Lt Frig Dellingr waited impatiently, fidgeting, muscles tensing back and forth, his thoughts a wicked race of violent tactics and visions of victory. “Why do they urge us to fight hard??? Let me at them, we will show them who owns the skies!” he fumed.
The final fleet maps and strategy packs were downloaded as the briefing broke up to warning klaxons of “All pilots to the hanger bay”. With a feral surge the squadron made their way thru the passage to the open deck, then sprinted to their individual Manta fighters. The freedom of Frihet would be preserved! And paid for with Fortyck blood after their savage pummeling of innocent planets on their way here.
Canopy - check! Panel green - check! Frig saw all members of his flight were green as well, the battle would not wait for them! The low harmonics of all 100 fighters in hanger A2 made it hard to think, but their hearts beat in time to it and waited for the signal.
“LAUNCH! LAUNCH! LAUNCH!” Screamed the world as lights spun red and outer hull doors opened. Full power and an insane giant's hand on his chest as the FA Midway disappeared behind him in the furious glow of his engines. Glaring beeps of enemy ships in range on radar, comms giving updates, and the pounding of blood in his veins.
“FOCUS” Frig screamed at himself... “LEAD... we must FIGHT!!”
The eternal darkness roared silently as all 400 hungry Manta’s swirled and found the vector towards contact, towards the enemy. The ten carriers were close, and nearly 4000 fighters in total swung around the moon Kamp's west horizon in tight gleaming hordes. The low blue glare of the dwarf star showed the Förtryck formation strung out in defensive curve, awaiting attack from the other direction. Now was the time, the rear armor of thousands of ships before them, ambush sang in their veins as every pilot pushed his ship as hard as possible to be in firing position before the enemy would see the wave of Manta fury behind them.
The small jewel of the command ship's fighter squadron was every pilot's dream, and Frig spotted them, just above a large battle scarred cruiser's bridge sector.
“Get them!” he roared as they screamed forward silently in the vacuum, his targets plotted on the battle comp, and adrenaline fueling revenge as they converged. Throttles still at maximum, thrusters skewed hard, they drove straight for the most powerful pilots in the enemy fighter group. The night exploded, surprise lost and the fight joined hard as laser and missiles and photons tore lives and ships into shining bits of nuclear fury.
No other thought, only the focus of the hunt, the Frihet fighters wanted blood for every life torn from peaceful planets, two for every single wrong. Every thought compressed, lives decided in micro seconds, and the scream of victory as the command fighter squadron elite disappeared in glowing orange clouds of twisted metal. Joy and power screamed thru their souls as Frig's team spun towards the next enemy grouping, “We shall avenge!!!”
The scar on Squadron Leader Ran's left temple pulsed white with anger and frustration.
Rage flared over the Frihet fleet getting even the moments advantage of ambush - they shall be crushed, then burnt to a glowing cinder! Royal Förtryck standards permitted no mercy and severely punished any lapse of discipline or vigilance. The Group Commander would be lucky to die in this battle for not having found the Frihet fleet in time to attack head on, rather than face honor trial and a worse fate.
Action, anger and training exploded in orders to his crew in fierce bellows. “HELM, hard right, full thrust, take us over the cruiser bows in a low arc! All ships to follow at full power!
FIRE CONTROL, prepare full missile launch, everything out, be ready for immediate launch once we clear the cruisers hull! RADAR, get a vector on those incoming fighters, feed to fire control NOW, we need to blunt this attack!”
The already chaotic darkness shimmered as the missile frigates swung hard right under full acceleration and made towards the wall of incoming fighters just beyond the cruiser fleet next to them. “Let them taste death, let them know the pain of failure!” Dark thoughts danced with fury as Ran watched the command scope tilt under full power manuever. The Frihet fighters had come in low and from the right side of the fleet, masked by the moon and the blue dwarf star's heavy radiation. The surprise was painful, but could be stopped if they were quick and relentless in response.
Radar and Fire Control rapped out a stream of communication, readying the missiles and target courses, all banks were ready to fire. The blue sun fire glinting off the squadron's hulls as fire poured from their engines, death skewed past the cruisers in a crazed glow of retaliation. As the frigates crossed over the cruisers, blinding weapons fire a web of death from all sides, battle computers blazing with calculated fury, the launch moment arrived.
