Sol (2/?)

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The MCRN Donnager of The Expanse fame … the inspiration for the RMSMC Aurelius. I won’t lie, this whole series is just poor fan fiction of The Expanse series. 

The twin Pilum torpedoes weaved through space, their onboard guidance homing in on the rear tail of the Icarus IV. 

Onboard, Raikkonen waited calmly, as he looked at his monitor and watched the weapons close in, his moniker “Iceman” proving not to be false advertising. Behind him, the strained voice of Kournikova came through loud and clear in his helmet.

“2 missiles inbound! Closing in fast, 50K clicks and counting down! Preparing countermeasures.”

Kournikova’s hands flew over her holographic screen, as she pulled up the Icarus IV‘s only defensive option: highly experimental flares, that Raikkonen had designed himself.

This would be the first live trial of the flares, dubbed Sprites. In his many experiments, Raikkonen knew that he had to deploy them at the very last second, otherwise their effectiveness would be highly compromised by distance.

But in order to do so, he had to let the torpedoes really close the distance. With each torpedo able to close nearly 10,000 kilometres in 1.5 seconds, timing was everything.

“20,000 clicks!” yelled Kournikova, at Raikkonen, whose stillness made her afraid.

Raikkonen permitted himself a small smile and waited for a single beat before activating his experiment into the field.

Packed tightly into hyper-velocity pods that launched from ejection tubes alongside the Icarus IV‘s retrojets, the sprites were always packed into pairs. Whilst only one was needed to eliminate a missile, Raikkonen knew better than to believe in chance, and always preferred redundancies.

Using advanced electronic warfare suites, the sprites would attempt to scramble the torpedoes onboard computers, causing them to decelerate, and turn into useless space debris.

Failing that, the sprites would seek out the torpedo itself and intercept them mid-flight, creating a small proximity explosion to nullify the incoming missile.

This would be their first live fire test.

Aiko Cicero onboard the RMSMC Aurelius stared intently at her screen, monitoring the twin Pilum torpedoes flight path, as they made a beeline towards the Icarus IV. Her plan was to allow them to overshoot the racer, and then detonate them at a safe distance, forcing Raikkonen to slow down.

But just as the Pilums nearly reached the Icarus IV, she saw a tiny blip appear from behind the Icarus IV, split into 4, and almost immediately she lost all connection to her torpedoes, staring in concern at her screen, as it began to flicker and a large “CONNECTION ERROR” sign appeared across the schematics of her weapons.

Frowning, she double checked her sensors, and zoomed in with an external camera tracking the torpedoes.

To her complete surprise, the two Pilums were not inert, and unresponsive, floating aimlessly in zero gravity, spinning in every direction, as four unknown crimson lights hovered near them.

Praetor Quintus. You better come over and have a look sir.” suggested Cicero, the puzzlement in her voice evident.

Quintus looked over the weapon specialist’s shoulder and at her screen. The four crimson lights looked like missiles themselves, their sleek design sporting a similar livery to the Icarus IV.

Perform an analysis scan on them. I don’t want the Aurelius to be hit by whatever the hell that is.”

“Copy sir. Give me a minute, read-out to your war-desk upon completion.” said Aiko, as the Aurelius’ onboard computers and sensor suites began to scan the outline of the sprites.

Quintus looked over at Vorenus, who made a motion about going around the blast zone of the Pilums. Nodding his affirmation, Quintus wondered What the hell is this … and how did Raikkonen get his hands on this type of tech?

Previously, anti-missile duty was performed with PDWs (Point Defence Weapons), hard-points on a spacecraft’s superstructure that had retractable Vulcan chainguns with complex computer algorithms to intercept missiles in mid-flight, and provide near 360 degree coverage in SCM.

It was a risky defence grid, but such was the reality of space warfare. No matter how bad-ass a ship was, it was still just a tin can in a hostile environment humans weren’t designed for. No amount of armour on a hull could withstand a railgun round nor the tungsten bullets of a PDW.

Could the Icarus really have counter-missile tech? If so, who gave it to them?  pondered Quintus.

A tiny ping signalled the arrival of the readout on the war-desk, and Quintus read over the report. Smiling, he looked over at Cicero.

“Confirmed sir. The Icarus IV has interceptor missiles for our torpedoes. I saw a small signature emerge from the rear of the Icarus when our Pilums were 10,000 clicks from impact. It split into two and the four managed to successfully scramble both of our Pilums onboard computers.”

“Clever sonvuabitch. Icarus must have designed them.” said Quintus with admiration. “XO.”

“Sir?”

“Set a course for Arcturus Station. I want to be there as soon as possible.”

