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The Second Test

Posted on 31 Dec 2018 @ 8:43pm by Commander Terry Walsh & Commodore (Brevet) Harvey Geisler & Lieutenant Commander Gemma Alexander

1,780 words; about a 9 minute read

Mission: The Kalisa Conundrum
Location: Space
Timeline: MD 1 || 1200 hours

Previously, on The Kalisa Conundrum - The First Test...

"Rocco, this is Actual. You ready for a run?" Harvey called out over the open comm system.

Roger that, Actual, replied Terry. Ready to rock and roll. Any further instructions?

"Stay on this side of the minefield, under no circumstances are you to enter the field," the Captain ordered. "Have your wingman follow you, but stay out of range of the platform. Engage only if danger is evident. If that minefield comes toward you, abort and get the hell out of there."

Understood. We'll stay out of the field and watch the platforms. Maybe with the Gryphon's advanced tactical sensors, we can get a little more information from them.

And now, the continuation.

The launch from the Black Hawk had gone off without a hitch, as expected. Now came the not-so-fun part...trying to assess something that obviously didn't want to be assessed. Judging by the amount of mines and platforms, at least. Terry's jaw dropped momentarily as he took up position port to the ship's aft. "Rocco to Archer, you seeing this mess?"

Archer's eyes skimmed her HUD and she let out a low whistle, "Aye, looks like the floor of my little brother's room as a kid. Full of stuff that'd hurt if you stepped on it in bare feet..." She shrugged though he couldn't see, "Of course his legos never blew up in your face either so there's that. This lot must have a real problem with salesmen..."

Terry chuckled. "Yeah, some salesman. In the meantime, let's see what we can learn from these things. Stay behind, at a safe distance and monitor things. If it goes south, I could use someone from the outside."

"I got your back Bossman, I can high bird." She continued to study the HUD. "This got some serious aggro radius, they paid for big boom so try not to get everyone promoted ok Rocco?" She quipped planning on her positional adjustment as she viewed new data that contentiously came over the sensors.

"Yeah, a big boom for sure," said Terry. "But no field promotions of that sort on the plans for today." He made sure the shields were at full power and nudged the impulse engines. Terry was aiming for one of the weapons platforms. "Part of the tactical assessment is seeing how close we can get before anything starts activate. Archer, you keep an eye on those sensors and let me know the second anything does anything on that platform."

"Understood, Rocco. I have your purse." She said by which she meant she had the information he wanted up on her HUD and was keeping a tight watch as she held her position. What some people didn't know was a lot of high tech ordinance was annoying to replace if it went off for no reason, so they often had a phase one that detected something nearby which tripped the sensor. If the sensor found something worth blowing up for per its programming it would do so. Otherwise it would shut off, basically there was a very brief window wherein one could get out of range before it saw the threat. Or as Gemma called it, 'Getting passed a sleeping Dad after hours..."

"Roger that. Beginning run." Terry nudged the impulse engines to one quarter power and edged towards a platform. His mind raced with the different scenarios and reactions he would need to do. An idea even popped into his head to use the tractor beam and a small piece of debris to test the platforms' reaction to multiple inbound targets.

Almost instantly, the platform performed a quick sensor sweep of the unknown target. Based upon its speed and the platform's programming, it automatically classified the incoming craft as questionable, and established a firm sensor lock on the craft.

Terry's console beeped, alerting him to the fact that he'd been locked by sensors. The veteran fighter pilot had two options. One, he could quickly come about and increase speed to get out of the way while engaging in defensive maneuvers. Two, he could continue on course and see what happens. After all, he'd only been sensor locked and his weapons weren't active at this point. So maybe, hopefully, he would either be seen as non-threatening or just another piece of space debris going by. He then lowered this intensity of the Gryphon's tactical senors and set them to a passive scan of the surrounding space rather than the platform itself.

The platforms weren't fooled at all. The sensor lock became a targeting lock, followed by a polaron burst just off Terry's port side. It wasn't a miss, just a simple warning shot. The platform followed by opening a message to the small craft, transmitting in a variety of frequencies and languages. "Unknown craft, flee now or be destroyed."

"Good try Boss time to come home, least we know you get a warning and that these are top notch..." She said even as she checked her HUD to prep a firing solution, just in case. These guys didn't skimp on the bells and whistles that was for sure.

