The Reaper-class dreadnought known as the USNF Olympus was the first of its kind, over a thousand meters long and with a crew reaching in the tens of thousands. It wasn’t really a graceful ship, resembling a long bullet with a pointed tip. Instead of dancing with space like most ships did, it punched a hole right through it.
The dreadnought currently orbited the Earth’s moon. It had been built there by the United Solar Nations Fleet, the construction docks it had been tethered to already brought back down to the moon’s surface. Humanity had colonized every planet in the solar system, and now was planning to extend their reach further. The Olympus was their plan.
The dreadnought’s hull was made out of duranium, one of the toughest and most durable alloys to ever exist, able to survive direct impacts from average asteroids. The ship had all of the best technology, including five omega-class jump drives, ten tier twelve thrusters that allowed the Olympus to reach speeds of up to five hundred megameters an hour, and ten tier nine fusing reactors powering the entire ship. Its armament was impressive as well, with hundreds of tier seven railgun batteries, warhead launchers with a massive stock of a large variety of warheads, anti-missile defense systems, and hundreds of various aerial craft, in case the Olympus came across anything. The dreadnought was the best there was.
There were swarms of transports coming from the moon’s surface, the entire moon being under the control of the USNF. These transports carried the last of the supplies, equipment, and crew. The transports had been at it for the past ten hours.
Finally, the last group of transports left one of the eight hangar bays along the sides of the dreadnought, and the blast doors sealed shut. The final phase had now begun.
People from all over the solar system watched as the Olympus broke from the moon’s gravity, as easy as twitching a muscle. Squadrons of fighters guarded the dreadnought from a distance, making sure no one would ruin this glorious moment.
Onboard the Olympus, the crew was running last minute checks and diagnostics, locking things down, preparing for the big moment.
On the bridge, Communication Specialist Orchid Mono was one of many on the bridge, talking with other communication specialists in different parts of the dreadnought. She had been tasked with communications with reactor control. She was only sixteen years old, one of the youngest on the bridge. Her family owned a small asteroid mining company that hadn’t been doing so well, due to the fact that bigger companies were gaining a monopoly on the business. Orchid had decided to join the USNF to be able to support her family. She had been the top of her class, risen through the grades quickly, and now she was here. Her black hair was tied back in a ponytail, her light blue eyes looking over her terminal. She wore a grey jumpsuit, the same as most of the other officers on the bridge did. She adjusted her headset, her hands getting clammy, Looking up, she saw Earth through the bridge window, so far away. She slowed down, taking several deep breaths, closing her eyes. After several seconds, she focused once again, waiting to pass the next message.
In hangar bay delta, Engineer Daniel Reid was running the last checks on one of the many Brion-class shuttles aboard the Olympus. These shuttles were quite large, boxy in shape, with four folding wings and two rectangular thrusters. These transports had standard life support systems, an epsilon-class jump drive, two tier-three thrusters that allowed it to go up to eight-five megameters an hour, two tier four railguns, and a miniature fusion reactor powering the entire thing. They were most commonly used to transport people from ship to ship or ship to planet. He was running the final diagnostic for the shuttle’s software. Daniel was sixteen, about several years younger than the other engineers. He brushed back his short white hair, his pale grey eyes reading over the information on his datapad. He wore a black jumpsuit, the same as the rest of the engineers, and a half gas mask covering his mouth and nose. Once he finished, he unplugged his datapad and walked down the ramp of the shuttle. He swiped several times on his datapad. Then, the ramp retracted and sealed the shuttle. A magnetic clamp came down from the ceiling, picking the Brion-class shuttle and safely storing it with the rest of the vehicles in their cradles near the ceiling. Daniel checked his datapad, and began to head to his next assignment.
