Link to Chapter 5
Chapter – 6: Seizing Darkness
October 10th, 2367 – 17:00 Hours, TGT
So large was the gathering of pilots, that the briefing couldn’t even be held in quarterdeck. Fighters and bombers stacked the walls of the massive maintenance bay, still being fitted for their coming mission, while the pilots gathered below them all hoping to get the full details of what had brought them so deep behind enemy lines. No display screen big enough existed to cover the wall, so they resorted to a projector system and a large flat screen. Below the screen stood a makeshift platform, similar to the one that had been made aboard the Phoenicia in Gamma Draconis. Upon the platform stood several officers, mainly Major Kaplan, Lt. Cmdr. Snipes, the ship’s C.O. Captain Chennault, as well as several other officers and uniformed men and women that together made up Operation Command, or OpCom for short.
“Many of you have been waiting for this for some time,” began Kaplan, his voice echoing through the bay, enhanced by audio amplifiers. “Unfortunately, since we have not yet completed
Phase 2, I cannot reveal the complete details to you at this time. In fact, only those who will be remaining beyond Phase 2 will be given the full details. However, we are about to embark on the most important mission of Phase 2, on which hangs the success of the entire operation.
“Thirty-two years ago, early in the Great War, the GTA attempted to gain further information about the Shivans and their technology, by capturing one of their capital ships, the SC Taranis. While the Taranis capture succeeded, the examination never took place, as the cruiser was destroyed by the SD Lucifer along with Tombaugh station and all of its defenses. Today, we will be attempting something far more ambitious… we will endeavor to capture an entire Shivan destroyer. For the mission details, I will once again relinquish the floor to Lieutenant Commander Snipes.”
“Good evening,” Snipes began with completely unnecessary courtesy, “Less than an hour ago, a scouting wing including myself and Lt. Sacks, flying Mara fighters, confirmed the location of a Shivan fleet within the nebula. We currently have two Ptah class stealth fighters shadowing the fleet, maintaining a fix on their position. This fleet consists of five Cain class cruisers, four Rakshasa, two Lilith, one Moloch, and a Ravana class destroyer.” As the news of the sheer size of the Shivan fleet became known, pilots began looking from one to another in astonishment. “How the HELL are we gonna pull THIS one off?
” Sacks thought to himself, standing among his fellow pilots near the front left of the gathering.
“This may sound like a lot of firepower for us to deal with,” Snipes continued, despite the murmurs from the pilots below, “and it is
. Fortunately, we have a well-coordinated plan, and a few tricks up our sleeves to deal with them. One edge that we have is the fleet’s present position. It has recently entered a region of the nebula that is bordered by heavy EM interference. As a result, this region is a natural communications and sensor dead zone. OpCom have nicknamed it the Bermuda Triangle. Thanks to this region, we will be able to effect an attack against the fleet without the concern of a possible counterstrike from their other forces in the nebula, or needing the Hamako to provide cover. That said, our window of opportunity for this attack will close just after 0030 hours tomorrow morning. The flagship of this fleet is the SD Darkness and although it is the greatest threat, we must take care to capture the destroyer while causing the least damage possible.
“Those capital ships we will be sortying for this mission include the GTCv Hampton Roads, the GTCv Lemnos, the GVCv Maahes, the GTC Sparta, the GTC Pershing, and the GVC Ptah-Nu. The GTCv Warspite will remain with the Yorktown to provide defense in case they are discovered. The Yorktown herself lacks any anti-capital ship firepower, and thus is not fully combat ready.
“Stage 1 will require us to disable the Darkness as rapidly as possible, and before any of our other vessels make an appearance. For this, Beta wing will perform a surgical strike on the destroyer, flying Pegasus class. Betas one and two will attack the engine subsystems with Stiletto-II missiles, while three and four use EMP Missiles against the two fighterbays. It is our belief that the EMP will prevent their fighter launch systems from properly functioning, limiting the defensive force that they can wield against us. Also, with the destroyer disabled, it is far less likely that its escorting ships will attempt to escape.
