Sep - 2 - 2002
Captain Maria Tallfeather leaned back in her padded chair, and glanced at the secondary screen. It showed the last ship of the refugee convoy escaping into hyperspace. As she adjusted the sling holding her broken left arm, a few strands of her curly brown hair drifted down in front of her eyes. The air was thick with smoke, as the crew rushed to put out the few electrical fires that had flared up from the damage her ship had taken. Turning back to the main screen, she saw several Gormarian battlecruisers closing on her damaged ship, firing their missiles as the range dropped. With a quick glance at the tactical screen, she gave her orders.
"Lieutenant Richards, turn us onto a heading of twenty-nine point thirteen, mark ten. Full military power. Midshipman O'Donald, launch counter measures, now."
Just as Maria issued her orders, Lieutenant Mackle turned and delivered a new report to her.
"Ma'am, I have just received an update from Commander O'Dell. Her party has just entered the flag bridge. She reports it is a wreck, and that Admiral Quinn and her staff are all dead. We are also down to fifteen missile batteries on the starboard broadside and nine on the port. Starboard energy mounts six, through nine and portside mounts fourteen through seventeen are destroyed. Boat bay three has been destroyed, and we have damage in auxiliary bridge number three. Shield generator two and three are back on line, and are recharging."
Thousands of kilometers away, a battered Gormarian destroyer drifted. Her stern was heavily damaged from laser fire. Her engines were dead.
Just past her, the shattered hulk of the Alderian dreadnought Bellerophon drifted. Plasma fires flickered all over the huge ship, as life pods and pinnaces shot from her damaged bays. Suddenly, the ship blew up with all the fury of an exploding star. One second the fourteen million ton ship was there, and then the next she was gone taking over half her remaining crew with her.
Lieutenant Richards turned to his computer pad as sparks flared nearby from several damaged panels. He started typing the new course change, even as he responded to his orders.
"Yes, Ma'am. Turning to twenty-nine point thirteen, mark ten. Going to full military acceleration."
On the main screen, a Gormarian destroyer drifted past. Suddenly her bow missile tubes started launching missiles at the Inflexible. The missiles quickly boost to maximum acceleration and detonate. Even as the Inflexible's stern lasers open fire, she was rocked as the missiles energies slammed into her shields, which dispersed the energy back into space.
"Targeting computer is locked on, and launching counter missiles now, Ma'am."
With the orders received in the missile bays, counter missiles race down the rails along both sides of the ship. With over half her launchers gone, there was no way the ship would last long. However, the longer they could hold out, the less likely the convoy would be caught. Scattered around the system, ships of the Alderian Navy were fighting for their lives. While further into the system, New Singapore was burning from nuclear devastation.
"Captain, we have received a communication from the Gormarian flagship Goeben. They have ordered us to lower our shields, and prepare to be boarded."
With a snarl of anger, and her blue eyes flashing their hate, she responded.
"Lieutenant Mackle, tell them it will be a cold day in hell before I surrender without a fight. All missile batteries target the Gormarian's lead battlecruiser and open fire. Roll the ship so the portside weapons can launch. Stern lasers take out that destroyer."
The starboard missile bays fire their first salvo of missiles, and then they lose sight of their target.
"Aye, aye, Ma'am. I am rolling the ship now."
Very quickly, the eight million ton battleship rolled over, and missiles belched out of her portside missile tubes. As the ship begun to righting herself, the starboard weapons once more open fire.
Maria issued more orders to the crew as the ship came level again.
"All missile batteries go to rapid fire. Damage repair crews to auxiliary bridge number three."
As the ship settled back onto an even keel, the missile launchers started spitting missiles out faster. Soon over three hundred missiles were closing with the Gormarian battlecruisers. While incoming missiles close with the Inflexible, her counter missiles go to rapid fire, trying to destroy as many of the incoming missiles as possible.
