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Old June 15th, 2011, 08:02 PM
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Rigel Stardin Rigel Stardin is offline
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The MFDS flickered before the dark eyed Mariusan. The shattered glassiloy viewport had opened the bridge of the Gazelle to space. His eyes drifted between the monitor and the pitch-black space beyond the jagged edge of the viewport. The scanners were off line, so it was back to relying on your ability to pick out objects moving in a brilliant night sky. The asteroid to starboard was their only protection from enemy fire having lost main power in the brief exchange thirty minutes before. The Captain’s attempt to breakup the ambush had failed and left the ship in grave danger.

There was someone out there searching the asteroid field. No one could be sure if it was friend or foe. Above Ensign Stardin’s head was a small curved rearview mirror allowing him too see behind him. He glanced back at the Scanner Ops station. Warrant Officer Ankara shook his head and whispered over the intercom. “Avionic are still off line.”

Through the visor of his CASE, he saw the worried look of the WO. “Passive are still operational. We at least have a set of eyes.”

Chief Engineer Sakhalin muttered. “Have engines on line, hyperspace generators on standby.”

“Still need avionics if we are going blow this party?” Stardin scowled. “ETA on those repairs Chief?”

“Ten minutes.” He responded.

“The next big question, do we have weapons?” WO Ankara asked.

“Port, starboard turrets, dorsal and ventral are out of action.” His voice seemed to rumble with anger. “Henson ain’t going home, neither is the captain!”

“Concern yourself with the repairs Chief!” Stardin snapped.

“Yes sir.”

Stardin didn’t even want to look back at the commander’s station. He had seen enough death to last several lifetimes. He blocked the image of the corpses piled behind the Captain’s chair out of his mind. He was more worried about the crews’ survival than the shells of two men.

“There it is again.” Ankara whispered. “Rad 300, Sid 120, 10 kilometers.”

The enemy ship was now below and behind them. Stardin looked at MFDS and barked. “We’re going to have make a run for it! All stations standby.”

“Ensign, there’s no better place than to hide right here?” Ankara barked. “This chunk of rock is scrambling their radar!”

“Yeah, but they still have scanners!” He glanced angrily over his shoulder. “Now man your post Ankara!”

His secondary MFDS flicker as the Chief muttered. “Hang tight for as long as you can let me get this relay aligned, Ensign! Then you have the forward particle cannon, both turrets and avionics!”

His hands gripped the joysticks on both sides of his flight couch. His eyes watching the EM signature of the enemy ship, the moment it even seemed like the Captain of the other ship turned on his scanner array, he was going to light this candle. Seconds pasted like minutes, he could feel the sweat in the gloves of his suit. The cold air of the LSS-A on his back sent a shiver down his back. One minute had now past, the beam of the search radar struck the asteroid.

“Shit!” The WO shouted. “He’s doing a back step over the asteroid!”

“I hope like hell you’re right Ankara!” He muttered harshly under his breath. He watched the Radar signature grow in intensity as the sweep retraced its steps. For one moment, Stardins’ thought he would have fire the main engines but the signal faded off the passives as it completed another sweep of the surrounding asteroid. His secondary MFDS came on and stayed on.

“You’ve got everything I can give you Ensign.” Sakhalin muttered indicated he was pleased with himself. “Let’s go get a beer!”

“Not yet.” Stardin eyes narrowed as the enemy vessel maneuvered closer to his ship. “Our friend is still not convinced we’ve left.”

“EM signature changing, he’s going to scanners!” Ankara voice sounded near panic.

Stardin turned in his seat, his space black eyes warning the Warrant officer to control himself. “You’re an officer damn it! Act like one!”

Stardin jerked himself back around glancing at both display screens. The vessel scanners were beginning their sweep of the field. “Gunners, be prepared for some radical maneuvering.”

Ankara watched the scanner array signal grow. His mind raced for the reason why the Ensign had not moved the vessel. He could not believe his ears when the Bitchin’ Betty confirmed the enemy vessels’ target lock on the Gazelle. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Surviving Ankara!” He snarled like some wild animal. “Now do your Job!”

Ankara eyes snapped to the MFDS as his mind curse the Ensign. “Enemy vessel has target lock on us! STAR-TRAC has acquired our position…. I have missile launch. Four, Warblade ASM closing fast, deploying countermeasures!”

“Negative!” Stardin growled. “Call time to intercept!”

“You’re mad!”

“Do it!” Stardin voice roared over the intercom.

