Posts from the ‘Story’ Category

Rings of Fate S3xE5 – Horizon – Separated (pt.3)

Jake looked at the work he had completed. Satisfaction filled his chest, heaving with every breath he drew.

Slowly his gaze wandered down the tube. There was a lot of work to be done, his satisfaction withered, exhaustion replaced it. Too much work.

He need more hands.

More hands than the engineering crew could provide him with.

More hands than were on the ship. And those weren’t qualified.

“Maybe we should use automated welders?” Stefanie, his colleague and love of his life followed his gaze. “We could modify the maintenance cab, or cabs, to do it. Scan after them to find spots that need special attention, and go only on those manually?”

Wrinkling his forehead Jake exhaled audibly. “Maybe, get to work sweetie, go forth and make us a welding bot.” Winking at him she pushed off in the direction of the rear of Horizon. Modifying a maintenance cab would take her a few hours.

He returned his attention to the walls. Maybe he could modify the device that was used to clean and maintain the exterior of the spine inside Beta, so the artificial light could shine brightly, to a similar end?

Basicall it was a huge ring, moving slowly across the spine. Cleaning was fully automatic, but there was room for peple there to replace faulty parts. A warning chime from the front of Horizon drew his attention.

After a few moments the gate opened, slowly a maintenance cab floated in, stopped right behind the gate.

Curiously he continued staring at the door, until it finally opened.

“What do you need to do, to separate the ship safely?” Jane appeared in the open door.

Actually, Jake had not prepared any detailed plans for that, as the Admiral dismissed the idea right away.

“Cutting it apart at the joints of beta is the best course of action I guess. Keep a bit of beta around for the rear to act as deflector.”

“Prepare what you can, we’ll do that.” In her voice a tone of regrett was unmistakable, but Jake didn’t pick up on that. “Aye. I’ll have it ready as fast as I can.”

After the Admiral had left again, Jake contacted Stephanie, informing her of the change of plans, and that she needed to outfit the maintenance cab with something more powerful.

With a feeling of dread Jake entered the control room inside the subalpha ring. Ever since the launch, the entire ship had run on the main reactor in subgamma. A giant fusion reactor.

For successful separation the forward section needed to provide for their own power. Each of the five rings had come with a backup power reactor.

Fission reactors.

The consoles in the control rooms were littered with switches, buttons and instruments, none of which were a digital display on a touchscreen like the rest of the ship, in case of a power failure, they needed to remain operational.

“Maybe we should reconsider. I might be wrong about the breaking apart theory.” Queasy he refrained from powering up the control panels. “You may also be right.” Jane closed her eyes. For three weeks Jake had worked hard to prepare everything for the separation.

From the beta ring he had taken the laser canons, designed to shoot debris, later used to shoot Harpies out of the sky. Divided into four sets, one was set in the ring structure around the spine inside the beta gardens, aiming forward, to cut through the spine, as the ring slowly turned.

The others were in the tubes just outside alpha. So they could cut away the spine there. From inside the central tube in the affected areas, all people in cryogenic chambers had been revived and situated.

There was no going back now.

“Do it. That’s an order.” Jane grumbled, seldom had she to tell people that an order was an order. If she had to, she hated it.

“We still need names. We won’t call it Horizon front and back, are we?” Trying to win some time Jake still hoped there was something that would allow him to not push that button. “Well, sticking with the name of Horizon, let’s go with Dawn and Dusk. Now, fire this thing up.”

Not musing at all in that moment Jane urged for the activation of subalpha’s reactor. Already, in the nights of constantly hearing the bristling of debris, she had decided on the names, agreed on them with the governors.

She was just glad there was no Harpy ship around that could get hit by a stray laser beam. Right after the beta ring was shut down, the ambassadorial ship disengaged and positioned itself at a safe distance, Ambassador Hylia was on subalpha.

“Aye Ma’am.” Hesitantly Jake pulled the lever. Fully automated the system came to life. Pumps engaged, fuel was lowered out from casings. After a few minutes the system was fully operational. “We will have to wait for the system to reach operational levels, but this looks good.” A sigh of relief from Jake, was mostly a good sign.

