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Chapter 38 - The Absolute Zero[]

LCS Tuna - Cutter 2334
Sampson IV Class Cutter
Outer System - Lyons Star System
April, 3159

It had been one hell of a fight. The Dreadnought GBS Rasalhague floated at the center of a cloud of debris with her hull vented with ruptures. The thick powerful plating of her armor had taken many a great many hit. Demonstrating that "yes", if you pile on enough Ferro Carbide, even several Alamo scale 5KT detonations won't pierce it.

Leviathan (Delranes Fighting Ships 3061)

CBS Rasalhague - Leviathan Dreadnought (Before battle)

Unfortunately, even Santa Anna missiles lofting 50KT warheads aren't the lower limit. The Dominion's fleet units found out the hard way that when the doctrine writer is from Kowloon. There really isn't more than a passing hint of a nod toward 'limited' response.

It had still been one hell of a fight.

"I'm picking up beacons, Mum." CWO Judy Sithers-651 announced, "Cluster of lifeboats to Port, transponder says Ghost Bear."

Lieutenant Marthe Mandaoaaru-001 nodded slowly, "Deploy recovery boats. I want head-counts and Atmospheric conditions. Find out if they need water, if everything's copacetic. We'll hook them to a tow-line and bring them to the support element."

"Aye mum." answered the CWO.

LCN service was like the Mandaoaaru Guard but, the people she was rescuing were enemy soldiers.  Bringing them into the boat bay without a desperate need wasn't wise, but letting anyone die out here in darkness & silence was simply unacceptable. The memory from her childhood of constant loopiness and penetrating thirst in that cargo module was a nightmare that lingered even in the dreams of her jump-dreams, specters of starvation and suffocation, thirst and darkness.

Even an enemy who attacked without cause didn't deserve that kind of death.

She waited and watched through surveillance as the Marines secured tow-lines to the lifeboats, making a disordered cluster into a neat line.  "RTO?"

"Sorry mum...why are we doing this?" RTO Francesca Mainz asked.  "They tried to kill us."

"Because we are not beasts, Arto." she said.  "The fighting here is done. For the moment, it is in this kind of moment we remind ourselves that we are not beasts, but humans. The people in those boats are humans too. Space is very big, very dark, and very lonely."

The Pinnace fired her engines, towing five escape boats to the clustered support ships where medical personnel awaited.

The enemy troops would be interned on the planet. After getting medical treatment in military hospitals for the ones badly hurt.

We are not Beasts. 

On visual, she could see better what must have been the last moments of the vast Dreadnought ship. The thick armor was bowed out and splintered, in a way only possible from superheated atmosphere and water stowage.  A blow had been struck one of many, it had penetrated deep into the vessel. Where the water storage, gasses, and the atmosphere of the ship's life support were there to react.  The structure had been so thickly built, that it kept most of the shape, and didn't actually break up, but every weak point in the hull had bent outward on the final blow that slew the massive Leviathan-class vessel.

While they searched for more beacons and life-signs in the debris field. Marthe re-ran the final moments of that ship, the mass of it bulging outward and streaming fire from every seam.

Fire, in vacuum.

That there were survivors was testimony to how well the ship's designers had built it. To the favor of the gods of sailors and pilots.  It looked mostly intact but, Marthe's trained eye could see how little was going to ever be worth salvage.

"Mum, I'm getting an SOS on AM radio." answered RTO.

"Play it." said Marthe

["Dee dee dee, doo doo doo, dee dee dee."] from radio speakers

"Where's the source?" she asked.

"The wreck of the Rasalhague, Mum. Someone is still alive over there."

"The Pinnaces haven't come back?" she asked.

"No mum."

"We're the closest ship in the area?"

"Yes, Mum."

"Helm, bring us to close approach. We're going aboard to recover survivors. Let's hope we have enough beach-balls." she said firmly.

"Ma'am! That's-" began the crewmember

"I will not leave anyone to die of radiation poisoning or suffocation on that wreck. Am I understood? said Lieutenant Marthe Mandaoaaru-001

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