”Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”
The distant sunlight made the imperial grey of Hoscians ships glow. The distant Royal Navy warships’ hull was partly concealed by their own shadow, occasionally glowed up by the firing of guns and missiles. Sometimes they’d be covered in the orange light produced by the demise of one of their fellow ships, throwing the shadow onto the other side of the ship. Hoscian watched coldly and observed the defensive way the enemy formation was set up.
”Focus fire on all of those seven interdictor ships.” Hoscian commanded, ”Send frigates forward in a spearhead and launch a volley of missiles and fire our torpedoes simultaneously. Have our fighter wings go in before them to act as cannon fodder for their interception systems. Send a request for the others to do the same.”
His communications officer talked into the comms: ”Requesting strike craft wing backup in a forward saturation attack to cover for missiles. Over.”
Hoscian saw torpedoes slide out of their tubes and vertical launch bays open to deliver their nuclear payloads to the enemy. Strike craft roared past his bridge in large V formations and took point. It was all done in a bureaucratic and organized manner. A way that didn’t betray the panic that was going on inside the TIE capital ships, not being able to shoot back.
He was looking through the artificial window of his bridge, marvelling at the utter size of the TIE star dreadnought that stood in his path. Old, but still fearsome. The garbled comms spoke from Admiral Blue’s ships. It was a message from one of his sensor ships detecting an incoming threat.
”Incoming missile volley. DST, minus 0.2 AU +3 north, +5 autem, +12 east, T-minus 8 minutes. Over.”
His communications officer responded, ”Affirmative, enemy launch confirmed. Over.” He looked up at his admiral awaiting orders.
”More power to point defense lasers.” He said, ”What’s their target?”
”Unclear, sire. Attacking all battlegroups. Limited spread indicates single targets.”
”Most interesting. Move our destroyers and heavy cruisers to the back of the formation and keep corvettes covering their sides. Move this ship forward, it can take the hit.”
His ships still pressed the attack, the deafening sound of coilguns and autorailguns and the shaking of the ship had gotten familiar and Blue barely noticed except for each main battery barrage. The main gun that lay beneath the bridge tower was so unfathomably enormous that every time it fired, it shook remains of ice and dust off the ship and made the whole 7 km long hull recoil. It lobbed more shells into the void together with his support of cruisers and destroyers. Main batteries tore through a Victory-class, its hull shrivelled up from the kinetic impact. The nuclear payload went off and the inner detonation deformed and warped the ship’s burning hull. Its neighbouring ship, a Nova-class, attempted to make a hard starboard turn. As it rotated around, two main railgun shells hammered into it achieving full penetration and coming out the other side. The light flickered off and escape pods launched in desperation. By the Executor star dreadnought, a main battery shell from the HMS Pride missed its target. Its manoeuvring thrusters pushed it off to the side, striking an imperial cruiser, completely annihilating it and leaving nothing left but debris.
a The enemy's most potent long-range firepower would now arrive. The missile barrage he expected to hit his larger ships zoomed past him. Streaks of bullets were filling space with lead as lasers tracked the missiles with pinpoint accuracy. Their grey trail of smoke betrayed their targets. There were 7 groups of missile trails and thus 7 concentrations of missiles. Blue remembered he had brung 7 interdictors and deducted that they must be their target. But it was all too late. He turned his body around with a stern softness, watching as the torpedoes struck every interdictor in his fleet with precision, slamming into them one after another. Like a continuous explosion being replenished by each missile strike.
7 interdictors down. Hoscian watched his information feed and the 3D holographic battlefield map. The red-marked interdiction area decreased significantly.
”Ready my fleet's hyperdrives and set a course 40 degrees port side.”
The warships of Hoscians strike groups engines burned as he began the manoeuvre.
”Time it with arrival within heavy plasma battery range and keep them spooled. Request the magnet to shift our exit point to their flank the moment we enter hyperspace.”