“Immediately following this, our warships will jump in off the fleet’s flank and begin Stage 2, initiating strikes against the screening cruisers from long range. This will be made possible by the use of the Target Acquisition and Guidance missile system. The Ptah class stealth fighters of Mu wing will mount TAG-B missiles and highlight vessels within range of our warships’ main beams. Because Mu wing will be loading with all TAGs, we advise you to carry either the Mekhu HL-7 or the Prometheus-S cannon for self-defense, rather than Disruptors.
“Alpha and Zeta wings will fly Ares class. Alpha will make strikes against the cruisers, targeting engines and turrets. Zeta wing will be part of the protection detail for our capital ships. We suggest that both wings mount a combination of Trebuchets and Tornadoes, as well as Kayser and Maxim primary weapons. Since Alpha will be primarily engaging unshielded capital ships, we suggest that you mount the Maxim gun in your quad-bank. Alpha will be joined by Rho wing flying Tauret class, but since they can’t mount Maxim guns due to the energy drain, we would suggest either Disruptor cannons or the Mekhu HL-7 for its limited energy drain. Epsilon wing will also fly Ares, but will remain behind on protection detail for the Yorktown.
“Delta and Theta wings will fly Erinyes class. Delta will assist Alpha wing, and provide fighter cover while Theta assists Zeta. Eta wing will also fly Erinyes, but will assist Epsilon back at the Yorktown. Gamma and Kappa wings will fly Boanerges class and will engage enemy cruisers and the corvette. They will be assisted by Pi wing flying Sekhmet class. These wings will be provided with cover from enemy fighters by Nu and Tau wings, flying Serapis class. Xi wing will also fly Serapis, but will be part of our capital ship defense team.
“The meat of the mission will be performed by Chi and Psi wings, both flying Bakha class bombers. These are the swiftest, and the most maneuverable bombers in our fleet, so they will be charged with disarming the Darkness before she can open fire on our ships. A single volley from the destroyer’s main guns can take out even the toughest warships in our fleet. For this mission you will be instructed to carry one bank of Stiletto-II missiles, and Disruptor cannons. You may choose to also carry anti-capital ship bombs or anti-fighter missiles in your other secondary bank. The Bakha cannot carry the Kayser, so we suggest either the Mekhu or Prometheus cannons. As a slight change from standard procedure, Psi wing will be manned by Terran pilots. These bombers have been modified for the task.
“Once our warships have eliminated the other Shivan capital ships, and once the Darkness has been disabled and disarmed and the area secured, Stage 3 will begin. A number of freighters and transports will arrive and dock with it. These will perform double duty, in inserting heavily armed squads of marines on board to capture the destroyer, and then will collectively tow it out of the combat area to a secured region of the nebula, where we will complete its internal capture and repair.” The ‘repair’ part started another wave of surprise within the gathering, as many supposed that they were going to be extracting
something from the destroyer, not restoring it.
“Once the Darkness has been extracted, our warships will withdraw from the combat zone. Some will reinforce the Yorktown, while others will join the Darkness. Our fighters will be split up at that point to cover both positions.” At that point, Snipes leaned over the podium and spoke more personally to the assembly, “I know that many of you have been considering whether or not to proceed beyond Phase 2. If you haven’t made your decisions yet, you’d better soon. After the Darkness has been secured, there will be only one more mission before Phase 2 will be completed. Your decisions will be required at that time.
“Now, the clock is ticking, so there’s no time for further questions. Proceed to your fighters, and good luck. Dismissed.”
Sacks already knew that he was leading Phi wing, along with Manetti, Rashid and Sharpov. Yuka and Mallory had been assigned to Delta wing, while Parker would be in Alpha wing with Tanner. Commander Habu would be leading Tau wing, with Hik-Soh, while Ka-Rek had command of Pi wing.
Sacks could feel the electricity in the room as pilots exchanged revised theories about the operation’s purpose, or what they felt their chances were for the upcoming mission. They rapidly split into wing teams and headed for various exits. Once again, Sacks and Tanner exchanged the I’ll-come-back-alive-if-you-will glance, and nodded once. Pulse rates revved up as pilots began psyching themselves up for the upcoming mission. For Sacks, the most concerning thought that crossed his mind was, “I hope they thought to put a waste extraction system in the cockpit when they modified those Bakhas, because against odds like that, I’ll be pissing my pants the whole time!
