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Battle for Tectron: Chapter 3
Posted By: Helljumper<Pittklipse@aol.com>
Date: 18 December 2003, 2:16 AM

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2004 Hours (Military Time). September 13th (Military Calendar)/ UNSC carrier Twilight. In space above the planet Tectron in the Aureas star system.
The bridge of the UNSC carrier Twilight was a pentagon shape. In the front of the room were two large, connecting windows that meet the left and right walls of the room at a hundred and fifty degree angle. The back wall connected the two sides and contained an elevator on the right side and a large sliding door on the left. Computers and large monitors stretched from the walls with several UNSC personnel positioned at various stations. Navigation personnel typed in commands and read data from the meter high instrument that projected the large holographic map of the Aureas star system in the middle of the control room. The commander's chair is stationed between the holographic map and the large windows of the Twilight's bridge.
Commander John Hilton stood in front of the large windows looking out at the beautiful surface of Tectron and the empty blackness of space. The planet was eighty percent water with only two large continents on opposite sides of the planet with several small islands scattered around the vast oceans. He let out a deep exhale and walked back to his commander's chair. On the right arm of the chair was a flat screen monitor that showed the location of the other UNSC starships in the system. He reflected on the current situation.
Initially his carrier was the only ship in the system assigned to defend Tectron and its valuable resources from the Covenant. The people of Tectron supplied the UNSC with a large amount of Titanium A which is used as armor for all UNSC vessels. The Office of Naval Intelligence had discovered that the planet contained a rare substance they called Coveium which the Covenant use to power their spaceships. It was beyond our knowledge on how the enemy harnessed the power from these stones, but the fact that they did meant that Tectron would be a target.
Soon after the Twilight entered the Aureas system from Slipspace, a Covenant troop transport ship jumped into the system and entered Tectron's orbit on the opposite side of the planet from the Twilight. Before the Twilight's squadron of Longswords could destroy the enemy vessel it had already deployed its full load of combat troops, Wraiths and Banshees onto the planet. In response, Commander Hilton deployed the four battalions of marines and two companies of ODSTs from the Twilight to assist in the evacuation of noncombatants from the planet. The overwhelming Covenant ground forces captured the majority of Titanium A mines and all of the small towns that dotted Tectron's two continents. As of two hours ago, the only confirmed area that the marines still controlled was an airfield north of a town called New Era and firebase Delta located on the east coast of the small town. It was unsure how long the marines around New Era would last since the town was in enemy hands.
During the course of the ground battles, the UNSC carrier Defender of Life, and the destroyer Justice arrived to assist the Twilight in protecting the planet. The spaceships positioned themselves in a triangular formation around Tectron and deployed recon drones into the Aureas system to scan for incoming enemy ships.
Hilton turned his head to the left where First Lieutenant Carson sat looking at three monitors and typing in commands. Carson was in charge of the carrier's weapon systems and the twenty four squadrons of Longsword fighters. "Carson, Weapons status?" he ordered.
"MAC turrets are online and can be fully charged in thirty seconds, sir. Squadrons Alpha through Romeo are on stand by for launch. Squadrons Sierra through Zulu can be deployed with five minutes notice, sir."
"Excellent work Lieutenant." Hilton replied. In front of his chair was the damage control station operated by second Lieutenant Lisa Daily. Her station was a large monitor with a layout of the Twilight which she could rotate and zoom in and out to perform her duties. Next to Daily's console was communications officer David Pletal. He had a headset on his head with a microphone positioned near his mouth. This several monitors contained wavelengths of various radio frequencies used by the UNSC and the Covenant. Even though no one has been able to decipher the Covenant language, being able to pick up their transmissions gave an insight into the number of ships and importance of possible plans.
"Lieutenant Pletal, paint me a picture of what is happening down on the planet."
"Sir, the airfield was under attack, but Captain James was able to defend his position. He lost a good number of his company, but marines from other units all over the continent have been finding their way to the airfield, thus replenishing his numbers. He is confident that he can hold the airfield. Firebase Delta hasn't been discovered by the Covenant forces yet sir. They have also reported picking up marines from other units. We have several squadrons of Pelicans on surface assisting in extracting marines from behind enemy lines. They are operating out of the airfield, sir." Hilton was pleased by the young officer's explanation.
Commander Hilton only had a company of marines left on board the Twilight to defend against enemy boarding parties. The UNSC's fleets were engaging Covenant forces at Reach and wouldn't be able to help in what the Admirals of the UNSC would classify as a low priority mission. As long as he was able to maintain space superiority in this star system, Tectron was still in human hands.
