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Science fiction novel. Saturn Situation Book One. Completed.
I'm trying to write a space novel this time around. I've watched, read and thoroughly enjoyed enough in this genre that I should be able to come up with something in the way of a readable book.

Do not despair, I will get back to the zombie series soon.

I have 15 chapters of roughly 5000 words planned out but it may go as much as 20. So far it's a little harder to write than the zombie book I've already done. While some of the research I did for the ZAP Club novel is carrying over, it's not much and I'm having to dig up new and interesting info for this genre.

I'm also trying to work through a couple of issues with my previous attempt at speculative writing. The hope is that once I have those figured out the reading experience will be better for you fine folks.

Some notes to help you make sense of the book.

The book is set in the year 2119 and takes place after almost 100 years of full scale war between religious radicals and those who do not want to convert. The only option on the table is to convert or die and people rose up against that. Considering the numbers and tactics used the Alliance was steadily beaten back until only South America, Australia and Antartica were left outside of the Brotherhood's control. Ongoing disasters such as attacks at nuclear facilities and an assortment of bombs has devastated much of the ecology in the northern hemisphere. There were options but the best one for the survival of the species was to escape to outer space. The Exodus began in 2022 after the US president disclosed a huge pile of black budget 'eyes only' tech to the allied powers and actively started working on a space fleet and moon base. 

Ship naming.

Heavy carriers and Dreadnoughts: Famous generals

Light carriers: troop carriers and battleships: Politicians

Heavy cruisers: US states

Light cruisers: US cities

Destroyers: Number and letter code starting with Alpha One and rising to Nine before moving to the next letter.

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

Corvettes and fighters: Ship or Base name plus a color and number such as Mattis Blue One, Mattis Green One, Mattis Red One. Most corvettes and fighters adopt a 'call sign' that is unique to them. Corvette wing Saturn Starbase Three Gold ships One and Two, for example, use the call signs Bubba and Hotep. Corvettes Saturn Starbase Three Gold Three and Four from that wing were not available for the mission in the first chapter of book one but their call signs were Redneck and Arapaho.

Corvettes are 2 pairs in a wing (4). Fighters are 4 pairs in a wing (8). Light Carriers carry 4 Corvette wings and 8 Fighter wings. Heavy carriers carry 12 Corvette wings and 36 Fighter wings. Dreadnoughts carry 2 Corvette wings and 4 fighter wings with Battleships carrying 1 corvette wing and 2 fighter wings for a CAP.

Fighters are 2 man ships. Corvettes carry a crew of 10-20. Destroyers a crew of 50-60. Light Cruisers have 80-100. Heavy cruisers have 120-150. Battleships carry 200-250. Dreadnoughts have 400-500 crew. This does not include Marine Corp security personnel. Carriers have 200-250 crew plus pilots for a light and 400-500 plus pilots for a heavy. Troop transports carry a crew of 100 plus a regiment of Marine troopers with support and command staff numbering ideally 6500. The ideal is rarely met.  

Ship sizes (Standardised across the space faring powers.):

Fighter: 50 tons 30 ft 2 crew
Corvette: 500 tons 200 ft 10-20 crew
Destroyer: 2000 tons 600 ft 50-60 crew
Light Cruiser: 3000 tons 900 ft 80-100 crew
Heavy Cruiser: 4000 tons 1200 ft 120-150 crew
Battleship: 6000 tons 1800 ft 200-250 crew 4 corvettes and 16 fighters
Dreadnoughts: 10000 tons 3000 ft 400-500 crew 8 corvettes and 32 fighters
Light Carrier: 6000 tons 2400 ft 200-250 crew plus pilots and support staff 16 corvettes and 64 fighters
Heavy Carrier: 15000 tons 6000 ft 400-500 crew plus pilots and support staff 48 corvettes and 288 fighters

The smallest US Star Base is Neptune One at 500,000 tons displacement and holds a population of 25,000. The largest is Mars Three at 5,000,000 tons displacement and a population of 250,000.

Fleet Ranking in the combined Navy Marine fleet:

2nd Lieutenant: New to command. In training.
1st Lieutenant: Trained.
Lieutenant Commander: Second in command aboard a ship. Training for own command.
Commander: Lowest rank assigned to a ship command. Corvette class.
Captain: Destroyer class.
Major: Light cruiser class.
Lieutenant Colonel: Heavy Cruiser.
Colonel: Light Carrier.
Brigadier General: Troop Transport.
Lieutenant General: Battleship.
Major General: Dreadnought.
Rear Admiral: Heavy Carrier.
Vice Admiral: In charge of a battle group.
Base Admiral: In charge of a starbase or planetary base.
Fleet Admiral: Overall commander of all forces.

Warrant Officers and Sergeants are specialized rankings and usually in charge of specific duties in engine rooms, weapons bays and emplacements and other such duties. Warrant 1 to 5 and Sergeant, Gunnery Sergeant, Master Sergeant and etc all correspond to current accepted US Marine Corp NCO rankings.

Supply, science and medical have the same ranks with duties and privileges within their own specialties.

Everything is a meritocracy where you have to earn rank by improving yourself and your ability to do your duties.

The seven major powers:
United States

Allied lesser powers:

US: Japan, Canada, Norway and other northern 'Nordic' countries, Australia, Scotland, Ireland
Russia: Balkan states such as Ukraine
Britain: Germany, France, Greece, Italy, Spain, Wales
China: Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia
India: New Zealand, Tibet
Brazil: other south American countries
Mexico: Philippines and other islands, central American states

Central/South America south of the Panama Canal and Australia are the only land groups still in alliance control. Zero immigration at this point due to infiltration and terrorism concerns from the Muslim Brotherhood/Caliphate controlled rest of the planet. Constant warfare is a drain on all economies. Between Fukushima's ongoing poisoning and a dozen terrorist attacks on nuclear facilities, the northern hemisphere is not very safe to stay in for very long without protective gear.

Efforts are underway to evacuate the last of the 'alliance' from South America and Australia. Antartica is a military base from which alliance vessels launch and land bringing more people and materials to our exoplanet colonies and space stations as they are expanded or built. That portion of the southern hemisphere is extremely well patrolled by our remaining naval assets.

12 US planetary and moon bases with a combined population of 140 million.
32 US Starbases with a combined population of 8 million.
1 million troops in the Navy-Marine combined forces in space.
1 million US combat troops between Australia, Antartica and central America.
50 million US citizens awaiting evacuation from Australia, Antartica and central/south America.

All 7 major powers in space have roughly the same population. This number includes the 'sub groups' allied with them. There is very little competition and a whole lot of cooperation considering they are all allied against the Caliphate. Land fighting at the Canal zone is fierce and constant but the Caliphate has not gained any ground in 10 years. Ship building is eliminated from space when seen and ocean travel has been almost completely stopped in the southern hemisphere and extremely limited in the north.

As usual, commentary, critique and assorted feedback would be greatly appreciated. Timeline issues? Characters not in the right place? Other problems? I'd like to know about it so I can grow and become better as a writer.
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cool good luck!

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Chapter 1: Scramble at Saturn

I'll see your ten and raise you twenty credits." "Fold." "Fold." "Call." "Call. Right then. Let's see what you have." "Two pairs. Aces over tens." "Ha! Three of a kind."

