KX730, Solarian Sector Naval Command Destroyer Glimmer of Time
"Mayday, mayday, mayday, this is kilo xray seven three zero, going down. Anti-gravity fields almost destroyed, primary drive destroyed, ship integrity questionable."
"Mayday, mayday, mayday, Captain Guzman, Kilo Xray seven three zero, SSNC Destroyer Glimmer of Time going down, planetary system reference Charlie four niner six. Planet three." I said as Newman fought the controls. All the automatics long dead. A Sanderstall fighter still trying to finish us. As we hit the upper atmosphere I felt the buffeting then I felt the shudder as our last railgun auto-cannon fired seven hundred round bursts at the enemy.
"Sam, you still okay back there?" I asked her.
"Yeah Cap, be getting hot back here soon though. This slimy little bastard refuses to die. Not having the comps for aiming sucks!"
"Look, take your last couple shots and shut down. Come forward, you and anyone else back there that's still alive, gonna have to jettison in about six minutes," Newman told her.
"KK, wilco. I think Alice and Lilly are still ticking. The rest are splatters on the walls. Can't get back past our gun position, all blocked and destroyed, sir."
I felt a few more shudders then she yelled, "Yes!"
"Kill it?" I asked.
"Nope, got his last fin though, he's going straight into air with no controls." She laughed, "Fry you little bastards, fry!"
Soon the bridge door slid open and she was dragging in Lilly, busted up from the angles of her legs. "Be right back," Sam said.
Again she dragged in another wounded girl. Alice I think her name was. She really looked a mess. "Sorry, Cap, all I found. Mitchel was alive but skewered with a beam. I gave her my gun. All the rest died that I could get to."
"Okay, good work, Sam, get everyone strapped down, gonna be a rough landing."
"Newman, blow all supports, send the reactor to self destruct and lets get outta here," I told her.
"Mayday, mayday, mayday, kilo xray seven three zero last trans, separation in two minutes. Six survivors. Captain Guzman, out."
"Think they will hear us, Cap?" Newman asked.
"Long way. Might, they record all the freq's. If they do and respond it will still be a couple months. Cost analysis may say no, only us six survivors out of three hundred and on a quarantined planet. Still, we can hope. It was a first experiment after all."
"Separation in twenty seconds," Newman said. Then finally, 3,2,1, now."
I felt the shudders as the various explosive charges detached the entire bridge pod from the main ship. We were hitting enough air now we could feel it buffeting us. I watched the monitor as my ship with so many brave crew aboard, some possibly still alive and trapped, drifted toward the strange planet below.
"Reactor detonation in three minutes, Cap." Newman said.
Sam said from her sitting position on the floor, "If any are alive they will feel nothing, Cap."
"I know, Sam, but it is I that will feel it all."
"Cap, quit beating yourself up over it. Hell, we lasted ten times longer than we should have. They had the perfect trap and we still kicked their asses. One training destroyer of damn women and you against their entire offensive fleet. You know that's gonna kill their egos' if it ever gets out."
"Sam, hush please. I know. It is still my people, rationalization will be done by my mind later. Not now."
"Yes, sir," she said, feeling I was rebuking her but I wanted to spend the last few minutes of my ships life in silence.
"Shields up. One minute," Krystal said from the engineering console. All the viewports went total dark, I heard the hum of the shields over the com. "Now." Even with the sunshields the dark of space turned to bright day as the ships reactor went crit and vaporized everything near it.
"Rest in peace," I said and heard a few 'Amen.'
After a moment I turned to Newman, "Any info on this planet?"
"Not a lot, sir. Quarantined over a thousand years ago, M2, populated by us about fourteen thousand years ago. No legal contact for three thousand years. They call it Earth."
"Physical format?" I asked.
"Like us, little less refined, less mental development but fully comparable. Up to Nukes in Tech, lots of wars, fanatical religions and no religions, usual stuff. They already reported large unusual meteor shower happening."
"Try to keep us away from populated areas for now."
"Planned to. Will have to skip their ocean to reduce speed, all we got."
"Well, all we ever ask is 200% more than normal so just do it. If we are still alive I'll praise you later," I told her.
She snickered, "Understood, Cap."
The Bridge pod, little more than a flat saucer with a couple tail fins now, burned the air at more than thirty six thousand miles an hour, the limited shields white hot. Inside the remnants of the Destroyer's crew clung to life as Master flight Sergeant Newman fought the controls.