A great wagon wheel of fighters and bombers orbited the Yorktown, as they all waited for the last remaining fighters to launch and join the formation. The last to launch, would be the first to attack. The Pegasus class fighters of Beta wing glided out of the Yorktown’s fighterbay and banked over Psi wing before pulling into formation ahead of Sacks.
“This is the GTCv Lemnos,” announced Snipes aboard the corvette, “Epsilon and Eta wings, assume defensive Combat Air Patrol for the Yorktown and Warspite. All other wings, form-up on our capital ships. In order to achieve success, we will need to have the best possible fix on the enemy, to allow us to jump out in optimal firing positions. To do this, we will first need to jump to a position just within the Bermuda Triangle and establish contact with Phi wing. Once we’ve updated our jump co-ordinates, Beta and Mu wings will jump within range of the enemy fleet. Beta wing will begin its attack, while Mu wing will assume optimal firing positions to TAG enemy cruisers. Once our capital ships jump into the engagement, our transports and freighters will remain and await the order to capture the Darkness.”
“Lt. Cmdr. Snipes,” reported the Lemnos’ Captain, “All fleet capital ships report ready to jump.”
“Transmit jump co-ordinate to the rest of the fleet,” Snipes ordered the Comm. officer, who a few seconds later looked him in the eye and gave a nod.
“All ships, initiate jump,” ordered Snipes. The blue glow briefly swallowed them all, and then was replaced with a shifting background of flashes. When Sacks and Snipes had encountered the Shivan fleet before, it had been outside The Triangle. Within it though, the view was almost hypnotic. The expanse ahead played with his senses, with the nebular gas patches giving one sense of distance, but distant flashes of The Triangle’s far side gave the appearance of looking down upon a boiling liquid. As the size and intensity of the flashes was quite varied, it sometimes appeared to be much closer, contradicting the depth impression provided by the nebula. When Sacks switched to the rear view, he almost chocked, as near side of The Triangle appeared to be right on top of them. Massive energy releases churned away like the surface of water during an intense downpour.
Apparently The Triangle was left over from a destroyed planet that had orbited its parent star prior to the supernova that ended it all. The planet had been rich in some rare metal that reacted with neutrino emissions from the central pulsar. The neutrinos break down the metal, releasing vast amounts of energy… but almost exclusively in EMP with some in optical wavelengths.
“Phi wing, this is the Lemnos,” began Snipes, “we have jumped within The Triangle. Transmit enemy positions for our attack force.”
“Lemnos,” replied an agitated Vasudan, “Thank the Emperor you’ve arrived! We have been attempting to contact the fleet nearly ten minutes, but the EMP has blocked all our transmissions! We were about to split our formation and return to the Yorktown to report.”
“Calm down Phi wing,” interrupted Snipes, “what happened?”
“A group of Shivan capital ships have broken formation and jumped away,” explained Phi leader, “We were unable to get a fix on their destination. We were concerned that they might have located the Yorktown.”
“Sunder, jump to a position outside The Triangle and contact the Yorktown,” ordered Snipes, “Tell them to be on full
alert in case this is an attempt to draw us off. Rejoin our current position when you’ve received confirmation from them. Phi wing, how many ships withdrew?”
“The SCv Danjal withdrew along with the SC Gualichu, SC Valefar, and SC Abalam… two Cains and a Rakshasa class, respectively.”
“With fewer ships screening the Darkness, this could make the fleet’s job easier,” commented Manetti on C3-3-Lambda.
“You’d think that, wouldn’t you,” countered Sacks, “but those ships could still be within The Triangle. That means that the Darkness can call on them to counter-strike from a different vector… one we can’t expect or entirely defend against.”
“They could have jumped outside The Triangle,” suggested Rashid, “then they’d be out of communications and might jump back within their fleet, completely oblivious to our attack, and in a vulnerable position themselves… with any luck.”
“That’s assuming that the Yorktown isn’t already a charred cinder, and assuming we go ahead with the attack anyway,” warned Sharpov.
“Somehow, I think that we’re going ahead regardless,” surmised Sacks, “With critical timing and everything riding this, I highly doubt they’ll pull the plug now.”
Moments later, the Sunder exited subspace, rejoining the fleet. “We were successful, Lemnos,” reported the transport’s captain, “The Yorktown has reported no enemy contact, but are running at full alert.”
