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Interdictor - A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 8)

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Interdictor - A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 8)

PostWed Nov 29, 2017 6:34 pm

It had been close to four months since the Accipiter had hit the Scourge mine. Her assessment on whether to be scrapped had started even as she was being brought home within the hold of the massive field repair vessel. By the time she had been transferred to a space dock the preliminary report had been delivered.

At any other time she would have been a combat loss. Useable equipment would have been stripped, anything that could be recycled would be, and the detritus fired into the sun for disposal. However, PHR command was on the brink of turning another Andromeda into a test bed ship. Instead of modifying a brand new escort carrier the decision was handed down to rebuild the Accipiter.

Her previous designation, EF-L (Escort Frigate – Launch), had been changed. She was now listed as XIF-L for Experimental Interdictor Frigate – Launch. A hybrid she was now neither a pure carrier nor the “gun slug” that the Europa’s were.

As the dock shuttle circumscribed a slow circle Reyna sat with folded arms observing the changes to her ships lines. She snorted silently to herself – in her experience hybrid was another name for someone’s brilliant folly. The problem was “that someone” would not be commanding the experiment nor be on board when the edge met flesh.

The aft section bore the familiar engineering packs of an Andromeda. Maneuver engines, Fold space drives, main generators, control vanes – all were in their correct locations. As the shuttle banked the bow came into view with what to Reyna was a jolting unfamiliarity.

The graceful sweeping cut on the side of the forward hull had been reversed. While still graceful the sweep of the armored hull now dipped down to create an armored skirt. This was necessary to cover the banks of capacitors and step-up transformers lining her upper hull.

The entire upper row of Mosquito drones located on both sides had been removed. Reyna was not pleased with having half of her close action weapons replaced with what was – to her – dead weight. However, the new equipment was necessary to power the weapon that gave the Accipiter the designation “Interdictor”.

Her upper prow, previously a smooth carapace sloping to a gentle point, had been pierced. Now a large U-shaped notch where the point used to be destroyed the symmetry that was standard for PHR vessels. Making it worse was the ugly, cobbled together weapon that jutted out from that notch.

The theory behind the weapon was to give escort carriers a hard hitting weapon allowing them to damage comparable enemy vessels. A direct hit would seriously damage if not outright destroy another frigate. As frigates were often hunted by their direct counterparts or packs of corvettes the carrier versions were considered the weakest link when it came to ship-to-ship combat. Reyna would vehemently disabuse that perception if she had been asked.

This weapon was the Interdictor. Four light caliber mass drivers from an Ajax class cruiser stripped down then jammed into a forward firing weapon. Part of the equipment removed included the magnetic scatter baffles.

The effect of not having the baffles had one serious drawback– assets could not be launched or recovered until the magnetic scatter dissipated. Thankfully the internal field generator that kept the main hangar bay from hard vacuum also reflected any harmful effects of the back scatter. Looming over the Accipiter’s bay the Interdictor also meant new flight paths would be required.

The shuttle as if mimicking that thought made an ungainly dip to avoid the weapon during landing. The slight jar to an otherwise smooth ride irritated Reyna’s post-human sense of perfection and symmetry. The lack of updated landing patterns here in space dock spoke volumes as to how experimental this X ship was.

Touching down on the pulsating landing circle a glance along the sides of the launch bay gave evidence of other new weaponry. The Accipiter had also been refitted with the newest PHR space based Arion fighters and Aethon bombers. Gone were the modular Space Athena’s which, truth be told, had more detriments then advantages.

While not as sleek as the Athena’s they did not have to be being born and bred only for space. With no gravity or lift requirements these blockier birds carried twice the reaction mass along with more powerful engines. The bombers in particular were even more lethal – their payload not only doubled but the updated targeting systems had no equal amongst the other races.

Reports from the field indicated an almost 20 percent increase in successful attack runs. However, more bombs were not only hitting they were also impacting vulnerable areas. The onboard AI target discriminator combined with speed-of-thought course correction after weapons release allowed pin point accuracy that even the Shaltari could not match.

Stepping from the shuttle Reyna was drawn to her new brood. As a former fighter pilot it was an involuntary impulse to touch, see and talk about the craft she would truly like to be in physical command of. Kornet Ansgar, her CFC, walked out to greet his captain.

While she absently ran her hand over the leading edge of an Arion her CFC gave her a quick brief on squadron status. In the intervening months all pilots had been retrained, flown training missions, and went out on active patrols as temporary replacements on other carriers. A more formal report was due in an hour when her command team gathered for their first briefings in months.

Taking her leave Reyna proceeded to walk the ship. She often stopped to talk to crew, observe the test run-up of systems, and get the feel of her familiar yet strangely changed vessel. The most severe change was the equipment for the Interdictor.

To strengthen her spine, the main magnetic coils were physically wrapped around it. Outboard these same decks housed the capacitor/step-up system. This caused the upper decks to be heavily modified to the point that they no longer bore any resemblance to the old Accipiter.

The ship AI suddenly pinged in her ear as a reminder of the staff meeting. While not fully finished with her unofficial inspection that was cut short. It would not do for the captain to be late for her first official command brief!

Striding briskly into the meeting room adjacent to the bridge her command element all stood. All were here – the XO Viktor Taran, CFC Ansgar, her new chief engineer Major Sindre Danage, and weapons officer Kapten Kylie Skarparin. With the addition of the Interdictor Kapten Skarparin would be responsible for all aspects of the new system to include status reports to PHR Fleet Command on the Interdictor’s performance.

Each briefing was concluded with the recommendation that the Accipiter was ready to rejoin the fight. Reyna sat back, tented her hands under her chin, then looked up with a firm gaze.

“PHR command agrees with your assessments, but I wanted to hear the status from you in an unbiased manner. Our orders are to prepare to depart in two days.”

A happy murmur occurred around the table. This is what they were meant to do – what the Accipiter was meant to do. Not sit getting soft and fat no matter the maintenance and training that had been occurring. The ship and her crew strained in an undertone of eagerness to get back into the fight.

Reyna continued, “We will be the command vessel of a pathfinder battlegroup composed of us and two additional Andromeda’s. Our orders are to be flankers for a larger battlegroup to be led by a Scipio. The target is the Wolfrum system. This will be a fast strike – ground troops have a specific mission that once accomplished they will be recovered and the battlegroup Folds out.”

“Additional information will be sent via Clip after this meeting. Download and review the data. We will meet here tomorrow at the same time for a pre-mission brief. Our shakedown will be in the teeth of our enemies. Any questions? No? Good – dismissed.”

As they filed out Reyna sat back in her chair to absorb the feeling of once again being in command. Leading a fighting ship was her first, best destiny – whether it would lead to eventual retirement or drifting amongst pieces of her ship in hard vacuum… well either was an acceptable end. Standing from her chair she left the meeting room, crossing the corridor to enter the bridge.

“Lt Ahage – bridge and space dock status! Begin 48 hour countdown prep for release. We have a war to get back too!”

All characters and settings are copyright Michael Buonagurio. No use of any character or setting is authorized. All rights reserved ©2020.

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