Read Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series) Online

Authors: Aer-Ki Jyr

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Action & Adventure, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Colonization, #Galactic Empire, #Military, #Space Fleet, #Space Marine, #Space Opera, #Two Hours or More (65-100 Pages)

Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series) (10 page)

BOOK: Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series)
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Onboard the
Excalibur
, Paul’s face was covered in sweat as he stood in the nexus overextending himself in order to control as many ship functions as he could throughout the drone fleet while orchestrating the entire battle simultaneously. Riley was in trouble, and couldn’t run so long as the Trinx kept blanketing his ship’s hull with that IDF coating. It was obvious that they wanted to capture it, but Paul had no doubt that destroying it was the backup plan and he needed to end their stranglehold on the perimeter as soon as possible.

That wasn’t easy, given that this was actually a fair fight. The Trinx had brought a ship count in the tens of thousands that Paul hadn’t had the time to tally up or to ask the combat computer to do so for him. More were still coming in from behind the star where they’d been hiding, but it was those immediately around the
Zeus
that were the concern and those nearly upon them. Paul had to intercept those reinforcements and block them off, but the Trinx were fighting him hard on that and attacking his drones as much as they were trying to blow by them.

He was gaining ground though, but it wasn’t fast enough. Already there ships boarding the
Zeus
through 16 different breach points in the hull, and no matter how fast Paul’s ships destroyed them more would come in while others would block the firing lines and make him destroy them first before he could get to the boarding ships.

The allies were helping, but they were incredibly disorganized and it was frustrating to Paul, for had he been able to give them orders this situation would have been resolved by now. They fought as individual ships or sometimes units, but they were not coordinated even within their own race. This battle was so large and chaotic that the only thing that was holding together the allies was Paul’s efforts and the precise coordination of the drone fleet. Paul’s people knew how to integrate with his orders and take a lot of the effort off him, but there was so many adjustments to make to compensate for their allies and the actions of the Trinx that Paul was stretching himself beyond his previous limits. He’d never gone this deep in training, nor did he have time to consider why or how or anything else.

Every second was consumed with fighting and had a new enemy showed up behind them he would have been blindsided, for his focus was on the
Zeus
and everything radiating out beyond it. He couldn’t spare a glance at the star or anywhere else…not when his brother’s life was on the line, not to mention Nefron and the only hope to control the Uriti.

Paul didn’t even have time to mentally curse the Trinx. Everything he had was poured into maneuvering and fighting his ships to aid the
Zeus
and cover for the chaotic actions of their allies in order to make use of them, and it wasn’t an effort he could keep up forever.

 

10

 

 

Nia-11917 stood in the nexus onboard a
Warship
-class jumpship overseeing the drones that it had launched in conjunction with Paul’s overall command. He was micromanaging so much that she was filling in on lower level duties wherever she could to assist him but could see that time was running out. Making the decision to override the trailblazer, she relinquished all drones to him and the remote pilots but took direct control over the jumpship and powered down all weapons, channeling as much power as she could into the shields and rammed the Trinx ship ahead.

It was a low level impact, with the much larger jumpship pushing it aside before the forward shields collapsed. Nia then drove the ship into another, and another, and another…battering her way through the blocking ships and doing monstrous damage to the front of the warship. The bloon launcher was destroyed, along with most of the forward weaponry, and crew were being evacuated from the forward regions as she drove the ship on towards the
Zeus
, sometimes having to avoid allied ships that were getting in the way.

Eventually she got to the command ship, her own taking heavy fire and the crew evacuating to bunkers within the ship as the outer levels got vaporized with numerous weapon strikes. The drones the ship were controlling were diverted to other remote pilots as the massive ship continued to break apart as it flew into position over top the command ship and sunk down against it, crushing two docked Trinx vessels even as chunks of the jumpship flew off as it was now being heavily targeted.

But Nia kept it there, physically blocking a large section of the command ship’s hull with its own and giving Paul a naval pick to work off of without bothering to communicate that to him and distract him further. She knew he’d see what she’d done and make use of it, and if one ship was going to be destroyed better it be the jumpship than the command ship, for it and it alone had the ability to control the Uriti…and it had a trailblazer onboard.

