Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Vagabond Fleet: Chapter Two

A story that may or may not be completed any time soon. I thought I would share the first couple of chapters to see if there is any response.

Chapter One

Vagabond Fleet

Chapter Two

Shuttle 1

Lieutenant Stacey Drew piloted one of the four shuttles. She was carrying eight heavily armored Marines in the back, instead of a co-pilot she carried Colonel Maurice Maxim, who was in charge of the Marine detachment on the Yeong-ung. He was giving orders to his Marines on all of the shuttles, mapping out their movements aboard the large carrier.

Alphix had been stupid to give up manned fighters but just as dumb to reduce the unmanned fighter complement to such a paltry number. The ship probably hadn't stood much of a chance once the combat started. This ship should have had armed escorts instead of going on science missions. What had they been thinking?

As ordered she flew into the starboard-side landing bay with all exterior lights shining, it was eerie to be flying inside of a dead ship. She put the magnetic clamps on and the shuttle stuck to the deck as the Marines donned their life-support helmets. She donned hers as well, decompressed and opened the rear hatch.

The Marines fanned out when they left the ship, their combat rifles drawn. Floating just above the ground they found one of the hatches to the lift to the regular body of the ship. They were not going to wait for a life carriage though, they would float upwards to the main decks.

Stace examined the remains of an unmanned fighter against the bulkhead near the lift, had it even been launched?

“Lieutenant!” Colonel Maxim called to her “You should come with us, we should not be split up right now.”

She followed the Colonel into the lift tube and jumped after him, using her hands to keep from hitting the wall and bouncing around. Finally they emerged from the tube near the bridge and floated all the way to it. The helmet lights and the lights on their wrists showed them the control center of the ship but also the bodies floating there like gruesome zombies.

“Colonel, sir.” came over the helmet radio

He answered, switching to a different frequency, but she still heard his side of the conversation.

“I understand, I will inform Captain Myung that this ship can be repaired quite simply.” the Marine leader told the person on the other end.

Repair the carrier Broadsword? The carrier would need fighters, manned fighters. The unmanned ones just could not deal with these aliens, she saw the same as everyone else. Stacey bet morale in the convoy was grave because of what everyone saw. Torpedoes that couldn't keep up with the target, plasma lasers that were unable to hit them farther than a couple of kilometers away.

They needed responsive humans flying real manned fighters. She would be of them!

“We have retrieved the memory core and the logs.” one of the Marines said

“Okay, both teams have carried out their missions. Return to the shuttles.” Colonel Maxim ordered and they all headed back toward the lift they had come up in.

Yeong-ung bridge

“We have new contacts, bearing 200 degrees by 44 degrees at 29 million kilometers and closing very fast, Captain.” the Scanner officer reported

“The shuttles are leaving the Broadsword now, sir.” The Watch officer reported “They will not get here before the bogeys.”

“Are we going to jump?” Commander Nelson asked

Myung considered this and then thought of the shuttles and the Broadsword, he needed to think about the big picture. Calculate coordinates for a big jump! Send the coordinates to all the ships in both convoys, tell them to jump together when I give the order!”

Then he turned to the Coms officer “Then I want to open a channel between us the Nanjing. Order the Linus to jump with the convoy. The Blinder and Defender are staying with us.”

“We're staying?” Nelson asked “We've already lost our unmanned fighters. Our plasma lasers can't hit their fighters our torpedoes can't catch them. We have no reason to stay here.”

They watched the shuttles returning from the derelict vessel as they watched the scanner returns of the incoming bogeys. “I count six of them.”

“That's more than last time.” Nelson said

The Captain took a deep breath “Those shuttles are armed, right?”

Nelson took off his sunglasses. “Yes, sir. But those aren't fighters.”

“We have no real choice, we need the Broadsword. Maxim says it can be repaired, it could carry a lot of refugees.” He told his first officer “Order the shuttles to engage.”

“What about the convoy jump?”

“Tell them to hold, if the shuttles are destroyed, they are to jump immediately.” Myung answered.

Shuttle 1

Stacey thought about the Marines they were carrying. “Put your helmets back on, get ready to disembark from space.”

Colonel Maxim looked at her like she was insane. Then he got the drift and gave the order. Meanwhile Stacey was sharing her idea with the other shuttles.

When they got as close as they could before the enemy was in range they spun around while momentum kept them moving in the same direction. The hatches opened and twenty-five Marines poured out and the momentum carried them all the way to the shuttle bay of the Yeong-ung.

“Now, let's show them what we got.” Stacey said “Bader, go to my right, Cindy to my left and I need you, Charlie to take topside.”

They all understood and answered “Roger!”

