H.M.S. Swiftshire
Chapter 1: The Trap

The sleek delta winged shuttle slowly maneuvered, towards the H.M.S. Swiftshire. Colour Sergeant Elizabeth Journal grabbed the armrest as the shuttle banked suddenly. As she sat back up, her eyes were drawn to the only passenger of any notice. He was a tall dark haired individual, who stood while staring out the window at the ships of His Majesties Royal Navy. He was wearing the white uniform of a naval officer, his cuffs adorned with four silver bands, which proclaim that he was a captain in His Majesties Royal Navy. She had heard he was the new captain of the heavy cruiser H.M.S. Swiftshire, and that would make him her new commanding officer as well. On his chest, several medals gleamed in the light, but only one stood out amongst all of them. It was the gold star with clusters for gallantry, which could only be won on the field of battle. She hoped she could be as brave as he must have been when he earned his medals.

Captain Steven Tallfeather looked out the window at his new command, and slowly studied the twenty-one-hundred-meter, six-hundred-thousand-ton heavy cruiser that would be his home for the next several years. The sunlight gleamed off her sleek black hull, which bristling with gun ports, phased radar arrays, and missile batteries. Ships of miscellaneous classes were moored next to, and around her, while waiting for that sudden call to duty, in His Majesties Royal Navy. Sitting just past the stern of the great ship, a barge crane sat working on another ship.

The shuttle slowly banked to come around to the stern of the H.M.S. Swiftshire, and begin the final approach to the stern of the ship.

Steven was watching the shuttle approach towards the ships landing bay, when a burst of sparks suddenly caught his eye up near the aft gun-deck. 'What the hell!' Steven wondered what they were welding near the stern missile launchers. Why are they removing the missile turrets? For at this new angle, Steven could now see that the barge was moored next to his new command, and on the barge sat a complete missile turret. Steven studied the activity around the stern, and took notice of the new welds along the hull. He was making a mental note to had the area re-painted, when he noticed that two of the heavy laser turrets had far larger cannons then what should had been on this class of ship. From what he could tell, they looked like mark thirty-three laser cannons. However, Steven knew that was impossible. For that type of cannon, they only used aboard space stations, or super dreadnoughts.

"Sir, we will be docking in five minutes. Would you please take your seat?"

Steven turned and looked at the midshipman pressed into acting as a porter, as he moved down the aisle. With a nod of his head, Steven sat down in his seat, where something caught his eye in the mirror mounted to the bulkhead. Looking at the image of himself, his eyes were drawn to the gold star pinned to the left side of his chest. He started thinking of how he became the new commanding officer of the H.M.S. Swiftshire.

"Thank you, Sir." replied the midshipman as he moved up into the flight deck.

The main units of the Alderian fleet were running for their lives after thirty hours of combat. While the flagship, the H.M.S. Defiant dropped farther behind to cover their escape. The starlight gleamed off her shields as missiles were launched against the pursuing Gormarian fleet units. In the distance, the planet of New Dublin floated in the deep void of space.

"Captain we are receiving a communication from the flagship, they report they are under heavy fire from six Gormarian super dreadnoughts, and are requesting we fire our missiles from long range, while the rest of her battle wing escapes," reported Lieutenant Commander Coyne.

Steven turned back to his view screen, which showed the H.M.S. Defiant taking several more hits, which made her shields, flared for a second.

Commodore Wrineheart took a quick looked at the tactical screen and then started issuing orders to the crew.

"Notify the Defiant that the second battle-wing is turning to offer all assistance possible. Orders to all units of the second battle fleet. Turn and form a battle wall, and engage the enemy fleet. May God had mercy on our souls, and may the King forgive us."

"Tallfeather, bring missile bay four, five and six on line, and target the third Gormarian dreadnought. Then target missile bays seven, eight and nine against the fourth Gormarian dreadnought that's attacking the flagship, all other missile bays independent fire on enemy escort vessels."

"Aye, aye, Sir." Even as Lieutenant Commander Coyne was answering Commodore Wrineheart, Steven had turned to his missile pad, his military training taking over, and he started typing commands into his targeting computer as fast as he could. He had to get this right. His father was depending on him.