"Cap, impact bounce in thirty minutes, cinch tight people."
Everything had to be perfect or we all died. To shallow and we literally skipped off the ocean back into space and our deaths. To steep and the integrity of the ship disintegrated with us in what would seem a cataclysmic event to these people. Wrong place and we crash into a mountain or city.
We hit at a steep angle, I felt like my insides were trying to become my outsides as I felt all the straps stretch and stretch. All I saw was water then we were in the air again.
"Newman?" I asked.
"We're good Cap, 29% off, as long as we don't get changes we'll bounce back down on the other ocean. We're at 22,100 MPH, comp says 25,000 is escape."
I guess the term is praying as we all watched the screens. We still went high, burning off more speed then we slowly nosed over and started the plunge back down. I doubt we missed the landmass by more than a few miles as we once again were slammed to our physical limits, then again as we skipped across their ocean in smaller and smaller hops. At last we went under the water and didn't come back up. Outside the sea would be a frothy boil as we dissipated heat. We slowly drifted to a stop and settled to the bottom.
After the final jolt I released my straps. "Newman, ship integrity scans then kill the shields. Sam, get those two on the med units. Krystal, get the com systems up. You know the drill people. I want to know if any of them followed and what the locals are saying."
"Cap, they say we were seen as a rare and spectacular meteor shower so far. The major Battleship part will follow us in and land in their ocean creating a huge tsunamis with major damage," Krystal said. "It was at max range so be a few hours yet."
Started out so simple, take 300 Female personnel and train them to become the first ever fully integrated combat arms women in the SSNC space fleet. After generations of battling for the right to join combat units their first test gets all but 5 of them killed and it's my damn fault.
"Captain Guzman, I don't know if I should envy you or pray for your soul," Fleet Admiral Allison said at the social.
"It is a simple test sir. I wish they'd have just put a few in ships here and there instead of dumping them all into one though," I said.
"Has to do with the wives. Though, like yours, all fought to get combat rights for women, most wives don't trust the guys around that many young females either. They aren't totally stupid. At least you'll have yours with you." He smiled. We'd heard that all the wives from the Chancellor on down through the Council's Hall of Representatives had cut off their husbands from the delights that draw men to the flame of marriage in the first place until they passed the law to allow women to fight. The men lasted almost two months before the bill was rushed to passage.
Admiral Allison's wife smiled at me as she said, "It is a problem we shall continue to work on Captain. As women we want the right to fight and die for our people and families, yet as wives we are fully aware of the dangers of mixed crews on long space flights. There shall be turmoil and, I am sure, changes over time, but it will work itself out. Who knows, Grace Flombard suggested we do away with marriage altogether and just have a series of little flings as we move from ship to ship. Then when we retire we can worry about families and children." Her smile said she didn't agree with that idea.
We'd been close to adding them several times in the past. Every man and woman is conscripted for ten years from age eighteen. Marriage, kids, school, mental status, nothing got you out of it. If we were at war we went to active units, if at peace we went to ready reserves and trained every weekend and two months out of every twelve. Each year a call for volunteers went out for active service on the line or on the service fleets. If enough joined that was it, if not enough then lottery selected the remainder.
"Well Admiral, my wife has requested combat service once a month for the last five years. This was coming a long time. I know she hated doing freighter duty, though planet side supply gave us a little time together here and there."
"Captain, we all hated freighter duty, even I did my share. Though one time I did get to ship with the Admiral here, that was tolerable," said his wife.
By law, still unchanged, the Captain must be a male, combat trained. Even on the freighters. In the service line all the rest were women. In the combat line they were men. I remember a Captain bragged he serviced all eighty three of his crew on one run. I later heard someone got upset. Not for him maybe doing it but bragging about it. Last I heard he was doing twenty years for rape when two filed charges against him. I don't remember any more Captains bragging of conquests after that incident made all the major news services.
Children were not a problem, at fourteen all females received the Barbent Nano Barrier system. I'm not sure how it works but the wife said they are like battleships attached to the walls inside them and they shoot single cells at all the sperm that swim by then gobble them up for food, it is a slaughter house, 100% effective, 100% of the time. When your service period is up they can be removed with minor surgery, up to the woman. Having them illegally removed got you twenty years as a guest of the prison system.
