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Death of the Calypso

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I'm writing this short story to fill in the blanks between "Eternal Diligence" and my appointment as Wing Commander of Gamma Wing. Although this story is not intended as a MP story, if you have MP ideas for this story, email me at [email protected]

The Death of the Calypso

Chapter 1:

Lt. Hans Peterson was actually getting bored. He didnÔÇÖt quite believe it at first, since he was used to soaking up the quiet times between action, because soon enough, action came, and he would wish it was quiet again. So this feeling of boredom was new to him. But now he was pretty much sure of it. He was bored.

Not that heÔÇÖd led a boring life. Oh no, heÔÇÖd led quite an exciting life, by most standards. By GalCom Marine standards, even, heÔÇÖd been quite busy. As a private heÔÇÖd been the last off a cruiser before the commander had scuttled her. Hans still didnÔÇÖt like thinking about that. ÔÇ£A marine shouldnÔÇÖt leave his commander behind,ÔÇØ was what heÔÇÖd thought at the time. He was older now. Maybe wiser. He could see why what the commander had done was necessary. It still didnÔÇÖt sit right with him though.

After that heÔÇÖd served on the Diligence, as a Sergeant. A fine old carrier, the Diligence had seen more action in her time than most serving Fleet Commanders. Technically, he still was serving on the Diligence. She was undergoing a complete overhaul after an extended campaign against the Vesperons, a campaign that had cost the lives of PetersonÔÇÖs entire squad. The DiligenceÔÇÖs commander, Sev Badgerius, couldnÔÇÖt stand being behind a desk during the refit, so he took command of the GCV Calypso. The Calypso was a Solnar class cruiser refitted as a research ship. Her main guns had been replaced by a super-sensitive sensor array, and her marine complement had been replaced with a science crew. Hans, now a Lieutenant, had taken the position of Combat Officer.

Since then, things had been quieter. Not completely quiet, mind you, since scientists had all the common sense of children on Christmas morning when it came to new things. New and dangerous things. HeÔÇÖd pulled the scientists out of trouble more than once, and the thought of the last time, with the foolish technician attempting to get a blood sample from a Polarian sand dragon, brought a smile to his face.

But that was three months ago. ThereÔÇÖd been nothing since. Hans was growing bored. He stood up from the wardroom table and paced to the window. There was the usual beautiful backdrop of stars, but no planet. They were in deep space, hunting spatial anomalies. Not a lot for a marine to do.

ÔÇ£This does not bode well,ÔÇØ he said to himself. ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs been quiet for too long. This is the calm before the storm, and this storm is going to be bad.ÔÇØ And with that feeling growing in his gut, he started down to the armory, to make sure heÔÇÖd be ready.

Lt. Commander Allison OÔÇÖNeil sat at the Sensor station on the bridge of the Calypso. As Tactical Officer and XO to Cmdr. Badgerius, this is where she spent most of her on-duty shipboard time. SheÔÇÖd been sitting there for ten hours now, along with one of the technicians.

OÔÇÖNeil stood and stretched, her hands brushing the conduits running along the ceiling of the bridge. Tall and well built, her stature, along with flaming red hair, currently worn up and out of the way, and a tough-as-nails demeanor, had earned her the nickname ÔÇ£Big AlÔÇØ on the Diligence. Here, things were more relaxed. Most people here just called her ÔÇ£OÔÇÖNeil.ÔÇØ

The technician looked up at OÔÇÖNeil. ÔÇ£Time to call it a night?ÔÇØ he asked. ÔÇ£Looks like the phantom flux point isnÔÇÖt going to make an appearance tonight.ÔÇØ

OÔÇÖNeil nodded and stifled a yawn. They had been looking for this thing for three months; following scraps of probe data into the farthest reaches of the Rebelan region, at the edge of known space. A Flux point which appeared suddenly, swallowing ships whole, and then vanishing again. After three months of searching, they were certain it existed. They just didnÔÇÖt have any direct evidence. Not yet.