In server room fifty-three, Technology Specialist Jack Byrd was sitting against one of the various server towers, their datapad plugged into it. The server room was kept at low temperatures to keep them from overheating. The lights were off because Jack preferred it that way. They were the only one in the room, making sure that all the data and programs were in perfect condition. Jack’s father and mother had been members of a criminal syndicate known as The Eclipse’s Ring. They had both died in a raid from another criminal group. Jack had been into technology all their life, especially computers and the like. They had become a freelance hacker in order to support themselves. Jack had taken a job of breaking into USNF’s database to retrieve a file, only to find out it was a job application, and that they had been accepted, Jack took the job, for a more stable income, and protection from the enemies they had made over the years. They were sixteen, one of the youngest technology specialists, the others in their late twenties. They had short brown hair, bright green eyes, and was wearing a dark green jumpsuit. They sighed, and began to move onto the next set of files.
On the bridge, the officers were in a flurry.
“Drive control is reporting green lights across the board.”
“Weapons control has locked everything down.”
“Reactor control is reporting everything is stable,” Orchid announced.
“The time has come.” The bridge silenced as Admiral Friedman stood up. The P.A systems all over the ship turned on, broadcasting the admiral’s message. “The time has come for humanity, as a whole, to take another step forward. We are no longer bound to just our solar system. We are now a galactic species!”
The admiral’s speech was broadcasted to everyone watching the event, on all planets and ships.
“And now… begin the jump sequence.”
An automated message began to play. “JUMP SEQUENCE INITIATED. TEN MINUTES UNTIL JUMP.”
The fusion reactors began to charge the jump drives, the thrusters changing from a red-orange to a light blue to a dark purple. The railgun batteries were tucked in, so as not to tear off during the jump. Warheads were disarmed, launchers sealed.
In hangar bay delta, the last of the engineers exited, Daniel sealing the bulkhead behind them. They all rushed to their quarters.
In server room fifty-three, Jack unplugged their datapad, and began to head to their own quarters.
Now that her job was done, Orchid took a look at Admiral Friendman. He was in his late forties, with graying hair and brown eyes. He wore a white jumpsuit, one of high-ranking officials. He had led the Thanatos-class destroyer USNF Typhon and the rest of the United Solar Nations Fleet on an attack against the anarchist group known as Marianas, who had been responsible for many attacks against the solar system, including a chemical attack on Moonswarm Academy. He had destroyed the majority of the group, the remnants fleeing, severely damaged. To see a legend in front of her, it was amazing.
Daniel stepped into his quarters, laying down on the bottom bunk closest to the door. There were a total of ten bunks in the room.
The door hissed open, and five others entered, chatting with each other. They also wore black jumpsuits, but they carried flight helmets. They were pilots.
The five quieted when they saw Daniel. Then, one of them stepped up.
“I’m Ensign Soshi Clou, of Foxtrot Squadron.” Soshi was a seventeen year old girl, with blonde hair and blue eyes, “ I graduated from Strike Force Academy just in time for this. You?”
“I’m not a pilot,” Daniel responded. “I’m an engineer, specializing in aerial craft. Well, I was on track to becoming a pilot.”
“How come you’re here?” asked another. This was a woman in her late twenties, with short black hair and brown eyes. “Commander Yula of Foxtrot, by the way.”
“I guess it’s a glitch,” he replied. “I was at Moonswarm Academy. The name’s Daniel Reid.”
“Reid?” Soshi perked up. “You mean, like, Patrica Reid?”
“Yep, that’s my sister.”
“Wow! I’d never guess I’d meet someone from a famous family aboard this ship!” Soshi’s expression became one of confusion. “How come you aren’t a pilot?”
“Damn, Clou,” said one of the amel pilots, who was taking one of the top bunks, “You never heard about the chemical attack on Moonswarm? Daniel Reid’s the only living survivor.”
“Lieutenant!” Yula snapped.
“He’s right,” Daniel said. “The chemical damaged my lungs. I need this gas mask to live. Can’t be put into a flight helmet. That got me booted out of the program.” Then, Daniel’s datapad pinged. He picked it up. “Looks like I know why I’m here now. I’m going to be Foxtrot squadron’s primary engineer now.”
“Well, nice to meet you, Reid,” the lieutenant said. “The rest of the squad should be here soon.
“Same to you,” Daniel replied. He lay back down as the others got into their bunks. Ensign Soshi Clou took the one above Daniel. The other four pilots came in, and the nine began to talk. Daniel stayed out of it, closing his eyes.