The Sanderstall Systems forced us to take harsh measures and prevented us from leading what might be normal lives. We couldn't get the upper hand on them and they couldn't on us. For two hundred years we've had periods of open hostility interspersed with periods of negotiated truce. Both our spy systems insured little chance of sneak attacks. I understood the original conflict was over whether we should interfere with developing planets. We said no, they said if they had resources needed then why not? Most planets were seeded and so belong to those responsible for the seeding. Slaves in all but name.
The Admiral and his wife moved on with at least a dozen far more important officers to visit than me. I spied my wife near the food line. I drifted to her. "Ready for the storm?"
"Been wanting the right to combat duty for five years. You bet I am! Are you?"
"I don't know, I know women on the freighters have had incidents where they had to fight. The problem isn't if they can, the problem is the age old dilemma do we want them too."
"Look, we can't have kids, that was the biggest argument against us fighting. You know it was just an excuse, but the last one the Council clung to. The chance one can become pregnant was always a danger. Now the Barbent nano system prevents it, absolutely no chance, so in battle now we are just more meat for the grinder like you guys."
"But such pretty meat." I smiled and she laughed. We'd argued it before.
"Captain and Mrs. Guzman, how nice to find you alone. I would have thought you'd be swamped with well wishers on the eve of the grand experiment," Hedda Hopper said with her big exaggerated smile. If you wanted the seven planets to know something in less than twenty four hours just tell Hedda it was a big secret not to be divulged.
"Hedda, nice to see you. How goes all the latest gossip sites?" I asked.
"Borrrring. Not a single slanderous piece of news. I'm about to make something up about one of the Council members just to stir up some trouble." She grinned.
I heard a few years ago she'd actually done that and some wife shot her husband based on Hedda's false story. She lost a few million dollars in suits and doubt she'd do it again but she was as sleazy as they come.
"Mrs. Guzman, for the record, I know your going along but if you weren't would you be worried that your husband would be alone with 300 females on a long trip?" It was a trap question.
"Of course I would, we all know he's the handsomest Captain in Fleet. I suspect he'd have trouble getting anyone trained with all of them drooling over fruit they can't have," she said and smiled. As diplomatic an answer as I think she could give.
"Oh come on, your going to tell me he wouldn't?"
"Hedda, I'm not going to tell you anything. We know all six of your x husbands did, though I heard it was on purpose, to get rid of you."
With that she walked away as Hedda huffed and puffed.
"I have to go, but no, I wouldn't touch a single one, in-spite of what you wish to believe." I turned and went after my wife, catching up to her.
She smiled at me. "I never asked, never will. In my mind you never have and I will always keep it that way.
To get Captain we all did Combat Fleet and Service Fleet. Six month freighter trips with eighty to a hundred female crew presented certain problems to any male. The most logical solution I heard was you quietly found a married member or two for private training secessions, less entanglements that way. The mutual agreement between us was we never asked. Only if we wanted to divorce would it come up. It all gave some validity to Grace Flombard's idea.
Combat Feet Admiral Garental cornered us next, he and his wife divorced, seems both had admitted some indiscretions. The quickest way for a separation. "Captain Guzman, I don't believe I've met this stunning creature before. Does your wife know?" He smiled.
Janet smiled at him and said, "She does Admiral, and she approves."
"Nice to meet you Mrs. Guzman. I've seen your picture of course, when he was one of my Lieutenants on the SSNC Tamberline. As fine a ship as ever plied the space-ways. I hated loosing her." It was an ammo hauler that was so old it was finally scrapped.
"Yes sir, he has often spoke quite highly of you. He often bragged about the excellent training he received. You know he made Captain right after that so you did something right!"
The flattery, though bogus, went straight to his heart as he beamed, kissed her hand, shook mine and walked off.
"Not so thick, dear," I told her and she just smiled.
Finally the Vice Admiral of the SSNC, Leproden, called us all to attention. "Ladies and gentleman your attention please." he waited for most to quiet down. "As all are aware, two weeks ago the final obstacle to women serving in the combat arms was overcome. In a split vote of 484 to 416 it was passed. This social is to celebrate that event and, as I've seen already, to let anyone who wished to meet the young man and his second that will start it all off. I of course refer to Captain Guzman and his wife, First Lieutenant Janet Guzman. Please, a round of applause." We both bowed to him as people clapped. "We wish them success on the first all female combat training mission ever held in the SSNC and I wish to note that it will be done on the brand knew destroyer named for this very momentous occasion, the KX730 SSNC Glimmer of Time." Again there was polite applause.
