April 23, 2567
Several brilliant flares bisected an asteroid; breaking it into two smaller chunks that crumbled into a sea of debris. A brick shaped, nine hundred meter long Assailant class destroyer, named Impervious, plowed through the cloud of rock, occasionally blasting the larger chunks with its point defense plasma cannons.
Far ahead from the grey giant was a small flotilla composed of commandeered starships and extensively modified freighters belonging to the Bragulan terrorist militia known as the Gamma-Sigma. The flotilla fired at the Impervious, sending five green K-bolts, all of which were intercepted by the Impervious' plasma cannons. The destroyer returned fire with its particle cannons, the white bolts of energy shearing through the asteroid field that encompassed both the Impervious and the flotilla and nearly making contact with the Gamma-Sigma starships. The destroyer fired another salvo, this time a combination of particle bolts and giant railgun slugs.
One of the super dense slugs made fatal contact with a GS starship, rendering it instantly disabled, the slug crashed through the shields and penetrated the hull with pure unadulterated kinetic force. The starship, which looked like a bunch of green, malformed bricks glued together, began fragmenting and spiraled out of control as its navigational and propulsion systems went haywire. A second later, it crashed onto an asteroid and exploded.
The flotilla returned fire, this time sending a withering stream of glowing K-bolts. The Impervious intercepted some, but the vast majority made contact with the destroyer's hull-hugging shields. The destroyer did not even slow down. It was impervious to the puny spitballs and returned fire with even more lethal force. Another railgun round clipped a starship by the conning tower, penetrating the meager shielding and violently shearing off the tower right after drilling through an asteroid obstructing the target.
"Captain Nomek, the asteroid field is not providing a good enough cover. These Sovereignty dogs will not call off their chase!" screamed the Bragulan helmsman of the besieged starship. "At this rate, we will not be able to rendezvous with the Federation ships.
"I know. But it might be just as well as we cannot allow the Sovereignty to uncover our alliance with the Federation. Vadrick, maneuver our ship, put some more rocks between us and the destroyer's guns, I do not want to die this day," replied the Nomek, the captain of the Bloodstone Freedom. Nomek was a short and pulp Bragulan, around 40 years old but looking much older due to the wear and tear of fighting an endless war with almost every other nation in the galaxy. "Damage Control, how hard have we been hit?"
"Hard, very hard. The conning tower is gone along with our active sensors and our primary K-bolter is disabled. Our shields are offline. Another hit and we could be in vacuum," came the reply of a nervous crewmember.
"Ozzel, what was that?" the ship was shaking but Nomek's control panel did not indicate any damage, nonetheless he still had to ask, out of reflex if not misplaced concern.
"The Hope is gone."
"What? No..." that was all Nomek could say as ice-cold despair crept in. The Hope was a freighter that was carrying medical supplies as well as displaced refugees, entire families who fled from various planets, wanting to flee from the oppression of the Bragulan Star Empire. They were all hoping to get a new chance at life in better, safer worlds and the Gamma-Sigma, one of the many Bragulan freedom-fighting organizations, was willing to lend a hand. But more than all of that, Nomek's family was inside the freighter. "No..."
"Incoming particle bolt! Brace for impact!" the helmsman screamed, but Nomek did not pay attention. There was a brilliant explosion right ahead of the Bloodstone Freedom as the incoming bolt just narrowly missed the ship and impacted an asteroid in front of the ship. There was another explosion, this time instead of obliterating a space rock, the particle bolt annihilated a Gamma-Sigma transport. "Captain, what are we to do? Captain? Captain!"
Nomek snapped out of his brief trance and did the only sensible thing left for him to do, which was to do his job and keep his men alive. "Now bring us near those two corvettes, we will have less chances of being hit when we are near them. Communications, tell Captain Tarsi that I am suggesting that we split up into groups and head to different vectors. Once we exit this asteroid field, we shall hyperjump to the nearest Gamma-Sigma outpost."
The Bloodstone Freedom, which resembled an angular, boxy and deformed cone, quickly moved towards the two nearby corvettes. One corvette fired an angry red laser beam towards the Impervious; the other fired a salvo of missiles. All of the shots found their mark but did practically nothing except annoy the captain of the destroyer.
"These Gamma-Sigma bastards are feisty. Launch the Peregrines, they'll get these bastards," the captain of the Impervious, Capt. Darren Janis, ordered as the holoscreen in front of him displayed more K-bolts, lasers and missiles explode on and around his ship. "God, why did I end up with such a shitty job? Helmsman increase speed. Gunnery, increase weapon's output. Let's turn these Bragulan scum into cosmic dust as soon as we can and go back home."
