July 22nd, 11 AE…
The Missouri’s Bridge…
“Ensign, what’s our current heading, speed and ETA?” Mark asked as he sat in his captain’s chair.
Ensign Gatsbu nodded as he looked down at his display. “We are currently heading southeast towards the interception point at 350 knots. Our ETA would be 1 hour 3 minutes.”
“Maintain course and speed.” The captain then addressed the communications officer, Lieutenant Visera. “Have we received word from the destroyer flotilla?”
“Yes sir!” The blue-skinned female replied. “We’ve just received confirmation from Captain Vikes of the destroyer Johnston. He and nine other destroyers from the 110th Space Flotilla are already on their way and will meet with us at the interception point.”
“Captain Vikes?” Neelan said in surprise. “We haven’t fought beside him since the assault on Vegas Four.”
“It’ll be good to see him again. And what about the Yorktown, lieutenant?”
“The Yorktown and its defense group are about to start planet-fall. Once they pass through the atmosphere, they will deploy their fighters and have them destroy the Red Dragon Fleet. The enemy has already rejected all signals and messages for them to turn back, so the Council has already given the 251st the go-ahead to sink the fleet.”
In orbit, the space carrier Yorktown and its defense group began to make its descent. The carrier was about four times the size of the Missouri and had a complement of 400 starfighters. The carrier strike group easily withstood the heat of re-entry with their deflector barriers. A minute later, they passed by the stratosphere and ionosphere and started to maintain an altitude of around 15 km above the surface.
On the bridge of the Yorktown, Admiral Tarhesse, a Kyteeri woman, looked at the blue expanse of the ocean below them. Her navigator announced that he had located the enemy fleet. Tarhesse nodded as she asked her second-in-command, Commander Roger Kohn.
“Have the heavy-fighters finished with their preparations?”
“They’ve just loaded the last of the anti-ship missiles, Admiral. If all goes according to plan, they’ll be able to sink all 620 ships in a single strike. The Star Hawk squadrons will escort the Byatta fighters and clear the way for them to make their attack run. I don’t expect them to encounter anything more threatening than wyverns, but they will make certain the Byatta fighters will make it through. If they don’t succeed in sinking all those ships during their first attack, then we will launch a second strike.”
“Considering our enemy, I believe one strike will be more than enough. In fact, one strike by itself may be excessive.”
In the main hanger of the Yorktown, one hundred and four Kyteeri heavy fighters were being prepped for launch. Unlike the Terran Star Hawks, the Byatta fighters were shaped like manta rays and were built for heavy assault and bombing runs. However, they were still very fast and agile enough to be deadly in a dogfight. Furthermore, each was armed with two positron cannons, an omni-dirctional beam turret and twin ion disrupter guns. They also could carry a variety of long-range missiles and bombs. Today, each carried six, guided proton missiles with an effective range of 200 miles and enough power to bring down space cruisers. Like their Terran escorts, each had a Class 2 deflector shield array and a Class A hyperdrive.
They would be escorted by thirty-six Star Hawk fighters; several of those pilots were married to their Kyteeri counterparts. When the signal to launch was given, pilots of both races and genders entered their machines and were moved into the launching bays. The fighters were placed within hyper-accelerator fields, which shot them out of the launch corridors like bullets being fired out of the barrel of a gun. In under a minute, a total of 140 starfighters were heading toward the unsuspecting Red Dragon Fleet of the Empire of Sath.
In the middle of the ocean between the Alder and Merdov continents, Admiral Vikor Sandet nodded as he looked over the blue expanse. His flagship, the God’s Tempest, was a 100-gun, ship-of-the-line and was also armored with plates of orihalcrum. Despite the additional weight, it was still capable of speeds of up to 12 knots, thanks to its mystical Sails of Heaven, which caught even the slightest breeze and was able to move the massive ship with ease.
The other ships in the Red Dragon Fleet consisting of gunships with an average of 30-100 cannons mounted on them, wyvern carriers, and smaller supply vessels. Only the Black Dragon Fleet carried more firepower than the Red Dragon Fleet. Admiral Vikor relied more on the Red Dragon’s superior speed and versatility.
As he watched the waves, his First Mate came up to him with the daily report.
“The wyvern carriers report that their scouts have not encountered any enemy ships, and they are going to make one more survey of the area before heading back.”
“Very good! We should be in sight of the Alder Continent within another five days or so. Subjugating Free Land shouldn’t take too long.”
“Why do you say that?”
“We are talking about a newly-formed nation on the Alder continent. There’s no evidence that they have any appreciable military forces. After all, we have not only the power of the Red Dragon Fleet but also the Black Dragon Fleet. Failure is not possible.”
“Admiral, what if that huge metal ship from the reports in Grevel, appears?”
