Bridge and CIC
The bridge was relatively quiet after Antar departed to get some rest. Arica had been pacing around the holodisplay for the past hour, running through various reports contained within a series of datapads and pausing to rub her eyes. Maaks was definitely right: she needed to get her cybernetics recalibrated. The newer replacements ran hotter than her old ones, which was taking time to get used to, causing her to frequently cycle their adjustments to cool them down.
Moving from datapad to datapad, Arcia reviewed the various reports and system status from the different departments onboard the Nighthawk, pausing a moment when she reached the engineering report. Something didn’t seem right about it…
“Cortel to Nortorshin,” the Captain spoke clearly after keying the direct communications system.
“Go for Nortorshin.”
“Your most recent report indicates the reactor is running at higher levels than normal. Is this something I should be worried about, Chief?” Cortel queried.
“Negative, Ma’am. All levels are still within established parameters. Will keep you informed if anything changes,” the Chief Engineer explained, with a pause. “Aren’t you supposed to be off duty, Captain?”
“That’s all, Chief,” the Anaxsi woman remarked before cutting the link.
The Nighthawk Captain yawned and stretched as she made her way towards the cockpit proper to check the status of the pilots. It was a short walk from the CIC, through the various consoles and crewman performing their duties as they had been so expertly trained to do. One of the Junior Operatives nodded to Arcia as she passed, whose shoulder she patted before she continued on.
Within the cockpit, Karth Orsai and his co-pilot were reviewing the telemetry reports as the ship thrust itself through the hyperlanes. Protective shielding covered the portholes, so the only light within the domain was from the various displays and buttons that shone, pulsed and strobed. Karth quickly noticed the Captain behind him and offered a shallow salute from his chair.
“Captain, pleasure to see you up in these parts.”
“How is everything, Specialist?” Arcia said brusquely, strictly business.
Karth cleared his throat and offered his superior a datapad containing various bits of information pertaining to their destination, route and the most recent report on the overall condition of the ship. Most of it was by the book, though she noticed those higher reactor levels in Karth’s report as well. With a frown, Arcia returned the datapad to the pilot and nodded her thanks before turning to walk away.
“Keep up the good work and stay alert,” Cortel announced and made her way back down to the CIC.
As she re-entered the bridge, one of Zakath’s Security Marines approached her with, yet again, another datapad. Arcia sighed and took the report, reviewing its contents when the Marine started talking.
“Ma’am, we-” he was cut off with the sharp rise of the Captain’s hand.
“Wait until I’m finished.”
There he stood, quiet and motionless while Arcia reviewed the reported findings, or lack thereof, of Zakath’s suspected homing beacon. They had searched everywhere, ran multiple high-level scans, everything the Security Chief could think of, but nothing was found. Arcia tossed the datapad back to the Marine and raised a brow.
“Does Zakath have a phantom beacon, Private?”
“Unsure, Ma’am. We’ve looked all over, as you’ve just read. We just can’t seem to find anything that supports his suspicions.”
“Very well. Keep me informed if anything changes. Dismissed.”
As the Private left her, she smiled. Everyone onboard the Nighthawk had a sense of duty and pride instilled within them. Since Teroch’s departure, things seemed to have become more productive. Nothing against the boy, but his sense of leadership and structure didn’t seem to cut it in Arcia’s books, which was most likely the reason he delegated to her when it came to handing out the orders….
Putting past memories behind her, Arcia pulled out her personal datapad and checked the time. Rounds were just about to start, so she took a deep breath and made her way through the bridge and towards the communications department.
The communications department was located at the rear of the ship, port side. As the Captain entered, the noise was almost overwhelming. Orders were being relayed back and forth through various channels within the DIA, locations of agents as well as Soulfire and Dark Forge were verified, updates on Atyiru’s wellbeing…
One of the Senior Operatives in charge walked up to Arcia, asking if there was anything she needed, to which she shook her head, stating she was only making her rounds. After affirming the functionality of her communications officers, Cortel crossed the hall, past the holonet transceiver, and entered the laboratory where several operatives were performing various experiments and researching precious metals and ores.