The orders went out and three hundred warships turn, and started to engage the enemy fleet at extreme range. The fleet quickly started to form a wall. Covering an area of a thousand miles vertically and horizontally, missiles started to fly from the heavier ships as the range between the two fleets slowly dropped.

The enemy ships continued to pound the Defiant, while the H.M.S. Nelson turned her massive broadside to the enemy ships. He soon got a target lock with his missile computer systems, as the other bays started launching missiles.

"Sir, missiles locked on target. I am ready to fire on your command, Sir," Steven said.

"Then fire, Mister Tallfeather!"

"Sir, launching missiles now," Steven said as he watched the indicators showed the missiles slide down the rails.

Within a minute, over four hundred missiles were flying towards the enemy ships. The missile bays went to rapid fire while the Defiant continued to take hit after hit. Missiles flew from and started detonating against the enemy ships, picking off the escorts as they tried to stop the incoming missiles. The escorts were sacrificing their own lives, to save their comrades in arms. While the Defiant continued to run for her life, she picked off any lighter units that had gotten to close with secondary weapons.

On the main screen of the H.M.S. Nelson, the Defiant turned, and unleashed all the fury of an exploding star out through her main laser batteries. Her targets were the two nearest enemy dreadnoughts. The beams lanced out, striking the damaged shields of the enemy ships. The shields flared and died. Then the Defiant fired again and more beams struck the bare hull of the Gormarian ships. Plas-steel bubbled and melted blowing glowing globs of debris out into space as the beams punched through the sides of the ships.

Explosive decompression started killing the crew, as the beams sliced deeper into the hulls of the ships. Then more lasers hit, ripped the engine rooms open caused the fusion reactors to explode, the plasma destroyed that was released quicly destroyed critical machinery. One-second two Star Fury class super-dreadnoughts were firing into the Defiant as fast as they could, and within the next second, both ships started to disintegrate under the deadly fire of the Defiant's main weapons.

Steven's screen suddenly went dark, as a massive flare of light suddenly appeared where his father's ship was fighting for her life, and Steven shouted, "Captain, I had a massive energy flared where the Defiant was positioned. Someone just blew up, but I am not sure who."

Before Commodore Wrineheart could respond, Commander Coyne interrupted him.

"Captain we are being hailed from the battleship Ranger, she is the flagship of battleship division number three, she said she will swing around and engage the furthest pair of Gormarian super dreadnoughts if we take the two nearer ones."

"What!" Commodore Wrineheart said, and then continued, "Commander Coyne, order her away. She cannot survive against that type of firepower. Tallfeather get me some sensor data. Is the Defiant still there?" Commodore Wrineheart asked.

"Sir! The Ranger reports she has taken engine damage, and cannot escape, so Captain Vickerman is willing to sacrifice her ship and crew to save the Defiant. We are also receiving a communication from the light cruiser Mountbatten. They report their oxygenic reactor has been destroyed, and they are losing air fast. So they are abandoning ship, and heading for the nearest friendly vessels."

"Scanning now, Sir," Steven said as he started a sensor sweep of the battle area.

Very quickly, they pick up the battle beacons of the Defiant. With a surge of relief, he turned and started issuing his report, "Sir, I had the Defiant's battle beacons on sensors. She's still alive and fighting."

"Very well, have the escort destroyer Jacob pick up the Mountbatten survivors, and to the Ranger, tell them good luck, and God bless, they will not be forgotten for their sacrifice. Praise the maker she is still there. Bring the Ranger up on a secondary screen." Commodore Wrineheart said as he took a deep breath.

Commodore Wrineheart was just about to start issuing more orders to the crew, when the main screen cleared and a battered Defiant appeared. Her flanks were shredded by damage, spewed air and water from the battered holes in her side trailed behind her for over three miles, but her main weapons continued to fire into the enemy.

Commodore Wrineheart looked at the screen, and said, "Orders to the fleet start closing with the Gormarian's and orders to the first battle-wing to join up with us."

On a secondary screen, the H.M.S. Ranger turned and started closing with the Gormarian dreadnoughts.

"Aye, aye, Sir." replied Lieutenant Commander Coyne as he turned to his communications screen, where he started sending Commander Wrineheart new orders.

Steven watched as his ninth wave of missiles left their launch tubes, traveling inbound towards the Gormarian ships. On the main screen, the Defiant continued to open the range between her and the Gormarian's. Soon the missiles streaked by the Defiant, and started detonating against the enemy ships. Suddenly everyone was shocked when the Defiant's engines faltered from a direct hit, one minute she was there. All twenty-five million tons of fighting spirit, and then she was gone, blown away with all the fury of an exploding star and twenty thousand men and women perished in the fiery hell she had briefly become.

Even as the Defiant disappeared into a ball of flames, inbound missiles started dying, but there were far too many targeted on the two forward Gormarian super dreadnoughts.

Steven watched his missiles streaked towards the enemy ship as the Defiant disappeared into a ball of molten metal and flames. A silent scream raced through his mind, as tears streamed down his face, for his father had been the commanding officer of the H.M.S. Defiant, and the Admiral of the Alderian fleet.

Steven jumps from the hand that touched his shoulder, he turned and looked up into Commodore Wrineheart's face.

"Steven. I am sorry for your loss." With a squeeze of Steven's shoulder, he walked back to his command chair talking the whole way, "We were betrayed, it's the only logical reason, space is huge and the Gormarian fleet was waiting for us. There is no way they could have known where we were going to hyper out for our attack on point Hope."

"Thank you, Sir. He will be avenged, and if there is a traitor, I swear I will find him or her, and kill them. I swear this over my father's grave."

Even as Steven replied to Commodore Wrineheart, twenty of his missiles from the ninth wave detonated.

The lasers hit the weakened the shields, causing them to flared and die. The generators overloaded and exploded as they tried to draw more power to them. Then more missiles started detonating, the laser beams penetrated deep into the hull of the enemy dreadnought.

The beams punched through the sides causing explosive decompression. Plasma fires flared up all along the damaged parts of the ship, killing crewmembers where they lay wounded in the rubble of the great ship.

More missiles detonated against the enemy ship, and the hull started to rupture, sending gasses and body parts into the cold void of space, even as the ships lasers and missile tubes fell silent, more lasers impact on the side of the ship ripping more holes into her flanks.

'Yes, I will have my revenge, burn you sorry pieces of shit. You wanted war! I will give you war!' Steven thought as he made his report, "Sir, I report thirty hits on the third enemy ship, I estimate she has taken heavy damage to her port side weapons and sustained heavy casualties."

The ship suddenly turned over onto her starboard side, bringing the undamaged shields against the incoming Alderian missiles. She then started to turn away from the incoming missiles that continued to streak in, as the missiles detonate, her stronger shields absorb the energy.

Steven was watching his missiles impact along the enemies flank, and said, "There she goes, Sir. She's turning and rolling her starboard side to us." While Steven was making his report, fifty-two missiles of the eleventh and twelfth waves detonated against the fourth enemy dreadnought. These missiles had a shorter flight time and were able to weave around to the other side of the ship, where the heavy laser warheads exploded. The lasers reached out and touched the Gormarian shields from all sides. The shields flickered and flared from the pounding, and then they started dropping, all over the great ship. Shield generators exploded, causing hull ruptures from the explosions. Then the shields went down, even as her missile tubes continued to pump out missiles as fast as her auto launchers could cycle, but with no shields, she was a doomed ship.

Suddenly one of the incoming beams touched one of the missiles as it was leaving the launch tube. The missile exploded into a ball of flames, and destroyed the anti-missile defense in that area. This allowed the last five missiles in the barrage to detonate unmolested. The powerful beams of death penetrated the plas-steel armor and continued into the missile storage bays striking stacked missile fuel cells. In a chain reaction, thirty-five hundred missiles exploded. The ship lurched to the side as plasma fire raced down the corridors smashing the blast doors into wreckage. Sudden decompression ripped through the ship and then the reactors let go, the ship exploded into a ball of flames and was quickly extinguished by the cold void of space.

"Sir, massive damage against the fourth enemy dreadnought," before he could continue the enemy ship disappeared in a sudden flash of flames, and he continued, "There she goes, Sir." 'Father here comes the first enemy ship, I swear to you I will lay more of them at your feet. Everyone's eyes were drawn to the main screen as the eighteen million ton ship exploded into a ball of fire, and fourteen thousand men and women perished.'