Again and again and again, thud thud thud, the missiles launched, screaming forward with their victim's radar signature in front of them, death on a screaming candle as they rocketed forward. Sqdn Ldr Ran wasted no time, this battle was far from over. “RELOAD all batteries! Prepare for second volley!”
The battle sphere display flickered with missile tracks and hits, the shredded Frihet fighters disappeared in red glows all across the sector. The first wave of fighters was destroyed, every last ship a smear of fire as the missiles hit home and detonated in bright orange fireballs. The command scope tilted again and more of the Frihet ships slid into view as potential targets. Sqdn Ldr Ran was relentless - “HELM, vector up, full thrust, swing left, target the enemy fleet carriers!”
Wing Commander Herja forced slow controlled breaths - simmering thoughts, the violent flare of anger at her comrades deaths, and the deep pulsing thrill of the hunt, churning it all into one white hot fire of calculating ferocious attack logic. Her wing was often touted as not the best, but the most ferocious, commanded and crewed by the fierce at heart and unstoppable. The cruisers could not catch the fighters, even at full emergency thrust, but they were not far behind and would add their plasma fury to the Frihet blade within moments. The comm channels were filtered, but the sub screens showed the fighters giving heavy damage and receiving the same, it was carnage already. It was hoped that the surprise of an attack from within the radiation field would yield better results, but the Förtryck were well trained and not easily confused for long.
Battlescope images tilted in an arc matching the forced curve of their acceleration around the moon's brown and gray horizons. ECM made the scope fuzzy deeper into the Förtryck fleet, but their initial battle was showing nicely, cruisers and frigates turning to fight in chaos. Realistically, a part of her mind knew this was only one tiny part of the strategy, but their efforts would allow others to win the day and that was all that mattered.
“ALL STATIONS!” boomed out, “We are about to engage the enemy fleet. Be strong, do your best, and we will win this day!!!” The ship rang with shouts and bellows of courage and support as the seconds ticked down to engagement with the enemy. “ALL BATTERIES! Over charge the first plasma rounds! Let them feel our anger!”
Gun Chief's barked orders and extra titanium was added to the metal slurry that would become scarlet death after being energized by the ships core reactor fire. The risk was the over charged plasma would strip the guns barrel, a huge ball of slow moving fury, that rendered that gun useless for the rest of the battle. But, if it went well, the double intensity fire ball would rip thru fighters and even frigates like a glowing knife, perfect for violent introductions!
Time slowed, and Herja's world collapsed to the remaining seconds of turrets powering up, target vectors aligning, and.... “FIRE!!!!!!” The night glowed in long pulsing incandescent orange streaks of revenge straight into the Förtryck fleets face...
Group Commander Hermod surveyed the battle screen with hard grey eyes, noting the battle, feeling the waves of force collide. A lifetime of battles and training honing his vision to a tempered blade, cutting thru the chaos to see the core fight, letting him guide death in endless waves with the skill of a dark surgeon. Fighters, missile frigates and cruisers, all swung hard to engage the Frihet attack, the battle network guiding their fire and maneuver as one wicked octopus of death.
The original plan for Battle Groups 2, 6 and 13 to gather in the deep obscurity of Anão Azul's radiation field was both brilliant and dangerous. This concentration of force was awkward, the huge dreadnaughts finally meeting with their entourage, deep in Frihet territory. The main force of a combined attack, it was believed that the majority of Frihet fleets would be pushing north towards a deception attack inbound near their capitol.
Much time and effort had been spent to leave radar signatures and destruction along the decoy pathway, this was no small game. If this succeeded, a juggernaught would be unleashed in the otherwise well guarded core planets of the Frihet Empire. With the fleets called in emergency response, none of the planetary defensive forces would be able to cope with the invasion. Three full battle groups could walk thru planet after planet, destroying, pillaging, rampant among the rear echelon with nothing to stop them.
“But, how had this Frihet group found them??? And on their rear flank?” The questions pounded relentlessly in his thoughts as the battle grew harsher. Crisp orders danced from his lips, and there was no hesitation, the formidable Förtryck fleet responded and raised a huge fist to the Frihet spear.
“This can't be all, can it?” he wondered, “Why?” No time left, destroy the threat and then find answers. There was an oddness to the Frihet formation... they fought as well as always, their courage and accuracy annoyingly persistent. But where were the capital ships? Surely the scouts sent out would have seen anything else lurking nearby? The issue danced maddeningly, if the true fleet had gone north, why the fleet carriers here?