Listening to the groans and laughter of the card game in the conference room while trying to keep an eye on the scopes is getting annoying. Sadly, regulations keep me from shutting the hatch and spacing my own crew. A chime from the Coms station catches my attention. A minute later Ann turns to me and says “Captain, incoming message. Priority Two.” “Copy that Ann. Send it to my terminal and then slap the fools in the galley for me so I can actually hear it.”

With a grin, she keys the message over and then bounces out of her seat and dashes into the galley where I can hear her taking my orders literally. Rolling my eyes but grateful for the silence that descends I plug in my earphone and start the message from Fleet Admiral Thompson on the heavy carrier Mattis in Jupiter orbit.

Captain Vila. Neptune Star Base has detected a vessel on long range scans coming in from deep space heading towards Jupiter. Your destroyer is the fastest and closest to its approach vector and we need you to check it out. We have nothing in that direction and neither do any of the others in the alliance. The oddest part is that it is coming in at an angle to the elliptic. We doubt it is another launch from the Muslim Brotherhood. Moonbase and Earth Stations One, Two and Three have not reported anything attempting to lift from Earth in several months and we stopped their last lift off before it broke orbit. Since then we have added a dozen new satellites to the containment net. Scans are not matching any known ship configurations. We need eyes on and close scans.”

Keying up the recorder I verify my orders “Admiral Thompson. Orders acknowledged. Permission to slingshot Titan for a speed boost.” and hit send. A few minutes later his reply comes in. “Granted Captain. Titan Base notified. Good luck.”

Hitting the yellow alert button I switch to in ship communications. “Attention crew of the Delta One. Recon mission. All hands suit up, helmets on and report for duty stations. Atmo vent in five minutes. Plug your suits into ships stores and power. Six minutes to hard burn." Hearing people scrambling around to get ready I send the mission profile to the navigation console and as Jerry comes on the bridge I say "Compute a course to slingshot Titan and loop up behind that incoming bogey. Maximum speed." "Copy that Captain. On it."

With the bridge crew assembled at their stations, I start giving more orders. "Engineering. Prepare for a hard burn. Spin up our mercury cylinders for maximum grav negation. As soon as everyone has checked in close off hydroponics and vent atmo. Pilot prepare for a slingshot around Titan and max speed approach to bogey. Science stations, prepare for all scans. Communications, I want an ongoing log dumped into an emergency file of everything we see and hear prepared for fast laser com to our nearest ships and bases.”

Four minutes later Ann at communications reports. “All stations register as ready. Atmo is being vented now.” Jerry reports "Course computed Captain. Hard burn, slingshot and loop over is set and ready for go. Six hours, forty three minutes to intercept." Steve at engineering reports "Mercury spun up to max. Reactors all online. Ion drives ready for hard burn.” Scott at weapons reports “Phasers charged, rail gun capacitors charging and will be ready in one minute, torpedoes primed in one and two.”

All right then Lieutenant. Take us out of orbit.” “Copy that Captain.” Cheryl pokes and prods at her console and even with an eighty percent grav negation we can feel the ship start moving and the G forces build up. Gaining speed and breaking Saturn orbit towards Titan following the course laid out we are on the way.

The latest design from Skywalker Industries this ship combines speed and manoeuvrability with a very hard punch and great shielding and armor. It matches our current light cruisers for combat capability and misses being designated as one only because it is three fourths the size. A smaller crew of sixty instead of ninety compared to a light cruiser also aids in that determination.

Many of the new techs in this ship are being retrofitted into other ships of the line but some of the tech such as the improved rail gun and three d printer ammo creator need to be installed into new hulls. The phasers are a new development producing half again the damage of our old laser cannons and are much more easily scaled so now we have point defence against missiles and torpedoes. The components of the thorium reactors have also been scaled down so we now carry four instead of two diversifying our power production while increasing our power output by fifty percent. This actually makes our electro grav shielding fifteen percent stronger than a light cruiser and boosts our top speed to within ten percent of a corvette without sacrificing our ability to manoeuvre.

Half an hour later and through the slingshot and heading out system to arch over and behind our target the crew loosens up a little and some cross chatter comes over the air. It'll be about four hours until we can begin scans so the morale boost of idle chatter and some joking will be good for the crew considering we are still at hard burn and dealing with two G.

Dan in engineering begins with "So Eric. What's this rumour I hear about you getting command of the next heavy cruiser out of the Saturn shipyards?" "First I'm hearing about that Dan. As far as I know I'm here until I can turn you lot of pirates into an actual US Marine Space Force crew. That probably means I'll get bumped up sometime around when the sun goes supernova." A round of laughter and Cheryl pipes in "Good. We like you as captain of this tug." "Well don't get too comfortable. I hear that someone is dropping the ball on the review board and possibly giving Jerry his own ship." A bit more laughter at that and things settle down some.

Ming at scanners reports, “Two corvettes have joined the party. Saturn Station Three Gold One and Two, call signs Bubba and Hotep. Why does that sound familiar?” “Old movie Ming. Campy little classic. Remind me to order it for the ship's library later.” “Sure thing Captain. Any spoilers?” “Negative Sergeant. I hate having movies ruined so I'm not going to do so for anyone else. Ann, have Bubba go high right and Hotep go low left. Both to the sides 5000 yards.” “Copy that Captain. Both moving into formation now.”

Very good. How much longer until scanning range Ming?” “We are picking up long range data now but to get a good read on them another half an hour sir.” “Copy that. What's that blip I see coming into scan now?” Ming pushes a few buttons and a Russia Federation marking comes on the main screen. “It's the Russian Federation heavy cruiser Stalingrad burning hard. It looks like an intercept course into the bogey path in forty seven minutes if they keep at that speed.”

Tell me what you have on this thing so far Ming.” “It's huge sir. Prelim info puts it at about the same size as the Earth Two Star Base. About nine hundred thousand tons displacement. Configuration does not match any known ships on record. It's moving fast sir. Even with our slingshot and constant Ion burn, we'll have at most a half an hour of scanning time on it before it pulls away from us again." That startles me. "Are you sure of those readings Ming?" "Positive Eric. I don't know what that thing uses for engines but they could probably leave our corvettes behind."

Five minutes to scan range. Stalingrad is curving to run alongside for max scan time. Holy shit. Stalingrad is gone.” “Details. What happened?” Ann reports “A very large laser in the forward arc Captain. Overwhelmed the shields and cut the Stalingrad in half.” Ming adds “Affirmative Captain. Scans show reactor explosions took care of the rest.”

Red alert. All hands prepare for battle. Shields at full. Give me combat burn. Corvettes to flank out ten thousand yards. Maximum size round for the rail gun. Explosive tip. Quick print rounds as we fire. Ann, emergency message to Saturn Station. Contact is hostile. Repeat. Contact is hostile. Emergency info burst to follow with everything we have so far. Ming, keep hard scans going and keep feeding it into the line to Saturn Base.”

Watching the situation plot I see the corvettes space further out and pick up speed to match us with a combat burn of their own. Torpedo doors open on all three vessels. "Fire as you bear. We are coming in at an angle and slightly from behind. Let's hope they can't hit as hard back here as they do in the forward arcs. Give me visuals on the big screen.”

