Chapter 0: 'Prologue'

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Chapter 0: 'Prologue'

Post by Hades on Sat Feb 16, 2013 4:30 am

UNV Foch, CVN-11
January 17, 2137 - 09:18 UTC
Combat Information Center


"General quarters, general quarters, all hands to action stations. Docking maneuvers underway, secure all stations."

Rear Admiral William Fredericks was unusually quiet. While the man usually remarked on every alarm, on every event and on every piece of gossip, he limited himself to simply watching the table-integrated map this time. It was his only link to the world outside; with the CIC buried deep within the armor plating of the Supercarrier and the cameras shut down for the docking, there was no way to see what was happening outside in any form other than the geometric shapes that represented ships, stations and planetary bodies.

And right now, the screen was a messy soup of these shapes, coloured mostly blue, green or white. To an inexperienced man, the soup would look incomprehensible, but the Admiral was no simple man. He could read the shapes and letters and deduct what was happening at the moment around his ship. The situation was simple: the Foch had commenced docking maneuvers with one of the multiple drydocks that were part of Navy Base Albert Einstein. Most of the Strike Group had already docked, with only a pair of destroyers and a battleship remaining. The only reason the hundreds of civilian and military ships hadn't collided with the hull so far was the advanced RADAR array and the dozens of operators in the Foch's air control division.

But it was not the thought of docking that made the Admiral nervous, if his lack of interest in talking signified nervousness. It was the fact that the Foch's air group still hadn't returned from their training mission. Their signatures were still visible, positioned next to the moon of Deimos, but they hadn't sent anything over wireless traffic for well over an hour. Of course, that too was expected; there was too much residual interference from the nuclear test that had been conducted a few days ago near the outer moon.

The docking was proceeding as expected. The ship's forward-facing thrusters fired on afterburner, using several short bursts to bring the ship to an almost halt in relation to the drydock. At that point, the docking clamps kicked in: the magnetic arms attached themselves to the Foch's exterior hull, connecting a series of tubes and wires into the necessary ports that had been exposed by the armor sliding away. Finally, a series of airlock corridors extended towards the dock, connecting mid way through to their counterparts. The ship was secure, and the Executive Officer was quick to mention the obvious.

"Docking successful, we have hard seals on all airlocks. Engine is offline."

The Admiral responded with a half-hearted nod, removed his glasses, and then begun to walk off.


"I am going to my quarters. XO, you have the conn; let me know when the Air Group returns. I need to have a word with the Colonel."




UNV Foch, CVN-11
January 17, 2137 - 11:53 UTC
Flag Officer's Quarters


Two and a half hours later, the Admiral had finally managed to relax. A glass of wine and a copy of The Hound of the Baskervilles had been enough to take his mind off the issues in his mind. While the Air Group's delay was of concern, he was mostly worried about the refits the Foch would undergo in the next month. The Navy had stated that it was going to only improve on existing features, but something made him doubt that statement. The UNV Troy was undergoing a similar refit, and the refits had driven her commanding officer to suspect the motives behind them. Way too much power was being drawn into the computer subsystems, he claimed when he discussed it with Fredericks over a bottle of beer. He wondered what that meant, but the fact the Navy wasn't telling him was enough to drive him insane.

Sadly for him, the phone rung. He had expected it, but did not rejoice at it despite the fact that he ordered it. He took a moment to finish his wine before bringing the phone against his ear.


"CO."

The response sparked something in him. He closed his book, muttered a weak "I'll be right there." and rushed for CIC.




To be continued...
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Re: Chapter 0: 'Prologue'

Post by Hades on Wed Feb 20, 2013 6:54 am

UNV Foch, CVN-11
January 17, 2137 - 11:57 UTC
Combat Information Center


"Admiral on deck!"

The entire room was silenced as the ship's commanding officer stepped into the room, accompanied by his ever-present marine escort. Various salutes from the bridge crew followed, but the Admiral dismissed them with a wave of his hand. It didn't take more than a moment for the previously frantic chamber to return to that state, and the new arrival made a hasty approach to the main command post. The executive officer offered him a quick salute, which he promptly returned.