"Aye captain," a crewman acknowledged."And tell Captains Pratt, Sutherland and Herman to get ready, the Gamma-Sigma flotilla could see the openings at any time and decide to split up."
The Impervious plowed through more puny asteroids, guns blazing while trading the impotent Gamma-Sigma fire with massive particle bolts and railgun slugs. A K-bolt exploded on the Impervious' short and boxy conning tower while a laser beam seared its front shields. More K-bolts and lasers followed, as well as missiles and the occasional stray asteroid. Moments later, the Impervious' fighter bays opened up and deployed five squads of SF/A-44 Strike Fighters.
"Captain Nomek, Tarsi has agreed on your plan and has also informed us that the destroyer has launched fighters!" a monitor near Nomek's command chair displayed split screen images of more than a dozen fighters nimbly dodging the asteroids and heading their way as well as Gamma-Sigma corvettes and a frigate explode amidst particle bolt fire. The images undoubtedly came from Captain Tarsi's ship, as the Bloodstone Freedom was practically blind.
"Launch all of our SNTs, we cannot allow the fighters to reach us. Tell the pilots to stop the enemy fighters at all costs. Gods willing, they will delay the enemy fighters long enough to allow our escape," Nomek replied with professional calm, all grief replaced by a sense of duty.
"At once, captain," an ensign pressed a purple button on a panel and picked up a phone. "Fighters of the Bloodstone Freedom, you are to deploy and engage the enemy fighters, delaying them so we can make our escape."
"Ensign, give me the phone please. I wish to talk to my men," the ensign nodded his head and handed the device to Nomek, extending the cord to its limits as he did so. "This is your captain speaking. I will not lie to you. Once you are deployed, you will not be coming home, you will most likely die at the hands of the humans. All I am asking for you is to delay the enemy, so that our ships can have a chance at escape. No matter the cost, you must stop them from destroying our ships, taking our precious cargo and capturing the families that we are transporting. Make no mistake, if I could, I would turn this ship around and give those filthy humans hell, but we are carrying the cargo and we are carrying the families and that is why you must stop the Sovereignty, no matter the cost. May the Gods be with you. You all have the deepest respect of me and all of your comrades who will be watching you."
"Captain, our fighters have launched. So have Captain Tarsi's fighters."
"How about Captain Serv's?"
"His frigate is gone. I'm sorry."
"He was a good ma-" Nomek's eulogy was cut short as a missile, which came from the pursuing Peregrine fighters, violently rocked their ship. "Ensign, what has happened?!"
"A missile struck our engines."
"Status?" their shields were very low, almost anything could've given their ship fatal damage.
"My read out shows the damage was critical. The remaining engines are all in the red-zone, but we have not even slowed down, I do not know why. I'm running a diagnosis," hollered a crewmember, who was furiously tapping away on his console's keyboard, in the engineering station. "The diagnosis makes no sense, we should be dead in the water by now!"
"It does not matter. Valmik, what is the status of our fighters?" Nomek was very anxious in his command chair. They had just sustained a hit that should have been, under ordinary circumstances, crippling or fatal and now the rear of the ship (where the engines are located) was emitting a deafening screech which pierced through even the blast doors.
"They're dropping like flies, not just ours but also Tarsi's."
"We need to give them some cover fire. Our guns, are they-"
"Order the two corvettes beside us to lay down flak. K-bolts, torpedoes, lasers, anything!"
"They have acknowledged us and have begun shooting at the enemy fighters."
"One of our remaining engines has broken down!" blurted the crewmember at the engineering section. "No wait, it's back online. This doesn't make any-"
"Captain! The pursuing destroyer is firing torpedoes at our vicinity!"
A trio of torpedoes streaked through space, their velocity was boosted by both the mass-driver of their torpedo tubes and their own thrusters, whose ion emissions were trailing behind them. Their mothership marked two corvettes and a freighter as their targets, which of the targets each picked was up to their own discretion. The torpedoes' AI selected the targets that had the highest threat rating, the two corvettes who were currently attempting to shoot down Peregrine fighters tangoing with enemy SNTs. The corvettes, too distracted with the Peregrines, never noticed the torpedoes lock onto them. The corvettes never knew what hit them as the torpedoes accelerated to relativistic speeds and streaked pass the dueling fighters, slamming onto the shielded hulls of the corvettes and detonating a shaped anti-matter warhead. The brilliant white explosions sheared through the flickering shields and punctured their hulls, deforming the corvettes into superheated fragments.
"Helmsman, bring us to the vicinity of other ships, now! We do not want to be singled out!" Nomek knew that if they stayed in their present location, they would soon end up as cosmic dust.
Science Fiction /