She poured on every ounce of speed the shuttle could attain and they all targeted a different enemy fighter. The enemy showed no signs of paying any attention to the shuttles, which was a stupid decision on their parts.

The enemy fighter came into view on her HUD. It was larger than a shuttle and had rounded wins, the thing sort of look liked a sea creature from Earth called a stingray but with a lump in the center. She took aim at what she thought was the cockpit and then opened up the gun on it.

The aliens were clearly surprised by this attack and the first four of their ships were heavily damaged in the opening barrage. At least two of the enemy fighters were dead and tumbling away while Stacey reassigned targets for the shuttles. If the fighters targeted the shuttles they would need their active stealth to slip away.

“Go stealth everyone. We need to get these guys, right now!” she told them as she banked behind the damaged alien fighter craft, it was headed right for the Yeong-ung. She targeted the engines and fired again, one of the engines exploded and the alien lost control and flipped sideways side over side.

“I got another one!” Charlie said then sheepishly added “Okay, Cindy helped.”

The last fighter turned away and moved away at a high speed.

“Shuttles return to the ship.” they heard Commander Nelson order.

As she landed the shuttle in the bay, after passing through the airlocks, she knew that the aliens would never take shuttles for granted again. This kind of defense would never work a second time. They needed to build fighters and they needed to do is as soon as possible.

Her tech crew chief and even Harold were waiting for her when she came out of the shuttle.

“That was some great shooting Stace!” the crew chief told her

Harold looked like he had survived a near-death experience. “Thank God you're alive!” he said and gave her a quick huge before she could push him away.

“We won't be so lucky next time.” she said “I have to go to debreifing, Harold, what is it?”

“I'm just so happy you made it.” he looked like he was going to cry “Give that memory chip to the Commander, this is the right time I think.”

“I plan to.” she answered as she headed toward the lift.


Yeong-ung conference room

The four pilots entered the debriefing room and found Commander Nelson as well as Colonel Maxim standing at the front. They entered and sat, there were still a dozen empty seats but these hadn't been needed for years.

“Good job out there today.” the Commander said “I realize that using shuttles like fighters is not going to work again. The enemy will be ready for that.”

“We need to start making fighters, manned fighters.” Stacey said out of turn “Sir.”

Nelson and Maxim glanced at each other, she saw the beefy Maxim grin.

“The Captain agrees with you, Lieutenant Drew.” the Commander said trying to repress any anger at the interruption, they traditionally gave pilots some latitude after an engagement “We will be looking to see if we can manufacture...”

She stood up again and took the memory chip from her pocket and handed it to him and sat back down, he just looked confused.

“Everything is on that” she said “The Yeong-ung has all the capabilities to start fabricating fighters, it won't be quick to make...”

The Commander grinned now. “The Perry can make them a lot faster.”

She had totally forgotten that the manufacturing ship was in the convoy. All the cool she had just built up seemed to leak out just then.

“The CS Captain sent the gunship Komar ahead to Alphix after the battle.” the Coms officer Jaycee Walters told the Captain “It left just after the last battle. Its mission was to inform them about the aliens and the Broadsword.”

“How are the repairs to the Blinder and Defender coming along?” he asked

The Watch officer answered “Both ships report they are functional but the Blinder won't be moving faster than one-sixth for a while.”

“Order the Blinder to the center of the convoy and send the Linus to the tail.” the Captain said

“The ships are all getting anxious to move.” Jaycee reported “They want to jump as soon as possible, not wait around for another enemy attack.”

“I'll take that in my office.” Myung said as Commander Nelson entered the bridge “Nelson, you take the con.”

In his office he found Colonel Maxim waiting as well as his Chief Engineer Hugh Howard.

“I understand that the damage to the Broadsword can be repaired?” Myung asked “What would this entail?”

“There were holes on the bridge, in engineering and the underside, their atmosphere was vented” Maxim answered “We can fusion weld on new hull plating and get the ship going again.”

A ship like that needed a screen of escort ships, why it was alone on a science mission was just beyond stupid. Of course Alphix hadn't been at war in decades, while his own planet had always been at war.

“Let's get working on that.” he said to Howard who got up to get to work “Put all resources to that end.”

“I understand that six of your Marines are rated pilots?” he asked Maxim “We're going to need as many qualified fighter pilots as we can get. I already have the Perry setting up their manufacturing to put out clones of the old Daggers. Basic and easiest to make. Once we have enough of them, we can start working on upgrading to more advanced designs.”

The alarm sounded and Commander Nelson sounded over the speaker “Captain the Nanjin has just moved between us and the Broadsword.”

Captain Myung got up and went to the bridge, Maxim went to his Marines.

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