Fan fiction from the world of Metagaming's classic microgame "WarpWar"
Right of Ascension
Eridu, Sector 2318
Able Second to the First Engineer, Jaix Lejo sealed the electronic diagnostic tool pack on her red and black form fitting pressure suit and exited the cramped forward beamery maintenance station, entering the J-tube access way that served as the spine of the Mosulan warpship “Right of Ascension.” Jaix was lithe and nimble, two traits that made for a good engineer in the cramped crawl spaces and service ducts that veined the Right of Ascension … ducts that allowed Jaix and her team of technicians to keep the thousand foot long warpship space-worthy and combat ready.
The J-tube itself was never pressurized (it would have been a waste of valuable life support resources to do so) and the only time that anyone in the J-tube was subject to the effects of gravity was when the warpship was under any form of acceleration. You didn’t want to be in the J-tube when the power / drive was lit because there was no way to cushion yourself or strap in to relieve the many punishing maneuver G’s that the Right of Ascension’s nuclear plasma stutter pulse drive was capable of generating.
Moving to where she could brace her boots against a maintenance and structural support bulkhead, she forced the service hatch closed behind her and began the process of sealing the hatch. Her gloved fingers tapped out the maintenance sequence code on the hatch keypad that would seal the hatch and let her start her long journey astern, back to Life-Command. She had just started to seal the powered hatch locking mechanism when the status condition light on the HUD in her helmet went from green to red, followed by an animated flashing [ALERT] icon signaling that the Right of Ascension had gone to a full combat condition.
Jaix blasphemed under her breath as she felt the tell-tale energy signature of a pre-warp field buildup start to course its way through the Right of Ascension’s superstructure, along the J-tube and towards the bow where the energy focus of the warp field would be the greatest. Jaix knew that she was now on a strict time limit to get back to Life-Command because there were many things that you didn’t want to be caught in the J-tube during; acceleration, solar flares, combat and a warp jump because you weren’t likely to survive any of those conditions for very long and the death that awaited you wasn't a pleasant one. She whispered hurried, excited encouragement for the hatch to finish its mechanical sealing procedure and she watched as the tell-tales slowly creeped across the status board … red to amber to green.
She waited for what she thought was an eternity. Finally, the maintenance hatch seal was good and it was ninety seconds past time to go. She kicked off for her long trek “down” the J-tube moving from bulkhead to bulkhead and structural brace to structural brace as fast as she could kick and grab, flying down the center of the J-tube. In lighter times, she often raced other specialists up and down the J-tube in a friendly rivalry to see who could get to their assigned task post the quickest. Now, she was playing a different game … one in which her life was the prize and there was no second place. She keyed in her suit comlink as she worked to steady her breathing and tried to reach a pace that would get her to where she needed to go in the short time that she had to get there.
“Jaix to Braig. Braig! I’m in the J-tube, forward, section Alpha 3!”
“Braig to Jaix. Rodge that. I have you on the system locator moving stern towards Life-Command. Haul it!”
“Give me a sit-rep! Post now!” she ordered, continuing to move as fast as she could down the long crowded spine.
“Tactical just confirmed two warp signatures, big ones, Class III battlewarps at least, just entered the system at high speed and dropped their warp fields. Scanners show that they’re Ugaritan, one hundred and twenty-seven light seconds away, they know that we’re here and the energy readings indicate that the Uggies are reconfiguring for heavy combat. Tactical says that sensors are painting six smaller sigs so we know that they’ve seeded their Systemships. The short is that they know that we're here and now they’re coming for us. Get back here, Jaix. Get back here now! Captain says we can’t stay and fight. Tactical is already throwing out nothing but low percentage outcomes.”
Jaix blasphemed again under her breath because there was real concern in Braig’s voice and there was certainly enough to be concerned about. The tactical situation was bad, real bad. The Right of Ascension was a Class II warpship, she might hold her own against a single Class III, especially with Rann Bondurant at the command column but against two Class III Ugaritan warpships and their six attendant Systemships … the Right of Ascension was at a distinct tactical disadvantage and likely wouldn’t survive the engagement … if Bondurant was foolish enough to press the one-sided engagement which he wasn’t.
“Bondurant?” Jaix asked, wondering what the captain of the Right of Ascension was going to do about the current situation, even though she knew that the buildup of the warp generator meant that Bondurant understood that the Right of Ascension really didn’t have a chance. A tactical warp retreat was the only option … if they could make it.
The energy from the warp field generator was building in intensity. It was starting to play havoc with her suit guidance and communications systems. Jaix arced over a maintenance bulkhead and kicked off a service panel to crisscross her way down the J-tube at a speed that would have been considered reckless, dangerous and would probably have garnered a rather stern personal reprimand from Bondurant in any other situation for the risks she was taking but now it didn’t matter. Now she had only one goal … to reach Life-Command before Bondurant considered her expendable and sacrificed her life to save his ship and the rest of his crew and he would do it, instantly, without thinking, he’d do what every captain would do in his situation … he’d order the Right of Acension to go to warp, the warp field would engage and the very energy that allowed the Right of Ascension to tear a hole in the fabric of space and time would itself flow along the J-tube and tear Jaix apart in a manner that would be as painful as it was messy.
“Tactical told Bondurant that survival confidence is extremely low … around five percent at best. Engineering is priming for a max burn and the captain has given the order for a tactical warp assisted retreat. We’re giving up Eridu and will fall back to Kish where we’ll wait for reinforcements. Nav’s got a course to Umma plotted and we’re prepping for a shunt out in three minutes. Weapons control is priming the two Systemships for autonomous ops in full attrition mode because Tactical says that if we sacrifice both Systemships that we should be able to get away. ETA for synchronous rack release is ninety seconds … mark. You should clear that section thirty seconds before that at the pace you’re maintaining. Hurry, Jaix.”
“Understood.” She replied, seeing the guidance lights of the main service and maintenance airlock that would allow her access to Life-Command, an airlock that represented sanctuary, sixty meters ahead.
“Haul it, Jaix. Captain’s not looking for martyrs but he’ll make one on the spot if it saves the rest of us.”
Around her the tell-tale energy signature from the warp generator began to cascade and arc across the structural supports of the Right of Ascension … lacing her in a constantly changing cyan and purple web of angel hair fine energy that tickled her even through the material of her insulated, protective suit.
Jaix Lejo moved for all she was worth …