A Carrier Finds Its True Purpose

10

The gargantuan Nidhoggur-class Minmatar carrier The Pride of Terra glided through the darkness, its drive systems burning white hot. The bridge crew hovered over their displays, fervently scanning for any signs of their prey. “Got one, Captain!” The science officer called out. “Caldari Strategic Cruiser reported lost, two systems from here!” “Excellent,” the captain said. He tapped a key on his command chair, calling the data up on his personal viewscreen. “Set a course for X-70 immediately.”

The navigator set to work, and soon the massive ship’s prow swung about on a new heading. Fighter crews stood ready to launch, engineers ran tests on the main reactor to ensure combat readiness. “Sir, we are ready for the jump to lightspeed,” the navigator called out. “The order is given, commence the jump.” the captain replied. With a shudder and a deep groaning of stressed metal, the huge ship ran its engines to maximum power and engaged the warp field generator. After a few minutes, the powerful engines began to ebb, and the warp field disengaged. On the main viewscreen, a colossal structure hung in space, glowing and writhing with blue-white energies. Stargates—the only efficient method for ships to move from one system to another—were both necessary and very dangerous.

A lone ship is unable to determine if an enemy fleet lay on the other side of any given stargate, and the larger the ship, the more vulnerable it is to surprise attack. Normally, a ship like The Pride of Terra would not take such a risk. But she was anything but an ordinary ship. “Take us through,” the captain ordered. “We have no time to waste.” The helmsman brought the mighty capital ship around in a sweeping turn, lining up the wide, open bow of the ship with the gaping maw of the stargate. As they slid into the maelstrom of energy at the center of the gate, the entire crew felt the deck lurch, and to a man they felt the sensation of falling a long distance. When the viewscreen cleared, the captain tapped the intercom. “Status report, all stations,” he barked. “Engineering here, all green.” “Flight deck, we’re ready.” “Sick bay, we’re good,” the list went on through each region of the ship.

A klaxon began baying suddenly, alert lights pulsing to the beat of the horns. “Incursion alarm!” the science officer called out. “We have reports of Sansha’s Nation ships in system!” Muted curses could be heard around the bridge from various experienced crewers who had experienced such events before. “Navigation, run engines to full power and get us moving towards the next gate,” the captain ordered. “Engineering, raise shields and activate damage resistance nodes.” Tense minutes ticked by as the crew prepared for imminent battle. Through the forward viewscreen, the ships of the rebel faction could be seen in formation around the gate they had just jumped through, hovering like vultures around a fresh kill.

“We’re ready for the jump to lightspeed, captain!” The helmsman called out. A sigh of relief could almost be heard around the bridge. “Make the jump,” the captain ordered. Once more, the citadel of steel heaved itself into the deep blackness of space. “Captain, if I may ask,” the first officer spoke up. “Why not turn back? We will be vulnerable if the Sansha rebels pin us down. We have no support fleet with us.” “Your concern is laudable,” the captain replied. “but we can handle ourselves until we obtain our prize. We can destroy any group of Sansha vessels that threaten us in short order.” “Yes, sir,” the first officer nodded and turned back to his station.

On the viewscreen, the next stargate loomed before them. Another cluster of rebel ships shifted formation as the carrier closed the range. They only needed a few minutes to guide the ship’s nose into the vast maw of the gate. Once more, the great vessel used the powerful energies of the stargate to hurl itself into a new solar system. At last, they had reached the location that intelligence sources had reported their target to be. “Sensor sweep, tell me what’s out there” the captain ordered. He leaned forward in his chair as the tactical hologram begin to fill in details about surrounding space. And there it was, barely 35 kilometers from the stargate; a twisted, burning wreckage was visible. “Look at that,” the science officer breathed. “The entire port side is still intact,” the captain observed. “Definitely worth taking a look. Bring us about and run engines to flank speed.” “Captain, rebel ships are coming out of warp now,” the science officer called out. “I read three frigates, three cruisers, and a battleship.” “Hold course,” the captain ordered. “We will wait for them to make the first move. They know we can easily obliterate them. As soon as we are within range, lock a tractor beam on that wreck and bring it in close.”

Soon, the twisted hulk of the Tengu-class Strategic Cruiser was close enough for a boarding party to be launched. They reported to the carrier that the find was indeed a good one. “A Pith X-type large shield booster? Excellent,” the captain commented. “And a Republic Fleet warp disruptor,” the first officer added. “That should bring a good price in the trade hubs.” “Look there, a Pithum B-type Adaptive shield resist module, we might just have that fitted to The Pride of Terra. It would come in very handy in a scrap.”

Smiling and nodding, the bridge crew felt the satisfaction of a successful salvage run. Let someone else handle the fleet ops and the risky engagements, they would get wealthy scooping up the leftovers. And maybe someday, the carrier would have enough upgrades to stand toe-to-toe with their enemies and crush them once and for all.