the elf. With no other choice, Aysle attacks the closest pirate, but his attack is parried.
Ret, Apathy and Tarith charge up the stairs and jump past their comrade to intercept the other four men.
A second arrow is fired from Anleef's bow which hits the port hull of the shrikeship.
The shrikeship begins to turn to port to continue its retreat, but the Starbug manages to stay close to it. The ballista crew on the Starbug, having completed their preparations, fires at the shrikeship. The bolt slams into the port side of the sterncastle deck, splintering the floorboards and sending debris flying through the air.
The debris from the impact hits one of the pirates in the back, causing him to wince from the pain, but he manages to maintain consciousness.
Tarith slices at the pirate in front of him (the one hit with the debris), but the would-be victim dodges the incoming blade.
Aysle attacks his opponent, but loses his grip on his weapon, dropping it to the floor to slide behind the pirate. The pirate grins a wicked smile and closes in on the unlucky elf.
The pirate facing Ret chops at the dwarf with his sword. Although Ret is unable to parry the attack, his armor protects him from any damage that the sword may have caused.
Apathy's opponent swings his sword and hits the elf across the chest. Apathy quickly succumbs to the pain and falls unconscious to the deck.
Ret counterattacks with his axe and slices into the human's pelvis, causing him to crumple and collapse unconscious to the deck.
The two remaining pirates attack. The first one, facing Tarith, thrusts with his sword, but the half-elf nimbly dodges the deadly weapon. The second one, facing Aysle, attacks with his sword, but the bard parries the blow.
From below decks on the Starbug, the helmsman cries out, "Raijin, lower the ropes and assemble a boarding party!"
Raijin turns to the rest of the ballista crew. "I need boarders. Who's with me?"
Continuing his assault, Anleef fires into the melee on the sterncastle of the shrikeship. The first arrow misses the ship completely, but the second arrow hits home. The arrow pierces the ribs of the pirate in front of Aysle, and he falls to the deck unconscious. With the way now cleared, Aysle dives forward and regains his sword.
Looking into space, Aysle sees the damselfly close in on the shrikeship and take a position above the main deck. Activity can be seen on the damselfly's deck.