PHASE V : THE NIFELHEIM ARC ( 32 of 62 )
: “ No Survivors ”
Light Carrier Battle Group Aurora (CVEBG-A)
TCS Endeavour, Nifelheim System
1320 Hours (CST); 18 Feb 2681 (2681.049)
Alarm klaxons blared and red lights glowed as Serge Cayouette sprinted towards his locker and grabbed his helmet and gloves. The moment he had been dreading had finally come. It was time for the showdown between the Endeavour and the Nephilim carrier group; a showdown which would most likely be the last engagement between the two sides.
Serge ran out to the flight deck where the rest of the Endeavour’s pilots and crew were rushing to get the fighters out into space to intercept the enemy forces. “Lets go, people! Let’s go!” he yelled, rallying the pilots as he got to his fighter.
He quickly put on his helmet and locked it into place before patting the plane captain on his shoulder and scampering up the ladder to the cockpit of his Wasp-class interceptor. Serge buckled himself in and put his gloves on as the fighter’s canopy closed over him.
After starting up the fighter’s pre-flight sequence, Serge flashed the all-clear signal to his plane captain moments before a crane picked up his fighter and placed it into one of the Endeavour’s drop-launch slots.
Serge and the rest of his Hornets squadron were catapulted out of the launch bays as the Nephilim closed in on their position. Using their fighters’ booster packs, the squadron raced out to meet the enemy before they had a chance to strike out against the carrier group.
“Hornets! Lock on targets and fire when you’ve got them ranged!” Serge yelled to his pilots over the comm.
Seconds later, missile trails streamed out from the hard points of the Wasp interceptors and raced towards the incoming Nephilim fighters. The fighters danced with the missiles, trying to avoid the impact while firing some of their own which forced the Hornets to react.
Serge banked his fighter hard as a missile streaked past him and then he dropped a couple of decoys and activated his jammers as the missile arced around and came back towards him. Image Recognition: the bloodhound of missiles.
One missile slammed into one of the decoys, destroying both objects while the other missile continued towards Serge’s fighter. Serge rolled his fighter and sped downwards as the second missile darted past him and lost its lock.
The Hornet squadron regrouped and launched another attack on the enemy as the other squadrons moved into range.
The Endeavour’s flight wing took aim at every enemy ship in sight, punching through their shields with missiles and tearing apart their armor with energy weapons. Every pilot fought relentlessly against the seemingly overwhelming odds.
Commander Heather Stevens and Captain Robert Griffin watched the battle unfold from the bridge of the TCS Endeavour. Standing behind the communications officer, they listened to the radio chatter from his pilots as well as the unrecognizable sounds coming from the Nephilim.
Stevens glanced over at the Captain as he shook his head in frustration. “Not even a partial translation,” he said harshly.
Despite being unable to crack the Nephilim’s encryption codes and having little knowledge of their tactics, the Endeavour’s battle group had put up a formidable defense against the onslaught of the Nephilim attack force.
However, a number of Nephilim fighters managed to penetrate the outer defenses and bore down on the light carrier. The fighters quickly converged and united to form a quartet of torpedo bombers.
Stevens went wide-eyed as sensors indicated that the bombers were attempting to gain torpedo locks and was caught slightly off guard as Captain Griffin’s voice rang out: “Flight Group, this is Endeavour! We’ve got bombers attempting torpedo lock!”
Almost instantaneously, a trio of Confederation fighters banked around and chased after the bombers, showering them with blasts from their energy weapons that drained the shields of the bombers. Soon, the blasts penetrated the shields and began to tear apart the armor of the Nephilim ships... but not soon enough.
Four torpedoes sped towards the Endeavour a split second before pilots from the Emerald Falcons dispatched the bombers that launched them. Stevens watched the tactical display as the torpedoes bore down on them, hoping that the Endeavour’s defenses would eliminate the threat.
The ship’s stormfire turrets spun rapidly, unleashing a barrage of fire towards the incoming torpedoes. One torpedo was struck with a succession of stormfire ammunition before exploding a fair distance away. However, the turrets would not get another chance to destroy another torpedo as a couple Skate cluster fighters tore into the turrets with their weapons.
The ion and tachyon cannons of Cameron Garrison’s fighter returned the favor, quickly eliminating the enemy fighters before he turned his attention towards the remaining torpedoes.
Garrison tracked down the closest torpedo and blasted away at it, causing the armed projectile to explode in a brilliant flash of light. Without missing a beat, he located the next torpedo and punched the afterburners to chase after it as he opened up a channel to the Endeavour. “Two torpedoes down,” he said with a controlled voice.
