U.S.S. Corsair - NX-011979
Nebula II Prototype
“Sic Parvis Magna”
(Greatness From Small Beginnings)
“Breaching The Barrier”
Location: Nakadia System
Position: Disputed Area Along Romulan/Klingon Border
Captain Ramius looked on at a scrambled viewing screen filled with static and distortion from the nebulous clouds of energetic gas that plagued the rock filled realm his ship now inhabited. The Corsair rattled and shook as its shields absorbed hit after hit from rocky debris as they followed four Valkyrie fighters through the seemingly impenetrable wall of planetary debris.
Computer simulations had indicated a 71 percent chance of success penetrating the debris field. By using fighters in front of the Corsair to provide advance sensor readings they could allow the starship to alter its heading in time to avoid most major obstacles. Having personally taken the helm and responsibility for navigating his ship into a potentially lethal area, Ramius carefully monitored the fighter’s sensor data as he quickly made adjustments to his ship’s course, speed, and orientation to avoid the rocky mines spinning around him in all directions. Sitting at the helm of his ship was a far cry from the agile and highly maneuverable fighters of which he was so keenly in tune, however he was qualified to pilot the Corsair. Asking his crew to endure substantial risk meant he had to be at the controls as a matter of skill and principle. The responsibility was his and his alone.
Droplets of perspiration dotted his forehead and ran down his neck as he performed the difficult job of steering a three million ton starship through what a dangerous minefield of quickly moving rocks, ice, and dense metallic masses left over from the cataclysm that had shattered the system eons ago.
“Twenty degrees port”, his ops officer shouted. “Incoming debris 211 mark 34!”
A phaser beam lashed out on the viewing screen striking the quickly approaching asteroid shattering it into thousands of smaller fragments which peppered the embattled shields like a shotgun blast.
“Shields weakening sir”, Chief Engineer Sai Kusinagi said from his station at the rear of the bridge. “Shields now at 52 percent efficiency. I don’t know how much more we can take given the strain!”
“They’ll hold”, Ramius shouted from the helm station his hands dancing across its controls like an experienced pianist who was one with his music and instrument. “Divert power from non essential systems to reinforce them. Do whatever it takes, but keep our shields operational Sai!”
The Corsair shook violently as another rock moving too fast to avoid slammed into the forward shields sending wrenching vibrations throughout her hull. A second later Ramius’s proximity sensors suddenly flashed an emergency alarm indicating a massive object in the flight path of the Corsair. The object was a monstrous planetary fragment obscured by gas clouds that the fighter’s sensors had only just detected.
The four fighters, whose callsign for this mission had been inadvertently chosen by Doctor Durandel, was part humor and part truth. The doctor had mentioned the name Pinball, a reference to an old Earth arcade game where points were obtained by hitting a ball about a field of point scoring mechanical targets which caused the ball to bounce wildly across the playing field.
“Pinball One to Corsair – new contact Indigo 45, bearing 119 point 21 mark five! Large object with extremely high gravity signature. Recommend you reverse power at once! Repeat! Large object – reverse course!”
Ramius had come too far to turn back. “Negative Pinball leader, I see it, we’re not aborting. Over.”
“Gravity well extremely dangerous. We’re having trouble breaking free ourselves – strongly recommend course reversal!”
“Negative”, Ramius barked. “Continue on course until you are clear of the gravity well.”
Ramius was unable to avoid the colossal fragment ahead. The titanic chunk of planet, looming ever closer, was too massive to escape. The fighters, more nimble and agile, were slowly pulling away, however the Corsair was on a collision course being pulled closer by the object’s high gravity which was comparable to a medium sized moon. The fragment, twenty two thousand miles in length appeared on the fuzzy viewscreen like a giant scythe its deadly edge moving ever closer to the Corsair.
“Collision in 45 seconds”, the ops officer said from his station as the entire bridge seemed transfixed by the looming object on the flickering, distorted view screen.
