UNSC CAPTAINS LOG – JOHN MATHEWS AUTUMNS RETRIBUTION
United Naval Space Corps
A massive explosion rocks the ship in its cradle, followed by an enormous hum.
“Reactor has been fired. Confirming power has reached one hundred percent. Sound off to all crew members to brace for takeoff. Comm’s, signal intent of departure to the harbor master.”
“” Yes mam!”” Multiple voices ring out. Soon the massive ceiling covering the hangar starts peeling back, exposing an orange sky.
“We have atmospheric contact! Three hostile unknowns coming in hot, bearing ninety-eight degrees from magnetic north!”
“Brace for liftoff!”
I grab the throttle controls for the sub thrusters, ramping up their power to get the Winged Serpent to lift off the ground. The ships structure groans as it takes its own weight for the first time. Parts of the ship smash through the partially retracted roof, causing debris to be blown around in the thruster wash.
Keying the main thrusters, I jockey the ship into position and ramp up the trust to punch our way to outer space. Several bolts of plasma splash across the bow of the ship, fired from the three hostiles.
“Weapons hold your fire! We don’t need to be causing civilian casualties, and I need the power for the thrusters!”
Quickly our altitude clears a thousand feet from ground level, and I fire wall the throttles. Intense levels of thrust quickly push everyone into their seats and standing points. Watching the gauges, I watch the reactors load spool up to maximum potential.
“Captain! Releasing an extra thirty percent on the reactors for ninety seconds!”
The dash in front of me lights up red, indicating an overload in the reactor as I push the throttles through the extra potential. Hitting the new stops on the throttles, the Winged Serpent smashes its way through the atmosphere and into outer space.
“We have escaped Earths atmosphere!” Navigation shouts.
“Brace for impact!” I shout to the crew. Not even two seconds later, a large shot of plasma hits the side of the Winged Serpent, causing the ship to shudder.
“Captain! Radar contact, bearing two, seven, seven, by ought three!” Salina shouts from her station in Radar.
“Noted. Engineering, I’m releasing the overload on the reactors. Start charging the jump engine.” I pull the throttles back to ninety percent, noting that the Winged Serpent has plenty enough power to propel itself faster than any ship in the fleet, even at reduced power.
Looking through the rear cameras, I can trace our ion trails through the Earths atmosphere. Not only do the thrusters put out a trail that’s easy to follow, the main thrusters emit a large amount of ionic radiation that can be picked up halfway around the globe.
“Radar keep an eye out for the rest of the picket fleet. Not only is there the big one we must contend with, but there are the smaller units. Weapons, your free to engage with everything we have got. Though I’m keeping the MAC cannon offline for now.”
Both the crews at their stations snapped a salute and started working diligently. Almost as soon as the weapons crew turned back around, the space around the Winged serpent was lit up by countless flashes for point defense laser fire. The rhythmic whumping of the gauss cannons soon joined in and started filling the space around the ship with armor penetrating rounds, scoring a few hits, but unfortunately not doing any damage.
“Captain, may I have a word with you?” Salina asks as she gets up from her seat and walks towards me.
“Sure. Do you want to go to the ready room?”
“Hear is fine. I did a scan with the radar suite, and I think I can identify the picketing forces.”
“You positive you have identified them?”
“Oh, I’m sure. They are none other than my husband and fellow wife’s.” Salina drops the news on me.
I stay silent with a neutral expression on my face.
“You’re not surprised?”
“Not really, I thought something was funny with your family.”
“Well John doesn’t even know about this. Jeff has been trying to tell him for the past few years, but John has been getting more and more distant from the family.”
“Who is all involved?”
“All of Jeff’s wife’s and our older daughters.”
“Do any of Johns younger sisters know?”
“A few, but they can’t say anything about it to anyone. Jeff had a mental block put in all of our heads.”
“Yet somehow you where able to tell me?”
“Only because I was able to over throw the block not too long ago.”
“Thank you for telling me. Its just shocking that John has been fighting for so long against his own family in a war that has claimed thousands of lives.”
“A war?” Salina asks, clearly shocked.
