USS Traveller
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A Tour De Force

Posted on Tue Jul 9th, 2019 @ 8:41pm by The Narrator & Commander Zelea Arlidd

Mission: S1:4: A Murder Of Crows
Location: Carpathia System, Tangerine Dream, Moon XIV
Timeline: MD67: 10AM

Another airless moon, that only got moon status because it was in orbit of another planet, and another Starfleet Corp Of Engineering foreman with a frown on his face. Not that the inch thick polarised EVA suit helmet he wore made his frown any less recognisable. To one side was the slate grey plains of Tangerine Dream's 14th moon, a body yet to find a name save a number. In the distance, the corvette Balliol Delta rested on its landing struts beside a line of Work Bee's and a large Runabout acting as a bunk house for the SCE work team. And on the other side was a pit.

But it was a nice pit.

Thirty meters across, and almost four times that depth, a product of cheating and using a high energy phaser beam from the USS Please Read The Insturctions to bore the hole into the moon's crust. From there it was just a process of filling it with the launcher and magazine for one of Canopus new shore batteries.

"So...Commander Ingram sent you to oversee this?" the Foreman said, waving a suited arm towards the hole. "I mean...it's excavation work mostly. We've been here as long as you have. Work takes time."

He pointed at the Runabout.

"Why don't we head back inside and get out of these EVA suits? I think we have some tea brewing."

Zelea gave a nod and as the two made their way toward the Runabout she answered "That's right Foreman" she gave a smile but realized it was pointless in their suites "we are gonna see if we can speed up the process."

The Foreman made a sound that was either a cough or a chuckle. With bounding footsteps the two made it to the Runabout, a sleek and now dust coated Arrow class. Using the large underside cargo airlock, the two rose up into the Runabout and were soon able to hear the hiss of equalising air pressure. The Foreman, his name tag on his suit read Fitz, pulled his helmet off and wrinkled his nose. The air was scented with the lunar fines from the surface of the moon, giving every breath a gunpowder tinge.

"There is a logical limit to how fast this process can go," he said as he began to stow the suit on its rack. "Right now the torpedo launcher and magazine systems are self-assembling in orbit. That process is relatively quick as these things go, the flat pack pod launchers Starfleet Advanced Design Bureau came up with take advantage of a lot of post-Dominion War designs. We tractor the cargo containers into orbit and they do the heavy lifting. The tricky part..."

He led Arlidd into the commons area of the Runabout. The Arrow class's modular design had allowed this one to be fitted out for long term habitation, and the small lounge area already had the look and feel of a crew dormitory. Little pieces of home were stuck to the wall, a collection of ceramic mug's that had a hand made look to them. Even a teapot, shrouded in a woolly cosie, sat on a hotplate steaming merrily.

"...is landing it. The Pod need's to come down just right, or it'll be next to useless. The shaft needs to be perfectly aligned, which is why this takes time." Fitz said, and gestured to a seat. "Cup of tea?"

Taking the offered seat Zelea smiled "that would be fantastic" she said. It sounded like everything was under control, but she figured she would help out wherever she could.

Fitz smiled and busied himself making a cup of tea, and began to speak in a tone of voice that was both lecture hall appropriate and sleep-inducing. Orbital mechanics, delta eve equations, and something called a ‘suicide burn’, all of it being accompanied by some new subatomic particle. Sleepyons or some such. Fits placed the steaming cup in front of her, the logo of ‘Lockheed Energia M/AM’ emblazoned on the side.

And then the alert chime sounded. Fits held up a hand.

“Don’t worry,” he said stepping away from finishing up his own tea pouring, and walked to the wall console. “Canopus Station has been sending out renewed tactical analysis with every new launcher that comes on line. And they keep using the Alpha Band so it comes in as priority one. You’d think someone in the comm’s department would...huh.”

He pressed a button on the display, and above the common’s table a simplified system map of Carpathia appeared. The main sequence star, the two airless rocky worlds orbiting in the Mercury Zone, then the two asteroid belts, followed by Tangerine Dream about which Carpathia and Canopus Station orbited. Then the third asteroid field and a pair of moonless gas giants.

And out beyond the gas giants, a fuzzy in bound vector with assigned gravimetric values: incoming ship’s speeding in at high warp.