Jack reached their room on the officer’s level. They had changed the rooms around. This room belonged to an Orchid Mono. Well, now it was theirs.
It was decently spacious, with a large bed, desk, and screen. Immediately, Jack plugged their datapad in, typed for a couple of seconds, and the screen changed to a view of the outside of the ship.
Pleased with their work, Jack lay down on the bed, which was much more comfortable than the bunk that they had originally been assigned to. They closed their eyes, and began to sleep.
The fighter squadrons guarding the Olympus broke off, returning back to the moon’s surface. The dreadnought was positioning itself, the jump about to begin. People everywhere watched and waited.
“JUMP INITIATING IN T-5…T-4…T-3…T-2…T-1…JUMPING.”
The thrusters of the Olympus turned black, before it disappeared in a blur.
On the bridge, the officers all let out the breath that they had been holding in. Nothing catastrophic had happened. That was good. Through the bridge’s windows, they only saw swirls of black and blue, which was normal for a jump.
“Twenty-five minutes until estimated arrival.”
“Hull durability at one hundred percent and holding.”
“Weapon control reports no damage.”
“Drive control reports one hundred percent power.”
“Reactors are at one hundred percent stability,” Orchid announced.
“Well, then,” Admiral Friedman said. “It has begun.”
In Foxtrot squadron’s quarters, they had begun playing Ships and Shooters, one of the most common gambling games. They were betting USNF dollars, and Daniel had been roped into being the dealer, as everyone else wanted to play.
“So, what are you guys flying?” Daniel finally asked.
“Three F-476 fighters, three B-563 bombers, and two MG-1278 interceptors,” Yula replied. “I’m going all in. I’m flying an experimental multi-class. The DOX-1.”
“Commander Yula was apparently recommended by Admiral Friedman himself,” one of the pilots said.
“Yes, that is true. I participated in the attack on the Marianas base. I was in one of the squadrons under the admiral’s control. Your father was my squad leader. How is Al?”
“He’s grumpy.” Daniel replied. “He’s been tasked with command of an attack cruiser. He wants to be flying.”
Yula chuckled. “Sounds just like him. Well, read ‘em and weep.” She flipped her cards, revealing three fighters and two railguns.
“Sorry, Commander.” Ensign Clou flipped her cards. “Two attack cruisers and three interceptors.”
“Damn,” Yula muttered. “You kept me believing that you didn’t have nothing. Welp, I’m done. Reid, wanna go see the DOX? The rest of you, come along. Nothing wrong with a little maintenance.”
Jack was still sleeping, the screen showing the swirls of blue and black that could be seen during a jump. Then, a shake. Jack immediately woke up, on edge. They grabbed their datapad, unplugging it, the screen fading back to grey. They began to run diagnostics of their own on key parts of the ship. A shake like that meant trouble. They weren’t on the bridge, so it would take some time to figure out what had happened.
On the bridge, they hadn’t felt nor heard anything. About twenty-five minutes had passed.
“Prepare to exit jump…now.” However, the swirls of black and blue surrounded them.
“What the hell is going on?” Admiral Friedman asked.
“I don’t know sir…” replied one of the communication specialists. “Drive control has stopped responding.”
“I want a team down there, now!” the admiral yelled. “On the double! Two security teams, and a team of engineers!”
Panicked voices began to fill Orchid’s ears. “Admiral!” she yelled. “The drives appear to be draining more power from the fusion reactors! They’re also rerouting power from other parts of the ship!”
“Weapons control just lost power!”
“Five security teams and three engineer teams! NOW!” The admiral was in a state of panic. “Stop the jump! Shut down the reactors!”
“Shut them down!” Orchid yelled. “Shut the reactors down!” A panicked voice responded. “They can’t shut down the reactors!”
“What?” Admiral Friedman shrieked. “This is an order!”
“Something’s preventing them from shutting them down!”
Admiral Friedman paused, in thought. “Override code charlie tango hotel oscar four two one three three seven!”
Orchid repeated the code, only to get another panicked reply. “It didn’t work!”
