Annnnd we're back:
Pomp and Circumstance
Elysium Base, Earth Orbit
Two Weeks Later
A grand ceremony was underway on Elysium Base, the huge station in geostationary orbit over Africa. The structure was second only to Olympus Base at Terrain size and capacity. Intended as both Earth’s main Fleet Base and a potent defensive battlestation, the base followed the same design as the other Terran Fleet Bases – a central, cylindrical hub a kilometre across and half again as tall, with six capital-scale construction and refit berths radiating out from there, each one capable of holding anything up to a Phoenix
-class Heavy Battlestar. Docks for smaller ships were attached to the outer hull of each capital berth, allowing entire groups to be serviced at once. From the top and the bottom of the central core spread huge disc-shaped sections, each reaching out to cover much of the capital berths in the centre section, the discs being nearly four kilometres across.
These held storage bays, component fabrication shops, hangers for small craft and manufacturing facilities for them as well. They also contained defensive and offensive weapons and all the other paraphernalia of a combat base. The entire structure was protected by a Terran theatre shield, modified to form a complete sphere that covered not only the base but any nearby ships, giving them a safe haven to fire back at any potential enemy.
In the six capital berths were the next-generation Tau’ri warships - three American CV-305 Yorktown
class supercarriers, two Russian BC-307 Potemkin
-class heavy battlecruisers and the single British BB-306 Dreadnought
It was the last vessel that was the focus of today’s ceremony as the new ship was being commissioned into the Royal Navy. Every available observation gallery was filled with spectators, among them the families of the crew, the dockyard workers who had built her and various senior officers and VIP’s that couldn’t be excluded for various reasons.
It was not simply a British affair however. The United Nations Secretary-General, Dr Samuel Hayden, was present, as was the President of the UN Defence Council Sir Basil Charleston. General Hammond, in his new role as Commander, UN Combined Forces rounded out the senior Tau’ri figures. The Terrans were represented by Admiral Lethbridge-Stewart, who had travelled here to see the occasion, the CO of Elysium Base Commodore David von Erich, and Ambassador Henry North, brother of the legendary Captain Franklin North who had died in battle over Terra years before.
Despite the assembled mass of the great and powerful, most people’s attention was locked on the figure that stood at the podium in the main observation deck. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second was here as the ship’s sponsor, a role she thoroughly enjoyed, even if the sensation of being in space and looking down at Earth took some getting used to. Now she had come to the pivotal moment:
“…I name this ship Dreadnought
. May God bless her, and all who sail in her.”
A button was pressed and a bottle of fine champagne was ejected at speed from a nearby launcher, flying straight and true across the several hundred metres of empty space to smash spectacularly across the ship’s huge nameplate on the upper-port bow, which bore the legend:
HMS Dreadnought SDN-01, “Fear God and Dread Nought.”
This was the cue for the new ship’s manoeuvring thrusters to fire, slowly backing the big vessel out of the berth and towards free space.
The ship itself was an impressive sight. She was sixteen hundred metres long, almost the same as a Lionheart
class Battlestar, but this new ship was armed purely for anti-ship combat; she carried no fighters. The hull took the form of a flattened cylinder, four hundred metres across for most of the length. The upper and lower hulls were smooth, utilising the same superconductive armour as Terran and Colonial ships. The upper and lower surfaces extended slightly passed the ship’s edge, giving a centreline trench similar to Colonial ships and with the same purpose, much of the ship’s weaponry was concentrated here.
The ship’s bow was only half was wide as most of the hull, and no taller than the midships trench, the flattened cylinder shape tapering outwards and upwards for the first quarter of the ship’s length, giving the ship a distinct wedge-shaped forward hull again reminiscent of theLionheart
class. The only thing that marred the smooth hull was the superstructure three-quarters of the way towards the stern, a squat ziggurat-like structure that rose five decks above the armour layer and contained a number of sensor and communications systems.
The real interest for the ship though was the guns, and in this the new Dreadnought
lived up to her namesake. Along both the port and starboard midships trenches were five groupings of three turrets each. The centre turret of each grouping mounted a pair of Asgard plasma-beam weapons, the same as those on the 304’s. The outer two turrets contained twin scaled-up versions of the heavy coilgun turrets also mounted on the smaller ships, these were designed for punching holes in capital ships – each gun could hurl a five-tonne slug at fifteen hundred kilometres a second. The forward-most group of turrets on each side were in the curved section of the trenches, allowing them to fire forwards along with the main battery.
