The klaxons began ahead of schedule, leaving you scrambling from the tiny lounge where you were trying to get a few minutes of sleep.
You’re striding down the hall to the CIC, the dim night-watch lighting flooded with the red general quarters lights. The marine at the hatch opens the heavy door and salutes as you move through without breaking stride.
The CIC is secured for general quarters, the lighting dimmed down to floor lights, the consoles around the room casting their light against their operators and the gestalt of them all illuminating the room in a flickering aura of red and blue. Major Summerville is standing at the map table, eyes flickering from the lidar display to you, grinning slightly, then back up as you enter.
“XO on deck!” shouts the marine behind you as he closes the door to the compartment.
You approach the table and settle in next to the TSO. “Report.”
“The Marathon and the Cynae are coming in now. We’ve got a confirmed plot for Persephone, and the fleet’s ready to jump, my board is green save for the LSO. Gardner called in and said they’re being followed.”
“Con, Lidar, five new contacts bearing 328 by 46 by 81, designated Tango 1 through 5.”
“And there they are.” he finishes wryly.
“Very well,” you say, “I have the con.”
“Yes mum, XO has the con.” He sweeps past you to take his place at the jump station and you have to resist the urge to punch him as he drags his fingertips across your ass as he passes by. You try to shove thoughts of the last shore leave out of your mind and turn to the LSO at his station.
“Yes mum, I’m docking the Marathon and the Cynae now and retrieving their escort birds in our bay to expedite. Two minutes.”
“Very well. Lidar?”
The lidar operator from her post the next tier up responds. “Tango 1 through 5 are in close formation on an intercept vector and executing a deceleration burn. It’s a guess, but I’d say they’re Ares Series Seven light cruisers. Contact in six minutes.”
You glance up to the very top tier of the CIC and see Tokugawa at the intelligence station consulting the crewman there. He hasn’t made his presence known, but you can tell he’s listening. He doesn’t seem interested in getting involved.
A few moments pass. The blips on the lidar screen get closer.
Anderson calls out, “Con, Marathon and Cynae secure. Umbilicus are connected and they’re reporting ready to jump.”
And another tense moment. All eyes are on the lidar screen, save Anderson’s, who is rapidly removing birds from the board as he gets them docked.
“Con, Lidar, torpedo, torpedo! I have three high velocity targets detaching from Tango group and accelerating. Time to impact, one minute!”
“Major Summerville, order the fleet to jump.”
Justin gives you a nod and begins giving orders to the communications officer.
“Sierra seven nine has a faulty RCS, I have a grapnel on her and am bringing her into the bay now.”
“Tick-tock, Captain,” you say. Anderson is too intent on his console to respond.
You glance up to the intel station again and meet Tokugawa’s eyes. He gives you the slightest of nods before turning back to the report he’s reading.
“Radiological alarm! High yield warheads on those torpedoes!”
You glance back up to the lidar screen and see the last of the friendly blips blink out.
“The fleet is away,” Justin reports. You pick a handset up from the map table and flip the all-call switch.
“All hands, prepare for combat jump!” you practically shout into the receiver.
He holds a finger up to forestall you for two seconds then turns around. “Yes ma’am, all our men, living and dead are off the field, my board is green.”
Time seems to slow. You see Justin turning the jump key, beside him, the board of green indicators displaying all of the ship’s critical jump systems ready for jump. As the key twists, mere picoseconds before it arrives at a full turn, you see two of the lights go red. And then everything fades….