“Main auxiliary power is being drained!”
“At this rate, the drives will overload!” one of the staff yelled.
“What happens then?” the admiral asked.
“We’re doomed. THe drives will explode, causing the Olympus to tear itself out of its jump. The drives detonating will most likely destroy the thrusters, and all the excess power will cause the reactors to have a meltdown!” This all came from a hyperventilating staff member.
“Main auxiliary power has been drained! Secondary sources are untouched!”
Then, all the lights shut down, and a red glow from secondary sources replaced it. Admiral Friedman grabbed the controls for the P.A system.
“This is Admiral Friedman!” His voice echoed all over the ship. “Something has gone terribly wrong. All hands, equip your atmosuits and brace for impact! You heard me!”
Orchid rushed out into the hull, heading to the nearest atmosuit locker. Half the bridge staff followed her. She grabbed hers and put it on, sealing it and checking all the systems. Those who didn’t rushed to the next.
Foxtrot squadron had been heading back to hangar bay delta when the lights had gone out,
“…equip your atmosuits and brace for impact! You heard me!”
“Foxtrot squadron, get in your craft! Those have life support systems!” Commander Yula could barely be heard over the shipwide alarm. She was putting on her helmet as she was running.
“What about Daniel?” Soshi asked.
“I can’t put on an atmosuit either,” Daniel added. “I can get in a shuttle however.”
“Well then, that’s the plan! Hurry it up!” They got through the bulkhead, and Daniel swiped several times. The eleven craft were lowered down, and everyone got in theirs as soon as they could.
“All craft, report in,” Commander Yula said over comms. “Foxtrot leader.”
“Foxtrot one, here.”
“Foxtrot four, reporting in.”
A pause. Then, “Foxtrot eight.” This was Clou.
“Daniel, you’ll be Foxtrot nine.”
“Roger that,” he said, “Foxtrot nine.”
“Alright. Magnetize your landing struts. Brace for impact.”
Jack now donned an atmosuit, and looked at the results of the diagnostic they had run. The majority of the power from the reactors were going to the drives, and the main auxiliary power had been completely drained. They knew the drives were going to detonate, taking out the thrusters and reactors as well. The question was when they-
The drives exploded in a massive explosion of blue light. The ship was torn out of its jumping, a red and white flash covering the ship before it was shoved back into space, spinning. The thrusters immediately followed, the explosions spreading over the back end of the ship.
The vibrations were felt all over the ship. Most of the bridge staff were swung around, the majority being shoved to the floor. All the terminals powered down and restarted as they switched to backup power. Then, silence.
“Status report?” Admiral Friedman asked.
The staff who had been hyperventilating got up, looking over his datapad. “We are about ten thousand megameters away from the Kiuper belt. The drive and thrusters are all gone. The reactors are beginning to melt down, and they’ll take the ship down in two hundred and forty hours. Life support, without main auxiliary power, will last one hundred and twenty hours. We don’t have any information on anything else.”
“Communications array? What about that?” Admiral Friedman was beginning to sweat inside his atmosuit.
“Unknown, sir. We’d have to check manually.”
“Alright, have an aerial squadron get out there. We need to know, immediately!”
“Sir, weapons control is online, but they’re fluctuating in power.”
“Tell them maximum combat readiness if possible. We need to be prepared.”
“Foxtrot squadron, we need you to do a scan of the ship. All other squadrons, flight readiness one.”
“Roger that, command,” Commander Yula responded. “Can you open the blast doors?”
“Depressurizing hangar bay delta… depressurized. Opening the blast doors.”
Retracting their landing struts, the ships blasted out.
“Daniel, your shuttle doesn’t have any equipment, so head to hangar bay alpha until further notice.”
Jack had patched themselves into the comms. Immediately, they began to head to hangar bay alpha, opening bulkheads with either an override or a plasma cutter they had taken from an engineering room.
“Artificial gravity failing,” one of the staff said. Orchid was beginning to feel lighter, rising up in her seat.
“Foxtrot, what do you see?”
“Nothing good. It’s just… gone. Communication array must have been torn off when we broke out of our jump.”
