must.... keep..... thread.... alive....
Chaps 2 and 3.
Chapter 2: Pandora's Box[/size]
Kashka read the number on the door: 112. This is it she told herself. Opening the door, she saw a dark patch of hair with a pair of hands sliding through the greasy weeds.
“Commander?” She started up. The man at the desk raised his head up slowly, like he was expecting the young officer.
“What is it,” he groaned out “Lieutenant?” Kashka pulled up one of the small brown chairs situated in front of the desk. Taking a deep breath, she reported the news.
“Commander,” She sped up to tell the rest. “We’re in position at the edge of Hiigaran space. Should I-” The commander cut her off before she could answer.
“Deploy fighter wings Zeta and Upsilon,” He ordered her. “Then scan the belts for any Hiigaran warships. We don’t want to be caught off guard.” Kashka replied to her senior officer with a slower tone.
“With all due respect, Commander,” she said self-confidently, “we are ourselves hidden in this field. We would be impenetrable to all scanning.”
“If you’re requesting permission for a flight,” he said, much to her liking, “then you got it. Get in your ship ASAP and head out with Upsilon.” Kashka stood up from the chair, saluted the commander, then left the room with a grin.
“Yes, sir!” She said, closing the door behind her. In a few minutes, she was down at the launch bay of the Imperial Wrath and staring at the sleek demon that she had grown accompanied to: the Triikor Interceptor. It was a rather odd design, boasting two cannons, one mounted under the cockpit and the other mounted next to the fuselage. The pair of strange “wings” on the rear had folded up before her previous landing, but when extended, gave the Triikor a fearful look. Taking her mind off her ship, she turned her attention to the pilots and crew that were wandering about in the hangar. Let’s do this.
“All right everyone!” Kashka hollered, her voice echoing. “Zeta and Upsilon squadrons, get over here ASAP.” She grinned and said, “We’re movin’ out!”
Chapter 3: Liberty Shattered[/size]
A pair of fighters had just flown past the bridge on Adam Terramin’s vessel. He felt rather relaxed at the soft yet powerful sound of a fighter’s engine hum. Perhaps it was the loneliness of the Hiigaran borderline that the sound had relieved, or the sleepiness that had swept over the officer during the past hour. The deck of the Freedom had become very quiet over the course of the day; half of the ninety officers were either resting in the barracks or residing in the galley in the ship’s lower decks. The rest of them were sitting at their controls and gunning posts, remaining vigilant. Vigilant for what, he didn’t know. He was their captain, but he still didn’t know them that well.
“Dester, give me a sensor readout of this area,” he ordered a young, black-haired officer in front of one of the computer screens. Lieutenant Dester looked up from his post and groaned.
“Again, Captain?” He whined. “We’ve done about thirty already. There’s nothing here!” Terramin cut him off instantly.
“Just do it! Things can probably change. If there’s even a small signature that doesn’t look, sound, smell, speak, or taste like us, tell me.”
“All right...” Jeraf Dester answered, groaning as usual. He punched in a few keys on the board and looked at the data given to him. In a few seconds, he had it all interpreted. “Nothing, sir. Dead out. Only us, the Liberty, the Caruuk, and a few fighters.” That was it. And that’s all there had been for six hours. The three vessels on duty, the Freedom, a Hiigaran Avatar cruiser, the Liberty, another Hiigaran vessel, this one a Revelation-class destroyer, and the Caruuk, a Republican Saarkin-Cho carrier. The three vessels made an excellent team, as they had in the past. Adam could remember all the way back to the Homeworld War where the three vessels had assisted in the ambush at the one hyperspace gate guarding Hiigara, taking a major portion of the Imperial Guard by surprise. The most recent engagement they had fought in together was the Engagement at Coruc-Far, where a joint Imperial-Turanic Raider fleet was pushed back by the excellent teamwork and coordination by the three vessels. Now, here they were at the outskirts of Hiigara, standing a boring guard duty for another hour.
Just one more hour Adam told himself. Then they’ll be here. “They” referring to their relief: the Kiith Nabaal Command Fleet.