“That settles it then,” concluded Snipes, “we go ahead. Beta and Mu wings, we are transmitting jump co-ordinates now. Mu, hold on tagging the cruisers until our warp signatures have closed. Beta wing, we launch on your signal. Good luck.”
October 10th, 2367 – 17:32 Hours, TGT
Lt. Cmdr. Phil Carlyle emerged from subspace in his Pegasus stealth fighter, leading Beta wing. Also in his formation were Lt. JG Kimberly Dupuis, Lt. George Alexson, and Ensign Lucien Lafayette. All four were survivors from the 58th Black Daggers, which like the 77th, was also based on the Hood, and was also a dumping ground for the undesirable pilots. Carlyle had been second in command of the squadron, and would likely been promoted to squadron commander by year’s end, thanks to the impending retirement of Commander Richardson. The Commander had been killed while defending the Hood, and while the 58th was not officially a squadron anymore, the remnants of its pilots were turning to Carlyle as their leader, and he gladly stepped up to the role.
Ahead in the mists, a group of Shivan capital ships cruised through the nebula, and at its heart, the Ravana class SD Darkness. They hadn’t yet identified the destroyer on their radars, but followed the indicated waypoints, taking them into the formation and bypassing as many Shivan craft as possible. As the Darkness coalesced on his radar, Carlyle could make out the dorsal spines of the ship, silhouetted against the luminescence of The Triangle’s far side.
“Beta 2,” he began, “stay on my wing and we’ll take out the engines. Beta 3, take the starboard fighterbay. Beta 4, take port. Remember to clear out after they go off. If they do
manage to launch fighters, they’ll head straight for us, and we’re not equipped for sustained combat.”
“No need to remind me, Carly
, I was right there beside you during the briefing,” replied Alexson, who enjoyed making nicknames for other pilots, particularly senior officers, “Alright Laf
, we’ll take wide arcs and plant those EMPs right into those bay doors.”
“Now who is reminding whom
of the obvious,” joshed Lafayette, in his soft French accent, “besides, I don’t think Ravanas have
“Who cares,” cut in Carlyle, “just be ready to feed ‘em those EMPs the moment we take out their engines.”
“Copy that, sir,” replied Alexson, returning to a more professional tone.
“Beta 2, I’ll take the main engine, you take the port side engine,” ordered Carlyle, as the Darkness’ engine glow began to emerge from the veil of gas. “Just keep pumping Stilettos until the engine blows.”
“I’ve got a target,” reported Dupuis.
“Hold your fire until we’re within two hundred meters,” added Carlyle, “we don’t want our missiles to get shot down.”
might, at that range,” warned Dupuis.
“That’s why they build these things for speed as well as stealth,” reassured Carlyle, “once the engines are down, throw all your power into engines and run like hell!
“Five hundred meters and closing,” reported Dupuis.
“Slow your approach speed,” ordered Carlyle, “we don’t want to blast by and lose our optimal target vector.”
“Now at two hundred meters, sir.”
“Match target course and speed. Betas three and four, report.”
“I’m currently fifteen hundred meters off the Darkness’ starboard bow,” reported Alexson.
“Seventeen hundred off the port bow, myself,” added Lafayette.
“Very well,” summed Carlyle, “Beta 2, fire on my mark… FIRE
Betas one and two dumped their Stiletto-II anti-subsystem missiles into their targets, firing the two missiles in their larger banks in twin fire mode, first. The missiles struck home with a flash of electrical arcs. They were followed almost immediately by individual Stilettos, emptying the fighters’ missile stores. After a short volley of Prometheus cannons, both engines blew, leaving the destroyer disabled. Both fighters blew past the destroyer, being careful to not use their afterburners and draw attention with the energy flare.
Betas three and four rushed on at the Darkness head-on and unloaded EMP Advanced missiles directly into the fighterbays. Since the EMP Adv. missile was only half the size of the Stiletto-II, they could carry six of them per fighter, and since the effect of an EMP detonation was somewhat temporary, they decided to make slashing attacks on the Darkness, striking the fighterbays every few minutes.
