The eigth part to my space opera.
UNSC CAPTAINS LOG – SARAH KEYS CH.8
United Naval Space Corps
“Coms connected! Transferring to helm!”
I look at the holo-screen on the podium in front of me. After loading the hawk emblem, a secure transmission is connected to the Hamilton. An unfamiliar bearded face is on the other line.
“Captain of the UNSC Hamilton, this is Sarah Keys, Captain of the fast attack battleship Invictus! Cease fire and throw down your shields immediately or we will be forced to fire!”
“Ooh! A pretty girl! Unfortunately, your precious captain can’t answer you as his head has somehow become detached from the rest of his body! Hahaha! Why don’t you pull up a chair and join me as I interrogate this helpless crew to figure out how to reattach his head?”
“I am sorry to hear about the captain… would the second in command still have his head attached? I would like to speak with him.”
“What? You think we are just going to let you plot right here in front of us?”
“Well first I would like to gather information about what is going on. I would preferably like to discuss the situation with someone who has their marbles in the correct order. However, if you are willing to oblige the situation and explain to me what your intentions and demands are, I can successfully negotiate the terms of the crews release.”
“Well I’m not telling you what’s going on in New Mazdeck! Its none of your dam business!”
Carefully I examine what details I can. The hostile bearded man in front of the camera has horribly rotted teeth and the telltale scabs on his face of a chronic drug user. Behind him stands three of his cronies, each holding heavily modified short barreled shotguns.
“Well well my pretty Sarah! Why don’t you use those fancy cameras and investigate the hold of the ship? I have a little something I want to trade you!”
The vice-captain of the Hamilton steps forward with his hands bound behind his back.
“Chuckey, she can’t look at anything unless I give her access. Do you mind if I give her surveillance access?”
“What?! And let you play around on this computer thingie? Ill do it myself! Tell me the password or the next pretty officer on this bridge will have her brains all over the walls!”
The Vice Captain starts walking Chuckey through unlocking the bridge to allow me access. Each step I can see Chuckey get more and more frustrated. Finally, in red letters across the screen,
==ACCESS DENIED: SYSTEM TIMEOUT==
“FFFFUUUCK! Your fucking with meee! Im sick and tired of your shit!” Chucky finaly snaps. Grabbing the shotgun off the council, he points it towards the ships auxiliary systems officer.
“I TOLD YOU SHE WAS GOING TO GET IT!!!!”
All I get on the camera is a sharp static sound from the audio interface being overloaded and the view of the average looking officer being shot in the face. I wince as her lifeless body gets tossed back onto the floor.
In the confusion the Vice Captain slips his hands out of the cuffs and grants me access to the computers of the Hamilton. Instantly feeds from the ships cameras pour over my information officers screens as she forwards me the relevant feeds. Multiple corpses litter the cramped hallways of the light Corvette, evidence of the struggle that occurred onboard.
“Captain, it appears they have the remaining crew in the launch hold with the bay doors open. I think they are going to space the crew…”
“WHAT?! YOUR TALKING BEHIND MY BACK?!”
“Chuckey, the Vice Captain granted me access. May I ask what are you planning with the crew in the launch bay?”
“Oh just shut up already and quit your bitching! I’m sick and tired of hearing you bitch!”
“I’m just asking a simple question. Please answer me.”
“FUCK YOU!” Chuckey suddenly lurches towards the engineering counsel and punches a button on the panel, smashing the button underneath his fist.
With a sudden explosive rush of air, the lower launch bay is violently decompressed, sucking all the crew in the bay out into empty space.
At the same time the Vice Captain jumps to his terminal and punches in firing orders. Grabbing the microphone on the desk he shouts his confirmation code.
“This is Lieutenant Arnold! Fire on directive zeta zero zero! Targeting coordinates passed along! Execute with zero haste!”
An officers suicide order. Be taken out by your friendlies before you can become victims of the enemy.
“Copy that lieutenant, firing on grid. Weapons, ready fore medium laser cannons and fire when ready… Coordinates have been transferred.” The weapons officer looks over towards me and I nod.
Eighteen bright blue bolts of light rip through space towards the Hamilton, striking the ships shields, causing them to crackle with energy. It didn’t take long for the Invictus’ main laser battery to overwhelm the smaller corvette’s shields and punche straight through the smaller ships armor plating right into the magazine deck. The resulting explosion ripped through the ship, splitting it into many smaller pieces. The footage from the video feed winked out after showing the bridge of the Hamilton filled with bright blue bolts of electricity.
“What the hell was that!?” Father retorts from his seat next to me.
“Sir, that was a mercy killing. We are still combing through the data files from the Hamilton, however something must have been brought onboard that the captain did not want to expose us to. Most likely the ships reactor core was rigged to blow to take any bigger ships out if they tried to intervene.” My weapons officer speaks for me.
“Captain! We have movement on the long-range scanners behind Jericho! Appears to be a small-scale fleet, the transponders show a mix between friendly corvettes and varying freighters that appear to be modified into weapon platforms. And one dreadnaught class battleship!”
