13 May, 3305. Lt. Commander Michael. Call-sign, Archangel. I saw CMDR Gorankar's entry regarding his excursion to Slackager's Hangout. I've just finished a rescue mission from the ravaged Coriolis starport myself and thought I'd share my own experience. I first saw the distress call while shored up at Jameson Memorial in Shinrarta. The local search and rescue informant told me it was bad. I didn't believe him when he said how bad. I loaded up a full payload of cabins, made my boy Castiel able to carry around 200 people. I renamed him Rescue-1 for this purpose; we wouldn't want him to be misconstrued for anything other than what he's there for. I could tell he didn't like it. Any good commander knows his ship is just as alive as he is. Castiel seemed to buck me more after his temporary name change. Although he did like his new coat; orange and white looks good on him.
Coming out of hyperspace, I couldn't begin to process what I've seen. CMDR Gorankar was right. Sickly green Thargoid acid splattered the outer shell like a child's face during a cold. A swarm of SAR vessels buzzed around the station like pirates around an unarmed Type-7 who just scored 50 tons of void opals. Looking at the airlock, I wasn't sure we could fit. The framework was busted and the magnetic fields seemed to flicker wildly. They say that in space, no one can hear you scream. I sure hope so, because if you could, you wouldn't need a distress signal. I couldn't tell if the objects pinging off my radar were damaged parts of the port or if they were bodies. Either way, I didn't want to know. When I patched through to flight control, I got my first true glimpse into the true hell I was about to subject myself to. The controller's voice was filled with panic. I heard explosions and screaming in the background. He told me only to request docking if I could rescue passengers. I reached to my communicator, and I paused. I'd run these missions before, but something felt...off. I shook it off and advised that I had an empty ship with an exact capacity of 192. The relief in his voice renewed my vigor. He cleared me for immediate landing at the first large pad. I set my distributor to full engines with a moderate amount of power diverted to systems. This wasn't the time to blast my way out.
My approach was my first red flag. Hangout spun quicker than usual on its axis. Correcting the rotation made me regret that steak I had before I arrived. Control guided me in but gave me a stern reminder that it was about to get hot. As I passed through the first shield, my sensors went wild. My earlier suspicions were confirmed when I was nearly thrown from my seat when my underbelly scraped along the floor of the lock. A quick survey found no major damage as my shields took most of the impact. A local scan found the frame was bent and misshapen. Figured I'd chalk it up to a well placed Thargoid shot. Nevertheless, we moved forward. Once my bow broke the second shield, Hell opened it's gaping maw. My temperature sensors immediately began to climb. Explosions rocked us left and right. Pieces of the interior layer were floating like spikes of unforgivable terror. As I approached the pad, my second speedbump reared its ugly head. A missile-like blast propelled us nearly 100 yards forward. My retrothrusters flew into overdrive, but I was quickly approaching a structure. Castiel is a tough guy, but he's not a nimble one. Proximity sensors sure do get more annoying when everything is on fire around you. We did eventually come to a very abrupt stop; right into the structure. Fortunately whoever built this structure didn't skimp on the strength package. Fortunately for me, I shelled out for a hull reinforcement. Didn't stop an antenna from damaging my forward heatsink, though. I had already dumped 2 heat sinks coming in. Now I only had 1 to get out.
After managing the overshoot, I posed myself directly over the pad. A, subjectively, gentle landing, and we jostled into place. Control came back over. It was good to hear another human voice. I didn't even get a chance to ask to go below deck. Control advised that I was immediately being brought to the bay to load passengers. I raced out of my seat and towards the passenger area. I grabbed my H.E. suit, throwing on what I could before I hit the airlock. When those doors opened, I wasn't ready. Hundreds of people were corralled into a space no larger than an Adder. A woman, also in an H.E. suit, sprinted up to me and asked if I commanded this vessel. When I identified myself as a Federation Lt. Commander, she immediately handed me a list of every person who next in line. I asked if any medical personnel or equipment were available to monitor during flight. As she walked away, she said, "If you've got a first aid kit, then you're it." With help from the station crew, people began to flood on board. Hundreds of terrified, frantic refugees, finding hope in my ship. In me.
