|All Hands to War
| It was the opening days of the conflict, mobilisation of the allied
reserves had forced the Republic to declare war while they still held the advantage over
homeworld. Overnight, the skies erupted in combat as fleets engaged eachother in running
battles near the moon, while planetside, armies mobilised for combat all across the globe. The
battle would be fought from one end of the system to another, and amidst all of the chaos,
a grey hulk drifted along its orbit around the sun, centuries-old systems passively
scanning for potential threats . . .
| Captain Artan shielded his eyes as the ship's explosion filled the bridge view screen. The Heavy Destroyer had taken the full brunt of a long- range torpedo attack by the enemy and had paid the price.
"Damn it communications, where the hell is our fighter cover?"
"None available Captain, the fighter groups from the 5th Flotilla have all been destroyed, the enemy has gained fighter superiority in the area." As if on cue the hull reverberated from the impacts of fighter-launched ordinance, but Artan ignored it, knowing full well the damage would be only light. He looked at the tactical display, an enemy Cruiser was still advancing and though it had exhausted its torpedoes, a smaller Torpedo Destroyer was moving up to reinforce it.
"It's not the fighters I'm worried about, it's those damn torpedoes."
"Captain, enemy destroyer just launched a long-range salvo."
Artan highlighted a nearby allied vessel on the screen. "Order this Frigate up to reinforce us, and then set a course for that enemy cruiser."
"Aye Captain," the hum of the Dupre Heavy Cruiser's three engines filtered into the room as they began their burn, moving the massive ship towards the enemies battle line. All around the ship, the pitched battle continued as ships of the 2nd and 4th Fleets engaged elements from the two enemy's own home fleets. A nearby Destroyer Flotilla, having taken heavy casualties came about and retreat back towards friendly lines while another Heavy Cruiser and its escorts moved in to fill the gap.
"Captain the Frigate has acknowledged and is moving into position."
"Estimated Time to Impact?"
"Fourty-Five seconds at present course and speed, the Frigate should be between us within twenty five."
"Good. Ready all forward batteries, and load broadside tubes. Our target is the enemy Cruiser bearing 015 relative."
"Aye Captain, readying forward and broadside batteries, targeting Enemy Cruiser at 015 relative."
Artan returned his attention to the tactical display, the smaller and faster Frigate was now in a position to screen his ship from the torpedo salvo, though it was now the new target of aggression for enemy fire. Several of the blips on his screen representing the smaller craft blossomed and then extinguished as the smaller guns of the Frigate poured deadly fire into their ranks. The enemy salvo was nearly into range and heading straight for the Dupre-class, but then it veered off.
"Captain, enemy salvo has changed vector away from the Frigate, she's adjusting to intercept . . .firing . . ." the salvo marker counted down as several torpedoes were downed, but soon the salvo was out of range of the Frigate and moving parallel to the Cruiser across her port side. "They're out of range Captain. Reduced salvo is now coming about, swinging in behind us."
"Increase acceleration, fire defensive turrets."
"Aye Captain, firing." The torpedoes were coming in fast, the number dropped again as one more was downed, but several were still going to get through, "All hands brace for impact."
The ship lurched violently from the rear as they struck; the dull boom of the impacts echoed down her passageways. Artan discerned at least three separate hits, and then a moment later another secondary explosion rocked the ship. The hum of the engines became inconstant as the ship began to pitch forward.
"Moderate damage to the aft section, we just lost the port engine."
"Correct our course, I want us back on our attack vector immediately."
"I'm already compensating Captain, firing ventral manoeuvring thrusters."
As the helmsman spoke the ship began to right itself, the nose slowly being brought up as the sound of the remaining two engines steadied themselves. The enemy Cruiser was now closing the distance as well, after seeing its opponent falter it saw an opportunity for attack. Luckily the crew of the Dupre-class were well trained, and the ship brought its nose up just as the enemy open fired. Fire from her two forward cannons quickly closed the distance and blew holes into the heavy bow of the Dupre, a second later the laser mounts on the tips of her wings lanced across space and cut into the already wounded bow.
