Glimmer of Time
KX730, Solarian Sector Naval Command Destroyer “Glimmer of Time”
“Mayday, mayday, mayday, this is kilo xray seven three zero going down. Anti-gravity fields almost destroyed, primary drive destroyed, ship integrity questionable.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday, Captain Guzman, kilo x-ray seven three zero, SSNC Destroyer Glimmer of Time going down, planet reference charlie four niner six, planet three.” I said as Newman fought the controls. All the automatics long dead. A Sanderstall fighter still trying to finish us. As we hit the upper atmosphere I felt the buffeting then I felt the shudder as our last railgun fired seven hundred round bursts at the enemy.
“Sam, you still okay back there?” I asked her.
“Yeah Cap, be getting hot back here soon, though. This slimy little bastard refuses to die.”
“Look, take your last couple shots and shut down. Come forward, you and anyone else back there that’s still alive, gonna have to jettison in about six minutes,” Newman told her.
I felt a few more shudders then she yelled, “Yes.”
“Kill it?” I asked.
“Nope, got his last fin though, he’s going straight into air with no controls.” She laughed, “Fry you little bastards, fry!”
Again she dragged in another wounded. Alice I think her name was. She really looked a mess. “Sorry Cap, all I found. Mitchel was alive but skewered with a beam. I gave her my gun. All the rest died.”
“Okay, good work Sam, get everyone strapped down, gonna be a rough landing.”
“Newman, blow all supports, send the reactor to self-destruct and let’s get outta here,” I told her.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday, kilo x-ray seven three zero, last trans, separation in two minutes. Six survivors. Captain Guzman, out.”
“Think they will hear us Cap?” Newman asked.
“Long way. Might, they record all the freq’s. If they do and respond it will still be a couple months. Cost analysis may say no, only us six survivors out of three hundred. Still, we can hope. It was a first experiment after all.”
“Separation in twenty seconds,” Newman said. Then finally, 3,2,1, now.”
I felt the shudders as the various explosive charges detached the entire bridge pod from the main ship. We were hitting enough air now we could feel it buffeting us. I watched the monitor as my ship with so many brave crew aboard, some possibly still alive and trapped, dove toward the strange planet below.
“Reactor detonation in three minutes, Cap.” Newman said.
Sam commented from her sitting position on the floor, “If any are alive they will feel nothing, Cap.”
“I know Sam, but it is I that will feel it all.”
“Cap, quit beating yourself up over it. Hell, we lasted ten times longer than we should have. They had the perfect trap and we still kicked their asses. One training destroyer of damn women and you against their entire offensive fleet. You know that’s gonna kill their egos if it ever gets out.”
“Sam, hush please. I know. It is still my crew and responsibility, rationalization will be done by my mind later. Not now.”
“Yes sir,” she said, feeling I was rebuking her but I wanted to spend the last few minutes of my ship’s life full of my dead crew in silence.
“Shields up. One minute,” Krystal said from the engineering console. All the viewports went total dark, I heard the hum of the shields over the com. “Now.” Even with the sun shields the dark of space turned to bright day as the ships reactor went crit and vaporized everything near it.
“Rest in peace,” I said and heard a few ‘Amen.’
After a moment, I turned to Newman, “Any info on this planet?”
“Not a lot sir. Quarantined over a thousand years ago, M2, populated by us about eighty thousand years ago. No legal contact for three thousand years. They call it Earth.”
“Physical format?” I asked.
“Like us, little less refined, less mental development but fully comparable. Early space tech, lots of wars, nuclear capable, fanatical religions and no religions, usual stuff.”
“Try to keep us away from populated areas for now.”
“Planned to. Will have to skip their ocean to reduce speed, all we got.”
“Well, all we ever ask is 200% more than normal so just do it. If we are still alive I’ll praise you later,” I told her.
She snickered, “Understood Cap.”
The Bridge pod, little more than a flat saucer with a couple tail fins now, burned the air at more than thirty-six thousand miles an hour, the limited shields white hot. Inside the remnants of the Destroyer’s crew clung to life as Cadet Master flight Sergeant Newman fought the controls.
“Cap, impact bounce in thirty minutes, cinch tight people.”
Everything had to be perfect or we all died. Too shallow and we literally skipped off the ocean back into space and our deaths. Too steep and the integrity of the ship disintegrated with us in what would seem a cataclysmic event to these people. Wrong place and we crash into a mountain or city.
We hit at a steep angle, I felt like my insides were trying to become my outsides as I felt all the straps stretch and stretch. All I saw was water then we were in the air again.
“Newman?” I asked.
“Were good Cap, 29% off, as long as we don’t get changes we’ll bounce back down on the other ocean. We’re at 22,100 MPH, comp says 25,000 is escape.”
I guess the term is praying as we all watched the screens. We still went high, burning off more speed then we slowly nosed over and started the plunge back down. I doubt we missed the landmass by more than a few miles as we once again were slammed to our physical limits, then again as we skipped across their ocean in smaller and smaller hops. At last, we went under the water and didn’t come back up. Outside the sea would be a frothy boil as we dissipated heat. We slowly drifted to a stop and settled to the bottom.
