No Room For Another Scar

The war finally ends for Petra. At least, he thinks so.

"Thats the last of the strike team, sir. The Durbitz and its escorts have jumped out." Captain Rollent chimed out from where he had been hovering over the DRADIS readings, with the same sort of tone that one might be reciting court minutes.

"Thank you, Tactical. Inform the Orion we are going to run our launch drill in an hour, so if they need us for something, to let us know we need to abort." Petra leaned a hip against the small central console. The Trident was no Battlestar - it was small and designed for a specific purpose: take a few dozen MIRVing warheads and shove them precisely where the fleet needed them shoved. No air cover, no flak, and only a few small point defense guns to fend off attackers. A guided missile cruiser did its best work when under the flak cover of larger fleet vessels, so for the time being, they were assigned to the Orion, and that suited Petra JUST fine.

"Got it, Colonel. Orion acknowledges. Apparently you are asked to 'please don't accidentally shoot yourself in the foot'." Rollent's amusement crept into the last of that sentence, trailing off with a chuckle. Tactical on this boat for long before Petra had been assigned CO, the Trident was figuratively the back of the captain's hand, and Marcus wasn't entirely certain he wasn't part of the ship's systems by now.

"Yeah, yeah. Bring us around to zero zero zero and a click distance from Orion and confirm everyone is go for firing drill." He straightned up and tugged his vest straight. With the way the war had been going lately, there was a good chance the Trident wasn't ever going actually need to fire its arsenal of mass destruction ever again, but there was no excuse for not being ready.

A warning chime started chirping from tactical, drawing Petra's eyes up to the overhead screen, "Ah…Rol…tell me that's a very ingenious test…" and was cut off by the Captain, "Sir! Fif…no, twenty…OVER twenty enemy capital ship contacts in close proximity coming out of jump. I count a dozen basestars and a larger group of smaller ships. Basestars are moving to engage, the smaller craft are heading for Picon…they've gotta be troop carriers sir!" As the TACCO was rapid-firing off the details, the unmistakable warning chime of the radiological warning went off. Frak!

"Arm all missiles, prioritize those landers, 2 per boat, spread the rest out one to a basestar. Quickly before they nuke us into dust, Mr. Rollent. Sound Condition One. Comms, relay any orders from Orion the /second/ they send them and inform them we are engaging in absense of any contradiction." Frak, frak, frak. We are NOT doing this all over again. Flashbacks to when a damaged Raptor jumped in to Piraeus what felt like years ago came to mind. When they thought something might be wrong, but really, really hoped it wasn't, and the sinking pit in his stomach when they found out they were right.

"Sir, firing solution entered. I am ready with my key." Followed quickly by Comms, "Orion acknolwedges the order is full engage, prioritize the landers. Do not let them get troops onto the ground." Petra nodded to himself, "Comms, acknowledge orders received, we are engaging." He stepped forward to the console, taking the key from around his neck, smoothly sinking it into the lock, "Key inserted. Ready to launch in 3…" He turned his head to look at Rollent over at his station to confirm the man had his hand on his own key, and counted it down with him. Simultanously, both men wrenched their keys to the right, and the chain of necessary security locks clicked off.

A green light lit up somewhere on Tactical's console, and Rollent chimed up, "Command accepted, all launch tubes responding." They could feel the deck shudder under their feet, just a little, "All missiles away, tracking targets. Sir, we have multiple inbounds, both on us and the Orion."

He stared at DRADIS for a moment, building a map in his head of where everything was in three dimensions, tracking the incoming fire and nukes and where each ship's flak umbrella would end, "Mister Rollent, turn us 90 degrees perpendicular to Orion's spinal plane. Show them our roof, and evacuate missile control. Have the Ensign track our warheads, I need you on incoming only. We're shielding the Orion."

"I..yes, sir!" A moment passed as Rollent assigned duties to the junior TACCO working beside him, then fed the cruiser movement orders, turning the Trident slowly on it's side, presenting the cruiser as a large, flat shield between some of the incoming nukes and the Battlestar they were surely aimed for. Behind him, the Deck Chief acknowledged the evacuation order, and Petra could hear him yelling over the intercom to some sections, telling them to get out. On the screen overhead, he watched the proximity warnings start to light up, and his grip on the edge of the center console tightened. He could hear someone else, was that Rollent? raising their voice along with his in almost perfect unison, about bracing for impact.

Main cannon fire travels faster that guided missiles, so the first thing to hit the Trident were the closest basestars that began unloading the moment they had a target. Cannon fire, the Trident could withstand. The deck shuddered under the first few hits as the nose of the cruiser took the first few punches on the chin, shots probably aimed at the Battlestar, from the trajectory of them. He wasn't too worried about that. What was going to hurt was one of the slower-travelling nukes, if the blanket of flak from Orion didn't take them all out.