“Beta wing to Lemnos,” transmitted Carlyle, “initial strike successful. Jump NOW
Just ahead of Lieutenant Soo’Nes, sat the Lilith class cruiser Morax. She’d already obtained a target lock on the cruiser and sent her two wingmen to another pair of cruisers. Out the left side of her cockpit, Soo’Nes caught sight of the energy vortices from the fleet’s arrival. As the blue plumes began to diminish, she tightened her grip on fighter’s control stick and tensed her finger over the fire button.
“Mu wing, open fire!” she ordered, then snapped the fire button and accelerated her fighter clear. Four bright-green energy beams from the Maahes and Sparta tore into the flanks of the Morax, while two beams from the Hampton Roads struck the SC Pithius and four beams from the Lemnos and Pershing slammed the SC Lechies. The Shivans would have returned fire immediately, except for the fact that the Terran and Vasudan fleet was out of their sensor range. All the cruisers near the allied fleet headed towards it, intending to close within sensor range, allowing the entire Shivan fleet to open fire on the enemy. The dozen or so fighters and bombers that had been patrolling the fleet, also broke their formation and headed off towards the new arrivals, or took up defensive positions near the Darkness.
As the cruisers closed on the enemy, Mu wing hit each of them with another TAG missile and they were once again struck by beams from the attacking fleet. One of the slashes from the Maahes managed to hit the chin turret of the Morax and it blew… saving the fleet from one of its more major threats. Shivan fighters caught up with their own cruisers, but suddenly the Terran and Vasudan bomber and fighter force emerged from the mists and engaged.
“Psi wing,” began Sacks, “ignore the fighters. Put full power into your engines and ride your afterburners all the way in. Watch the Triple-A from those cruisers.”
“Alpha wing,” announced Tanner, “Open up on the Morax with your Maxims. Let’s see if we can take that cruiser down before our fleet can.”
Four quad banks worth of Maxims spewed from Alpha wing, and a series of impact explosions rippled across the Morax. Parker banked his Ares fighter under the cruiser’s ventral, intending to knock out its engines, but his fighter was slammed hard by Triple-A beam from the cruiser’s aft ventral. He managed to dodge the second beam, but the third struck his weapons subsystem, and his weapon energy dropped to minimal.
“Alpha three,” ordered Tanner, “clear out along the cruiser’s starboard. We’ll cover you.”
Unable to fire, Parker pumped his power into engines and shields and evaded along the cruiser’s flank, previously damaged by the opening beam volley. Alphas two and four made passes at the remaining port side turrets until they blew, giving Parker a clear escape route.
A wing of Nahema bombers, designated Scorpio, rushed by the Pithius towards the allied capital ships. They were suddenly struck by fire from the Serapis fighters of Tau wing. Commander Habu laid into the lead bomber from above, with Mekhu and Maxim fire, then let a half volley of Tornado missiles finish it off. Lt. JG Hik-Soh flew alongside Habu, engaging his own target with Prometheus-S and Maxims, succeeding in taking down his own bomber without using any missiles. Within seconds, the rest of Tau wing had successfully taken out Scorpio. At that moment, the Morax succumbed to the sustained Maxim fire of Alpha wing, and its reactor breached. The Pithius and Lechies, tagged a third time by Mu wing, were torn apart by concentrated fire from the allied fleet.
“Three down, five to go,” summed Snipes, “Alpha and Gamma, wings, engage the SC Xaphan. Tau wing, provide escort. Delta and Pi wings, engage the SC Pruflas. Rho and Kappa wings, engage the SC Drekavac. Nu wing, provide escort. The cruisers are two Rakshasas and a Cain respectively. Mu wing, TAG us the SC Leraje and SC Zaebos… a Rakshasa, and a Lilith. Psi and Chi wings, report your status.”
“Fifteen seconds to firing range on the Darkness,” reported Sacks, “Beta wing is still throwing EMP at their fighterbay.”
“Beta wing, report,” called Snipes.
“Betas three and four are running short on ordinance,” reported Carlyle, “I and my wingman have expended all our Stilettos. Any chance you can rearm us?”
“If you can make your way to point Victor Seven, we’ll have a support ship waiting for you,” replied Snipes, “we can’t rearm you with Stilettos, but we can fill you up with EMPs and you can take over for Betas three and four.”