Steven looked over his shoulder, and said, "Sir, one Torrent class dreadnought damaged, and one Star Fury class super dreadnought totally destroyed!"

"Well done Steven, now let's help the Ranger. To all ships of the fleet, open fire, I repeat, open fire, local control."

Even as the Nelson was engaging her new targets, the Ranger was taking her turn. Slowed because of her engine damage she was not able to help the Defiant. So she targeted her fury on the nearest enemy ships and launched her missiles at them, as they streaked in and detonated, the two Star Fury class super dreadnought turned their weapons onto her as the wreckage of the Defiant drifted away.

The Ranger flipped around, turning her broadside to the enemy, and started pumping out missiles as fast as she could. Every one in the fleet knew the Ranger could never survive, for she was a battleship going up against two super dreadnoughts. She was out massed and out gunned eight to one. They were soon proved right within just minutes. One enemy dreadnought had taken minor damage, while the other only suffered moderate damage.

Even as they were taking damage, they unleashed their weapons onto the Ranger, leaving her a burning wreck in space. With air leaking from hundreds of wounds, internal force fields snapped on. Her crew rushed to abandon the stricken ship. While others rushed to pull the mangled bodies of the injured from the broken hulk, trying to save as many as they could.

"We need to help the Ranger! Helmsman, turn us three degrees to port! Steven, open fire now!" Commander Wrineheart said.

"Aye, aye, Sir. Targeting missile bays four through fifteen on the enemy dreadnoughts, and engaging now." Steven started executing his new orders while the laser turrets were picking off the Gormarian escorts that had wandered to close.

Within minutes, three destroyers and a light cruiser had been obliterated, and several others damaged, and at the same time, missiles were launched from their tubes.

Midshipmen Jackson suddenly shouted a warning across the command deck distracting several key people from their duties, "Sir, I had a hyper wake coming in on a direct heading from home."

Even as the young Midshipmen was making her report the third and fourth battle wings of the Alderian home fleet dropped out of hyper, right smack dab into the middle of the Gormarian fleet. Collision alarms sound throughout both fleets, several ships physically collided and disintegrated as their shields flared and die, within seconds over sixty ships were destroyed and hundreds damaged. Even though surprised, the Alderian Navy did the job it was trained for. Very quickly, missiles were streaking out and touching the closest enemy ships with nuclear destruction. While lasers did the same, and the Gormarian ships started dying faster then the Alderian fleet.

Aboard the Gormarian Super Dreadnought G.N.S. Sevastopol, Admiral Bohn watched as the Alderian flagship vanished into oblivion. "Now we have them, Helmsman set course twenty-three mark fourteen. Ensign Wiese, target the H.M.S. Nelson, with all missile batteries. When she is gone the Alderians will have lost both of their command ships."

"Admiral Bohn, the cruiser Admiral Nakhimoff has detected several command beacons from the H.M.S. Defiant!" replied Lieutenant Commander Erwin Marx.

"Thank you Commander Marx. Commander Grupp, send these orders to the light cruiser Emden. They are to pick up as many of the command beacons from the Defiant as possible. One of them should hold our spy and his hostage."

"Aye, aye, Sir. Sending new orders to the Emden." before he could continue, he was interrupted by Ensign Wilhelm Franz.

"Sir, I had a double hyper trail coming in from Alderia, it's huge. There's no way I can estimate how many ships are in it." Before he could answer the Ensign, Admiral Bohn was interrupted again. "Sir, they are emerging now."

Admiral Bohn watched as his carefully laid plans were shattered by the emergence of two undamaged battle wings, and he said, "To all ships break off and head for home."

Within seconds of dropping the hyper engines, several dozen ships were destroyed and hundreds more damaged by the Alderian fleet.

"I don't know what the home fleet is doing here, but to all ships launch all fighters, and close the range. Steven I want you to continue to engage the enemy dreadnoughts attacking the Ranger," Even as Commodore Wrineheart was issuing new orders, the H.M.S. Nelson took several hits which cause minor damage. Distracted by Midshipmen Jackson's outburst Sub-Lieutenant Andrew Brian misseed the missiles that came in. The hits are serious, but not severe, destroying two of the three reserve command towers. Then the most serious blow to the ship was delivered. The missile streaked in, bobbing in all directions, as it flew over the midsection of the ship it detonated. The beams of death shot out from the laser warhead, even as its tail section was destroyed by the point defense, but it is far too late. The missile had found its target, the main bridge of the H.M.S. Nelson, their most valuable asset.