For a moment there, he thought they might get lucky. The Orion and its surviving flak frigate were cranking out anti-aircraft and missile fire at a commendable rate, and Petra watched each of the incoming radiation warhead warnings slowly blink off as they streaked closer, but…no, that one was going to..

The Orion had taken a nuke hit before while he was on it, but the Trident was no Battlestar. When the nuke went off, it slammed into the cruiser like an entire freight train of bricks. Petra was thrown against the central console and knocked to the ground hard, the wind knocked out of him by the force of the impact. Shearing metal screamed in his ears, mingling with the voices of some of the crew. Loud warnings began chiming over the drone of the Condition One alert, and despite the deafening sound in his ears, he could hear secondary explosions begin to rip through the ship. He was vaguely aware his head hurt, and his shoulder and back were soaking wet.

"Sir, massive damage across decks 12 through 22 - I think they ripped our nose off. FTL is offline. Main drives are offline. We are bleeding atmosphere and…BRACE!" Petra hadn't even gotten to his feet when the second nuke smashed into the cruiser amidship and threw him hard over the console to crumple in a heap against the far wall. A horrible crashing sound roared in his ears, the sound of metal bulkheads ripping apart and pipes and wires and panels being shredded by hugs amounts of damage they just were not designed to take. He could hear screaming that quickly died off as the roaring faded away.

Petra couldn't see but a blur, and his entire left side felt like it was on fire. Trying to push himself to his feet sent waves of excruciating pain up his spine, concentrating in his head with blinding intensity. Okay, okay, the floor it was for now. Even clearing his throat felt like knives were being shoved through his chest, "Mr. Rollent. Damage report!"

It wasn't Rollent that answered, but the voice of the Junior TACCO he had been working with, "Sir. Massive system failures. I can't get any readings from the front of the ship ahead of Tube 20. We're dead in the water sir. Damage Control isn't responding and I show fires across every compartment I can get a reading for. DRADIS is offline." There was panic in the officer's voice, but they were doing an incredible job of keeping it together.

If the fight was going as badly as it looked before they got hit, then they couldn't sit tight and wait for the fleet to come to their rescue. A coughing spasm sent more of those knives of pain through his spine, before he could take a deep breath and lift his voice, "Give the order, abandon ship. Everyone get to a pod or a vacsuit, and then get to one, yourself. That's an order, Ensign." Again he tried to stand up, only succeeding on pushing himself up to a seated position, where he could slump against the bulkhead, where he was vaguely aware how his entire left side was soaked in blood. Well, that couldn't be good. The thought occurred to him that he had meant to requisition a new uniform anyway, and he couldnt understand why that struck him as absolutely HILARIOUS right now.

There were hands pulling on his arm, and there was a voice telling him it was time to go. Mom, I don't have to get up yet. Willard's lecture doesn't start until 900. Just gimme another five minutes…

When he came to, the first thing that registered was that he couldn't move his left arm and shoulder, and wow, did it hurt to take in a deep breath. The sounds of a hospital surrounded him, and the light that greeted his eyes was bright and unforgiving, leading him to wince and reclose them for a moment, "Frak…"

"And good morning to you too, Colonel." The woman that appeared at his side was dressed in scrubs and had streaks of grey in her brown hair, "Why don't you take it easy. You're going to be a guest here on Picon for a while."

"Ugh. What happened? Where's my…" He was suddenly wracked with a horrible coughing fit that sent new waves of pain stabbing through his chest and shoulders, cutting his sentences off.

"Easy, Colonel. Some of your crew is here, some are on the Orion. There was a mess, to put it mildly. Admiral Jameson said as soon as you were lucid, you needed to 'shut up and read this, start to finish'." A tablet was placed in his lap, while the doctor leaned in and checked his vision, then his pulse and started looking over his bandages and the immobilization rig that had his arm and shoulder stuck, "Looks like everything is holding, but you're going to need a few weeks with us before you're putting on a uniform again, so take it easy. A lot has happened in the last 24 hours." And with that cryptic comment, the doctor moved on and left him to read.

"Well, Marc. I can't say that I blame you at all. I heard they've already agreed to take you on to teach fleet tactics at the college, so maybe they'll see some of your kids pushing buttons up here in a few years." He didn't think it was possible, but Jameson actually finally looked like he had gotten older.

Petra knew he sure as hell did. Left arm still bound in a cast, he offered the Admiral a salute, then stepped forward to shake the man's hand, "Yeah. I took the doc's advice and accepted that gene therapy of the Arpay's, so they'll have me on for a while. Us old farts gotta make sure the kids don't forget, right? Tell Elias I'm sorry I missed him, but maybe if he'll get his ass down planetside, I'll invite him home for a dinner, smoke, and some alcohol."

"I'll do that. Good luck, Marc."

"Same to you."

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