USS Traveller
Previous Next

Fire Flight

Posted on Fri Apr 30th, 2021 @ 11:55am by Captain Remas McDonald & Lieutenant Commander Shadi Zatra & Lieutenant Jolani Kohnar & Lieutenant Garrett Davies & Lieutenant Dinui Locke (loch) & Innocent Bystander & Lieutenant JG Addison Wheeler

Mission: S2:1: Good Will Gunboat Tour
Location: Casstauilli Star System
Timeline: MD27 1600

The news upon returning to the Traveller was anything but good.

Casstaul, the ancient desert homeworld of the serpentine race they had come to form an alliance with, was ablaze. But not simply was its savannahs on fire, or it's forests incarcerated into a conflagration, its very mantle was blazing. The atmosphere had evaporated in moments, blasted away as plasma at stellar fusion temperatures bore down on it from a pinpoint of light in high orbit. So mighty was the deluge it bore a hole into the mantle, piercing the outer core so that great rents in the crust began to expel the moons lifeblood.

Whatever life, or trace of life, had been there was gone according to the long-range sensors. From their vantage point, flying away from the City of Brass at the head of a massed fleet of Royal Guard ships, the clouds of the gas giant hid it well.

Gaz had only solidified his thin grim line of thinking as they had returned to the Traveller. Planetary scans were anything but good news and certainly only increased his need to make sure that they had all security and defensive measures at his fingertips should such trouble come knocking on the bow of the Traveller. The first thing to be activated was the Sword and Buckler system, a defensive measure that he could move at his discretion from incoming fire. then it was onto checking what firepower they were working with, he let out a low whistle.

"Torp magazines are fully loaded, shields at 100 percent, point defense now activated, cap'n." Gaz relayed. There was nothing better than having everything that went boom at his fingertips, though knowing they only had six silver bullets added that needed caution to their mission.

Shadi called up from Engineering. "We can fully power the reactive hull plating matrix or the Silver Bullet activation status, but not at the sssame time. Not without compromisssing essential systems."

"I think we could keep life support," Addy chimed in from somewhere behind Shadi. (To those on the other end of the call up, she was just a smaller voice somewhere off in the background.) "Although probably not gravity. So, we can breathe but not stand anywhere."

"That's why the Maker of Ways made seat belts," Remas said. "Shadi we only have six of those Silver Bullets. Coordinate with Gaz to make sure we land a killing blow the first time without leaving ourselves drifting."

As he spoke the holo-bridge came on line, surrounding the bridge crew in a cocoon of augmented reality with them riding atop the cradling display consoles and acceleration couches. The clouds above them were thinning out now, becoming the wispy tendrils that grasped at the edges of the atmosphere. The sky above was a rich deep blue, edging into darkness as the stars came out to greet them.

Target pips began to manifest, forming like a rash across the sky ahead of them. Small dots for fighters, with large triangles bracketing the jagged forms of the Reka carrier craft.

"One or two more than we faced at Beacon," Remas said lightly.

Nothing about this was taken lightly by their latest acquisition. Though his consciousness resided in human form within the Traveller's confines, Bystander's viewpoint was currently purely external. His ship, a moth-kite sliver in the darkness like a contact lens lost in a bathful of water, moved at his beck and call out amongst the wispy clouds.

As the Traveller's crew saw the representation of many craft beyond their position, Bystander picked up on the Castaulli sensor net with its own icons and information. He saw beyond their view, taking in not only thousands of fighters spewed into the spaces between hundreds of Reka carrier craft, but the Myriad ship too with its thorns reaching out from that main ring. And in the centre of that Thorn-circle... noooo...

It sent a fear so primal he forgot to breathe for the longest moment. A terror that wrapped about Bystander like defined adequate words to convey to another permeated his bronze form and created little ripples of shivers across his new skin. About his head that free-flowing information from moth-ship to ancient mind buzzed as his dark skin paled and his body froze.

"We can keep the Silver Bullets on stand-by without overloading the power grid," Shadi said. "But I expect the arming process for each one will be as long as 30 ssseconds before they can be deployed successfully. Tactical needs to give us as much lead time as possible."