Captain. Phasers at maximum range. We can hit them here but it probably won't do much damage.” “Copy that Scott. Hold until we reach torpedo range. Give them a rail gun slug. Let them know we are back there. Corvettes to hold torpedo and phasers until we fire.” “Captain. Corvettes report ready.” “Thank you Ann. Keep them in the loop with Scott.” The ship bucks a little as the rail gun fires. “Round one away. On target. Two printing now. Contact in three, two, one. Shield absorption. Zero damage.” Ming pipes up “Their shields are not as strong as ours. Fifty percent according to these readings. They must rely on armor.” “Copy that Ming. Range to torpedo and phaser?” “One minute captain.”

A minute passes and Scott reports “All weapons in range. Corvettes synced.” “Copy that Scott. On my mark fire everything.” I wait one more minute and “Mark.” The ship shudders as the rail gun and two torpedoes leave. I can see the phasers hitting the target with all four forward arc weapons from the three ships synced into one spot. They continue until the rail gun round hits and the shield buckles. The four torpedoes fly into the opening and hit at about the same time spewing molten hot metals out. Decompression blows more material out and the engine seems to sputter before picking up again.

Report.” Ming does “Significant damage to that section. It looks like it is a storage room. Debris shows as containers and miscellaneous gear. Solid strikes followed by a power fluctuation through the ship. I think they only have one plant on board instead of diversified like we do. Limited decompression. Safety doors would be my guess. They don't vent atmo like we do in a combat situation. Scans are now penetrating the hull. I'm getting some firm readings. This is not earth made Captain. Power configurations, atmo needs, life readings, nothing is conforming to anything on records.” “Ann, make sure Saturn Base is getting all this.” “Affirmative Captain. Lines are open and data is flowing.”

Ming reports “Energy build up. A weapon is being charged and it looks like missile tubes being opened." "Cheryl. Give us a random walk. Split the corvettes and give them..." Ming cuts in "Weapons fired. Hotep dead in space. No energy readings. Heavy damage along its starboard side. Missiles overwhelmed their shields and armor." "Copy that. Ann, detail Bubba to fall back and see about survivors. Rig a tow if they can." "Yes sir Captain." "Scott, give them another round of abuse. Fire at will." "Yes sir. Firing in three, two, one.” The ship shudders as the rail gun and torpedoes launch.

I can see the phasers working over the aft shield again. The rail gun slug explodes against their shields but doesn't penetrate and the same with the torpedoes. Damn. Getting thrown half out of my seat despite the safety harness I yell out “Damage report." Steve does "Laser hit. Port high. Shields took most of it but they buckled. Hull damage and reactor three is offline. Overload tripped a shut off." "Copy that. Reroute power around the shutdown and see if you can get it back online. See if you can pump more energy into the forward emitters." "Yes sir. This will slow recharge times for the phasers." "By how much?" "Five seconds longer to recharge to full." "Keep that in mind Scott. Try to time the phaser hit just before the rail gun round with the torpedoes a second behind that. I want that rear shield folded." "Affirmative Captain. On it." "Cheryl. Give us some wide and wild swings and bounces. Keep them guessing where we'll be." Ming adds "They are pulling away Captain. We'll have time for two more rounds before they are out of effective phaser range." "I hear you. Scott. Let them have it while we can then we'll pot shot with the torpedoes until they are out of effective targeting range."

The ship bucks again with the torpedo launches and a few seconds later bucks with the rail gun launch. A few seconds later the phasers light up the shields, the rail gun round explodes and the torpedoes blow on the shield. Ming reports “The recharge times on their emitters is better than ours. They cycle faster. I don't think we'll get through this way.” “Copy that Ming. Scott. One more time. Stagger the torpedoes. Chain them in. Phaser, rail gun, torpedo, torpedo.” “Affirmative Captain. Thirty seconds to firing.”

Ten seconds later the ship gives a little shake and the lights flicker for a few seconds. Steve reports “Starboard low. Grazed the shields. No damage but it almost overloaded the emitters and reactor two. Reactor three up in two minutes.” “Copy that Steve.” Ann reports “Bubba reporting. Four dead on Hotep. Survivors evacuated. Hotep in tow to Saturn Shipyards.” “Copy that Ann.” Ming reports “Fleet activity coming around Jupiter. They should intercept just before Bogey hits Jupiter Starbase One. It looks like a full battle group has been put together.”

Scott says “Firing in three, two, one.” The ship shudders as a torpedo launches, shudders a couple seconds later as the second torpedo launches, a few seconds later it lurches as the rail gun fires. A few seconds later I see the phasers painting and sparking on the shield. The rail gun round explodes against the shield. Torpedo one hits the shield. Torpedo two goes through and impacts the ship. Ming reports “Aft main laser emplacement hit. Totaled. I don't think they'll be firing that at us anytime soon. Their missiles seem to be point and release not seekers. Straight line shooters which is probably why they haven't been using many of them. Too hard to hit us with us bouncing around like a rubber ball. They still have lasers back here but nothing like the big ship killer we just took out.”

Good info to know. “All right. Torpedoes only. That thing isn't changing directions but it's out of effective targeting for the rail gun and damage for the phasers. Let's keep working that rear shield while we can. As soon as you have one in the tube send it down range." "Any particular type Captain?" "Yeah Scott. Let's go straight penetrators. I want to see how those things react to a solid round." "Copy that captain. Firing in three, two, one.” The ship shudders and we watch as the torpedo catches up and bounces off the bogey's shield.

"All right Scott. Let's try an EMP torpedo. Pop it one yard from target shields.” “Yes Sir. Firing in three, two, one." The light display over their shields is very pretty but Ming reports no damage done. "All right Scott. Let's have an explosive round." "Copy that. One boomer coming up.” A half minute later Scott calls out “Firing in three, two, one." The ship shudders and a minute later the explosive round blows on the rear shield. Ming reports "Those emitters are not cycling as fast as they were. I think the EMP round did some damage Captain." "Copy that Ming. Scott. Let's give them EMP rounds for the next three. Switch back to explosives after that.” “Yes sir.”

Ming reports “Captain. We seem to be outside of their effective laser range. We are taking hits on the shield but it isn't doing any harm.” “Copy that Ming. Cheryl. Settle us down to a straight line so we can throw a few rail gun rounds at them. They aren't turning or wiggling so we should be able to target once we quit bouncing.” “Affirmative Captain. Settling into straight line now.” Scott pipes up “Sending targeting data to helm.” “Copy that Scott. In line in five seconds.”

There is a change in the bogey on the screen. "Ming. What's going on?" "Bogey has stopped its full burn. We can actually catch up if we maintain speed and heading. It seems to be turning its aft away from us though." "Shit. Scott fire EMP torpedoes and close the tubes. Drain the rail gun capacitors and close the barrel. Cheryl. Hard thrust the nose cone down starboard. Keep to his rear aspect and try to get under him. He's trying to turn those forward mains on us.” “On it Captain.”

