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Another Day at the Office - A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 10)

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Birdie_Sparrow

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Another Day at the Office - A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 10)

PostWed Feb 07, 2018 4:39 pm

Chief Alois Remi seemed to be everywhere in the cavernous hangar of the Accipiter. At least that was what all of the techs under his command thought. Remi himself always worried that he could NOT be everywhere thereby missing something of importance. Glancing around the hangar he was always concerned that his charges – the fighter and bombers that were the carriers main offensive punch- would not be available when called upon.

That call had again come from Lt Commander Ansgar the CFC of the carrier. More correctly – the order had come to prepare for combat by the captain. Inwardly he smiled remembering when he was her maintenance tech back when she was still a fighter pilot. “Brandy Anne” after her middle name was her call sign back then. Serving under her again was to him a great honor even though they could no longer go shot for shot with a bottle of Apelsin.

The untrained eye would see naught but unrestrained chaos within the hangar. Remi instead saw a carefully choreographed ballet of preparation. A dance of steel, fuel, ordnance, augmented flesh and drones accompanied by an orchestra of engine checks, clanks, clangs, whines and the under buzz of conversations.

A soft chime echoed in his head. A tech was having difficulty with one of the newly delivered Arion fighters. Even with the new training maintaining the new fighters and bombers there were still occasional questions. The replacement of the old Star Athena’s meant institutional knowledge was lost – the quirks, shortcuts and tricks all techs learned that are passed down through the years.

It was fighter five located in its bay on the starboard wall. As he drew closer, Remi could see an impatient pilot leaning over the tech. The tech was himself leaning inside a panel that opened into one of the gun bays. The occasional flash of silver rippling under the techs skin combined with body language indicated frustration.

Striding into the bay he gave the pilot a brief nod in recognition. The pilot wisely stepped back to let the Chief do what he did best. Veteran pilots came to understand that they “borrowed” their aircraft from the techs and chiefs that kept them flying.

“So what is the problem here?” Remi said in a neutral tone.

Pulling his head out of the panel a visible relieved tech stated, “Chief, I can’t get the main guns to synch their feed system. As you know fleet did not send over enough feed gauges for every fighter- the few we did get have – uh – “disappeared”. The onboard AI keeps throwing a fault status.”

Remi knew exactly what he meant. When shortages occurred techs begged, borrowed and stole the equipment required to keep their birds flying. Often said techs hid hard to find items never loaning them out and risk a disappearing act of their own. Remi could put out a hangar wide call for one of the gauges, but he decided to impart some old school, seat of the pants wisdom to this new tech.

“The Arion may be a new fighter but she still uses a fair amount of proven parts. Her guns are still the ML-171 cannons from the Star Athena’s. So take your thumb, which is roughly the diameter of a gauge slug, and jam it into the feed chamber. Slowly adjust the feed clamp until the magnetic stream centers which will clear your fault.”

The techs eyes grew wide, then he plunged back into the panel. The pilot, over hearing the conversation, looked queasy at having his firepower rely on such a crude measuring device versus the precision-machined phenolic gauge that was required per the manual. He started to protest but the withering stare of Remi silenced the comment.

After a few minutes the tech removed himself from the panel with a satisfied grin. He closed and sealed the panel then turned to the pilot to inform him that the Arion was now combat ready. Still looking a little bemused the pilot climbed on board to begin the pre-flight checks.

“Thanks Chief! Where did you learn that?” a relieved tech queried.

Remi thought back to when he was a junior tech following the directions of HIS chief. The same gun system needed to be synched on the then new Star Athena in the middle of a battle. He could not find a gauge either when time was precious and every fighter was needed. No pressure.

“Experience, Tech. Simply experience.”

With that the order to launch the ready fighters came through the Clip.

***********************

“Now there is controlled chaos!” Remi thought.

Unlike the pre-launch buzz of activity currently people, spacecraft, and local controlled servitor bots were in a frenetic state. In the heat of battle expediency trumped making sure every bolt was tight and minor fault eliminated. However, for the sake of efficiency the hangar was divided into three distinct zones.

The center remained cleared for launching and landing craft, which is where the magnetic launch rails and field arrestor barriers were located. The barriers, a “soft” version of the standard internal force fields, quickly decelerate craft that were landing. In the case of badly damaged craft the ship AI adjusted the barrier field strength to funnel and trap these birds.

The middle zone – between the center and bays - was where most of the action took place. This is where rearming, refueling, and field repairs happened as quickly as possible. Once accomplished the fighter or bomber was rotated back into a mag launch line ready to return to the fight.

