2359USS ATHENE/ JOINT MISSION: Beat to quarters
- Sep 13, 2004********************
Scene: USS Athene en route to battle, holodeck
The Athene dropped out of warp.
Immediately, her 12 Raptor class assault shuttles launched with uniform precision. The tiny but deadly craft assembled into attack formation as the massive, Tecumseh-class dreadnought raised its shields and prepared to joint her sister ships in battle.
The battle scene was disturbing, to say the least. The Horizon was more than half-demolished, though she continued to fight. The Yeager, Dakota, Sojourner Truth... all showed signs of having taken serious damage. And still the almost impossibly huge CSS Retribution continued its assault on the Federation ships. At the first sight of the Athene, though, the Retribution changed course to meet the latest arrival — the mightiest ship of the Federation's Cocoon Fleet.
The Athene's phaser banks powered up. The tactical officer locked torpedoes on targets and awaited Capt. Doon's orders to fire as the two huge ships raced to join battle. The Athene fired first, a direct hit that knocked out what was left of the Retribution's forward shields.
And then... the Athene went dark. Totally, absolutely dark.
"What happened? What's wrong with the Athene?" one of the Raptor pilots demanded on the secure comm link.
"We've had a critical engine failure," FCO Ensign Amadrene Pellew announced to the Raptor fleet from her station at the Athene's helm, her voice strained. "We must have overstressed them staying at maximum warp too long. I don't know... there's no chief engineer, Davidson's doing his best... even life support's failing. You're on your own, Raptors. Complete your mission."
The transmission cut off as a torpedo rocked the helpless Athene. The other Federation ships, that so recently had greeted the Tecumseh-class behemoth as their savior, now rushed to try to protect her. There was little they could do, though, as the great ship sat helpless in the face of the Retribution's savage barrage.
No one paid attention to the 12 tiny shuttles scattering among the chaos of the battle scene. After all, each was just barely big enough to carry a crew of two. Amid the dozens of ships on the field of battle, they were the equivalent of horse flies buzzing around the wounded... nothing of consequence. No one on the Retribution even bothered to track their movements.
That was a mistake.
"Ready on my mark," Raptor wing commander Rajik Kajhil ordered as the shuttles pulled into their assigned positions around the Retribution.
A single Raptor fired its phasers and quantum torpedoes.
But the element of surprise was lost. Suddenly aware of the tiny ships flying in close to all its most vulnerable points, the Retribution began firing.
"Fire!" the wing commander ordered, and the eight remaining craft obediently launched their deadly assault. Within moments it was over: The Retribution's hull sparked, flared and went dark as sections of the mighty ship were blown into smithereens. Of the Raptors, only three remained.
"Computer, end simulation," Pellew ordered, barely controlling the rage in her voice. The green-skinned FCO and her 24 Raptor crewmen blinked at each other in the sudden brightness of the bare Holodeck grid. "Ensigns M'wergi and Rauney, you're dismissed. Confine yourself to quarters. I'll send for you after I've debriefed the others." The crew of the shuttle that had fired prematurely left quickly, their eyes focused on their feet. As they shuffled off, Ensign Pellew collected her thoughts and her temper. The last thing she needed was to start sweating now. Aside from the damper that would have on morale, it was not the time to deal with the effect her Orion pheromones had on many of her fellow crewmen.
"We will be arriving at the battle scene in less than one hour, people," the FCO said once the offenders were gone. "We've had precious little time to train in the Raptors, I know, but they could make a huge difference in this battle. Our new captain has explicitly requested we have them on standby. We've never fought for Capt. Doon before, so I have no better idea what tactics he might employ than any of you do. But I do know we'll be ready. We've got the best flight control team in the fleet, the best ship, the best pilots — if Doon asks us to fly the Athene up the Telmarc captain's arse, we'll just ask him if he wants us to proceed at warp or impulse."
The assembled team laughed and cheered.
"OK," Pellew ordered. "Beat to quarters. The crews should have the Raptors cleared for action; you can make your own final inspections. I want everybody at battle stations in 23 minutes. I'll be on the bridge."
The crew hustled out smartly, Pellew observed as she rushed to the turbolift. Hopefully they felt more confidant right now than she did. The Raptors had never been tested in battle before, nor had this crew. The reports coming in from the sister ships made it sound as though even the Athene might well find herself outclassed in this combat.
Then the turbolift doors swung open and she strode onto the bridge. The ensign saluted the officer in charge, then relieved her subordinate at the helm control panel. Immediately her trepidation vanished. Her duties as FCO were complete: The ship and her flight control crew were as ready for battle as she could make them. All that was left for her to do was fly this big beauty.
And THAT was no problem.
Ensign Amadrene Pellew
FCO, USS Athene
NRPG: Did I fool ya?
Clark, I have conflicting data on whether the Athene has 12 or 30 Raptors. Could you please clarify? Thanks...
Let's go terrorize some Telmarcs, Athene!