Very satisfied by her rounds on Deck 2, Arcia exited the laboratory, rounded the corner and entered the turbo-lift. Keying the command for Deck 3, the Captain leaned against the back wall and enjoyed the near silence as the lift descended a single level.
She made rounds through the barracks, observations decks and recreational areas rather quickly before stopping before the door of the Medical Bay.
Straightening her uniform, Arcia entered Medical to be greeted by the ship’s Doctor, Maaks, popping his head out from between two sets of racks that contained various…things that she didn’t want to identify. She nodded a greeting and stood next to one of the medical beds, waiting for him to walk over to her.
“Finally decided to get those implants checked, hmm Captain?” Maaks grinned as he retrieved several pieces of diagnostic equipment.
“Let’s just get this over with, Doctor. I have rounds to finish.”
Maaks nodded and raised a tool to her temple when her vision suddenly went black. She hated this part of diagnostics, to which she allowed her will of the Force to expand from her immediate vicinity, to the rest of the room, then to the entire deck; she was always aware of her surroundings, so being blind for an extended period wasn’t very high on her list of things to do. Barely two heartbeats later, her vision flared back to life, nearly blinding her from the white-hot lights of the Medical Bay.
“You just had minor calibration issues, Captain. They shouldn’t bother you anymore. Is there anything else I can assist you with?” Maaks questioned.
“Nothing else, Maaks. Thank you. I’ll be off now,” Arcia declined and moved away from the medical bed.
“Understood, Captain! Feel free to visit at any time!” Maaks called after Arcia as she exited the Med Bay.
Now where to…? Ah yes, Deck 4.
Deck 4 and 5
Deck 4 contained Engineering, which had been a primary target of suspicion as of late, as well as the Security office and barracks on Deck 5. As Arica made rounds through Engineering, she checked the reactor levels herself and noticed they were still running high, but still within acceptable limits. It was a new reactor, though, so minor changes were to be expected. Captain Cortel disliked change, though. Chief Nortorshin kept a tight department, making sure everyone had something to do and that everything was clean. She liked that about him, very dutiful and structured.
Arcia exchanged words with a few of the engineers about the status of the reactor and the ship itself before becoming satisfied enough to make her way down a final level to Deck 5. The hangar contained the ships two Nu-class Shuttles, one of the pilots now maintaining both of the ships. Jax and his squad of Mandalorians were shadow boxing or sparring with one another as the Captain passed by. Heading back towards the lift, Arcia stopped by the Armory and spoke with Quartermaster Skar regarding their supply of weapons for the special operations Marines. Everything checked out with him, so she decided enough was enough and made her way back to the lift.
The turbo-lift doors were just closing as Arcia lunged forward to hit the command for them to reopen. A hand sliced through the crack before the door shut completely, forcing them to retract and allowing the Captain to enter. The hand belonged to Zeck, Chief Nortorshin’s most trusted engineer. The light for Deck 4 wasn’t lit, so Arcia pressed ‘Deck 2’ before leaning against the side wall and studied Zeck. The doors shut, and the lift started its ascent.
“Where are you heading, Specialist?” Arcia questioned the man.
“One of the gentleman upstairs wanted to review some of the reports we sent up,” Zeck responded smoothly.
With a nod, Arcia recalled the levels. “Oh, in the last report. Reactor levels are sitting a bit high. Anything I should be worried about with this new reactor of ours?”
The lift halted on Deck 2 and the doors hissed open. “Nothing to worry about, Ma’am. Everything is going as planned. I just remembered, though, I forgot my datapads down in engineering…heh. I’ll be seeing you around, Captain.”
With an arched brow, Arcia nodded and made her way onto the bridge just to get an earful of the on duty Marine sounding off that the Captain was on deck. Putting everyone at ease with a wave of the hand, Arcia walked up to the holodisplay and ran through more reports. Then she stopped.
Everything is going as planned.
“What an odd way of talking…Hmm…whatever,” Arcia mumbled to herself, dismissing the engineer’s odd speaking pattern.
