UNSC CAPTAINS LOG – SARAH KEYS CH.14
United Naval Space Corps
“This is an unfortunate situation with the coming battles, but under this ship’s rules I shall congratulate you two on your relationship and ask that you please keep your relationship building to more private areas, making sure to clean up after yourselves.”
Both of their faces went from dread to shock as my statement hit them in its entirety.
“Yes. I have no reason to disallow relationships aboard my ship, especially as it almost directly effects morale. If I upset a couple by not allowing them to copulate responsibly, then their bad mood will in turn effect the rest of the crew. There’s only one problem.”
“What!?” Anita interrupts.
“I am planning on dropping the entire civilian crew off on one of the frontier planets for the battle. Most likely somewhere near Sand Point Charley. While not exactly a resort, it’s at least nice enough to be considered livable.”
“So, either Anita will have to upgrade her contractor status and come with us, or you two will have a long-distance relationship for a month or so. And I do mean long distance by Earths definition.”
“How do I upgrade my status?”
“You serious about this relationship?”
“I’m serious. This is the first serious relationship I’ve ever had.”
“I can vouch for that then. Upgrading your contractor status will take your regular contractor status, and upgrade it to an independent contractor/operator, depending on your role aboard the ship. Independent contractors are usually specialists and work higher level jobs, while Operators are essentially mercenaries. My suggestion is you need to speak to your supervisor about getting an independent contractor roll assigned to start you on the process.”
“Any idea what roles I could take?”
“Nope. I don’t keep track of civilian contractor positions. However, I do know that the mercenary division could use an extra set of guns, and we could always use an IC to clean the bridge.”
“So, killing and housekeeping?” The lieutenant asks.
“About so. I know for a fact that Anita doesn’t have any medical experience, so she wouldn’t be able to get a position in the med bays.” I turn to Anita. “You can request the bridge maid position on the condition that you do not cause any problems for me during theater operations. When the guns come out I need as few distractions as possible to keep us alive.”
“I can promise you that. I’m taking advantage of the ships counselor when she has free time to see me.”
“Whatever works for you. Now have you told mom and dad that you have found someone? I’m sure mom would be happy to hear her angel has a boyfriend?”
“No. I haven’t told them. I don’t even know how moms going to react to me bringing home a military man.”
“No worse than when she found out I was a captain… I think she should be over that for the most part. If need be you can always pass Atkins off to be a contractor like yourself.”
“Wait… Will your mother not approve of our relationship?” Atkins asks Anita.
“Its not the relationship that is the problem, it’s the fact that your and officer of the Navy. She about had a cow when she found out I was an officer for the UNSC.”
“She doesn’t like the military?”
“Not really, she claims the UNSC killed a family member needlessly, and has been against them in general.”
“That’s very terrible to hear. I’m sorry for your loss.”
“No worries, he died a hero at least, and is still a mentor for anyone else in the service. But father should be a different story. As long as you are a good guy, he should like you instantly. In fact, I suggest getting his blessing as soon as you can before he walks in on you two. He is around here on this ship somewhere.”
“I think I will do that soon Captain.”
“By the way Atkins, feel free to call me Sarah when the timing permits, and do you have a first name we can call you by at these kinds of times?”
“You can call me Joe. But on the ship, I usually go by Atkins.”
“Or you go by Spinner when you in the radar room is that correct?”
Anita burst out laughing, leaking a bit of her sip of coffee as she did so.
“I wish you wouldn’t say that too loudly.”
“Everyone in the service has a call sign.”
“Yeah, but I’m not liking mine too much.”
“How did you get to be called that?” Ania asks, barely containing her laughter, and making no moves to hide her obvious grin.
“My department chief gave me that name. I was doing a space walk to repair a targeting radar receiver dish and the motor actuators turned on while I was holding onto it. My resulting spinning on the dish gave me that nick name.”
“Isn’t the original ‘Cooked Spinner’?” I prod.
“Yes.” Joe admits trying to hide his embarrassment.
“Well mines “Cold Metal Bitch’ though some people just shorten that to ‘Metal Bitch.’” I admit my call sign.
“Where did you get that name from?” Anita questions.
“Joe will remember this one, it was a front lines training session with the Paragon armor suit.”
“The one where everyone thought you went AWOL after destroying three companies of enemy tanks and three tanks of our own?”
“That’s the one. You know my radio receiver module had become dislodged in the fight and that’s why I didn’t return until I did?”
“I thought you where just going crazy on the battlefield and ended up destroying everything. Its either that or the instructors didn’t train you on returning once your power pack became depleted.”
