Fly By


Tags: Ma/Fa, Science Fiction, Violent, Military, .

Desc: Science Fiction Story: Once the Swarm are in the system, how do we keep evacuating people from Earth?

Any resemblance between the content of this story or any of the characters depicted herein and real persons or events is highly unlikely and purely coincidental

Thanks for the editing help from (alphabetically) Brooke, deGaffer, Mulligan, Tomken and the Swarm Writers Group

Fourteen years after the Average Joes Defense Force Special On board 'Happy Hunting Grounds' Valhalla class cube ship One million kilometers from Lunar orbit

"Captain. We've received a message relay from Earth Command. They report that they have two small hive ships still on the loose close in-system, along with several escort types. They are cleaning them up, but cannot spare any more escorts for us. They advise that we not make orbit. Lunar Exit Station Copernicus is fully stocked and we can have all of them that we can get aboard in the available time." Lieutenant Edgar, the communications officer aboard the Happy Hunting Grounds, passed on the recording of the broadcast message that had streamed in on a one-way basis in real time. It had been recorded, as opposed to being listened to, due to the signal lag. Also, at the time, Colonel Jules, the Captain of the Happy Hunting Grounds, had been dealing with the complex hyperspace exit protocols for a Cube ship and its multiple escorts. Task Force Commander Commodore Arthur had already received the message.

"Very well, send an acknowledgement. Tell them I expect that we will do a fly-by extraction."

"Aye aye, Sir."

"Captain Jules to Task Force Command."

"Commodore Arthur here. Go ahead Captain." The Commodore was aboard Happy as well, but he was on the flag bridge. Even though Happy was a Navy Auxiliary ship, it had the room for a Naval task force commander and his staff, and the escorts had become very necessary in the home system during the last several months.

"Sir, I got the relayed message. It appears that we will have to do a fly-by extraction. If so, we will need the sweepers out front. It looks like a Bastille Day fireworks display in the upper atmosphere."

Captain Jules was referring to the large amount of debris from the most recent battles in the area around Earth and Luna. No less than three Swarm medium hive ships and their escorts had recently broken up in the vicinity. Unfortunately, Human losses were high as well. Pieces of ships, bodies and various missiles, ranging in size from grains of sand to fuel-expended two-ton nuclear missiles fired by the Swarm, were hitting the Earth's atmosphere like a chaotic meteor shower. The Moon had several hundred new craters from all the scrap impacting the surface. And, of course, there were large numbers of the same types of items moving on multiple vectors in various locations ranging from the vicinity of Earth all the way to the orbit of Mars.

The first Swarm Hive ship had arrived about two years ago. The accompanying scouts and non-hyper light escorts had been handily dealt with while a small ad-hoc task force centered on the Europa Class Cruisers Zaragosa and Dublin had ignored the escorts and annihilated the Volumna class recon hive ship that had exited in the vicinity of Saturn. No one had wanted word to get out of what awaited the Swarm in this system, so the attack was pressed in a lethal manner. Lethal to the ship and the entire crew of the Nagoya Castle, a newer Castle Class Corvette, which had gone too deep into Saturn's gravity well and had died along with its opponent. Additionally, all but three of the crew had perished aboard the Patrician Class Corvette, Waikiki, which had to be scrapped after the battle. Unfortunately, one hyper capable Sa'arm scout had escaped, so there was at least one group of Swarm out there that had a new entry on their mental maps. "Danger. Here be Humans."

Last year three more hives had come into the system. Two had been destroyed, but one had landed near the shores of Lake Victoria, in Africa. That fight was still going on.

On this trip, as on all recent transits, Happy Hunting Grounds had hypered into the staging area near Jupiter. The Swarm were currently ignoring the gas giants, which let the Navy establish refueling stations and staging areas there. The Swarm would emerge there sooner or later, but for now, they were generally emerging from hyper in the inner system.