“Of course it does, the people who built this were no amateurs.” Stephanie commented, the situation they were in was unforseen, thus the people who had built the Horizon were not to blame for the broken spine in, and around beta. “I did a little reading, but I need verification, we are having a Thorium reactor here, not the kind of reactor they used on earth?” Jane wandered down the rows of control panels. She had no idea what any of these controls did, or showed.

“Well, not entirely. Subalpha and subgamma have Thorium reactors, alpha through gamma have conventional fission reactors. It was believed that for some unforseen reason there might be the need to make more nukes, which could relatively easily be made by using those kinds of reactors. The more stable reactors were reserved for the heart and the brain of the ship.”

Mildly unsettled by those news Jane nodded. The governor would not be happy about having a reactor under his chair that was possibly a timebomb.

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Rings of Fate S3xE5 – Horizon – Separated (pt.2)

Sleep came easily. Simply lying down and closing her eyes. No tossing and turning, later Jane attributed it to the lack of the bristling noise.

Deep sleep with confused and confusing dreams soon engulfed her mind, relaxed her body.

“Admiral?” Julia’s voice woke her from the hailstorm of images. “It’s 0530. I’m here to wake you up.”

“Aye.” Jane grumbled, feeling less relaxed for a moment than a few hours before, she rubbed her eyes. Light was stinging them.

Before the weakened material and shodded suspension had been detected, Jake had suggested a redistribution of mass from the alpha and gamma rings to beta, so the ship would resemble less a dumbbell, mass wise, and thus would be less vulnerable to wobbling if the gravitational tides of ES-p296 and its moons influenced the ship.

She had dreamt of that.

Dreamt of pods that flew from the alpha and gamma rings to beta, but as they wanted to dock a magnetic surge flung them off into space. After which the ship began to woble until it broke apart.

“Thank you, any news from Mr. Khaku?”

“No, Jake hasn’t called again. I assume he’s too busy fixing the ship.”

Again thanking her Jane stretched. She needed coffee.

Badly.

Thankfully she accepted the lab produced caffeine drink from Julia, who had forseen the Admiral’s need for it.

Half of the day passed by without word from the engineering crew working in beta. Going through the fifth cup by noon, Jane decided to take some action, instead of waiting for Jake or his people to contact her.

Soon after sitting down in the maintenance cab the weightlessness set in. For once in her life the feeling of it didn’t make her sick, after a few minutes she arrived at the beta ring sections of the tubes, opened the hatches.

“Admiral! What brings you here?” Jake floated towards her cab from his. The tubes were pressurised, working in a spacesuit was not his speciality, and he soon enough would have to, in order to assess the damage on the outside of the spine, where the beta ring ended.

“Your lack of updates.” She smiled. Pointing at a box near her in a seat. “I brought snacks and coffee.”

“You’re a lifesaver Jane.” Jake entered the cab with little difficulty. Working in zero G for a long time now he had gained a lot of experience in doing so. “We’re working hard, but as I said, I have little confidence in the outcome. We also have to work on the outside of the spine. Let me tell you, the gardens are not as pretty as they used to be, without gravity.” Snickering Jane admitted she could only imagine.

“What else needs to be done?”

“Too much. We can repair a human’s broken spine with our technology, but for Horizon, it’s a different story. We can patch it together, but that creates a blockade in the tubes. If we don’t, she’ll tear apart. On the outside, gardenwise, we would seriously weaken the sustainability of a stable gardening environment.”

Jane raised a hand, floating at the door of the cab, looking out at the work crews in the tube. “Loosing the ability to travel through beta, and losing the beta gardens, or all of beta for that matter, is a small price to pay, compared to the alternative. In theory the ship could make it to its destination if it breaks apart, but it would take a lot of work.” She turned around looking at her chief engineer. “And luck.” Her mouth was a narrow straight line in her face.

“I’ve let you down before, Admiral, so you have no reason to trust my words, but I believe we should separate the ship on purpose.”

Stunned Jane opened her mouth but found no words.

“We can patch her up, it is possible we go through the solar system relatively unscathed. But entering and maintaining a stable orbit with Horizon? The ships own inertia could tear off one section, breaking her apart and sending one, or both parts, into an unstable orbit, possibly into damnation.”