"Commander Majeed, I have the conn."

"Aye sir. Admiral has the conn."

"Give me a sitrep."


The Commander hesitated a bit, but he managed to tap his finger on the surface of the table-mounted screen. A dozen taps and some slides after, the blueprints of the Foch's primary landing bay; a number of blue dots were littered all over it, and that seemed normal enough. But there was something weird; the Admiral couldn't put his finger on it until he noticed the overhead display.

A radiation alarm had been triggered.

"Air group returned a few minutes ago. Bombers and e-war birds landed fine, the deck crew got them out of the deck, and then the fighters landed. Radiation detectors went off. Nothing serious, but it's increasing. LSO thinks it's a leaking reactor on one of the MiGs."


"Suggestions?"

"We are evacuating the hangar deck, but it's taking time. Too many pilots to get out, not enough crew to help them."

"How bad could it get?"


For a second time, the executive officer hesitated. The Landing Signals Officer had joined his two superiors around the table, and seemed much more willing to reveal the extent of the damage the situation could cause;

"We could lose the entire ship." he bluntly explained, and it was a bit too blunt for the Admiral. A sharp look was exchanged, and then the Admiral retreated his gaze to the holographic display. The LSO was right: a nuclear incident, no matter how small, could destroy the entire supercarrier. While the landing bay did have internal armor plating, these plates were no match against a nuclear detonation.


"Options?"

"Jettisoning the fighters into space after evacuating them would be the ideal solution, but it's not an option. We could destroy the shipyards. We also don't know how much time we have."


The executive officer cut into the conversation, altering his head to face both men in sequence. "Can't we find the defective fighter and fix it?"

"No, too many fighters to check through. There's almost two hundred birds in that landing deck, sir. We could, however, evacuate everyone, seal off the emergency bulkheads and raise the emergency containment fields around the bay. Evacuate the surrounding decks too for good-"


The exchange was cut short as a high-pitched klaxon echoed throughout CIC. It was a different klaxon to the ones usually heard; it was not that of general quarters, or a fire. It was short and loud, a repetition of the same tune.

"RADIATION SPIKE!" quickly explained one of the bridge officers, and the room froze again. The spike had been high enough to trigger not only the internal sensors, but also the external threat systems; the point defenses were brought online automatically, just as they would if a nuclear missile was detected heading for the carrier.


<:: Attention: nuclear threat detected. Enacting emergency containment and pressure relief protocols. Overriding all commands. ::>




UNV Foch, CVN-11
January 17, 2137 - 12:01 UTC
Main Landing Deck


<:: Attention. Nuclear threat detected. Sealing emergency bulkheads, preparing to vent compartment to space through rear gate. All personnel must evacuate immediately. ::>

The voice of the ship's computer was enough to send waves of panic rippling through the bay. Almost immediately, everyone in the deck started running for the exits, desperately trying to get through the lowering walls of metal and polymer. With each second, the doors sealed further down, and the number of people that made it through them thinned.

Lieutenant Colonel Leyland was one of the few trying to get in.

As Air Group Commander, he had been the first to be removed from his fighter, even before the nuclear threat was detected. But instead of enjoying the relative safety he had behind the thick armor of the hangar deck, he resorted to begging the ship's AI to give his men more time, to let him in to help with the evacuation. There was no response.

When the last door sealed, more than a hundred pilots were left behind it, all struggling to get out. Their bypass codes didn't work; someone even tried firing at one of the doors with a missile, but the gate did not even get scratched.

When the automated security androids begun to forcibly move the crew away from the surrounding corridors, they were faced with a mix of responses. Some personnel, mainly deck crew, were eager to get as far away from the potential explosion as possible. Others pleaded and fought to be allowed back into the hangar deck.

Chaos ensued.
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Re: Chapter 0: 'Prologue'

Post by Hades on Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:16 pm

UNV Foch, CVN-11
January 17, 2137 - 12:02 UTC
Combat Information Center


"Engineering, report!"