“Yes. The almost constant battle for Tera. The loss of life has been so great, that the Admirals have declared that the past five years have been a war. Ill be it that the losses where a bit one sided.”
“What kind of losses?”
“Twenty or so capitol ships lost with all hands. Not to mention we still need to add the five ships from the recent battle. All lost with all hands aboard.”
“Don’t your ships have life pods?”
“They did. Records show that forty eight out of fifty successfully launched from the Autumn. Records further show that twelve where recovered. Only two had survivors, the rest they collected the pieces with a net.”
“You heard me. Two life pods out of fifty. Ten crewmembers survived the destruction. Both where the bridge crew pods because of the quick decisions of the navigators.”
“Oh my god.”
“Ah, don’t sweat it. As John would say, there’s nothing you can do about the past.”
At that moment another blast of plasma slams into the side of the ship.
“Decompression of block three, we have a hull breach!”
“Captain! Recommend dropping thruster input by twenty percent! I would like the extra energy to prepare counter measures!” The engineer requests a tall order.
“You’ve got it! Reducing thruster power!” I slowly bring the thruster power back, trusting my engineer.
“Copy that captain! Shield systems are coming online!” As soon as the engineer finished speaking, another large bolt of superheated plasma slams into the shields this time, splashing out and cooling in the repulson field, before being allowed to trickle through once cooled.
“How long do you think that will hold?”
“The small ships are knocking off about five percent per hit.”
“So about twenty hits and our shields go down… Lets hope to god we can get the hell out of here by then.”
“Captain, according to my calculations, I don’t think we can just sit here and take a beating. The drives are not going to warm in time.”
“Ill keep dodging. Calara, I need you to process the slip space jump coordinates.”
“All ready working on it captain!” Calara answers, voicing the fact that she is already ahead of me.
I jockey the ship arounds, thoroughly impressed at the ships maneuverability. Looking at the dash I see that the capacitors have enough juice in them to fire the single MAC cannon.
Spinning around, I get lucky and see a scout fall into my crosshairs. Pulling the trigger, the ship barely shudders as the main cannon fires. At the last second, a bigger ship slips in between the scout and the incoming MAC round, taking the full brunt of the impact with its shields.
“Looks like the mother ship has stopped by to say hello.” The moment I finished my sentence, a massive bolt of plasma slams into our shields.
“That bastard just took twenty five percent off our shields in one hit!”
“Keep the shields recharging! When we get a scout in close, release the overload energy into them!” Salina grabs my shoulder, immediately getting my attention.
“Carrie, I don’t want to see my family dead. Can I use the radio?” I look Salina in the eyes, taking note of the sadness and desperation in her eyes.
“Go ahead. They have never answered our calls for peace anyways.
Salina ran to the communications panel and started tweaking the settings. Periodically calling out to test the connection.
Ignoring what she is doing, I desperately maneuver the Winged Serpent to avoid the plasma shots flying towards us, keeping the ships reactor at one hundred percent only occasionally demanding more power.
“Salina?” The radio crackles over my earpiece. The radio operator thankfully thought to link my earpiece into Salinas radio call.
“Stop firing! We need to talk!”
“Salina! That bitch Carrie betrayed us! Stay calm, I’m on my way, I won’t let her hurt us!”
“Jeff Mathews, this is the captain of the UNSC Winged Serpent, Carrie Hensworth! This is our final attempt at trying to negotiate a cease fire and a possible alliance to protect Earth. The UNSC has tried to contact your crew multiple times over the past five years and have only been met with violence. This is the final call. Meet us at the uploaded coordinates to discuss the terms of the treaty.”
“YOU FUCKING BASTARD KIDNAPPED MY FAMILY!”
“Jeff Mathews, your family members are under our protections under direct orders from Captain John Mathews. Mind you the same Captain Mathews that was murdered in cold blood by your forces. Mind you will still have to answer to your crimes committed according to Galactic Maritime Law regarding opening fire on emergency life pods.”
“Jeff Mathews, this conversation is now over. Meet us at the following rendezvous point to further discuss this matter. This is Captain Hensworth, out.” I motioned to the comms officer to cut the connection.