Still unable to find words Jane turned her head to face the tube again. “I am not prepared, or willing, to tear this ship, this crew apart. At least not yet. We will cross that bridge when all else fails.”

Drinking his coffee from a sack with a straw Jake nodded. “As you wish, Admiral. I’ll install special sensors, that measure the stress the spine is under. That way, we’ll know when it’s time to, cross that bridge.”

Slowly the door of the maintenance cab closed. Jake had disembarked with the food and coffee for his crew.

Jane was alone again.

Alone with her thoughts, and memories of the nightmare. Doors opened, revealing the hallway outside. People wandered by, the doors closed.

A nagging thought kept Jane seated. The thought that she was being irrational. The possibility of Horizon breaking apart was very real.

Admiral Grienberg would’ve severed the ship in half at the blink of an eye if it meant saving it, while trying to keep it patched together, like a badly sewn on trouserleg, could spell disaster for one or both parts of the ship.

Jane didn’t notice the cab moving again, traveling to it’s default position in a recess in the tube network, as she was following the other nagging thought.

It could spell disaster. Not necessarily meaning it would.

It was quiet in the cab.

Sitting in its waiting position, it was sealed off from sounds reaching it, by the vacuum in the tube. Soon Jane dozed off.

Rings of Fate S3xE5 – Horizon – Separated (pt.1)

A soft bristling noise, like an atonal chime, kept Jane awake. Every time she dozed off, the noise woke her up again.

She tried to calm herself by recalling it was just small debris from the Dhrakal, the patriarchist Harpy ship the Horizon had destroyed. Occasionally a larger piece bumped against the hull, interrupting the chiming noise with a loud “dong”.

It had been that way for days now, thankfully the debris had kept the momentum of the Dhrakal, and only slowly rushed against the hull of Horizon, instead of hitting her with the speed of a bullet, since the capacity of taking damage from impacts was significantly lower after the suicide impacts by Dhrakal’s fighter pilots.

Tossing around on the bed she looked at Wolfgang, peacefully sleeping. Snoring from the other room told her that at least one of her children was fast asleep as well.

Giving up on the idea of sleeping that night, Jane slipped out of bed, got dressd and left the quarters. The big Admiral’s quarters were gone, taken out by a suicide pilot. Even if they hadn’t, she probably would’ve given them up to other families.

One couple from alpha had not only to take care of their own children since the attack, but of their nieces and nefews, since both the husband’s sister and the wife’s sister and their respective spouses had died in the attack.

Jane’s son Wolfgang junior had gotten away with a broken arm and a few scratches, her daughter hadn’t sustained any injuries at all.

Late night strolls always were interesting to Jane, as she turned up places she hadn’t expected. Laying her eyes on an open mess hall, that hadn’t been converted to a shelter for the now homeless, Jane sighed.

Exhaustion weighed heavily on her, she sure could use a dose of caffeine, or two.

Inside there were plenty of people, in uniform and in casual outfit. None seemed to take notice of her, for a change she was glad for that.

She got up to the vendor, who looked into her face, nodded before she could say anything, and served her a cup. The smell alone seemed to increase her pulse, she took the cup with a thankful nod and trod off.

“Mum?” Wolfgang seemed astonished to find her in the mess hall, he too held a cup of the caffeine laced drink. “Wolfgang. What are you doing here at this hour?” Teenage boys out after midnight, not uncommon, but she didn’t like it if it was her son.

“That noise. Constantly it sounds like a shower of nails on metal plates, occasionally interrupted by a bell being tolled by an evil sadistic hunchback in some tower close by!” He drank from the cup.

“Too many movies for you it seems.” Benignly smiling she too took a sip, she had heard that Wolfgang had a blog somewhere in the Horizon net, where he published stories and poems, but had never found it, hearing these words from his mouth, she however knew that it must be good.

“Mum, it’s driving me insane. Can’t I sleep over at Jackie’s place? They live on alpha, in the wake of subalpha, no noise!”

Ah. The infamous Jackie. Jane wanted to meet that girl for what seemed like ages now. “If her parents agree, who am I to stop you? Obviously you can sneak out in the middle of the night without me noticing, although I couldn’t sleep either.” Winking she felt only little effect of the drink, longing for another one.