On the right of the commander's chair sat the ship's navigator Captain Marshall. His station consisted of several radar monitors and the controls to maneuver the millions of tons of metal known as the Twilight through space. Hilton turned to the navigator to see the twenty eight year old naval officer staring at a radar monitor. His facial expression changed and he looked at Commander Hilton. "Sir, a Covenant cruiser has just jumped into the system at one-three-niner." The officer's voice was calm with a hint of fear and excitement.
Hilton's quick and tactical mind analyzed the situation. A cruiser contained no fighters, or ground troops, but instead had powerful shields and large plasma cannons. The time it took for the cruiser to exit Slipspace and root power to its main weapons would take between a minute and half to two minutes max. Hilton didn't want to take the chance of allowing the cruiser to become combat ready.
"Carson charge MAC turrets one, three and five and ready Archer missiles for launch by my command."
"Aye, aye sir." Carson responded typing the commands into his console.
Hilton turned to the small holographic disk on the arm of his chair. "Juanita my dear," he said as the figure of a woman appeared in a holographic form. She was the ship's AI. "Juanita create a firing solution on that Covenant cruiser, then forward the solutions to Carson's console and to the Defender of Life's weapons officer."
"Yes sir," she responded as numbers and equations crisscrossed her image. "Done sir."
"Sir, MAC turrets one, three, and five are online. Archer missiles are loaded and ready to go. Firing solutions are loaded, and all weapons are ready to fire on your command sir." Carson exclaimed. The commander nodded, and Carson pressed a red button on his console.
The turrets fired large explosive rounds at the enemy cruiser. The projectiles screamed through the empty space leaving behind a white trail of smoke. The first MAC shell impacted the cruiser's shells and exploded in orange flames spreading over a quarter of the ship's shields. The Covenant ship remained undamaged. The second round impacted in the center of its target. The shields fluttered but remained active. The third shell impacted towards the rear of the vessel causing the shields to collapse. The force of the impacted tore away protective armor. Twenty Archer missiles impacted the cruiser moments later. Greenish blue flames spurted from the ship's hull as internal and external explosions occurred.
The bridge crew of the Twilight observed through the bridge's large windows at the explosions which looked like colorful popping balloons. The explosions ceased and a zoomed in view of the cruiser appeared on a large monitor hanging from the roof of the bridge. Covenant cruisers were known for having massive amounts of armor around their reactors which protected them from exploding. Hilton knew this and ordered Carson to launch the Longswords of Alpha squadron to investigate the damage. The ship was "dead in the water" but there was always a chance that the crew could still be alive to transmit information. Hilton ordered Alpha squadron to fire on any remaining communication equipment and to patrol the area for any escape pods or dropships.
The kilometer of twisted and burnt alien metal floated through space away from Tectron. Hilton didn't like the idea of having an alien vessel in the star system, harmless or not. He ordered the pilots of Alpha squadron to return to the Twilight. The Twilight's commander turned to the ship's AI. "Juanita, load a firing solution for Archer missiles to the cruiser's reactor. Wait until the ship drifts to the maximum range of the missiles, I don't want that explosion affecting any of your sensors or electronics. Then load the solutions to Carson's console."
"Carson," Hilton began. "Fire when ready,"
"Aye, aye sir." Carson responded.
Hilton could have easily ordered the AI to fire the ship's weapons, but he always like to give that power to his human crew. As a student of warfare, he knew that morale was a powerful tool. He liked to make his crew feel like they were needed, even though Juanita was able to operate every function of the ship herself.
"Pletal, send a message to the Defender of Life and the Justice. Inform their respective Captains to prepare all weapons systems and to monitor their recon drones. If as much as a centimeter of enemy metal enters in this star system I want to know." The young officer replied with a yes sir and transmitted the orders on a private channel. Hilton stood up from his seat and walked over to Lt. Carson. He put his hand on the young man's shoulder.
"Good job today son."
"Thank you sir, but may I ask you a question sir?"
"Ask away Lieutenant."
"Sir, I could have calculated the firing solutions myself sir. We don't need that AI to do the work."
Hilton knew how the officer felt. He hated using the AI but he understood Juanita's purpose. "Lieutenant, I am confident in your abilities, but the reality is that Juanita can do the calculations in a quarter of the time that it would take you. I value everyone in this room and I wouldn't change you guys for the universe." Carson nodded and turned his attention back to his monitors. He respected his commander and knew that Hilton was right. Juanita spoke into Carson's headphones. The Lieutenant entered commands into his console and pressed another red button. The Twilight shuttered as another twenty Archer missiles fired from their pods and flew into the blackness of space. After a minute, there was a huge explosion in the distance as the missiles made contact with the cruiser's reactors causing it to detonate and destroy the enemy vessel completely.
The commander returned to his seat and ordered Bravo squadron launch to search the wreckage for escape pods.