Jolani sat at the helm, looking at the field filling up quickly. "We are losing room to maneuver, Captain. If we do not do something soon, our options are going to be severely reduced."

"Our main target is the Myriad vessel, the Reka are troublesome but intel suggests they'll fold if their master is taken out," Remas said. "Speaking of which I'd have expected to hear from them by now. The Myriad are a talkative bunch, and this one has something to crow about."

On the holographic display above them the bright amber triangle highlighting the Myriad vessel suddenly turned a bright white. The upper dome of the bridge fritzed out, safety systems engaging as the sensors were overloaded. When the view returned a bright torrent of white light stretched out from the Myriad ship, lancing across the sky and over the horizon.

"Jolani, evade now!" Remas shouted as the beam began to whip down, cutting into the flotilla of ships above them like a blow torch powered by a star. "Gaz reposition the shield scales now!"

"Repositioning shield scales now, cap'n!" Gaz replied.

"Taking evasive maneuver Theta Gamma Seti now!" The ship bent to the right on a dime and then flipped in a loop before bending back with a swivel to the left. "Captain, they're coming in fast and furious. I am getting the distinct impression we're getting funneled to have to basically run the gauntlet."

Dinui read over the data flows, one set was telling her about detection of multiple sensor contacts, Reka carrier craft and thousands of fighters entering the orbit of the gas giant, that the Traveller was making its exit away from.

She tried to narrow down the main threats and forwarded her recommendations to Gaz's station. A brilliant billet of interest to the science department was the point of origin for the beam of stellar fire poised above the moon of Casstaul.

It appeared to be embedded within the centre of a ring-shaped Myriad Thorn Ship, held within the open centre by tangled vines of the technomantic vessel. Though definitely not matching up with their gathered knowledge of Myriad technology, as the bone like casing and clearly non Myriad design styling suggest it might be a sample of Prior technology.

Dinui focused the scans to gather as much data as possible. The device looking like an end point projector of some sort of artificial wormhole. The other end of the wormhole, buried in the local star, is constantly open. Meaning when the end attached to the Myriad vessel is opened, out pours a stream of star matter in a beam. 'The Spitting Cobra' is what the Cuasstalli called it in their briefing.

The notification of a Starfleet distress beacon from recon fighter flown by Commander Kiel, gave Dinui a double take on the position before she spoke up. "I know we're busy but Commander Keil has a distress beacon in active status!"

"Keep us flying randomly, but keep us heading towards that Thorn Ship. If that means we have to put Gaz to work firing the chase canons at the Reka, then so be it," Remas grunted. "Dinui get me a lock on her location, did she eject? Engineering begin to charge one of the Silver Bullets. Half charge, let's not go poking holes in the local space-time when we set it off."

Jolani complained, "There's only so much random that I can generate when heading in a particular direction." Nonetheless she veered Traveller off at a sharp angle.

Bloody Reka. He had been training against them for a long time, simulation after simulation ever since arriving on the Traveller. He swiped his fingers across the console, readying the canons. If they were going to close in, they needed to make sure either they hit their target or he was going to keep them at bay long enough. "Canons at the ready."

Dinui read over the details before she double checked with an internal scan of the ship, "Signal sent by the AI desinated Barry, the The Search and Rescue beacon is located within the Traveller’s shuttle bay, among numerous other parts that are from the fighter that had been stripped off to make it as light as possible. Working on decoding the location, of pod." she said as she updated the information she had verus what she did not.

“In the mean time Mr Davies, you heard Jolani: plough the road!” Remas growled.

The Reka were on them now, but with Jolani’s piloting skills and the adept usage of the ships point defence batteries, the bulk of their fighters were wary of closing in on the Wayfarer class battlecruiser. The bigger Reka carriers, gagged black arrowheads with the lustre of magpie feathers, manoeuvred randomly to engage the target rich environment. Plasma lances from them burned through the thinning atmosphere, lancing past the Traveller and into the massing host of the Royal Guard ships.

The angular hulls of the Castualli ships deflected the plasma lances, but they took it on their hulls instead of on shields. Yet another point by which the Federation had much to teach their new allies. And to that end, as a squadron of black and red striped destroyers pounded one of the Reka carrier’s into burning scrap in a single volley, they were keen to teach as well.

