The Titan’s disruptor turrets thumped in the distance, sending globes of energy arcing towards the enemy fleet. Captain Hawthorne woke to the sound of warning sirens right before being thrown out of his bed by some type of enemy munition. The ship stabilized and Hawthorne got to his feet, running out of his cabin towards the bridge. Whatever had hit the ship had torn a hole in the hull, so Hawthorne had to take a round-about root to the front of the ship. Once there, he strapped into the captain’s chair and brought up his holo-screen. “Sitrep!” Hawthorne yelled over the blaring noise of the siren.
“Sir, they were here, waiting for us. They attacked before we could charge our warp drive. They have at least 100 Heavy Cruisers-class ships, accompanied by 800 fighter craft.” Navigation Officer Karin answered without taking her eyes from the screen.
“They were waiting for us. Damn it! We are outmatched. Spin up the…” Hawthorne said, before being interrupted by a plasma-bolt tearing through layers of armor and vaporizing many decks of the Titan. “Spin up the Warp-Drive!” Hawthorne yelled, knowing that if he didn’t leave now, the enemy would charge their plasma-cannons for the kill-shot. The enemy’s fighter craft swarmed into view, and instead of firing they all sped towards the front of the titan in a kamikaze-like fashion. “Brace for impact!” Hawthorne whispered. Then the world went black.
Captain Hawthorne awoke with a start as the Scout Ship docked with The Remnant, a recently blooded Leviathan that Hawthorne had been given command of. After defeating the Chimera forces sent to destroy Autumn-Six, Hawthorne was reenlisted into the United Space Peace Congress’ naval forces. Three weeks after the battle between Hawthorne and Chimera forces, a warp-space signature had been detected by probes at the outer-edge of the solar system. Admiral Loman had delivered the orders personally, giving Hawthorne permission to use his own Scout-class transport craft.
As the Scout’s hatch popped open with a hiss, a young man yelled "Officer on deck" and everyone stopped what they were doing to salute. Hawthorne was used to the attention, if not a little irritated. It was depressing, in a way, to know that the majority of the people saluting him were going to die in the line of battle eventually. The mortality rate for engineers was fairly high, and pilots generally knew they wouldn’t be going home once enlisting. Only those who had command of Capital-ships had a real chance of retiring, and to Captain Hawthorne, his life was forfeit when he had been reenlisted.
"At ease, at ease already." the aging captain said sullenly, walking past the crewmen, looking for the correct path to the bridge. The Remnant was nearly repaired, and the hangar bay was filled to capacity with Ion Bombers. Suddenly, Hawthorne's commpad buzzed and a message appeared on the small screen.
Captain Hawthorne, the Warp-Space signature detected was in fact more Chimera ships. The fleet make-up is unknown, but they will exit from Warp-space in 8 minutes. Be advised, ground defenses on Autumn-Six are still offline. -Sylvia, A.I."
After reading the message, Hawthorne became worried. The fact that Autumn-Six's A.I. would contact him directly meant that there would soon be trouble. Hawthorne arrived at the bridge, and took his seat at the Captain's chair, brooding silently as he quickly went through his messages on the holo-screen built into his chair. They were mostly useless information on how the weapons systems worked, how the ship was back to 100% operational capacity, and a particularly annoying message from a secretary of Admiral Loman that gave a post-action report of how close the battle was. "I was there", the Captain thought, "I know exactly how close the battle was.”
" Sir, the warp-space signature we detected earlier has exited warp-space. The enemy fleet is composed of 50 battleships and 2000 fighter-craft.” the Navigation Officer said, clearly bothered by the results of his scan.
“Are you sure?” Hawthorne asked, wondering what he would do against that kind of firepower. Hawthorne brought up a simulator and ran the simulation with the existing data on chimera’s fleet-data. The computer quickly went through different battle patterns and fed the results back onto the screen. “Seriously…” Hawthorne said to himself, bothered. The simulator had given the results of the Leviathan and the enemy fleet being evenly matched. The previous battle with the Dreadnoughts must have given Chimera enough data to plan a second attack, Hawthorne assumed, so they were going to send in an attack force to kill off The Remnant and occupy Autumn-six.