Cortel quickly became lost in her own work when someone tapped her on the shoulder, bringing her back to reality. She spun around to see Commander Locke standing there, waiting to take control of the bridge. He has his ‘get some rest’ look on his face, so with a shake of the head, Arcia silently passed over command and entered the turbo-lift.
Captain’s Cabin, Deck 1
As Arcia entered her quarters, she keyed the command for the doors to lock and lights to dim as a calm, classical song populated the room’s atmosphere. The Anaxsi woman unclasped and removed her uniform top, tossing it onto the desk chair before sitting at the foot of her bed to remove her boots. Kicking those to the side, she collapsed back onto the bed and closed her eyes, taking in the music.
I hereby appoint Captain Arcia Cortel…
The Captain’s mind returned to Atyiru’s message to everyone. When the Miralukan woman recovered, there was going to be some explaining to do if Arcia had anything to say about it. During all the events, she still couldn’t figure out why the Aedile had chosen her over others that were so much more qualified to act as her regent. Opening her eyes again, Arcia removed her trousers, leaving her in nothing but boy shorts and a sports top, before crawling into her bed and falling into a troubled dreamstate…
Bridge and CIC
Four hours was definitely not enough sleep for the Commander.
Rubbing his eyes and sipping out of a mug of caf, Antar reviewed the newest reports as well as anything the Captain had left with him. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, so he wasn’t too worried about what the future reports would contain. Setting the reports aside, Antar made a quick round through the Bridge and made his way to the cockpit. Karth greeted him warmly and offered the most recent telemetry to which Antar reviewed quickly and frowned.
“What’s this displacement we’re coming up on, Specialist?” The Commander questioned.
Karth took the datapad back and studied it. “Oh…that’s…a frakking Dreadnaught, sir. Readings indicate it has Faust oriented IFF. Permission to adjust course?”
“Granted. Keep us hidden.”
The Nighthawk lurched slightly and exited hyperspace before the cloaking device activated and shrouded the ship so only inky stars were seen. It was only a minor course correction as the Nighthawk slipped past the massive ship and quickly blinked into hyperspace once again. The entire ordeal only took a matter of minutes, but the tension in the cockpit was high.
“Good job, Karth. Continue on course and inform me of any changes,” Antar instructed as he moved to return to the bridge.
The moment Commander Locke re-entered the bridge, several alarms rang out, causing him to run to the holodisplay and check the alerts. The reactor levels spiked before his eyes. Wasting no time, Antar keyed in commands to open a channel to engineering for a status update.
“Go for Engineering,” Zeck’s voice replied.
“The Bridge just got lit up with alerts from the reactor. What’s going on down there?”
“Everything’s fine, Sir. We’re handling it down here,” Zeck’s voice sounded cool and composed.
“Where is Chief Nortorshin? He’s supposed to be answering these calls,” Antar’s voice started becoming annoyed.
“Unsure, Sir. I’ll see if I can locate him. Until then, we need to get back to the reactor.”
The communications link was severed on the engineering side, causing Antar to become sorely suspicious. Pointing to one of the Senior Operatives, he received a nod in return before entering the lift and hitting ‘Deck 4.’ One way or another, he would find out what was happening to the ship. The lift stopped on Deck 3 and doors opened to give way to Sight’s angry looking crimson eyes.
“Just the man I wanted to see, Chief. What’s going on?” Antar barked.
“You’ll be the first to know when I find out, Commander,” Sight replied as he entered the lift and it began to descend when the hairs on Antar’s neck stood straight.
All across the ship, lights flickered and dimmed. Artificial gravity seemed to skip. A rather ominous humming caused violent vibrations throughout the hull…
In an instant, something within the reactor emitted a high pitched whine before sending a pulse across the entire core. Sparks, static discharge and flames blew out from the machine as the hypermatter containment failed, causing the Nighthawk to be violently ripped from hyperspace. The speed at which the ship decelerated threw crewman off their feet. Many collided with walls, desks, and each other, causing injuries from broken bones to minor bruises and scratches.