Ming reports "Missile fire. Multiple sources. Radar can't count the numbers. Upwards of two hundred coning out in a shotgun pattern. Intercept in two minutes." "Scott, get on that missile defence system. Pulse those point defence phasers." Steve reports "All reactors back online and stable." "Reactor three to boost shields.” “That may fry the emitters Captain.” “Red line them Steve. I want max protection. Be ready to pulse more energy in as they drain.” “Copy that Captain.”

Ming calls out “Impact in three, two, one." The ship shakes and rattles. Lights flicker. Screens go dark. 2 minutes of pure hell goes by and it's suddenly quiet. "Report." Steve does "Port shield emitters fried. Port hull minimal damage. Reactors 2 and 3 out. Phasers out. Torpedoes and rail gun still active. Engines still firing." Ming adds "Twenty three hits. Shield for the most part. Hull damage seems to be from casings, debris and shock." Ann adds "Coms out. The main dish is gone. We still have emergency laser squeal." Cheryl adds "Medical says no serious injuries. A broken arm, a few bruises and some whiplash. Nothing that we need to fire up Atmo for." Steve pipes up "Good. Atmo cyclers are down. We couldn't even if we needed to." Cheryl quips "I suppose Tina and Terry could operate in an airlock." A snort from me. "Yeah, wouldn't that just make their day. I'd never hear the end of it." Ann mumbles "Not the first time the lovebirds were doing things in air locks." A few smothered chuckles over that.

Looking around at screens coming back to life I start up with some orders again. "Cheryl, where are we?" "Still behind the bogey sir. It's resumed course and picked up speed again." Ming adds "We can't catch it unless it stops sir." "I know Ming. Cheryl best speed after it." "Yes sir." Steve adds "Reactors coming back online. Phasers in five minutes. Nothing we can do about the port emitters until we dock." "I'll keep that in mind Steve. I'm not planning on wrestling that badger again. I just want a front row seat when the bear gets a hold of it." Some snickering over the line at that one. Steve adds "Engines damaged sir. Best we can give you is three fourths max." "Copy that Steve. Cheryl, half speed. Let's not stress out Steve. We all know how he is about his toys.” More laughter.

Ming, put everything on the plot table as you get the info. I want to see what's happening up ahead." "Yes sir. Tagging the fleet and bases now." A heavy carrier. Probably the Mattis. A dreadnought with international recognition code numbers I'm not familiar with. It must be newly out of the Jupiter shipyards. A half dozen battleships and heavy cruisers. Two dozen light cruisers and destroyers. "Ming? Is that a Russian Federation fleet coming over the top?" "Yes captain. Two dreadnoughts, four battleships, two heavy cruisers, twenty eight light cruisers and destroyers. I'm also getting a peek at a heavy and a light carrier. Jupiter Star Base One and Galileo Base are also putting up all their fighters, corvettes and destroyers. It's looking like a real party now sir."

Jerry reports “One hour to bogey contact with Jupiter forces captain.” “Thanks Jerry. Ann, make sure they have the info we've been collecting. Every last bit of the scans and action reports including all damage reports.” “Yes sir. Jupiter Star Base One acknowledging receipt of fast laser squirt. Pulsing orders back. Will have them deciphered in thirty seconds.” “Thanks Ann. When it's ready to my monitor.” “Yes sir.”

"Orders on your monitor Captain." "Copy that Ann. Jerry set course for Jupiter shipyards. We get to do a quick fix of our emitters and engines in case we are needed against that thing. They have crews standing by." "Affirmative captain. Plotting course now." "Send them to Cheryl when you are done. Cheryl as soon as you have the new course plot change over at max burn. Let's get this done so we can get back in the game." "Copy that captain. Course plot coming in now. Changing aspects and burning for the new course now. Jupiter shipyards in thirty seven minutes.” “Ming. Keep an eye on that thing. I want to know of any changes.” “Yes sir.”

Steve. Do we have the atmo cycler back up?" "Yes sir." "Good. Give me a pressure test and report leaks to Dan so he can put repair crews on them. I'd like to be out of this suit by the time we hit the Jupiter shipyards." "Copy that Eric. Coordinating with Dan now. We'll have the results in ten minutes."

Watching over the atmo tests and keeping an eye on the course plot of the upcoming battle I'm almost surprised by Ming. "Captain. Aspect change on Bogey." "Report." "It seems to be opening doors along its center-line sir. Too big for torpedo or missile unless those are very large torpedoes and missiles sir." "Hanger bays?" "Affirmative on that guess sir. They are launching vessels. I'm getting scans on those vessels.” “Ann, I'm sure Jupiter is seeing this but squirt the info as we collect.” “Yes sir. Heavy Carrier Mattis acknowledging receipt. Orders to continue scan and report duties as we head for repairs.”

Ming continues “Fighter pods. Half the size of ours. Engines, a laser, and one seat for a pilot with minimal armor. No signs of shielding. Larger vehicles. Destroyer sized. Engines, lasers and missile tubes, heavy shield emitters but minimal armor. I can actually scan through. Same life readings as before and in their fighters. It does not register as human but I can't pinpoint what it does register as. Oxygen atmosphere breathers though. That's the same as what I read when the compartment blew. Picking up traces of uranium particles and flammable gases in the engine vent of one of those destroyers but not the others. Could be a misaligned engine or power core.”

Can we reach that thing with a torpedo?" Scott answers "If we code it for quick burn and shut down with fuel remaining to target in. It'll take four minutes to reach that particular ship provided it does not move from it's CAP position." Thinking hard for a minute "Copy that Scott. What warhead do we have that could take advantage of that?" Scott replies "We could use a high explosive round. Get enough heat in that area and we could possibly set a back burn through that vent." "Cheryl cut mains and point our tubes at that thing. Scott, get that programming done quick. Two torpedoes. HE rounds." An assortment of 'Copy that' from the crew and a couple of minutes later the ship bucks as the two torpedoes are fired.

Get us back on course to Jupiter Shipyards Cheryl. Ming, I want those torps on the plot board. Keep a close eye on what happens." "Yes sir. Torps on the board. Three minutes to contact." Steve reports "Atmo test done. Three holes and a crack being patched. Atmo available in six minutes." "Good job people. Ming, how many of what are out now?" "Upwards of one hundred destroyer class ships and maybe twenty times that in fighters with more coming every minute. The computer is having a hard time with the counts considering the way they shift around." Huh. Interesting. "Is anyone seeing any resemblance to a swarm of bees in that movement or is it just me?" Startled looks and oaths. "Copying that to Jupiter base Eric." "Thanks Ann."

Ming reports “Torpedoes closing on target. One intercepted by a fighter. Confirmed no shielding. Two on target. Impact in three, two, one. Impact. Shielded but I'm picking up an energy spike. It's going to blow. Something went off in there. The readings I'm seeing are showing they use uranium or something similar for the main power source. That explosion was like the old style atomic bombs going off. Two other destroyers damaged by debris, Twenty nine fighters destroyed, sixteen damaged. Confirm heavy shielding on destroyer class. It's as strong as the mother ship's shielding. We are too far out to get cycle times." "Copy that Ming. Ann make sure the Mattis has this info." "Yes sir. Sending now."

