Senior engineering officer onboard the UNSC London Bridge, an Epoch class heavy carrier en route to Reach as part of battle fleet Trafalgar.
It was fleet that would have made Admiral Cole beam with pride, some of our best and most battle hardened captains, crews and ships cutting through slipspace prepared to kick those Covenant-Yoinks!-off of Reach and show them we aren’t going quietly into the night. On the bridge the displays only boosted our confidence.Our sister ship the Musashi with her strike group of x2 Paris class frigates and x2 Halbert class destroyers mirrored our ship configuration and position in the fleet. Spearheading the fleet two of the most battle proven ships in the whole UNSC. The Marathon class heavy cruisers Basra and my first ship the Hannibal. Between them they had nearly 50 Covenant ship confirmed killed, the Hannibal boosting the feat of killing a CAS class assault carrier while I was onboard in 2550. Other powerhouse ships such as the Say My Name, Marathon class heavy cruiser, Valiant class battle cruiser AD Victorium, Halbert class destroyer Herodotus and Paris class frigate Saratoga as well as their sister hulls filled the forward displays.
Looking back, swarmed by escorting ships, yet still dominating the veiw was the namesake of the fleet. The true bigstick.Trafalgar. Two and half km long, home to some of the best Longsword squadrons and crew we have, and boosting a pair of Super MACS that had atomized hinge head blood from Estury to New Constantinople, she was truly one of the best weapons we had against the Covenant…well right after the Spartans. If only the Punic class was around at the start of the war, we may have been battling the Covenant in the outer colonies and no so close to home.
“BING” private message…“Don’t you know it’s rude to stare!?”…How did she??
A small screen appears on my terminal and there she is…making combat fatigues look like a fitted dress.
“Hmmm looking like that can you blame me luv?!”
"Ha…maybe I will. Good luck pet…see you on the other side
“You too luv…try not to hog too many kills”
And with a smirk she closes the screen. Bea was always good with systems…hence why the captain of the Trafalgar had her on as Principal Warfare Officer.
“Bridge, Ten minutes until slipspace exit.” our AI chims through the tannoid. There is a solemn acknowledgement by the captain and bridge crew as we remember our rousing speech from Lord Hood before entering slipspace and triple check all our systems and prepare to face our enemy and deliver hate and discontent at quarter the speed of light.
“Preparing to exit slipspace”
“Once more onto the breach dear friends…Once more” My confidence was absolute. Nothing could prepare me for what would unfold next.
58 hours after entering the Epsilon Eridani system, Planet Reach.
"GONE…IT’S ALL GONE…WHERE DID THEY GET SO MANY -Yoinking!- SHIPS!?"
The only thoughts repeating in my head as our ship coordinated and mustered the last of the in system Navy and civilian craft, prepared to make the random jumps back to the Sol. I was the acting captain of the **London Bridge…**or what was left of her. A glancing blow with a plasma torpedo scarred the bridge, mostly frying the AI and the flying debris killing the CO, XO, Air commander and the principal warfare officer. As a tribute to them we fired two MACS into that damn destroyer, broke it’s spine and sent it’s two main chunks tumbling into Reach atmosphere.Reach…can’t believe it’s gone. Can’t believe she is gone.
On arrival, Bea went straight to work carving up two Covenant Battlecruisers with her opening MAC salvo while erasing a light cruiser and two frigates with missiles. The Hannibal quickly supported her, putting down a second cruiser that was attempting to intercept Trafalgar and after a quick kill on a lone Covenant frigate, we proceeded to our operation zone, sent our craft and a Charon class frigate that joined us planet side to aid the Army units under seige. All was going well, word was even Captain Keys was on his way with his cruiser. Reach will not fall. Then in 24hrs, they turned up.
Over 300 bloody Covenant ships including a number of supercarriers and battleships. I had never seen so many ships. No one had…not alive anyway. They pounced on the Trafalgar and her fleet with the same type of vengeful hate we brought when we arrived. We attempted to rejoin the fight but that is when those destroyers cut us off. After our engagement our engines were at 45% and we were burning through our reserve ammo and squadrons, one of our…my destroyers, both Paris and Charon frigates were all plasma scorched wrecks.
“BING” private message…
“What did I say about staring?!”
“Bea stop -Yoinking!- about and get out of there!” “Covenant are almost on top of you”
Behind her I could hear alarm claxons blaring and the OPS lighting flickering. She barked orders to her crew, then looked at me with her trademark smirk and calming eyes and parted her lips to say something. Suddenly a blast of sparks enveloped her and the display quickly clearing to reveal nothing but chaos. I was fixed to the screen and could only bring myself to whisper her name. I did so again and again with no response, then in seconds a near blinding flash filled the display then it died. Looking up I saw why, the mighty Trafalgar was exploding as Covenant ships tore away at her hull with their plasma like vultures. It listed sharply and exploded violently, numerous enemy single craft were taken with her final action.
The remaining bridge crew were dumbstruck at the sight, the AI broke the shock with a ping informing the junior engineering officer that had my place that engines were at 77% and what was left of our planet side forces were on board. Then an order I never thought would come.
Priority Message: All UNSC ships are to disengage and retreat from Reach observing Cole Protocol.
During the retreat we passed our sister ship the Musashi, dissected into three pieces, venting flame and atmosphere, then my heart took a second blow. Hannibal, my first ship, home to so many friends, where I met Bea and the lion of the fleet, listing to starboard drifting lifelessly in space. A deep scar ran along her mid section from her bridge to her engines, it must have cause catastrophic decompression and killed almost the whole crew in one action.
I was snapped out of the nightmare as my junior warfare officer forwarded me the latest SitRep and ship status. 13 ships ranging from a cruiseship ferrying survivors to the heavily damaged Marathon cruiser Say My Name are all ready for our jump. Longsword and Saber squadrons have brushed off a recon patrol and are back on the deck. The display shows that we picked up a Spartan as well. I must make sure to get a debrief from him…her…it at my soonest opportunity.
Looking back one more time I saw that familiar but always haunting sight. Glassing. Fleets of their ships burning the surface to glass and boiling away the oceans. In orbit what was left of our once proud fleet…my life…was drifting in the cold vacuum. Two cruisers preparing to intercept us brought my focus back to present. With a sigh, I order our ragtag fleet to jump to our first set of coordinates.
At that point I decided I was not dying in that vacuum due to their overwhelming firepower. When the fight reached Earth, I was going to meet the enemy on the ground and I would kill them with my bare hands if I had to and there was only one branch that could fit that bill. The ODSTs.