“Wait... Captain!” Dester sputtered out as the radar screen started flashing. Alarms started wailing throughout the ship, waking sleeping crewmen up and getting them into uniform. “I’m detecting incoming jump signatures!” The Captain quickly turned to face Dester, anticipating some minor Turanic Raider battle group.
“What are they? Can you identify?” Dester pushed buttons on the keyboard in front of him and displayed a full-sized view of the vessels.
“They look Imperial to me, sir,” Pushing more buttons, he identified the specific vessels. “Looks like a nice-sized battle group. Four to five frigates, Kudaark and Sajuuk-Cor, a pair of Skaal-Tels, and a Qwaar-Jet backing it all up. Looks like we have our hands full, Captain.” Adam looked out the forward observation deck at the approaching armada and grimaced.
“Right,” he said to the officers on the bridge. “Battle stations! Get me the Liberty and Caruuk on screen with their C.Os immediately!” A different officer in a white-blue uniform pressed a few buttons next to the giant screen on the bridge. In a few moments, two screens popped up and showed two officers, James Besset on the left and Feral Tiirshak on the right. The former’s white hair curved neatly backward to his neck, leaving a tanned, bright face showing with a grin. Tiirshak, on the other hand, was a giant for his race, and was a well-built officer, having been through his own routine of exercises for fifteen years now. “
“Besset here,” the Liberty’s captain acknowledged. “What’s going on?” Besset almost seemed surprised that they were about to fall into a fight. After all, Coruc-Far had been two years ago.
“We’ve got a class-three situation on our hands here,” Terramin answered quickly. “Seems like the Imperials want to drop in for tea.” Besset nervously ran his hand through his hair.
“How many of them?”
“A small group of frigates,” Terramin answered Besset. Just as the Liberty’s captain became relaxed, Terramin gave the bad news. “Backed up by a pair of Skaal-Tels and a Qwaar-Jet.” After taking a deep breath, the captain of the Liberty asked one question.
“What’s the plan?” Terramin smiled. If there was one person he could always depend on, it was Besset.
“Tiirshak, launch three squadrons of fighters and one of bombers,” Terramin told the Republican officer in the left-hand screen. “Besset, let’s keep those destroyers and cruiser busy and give the fighters time to destroy the frigates.” Tiirshak nodded in agreement, as did a rather nervous Besset.
“Roger that, Terramin,” Tiirshak answered as he cut the comm channel. Besset’s face disappeared shortly after. Here we go. Again. Turning to the bridge, Terramin eyed his crewmen.
“All hands, battle stations!” Merely seconds later, klaxons started wailing across the ship and red lights began to glow and flash, bringing more than a few officers to the bridge.
“Alert!” The computer warned. “Alert! Hostile signatures inbound.” As if I don’t know that already. Terramin himself stood near the front of the room, closest to the observation window. From there, he could see four to five frigates on approach vector. The familiar, spikey configuration of the Kudaark frigate came into view along with three other ships, all Sajuuk-Cor.
“Liberty, you with me?” Terramin spoke into the nearest comm channel. A few seconds passed before the familiar sound of Besset’s voice answered.
“Liberty here. Orders?” Terramin took a quick look at the approaching frigates, drew up a quick analysis in his head, then replied.
“Besset, let’s blast our way through those frigates,” The cruiser suddenly shuddered. They were being hit, and from the high-pitched screech coming from outside the ship, he could tell they were the plasma bomb weapons on the Kudaarks. “We need to get in range of those supercaps.” More time passed, and more plasma warheads hit the cruiser.
“Roger that. Powering up weapons.” Terramin stared out the viewport and at the nearest approaching frigate, a Kudaark.
“Power up the forward cannons,” he ordered, returning to the center of the room. “Full speed ahead!” As he gave the order, the roar of the Avatar’s colossal engines echoed through the ship. At nearly the same time, a hum originated from the bow of the ship.
“Target, sir?” One of the officers asked the Admiral.
