USC NOMAD – Tour of Tomorrow
The day had started well aboard the United Solar Cruiser Nomad. Its compliment of crew and marines were all boarding and stowing their belongings away in their quarters, then registering in the ship's personnel log; this class of cruiser had a Ship's Crew of 300 and Marine detachments of 400. Its duties were twofold, one being science and discovery, the other to patrol the outer reaches of the galaxy, as there were still solar systems that had not joined up with organisation known as The United Solar Federation of Planets and were still continually hostile in their intent on imposing wars with all and sundry.
Their tour of duty, lasting one year this time round, was to patrol a sector of the Galaxy known as Delmar Signa, more commonly known as the Indian Territory; this was because of a immensely huge circling asteroid field (approximately nine million miles in diameter) with one large asteroid – Little Big Horn (about half the size of Earth's moon) at its near outer edge. It was a perfect area for ambushes and a particular haunt of the Pellingg, a species of bipedal humanoids from Pellon 3 which inhabit a collection of 14 planets in a 3-star system.
The Nomad's weapon system consists of its main armament of six Rondar Beam Cannons, at which one broadside could destroy Little Big Horn with no problem, but the destruction of the asteroids was prohibited under a mandate of the U.S.F o P. These tours of duties to the Indian Territory were no holds barred missions.
A small number of the asteroids had Pellingg bases either on them or inside in the large underground caving systems, and as there are no written records of any time where the Pellinggs were ever a peaceful race, and in the last century all attempts to have any form of negotiations with them have been met with the proverbial hitting your head against a brick wall. Plenty of work then for the Marines, whose mission was to destroy the bases.
Note! You will see that no mention of a time period as such is ever mentioned, just suffice to say that this is somewhat way into the future.
While the Nomad was readying in dry dock on the far side of Earth's moon, oh sorry! forgot to mention, we are based on Earth, the Large Dimensional Shift Array was in the process of loading. To elaborate, this giant structure in the shape of a long tube is a transporter of kinds, except that it transports to another dimension. Picture, if you may, a ream of papers (500 sheets = 1 ream) each one with the identical image on it and the top sheet is the Earth we occupy; then the other 499 (not actual count of dimensions) are in different dimensions occupying the same place in time.
These shifts in dimensions are one-way-trips, because, which should be obvious, there isn't an array in the other dimension. This is the 'modern' way to resolve over-crowding with hand-picked settlers from all the species of humanoids within the U.S.F o P... The hand-picking is not elitist, but a sort of attempt to try to correct the mistakes of this universe, as in starting over again and not making the same mistakes, greed being one – you never know.
Anyway, moving on, this next dimension transport will be number six, or, as the powers that be put it, – Earth 6 jump – catchy, eh! Also going along with the settlers are a small number of protection vessels escorting a Solar Cruiser. This is standard as is with the other five jumps as there's no knowing what resides in the other dimensions and there is no further contact after a jump, no possible way to call for any rescue attempts.
We have, in this period of time, a unit/machine (of various sizes) named Atom Restructurer – A.R. for short; it can replicate most foods and most items, not including weapons, so an industrial size one can churn out sheets of metal etc for fabrication, and smaller machinery out of thin air, so to say. The list is extensive as it goes.
So, after all the final checks have been completed, which takes roughly two more days, the 'jump tube' will start up and as they say: 'a flash of light' and they're gone.
Now back to U.S.C. Nomad, to explain a little before going further into the story. The ship's Captain and the crew have, as you say 'a tendency to have a little side business going', so a bit of wheeling and dealing doesn't go amiss while on routine duty, and the Federation usually turn a blind eye as long as it's within boundaries, mainly because no one on the Nomad takes any notice anyway and have little respect for Federation authority in general; they stick to the rules and laws and don't break them, but they do twist them about somewhat.
Now another of the ship's armament is the P.I.G' (for short) see information log)) so later when you read 'fire the Pigs', you'll know what I'm referring to.
The Nomad has three main shield generators, with three in reserve should they become damaged in a conflict, each deck also having two minor shield generators and these are its defences. Its outer hull is a composite of various alloys; again on the need-to-know basis, as is the entire ship's make-up. There are two on-board computers of which one controls the general running of the ship and if need be attack and defence capabilities, the other is the science and information computer; although these are separate units, they do work in tandem and have a highly sophisticated artificial intelligence that can make command decisions if, for some unknown reason, the crew became unresponsive.
