Gunship Iron Eagle Two roared through sector 205 on the rim of the Mesarius star system. The sleek aerospace vehicle, similar in form to the hi-tech attack copters of the 21st Century, was designed with a swappable engine section, allowing it to be equipped with a spacedrive for stellar travel, or a jet-boost assisted rotor section for duties planetside. Turrets swivelled slowly on either side of the Gunship's hull, mounting missile launchers and an energy cannon, while the small chin-turret at the front, below the cockpit, housed twin-plasmabolt machine guns used in anti-infantry duties while planetside.

Kreiger 'Wildcat' Jones sat at the front of the two-man cockpit, one hand on the pilot's joystick, the other tapping occassionally at the keys on the console in front of him. "I'm telling you, those frontier raiders make no sense at all. I mean, all they have to do is sign up with the Federation and all their supply and maintenance problems are solved! Makes no sense they would fight for political control of a few hundred rocks in space, and waste their lives trying to steal the equipment and supplies they need. I mean, sign on the dotted line, and they get everything for free without a fight, and the planets are still theirs to do with as they please, just with a Fed governor helping make sure things are run right."

Susa 'Spitball' Henderson sat in the gunner's seat, behind him, with a complex console that controlled targeting and weapons systems. "I guess for some people, the 'idea' of independance is more powerful than whatever the facts of the situation might be."

Jones shook his head in frustration. "I just don't get it, that's all. We're better armed than they are. We've got better skills, better funding. We're going to defeat them in battle pretty much every time, but raiders keep a'coming. They should all - hey, wait a moment, I got something on the scan."

He tapped a few keys on his console, and zoomed in on one of his displays, where small flashes of light flickered in a section of the grid. "Hey, we've got Space Folds in the next sector. Better report it in."

Henderson turned on a Comm channel back to their carrier. "Carrier Opal, this is gunship Iron Eagle Two, out in Sector Two-Oh-Five. We've just scanned incoming starships in Sector Two-Oh-Six. Requesting permission to check it out?"

"This is carrier Opal, that is affirmitive. Watch your tails," the reply came back over the Comm.

"How many are you reading?" Henderson asked Jones.

"Looks like four Space Folds detected. If it's a typical raider force, what, two transports, two of their rickety old gunships, we should be able to take 'em out or send 'em packing," Jones said confidently. Leaning softly on the joystick, he arced the gunship toward the sensor readings, and kicked on the afterburners. The Iron Eagle gunship rocketed forward and into the next sector.

"There they are," he said, seeing starship blips appearing on his radar. "Hang on... these readings can't be right. Can you get some info on your tac console?"

"Just a moment," Henderson said, tapping away on her console. "What the - that can't be right at all. I think our scanner's gone screwy. The scale's all gone wrong."

"What do you mean?" Jones asked hesitantly.

"This says those ships are huge... I mean, the smallest one is five times the size of our carrier!" she replied.

"That can't be right, we've got no ships that big, and the raiders certainly don't have anything like that... Let's get a bit closer, try to get a visual." Jones increased the thrust, closing toward the four unknown starships. "Coming into Optical range... now," he said, and zoomed in on the target location on one of his displays. What he saw was like nothing he had ever seen before. He took a few screen capture images.

"I've taken some shots, send these images back to the Opal, right now!" he ordered.

"Transmitting data," she said, reaching for a button on her console. Something streamed out from one of the unidentified starships, like a beam of concentrated sunlight. The beam engulfed the Iron Eagle. It left nothing behind.