Terry closed his eyes at the light from the burst. "Yeah Archer, top notch indeed. That's some artificial intelligence. Assuming there's no one on those things." Terry plotted a return course and moved away from the platform. "Though, it did transmit a message. I wonder if it was automated. Why don't you try sending out a message in all known languages and I'll see if I can raise someone in our Standard."

"Can't hurt, might not shoot for trying to talk..." She kept her eye on her readouts as they updated her on the status of the platforms. Seeing no changes to worry over she sent a standard message that repeated through the languages in it's database. When the messages finished she waited a few moments, "Rocco no reply to auto message. Your turn."

Walsh tried to hail the platform in an attempt to see if there was actually anyone on it. "Attention weapons platform, this Lieutenant Commander Walsh. Is there anyone there to receive this message?"

Emptiness filled the open channel. The lack of reply could indicate only one of two things: first, that the station was indeed unmanned; or second, that no one actually cared to respond to the fighter. What hadn't changed was that the target lock still held on the fighter. A soft glow started to emanate from the platform, the soft sign that the polaron emitter was preparing to discharge.

"Boss it's still locked on, you gotta shake it. Ready to fire..." She informed him briskly and checked her firing solution on the platform as she prepped just in case.

"Uh oh," said Terry as he accelerated to full impulse. He performed some defensive moves as he headed beyond the location where they started, outside the detection range. Or at least what he hoped was outside the range. "So much for asteroids and communication."

The platform opened fire, spraying Walsh's flight path with pulse polaron fire.

Terry's sensors lit up with indicators of polaron fire. Thinking quickly, he set a course for the opposite side of his wingman's fighter and prepared to launch two ECM's. "Archer, standby on return fire. If my trick doesn't work, get out of here. That platform is firing polaron weapons."

"On it Bossman" Archer replied all business as she focused her attention.

In a matter of seconds, Terry launched the countermeasures and engaged warp one in order to 'jump' to the other side of Gemma's location where he dropped out of warp. Hopefully the debris, transponder signal, and other articles in the countermeasures plus his sudden 'disappearance' would be enough to fool the platform. Or at least give them a few more seconds to get away.

The polaron fire found their targets, at least the targets that Walsh wanted them to see. In several flashes, the countermeasures were vaporized by the polaron fire. Instantly, the platform ceased firing and conducted a short range scan to determine its success.

When the acquired target lock was lost, Terry spun his Gryphon around and came to a stop. His fingers, though were still on the controls so that he could beat a hasty retreat if necessary. He was also scanning the readout from the tactical sensors and noticed that the platform was also scanning. For now, they were safe.

"Alpha One to Actual, we've determined a minimum range of sensor lock for the platforms at one quarter impulse, Gryphon. If there is no movement away, a target lock is engaged, a warning shot fired, and a verbal warning issued in a variety of languages."

"Actual, Alpha One," replied the Captain. "Glad to see you managed to get out in one piece. What's your impression on the range of the platforms?"

"Well, we're a smaller craft and I was moving slowly towards it. I don't think it really perceived us as a threat until I pushed the envelope. But the Electronic Countermeasures on the Gryphons and a small 'warp jump' took it's eyes off of us. Basically, Black Hawk might be in trouble if she tries to approach the weapons platforms. Because of her size, yes, but also because those platforms are armed with pulse polaron weapons. Nasty little buggers. And with as many of them as there are in this web, range could be the least of our worries."

"Fair point, Alpha One." The comm system's gate was not quick enough to catch the Captain's sigh. He certainly didn't like this situation, nor did it help him find any comfort in sending a runabout to the planet so far away from the ship. "Come on home and make your report. See if there's anything Engineering and Tactical can do to give us a little more protection."

"Roger that, Actual. Coming home, Walsh out. Archer, Rocco. You take point on the return and I'll bring up the six."

Archer stood down her weapons after the successful distraction and breathed a sigh of relief. "Nice flying Rocco, I have point." She acknowledged inputting her new travel route and spinning around, "Heading back to the Barn in all the same pieces we left in, Happy Days." She quipped even as she made a mental note to studying Walsh's maneuver in more detail later, in case she ever needed it.

"Roger that, Archer." Terry took up position one hundred yards behind her. This had been some event and a close call. His report would make an interesting read.


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