Part II - STARGAZER sets a course for home as the battle for Earth begins -
Captain Foxwell and Beta exited the turbolift after reaching the bridge, the senior conn officer vacating the Captain's chair and confirming successful liftoff into orbit around Vorcia as Foxwell prepared to issue new mission orders. Beta took her station at the science console and began an immediate search for all data regarding the Vorcians, particularly that of their military vessels and weapons capabilities.
"Navigator, set a course for return to Earth."
"Acknowledged Captain, heading will be 265 mark 20, entered and ready to execute.
"Helmsman, prepare to take us out of orbit; enable fusion drive."
"Understood Captain, impulse engines disengaged; fusion drive enabled, awaiting order to engage.
"Engage fusion drive, ahead light factor 9," the Captain ordered.
"Aye Captain, light factor 9," the helmsman responded, an almost imperceptible nudge felt as the Stargazer confirmed immediate acceleration to greater than light speed, the main viewing screen and observation panes capturing entire star systems streaking by in the blink of an eye.
"Navigator, what is our estimated time of arrival to earth"?
"Three days, 8 hours, Captain."
"Helmsman, increase light factor to 9.5."
"Aye sir, light factor 9.5."
"Captain, the Chief Engineer is hailing you," Communication's Officer Xuriya announced.
"Chief ! How's the temperature down there?" Foxwell asked.
"That's not a rhetorical question, Captain. Can I trouble you to pay a visit?" Chief Engineer Peter O'Donovan implored, a hint of frustration obvious by his heightened Irish accent.
"On my way. Beta, you have the conn," Foxwell directed, exiting the Captain's chair and walking into the turbolift before issuing voice command, "Engineering."
"Navigator, re-calculate time of arrival to Earth," Beta ordered as she assumed command of the bridge.
"One day, 6 hours, Commander," the Navigator replied, Beta relaying the new arrival time to the Captain.
"Maintain current course, steady as she goes," Beta continued as she returned to her science station, continuing her data base scan regarding the Vorcians.
"Aye Commander," the Helmsman and Navigator replying in unison.
"What's up Chief?" Foxwell asked as he reached engineering, Lieutenant Commander O'Donnell hovering over a control panel with the assistant Engineer, an expression of concern embedded on his face.
"Captain, just thought you might be interested to know the plasma diffuser temperatures are rising; anything over light factor 9.5 and we risk a possible catastrophic heat transfer to conduits that feed directly into the rilidium reactor circuitry.
Foxwell needed no further explanation; he knew the risks involved in reference to pushing the Fusion drives to their limits.
"Thanks, Chief. I understand what you're telling me, but understand this as well; we're dealing with maleovolent beings we know little about. As I explained to the crew via shipboard announcement after returning from the reconnaissance mission, earth is currently under attack by the Vorcians; the news so far is not good. The additional half light factor will get us there in a little over 24 hours. Beta is researching and creating a profile regarding this obviously advanced and intelligent species and will brief senior Officers shortly. I expect you there."
"Aye, Captain, understood," the Chief engineer acknowledged, his Irish accent imbedded in a crisp reply, a cheeky grin now replacing the previous expression of doubt as he added, "she's giving all she can give, but I'm sure if I treat her nice I can manage to coax light factor 10 out of her ....., if you need it."
"You always do, Pod," Foxwell smiled, rendering a reassuring pat on the Chief Engineer's shoulder.
"Captain to the bridge," the Communication's Officer hailed the Captain.
"On my way."
"Status?" Foxwell asked as he exited the turbolift.
Xuriya swiveled her chair in the direction of the Captain as he walked onto the bridge. "Sir, you have a priority one secure message from Galactic Fleet Command."
"Transfer it to my ready room," he replied, glancing at his First Officer. "Beta, please join me," the automatic doors closing behind her. Foxwell and Beta walked to his desk; he reached down and pressed the play button on the viewer screen.
