Story - Docking Bay (Part ii)
Kallanagh shook his head as he watched the weekly reports flood in across the various consoles on the observation deck, high above the docking bay itself. A myriad of graphs, images and text references sprawled across the wall like vast tapestry of light, displaying virtually every aspect of the Apocalypse Battleship’s construction and fitting.
He was not happy with what he saw.
The mortality rate from both slaves and shipyard crews was strangely high, with almost 200 men, women and children lost over the past month. Coupled with the construction process being behind schedule by over a week, meant that the overall process would be delayed considerably. He did not like to be kept waiting. Far below on the docking bay floor a vast dark tide of loading walkers, slaves and numerous other transports were hauling supplies, armaments and cargo into the battleships vast interior. It had already taken more then 3 days of none stop work to load the already stowed consignment of payload into the vessel, and with only a few hours to go till the due completion of loading deadline the work teams were working harder then ever. Aside from the innumerable rounds of shells, missiles and torpedoes, a large quantity of the cargo was actually foodstuffs.
The final authorisation to make provisions for an effective crew compliment ensured the need for vast freezer complexes to be built within the already overburdened depths of the ship. This added many days of delay by itself, but provided the crew with years of nourishment should the need arise. Modifications had been made to provide the vessel with the ability to support a “greenhouse” on the exterior were in effect, as a last ditch attempt at survival for the crew should complications arise. The crew, consisting of some 1000 officers and men, would have to undergo substantial training in order to be able to cope with the months in space. This with the need for suitable training skill packs and teaching equipment would prove to be yet another expense for his depleted budget.
The crew was large, very large in fact in support of a vessel that would in most respects run itself. The recommendation regarding the addition of a crew compliment was regarded initially with scepticism, but after careful negotiations over a few days the Ministry of Internal Order footed the bill. A surprising and swift move due to the Ministries previous ISK disposition. The crew was due to consist of:
20 Bridge Officers,
50 Security Officers,
30 Medical Staff,
50 Science Staff,
300 Slaves (suitably controlled),
200 Support Staff,
400 Specialist Engineering staff……..
Also serving on board ship was the entire 89th “Head-hunters” Ammatar Regiment: Consisting of 800 Ammatar marines, commanded by Amarrian NCO’s and commanding officers. As a fighting vessel, it seemed appropriate to carry a contingent of fighting men in order to deal with any problems that may arise whilst on active service. The 89th were known to be exceptionally efficient in carrying out their orders, if not a little overzealous in their execution of given commands. The Ammatar with their size and strength had performed admirably in their long lasting loyalty to the Amarr Empire, and with such impressive results a regiment was seconded to serve on board to carry out ground and boarding operations. Kallanagh turned away from his vigil of the sea of loaders in order to reflect on why they were called the “Head-hunters”. When the CO of the regiment was questioned on the matter, it was apparent that the regiment’s recent name was due to rather unsettling combat practices. The Ammatar with their constant war against their kin had developed a number of techniques, in order to play on the Minmatar’s somewhat base view that their Amarr-aligned kin had become somewhat lessened in the presence of their former masters. It was apparently common on the battlefield for the 89th regiment to take the heads of fallen enemies, in order to terrify would be aggressors who would dare to stand against them. A surprisingly effective tactic, one that is well worth such a somewhat distasteful and improper name for a regiment of the Imperium.
A chime appeared on the view screen, detailing the arrival of the full cargo manifest and the apparent end of the loading procedure, surprisingly ahead of time. “About time we were ahead of schedule for once” muttered Kallanagh, as he turned his attention to the commotion below. The swarm below turned like a great tide, flowing from the gaping entrance to the ship’s storage area and seeping through the many airlocks that separated the docking bay from the rest of the station.
A distant boom signalled the start of the ship’s reactor, followed by a roar of cheers as the engineering and construction teams congratulated each other on their work. The roar increased as the engines and warp drives were tested, the distinctive pre-test blue glow surrounded the rims of the rear engines as the pre-launch checks were commenced, in Ernest for the designated launch window. With less then 24 hours to go till the newly named ship HMS Cromwell was to be launched there was a lot to do, with a relatively long maiden flight to the Emperors Station in Amarr it was due to be a tense time over the coming day. At Amarr the ship was due to dock to pickup the 89th Regiment and her full compliment of crew, and then on to Kor-Azor in order to base with Kallanagh’s attachment within PIE Inc.
Still, it should be an interesting few days.