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Casualties of War

The ship was in distress. Captain Taynor knew it was only a matter of time before his command fell. Not only was the ship incomplete but also it had never actually left the shipyards it was completed in. To be completely accurate, it had never fired its main drives until this very day.

The day had started like any other with the officers and crew manning their stations just as they had ever day before for the last 3 months. Constantly drilling, constantly training, the crew would be the finest to join the fleet since the time of the Hegemony. Not only would they be the best crew, they would be controlling the most advanced ship in the fleet. The ‘Arbiter’ was the first of a new line of end-all behemoths. Capable of slugging it out with the biggest battleships in the fleet and stalking the swiftest destroyers, the Arbiter would dominate any battle. Her primary mission, however, was not battling other traditional warships but to take the fight to the Reagan Space Defense System cruisers protecting the Usurper’s core planets. Constructed by the Hegemony to protect those planets from the Great Houses, it was now the ultimate irony, protecting the Star Leagues worst and most powerful enemy. The Arbiter was equipped with the best anti-Warship defenses available as well as several top- secret devices to help crush the computer controlled opposition.

The most powerful and also most controversial weapon included in the massive war machines arsenal was the battery of atomic-tipped rockets. Basically upgraded Killer Whale naval grade missiles, the Abyss class missiles where capable of single-handedly destroying any size of capital ship as well as smashing the ground based anti-Warship weaponry. These fearsome weapons were only allowed with the addition of one of the most powerful computers ever constructed. This computer, capable of limited autonomous actions, was charged with the duty of overseeing the nuclear arsenal and ensuring their use against military targets. This computer also had regulating capabilities on most of the other major systems on board the ship. This was the ship’s undoing in the end.

The engineers had decided that the day had finally come to test out the massive sub-light engines mounted in the ship. After several days of priming the reactors, the fusion power levels were up to minimum operating levels and the computer deemed them ready to charge the drives. That is when the failure occurred. Somewhere in the aft hydrogen tank something happened. It may have been a simple spark or a short circuit or a malfunction in a system but whatever it was, the ensuing explosion shook the ship from stem to stern. As damage reports filtered in, I knew that something terrible had gone wrong but I had no idea the extent of the damage.