11/04/2016 at 23:20 #6985Blaze StrifeParticipant
Chapter 3: 5316-2237
//NOTE: This is the last chapter in my short stories about Blaze Strife. I’ve decided to write other stories, where I’m completely free to invent the world, the story and the characters. It has been kinda hard writing under so many limitations, and I’ve lost my will to finish this chapter; that’s why parts of it are of poorer quality than I usually write. I thank all of you who’ve read the previos chapters and especially those that gave me feedback. However, I’ve decided to post it, in the case someone was wondering what was holding me up, and so you could read a bit more about the character; it might shed more light on some of Blaze’s actions. If you have any questions, feel free to ask, either here or privately.
Most officers were relaxing in the galley, joking and chatting about unimportant trifles, waiting for Duty Officer’s signal that will mark the beginning of the new duty shift. It was Lieutenant Aramond’s and Lieutenant Junior Quinn’s last shift as the Duty and Assistant Duty Officers, and everyone knew the two of them did an exceptional job in those roles. There was many a congratulatory handshake around the room, as the two of them strode about, verifying that everyone has successfully installed the newest security updates.
In a corner of the room, under a wide window revealing numerous stars surrounding the space station, Cadet Blaze Strife was sitting in a laid back chair, unsuccessfully attempting to look as carefree as the rest of them. He was trying to hide his inner anxiousness, but was betrayed by his own leg that kept rapidly shaking. Being in the corner gave him an overview of the whole room, and allowed him to keep glancing at the nearest exit that lead towards the briefing rooms, then returning his intent stare to the Duty Officer. He was ready to jump from his chair and rush towards the door at the moment he heard the awaited words.
The reason for Blaze’s agitation was his upcoming promotion to the rank of ensign and the hope that his request to be permanently assigned to TSN Hydra has been granted. Several of the officers already knew of his promotion, so they came to congratulate him beforehand, wishing him the best of luck in his upcoming career. He thanked them courteously, but continued to wait until the promotion to accept those wishes in earnest.
Finally, Aramond sighed and announced “Alright, top of the hour, guys. Report to the Briefing room 1.”
A few chuckles escaped several of officers’ lips as Blaze bolted through the door like an unleashed dog that didn’t see the outside in a week. He was out of the galley even before the Duty Officer managed to fully finish his sentence.
When the rest of the officers started arriving to the briefing room, Blaze was already sitting in the cadet row, seemingly casually resting his hand on the backrest of the chair in front of him, a chair in the row designated for the ensigns. He would relax only once he was rightfully sitting in that chair. Other present ensigns were considerate enough to sit elsewhere in their row, and leave the claimed chair to him.
A minute after the start of the duty shift, the briefing room’s murmur was silenced by the arrival of the senior officers, the last of whom was the Fleet Captain Xavier Wise, himself. It seems that his leave of absence was over, and that the rumors he would be transferred to lead another Division, or that he accepted a promotion, were just rumors, after all.
After the last roll call in which Blaze reported in as a cadet was over, Commander Jemel Eahain was given the podium to announce the rank promotions for this shift. As tradition required, the promotions would start from the lowest rank and by the alphabet, so Blaze was the first one called to receive his insignia.
As he was standing up, his knees felt weak for a moment, and he had to stiffen the slight tremor in them. Looking over the heads of the silent officers, Blaze composed himself and started walking down the room with his back straight, head held high, stride long and confident, pride bursting from his chest. Stopping in front of the senior officers in a salute position, he struggled to keep his eyes affixed in front of him, fighting the urge to look at the insignia and make sure he’s not dreaming. He managed to keep still as a gold bar was secured on his grey uniform’s collar signifying he was no longer a cadet fresh out of the Academy, but a commissioned officer of the Terran Stellar Navy. The gold color of the ensign insignia bar was one of the reasons he tried hard on the ensign exam; receiving a pin that was proof of his successful result of the exam in a color other than the gold of the insignia would be insulting, in his mind. Even though his rank was now that of an active ensign, and it would take a few more shifts before he became a full ensign, everyone knew it was bound to happen, and Blaze was happy for it.