“Open fire on that approaching frigate,” he ordered. From the bow of the ship, four massive ion cannons propelled themselves at lightspeed toward the Kudaark. At nearly the same moment, two smaller ion cannons pierced the same frigate. The Liberty had opened fire, and, judging by the origin of the beams, was forming up on the starboard side of the Freedom. As both warships’ beams powered down, the Kudaark came back into view. The entire lower half of the frigate had been severed, and the upper levels showed scars from the Liberty’s cannons as well.
“Commander,” Dester spoke up from his screen. It was blaring loudly, and that was never good. “I’m picking up an energy spike off one of those Skaal-Tels.” Terramin realized what the officer was talking about right off the bat. Turning to the crew on the bridge, he opened a channel to the interior of the ship.
“All hands, brace for impa-” He was cut off by a violent rumble. The Skaal-Tel had opened fire on the Freedom. Terramin felt the cold deck as the impact knocked him over, losing his wind from the land. When he had recovered himself, he stood up and looked out the viewport. The Taiidan Destroyer was nearly upon their ship, staring almost defiantly into the Freedom’s bow. “Open a channel with the Liberty.” A matter of seconds later, Besset’s face appeared on the right-hand screen on the viewport.
“Besset here,” he opened. “You got orders for us?” Terramin nodded.
“Liberty, try to get above and behind that Destroyer,” he said confidently. “Keep its main guns busy while we charge up the cannons.” Besset, understanding, nodded and cut the channel. “Weapons crew, power up the main cannons,” he ordered. “Prepare to fire on my mark.” As he gave the order, a loud rumble ran through the Freedom. Just outside the ship, the Liberty had engaged its main engines and was on course for the Skaal-Tel. As the Liberty came into the viewport of the Freedom, another blast of red ion cannons hit the cruiser. Klaxons began wailing as the ion stream carved across the ship.
“Damage report!” Terramin shouted, steadying himself from the impact. Dester was on it immediately.
“Deck M reporting casualties,” he answered. “Deck D through F reporting hull breach. Engineering level reporting moderate fires.”
“Get a damage control team to Deck E, ASAP,” Terramin ordered. “Get Med Team Zulu to Deck M.” Meanwhile, outside the ship, the Liberty had pierced a pair on ion cannons into the front of the Skaal-Tel. Targeting its new enemy, the Destroyer began maneuvering to intercept the Revelation. A pair of beams shot out from the Skaal-Tel and missed the Liberty by a matter of meters.
“Targeting controls, activate subsystem targeting mode,” ordered the commander. “Lock onto that ship’s reactor core.” A pair of officers pressed buttons madly until a loud blare indicated lock.
“We’re locked, sir,” one of them reported.
“Good,” Terramin responded. “Weapons crew, are the beams ready to fire?” A short garbled transmission came through to the bridge.
“Roger that, Captain.”
“Full power to the main cannons,” As the order was given, a soft hum rushed to the bow of the ship. The Skaal-Tel now had its belly facing the Freedom. “Open fire!” The same massive cannons that had ripped the Kudaark open now focused their energies in the dead center of the enemy Destroyer, ripping through the hull in a matter of seconds. The beams pierced the reactor core, sending a massive shockwave out from the Skaal-Tel that shook both the Liberty and the Freedom. As the crews of both ships steadied themselves from the explosion, the Qwaar-Jet cruiser pushed itself through the wreckage of the destroyer. The menacing vessel was on course to attack the Liberty.
“This is Besset,” the captain of the Liberty reported. “We’re reading a power spike off that cruiser. Capta–” Besset’s words were cut off as the cruiser’s forward cannons sliced through the hull of the Liberty. Instantly, fires starting erupting out of the destroyer’s belly and port side, and the ship began tilting from the impact.
“Besset, do you copy?” Terramin shouted into his comm channel. “Repeat, Liberty, you there?” All that came back through the transmitters were screams and death throes of hundreds of men. A tear ran down Terramin’s cheek as he realized what had happened. The Liberty had been destroyed.
Besset was dead.