“Understood. Plotting a course for Arcturus. ETA … well, we’ll be there after the Icarus. Hopefully not before they leave … Sir.”

Quintus merely shook his head in bemusement, and went to the Aurelius’ mess, to grab a cup of coffee. It was going to be a long shift.

The Icarus IV kept on going, its’ journey unimpeded by any future threats, Kournikova inside breathing out a huge sigh of relief.

“You crazy son of a bitch. Never do that to me again!” she yelled at Raikkonen who spun around and gave her one of his rare smiles.

“It worked didn’t it?”

“Too damn close Jean! My God.”

“How close is Arcturus?” asked Raikkonen as he inspected his instrument panel.

“It’s close. We can probably nitro-burn it there now and still have enough time to refuel and recharge and get away from the ship behind us. It’ll be at least 2 days before we can dock with the Daedalus.”

Raikkonen nodded to himself. The sooner they were away with their cargo, the better.

Reading his thoughts, Kournikova called out “Jean? Want me to check on it?”

Shaking his head, he unbuckled himself from his seat and allowed his body to float in zero g. He would do it himself.

As he floated past Kournikova, he kissed her gently on the cheek before moving to the doors that led to the engine room.

As the doors slid open with a metallic hiss, he beheld his beautiful Icarus IV‘s modified MPDrive.

Shielded by reinforced glass to prevent radiation leakage as well as allow visual inspection, the glowing ice-blue MPDrive was an scientific breakthrough that was made spaceflight possible and colonisation of the outer reaches of the solar system a reality.

Shaped like an cylinder, the core of the MPDrive was a centrifugal system, that allowed for the burn of the element known as “nitro”, a highly rare and stable fuel that granted vessels two types of speeds, sublight and NFTL (Near Faster Than Light) travel or more colloquially known as “nitro-burns”.

Current development of the MPDrive was still underway, with many scientists saying that they could still unlock more speed out of the engine. Raikkonen, with his modifications, owned one of the fastest vessels ever made in human history, courtesy of stolen Martian space-tech but even he knew that to push it further would risk destroying his spacecraft.

Nitro whilst highly efficient could only be “burned” for so long. This was the key problem with the MPDrives. The engines could only sustain a nitro-burn for a set amount of time, before its’ nitro supply would deplete. Pilots had to be extremely careful with such burns, otherwise they would risk floating in space for an eternity.

So many Formula 0 racers had overestimated their nitro-burns, and thus DNF (Did Not Finish) their races, not accounting for the supply needed to sustain reasonable sublight speeds.

However the Icarus IV had a glaring weakness. Whilst its NFTL speeds were the fastest ever built, its’ sublight speed was woefully inadequate, thus Raikkonen was forced to store a large abundance of nitro onboard, to “nitro-jump” most of his races, using controlled bursts of speed to gain and maintain distance on his rivals.

This weakness was what allowed the RMSMC Aurelius to catch up, its’ quartet of  MPDrives sublight speed much quicker than the Icarus IV‘s. However, due to Martian doctrine, it could only nitro-burn in the most desperate situations.

In spite of its’ poor sublight speeds, Raikkonen loved his Icarus IV. It was his pride and joy, his one true love, beyond Kournikova.

Icarus allowed him to escape Earth, venture amongst the stars and almost touch the sun.

But he had risked it all, for the crimson red cylinder that was secured in a strong  metallic case, attached to the wall of the Icarus‘ hull.

This is the future thought Raikkonen as he checked over the case and saw the 5 green lights, indicating its’ structural integrity.

What is in this case, could revolutionise everything. Time itself will be faster.

Patting the case gently, he spun around weightlessly and moved back to his chair and strapped the harness around his chest.

Giving Kournikova the thumbs up, he watched as she flicked him the trajectory to Arcturus Station and they both felt their chairs recline down, to lock itself into place as Raikkonen commenced the nitro burn.

G-forces slammed the breath out of their chests, and the Icarus IV’s blue MPDrive glowed icy white as nitro burned and the engine began to spin faster and generate more and more energy.

Raikkonen and Kournikova allowed the Icarus IV‘s auto-pilot to take over, as their bodies slowly succumbed to the immense G-forces and knocked them out, sinking their world into a high-pitch screams of engines and darkness.

Onboard the RMSMC Aurelius, Praetor Quintus and his crew could only stare in astonishment as the Icarus IV literally rocketed off their screens and sensors and into the emptiness of space.

So that’s the power of a Formula 0 racer mused Quintus.

Author’s Note

Apologies for the delay in between posts.

My schedule is now more or less normal, so I hope to keep pumping this out soon. I might do a bit of different writing just to get my juices flowing again, but I will not be abandoning this world.

~ Damocles. 

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