“Seven…six…five…four…three...” Ankara’s body slammed into his flight couch. The Gazelle rocketed forward as the missiles struck the asteroid throwing up a debris field. His eyes glued to MFDS as the enemy vessel began the chase swinging wide to avoid the chunks of rock thrown up from the explosion. “Enemy vessel is closing fast. We will be in weapon’s range in one minute.”

“We ain’t going to out run her.” Stardin remarked dryly knowing the dangers of flying in an asteroid field. There was also the added danger of micro-asteroids coming through the shattered viewport. “So, we’ll have too out fly her! Gunners standby, you’re about to learn what a Crazy Ivan is!”

He took the starship in close to the asteroids with each successive pass forcing the faster ship to choosing between slowing down, or giving the rocks a wider berth. The enemy Captain took the safer course of action. Maintain speed in order to close with the fleeing vessel. Stardin’s adrenalin raced through his body causing him to take even greater risks with the escort than were necessary.

A large asteroid loomed in the viewport. Ankara felt the vibration in the ship as the gravity of the small planetoid took effect. Stardin shot across the surface as the larger faster vessel fired its beam weapons. Stardin began zigzagging through the high crater rim. They were less than a hundred meter off the surface as the large mountain range came to view on the horizon.

“Damn it, pull up!” Ankara shouted.

Stardin went hard to port instead causing the enemy vessel to go high. Hard to starboard followed as he went between to mountain peaks. They were now behind the vessel. “Gunner fire!”

Both double laser turrets fired striking the ship. Stardin fishtailed the Gazelle and climbed. The enemy ship swung wide and dove. The Gazelle shot towards a much smaller asteroid following the curve as it went. Stardin shouted. “Crazy Ivan!”

Braking motors on the nose fired as it momentum flipped over the ship. Ankara saw the enemy vessel appear over the shorten horizon as the gunners fired. The laser and particle beams tore the underbelly of the enemy vessel apart. Stardin’s maneuver had effected ended the enemy’s ability to pursue them…

Chief Sakhalin stood in the officers’ lounge. “There’s a hull plate over the viewport sir. Dorsal turret is a complete lost. All other systems are nominal.”

“Thank you Chief.” Stardin did not look from the compuboard.

“One question sir?”

“Yes chief?”

“Did you intend to go after the Corsair?”

He looked up from the report. “What do you think?”

The corner of his lips moved slightly. “No.”

Stardin shook his head. “If there isn’t anything else, I suggest you get some rest. We will be at Broadus in the morning.”

He saluted. Stardin returned his salute. After he left the Ensign looked at Ankara. “You’re wondering what I am going to put in my report about your action on the bridge?”

“I don’t care.” Ankara exhaled sharply. “We’re alive and that all that matters.”

“Captain Luther had our evaluation in the computer before he was killed.” He slid it across the table. “He rated your performance as excellent. Mine however, is less than perfect?”

Ankara picked up compuboard. “Insubordinate, rash, and unable to perform his duties as a naval officer? I guess he had us both wrong?”

“You did what you had to when I needed it Tony. I can’t fault you because you were scared.” Stardin lean forward. “His evaluations cannot be alter so, there is no harm done. In addition, my report shows all personnel reacted with the utmost bravery and courage. At least, you still have a career.”

“You think at the inquiry they will fry our ass?” Tony looked up from the report.

“Hard to tell?” Stardin shrugged his shoulder and sat back. “The flight data recorder wasn’t damaged. It will show that two corsairs jumped us and Luther’s orders were a bit psycho?”

“I still don’t understand why he ordered us to attack?” Ankara shook his head. “We were out gunned and out classed?”

“We got one of them before he was killed.” Stardin lifted his cup. “All that mattered to him was the perceived glory of the battle, not its outcome.”

“In other words, he had a death wish.”

“Something like that?” Stardin sipped his coffee. “Everything I know about the Navy, tells me a Lieutenant should be in command of an escort not a full captain. I have this feeling this was his last command before retirement. The only reason I can see outside of that, is he needed time on a combat vessel for promoted to the next grade? Kill two well armed pirate vessels might have been the ticket that bought his promotion.”

“Are you saying three men are dead because of a promotion?” Ankara looked discussed.

“No.” Stardin put down his cup. “The arrogance of one man killed them. It would have been a different story had we turned tail and run after the ambush. Then we would have been doing our jobs. That is why I am not filing a citation for the Luther. It is the only way to protest his actions to the brass. Outside that, it’s like you said, we survived…”
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