The destroyer wasn't anything fantastic. Standard defender for the Capital ships. Twenty destroyers were the minimum that would accompany each combat fleet to provide interdiction screens along with the SWAG's or Single Weapon Attack Group's. Each group had four of them and depending on the size of the main battle group you could have ten to twenty SWAG's per fleet. They were the fastest and smallest attack ships we had, other than the fighters from the carriers. They close on the enemy, trying to hit Capital ships, fire off their single torpedo and head for home for resupply.
We Destroyers did nothing but try to intercept any incoming enemy systems, be they missiles or torpedoes or suicide ships. We stopped them at all costs and we were considered expendable in defense of the big carriers and battle cruisers. Some with twenty thousand crew and as many as another fifty thousand Space Marines depending on mission. The Capital ships could total half a million people so our 300 was nothing to them, it was always about numbers.
Those 300 trained all day, every day, those 300 did impossible things for days on end. We had twenty heavy guns, five on each of the four axes, each manned by five crew, yet those same guns had seven crew per gun on the Capital Ships. We had two torpedo tubes forward and two more rear, each had a crew of ten yet the Capital ships used fifteen. Add in six two man crew auto cannons for missile defense and three anti-torpedo chaff launchers with two men.
The Capital ships had maintenance crews of fifteen per engine and as many as twenty engines, we had six engines with ten men per. What's more ours were twice as temperamental as theirs.
The remaining crew were weapons resupply haulers, cooks, bridge staff, medical staff, and Engineering maintenance such as com's computers, all integrated systems. We did with 300 what requires 450 or 500 anywhere else in the fleet except the expendable destroyers.
I came back to reality as I realized someone had said something to me and my wife was squeezing my hand. "What?" I asked, "I didn't hear the question sir."
"Wasn't a question, Captain," some Vice Admiral said. "We wish you luck."
"Yes, sir, thank you sir but we won't need it, they will be a capable crew in no time."
That was only three months ago and here I was sitting on the bottom of some damn ocean with five women and me. Wife dead along with 294 others.
"Newman, good piloting by the way. Sam, what to say, to run from being a loader to the last gun operator was a feat that, should we ever get back, will garner you a few totally useless medals." I grinned, they did too. Samantha I knew, she and the wife had a few arguments over the role of a loader. I can now say my wife was wrong, thank the gods.
"Hey, Newman, I forget, sorry, what is your first name?"
"Well thank you, thank all of you. I have no idea the tonnage we destroyed but I'm willing to bet it is far more than in the history of the fleet for a single destroyer. Stand proud."
Being the primary defense for the Capitals, heroics from destroyers was almost expected and many ships were listed in the annals of our history that did exactly what they were supposed to do. Die in defense of the mother ships. I'd heard of a few managing independent actions against enemy, usually picking off miners or wounded ships, nothing like we did.
Krystal said, "Though I wish more of us could have lived, we all have studied the history. The fact any of us are alive at all is almost beyond comprehension, sir."
"Won't lie, thirty seconds after I saw their fleet I knew we were doomed. If ever there was such a thing as luck, and if it has a finite limit per person then we have cashed out every bit of it," I told them.
We came to this solar system because a couple Sanderstall robotic miners were found at the sixth planet out, in violation once again of the hands off policy. What idiots! Have to admit the rings gave it a very pretty and distinctive look.
"Cap, have the final report ready," Krystal said.
"Bring it up."
Battle Report KX730, SSNC Destroyer Glimmer of Time
Mission: Training; find and destroy two Sanderstall robotic miners sector C496P6.
Personnel: Captain Guzman and crew of 300 combat cadets.
Date: GO 1641N
GO 1640E We located first miner, a 400,000 ton KleeArm sixteen laser unit. Closed and fired one salvo from port, starboard, and lower 12 inch guns. Target destroyed. auto-cannons fired for training and debris cleanup.
Talley: 400,000 ton miner.
GO 1640J located second unit, 350,000 ton Heprem ten laser unit. Same tactic with rotated crews, same result.
Tally: 350,000 ton miner.