As my ship neared capacity, I signaled to the deck controller to stop boarding. The deck controlled closed the gate, but then, chaos. A group of refugees swarmed, busting down the gate. Dozens of terror-stricken passengers rushed the loading ramp. At that moment, I froze. I couldn't take off with these people in the bay, the moving pads would rush them. I also couldn't let them on board, or else I would be too heavy to take off. Just then, security intervened. A squad of nearly 20, heavily armed and armored Federal Marines barricaded themselves between the ship and the gate. A wall of ballistic shields and non-lethal weapons formed, and suddenly the crowd slowed to a near stop. After what seemed like an eternity, the crowd began to slowly drift backward. Hundreds of people refilled the dock, but the deck controller told me to clear off now to prevent a riot. As I pushed my way to and slammed on the ramp raise button, it seemed that the crowd realized that they thought their last chance of survival was taking off. A new found courage pulsated through the crowd, and a group of nearly 50 rushed the wall of guards. I pushed my way to my spot on the bridge, I heard a new noise. Gunfire...and screaming. I sped to the console and flew through my pre-flights. The gunfire stopped, but I could still hear screaming. The dock pad began to move me forward. I turned on my external cameras, and when I viewed the feed, I instantly wished I hadn't. A pile of 20 bodies, basted in blood, lying motionless on the edge of a pit that led to space beneath the platform that carried my ship. I wanted to go back, but I couldn't. There was nothing I could do for them now.
The pad brought me back topside, back to the hellscape. I was still trying to process what happened when the locks released. I was dazed. I'd dealt with the occasional pirate before, but that. That was a massacre. Another explosion brought me back to the center of my focus. As I pushed on the throttle, his engines roared to life. The deafening noise drowned out the crackling of the fires around me. As I got closer and closer to the airlock, more eruptions began around me. As my nose pierced the first plasma wall, I noticed alarms were going crazy. I took one look at my heat monitor: 156%. I reached for my heatsink control, and that's when I saw it: Error. Launcher jammed. I cursed myself, knowing that I had jammed it when I hit the wall of the airlock coming in. Now I had a dangerously high amount of heat seeping its way into my ship with 192 souls on board. I had a choice. Book it and pray that my passengers don't fry like fish, or try to fix it. I decided to fix it. After all, two wrongs make a right, right?
As I moved through the airlock, I slammed on the downward thruster. My base slammed into the bottom of the lock, and a nasty grinding noise resulted. I scraped through the lock until I exited the station. I turned my head to my heatsink monitor again: Ready to fire. I couldn't have hit that launcher quicker. Instantly my temperature levels fell, and at last, we were out of the fire and the frying pan. Hell, we were almost out of the kitchen. But we had one last step: Supercruise. I grabbed my PA and said the only thing I knew to say. "Ladies and gentlemen, grab on tight, we're about to jump. I raised my landing gear and pushed the throttle as hard as I could. I punched the boost and shot out of the mass lock like a bullet. My FSD charged quickly, and we slipped away, like a leaf in the wind. Thank god for Felicity. The ride to the rescue ship was quick, and oddly, uneventful. A quick diagnostic found no major damage, but that would need a more thorough look.
We arrived at the megaship, and she had never looked so beautiful. System Authority Vessels protected us from all sides, and the beckoning white glow of the landing pad drew us like a moth to a flame. As I approached, I killed the engines, and brought us a halt, gently drifting in the open black. I began to let everything process. We got out, but there were so many left aboard the station. And the rioters...maybe I could have carried them. I was brought back to reality by a message from the cabins on my HUD.
"Commander, As much as we appreciate a timely rescue, we really need to be at our destination quickly. Will it take much longer?"
I was momentarily taken aback. I just flew through hell, and now I'm being rushed by some impatient prick? I wanted to see them for myself. I rose from my seat and made my way to the passenger cabins. As I reached the bay, I saw why they rushed me. 192 souls, all who entrusted me with their safety, who were all clearly rattled by our little escapade. I grabbed the nearest PA mic.
"Attention, passengers. This is your Captain. If anyone is medically trained or has medical supplies, please come forward."