Steven was turning to obey Commander Wrineheart's orders, when the explosion burst through the starboard bulkhead shredding Commodore Wrineheart and Lieutenant Commander Coyne. Pieces of hot metal flew around the room, ricocheting off the walls. Several more crew were hit and killed. A sliver no more than six inches long punctured through Steven's left thigh, just missing the femur. It passed through the titanium frame of the chair and embedding into the plas-steal floor.

The sensors in the battle armor register the damage, and they took precautions to keep him alive, automatically injecting Vixertrin into his system. Designed to help stop blood lose, and to speed up the natural healing process. While at the same time, his armor releases a sealant over the damaged area of the armor. Steven felt severe pain shoots through his body. Even in great pain, he turned and followed his academy training to the book.

He automatically switched on his communications board, and tried to contact battle two, just as he made contact with the reserve bridge, the medic's burst onto the main bridge, where they started administrating to the wounded. Distracted for a second, Steven missed the laser beam that passed through auxiliary bridge number two and the explosion that followed, which destroyed the room. When he turned back to the view screen all he got was static. Not knowing what has happened, but fearing the worst he switched channels and contact battle three. Again, he received no answer. So switching to the last emergency bridge frequency, he finally got an answer, but it was grim news.

"This is battle four, Midshipman Heart here."

"Midshipman Heart, this is the Lieutenant Commander Tallfeather on the main bridge. Get me Lieutenant Commander Woods, if he's busy tell him I can't contact battle two or three."

"Sir, Commander Woods is wounded and has been removed to medical, I am the only officer here still combat efficient. I can see the remains of battle two and she has been completely sheared off from her pylon. Also I was talking to Midshipman Chi Low of Battle three when they were hit. I haven't regained contact with them, but I did see the explosion that followed. If anyone is alive in there, it would be a miracle. Battle four has taken some hits, but we are still combat effective. What do you want me to do, Sir?"

"Stay there, I will send help to you when possible." Scared and not knowing what to do Steven started to turn on the ship-to-ship communications and started to issue a call for any senior officer to take over the fleet. Then he remembered what his father said to him on the day he received his commission as an officer in His Majesties Navy.

Steven watched as his father approached him from across the great hall of Sandhearst Navel Academy. Coming to attention, he waited for his father's salute, which was quickly returned.

"Father, I would like to thank you for taking the time to be here for my graduation. I know you are very busy fighting the war."

"Your welcome Steven, I had never been more proud then see my son follow me in my footsteps, only if your mother had been here to see you receive your commission."

Steven watched as the sadness of his mothers death rushed across his fathers face. Killed when she took her damaged battlecruiser against several enemy battlecruisers at the battle of Singapore.

"I miss her too father, I only wish she could have been here. I think she would have been proud too," Steven said.

"I know she would, and I know you miss her. Steven, I have a little advice for you if you wish to hear it."

"Father, you know your advice is always welcome," Steven said with a warm smile at his father.

With a smile, he continued. "Good then lets sit down."

As Steven sat, his father continued with what he has to say, "Son, in battle, orders may seem to be issued in haste and confusion. The worst type of confusion is the loss of a senior officer. My advice to you, my son, is this. If you ever encounter a situation where this occurs, just step in and take over until relived by a superior officer. Just remember this. There are men and women who are looking to you to lead them just as you look to the ones above you. Just because you had your commission, it does not make you an officer. An officer leads by example and respect. Respect must be earned. It cannot be awarded like a prize."

"I will do as you advise, Sir. I just pray it is never needed, but with this war lasting for so long, it will probable happen."

"It most certainly will. Now I promised you a lunch when you graduated."

Steven snapped back to his surroundings when the Nelson lurched from another direct hit. He turned on a ship wide communication even as more ships continued to die on both sides.