Upon leaving planet jumped by six Sandersall SWAG units and two destroyers.
Cap. Ordered max speed and heading toward Sun to acquire additional gravity speed. XO Lieutenant Guzman went aft to direct fire from Rear CDC. Computers flawless, Chaff caused all twenty-four SWAG's to miss. Received damage one engine from a destroyer shell.
Speed loss prevented retreat. Captain Guzman used full stall tactic as destroyers closed. Totally disorienting the Sanderstall systems with our chaff, we did not turn, rather backed up. Bringing all systems to bear on them we crippled both destroyers with torpedoes then destroyed them with the 12 inch guns. We took four hits, loosing the rear CDC and one 12 inch gun and crew on the port side.
Cadet Krystal on com located a main battle fleet closing from max range. With damaged engine Cap decided we'd fight.
One Capital Battleship, one Capital Carrier, eighteen destroyers and the SWAG comprised their fleet.
At two Strom from Planet three, just inside the forth planets orbit Cap ordered we zig zag and as we did, in a most unorthodox move, we deposited twelve of our 24 remaining torpedoes, unfired, in space. Alice, the torpedo missile expert disabled all their safety features. We literally turned them into Nuclear mines.
We then centered on this spread and further withdrew then feigned engine failure, sitting inside the 12 inch range. We turned, facing the oncoming fleet and waited receiving damage aft from the Battleship's 16 inch guns.
Cap ordered we kill all SWAG's before they ranged us and the torpedoes. We had a tenth of a Strom advantage on them.
Cadet Lieutenant's Harmand and Freelorn took charge of the 12 inch batteries. In a textbook operation all SWAG's were eliminated before they could release a single torpedo.
As destroyers closed Cap noticed six were too close to each other. When in range he had Newman backing us and Lieutenant Harmand targeting a single torpedo in the middle. Perfect hit destroyed two destroyers and damaged at least three more.
Bringing all four batteries to bear obtained scores of hits on remaining destroyers and three torpedoes going off took out five more.
At that point we turned around using laterals only and waited.
At 1640R the Battleship closed and we accelerated away from the enemy. Caught by surprise the battleship and remaining destroyers also accelerated and ran into the torpedo mines with devastating effects.
We were just inside the Battleships gun range and continued to suffer heavy damage, loosing three more engines and all of the top and port guns. We feigned death and when the battleship, itself severally damaged and reloading, came in range, Lieutenant Freelorn, our last trained gun director, fired all guns in a single salvo, almost destroying our ship from stress pressures, but the battleship exploded taking the remaining destroyer screen with it. A huge part of that ship was entering the orbit of the third planet.
Cap rearranged the crew giving priority to feeders and loaders of the auto cannons as the Carrier launched its twenty fighters.
From 1640T to 1641B we fought a fierce battle, destroying all but three fighters and then, in a surprise move even to us, Cap ordered max ramming speed as we charged the carrier.
When our damaged ship was at the best possible speed we could do he ordered a laterals turn and brought our rear torpedo tubes, still functional, to bear and we fired at max range, max spread, everything we had then he went again to max speed toward the third planet.
Unable to determine cause, but the Carrier was hit and destroyed by a single torpedo, possibly hitting the fighter fuel storage.
1641D two remaining Sandersall fighters did damage as we neared the M2 planet. Cadet Lieutenant Samantha Albridge took control of the auto-cannons and with the remaining live cadets feeding her guns she crippled, then destroyed one fighter and reported hits on the other. We suffered an explosion aft and lost all com with the remainder of the ship. Sam reported crippling the last fighter as we, damaged and unpowered, entered atmosphere on the planet below.
Tally: 2 miners, two Capital ships, twenty destroyers, twenty-four SWAG.
Losses: Glimmer of Time Destroyer and 295 crew.
End of report, Cadet Lieutenant Newman; compiler.
"Says what it needs to Gale, send it," I told her.
"Can't Cap, all com's down, antenna’s gone," Krystal said.
"Damn. Engineering, can we float?"
"As in surface?" Sam asked.
"If we haven't taken to much water behind the bulkhead we can."
"Shields hide us here?"
"Yes, Cap, for awhile," Krystal said. "These people are still primitive by our standards."
"Okay, monitor all channels, get us up and see if we can get an antenna working." I received rogers.
"How are the two injured people?"
Sam said, "They will be okay, a few days on the units and they will be functional again."