To my fortune, a group of 20 men and women got up. They identified themselves as sailors from the Federation ship Trenton on leave after a tour in the Pleiades. I asked for the ranking officer of their detachment. A woman, no older than 28, stepped forward. Lieutenant Jennifer Yakon, she said, extending her hand. I asked what capabilities they had with them if any. They told me they didn't have any equipment, but would examine who they could and triage them before the medical staff about the rescue ship met us. I thanked her and asked her to update me on the bridge if anything pressing needed attention. I gave her a copy of the roll and asked her to account for everyone who said they boarded. As I made my way back to the bridge, a young boy, around 11 or 12, stopped me. He told me that he couldn't find his parents. I asked him his name and where he last saw them. He said his name was Joshua, and a chill ran down my spine when he said: "I haven't seen them since the place where we got on." Terror and fear gripped my soul. I asked him who he had been sitting with. He pointed towards a group of around 60 children, all being comforted by nearby adults. I asked him if anyone knew where their parents are. His answer shook me: "We haven't seen them since before we took off." I instructed him to wait with the others, and I'd find his parents if I could. I had a horrifying suspicion, but I didn't want to believe it.
I continued to the bridge and had a message waiting for me on arrival. It was from Lt. Yakon. 35 people were injured, 2 severely, but fortunately no-one was killed. I advised her to move the most injured to the back, and await landing. I refired our engines and drifted slowly towards the rescue ship. When I came into the range of Control, the Controlled told me that traffic was high, so I needed to be quick. I informed him that I had injured parties on board receiving medical attention, but we needed equipment. The controller told me they had a few crews available, but only for the most severely injured. I thanked him and began our descent. As we rotated into position, my communicator flashed with a message, again from Lt. Yakon. She told me 64 children were found to be unaccompanied by any parents, but none were hurt, just scared. We touched down on the pad, and the locks gripped us tight. As we were brought below deck, I again made my way to the cabins. I opened the loading ramp and was met by a crew of 40 people. I was the first to step off and asked for the medical officer. I was directed to an older man, who wore a Post Commander insignia. I informed him of Lt. Yakon's actions. He thanked me and rushed to meet her. The severely injured were brought out first. A couple who had been sitting near the ramp door, both bleeding badly. Medical rushed them off, and Lt. Yakon followed. I then remembered the unaccompanied children and weaved through the crowds until I reached their spot in the cabins. I found Joshua, holding an infant, trying to stop her from crying. He immediately met my gaze, hope quickly fading from them. I asked him if he wanted to help me. His smile of agreement settled his fear, if only slightly. I asked him to round everyone up, and get them off the ship together. I instructed him to pool everyone in a refugee holding bay and wait for the deck controller. I told him don't let anyone separate them until they met him. He agreed, and I motioned for a few adults nearby to help. I gave them a quick brief, and they went to work. I went back to the loading dock, where I found the deck controller. She thanked me for bringing so many at once. I nodded and told her about the minors and what I told Joshua. She told me she'd do her best to reunite who she could, but couldn't make any promises. She made her excuses, and I was alone. Alone on a deck, with hundreds spilling from Rescue-1. I took a moment to catch my breath, and process what had happened.
I soon found myself back on the bridge, with everyone taken off the ship. A buzzing at the door to the bridge awoke me. It was Lt. Yakon. As she entered, she told me one of the injured couples didn't make it, and the other one was in critical condition. I couldn't help but think that I played a role in their suffering. Lt. Yakon seemed to understand this. She informed me that she was going to meet up with her men, and be on the next flight towards Trenton. I thanked her for the help in the rescue as she left. Another message soon appeared on my screen. It was the ship's engineering crew. They found some minor hull damage and some damage to my heatsinks, but otherwise, Castiel came through pretty well.
I soon realized how much there was still to do. This one trip only took 192 people, yet, there are still thousands on board. There was so much left to do. So many people left to save. I'm going to rest a bit at Rushworth Terminal in the Nima system before taking on the beast again. Maybe one day I can lead a squadron into the fray to save more lives. For now, this is Archangel, signing off.