Friday, June 04, 2010

Fiction Friday - Series 2: Chapter 10

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8
Chapter 9
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The captain was calm. I could tell by the biometric readings I had available to me such as pulse, blood pressure, neural activity, and bloodstream chemical levels. In fact I had access to all the biometrics of the entire crew but I only closely kept tabs on the bridge crew, and for the rest I set up alarm indicators in case some green recruit threw a panic attack at the first explosions.

The reason I personally watched the bridge crew was to make sure they could be counted on should any of the ship's functions have to be taken over by them. At this rank I had complete control of the vessel, but standard operating procedure required regular crew to assist me. I appreciated the safety net when I first started flying in full control but nowadays I merely resented it. OK, I also admit I watched the bridge crew closely to make sure they didn't try to take over control from me in a fit of panic. It never happened to me but I've heard of other capsuleers in the navy having their navigation protocols overridden by a nervous helmsman.

Things were fine today though. The crew was experienced enough to know what to expect and Captain Vadix was practically a statue. He was nearing retirement and had over a hundred engagements under his belt, many of them without the aid of a pod pilot to direct the ship to his commands. This battle was nothing special to the old veteran and his composure helped to steady the nerves of everyone else, myself included.

Our battlegroup was cruising at 100 m/s in deep space, aligned to the smuggler's stargate. I followed the transmissions both of the local ships and of the fleet in general, eagerly waiting for the next command. We were one of six battlegroups preparing to engage to wipe out the Guristas; three more similar in composition to our own and two short range forces that would warp in and lay down the interdiction bubbles and targeted warp disruption weapons once the covert ships got warp in headings for the rest of the fleet.

Not all of the ships in the fleet were piloted by capsuleers. The number of ships in the navy was higher than the number of navy pod pilots by a factor of 10 to 1 and in our battlegroup I was the only one. In the fleet at large there was four others and we chatted on our own comm lines separate from the fleet using call signs like fighter pilots. I got my call sign of Kodachi (an ancient Achuran word meaning "short sword") from piloting Merlins in the crazy fights with Guristas in the belts of Otsela and kept it ever since.

Finally the message we had been waiting for for the past three hours came in. "Achilles in position," our assigned covert ops frigate reported. The other battlegroups indicated their readiness and the Admiral gave the word: "Fleet warp to Achilles at 10." The warp drives were already spun up so all I had to do was engage them and the Ferox lurched into its tunnel. My readouts gave a distance of 23 AUs to go and dropping rapidly.

The Admiral spoke on fleet comms again. "You have your assigned targets, begin engagement upon landing."

"Commander, you know what to do," my captain spoke evenly. The warp tunnel began to collapse as we neared our destination. "Yes sir," I replied. We decelerated rapidly, my overview filled with vectors and transversals and I began to target the cruisers as my railgun accelerators warmed up.

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