Heather allowed herself to smile slightly at the sound of his voice as Captain Griffin responded. “Roger that, Dragon Lead.”
“CAMERON! WATCH OUT!”
Heather could only look on in horror as a Nephilim fighter smashed into Garrison’s as he took aim at the third torpedo. The two fighters were torn apart due to the sheer force of the collision, leaving only twisted, fiery pieces of wreckage in its wake.
There was no time for her to even comprehend what had just happened as Captain Griffin’s voice rang out. “BRACE FOR IMPACT!”
Seconds later, the two remaining torpedoes cracked through the hull of the Endeavour and exploded, throwing Heather and most of the bridge crew to the floor.
Plumes of fire lashed out from the Endeavour as the carrier slowly rolled over like a wounded animal onto its side with smoke and debris billowing out from the gaping holes that marred the ship’s hull.
The Endeavour’s pilots could only watch in terror as the torpedoes tore through the carrier and exploded, leaving charred remains and glowing embers in their place. The image of their ship, their home, burning and floating helplessly within the cold confines in space imprinted itself into their minds.
For what seemed like an eternity, the pilots held their breath and gazed upon the crippled carrier with a look of shock and disbelief. They had difficulties trying to comprehend what had just happened. But comprehension... and grief would have to occur later. At that moment in time, they had a job to do.
“Dragons, Warhawks! Form up,” Iceman ordered. “Marshall, set up for your bombing runs.”
“Roger that, Dragon Lead.”
Will Davies voice burst over the communication channels. “What? But the Endeavour! We have to -- ”
“The Endeavour is gone,” Iceman interrupted. He bristled as the words came out of his mouth. “It’s time we returned the favor.”
Davies was silent for a moment. “Roger that, Dragon Lead,” he finally replied as he quickly brought his fighter into formation. Iceman suspected that in those few, short seconds, Will Davies had grown up a great deal.
Smoke filled the air. Around the bridge, bodies lay broken on the floor while fires burned from various consoles that had exploded after the torpedoes hit.
Heather Stevens groaned as she pushed herself up to her knees. She coughed heavily as the smoke filled her lungs. She slowly rose to her feet and looked around at the torn and twisted remains of the Endeavour’s bridge.
“Is anyone else alive?” she called out. No one answered. She checked the few crewmen near her but they were both dead. The sound of scraping metal drew her attention to the other side of the bridge.
She hobbled over to see an officer lying under a pile of debris, barely moving under the weight on top of him. Heather knelt down beside him and found a faint pulse.
“Captain?” she asked, praying for a response.
“Commander...” he replied faintly. He slowly mouthed a few more words, but no sound came.
Tears welled up in Heather’s eyes. “Captain, we’re adrift,” she told him, her voice shaking. “The ship is crippled, most of our systems are off-line, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we were venting O2 or fuel or something else. We have to get you out of here before the situation gets worse.”
Griffin shook his head as adamantly as he could. “No time for me,” he said with extreme difficulty. His breathing started to become shallower. “I can’t move. Doubt I will survive a trip anywhere.”
“We have to get you to an SAR craft and get you some medical attention!” she argued.
“Commander,” he said as he coughed up some blood. “Heather... there is nothing anyone can do for me now. Go on. Save yourself.”
Heather bit her lip and tried desperately to think of something to say to convince him to come.
Griffin said something else to her, but the words disappeared as his voice faded. Griffin’s eyes closed and his head went limp.
“Captain?” Heather shouted. “Captain?!”
She frantically checked for signs of life.
There was nothing.
Heather tried unsuccessfully to stop the tears from rolling down her face. She shook her head slowly, grieving for her fallen captain.
But there was no time for it. Twisting metal and decompressing air told her that the condition of the ship was getting worse. Quickly Heather got up and hobbled over to the lift doors.
Heather tapped on the controls repeatedly, but the lift was inoperative. She gritted her teeth and made her way to a second set of doors which slid open to reveal a ladder. As she placed her feet onto the first rung of the ladder, she winced at the pain that shot up her legs. She took a deep breath and made her way down the ladder as fast as she could.
With their carrier crippled and adrift, the Black Dragon and Warhawk squadrons bore through the Nephilim fighter cover in an all-out attack. Rapid successions of tachyon and ion cannon fire poured out from the Dragons’ Panther-class fighters, shearing away the shields and armor of any opposing ship that got caught in its path while the Shrike bombers that were piloted by the Warhawks devastated the enemy with a variety of energy weapons as they approached enemy carrier group.
An Orca-class destroyer slowly moved to position itself in between the carrier and the approaching attack wing. The destroyer’s turrets took aim and activated its anti-fighter weaponry, hoping to rid itself of the threat against it.
