Authors: A.D. Bloom
Tags: #space, #military scifi, #space war, #warships, #scifi action adventure, #military science fiction scifi space aliens, #space action adventure, #war action adventure, #military scifi action, #military science fiction series
Many thanks to Tom Robidoux and 'Blue Scar'
D. for their extended consulting roles.
3D models and cover images by The
The author would like to express his
appreciation to the New England Air Museum, USS Nautilus (SSN-571),
and USS Massachusetts (BB-59) as well as /r/imaginarywarships and
In 2164, the Squidies attacked. Since the
war's bloody, first days, Humanity has teetered on the edge of
defeat more than once. Today is March 3rd, 2165, and today,
converted carriers of the Staas Company Privateers along with
warships of the recovering UN Fleet have won their first decisive
victory at Sirius. They now control the strategic Sirius-Sol FTL
transit, the alien enemy's most direct route to Earth.
The Staas Privateer warship
chased her LiDAR contact
around the limb of Sirius A's fifth gas giant. She had to avoid the
great, nebular clouds of debris in orbit, wreckage of warships,
Human and Squidy alike, destroyed in the six-month battle for this
system. It was worth the trip. The attack carrier caught a lurking
enemy cruiser off guard. After the Privateer's torpedo junks scored
the kill, the victorious, 950-meter attack carrier blasted back
'round the limb of that fat, banded planet with the cheers of her
pilots and crewmen still echoing on comms. But once they regained
line of sight to the UN battlegroup, they discovered a massacre in
Gaunt and worn Captain Holloway nearly
denied his eyes when he saw it.
Burning UN warships drifted under the
terrible beams of a single, alien vessel larger than he'd hoped to
ever see with his own eyes. Steel your voice, he thought. "Battle
stations, battle stations. All hands to battle stations. Redsuit
damage control teams stand ready. Cease pressurization and vent for
The behemoth was 800 meters on its longest
line and over 300-meters thick on the bow-edge. It was shaped like
a fat, swollen wing, dark-hulled and malevolent. Its engines
expelled a ribbon of rose-colored plasma like a river over half-a-K
wide. It trailed a smear of blood across the stars behind it as
raked the UN cruisers in passing and ripped at them with more
particle streams than Holloway could easily count.
"Holloway to all railgun batteries, load
sabot and prepare to fire. All tubes load Mk3 warspites."
The tower-mounted guns of that
monstrous, alien ship stabbed and slashed at the UN battlegroup.
The pale lines they drew with their streams shot so razor-straight
they stung the eye. Where they cut across ships, belt-iron steel
hulls split open to vomit hot metal and exosuits. The Squidies and
their terror-ship hadn't spared
. The command tower had already been cut
away. It spun and drifted through the slaughter sheathed in a cowl
of zero-gee flames.
"All junks, all squadrons, scramble,
scramble." On four sides the fifty-meter junks rose from the
carrier's bays like wasps on fiery wings. They blasted clear of the
carrier on their maneuvering nacelles and peeled off to form up for
The mammoth, enemy ship that savaged
the battlegroup was the only enemy vessel in sight. Its guns
radiated slicing and smashing death in all directions as it steamed
through the UN warships. It was all the more fearsome to apprehend
because Captain Holloway's sunken, red-rimmed eyes had seen it
before. All of Humanity had seen that ship before. This alien
Dreadnought was the ship that had shrugged off every salvo from
Earth's mightiest capital ships,
. This was the murderous battleship that had
steamed past the moon and fired on the lunar domes on the first day
of the war. This was the ship the Squidies sent to hang over Earth
like an executioner's sword in mid-strike. The Squidies had painted
a picture on the broad, impermeable expanse of its dark hull. It
was representational and crude. Using whitish silver paint on the
port side, hateful, boneless, palmless alien 'hands' had drawn the
image of a five-hundred-meter-tall human skull...the image of a
human in death.
