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Damage Control (Part 2) - A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 7)

PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:48 pm
by Birdie_Sparrow
Damage Control – Part 2

“…. Roll us best speed that won’t tear us apart. Get the starboard drones into action against that corvette!”

“Yes ma’am” stated Kim. Sweat began to bead on her forehead as she pushed the crippled frigate to its limits. A queasy shimmy resonated on the bridge as the roll began – the groans and sharp sounds of metal stretched to its limits accompanied a flex of the bridge deck that should not be there.

Even if they made the roll without ripping in half they would never get the starboard drones into action in time. Reyna did not need a computer read out to inform her that. Her practiced eye could triangulate the attack vector of the enemy ship to the excruciatingly slow roll of the Accipiter. But better to die attempting to fight back then do nothing.

Then like a fish gasping in the air the Accipiter alerted her to the first threshold of her death throws. In the view of her holographic headset the fifty percent power warning flashed up. Reyna let out a sigh – she could override the automatic cuts but there was no need.

The scan tech excitedly cut into her train of thought, “Captain! Star Athena signatures! The corvette has turned and is heading away!”

A wave of palpable relief flooded through Reyna. While captains should remain stoic in from of their crew her relieved gasp was a counterpoint to the tension in her body which gave way by collapsing back in her seat. She was not alone as the rest of the bridge crew mimicked her.

She mentally thanked her flight commander, Kornet Ansgar, for showing the Scourge that the Accipiter still had fangs. The flight deck must have patched into the senor feeds and not being able to raise the bridge Kornet exercised his own initiative. The tactical screen showed her fighter and bomber flights taking up protective positions around their gravely wounded mother. Another deep groan of the ship brought her back to the now.

“Cease rotation Lt. Ahage. Continue to back us out of the mine field.”

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Viktor’s jog to the stern of the ship ended abruptly at a pressure door. The farther back he went the more the Accipiter changed from the familiar to a twisted shadow of her clean lines within and without. Looking out the pressure door window the corridor continued a few meters before ending in a gaping void.

Glancing up and around the ship was a gutted fish. From top to bottom the middle of the ship on the port side was simply – gone… That he could actually SEE her spine gave evidence to the ferocity of the Scourge mine. The devastation had partially twisted the ship, open decking on the starboard side displayed damage that even the untrained eye could tell made that side also impassable to stern.

Looking past the debris – and bodies – still floating where a solid ship had been he could make out the damaged nacelle of her port Fold Space engine. A debris cloud hung like a death shroud over the entire engineering section.

He activated the radio on his back-up headset. Dialing in the engineering channel confirmed his worst fear when he was met with silence. With the damage sustained the channel should have been overwhelmed with chatter. With little hope he spoke, “To any engineering officer or technician within the auxiliary generator room or any engineering space this is the XO – respond!”

As Viktor continued trying to make contact with anyone his headset buzzed an alarm. Glancing at the holo screen battery power was down to 30%. The computer had initiated cuts to secondary systems as well as twenty percent cut to life support. It was going to get uncomfortable cold very shortly. The auxiliary generator was crucial to their survival. Unless someone was over there the ship and crew would be dead long before a hard vacuum team could be suited up, force their way into the engineering section and restart power.

After a few more half-hearted attempts with no reply Viktor contacted his captain. In a firm voice he detailed the status of the ship. He ended with his recommendation that at ten percent the captain initiate abandon ship orders. Turning away from the pressure door Viktor began to make his way back to assist in abandoning the ship.

“Sir… Tech Second Haws here. I am in the aux box.”, came the ghostly whisper of the Accipiter’s final thread of hope.

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Reyna took the news from her XO stoically. Other than the rapidly fading power the potential catastrophe was turning into simply a major disaster. The captain chuckled at that thought ruefully noting how elastic “catastrophe” and “disaster” could be when they happened.

Backing out of the minefield, scaring off the corvette, barely hopeful damage control reports would all mean naught if power could not be restored. Speaking quietly into her headset she pulled up the assets available for abandon ship. Even with the deaths the loss of the port side severely degraded the ability to get everyone off.

Within a few minutes she had managed to find a berth for everyone known to still be alive. She may not know exactly where they were due to the failed Clip, but she knew how many in theory were still alive. Adding one more person to each pod, doubling up on passengers in the shuttles, putting someone in the cramped rear jump seat of the fighters and bombers… her only concern now was keeping her crew alive as the Accipiter died around them.

Reyna dumped the abandon ship orders into the local communication node for ship wide broadcast. Orders were to be executed when battery power reached ten percent. Turning to one of the scan techs she initiated a local Clip dump of the orders. The tech was then sent out to find as many crew as possible, download the orders, and inform them to download to anyone they crossed paths with. This would allow as many crew as possible to hopefully escape before the end.