But the Endeavour’s flight wing was not deterred.
Using their fighters’ impressive maneuverability, the Black Dragons squadron zigzagged around the maser fire.
A few of the wing’s Piranha light fighters quickly joined the attack and began using their weapons to take out the missiles that streaked towards the attack group.
The group of fighters worked together like different parts of the same entity, each of them focusing on specific tasks in order to accomplish their common goal. With a concentrated effort, the Endeavour’s air wing forged a path to the Nephilim carrier group.
“Siren! Twilight! Get rid of some of those turrets!” ordered Iceman once they were in range. “Davies, you and Johnson cover them!”
Almost immediately, four of the Panthers broke off and bolted in towards the Orca with their guns blazing. The blasts from the fighters pierced the armored shells of the turrets, bursting them apart in bright, brief explosions. The fighters banked around to one side and strafed the capital ship, continuing the carnage until they cleared a gap in the Orca’s defenses to allow the Shrike bombers to do their job.
Two more fighters dove in towards the Orca and obliterated its shield emitters seconds before the bombers launched their light torpedoes at the capital ship.
Without its shield emitters, the Orca was left unprotected as the torpedoes tore through its hull and detonated. The ship exploded from the inside out, leaving behind a charred wreck as the Endeavour’s flight wing regrouped and bore down on the massive enemy carrier looming in the distance.
Heather squeezed her hand through the gap in the two lift doors and pushed them open as far as she could. Slipping out through the doors, she made her way out of the lift and into one of the Endeavour’s darkened corridors. If she had counted right, she was on deck seven. There were several escape pods on this level.
Heather hobbled down the corridor, stepping over debris and ducking under exposed machinery. The faint breeze blowing through the halls told her that somewhere on the ship, oxygen was venting out into space. She would have to be careful. Opening up the wrong door would lead to her being sucked out into space as well.
She stopped as the corridor ahead of her ended and split off into two directions, either one leading to a bank of escape pods. The air was moving to her left, indicating to her that the ship was venting from that side. As she moved to her right, she noticed the condition of that side of the corridor: metal girders blocked the path with pierced vents spewing out clouds of toxic gas, wires sparked from panels that had been torn open, and the walls glowed with the flickering light of flames that licked out wildly from burning equipment. Keeping her balance as the ship slowly rocked from side to side, Heather sighed and turned to her left.
She navigated her way through the corridors of the Endeavour, weaving around the twisted wreckage and debris that obstructed her path. Heather shivered as the faint breeze brushed the skin on her arm which was exposed by the rips in her ragged uniform. Ducking under some pipes and beams that drooped down from the gaping ceiling, she entered a small walkway lined with hatches. With any luck, at least one of the six escape pods would be operable.
Heather walked up to the first hatch and opened up the access panel on the wall to reveal the release lever for the hatch. She pulled the lever down. The hatch didn’t budge. She tried again a few more times but was met with the same result. Heather shook her head and repeated the process with the next couple of hatches with the same result. After the fourth unsuccessful attempt, Heather stepped back and looked over at the two remaining hatches. Desperation gripped her thoughts. What happens if neither of those works? What will I do then? Will I be trapped here? She froze where stood, afraid to try the other two hatches.
A large crashing sound echoed through the corridor, followed by the sound of bursting pipes and more metal being ripped apart. Without bothering to even look in the direction of the sounds, Heather rushed over to the next hatch and quickly tried the release level. Once again, the hatch would not open. She yelled out and pounded on the hatch in frustration as the corridor shook. She felt a strong wind start and pull to her left. Small pieces of debris, the largest of which were about the size of her palm, began to slide across the deck.
Heather lunged at the last hatch, located behind her and pulled down on the release lever. The green light on the display lit up and Heather let out a small laugh out of relief. Just as the hatch opened, a bulkhead near the end of the corridor ripped open, exposing the corridor to the vacuum of space. Heather was instantly caught in the powerful current of air that rushed towards the torn bulkhead. Instinctively, she grabbed onto the edge of the open hatch and hooked her leg into the doorway, trying to pull herself against the current. Pipes, panels, lights, anything that wasn’t fastened down in the corridor began to fly past her and through the gaping hole. Heather winced as she hung onto the hatch, feeling the pressure crush her against the metal doorway. Gathering up her strength, Heather pushed off the edge of the hatch and swung her body into the escape pod. She wasted no time in smashing her hand against the control panel and closing the door.
The Endeavour’s flight group continued to forge a path towards the Leviathan-class carrier. The two squadrons of Panther-class fighters, their number now cut down to just less than that of a full squadron, formed a protective shield around the remaining bombers and fired at any ship that shimmered purple and green.