"Good to hear," I said. I was debating with myself. "Was anyone in the rear CDC with my wife?"
"Cap, Lilly was the closest. It is why she was injured. It was a direct hit, bam, gone, all gone," Sam said.
"I shouldn't have asked, I'm sorry. To personal. I apologize," I said, feeling bad.
"No, your wife took command of the CDC and did her job to the highest standards. We all fought a death fight and all new it was our deaths. There were incidents of fear but I think all performed well and, if there can really be such a thing, died well," Gale said.
"Surface in three minutes, Cap," Krystal said.
"Any land near?"
"Sorry, Cap, we came down on the other side of this planet. I have nothing on where we are and no data."
The bridge was a destroyers escape pod. The Rear CDC was also an escape pod. Drills always taught the men to try to make either one when abandon ship was given, depending on where they were at the time. Problem was the rear CDC was more in the middle. All the engine crews and gun crews would go there. All the staff and loaders and non-engine maintenance would come to us in the forward CDC. My major problem was I was never able to order an abandon ship. When the rear CDC was hit it took all the main and redundant com links. Since the auto-cannons were part of the forward anti-fighter defense shield it fell under my CDC so I had com with them and I'm sure that was pure luck.
"Cap, on the surface, a landmass is about five miles from us," Newman said.
"Any idea where these people really are in development?" I asked.
"No Cap. I was looking it up. We quarantined the place because they started worshiping the Bio-Tech's as gods and we started having local battles among ourselves over what slaves were whose. That was before the Sandersall split from us. Since they were established we pulled back and left them on their own though there are repeated incidents of interference, mostly Sandersall wanting minerals and gold."
"Okay, thanks Gale. Take the bridge. Use what you need to get us near land so we can see what is what."
"Sam, with me please?"
We left the bridge and headed to the small medical station. Lilly and Alice were on the Nano pack-7 med machines. At least they were the newest in portable human repair systems.
Alice was awake and smiled. "We kicked their asses sir," she said.
"Yes, Alice, we did that. How do you feel?" I asked.
"Like I was hit with a body-slam in arena wrestling."
"You wrestled?" I asked.
"Yes, sir, for awhile. To many injuries took me out of it as a viable wrestler so I joined the service."
"Well, relax, get better."
"Will we be rescued, Cap?" she asked.
"I don't know, honest, I don't know."
"Okay, sorry to hear about the XO and the rest."
"Thank you," I told her. Lilly was asleep so we left her alone.
We next went to the supply rooms. We'd be fine for quite a while. Be a bit tight on food unless we found some bio-mass. Maybe we could feed it fish. I was on the way to the arms room when Newman squaked the speakers. "Captain, report to the bridge please. Captain Guzman, please report to the bridge."
"Something's up or she wouldn't have called," Sam said, stating the obvious.
We made it back and I saw we were sinking again. "Flooding? Damage?"
"No, Cap, that big hunk of battleship will hit this ocean, it will still be tons after burning down to here."
It will hit water, much of this area will be washed away from what we call a tsunami wave hundreds of feet high. We need to be hugging the bottom or we get destroyed too."
"I see. Maybe that would be a good thing, to be washed away, to not have to remember." I suspect they knew I was in a serious funk.
Krystal spoke up, "Cap, if you want to die, fine. I don't care, but before you go tell us what to do so we can get out of here alive. I still have a few more boyfriends to find."
Sam came over and took my hand, "She's right Cap, help us, we need you right now."
I felt empty yet I also knew I still had a job to finish for people who needed me, but I still needed more time to wrestle my demons. "Give me some time. I'll work it out, I promise." I left the bridge and went to my cabin, such that it is. There were only eight in this section of the ship, bridge staff.
Sam drifted in a little later as I lay on my bunk. She knocked and entered. "Cap, may I speak?"
"Not if your going to lecture me."
"No. I was married a year just before this trip started. He died in a drunken brawl with a couple others at a bar. Main reason I joined. No Cap, I know the emptiness, the hole. Anyway, when you're ready, I or any of the others are willing to help fill your heart as best we can with our bodies, if not our love."
Well, that caught me off guard. I looked up at her, she actually had a tear in her eye. "Sam, I, I, thanks. I mean that."
"Just wanted you to know, Cap. The wave or waves should hit in an hour. Gale thinks it could actually move us off the bottom a bit since we are in a shallow area near land."