Within the turbo-lift, Sight and Antar were thrown from one side to the other as the seals and cables snapped and disengaged, forcing the lift to plummet two decks before the emergency brakes caught it. Antar’s head smashed against one of the railings within the lift, a large gash to split open on his forehead. His vision blurred momentarily and he fell to the floor.
Sight recovered quickly and rushed over the Executive Officer, helping him back to his feet and putting pressure on the open wound. Antar growled and tore a piece of fabric from his tunic sleeve, fashioning it into a makeshift bandage that he quickly wrapped tightly around his head. Blood rapidly soaked into the cloth and pain stung his mind, but Antar shrugged it aside and started to take in the situation.
“What the frak just happened, Chief?”
Sight looked around the lift. “I think the reactor went. I can’t say for certain though without getting to engineering.”
The Commander grunted and keyed his personal comlink to reach the Captain, but the shipwide communications were down and shortwave wasn’t working either. He had a horrid feeling of what was happening to their ship, but he needed the command staff to help him figure it out…
Captain’s Cabin, Deck 1
Captain Cortel stirred in her sleep. She couldn’t get that high pitched whine out of her head, no matter how hard she tried. For the past couple of hours she had been tossing and turning relentlessly, thinking of everything that had happened within the past day and a half. Finally, she was able to quell the disturbing thoughts dancing through her mind and began to drift.
Then Arcia’s relative world turned upside down.
The most grating of sounds shrieked directly above the Captain’s Cabin, causing Arcia to sit straight up in bed as the ship slammed to a near halt when exiting hyperspace. The instant deceleration sent the Captain rocketing backwards into the wall behind her, then threw her forwards and off her bed. Tumbling into the half wall separating her bedroom from her work area, Arcia slammed her arm into the corner and yelped in pain.
The woman quickly scrambled to her feet and into her work area as another concussion rocked the ship, causing the aquarium to her right to shatter, spilling water and shards of glass all over Arcia. She covered her face to prevent glass from cutting her significantly and stared down at the fish that flopped, waterless, awaiting their deaths through suffocation.
That one felt like a damned mine…
To her left, Cortel saw the contents of her desk thrown all about, several books and datapads having crashed through the glass display and destroying many of her collected ship models. The Captain grabbed her comlink and pinged a ship wide frequency, but nothing happened. She keyed in Antar’s personal frequency, still nothing. With an angry shriek, Arcia stormed over to where her clothes lay, soaked in aquarium water and glass, and threw on her trousers and boots before approaching the door which would not open.
Slipping her fingers through the rubber padded middle part of the doors, Arcia slowly, with great effort, pried open the cabin doors and stumbled out into the hall that was littered with pieces of bulkhead, wires, cabling and a few fires. The turbo-lift doors, she found, were hermetically sealed and would not budge, even under great force. The Anaxsi woman screamed at it and kicked the lift doors before retreating back into her quarters and gathering the essentials: lightsaber, blaster pistol and vibro-knife.
Rushing back out to the hall, Arcia used her knife to pry open one of the maintenance hatches next to the lift doors and dropped into the ducts. Suddenly, from behind her, one of the oxygen pipes caught flame and detonated, throwing her from her feet and onto the grating below her. As she landed, she rolled into another pipe, crying out in pain again as the hot metal burned into her upper right arm.
Gathering her strength, the Captain struggled to her feet, her strength attempting to leave her from being forcibly thrown around thrice now. She had studied the deck plans of the Nighthawk carefully in the past and knew the quickest way down from Deck 1 to reach the bridge via maintenance shafts, so she travelled the route and dropped down several tubes before reaching the bridge ceiling. There, she activated her saber and cut a hole large enough for her to drop down to the floor.
The scene before her was worse than she thought.
The holodisplay was wrecked. Sparks spewed from shattered lenses and the primary display at the center of the bridge was on fire. Cables hung from the ceiling and the bulkhead was ripped apart. Several portions were damaged in such a degree that emergency force fields activated via secondary power supplies to prevent the deck from decompressing. Crewman groaned in pain, several not moving at the edges of the chamber. The more she looked around, the more horrified she became, but she didn’t see Antar anywhere.