The outer zone were comprised of the individual bays, evacuation areas for the wounded, and, most importantly, armored elevators bringing ordnance from hardened magazines deep within the Accipiter. Any aircraft deemed not fit to fly was pushed into this zone then into a bay to be inspected after the fight.

Remi would have to sign off on any listed as combat losses though that was a formality. He trusted his senior techs to make the right call so such a sign off was largely a formality. Such losses had whatever usable parts removed then the remains launched into space to make room for eventual replacements.

His reverie shattered when the emergency tone overrode any other current communication occurring within the clip.
“Inbound Aethon – Severe damage detected – Crew status unknown – Indication of hung ordnance”

With the speed of thought Remi issued a hangar wide command through the Clip – “Starburst”.

A number of things occurred at once. All ships currently hooked to the launch rails were launched to clear them from the hangar. Ordnance on its way up from the magazines was halted. Any ordnance currently on deck was either sent back down, or placed in special armored cubbies behind the craft bays. Medical, fire-fighting, and crash rescue teams began to prepare. The arrestor barriers were powered up to crash configuration. Non-essential personnel had cleared the immediate area.

Finally, an acknowledgement came from the bridge – particularly from the new weapons officer so that damn Interdictor system would not be firing. While Remi was happy the Accipiter was saved from a sun shot he was less pleased with her being used as a test bed for a new weapon. Especially a weapon that cause delays in launch and recovery operations due to magnetic back scatter!

The inbound bomber was a virtual worse case scenario. An unknown crew status meant they could be dead or incapacitated to the point that they could not fly the bird. Severe damage meant that the flight characteristics were probably poor with maybe even the onboard AI damaged. And hung ordnance… that meant a torpedo was potentially armed, exposed from its bay, and it could not be jettisoned.

The entire Starburst drill was finished in under 90 seconds. For the first time since the battle started an eerie calm descended over the hangar. Only the faint hum of the barriers charging up could be heard echoing in the vast space.

“Thirty seconds to recovery – Aethon under ship AI control – No change from last status.” intoned the AI in her neutral voice.

Looking out the hangar Remi’s trained eye picked up a slight point of light moving towards the ship. It rapidly grew in size – first a slight orange shimmer could be detected indicating a fire feeding off venting oxygen. Then half a wing was gone while rents in the hull and tail indicated solid PDF hits. Just before the Arthon entered the hangar the sleek, ivory cylinder of the torpedo could be seen stuck half deployed from its weapons bay.

The AI was having a rough time controlling the craft. Swaying drunkenly the Aethon pierced the hangar bay force field with a slight flash of muted light. The crash crews tensed – as did Remi – when the AI cut the engines to drop the wounded bird into the first arrestor barrier.

The nose began to crumple as it engaged then pierced the first invisible barrier which, like the hangar field, gave way with a similar flash of light. The craft slewed to the side tearing off its tail and bending one wing upon hitting the second barrier. The AI was doing a good job modulating the fields to keep the craft and its parts funneling down the rough center of the hangar.

The third barrier slowed the bomber down significantly but the strain was too much. The torpedo tore from its mounts skipping down the deck. All held their breath until the weapon finally rolled to a stop bent, broken and leaking fuel. Even though it had not detonated, it was an unknown hazard. The ordnance disposal team had been running after the torpedo as soon as it separated from the Aethon.

With a final screech of tearing metal, the bomber halted part way through the fourth barrier. Like a dying beast a shudder passed through its airframe as all movement stopped. The craft lay partially on its side while the fire that had been sputtering in space now started to increase as it fed on the oxygen rich environment. However, the flames attempt to consume its prey was short lived as the fire suppression crew expertly extinguished this threat.

The crash crews were also efficient in quickly accessing the cockpit to retrieve the crew. One of the medical team sent in a drone to assess the conditions of those inside. Two of the three were pulled from the wreck to be whisked away to medical. The remaining crewman was not immediately extricated for one obvious reason. The broken bomber was shoved into a bay- a fight was still going on with the hangar being needed for its primary purpose.

The last piece of the emergency was also disposed of while the deck was cleared. A cargo-handling drone attached itself to the loose torpedo under the eye of the disposal team lead. Remi watched as the drone accelerated out of the hangar. The lethal ordnance quickly disappeared on a ballistic trajectory towards this systems sun.

Remi linked into the Clip giving the bridge and hangar the all clear to resume combat operations. The acknowledgment from the bridge came as a magnetic burst danced against the hangar force field as the Interdictor fired. With a sigh, Remi adjusted the now disrupted launch and recovery schedule – again- by that back scatter.

“Just another day at the office”, Remi mused as a chime echoed through his mind.

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