“I find those reports to be extremely dubious. A lone ship that defeated the Green Dragon Fleet on its own? Ridiculous! And even if there was a glimmer of truth in that report, then we shall simply destroy it. It might be able to handle thirty ships from the Green Dragon Fleet, but the Red Dragons are far more powerful and experienced. We shall crush it like a man would crush an ant.”
Although the admiral was brimming with confidence, his First Mate was feeling a bit of uneasiness. He had lost a lot of friends when the Missouri had destroyed fifteen ships without being fired upon.
And unknown to the crews under Vikor’s leadership, they were about to be crushed like ants.
Some two hundred miles from the Red Dragon Fleet, Wing Leader Miriyo, call sign Byatta Prime, picked up the Red Dragon Fleet on her fighter’s long-range scanners. She also picked up fifty smaller signals, which indicated wyverns, possibly on a scouting mission. She then communicated with the leader of the squadron escort, which incidentally was her husband, Captain James Wittins, call sign Hawk Prime.
James acknowledged his mate and ordered his squadrons to clear the skies. The Star Hawks sped forward and locked onto their distant targets. Twenty-five starfighters launched two medium-range missiles each, which streaked toward their targets at Mach 5.
Wyvern Knight Bargos Mcalt yawned as he looked about. There was just nothing but open water. No sign of that metal ship from Grevel or any ship at all. He was about to use his magic communicator and signal for his squadron to return to their carrier, when he caught a glimpse of light reflecting off a surface in the distance. He wondered just what it was, and his consciousness faded away as the object suddenly closed the distance and engulfed him and his mount in a fiery explosion.
“What the Hell?!”
“What’s going on?!”
Other wyvern riders met the same fate as the missiles found their targets and turned them into brief, but intense balls of fire. In less than twenty seconds, all fifty wyvern scouts had been erased from existence.
“All enemy bogeys have been neutralized.” Captain Wittins announced. “Byatta Prime, you have a clear path.”
“Roger that, Hawk Prime. Byatta Prime to all units, commence your attacks! Lock on to the enemy fleet and… fire!”
Miriyo pushed the launch button and fired off all six of her proton missiles. The other Byatta fighters launched their missiles as well. A huge swarm of death dashed across the sky. They would reach the enemy fleet in less than a minute.
“Admiral! We have just received word from the carriers that they have lost contact with their scouts!”
“What? How can this be? They reported nothing was out there. What happened?”
“I don’t know sir but…”
The First Mate’s words were never finished as a bell was heard from above. It was the lookout who was positioned in the crow’s nest. He shouted out that a large number of unidentified objects were coming toward them from over the horizon at an ungodly fast speed. A few seconds later, the lookout saw what appeared to be large, metallic arrows. Then the God’s Tempest ceased to exist as a proton missile struck it dead center. The impact broke the ship in two before it was engulfed in a massive explosion, reducing it to a small debris field of wood, metal and body parts.
The other ships of the fleet met a similar fate as more missiles found their targets. Crews had no time to react as they were instantly blown to smithereens. Gunships, carriers and supply vessels were destroyed without mercy as thousands of sailors and soldiers were sent to a watery grave. The once mighty fleet of 620 ships was reduced to a paltry five. The surviving ships immediately began turning back toward the Merdov continent as the rest of the fleet was blown out of the water. There was simply nothing they could do.
High in the sky, a single Star Hawk fighter surveyed the results of the missile strike and reported that five of the enemy vessels, had survived, but were retreating. The pilot asked if he was clear to engage those ships and sink them, as he still had some missiles left.
On board the Yorktown, Admiral Tarhesse pondered for a moment, and then decided not to waste any more ordinances. Those remaining five ships were no threat to Free Land and were retreating. They may as well send word to their enemies that their invasion had failed. She ordered all pilots to return to the carrier. Once they were all back, her carrier force would head for New Pearl Harbor. Their role in repelling the Sath invasion was done. Now all they had to do was wait for the Missouri and the destroyer flotilla to finish off the job.
On the bridge of the Missouri, Lieutenant Visera relayed to the message to the captain, that the Red Dragon Fleet had been destroyed, and that the Yorktown strike force was heading toward New Pearl Harbor.
“Send my congratulations to Admiral Tarhesse for a job well done.” Mark said. “Have we made contact with Captain Vikes and the rest of the destroyer flotilla?”
“Yes sir. The destroyers should be within monitor range about now. We should be getting a visual momentarily.”
“Ah! There they are.” Reelan remarked as 10 images appeared on the main holo-viewer. They quickly came within visual range and flew in formation with the Missouri.
“Captain, the lead destroyer Johnston is hailing us.” Visera announced.
The holo-viewer changed from its usual map configuration to display an image of a man in uniform in his early 30’s.
“Captain Vikes, good to see you again.” Mark said as he and Reelan stood up and saluted.
Captain John Vikes and his First Officer, a female Catian named Vers, also stood up and saluted.
