Punching in final activation codes,Father Michael was almost in a trance as he worked the console before him in rapid execution. The flight control tower had trouble keeping in up, but soon took to jumping five steps in the process to match Michael's speed. With a series of clunks, the ship was detached from various fueling robs and scaffolding, now rest on the angle launch rails. At the edge of the starboard side of the bridge window, the recessed sections of the hanger were being closed off by blast shields.
"FTL Mission you are clear for launch." Was the signal that preparations were over. "Be advised, you will be escorted until you have reached the Mesosphere, from that point on your on your own. May fortune be on your side."
"God speed to you as well crewman." Father Michael responded. A steady build up of vibrations, evolving into a rumble, and then a thunderous uproar signified the engines booming into life. Up ahead in the launch tunnel blast doors and rails were locking into place. The thunder became sharp, and plumes of exhaust began to billow over the vessel, and the Hammond lurched into motion. The launcher worked similarly to a rail gun, the trolley being propelled faster and faster by magnets along the rail, aided by the powerful engines. The crew could feel the G-forces pressing them into their seats.
The tunnel lasted three minutes, filling the bridge with sunlight and shadow, and a horizon burning black into the dawn sky. The sky was filled with anti-aircraft explosions, and dog fighting jets. A group of GRW aircraft arched wide and came about on an interception course for the Hammond, but were quickly dispatched by the joining escort jets of the BU.
Commander Jonathan pulled himself through the G-forces, and activated the Mass Driver turrets, synchronizing with the escort ID signatures to ensure no friendly fire. A raid of GRW fighters arced towards the vessel from the port side, turrets slamming each jet with two or three shots along automatically calculated trajectories. As the Flight controller said, the escort began to disengage their positions as they transitioned through the Mesosphere. The sky had given way to a field of stars crisper and brighter than they could be seen on the surface, the moon rising in the east.
And with a bright flash of crimson, it was shattered. Within minutes debris hurtled across the Hammond's flight path, causing Father Michael to make a drastic adjustment to their angle of climb. It was in this moment that Jonathan saw a vast structure rising over the eastern horizon. Subtlety was not a common trait among the GRW, and the structure emphasised this tenfold. Adorning what could only have been the weapon that just obliterated the moon was a red and black skull disfigured into a vicious smile.
The g-forces were subsiding as everyone within the vessel was now moving at relatively the same speed, allowing the commander to stand and turn to the rest of the crew.
"We're going to have to activate the FTL drive sooner than planned. there is no way we'll get to the outer Heliosheath with that thing designed to chase us down or blow us out of the sky. Miss Drakoon, we need you in Astronav to set our target, Mr Miller, get to Engineering and make sure nothing overloads and blows us all up. Everyone else may stand down but be ready for any situation to arise." Commander Jonathan ordered clearly to the crew.
Elicia pryed herself from her seat, not waiting for further confirmation of her role, walking straight to Astronav.