This gave the ship a potent broadside and good arcs of fire, but the main weapon was in the bows. In a small cluster were four heavy plasma beam cannons, scaled-up versions of the Asgard weapons that were able to burn through the heaviest armour or the strongest shields in a few shots. Rounding out the ship’s weaponry was eighty of the 304-standard coilgun turrets, these were spread out evenly along the dorsal and ventral hull, giving the ship a heavy all-around punch while still allowing them to focus in on any targets engaged by the heavy guns if needed. Finally there were the five hundred Terran laser cannon point-defence mounts, again spread evenly.
This ship was a brawler, a ship-killer, a beast. With the strongest available Asgard shields back up with multiple linked neutrino-ion generators, it was believed by the ship’s designers that she could take on anything short of the Warstar Nemesis
or the Battlestar Phoenix
in a pure gun duel and come out on top.
The new HMS Dreadnought
was now out in free space and was quickly joined by the other British ships – HMS Conqueror
, recently returned from Pegasus after the final defeat of Ba’al, and the newly-commissioned HMS Warrior
that was just finishing her shakedown cruise. It was a potent battle group and a reminder that while the Royal Navy may no longer be the dominant fleet on Earth, they still should never
be underestimated or overlooked.
In the VIP observation deck the formalities were concluded and the even had devolved into a meet-and-greet event as many of the British delegation had had little contact with those from Terra. General Hammond was quietly talking shop with Commodore von Erich – even commissioning ceremonies did not stop such things for long. Elsewhere the Queen was discussing a possible State Visit to Terra with both Lethbridge-Stewart and Ambassador North. Alistair was in full dress uniform, which after the Senate bill passed now included the sword and medal of a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Kobol. This was something the British appreciated and took in their stride, addressing him as Sir Alistair came naturally to them even if the Terran Admiral was still somewhat uncomfortable about the situation.
The State Visit in question would have to wait for a little while, the United Colonies had a far more solemn occasion happening the very next day – the fourth anniversary of the Battle of Terra, where the Combined Fleet had tasted combat for the first time – and also taken its worst-ever losses as twelve of their twenty ships were destroyed or damaged beyond repair and eight thousand men and women had died.
There would still be a Tau’ri presence though as it was also the fourth anniversary of first contact between the two human civilisations, and the original SG-1 team would be on hand to commemorate the occasion.
With the completion of the Dreadnought
, attention on Elysium Base would now shift to the Yorktown
, the first of the American carriers that was nearing completion, closely followed by the Russian Potemkin
. The Tau’ri space forces, under the overall command of Lieutenant-General O’Neill, would soon be the second most powerful force in three galaxies, something everyone on Earth was proud of.
The Citadel, Lemuria, Terra,
The Next Day
It was the anniversary of the Battle of Terra (although it was technically the First
Battle of Terra, everyone referred to it as simply “the Battle” as the second was the brief massacre of Gerak’s rebel Jaffa that lasted only four minutes) and the Citadel was decked out in martial finery for the occasion. Banners and standards of the fourteen Battle Groups in the Combined Fleet lined the walls, whilst the assembled marching Marines carried the standards, trimmed in black, of the twelve lost ships – the Battlestar Barham
, the Battlestar Galactica
and the destroyers Valkyrie, Vendetta, Defiant, Valiant, Stalwart, Champion, Resolute, Daring, Ranger
Throughout the hall, the stirring strains of the Colonial Anthem gave way to the Colonial Fleet’s Victory March, the pounding drums and crashing cymbals reverberating around the huge space while the piercing brass notes captured everyone’s attention perfectly.
When the March finished, the parading Marines had reached the centre of the hall and as one came to attention. The two banners for the Commonwealth Navy and the Colonial Fleet were bowed in respect, while the standards of the fallen ships remained defiantly raised. Silence descended across the assembly and continued for three minutes until the Sergeant-Major of the Commonwealth Marine Corps ordered the rifle salute.
To one side were seven Marines, a mix of Terran and Colonial troops, holding the traditional projectile rifles still used for such events. At the Sergeant-Major’s order, the rifles were brought to the ready, aimed upwards towards the cavernous ceiling. The first salvo of blank rounds crashed out, echoing dramatically. A pause, a moment as seven hands worked the actions and then came the second salvo. Another pause and the final salvo came, ending the traditional salute.
On the podium were gathered the two Presidents, the Speaker of the Senate, the Leader of the Quorum of Twelve and the High Command of the Armed Forces, all in dress uniforms of course. Lethbridge-Stewart stepped up to the podium and began his short speech.
“On this day, four years ago, the men and women of the Combined Fleet, a Fleet that was still in its infancy, stood and fought against a terrible enemy that sought to annihilate us all. This enemy had overwhelming numbers and the relentless energy of machine beings, every single one of which was focused on destroying the last remains of the Children of Kobol.”