As the Commander finished attaching the insignia, the officers in the room started cheering as loud as ever when an officer among them got promoted, and Blaze was unable to keep the grin from exposing his white teeth, stretching his face into a grimace of happiness. The pride he felt of becoming a true member of this group of people was filling him with bliss. He would fight and die for these individuals, and they would do so for him, there was no question about any of that. Wearing the officer’s insignia was a symbol of that service to each other and to everyone that depended on their bravery and devotion.
Placing his behind in the previously claimed chair, Blaze let out a deep sigh, thinking to himself he has finally done it; he has finally become an officer of the TSN, has finally achieved his dream. There was not much time for introspect just yet, because another officer was promoted. After the called lieutenant junior became a full lieutenant, Blaze joined in the clamor that ensued. He now felt a part of the Navy more than he thought possible, and was ecstatic to see his comrades be rewarded for their hard work and diligence. The feeling he now felt was more joyous than the one he felt back when he read he was accepted to the Academy; the joy of years of hard work, effort and clinging on hopes culminating in a success.
Following the briefing, the officers were told to report to their designated ships. Blaze glided his view over the officers, and then froze in his seat, spotting someone he completely failed to notice back in the galley; Hydra’s real Weapons Officer, Lieutenant Junior Fulvus. Fulvus, who was now casually talking with Ensign Cessna as they headed towards the Hydra, was often absent in the time Blaze has been with the Division, so he didn’t expect to see him be back on duty. Blaze sat in the middle of the room, his face a mask of confusion. The main reason for Blaze’s earlier nervousness was that he wanted to hear the words “Granted” on his request to be permanently assigned to TSN Hydra as a Weapons Officer. Now he couldn’t.
As soon as the officers with assigned positions left the briefing room, Blaze stood and turned towards Aramond, ignored the few other officers around him, and told the Duty Officer that he put in the request to be put on Hydra as soon as his ensign exam results were confirmed. Aramond studied his console for a second, then nodded and informed the newly appointed ensign that the assignment is not yet in effect. That small, short word “Yet” gave Blaze a sliver of hope. In time, it could happen. “How much time?” Blaze mumbled silently, too quiet for anyone to hear. After another quick glance at the console, the Lieutenant informed him that he’s to report to TSN Raven.
Later, Blaze would start his personal log with only one line changed, instead of the expected two.
Ensign (Active) Blaze Strife
No permanent assignment
2nd Space Fleet, 4th Light Division
In the docking bay of the TSN Raven, Blaze’s attention was drawn towards the enlisted officers loading up equipment aboard the TSN Raven, as they were shouting “We’ve got another batch of skutters here!”
Blaze wondered what they were talking about, so he approached them and asked “Chief petty officer, what are those skutters you’re loading aboard the ship?”
The chief petty officer turned around, saw the person asking was a commissioned officer and promptly responded with a salute and answered “They are the new robots, sir. We call them skutters.”
“The new robots?” Blaze paused, then remembered the report he skimmed through earlier. “They are officially called Chovyek’s STROYs, isn’t that right, officer?” asked Blaze, unsure if they are speaking of the same machines.
The petty officer winced at the name and answered “Yes, sir.”
Blaze thought to himself for another second, then asked “I’ve read a bit about them, but can you tell me more? And do tell me where did the nickname comes from.”
The officer was quick to responded “Yes, sir. They are semi-autonomous machines that are intended to do routine cleaning and maintenance work, so we can focus on more important tasks. We started calling them skutters because they of their short steps. They scuttle, sir.”
That made sense to Blaze, so he dismissed the officer “Got it. Thank you, officer. Don’t let me keep you any longer.”
“Thank you, sir.” replied the chief petty officer, saluting once more and returning to navigating the loading of the crates and robots, while Blaze continued on to board the Raven.
Even though TSN Raven was a familiar ship, it was not Hydra. Even though he would once again serve on the flagship, under the Fleet Captain himself, it was not Hydra’s crew that greeted him upon boarding. Even though Raven had two beams more than Hydra, and stronger shields, it lacked two torpedo tubes and plenty of ordnance.
