The CNV Challenger, registry number NSF-3000, was a Zephyr-class cruiser retired from service. In 429 IE, the Compact Navy retrofitted her with the new warp drive system, making her the first combat-ready vessel to use the propulsion system. Captain Hideki Okada returned to active duty to command her on her maiden voyage while Linda Havak returned to serve as first officer and Peter Lancaster her chief engineer. All three served aboard the original warp ship, the Alcubierre. Some time before Okada and Lancaster returned to service, Vice Admiral Eileen Burke assigned Patty Friese to serve as navigator.
In the final stages of its refit, Captain Okada demanded Cybercommand engineers be replaced with Navy personnel to better complete the work on installing the warp core. As a concession to Cybercommand’s security concerns, she allowed Agent Weiss to be assigned to the ship as a security officer. He also ordered a three day rest break before launch to allow crews to recover from the string of twenty-hour days. Its first mission was a test run to Earth. However, halfway there, the gravity well of an uncharted rogue planet knocked the ship out of warp. Because it had no spare parts on board, the crew was forced to connect to Earth’s L-5 hypergate to complete the journey.
The Challenger stopped at Luna to take on Rear Admiral Quentin Austin, who recently took charge of the Warp Project. It then proceeded to Earth where Austin, Okada, and Lancaster met with Fleet Admiral Tran. Once their mission was set, they took the Challenger to Nereid, an irregular satellite of Neptune. There, crews at a secret Naval base effected repairs to the ship’s warp core. They also loaded the ship’s payload for its mission, which involved fission-triggered fusion devices.
During the run to a designated Gelt colony, the Challenger hit another uncharted brown dwarf. According to Lancaster, the poor circuitry job done by Cybercommand had not been entirely repaired. The EM and projection drives also suffered damage when the warp system overloaded. He asked for hydrogen from two of the warheads to prime the fusion cores for each.
Once Lancaster completed repairs, the ship warped to Amargosa to view the damage. The warp drive allowed the ship to escape fire from the occupation force’s ships. Via warp, the ship returned to Nereid for repairs.
In 430, the ship traveled to Hanar on a mission to see if the joint regime there was hostile to the Compact. Giddeus Modesto and Mitsuko Yamato joined the crew with the intended mission to train and train with local troops should a liberation mission become a reality.
During the leadup to the liberation, the Challenger traveled by warp twice to Amargosa. On the first mission, intended to acclimate Modesto and other pilots to flying aboard warp vessels, the ship conducted a survey of the planet from orbit. The second mission had the Challenger send messages via a kinetic rod to resistance forces, JT Austin and Connor Duffy providing locations to send probes mounted on the rod’s tip. The rod heavily damaged and brought down the colony transport over Arcanum, crashing it into the ocean.
When the Liberation of Amargosa began in earnest, the Challenger traveled via projection drive to Sterculius, a gas giant in the same star system as Amargosa. From there, it traveled via warp to Amargosa and launched six assault shuttles, each carrying a squad of Marines to dive from orbit and a second squad of Navy Special Forces who would land. Suicide commanded the squadron. The Challenger then returned to Hanar to retrieve Fleet Admiral Tran and Lattus Tishla. Upon return to Amargosa, Tishla broadcast to Gelt forces asserting her hereditary claim to the planet and ordering the occupation forces to stand down and surrender. She rebroadcast this to all forces in Humanic.