A brief pause came, as the Admiral remembered those dark and terrible events.
“But we had something infinitely stronger at our backs. We had the knowledge that we were defending the innocent and that is a motivation for a warrior stronger than any other. We stood firm and we held the line. The losses were terrible, as can be seen here from the black-trimmed battle standards, but we triumphed against the odds.”
“Eight thousand four hundred and twenty eight men and women gave their lives that day, but here on Terra not a single civilian was so much as injured by the battle. I cannot speak for the dead but had I been among the fallen, I would consider that outcome to be worth the price we paid.”
The Admiral stepped back into the line of other Admirals while respectful applause rippled around the hall. More speeches followed, from Admiral Adama who spoke of the price of wearing the uniform but the rewards it brought, from Admiral Jellicoe, from President Roslin and others.
President Matthews had just finished his own speech and concluded the event when an aide stepped up beside Admiral Lethbridge-Stewart and whispered something urgent in his ear. Alistair paled and then turned to the other Admirals to pass on the news. They were needed on Olympus Base immediately.
To avoid stirring up suspicion and panic, the assorted officers and politicians stepped off the podium and out of sight before the beaming system whisked them away to deal with the urgent situation that had arisen.
Panopticon Control, Olympus Base, Terra Orbit
A Few Minutes Earlier
Panopticon Control fulfilled the same function for the Milky Way that Argus Control did for Pegasus, controlling the vast network of sensor and nav buoys and monitoring system traffic. Unlike Pegasus, the Milky Way contained a great deal more ships moving around, the Kobolian ships, the Tau’ri, the Lucian Alliance, the Jaffa, the Hebridans and many others. This meant the programming involved was more complex, avoiding unnecessary alerts where possible.
This time however, the programming was spot-on, something very important had happened.
Warrant Officer John Matheson was monitoring buoy 7451, covering the galactic core. The region was usually quiet; there were no interstellar civilisations in the area and very few ships passed through it. The computer squawked at him with an alert. He checked the screen, then looked away, blinked a few times and then looked back to make sure he wasn’t imagining this.
A ship, a massive
ship had appeared right in the middle of the sensor coverage, seemingly out of nowhere. The power readings were almost off the charts, and that was before something flared and the vessel began moving, through a sub-strata of hyperspace that was rarely used. John entered the command to compute the contact’s course. The result almost had him falling out of his chair.
The unknown vessel was on a direct course to Terra.
His hand slammed down on the emergency alarm without any conscious thought. This was far too important to waste time with calling someone more senior over. Throughout the control room and the rest of the huge Fleet Base the klaxon sounded, bringing more than a few worried looks or shouts of surprise. Matheson knew what he had to do next. He set his intercom for the 1-MC and made his report.
“This is Panopticon Control, we have a large unknown vessel on direct course to Terra, ETA six hours. Contact is approximately…oh frak me, contact is five times the size of Nemesis
, power levels off the charts! This is not a drill. I repeat; massive unknown contact on direct course for Terra, ETA six hours. This is not a drill.”
Given the seriousness of the report, not even the Commander in Chief would reprimand him for his less than professional language.
End of Act 1: Overture
So Act 1 ends and soon Act 2 will open. The crossover has begun, the Dreadnought
has been launched and will join in the fight, and Battleaxe is now a Knight.
It should be evident here that the two timelines do not match up exactly
- the Forerunner ship being detected by Panopticon Control is only minutes after she left in the previous chapter, the Terran part of which was two weeks earlier. I kept the slight discontinuity because it helped keep things interesting.
From the UNSC perspective, this chapter takes place on June 5th 2552. Sigma Octanus IV is about five weeks away, and Cole is just beginning his prowl around the Outer Colonies - more of which next time!
For those curious as to what Dreadnought
looks like, my main image is based on the human warships seen in "The Fifth Element" - best seen here.
The superstructure is smaller and further back on the BB-306 and the bow tapers inwards from the sides and top as I mentioned, but this is the general shape I'm picturing. Plus she has lots of guns
Oh and "SDN-01" is intended to be "Space DreadNought-01," though it does make a good shoutout for the board. The Conqueror, Warrior
and Ark Royal
will be SBC (Space BattleCruiser)-01, 02 and -03. And yes they will all share mottos with the historical ships of the same names.
EDIT: As fr Elysium Base, yeah it's big. Same size as Atlantis Base in fact. Olympus Base is bigger though - same design, but it has twelve capital berths in two rings of six. And a nice big theatre-shield to protect it, which I'm going to name a Fortress-shield, borrowing a term for a similar concept from Nexus: The Jupiter Incident.