“Captain, we must reverse course”, Commander Novada stated from behind. “It’s too large to avoid.”
Ramius was undeterred. He had come too far. He wasn’t about to turn tail and retreat having already put his ship and crew at incredible risk. The chances of clearing the field and reversing course were rapidly deteriorating given the punishment the shields had already absorbed. It was likely they would not survive an escape attempt or if they did would be badly wounded as a result. If they were going to be pummeled to an early demise at least they would go out moving forward instead of backwards in retreat.
“I’m increasing speed”, Ramius said his hands deftly instructing the helm to increase power to the impulse engines.
“Commander Novada, sound collision. Chief, dump all the power you can into the shields and internal dampening fields. If you have to take it from life support – do it.”
“Reinforcing shields. Reducing life support systems on all decks, cutting core systems to boost integrity fields.”
Novada took her seat and braced herself while calling out commands. “All decks brace for collision”, she stated firmly over the ship’s intercom putting her trust in the captain and his piloting prowess. The collision klaxon sounded throughout the ship as Ramius steered his starship toward the massive, jagged island of floating rock.
With his hands flying across the controls, Ramius quickly absorbed the sensor data and translated the readings into commands which he deftly punched into the helm. Making minute adjustments again and again, Ramius quickly closed the gap between the ship and the killer planetoid as the bridge crew looked on with anxious tension unsure about the captain’s actions that were bringing them all closer to a lethal object.
“Brace yourselves”, Ramius shouted adjusting the Corsair’s heading as the starship began to vibrate her engines struggling against the gravity now clawing at her hull. With a flurry of action, Ramius executed a dozen commands drastically altering the ship’s trajectory and angle. The rapid change violently shook the starship as gravity and centrifugal forces pummeled the hull with a vicious fury seeking to draw it to an untimely demise on the planetoid’s sharp, craggy surface.
“Ramius, you damn fool. Break off”, softly filtered across the comm. system as Commander Everic shouted within his fighter witnessing the hairbrained maneuver Ramius was attempting. His comments went unheard, downed out by vibration and noise, as the crew endured harsh g-forces as every surface of the ship rattled under tremendous stresses.
“STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY FIELDS APPROACHING FAILURE” Engineer Kusinagi shouted over the din that had engulfed the bridge. “HULL PRESSURE EXCEEDING DESIGN TOLERANCES!”
Commander Everic sat in a moment of time transfixed by the massive starship which Ramius was slinging around the giant planetary fragment using its gravity to draw in the Corsair and then push it clear. Everic watched through the glass of his fighter’s canopy as the starship quickly spun on its z-axis like a top its saucer continuously facing the giant dagger shaped rock. He watched in awe as Ramius used the Corsair’s momentum and the gravitational pull of the fragment to slingshot the starship around the colossal roadblock.
The maneuver was well documented among shuttle and fighter pilots. Cadets and pilots in small craft had been performing the maneuver for over a century in what had come to be known as a Titan’s Turn. One of Saturn’s many moons, Titan, was a particular favorite of pilots which would dive in toward the moon at high speed, cut hard, and bounce off the outer atmosphere while gravity pulled the craft around and flung it clear. The maneuver was both thrilling and dangerous requiring solid nerves and sharp skills. Everic had performed the maneuver several times himself as had Ramius, however he had never seen or heard or anyone attempting such a feat in a starship hundreds of times the mass of a one seat fighter. Perhaps Ramius was the only pilot with the skill and daring to attempt such a dangerous feat. In any event, he would soon witness the outcome of Ramius’s gamble as he had a front row seat to the maneuvers that would in seconds save or seal the Corsair’s fate.
The vibrations continued to build in ferocity and power as the Corsair was thrown clear of the large fragment escaping the giant rock at the price of being ravaged by intense centrifugal forces. Ramius struggled to regain attitude control, as did the computer, against the immense forces acting against every surface of the ship. The lights on the bridge suddenly failed in the violent onslaught as red emergency lights activated bathing everyone in a sea of eerie crimson. The red alert klaxon automatically sounded reinforcing the sense of danger than coursed within the hearts and minds of all aboard the Corsair.