“Thanks.” He was stunned by her reply, apparently he had thought she’d be a little less linient.

“Now, young man. I believe there is a relatively quiet spot for you to rest your head, after all, it’s a school night.” She tucked her arm in his and pulled him out of the mess hall.

In the aft section of subalpha, in a crew bunk room she sent him to bed. Not very comfortable, and three men already slept in the other bunk beds, but compared to the constant bristling noise in their quarters, it was relatively quiet.

Pondering about the possibility of taking a bunk bed herself, Jane found herself wandering the hallway outside the command centre.

“Admiral! Didn’t expect to see you here for another four hours.” Julia Dimarco, night shift’s commanding officer greeted her.

“I’m just,” distracted by the bristling noise Jane looked around, seeming a little spooked, “wandering around.”

“Kept awake by that noise, Ma’am?” Just by looking at the other woman Jane knew that Julia was plagued by the same thing.

“Doc gave me tranquilisers. I must say, they work just fine.” The man at the post of the first officer said with a docile smile.

Suspecting that they had an effect on him even while awake Jane raised an eyebrow, but decided not to launch an investigation into that matter. A crew deprived of sleep was less functional than a crew that needed medication to sleep, even if that influenced their awake performance.

“Either way, I think I’ll try to get some sleep now.” Jane greeted them, turning on her heel.

“Ma’am?” Julia called her back as she almost had reached the door, over the bristling noise she had overheard the beeping of her console. “There is an incoming call from beta.”

Beta.

That could only be an engineering crew, since that ring was shut down completely.

“We have dismantled the suspensions in the faulty section.” Immediately Jane recognised the voice as Jake’s. “Better get me the Admiral.”

“I’m here Jake. Couldn’t find any sleep with the hailstorm of debris banging against the hull. What do you need me for?”

“Better take a look at this Jane.” Squinting her eyes at the small screen Jane sighed internally. Not enough sleep always had a negative, although temporary, effect on her eyesight, she laid the image on the large view screen. “What am I seeing here Jake?”

“The worse case scenario.”

The camera followed a trace of weakened material. For years on end the magnetic suspension of the unevenly rotating beta ring had worked on the material, wearing it out.

“We will attempt to patch this thing, but I must say, I have little confidence in the success of that.”

Jane closed her eyes. For a short moment her exhaustion played her dreams before her eyes, she opened them gasping for air, trying to snap out of it. “See what you can do, but don’t forget to take breaks and get some sleep in beween.” The line dropped.

Should she too pay a visit to the infirmary?

No, she decided, her shift began too soon. “If someone would be kind enough to go to the barracks and wake me up at 0530?” Whirling around on her heel Jane headed out of the command centre.

Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.5)

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Barely able to contain her satisfaction, Jane watched the expression on Ambassador Hylia’s face freeze. “I suppose you know what that thing is. Just know, that I know as well.”

Hylia’s mouth snapped shut, she ground her teeth. “What do you want for it?”

Two victories for the price of one battle, Jane couldn’t help but smile. “Nothing. We will give this thing to you freely. Just remember our act of goodwill.” We can’t use ovuli, she knows, but she also knows we could let it spoil there in the hangar. Hylia squinted her eyes at the Admiral. “Fine. Anymore,” Hylia stopped talking, looked around in an uneased manner. “Admiral, there is something wrong, are we still under attack?”

Checking with Derek who shook his head Jane glanced away for a moment. “No, ambassador, debris is still not impacting on the ship, although I suspect that, that will happen soon.” Jane wanted to add that she would be glad for any help in clearing a path for Horizon, but then she saw what Hylia had felt before.

A noticeable shudder went through the beta ring.

“Ma’am, pilots still on beta, and beta personnel report report vibrations.”

Jane closed her eyes. “Ambassador, I recommend you vacate beta ring immediately.” Suggesting the Harpies stayed on board, just on another ring, Jane also felt comfortable if they left entirely.

She got up and went to the bunk room next door, upon the door sliding close behind her she locked it, tapped her glasses, calling Jake.

