The Swarm Cycle Universe Copyright 2007 The Thinking Horndog
(Thirteen years after the Average Joes Defense Force Special)
The story ‘Water, Water’ took place about a year earlier, so there are already Sa’arm on the planet, in Africa.
This happens at the same time as my story, ‘Fly By’. You may read either one first.
‘Earthat’ is the name the Confederacy has given to our entire solar system. It is the solar system where ‘Earth is at’.
The Sa’arm force dropped out of hyper just over one point four million kilometers from the Earth’s moon. They were almost fifty thousand kilometers above the plane of the ecliptic.
Three hive spheres, two recon spheres and their heavy escorts formed into an arrowhead formation and accelerated onto a straight line run, heading roughly past the moon and towards the planet on the other side. As the human defenders started maneuvering, the hive spheres started disconnecting and launching their light ships. At the three G’s of constant acceleration that the spheres were using, if the Sa’arm went straight for the Earth without slowing, they could be there in less than three hours. For a zero-speed, zero-distance intercept ending in an orbit around Earth, they would be there in just under four hours. Either way, the Confederacy Navy was waiting for them.
Flag Bridge, aboard CVA016, John F. Kennedy
“Admiral, CIC labels the five larger bogies as one Voluptas class Hive Conquest Sphere, two Virtus class Hive Colonizer Spheres and two Volumna Class Recon Spheres. The big one is half a billion tons. All five are deploying their light ships. If they all have full complements, by our most current information, total count will be sixty-three in-system lights as well as fifty-one hyper capable lights. The non-hyper, light ships consist of thirty-six Lima in-system attack fighters and twenty-seven Lactanus in-system corvettes. The hyper capable lights consist of thirty-three Vacuna class hyper capable scouts, nine Vaginatus hyper corvettes and nine Venti class hyper destroyers. The Voluptas has deployed a heavy escort of three battleships and nine cruisers. Each of the two medium spheres has deployed three battle ships and six cruisers. The recon hive ships have three cruisers apiece as well. Thirty-six heavies total.” Lt Jenkins looked up from his display panel. His face was pale in the bridge lights. The enemy had about twice the support ships than the earlier, limited scans at the Oort cloud had indicated. The admiral showed no emotions, but his flag lieutenant knew that he was worried.
“OK, ignore all that in-system stuff unless they come after us. Take down those lightweight hyper-capable ships. They are the only things that should be able to make it back out of the system. We let the Raptor and Semmes classes take out some heavies and then we’ll hit the big boys. Our lights can pick off the Limas and Lactani as the opportunity presents. Stupid naming system! Who makes an ‘attack fighter’ that is slower than almost everything we have and that has at least ten crew?”
The human task force was heavily outnumbered by total ship count and by tonnage. Earth was home, but there were a lot of important places to cover.
The day before yesterday, hyper drive sensors had detected transits in the region of the Oort cloud, roughly one light year out. The Sa’arm had formed up and waited almost a day before heading into hyper drive again. Confederacy ships had significantly faster hyper-drives than the Sa’arm ships did, with a speed of roughly twenty light years per day, as opposed to one light year per day for the big hive ships. The hive’s escorts were a bit faster than that. Unfortunately for the humans, the escorts and the scouts had all stayed with the hives. This meant there was no chance to defeat them in detail. For much of the past day, the enemy fleet had been shadowed in from their first hyper-space exit and rally point, with hyper-jump drones bringing the reports well in advance of the Swarm. A modified Archerfish was still trailing them, but it had very few missiles and had fired off nearly its entire complement of drones notifying the system of the impending invasion.
Confederacy ships also had much higher normal space acceleration rates, with some ships capable of hitting one hundred G’s of acceleration. The Confederacy had long had the means to make their ships that fast, but prior to the Swarm invasion and the recruitment of the humans, they had never thought that those rates were safe, or really needed. Gravitic compensators made it possible. Occasional compensator failures made it lethally dangerous. Warfare made it needed.