OÔÇÖNeil looked at her watch: 1:27 am. Well past the end of her watch. The Comms officer had the conn, so she was not needed on the bridge. She waved goodnight to the bridge crew as she stifled another yawn, and headed for the turboshaft.

She never got there. The Sensor console let out a single, attention seeking chirp, and the main viewscreen was suddenly filled with the green aura of a flux point. The technician sat up suddenly. Weve got it! Flux point forming! All criteria within search parameters. This is the one were looking for. Position he paled visibly. Jesus! Its 300 meters off our starboard bow!

Allison was instantly alert. ÔÇ£IÔÇÖve got the conn,ÔÇØ she said crisply. She turned and headed for the command chair, which the Comms Officer was vacating. ÔÇ£Shields up. Hard to port. All ahead slow.ÔÇØ She pressed a button on the chair which sent klaxons blaring throughout the ship. ÔÇ£All hands, emergency stations. Commander to the bridge. All officers to the bridge.ÔÇØ

As Sev Badgerius came instantly awake, dressed and headed for the bridge, and as Hans Peterson rushed from the armory without putting down the rifle heÔÇÖd been cleaning, the Calypso continued to close on the flux point, drawn in by its distortion field. 300 meters had closed to 200, and 200 was rapidly dwindling to 100. At 132 meters, a bolt of plasma-electric energy erupted from the flux field, and struck the CalypsoÔÇÖs forward hull.

The shock of the impact threw Badgerius to the floor of the main corridor. He skidded a few meters and rolled back to his feet. As he did so, he saw Lt. Peterson heading for the bridge turbolift, a rifle in his hands. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth as they both entered the turbolift. ÔÇ£DonÔÇÖt you think thatÔÇÖs a bit premature Lieutenant?ÔÇØ he asked wryly, nodding at the rifle. Hans looked at his Commander and smiled. ÔÇ£You can never be too ready, sir,ÔÇØ he said.

The lift opened to the sound of the Comms Officer. shields down, hull down to 63%. We have reactor damage Another shock shook the ship. The lights flickered and died, and then came back on. ONeil was using her command voice now: All power to the hyperdrive. Set course for Rebelan. Jump!

As the Calypso disappeared into hyperspace, the flux point responded with fury, as if angered at its escaping prey. Half a dozen bolts erupted from it and struck the CalypsoÔÇÖs aft hull just as the research ship finished its entry into hyperspace.

The lights went out again, and this time they didnÔÇÖt come back on. The only light was from the bridge windows. Located as it was on a column above the center of the ship, the bridge overlooked the shipÔÇÖs forward hull. Badgerius could see the air venting from a hull breach on deck 2, and the starboard nacelle looked seriously damaged. It was a wonder we could jump at all, he thought.

ÔÇ£Report, OÔÇÖNeil,ÔÇØ he said as he took his chair. OÔÇÖNeil strode to the Logistics station. She examined the readouts for a moment, then said, ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs bad sir. The reactor core has been ejected. Hull breaches on decks 2 and 3. Main engines offline. Secondary life support is gone. Communications is gone. The shuttle bay is offline. No radiation detected.ÔÇØ

Badgerius sighed. They would have to abandon ship. ÔÇ£Activate the distress beacon, please, Lt. Arquette,ÔÇØ he said, addressing the Comms officer. Arquette looked at her console and said, ÔÇ£SOS beacon offline, sir.ÔÇØ

As Badgerius began to give orders to move any crew in areas covered by the secondary life support to safety, ONeil whispered Oh no Badgerius looked up in alarm. What is it, ONeil? he asked?