“I’m sorry Salina. I kind of interrupted your phone call, but I get the feeling I sort of had to. There’s no way we can meet peacefully anymore.”
Salina hangs her head, realizing what is to come.
“Calara, take us out of here. Initiate slip space jump.”
“Copy that, Initializing.” Calara engages the slip space drive, dropping the shields and covering the MAC cannon port in the process. A circular rip in space appears in front of the Winged Serpent, as she sails through the ring, not appearing from the other side.
“Captain, breaking slip space in five seconds.” Calara announces the exit for the final time, leading to the ship dropping out into normal space. Radiation alarms blare, picking up on the strong radiation in space.
“Calara, what’s up with the massive amounts of trace radiation?”
“It’s a ruptured drive. I’m still looking for the source, however the signature matches.”
“And what are we doing in an area like this?”
“Looking for something.” Calara answers absent mindedly.
“Get a transport prepared for me and get people on repairing the hull. I’m hoping Jeff shows his ass so I can kick it for him. There’s no reason to act like this towards his family.”
Salina looks up from her radar station. “I thought of you like you where part of the family, I don’t want to see you hurt.”
“I don’t care how he feels about me. I can understand that. I just don’t like how he has put John’s sisters in harms way. If he doesn’t show in the allotted time, we continue to REACH. The girls will be safe there.”
“Captain, if it comes to that, can I station a spare core and a drop ship in this space to continue monitoring this radiation?” Calara asks politely.
“You’re looking for something else aren’t you Calara?”
“Well yes, but this radiation is the trail that I need to follow.”
Silence starts to permeate the bridge as the crew continue their tasks. I get up and make my way to the well deck where a drop ship is being prepared. Most of the ship’s crew congratulate me on my recent promotion, despite it being an act born of desperation. Reaching the hangar deck, I find the prepared shuttle and do a casual inspection. Noting that nothing is out of place on the immaculate craft.
A flight jockey approaches me, his embroidered patch matches the non-regulation nose art on the transport.
“Welcome Captain! It’s a pleasure to be flying with you today! I’m Mitch, piolet and lead mechanic with the forty third mechanized repair unit.”
“Nice to meet you Mitch, you seem to take good care of the new birds…”
“Oh, Jessie isn’t new, she’s actually the oldest bird in the roost right now. Over seventy flown missions on her airframe, with only one major rebuild when she broke her wing fighting back on earth.”
“I see you take good care of her… Sentimental value?”
“Captain you jest, I just take care of Jessie and she takes care of me. I hope your ready to roll, because it looks like we got our rolling orders finally.” Mitch climbs through the side airlock and makes his way into the cockpit, while I walk up the rear ramp, finding a SWAT crew with my trusty extra vehicular armor at the ready.
As soon as I take a seat, I hear the thrusters of the transport fire, and watch outside as the ship lifts off and moves towards the exit ramp. I turn back around and start to put on my armor as the back-gate lifts into the transport and seals with a hiss.
Ten minutes later we arrive to the agreed rendezvous point. A barren ice-based asteroid, floating all by itself in this part of space.
“Hey Mitch, do you think this nutjob is going to show?”
“Captain, I think you have him by the balls on this one. Don’t you hold his family hostage?”
“The are not hostages Mitch, each one of them are like family to me.”
“Oh, I bet, only because they are John’s family, you know you want them as your own. Its just a matter of time before you can pop the Q’s and make them your in-laws.”
“Mitch, you’re getting dangerously close to pissing me off.”
“Not meaning to boss, just stating the facts.”
“At least you’re not too far off…”
“Captain, we have radar contact. I’m using active radar, so they will know we are here.”
“What ship did they bring? I hope to god not the big one…”
“Oh, they brought the big one all right, and judging from the energy signatures that I keep getting fluctuated from them, they must be armed to the teeth.”
“All right Mitch, keep the bird off to the side, and prepare for this to go south. I suggest you get your fire suit donned.”
Silence permeates the radio line as the SWAT team assists me in getting ready. Finally looking my best, I press the pressure release and depressurize the hold before the door opens.