Upcoming Events! Community Event Calendar
Social Media Follow us, or not!

Deck Crew Written Wednesday 26th of August 2015 at 10:30am by PropMaster

AN: This one is dedicated to a group of fine gentlemen that have helped me grow into the writer I am today, and set me on a tough, rewarding course in life: all my male English teachers, from high school to present. ‘Thank you’ will never be enough.

Bishop coughed crimson flecks of blood onto the visor of his helmet, taking in another shuddering breath as he guided his Super Hornet fighter ship in towards the lit flight deck of the UEE Polaris; a Bengal Carrier and where he’d called home for the last eight months. Around his ship in space, Vanduul scythes screamed past, pursued by his fellow pilots and their interceptor craft, their small part of a wider battle taking place across the system as the UEE fought back yet another Vanduul incursion. Bishop spared a glance back to his co-pilot, Lieutenant Buchanan, his unconscious form slumped in the harnesses of the rear seat. “Hang in there, Buch. Almost there.”

The klaxons on his ship began to blare, and the deck crew chief’s voice crackled unintelligibly through his damaged comms. Bishop knew they were warning him that he was coming in too hot. Bishop ignored the guidance system and crew chief, all of his being focused away from the pain pulsing through his gut and onto the lit deck. The shield shimmered ahead of him, a bare twenty yards away before he throttled down hard, killing his engines completely and allowing his momentum to carry him onto the deck. The ship passed through the shield, into the artificial gravity of the flight deck, and slammed onto the ship’s landing skids, sending sparks and debris flying across the flight deck. Technicians, engineers, and deckhands went scrambling for cover as the shower of metal screamed by. The skid seemed to last minutes, though Bishop knew it only went on for a scant few seconds. He gripped his harness, gritting his teeth as the intense vibration sent his pain spiking through the roof. Finally, it was over, with a groan of metal and a hiss of exhaust.

Bishop and Buch were home.

Bishop coughed crimson flecks of blood onto the visor of his helmet, taking in another shuddering breath as he guided his Super Hornet fighter ship in towards the lit flight deck of the UEE Polaris; a Bengal Carrier and where he’d called home for the last eight months. Around his ship in space, Vanduul scythes screamed past, pursued by his fellow pilots and their interceptor craft, their small part of a wider battle taking place across the system as the UEE fought back yet another Vanduul incursion. Bishop spared a glance back to his co-pilot, Lieutenant Buchanan, his unconscious form slumped in the harnesses of the rear seat. “Hang in there, Buch. Almost there.”

The klaxons on his ship began to blare, and the deck crew chief’s voice crackled unintelligibly through his damaged comms. Bishop knew they were warning him that he was coming in too hot. Bishop ignored the guidance system and crew chief, all of his being focused away from the pain pulsing through his gut and onto the lit deck. The shield shimmered ahead of him, a bare twenty yards away before he throttled down hard, killing his engines completely and allowing his momentum to carry him onto the deck. The ship passed through the shield, into the artificial gravity of the flight deck, and slammed onto the ship’s landing skids, sending sparks and debris flying across the flight deck. Technicians, engineers, and deckhands went scrambling for cover as the shower of metal screamed by. The skid seemed to last minutes, though Bishop knew it only went on for a scant few seconds. He gripped his harness, gritting his teeth as the intense vibration sent his pain spiking through the roof. Finally, it was over, with a groan of metal and a hiss of exhaust.

Bishop and Buch were home.

“Lieutenant Commander, do you hear me? You’re coming in too fast, damn it! Pull off!” Chief Petty Officer Fortin screamed into the communications rig in the flight deck control area.

“He’s gonna go for it. Tell the crew to find some cover!” said Petty Officer First Class Elkin, gesticulating from his station to the deck crew to scatter as he grabbed a fire extinguisher from the nearby wall panel.

Fortin cursed under his breath and switched to the flight deck all-call system. “Emergency landing initiated! Flight deck crew, cover immediately!”

Elkin reached across Fortin’s chest as he spoke, hammering a red button that sounded alarms and activated red lights across the flight deck. As the techs and deckies rushed to clear the flight deck, the nearly crippled Super Hornet slipped through the shield and into the gravity-controlled interior of the Bengal Carrier. The ship immediately slammed into the deck, sliding on its landing skids and sending a shower of fiery sparks over the tarmac. Elkin and Fortin both winced and turned away instinctively from the bright flare of the near-crash-landing, only turning to look again once the cacophonous sound of metal-on-metal ended.