OÔÇÖNeil was hunched over the TacOps display. ÔÇ£Sir, thereÔÇÖs a problem with our Hyperdrive trajectory. WeÔÇÖre off course by 110 km. WeÔÇÖre going to come out of hyperspace inside RebelanÔÇÖs atmosphere.ÔÇØ

The bridge was silent. Everyone looked at the commander, who was looking at ONeil. Finally he spoke. All power to auxiliary thrusters. Take the helm, ONeil. All hands, he said, pushing the intercom switch, prepare for emergency planetfall. Brace for impact in he consulted the navigation display, eight seconds.

Rebelan was an uninhabited world, with thick jungle circling the equator. It was above this jungle, at 21 degrees North, 87 degrees west, that the Calypso exited hyperspace. Right in the middle of a tropical storm.

Hans Peterson remembered the next moments only as flashes. The lightning outside the windows lighting up the bridge. OÔÇÖNeil shouting that the ship was still descending. The commander transferring battery power to thrusters. The sickening scream of metal being torn apart. And then, nothing.

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Chapter 2:

Consciousness returned to OÔÇÖNeil in stages. First came the sense of smell. She smelled summer rain and lush plants, familiar but with an alien tinge. Then sound came back. Rain pelted on something hard, and thunder rumbled in the distance. Some time later, sight returned to OÔÇÖNeil. She opened her eyes, and was looking at soft rain falling on shards of glass on a cold, grey metal floor. Finally, touch returned to OÔÇÖNeil, and she realized that she wasnÔÇÖt in the most comfortable of positions.

Actually, she was jammed under the sensor console. Moving slowly, still dazed, she began to extricate herself from the tight space. Some time later she stood, and took in her surroundings.

The bridge wasdestroyed. Every window was shattered, leaving the entire forward half of the bridge open to the elements. The ship had come to a rest with a 15 degree down angle, and a slight starboard list. Rain was pouring onto the exposed bridge, not only through the windows, but also through the several meter-wide gashes in the roof. Grey mist swirled outside, concealing the terrain.

Still numb and dazed, she walked to forward edge of the bridge. Warm rain fell on her, and she was quickly soaked. Looking down, she saw that the Calypso had reached her final resting place.

The entire forward hull from the bridge forward was submerged. Black, brackish water lapped gently at the base of the bridge column and many bubbles farther forward indicated that the water wasnÔÇÖt limited to the outside of the ship. The starboard nacelle had been ripped away during the descent, and the port nacelle was battered and covered with vegetation. Fog obscured the far end of the lake, but it looked like the CalypsoÔÇÖs aft sections might be on land behind her.

A low groan brought her to her senses. She turned around suddenly to see Commander Badgerius standing up from his command chair. She quickly looked about to see who else was on the bridge.

Lt. Peterson was sprawled on the floor, still clutching his rifle. He wasnÔÇÖt moving, but he appeared to be breathing. The Comms officer was slumped over her console, which had been smashed. As she approached, Allison realized that it had been smashed by Lt. ArquetteÔÇÖs head. There was no pulse. There was no one else. No sign of the sensor tech or any of the other bridge crew could be seen.

Badgerius was looking around as well. Finally he said, ÔÇ£Well, these chairs can certainly take a lot of punishment.ÔÇØ He shook his head. ÔÇ£OÔÇÖNeil, are you ok?ÔÇØ

Feeling had been returning to AlisonÔÇÖs shocked nerves for a few minutes now. A throbbing in her left elbow and a bump on her head told her sheÔÇÖd been lucky. ÔÇ£Yes, sir,ÔÇØ she replied, amazed at how steady her voice sounded. ÔÇ£Arquette is dead. Peterson seems to be breathing, and thereÔÇÖs no sign of the others.ÔÇØ

Badgerius looked at her for a moment, and then nodded. ÔÇ£And the ship?ÔÇØ he asked.