The Nomad also carries 4 x 50 personnel troop carriers and three smaller 10-man-size interplanetary shuttle craft, along with Nomad's own R.A.P. U.S.I Damon this ship has many roles due to its speed and manoeuvrability, including armament.
At this stage, talking of speeds through space will be limited, as over the centuries various scales etc have come, gone, been redesigned and basically redefined as someone comes up with a different phrase. So with Nomad, you'll hear things like 1st gear, top gear etc, to 'get your foot down', these are all old 20th-21st colloquiums, suffice it to say that top speed is like: here, blink, gone! And from the earth to its moon, it's about three minutes, as there are speed restrictions in built-up areas. But once past the inner planets, speeds can start to increase slightly, so that the three minutes now would put you on level with Pluto – originally classified as a Planet; at one point it was declassified to be considered the largest member of a distinct population called the Kuiper Belt, but after centuries, this argument still continues and is constantly changing back and forth.
Notification came from Command Central that clearance had been given and Nomad was now able to set out on its tour of duty, the journey taking approximately four weeks. This was at top speed, whereas most craft only travel at just over half that
( Light speed divided by 100). The top speed of Nomad is at about LD 70 pretty fast, not many worlds have craft with this speed capability; Damon can reach LD 60, more than enough to outrun 90% of all known spacecraft in a straight chase.
So all ahead slow, Nomad slowly left the space port dry dock, Captain Novak gave orders to the helmsman to plot in the course to Delmar Signa and to get his foot down once they cleared the inner planets. During the journeys undertaken, the crew could relax in many areas of the ship, there were many gymnasiums and the training areas were always occupied by the Marines. These detachments were crack troops of the highest calibre, as support backup was always none existent due to the depths of space, so each one, man and woman alike, was equivalent to a one-man army. There were rooms on all decks where any image/s of, well, Everything, were induced into your mind and were that real that you actually felt you were present there. These programs could be saved and millions of micro force fields that were generated throughout the room gave the feeling of solid objects to the touch.
Moving on, to save time and not bore with run-of-the-mill daily ship-wide routines, three weeks into the tour and Nomad was making a small detour to a outpost based on a Captive Asteroid near the Shangril Nebula, where Nomad was transporting a consignment of Lahtraiser Wax in exchange for 60 cases of Vengosian Tea. Other minor deals will also be going on with various ship's compliments, but the Vengosian Tea is bridge personnel business. Any ship's crew have to sort of apply via the bridge for any drop off – pick-ups and deals etc, otherwise no official business for the Federation would get done, of course.
Job done, and now the task of patrolling the Indian Territory, to help with this routine, the Nomad will send out sensor probes that will land on designated asteroids and monitor movement of any spacecraft in its vicinity. The main order is to search for and confiscate contraband, destroy bases, but as stated earlier, the Pellingg don't abide by Federation laws or treaties, so they always fight it out, as their individual status increases if they defeat any 'hostile' ship – this also includes their own craft. As they vie for contraband, and if the opportunity arises, they will steal from each other. At this time, the weaponry officer asked the captain if he could check the targeting scanners by firing the Pigs, as he'd completed a calibration of them while en-route. This is a normal ship's routine, so a selection of small asteroids became targets and a burst of fire from the Pigs established 100% accuracy as all were instantly annihilated.
For a while things were quiet on the bridge deck as the sensor probes methodically went about their operations and the Nomad, operating at low alert, when suddenly sensor probe three seven's alarm sounded on the bridge. At once, the science officer informed the Captain that secondary and full shields had now been engaged and running at 100%, the weapon's officer called out 'all weapons on full readiness, Captain' followed by 'medium and long range sensors on-line, Captain', and conducting full 'sweep' from the lead ensign at the ship's Scanner Console. Such was the efficiency of the bridge crew.
(Note: when on active duty, primary shields running at all times are standard.)
All decks in turn informed the bridge duty officer that they were battle ready. Now another alert sounded, and this was sensor probe one four. Captain Novak spoke over the ship's speaker system 'all decks full battle alert, condition red'.
