Authors: Terry Lefler
The battle has left Ensign Melissa Meyers severely damaged, and in agony
from a severed limb, broken bones, bleeding wounds, and extensive
burns. Her left leg was severed above the knee and her right femur
is broken, in a compound fracture. The splintered bone is protruding
through the skin, but the blood loss, at that site, is not severe. The
severed leg is the most immediate threat to her survival.
You don’t need to be a medic to know that her prognosis is not good, and
that the easiest thing to do would be to give into the unconsciousness that is
closing in on her mind. Bleeding-out would only take a few minutes and
her misery would be over, but her survival instinct is strong, and she manages
to push away the fog in her mind.
The young Ensign is in shock, from her wounds and from the horrific scene
of carnage around her, but training and practice take over. She quickly
applies a tourniquet to the stump of the severed leg - to stop the gushing of
blood - and then shoots herself up, with a double dose of pain meds and
stimulants, so that she can continue to function.
Crawling to the stasis pods is an ordeal, but she endures the pain and
picks the first pod that looks like it might still be functional. With
one push of a button, she instructs the pod to open and programs it to eject,
as soon as she is inside.
After a fruitless struggle to get the boot off of the foot attached to
the broken leg, she gives up the effort and simply cuts the boot bindings, so
that the stasis gel will be able to make contact with the flesh of the
foot. Then she removes her clothing and works to cut open the fabric of
the trousers, which she can’t remove.
Ensign Meyers finally cuts away the last of her uniform, and is ready to
abandon ship. Everyone else in Laser Canon Cube 72 is dead, and the
nearby explosions tell her that the Terran battleship Carnivore is almost dead,
as well. The Captain ordered “abandon ship” shortly before the
missile ripped a
jagged tear in the hull, along the entire starboard side. Since the
don’t believe in
surrender or the
rules of war
, the sailors will be under attack, while
Plunging into the stasis gel head first would be the fastest way to
enter, but she is afraid that the dangling leg might get caught on something,
and would keep the pod from closing, so she lowers herself into the pod by
dropping the booted foot in first.
As soon as the wounds are touched by the stasis gel, the bleeding and the
pain stop. The pain from the internal injuries will not cease until the
anesthetic reaches her brain.
It always felt weird to breathe the gel, during the training sessions -
her instinct rebelled every time - but she learned the trick of imagining that
the gel is
and slowly taking a deep breath. Shortly after
the gel enters her lungs, the anesthetic reaches her brain and the wounded
Ensign feels her trauma being replaced by a feeling of well-being. Within
minutes, her mind is floating away to a quiet place – a quiet place is where
she wants to be right now.
With one push of the pod’s ‘
button, she had
programmed the stasis pod for a clandestine escape routine – specifically
designed for this battlefield situation. The pod will be jettisoned from
the crumbling battleship, and will enter run-silent mode for 10 standard
days. She programmed the pod that way, because her Terran Navy Fleet is
losing this naval battle. She hopes to disappear, until the
Navy Fleet has
mopped up the rest of the Terran Fleet, and has departed the area.
After a 10 day delay, the stasis pod will begin to broadcast a distress
signal. Hopefully, friendly forces will detect the signal and recover the
pod. If not, Ensign Meyers will never know about it.
Typically, the Terran Navy will send search and rescue teams to
reconnoiter the battlespace and to search for survivors. If not, the
stasis pod will keep Ensign Meyers alive for about 3 months, as it floats in
deep space with the rest of the battle debris.
The pods’ computer will monitor the Ensign’s condition, and will
deep-freeze the body if her condition deteriorates to a point where her
prognosis for survival is doubtful, or if the pod is running out of
power. Perhaps medical science will advance to the point where her frozen
remains can be rejuvenated, at some future time.
Refurbishment and Augmentation Center
up Darling. It’s time to rise and shine. …….. Wake up
Darling. It’s time to rise and shine.”
could that be?” she thinks. “Nobody call me Darling. Who am I
calling to her, as he splashes cold water on her face. “Wake up
Darling. It’s time to rise and shine.”
It doesn’t take long for Ensign Melissa Meyers to hate
nobody better ever call her ‘Darling’, again.
Gradually, Melissa Meyers fights her way, up through the
fog in her mind, with only one objective - she hopes to strangle the person who
is pouring cold water on her, and keeps calling her “Darling”.
Finally, she opens her eyes and tries to focus on the
object of her wrath. At that point, Nurse
stops splashing cold water on her and says: “Well, there you are,
Darling. I knew you were ready to wake up. You were probably just
dreaming about some lover, or maybe about a walk on the beach of
“Where am I? ……. Who am I?” asks Ensign
The Nurse looks at the information tag attached to his
patient’s big toe and reports: “Your name is Melissa Meyers. You were recovered
from a stasis pod in deep space approximately 12 years ago, and you are right
now, in the Terran Navy 45
“You have Melissa Meyer’s brain and a brand new clone
body. And you are some good looking babe. I would ask you out for a
date, except that you are over half a meter taller than me and I might feel
Melissa only cares about her name, about being recovered
12 years ago, and about having a clone body. The rest is drivel.
Now if the nurse will just shut up, so that she can think.
And, as if reading her mind, Nurse
just leave you alone for a few minutes, while you get reacquainted with
yourself. We have a hologram presentation for you to watch in about 15
minutes. That will explain a lot about who you are and why you are here.”
Vortex FTL Port
“Captain on the Bridge,” announces the Comm Officer.
Melissa Meyers is the first augmented human to rise to the rank of
Captain of a Darinx Empire Navy vessel. Until recently, augmented humans
had been restricted to ranks of Lieutenant and below, and were never in command
of Darinx Empire citizens.
The improvements in augmented human status came partly because the
citizens of the Empire are demanding a change. They argue that if
augmented humans are being forcibly conscripted as soldiers for the Empire,
then the Empire should grant them full citizenship when their first tour of
duty is completed. The Empire has just approved that recommendation.
Mostly though, the improvements came because of the Augmented Human
Rebellion, which began about 30 years earlier. The Empire is afraid that
the augmented humans will desert en masse. Such an exodus would spell
doom for the Darinx Empire. Augmented humans do the dirty work in the Darinx
military - especially in the Army - and their desertion would guarantee victory
for the Verm Empire.
One of the ways that the Darinx Empire is improving life for
augmented humans is by improving the augmented human retirement
planet. The planet Dresden is in the process of getting a real
makeover, with improvements to infrastructure and social services. In
addition, each retired soldier/sailor will receive a pension. The planet
will be self-governed and will be represented in the Darinx Empire Senate.
And now augmented humans get to keep their original name and the
memories from their previous life. If the individual wants selective
parts of their memory erased - or if they want their entire memory erased -
they can have that done. And if they want to change their name, that will
Things are far from perfect for augmented humans, but the trajectory
of change is in an upward direction.
“As you were,” says Captain Meyers. “Any news Tactical?”
“Nothing new, sir,” responds Tactical Officer
. “Fleet is still expecting
the enemy to emerge in the Vortex, but we are monitoring 360 degrees, just in
“Good,” replies Captain Meyers, as she takes her position in the
The Vortex FTL Port is a recent discovery in space travel. The
Vortex is, essentially, a short-cut through
(FTL) space which cuts travel time, from weeks to days. The existence of
Vortex entry and exit points was originally discovered by space travelers of
species some thousands of years ago. That technology was rediscovered
recently, by archeologists who were studying the ancient ruins of the
what is the ships’ status?” the Captain asks.
name for the ship’s
ntelligence (AI). At this
point in the evolution of Artificial Intelligence entities they are much like a
human, except without the body. They have emotions, feelings, a
personality, a mind, and opinions.
Because of their faster processing speed and massive computational
outstrip humanoids in some areas of expertise, such as ‘weapons targeting’ and
‘defensive systems coordination’. Humanoids are generally better at
‘thinking outside of the box’ and for abstract concepts, such as developing new
tactics and strategies.
A Darinx Navy warship has become a blend of man and machine.
When you add in the augmented human, with brain implants and sensory
enhancements, the capabilities are extended even farther.
It is the job of the ship’s Captain to get the blend just right for
maximum effectiveness. Captain Meyers is just beginning that refinement
process. This is her first command and the brand new light cruiser
Compton will be getting its first battle experience.
“All of Compton’s systems are nominal, Captain,”
responds. “All of the ship’s
operational units report Mission Capable status and the ship is at Security
Level 4. Comm links to all Fleet vessels are nominal, and all Fleet ships report
Ready conditions. Admiral Thrust has ordered all ships to maintain Battle
the Captain replies. “Can you guess at the probability that the Verm
Fleet will emerge in the Vortex?”
answers: “From previous data points, I would divide the probability into three
groups. If the Verm fleet is small – i.e. less than 100 ships – the
probability is less than 25.3%. If the Verm Fleet is large – i.e. greater
than 200 ships – the probability is 80.1% or higher. If the Verm fleet is
between 100 and 200 ships, the probability increases exponentially between
25.3% and 80.1%.”
replies the Captain. “That would seem to indicate that the Verm only use
the Vortex FTL when they believe that they have an overwhelming number of
responds: “That would seem to be a valid statement, sir.”
“Well then,” replies the Captain. “Let’s hope that they don’t use
“Ships emerging,” announces
“Battle Stations, Compton,” announces the Captain.
“All ships. Battle Stations,” announces Admiral Thrust. “Execute
Plan Able, on my mark. …………… Execute”
when ready,” orders the Captain.
“Aye sir,” responds
Plan Able calls for all ships to target the emerging enemy vessels
before they can bring their defensive systems online. Ships are
especially vulnerable to attack while emerging from Faster Than Light (FTL)
space, because automatic defensive and offensive systems are inoperable until
the vessel has fully emerged.
That is why the Verm Navy only uses the Vortex FTL node when they have
overwhelming numbers of ships in their attacking Fleet. The Verm know that they
will take significant losses during the initial phase of battle, but they don’t
care, because they have a seemingly endless supply of ships and crews.
The Verm are a warrior species, who have conquered a large number of
species and civilizations. They control a vast swath of the Orion Nebula
and are intent on conquering the entire universe.
The Verm Empire is a dictatorship whose leaders are ruthless and act
without any compassion, or any evidence of a conscience. Genocide is a
common occurrence during Verm Empire conquests. The targeted planets
either surrender unconditionally, or the Verm military nukes the planet until
any possibility of life is destroyed.
“Defensive systems are on automatic and offensive systems targeting is
under AI control,” reports Tactical.
“Maintaining synchronous Fleet position,” reports the Helm Officer, Lieutenant
The sight of a large number of disabled Verm vessels fails to cheer
Captain Meyers. She knows that the Verm Navy is sacrificing its weakest
vessels in order to provide a cover of debris and wreckage, for the remaining
Verm warships to hide behind. In a few moments the tide of battle will
turn, in the favor of the Verm Fleet, as their bigger and stronger vessels
emerge unscathed from FTL space.
She had pointed that very scenario out, in a Captains Briefing with
Admiral Thrust. He was not happy to hear her comment and dismissed it as
“poppycock”. Captain Meyers will feel no joy at being proved right.
The rest of the Darinx Fleet is in danger of being destroyed because of the
Admiral’s bad decision.
“Why does it seem that incompetence is rewarded in the Darinx Military?”
she wonders to herself. “Nothing to do now but follow orders, until the
Admiral issues new instructions, or until the Admiral’s vessel is destroyed”.
……. ……… ……… “Tactical, lob some missiles over the top of the Verm wreckage,
so that they explode at the Vortex opening. Separate their arrival by
about a minute.” orders the Captain.
“Aye sir,” responds Tactical. ………… ……… …………… “Launching 5 missiles in 60
The missiles begin to explode behind the Verm ship wreckage.
Captain Meyers thinks that this method might be a way to thwart the Verm Navy’s
plan of emerging behind a debris field. Secondary explosions indicate
that Verm ships are being destroyed. If the Darinx Fleet would coordinate
a ‘missile lobbing effort’, they would be able to destroy a lot more Verm
vessels, as they emerge.
She is just reaching for the comm button, in order to share her thought
with the Admiral, when his image appears on the Compton’s front screen.
“Captain Meyers,” the Admiral says, in a huff. “Stop firing those
missiles. No one told you to do that. Follow Plan Able. If
you are not capable of following my instructions, I will relieve you of
duty. Is that understood?”
“Aye sir,” responds Captain Meyers. “It is understood.”
And the Compton does follow Plan Able, as the Darinx Fleet fights
valiantly against 3 to 1 odds. Some awful hours later, the Darinx Fleet
is surrounded and is down to 15 vessels. At that point, a barrage of
missiles overcomes the defensive system on Admiral Thrust’s vessel and the
The second and third in-command ships have also been destroyed.
Captain Meyers is no longer restricted by the Admirals orders.
the remaining Darinx Fleet vessels and says: “All Darinx vessels.
This is Captain Meyers aboard the Compton. The pathway to the Vortex is
clear. I recommend that we make a run for it, through the Vortex.
We might be able to set up a trap at the other end.”
Apparently there are no alternative plans, except to stay where they are
and die. All ships signal agreement.
Captain Meyers says: “All ships. On my mark. Turn to face the
Vortex and proceed at full flank speed through the Vortex. Maintain your
positions relative to the Fleet. The Vortex opening is large enough for
all of us at the same time….. …. “Execute”
And they are
and running. The Verm Fleet is caught off
guard by the unexpected maneuver, and is slow to target the fleeing
ships. ………… All 14 of the Darinx ships make it into the Vortex.
That gives them three days of travel time, to the exit point in the
They can’t make repairs to the exterior of a vessel while in FTL space,
but they can make a lot of much needed repair to the ship’s interior and to the
weapons systems. There is no way to communicate with other vessels in FTL
space, but Captain Meyers knows that everyone else will be spending their time
in the same manner.
After the repair work has been planned and started, Captain Meyers leaves
those tasks in the capable hands of her Senior Officers, and retires to the
Command Conference Room with Lt.
the Tactical Officer. She calls
the ship’s AI, to the meeting as well.
you be able to multitask with the repair crew, at the same time that you
interface with us?” the Captain asks.
“Aye sir. No problem. And ‘good job’ on getting us out of
there,” responds the AI.
says the Captain. “Does anyone have any thoughts about what our tactics should
be, when we exit the Vortex? And bear in mind that some other Darinx
Captain may assume command. They are all senior to me in
time in grade
“Hopefully they won’t,” responds Lt
“You are the one who got us a reprieve on our date with death. And you are
the one who had a winning strategy to destroy the other Verm vessels as they
emerged. It was only the Admiral’s pride that kept us from winning.”
“Enough of that Lieutenant - forget about the past and think about the
upcoming battle. What do you think, right off hand?”
“Aye sir,” the Tactical Officer replies. “Your suggestion about
setting a trap seems good to me. Only this time I would suggest that we
get behind the Vortex exit, instead of in front of it. We can still
target the enemy ships as they emerge, and their debris field will not be in
our way. We could incorporate the tactic of lobbing missiles, if they
begin to emerge en masse.”
“I like that, also,” interjects
“And each Darinx ship has a supply of 100 mines. I would suggest, to the
other Captains, that we could mine the exit point. I don’t know why the
Admiral didn’t think of that.”
“Enough of that from you too,
The Admiral is deceased - let him rest in peace. But I do like your idea
about mining the exit. We may have time to accomplish that task
ourselves, even if the other ships don’t participate,” comments the Captain.
The remainder of the voyage is spent in repairs, planning, and
preparation. Captain Meyers wants to be certain that the mines, from the
Compton, get positioned before some other Captain can order her not to plant
She expects that some other Captain will pull rank and take control of
the remains of the Darinx Fleet. It would be highly unusual for 13
Captains, each with more
time in grade
, to defer to her leadership –
it’s just not likely to happen.
In order to buy some time before being removed from de facto command, the
Compton will exit the Vortex broadcasting a message to all ships suggesting
that they plant mines, and then position themselves in back of the Vortex exit,
where they can discuss future plans for the Fleet. Until someone in
authority tells Captain Meyers that she can’t give orders, she is free to use
her own initiative.