“Acknowledged,” finished Carlyle, “moving off now.”
“We’re in range,” announced Sacks, “Psi three and four, take out the Darkness’ forward cannons. Psi two, we’ll take the upper secondary cannons.”
“Chi wing is now in range,” added a Vasudan pilot, “begin targeting Triple-A and FLAK turrets.”
Just then, a barrage of FLAK enveloped Sacks’ bomber and he had to do some fancy flying to throw off the targeting scanners. Ahead, Sacks saw Rashid narrowly evading a volley of Triple-A fire, then launch a pair of Stilettos at the secondary cannon turret on the tip of one of the Darkness’ dorsal spikes. Sacks continued his evasive maneuvers, while closing on the second dorsal spike. With explosions all around them, Sacks was thanking his lucky stars that they were using the self-targeting Stilettos instead of an aspect-seeking weapon like the Trebuchet or Helios, otherwise he’d never be able to get a lock getting bounced around as he was. At near point-blank range, Sacks squeezed the trigger then punched his afterburners and blasted by the disruptive explosion. Looking at his rear view, Sacks noted that both the dorsal spikes were showing their turrets shorted out.
“Darkness secondary cannons are off-line,” reported Sacks.
“Primary cannons are out,” followed Manetti a few seconds later.
“Excellent work Psi wing,” congratulated Snipes, “assist Chi wing and take out the remaining turrets.”
“Copy that, sir,” replied Sacks, “Ok, team. Let’s use our Psi
-chic powers and de-claw this dragon.”
Lt. Ka-Rek maneuvered his Sekhmet bomber towards the Rakshasa class Pruflas. He’d ordered his two wingmen to target the beam cannons, while he went for the engines. Selecting a twin-launch of Cyclops torpedoes, Ka-Rek came to bear on the Pruflas’ engine subsystem. At that point, he noticed an energy buildup in the cruiser’s ventral Triple-A turret. He was about to take a radical evasive maneuver, when suddenly a Trebuchet streaked in from behind Ka-Rek’s fighter and struck the turret just in time. The explosion of the turret caused a number of small secondary explosions nearby. As his Cyclops torpedoes obtained aspect lock, an Erinyes fighter streaked by the Sekhmet and performed a tight victory roll, and then did a strafing run of Maxim fire, over the cruiser’s surface. Ka-Rek completed his target lock cycle, then tapped the trigger and pulled away as the bombs crawled towards the Pruflas. A few seconds later, they struck home with a large shockwave, and the cruiser was dead in space.
“Thank you for your timely assistance, Delta three,” announced Ka-Rek.
“That’s what they pay us for,” replied Mallory. Then there was a bright flash and another cluster of explosions struck the Pruflas’ nose, as the bombs fired by Ka-Rek’s wingmen, impacted the cruiser’s forward turrets.
Ka-Rek was about to compliment his wingmen, when a series of interference hums echoed through his headset. Checking his rear view, he could make out the telltale bright sabers of Terran and Vasudan beam fire, and the explosions that showed them striking the hull of a warship.
“Captain,” called the Hampton Roads’ Weapons Control Officer, “we’re landing fire on the SC Zaebos, but at this range our weapons are just scorching its armor.”
“Then we’ll need to close our distance and get some more turrets on that thing,” concluded Captain Grant, “Ahead one half. Adjust course negative thirty degrees. That should give our aft turrets the chance to target that thing.”
“Just one concern, sir,” warned the X.O., Commander Laurel Madrid, “we might enter sensor range with those fighters. If they get a lock on us the Zaebos can return fire.”
“Not if we take it out first,” corrected Grant.
Another volley from the Maahes struck the Lilith class cruiser, which had now turned their way from the other side of the Darkness. It was joined by a volley of lighter beams from the Sparta, while the Lemnos and Pershing focused their attention on the Leraje. In the distant right, an explosion marked the end of the Pruflas.
“Captain,” reported the Comm. Officer, “Mu two reports that they’ve exhausted their TAG supply, and Mu one and three are near the Leraje.”
“Order Mu one to split and make for the Zaebos,” replied Grant.
“Sir,” broke in the Radar Control Officer, “we’ve lost our signal on the Zaebos, but at its current closure rate, we’ll be within sensor range before Mu One can TAG her.”
