Chapter 35 - Bug-Zapper coming right up


“Closing the rear boarding ramp!” Camus shouted. He was glad everyone was aboard but he was far from relieved- the Probes amassing were no longer a wave, but a swarm outside. “Let’s get out of here!” Hopefully they could be outrun.

Tanock leaned against the side of the shuttle and switched out his second expended energy cell.  “Well done everyone,” he said, making a mental note to carry more extra energy cells in the future.


<Shuttle Shizunai>

“Hold tight,” Jenny called out. In typical fashion, she didn’t wait after that. Instead, she punched the impulse engines to maximum output, while jerking the nose to a sixty-degree ascent. This was, for the shuttle, the optimal trade-off between ascent and acceleration, which would minimize the time to break free of the planet, and to return to the ship’s protective umbrella.

The Antican working the weapons growled. “The swarm is also picking up speed.” The Shizunai’s shields were lighting up with the growing number of drones that were ringing aft side. Camus’ hope that they would be left in the shuttle’s dust in the climb to orbit was dashed. Many of the drones were close enough though that visuals were more than sufficient for targeting now, however, and he was knocking them down with accurate phaser bursts. But it was barely making a dent. His lip curled back exposing his canines. “Every time I hit one there’s three more. Where are they calling all their friends from?”

“If that’s how they want to play,” Jenny muttered, bobbing and weaving the craft as it ascended. “Normalize shields,” she remembered, for they were still heavily skewed to the dorsal region. She didn’t know the Petty Officer from Security, but the Antican didn’t seem fazed by the drones, or by the erratic nature of their flight path. “And set up torpedoes for over-the-shoulder shots with proximity fuses.” The latter was, basically, high-technology antimatter flak, but it should serve its purpose, which was to buy time until the mother ship’s weapons could be brought to bear.

Camus reset the shielding, and called up the shuttle’s torpedoes. He was taking out fewer of the drones with his attention divided, but it was just as well, to allow for the phaserbank recharge. “Aft shields need reinforcement, Lieutenant.” Camus suggested. The balanced approach on the shields wasn’t giving their ass enough cover. But he wasn’t sure what the officer was planning. The sensors on the rearview were hardly showing sky or landscape below, almost entirely darkened by the drones which, if they could be characterized, seemed not unlike angry wasps now. Camus, returning to the phaser control, pepper dashed the horde in a spray of fire and it rained drones, but made no clearing in the cloud of them. “Firing the torpedoes now.”

Camus launched them in pairs, four torpedoes that shot out into the cloud of drones, swallowed up for a moment, before exploding in full globes of fire, clearing the sky. As the fire dissipated, there were other dark clouds forming fast on the horizon. The torpedoes had only made for a breather before the shields began to light up once more. “There’s more incoming. There’s not one source of them. They’re coming from- everywhere!”

Even though Jenny was making a very difficult target, she wasn’t an impossible one. Hits, mostly to the aft shield, peppered the shuttle, each sliding the shield ever closer to punch-through. It was a tough little shuttle, yet she did not trust it to hold up to much of that. Desperate to slow the pounding that the shields were taking, she rolled hard to the left, corkscrewing the ship farther into the upper atmosphere.

As the percentage was dropping on aft shielding, The computer began blaring severe warnings and Camus gave up the useless attempt at cutting down the swarm, attempting instead to max out the rear shields. Once they failed it was going to be game over. He begged, borrowed and stole from every other system, and left the rest of the shield emitters at bare minimum outputs. The emitters aft were over taxed enough that the charge rate pitch was a wine loud enough to be heard over the engines. “

Smoke and sparks accompanied pops from multiple components and panels, yet shuttle Shizunai continued to take whatever abuse the drones, as well as her pilot, tried to dish out. Jenny knew it couldn’t last forever, yet she hoped that it wouldn’t have to.

The comms crackled to life.

=^=Shuttle Shizunai, this is the Hiroshima, come in Shizunai=^=

Briar, like so many others strapped into the emergency seating that they had folded out, was relieved to hearLt Xarbe on the radio. “They cut the interference!” Somehow, even with the swarm of drones likely combining their efforts at jamming. Briar took a little moment of pride in the officers still working to recover the away teams from Hiroshima’s side.

=^= We have your telemetry, Lieutenant. If you can level out your flight path, we can boost pulse field energy through the shuttle, and use the Shizunai’s targeting sensors as a focuser. On your mark.=^=

What a relief, Jenny thought. “Flying straight,” she reported. “Send it.” While there was a little risk in suddenly not jinking around, it would be completely offset by the carnage that their cruiser of a mother ship was about to unleash.

Xarbe delivered the power and the shuttle lighting increased as all the banks buzzed with energy. Camus watched as all his readouts maxed on power and the relays began to give cascade warnings, and then he hit the switch.

The power shunted outward from all the phaser bank arrays at once, forming a crackling sphere that eliminated the entire new rush of drones.

Briar’s jaw hung agape. “I doubt they’re going to have much to rebuild themselves from…” She remarked.

OFF: Since we never named our shuttles, I plan use rivers from Japan to sort of match DS-9 naming convention and keep a long-running Hiroshima theme 🙂 List of rivers of Japan – Wikipedia

Joint Post

LCDR Briar Elin and LT Jenny Hanmore