Arc 1 And So It Begins
Chapter 3 The Coming of the Dawn (1)
Author’s Notes: I apologise for the delay but I lost almost all of last week to a snap inspection by my Landlord and friends and family deciding that this was the best time to all pop over unannounced and want to be sociable and stuff. Damn them and their Real Lives :-p
RATEL or Radio Telephoney is the military way of talking over a radio or comms circuit. Various countries use different standards, eg the US do things like How Copy – Solid Copy whereas commonwealth militaries use Roger Wilco.
Sunray is used to designate the commander of that particular unit so while pilots have their individual call signs when being addressed as a unit, how Sunray is used indicates whether the person in charge is requested or wants to speak to you.
Sunray Minor is effectively the same but indicates the 2IC of that unit.
“Anything?” Lt Tarman Chui asked for probably the fifth time in the last hour. As he tweaked the thrusters and opened up a little bit of lateral movement to ghost out of the way of one of the myriad of objects clustered together obstructing his flight path.
“No bossman, all scans come back negative for any non stellar emissions or energy signatures. Just like the last time…annnnnd the time before that one too.” Lt Parelitta call sign Sidewinder commed to him in a bored tone of voice.
“Which is just how I like em Sidewinder. Coolies what do you hear?”
“Nothing but the rain Sir.” the man answered, to which Tarman smiled in spite of himself. “Didn’t I tell you that joke stopped being funny like 100,000 light years ago.”
“Some things are just eternal sir, if it wasn’t funny then you wouldn’t ask now would you.”
Chui shook his head in spite of himself and then firmed up the lateral trim to bring him back onto his vector. “Whe….” what he was about to say was interrupted as the sensors in his ship started beeping and a blip registered momentarily before disappearing again.
“Say again Bossman” squawked Coolies.
“Hold one, I had a faint reading for a second at 054.17” Tarman flicked the autopilot on, which would keep him on course and take appropriate action to avoid obstructions while he focused on his sensors.
Another blip and the panel lit up again with the faint contact which he did not like. “Kovali this is Bossman, I’m reading an intermittent sensor contact moving around at the edge of this debris field.”
A few tense minutes went by as the contact appeared and disappeared a couple more times when all of a sudden the Kovali’s combat control officer said. “Bossman this is Kovali, hold one for Sunray.”
Oh that can’t be good he thought. Then Captain Soren’s voice came through on a private channel. “Any power signatures Bossman?”
“Negative Sunray, but it’s moving kinda hinkey and it’s position makes me nervous. It’s in almost text book position to jump us right as we exit the inner edge of the denoris field. It could be nothing or it could be a whole battalion of bugs powered down getting ready to gut us six ways from Erisday.”
“Permission to engage granted, keep your weapons primed but don’t fire unless you have to. If it’s some new species I don’t want to start a war the second we lay eyes on them, but if they twitch wrong make them think twice then bolt for the barn. Understood?”
“Rodger that Sunray, Bossman out.”
After that Lt Chui switched his comms back to the squadron and said “Guess what we get to do.” To which he heard several snorts and groans as the only reply.
“Come on, time to earn your pay.”
“Wha- what, we’re still getting paid? Since when?” Sidewinder quipped.
“Enough, combat discipline people.” Tarman finished, inwardly bracing himself as he felt like he was about to stick his bare arse around a corner and there may or may not be a bear waiting to take a great big wet chunk out of him.
Major Hassani’s eyes were glued to his instrumentation as the transfer team sealed the flask of greyish green proto matter into the test reactor. Their initial air patrol had turned up no hostile contacts, and it appeared as if the local cluster was devoid of all civilisation. What it had turned up however was a rogue planetoid moving erratically just at the edge of the system, a phenomena so rare that the Captain had tasked a enhanced recon drone to survey it for potential strategic minerals.
Hassani erected the strongest shielding he could within the test chamber as a safeguard, and double checked safety protocols and the stringiest test measures he could devise for any kind of flaw. The planetoid had been mostly an uninhabitable rock, which wasn’t unusual for a rogue planetoid, what it did posses was a deposit of a material that no imperial scientist had ever dreamed possible.
A naturally occurring multi-molecular resin that appeared to amplify energy. It didn’t even matter what type of energy it was, as the unfortunate scientist who stepped into a small amount of the resin, while trying to collect it discovered as he was unexpectedly hurled into space. This material could revolutionise energy generation and if they could find a way to utilise it, it could solve a lot of the Kovali’s immediate problems.
Hassani was sure that they were as ready as they ever could be, and picked up the handset to contact Captain Soren to receive final go ahead to conduct the test. Darnel was striding down the decking towards CIC when the overhead announced. “CO contact Science Lab”. Darnel reached the next comm handset and after removing it from the receptacle selected the relay for CIC.