“Good to see you and Commander Reelan looking well.” John replied. “This will be our first mission together since Vega Four.”
“And I expect you and your crew to perform the same as you did at Vega Four.”
“I hear that you have a couple of observers from Atlans. I’ll bet they’re in a state of shock when we showed up.”
“They’ve been in a state of shock ever since we left New Pearl Harbor.”
In the main observation deck, Lieutenant Hodder and Sergeant Jans could only stare at the 10 strange vessels that suddenly appeared and were now flying in formation with the Missouri. The fact that they had traveled on a ship that could actually fly was shocking enough.
“What are those?!” Lenns asked in both surprise and excitement.
“Those are Vanguard-Class destroyers of the Star Alliance Fleet. Their firepower doesn’t match the Missouri’s, but they are still formidable and have the advantage of excellent sub-light speed and maneuverability.” Ensign Nehat answered as he took a sip of tea.
“Those are destroyers?!” Akar exclaimed. “Our own cruisers aren’t that big! And they can fly as well?”
“Yes, they have the same capacity as the Missouri to operate on the sea, in the air and in space.”
Both officers stared in amazement and disbelief. Lenns estimated that the main guns on the destroyers were comparable to the Missouri’s secondary guns. They were housed in dual-mount turrets and each destroyer had two turrets. If they were anything like the secondary guns of the Missouri, then it seemed possible to sink the 650 ships of the Black Dragon Fleet with just those guns alone.
At that point, Ensign Nehat received a message from the bridge via his communicator. He then called out to the two officers.
“Gentlemen, I have just received word from the bridge. We have located the Black Dragon Fleet some 650 miles southwest of our present position. In your terms that would be just over 965 kilometers. We will be landing in the water and engaging the enemy in 5 minutes.”
“You intend to engage them at that range?!” Lenns commented in surprise. “There’s no way your guns can reach that far!”
“On the contrary, they’re well within the range of the Missouri’s pulsar guns.”
“Yes. Those three main turrets. We won’t be using anti-proton beams, since the Captain thinks that’s far too excessive. We’ll be using kinetic rounds. Still, this will be the first time the Missouri has fired its main pulsar guns in anger since the end of our war with the Cryterians.”
“How is it possible to shoot a projectile that far?”
“Well, the basic principle is to use the pulsar guns’ magnetic accelerator field to propel the shell at hypersonic speeds, much like the old railguns and…” The Velor ensign paused for a moment as he considered the blank stares of the Missouri’s guests. “Ah, my apologies. I forgot the level of scientific understanding you possess. In the simplest of terms, we have developed a method that surpasses your current usage of chemical propellants, allowing us to fire projectiles faster, further and with far more destructive power.”
“You… don’t use gunpowder?”
“For those guns, no we don’t.”
“It’s all well and good that you can fire at longer ranges, but it’s meaningless if you can’t hit the target.” Akar pointed out.
“Oh don’t worry. Each shell has a special guidance system that will make trajectory corrections, ensuring it hits the target. Not to mention that we also possess a very advanced fire control system to make the proper calculations for maximum accuracy.”
“And the destroyers?” Lenns wondered.
“They decided to opt for anti-ship missiles.”
“What are missiles?”
As they spoke, the Missouri and the destroyers began to make their descent toward the water. They smoothly landed and held their position as preparations for the engagement were being finalized.
Six hundred fifty miles southwest of the Missouri…
The Black Dragon Fleet sailed along at full speed. Leading the armada was the 150-gun warship, the Annihilator. Standing on the deck was the fleet commander, Admiral Reckavar Black. He was a hulking brute with multiple scars on his body and sported an eyepatch. He was well-known for his brutality and had sent enemy fleets to the bottom and took few prisoners. He found this mission to subjugate a newly-formed nation to be beneath him as he expected little resistance. He had already told his crews that they were free to pillage and plunder the inhabitants once they had bombarded them into submission. Many of the sailors were anxious to get their hands on the beautiful, blue-skinned elven women that were rumored to be there.
Nearly every ship in the fleet was a gunship with an average of 100-150 cannons per ship. Sheer firepower was the fleet’s main characteristic. Reckavar cared little for shrewd tactics and maneuvers, as he reasoned that one only needed enough guns to pummel one’s opponent into oblivion. The admiral was expecting this latest mission to be no more than a simple chore. Once they arrived at the western coast of the Alder continent, Reckavar estimated that Free Land would fall within 3 days or less.
At that moment, an aide ran up to him with a piece of paper in his hands.
“What is it?”
“We have just received a message through the magic communicator! The Red Dragon Fleet has been destroyed!”
