The Launch Bay

The launch bays of a Starhammer vessel are huge, accommodating up to eight Decimator launch tubes in each of the four bays aboard the ship, and are almost always a hive of activity.

Even when flight operations are idled, as happens while the Starhammer is travelling at quantac drive speeds, launch crews remain at a high level of readiness, maintaining at least one flight (a minimum of three Decimators, known as Bingo Flight) at-the-ready in each bay.  After primary maintenance, repairs and/or reloading has been carried out on Bingo Flight, work proceeds on the next fighters in line to be staged.  While “landed” aboard, Decimators can be moved throughout the ship via the docking cradles, which shuffle their charges from the docking bay, through the maintenance facility, then on to the staging bay, where they will await their turn to be placed before a launch tube once again.

Fighters are staged according to squadron ranking aboard the ship, with the more experienced squadrons receiving priority.  (Bingo Flight is almost always composed of fighters from the Wing Commander’s squadron, though the WC can select another squadron to supersede theirs, or swap out ships on a one-off basis if he or she chooses.)
At the proper time, the next flight is called from the staging bay, and the cradles moved into their launch positions.  The deck crews begin their prep work, which consists of double-checking all cradle-to-fighter connections, monitoring constant full-frame and engine scans produced by the cradles’ diagnostics, and ensuring the reliability of the Decimator engine fusion containment systems.

Only after staging and general preparatory maintenance has been completed on fighters for all available launch tubes will the deck crews decrease their schedule intensity, and fall back to a slower-paced repetition of their routine on the fighters and cradles remaining in the staging bay.

As the Starhammer approaches the final quantac jump before arriving at its destination, activity in the launch bays achieves  a feverish pace.  Decimators currently slotted at launch tubes are the primary focus of all initial efforts: removing safety interlocks from cradle tracks, power and data connections, removing covers from exposed gravity distortion emitter plates, engine outlets and cannon muzzles, and finally, loading the torpedo rail and dorsal cannon charge booster cells.  At this point, the launch crew assumes responsibility for the fighters, powering up on-board systems and ensuring any outstanding software updates are received and installed properly, before moving on to preparing the cockpit for its crew.

While these checks and procedures are run on the Decimators, the Starhammer is preparing to exit its final jump.  At this phase, the entire ship goes into a momentary lockdown, and all activity is halted as the shipwide inertial compensation array dumps its stored energy back into the spatial substrate, effectively returning the energy “loan” that the quantac borrowed from it to propel the vessel.

After final jump exit has been completed, crews immediately resume their work, with the assumption that Bingo Flight, at the very least, will be launching almost immediately to resume standard escort duty.

Here is a recording from a Starhammer launch bay, moments before final jump exit:

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