Apart from being able to be operated from the bridge, each deck of Nomad had an array of shields and on the Captain's alert these were all instigated; these act as bulkheads, so if any part of the ship's hull was breached, only one small area would be depressurised and loss of life would be kept at a minimum. During these opening minutes another set of operations were being methodically carried out and that was the 20-man-crew of Damon who had made their way on board and were carrying out pre-launch checks. Four of the Marine detachments were also boarding their crafts, these craft are always fully loaded with hand weapons of various kinds and other essential equipment, plus full protection personal suits made for each individual Marine (ship's crew use internal transporters to load/unload suits when notified). All these operations are constantly practised and rehearsed for such an occasion as this.
A scanner ensign now informed the captain that the probes had detected two Pellingg Eppe class Destroyers, emerging fore and aft of Nomad from out of the asteroid field and closing in on their position. The Pellingg only had three types of ship – 30-'man' medium cargo, 120-'man' Pell class fighters and 320-'man' Eppe class Destroyers.
'Hmm!' said the weapons' officer, 'looks like we have a little fight on our hands', at which he could have spoken too soon as the alarm sounded yet again. Probe two nine this time round; the lead ensign – in a raised voice 'Captain, a third Eppe class coming round Little Big Horn'. The Captain's voice echoed around the bridge as 'you, get a bearing! Fire all Pigs at will and target the two leading ships with the Rondar Beam, but hold until my order'. All P.I.G.s can be fired in any sequence by the weapons' officer, but in full battle mode, two more officers join him at the console and control four each, this allows for greater targeting when firing at will. Nomad has gone a little further, though, and instead of the normal 12 P.I.G.s, four more are sited to cover the hangar deck, for covering fire when any vessel is launched, giving Nomad a nice sting in her tail that can catch many an enemy off guard. In fact, one tactic Capt'n Novak has used more than once, is to open the hangar deck purposely to draw in an enemy craft thinking it can conduct a boarding party. I don't think he'll use it here, though. Even with three Eppe class, Capt'n Novak would not retreat, as he knew that the Nomad could handle them, with some collateral damage of course, but nothing that a couple of weeks in dry dock wouldn't sort out, so he and the crew regarded this as a 60% - 40% scrap in their favour.
Thus started the battle. What looked like a fireworks display began lighting up the blackness with the flashes of gunfire from the P.P Howitzers and P.D. Cannons of the Pellingg, interspersed with the Pig's fire of Nomad; the Pellinggs ever drawing closer and now within optimum range of the Rondar Beam Cannon, Captain Novak instructed the weapons' officers to target two R.B. Cannon per Eppe and fire at their armament pods. Usually for any Pellingg ship, four or five shots from the Rondar Beam would knock out their shields so the 6th - 7th would disable their weapons. The Science officer spoke, saying 'main shields at 68% and secondary shields at 85%'. A notification from the weapons station stated that the two Pellingg ships' main shields were down, fore an aft of Nomad and the third was at 77%, when all of a sudden everything seemed to go into slow motion as the entire quadrant of the asteroid field they occupied lit up with near the intensity of what you'd expect with a sun going nova, followed by an enormous shockwave that tossed Nomad around like a toy boat in a set of rapids. Everyone onboard was instantly rendered comatose.
Now this event was detected a few weeks later, by various outposts that are on the edges of the solar system that Earth is in, and outposts amongst other nearby systems, all part of the total defence system of the Federation. Command ordered two patrol ships and a science craft to the area and last known position of Nomad to investigate. As the science vessel can only travel at a maximum speed of LD 42, the patrol craft, even though they can travel at LD 48, stayed as escort due to the unknown circumstances. So this will take approximately seven weeks to arrive at the co-ordinates of the explosion, as now that data that is coming in, having been analysed, is showing early signs of an explosion caused by a matter/particle antimatter reactor imploding. So far, Command have had no further contact with Nomad since it began its mission and no log buoy has been detected (this being a small probe ejected by a craft in distress and acts similar to a 'black box recorder', circa 20th century).
We now do a bit of time warping and jump forward the seven weeks!
