Like an impenetrable wall, the enemies focused solely on deterring progress of Gromov's group, denying access to the Q-Field carrier 1. Even though Gromov kept the majority of his vessels alive and kicking, Plantarians just outnumbered them, not leaving any opportunity to break through.
The time was of crucial importance here. Nearing the zone with cruisers, the chances of crippling the waiting battleships thrived with each passed minutes.
With no other option left, the C group had to search and probe patiently for weak points. Unfortunately, Plantarians realized as much, so they enforce the defence, carefully parrying each attempt of sneaking in.
The merciless clock ticking made everyone nervous.
"C4 here, I have a slight opening. Should I proceed, sir?"
"C1 here. Denied! Don't be reckless."
A suicide mission, no matter if ordered or volunteered, would only bring destruction to the attacker. Similarly to C4, even Gromov was itching for an action, for the stalemate got on his nerves. "What should I do?" he pondered to no avail. Dismissing scenario after scenario, he had to admit he was clueless.
"C8 here. Something's happening, sir. Three unidentified vessels emerged from behind the carrier. Cockroaches react as if under attack."
C8, the only spacecraft with functional radar monitor reported hesitantly. If he misread the situation, the alarm could make the leader to undertake an action, resulting in a debacle.
"C1 here. Understood. Keep watching them."
Under normal circumstances, Plantarians might try to lure them by causing a ruckus, offering not-existent advantage or weakened spot, but such a tactic could hardly profit them.
Who are they? The most likely explanation was that forgotten remnants of A group made a comeback after being repulsed in previous encounters. They might even keep the radio silent on purpose, waiting for the right moment to perform an ambush, utilizing Q-Field as a cover.
But if this was a trap set by the enemy, then Gromov failed to see its point.
"C8 here. They seemed drawing back, sir. Four cockroach fighters on u-turns."
That's settle it. If Plantarians really act like having a threat from behind, this was the opportunity.
"C1 here. All units. We are going in. Prepare to charge. C8, report the actual state regularly."
"C8 here. Understood. No problem so far. They keep retreating four vessels."
Small skirmishes turned into a full-scale battle. Gromov felt like an imposter when they had engaged in one to two ratio, like a swarm of wasps making the way into a well-protected beehive - but what else they could do?
To their surprise, Plantarians fell into chaos as if not sure whether to retaliate or step back.
Suddenly, on the radio, a voice sounded.
"A1 here. A5 and A7 follow. To all Space Force units, we are taking down the carrier. I repeat, taking down the carrier. The collision in ten, nine, eight..."
Major Milano, calm to the bitter end, did not miss a number. The explosion afterwards cracked the space like a lightning stroke.
Two of three carriers were out of the game.
Born in the Czech Republic, Pavel Morava is not a native English speaker. Having been twenty-two years old, he published his first book, which did not become an international bestseller. After a few other attempts, Pavel Morava abandoned the literary career for over twenty years, during which period he has been focusing on processing of plastics, programming, and raising of children.
Recently, with more time at his disposal, he returned to the forgotten ambition, fighting a futile battle with English language, procrastination, and the tendency to give up too early.
Being vivid reader of not Anglo-Saxon origin, Pavel Morava was fortunate enough to experience books from different countries, including Czech, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Swedish, Dutch, Japanese, French, German, and English. Such a vast literary variety heavily influenced his own work, which typically relies on an one-point-of-view narrative, consecutive storytelling, and elimination of unnecessary details.
Web novels and online publishing made him reevaluate his approach to style and building blocks of the text; the result should be, hopefully, lighter, shorter, and more intelligible for reading on electronic devices.