The deck smouldered from spilt fuel from ruptured lines and oil sprayed from damaged hydraulics. A few fires burned in ignited patches of the highly combustible liquids, and smoke hazed the air of the deck. Fortin switched on the emergency ventilation system and activated the comms as the smoke began to clear. “Emergency crews, go! Let’s get those pilots out of there and get this cleaned up! Medics to the flight deck, pronto!”

Petty Officer Elkin didn’t wait for Fortin’s word. He simply leapt out of the control area, leaving the door slightly ajar in his haste to reach the damaged Super Hornet. The deck was a mess, but the crew was ready and able. Elkin lead a group of firefighters down the length of the deck, suppressing fires, spreading fire retardant, and mopping up spilled fuel and oils to prevent further ignition on the deck. While the firefighters worked to prevent any further damage to the deck, another crew was already blasting the Super Hornet with fire suppression dust hoses, quashing the electrical fires that smouldered inside the shot-to-hell hull of the fighter. The medical team crouched nearby, waiting for their go signal from the emergency crew. The lead deck officer of the emergency crew gestured to the head officer of the medical team, Lieutenant Rice.

Rice wasted no time, rushing to the rolling ramp set up by the emergency crew and leaping to the cockpit canopy, shouting “Get this out of my way!”.

The emergency crew unsealed the canopy and slid it aside as Lieutenant Rice leaned into the cockpit, waving away the haze filling the interior. Lieutenant Commander Bishop looked up at him dazedly. “What’s up, doc?”

“God damn,” Rice muttered, noting the blood covering the front of the cockpit’s controls and the crimson spattering the interior of Bishop’s visor.

“He had nothing to do with this, I…assure you,” Bishop said, a phlegmy cough rumbling through his chest and causing the pilot to convulse slightly.

Rice ignored Bishop’s quip, sliding into the cockpit as his team moved in around him. “Severe bleeding, resulting from a massive through-and-through injury. Emergency coagulant seems to have been applied.”

“H-how’s Buch?” Bishop muttered softly, his eyelids fluttering.

“Buchanan’s fine, my boys have him. What the hell happened?” Rice asked, grabbing the trauma kit offered him by one of his aides and tearing it open.

“Fucking ‘duul, blindsided me. Bishop got him with the turret, but not before he’d blown through the side shields and put some kinetic rounds into the hull. Some kinda fuckin’ bodged together Scythes out there, using scavenged UEE weapons on their ships,” Bishop said slowly, not even wincing as Rice administered painkillers and stronger coagulating agents into his flight suit’s emergency medical system.

“Yeah? What happened to Lieutenant Buchanan? He’s out cold, but seems alright, except the big-ass bump on his head,” Rice said, trying to keep Bishop talking.

“Well, remember that scythe Buch took out? His friend didn’t like that. Came right at us. I glassed him, but he was too close. Hit the debris and it clipped the turret hard. Bishop wasn’t paying attention, he was half outta his harness packing the first-aid kit into my guts. Musta hit his head when we hit…” Bishop glanced up at where the missing cockpit canopy should be. “… bastard left a  scratch on my windshield. Fuckin’… ‘duul,” Bishop said, voice drifting.

Rice unharnessed Bishop from the pilot’s seat, pausing as his crew moved Buch’s unconscious body out of the rear seat, and began wrapping a plastic-like bandage around his midsection, holding in place the drying coagulants and—in some places—internal organs. Once Buch was clear, he gestured for the stretcher. “Let’s get you outta here, Lieutenant Commander. Tell me more about the Vanduul with the UEE guns.”

“They’re… scavengers. Vultures. Waiting to pick us apart. Fuck, I… I don’t feel great, Lieutenant,” Bishop coughed, his whole body shaking, “Where’s Buch?”

“We have him, he’s going to the medical bay. How about we get you up there too. Sound good, Sir?” Rice said rhetorically, the doctor and medical crew already maneuvering the wounded pilot onto the stretcher.

“Y-yeah. Fuck… it hurts, Rice. My co-pilot, Buch, he’s alright? He’s gonna be alright?” Bishop said, a level of urgency reaching his voice that worried Rice.