“Luckily the enemy was using a Paragon armor variant that used similar packs. With their losses it was as simple as picking up any one of the spare power packs. At one point I had even grabbed a few packs off their chargers on the tanks.”
“Explaining why you went after their armored battalions.”
“I don’t see what the fuss is all about.”
“Despite the fact your suit was a total loss and had to be written off? Despite you single handedly mutilated the battlefield? And single handedly ratted out three tank crews of traitors? Yeah, I don’t see what the fuss is all about.”
“The suit really had to be written off?”
“Yep. A total loss. The power system was fried from too much current. Those power packs where of a higher output. Not to mention countless holes blasted through the armor from near misses. I’m good friends with the R and D technician and he was amazed that it even came back, not to mention the pilot was still alive and kicking ass.”
“I bet it was him who gave me that callsign.”
“Right on the money.”
Anita, Joe, and I continued to talk, passing the hours by spinning tales and drinking coffee. Finally, once we all started to yawn I decided to call it a night. Agreeing, Anita and Joe both get up to leave.
“By the way Joe, Anita… If you would like you can both stay in the same stateroom, just keep the noise down, and be appropriate when out in the hallways. I am very lax when it comes to relationships on board. However, we still have to meet a code of decency.”
“We will consider your offer thoroughly.” Anita reply’s as her and Joe leave.
Cleaning up the cups and putting them away once I had them cleaned, I called it a night and went to bed, preparing for a long day of strategy planning.
The next several days where filled with strategy planning over the comm net with the rest of the fleet. Each Captain weighing in on what they believe their crew and ship can handle in the upcoming battle and what they can bring to the table in terms of fire power and when they can bring said power. Because of our extensive port time and fresh hull, the Invictus was the best prepared out of the entire fleet responding to the battle front, however we where going to be a few hours late to the party.
“Fleet commander, I will be dropping off my civilian crew away from the battle. It should only add about thirty minutes to our travel times.”
“Captain Keys, your participation in this battle is greatly needed. Are you positive this is a necessary measure?” The Fleet Commander questions.
“Commander, as her trainer in officer school, I believe it is in our best interests to remove all unnecessary personnel from Captain Keys ship to increase her fighting potential.” John argues in my support.
“I will take you for your word then Captain Starlock. If you can vouch that Keys will perform better without her civilian crew, then I will permit the deviation. Only crew members on board that will have a necessary action in the upcoming battle.”
“I am glad you agree with me. I have someone looking into if I can shorten our drop-off time any further, to see if we can get to the battle any sooner.” I respond.
“Glad to hear. Now. What ships are under prepared for a long drawn out battle? This will most likely turn out to be a battle of attrition. Any ships that need to…” I tune out the Fleet Commander and work on drafting my entry plan.
“Captain Keys, I have drafted up what should be a feasible plan to disembark the excess personnel from the Invictus when we get closer to the drop off point.”
“All right, shoot.” I mumble to whoever spoke up, hiding my face behind my cup of coffee.
“Checking with the nearby planets, I have found several passenger liners that have agreed to do a run and gun transfer. We drop the Invictus out of warp and proceed at near maximum sub light speeds. The passenger liners will then dock with our port and starboard air locks, allowing for the transfer of personnel.” I realize that its Mia again with the ideas to save the day.
“What about guarding the transfer tube from debris? One pebble and we lose the gang plank with everybody in it.”
“Our escort fighters have agreed to use their shields to take the brunt of any collision that may occur. Magnetic anchors will be deployed to steady the ships while in transit.”
I ponder the plan. “How much time will this save us versus transferring at a complete stop?”
“Approximately twenty minutes saved.”
“That means we get to the fight twenty minutes earlier?”
“No Captain. We should be able to get there forty minutes early.”
“Without our civilian crew onboard, we can press the ship harder and warp tunnel.” Mia mentions the practice of engaging the tachyon warp drive while in slip space transit.
“Couldn’t we just pull the passenger liners into slip space with us?”
“No. Our drives could not handle the extra mass of two ships attached to our hull. The Invictus was only designed to tow a single ship equal in size through slip space. While smaller, the combined tonnage of the passenger ships is too great.” Mia explains the obvious that my sleep deprived brain couldn’t understand.
“What ships are we getting to help with the transfer?”
“Cruise liner Princess Winter, and cruise liner Princess Emerald.”
“Princess Emerald? What is a luxury ship doing way out here?”
“A benefit cruise for some planetary rights group. They are staying on planet near by so the Captain of the Emerald agreed to help out while his ship is empty.”
“How soon will they get here?”