The Sa’arm’s highest acceleration rate was the twenty-five Gs that the Ventis could reach. The Venti was actually a copy of a captured Confederacy ship, refitted with Sa’arm weapons and now being used by the Sa’arm as a weak, but fast destroyer class. It could even hit thirty-two Gs in an emergency, but it only had weak gravitic compensators that negated about ten percent of the felt acceleration. No one had ever seen the Sa’arm using its full capabilities. The big hive spheres could only push up to five Gs in an emergency while their battleship and cruiser escorts could do only eight Gs. Nonetheless, in combat, quantity has a quality all its own. The Sa’arm outnumbered the Confederacy forces by two to one in actual numbers and much more in total tonnage. Only the two human carriers were as large as the Swarm battleships.
The Swarm formation started shaking out. As seen from the human fleet, the spheres themselves were in a flattened two-dimensional diamond formation. The Conquest Sphere was in the center of the diamond, with a Colonizer Sphere to either side, one Recon Sphere ‘up above’, and one ‘down below’. The heavy escorts were in front of the spheres and the lighter ships were deployed even farther to the front, except for a few which were trailing the entire formation. Each hive ship had one third of their scouts in the very front, one third just behind the light attack craft and one third in the rear. The biggest sphere had none of the light attack craft but it seemed to be using its larger, non-hyper capable corvettes in the same role. It also had a solid clump of destroyers and hyper capable corvettes in the center just ahead of the cruisers and the battle ship. The Colonizer Spheres used their non-hyper corvettes in a similar manner. To get to the spheres, you would have to fight through the entire length of the spear-point shaped formation.
The Admiral looked at his plot as if he was hoping for more friendly forces to just appear at his wish. The system forces had been scattered all over the system on patrols, training maneuvers, and posted at the gas giants when the first signals came in. Now they were straggling in, one squadron at a time, as fast as they got the news and could make a hyper transit. Finding nothing new, he casually gave the expected signal. “Signal to the flankers. Execute Plan W2 - Wolves - Harry the prey.’”
OR, you could already be behind and to the flanks when the Swarm dropped out of hyper in the first place. A squadron of six Semmes class missile cruisers in three divisions was trailing the enemy fleet from three sides, left, right and ‘above’. If they had been cars on the freeway, they would all have been one lane over in the Swarm’s blind spots. Per standing orders, they had each flushed their tubes of all four light missiles and the two heavy torps as soon as the enemy started dropping out of hyper. Now, reloading quickly, they got a second aimed salvo off with the missiles before the Swarm even realized they were there. The heavy torps had a lot more range and final speed but their launchers were slower to reload. With the Semmes’ huge acceleration advantage of seventy-five Gs, they then slipped out of the range of the spheres’ heavy weapons. The attacks had been done from just inside the missiles’ extreme range while on a parallel course. Their later missile attacks would require speed runs tangential to the Sa’arm fleet’s weapons envelope. This would only place the ships at risk during the moments of closest approach. Three of the Swarm in-system corvettes, a battleship and a cruiser were quickly destroyed and two more cruisers were seriously damaged by the first salvos. The largest sphere had also taken a hit and was trailing atmosphere and debris. True to their reputation, even in an ambush situation, the Swarm ships managed to knock out many of the incoming missiles with their particle beams and lasers, but one big torpedo had hit the hive sphere even after it was itself lasered and no longer accelerating. Several tons of scrap metal hit the sphere at one hundred kilometers per second. The half a billion-ton ship pressed on, now a bit lighter, accompanied by an expanding cloud of debris. One of the deploying in-system corvettes had taken another hit that would have smashed into its mother ship. The Colonizer Sphere took no damage from the nearby explosion, but the corvette was completely destroyed.
Also available were twenty of the newer ‘Raptor’ class medium cruisers. Designed from the ground up to fight hive spheres at the maximum possible closing speeds, their launchers contained no formal missiles. Instead, they carried ‘barrels’ full of ‘sand’, chaff, sensors and/or countermeasures.
.... There is more of this story ...