Sitting back in her chair Reyna mentally relaxed. She had reached the point where problems had dwindled to nothing. The fatalistic acceptance of the inevitable was almost calming. Looking around the bridge everyone was still engrossed in their jobs besides her – Lt Ahage had them almost clear of the minefield while the rest of the bridge crew quietly went about their duties.

Focusing on her headset holo screen remaining battery power ticked down from 25 to 24. Reyna estimated maybe twenty minutes to reaching ten percent. Below ten percent the chance of getting everyone safely off the ship diminished rapidly. Ten, maybe twelve minutes later the Accipiter’s heart would stop beating barring a miracle.

Her headset chirped. Viktor’s voice came through as if from the bottom of a well, “Captain? The Sphere just granted us a potential miracle.”

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“Yes, Captain, I understand fully.”

Switching over from the command to engineering channel Viktor’s voice was tense but not hurried, “Tech Haws, what is your status and the status of aux?”

“Sir, everyone but me is dead. I was hit by shrapnel. One leg is pretty well flayed open. I managed to use a med seal on it and that is holding. The aux has some superficial damage but the shock appears to have caused the system to scram.”

“Tech Haws, can you run a flash diagnostic? I need to know if the spinal trunk line is still viable. Time is limited and power even more so. We are on full batteries currently.”

A brief pause came from the other end. “On it, sir”

As the minutes ticked by power levels dropped from twenty-four to nineteen. Viktor resisted the urge to ask for a status. Being a former engineer himself he knew how long a flash diagnostic should take. Tech Haws had not gone over that time yet.

The chirp was followed by a voice, “Sir, the flash shows the trunk line is viable. Degraded but viable.”

“Excellent!”, Viktor said barely able to keep relief out of his voice. “We need to reset the scram then. Can you do it?”

“I believe so sir. We have trained on it but it will take me some time. This is normally a three-person job as I am sure you know.”

“I do know, Tech. But I have faith you can manage this.” Viktor let a tone of encouragement permeate his answer.

The XO then leaned against the remains of a wall helpless to aid his ship. Sounds of emergency repair crews continued to echo from within the Accipiter. The crew knew there was a high probability the ship could not be saved, but they still feverishly continued repairs until the last second.

“Sir?” stated Haws, breaking Viktor from his thoughts.

“Yes Tech?”

“Sir, the Clip node is not operational here and the manual restart panel is not functional due to damage.”

Viktor felt his stomach drop. Without local Clip control the restart would have taken longer. No manual back-up meant the ship was dead. Unless… with that thought his stomach dropped farther and skin went cold. Power was at twelve percent, time for other options were at an end.

“Tech Haws… do you know how to perform a hot start?”

Silence. Then soberly, “Yes, sir”

“I need you to perform a hot start, Tech. Now.”

A hot start – opening the generator to its core then manually manipulating the magnetic bottles. If done correctly the generator should instantly restart. If the procedure failed, the magnetic bottles would drain their fuel with no chance for a restart. In either case the radiation spike would kill anyone in the room within minutes.

There was no reply to the order. Viktor requested Haws acknowledge the order. Once, twice, then three times – his voice becoming more demanding as the power level ticked to eleven.

Then the dim secondary lights snapped off as the main lights came on. A cheer reverberated through the ship though the crew knew not the sacrifice yet.

“Sir?” came a weak voice.

“Yes, Senior Tech Haws?” Viktor relied somberly.

A wet laugh came through the radio. “Wow, promoted four grades! I should have done a hot start a year ago!”

Viktor laughed with him in the black levity common to individuals in the military.

“Sir, I just uploaded some thoughts for my family. Will you make sure they get it?”

His reply briefly caught in his throat, “I will personally deliver it.”

“Thank you, sir.” Haws replied in a hoarse whisper.

There was moment of silence then the AI spoke in Viktor’s ear.

“Clip drop: One”

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Reyna and Viktor stood together in a forward lounge of the PHR cruiser. Both were watching a battleship size field repair and recovery vessel carefully pull the Accipiter into its cavernous hold. Hovering in the background was an actual battleship, the flagship of the rescue fleet that Folded in a day later.

Once secure the ship would jump to the home world. There the engineers at space dock would determine the ultimate fate of her ship. The fate of her crew was happier – the loss was steep at 24 but all others made it off. The timely start of the generator ensured the crews survival rather than the coin toss of abandoning ship.

Reyna noticed her XO rolling something between his fingers. Eventually she recognized a personal data rod. The length of a fingernail and only a few millimeters thick they tended to be the private repository of individual in the PHR. Similar to a diary the access of one without the express permission of the owner was considered the height of bad manners. In some cases it was a criminal offense.

Reyna asked quizzically, “What do you have there, Viktor?”

Opening his palm he looked at the slim black rod. Without looking at his Captain he simply said,

“A promise.”