"Sir, Kay is sealing off the hangar deck, he's preparing to vent the compartment to space. There's a hundred plus people in there, sir!"


The Admiral paused. K, otherwise known as Kappa, was the Foch's artificial intelligence; a complex quantum computer with five hundred petabytes' worth of software held in a laser cooling machine, designed to operate the more sophisticated functions of the ship and take over in an emergency the human operators couldn't respond to. For it to override its primary hard-coded directive, the first of the Laws of Robotics, it meant that it had detected a very serious and very real threat to the entire ship. He was about to ask for an explanation from the computer when one of the communications operators raised his hand, and yelled out from the other side of the room.

"Sir, the CAG wants to talk to you on line six. Says it's urgent."

What wasn't nowadays. The Admiral offered the petty officer a light nod, and tapped the touch screen to activate the speakers for line six. The CAG's voice echoed throughout the bridge, while a video feed from him appeared on the main screen.

"Sir, I've got half the air group in there! What the hell is going on?"


"I was hoping Kappa could explain, Colonel."

The voice that was heard next was not that of the colonel, or an officer. It was a male voice with a distinct British accent, filled with a robotic buzz in the background: Kappa.

"I have detected a Class 6 nuclear threat in the landing bay. According to calculations, it will detonate with the force of one hundred kilograms of TNT. The blast will be enough to destroy any vehicles and personnel in the hangar deck. Without the emergency blastdoors, it will be enough to reach the maintenance deck. There is a sixty percent chance that it will trigger a chain reaction in the conventional and nuclear weapons held there. The secondary blasts will destroy the ship. The radiation itself will be much worse; since it is not an actual nuclear weapon, but rather a malfunctioning reactor, the radioactive fallout will be severe. The entire ship could be contaminated if the radiation is not vented into space. Estimated time to detonation is forty seconds."

The Air Group Commander would have none of it, though. "Peter Leyland, Lieutenant Colonel, Air Group Commander. Emergency override zero zero zero. Release emergency bulkheads, order security droids to assist in landing deck evacuation. Confirm."

"Override confirmed. Second override from a senior officer is required to proceed."


The bridge crew stared at their Admiral expectantly. He was the Admiral, the man who could lead all of his men into the harshest of battles, and yet he could not issue a simple override order. He thought it was laughable, but at the same time, it was too hard of a decision to make. He could either leave a hundred people to their deaths, or risk losing the entire ship, and the shipyard it was docked with.

The Executive Officer waited for a few moments, and then proceeded to add the final override;

"Assad Majeed, Commander, Executive Officer. Emergency override zero zero zero. Release emergency bulkheads, order security droids to assist in landing deck evacuation."

"Override confirmed. Releasing emerge-"


"Command override, William Fredericks, Rear Admiral Lower Half, Commanding Officer. Strike last order, continue with containment protocol."

"Command overridden. Continuing with containment protocol."


The crew stared in disbelief as the timer continued.
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Re: Chapter 0: 'Prologue'

Post by Hades on Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:56 pm

UNV Foch, CVN-11
January 17, 2137 - 12:03:18 UTC


The supercarrier's forward hangar door opened, and for a few seconds, nothing happened. To an outside observer, it would seem that the ship's AI had miscalculated the time it took for the nuclear reactor to go critical. To an optimist, the view would trigger a wave of relief; a hope at saving the hundreds of people in the landing deck. They were wearing EVA suits, after all; they could survive the venting.

The optimism was brought to a sudden halt as an intense flash of light filled the hangar bay, and extended outwards through the open blastdoor. The ship shook, almost torn in half by the massive stress suffered by its hull. A passing shuttle was annihilated as the heat wave hit it, turning it into gaseous metal. The supports that held the Foch attached to the shipyard buckled, and some gave out. The white light slowly faded into blue, green, and then red before settling at a disturbing tone of orange.

In a few seconds, the explosion was over. Against all expectations, the ship had survived; while its main hangar bay had been severely damaged, the supercarrier was still there. And of course, so were the shipyards. Emergency response teams swarmed around the gutted capital ship like bees on honey, surveying the damage.


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