After the final jolt I released my straps. “Newman, ship integrity scans then kill the shields. Sam, get those two wounded on the med units. Krystal get the com systems up. You know the drill people. I want to know if any of them followed and what the locals are saying.”
“Cap, local news says we were a rare and spectacular meteor shower. Two parts landed in their oceans creating small tsunamis with minor damages,” Krystal said.
“Roger, monitor their Military channels just in case.”
Started out so simple, take 300 Female personnel and train them to become the first ever fully integrated combat arms women in the SSNC space fleet. After generations of battling for the right to join combat units, their first test gets all but 5 of them killed and it’s my damn fault.
“Captain Guzman, I don’t know if I should envy you or pray for your soul,” Fleet Admiral Allison said at the social.
“It is a simple test sir. I wish they’d have just put a few in ships here and there instead of dumping them all into one though,” I said.
“Has to do with the wives. Though like yours, all fought to get combat rights for women, most wives don’t trust the guys around that many young females either. They aren’t totally stupid. At least you’ll have yours with you.” He smiled. We’d heard that all the wives from the Chancellor on down through the Council’s Hall of Representatives had cut off their husbands from the delights that draw men to the flame of marriage in the first place until they passed the law to allow women to fight. The men lasted almost two months before the bill was rushed to passage.
The destroyer wasn’t anything fantastic. Standard defender for the Capital ships. Twenty destroyers were the minimum that would accompany each combat fleet to provide interdiction screens along with the SWAG’s or Single Weapon Attack Group’s. Each group had four of them and depending on the size of the main battle group you could have ten to twenty SWAG’s per fleet. They were the fastest and smallest attack ships we had, other than the fighters from the carriers. They close on the enemy, trying to hit Capital ships, fire off their single torpedo and head for home for resupply.
We Destroyers did nothing but try to intercept any incoming enemy systems, be they missiles or torpedoes or suicide ships. We stopped them at all costs and we were considered expendable in defense of the big carriers and battle cruisers. Some with twenty thousand crew and as many as another fifty thousand Space Marines depending on the mission. The Capital ships could total half a million people so our 300 was nothing to them, it was always about numbers.
Those 300 trained all day, every day, those 300 did impossible things for days on end. We had twenty heavy 12inch guns, five on each of the four axes, each maned by five crew, yet those same guns had seven crew per gun on the Capital Ships. We had two torpedo tubes forward and two more rear, each had a crew of ten yet the Capital ships used fifteen. Add in six two man crew auto cannons for missile defense and three anti-torpedo chaff launchers with two men.
The Capital ships had maintenance crews of fifteen per engine and as many as twenty engines, we had six engines with ten men per. What’s more, our engines were twice as temperamental as theirs.
The remaining crew were weapons resupply haulers, cooks, bridge staff, medical staff, and Engineering maintenance such as com’s computers, all integrated systems. We did with 300 what requires 450 or 500 anywhere else in the fleet except the expendable destroyers.
We came to this solar system because a couple Sanderstall robotic miners were found at the sixth planet out, in violation once again of the hands off policy. These people were to the point of exploring their system. What idiots! Have to admit the rings gave it a very pretty and distinctive look.
“Cap, I have the final report ready,” Krystal said.
“Bring it up.”
Battle Report KX730, Solarian Sector Naval Command Destroyer Glimmer of Time
Mission: Training; find and destroy two Sanderstall robotic miners sector C496P6.
Personnel: Captain Guzman and crew of 300 combat cadets.
Date: GO 1641N
GO 1640E We located first miner, a 400,000 ton KleeArm sixteen laser unit. Closed on miner and fired one salvo each from port, starboard, and lower 12 inch guns. Target destroyed. auto-cannons fired for training and debris cleanup.
Talley: 400,000 ton miner.
GO 1640J located second unit, 350,000 ton Heprem ten laser unit. Same tactic with rotated crews, same result.
Tally: 350,000-ton miner.
Upon leaving planet jumped by six Sandersall SWAG units and two destroyers.
Cap Guzman ordered max speed and heading toward Sun to acquire additional gravity speed. XO Lieutenant Guzman went aft to direct fire from Rear CDC. Computers flawless, Chaff caused all SWAG’s to miss. Received damage one engine from a destroyer shell.
Speed loss prevented retreat. Cap used full stall tactic as destroyers closed. Totally disorienting the Sanderstall systems with chaff, we did not turn, rather backed up. Bringing all systems to bear on them we crippled both destroyers with torpedoes then destroyed them with the 12-inch guns. We took four hits, loosing the rear CDC and one 12 inch gun and crew on the port side.
Cadet Krystal on com located a main battle fleet closing from max range. With damaged engine Cap decided we’d fight.
One Capital Battleship, one Capital Carrier, eighteen destroyers and twenty SWAG comprised their incoming fleet.