However, the situation was not unacceptable, far from it. Raven was a great ship and was still full of members of the Terran Stellar Navy, and rather experienced ones, on top of it all. With Xavier in the captain’s chair and accomplished Lieutenant Commander Gebbens as the executive officer, Raven was in safe hands. The Science and Communications consoles were both headed by the skillful Lieutenant Aramond. Despite half the bridge crew missing, Raven’s helm was taken by a talented and upcoming Ensign Adam Parra, Blaze took the weapons console, while the role of the chief engineer fell on the hunched shoulders of a man who was a master in his field, Lieutenant Greybeard. Together, they made a good crew, and proved it in the simulations.
The two simulations before the mission went smoothly.
During the second simulation, the screen of Blaze’s personal console lit up, displaying words he didn’t often see during the shift: “Incoming message”, and this one had a high priority. Curious about its contents, Blaze seized the opportunity to unlock the console and read the message while the ship in the simulation was docked.
The message was actually a brief memo from Commander Verok, informing him that due to other duties of Lieutenant Junior Fulvus, Blaze will take his place as the permanently assigned weapons officer of TSN Hydra starting from the next shift. The unexpected great news drew a wide smile from the weapons officer. He looked up to see if anyone noticed the change in his demeanor, but saw that everyone was busy checking their own consoles, personal or not. He jotted down a quick answer, thanking the Commander for the time to notify him of the development, and continued to serve with a restored sense of belonging.
Having finished the second simulation, Captain Xavier left the ship to arrange the mission details, and Lieutenant Aramond took the chance to talk to Ensign Parra about communication protocols between bridge officers. Parra seemed eager to share everything he saw or did with the rest of them, but it caused needless chatter and noise, which could have disastrous consequences on a mission.
Blaze wasn’t sure if Parra liked the lesson, since he was the first one to volunteer for transfer when Xavier told them that another ship lacked a bridge crew member. It could be that he’s simply ambitious, eager to please, or just wants to gain experience aboard multiple ships, but Blaze thought it was an interesting coincidence to leave the ship after a strict lesson. Having lost the helmsman, Aramond moved to take his place, while Lieutenant Commander Gebbens took the science and communication consoles.
The mission was an escort of a civilian supply convoy.
Aramond barely had time to take them out of the claws of the station, before Blaze was called to the torpedo room to investigate a malfunction in the targeting system. The engineer that was already down there didn’t have enough knowledge about it to be able to fix the problem, and Lieutenant Greybeard was busy worrying about the whole ship. Blaze called up the cadet from the night shift to replace him at the weapons console until he could sort out the issue.
Since Raven was the flag ship, it was its duty to remain close to the civilian convoy, which was currently the safest place in the sector, protected by the whole 4th Division that kept hitting the enemies like it was swatting annoying mosquitoes. There were only a few ships that got too close for comfort, prompting Raven to take action, while Blaze was working alongside the engineer to sort out the mess of the wires and repair the damage. How the damage occurred in the first place was anybody’s guess. It looked like someone forgot to remove a piece of melted plastic that remained there from the last shift. Blaze decided not to officially report this, knowing it could cause major problems for the DamCon teams and the cleaning crews. He was quite sure this was not the work of a saboteur, because it was so easily detected.
The convoy moved slowly, but was successfully escorted to their destination. The mission was mostly quiet.
Escorting the convoy reminded Blaze of why it was his dream to be an officer in the Terran Stellar Navy since he was but a child. As a young boy, he was traveling with his parents on a slow civilian cruiser, and saw how fast the military escort moved through space, soaring around the cruiser like it was standing still. At first, he wanted to be the one flying the ship, but his interests broadened once he came to the Academy, and now he ended up like a successful and commended weapons officer.
