Episode 8: Confrontation
A new plan is now set in motion. The experimental shield designed to disperse the energy from the Supremacy Cruiser’s main cannon has been installed on a transport. Starlance has issued its call to meet at sector Iota. Meanwhile I provided the necessary tactical knowledge and strategies to use in the coming battle. Overall we would be divided into multiple teams that would arrive at different times to the battle. The very first team would be the most vulnerable, but the main contingency for the beginning of the engagement is distance. The King’s Crown and a small number of Liberation Front battleships will arrive at the sector close to its edge. The enemy cruisers would be located too far to get a proper lock-on with their weaponry, so they are forced to engage using only their fighters. They could risk a jump, but I know they won’t try it. A short distance jump would need them to expend a lot of energy and the recovery would give us too big an opening.
While the cruisers attempt to close the gap, another team will jump in behind them and begin a new engagement. Our target will be to whittle down the shields of at least one of the vessels. An elite commando team, led by Mara and James, will board the weakened ship and take control. Their primary objective is to turn the main cannon against another of the Starlance Supremacy Cruisers, but they do have orders to set off a bomb in the main reactor if they cannot secure the bridge. Our latest intel pointed to several new systems being installed on the cruisers. Mainly one that aims to prevent chain reactions from runaway energy. Destroying the reactor would only mean that the ship would be powerless. Despite not destroying the ship, capturing it should suffice. The same will be done with the others once they have been crippled. The key to victory will be dealing enough damage to the hyper cannons so that they can be disabled. That’s where I come in.
The Star Shadow’s plasma cannon has been replaced with an EM burst launcher. It requires a slow recharge, much like the plasma cannon, but its projectile is basically a ball of contained electromagnetic energy. Upon impact, the energy is released and can quickly disable electronic systems.
Our most difficult battle approached. I left the King’s Crown to make the jump to sector Iota. Dana and I spoke briefly a few hours ago. She was ordered to stand by at a medical station to provide support. To my relief, she would be far from the front line. I would, once again, face the brunt of father’s wrath.
“Adrian to King’s Crown, are we all set?”
“This is Ivanov, the fleet is ready.”
The largest number of ships I had seen in a while. All the logistics were handled mostly by Mara and Ivanov, so I wasn’t sure how many ships we had. I estimated at least 25 ships of varying power.
“I don’t have to remind you that this mission is of critical importance”, Mara said to the fleet. “The most important objective is not to completely destroy Starlance, but to cripple their ships and capture as many as we can. If we succeed, the Liberation Front will have succeeded in freeing the Centauri Systems. Afterwards, the long road to recovery. For now, let us begin with the first phase of the plan”
“Liberation fleet, this is Ivanov. The first group will be leaving momentarily. There are five ships equipped with the EM burst launchers. Three of these will arrive with us, the first group. It is imperative that these ships be guarded at all costs. The operation hinges on their survival. Groups two and three will stand by until the allotted time. Groups four and five will be called as soon as the target cruiser is disabled. The rest of the fleet will be called once we have secured our advantage. Group one, move to the jump coordinates now”
The commanding presence of Ivanov was a bit reminiscent of Starlance. Of course, if he heard me saying that he would promptly tell me to go to hell. In any case, we achieved a fairly decent command structure for this operation. Not too shabby for a band of pirates, mercenaries and Liberation Front branded as terrorists.
It is time. “Fighters, ready to jump on my mark”, I said to my squadron. A total of nine fighters accompanied me. Others would launch from the larger ships and provide support against enemy fighters.
We arrived, but to our surprise systems only detected two of the three Supremacy class cruisers. It would have to do. There was no way to know for sure what had happened. I believed Starlance was being cautious, so I alerted Ivanov of what may come and proceeded with our plan. As soon as the cruisers were in communications range a message arrived to us.
“Centauri Liberation Front, you are ordered to stand down. You are out gunned, out classed and soon out maneuvered. Surrender now and we may yet show you mercy”
That wasn’t father. There was no way he would miss this battle. Regardless, I focused on the task. Starlance launched their squadrons. We could do little to stem whatever they were planning. So we press on.
The more time passes, the greater the risk of losing more ships. Already the first group has lost three battleships to those damned hyper cannons. Finally the second and third groups began to arrive, reinforcing the assault from behind enemy lines. Starlance countered with a group of battleships that jumped right between the Supremacy cruisers and the newly arrived groups. Our plans had not worked as well as we had originally thought, but we were still able to weaken one of the ships. Before the next group arrived with the boarding team the third cruiser made its entrance, it was the Starlance Legacy.
“You clearly didn’t think this engagement well enough. If you will not stand down, then you forfeit whatever rights you thought you had.”, my father’s voice spread clearly through our communication devices. We had to make our move now. The boarding team arrived and their target was finally made vulnerable by destroying its shields. A blast came from the direction of the Starlance Legacy. The targets were the fighters themselves. Such power was overwhelming and destroyed every one of the fighters that were hit. “It can’t be…”, I thought. It looked like they opted for extermination, but there was something else. The ships in my group that had the EM burst cannons were directly targeted. He was searching for me and he knew that the energy difference would give my position off. I hurried to shut down part of my weapon systems, but that was a mistake. The energy differential could be easily measured and used for targeting. I had but a few minutes to react. A decoy signal might help. Only a few short seconds after deploying the signal and a blast passed by my ship. The uncontained energy was so powerful everything went off line. He had me, and he knew it. It was only a matter of time before the next shot would wipe me out of existence.