And ahead, dropping into the atmosphere of the gas giant, the tangled barbed ring of the Myriad thorn ship, gazed upon its battlefield. The pure whiter bone of misused technology clutched close to its breast.

Plow the road. Plow the road. Did the Captain think that she should literally just fly straight? That was not in her DNA, if that was what the Captain really wanted. She focused on the scene in front of her and started anticipating attacks. While it might seem a blur to others, it rated a mere expert skill for Jolani to dodge the firing patterns with Traveller. Space was always bigger than other people expected. It also was four dimensional and people forgot the third and fourth all too often. Traveller might not warp space a great deal, but it did create its own gravity and time effects. Jolani used them to the Traveller's advantage, dodging as she went. After all, she and the ship were now one with each other.

“Shadi, Wheeler! Status on the Silver Bullet? We’re almost in firing range,” Remas called out. The Myriad thorn ship loomed ever closer, the clutch of its barbs seemingly to point the Prior device in its possession provocatively. A lucky strike by a Reka plasma lance shook the holobridge, sending the augmented reality sphere into a fit of error messages before stabilising again.

"Fuckfist-1 is primed!" Shadi reported. "T minus 10 seconds for loading into the launcher!"

"Give me an ideal range and I will put Traveller there," Jolani called out urgently.

"Closer is better, but we don't know the blast range on this thing. It's a subspace weapon, it's not like we've done extensive testing. It might blow up, it might turn the gas giant inside out," Remas grinned. "Either way once we fire I'd like to be far from it."

"I'll keep my petal to the medal," Jolani responded sharply. "Once you fire, I'll hit warp. Anywhere in particular?"

Jolani's impressive efforts registered on Bystander's radar, pulling him from his internally focused secondhand terror. Sensing the motion of the Traveller beneath and all around him, he connected that immediate sensory input to his primary connection - his moth ship. Protect. Defend. Remain together. The little craft sought to shadow the thorn ship. Sought to find a means to affect it. "We need it," he said, his voice quietly invasive in the ears of those present. "We need to take The Star Fire Lens. The Swallower of Stars is coming." Perhaps he remembered that third or hundredth-hand memory, but those words were clear in his mind's eye.

"Ready to fire!" Shadi reported.

"Traveller to all Allied Forces: go to FTL!" Remmas ordered into the comm's. Around them, the Castaulli fleet's began to shimmer as bright pinpricks of light formed at their bows, and they whisked away leaving behind a red-shifted blur of themselves. The sky of their home gas giant was soon a blood-red, with even the massive clockwork spheres of their cities whisking away. Reka ships caught between them as they passed simply ceased to be, becoming clouds of relativistic gamma-ray that would scream across the void for eternity.

And then they were alone, a handful of Reka ships that had somehow avoided the superluminal T-boning and the gnarled thorns of the Myriad ship.

"Fire."

The Silverbullet fled the Traveller on a tail of fusion fire. Its targeting computer wasn't sophisticated, ideally with a Myriad in close proximity it should have been a homing pigeon. But it knew enough, had a good idea of where it needed to go. It didn't even register the passing of the Traveller as it warped away.

Target acquired.
Target in range.

For all the complexities of the math involved in calculating its yield and output, the mechanism of the Silverbullet was remarkably simple. Take a miniature warp core, affix it to what amounts to very bent warp coils, and then turn it all the way up to 11 until space-time calls Uncle. There was a little more to it, but the charging cycle the weapon had to go through prior to launch was just a hairsbreadth below its critical threshold.

The final power cell cycling on, however, was enough.

For a brief moment, the Castaulli star was outshone by a point of light orbiting just beyond the atmosphere of its largest gas giant. That pulse of light would travel across Messier 4 over the next couple of decades, illuminating the skies as a particularly bright star. Some would see it as an omen, a warning shot fired by waring gods. To others it would be a herald, the Star Of Restoration, ringing in a new era in Messier 4 where Myriad control was not the norm.

But to another, older force, sitting like a spider in the heart of Messier 4, it would signal a time of awakening.

For the dawning of a new Morningstar was upon the stars once more...

 

Previous Next

labels_subscribe