The person flying the Raven was Aramond, and he was a much better pilot than Blaze thought he could ever be; after all, helm was his secondary position. On the last shift, Aramond was too hotheaded, and they ended up crashing into a minefield, almost destroying the Raven and killing everyone on board. Blaze was adamant not to let such a mistake happen ever again, not if he could do something about it. During the mission, Raven encountered a few dense asteroid belts, and Aramond successfully glided the ship through them. Unsure if Aramond saw a specific asteroid, Blaze warned him of them a few times, but it looked like Aramond didn’t like being told by a junior officer of the impending danger of colliding with an enormous chunk of rock or metal. If the main screen on the bridge is showing the visuals around the ship, they are quite easy to spot, being larger than any of the Navy’s ships, but the helm officer is often focused on their own tactical console, and has no time to look at the main screen. After they left the asteroids behind them without leaving any paint on them, Blaze was sure to congratulate Aramond on the successful flying aloud, and thought to himself that he might be as good a pilot as Lieutenant Junior Quinn of Hydra was.
During the mission, there were further attempts at communicating with the BioMechs, but they failed and the 4th Light Division had to defend itself and kill them.
The messages received from BioMechs were not clearly understandable, and they did attack the Division, but most of the 4th was not eager in retaliation and their subsequent destruction, wondering if they will ever be able to coexist, perhaps even cooperate. Blaze was certain that the xenobiologists and linguistic scientists were working hard on trying to understand those fascinating lifeforms.
Completing the mission, the Division returned to the base and its officers gathered in the galley, discussing the slow civilian ships, the BioMech encounter, Lieutenant Junior Matsiyan’s coffee maker machines, and anything else that crossed their quick-witted minds. In the midst of all the chatter, Lieutenant Commander del Pino entered the mess hall and announced that he was sorry for what was about to happen, and then promptly left before anyone could ask what he meant. Officers were slightly confused, asking each other if anyone knew what that was all about, but didn’t spend much time thinking about it, believing it was a joke or a prank of some kind.
Soon afterwards, Matsiyan arrived and immediately asked the Assistant Duty Officer Lieutenant Junior Quinn why were Lieutenant Commander del Pino and Ensign Cessna aboard TSN Hydra, with the ship locked. The news was slightly alarming, especially when taken in with the odd apology offered by del Pino. All of the eyes turned towards the Duty and Assistant Duty Officers and questions about reporting the irregularity were raised. Unfortunately, the reaction was slow, and would cost them a great deal. The Duty Officer mentioned that Lieutenant Junior Finley was the Security Chief, and that if he didn’t want to report it, then he himself had no reason to. Quinn wasn’t satisfied with the answer and went to investigate and report the situation, but since del Pino was the executive officer of the Hydra, he had the authorization to be on the ship and lock it. Too late did everyone realize that Hydra was not receiving incoming transmissions.
The many questions that were being thrown around the mess hall were all cut short by the deafening blaring of klaxons, causing everyone to jump to attention. An emergency announcement broadcasted to the galley sent everyone scrambling to their ships; everyone aside from the hall’s personnel and Hydra’s crew. In the loud shouting and running than ensued, Blaze looked back towards the big table, and saw Fulvus and Quinn sitting there, staring blankly at each other, lost without their home. The TSN Hydra has been stolen.
The fury. The rage. Blaze was shouting and shoving others out of his way, sprinting towards the Raven. His heavy bulk tore through the crowd in the hallways like a bull running through wheat. This weapons officer’s wrath is not to be taken lightly. He would make sure the thieves felt the consequences of their actions, and he would do so without blowing the Hydra to smithereens.
As they were all settling into their stations, Fleet Captain Xavier informed the crew of the Raven that Lieutenant Commander del Pino and Ensign Cessna were aboard the Hydra without authorization. The confusion on everyone’s faces was obvious, but they were all highly trained, and continued to perform. As soon as Aramond jumped into his seat at the helm, the Raven launched from the station.
Xavier looked at the main screen, then nodded to himself and pushed a button on his captain’s console. His voice was broadcasted to all nearby TSN ships.
“This is Fleet Captain to Lieutenant Commander del Pino aboard the TSN Hydra. Quit your impulse systems. Come to an all-stop. TSN Raven is going to come alongside.”
After a few silent moments, del Pino responded “Fleet Captain, I cannot do this.”, in a tone that sounded like he was amused.