But no other targets graced Group Commander Hermods gaze, so he focused on those he could kill. The Frihet carriers and cruisers were within range, and a long slow second passed as Hermod smiled at their imminent doom. “All Groups engage!” Soft and fierce, the words were instantly made reality as the battle network responded by sending the thundering fury of thousands of photon batteries back into the Frihet charge.
Crimson arcs exploded like curving shrapnel as the Levi's disgorged photon torpedoes by the hundreds upon hundreds.
The soft plasma ball surrounding the pulsing photon core made a whip of light across the darkness as death sped forth. A tiny computer buried in the plasma fury made guidance corrections until its armor was consumed, guiding the glowing death to its recipient. Eight seconds, exactly, and all the lines became straight, the guidance units incinerated, the photon torpedoes sped to what lay in front of them. It was really like the ancient shotgun, the aiming went so far, then anything in the way was obliterated.
Waves of photon torpedoes coated every ship in the attack sector in violent bright white destiny. The narrow path to attack had helped the Frihet concentrate their fire, but also made a good target. With blind fury, the walls of photon torpedoes removed fighters, frigates and cruisers in one long rolling tide. Frihet and Förtryck disappeared alike beneath the endless attack. And 2000 Levi's reloaded even before the first wave struck.
Group Commander Hermod waited, watching, savoring, the images so intense the battle screen went to white again and again. It was unlikely anything was left beneath the spreading ball of debris, but why risk it? Was there more behind the moon's curvature? With one finger extended, an arc of death was described, a path for the next wave, swarming the moon itself and anything behind it.
“All Groups engage!”
And again the crimson lines of destiny rained across the night...
The engines pounding at full throttle made the ship hum in a low endless harmonic. It was inescapable, the very fabric of the ship pulsing in time to the engines desperate roar. The Titans were huge ships, over five times larger than a dreadnaught, and built to handle disruptor cannons. The forces caused by the disruption of space time required special handling indeed. And much of the ships mass was involved in controlling this ancient unstoppable force until it was released in battle. The center of the ship was a latent core of power, circling, dancing until power up commenced. The huge containment vessel throbbing softly, then harsher as space and time were forced to disconnect in long ribbons.
The timing was critical, the Deathstars with their multiple containments could fire in waves endlessly. But a Titan could only hold one, and so the power up, and time to fire was a huge factor. Start the power up too soon, and the force would be released early. Too late and the ship was helpless until it finished. Experienced Titan captains were wiley chess masters, timing death with every passing moment.
Space Marshall Ullr stood quietly at the command hub, observing, his calm focus spreading to his crew around him. This maneuver was dangerous on many levels, and several Titans already bore the scars to prove it. Frihet High Command had suspected a deeper intricate attack for some time now. The relative calm did not fit Förtryck plans, subtlety was not their usual choice. So an alert was established empire wide in expectation of something clandestine and unexpected. Every ship, every station, regardless of function, scanned relentlessly and reported anything odd.
And so, one day a tiny research outpost near star Anão Azul had found the Förtryck secret. Arcing in, matching the blue stars interference, a Förtryck fleet began to assemble. Cruisers first, then frigates and dreadnaughts, all hiding deep in the stars gravity well and electronic camouflage. When the messages reached High Command, first alarm, and then relief and vengeance blossomed.
The system was within reach by the 4th Titan Brigade, and upon notification Space Marshall Ullr had the most audacious plan. Solar interference plays both ways, and a moving ambush could indeed be made now that the target was known. The 32nd Carrier Group and 3rd ACR Heavy Cruisers were nearby and could assist. They would stage the diversionary attack, pulling focus towards the stars outward parallel. This would allow the 4th Titan Brigade precious time and position in the upcoming battle.
Massively powerful, the 4th Titan Brigade was still seriously outgunned by the hordes of Leviathans still arriving. But if they could attack from the rear as the Förtryck engaged the diversionary attack, the battle was far more even. Shields and armor both were weighted to the ships bow, towards conflict and enemy attack. If the Titans could slip behind the Leviathan fleet, the wicked lance of disruptor fire would split them like an ax driven thru soft wood.