“CIC, connect me to Science Lab.” Darnel waited as the call was transferred through and when Cmdr Granger answered “Science Lab.” Darnel said calmly.”I trust everything is ready…..then proceed Mr Hassani and good luck.” Darnel returned the handset to the receptacle and then continued on her way towards CIC. If this test of Hassani’s worked, then there was a good chance that they might be able to find a way home that didn’t require stasis pods or journey’s of ridiculous lengths of time.
So engrossed in the status reports that she was reading that the explosion threw her to the decking and after a moment of disorientation she picked her self up and ran the remaining distance to CIC. When she arrived there, her XO was over by the Damage Control board and the mass of alarms and displays indicated that the science lab was the source of the explosion.
Colonel Granger immediately half turned his body so as to make eye contact with his superior as he rattled off information from the board “The damage is limited to the sections around the science lab, but there was an energy spike that got through. By the size of it, it could have ignited the number 2 fusion reactor if we hadn’t taken the appropriate precautions. But the bigger problem is that the explosion buckled one of the lateral struts.”
Captain Soren stood at the centre console and stared hard at Denning before she all but shouted, “All right that’s it, I want long-range recon patrols out looking for a place to set down and repair. Also include a report on any strategic minerals within this forsaken sector.” Darnel all but threw the status report folder at the centre console in disgust, they would all be useless now. “If Hassani survived I want both him and Deras in my quarters, NOW, to report on what their lunacy has done to my ship.”
At this, Captain Darnel Soren stalked out of the CIC in a fit of fury towards her quarters. The current watch would not benefit from her presence until she cooled down and that was what she intended to do.
Tarman sighed, “Albatross flight this is Bossman, reaching orbital insertion point. We’ll be departing to our assigned patrol vectors. Good hunting.”
“Bossman, this is Albatross flight Sunray Minor roger that. We’ll take it from here. We hope you stay real quiet for the next five or six hours.”
At that Tarman sighed, he was not looking forward to spending six whole hours of boring flight. This system was uninhabited, the sole planet that could support life had not so much as a single iota of any sign that anything more advanced then a wood louse lived there. It was a virgin world, but military protocol dictated that the science boffins must always be escorted while in non secured space.
He fully intended to let the AP fly the rest of the mission and get some sleep. His life support system was more then capable of bringing him back to combat readiness from a deep sleep quickly in an emergency and it was procedure for combat pilots flying long haul static missions to do just that. As it was impossible to maintain an alert readiness in a seated position for long extended periods of time.
“All right Raptors, let’s get setup for first shift to cycle down. Switch over point is at the Lagrange point on the other side of the main star.”
Captain Soren sat behind her desk and glared with all the disdain she could muster at the two officer’s before her. Occasionally she would spare them as she glanced down to read the updated status reports in the folder on her desk. Both men stood ramrod straight before her desk with eyes fixed towards the bulkheads. Eventually she pushed the folder aside and pursed her lips before saying.
“For the moment, let’s put aside how furious I am with both of you. I have been reading your reports and estimates for the last hour and now that you both have had time and personnel to inspect and assess our damage, I want a no-nonsense overview of all irreparable damage suffered regardless of sabotage or incompetence.” At the word incompetence Hassani opened his mouth to protest but faltered as the Captain stared him down.
Commander Deras, the Chief Engineer gulped and with a quick glance at the Captain reported, “Sir, we’ve confirmed that initial damage was the result of sabotage. It has been mostly confined to the Cryogenic stasis and the power conversion systems. The Cryo neural storage systems were programmed to fail the instant the consciousness stored within it was downloaded back into the body. As you know, the storage system is built utilising a constructed element allowing for storage of information at the sub-atomic level.”
“We don’t have the equipment to be able to refine, or process the base charges necessary to construct this element. Our replacement stocks were discovered to be missing and subsequent searches have determined that either it was jettisoned, destroyed or never delivered before launch. The officer the logs indicate responsible for this equipment was the one found dead in his cryo stasis pod.”
Deras paused for a moment and said, “There is no sugar coating this, the magnetron that regulates the Matter-Anti-Matter reaction and by-products for the main reactor was deliberately fused after we went into stasis. Diagnostics have failed to determine how this was accomplished, but either it was programmed to fuse or more likely a sleeper agent was placed aboard.”
“The cryo maintenance officer makes the most sense and while his personnel file doesn’t show that kind of expertise, a home made device and a little training would get it done. Then he was most probably caught in his own trap when he went back into cryo.”
“Magnetron’s are a incredibly sensitive piece of technology, and any misalignment would be catastrophic even if we could fabricate one. I can’t even begin to guess at the time it would take to design, build and calibrate a new one from scratch. Years possibly, and during that time; main weapons and shields would be either offline or operating at the barest power possible.
The good news is that whoever did effect the sabotage intended for the fuel storage system to simulate a containment breach and dump all our deuterium into space. But whoever did the job botched the timing as main-power failed before the fuel dump.”
“Our final piece of sabotage, the communication’s array. I’m sorry to say Captain, but the comms grid wasn’t sabotaged, I have no idea why you are unable to contact Fleet command.”