"Aye, returning fire," the four forward cannons fire in sequence, and with equal lethality. One of the shots went wide but the other three slammed into the forward decks of the Cruiser, pock marking it with fire, "enemy cruiser hit, registering moderate damage to her forward section. She's turning to port and accelerating, she'll pass our starboard side."
"Ready starboard torpedoes."
"Starboard Tubes, Aye."
"Fire as she bears."
The sleek cruiser, venting fire from her nose slid past the larger Dupre-class, when they were side by side she opened up with her broadside cannons. Small, ineffective rounds from the defence turrets were joined by the three heavy blasts from the secondary cannons. At that range each slammed into the side of Heavy Cruiser, throwing junks of debris and fire away from the hull. From the Heavy Cruiser's side streaked four large torpedoes, the enemy Cruiser accelerated trying to pull away but the faster, more manoeuvrable weapons had no problems in tracking her. The defensive guns overheated from a futile assault on the Dupre, the torpedoes slammed into her side unscathed. Each warhead penetrating into her inner hull and exploding, the starboard section buckled and then broke apart in a shower of fire with the wing tumbling away from the hull and catching the engine section on its way out. The central command area was half shattered, fire pouring from exposed sections and framework with a blanket of debris being pulled in the ship's wake. Then the rear cannons of the Dupre-class opened fire, one slamming into the middle engine and continued clean through the port housing. The engine belched a cloud of fire and then silently burned, with a trail of burning fuel leaked behind her.
"Direct hit to the enemy Cruiser, massive damage to her side and primary sections. She's pulling away."
"Captain, enemy Destroyer has launched another salvo of torpedoes!"
"Time to impact?"
"Unknown, salvo is not on a direct course, its heading to starboard."
Artan smiled, the Destroyer had become greedy, hoping to break through the ship's already damaged weaker side. At this range it should have just fired the torpedoes straight into our bow and hoped that the damage would have forced a withdraw, "Helm, lay in a ramming course for the Destroyer and direct all power to engines."
"Aye, course laid in, full power to engines."
The Torpedo Destroyer turned toward the looming threat, and readied her forward guns. Though light and short-ranged, she fired them anyway. One flew wide while the caught one of the forward turrets, taking it out of commission.
"Turret Two is offline, our other forward guns are still reloading."
"Continue accelerating," Artan looked at the tactical display, the torpedoes were still circling around but they were almost finished their turn. In a few more seconds they would be bearing down on his ship, "what's the status of the enemy destroyer?"
"She's approaching dead on, defensive missile turrets are being trained on our hull."
"Adjust course two degrees starboard, continue accelerating."
"Should I fire the defensive turrets sir?"
"No, ready the port torpedoes. Ready a full salvo. Time to impact?"
"Twenty Five seconds . . . twenty four . . . twenty three . . . "
"Captain, torpedoes are now bearing straight towards us bearing 110 degrees relative. Time to impact is thirty seconds."
"Stay your course helm!"
"Destroyer still approaching, impact in nineteen . . . eighteen . . . wait, she's breaking away hard. Moving down and starboard."
"Starboard ten degrees! Initiate portside roll, fire as she bears!"
The smaller destroyer continued to pull away, its engines roaring at their maximum power. Four heavy torpedoes slipped loose from the portside of the Dupre-Class directly into the path of the fleeing destroyer. Its short-ranged missile launchers fired ineffectively at the incoming salvo. A moment later they impacted along the spine of the smaller ship, shattering its narrow frame. The centre ruptured in a flash of fire, which propagated down the length of the vessel to the engine housing. The bulk of the engines twisted away, trailing fire from its broken front until it suddenly blew apart, fueled by the store of unspent material. The blackened bow of the ship continued on with a few fires spouting from the remainder of its command section, tumbling away from the battlefield. The enemy salvo, no longer receiving targeting data from their host vessel slipped past the rear of the Dupre and sped away.
"Enemy torpedoes have missed us sir, and the Destroyer has been neutralised."
"Good, decelerate and set new course for the nearest friendly formation. And I want a full damage report in five minutes."
"Aye aye sir."
The helmsman paused, and then turned towards the command chair in the centre of the room, "Captain, you weren't really going to ram them were you? What if they hadn't turned away?"
Artan smiled, "Whatever works Helmsman, whatever works."