“So we’re stranded here, without help,” Admiral Friedman said.
“Seems like it,” Commander Yula replied. “Hol’ up. Sensors indicate several objects approaching.” As soon as she finished that sentence, five Hermes-class attack cruisers and a Tartarus-class destroyer exited their jumps, at the Olympus’s four. Almost immediately, they opened fire, launching missiles and firing railguns.
“Who the hell are they?!” Admiral Friedman yelled.
“These ships are the ones that fled from the battle against the Marianas! They must have been hiding nearby!”
The admiral watched as the anti-missile systems got into work, but there was no return volley.
“Why aren’t we firing?”
“Weapons control is trying! They’re having a malfunction!”
“Scramble fighters!” Then, the first rounds and missiles impacted. Then more.
“Hull breach! Starboard hangar bays have been breached! Unable to launch fighters from there!”
“Launch all fighters if you can!”
“Enemy fighters have launched!”
“Foxtrot squadron, buy us some time!”
“Copy that, admiral. Foxtrot one through six, with me. Foxtrot seven and eight, protect the dreadnought.” Commander Yula paused. “Admiral, I have a back-up plan in mind. Foxtrot nine is in a shuttle in hangar bay alpha. I say we load that shuttle with supplies and some crew to get help.”
“I agree with that plan. I’ll send a communication specialist and a techie to do it. Jack, I know you’re listening.”
“Roger that.” Jack’s voice entered the channel. “I’ll get some extra fuel rods. How many?”
“With the shuttle’s jump drive, you’ll need a day’s worth of travel in a jump.” One of the staff said. “However, you’ll only be able to jump for eight hours a day. You’ll need three more fuel rods.”
The admiral turned to Orchid Mono. “You’re going too.” He tossed her a keypass, for all doors. “Grab rations to last you all a week.”
“If I may, admiral, I want Foxtrot nine to go with them as well. Clou, be quiet for now. I say we let the kids live another day.”
“Firing control online! Firing!”
“I agree with you, commander. Foxtrot eight, join with nine. Jack, get those spare fuel rods. Orchid, get those rations. NOW!”
The railgun batteries turned, and opened fire. Missiles launched. An EmP warhead temporarily disabled one of the destroyers. The aerial craft and the railguns took out the fighters and dealt some damage to the attack cruisers.
Daniel was prepping the shuttle, walking down to the storage area and opening it. Then, the entire dreadnought was shook by an impact. Daniel back and then forwards, his gas mask catching on one of the handles of the ship. He fell to the floor. He began to struggle to breathe, to even move. He coughed once, twice, spitting up blood. Daniel tried to get in a sitting position, his body slowly responding. He reached for his gas mask, but it was out of his reach. Slowly, he stood up, his body shaking. He grabbed his gas mask before he fell back down, face first. His hands slowly put the gas mask to his face, and sealed it. He lay there for a couple of moments, trying to get his breathing right.
Jack was in the fuel rod storage room, where they were kept cool, colder than the server room. They grabbed a container for the fuel rods, putting five fuel rods in the ten available spots. Jack thought for a minute, and then began to put five more in.
The impact that had caused Daniel to lose his gas mask caused Jack to drop one of the fuel rods. They froze. If the fuel rod had been breached, the entire room would explode. Slowly, Jack checked the fuel rod’s stability. It was holding at seventy-five percent. Sighing, Jack put it in, and got the rest as well. Putting it on a cart, she began to push it out of the storage facility and to hangar bay alpha.
Ensign Clou was struggling to find a break to be able to enter hangar bay alpha. Her fellow interceptor had already been taken out by a squadron of fighters. She had finished the job for him.
She fired on a group of enemy bombers, as well as some fighters that were trying to breach another hangar bay. Then, a railgun round scraped one of her thrusters. It began to spit out smoke.
Struggling for control, her systems screaming at her, she tried to pilot her craft in.
“Open hangar bay alpha!” she yelled over comms. Her ship had begun to spin, and she was trying to regain control. She saw the open hangar bay, and began to pilot herself towards it.
That was when a stray railgun round hit her thruster again. It caught on fire and now she had no control.