The aide began reading the message. “To Admiral Black, the Red Dragon Fleet was attacked by some unknown force. Lookouts spotted what appeared to be giant magic arrows, which could destroy a ship with a single shot. All ships could not evade these arrows as they seemed to follow their movements. Only five ships were left. The survivors are now returning to Merdov…”
“WHAT IS THIS NONSENSE?!” Reckavar bellowed. “ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT A FLEET OF 620 SHIPS WERE DEFEATED BY ‘MAGIC ARROWS?!’ HAS VIKOR BEEN DRINKING?! THIS MAKES NO SENSE!”
On the bridge of the Missouri…
“Captain, we have targeted the center of the Black Dragon Fleet.” Navigator Taichen announced.
“All destroyers have locked onto their designated targets and will launch after our first salvo.” Communications Officer Visera announced.
Mark Delan took a deep breath as his expression became deadly serious. “Send them all to the bottom… OPEN FIRE!”
The three main turrets of the ship traversed smoothly and efficiently. Within each barrel, a huge shell with fins was loaded and charged with energy. A field of power lit up the inside of the barrel, sending the projectile out the barrel at a mind-boggling speed.
On the observation deck, Lenns and Akar watched in awe as the pulsar guns fired off a salvo. Then Ensign Nehat motioned for them to watch the main holo-viewer, which depicted detailed and magnified satellite images of the Black Dragon Fleet.
Travelling at a speed of over Mach 8, each shell minutely corrected its trajectory as it sped to its destination.
A second after the Missouri fired, Captain Vikes and the other destroyer commanders gave the order to launch their missile barrages. Hundreds were fired off vertically into the sky and then plunged down toward their unsuspecting targets.
The Black Dragon Fleet…
“Send a message to the Empire and have those crews executed!” Reckavar commanded.
“Cowardice! That’s what I call it! That’s the only reason why those spineless bastards are retreating! All this nonsense about magic arrows and losing over 600 ships is just that… nonsense!”
“If it is all true, then let the gods strike me down!”
Those were Reckavar’s famous last words as the shell from Missouri struck his ship dead-center. The speed and impact of the projectile practically vaporized the Annihilator and all those aboard. Eight other ships shared the same fate as the shells plowed through them and reduced them to small fields of debris. This caused the entire fleet to go into a panic. To have their flagship and several others instantly destroyed was something they could not ignore as they began to frantically look for enemy ships.
The observation deck of the Missouri…
“Incredible! You actually hit them from that distance!” Lenns exclaimed as he and Akar witnessed the nine ships being destroyed on the main holo-viewer.
“Hmmm, it seems that even using kinetic shells against these types of targets is still considered excessive.” Ensign Nehat commented.
“How do these pulsar guns work? How are they so accurate? Is your government willing to share or sell us this technology?”
“I’m sorry but these weapons are neither for sale nor can we reveal how they work.” Nehat stated adamantly. “In any case, the missiles are about to finish off the Black Dragon Fleet. And no, we cannot sell nor show you how they work either.”
Akar and Lenns turned back to the holo-viewer, just in time to see the devastation that was about to unfold.
Minutes after the nine ships were destroyed, several of the lookouts pointed skyward and saw a swarm of unidentified lights diving down at them. They tried to take evasive maneuvers, but the strange lights seemed to follow their movements. Then the rest of the Black Dragon Fleet was enveloped in carnage as the missiles hit their targets, turning them into balls of fire. Like the Red Dragon Fleet, Admiral Black’s fleet ceased to exist.
On board the Johnston, Captain Vikes nodded as he received the report that the entire enemy fleet had been destroyed. He then received a hail from the Missouri.
“Missouri to Johnston…I’d like to commend you and the rest of the destroyer crews on the success of this operation. That was some good shooting, John.”
“You hit the bulls-eyes as well, Mark. We’ll be heading back to base now.”
“Next time you’re in Andromeda, I’ll buy you a round. Missouri out!”
July 23rd, 11 AE…
In the Council Chamber of Prime Directors…
“Well I certainly hope the Empire of Sath got the message not to make any more demands of us.” Viska commented. She and the other directors had finished reading the report on the success of the operation to repel the attempted invasion.
“Yes we did give them a very bloody nose.” Anida agreed, “However, I feel that won’t be enough to make them back off.”
“I agree.” Nasaak said. “With tyrannical governments such as the Empire, they tend to let their pride override their better judgments. They rule by fear and defeating their mighty fleets can make them seem less intimidating to those they forced their rule upon. They’re not going to let this go.”
“They are the ones who declared war on us.” Nerto reminded. “If they’re not going to back off, then we will have no option but to bring down the Empire of Sath.”
All looked to the Terran Prime Director for his opinion. Benjamin had remained silent for a long time while listening to the other Directors. Finally, he let off a tired sigh and nodded.
“So be it. If the Empire of Sath continues to threaten our people with enslavement and destruction, then we will defend our freedom and rights! The Empire started this war and we will finish it!”
With these words, the Star Alliance began to fully mobilize against the Empire of Sath.
To be continued…