Episode 5: The Starlance Offensive
It has been a few months since the confrontation at Epsilon. From that day Starlance has been on high alert. To the point where the Supremacy class cruisers were scrambled to patrol areas of great importance. We also received worrying news that Starlance was planning to build even more of those battlecruisers. The amount of resources and time needed to build them gave us the chance to try to either stall them, or maybe even destroy their construction capability. This meant that we would have to strike at their most heavily defended bases. Proxima Starlance One, the starting point of my involvement with the group, is one such target. Another target is Proxima Starlance Four, where the Proxima Eclipse was once repaired. Thinking back on it, being near that station was ominous. As if some of the people there knew that the Starlance Legacy was the ship that had attacked us. This could be coincidental though. I’ve come to hate the organization so much. Even my old memories are overwhelmed with anger.
I have been busy doing occasional skirmishes against Starlance all this time. Our main targets have been supply runs that could serve to aid in the construction of more ships, including the Supremacy Cruisers. We also got lucky not too long ago. A data leak pointed to one such cruiser needing urgent repairs to its main weapon. This gives us a chance to strike at them at their weakest. Meanwhile, the scientists we rescued have been hard at work analyzing the data I got from sector Epsilon. They have been taken in by the Centauri Liberation Front. The Front has kept a hidden base at the edge of the Centauri systems, allowing them to strike at Starlance without drawing too much attention.
The increased patrols have made it difficult for the unlicensed traders to earn their living. Not long ago I discovered that Starlance would brand said unlicensed traders as pirates. Funny that the only thing needed for them to become outlaws was some odd registration. The entire system is bureaucratic and forces people to jump through a lot of hoops, unless they had gained previous favors through either military service, or special agreements. This had been going on for years. Only recently discovered from multiple hacks done to their databases.
Ivanov transmitted coordinates for our next meeting and I made preparations to leave my base. The Star Shadow’s weapons got replenished. Maintenance was up to date. Time to see where this next offensive takes us. In a short time I was at the jump point.
Immediately upon arrival Ivanov greeted me.
“Well finally! Why did you take so long?”
“Hey, this ship does not have automated maintenance. I have to keep it in tip top shape.”
“You and that ship have some weird relationship. I’m glad it has actually survived this long. Let’s get this going though.”, my old captain interceded.
Once we were all at the bridge Mara started the briefing.
“Here’s what we have so far. One of the Starlance Supremacy Cruisers is traveling through sector Gamma. According to the information we got its main weapon malfunctioned during battle and damaged a multitude of systems, including their jump drive. They had been in combat with a CLF resistance cell. The information pointed to the cell having been wiped out, but not before providing us with all this”
“So, do we risk taking out this ship?”, I asked curious as to what our plan was.
“It is the perfect opportunity”, Ivanov said.
“It will still take some coordination, but a large enough strike force could break through its defenses and destroy, at the very least, the energy cannon”, Mara continued. “To do this we’re going to need help from the CLF. Once we have confirmation we can strike the target. We must contact them at once though, the window of opportunity is closing. Once that ship makes it near Proxima Starlance Six, it’s game over”
“I will contact them and make sure they provide aid. Adrian, your mission will be to use your ship’s specialized weapons to hit that cannon hard”, Ivanov knew the CLF would no doubt pledge their help. On the other hand, I was curious about what Captain Villanova would be doing.
“Captain Villanova, what will you be doing?”
“Oh please Adrian, we’re not in Starlance anymore. It’s just Patricia now. As for what I will do, I proposed a special mission to Ivanov. We’re going to discuss the details later, but I will be heading out soon”
“I see, well, good luck then”, I didn’t wish to pry further. A lot of these operations are better off known to only a handful of people.
We reached sector Gamma a few hours after our meeting. After this, the operation would have just over two more to achieve our objective. I arrived with a squadron of fighters as support. The small Starlance group was quick to make their usual statements.
“Unidentified vessels, this is restricted space. Leave immediately or you will be fired upon.”
Our response was to increase our speed to intercept. A few minutes later two allied battleships arrived to begin their attack run on the cruiser. The local ‘pirates’ want a little more freedom in the region. A secondary force from the CLF will arrive later to reinforce the attack.
We were met with two squadrons of fighters. Further behind the cruiser another squadron began to move faster to catch up and provide support. By the time they arrived we had already made short work of the defending fighters. The two battleships started bombarding the cruiser’s shields. One of them positioned itself right in front of the main cannon, knowing that it was offline provided a chance to strike the forward shielding directly. While my attack wing engaged the third squadron I moved away and started to make my approach towards the main cannon. As I reached the large opening a transmission reached my ship.
“Well look who it is. I honestly didn’t think you would take the bait.”
A cold chill ran down my spine. It was the voice of my father. Sensors detected the arrival of a ship. Another Supremacy class. My first reaction was to try and move away from my target, but I was already far too deep into the cannon’s opening.
“Looks like I will win after all. No more random strikes against our people. No more false hope of removing our peace. You should know by now that this is what a lot of the people wanted. We achieved it and in a year no less!”
I wanted to answer but I had little time to prepare countermeasures. This required my full concentration.
“I don’t care what you may think of me, but I want you to know I will not give you any chances. You are lost to me. A disgrace. Now, witness our might!”
My systems detected an energy build up. This was my chance. From the moment my father spoke I knew that the ship we had targeted must have been masking its power signature to appear weakened. Now its main cannon was preparing to fire. I was right in the mouth of this beast. Luckily for me, I had other plans. Father’s little ambush would provide us with the perfect opportunity. Despite their deception, our ships were still able to deal some decent damage. Their shield is weak. I came up with the idea of overloading the main cannon and redirecting the energy back into the systems that feed it. This had the potential of being incredibly destructive, but it was worth it if it meant the end of one of these ships. My ship’s sensors alerted me of another powerful energy build up. The ship my father arrived in was almost ready to fire. I saw as energy was being drawn into the weapon. Front row seats to the current most destructive weapon in the system. It was time. Two specially built rockets. Each fired to the sides of the cannon. They latched onto the walls and created an electric arc. I moved between them and used the energy to supercharge my ship’s systems. The plasma cannon was ready in a few seconds. Whoever was commanding the ship would be in for a rude awakening. I started firing. The plasma blasts began to destabilize the energy buildup within the weapon. These cannons had a plating that was made from some of the strongest materials in the system. Those same plates could not withstand such direct punishment, they began to heat up. Whatever was behind these plates, if not similarly reinforced, would buckle under the heat. My own prediction was correct.
In the next phase I used the energy arc to redirect energy into the ship itself. The feedback started causing havoc inside. Parts of the main cannon began to blow up. Sensors detected a blast of energy. One of the battleships, the one providing the support fire from above the cruiser, was destroyed. I would be next if I didn’t hurry. I charged energy to make a jump. At these coordinates I wasn’t sure where exactly I would end up, but it was my best bet at escaping. I sent out a coded message for everyone to retreat immediately and to withhold any reinforcements. The battleship that was attacking from the front moved away to a safe jump point and escaped. The fighter wing also escaped.
“I know you’re still here. You’re alone now. No one will save you from what comes next”
He knew I was going to destroy the cruiser, so he targeted the most likely position that I was in and began to charge their main cannon again.
“Hey father, take this as a gift, from me, to you”, the cruiser began its death throes as its reactor overloaded from the feedback energy and a series of explosions destroyed it from the inside out. Right at the last second, my ship made the jump.