"This is Admiral Perry, Galactic Fleet Command; tactical situation deteriorating globally; attacks are ongoing and relentless; conventional weaponry including our newest directed energy weapons have been ineffective; alien vessels are deploying energy shield of unknown creation/composition that are impenetrable. SS Constellation will execute a high tonnage, high yield Neutron Bomb attack at 1400 hours today on a fleet of alien combat vessels spotted just outside the Middle Rocky Mountains of Wyoming, Utah, and Southeastern Idaho. It is theorized high yield neutron radiation will penetrate alien vessel energy shields and destroy said vessels and enemy combatants. Civilian populations have been evacuated; all Galactic Feet Combat Vessels en route to earth are to rendezvous on the far side of Jupiter after reaching the Orion Arm of the Milky Way Galaxy. Captain Foxwell of the SS Stargazer will assume overall command and await further orders subsequent to the bomb drop." End of message.
Captain Foxwell glanced at Beta. "Are you prepared to conduct your briefing regarding the Vorcians?"
"Affirmative, Captain," she replied, but my research has been curtailed due to limited information in the database.
"Nevertheless, schedule a meeting of Department heads from Engineering, Weapons, and Medical to be held in the briefing room in half an hour.
"Acknowledged," Beta replied, both exiting the ready room onto the bridge.
"Navigator, time of arrival to planet Jupiter at light factor 10?" Foxwell inquired.
"Six hours, 15 minutes, sir," the Navigator replied, exchanging an anxious look with the Helmsman.
"Ahead light factor 10," the Captain ordered.
Aye, Captain, light factor 10."
Thirty minutes later the requested Department heads were present in the conference room.
"I've called this meeting to bring everyone up to date regarding the situation on earth," Captain Foxwell began. Beta will first provide a briefing in reference to this newly encountered species, the Vorcians, their characteristics, ships, and weapons systems. Commander Beta, you have the floor."
Beta rose from her seat at the conference table as she began her briefing:
"My research has revealed the Vorcians are a humanoid species characterized by prideful ruthlessness and brutality. They apparently have a genetic pre-disposition for hostility and an absolute distrust of anyone non-vorcian. Their warrior ethic is generational; it's their nature to conquer and expand, to include the destruction of civilizations and worlds if it facilitates their goal of expanding a growing empire. They will fight to the death before dishonoring themselves, and they take no prisoners. Their combat vessels are equivalent to ours in terms of speed and maneuverability, with the added advantage of invisible deflector shielding for defense and offensive disrupter weaponry which can dematerialize any matter targeted that is not protected by appropriate counter shielding."
Captain Foxwell then stood and continued the briefing:
"As you all know Earth is under attack by the Vorcians. Their weaponry and shielding is overwhelming Earth's defensives; we have a limited period in which to search out weaknesses in the Vorcian's capabilities and to coordinate a counteroffensive strategy with other Galactic Combat Vessels we're scheduled to rendezvous with shortly. SS Constellation will soon attack a nest of Vorcian ships with a high yield Neutron Bomb in an attempt to penetrate their shields. Weapons Officer, make sure all energy weapons and laser canons are ready for combat. Medical Officer, make triage preparations in sick bay and inspect first aid stations for readiness throughout the ship. Engineer, continue to keep close tabs on the fusion drives; we're at light factor 10 now, but only until we arrive at our rendezvous point. Any offensive operations will be conducted at sub-light speed, reserving fusion light drive as a defensive strategy if needed. Any questions ?"
There were no questions as the Captain ended the meeting. "Report back to your Departments, complete your preparations and brief your subordinates regarding this meeting. Beta, you'll accompany me back to the ........,
The Captain was cut-off by the hailing sound of the ship's interior communications system.
"Captain, Xuriya here. Sir, ship's sensors have picked-up two unidentified vessels traveling at sub-light speed moving perpendicular to our heading.
"120,000 kilometers and closing."
"Go to 'CONDITION RED' - on my way to the bridge."