Every Staas Company Officer and UN
Tightey-Whitesuit who stood on a bridge and gave the orders that
sent men and women to die had nightmares about the aliens'
Dreadnought. It invaded their dreams to haunt them because no
matter what orders they gave, no matter how clever they were, how
courageous, how deserving or how much they believed their god
willed them victorious, it wouldn't matter. They'd never breach the
Dreadnought's armor. To engage the Squidies' Dreadnought was to
engage in a battle that couldn't be won. But it was too late
to run and
"All batteries, all guns, all tubes, fire at
They called in from
as the last UN cruisers fought back.
Their voices were stuttering, static-filled cries.
"Our railguns and torpedoes won't touch
"We can't crack its armor!"
futile railgun salvos bloomed where they impacted on the
Dreadnought's armor as UNS
reactors melted down nearby. The
conflagration started at the stern and spread like a wave through
her decks until fire shot out every bay door and gun port.
spun slowly and tumbled as
she burned from inside.
"Loose the QF-111 drones!"
"There's no enemy warheads..."
"It'll give them something else to
The Squidies' Dreadnought and its
slashing streams of heavy nuclei severed the spine of the Staas
midships. The orphaned torpedo and gunnery junks of
murdered sister ship
dove together on the alien. The few not diced by the crisscrossing
beams loosed their torpedoes so close to the Dreadnought's hull,
its defensive batteries couldn't stop them. Over a hundred,
fission-tipped, warspites detonated against it. They bathed the
Squidy battleship in nuclear fire.
In nearly the same moment,
salvo of warspites
, the windows turned opaque to
protect the bridge crew's eyes from the detonations. After the
diamond-pane crystal cleared and the last blossoms of plasma from
the torpedoes faded off the Dreadnought's hull, there were no
breaches, no venting gasses or geysers of fire, only the cratered
and pockmarked, cartoon skull, still grinning and mocking
The Dreadnought ignored the junks and
The Squidies' hyper-accelerated particle
streams tore across the distance between them as if three-dozen,
razor straight rays had been drawn from one hull to the other. They
traveled near the speed of light and arrived to impact the
carrier's forward launch bay section together, in a combined stream
less than fifteen-meters-wide.
The junks caught in the fire shredded before
his eyes and when the streams hit the carrier, the impact shook the
whole ship and bent her spine. It threw Holloway out of the chair
and up a meter and into a bulkhead. His vision blurred. Looking
down from the command tower set in the stern quarter of the
carrier, he had to watch through the diamond pane windows as the
Squidies' particle streams first punched through his ship's armor
and hull, filling her decks with fire, and then walked up the spine
of his ship, from bow to stern, ripping in deep. The wound ejected
molten metal like blood spray. It hit the windows of the bridge
The length of the burst from those
alien guns seemed interminable and when they finally ceased and his
eyeballs stopped shaking from the internal shock waves enough to
see the horror before him, Holloway again denied his eyes.
had been gutted at
midships. Both launch bay modules were destroyed along with the
midships batteries. The wound jetted flame and charred exosuits
into the blackness. There was no power for the bow guns.
Holloway thumbed the squack and spoke into
the helmets of any crewmen still left alive on his doomed ship.
"This is Captain Holloway. All hands abandon ship. All hands
abandon shi-" The shock waves from the next salvo of the
Dreadnought's guns shook him so hard he couldn't speak as the
Dreadnought stabbed the carrier again, this time at the base of the
command tower. The golden light that came off those razor-straight
rivers of hyper-accelerated nuclei lit the bridge up like the
summer sun had risen out of the deck. The impacts shook him so hard
all he saw was a golden blur as the five-second burst from the
alien guns walked up the command tower to the windows of the
The nuclei the aliens threw at .99 cee each
had the power of tiny bullet and the first of them set off
piezoelectric lightning in the meter-thick windows of the bridge.
The charge floated inside the crystal, suspended and beautiful,
glowing a color blue Holloway had never once seen in his life until
that final moment. In the next microseconds, billions of heavy
nuclei impacted the windows of the bridge, all of them moving close
to light speed. A flash of that uncanny color more brilliant than
he'd ever imagined a color could be was the last thing Captain
Holloway and his bridge crew saw before the meter-thick, diamond
pane windows shattered to a storm of silicate sand and the aliens'
particle streams shredded him.