Command comms humming, the two Frihet fleets sped towards the invasion. Space Marshall Ullr had his team compute a course straight at the star, then missing by only fraction. The huge Titans would be pulled in by the star's gravity, accelerating far past their own speed. Turning in advance their engines would drive them just beyond the stars boiling nuclear surface and towards the battle. With speeds passing frigate level, there was no room for error as the colossal ships whipped past the star and its planets.
Passing the largest planet in the third orbit, every Titan turned and blasted full fury behind, slowing itself at full power. It meant nothing at that speed, the huge ships a blur across the darkness, and closing on the Förtryck fleet with insane quickness. The numbers and vectors, backwards and descending, an entire brigade of Titans flying backwards towards the enemy, madness incarnate. Space Marshall Ullr was not the only one paying deep attention to the bridge displays. Failure was not an option, and all too possible given the battle plan.
The entire 4th Titan Brigade began to emerge from the star's depths, flying backwards at full speed. Cloaked in the fire of their own engines, their battle computers barely able to sync, they were behind the enemy! Ripping thru the night sky in reverse with comet trails as the glow of their engines covered them, the Titans began to fire. The singularities in their containment vessels bursting with insane power, the disruptor cannons roared to life. Dark ribbons of nothing twisted two ways infinitely sped towards the Förtryck fleet's exposed rear flank.
A dark knife of destruction, it too curved from the backwards path of the Titan's arc across the sky. Disruption fury, reaching out, carving the Förtryck fleet in half from behind, a shattered blur of Leviathans exploding began to follow the same path. Annihilation in space has no sound, only harsh flickering glory, and Anão Azul reverberated with the pulsing nuclear fury of payback.
Deep in the core of New Olympus, the royal palace hummed as always with the life of a kingdom moving forward. The actual throne room was several stories above the principal chambers, and quiet most of the time. Primary audience and the empire's business flowed thru the Iconic Hall where the Queen guided her realm most days.
High Queen Bikaina paused, her attention drawn to Admiral Invicta as he stopped mid-stride and his eyes focused elsewhere. Rarely did the Fleet Grand Admiral receive demanding news, and it was always critical, everything else would wait.
The court flittered to a halt, conversations became whispers, and then silence descended like winters embrace. Decades of command filtered every thought and word, but the Admiral's slow grin spoke softly of the impending news. “My dear Queen, I do wish to announce at this time, that the Förtryck fleet has been caught most surprised, and effectively destroyed!”
Tensions whipped back and forth, this was a known battle, and yet a secret, everyone held their breath. High Queen Bikaina paused, gathering herself, adding the totals of this moment. The dead would be immense, hundreds of thousands, and all had fought until their final moment. But their sacrifice would let peace and prosperity continue across the empire. This demanded recognition, and solace as well.
High Queen Bikaina looked Admiral Invicta deep in the eye... “I agree, this is worthy news.
Please do bring up the Frihet command on the emergency frequency so we may share with them.” The emergency frequency existed due to alien intrusions, and guaranteed the kingdoms could unite in times of peril. It could however, have other uses.
The Queen settled herself, tossing her hair back a bit, and adjusting her garments, regal and woman incarnate. As the display resolved on the wall of the chamber, it was obvious the Frihet command was not expecting this call. Cmdr Goujon's face was a vortex of discipline and surprise as he gazed at the High Queen's summons. Indeed, the Queen felt her pulse quicken at his deep dark gaze, and glared back with slow deep royal fury.
“Good evening Commander Goujon, I hope I am not interrupting too much, but this is rather vital information.” It was clear that the commander was on the spot, unable to know or admit to an ongoing invasion effort. The Queen paused, savoring a long moment of possibility – “We have secured the Anão Azul sector, please refrain from such efforts in the future.”
Commander Goujon paled, and the room behind him stopped moving... “Thank you Your Majesty” was the gasped response, and the screen went dark.
“Champagne to our fleet and dirt to our enemies!!” screamed the queen, and the room erupted in cheers. High Queen Bikaina paused as the room exploded with joy, and let the cold wind of the souls lost play against her every sense. The kingdom lived upon the backs of those who fought and gave, and she would never forget a one.
The Queen's gaze settled upon Admiral Invicta, and they stopped to share the moment. Each knowing the cost, and the reward, more tears than can be counted, more tomorrows than can be known.
“Salute my dear Admiral, may they live forever!”
“Salute my Queen, they do indeed...”
Story sent by Dredd Pyrate Roberts / Somnambulent2 for the AE Stories event.