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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 95: Slade 31
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 94: Hastings 33
"Prepare to launch auxiliary batteries," John ordered. "I want Marilyn on battery A, targeting the main engines on the destroyer. George, you take battery B, and try to keep that carrier from closing on us. Gary, adjust course for optimal placement of the batteries, and order their launches. Ishara on the main guns, we're going to try to take out their OTG systems first."
"Prepare to launch battery B," Gary said, "in ten, seven, five, four, three, two, and, now."
"Battery B clear and responding," George answered.
"Prepare to launch battery A in ten, seven, five, four, three, two, and, now."
"Battery A clear and responding," Marilyn said.
Slade could see two new blips appear on the tactical screen, breaking off from Destiny and moving independently into critical positions.
"Hold course for a moment; we're going to dive under them abruptly, but we want them to think we're headed for their sensory array."
"The sensory array would be a logical target, captain," Banson said.
"Yes, and we'll get that next. We sweep under the ship abruptly, hopefully doing enough damage to the OTG weapons that they can't target the planet's defense systems, and then we pull back into a tight loop around their hull and torpedo the sensors. Everyone ready? Now!"
It was roller coaster time, Slade thought, and held on to his seat. The ship shifted, but like a roller coaster the floor still felt level, and down was always directly below his feet. There were several jolts which probably had nothing to do with maneuvering. Everyone else became very busy, almost frantically so, but for Ann, who sat serenely connected to her com link, and Tom, who sat nervously watching everything.
"Why don't you, like, hide in your room or something 'til it's over?" Slade asked him.
"What, be killed and never know what hit me? No, thanks. I at least want to see it coming. Anyway, the best life pods are right over there." Tom pointed to the emergency door not far from his seat.
"And besides that," John added, "if someone is injured, he might actually have to run one of the control panels. Ann, get me General Kymric on the surface. He should be waiting."
"Do you want him on the main, sir?"
"No, keep tactical up there; I'll take it over here. Status report, Ishara."
"OTG system crippled. Sensors damaged, but I'd like another pass."
"Under consideration. Marilyn."
"Engines damaged. Main thrusters probably operational, if they can get power to them. Maneuvering engines out on the left, unreliable top and bottom. Right maneuvering engine is the only one they can count on."
"That carrier is going nowhere. I'm trying to take out the landing bay now so the fighters can't resupply."
"All right, Gary, bring us about and let's finish that sensor array. General," he said, turning to his panel. "We believe their OTG weapons are out, and should have good news on the sensor array in a moment. Maneuvering ability is limited, but give us a minute and you should be able to acquire a fixed target." He hit a few buttons. "Burly, how are we holding together down there?"
The com responded with Burly's voice. "I've got a cracked pipe in secondary cooling. I've got it shut down so we're not leaking coolant, but if we lose the mains we're cooked, so I'm trying to patch it."
"I'm on it," Slade said, and jumped from his seat. Ship's guns, three-dimensional combat tactics, interplanetary diplomacy were all beyond him. But plumbing he could fix.
He grabbed his toolbox on the way to engineering. Probably there was nothing in it that hadn't been improved by now, but you never knew. Anyway, it was quicker to use a tool he understood than to learn a new one that did the same job, no matter how much faster it was. Of course, he'd learned how a lot of the basic tools worked, but he'd yet to replace a pipe, and his monkey wrench might be the tool of choice at some point, if only to bang on a stuck fixture.
He had never fixed a pipe while riding a roller coaster before, but it was actually a tame ride as far as that went, and with a bit of help from Burly he had it replaced quickly. The mains held, but Toni engaged the secondary just the same, as the demands on the engines were significant and they ran better if they weren't too hot. The battle was soon ended; surface-to-orbit missiles easily finished the destroyer and the carrier once the destroyer couldn't detect them, and the remaining fighters were no match for Destiny. Ann reported that there was no mention of their involvement in the battle, which John said was important, as the Federation should believe that the planet's defenses had destroyed their invasion unaided.
And Slade felt even more a part of the team.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #57: Multiverse Variety. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: