In the AAF issued frigate Valkyrie the energy-core engine (responsible for slip-space jumps as well as flying) was located in the center of the ship and attended by several engineers to maintain stability. Mostly the tech was trusted, but it was never a good idea to leave the engine cores unintended in case they should overheat. From there it was a sixty-foot trek and a flight of steps up into the command deck, and through their only ten feet into the helm. The helm was where the pilots sat in army-issued “padded” seats, pressing buttons as they neared their location. In the inky black expanse of the universe, one direction tended to look like any other. Ahead there appeared nothing in their flight line other than more space dotted with brilliant lights.
“What are those coordinates again?”
“Check the map.”
“I did. Twice. We’re nearly on top of it.”
“Didn’t they say when we got close enough we’d see it?”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
“I’m not seeing it…”
As if summoned there was a distortion immediately to the upper right of their field of sight, the blackness of space shifting until suddenly a Cydrans space station appeared from seemingly nowhere. They were practically flying into the damn thing! Intel couldn’t have told them to be cautious? In union the turrets turned on the Valkyrie.
“They’re readying the guns. Shields engage!”
“Shields are engaged, sir.”
No one could have anticipated what followed. As the guns fired, a vivid beam of blue light emerged from the cannon and struck the Valkyrie’s shield like a sledgehammer. The shield lite up, visibly under extreme stress from just one shot.
“Shields at 65%”
“From one shot?!”
“Sir, the shields can’t-“
Two more beams followed in rapid secession, the shield vainly trying to maintain stability under the assault. It spluttered fitfully for a few more seconds before simply disengaging.
“Shit shit shit shit shit!” What kind of weapon cuts through shields like butter? When did they develop this tech? Did AAF Command know? “We need to get the hell out of here – those guns will tear us apart.”
AAF frigates were fast ships, and the Valkyrie was one of the fastest in the fleet. But even she couldn’t pull out of the station’s firing range quickly enough. It was a valiant effort, but as they made to turn the Valkyrie took a glancing blow to the helm. Half the circuits fried instantly, an explosion killing one of the pilots and a few unlucky staff caught in it. The remaining pilot was able to maneuver the ship, but the station took another shot that cut through the thick adamantite plating and puncturing the engine core’s adamantite sphere. As before, two more beams followed, fully firing on the engine core.
Had any of the engineers survived the initial blast to the admantite sphere they would have been amazed by the reaction of the engine core. Rather than overheating and blowing up, the engine core seemed to absorb the energy, becoming unstable. The Valkyrie received an unexpected surge of power even while the engine core readings spiked at dangerously high levels. The technicians monitoring the readings – seasoned vets that weren’t disturbed by some fire exchange – had never seen readings that high. By all accounts the ship should have been blown sky high by now. That much power to the core was too much of an unknown variant, and even as they watched the readings kept climbing to dangerously high levels.
One of the techs had the presence of mind to call an immediate evacuation of the ship. Whatever was happening to the core wasn’t going to last, and would have catastrophic results when it became too much for the core. With the ship being bombarded mercilessly by the station and it’s highly powerful guns, the core wouldn’t last much longer under the strain.
One by one the personal on the Valkyrie made their way to the escape pods with discipline only seen in the military. One by one the pods were shot out into open space and towards the planet Arandia…