"Run simulations again!" Hawthorne said firmly while minimizing the window and bringing up the detailed specs of Chimeras usual Battleships, although it was more to keep himself busy than to be tactically prepared. Hawthorne knew the data already, so he opened a link to the United Space Peace Congress' combat office and started tapping rapidly at his keypad. The nearest Blob Point was at least four hours away, and Hawthorne knew he had to make some kind of choice soon. Chimera’s fleet was approaching, and Hawthorne needed a plan.
"Sir, it appears that Chimera is attempting to open a channel with us." a young woman said from the communication suite.
"Bring it on screen, then." Hawthorne answered quietly, prepared to look this beast in the face. The viewport at the front of the bridge suddenly flickered with a white light, and then dissolved into a picture of a young, healthy man sitting on a bridge very similar to The Remnant's.
"Friend, how nice it is to make your acquaintance! My name is Commander Geoffrey Briggs. As you can see, you are outgunned, outmatched, and certainly outclassed. Surrender your ship, and I promise no harm will come to your crew." Commander Briggs announced smugly, sitting with his arms folded, with all intents towards looking like the personification of arrogance.
"Commander Briggs, I appreciate this nicety that you afford me,” Captain Hawthorne replied, “But my name is not ‘friend’. You will address me as Captain Hawthorne.”
“Oh, come now, how about ‘Thorny’? Can I call you Thorny? I like that. I think it fits you nicely.” Commander Briggs said, before being cut off by Hawthorne.
“Pray to whatever God you believe in, because you aren’t leaving this system alive. Terminate link.” Hawthorne said, looking Briggs straight in the eyes until the screen faded back to the inky blackness of space. “Navigation, engage engines.”
The Battleship fleet’s weapons were charging quickly as Commander Briggs paced his bridge, worried about the upcoming battle. Although Briggs had the single Leviathan outnumbered, numbers weren’t as important as battle capability. Still, Briggs ordered the fleet to battle formation. Ion cannons swiveled to point towards the coordinates where the Remnant had been, and Briggs silently prayed for a moment.
“Men, this is it. Send the order to the fleet. Fire!” Briggs said, before slumping into his seat to watch the carnage.
“Sir, none of the ships have a lock on the enemy Leviathan anymore.” A young man in the communication’s suite said nervously.
Hawthorne tapped his foot impatiently against the deck while the Remnant sling-shotted around Io, Autumn-Six’s only moon.
“Five minutes until they are in view again,” The Navigation officer announced, “If previous data holds true, we’ll have the proper trajectory.”
“Good. Never make a threat you can’t keep.” Hawthorne replied, reciting a quote that his father had said so many times while Hawthorne grew up.
The five minutes passed slowly for Hawthorne and The Remnant flew into view of the fleet, which from the Leviathan’s point of view was facing the wrong direction.
“Prepare to ram!” Hawthorne said just moments before the Leviathan hit the tiny battleship cleanly through the middle, smashing through the smaller ship and continuing on its path, nearly unharmed.
“Shield at 80% and holding, hull intact.” One of the many people on the bridge shouted out.
“Fire Weapons! Start charging the warp-drive!” Hawthorne ordered, looking over the specs of the enemy fleet again on his commpad.
The leviathan’s photon cannons fired at the enemy, and the enemy responded in kind. Fighters scrambled, ion bolts glanced off of the Leviathans shields, momentarily weakening them before the giant ship’s shields failed. The armor of Hawthorne’s ship was thick, but the charged energy of the Battleship’s weapons ate through the thick plating easily. Atmosphere vented from the newly impaired ship, but it had taken damage as well as it had given it. Many upon many of the enemy battleships floated in space, only husks of the ships they had been. The fighter craft had been spared somewhat, and made for a final attempt at destroying the limping beast that was The Remnant.
“Brace yourselves! Close the viewport hatch!” Hawthorne yelled, almost a scream as the fighters came into view, launching straight at the weakest point of the ship.
The ship was hit, and Hawthorne blacked out.
This story was submitted by Hunter Spencer for the AE Stories Event.