“He’s fine. We’ve got him, he’s safe, Bishop. We’ve gotta get you up to the med bay. There ya go,” Rice said as the team secured Bishop on the hovering stretcher. “Go! Double time it! Tell them to prep trauma bay five, let the doctors upstairs know we’ve got a critical case coming in right the hell now!”

Rice and his team scrambled for the nearby lift that would take them almost directly to the medical bay, leaving the Super Hornet empty.

The engineers scrambled into the cockpit immediately as the medical team left. Chief Petty Officer Abrams leapt into the pilot’s seat, pulling up the console and grimacing in concern as he wiped the streaks of crimson fluid off the screen. “That was rough.”

Petty Officer Third Class Breese stepped up behind Chief Abrams. “Yes, sir. Lieutenant Rice’s team is one of the best, though, and Doctor Hanson will be able to get those two stable. They’ve pulled pilots and marines through worse.”

Abrams nodded, pushing the gruesome mess the pilot had been in out of his mind. “All right, let’s see if we can move this baby off of the deck and into a bay.”

“Maybe we’ll get lucky,” Breese said brightly.

“Maybe we will,” Abrams said as he attempted to fire up the engines and propulsion systems. The console flickered slightly as power diverted, and the damaged ship rumbled but refused to move. Abrams pulled up a diagnostic immediately. Red damage indicators flashed warnings and errors across the console, and he sighed. “Propulsion on the fourth and fifth maneuvering thruster is out, we’re not gonna be able to get off the ground or turn left.”

“Well, at least we have an open bay to the right. I’ll get on the fourth thruster, see if I can’t get it going,” Breese said as he leapt out of the cockpit and grabbed another engineer.

Abrams focused on damage control, rerouting power into redundant systems and carefully setting the battered Super Hornet up to move into a bay for repair and refitting. He sighed as a few of the red lights reluctantly turned yellow at his prodding and cajoling, indicating a few systems coming back online. Over his communicator, Fortin’s voice filtered in. “Abrams, how’s it coming? We’ve got another Hornet waiting for clearance to land and re-arm.”

“Breese?” called Abrams.

“Almost!” came Breese’s shouted reply from somewhere beneath the ship.

“Give us a minute, Fortin,” Abrams replied.

“I’ll give you a second,” Fortin replied, “and then I’m sending in a crew with a crane to haul that ship out.

“Breese is fixing one maneuvering thruster. If he can get it, we’re golden. The crane would take longer,” Abrams said coolly.

“Keep me informed.”

“Roger,” Abrams murmured, focusing his attention on the fourth maneuvering thruster and waiting for his colleague to work his magic. After a long minute, the red-lit thruster registered on the diagnostic readout as yellow. Abrams allowed a low whistle to escape. “Nice work, Breese. Get clear, I’m moving this bird into bay twelve.”

“Copy!” Breese’s reply wafted over the noise of the deck, “We’re clear!”

“Firing engines. Here we go,” Abrams intoned, activating the engines and propulsion systems again. The Hornet rumbled beneath him in protest, before finally rising off the deck with a creak of damaged metal. Abrams smirked, slowly turning the ship right. The fourth thruster held at a fraction of its possible power, but did the job it was made to do, bringing the ship in line with the bay. “Fortin, this is Abrams. We’ve got that bird off the deck. Clear that Hornet for approach, we’ll be out of the way before they land.”

“Great work, Abrams,” Fortin said from inside the flight control room, sliding in his chair to allow Elkin easier access as he stepped back into the room, reeking of smoke and fire retardant.

“We’re clear. Deck is clean,” said Elkin, wiping sweat off his forehead and slumping into his seat.

Fortin gave Elkin a quick nod, before leaning over the deck controls and resetting the emergency alarms. The red lights switched back to more natural white, and the alarms quieted. “Deck crew, we’ve got a Hornet coming in for re-arming. Prep munitions and racks. Emergency crew?”

Elkin nodded, “Standing by.”

“Engineering crew?”

“Standing by,” Abrams voice rang over the comms.

“Medical?”

“Standing by,” Rice’s voice came through the comms.

Fortin nodded, checking off his mental list. “All crews, stand by. Hornet arriving in two.” 

PropMaster

Jason "PropMaster" Clark is a fiction writer and video creator for The Relay. His first computer game he ever purchased was Wing Commander, and his enthusiasm for Star Citizen as "the game he's been waiting for since he was five" only increases as he works within the exciting universe created by CIG.