Mia checks her screens in front of her. “In approximately ten hours. Both ships are making their way at best possible speed. As Captain Marx said, ‘I will get there as soon as I can, even if it means breaking a few glasses.’”
“Have you already called them in?”
“I took the liberties of authorizing their departure, though it seems there was no need to do so. Both Captains had already plotted their course and synced their flight plans together before I could get off the phone. It seems they are eager to help. Captain Marx has even predicted where you would drop out of warp to maximize the effectiveness.”
“Transfer the flight plans and calculations to navigation. Pass on the message that we are to proceed at best possible speed. And notify Captain Marx of any deviations in the schedule.”
“Will do Captain.” Mia scurry’s off towards the bridge to notify them of our proceedings.
Leaning back in my chair, I review probe data from the system we are destined to be fighting in. Sitári is one of the many frontier systems. With two inhabitable planets, its one of the more sought-after systems in the galaxy, mainly for its staple in being a bread basket. Much like its name, Sitári’s main industry focuses on fresh produce and grains. With both inhabitable planets covered mainly in fresh water, combined with lower gravity, and a high carbon dioxide content, it makes for especially potent conditions to mass produce food for the galaxies.
The Sitári system is comprised of twelve planets. Two molten planets, two habitable, four rocky, two gas giants, and two ice planets. Each type of planet has its advantages for fighting near. This battle is going to be a standard interception battle, with the Fourth and Fifth fleets making the initial intercept, with any battle capable ships nearby that can make it to the party joining in later in the fight.
Looking at the sensor data that the assassin class ships gathered, we conclude that the resistance forces are mainly comprised of Pirate and Mercenary forces banding together around a core made up of stolen and hijacked UNSC ships. Taking note of the composition, I begin to delve into the stolen ships reports from before they were hijacked and prepare to compile a risk assessment on their recovery.
A solid shudder rolls through the ship, interrupting my thoughts as the orders to transfer ships spews from the PA’s. A second shudder soon follows as the second of the cruise liners docks with our airlocks, and anchors itself using magnetic anchors.
Grabbing my coat and hopping up from my seat I quickly make my way towards the airlocks, checking on my portable terminal to find out what one the Princess Emerald is docked at.
“Captain Keys! It’s wonderful to see you again! I wasn’t sure when I would see you on an escorts mission again, so when I heard you needed a little assistance lightening your passengers, I decided to be the first to join the lot!”
“I’m glad you’re here Captain Mosher, disembarking this many passenger’s at once is not something you do every day…” I move the cruise liner Captain and I out of the way of the disembarking civilians.
“Especially, at these kinds of speeds. Regulations have the transfer speed set allot slower due to debris impacts on the unarmored docking tubes. Though that is a good idea to use the fighters shields to absorb the impacts.”
“I think they where happy to get the chance to do something new. You can only drill so many times before the journey becomes boring. This gave them something new to think about.”
“By the way, why two cruise lines for disembarking? Isn’t your crew compliment slightly smaller than my ships rated passenger capacity?” Mosher questions.
“For double the output and half of the turnaround time. Plus, the equal weight between the sides of the Invictus allows us to transfer at higher speeds than we could under normal circumstances. My bridge crew has our engine ramped up and is essentially towing the Emerald and Winter at a near light speed, the fastest we can manage.”
“Where to after this?”
“A fight has broken out in the Sitári system. I suggest you stay away from that sector for the time being.”
“Blimeny, that’s just right next door isn’t it?”
“Give or take a few light years yes, it’s going to be an intense battle it seems.”
“I heard what happened at Jericho. Twenty ships lost? That’s the biggest loss the UNSC has ever seen in quite some time. And all while they were docked.”
“You haven’t heard the half of it. Of those twenty lost, fifteen of them where stolen and have been conscripted into the rebellion’s navy. So not only did we lose a good chunk of ships, we now have to fight against them.”
“Well I sure am glad that ONI censored the outgoing news. That kind of defeat would wreck morale. Not to mention set off the antiwar pacifists.”
“Don’t they know we are on their side? Seriously there is not one seaman aboard this ship that wants to war. They would all rather be sipping drinks and going on an exploratory cruise instead, exactly what the UNSC originally was intended to do.”
“I have a ship full of pacifists booked, and I swear I hardly invite them to captain’s dinner to keep away from their drivel. The general consensus amongst them is that the Navy is purposely starting these wars to profit off of the losses and fighting. Another popular train of thought is that the UNSC is trying to absorb all the planets in the system and make them into slave planets. Taking everything of value from them and making them work to live.”