• This is a story I wrote for the creators of the XO game. I am not affiliated with Jump Drive Studios in any way.

BHV-2415 Huscarl
XO’s Log - Official

The Huscarl dropped out of FTL near Luna, on schedule and in the company of the heavy frigates Wasp and Raptor, ending our 6 week patrol. Initial system observations indicated significant damage. We began investigations.

XO’s Log - Personal

Jesus. Those three sentences took an hour to write, between the total panic of the crew and me personally bursting into tears every few seconds. Doc McAllif has nearly run out of tranqs. The Solar System, the cradle of humanity has been effectively wiped out. The 4 L-point habitats, gone. Not destroyed… gone.. Those alone were almost 400 million people. The naval shipyard and HQ sats are gone too. That’s another 2 million people, mostly military. We could find no traces of debris from those stations.

The Earth itself, every major city is a smoldering crater. The atmosphere is so covered in dust, debris, and water… Lt. Misaka tells us that there won’t be life on the planet, except for bacteria, in 4 months.

The Home Fleet is orbiting Earth, mostly in small pieces. Ten dreadnaughts, 17 BHVs, almost uncountable cruisers and destroyers.

Humanity has been wiped to the brink of extinction over the past decade. We thought we had a handle on it, but someone screwed up or the enemy got really, really lucky. Ever since the war began, we’ve tried to hide Earth and the major colonies from the enemy. Upon any encounter, every ship wipes their navigation database and the only copy is on a crys drive in the captain’s safe, set to self-destruct on command or if any of a dozen other conditions are met. The intelligence team thinks that something must have happened to a ship and the enemy got the nav database. Then they knew where Earth was.

We are so screwed.

BHV-2415 Huscarl
XO’s Log - Official

Sensors, reports from survivors, and recon by FFE-721 Raptor have turned up evidence that the enemy jumped directly into Earth space with hundreds of heavy ships. Estimates based on debris fields and the missing colonies suggest a range from 600 to over 1200 enemy ships, carriers and harvesters. Thousands of fighters. Maybe tens of thousands.

The Intelligence Division suggests that, if the enemy has gotten their hands on a fleet nav database, then all major colonies are at severe risk. The captain sent FFE-867 Wasp to the nearest major colony to warn them, and report. They were given strict orders not to engage under any conditions. The round trip should take about 4 days.

Other ships have begun arriving back in Earth space from the deeper parts of the solar system. These ships shut down and hid under orders from the fleet HQ. We’ve set teams to salvaging anything of value.

XO’s Log - Personal

The definition of “value” has radically changed in the last 39 hours. Crews are looking for weapons, food, fuel, O2, and anything that will help this small group survive.

The Captain reluctantly sent Wasp to Tau Ceti. I am concerned. The old man has been devastated by this. His wife and children lived in Brisbane. We have shuttles all over the place looking for survivors, but there’s not many.

I’m trying to keep a lid on the department heads and they are trying to keep a lid on the crew. But every time a shuttle arrives, you can see dreams of everyone on board just die. Then they build up hope as the next shuttle comes in. I don’t know how much longer we can do this.

Myself and the tactical officer, Lt. Daniels, and the intelligence officer, Lt. Solonov all agree that we should not stay here any longer than necessary. The enemy could be coming back at any time and a single BHV doesn’t stand a chance against a tenth of the fleet that hit Earth. Commander Iscara, the chief engineer, is building a handful of automated warning beacons. Whenever they detect a friendly IFF, they will send a message to get the heck back out.

The problem is that we can’t decide where to go, much less when to go. The captain is determined to find every person on Earth and everywhere else in the system. I don’t think that’s possible, much less reasonable. We have no idea what the state of the colonies are, we might well be the last remnant of humanity.

Everyone is getting massively depressed. No one has slept more than a few hours since we arrived in system. Morale is going to get a lot worse and I don’t see it getting much better anytime soon.

BHV-2415 Huscarl
XO’s Log - Official

Fleet ship count is up to 12 jump capable ships (including the detached Wasp). The destroyer DD-11 Resolve jumped in system at 19:30 and joined the combat arm of the fleet. Engineering teams are stripping every non-jump capable ship of electronics and fusion plant parts.