Captain. I have additional contacts. Putting them on the board now. Two additional fleets coming from the south polar orbits. Chinese and what looks like a mixed Brazilian and Mexican fleet merging into their net. Cancel that. Third and fourth fleets spotted. British and India coming around as well linking up with ours. It looks like everyone is coming out for this event.” “Affirmative Ming. Pull computer resources to the battle plot if you need it. I want to see what's happening. As soon as we link with the shipyard tap into their sensors and computers.” “Copy that Eric. Adding remaining twenty five percent processing to our battle comp.”

Ming reports “Additional processing power has helped. Numbers are clarifying. Approximately three hundred destroyer class ships and twenty thousand fighters. More still launching. All destroyers now. I think that's all the fighters they have. Lead elements within combat range in ten minutes at these speeds.”

Cheryl reports "Five minutes to Jupiter shipyards. Getting docking instructions now." "Copy that Cheryl. Follow them. Steve, Atmo as soon as the repairs are done." "Atmo coming online now. We will have full pressure in two minutes captain." "Suits to remain on until docked."

"Coming into dock now captain. One minute to a connection." "Thanks Cheryl." Ann reports "Dock Master is laser squirting. He wants to meet you once we are locked." "Copy that Ann. I'm heading for the airlock now." Unbuckling and heading back I pass crew still in suits. "As soon as we are locked in you can get out of those." A variety of affirmatives as I go and word gets passed along. The clunk of the locking mechanism in the repair bay almost throws me off my feet. Sloppy. We'll have to practice that. We seem to have been about six inches too far forward for a clean lock.

Cycling through the airlock and removing my helmet I'm met by a stocky man in extremely stained work coveralls with Master Chief Petty Officer sleeve insignia. “Captain. I have the new communications module lined up. The engine and shield emitters are going to be trickier. All we have left are the heavy cruiser modules. They'll plug in but I'm going to have to put in some new conduits and breakers to handle the increased power loads.” “What does that mean for my ship?” Smiling at me he replies “You'll boost faster and your shields will be the same rating as a heavy cruiser. The only reason we don't normally do this is cost effectiveness. It takes more to make the bigger units than it does the smaller.”

Huh. “Am I going to have enough reactor to handle that load?” “Yes sir. The reactors are safetied at eighty percent. I can reset them to ninety and you'll be fine.” “Why are the reactors safetied?” “To keep people like you from blowing up your own ships. If you overload them there's a small chance that they could explode. Top brass decided on that percentage.” All right then. “Thanks Master Chief. Appreciate the heads up. I leave her in your capable hands. Time estimate?” “One hour captain. Get your people out of the way and I'll get my people on it.”

Tapping my helmet coms into the ship's system I broadcast “All hands to secure the ship. We have an hour to relax before repairs are done.” Looking over at the Master Chief I ask “Anyplace in particular?” “Cafeteria down the hall. Fresh food and the screens are tied into the upcoming scrum.” “Thanks Master Chief. One hour to get our grub on folks.  Lets get out of their way.” Standing by and directing traffic the ship is soon empty.

Making my way to the cafeteria I grab myself a coffee and find myself a seat with the rest of the command crew. Prime location for one of the big screens so we can watch the upcoming brawl. Rank hath it's privileges after all. Five more minutes before the fighter screens meet each other and ten until the capital ships get into firing range. Cheryl plops down beside me with a tray full of sandwiches and a bowl of potato chips. "You need to eat Eric. We probably won't have a chance once the ship is out of the repair dock." "Thanks Cheryl. Is that real roast beef or is that the vat beef they keep insisting is real?" "The real thing. They live pretty well out here in the Jupiter orbit."
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Maybe, want to incorporate the findings in Antartica.  Supposedly, Giants?
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Muslim brotherhood  Chuckle.
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Good for you!

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What does the ship look like?

Think for yourself

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(04-15-2017, 03:59 PM)NightStalker2.0 Wrote: Maybe, want to incorporate the findings in Antartica.  Supposedly, Giants?

Something along those lines.  Wink
(04-17-2017, 02:17 AM)Frigg Wrote: illustrations?

What does the ship look like?

I'm not sure if I want to 'old school' the illustrations by digging out an old sketch pad or if I want to try learning how to use online/computer sources to draw it out. I give a better description in the next chapter. Eventually, I'm going to have to do something along those lines.
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Chapter 2: Jupiter battle.

Ten minutes since the first contact between the fleets and it looks like mostly a fighter battle at this point. The intruder discharged thirty thousand one seat fighters, five hundred destroyer sized ships, and one hundred heavy cruiser sized ships. A globe within a globe within a globe with ships getting bigger as you go in towards the mother ship. Our fighters will dive in and hit a few of theirs, theirs will respond with ten times the attacking number and strike back. On the plus side, all of our fighters seem to have better armor and are shielded while theirs seem to be tin cans with engines and a weapon. So far it seems to be a five to one exchange of fighters. Our pilots, for the most part, actually survive considering the armor and shields but their fighters get trashed. At this rate, we'll run out of fighters at about the same time as they do so something needs to change.

That change seems to be coming. Something seems to be setting up at Jupiter high orbit. It looks like the Russian and American forces have pulled in the rest of the fleets and are forming up for a capital ship charge to give them a broadside across the front. That should be interesting. “Captain. Aspect change on Bogey.” “I see it Ming. Are they deploying a new weapon?” “That is what it looks like Eric. That is one monster of a laser that is telescoping out now.” “Fighter shield is separating around that. Energy spike. It fired. Galileo base hit. Shields held. Reports coming in. No significant damage. They are rerouting power to boost shields. I think they may have lost a generator. An alert has been issued to seek cover in secured quarters and to suit up.”

They should have done that when this thing first came into the system and they figured out where it was heading.” “I know Eric. All stations and bases in Jupiter orbit are now broadcasting that message.” Ann cocks her head with a hand to her ear and says “Eric, the Master Chief wants to talk to you out in the repair bay.” “All right Ann. Message him that I'll be there in a couple of minutes.” “Copy that Eric.” “You people behave yourselves. We are guests here so no food fights.” Scott whines “Aw boss, I had a target all lined up and everything.” Yeah, funny guy. It lightened the mood though and even station personnel are laughing. That's a good thing.

Out at the repair bay, I'm met by the Master Chief again. "Hey there. Needed you down here to sign off on this. The R and D knuckleheads from the Antarctica pyramid want someone to test a new prototype weapon they think they have figured out. If you don't want it though I can slide it over to another pile and get one of my regulars to play Guinea pig.”

What are we looking at here Master Chief?” The Master Chief hands me a data pad “Here's the specs on it Captain. What we do is pull your forward pair of phasers and mount this in their place. One turret with one weapon instead of two but it ranges the forward and side arcs just like your old ones do. You still have your aft phaser covering that arc. What it seems to be is a modification of our gravity systems. You have our grav plates and tractor system that pull and our shields that push. This pulls and pushes at the same time. According to the brainiacs, it's supposed to have twice the range, half again the damage of your current pair of phasers and ignores shields as if they were not there.”