“It is as I feared, your magnetic field anomaly was just the first sign of trouble.” Jake’s face was filled with worry, the screen didn’t flatter his looks either.

“What do we do now?” In the same video conference were the governors from alpha and gamma. Ambassador Hylia stood next to Jane in the conference room.

“Nothing Admiral. We can only try damage control. Shut down beta’s rotation, the uneven weight distribution is taking its toll on the suspension. We can try and fix that, but that’s it, we can’t replace it.” He went on to elaborate that the mass of the Harpy ship Farkahl had added to the problem. His idea of redistribution of mass would not have worked with a broken suspension, he admitted begrudgingly.

“See what you can do. Save this ship.”

Why hadn’t anyone ever raised the issue of uneven mass distribution on beta? If it would solve anything Jane would’ve put everyone involved in that disaster under house arrest. “To the defence of my predecessors, and my own, in theory it should pose no problem.” Jake was distraught. “It doesn’t matter now. See that you can save what can be saved. Work out a possible worst case scenario and how we can still bring this ship, this crew, to the destination of this journey.” With a push of a button Jake was cut off from the conference call. “Governor Xiao, in case of a critical failure, I hereby give you the order to take command of the aft section of Horizon, see that you get all of your people to RV-p296.” The tone of her voice was stern, so much so that the man just nodded without any words. In critical situations she had, after all, the power to overrule the governors, and give them orders.

“Alright. With that out of the way, let us hope and work together, so that we may never have to arrive in parts.” The governors agreed with a nod and dropped out of the conference, leaving Hylia and Jane alone in the room.

In silence the two watched the life feed showing the beta ring slowing down and stopping entirely. “We should’ve calculated our mass in relation to the beta ring.” The Harpy said finally. “It would’ve happened eventually. Now we must see that we fix this problem.” Jane turned around and looked at Hylia. “Care for some fish?”

“I must admit, Admiral. I hate fish. I only ate it with you because you don’t like it either.”

“Thought so.” Jane smiled. “Roasted meat then?”

“Gladly.”

Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.4)

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The sphere shot out of the front dish of the Horizon, through the vast emptiness between her and the Dhrakal. Quickly a group of fighters descended on it, just as the others regrouped for another attack. “Just as planned.” Jane had a smug expression as the fighters dove into the path of the spherical cab. A bright flash filled the screen, as it subsided the fighters and the cab were obliterated. Already the next cab was shot out of the dish. “We may be considerably low tech, when compared with our enemies here, but sometimes the primitives can be as deadly a foe as the highly developed.” The second cab crashed into the Dhrakal, again it lit up the entire screen.

A giant hole was torn into the side of the Dhrakal, leaking atmosphere and other matter from inside.

From the far side of the ship a series of pods were hastily shot into space. Right away the Harpy fighters from Farkahl and two of Horizon’s fighters went to intercept, and retrieve.

Secondary explosions began to rock the Dhrakal, it would not be long until the ship disintegrated.

“Was it really necessary Admiral?” Ambassador Hylia sat at the table in her quarters, a video link to the command centre displayed Jane sitting in her chair.

“To put nuclear bombs on the cabs before ejecting with ballistic velocity? No. But it won us the battle, and you have one survivalist enemy warship off your hands.” There were Harpies and human fighter pilots being treated for radiation burns, as they had been too close to the detonations.

Before the ambassador had called, Jane had received communiques from the commanders of the two Harpy ships, commending her on the outcome and the technique of the battle. “Another question, ambassador. Surely you know what your people retrived from the escape pods, do you?”

“Of course, why do you ask?” Blinking, and twisting her mouth Jane pressed at the display on her station.

The image at Hylia’s end changed from the Admiral to a hangar. The hangar on subgamma where the fighters landed, the hangars on subalpha where unusable after the attack, what fighter couldn’t land at subgamma, had, had to dock on the skeletal remains of the beta ring.

Two escape pods were in the hangar. From one a kicking and screaming Harpy man was dragged out, the other just sat there.

Open and waiting to be looked inside.

Jane’s voice came on over the image. “That was four hours ago, after they landed. Look what we found in the other escapepod.” The image enhanced. According to the treaty between Horizon on human behalf and the Harpies, spoils of war belonged to who ever could claim it. That was valid for patriarchists and DEHumans equally.

Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.3)

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Exiting the tube network Jane found herself in a chaotic mess of engineering staff running around. “Admiral!” Jake’s voice cut through the jumbled noise of dozens of people talking and arguing.

“I didn’t expect to see you here at times like these.”

Confused Jane looked around. “Times like these?” Barely having spoken these words her glasses started buzzing, it was Derek calling her from the command centre.

Another Harpy ship had joined them, on the backboard side, but it was a matriarchy ship, so the alarm had been cancelled, still the engineering crews were abuzz. “They believe a patriarchist attack is imminent. Better get back up here.” He closed the line to instuct cews, as battlestations needed manning if that attack was to take place.

“Jake, I need to get back up there. Before I leave, there was an anomaly in the magnetic field in tube 2, between sections 22 and 21.” Promising her to investigate the matter Jake saw her off, before returning to his duties.

Again there was a bump in the ride, although she had the faulty tube closed off, looking into the matter while waiting to arrive at subalpha she found a few reports had been filed concerning that section in the last half hour.

Before she even left the tube network her glasses began buzzing again. It was the ambassador, probably to inform her of the latest developments concerning the patriarchists.

“Admiral, there is no reason for concern, the Valhak is here to assist in the possibility of a patriarchist attack on your vessel.”

“I know.” Although the alarm had been cancelled, still the hallways were filled with people, heading to, or from, battlestations. A few men and women in pressure suits rushed by, heading to the combat vessels. “We are merely preparing for the same eventuality, besides, I would’ve liked to be noted before hand.”

As she entered the command centre Jane was greeted with a rare sight, a sight she had hoped to never see. Simultaneously alarm sirens began to blare, the hectic in the hallway outside the command centre increased.

Not only where the Valhak and the Farkahl on the screen, but also another Harpy ship. The latter was on an intercept course.

Before anyone could give orders the two Harpy ships flanking the Horizon opened fire on the new arrival.

“Ready the fighters. Gun control, lock target, wait for my command!” Jane sat down, since the assumed patriarchist ship hadn’t been shooting at them, she didn’t want to draw fire on the Horizon by also firing on the Harpy ship.

“That is the Dhrakal accoring to its transponder.” Derek yelled over the noise of several people talking and stating readings of their sensors.

Access to a database of Harpy ships, both friendly and hostile ones, also disclosed that the Dhrakal was very successful warship, matching the Farkahl.

“The only very successful ship the patriarchists have I presume, since they loose on all fronts with the matriarchy.” Jesting Derek looked back at the main viewscreen.

To his horror did he find the Valhak was damaged beyond fighting capabilities. Shields and armor virtually gone, weaponsystems inoperable. Now the patriarchists concentrated their fire on the Farkahl. Both ships dodged enemy fire, or were only grazed by it, returned fire. “Lock on their weaponsystems, and open fire when lock is confirmed.” Stern faced Jane gave the order she had hoped never to give, but with the two warships engaged in a deadly dance of fire and return fire, it was only a matter of time until the Horizon was going to be hit.

“Dhrakal deployed fighters, Valhak and Farkahl are as well!” Most of Valhak’s fighters were unmanned and functioned as shield around the ship, only a small percentage of them were manned and engaged on the enemy fighters.

“Keep ours ready for launch.” Since the DEHumans came and took almost all of the beta ring with them these fighters hadn’t been launched in ernest. Testruns from time to time, to ensure the engines were still working, or that the pilots had been properly trained.

But not in full ernest.

Lasers were discharged from Horizon, the Dhrakal and its crew were taken by surprise, as they cut through their defenses and directionally enforced shields striking right at the weaponsystems of the Harpy ship.

“Reading little damage, they redirected their shields to block further hits from us.” Derek barked the results as if he had truly believed their technology was a match for the Harpies.

Sarisfied with their results Jane watched as the shots fired from Farkahl penetrated the shields hitting the weapons of the patriarchists. “Perfect.” She allowed herself a victorious smirk, but the battle was far from over, as the advancing fighters concentrated on both the Harpy vessel to starboard and Horizon herself.