As the three ships arrive at the outer edge of the co-ordinates, one of the patrol craft starts to do a routine search and scan of that area, with the other two heading further in, where the science vessel will survey the centre and the second patrol ship will begin its search on the far side. The two patrol craft will rotate the area in an opposite arc to complete the sector scan sweep, whereas the science vessel, which has more sophisticated equipment, will stay in the centre area. So far! the only debris to be picked up on the scanners is that of the Pellingg spacecraft (not that they know this yet), strewn over an immense area, and estimates give a reading that two were destroyed, with a possible third. The task of identifying the makes and origins will take a few hours, as the composition and chemical make-up of the debris is analysed in fine detail on board the science vessel, mainly due to the fact that no particle of the debris is any larger than a grain of sand, such was the force of the blast. And now, as the scanning information is being received from the patrol ships, it's now established that there were at least two craft of Pellingg type Eppe Class Destroyers, but no sign of any Federation ship debris. The science ship was now nearing the co-ordinates of Little Big Horn, with one rather large difference: It wasn't there! Or if it was, not in its original form. The analysis information so far is now being sent via subspace radio back to Command and the two patrol vessels are converging around what was Little Big Horn, more data will come to light as it were.
Time warp again – stops boredom of repeating about various scans etc.
A fuller picture is now coming into view, as analysis is about 90% complete, the following has been discovered: - In the vicinity of Little Big Horn, three Pellingg Eppe Class Destroyers were annihilated by unknown forces, culminating in at least two of them having their reactors imploding at the very same instant in time and a 95% probability that the third ship's reactor also imploded within milliseconds. No other debris belonging to any other type of craft was detected and after full particle analysis, any evidence of any kind is non-existent to suggest that U.S.C. Nomad was anywhere within a minimum of 30 million miles of Little Big Horn.
After receiving this latest update, Command sent out orders to all Federation colonies and vessels for information of the last whereabouts of – or anything about sighting Nomad – as a Top Priority.
Speculation was rife as to what had become of Nomad; no intercepted communications from the Federation part of the Galaxy gave any inclination of their whereabouts, until one! (where Nomad had stopped off for that brief visit) the err prefect of the outpost, actually it's the barman, informed Federation Command that Nomad had stopped over as one of his customers took ill and the ship's doctor was far more skilled than the medic there and medical equipment was by far more superior and that after treating him, they said that they were now continuing with their tour of duty, but gave no indication as to where. So the search continues and as the standard saying goes 'U.S.C. Nomad missing in action' is posted within the ranks.
Meanwhile– tracking back in time to the main events – various members of the crew of Nomad were regaining consciousness and composure, began starting to address the situation and what had happened. Every system was down on the bridge, from what could be gleaned at the moment main and primary shields were down, with secondary fluctuating. The ship's intercom was erratic, making ship-wide communication difficult, but damage control was filtering in. Injuries were sustained ship-wide, but no fatalities were reported and the medical section was coping, with medics deploying on all decks. The outer hull had taken severe damage on the port side, which had been facing Little Big Horn, the secondary hull had buckled at one point, but had not holed and a damage party was in attendance at that section. Because the sensors were not operating, it became obvious that verbal notification was essential, and crew who were not doing a specified task were sent to the observation points throughout the ship, mainly to see if the Pellinggs were still around, as Nomad was completely defenceless.
Like a well oiled motor, as more personnel recovered and those without injuries took up their duties, a report came from the engineering section that they had got manoeuvring engines running and could operate thrusters only at this moment, but until some of the sensors came back online they were blind and moving would be a dangerous exercise whatever the position around them. As repair crews working flat out on all decks continuing with damage limitations, the bridge was starting to come back online, be it at only 30%, at least they could have 'eyes'. Scanners showed no ships were detected at close range, and as the Nomad was crippled, Captain Novak passed instructions to the navigator, to take the ship deep into the asteroids where they could find one with a cavern large enough to accept Nomad, so they could discreetly hide away until as many repairs could be carried out as necessary to afford protection and speed to return to Earth Command.
At this stage in time, they were totally unaware that the cause of the explosion was the three Pellingg ships and the incalculable odds that all three of their reactors had been hit by the Rondar Beam fire and imploding in the same instant, and, worse to come! that the force of the implosion had opened a micro subspace rift and had thrown the Nomad into another dimension and not into Earth 1 to Earth 6, either. All subspace communications being still down they were deaf to the universe and a shock to break all records!