Did they figure this out from the data crystals in the Antarctica pyramid or is this from the black budget stuff?” “Well Captain, that's above my pay grade. I'm just a wrench guy. I'm thinking it's a new play on the grav systems we found in Antarctica though. ” “Fair enough Master Chief. All right. I'll sign off on it. Let me get my maintenance and gun crews down here for a briefing with you so that we know what we are dealing with.” “Sure enough Captain. It'd be my pleasure to meet them and go over everything with a fresh set of eyes. I may even learn a thing or two while I do.”

Getting on my suit coms I soon have the relevant people and half of the rest of the crew assembled and the Master Chief begins briefing them. He takes the mechanics and engineers through the new power and control conduits and breakers that will be needed while our gunnery crews familiarise themselves with the specs and schematics. “Ok people. Now that lecture time is over we're going to help the Master Chief and his people instal the new toys so that we will understand them. Let's get hopping and get it done.” The switch over goes fairly smooth and all the diagnostics show green.

My lumpy banded cigar is now even odder looking. Instead of two turrets in the front and one in the back it now has just one in front and an empty track that allows the turrets to rotate down to hit keel side targets once the landing gear is retracted. The aft engine cone is longer. Instead of one engine designed to push this weight, I now have one that is designed to work with three others to push a heavy cruiser. That's going to affect targeting. Making a note of that for Scott I continue my inspection. The shield emitters are much larger than I'm used to seeing on a destroyer class ship as well. They look like someone doubled the size of our normal sunflower sculpted in metal emitters and attached it to the ship. The barrel for the rail gun extending out an additional four feet when charged and the doors for the torpedo tubes open adds to the lumpy factors when those are active. Top it off with a sixteen swivel mounted point defence phasers in four rows of four in an X pattern running down the length of the ship along the sides and the once sleek hull is getting pretty crowded looking.

The Master Chief comes up while I'm making notes and says “If you want to give up a bit of storage we can put another reactor in and add another of those gravity beams to your front end. I have another coming out of the printer in about thirty minutes.” “How much longer to do that Master Chief?” “About an hour. It'll take that long just to wire in the new reactor and it takes about half an hour to instal a new turret. We're having issues with the engine connections so you'll be here at least that long while we sort that out.” “What sort of issues?” “Off standard connectors. We have to measure each one and replace it when they are off sized.” “Problems with manufacturing on Mars again?” “Yup. We are printing out the right sized connectors now. We can't trust anything in stores until we get a few squabs in there to measure them.”

A good use for squabs. Fresh out of high school and trying to figure out a career track. The discipline of having to sit in one spot and methodically measure out the connectors will be a nice wake up call for them that life in the armed forces is not all about running gun fights, naval battles, and awards ceremonies. The twinkle in the Master Chief's eye lets me know he's thinking along the same lines as I am and he's been digging for exactly these same types of things just to keep his newbies busy.

All too soon we are loading back into the ship and ready to leave. No major changes in the battle. Everyone is still playing chicken with each other and the mother bogey keeps taking the occasional shot at either Galileo base or Jupiter Star Base One. It's staying just outside of the effective range of the big cannons on the base. I'm sure the brass figured out that this means possible prior scouting by whatever is on that ship.

Green across the board Captain. All crew suited up and at their stations." "Thank you Ann." Steve reports "All five reactors show green. Engines show green. Weapons show green. Shields show green. Mercury spinning up. Grav plates and grav displacement show green.” “Copy that Steve. Vent atmo. Cheryl, launch by traffic control discretion.” “Copy that captain.” “Captain, orders from the Mattis. We are to come around Jupiter north and join the fleet.” “Copy that Ann. Jerry plot course and get it to Cheryl.” “Yes sir. On it. Three minutes to plot.”

Ann reports "Traffic control gives the green for launch. The Master Chief reports all connections off and we are cleared to unlock. He reminds us to file the performance reports so that he can continue getting permissions to tinker." "Thank the Master Chief and let him know that not only will he have the reports but I'll see about standing him a drink next time we visit Jupiter shipyards."

A clunk that reverberates through the ship means our landing gear is now unlocked. “Take us out Lieutenant.” “Copy that Captain. Pulsing thrusters now.” Jerry reports “Plot to your screen pilot.” “Thanks Jerry. Setting course now.” “Cheryl. One we get past the safety zones open it up. I want to shake out the engines and see what they can do before we get to the fleet.” Steve does some quick math “If the specs are right that will shave about ten minutes off our thirty minute trip.” “Copy that Steve. At your discretion Cheryl.” “Affirmative Captain. Max boost at my discretion.” Ming counts down “Leaving safety zone in three, two, one.”

Getting crushed back in my seat I start thinking this is a little more than our normal two G acceleration. “Report.” Dan in engineering does “We are pushing three point two four G instead of our two point one zero G captain. This thing has some serious boost for a ship this size.” “Copy that Dan. Keep an eye on the power draws and heating. I do not want to go boom if we do not have to.” “Don't worry Captain. The Master Chief reset the reactors back to eighty percent once he added that fifth reactor. We won't have heating worries. I'm more concerned with the recently printed connectors. I'd rather have the stamped ones off the assembly lines.” “Your room Dan. Keep me apprised.” “Copy that Captain.”

Slowing into the spot assigned to us by the Mattis we join the destroyer screen and yes it does look like the combined fleets are forming up for a fleet charge. "Tie us into the net Ann. Ming, keep everything as updated as you can. Pull additional computer power from stations that are not needed like enviro if you need it." Ann reports "Tied into the net captain. Instructions and orders flowing in now. Ming, you should see a boost in sensor quality.” “Affirmative Ann. Information going on the plot board now.” “Captain, orders coming in. To your monitor in five seconds.”

Reading the orders I start “Here we go folks. Time to punch them in the nose. Shields on full. Weapons to full charges. One EMP and one HE torpedo in the tube. Penetrative explosive tip rail gun round. Charge all weapons and run the mercury to full. Plot course for fleet action coming in now. Target grav beams and phaser on broadside as you bear. Course plot and targeting information coming to your monitors now.” Ming reports “We now have a name for the new dreadnought. We are going to be acting as support for the Johnnie Wilson commanded by Major General Anita Washington.” “Copy that Ming. Ann, give my compliments to the Major General and inform her that we are taking station now. Tie us into their battle network. Ming, see if you can pull performance specs on that ship so I know what to expect.” “Yes sir captain. Coming to your monitor now.”

Ming reports “Outsized engine baffles. They probably boost like we do. Gravity beams. They are printing the new shielded plasma torpedoes. No rail gun. It looks like they swapped it out for an enhanced size gravity beam captain. The Johnnie Wilson has twice the number of shield emitters as specs would suggest and I am reading twenty four cold fusion thorium reactors instead of the eighteen that class usually carries. The armor is a new composite. I can't get a very good read on it but specs suggest it can take half again the damage it's thickness indicates. I have the scan on it now. Eric, it looks like they solved the hempsteel extreme temperatures cracking issue.” Interesting. Lighter and stronger armor. That's going to be a game changer considering we can grow that instead of mining for it.

Jerry reports “Courses plotted and sent to pilots station. It looks like we will be a fast moving deep strike while the rest of the fleet gives a solid hit across the front.” “Copy that Jerry. Just play follow the leader and we'll blast through the other side after hitting that mother ship.”

