Thirty days after your encounter with the Matriarch, you awaken in your cabin to the claxon of the ship’s general quarters alarm. After fourteen similar drills, it only takes you about three millidays to don your armor. As soon as your helmet seals, your door opens with a belting roar, the uniform red light casting an eerie effect on the wardroom. Immediately, you’re up and out the main hatch, making your way into the central passageway, where many other crew members are making their way to their battle stations.
On your way to the forward cut of the ship, you hear the groan of the main counterbalance rotating around to join the central compartment as the ship’s spin comes to a grinding halt. There is a brief moment of drift to one side when the central compartment locks into position, and after, you feel yourself lift off of the deck. Enabling your magnetic locks, you bring yourself back to the ground and continue your way forward.
When you reach the forward breaking head, you disengage your magnetic locks and pull yourself through the manifold into a small airlock. As the abaft airlock closes, the forward airlock opens, revealing the workings of the Combat Readiness and Response Control Room, known to most as the Sword Room. The Captain looks to you briefly and nods. You nod back, making your way to your station as the Upper Northport Gunner. You take a seat and link into the interface panel, and immediately, your visor lights up with an entirely new display.
You are now looking, instead of at a small panel of figures on a dash, at a live feed of the outside of the ship, complete with extravisible sensor information displayed around the borders of the feed. Monitoring the parameters and finding nothing out of the ordinary, you issue an “all clear” from your station. The message is received by the Captain, who acknowledges and asks you to look out for any possible enemy activity. Of course, this is just a drill; but the Captain takes every operation, drill or otherwise, just as seriously as the life of any and all of his crew. You continue scanning the void for any possible signs out of the ordinary while reports shipwide come in, giving the all clear.
After the last station calls in, you begin to feel on edge. Not a single casualty has been reported, which is quite contrary to the very nature of a drill. Additionally, every senior member of ship staff has the same grim look on his or her face, and each one is enhanced with each glance at the central command console. Concerned, you open up access to all external sensors, compounding the data on your visor and reviewing it more thoroughly. There doesn’t appear to be anything out there, but–
There it is! Closing all but two of your views, you compare them once more. Sure enough, there’s an exaggerated parallax discrepancy between the two views of Osgord, still not much more than a pinprick at this distance. Nevertheless, it’s enough. “Anomaly spotted at Up-23, North-15, Port-71!” The report comes out from your external speaker in that eerily androgynous voice, but everyone knows whose voice is really calling out, and no one questions the validity of the claim, instead bringing their screens up to show the location surrounding those coordinates.
Immediately, calls begin issuing out from other stations, reporting similar findings of different natures. Each time a report is issued, the Captain nods and makes a small mark on the central command console. When the heat sensors report in, the Captain makes one final mark before standing tall and grabbing hold of the intracommunicator.
“This is the Captain speaking. There has been a confirmed sighting of a stealth-equipped enemy ship. Heat signatures indicate that it’s a repurposed Fregjyt-Class Storm Ship. It appears to be headed toward the planet Osgord. Reports were first received of a missing cargo vessel three days ago. GQ status was issued as soon as the Osgord entered the flight path of the missing ship and confirmed that there were no signs of the vessel. It is highly suspected that the enemy ship is on a bombing run, and I have every intention to engage.”
A few moments of silence ring out at these words. The Osgord hasn’t seen action in over a cycle, despite a very vivid memory of your own to the contrary manufactured by the Matriarch, and its crew isn’t looking to end that streak any time soon. As if on cue, the Captain continues. “I realize most of you don’t look forward to combat, but trust me when I say this is our duty.” He takes a look around the Sword Room and glares at his console once more before finishing: “Let’s go show those idiots why the Ginnung don’t go to the Core!”
Despite yourself, you join in for a moment as the whole crew shouts as one, men and women alike pounding a fist to their chest before returning to their properly stationed mannerisms. The Captain begins barking orders, and the senior officers surrounding him turn to their respective divisions. The chief gunnery officer turns to your division and orders that all guns be freed. You reach to your interface and begin to engage weapons when Shilo says, ‘Wait. Feel inside that ship.’
You reach out toward the ship with your mind, your glow burning more brightly. Upon looking inside, you realize the trap and shout, “Wait!” Your helmet disengages, and you practically trip over your seat scrambling toward the Captain, who gives you one quick glance over before picking up the intracommunicator once more and calmly issuing the order, “All hold.”
“What is it, Keria’Ledrii? You sensed something, I can tell.” His eyes try to scan your own, but he quickly has to wipe them. Staring directly into a Valkyrie’s eyes with the naked eye can be dangerous, and he rarely wears the recommended Captain’s Visor. Seeing that he won’t be able to look you in the eye with your helmet off, he sets his hand on your head and leaves his eyes closed.
For a moment, you are hesitant to tell him what you’ve felt, but then you feel aboard the other ship again, and your determination becomes hardened. “There are twenty-four bardag bombs aboard that ship, and it’s extremely derelict. I’m surprised it’s even capable of maintaining its stealth parameters. There isn’t anyone aboard that ship. My guess is that it’s on a suicide run to Osgord, and it flew straight through the missing ship by a freak chance. I don’t think anyone has been aboard that ship since the Ginnung Gap was first formed. As I suppose, it was on a bombing run and was riddled with holes in its hull. When the crew evacuated or while it was dying, they set the ship on a collision course with Osgord. The problem was that its engines were damaged severely, which is why its heat signature looks like a Fregjyt-class. As I see it, it’s clearly an original Vedr-class Storm Ship.”
The Captain nods, his eyes closed in contemplation. After a few seconds, he asks the question you knew he must. “Can you disable the bombs?”
You grab his hand from atop your head and hold it in both of your own, smaller hands. “I can’t guarantee that I’ll succeed, but I’ll try, Captain. I recommend that I board the ship using the Valkyr while you take the Osgord to a safe distance. When I finish, I’ll signal my return, and you can send me the Osgord’s coordinates.”
The Captain nods again, and you re-engage your helmet. After nodding at everyone in the Sword Room, you go to the center airlock and open it. Immediately, the massive pressure differential in the express tube pulls you into itself, closing the airlock behind you as you float swiftly toward the aftermost part of the ship, the hangar, where your Valkyr awaits.