For today’s Daily Post, I want to give you a taste of Nu Book 2 – The Esss Retreat. Asteroid Mining Company (AMC) has developed a new fighter for the United Space Navy and Sted Richardson is in the process of testing the main lasers on each of the new ships.
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This work has not been through professional editing, so any corrections or thoughts would be appreciated.
Chapter 12 – Coordinated Testing Begins
Sted was afraid to be too optimistic about their first coordinated test. They were using the shuttle Endeavour as their mock target. The shuttle had finally arrived in lunar orbit three weeks after Sted and Jessica and, after being emptied of all unnecessary personnel, it was placed in an orbit that allowed the training attack runs to be hidden from anywhere on Earth.
The initial testing was strictly to see how well hidden the Scorpions could remain, so two naval destroyers were placed in orbit with the Endeavour. Once everything was in place, the group of five fighters streamed up from the lunar surface toward the flotilla in orbit so that they could establish baseline radar and visible and infrared spectrum readings as they approached.
With the fighters under power, they were easy to detect from the output of their engines. Once the engines were cut, however, they were undetectable. Their exterior panels successfully absorbed almost all wavelengths of radiation, or at least failed to reflect that radiation back to any active sensors. The Scorpions were, in effect, the stealthiest ships ever constructed by humanity.
Sted had been anticipating the laser targeting tests for the last couple of weeks. He had worked with Captain Evans on finding the quickest way to test all the new equipment and crews and they had settled on doing individual ship tests for this phase.
“Scorpion One, this is Scorpion Leader,” said Sted over the command channel. “Commence your initial laser test run. I will light up the Endeavor on my mark.”
“Commencing first pass,” replied Captain Evans from Scorpion One. “Awaiting your mark.”
Sted held back for a few more seconds to allow Scorpion One to achieve an optimal position for their first test laser shot, then looked over at Lieutenant Wessel and gave her a slight head nod telling her to activate the spotting laser. He then opened the command channel once more and called out “Mark!”
The spotting laser painted a small target in the center of the number “2” on the tail of the Endeavor. Since Scorpion One was not aware where the spot would be painted on the hull of the target, Sted figured it would take several seconds to acquire the target point and get the main laser properly aligned. He was pleasantly surprised when Scorpion One’s main laser got off their initial shot in under three seconds. Accuracy, however, did not match quickness of the delivery.
“Scorpion One, you were eight meters wide of the target at 290 degrees. Adjust your targeting optics for the next pass. Scorpion Two, commence your first pass and fire on my mark,” commanded Sted.
“Scorpion Two commencing first pass,” replied Captain Elizabeth Bell.
“Lieutenant Wessel, adjust the initial target to the center of the airlock door at loading bay three on Endeavour,” said Sted. He wanted to adjust the initial target for each ship so there could be no anticipation by that crew.”
“Ready at the door to loading bay three,” replied his weapons specialist.
“Mark!” barked Sted over the command channel.
Nothing happened. Sted waited patiently for all of 30 seconds before commanding “Report, Captain Bell!”
“Scorpion Leader, this is Scorpion Two,” replied Captain Bell. “We have a main laser malfunction. I repeat, we have a main laser malfunction. We have no clue what is causing the problem.”
“Scorpion Two,” said Sted. “Report back to the AMC factory. We need that laser fixed as quickly as possible.”
“Damn,” whispered Sted to himself. He was really feeling the time pressure for getting these ships up to speed, and this setback would be costly in lost time. Well, there was nothing he could do about that right now. He had to complete the testing of Scorpions Three and Four.
Pushing this problem back into a compartment of his mind for later consideration, Sted ordered the next pass
“Scorpion Three, commence your first pass and fire on my mark,” commanded Sted.
“Lieutenant Wessel, move your target 100 meters toward the bow of Endeavor.”
“Target moved 100 meters toward the bow,” replied Lieutenant Wessel.
“Mark!” said Sted when Scorpion Three was in position.
Testing went on for the next twenty minutes as Scorpion One, Three, and Four each made several more passes.
After five complete passes, two of the Scorpion targeting systems had been tuned to strike the laser spot on every attempt. Scorpion Two and Four were returning to the factory. Scorpion Four required hardware changes in the targeting system and Scorpion Two had to have the main laser completely replaced. Both crews would miss the next set of drills while the factory worked on the fixes. Sted split up those crews so that they could be observers in the remaining Scorpions while the drills continued. As far as Sted was concerned, the test was a real disaster.