“She’s nearly ready to be scuttled, sir,” First Officer Reddy says with a salute.
Looking out of the bridge’s forward viewing area, Captain Mali can’t help but sigh.
Floating haplessly through space ahead of them is the Cambridge, an old frigate that had seen more action than most, but it hadn’t seen nearly enough to earn its salvation. The ship had fought alongside Mali and his ship, the Adelaide in the Corva Uprising.
Now the ship was about to join the countless others that had been intentionally crashed into one of the planets in the Kinn system, where the wreckage would be slowly picked through by salvagers, robots, and scavengers who thought they’d make a quick buck.
“We’re certain that there’s nothing else we can do with her?” Mali asks his First Officer.
Mali had been doing all he could for the past few years to save the Cambridge.
For Mali, this was a personal fight to save the old ship.
During the Corva Uprising, the Coalition-planted insurgents had commandeered a ship and sent it hurtling toward the Adelaide. The Adelaide, a large, lightly armored, semi-clumsy battle cruiser. Since the ship was still going through its shakedowns, it had a larger crew than usual, and it wasn’t ready for combat.
Chuckling, Mali recalls how he had summed up the situation afterwards, We were sitting ducks and the insurgents were like hawks, swooping in for the kill.
Out of nowhere, the Cambridge dropped out of warp and then raced between the Adelaide and the ship that the Coalition insurgents were using as a massive battering ram.
The Cambridge took the hostile ship along its portside and Mali had thought that everyone aboard the ship had to of been killed—or, if nothing else, the ship had to of been disabled.
But then its forward thrusters roared to life, pulling the Cambridge away from the now stricken insurgent ship which was largely shattered from the impact. Once it was a safe distance away, the Cambridge opened fire and reduced the remainder of the insurgent ship to dust.
Mali had reached out to the captain of the Cambridge, but he was never patched through. According to his sources, the Cambridge was on some secret mission and the captain had disobeyed orders in order to intervene in the Corva Uprising.
That decision saved the lives of Mali, and the thousands of people aboard the Adelaide.
“I’m sorry, Captain, there’s nothing left for us to do,” Reddy shakes her head, “I’m sorry, sir.”
Sighing, Mali takes a seat, and he stares at the dark hulk of the Cambridge.
Even in its current state, the Cambridge looked like a fearsome warship. Its sleek hull betrayed the ship’s ability to fly faster than even some of the fastest ships available today. The sharp edges of the remaining armor stand as a testament to the nigh-impenetrable armor that once lined the entire ship. Gaping holes up and down the ship’s length stand as reminders of the weapon systems that once occupied those same spaces.
“Such a travesty,” Mali sighs once more, “It was a wonderful ship.”
“Indeed, it was, sir,” Reddy nods.
Mali nods back and he recalls one of his more creative attempts to save the old Cambridge. This particular attempt revolved around the abilities of various skilled engineers from all over. The finished project, as Mali had tried to convince everyone, would have been one of the best fortified defense stations along the Alexandrian border. Any Coalition ship that saw the station would immediately turn back to find another way because the sheer capacity of the proposed station.
But that plan fell on deaf ears.
Everyone assured Mali that the Coalition’s days of recklessly attacking planets in Alexandrian Space was over. They said the Coalition was crumbling and they couldn’t spare the ships on such an attack.
Mali wasn’t convinced and reminded those who shot down the idea that desperation drove animals and people alike to lash out violently.
He was then escorted out of the building and sent out on a new assignment far from home.
“Sir, it’s time,” one of Mali’s officers urges from behind him.
Nodding slowly, Mali finally relents. With a nod, he gives his permission for his crew to deorbit the Cambridge, “We may proceed.”
“Would you like some privacy, sir?” Reddy asks as a few short alarms chirp over the ship’s speakers to notify everyone aboard the Adelaide that the Cambridge’s scuttling is about to commence.
“No,” Mali grunts.
Still sitting, Mali watches the scene unfold before him as the Cambridge is given the honor that it was entitled to.
All along the length of the Adelaide, colorful flares and gas canisters are shot out, illuminating and casting beautiful colors in all directions. As Mali saw things, the flares and gas canisters painted one last picture that he could remember the Cambridge by.
A light flashes to life overhead, indicating that the Adelaide is blasting its horns for the stricken ship before it, as per maritime tradition. Sure, the sound would never reach the Cambridge in the vacuum of space, but tradition dictated the need to blare a ship’s horns in order to honor the death of their brethren.
A few seconds pass and every gun on the Adelaide flashes to life as they all let off a round or two as yet another salute.
And then everything stops.
The flares that had been shot off gently die out.
The gas canisters expel the last of their contents and the clouds dissipate.
The light indicating that the Adelaide’s horns are blaring turns off.
Taking a slow breath, Mali gives the final order that he had been dreading for the past few years, “Scuttle the Cambridge.”
On cue, a small handful of deorbiting torpedoes emerge from the bow of the Adelaide.
The torpedoes aren’t much to look at, and the only thing that really set them apart from the blackness of space are their thrusters, which are slowly burning as they carefully approach the stricken ship.
A few minutes pass before the various torpedoes come to a stop on the portside of the Cambridge. Once they’re all in place, the torpedoes’ thrusters all flash as they turn to full power.
Feeling like he is watching an old friend die, Mali helplessly watches as the Cambridge begins slipping toward the atmosphere of the planet below.
Several more minutes pass and the first few signs of reentry flames start to pick at some of the sharper edges of the Cambridge as it slips into the atmosphere. Seconds later, the ship is one massive fireball hurtling toward the unforgiving ground below.
There was no going back now, the Cambridge was gone.
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