Ann pipes up. “Orders to your monitor captain. We are about to get the go signal.” “Copy that Ann. Cheryl, follow through as they come in. We go when they go and we stop when they stop.” “Copy that captain. Ready to roll.” Ann reports “Three other modified ships in net with us. Two destroyers and a heavy cruiser.” “I see that Ann. Looks like it's going to be one heck of a party.”

Ming reports “Main fleet movement. Putting it on the plot board now. One minute to fighter engagement.” We watch as our fighters turn into a spear formation and sink into the destroyer level of the enemy formation before starting to exit from the other side. The move seems to have caught our opponents by surprise. Our destroyers and light cruisers join the spear. Their heavy cruiser sized ships move up to support their destroyers just as our heavy cruisers, battleships and dreadnoughts enter the fray. As if pulled by one hand all our heavy ships cut forward thrust, turn their noses to the enemy, fire railguns and torpedoes and turn back on track and start forward thrust again going back to firing broadsides at the intruder ships.

Ming yells out "Aspect change on Bogey One. Mothership is moving." Ann calls out "Orders from Johnnie Wilson. Hold position. Prepare for a chase." Ming reports "Enemy heavy ships moving into formation. Destroyers and fighters swarming our ships. Collisions reported. Fighters looping back around to take advantage of the chaos.”

Scott reports “Three enemy heavy cruisers coming into grav beam range.” Ann yells out “Johnnie Wilson orders weapons free.” “You heard the Major General. Fire as you lock target.” Scott responds as the ship bucks “Targeting lock on bogey C twenty three. Torpedo one away. Torpedo two away. Railgun away. Firing gravity beams now.” Ming yells out “Energy spike. Johnnie Wilson firing mains. Sacred cows captain. It cut that ship in half the long way.”

Ming. Details on our target.” Looking a little chagrined she reports “EMP torpedo took down their forward shields. HE torpedo hit their main laser. Explosive tip penetration rail round buried deep. Grav beams did significant damage through the rail round entry. Destroyer Victor Seven targeted same. Significant damage through with two HE torpedoes, a straight penetration rail gun round and it's own grav beams. Target C twenty three shows zero energy readings. It's dead in space captain.” “Good. What about the third target?” “Target C twenty two shows as complete destruction captain. The reactor went critical. Target C twenty one is dead as well. Zero energy readings.”

Ann calls out "Mothership coming into range. Orders from Johnnie Wilson to fire as it bears." "Copy that Ann. Scott get some locks on. I want two HE and a shaped charge penetrating Spike in on the rails.” “Copy that captain. Two HE and a Spike on the rail.” “Ming give me a reading on the bogey. Look for weak points in that shielding.” A minute later Ming reports “I have it. Sending targeting data now.” Ann reports “Johnnie Wilson reports good work Delta One. All ships to target that weak spot.” “Confirm that. All weapons to bear on that target and fire as the fleet does.” “Copy that captain. Targets locked and fire control handed to Johnnie Wilson battle net.”

Energy spike. Bogey one is firing its laser. Direct hit on Jupiter Star Base One. Shield breach. Habitat rings twenty four through twenty seven severely damaged. Power fluctuations. Stabilizing. Shields back up." The ship bucks. "We've fired. Torpedoes and rail gun on target." "Reload. HE and a Spike." "Copy. Gravity beams firing. Direct hit. Power fluctuations. Stabilizing. We've hurt it. It's picking up speed." Ann yells out "Orders from Johnnie Wilson. We are to pursue at best speed." "Copy that. Cheryl. Max boost."

Ming startles up. “Ming? Report.” “The Johnnie Wilson is matching speed with us.” Huh. Moving that much ship that quick? Very interesting. “Heavy Cruiser Nebraska Two is pulling into the formation. Destroyer Victor Seven is in line and Destroyer India Four is coming alongside." "Wait a minute Ming. Are they just leaving their fighters behind?” “Affirmative captain. Just over nine thousand fighters left and they are swarming the main fleet.”

Scott. Do we have anything in range?” “If we keep at this speed we'll start closing in on their rear guard. In range for the rail gun and the gravity beams.” “Copy that. Fire at will as we range in.” Ming reports “Taking shield hits. No damage. No drain on the system.” “Let me know if that changes.” “Yes sir.” Jerry reports "If we hold course we'll be Saturn system in four hours." Ming reports "Rear missile tubes opening. All ships. I think they are going to try to slow us." "All point defence phasers online. Fire mains directly in our path top and bottom." Scott calls out "Mains in our path top and bottom ready to fire. Point defence phasers ready." "Close torpedo and rail gun covers." "Railgun and torpedo doors closed."

Firing." "Brace for impact. Point defence on auto. Fire the mains on my mark. Three, two, one, mark." The ship rattles and lights dim. "Report." Ming calls out "No damage. Grazing explosions off the shields port high and starboard high. Countermeasures were effective." Cheryl calls out "Lost forward momentum through the battle group." Scott calls out "Ships out of targeting range. They opened a little space." Cheryl reports "We can make that up. Max boost bests their speeds now. Twenty minutes until we range in again."

Ming reports “Johnnie Wilson firing mains. Destroyer size hit. Zero energy readings on what's left. Heavy Cruiser Nebraska Two firing main rail gun. Hit to one of their heavies. Engines out, power fluctuating. We have a shot on a broadside as we pass.” “Take that shot Scott. All three turrets to fire as we bear." "Yes sir. Getting a lock on all three for broadside and firing. Hit." Ming reports "Zero energy readings. Venting atmosphere." "Good shooting Scott."

Cheryl reports “Five minutes to ranging on rear guard.” Ann calls out “Orders from Johnnie Wilson. Slow to match and work up the line. Johnnie Wilson and Nebraska Two will pop the engines and we get to play clean up with Victor Seven and India Four with broadsides as the targets slow. The Major General wants to trim those numbers before they reach Saturn.”

Acknowledge orders Ann. Cheryl slow to match rear guard speeds. Scott targets of opportunity. Throw a rail gun round when loaded and target the mothership with it as they load.” “Copy that captain. Spike on the rail. Firing in three, two, one. Spike away.” Ming reports “Shield explosion. They definitely know we are back here. Destroyers are repositioning to cover that aspect.”

Three hours later and hitting mostly the heavy cruiser class we've whittled down half of them. They are now down to twenty seven in that class and one hundred fifty three of the destroyer class when I notice the icon on my helmet for private communication from our doctor Tina Beauchamp.

Terry? What can I do for you?" "Well captain. I was wondering if you had asked Cheryl out yet." What? "I'm a little busy at the moment Terry." Some snorting laughs through the line. "A naturally wavy haired brunette with bright blue eyes, stacked and curvy, great sense of humor and smarter than smart. On top of that, she's a recognised professional in her field and is up for promotion soon. You could do worse." I just roll my eyes for a minute. "Terry. Do you really think this is the right time to be talking to me about my love life?" "What love life? All you do is study and train. It's almost like you want to make Admiral before you turn thirty." "Something to be said for that Terry." "You Eric are too type A and OCD. That whole warrior monk aesthetic you have cultivated is so tenth century. You need romance my friend." "Terry. Do we really need to be having this conversation now?" "Yes. I'm bored and Tina is doing inventory so I'm not allowed to annoy her. Is it possible that you have a different eye than I thought you did? Are you more into willowy redheads with green eyes? Oh no. Don't tell me you have an asian fetish."