At two Strom from earth, just inside the fourth planets orbit Cap ordered we zig zag and as we did, in a most unorthodox move, we deposited twelve of our 24 remaining torpedoes, unfired, in space. Alice, the torpedo missile expert disabled all their safety features. We literally turned them into Nuclear mines.
We then centered on this spread and further withdrew then feigned engine failure, sitting inside the 12-inch range. We turned, facing the oncoming fleet and waited.
Cap ordered we kill all SWAG’s before they ranged us and the torpedoes. We had a tenth of a Strom advantage on them.
Cadet Lieutenant’s Harmand and Freelorn took charge of the 12-inch batteries. In a textbook operation, all SWAG’s were eliminated before they could release a single torpedo.
As destroyers closed Cap noticed six were to close to each other. When in range he had Newman backing us and Lieutenant Harmand target a single torpedo in the middle. Perfect hit destroyed two destroyers and damaged at least three more.
Bringing all four batteries to bear obtained scores of hits on remaining destroyers and three torpedoes going off took out five more.
At that point we turned around using laterals only and once again waited.
At 1640R the Battleship closed and we accelerated away from the enemy. Caught by surprise the battleship and remaining destroyers also accelerated and ran into the torpedo mines with devastating effects.
We were just inside the Battleships gun range and suffered heavy damage, losing three more engines and all of the top and port guns. We feigned death and when the battleship, severally damaged and reloading, came in range, Lieutenant Freelorn, last trained gun director, fired all guns in a single salvo. Almost destroying our ship from the stress pressures the guns hit the battleship which exploded taking the remaining destroyer screen with it.
Cap rearranged the crew giving priority to feeders and loaders of the auto cannons as the Carrier launched its twenty fighters.
From 1640T to 1641B we fought a fierce battle, destroying all but three fighters and then, in a surprise move even to us Cap ordered max ramming speed as we charged the carrier.
When our damaged ship was at max he ordered a laterals turn and brought our rear torpedo tubes, still functional, to bear and we fired at max range, max spread, everything we had then he went again to max speed toward the third planet.
Unable to determine cause but the Carrier was hit and destroyed by a single torpedo, possibly hitting the fighter fuel storage area.
1641D two remaining Sandersall fighters did damage as we neared the M2 planet. Cadet Lieutenant Samantha Albridge took control of the auto-cannons and with the remaining live cadets feeding her guns she crippled, then destroyed one fighter and reported hits on the other. We suffered an explosion aft and lost all com with the remainder of the ship. Sam reported crippling the last fighter as we, damaged and unpowered, entered atmosphere on the planet below.
Tally: 2 miners, two Capital ships, twenty destroyers, twenty SWAG.
Losses: Glimmer of Time Destroyer and 295 crew.
End of report- Cadet Lieutenant Newman, compiler
“Says what it needs to Gale, send it,” I told her.
“Can’t Cap, all com’s down, antenna’s gone,” Krystal said.
“Damn. Engineering, can we float?”
“As in surface?” Sam asked.
“If we haven’t taken to much water behind the bulkhead we can.”
“Newman, status of planet surface?”
“Night Cap, large single mountain spire island was near when we settled, no craft spotted, but they have satellites,” she said.
“Cap, our shields will keep us invisible for awhile. We do have a two man flotation boat and propulsion system.”
“Emergency beacon and Tachyon transmitter?” I asked.
“Get us on the surface. Krystal, suit up, we’re going climbing.”
On the surface, shields up, we found we could drift toward the weird spire using the lateral jets. About the only thing still functional. By 1641P we were almost at the shore and Krystal and I launched the little boat with the relay equipment and portable shield. Split between us we were carrying sixteen pounds each. Hand lasers full, we left just before their dawn and I watched the bridge capsule once again sink out of sight.
We arrived on shore before 1641R and were admiring the spire and dreading the climb when Krystal started screaming. Huge bugs, as in strange and large seemed to be falling on us, or jumping. As weird a creature as I’d seen. She was covered in them but we soon realized they seemed harmless, just ugly and big.
I went to the shore and using the underwater contact freq I told Gale to surface and gather as many as she could and feed to the converter, protein was protein and the food converters didn’t care what the origin was. At least we wouldn’t starve.
By 1642D we were at the top. From the graffeti and various signs and flags this seemed to be a favorite climb for locals.
“We need to go back down, maybe that side by the little crack and dig it in there or it’ll be seen,” Krystal said.
We spent from 1642E to 1642I relocating and firing up our distress beacon. Luck held, it found the special Tayc freq even in this backward system.
As we climbed down we met up with the rest of the crew gathering a supply, though reluctantly, of the bugs. “Well, I see we need men, if for nothing else, gathering bugs for food.” I laughed. Something about many women and bugs that didn’t click.
We settled back to the bottom and had a long, long wait ahead. Being a fresh widower my crew gave me their condolences their way and we survived the eight months waiting for rescue hiding from their subs and gathering bugs.
We were picked up, the escape pod was destroyed, the rescue beacon recovered and we went home, a simple destroyer crew that made history and became legends among our peoples and villains to be feared by the Sandersall.