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Sneak Peek at Stars and Storms

Updated: Feb 19, 2023


As the UDS Fastnet entered the unnamed system that stood halfway between the territory controlled by the United Democratic Alliance and the systems controlled by the People’s United Coalition. For years ships from the UDA had been patrolling this route, jumping from system to system as they watched for any sign of aggressive action from the faction that had broken from the United Nations alliance and had formed the plan to settle systems beyond the shared human home systems. Having been on picket duty for over a year on the Fastnet, Captain Lele Asiata wasn’t expecting to find anything in this system.

She had seen a few small skirmishes with rogue factions during her service, but those had only been over systems that were full of valuable resources. This system was not one of those types of systems. With only a single small rocky planet close to the small red dwarf sun and a large gas giant on the outer edge, this system would only draw a ship that needed to refuel in preparation for a long strike into their enemy’s territory or as a stop on a patrol route.

Opening a link to engineering, she decided to check and see if stopping for fuel and taking time to retune their Bow Drive, the device that allowed them to travel through artificial wormholes, would be helpful.

“Major Rosello, we just reached our next target system and I’m thinking about stopping for a quick refill on fuel and taking some time for your team to make routine tweaks to the Bow Drive System. The next system that will be quiet enough for us to do this work will be another nine jumps away from here. I would like your opinion on this before I make a final decision.”

The Major's face appeared on the bottom of the view screen that took up the entire bulkhead in the front section of the combined bridge and CIC of the patrol cruiser and his voice came over the speakers of the large room.

“Captain, we could wait to make our next refueling stop, but if we run into any major issues and have to redirect the ship or move at combat speeds we will run out of fuel before we can safely make it there. Our Bow Drive probably has fifteen jumps left in it, but as you know well, any type of spatial interference that we encounter during our route will alter that. If you can give my team two hours to make the proper adjustments we will be able to take that number to a max of thirty jumps which will give us plenty of room for adjustments and the unknown.”

Smiling at the over-explanation she had learned to expect from every chief engineer she had ever worked with, she gave the orders that her entire crew likely already anticipated.

“Helmsman, take us into low orbit around the gas giant and prepare the fuel truck for combat refueling. We are currently in the neutral zone and we don’t want to stay here for any longer than we need to. Our team will have two hours to get as much fuel as they can and get back to the ship.

“Major Rosello, as soon as we are in a stable orbit your team should begin work on the drive, we need it done as quickly as possible, but we need it done correctly. Have any other available engineers do a once over of all critical systems.”

Tapping the touch screen attached to the right armrest of her chair, she disconnected from the engine room and switched over to the armory and Marine ready room, reaching out to the chief tactical officers and Marine commander.

“Lieutenant Mestibeld prepare your marines for boarding exercises on the upper airlocks for the next two hours. Major Komaniso have your teamwork over the weapons and make sure that they are ready for a fight. After this pitstop, we will be entering contested space to make sure that our friends haven’t made another play for one of the independent mining stations.”

After the two officers had confirmed her orders, Lele disconnected and began to pace the bridge, checking on the work that her crew was doing as they dropped into orbit around the unnamed planet. Feeling the ship slowly shift as it settled into orbit, she counted off the seconds for her helmsman to report and for her flight deck commander to report. It took twelve seconds for her chief pilot to call out.

“Captain, we are stable in orbit and ready for operations. Sending go signals to all departments that will be starting operations.”

Giving a quick nod to the helmsman, she continued to count as she waited for her departments to report in. Engineering was the first report to be called out by her communications officer, followed closely by the armory. After nearly a minute, she felt a small jolt to the side as the docking bay door opened and the last bit of air slipped out into space.

Knowing that there wasn’t anything else she could do for the next two hours, she moved towards the door that led to her office. As the door slid open, a shout from her sensor operator caused her to spin around and rush back to her command chair.

“Captain, multiple jump signatures coming in just over the horizon of the planet. Because of the gases of the planet, I am unable to get a good reading of them. I can’t confidently say when they arrived, who they are, or how many of them there are.”

Sliding into her seat, she pulled on the harness and began shouting orders. “Comms, recall all units in operation. Flight control, get that tanker back on board immediately. Armory, get weapons and shields online now, we don’t know what is coming at us. Engineering, we need to move and be able to jump, and report as soon as we are able to go.”

When she received confirmation from every officer she had addressed, she reached down and pressed the button on her control panel to open a ship-wide channel.

“Crew of the Fastnet, we are about to engage an unknown group of ships that just jumped into the system. No friendly ships are scheduled to stop in this system for weeks, so we have to assume that these ships are hostile or rogue. For this reason, we are going to full battle stations.”

As she finished her instructions, the lights on the entire ship shifted from the normal warmth of the main white lights to the red lights of the combat alarm. The sounds of scampering people filled the corridors and the bridge systems shifted to full combat mode, turning off any data feeds that weren’t important for the coming battle. Reaching forward to check on the status of the engines, Lele was thrown forward against her harness, causing her head to swim from the impact.



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