Security Barracks, Deck 5
“Move it, move it!” One of the Marine sergeants bellowed as Zakath cradled a broken arm.
The instantaneous deceleration caught everyone by surprise. The Security Marines were in the middle of formation when the reactor went, causing all of them to tumble head over heels and sprawled them across the hangar floor. One of the Nu-class Shuttles had crushed one of the Special Operations Marines and slammed into the side of the second, causing both of them to fracture into uselessness.
Quartermaster Skar and Private Raven Dusk quickly handed out weapons from the Armory to the various Marines, in case the ship was about to be boarded. Zakath didn’t want to take any chances. The difficulty, though, would be getting to the rest of the ship. With the lift down, all the Marines would have to crawl through maintenance shafts with all of their gear slowing them down.
“Someone get me the Captain, now!” Zakath yelled as he followed the rest of his Marines out of the barracks.
Outside the ship, drifting through the space from the exit point of hyperspace, were a series of magnetically attracted, EMP-charged, low-grade thorium mines. When the Nighthawk passed by, they quickly attached themselves to the hull and moments later, would detonate. The explosions tore holes in the side of the ship’s hull, causing emergency force fields to activate, but not before sucking several crewman out.
Turbo-lift between Decks 5 and lift maintenance
Sight was pounding against the lift doors with every bit of his strength and yelling for anyone to help them, but it was no use. They could hear the fires outside the lift and knew there was no one around to help them. Antar quickly did a hop and felt the suspension of the lift, but also heard something fall and hit momentarily after.
Retrieving his lightsaber, the Commander ignited the blade downwards and cut a hole directly through the bottom of the lift and the cabling attached. The circular plate detached and clattered down the remainder of the shaft before landing seconds later. Antar quickly squeezed himself through the opening and held onto the dangling cables before swinging over to the side of the shaft and latching onto the built-in ladder.
Sight followed immediately after, swinging to the opposite wall, and the two squeezed themselves between the walls and the lift cart. They began making their way back up a deck to reach engineering and figure out exactly what had happened. Another rumbling explosion caused Sight to nearly lose his footing, but he recovered in an instant and continued the climb.
The two were mostly silent as they continued to climb, but Antar suddenly vomited down the shaft, signifying that he certainly did have a concussion. “I don’t envy the crewman that has to clean that up…”
Antar chuckled at Sight’s attempt at keeping things lively, but his face returned to that of a proper Commander in an emergency situation and he began to think how they were going to get the ship back in order. Almost as if Sight was reading Antar’s mind, he responded to an unspoken question.
“We need to figure out what happened first…”
Engineering, Deck 4
“Get those fires out! Make sure the doors are sealed properly!” Zeck’s voice boomed from behind various pieces of equipment.
The engineering crew were astonishing at the rate in which they contained fires, replaced burnt or destroyed fuses, and repaired critical systems, all to prevent a cataclysmic failure of the core. Moments later, the large doors to engineering slid shut with a metallic ‘clang’ and locked, as was expected during an emergency situation such as this.
“I’m bringing the secondary back online!” Zeck called out.
The reactor whined and hummed before sparking to life, giving new artificial light within engineering. In an instant, however, a green gas billowed out from the vents and flooded the engineering bay, causing everyone within to collapse, unconscious before they hit the floor. From behind the secondary reactor, a man emerged wearing a mask to protect him from the gas.
He walked to the secondary core and keyed in a few commands as a sharp ping rang through the ship wide communications system.
Bridge and CIC
Arcia Cortel, Captain of the Nighthawk worked her hardest to help the injured crewman and restore any power to the systems when suddenly a sharp, piercing ring shattered the near silence on the bridge. Looking around, she couldn’t tell if someone had restored power or not, but her blood chilled as a single transmission populated the air.
“Captain Cortel…we’ve been….expecting you…”