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USD: One week later

Location: 90 Pegasi System, SMS Grazhdanin, Bridge

 

Lieutenant Lavigne sat at his engineering console, monitoring the summaries that the computer was showing him about the massive ship’s waveform drive. Everything was operating normally, which left him little to focus on.

“Emerging from the jump corridor!” The Grazhdanin’s astrogation officer called out. There was little tactile sensation in the event for the crew on the bridge. A small monitor showing the ship’s outer hull recorded a blaze of light appearing and washing over the ship’s D-Field.

“Running sensor sweep. Emergence is within the calculated margin of error. We have confirmation pings from the squadron.” Another officer announced to Captain Walker and the rest of the bridge crew.

Lavigne turned his attention back to his console. The ship’s guts were still operating as expected, so he had nothing to report.

The comm officer turned to Captain Walker. “Captain, SMS Otvazhny and Strogiy report ready to continue transit. They are requesting confirmation to continue.”

Captain Walker did not respond immediately, instead he frowned and looked at his wristwatch.

Ever since Lavigne’s encounter with Commander Terrance he had felt anxiety when the Captain was present on the bridge. He believed he had managed to conceal his feelings, though. Mostly through focusing on his duties.

As everyone waited for new orders, an alarm blared.

|GENERAL QUARTERS|

|THIS IS NOT A DRILL|

|GENERAL QUARTERS|

Lighting on the bridge switched from a clean white to red hues. Lavigne’s attention was jarred back to his console as he issued commands for the ship’s engineering to prepare for combat.

All the fusion plants were brought up to maximum readiness, the ship’s defensive fields were automatically adjusted to maximum power, and weapon capacitors were quickly filled to the brim as energy flooded into them.

The electronic warfare officer nearly yelled his report. “Captain! Unknown Contacts! No IFF! SigInt makes out tonnage to be 1 battlecruiser, 8 cruisers, 18 destroyers, and 24 fast-movers! Bearing 355’ on the elliptic, 3038km distance, relative velocity 156km/s!”

Lavigne felt the man’s fear and shared it. The ship’s relative velocity was much too low to be random happenstance. When the ships entered the jump point, they were moving at a fast clip. There should have been no way that a fleet could have matched their course, at least not randomly. The slow realization that it was not a coincidence dawned on him.

To be waiting for the Grazhdanin’s squadron, they would have had to have known their schedule and destination.

“Captain, we are receiving a transmission.”

“On screen.”

An officer in an immaculate black and gold uniform appeared on the bridge’s largest screen. Golden aiguillettes and a capelet adorned his shoulders, and several rows of rectangular decorations covered his chest. A skinsuit collar was almost hidden, and the man held an EVA helmet under his arm. The rest of his crew in the background were already wearing theirs.

“Solarian Federation warships, this is Commodore Brigit of the Corporate System’s police task group PF-131. You and your Federation’s actions have been found in violation of the Octanis Accords. As such, I hereby order you to cut your drives and prepare to be boarded and seized pending investigation.”

Crewmen and officers streamed onto the Grazhdanin’s bridge in a hurry, filling out all the empty seats at the consoles. Lavigne nodded to several arrivals in his section and quietly gave them updates on the ship’s status. One sailor from his section pushed an EVA helmet into Lavigne’s hands and he snapped it on and did a quick check to confirm its integrity, an act that was quickly being repeated all over the entire ship.

Lavigne checked his console. Every section had turned from red, to yellow, and now green as the crew checked in and confirmed their readiness. He turned to Captain Walker.

“Sir! All sections report ready for combat. Awaiting your order to confirm depressurization of all sections.”

“No.”

Lavigne blinked in surprise. “Captain?”

“We will not be depressurizing the ship for battle.”

Lavigne felt confusion war with dread. It was standard doctrine for Federation warships to pull their interior atmospheres into tanks during combat to prevent fires and shockwaves if possible. Not all ships in the navy could perform such an action, but the Grazhdanin class was new and fully capable.

The comm officer interrupted. “Captain! The SMS Otvazhny and Strogiy are reporting ready for battle and requesting permission to link fire-nets and begin evasive burn to escape to 13 Centauri!”

Captain Walker stood up and cleared his throat. “Comms, send to Otvazhny and Strogiy: Cut thrust and make ready to surrender. Transmit confirmation to Commodore Brigit that we acknowledge and accept their order.”

The bridge went silent as every man turned to stare at the captain. Lavigne shared their shock. A Solarian warship would never surrender without a fight. Worse, even though the hostile fleet had them at a dead stop, the Grazhdanin class vessels were not entirely outmatched.

Every officer could do the napkin math. With the three of them fighting together, the massive warships had more than enough defenses to give the Corporate task group a hard time. Their ships’ mass meant that nothing but a barrage of missiles could silence them quickly, and their massive PDC arrays were quite capable.