About twenty minutes before the wave I was cleaned up and was back on the bridge. It was empty but for Newman. "Gale? Where are they?"
"They went to claim a cabin room, then, as we get near the Tsunami time, they are going to try and help Lilly and Alice stay with the machines. Those body tanks are heavy and might dislodge in this gravity when the wave hits."
"Okay then, I'll meet them in Med."
"Fine, Cap, I'm strapped down tight." She smiled and thumped her harness.
I went to Med. Krystal and Sam were tying off various cargo straps and ropes. Yeah, the heavy cylinder like machines the two girls were in could actually break free. I helped check the straps and cinched a few a notch or two tighter then we felt the force hit the ship. I had the distinct sensation of being lifted then set down again, but turns out it wasn't violent, we were deep enough it slid over us. After Newman said it was over we undid all the straps and insured Alice and Lilly were still okay.
Lilly was finally awake and she saw me and bawled. I went by her, "Cry it all out now, when you're better we have a lot of work to do."
"I know, Cap. We lost so many is all. I saw your wife talking on the com with her helmet on, then nothing, all gone, all dead."
"Well, they are at rest and we have work to do. Get well," I said and held her hand a bit then went to Alice.
"How you doing, Alice?" I asked.
"Not ready to have a baby, but feeling better." She had a weak but pretty smile. She motioned me close and whispered, "Cap, Lilly's problem, mhm, her lover was standing next to your wife."
"Elaine?" I asked.
"Yes, anyway, it hit her hard. Thought you should know."
"Okay. Didn't know," I said.
"It's okay, she'll be fine in time. She's AC/DC."
"The rest of you?"
"No, Cap, the rest of us want a real man, unfortunately there is only one available at the moment and we've all been without a long time now. I can see why the crews coming off space runs always seemed so damn horny now." She smiled such a big smile.
I changed the subject and later returned to the bridge. "Newman, status of planet surface?"
"Night, Cap, large single mountain spire island was near when we settled, no craft spotted, but they have satellites," she said.
"Thought you said they were Low-Tec?"
"Yeah, our data is outdated. They are up to early space stage it seems. We need to be careful, that tsunami did a lot of damage and rescue craft may be all over this area."
"Cap, our shields will keep us invisible for awhile. We do have a two man flotation boat and propulsion system."
"Emergency beacon and Tachyon transmitter?" I asked.
"Get us on the surface. Krystal, suit up, we're going climbing."
On the surface, shields up, we found we could drift toward the weird spire using the lateral jets. About the only thing still functional. By 1641P we were almost at the shore and Krystal and I launched the little boat with the relay equipment and portable shield. Split between us we were carrying sixteen pounds each. Hand lasers full, we left just before their dawn and I watched the bridge capsule once again sink out of sight.
We arrived on shore before 1641R and were admiring the spire and dreading the climb when Krystal started screaming. Huge bugs, as in strange and large seemed to be falling on us, or jumping. As weird a creature as I'd seen. She was covered in them but we soon realized they seemed harmless, just ugly and big.
I went to the shore and using the underwater contact freq I told Gale to surface and gather as many as she could and feed to the converter, protein was protein and the food converters didn't care what the origin was. At least we wouldn't starve.
By 1642D we were at the top. From the graffeti and various signs and flags this seemed to be a favorite climb for locals.
"We need to go back down, maybe that side by the little crack and dig it in there or it'll be seen," Krystal said.
We spent from 1642E to 1642I relocating and firing up our distress beacon. Luck held, it found the special Tayc freq even in this backward system.
As we climbed down we met up with the rest of the crew gathering a supply, though reluctantly, of the bugs. "Well, I see we need men, if for nothing else, gathering bugs for food." I laughed. Something about many women and bugs that didn't click.
We settled back to the bottom and had a long, long wait ahead. Being a fresh widower my crew gave me their condolences their way and we survived the eight months waiting for rescue hiding from their subs and ships, and gathering bugs.
We were picked up, the escape pod was destroyed, the rescue beacon recovered and we went home, a simple destroyer crew that made history and became legends among our peoples and villains to be feared by the Sandersall.
Glimmer of Time II was commissioned yesterday and I was retired along with Samantha Albridge, my new wife and legendary hero. She made it clear she wanted lots of kids.