“Launch.”

Like a swarm of flies rising after being disturbed, two dozen, small one-man vessels flew out of the sides of Horizon’s subalpha and subgamma rings. Changing heading to face the oncoming enemies. “Remember to track your IFFs, I want no friendly fire!” Reminding the pilots of their responsibilities Derek switched their com lines over to flight control in an office two corridors away, as neither he, nor the command centre were equipped to, or capable of, handling all the small ships at once.

“They’re dodging our fighters!”

It was the navigation officer yelling on top of her lungs, she was panicking.

Jane rushed over to her console and stared at the displays.

She was right.

The patriarchists fighters cunningly outmanoeuvred the fighters from Horizon and her protectors, heading straight for the human ship.

“They’re too fast for a proper attack, even with their fancy technology.” Derek stated, he knew what that meant, but didn’t want to believe what his instruments and common sense told him.

“They’re on a suicide run.” Jane stood up straight, the fighters were moving too fast for a weapons lock from the lasers, but still the gunners kept firing at the swarm of incoming fighters, taking out most of them.

Glad that the laser canons had been converted to manual firing instead of the tedious automatic firing, Jane returned to her station. “All hands, brace for impacts.” She barked into her station, screaming out of every communication device on the ship.

Only moments later there were the reverberating sounds and shakes of impacts. A few had hit the forwad facing dish, designed to with stand a nuclear explosion and asteroid impacts, but some made it to subalpha and alpha.

“Casualties, damage, asap!” Jane clenched the armrests of her chair, the sudden shaking of the entire room, half the ship in fact, unsettled her more than she had thought.

Another wave of the suicide fighters was on their way, both friendly Harpies and Horizon fighters had cleared the area around and beyond them, to avoid being hit by Horizon’s lasers.

Again the gunners fired in the general direction of the incoming enemies, taking out a lot of them. Memories of being stuck inside a cab that had been propelled into space came to her mind. As the fighters struck and the ship shook again around her, those memories faded away, making way for reality.

“First wave killed twenty people, thirteen missing, sixty four injured. Eight pods on subalpha, seventeen on alpha shot to pieces. Waiting on reports from scond wave.”

Digging her nails deep into the armrests Jane regretted her next decision already. “Ready the dish.”

Derek looked at her with an empty expression. The dish had at its center an opening through which the nuclear bombs were to be released in case they needed to use the front as as the new propulsion dish.

These bombs were too slow to be used as a weapon, but during her years ascending the ranks and being Admiral, Jane had helped in developing an attack against targets in front of the ship.

“Are you serious?”

“They have a clear path now, they can ascend to ballistic velocities now. Unopposed. But so can we.” She growled those last words.

Deep in the bowles of the ship the tubes of the central spine were cleared of traffic. An extension of the tube, reaching all the way to the dish and the now opened lid, was opened to that tube.

From the alpha ring a spare cab was released into the central tube, and brought to incredible speeds by the magnetic fields.

Rings of Fate S3xE4 – Horizon – Confrontations (pt.2)

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Only minutes after leaving the ambassadorial quarters did the call reach her that a Harpy ship appeared alongside the ship, so her assumption that it had been shadowing Horizon waiting for it to be called in, was confirmed.

Quickly she left beta, heading for her quarters. Sushi, or raw fish dishes served by the Harpies, didn’t quite agree with her, but still she didn’t want to risk a diplomatic faux pas by denying it.

Why Ambassador Hylia couldn’t find taste in prepared food, even the stemcell grown lab meat, like Horizon’s Hylia had, was an issue that puzzled Jane.

Perhaps the ambassador sensed her dislike for raw fish, and it was only served at these dinners? “Honey I’m home!” She tweeted as she entered her quarters. Immediately her perpetual boyfriend Wolfgang greeted her back, their teenage children were no where to be seen.

For once she felt glad over that fact. “The kids are staying with my parents, in case you’ve been wondering.” A benign smile on his lips Wolfgang explained leaning in the door to the toilet.

“Thank you.”

“What’s new?” He nodded understanding her current condition, as she always came home like this from a dinner with the ambassador.