That would turn any engagement into a close ranged slugging match, and while the capital ships likely lacked the railgun weight of fire to beat back the cruisers, that didn’t mean they were doomed.

A dozen different options to try other than surrender flashed through Lavigne’s mind, and he wasn’t even a tactical officer. His own feelings were plain on the faces of the rest of the bridge.

The comms officer asked again, as if he had misheard. “Sir?”

The Captain almost growled. “Do not make me repeat myself. Transmit the message.”

Commander Terrance stepped up. “Belay that order!”

Captain Walker glared at him. “What’s the meaning of this, XO?”

Lavigne gripped his console’s chair, watching the interaction. He had been expecting something like this to happen for some time, but his stomach was still doing flips.

“As per Solarian Federation Navy Article 37-B, I relieve you as unfit for command. Furthermore, as per Article 66-A, I accuse you of treason against the Federation and place you under arrest. Sergeant! Escort Captain Walker to his quarters and see that he does not leave them.”

Captain Walker stood from his chair as the ship’s marine walked up to them, glaring at both. He issued a counter-order. “Sergeant, arrest Commander Terrance and take him to his quarters.”

The young ship’s marine looked grim, but made his choice without hesitation. Drawing his sidearm, he pointed it at Captain Walker. “Captain, please come with me.”

Lavigne felt relief.

Then two gunshots ripped through the bridge.

The sergeant was sent crumbling to the floor. A bloody hole erupted in the glass of his helmet, sending shards of glass and speckles of blood across the room. Commander Terrance fell to the floor as well, a red splotch rapidly soaking the front of his uniform.

Shocked, Lavigne’s hand reached down to his own belt but found no weapon of his own. Only the ship’s security was armed with sidearms unless the armories were opened in the expectation of a boarding action.

A man stepped forward from the corner, the barrel of his pistol still trailing smoke from the discharge. Lavigne recognized him as the visitor Captain Walker had received weeks ago.

The door to the captain’s office slid open, and three men in black tactical gear and assault rifles at the ready poured into the room.

Corporate Agent Fallon saluted. “Captain, tactical teams are standing by.”

Captain Walker nodded. “Secure the ship and suppress this mutiny, Commander.”

 


USD: Moments later

Location: 90 Pegasi System, SMS Strogiy, Bridge

 

Captain Larret of the SMS Strogiy tightened her grip on her seat’s armrest until her knuckles turned white. On the tactical screen, the Grazhdanin blinked from a blue to white as it sundered their telemetry links. She listened to the message a second time.

“Captain, Squadron Leader Walker orders you to cut thrust and surrender to the Corporate Taskforce.”

The voice on the other end sounded dead, the same feeling filling Captain Larret’s heart as she heard the order.

“Comms, get me Captain Devries on the Otvazhny. Inform him I am assuming command of the Squadron. He is to prepare for battle and assume a flanking position as we burn toward the 13 Centauri jump point.”

A few moments later her tactical officer waved and got her attention. “Captain, the Corporate fleet is moving to intercept.”

She examined the tactical plot. Both the Otvazhny and Strogiy were burning as hard as their massive drives could propel them, but the acceleration curve was totally against them.

She cursed Captain Walker again for his cowardice. The three ships might have had a chance at fighting off the fleet. At the very least, they would have savaged it. Now the two lone ships had lost a third of their firepower and mass, which would invariably harm them much more than it would seem. They would barely have enough PDC inter-linkage to hold back the larger group of ship’s missile fire now.

She turned on her ship-wide comm and addressed her crew, an ancient quote she recalled from her years at the academy coming to mind.

“We ride on Altair’s Fire. The Service expects every person aboard to do their utmost.”

Captain Larret turned to her Operations Officer, “Prep all shuttles for space superiority mission.”

 


USD: During Engagement with Task Force PF-131

Location: 90 Pegasi System, SMS Grazhdanin, Bridge

 

Lieutenant Lavigne felt trapped as he and the rest of the bridge crew stared down the barrels of the Corporate marines. Worse, being on the bridge allowed him to watch as a tide of Corporate soldiers stormed out of the passenger sections of the ship in full combat gear.

Panicked calls from sailors erupted across several consoles, and officers cut off from communication all across the ship sprang into action, sounding the boarding alarm.

But they were too slow; the Corporate soldiers had been planning their takeover for weeks, with help from the highest level of command.

Just how deep the rot had spread had been driven home when several of the officers on the bridge crew saluted the Captain and carried on with their duties, pushing non-responsive and shocked sailors out of the way to assist with the ship’s takeover.

Lavigne had a cross section of the massive ship on his console, and he could watch as section after section blinked from green to red as hostile forces pushed their way through to take over key systems. The first was the armories, cutting off the weapons that the ship’s crew might have used to fight back.

On the main tactical screen, he watched the Corporate fleet split in two and flank the Grazhdanin’s two brothers. The chasing Corporate fleet nipped at their heels with coordinated salvos of missiles.

