The calm azure waters of the bay and sea beyond, the shimmering white towers and spires of the coastal city of Baie des Diamants were the backdrop to the Alliance Naval dockyard and supply base that resided on the world of Valériane, the south eastern most inhabitable border world in the Interstellar Alliance territories. Valériane was a beautiful world of great rolling plains of pink-white flowers, tropical forests of brilliant gold and orange trees and shimmering seas. An idealic and peaceful world on the western end of the trade rout between the Alliance and the far eastern nations, such as the Dominion of Ersetu.
The dockyard was a key component to maintaining and supplying the Navy ships that patrolled and defended the south-eastern borders and was the last in-territory port of call on the major trade routs that passed through the system. The dockyard consisted of a central command complex, living quarters, power generators and supply facilities, hangars, landing pads and fields and over two dozen landing slips, large trenches of various sizes dug into the ground that served as repair and maintenance drydocks for starships either too large to land on their own, or otherwise incapable of.
In one of the smaller of these slipways, lay the boxy form of what one might mistake for one of the ubiquitous Daring class destroyers that made up the backbone of the Alliance Navy's lighter starship fleet. But if one looked closer, they would see she was missing the dome-like laser turrets and massive ventral antenna mast of the Daring class. While she had the same hull, her bow and flanks contained large doors of a cargo vessel.
In fact she had once been a cargo ship, one of the C-1070 civilian cargo ships based on the same hull as the Alliance Navy Daring class destroyer. originally having been brought into service as a transport for the Alliance Marines, the ship had served in this capacity for a decade before being transferred to the Navy for a new experimental program.
With the ongoing dangers to civilian traffic in the trade routs outside Alliance space, and the lack of safe havens in the neutral territories, save for Port Endeavour and a meager handful of other stations strung along the major rout, there were vast swaths of lawless and dangerous space for the Alliance and Dominion navies to patrol. While there were many starships available and dedicated to this, they could only be in so many places. Carriers were deemed ideal for helping aid this task, but the great fleet carriers were few in the Alliance Navy and not a thing in the Dominions wholly different Royal Navy.
The suggestion of a class of small patrol carrier had been put forth and approved by Alliance Naval Command and this cargo ship was the first, a prototype, proof of concept ship, to test if and how a small carrier would work in protecting the trade lanes in lawless space.
So here she sat, resting in her docking clamps after 23 months of refitting and rebuilding, the IAS Spitfire, her blue and white hull shining in the bright sunlight as the last of the scaffolding was pulled away, and large repulsor tractors and cranes lifted supplies to be loaded into her open, waiting cargo hatches. And waiting beside her, on the starboard lip of the slipway lay 15 F7A Comet starfighters, enough for a full squadron of 12, plus three spare ships, ready to be craned aboard the newly converted little carrier.
The fighters were small, sleek, long nosed interceptors with a center mounted canopy, a pair of powerful sub-light engines, stacked vertically at the aft and long spindly radiator wings between the canopy and engine thrust nozzles. The Comet was small, agile and quick, armed with a pair of laser cannons and a single micro torpedo launder with a magazine of up to 7 missiles. In addition to these weapons, there were 5 hardpoints for external munitions or fuel tanks.
Beside the 3rd of these small fighters walked a young red-headed woman in the blue uniform of an Alliance officer, a lieutenant JG's rank pin on the left breast of the vest she wore over the standard tunic, above which glittered the silver and gold flight wings of a pilot. Her hat was pushed up high and she had a pair of large, perfectly round sunglasses covering her eyes as she inspected the fighter, a huge grin on her face....
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Her inspection continued as she looked over the craft that her orders said would be hers, Freyja was sure about this Cargo ship working as a carrier though, and worse yet it will all be babysitting jobs. Not what she was trained to do, but what one can do. As she came around to the rear of the fighter Freyja paused and looked out across the dockyards to one of the seas, "Wish we could get some time here on planet, it's been a long time since I've been to a beach…” She suddenly clammed up realizing Mr. Waffles and her were not alone, the other pilot… Freyja froze for a second and started blushing bright red. Did the other JG her me? Oh noes Mr. Waffles…
Hal's mind was lost in thought, the looked partially masked by the reflective lenses in his glasses. A hand pushed his glasses up to reveal the faint line of the edge of synthetic skin, an implant of some sort on his face. He had already done a tour, none of this is new. He'd been transferred out of his previous Squadron over to here, for reasons beyond anything either his flight lead or squadron lead ever told him. Still, the hangover from the previous night he hoped wasn't visible. Hell, I hope I don't look like total ass.
He walked towards the third fighter and stopped to the admiring redhead's right side. He gave a quiet cough, and then spoke with a haggard yet warm voice. "New in town?"
You better hope that's a junior officer...