“I...er...I mean that’s...” Fitiz began to stammer, the engineer going into vapour lock. The comm began to chime, a priority link from the Corvette.

=/\="Commander Arlidd, we have a conference call from Canopus Station. Captain Ingram has all of the command level staff patched in, we could have you beamed back to take part or forward it to the work camp?"=/\=

"I'll take it here" she replied and looked over at her counterpart and gave a nod, letting him know he would have to step away for a moment while she took the communique.

Fitz nodded and had already backed out of the commons area to seal it off, making the meeting a private affair. As soon as the room was sealed off, seemingly unnatural darkness began to appear on the walls as the holo-comm took over the local holographic system. The small kitchenette table stretched alarmingly as the holographic's took over, transforming the small space into a large conference table. Along the table were sat other Starfleet officers, most in the black colar's of station personnel, but a few like Alridd who wore the white of starship command.

And at its head, Captain Benjamin Ingram.

"Ah yes, Commander Alridd. Glad you decided to make it," Ingram purred from his seat. "We were about to discuss the current crisis, but I'm glad you made time to join us."

"Of course sir" the Commander gave a soft smile and nod toward her superior officer.

He made a conjuring gesture to the air, and the AR environment of the conference call shifted slightly. It was a similar map to one that had been shown before, but with extra layers of detail not afforded before. Tangerine Dream now had four fan-like areas projecting out of its sphere of influence, each one anchored to a moon. These were no doubt the operational torpedo batteries that had been laid down first and were now secured within their armoured lunar redoubts.

The map then slid sideways, retreating to the edge of the system and then zooming in on the host of warp signatures barreling towards them.

"Thirty minutes ago Canopus Station detected the gravitational bow wave of the incoming force. At the current range, we can only make rough assumptions, but the signatures of the majority of the force do not match anything in our data banks. Including the data retrieved from the earlier Long Jump Expedition. These ships are not Myriad," Ingram said. The lead fuzzy signature shifted from the amber of an unknown entity to the blue of a friendly unit. "The lead signature has been confirmed as a rough match to a Ronin class heavy cruiser. Further analysis had determined there is an 89% chance that it, in fact, is the Traveller."

"Should we assume the ships in the pursuit are hostile?" someone asked, a Bajoran male with the black and white shoulder boards of Starfighter Command.

"I think that likely, but even if it's not this would be an ideal chance to put in some practise don't you think?" Ingram asked.

Arlidd smiled, she always loved technology and even defensive tech was impressive. Giving a nod "arm cannons one through four" she added.

"If they were more than a day into being barely operation I would back that play to the hilt Miss Arlidd. As it stands their effectiveness is so much assurance and paperwork," Ingram said. He made another gesture in the air, the hologram began to sprout more fanning cones of fire, and then concentric rings of lessening colour around the gas giant. "The final stage of deployment would tie the entire battery network into a system-wide sensor grid, effectively giving us pinpoint accuracy out to two AU's from Tangerine Dream. As it stands that range is cut back quite significantly, even tying in Canopus's main phased sensor array. I would prefer we not litter the Carpathia System with ordinance that has to rely on its onboard AI to seek out a target."

He made another gesture, and the scene changed.

"I would propose sending out our guard ships, the Corvette's, along with two Canopus Station's fighter squadrons. Depending on where in the system our guests drop out of FTL, the likely hood of the shore batteries being able to tie into the Corvette's fire control system for guidance will be high," Ingram instructed. "Also, until the battle is fought to a suitable conclusion, the USS Please Read The Instructions will be placed in seclusion in the upper atmosphere of the gas giant. The Construction ship is too vital an asset to allow it into the path of danger."

The lumbering Curry class might now have been designed as a fighter, but the thick armour plates designed to nudge aside comet fragments and disintegrating space stations would have made her a brawler.

"Commander Arlidd, of course, would be in command of the Corvette and Fighter screen, code-named Red Force."

"I agree," the Commander said with a nod "let's do everything in our power to take care of this situation and grant our allies a safe passage."

"Then let us be about it," Ingram said, nodding to those around the table. "I will in CIC. A rough rally point has been established in the L5 Trojan Field. We'll make a fight of it there to be sure. I have no doubt we will prevail."

 

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