OÔÇÖNeil shook her head. ÔÇ£WeÔÇÖre not going anywhere except on foot, sir.ÔÇØ

At that moment, Peterson moaned, rolled over and came to one knee, wristlaser at the ready. Then he stood, a little shakily, and said, ÔÇ£I take it weÔÇÖve landed, sir.ÔÇØ

Badgerius smiled. He was attempting to activate the console on the side of his chair. Nothing happened. ÔÇ£Personnel Scanner is offline.ÔÇØ He looked at OÔÇÖNeil. ÔÇ£See if you can contact any survivors using personal comlinks.ÔÇØ He turned to Peterson. ÔÇ£Are you hurt?ÔÇØ

Peterson had retrieved the rifle. He was examining it for damage. ÔÇ£No sir,ÔÇØ he said, ÔÇ£IÔÇÖve been in worse shape after shore leave.ÔÇØ

Badgerius gave him another quick smile. He pointed to the holes in the ceiling. ÔÇ£Get up there and get an idea of our situation.ÔÇØ Peterson nodded, and began climbing.

Allison had been trying to reach the crew using her personal comlink. After a few minutes, she gave up. ÔÇ£No response sir,ÔÇØ she told her commander.

Just then Peterson jumped back down onto the bridge. ÔÇ£HowÔÇÖs it look, Lieutenant?ÔÇØ asked OÔÇÖNeil.

Peterson looked out the front of the bridge. He said, ÔÇ£WeÔÇÖve come down in thick jungle. Right at the edge of a lake. The forward half of the ship is submerged, but some of the aft section is on land. ArmoryÔÇÖs almost certainly underwater, as is the shuttlebay. The cargo bays might be ok though.ÔÇØ He shook his head. ÔÇ£The hullÔÇÖs in bad shape, sir.ÔÇØ

Badgerius sighed. ÔÇ£Ok, people, hereÔÇÖs the drill. We search the ship for survivors, salvage what we can, and move ashore. LetÔÇÖs see if we canÔÇÖt get this turbolift door open.ÔÇØ

Using the rifle, Hans pried the doors open. He peered into the black abyss below him. Allison went to a panel on the wall, and removed three emergency hand lights. Then, carefully, they stepped onto the ladder of the turbolift shaft.

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Chapter 3:

The turbolift was stopped on deck 2. Allison opened the emergency hatch, and shone the light down into the lift. It was flooded to chest level. She looked at Badgerius, who nodded. Nodding back, she jumped into the turbolift. Landing with a splash, she looked around. There was no light, other than her hand light. Emergency lights werenÔÇÖt working. The turbolift door was open. Calling up to the other officers, she said, ÔÇ£All clear down here. The waterÔÇÖs quite warm actually.ÔÇØ As she stepped out into the passageway, there were two large splashes behind her marking the two officersÔÇÖ arrival on this deck.

The downward angle of the deck was very noticeable, and just a few meters forward of where Allison stood, the water level reached the top of the passageway. HansÔÇÖ light was reflected off the still water and formed dancing reflections on the ceiling. ÔÇ£Guess weÔÇÖre not going that way,ÔÇØ he said wryly.

Badgerius was standing in front of his quarters. ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm going to get a few things from in here that weÔÇÖll need,ÔÇØ he said, prying the powerless doors open. ÔÇ£Go ahead to the cargo bays. IÔÇÖll meet you there.ÔÇØ

As PetersonÔÇÖs and OÔÇÖNeilÔÇÖs splashes receded aftward, Badgerius shone his hand light around his quarters. A few knickknacks had been tossed around in the crash, but the furniture appeared to have stayed intact. Badgerius opened a cabinet above his desk and removed some items. Then he removed the power pack from his wristlaser and attached it to the computer on his desk. He waited calmly in knee deep water as it booted in stand-alone mode.

ÔÇ£Well, this isnÔÇÖt any use to us!ÔÇØ said OÔÇÖNeil in frustration as she pried the top off yet another crate. Her and Peterson had been prying the tops of crates at random, being unable to read the bar codes on the crates.