At that moment I feel an odd sensation of not boosting hard for a half a second. "Terry, did you feel that?" "Feel what Eric?" "We stopped boosting for a second." "No. I didn't notice anything like that." "Huh. I'll get back to you. I need to check this out." "Wimp. We will be talking about this later.” “Yeah if we survive. If the engines go we are sitting ducks.” “Yeah right. I'll ask around down here and get back to Ann with the results.” “Thanks Tina.”

Going shipwide "Did anyone but me notice the half second pause in boost?" A variety of negatives come across. Steven and Dan both start diagnostics even though they didn't notice anything. "Ann, check with the Johnnie Wilson to see if they picked that up on sensors." "Yes sir." A minute later she reports "They say negative Eric. They did not pick up any change in our engines or power levels during the requested time span." Huh. Ann continues "Maybe it's the dreaded space dementia finally catching up with you. You do realise that from here on out you are going to get even more crotchety and gnarly." Yeah, haha.

All right then. I know I didn't imagine that. Keep an eye on systems. It's all we can do at this point.” Steve and Dan both reply in the affirmative. “Another heavy cruiser coming in with engine problems. Let's get some target practice in." Scott starts chuckling evilly and he lines up his shots. "Target lock. Firing." Ming reports "Power plant going critical. Minimal salvage left."

Ming calls out "Aspect change. Missile tubes opening. Prepare for incoming salvo." "Grav beams to the top and bottom along the front. Point defence phasers on auto. Close torpedo and rail gun doors." "Grav beams to the top and bottom. Point defence on auto. Torpedo and rail gun doors closed." "Fire grav beams on my mark." Ming reports "Impact in three” “Mark.” “Two, one.” The ship shakes and shudders hard.

Report.” Steve calls out “The port low forward shield is down. The emitter is blown. I'm compensating. Damage to port low outer and inner hull. Torpedo tube two inoperable. Railgun showing misalignment." Ming reports "Destroyer India Four falling out of line. Severe damage. Heavy casualties. The SRT and salvage ships cleaning up our mess are going to rendezvous in one hour. Minimal damage to the rest of the battle group. That was much more focused than previous missile salvos.”

Tina reports “Port torpedo crew dead. Damage control team standing by that area injured. Broken bones from a wall buckling. I do not need atmo at this time.” “Copy that Tina.” Dan reports “Reactor two shut down. Overload. I can have it back online in ten minutes.” “Copy that Dan. See about damage control teams for the rail gun and port torpedo tube. Priority on the rail gun.” “Affirmative captain. Dispatching teams now.”

Ann says “Johnnie Wilson actual wants to know our condition and if we can continue.” “Copy over the damage reports Ann. We can continue.” A few minutes later Dan reports “I think I can realign the rail gun but it's going to take a bit. Twenty to thirty minutes but do not expect miracles. That would be better done in a repair bay. Torpedo tube is zeroed. Do not expect it online outside of a repair facility.” “Copy that Dan. Ann, update the damage report to Johnnie Wilson.” “Yes sir.”

Jerry reports “Thirty minutes to Saturn system.” Ming calls out “It looks like they are starting to dock ships captain.” “Jerry, give me a plot track on that. Likely routes.” “On it captain.” Ming reports “If they keep on this heading they'll bypass our bases and fleets.” “Ming is right. On this heading they do an oblique slingshot and head back out of the system at the same angle they came in. The other option is to hold it a little longer and head back to Jupiter without us on their tail. Even odds for either option.” Ann calls out “Johnnie Wilson agrees. Either escape or evasion. We are ordered to hold hard on them as long as we can until we figure out which one it is.”

Plot the slingshot back to Jupiter Jerry. If it's an escape we are obviously going to let them go but if they head back to Jupiter system I want to be right on their engines the whole way.” “Yes sir. Plot in two minutes.” The engines do their hiccup again. “Again. No one felt that? Damn it. I want diagnostics on those engines now.” I get odd looks about that but they snap to and start doing those checks.

Orders from Johnnie Wilson. As soon as the last of their sub ships are docked we pull up on them and hit the mother ship with everything we have. The Saturn combined fleet will try to get into position to hit them as they pass." "Copy that Ann. Cheryl as soon as the last of those ships disappears from the screens I want a max burn. Get us right on their aft section." "Yes sir."

Ming calls out “Five minutes to Saturn system.” Still no word from Dan about that rail gun. “Dan. Report on the rail gun?” “Not looking good captain. If I had a couple of days and some replacement parts I can't print I could give it to you but this thing is zeroed at this point.” “All right Dan. We'll make do.” Cheryl calls out “Max burn in thirty seconds.” Ann repeats that on the all suits line.

Going into max burn we start closing the distance. Almost into gravity beam range and Ming calls out “Aspect change. It's turning to bring the main laser to bear.” “Cheryl, get us under that laser path.” Perfect timing. The engines hiccup again. This time lasting a full minute. Cheryl screams “Engines are out. I have zero thrust." Ming yells out "Energy spike. It's firing." The ship bucks like someone stopped us cold. Lights go out. Screens go dark. My suit registers it's working from its own power and supplies now instead of ship power.

Damage report.” Ming whispers “We are drifting. Near enough to a direct hit.” Steve reports “Reactors one, two, three, and five are out. Four is working erratically. Shields are gone. Engines are gone. Weapons are gone. I think we still have environmental but the computers are not working right." Tina reports "We have casualty reports throughout the ship. I will report back with precise numbers as soon as I have them." "Ann. Do we have coms?" No answer. "Medical to the bridge. I have at least one more for you." "Cheryl?" "Yeah, I'm ok. It looks like Ann's seat pulled from the flooring. There's blood on the inside of her helmet but it doesn't look too bad. Hit her head I think. Suit readouts show stable life signs." "Good enough. How about maneuverability? Do we have any?" "Some thrust control. I can bump us up and down and side to side a little but don't expect major course changes."

Unbuckling myself I lean over Ann's station and do my own check. "No coms. The emergency beacon is now on. Someone try and see where we are headed." Ming reports "If we didn't get knocked too far out of line we should be in the Encke gap in about an hour." "What's the location of Pan? I don't want to be bumping into things out here with no shields." "I don't know sir. Scans are not operable. I know we'd have missed it clean if we were still at speed. Without the scans, I can't figure out where it'll be when we get there." All right then. "Ok, let's get to work trying to fix things. Cheryl, keep an eye out of the windows. Use what you have to at least keep us from hitting the rocks in the ring if we stray too close."

Tina comes back on the line “I'm going to need atmo in at least the med bay. Sooner rather than later.” “Copy that. Steve, see if you can get a reactor going. I'm going to do a pressure check in the med bay area to see what I can give Tina so she can work. Let me know if you hear from Dan.” Tina pops back in “Dan's one of my casualties. Two broken legs. I have to operate or he'll lose one of those.” “Copy that Tina. I'll round up a few more crew and see what I can give you in the way of atmo.” “All right captain. Make it quick though.”
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