“Harpy warship to starboard, patriarchist threat, potential structural failure following a wobble. You know, business as usual.” Laughing through her pain she cringed.

“Oh, that old hat again.” Wolfgang was uneased by these news, but since Jane wasn’t, he played it off as cool too. “Explain that wobble to me though.” His curiosity got the best of him.

There was a menacing trait to the Harpy ships, Jane had to admit, as she looked at the sensor data gathered of their protector.

Although built for space, and battle in space, they were sleak, aerodynamic vessels, odd angles to refract sensors, unless they were moving slow, or in relation to the scanning source, not at all.

Unlike the Horizon, and her sister ships, the Harpy warships had intricate paint jobs on their exterior, adding to their menacing look. Each one was different, individual.

Reflecting the biological neuro circuits controlling them, each ship was an individual, both in exterior design and in regard to their mind.

“With that thing here, there isn’t a thing daring to attack us.” Derek commented seeing her study the ship. “You might be a bit too young to remember, but the linkers made short progress with these ships. The patriarchists use the same technology, the same design. They surely would dare to attack. Although, I must say, they surely would go for her first, giving us plenty of opportunity to shoot at them.”

The smug expression in her first officer’s face vanished. “Way to kill the mood, Ma’am.” Winking he retreated to his post.

She watched him leave for his console. It was ages that she had spent at that station. It also seemed like ages since she last had worked there.

Shaking off the nostalgic feelings, she looked at the ship to their starboard. Her name was Farkahl, and according to the information that Ambassador Hylia had released to her, the Farkahl had seen plenty of battles, and always was victorious.

Since the brain operating the ship was capable of learning, and possessed a strong will to survive, only the first few battles were won by her crew, soon the brain took over. She wanted to live, wanted to win, wanted to conquer.

A true warrior.

Once Jane had spoken with Horizon’s Hylia about the brains on the Harpy ships. She wanted to know how they were made, how they first came to be.

The latter was beyond the old Hapry’s knowledge. Brains in ships had been in use for so long, no one could remember who first implemented them, where the brains first came from. Since Harpy specific medication worked on the brain matter as well, it stood to reason that it had been a Harpy donating her brain, or parts of it.

“When a ship is ready to procreate it will form a series of ovuli, and sacks of seed. Another ship, ready for procreation must be found, and the two will exchange their seeds and ovuli. The then fertilised ovuli are taken to special facilities in our shipyards. Where they will, sooner or later, be implemented into a ship. That can either be a new one without a brain, or one wherein the brain had died.”

Recalling those words made Jane shudder. Just the thought of being an incorporeal brain implanted into the husk of one that had died before gave her the creeps.

Her eyes kept studying the Farkahl. This magnificent warrior surely was a prime specimen for cultivating new ship brains.

Other than the ship to starboard, it was another quiet day. Followed by another.

After a week of quiet days Jane began to suspect that the ambassador was more interested in showing presence than actual concerns from patriarchists, after all the DEHumans had long range sensor capacity beyond what Horizon could ever hope to achieve, especially with their shipyard ahead of them. It was possibly even greater than what the Harpies had at their disposal.

As suspected, the governors were not keen on the idea of transferring pods to beta. They each engaged a corps of scientists and engineers to investigate Jake’s scenario. Again Jane believed it was due to the Harpy presence on beta, that even her proposal of shared jurisdiction was dismissed.

Their xenophobic distrust of Harpies was hard to overcome, all Jane was left with, was to hope their scientists came up with the same conclusions as Jake, if that didn’t happen she could force them, by temporarily overruling them. A step she was prepared to take if it meant bringing the ship safely to its destination, even though she didn’t like that option.

Sitting strapped into the chair of the cab Jane travelled to subgamma, she wanted to speak to Jake again, when she noticed a bump in the weightless ride.

“Computer! Halt.” She turned her glasses on. “Location.”

“Beta ring, section 22.” That was shortly after a siphon section. “Analyse cab log for anomalies in the magnetic field guiding the cab.”

A field anomaly was displayed on her glasses. When she asked the computer to analyse the cause for the field variation she got an error.

Saving the findings to her glasses she continued on her way, and had the tube locked, as there were two additional tubes tu be used.