The Nephilim fighter coverage began to increase as they approached the enemy carrier. Members of the Endeavour’s Hammerhead squadron joined the attack in their Tigershark fighters, providing some support as the group attempted to carry out their directive.
Ahead of Iceman and the rest of the Black Dragons squadron, Piranha and Tigersharks began dropping like flies. With their missiles expended, it took longer to destroy their targets and left the pilots open to an assault from other Nephilim ships.
“We’re in range, Iceman! We’re starting our runs,” announced the lead bomber.
As the bombers acquired their torpedo locks on the Leviathan carrier, the Panther fighters flew ahead, blasting away at the carrier’s turrets and shield emitters. Weapons fire lashed out in all directions Small explosions burst out on the surface of the large ship where the Endeavour’s flight wing struck home with their assault.
Iceman and a few other pilots took a position behind the bombers and escorted them into their runs. Behind him, a Skate-class cluster fighter split up into a trio of small interceptors and tried to get to the bomber he was covering. Green bolts of energy darted past him as he banked from the side to side and two of the fighters shot out in front of him and bore down on the bomber.
With his missiles expended, Iceman maneuvered into position behind one of the two fighters. He pressed down on the trigger, unleashing a spray of deadly fire that showered the enemy fighter. The fighter shook and stopped its attack as weapons fire from Iceman’s attack shot through it, culminating in a bright explosion.
Iceman had no time to reflect on the kill as he was thrown around his cockpit. The Skate interceptor that stayed behind him hammered fighter with its own weapons fire in attempt to stop him from protecting the bomber. Iceman shifted all of his shield power to the rear shielding and hit the afterburners. He focused on the interceptor that attacked the bomber.
The interceptor skidded around the bomber, dodging its rear turret fire which amounted to no more than a mild annoyance. However, it retaliated with a devastating barrage and the bomber shuddered under the attack. “We’re getting rocked here,” exclaimed the bomber pilot. “We need cover!”
Iceman took aim and fired at the interceptor. Unlike his first target, he couldn’t keep sustain a barrage long enough to cause any damage before it zipped out of the way and recharged its shields. He was running out of time. Any minute now, the interceptor he was ignoring would burst through his fighter’s rear shielding despite the additional power. He had to end this.
Iceman linked his energy weapons together as the interceptor continued its assault on the bomber. Quickly, he maneuvered himself into position behind the remaining interceptor and fired. All four cannons on his fighter shot out bolts of energy that simultaneously hit the interceptor, overloading its shields and tore through its armor. Iceman veered away from a collision with the burnt out shell of the interceptor, using the Panther’s thrust pod to quickly maneuver the fighter to safety and watched as his pursuer rammed right into the debris. Seconds later, a jubilant cry rang out over the comm.
“Torpedoes away! Fox One!”
Once again, torpedoes streaked out from the bombers and pierced through the carrier. Explosions blossomed from inside the carrier, bursting out through the armor and shooting out debris in all directions. The Endeavour’s flight wing cheered as the Leviathan was ripped apart by the damage caused by the torpedoes. The ship’s armor twisted and tore away from its framework and spectacular explosions rippled along its length, shattering its hull and burning away its organic skin until all that was left was a scorched skeleton of metal floating in an area of space that was quickly becoming a cluttered graveyard.
Heather woke up to a jolt inside the escape pod and looked up towards the hatch. She heard the lock disengage and shielded her eyes from the bright light that shined down on her as the hatch was opened.
“Give me your hand,” someone called out to her with an extended hand.
Wearily, she raised her arm up and grabbed the hand and was pulled out of the escape pod and onto the search and rescue craft.
“Commander Stevens, are you all right?”
She nodded. “I’m fine, Lieutenant,” she said slowly. “I’m fine.”
The lieutenant nodded in return and moved her away from the hatch. She heard the hatch doors slide shut and the slight shift of the craft told her that the pod had been jettisoned. She was led to a bench where she quickly sat down as her shaky legs finally gave out. The lieutenant went away briefly and came back with some water and a blanket. “Here you go, Commander,” he said with a sympathetic smile.
She smiled back and nodded wearily, taking a gulp of water to try and sooth her dry throat. “What’s the status of the engagement?” she rasped.
Before she could get an answer, the lieutenant was whisked away as another SAR craft docked with another escape pod.
Heather sighed as he left. Within seconds, a medic came by and gave her a quick examination to assess her status. Heather took the blanket wrapped it around herself. She looked around at the others on board. They should all have been happy to be alive but their faces told a different story. In a sense, the battle of Nifelheim left no survivors.