Oct. 7 Contest Round - Protagonist Background Story
Protagonist Background Story "Alan Watson"
Near Mars Colony Orbit
The Impasse entered its fourth hour. Acting Captain Alan Watson ran a slightly trembling hand through his thick cropped dark hair. He glanced at the Chronometer and sighed heavily. The USS Exeter, a heavy patrol cruiser assigned to the Earths Federated Patrol Fleet, was in near orbit with Mars. The ship was stationary, in relation to two other vessels. The first was the near crippled Arkham's Delight, a private cruise vessel run out of earth Star Base to the Venus Circum-Terra trade route. The second vessel was the renowned Rapier, a Rebel vessel that had been terrorizing trade routes since its Captain had turned rogue when the Mars Independence Vote had failed.
"Status on the Arkham Doug." Said Alan, as he glanced at the tactical display showing all three vessels positions.
"Still deteriorating sir, The reactors are all offline and they are on minimum auxiliary power and life support." Replied Doug smoothly. Doug was the head of Sciences and was worried about Alan Watson's ability to handle the pressure of their current situation. He didn't know Alan personally but knew that the young Lieutenant was on his first patrol and had never been in solo command of a Patrol class vessel. Then to be suddenly thrust into a situation putting him in command with the absence of the Captain was definitely not the ideal way to learn on the job.
"How many left aboard?"
"Sir, not counting Captain Donaldson, the 1st Officer and six Marines, Thirty two. We have safely recovered the seventy nine Civilians that were in Life Pods before we arrived. The Rapier has it's Captain and at least eight crew on-board." Doug glanced to weapons and raised an eyebrow. Chen, the weapons officer, smiled. Perhaps they were getting ready to do something besides sitting here and waiting.
Alan sat back in the command chair and took a deep breath to settle himself down. He reviewed the situation in his mind, going over everything very carefully to ensure that he hadn't left out or overlooked any options. Everything had gone by the book when they received the Arkham's Delight distress single. They were under attack and needed immediate assistance. As they raced to intercept they received additional messages of a hull breach and that they were evacuating the Arkham. The captain exited near space dangerously close to Mars but intercepted the stricken vehicle and immediately detected the many beacons of ejected life pods from the Arkham. They were almost immediately engaged by the Rapier, a heavy corvette that was highly maneuverable and heavily armed. After exchanging several salvos and each ship taking moderate damage to structure and systems, Captain Donaldson had negotiated with the captain of the Rapier to meet on the Arkham to negotiate the peaceful rescue and an end to this confrontation.
The door to the bridge opened and a tall slender man stormed on to the bridge. "Who's in charge here?" spittle flew from his lips as he looked around the bridge.
"Who are you and what are you doing on this bridge?" barked Alan. Doug noticed he hadn't said 'my bridge'. The intruder turned toward Alan and took a step toward him, almost as if he might physically attack him.
"I'm Alfred Hadden! Chief of Colony Operations Mars. I demand to know what your dong about this outrage!"
Alan took a moment to respond, creating a very quiet, awkward moment punctuated by Alfred's heavy breathing. "We are doing everything that we can, the Captains negotiating with-"
"You can't negotiate with Rebels!" Alfred nearly screamed. "They need to be destroyed and we need to rescue everyone as soon as possible!"
The bridge door opened and two armed marines stepped onto the bridge, summoned by a discrete call from Doug. Doug snapped his fingers and pointed at the Scientist and motioned to the door. The guards immediately closed in on Alfred, but Alan stopped them with a gesture and said calmly to Alfred, "We're doing all we can-"
"Weapons fire on the Arkham!" screamed Chen. Martin, the navigation's officer followed with "The Rapier is maneuvering!"
Alan motioned to the Guard, "Get him off the Bridge!" the guards grabbed Alfred by the shoulders and upper arm and practically dragged him through the door leaving the Bridge. Alan heard him screaming "My wife is on that ship!" before the door slid shut cutting him off.
"Sir, Rapier is maneuvering to fire!"
"Helm! Get us moving, get us between the Rapier and the Arkham! Weapons, full spread on all Drone racks, activate point defense and get our shields up."
"Aye sir." Came a chorus of replies as the crew bent about their assigned tasks.
"Doug,any word from the Arkham? Can we get through to the Captain?"
"No sir, we have no contact. All transmissions ceased right after we detected weapons fire." Replied Doug quietly, he lowered his voice so only Alan could hear him. "I think we lost the Captain."
Alan swallowed hard as he pondered the ramifications of that circumstance. He glanced at the main tactical screen and quickly assessed the situation. He turned in his chair toward the Navigation console.
"Martin, try to keep us between them, we need to draw their fire until we can get another shuttle spun up. Chen, soon as you can I want a full launch, get as many drones on him as you can, we need to keep him busy until we can close for Mass Driver range."
Alan's options were rapidly narrowing. He needed to give the survivors on the Arkham as much time as possible.
"Sir," said Chen. "Rapier is firing Drones, only ten so far. I think we took out some of their tubes on that last volley."
"What do we have?"
"Sir, all sixteen forward tubes and half of the rear."
"Fire all forward racks, rapid reload. Point defense on full automatic." said Alan calmly, as he settled into his training habits. He'd never been in a real combat before but he had done really well in the simulators.
"Captain!" yelled Doug. "EMP burst from Arkham, one of her reactors must have gone!"
When Alan heard Doug yell Captain, he almost spun around to see if the captain had miraculously reappeared on the bridge. But his attention snapped back when Chen yelled.
"Rapier's drones have lost lock and reacquired on Arkham!"
"Full Impulse! We need to intercept them!Launch all remaining Drones on Rapier."
"We're closing on the drones, but we're to far away, we're not going to make it." said Doug, "They're still tracking."
"Broadcast on all channels, tell Arkham incoming and raise shields!" Alan thought desperately if there was anything else they could do.
Chen adjusted several controls, he turned to Alan. "Sir, Rapier is jumping to Near Space, we registered four hits."
The Rapier shimmered then disappeared as it made the jump to Near Space.
Alan and the rest of the crew turned to the main view screen just as the drones struck the defenseless Arkham.
Multiple explosions tore the ship in two causing each end to slowly spin away from each other, vomiting wreckage and debris in all directions.
Doug bent down over his scanner hood, random color lights reflected off of his face. He shook his head slowly before standing erect and turning to Alan.
"No life signs sir, she's completely vented to vacuum."
Alan slumped back in the Captains chair, they were all dead. It was all his fault, he felt a ball of acid in his stomach as he tried to come to grips with the loss of so many, because of him.
"Transmit a report and all logs of everything that happened to Command. Get us to Mars-port, let them know our status and have the wounded ready for transport to medical facilities as soon as we dock." He stood and looked as Doug acknowledged the orders. "You have the Con, I'll be in engineering assessing the damage, you can reach me in my quarters after that."
Doug nodded and moved to the command chair as Alan left the bridge. When the door closed he sat in the Chair and sighed heavily. Reviewing all that had happened, he knew that Alan had done all that he could possibly do in that situation. But he also knew that Alan would probably not recover from the doubts, second guesses and nightmares he'd have once they were safely docked at Mars-portt, which would only be compounded by the investigation that would follow.
No, Doug didn't envy Alan at all.
[[edited 10/12/17 to correct spelling error.]]