First Responders

The IBV Star Carr idled as a flurry of activity occurred around the slender, sleek vessel. Combat Servitors buzzed around it in battle formations, their pilots responding to the training scenarios being broadcast to their systems. On the bridge of the Galactic Armed Forces ship stood General Watton, his hair and beard just a few shades lighter than the dark grey of his General’s overcoat.

“Team 2 are a bunched a little too closely together, Captain. Shake them up with some concentrated fire.” He asked after observing the combat data coming in.

Captain Myint grinned. “I was just thinking the same thing, General.” Pulling up her command window, she changed the firing pattern and watched as Team 2 scattered, one of the Servitors spinning out as a virtual blast of energy slammed into one of its legs.

“Captain, I am receiving a Priority One distress signal from the ICV Wight. It has come under attack and is requesting assistance. We are the closest vessel to it, approximately fifteen minutes at full warp encapsulation.” The autocrew Ensign on comms duty reported.

Myint glanced up at the General, and on receiving a nod, she drew herself up out of her chair. “All teams, training is suspended. Return to the Star Carr at once. Do not leave your Servitors. This is Priority One.”

Immediately, the units began to flock back to their assigned bays.

“Once they’re on board, take us to full warp, maximum speed. Ready weapon systems and shield emitters. Let the Wight know we are coming.” Reaching behind her, the Captain lifted her dark ponytail up and tucked it down the back of her jacket. “All hands on deck!”

A point in front of the Star Carr began to ripple with iridescent light as the warp encapsulators fired up. Drawing the distortion around it, the vessel disappeared in a shimmer of rainbow light to be greeted by the inverted colour span of warp space. The massive arrangement of seven forwards propulsion drives on the back of the ship powered up to push it through the vast expanse of space.

“Ensign, what information do we have on the ICV Wight?” General Watton asked.

“A warp-enabled Ryde-class carrier ship, it is currently carrying colonists and equipment out to Secharl III. It is under the command of Commander Horace Lee.”

“Secharl III? One of the newer colonization efforts.” Captain Myint commented. “No warp stations are out that way yet, that’s why they’re ferrying things in by carrier ships.”

“A prime target for all manner of jackals. Terraforming equipment alone is lucrative on the black markets.” Watton replied. “Ensign, have they acknowledged us?”

“Not as of yet, General. I will send another-” The Ensign, a youthful-faced android with a mop of brown hair stopped. “Their subwarp beacon has gone offline.”

“Engine room, give us everything you can and then some!” The Captain ordered. “All Servitor units, switch to live fire mode, you have… ten minutes to prepare for battle.” Her knuckles turned white as she gripped the armrests on her chair. “Prepare a probe for launch, I want to know what we’re jumping into before we jump into it.”

 

A bloom of colour appeared in space, quickly parting as the IBV Star Carr slid out of warp. The combat Servitors that had stayed within the shielding of the battleship peeled off to surround the ICV Wight. It made for a grim sight. The wreckage of microfighters and fighters drifted off the portside of the carrier. A mining ship with five fighters docked to it was stuck to the side of the Wight, the hull punctured by the parasite. Power readings from the ship were minimal, and it was down to emergency power.

“Good God…” Watton breathed. “Ready a transport- ah, I forget I’m not in command sometimes. My apologies, Captain.”

“You have nothing to apologize for, General. Servitors, assume a protective perimeter around us. I’d say the hostiles must have some help somewhere nearby. Keep weapons systems charged and ready. Form three boarding parties and prepare to board on the starboard side.” Pinching the bridge of her nose, Myint surveyed the readings she was being fed from the sensor banks. “Cut through the hull if you have to.”

“A recommendation, Captain. If we patch a relay through one of the boarding ships, we may be able to get in contact with someone via peer-to-peer, decentralized communications.”

“Excellent idea. Boarding Party One and Two, I am sending you a schematic of a Ryde-class carrier ship. Draw up a plan and sweep the ship, leave no stone unturned. Boarding Party Three, establish a comms relay for decentralized communications and attempt to make contact with the crew, then wait for orders. Launch when you are all ready.”

 

The bridge was quiet as the boarding teams worked. Captain Myint sat in her chair, gnawing on her knuckle, while the General tried to wear a hole in the deck with his pacing back and forth. Section by section of the Wight’s schematic changed from orange to green as the deployments of heavily armed and armoured soldiers swept through.

“Ensign Jasper Star Carr of Boarding Party Three reporting. We have established a comms relay. Patching through now.” One of the autocrew’s voice came through the commslink.

The Captain sat up. “Crew of the ICV Wight, this is Captain Sandra Myint of the IBV Star Carr, a Galactic Armed Forces battleship. We have responded to your request for assistance, please respond.”

Silence.

“ICV Wight, this is the Star Carr, is anyone there?”

“… IBV Star Carr, this is Commander Lee of the Wight. We’re… we’re in a bad way here. We need medical assistance. Most of the autocrew are offline as far as I know. The colonists should be safe, we locked down the hold before the systems were disabled.” The Commander gasped. “One of the bridge power relays blew when I was trying to restore control to the ship. I need medical assistance. I have been unable to raise the engine room, and…. I’ve been unable to raise two of the crew who went to PC6 to combat the intruders. Lieutenant Joan Adnams, and one of the ship’s autocrew, Ensign Sapphire Wight.”

“Commander Lee, hold on. I am sending medical assistance to you from Boarding Party One.” The Captain replied, a mere thought enough to direct two of the autocrew away from sweeping the ship to head to the bridge, their medical protocols loading up ready. “Boarding Party Three, head for the engine room and render what assistance you can. Sweep these rooms on your way.”

“Copy that, Star Carr. Lee out.” The Commander finished his communications with a weary sigh.

“Lieutenant Joan Adnams, Ensign Sapphire Wight, this is General Thomas Watton.” The General spoke. “If you can hear this, please respond.”

Yet more silence filled the channel.

“Any autocrew on the Wight, you have authorization to respond.” The Captain added.

Suddenly, anguished sobs filled the comms frequency. “She is dead. I could not… I tried but I could not… why couldn’t I- why did she save me?  Why?” The crying returned full force before suddenly cutting off.

The General and the Captain both looked at the crew ID associated with the broadcast, then to each other.

“General?” Myint’s face had taken an ashen cast.

“I know.” Watton nodded, his jaw set. “Prepare my shuttle. The Ada Regulations are now in order.”

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