She spun into the hangar bay, the side of her ship hitting the far end of the hangar bay. Her head hit the glass of her cockpit, her helmet being the only thing stopping her from being knocked out cold.
She coughed several times. Smoke had begun to fill her cockpit. The hangar bay doors closed and re-pressurized. She opened her cockpit, and scrambled out. The shuttle ramp lowered, and Soshi made her way to it.
She first saw the blood on the floor. Then, she saw Daniel, sitting against one of the walls, his mask loose.
“I’m okay,” he rasped. Soshi rushed over to him, tightening his gas mask and helping him up. She sat him down in the pilot’s seat, and went to the medkit on the wall, taking out a stim shot and jabbing him with it. He flinched, but said nothing.
Orchid was rushing down the hall, a crate of rations in her hands. Gravity had completely failed here, and she was bounding through the halls.
Then, she came to a sealed bulkhead. She tapped Admiral Friedman’s pass to it, but it didn’t move.
“I’ve got a problem here,” she said over the comm. This bulkhead won’t open.”
“Let me help you with that,” Jack replied. “Stand back.” Several seconds passed. Then, the metal of the bulkhead began to glow. A plasma torch cut through the metal, beginning to make a hole in the bulkhead. Jack’s hands were unsteady, shaking, the impacts on the dreadnought causing jagged edges. Then, the metal was pushed aside, and Orchid saw jack on the other side. Orchid stepped through, carrying the crate of rations on the cart. She passed the crate to Jack, and picked up the container holding the fuel rods. The two of them began to bound down to hangar bay alpha.
Commander Yula was the remaining member of Foxtrot squadron. Her bombers had joined in a bombing run that had failed miserably, her fighters taken out by railgun fire. She had avenged them.
The destroyer had regained its power systems, and was preparing to fire on the Olympus. Commander Yula decided that wasn’t going to happen.
Putting the majority of her DOX’s power into the thrusters, she opened fire on the destroyer, her railguns taking out some of the batteries. She launched several missiles, making holes in the hull of the enemy ship.
Then, a barrage of shots hit her thrusters. She was no longer in control of her ship, and there was no way she was going to land safely.
Calmly, she steered her ship towards where she knew the fusion reactor of the destroyer was. The enemy captain didn’t pay any attention, thinking that she was just going to careen helplessly into space.
At the last second, she steered her ship right where the reactor was. She used the last bits of fuel to weaken the hull, breaking a hole into it. Then, she impacted.
Almost immediately, the reactor detonated, after years without proper maintenance. The explosion split the destroyer into two, the separate pieces drifting away from each other.
Admiral Friedman saw this from the bridge. “May you rest in peace, Yula,” he whispered. After blinking several times, he yelled “Their destroyer is down! Focus fire on the remaining craft and attack cruisers. Aim for their reactors and bridges!”
Jack and Soshi loaded the fuel rods into the specialized hold, turning the temperature down low, and placed the rations in the seating area. Orchid connected her headset to the communication array of the shuttle.
“This is Brion-class shuttle forty-two. Everyone is aboard. We are ready to go.”
“Copy that shuttle forty-two. Depressurizing…depressurized. Opening hangar bay doors. You are clear to go.”
His mind clear, Daniel powered the thrusters up, and blasted back out into space. He coughed several times. Soshi came up from the cargo hold, and sat in the co-pilot’s seat, helping him run the last pre-jump checks. Jack plugged their datapad into the shuttle’s systems, making the shuttle give off a signal that prevented it from showing up on enemy scans.
“Jump calculations complete!” Soshi announced.
“Fighters, protect that shuttle!” Admiral Friedman announced. “Once you get back to the solar system, get us help.”
“Will do, Admiral,” Daniel rasped. “Jumping!”
The thrusters changed from a red-orange to a light blue.
Fighters fought off the enemies that were coming towards the shuttle.
Now they were a dark purple.
One of the attack cruisers detonated, shattering into four pieces.
Finally, a deep black.
Then, they were gone.
“Godspeed to you all,” Admiral Friedman whispered on the bridge. “Godspeed.”