A small swarm of armed shuttles escaped the massive Solarian capital ships to bolster their anti-missile defenses. At first, at maximum range, the plan worked, and the missiles were cut down in waves of coherent light and rapid-fire kinetic weaponry.

But as the fleet slowly gained on the two escaping ships, his heart sank.

Smaller warships targeted the small escorts with their lasers, and despite a massive cloud of defensive chaff that erupted from the ships, they could not cover enough area to protect them. One by one, they rapidly blinked away.

The railguns on the Corporate fleet’s flagship came into range and fired salvos from its triple barreled main guns. Firing battleship caliber slugs, it quickly scored several direct hits.

Seeming content to keep the range at the current distance, the Corporate ships cut their acceleration and matched speed with the fleeing Solarians. Return missile fire from the Grazhdanins spat back at their attackers, but the small number of birds were quickly picked apart by the smaller warships on their flanks.

Their lasers found better luck though, and several coordinated volleys of defense lasers flashed out to strike down one, then two of the Corporate ships that had wandered too far forward, entering the larger ships’ broadside arcs. The escort Captains noticed this and pulled back, bunching their ships closer and closer together in the blind spot at their prey’s aft.

Railgun fire from the cruisers continued to take its toll on the Otvazhny, the focal point of PF-131’s attack. It was already in the rear and, being the closest target, it found the most weapons’ fire directed toward it.

Deep gouges from the Corporate railguns dug into its kilometers long hull, the larger munitions sometimes punching clear through, leaving red melted columns throughout the ship. Debris blew out in great waves, causing several chasing ships to need to take evasive action to avoid a growing cloud of shrapnel as they continued to burn toward it.

The mounting damage began to tell, gas spewing out from ruptured tanks and the entire hull was covered in glowing red splotches of melted metal as lasers and railgun rods continued to savage it.

The Otvazhny’s main thruster’s power dipped, and the ship started to lag and fall behind, giving the Strogiy a choice: to cut its own thrust and remain beside its brother or continue to flee on its own.

The Otvazhny made the choice for them, cutting its thrust completely as RCS thrusters flared to life, rotating the ship to face its attackers head on. The drive then reignited a last time, causing the smaller Corporate fleet elements to close rapidly, finally bringing them into PDC-K range.

The massive hulk of the Otvazhny blared out defiance with all of its remaining weaponry, nearly eighty 22mm gatling cannons spitting out streams of bullets in every direction as the ship stopped caring about missile defense and only sought to ravage its attackers as much as possible.

Salvos of laser fire blasted toward the flagship of the Corporate Fleet forcing it to take evasive action while the remaining missile magazines were dumped out of the ship with automatic FOF targeting enabled, allowing them to fly without the need for the capital ship’s destroyed missile control center.

The escort ships flashed past the Otvazhny, suddenly burning in a curve away from the battle, the sudden assault and damage having shattered their formation and ships in the chaotic melee.

The cruisers, however, were intent on the kill.

The Otvazhny’s defense systems continued to spit fire at the Corporate cruisers, but their heavier hulls and armor shrugged off the small caliber weaponry. Lasers continued to flare, but their EWCLS systems had begun to cloak them in a growing cloud of anti-laser chaff.

Railguns continued to pound the capital ship’s hull into a ruin of fiery red holes until a major reactor breach set the forward section of the ship into flames, an expanding inferno and shockwave ravaging the insides of the ship and blasting out streams of fire from all the holes drilled through the hull.

The Otvazhny’s weapons went silent as the ship lost power and control.

The Corporate fleet cut its pursuit, the blooded and bloodied ships seeking to recover from their own damage.

The Strogiy continued to bull towards the 13 Centauri jump point, blaring distress and as much data as possible to the Solarian picket ship waiting for it there.

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A note from Erios909

Thanks for reading!

If you are enjoying the story, please leave a comment, rating, or review! They help the story out!

Alex and Elis appreciate them!

AI Fan Art time! 

 

Commodore Brigit - Corporate Systems Commodore - PF-131 Task Group 

Commodore Brigit - Corporate Systems Commodore - PF-131 Task Group 

 

Lieutenant Lavigne - Solarian Bridge Officer SMS Grazhdanin - Engineering

Lieutenant Lavigne - Solarian Bridge Officer SMS Grazhdanin - Engineering

 

Captain Larret - Solarian Captain of SMS Strogiy

Captain Larret - Solarian Captain of SMS Strogiy

 

Corporate Agent Fallon (Black Corporate Uniform Hidden under white Solarian Commander Jacket!)

Corporate Agent Fallon (Black Corporate Uniform Hidden under white Solarian Commander Jacket!)

 

Next time: Chapter 52 – Collider Surf

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Erios909

  • West Virginia, USA
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Bio: Still alive, yes.

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