Xavier expected this and hailed the Division “Fleet Captain to all ships, report status.”
After responses from TSN Lancer, Phoenix, and the real Hydra’s crew aboard TSN Hunter, Xavier gave the order. “All ships, disable the Hydra’s engines and bring del Pino into immediate custody.”
That was when del Pino identified himself “This is Captain Lucas del Pino from the Unukalhai Space Forces”, and added a threat “surrender at once and you may be spared”, emphasizing the word that signified that sparing lives is only an option, and not a guarantee.
“This is Fleet Captain to Lieutenant Commander del Pino. Disable your systems immediately.”
“You are relieved of command and stripped of all rank.”
Blaze didn’t hear del Pino’s answer, but he saw what del Pino thought of losing rank; Hydra launched a nukes in the Raven’s rear. Blaze reacted quickly, activating the ship’s shields, but it was not enough to negate the strength of a couple of TSN’s nukes. The Raven took heavy damage and was left to drift aimlessly, while Hydra sped away at high speed. Other TSN ships were quick to react and followed it.
“Fleet Captain to all ships, continue your pursuit course. TSN Raven is currently disabled.”
Greybeard and his Damage Control teams kept running around fixing the big bird’s bleeding wounds, while the medical personnel raced from one critical case to another. As a nurse was patching a cut on Xavier’s head, he repeated the grim news. The thieves were none other than TSN’s own Lieutenant Commander del Pino and Ensign Cessna.
The shock finally hit Blaze, as hard as those nukes did, and left him speechless.
Then he banged his hand hard on the console, provoking an angry shout from the nearby DamCon member, but Blaze couldn’t hear him. The weapons officer was furious. The knuckles on his clenched fist turned white, wishing they could punch the living daylight out of two people he considered friends. His wrath obliterated the feeling of shock and loss, and he hurried off to help the engineers fix the Raven. The heavy breathing of the massive man, and the savage look in his eyes, were a warning enough for others to keep out of his way.
Through the loud pumping of blood in his ears, Blaze overheard that Phoenix, Lancer and Hawk were chasing Hydra. Craving to join the chase and express his fury, he continued to fix the ship with an additional haste.
The repairs took a while and gave Blaze time to calm down and think. “Why?” was the question that echoed the loudest in his mind. Cessna was the one who most warmly welcomed Blaze to the Hydra. Del Pino was the one keeping them all in reins, if Verok was not around. Why would they do something like this? And what happened with all the enlisted personnel aboard? The Terran Stellar Navy would later find out that the crew of Hydra was at it it’s bare minimum at the time, with most duties performed by easily programmable skutters, but Blaze will read the “killed in action” obituary of his bunkmate from TSN Hydra.
The explosion of the nukes caused Raven to drift towards a station, so the station’s crew sped up the repairs significantly. Just in time for the black bird to catch up to the chase and hear the answer to the “Why?” question. It came in the form of a broadcast from the Hydra; Cessna spoke of his xenophobic views, about the superiority of the human race and the filth of alien lifeforms.
Each sentence made Blaze even angrier and he kept wishing they could fly even faster than warp 4. The chase continued on through several sectors
//I gave up writing at this point, and didn’t revise anything after boarding TSN Raven to chase the stolen Hydra.
Blaze decided to keep the log of the actions that transpired as brief as possible. He was a man of action and didn’t know how to put all of his feelings into words.
TSN Hydra was stolen by Unukalhai sympathizers, and subsequently destroyed after a chase.12/04/2016 at 00:17 #6999MatsiyanParticipant
Thanks for taking the time and effort to share that. This really brings to life the whole incident.
Trying to write “fuzzily” around unspoken rules is difficult. Best of luck with other projects!12/04/2016 at 01:59 #7001AramondParticipant
I’m actually sad that you’re not finishing up the Hydra incident. That was well done!12/04/2016 at 08:28 #7006Blaze StrifeParticipant
Thank you for your support, it really means a lot to me. 🙂
I still need to decide whether I’ll write in English or Croatian, but if I do write in English, I’ll give you a link to read it somwehere, if you’re interested.
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