The prototype vessel seemed to be on the cusp of breaking up. Computer panels overloaded, sparked, or exploded throughout the ship’s interior. EPS taps failed sending jets of superheated plasma burning through bulkheads and blasting open maintenance panels. The computer’s warning grew ever more dire until finally, at last, the chaos slowly subsided. The vibrations quieted and ceased. The entire ship was filled with an odd quiet as crewmen realized they were still alive and the ship itself was still in one piece. Ramius let out a silent breath he himself had been unconsciously holding. Once again his luck had held as he again dared to tempt the fate.
Amid the reddish glow of the bridge’s emergency lighting the crew quietly looked on at the viewscreen as a clear voice rang out over the open communications channel.
“Pinball One to Corsair. We have cleared the asteroid field. Now emerging into open space!”
A collective cheer erupted from the bridge crew as the viewscreen static dissipated. Ramius altered the camera view as everyone watched the rocky wall fall slowly behind the Corsair. Congratulations and jubilation shot across the bridge like lightning. Ramius allowed himself a momentary smile as he evaluated his piloting handiwork. He never wanted to attempt that again. The experience had forced him to harness the edges of his unique abilities leaving him feeling tired and drained.
He pushed the helm console forward and stood finding his legs weak from his intense and focused exertions at the helm. Stepping away he wiped the sweat from his forehead and quickly took command quieting his crew from their cheerful exuberance. While they had cleared the field there was much yet to be done before they could truly celebrate.
Moving over to his chair he took a seat and activated the ships comm.. “This is the captain. We have just cleared the asteroid field. Your dedication, courage, and determination has prevailed where others would have retreated. However despite our success we must continue to be vigilant. Our mission will no doubt present additional challenges. All departments report damage and casualty counts to the bridge at once. Security, coordinate repairs with damage control parties and assist medical personnel as needed. Great job everyone. I expected nothing less from this crew and will continue to rely upon your skill and courage during this mission. Ramius out.”
Taverain took a moment to collect himself as he rubbed the bridge of his nose. He felt Commander Novada’s reassuring hand lightly touch his shoulder. “Sir are you alright?”
“Yes commander. Thank you for your concern.” He looked up and offered his XO a brief smile showing a rare flash of emotion and humanity before settling back into his stoic role as the ship’s commanding officer.
“Damage report, all decks. Ops, let’s get a full sensor sweep of the area and report all contacts. We may be clear of the field, but we’re hardly out of the woods. Sai, what’s our status?”
“Shields down to 41 percent. SDF and IDF fields are stabilizing. There is some minor structural damage to the outer hull and a few stress points, but they appears minor. Reports coming in on power outages, damaged systems, a few blown power relays. Minor considering the rocky hell we just flew through. It looks like we made it sir.”
The open channel to the fighter pilots suddenly erupted with Everic’s strong, but concerned voice.
“Pinball leader to Corsair. Picking up target bearing 119 mark seven sir. It’s a space station, but judging by its power signature, it’s far from abandoned. I’d say it’s a good bet that someone know we are here!”
Ramius’s own jubilation at successfully navigating the field quickly faded as his single-minded determination kicked into high gear at the sudden news. He had both a mission and a personal vendetta to accomplish. Clearing the dangerous field was merely the first act of what was sure to be a long play. The true danger still lay ahead and with NeoDyne supposedly lurking in the shadows the danger was only amplified many times over.
“ALL HANDS, BATTLESTATIONS”, Ramius quickly yelled taking his seat. “RED ALERT!”
[ To Be Continued… ]
Captain Taverain Ramius
Commanding Officer, USS Corsair
Commander Alanis Novada
Commander Sai Kusinagi
Commander Lawrence "Mustang" Everic
Squadron Commander - Fighter Pilot
Doctor Keith Durandal
Chief Medical Officer