"This is Commander Tallfeather. To all hands, Commodore Wrineheart, and all senior officers are dead or wounded. Therefore, at this time I am assuming command of the ship. I know you are scared, but obey the orders given to you, and let's kick some ass."

It was at this time he assumed command of the fleet, and continued to engage the enemy fleet as ordered by Commodore Wrineheart.

"Midshipmen Landcaster take over missile control, Midshipmen Anderson you have communications. Midshipmen Anderson, send these orders to all surviving units of Battle Wing One. I want them to swing around and hit the Gormarian fleet on the left flank. While Battle Wing Two closes to point blank range, and gives them our heavy lasers right in their faces. Also send some help to Midshipman Heart in battle four."

"Aye, aye, Sir." replied both Midshipman's as they jumped to take over their new duties. Soon Battle Wing One had flanked the enemy, while Battle Wing Two had closed to point blank range. Within seconds both sides started loosing more ships, but now the enemy was out numbered by three to one in heavy ships and two to one in lighter units. Soon it is over as the enemy ships started to flee, or are forced to surrender due to battle damage.

Aboard the Gormarian Super Dreadnought G.N.S. Sevastopol Admiral Bohn watched as the Alderian fleets closed with the remnants of his three fleets.

"Admiral Bohn, the first two battle wings are closing with us. We just lost the super dreadnoughts Prinz Eugen, Baden and Kaiserin. We had also taken damage to our engines. Three of our five hyper generators had been destroyed. If we try to run even their slowest ship could catch us," replied Commander Grupp as he continued receive damaged reports from around the ship.

"Commander Grupp, has the Emden finished her mission?"

"Yes Sir, she has just now reported that her mission was completed, and is now heading for home with her cargo."

In a weary voice, Admiral Bohn turned and spoke to Commander Marx, "Commander Marx, please open a channel to the H.M.S. Nelson, get me Commodore Wrineheart. Tell him I wish to discuss terms of surrender. Also, order as many ships as possible to run for home, I want no heroics to save us. Get as many crew personal as possible into the pinnaces and send them to the carriers."

Commander Marx looked as his commanding officer, the proud man was beaten and it looked like he wasn't handling it well, and said, "Aye, aye, Sir. Contacting the H.M.S. Nelson now."

Within minutes, he was talking to the H.M.S. Nelson where he learned that Commodore Wrineheart is dead, and they had been beaten by a mere Lieutenant Commander.

"Sir, we are receiving a communication from the Gormarian flagship. They wish to speak with Commodore Wrineheart to discuss terms of surrender for his damaged ships."

"Midshipmen Anderson, send this, Commodore Wrineheart is dead and there are no terms, just unconditional surrender of all his ships, sign it with my name."

"Aye, aye, Sir." Within minutes of the Gormarian admiral issuing his orders, ships started striking their shields, while enemy fighters return to their carriers after dumping their remaining weapons.

"To all Alderian units. This is Lieutenant Commander Tallfeather of the H.M.S. Nelson. Start boarding the closest enemy vessels to you, and begin initiating repairs. Also, send out search and rescue units to pick up as many survivors as possible. Soon as this is completed we shall head for home."

Within hours, the fleet was headed for home, towing those ships that had been to heavily damaged or were captured. The losses were staggering; twenty dreadnoughts destroyed, including three of the four flagships, with sixteen more damaged. Twenty-nine battleships destroyed, and fourteen more damaged, with over two hundred lighter units damaged or destroyed, the loss of life was staggering. The cost to the Gormarian's was even heavier, forty dreadnoughts destroyed or captured, including all eight of their super dreadnoughts. Along with four hundred lighter units destroyed, captured, or running for home.

Six days later, the battered fleet limped into the Alderian system, and was soon being hailed from the admiralty. Steven started to make his report and he watched, as Admiral Kincaide was shocked as he learned the news.

Steven was then ordered to report to the Admiralties office, where he will make the rest of his report, to the Admiralty in person, and with testimony from senior captains, Steven was promoted to the rank of captain second class. At the same time, he was awarded the second highest medal in the empire, the gold star with clusters for gallantry in the face of the enemy.

"Sir, we are now docked." At the intrusion of his thoughts, Steven looked up at the porter, and then out the forward window, where he noticed the ivory painted landing bay.

Edited by MadCujo

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