“She’ll rake us with her main cannon and we’ll be lucky to survive,” summed Grant, “based on its previous course and speed, can you estimate its current position?”
“Only a rough guess, sir,” replied the RCO.
“Transmit your guess
to the WCO,” ordered Grant, “ready all four main cannons with a target spread based on estimated range, big enough to encompass a cruiser. Switch all beams from slash to unidirectional mode. Fire when ready. RCO, scan on optical sensors for any sign of impact.”
“Sir,” reported the Comm. quickly, “I’ve got Psi One requesting communications.”
“Go ahead Psi wing,” replied Grant.
“This is Lieutenant Sacks,” began the voice, which caused Grant to arch his eyebrows in recognition of the name, “the Zaebos is passing just off the Darkness’ bow. I can get in close and give you a sensor relay for a partial target lock. I can also try to take out its main turret with my Stilettos.”
“Good thinking Lieutenant,” complimented Grant with a surprised smile on his lips, then turned to his Comm. Officer and added, “establish a data link with Psi One’s radar feed, then route it to the WCO. Stand by to fire as soon as you have a target.”
Sacks’ Bakha bomber plunged ahead, leaving the blunted fangs of the Darkness behind him. Ahead, the shimmering, partial sensor contact that was the Zaebos was looming. After a few seconds, the radar image cleared and the cruiser appeared in his target indicator.
“I have a target lock, Hampton Roads,” reported Sacks, “you’re cleared to fire.” Sacks pulled his bomber up, on an apparent course to pass over the cruiser, then suddenly dashed downwards for its ventral, and pulled up sharply under it to get a target lock on the main Triple-A turret. A quick double-fire of his Stiletto-II bank, and the turret shorted out with a blast of electricity. Sacks then pushed the nose straight down from the cruiser’s course and stomped on the after burners. A moment later, four beams from the Hampton Roads slashed across the cruiser, punching through the armor in several places, and allowing fires to briefly spew from the hull.
“Fifteen seconds to primary sensor range,” reported the RCO. He didn’t need to add that the Zaebos would be able to return fire at that point.
“I’m on it,” reassured Sacks, over the comm. A few seconds later there was a distant blue explosion, followed by another communiqué from Sacks, “main turret is toast. Give ‘em hell
“Well done, Lieutenant,” thanked Grant. Another volley of fire from the Hampton Roads’ four main beam cannons, left the Zaebos ablaze and listing. It was soon joined by a final volley of fire from the Maahes and Sparta, which tore the cruiser into several chunks, before the reactor breached and shredded the remains.
“Good teamwork, people,” announced Snipes, “Leraje objective neutralized. Only the Xaphan and Drekavac remain. Psi and Chi wings, report your progress.”
“We will have successfully disarmed the destroyer within the next twenty seconds,” replied Chi one.
“Alpha One here,” announced Tanner, “the Xaphan is going down.”
“Kappa wing here,” reported the bomber wing leader, “the Drekavac is history!”
“Excellent work,” congratulated Snipes, “all capital ships, assume a defensive position around the Darkness. Be sure to override your IFF designators… we don’t want our automated defensive systems to damage the destroyer. Assault transports, stand by to jump.”
Another ten seconds passed, before Sacks reported that the last of the Darkness’ turrets had been taken out, and Snipes ordered the transports and freighters to jump. A group of six Argo class and three Satis, jumped in off the destroyer’s bow and moved cautiously to various grapple points across its hull. The Argos used their ventral docking ports and oriented themselves to run parallel to the Darkness’ central axis. The Satis class performed similar orientations, until the destroyer appeared to be getting swarmed by the smaller craft.
“Let’s just hope we can snatch the Darkness and clear out before the rest of the group returns,” commented Sacks, soberly.
“We’d better get ourselves ready,” concluded Snipes, “we brought a number of support ships with the transport group. Chi and Psi wings will rearm with Trebuchets. Mu wing, assume a wide range spread and be ready to TAG any new arrivals that jump on at long range. Mu two, report for rearming. Zeta and Xi wings, take up positions to fire on any fighters the Darkness might be able to launch. Everyone else, take a standoff defensive position around our fleet.”
[Continued in Next Post]