Still to come, awaits them...
United Solar Cruiser Nomad: Vixen class solar cruiser
Weapon System: Main Armament of SIX Rondar Beam Cannons
Secondary: 16 Phased Infusion Guns.
Captain: Jason Novak
2nd Officer: Commander Lamina
3rd Officer:Commander Vharr
Ships crew: 300 personnel
Marines: Eight detachments of 50 men and women = 400 personnel
R.A.P. U.S.I Damon: United Solar Interceptor – a 20-man crew Rapid Attack and Pursuit vessel, armed with two Rondar Beam Cannons and four Pigs, see below.
4 x 50 personnel troop carriers:each armed with three P.I.G.'s and three smaller 10-man-size interplanetary shuttle craft, unarmed
United Solar Federation of Planets: A union of mutual agreements, protection and trade.
Rondar Beam Cannon: Pulsed beams of laser light incorporating black light (a technology which is so secret, that few have knowledge of its existence – rumours of antimatter use are mere speculation) at which each pulse is at a different frequency, has no known shield defences. To all intense and purposes it's just one hell of a powerful laser.
Phased Infusion Gun: P.I.G. This secondary weapon is the Ship's more commonly used form of defence/attack and its structure is made from a type of plasma and forms of converted energy mass, which has a hefty kick to it and will disable most defence shields and weapon arrays in a short space of time. Cruisers are usually armed with 12
Decoy Loop Torpedo: Fired to look like a record of ship's log being sent out, which, once out of scanner range, loops back to attack the rear of an attacking vessel, giving the impression of another United Solar Vessel arriving.
Scanner Console: This was manned by two bridge officers at all times, one a lead Ensign in main charge.
Log Buoy: A small probe ejected by a craft in distress; acts similar to a 'black box recorder', circa 20th Century
Large Dimensional Shift Array: Basically, it looks like a massive long tube of scaffolding, except it's about one mile wide (diameter) and three miles long. Travel between dimensions had been discovered about 150 years ago, many attempts were made but not perfected until about 15 years ago. Now a fleet of Star Ships can enter the array and be transported to another dimension (same place same time – i.e. Earth 1 and Earth 2 etc), one-way-only, as the array took over 20 years to build.
Earth: For aliens' information – the planet we humans live on (including non-human species (and that includes some humans as well)).
Inertia Buffers: A network of units within the Ship's structure that cancel the effect of Inertia, that stop objects being thrown about when rapid acceleration/deceleration begins.
A Galaxy known as Delmar Signa, more commonly known as the Indian Territory, this was because of a immensely huge circling asteroid field (approximately nine million miles in diameter) with one large asteroid – Little Big Horn (about half the size of Earth's moon) at its near outer edge.
Captive asteroids: In sectors that had planets orbiting suns but could not sustain any possible life, large asteroids were towed in to orbit and became outposts along with more often than not how you would say, a form of transport café, where traders and repair shops plied their businesses. Where legitimate and black markets were prevalent.
Lahtraiser Wax: A delicacy added to very expensive food recipes of the Heenertson race (humanoid species).
Vengosian Tea: A Vengos fermentation, highly sought after and a highly alcoholic beverage with possible hallucinogenic side effects, many races have banned it, including Earth.
Pellinggs: A bipedal race of scavengers with no loyalties to anyone, including each other within their planetary system
Pellon 3: A 3-star solar system, consisting of 14 inhabited planets, each having various amounts of moons. Supporting many colonies throughout the system
Pell class fighter: 120 'man' crew, armed with eight Phased Disruption CannonS. Has the capacity to inflict substantial damage. On its own not a main threat to Nomad's shields
Eppe class Destroyer: 320 'man' crew, armed with four Dual-Phased Plasma Howitzers and 12 Phased Disruption CannonS. Sustained fire would seriously damage Nomad.
To give an idea as to the speeds of the various spacecraft within the Federation Zone, this scale will give a rough guide.
Light Speed divided by 100: LD= light division
Nomad's speed = LD 70
Damon's speed = LD 60
Pellingg Fighters' speed = LD 52
Pellingg Destroyers' speed = LD 47
Most Federation ships' speeds vary between LD 30 and 50