Official Records Russian Space Force A/V Recording Date of Recording: 2330 UTC, June 7, 2129AD Recorded At: Military Berths, Novy Mir Space Dock, Mercurial Orbit The champagne bottle twisted through space ever so slowly toward the hull. Air bubbles floated and rolled through the fluid inside, still fluid from being under pressurization and aided both by the local temperature of the interplanetary medium and the preheating of the container before release. It glinted like a diamond under the brilliant rays of the sun, a lost star adrift amid a sea of carbon black. It careened into the hull at a comfortable ten meters per second, quite enough to crack it open like an egg. Green glass shattered and spun out into space as the beverage within boiled, flash froze, and then began to ablate away under the intense solar glare. Within the observation deck of Novy Mir, some thirty thousand kilometers above the slowly growing pool of black which seemed to be consuming the blistering surface of Mercury, there was a brief moment of silence as the sponsor declared quite proudly “I christen thee the Destroyer RSC Prokhorovka, first of her kind!” A wild cheer erupted among the delegates and representatives who had been flown out for the special occasion, among the dock workers who had spent so long building her, among the military brass which were to oversee her operations, among her crew and Captain, and a myriad of others who had been involved in her construction. “Prokhorovka, Novy Mir. Confirming GO for separation.” “Roger Novy Mir, commencing separation sequence. MARK.” Beyond the observation deck, beyond its centimeters thick translucent metal observation windows, in the unyielding diffuse vacuum of space, the gunmetal gray bulk on which they had all labored stirred to life. Umbilical arms swung away, venting traces of gases and liquids to space while power connectors disengaged and the gangway retracted. The Destroyer was now in its elements, its dark hull all aggressive curves, its weapons invisible within their recessed and shuttered cradles and bays, its form silhouetted in the harsh sunlight. “Confirming tower clearance, Novy Mir.” “Affirmative Prokhorovka, you are cleared for separation burn.” Along the hull, blue-white bursts of directed plasma thrust flared as the vessel worked its way out of port, slowly swinging away from its docking bay and course-correcting smoothly, bringing itself onto a disengagement vector. It sailed cleanly past the berth where the RSC Novosibirsk remained under construction, beyond the military segment of the docking bays and into the civilian area, past the remaining Pionerskaya still under major construction and the other hulls gradually being built up, and into the clearance zone for engine ignition. “Prokhorovka you are clear for main engine ignition to confirm operation.” “Copy that Novy Mir, spooling up the main thrusters.” Despite being a warship called a destroyer within the scheme of Russian scheme of fleet classification that was all it shared with its counterparts among the superpowers. At 174.2 meters in length and 47,512 metric tons in mass, it was over twice as large and more than four times as massive as its competitors, which were considered simply frigates. This was in fact virtually all that was known about it, other than its crew compliment and its possession of three primary fusion torch drives for sublight maneuvering, and a top-of-the-line Stigma drive. If there were any doubts remaining among the minds of the ASTRIS members who had been invited to its sending off as to Russia’s capability to project power in space, they were likely dispelled. “Please do keep in mind this is not an official launch, Prokhorovka.” “We won’t do anything too crazy, Novy Mir.” The Novy Mir shakedown crew continued their initial checks of the ship’s systems. The aft of the Prokhorovka emitted a diffuse glow before triple lances of plasma disgorged from it, briefly seeming to outshine the sun which played backdrop to the scene of the ship. It began to accelerate away from Novy Mir at a quite comfortable one-gee. Out of direct line of sight with Novy Mir’s observation decks, the windows glazed over as their optical filters assumed their secondary function as LCD displays, showing transmissions of the maiden flight from the RSC Dostoevsky, the first combat rated frigate which Russia had fielded. Having undergone operations trials and exercises since 2122 when it entered service, its crew was by now well-seasoned and quite comfortable with the task of monitoring their juniors. Within the observation deck, Captain Gurlukovich and his crew congratulated each other on their good fortune to have garnered such a position while discreetly calming their jittery nerves with the drinks of their choice; tomorrow, they would officially launch for space trials.