Hoscian smiled to himself as he waited. This was his purpose. He looked back at his memories as a teenager, aspiring to be a great military leader. It felt surreal that he was here now. And a great military commander he was. If only old ‘admiral’ Aldrag wasn’t in command over the rest of the fleet. He was inefficient, slow and more of a politician than a commander Hoscian thought. His death was expected, and with it, a promotion for Hoscian. Though this victory wouldn’t come at a loss. That damned Executor dreadnought would be lost in the process and Hoscian would have to command fleets of whatever he had at his disposal. Yet this disadvantage only stood to balance out his advantage, his mind.
As the battle raged on and more TIE ships were disposed of, they reached a milestone in their advance. The two-thirds of the TIE capital ships that remained had arrived within medium range and immediately opened fire with their heavy plasma cannons with the giant FTL magnet in the background. As they reached the GBE ships their plasma shields came up to defend against them. At this range, the plasma had dissipated to such a degree that when hitting the ceramic armour plating of the Royal Navy ships, it simply left a scorch mark with no significant damage. The brunt of TIE’s firepower at the moment were the frigates that were diving in and out of close range. Their volleys of plasma devastating and gutting smaller GBE escorts with pure thermal energy. Now that they were closer, admiral Blue had clearance by protocol to unleash the main weapon of the HMS Pride. The spinal particle launcher, the Liberator, had power funnelled to it from the Pride’s abnormally large reactor. As it was charging he witnessed one of the TIE strike groups disappear into hyperspace. They accelerated into what seemed to be nowhere. But suddenly a light struck the battlefield. He witnessed the whole strike group be ripped out of hyperspace, breaking a rift between the dimensions and being thrown out precisely behind the fleet section covering Blue’s starboard side. He looked to his right, seeing the far smaller TIE strike group, of what he assumed were 3 cruiser-sized vessels with support, brawl it out with the HMS Principality’s escorts of 15 cruisers. It was a close-range duel. The Royal Navy ships attempted to rotate themselves to face the TIE ships but plasma bolts were being catapulted at their rear. The glowing bolts smashed into the behemoths and lit them up with explosions going over their shields and surface. Main batteries were fired and tore through TIE ships. However Blue witnessed multiple heavy plasma batteries tear into the thrusters of GBE cruisers and destroyers as they were turning, filling them completely with destruction. Fire oozed out of all possible exits: windows, cannon barrels, radiators. Multiple capital ships were laid to waste before the ships could turn towards them. The HMS Principality turned its broadside towards the TIE fleet and unleashed its hundreds of guns onto the far outnumbered TIE fleet. They began chewing through the surface of the Nova-class capital ships, while the enemy's plasma bolts were being hurled and knocking out the guns and radiators of the heavy cruiser. Torpedoes were exchanged on both sides, taking out entire ships and hundreds of souls. The Sunrise-class and Eclipse-class cruisers turned their bows at the enemy and unleashed their lances at the enemy. Blue strings of light cut through hull like butter. The enemy took the change and unloaded plasma right into the bows of the cruisers, penetrating right through and crippling several ships. All this chaos and destruction by just a single strike group. The strike group recognized that they were at the disadvantage now. They drifted away and made a second hyperspace jump back into the TIE main formation. Blue, who was shocked, took immediate action.
”All Anrillia-class escort destroyers and Sython-frigates go as our rear guard now! One rear guard by each section of the fleet. And get us as many casaba howitzers onto our flanks as possible. And I want all our interdiction nodes out now.”
”Adjusting fleet positions, sire.” Fleet coordination answered as he began hastily repositioning the ships on his display.
The ship’s onboard battle AI chimed in with a masculine basso voice:
We have entered optimal range of the enemy for a lance volley, sire.
”Very good.” Blue said, coldly. ”Initiate firing sequence for the liberator and all other spinal weaponry of this battlegroup.”
Affirmative, sire. Spooling spinal particle lance.