A couple seconds passed. Through the view port of one of the turrets they could see a squad of marines moving forward with breaching charges. They were going to blow open the elevator hatch. The weapon systems still had another ten seconds before they would come online. By then the marines would have the bomber blown open and the escapees capture or killed. Hope was fading. They made it this far and now the final part of the plan had failed. Despair began to well up inside of them.
Suddenly there was a nearly deafening roar and the whole carrier shook as massive explosions went off at various strategic points around the carrier. The largest explosions were from the explosives planted on the large front hanger door. The charges were made from the anti-matter warheads from anti-capital ship torpedoes and carried tremendous power. The blast at the hanger door ripped the door from the fore end of the ship and launched the massive piece of door out to space. So significant was the blast that the pressure wave from the explosion caused the retaliator to pitch violently and slide back a number of yards in the hanger deck. Any equipment and humans in the flight deck were tossed back. The marine who was attempting to plant a charge on the entry hatch of the Retaliator was tossed violently against the bomber, breaking his neck. Other marines were crushed by flying equipment or seriously injured by falls.
The escapees who were not strapped into their stations in the Retaliator faired marginally better. There was less distance to fly and no heavy equipment to crush them, but there they still impact the interior walls of the bomber with dangerous force. Several seconds passed. O’Brian, shaking his head in pain, slowly stood up and looked around. “Everyone, status report!” he painfully requested in groan. He saw Franklin curled in a ball with blood all around her from her bullet wound and blood coming out of a broken nose.
“Alive…. I think….” Kutuzov mumbled. He had a massive headache and felt very dizzy. He was slowing regaining his bearings. He had not taken a blow like that since surviving hand to hand combat against a Vanduul force when scouting Vanduul systems along the border when he was in the Marines.
“I’m ok, except my right arm is broken.” Michaels gets out past gritted teeth. Luckily being a gunner he can manage with one arm for now, although it will be difficult.
A few seconds pass and no one else replies. Then, from the cockpit the onboard computer announced that all systems were online, and then started on a damage report. One of the port side maneuvering thrusters was damaged, the torpedo launcher was inactive, and one of the fuel transfer pumps was disabled so they were not able to use all of the onboard fuel. O’Brian saw the two who were waiting for them in the bomber unconscious in the back of the entry room.
A warning klaxon began to sound on the carrier and the main lighting went out. Suddenly the Retaliator and everything in the flight deck began lurching forward towards the fiery fore end of the ship and open space. The atmospheric containment field and artificial gravity generator had failed. Some of the Marines who were still alive desperately tried to grab on to anything they could as the depressurization created a horribly strong windstorm as the ship’s atmosphere was pulled out to the vacuum of space.
“Kutuzov, help Michaels get setup in the rear turret. Strap in the other two in the top and bottom turrets, maybe if they are alive and wake up they will be helpful there. When done I need you to run the navigation and engineering station. I’ll put Franklin in the command seat and fly us out of here.” O’Brian wearily gave the orders as he went over to Franklin.
O’Brian applied a fresh pressure bandage from the bombers onboard first aid kit to her shoulder wound and hastily wrapped her head and nose in some medical tape. O’Brian never claimed to be a doctor and did not remember much from first aid courses in the Naval Academy. “I’m a pilot not a doctor!” He complained. He picked up Franklin and carried her to the command seat and started to strap her in. He looked at her briefly and thought that she was a beautiful woman and wondered why she worked so hard to save and help him. Then he grew angry. All this death and destruction and injury all because one man and his ambitions and a corrupt system that allowed people like Shaw to exist without fear for being caught. With that thought he turned away and ran to the cockpit and strapped into the pilots seat and pushed the throttle stick all the way forward. The ship rapidly accelerated and rocketed past debris and bodies floating out to space. As he cleared the hanger deck he performed a hard turn and flew along the hull of the carrier as the Retaliator built up speed.
The whole carrier had now gone dark. A total power failure occurred. He could see explosives were planted in other areas than just the flight deck. There was a large gaping hole where the main bridge used to be, and there was a crippled Hornet just in front of the “ready deck” with a pilot in a space suit climbing out of the cockpit. The fighter must have been taking off when the explosions occurred and there was debris that had penetrated the hull of the fighter and pinned it to the carrier’s hull. As O’Brian looked at the carrier he saw a large hole in the aft end of the ship and it was open all the way to the reactor. The bombs were well placed and devastating. The ship was not a total loss, but it would need to be towed to a ship yard for a couple years of repairs. The UEES Centurion, the destroyer class vessel that was running escort for the carrier was so focused on the damage to the carrier and the start of rescue operations that they neglected to see the bomber slipping over the hull of the stricken carrier and off into the void.
O’Brian was snapped back to reality when Kutukov’s very worried voice came on the internal communication channel, “Sir, based off the pre-plotted Nav course. We don’t have enough fuel.”