Civilian ships are the liners Star of Saturn and Star of Jupiter, the tanker Guanabara, the cargo ships Key Moran and Key Alexis, farmship Spirit of Iowa, refinery ship Nabu, and the mining ship Deep Core.

I have suggested to the captain that we leave the system as soon as Wasp returns.

XO’s Log - Personal

I am increasingly concerned about the captain’s refusal to consider leaving the system. I know that we’re annoying the crap out of him, but it’s too dangerous to stay here. Right now, including Wasp, we know of only 5,492 living humans. I had another talk with science officer Misaka and she tells me that this is almost the bare minimum, from a biological perspective, for a population to survive. It may not be enough, depending on the genetics of the people that we have.

However, even before the destruction of Earth, there were still dozens of colony worlds that hadn’t been attacked. If any of those are still alive, we can get more people, more resources, more ships, and…

Well, my idea is to take everything we have and jump, keep jumping, stop only for fuel and air for as long as we can. The first planets to get hit by the enemy (we still have no idea who or what they are) were to galactic east, so we head galactic west for at least a year, maybe longer/. Find a good habitable planet and don’t radiate at all. That could give us decades to prepare. We have a good tech base and smart people.

But first we have to survive this.

BHV-2415 Huscarl
XO’s Log - Official

The fleet is in jump space heading for a small corporate colony to the galactic west. We have been attacked and some of our crew… well…

I have assumed command after the death of Captain Buchanan. Medical officer McAllif has determined that the Captain died of acute cardiopulmonary failure brought about by stress and an unauthorized supply of prescription stimulants. The commanding officers of the other military vessels have agreed with this assumption of command.

The frigate Wasp returned from Tau Ceti on schedule. She was accompanied by the light frigate FFL-75 Lyons. The Tau Ceti system was under attack when Wasp arrived in the outer system. She recorded significant sensor data that intelligence is reviewing now. The discovery of Lyons was a lucky accident.

Hours after their return to Earthspace, an enemy carrier jumped in system. The Captain ordered the two recently arrived frigates to attack the carrier while the Resolve moved to assist. I suggested to the captain, quietly, that the Huscarl was a much better choice for fighting a single carrier and would sustain much less damage than the lightly armed escorts. I also reiterated my support that we should evacuate the system immediately.

The captain became almost incoherent, screaming at me. He called for my arrest from the Marine security team on the bridge. They looked concerned but began to move toward me. At that point, the captain collapsed. His face had turned bright red. I immediately called for a medical team. One of the marine security team was a trained EMT and she provided CPR until the medical team arrived.

While this was going on, I informed the other captains that I had assumed command and recalled the escorts while moving the Huscarl to a blocking position. The commander of the Lyons suggested we head for the corporate world his ship had been stationed at. There was a pair of destroyers stationed there as well as at least one auxiliary ship.

While the fleet of ships began to jump, an enemy fleet jumped into the system.

The communications team got the jump coordinates to all the ships and the Huscarl and Resolve held off a handful of fighters and the approaching enemy capital ships while the fleet jumped.

XO’s Log - Personal

I have complained about having bad days before, but there are none that compare with this day. We have abandoned the Earth. The man I looked to train me as the captain of a starship has died and revealed an unknown (at least to me) drug habit. We have enough fuel and food for a few weeks of travel.

The mood on the ships is bleak. When we get to the planet, I’ll have to organize a conference of the ship captains. There are already complaints of the high-handed actions of the military. We’re trying to save these people. Sometimes, lying awake at night, I wonder if we’re even worth being saved.

I took an oath to protect humanity. This is not a scenario I ever envisioned. I’m not really qualified for this. But I’m the highest ranked officer left in our fleet. A mere commander holds the fate of humanity in his hands. Every night, I pray that someone will take this burden from me. And every morning I wake up and press on through another day.

I hope that my plan works. That we can get enough supplies and save enough people to build a redoubt far away from human space. Then we can build a new fleet. With better weapons and the strength of the survivors. We will come back and reclaim our homeworld.

But now, we’re on the run.