“So, the bastards got ahold of one of our dreadnaughts? Ensign Charles! Immediately notify fleet command of the situation. I’m not picking up any communications beacons that are operational, so deploy what teams and probes that are necessary to get the message out.”
“Yes Mam!” Ensign Charles barks from his seat on the left of my seat.
“Lieutenant Raes! Scramble the recovery teams! Search for survivors in the armored Captains bunker!”
“Yes Mam!” Mia reports right over my shoulder, scaring me half to death, before running out of the bridge towards the hangars.
“Assuming manual control.”
“Copy that, passing controls to the Captain!”
Grabbing the controls, I gently ease the Invictus towards the star port. The massive orbiting base seems to be relatively undamaged, however one well placed shot on the well armored structure could decompress a good portion of the station.
“Captain, Port authority gave permission for dry docking bay Alpha one three. Proceed with guidance route at posted port speed.”
“Copy that.” Switching on the captains HUD, a transparent hollo image is projected over the council. A green line marks the ports approved path. The path they picked weaves between the wreckage of frigates, torpedo boats, and corsairs. A mix of broken modified freighters tells the unfortunate tale of what happened.
“Despite their main forces being comprised of mostly patched together freighters with black market weapons bolted on, they seemed to do some pretty decent damage to the fleet that used to reside here. How in the hell did they get behind the defensive line?” Lieutenant Barthel notes while looking at her radar screens.
“Look at the almost intact bow of that freighter. Looks like they cut a good chunk out of the front of the ship to make room for the cannon they crudely bolted on there, but just cutting out that section and sealing it off shouldn’t account for the lip of metal surrounding the cannon mount.” Andrews brings the nature of the interesting configuration of the modified freighters to our notice.
Quickly flipping through the different camera views, I run a search on the wreckage. After nearly a minute of searching, I finally find what I am looking for, and I throw the resulting image on the main view screens.
“Unless the ships on picket thought they were dealing with just normal freighters. Look at the design of their disposable emplacement covers.”
“Your right… that’s some precision work just for weapons covers, and especially for a band of insurrectionists like them.”
“Barthel, can you get me detailed scans of the insurrectionist ships that are here? And see if you can find any data about the other ships that left. I thought the ships fleeing the system looked a little bit different than what we are seeing here, and this wreckage looks nothing like the normal Insurrectionist fleet.”
“That’s because these ships seem to be custom built one offs… at least they should be as long as the Innie’s don’t plan on another attack like this. I can’t tell from here who made these modifications, but I’ll try to gather what I can.”
“You want a fire team to go investigate with a Raptor? Maybe we can find a few clues?”
Barthel shakes her head. “I highly doubt whoever made these modifications would be as brazen as to sign their work.”
“You would be surprised. When this ships keel was laid I did a surprise inspection and found that at after installing every section, the welders would leave a tag behind for the repair crews to find. After calling them out on it I implemented a system of signature stamps. So, if the ship builders who did that modification are proud of their work, they will leave behind some sort of tag.”
“So, it’s sort of like signing a piece of artwork?”
“Yeah, except their artworks are illegal modifications to freighters.”
“Ok, Captain. I’ll take a crew and investigate the wreckage. How should we deal with any survivors?” Barthel stands up from her station and solutes towards me.
“Consider all contacts hostile. If you can recover a high-profile target, do so. However, you are permitted zero casualties. So, if you encounter an entire section of hostiles, I recommend breaching the ship and just spacing their asses.” I salute back to Lieutenant Barthel.
“Thank you, Captain!”
“Take your usual team. It seems like the admirals have been keeping our staffing consistent. Dismissed.” At my single word dismissal, Barthel sprints out of the command deck and heads towards the armed forces deck.
“The rest of the crew, gather as much detail as you can about the battle sight. I want to know their every move. Run the predictions through the AI computers, and plot out a likely battle prediction. If there are any patterns to their attacks, flag them. Send all of your data to the analytics team.”
The team instantly get busy collecting data and organizing it for the analytics team. Hopefully they can discern a pattern and find out who has been giving the Insurrectionists tactical help.
After receiving docking clearance, I pull the Invictus into a massive dry dock hangar that easily makes the Invictus look like a little fish in a big pond. Once the hull is settled into the docking clamps, the main and auxiliary propulsion thrusters are shut down and the Invictus groans as it settles into the clamps.
I look over at my father, who is looking around at the walls, most likely spooked by the heavy groaning from the ships structure.
“The settling noise is perfectly normal for a new ship. When we need to worry is when we don’t hear it. Because the ship is so new, there is not much play in the flex joints separating the different compartments. Settling under gravity is because the ships main core no longer has to support the weight of the ship.”
Getting up from my seat, I make my way to the gang plank that was extended to the Invictus’ cargo bay and meet with the dockyard supervisor to arrange the transfer of equipment and the refitting of the auxiliary artillery weapons.