Happy had done a 'fast' refuel, which consisted of using transporters to pump reaction mass gasses directly into the incoming fuel chambers, where force fields compressed them into the main storage areas. The method was considered too dangerous to use on a standard basis by the Naval bureaucracy, even though there had never been an accident while doing this and the SOP method of using tanker vessels to ferry the fuel from station to ship, followed by manually pumping from one tank to another had resulted in deaths and even the destruction of one ship. The AIs still did not understand why the bureaucracy did some things the old fashioned way. For their part, the station crews took pleasure in finding ways to declare mechanical breakdowns and downcheck fuel ferries or to find other problems that would allow them to use the safer 'emergency' method.

After fueling, Happy and the reinforced escort had taken a short hyper-speed trip around the Sun to near where the Earth Defense Forces were still finishing their most recent battle. They had been directed to emerge from hyperspace in a designated 'safe zone' over a million kilometers out from the Earth's hyper limit.

No hive ships had come close to being able to land during this skirmish, but a few small landing vessels had put down. Unfortunately for the Swarm, these had landed near Abilene, Texas. The Third Armored Cavalry Regiment from Fort Bliss had not left enough for anyone else to shoot at. Even they had been forced to hurry as every Texan with a rifle had clogged the roads in the vicinity. The 3rd ACR had been forced to settle for knocking down the three small ships as they tried to lift off with short crews. The civilians claimed over three thousand total kills from the three corvettes, but only one hundred bodies were ever located. Somewhat more truthful hunters talked about 'the one that got away'.

The Navy was taking its time with the remaining hive ships, which were sluggish but powerful. Slowly, the fleet was closing in on the hives, leaving no possible way for them to escape. The key thing was to not let them get far enough away from the planet to where they could engage their hyperdrives. If they did that, someone would have to chase them all the way back to where they came from and blast them as they emerged from hyperspace. It could be done, but it was risky. If the ship managed to get to a swarm colony that did not yet know about Humans and Earth then that was another enemy that would start throwing hives our way. The escape of even one Vacuna scout ship with only thirty units aboard might be worse than losing an entire human battle fleet.

There were several non-hyper combat vessels that had undocked from the hives, but they were no real threat to the system as a whole. If the 'Happy' were to get too close to them, though, it could be seriously damaged.

Commodore Arthur thought for a moment. "I agree, I'll notify the escorts. Have Happy pass the course you need to the Task Force."

"Yes Sir."

"Happy, contact Captain Herbert of the escort screen. Notify him that we will do a fly-by due to the hostiles in the area. I want his mine sweepers right in front of us."

{Aye aye, Commodore}

The three minesweepers were specially fitted Africa class destroyers. Currently the fastest ships in the Confederacy fleet, they could rapidly get into position to intersect any scrap on a closing course. Their primary weapons were a variant of a strange particle disrupter beam that had been used by the Confederacy eons ago as a mining tool. Basically they were disintegrators that turned enemy ships to elemental dust, once you got them close enough. The dust could still be lethal at high closing velocities, but the modified versions of the Africa had extremely powerful pressor screens in multiple layers. The dust tended to get diverted or deflected and some energy was imparted to it as well, resulting in the dust moving in another direction, and the unavoidable collision speeds were lower. As well, the Valhalla class ship had excellent screens of its own.

"Happy, give me a plot of hostiles in the area. I need to figure out the course for the maximum time in range of Luna."

The Captain considered and then highlighted areas of his display. "It looks like we can go straight through. If we take this chord here, we should be able to stay in range of the transporters for almost 750,000 kilometers. We are just over one million klicks out of range now, so what's our minimum time in?"

{Four thousand five hundred seventeen seconds at a maximum acceleration of ten Gs will place us just inside transporter range. We will be traveling at four hundred forty two kilometers per second relative to the lunar base. That will give us one thousand six hundred ninety seven seconds in range if we do not accelerate or change course during the transit.}

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Story tagged with:
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