Why does being on the offensive seem so much less stressful? Waking up with purpose knowing that there was a plan for the day rather than being on call to scramble let me sleep much better.
First order of the day was a simulation run while the operation brief was finalized. I was back aboard the TSN Hawk with Captain Evans commanding. Trying to widen my experience I volunteered for Helm. I was much more confident this time. Making mistakes on Helm is so public, but my general shiphandling was much smoother. I am still having to analyze a lot to enter combat but I was much less tentative and my approaches more nearly optimum. I only overshot a target once, but we were doing Warp Three and the Captain technically had not called out the destination, though I should have realized from the bridge chatter that we were intending to assist the Hydra in a heavy engagement.
It was therefore a bit of a shock to be reassigned to TSN Hunter for the mission; LtCdr del Pino | Command, Lt. Aposine | Hlm, Morlock | Wea, Roshin Das | Sci|XO.
Operation Hammerfall was very complicated with many moving parts; to retake TSN captured stations in Sector 2, integrate a Hjorden combat vessel ensuring it saw combat but not letting it get destroyed and escorting marines and a hospital ship to to our stations – assuming I recalled that correctly. I was busy doing my bit to support the Hunter’s corner of the action.
It was actually pretty exciting to be ordered ahead of the fleet to scout. As an Engineer it also means more freedom to use warp efficiently when we are not keeping station with a battle group. We nosed ahead and mooned a couple of enemy fleets after taking a good look at them. Then we struck gold. We found one of the enemy command ships and relayed its position back to the fleet. Eliminating that put a significant dent in their command and control network. Ha!
After that it was a question of irritating and distracting enemy fleets that could have interfered with station operations. I lost all track of that as we merrily took advantage of two groups of “space monsters” buzzing them and trying not to get swatted too hard and then letting them chase us without be caught or discouraging them. That called for some fine adjustments to the power flow to the warp drive especially after we had taken some damage. So I was mentally estimating how much to overdrive the underperforming drives to get back to the velocity the skipper was asking for. And Commander del Pino is all spit and polish, very clear in communicating his expectations and providing feedback. Yessir!
Which, when the chips are down, is very reassuring.
We pulled the monster herding trick several times. TSN Phoenix kept wanting to play with our charges but we managed to deliver a couple right into the middle of enemy fleets and then boost up warp to drop them like a mine. Very, very satisfying when your scoutship can’t deliver a heavy punch by herself. But we kept eyeballs off the hospital ship.
We still got tagged hard a couple of times and we had to deploy anti-burn foam to several DamCon crew and another couple of lustrous, space-dark coffins. My mind had to just hold that at a distance. I’ve seen too much lately. It was good to know that Polano wasn’t in the middle of it and Kaplan was in the crew on the nacelles which did not see nearly the same level of strikes as the forward saucer.
And we hurt their ability to keep moving on us or even hold their ground. It felt good to strike back and start to offer hope to the USFP citizens trapped on those occupied stations.
The Hjorden crew survived though their ship didn’t. Their captain however seemed very satisfied to have been in the thick of it and not ignored. Well. Any landing that you can walk away from, right?
End of mission debrief was a little hazy after so much excitement, but I was rather shocked to hear the skipper used the word “impressed” about my handling of the ship. Pleased, amazed and delighted, but shocked. She does respond beautifully and getting into the cadence of the bridge chatter, knowing the rhythm of the helmsman and gunnery officers makes a real difference. I was really starting to have my finger on the slider before helm started his tack, right on it when the tubes needed heating and horribly smug to report that the settings the captain requested were already in place. Guess I must have a big screw up coming sometime real soon!
What was very cool was stopping afterwards for a beer with oCommander Jemel who had a chat with me about engineering, shared a couple of tips, encouraged me about my prospects. I shared my happiness that members of the DamCon team I knew about were safe and skirted around the number of times I’d heard the bosun’s pipes for the departing side party lately.
“Do you work your teams hard, laddie?” He asked me.
“I try to have them where they are needed so they can get straight to the repairs. They are all eager to get us back in action as quickly as possible. Nobody wants to be limping when the beams start flying.”
“So they are stationed right near the places where the ship most often takes damage?” I looked at him with dawning comprehension. “If you are really hurt, often as not you’ll stay out of action until repairs are completed. You could keep the crews out of harm’s way during action and then deploy them during the lulls.”
I kept it together in the bar. But my pillow was damp as I went to sleep.
End personal log.