Her missiles started to detonate as they closed with the first target. One second there was a five million ton battlecruiser there. Then the next second she was gone, as the missiles attacking her overwhelmed her defenses, then the ships reactors let go, and she exploded into a ball of fire that was quickly snuffed out by the cold void of space. Several missiles were drawn away with the use of electronics counter measures, but ten missiles close and detonated. The lasers reached out and slam into her shields, which deflects it away from the ship.
Suddenly the Inflexible rocked from a direct hit on her bow. Crew personal went flying, slamming into bulkheads, chairs and into other people. Maria grasped her armrest and issued more orders.
"Get me a damage report? Launch more decoys."
While she waited for an answer, her thoughts drifted to her husband and son. How she would love to see them once more. Suddenly a voice echoed across the bridge, snapping her thoughts back to the present.
"Ma'am, turret one has exploded, we have heavy casualties in sections alpha one-nine and one-ten. We have collateral damage to turrets two and three. Missile batteries one through three off line and no answer to hails. Sensors say the bays are intact, could be the com units have been knocked out. Shield generator one is off line, and we have lost the scuttling charges. Decoys have been deployed."
Maria took a deep breath as pain shot through her broken arm and she issued her new orders.
"Thank you Midshipman Anderson. Reroute shield power through the number two generator and get damage repair crews working on restoring communications to the forward missile bays. We need those missiles, if we are going to continue to fight. Lieutenant Richards, new course forty-five point seven mark thirty. Target the next ship and open fire."
"Aye, aye, Ma'am, new course is forty-five point seven mark thirty. New target is the Gormarian battlecruiser Goeben."
The ship leaned a little to starboard as she made her new course correction. She left a trail of debris drifting behind her from shattered compartments. Suddenly Lieutenant Mackle shouted out a warning.
"Ma'am! That heading will take us near three more Gormarian battlecruisers. They are closing on a heading of three hundred and twenty point five mark negative thirty-four. If we hold this course, they will pass under us in fifteen minutes, and rake our bottom as they go."
Shock raced across Maria's face as her mind registered this new information.
With a quick glance at the tactical screen, she issued her new orders.
"Where did they come from? Change course to twenty-five point nine, mark ten."
"Changing course Ma'am. New course is twenty-five point nine, mark ten," shouted Lieutenant Richards over the explosions that detonated off the Inflexible's hull.
More air and water leaked from the ship, leaving a trail three kilometers long. Mixed in with the frozen water are bits of wreckage and the bodies of the dead. In the distance, a cruiser blew up in a silent flower of death and destruction. After being surrounded by six Gormarian cruisers and pounded into submission. No life pods were detected, but at this range, it would be impossible to tell.
"Ma'am, they just appeared out of hyper. It looks as if the invasion fleet has arrived. Sensors have fourteen Anderson class transports closing on the planet. Twelve battlecruisers and fourteen cruisers are escorting them. We are also the last Alderian naval ship still fighting. The cruiser Ajax just blew up with all hands. The only other Alderian units left are the repair facilities, and thirty-six fighters from the carrier Eagle."
Grasping the armrest of her chair with her good hand, she answered, "Thank you Lieutenant Mackle."
With a silent prayer to her family, she turned back to do her duty.
"New course is forty-five point seven, mark thirty. Let us see how many we can take out with us! All weapons bays open fire, independent fire."
Taking a deep breath, she continued, "Orders to the repair facility! They are to surrender. All the fighters are to attack the transports. Hopefully they can take out a few of them, and allow the troops on the planet to last longer."
With her hyper generators damaged, there was no chance of escape for the Inflexible or for her five thousand-man crew. She turned and started closing with the enemy. The first ship to die was the Gormarian destroyer. Hit by the stern lasers, she disappeared as the energy beams hit her fusion reactors, which exploded. She vanished in a ball of molten metal, taking over a thousand people with her. Then a Gormarian battlecruiser went up, as her weakened shields went down under a bombardment of missiles and lasers ... but she got her licks, in as well. The hits knocked out the Inflexible's portside shield generators, and destroyed her forward engine room. One laser punched into the bridge and the wreckage went flying.
Science Fiction /