ÔÇ£What is it?ÔÇØ asked Peterson from the other end of upper bay 2. Bay 1 was completely destroyed, they had found, and the lower level of bay 2 was under eight feet of water. That left just the upper bay, which was simply a wide balcony that surrounded the cargo bay level with deck 2. There was two dozen or so cargo crates here. So far, none of them containing useful material.

OÔÇÖNeil shook her head in disgust. ÔÇ£Iron Ore!ÔÇØ she yelled back. Peterson ripped the top off the next crate, and let out a whoop of delight. ÔÇ£Alright! Combat Kits!ÔÇØ

ONeil grinned. Then started opening the next crate. WhatWeReallyNeed, she grunted, prying the top off, Is The top came off with a metallic groan. Nutripacks! she cheered, looking at the yellow packages within.

Badgerius strode into the cargo bay. ÔÇ£HowÔÇÖs it looking?ÔÇØ he asked.

OÔÇÖNeil wiped the sweat from her brow and gave a tired salute. ÔÇ£WeÔÇÖve got food, and weÔÇÖve got combat kits. We can survive here.ÔÇØ

Badgerius nodded. Good, he said briskly, but were not staying

Peterson interrupted him. ÔÇ£What on GodÔÇÖs Green Earth is that?ÔÇØ he asked, pointing to BadgeriusÔÇÖs leg.

Badgerius pulled the gun Peterson was pointing to out of its holster. It was a huge, bulbous pistol, with twin 20mm snub barrels and a cylindrical power pack sticking out the back. It was made from an alien metal which was either naturally, or had been painted, a metallic green.

ÔÇ£This?ÔÇØ he said, smiling. ÔÇ£I won this from a trader in the Zelon capital city, in a game of chance. ItÔÇÖs a Credian blaster. Used by their ground troops during their last war with the Gammulans. ThingÔÇÖll take out most of a hill, if youÔÇÖre not careful.ÔÇØ He put the pistol back in its holster. ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs completely illegal, of course,ÔÇØ he continued, ÔÇ£but I never could quite let it go. Always thought it would come in handy.ÔÇØ He chuckled. ÔÇ£I guess it has, after all.ÔÇØ

OÔÇÖNeil was pulling out a combat kit from the crate and opening it up. ÔÇ£You mentioned weÔÇÖre not staying here, sir,ÔÇØ she asked, picking up a standard pistol, checking it, and putting it in a leg holster. ÔÇ£Where are we going? ThereÔÇÖs no civilization on this planet.ÔÇØ

Badgerius handed her a data pad with a map on it. ÔÇ£Here,ÔÇØ he said.

OÔÇÖNeil examined the pad. ÔÇ£An abandoned supply base?ÔÇØ

Badgerius nodded. ÔÇ£Yes. We set one up here several years ago. Two years ago, we suspected that the Insurgents knew its location, so we abandoned it.ÔÇØ

Peterson was loading ammo clips onto a bandolier. ÔÇ£But if itÔÇÖs abandoned, why go there? It must be 250 km from here.ÔÇØ

Badgerius took the pad back. ÔÇ£Generally when Galcom abandons something, we strip it down. But in the case of these supply bases, we wanted to use them as bait for an Insurgent attack. If they attacked them, weÔÇÖd know our intel on them was accurate. WeÔÇÖd have taken most of the supplies out, of course, to minimize our losses, but the base infrastructure was left behind to maintain the illusion of an intact base. They never attacked this one that we know of, so that infrastructure should be intact. That infrastructure includes long-rang Comm equipment, which we will use to call for a pick-up.ÔÇØ

ONeil was stuffing Nutripacks into a backpack. Right, she said, 250 klicks overland through alien jungle with nothing but standard weapons and that artillery piece of yours She nodded at the commander. sounds like fun. We do we leave?

Badgerius looked at the two officers for a moment. He tried to think of something that would make this trek sound like less of a suicide mission. He failed. ÔÇ£We leave tomorrow at dawn,ÔÇØ he said. ÔÇ£Get some sleep.ÔÇØ

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