A minute later an explosion broke through to the bridge, a small one, but the crew stayed at their posts knowing that there was no better armed section of the ship to retreat into. They did pull back from the breach point as Nia analyzed the damage within the ship and quickly came up with an escape route to buy them time. She mentally connected to them all and told them to leave via a specific door and travel deeper into the part of the ship that had the least damage while she stayed behind in the nexus.

Some of them resisted, but there was nothing left for them to do here and ultimately they decided to trust her, fleeing the armored cocoon of the bridge as it began to fail and running through less safe corridors that had not yet come under weapon hits.

Nia stayed put and linked to the ship’s systems, guiding them remotely along with the rest of the crew to try and keep them as safe as possible, noticing that within another minute there were four more jumpships doing the same thing and barreling through the enemy fleet. Breaking apart under weapons fire, they clustered around the
Zeus
, using their dying mass as a shield and crunching the attached docked vessels while blocking the boarding points against further incursions.

It wasn’t typical Star Force strategy, but the
Zeus
had been caught off guard and the Archons were improvising, which instilled a swell of pride in Nia as she saw the enemy thwarted even as the bridge wall next to her blew out and knocked her aside.

 

Paul didn’t like what those jumpships were doing, but he was grateful for it. The drones simply didn’t have the mass to force their way through the Trinx ships and the growing debris field, but they did. It was costing them badly, but they’d made it all the way in to the
Zeus
and they were not going to be easily removed. Even as dead ships they were now blocking attacks or boarding attempts onto Riley’s ship and the only way to get them out of the way was to blast them into oblivion or push them aside.

The Trinx couldn’t get enough ships into position to do either, meaning those jumpships had just succeeded in blocking off most of the incoming troop transports and their escorts from the command ship. With Paul’s vice grip tightening around the area even the Trinx saw that their attempts to capture the ship were going to fail, so they stopped trying to preserve the command ship and fired on every piece of it that was visible through the gaps between the jumpships.

Paul moved as many drones into position as he could, but it wasn’t enough. He just didn’t have them in close enough yet, but the allied fleets did and they physically moved in and took the hits, forming a spherical wall around the
Zeus
even as the Trinx were shooting them up and ramming some of them to open up holes.

Paul had been in many battles against the lizards that had a greater level of carnage than this, but none of them had ever been focused as intently on a single point as now, making the area around the
Zeus
so chaotic and destructive that it surpassed any battle he had ever been part of…but after several long minutes the internecine suddenly disappeared.

The weaponsfire between both sides was so intense that when Paul finally cut off most of the Trinx reinforcements, those inside the perimeter died off quite fast and had few left to replace them. That allowed the allied fleet to hammer those that were getting past Paul’s blocking tendrils, at which point the perimeter around the
Zeus
was temporarily secured and the trailblazer kept maneuvering drones every which way to harden that defense.

The Trinx hammered the outside of his lines trying to get in and did not relent. For hours to come they attacked, regardless of whether it looked like they were going to get to the
Zeus
, and both they and the allied fleet decimated one another. They tore each other apart with such frenzy and zeal that by the time the last few Trinx ships late getting to the party turned and ran to report back to their leaders what had happened here, there were few allied ships still alive. The Chamra, the Sety, the Dati, the Domu, the Jonstar, the Bpret, and the Breti…their immense fleets that had been tracking the Hamoriti from system to system and keeping its minions contained…were all but destroyed.

Paul relinquished as much responsibility for the fleet as he could, feeling his head hurt with the release as he took in the strategic picture without having to micromanage. The
Zeus
was buried at the heart of a massive debris field with half destroyed ships floating within it and stranding surviving crews. The few surviving allied ships were disorganized, moving around aimlessly or holding position not knowing what to do. Their command and control, what little of it had survived the chaos of the engagement, had been utterly destroyed.

Most of the Star Force drones were gone. Paul saw that only 8% remained operational and another 2% were responding to control signals but had most of their functionality missing. The jumpships, however, were mostly intact. Some badly damaged, and excluding those that had gone to interpose themselves around the
Zeus
, their crews were still alive and they still had engine power. The
Excalibur
was beat up as well, with some 60% of its weaponry offline and big chunks of the hull missing, but it was still combat capable though currently stuck inside a debris field that was going to take some time and some regenerated shields to work its way out through.

Rescue efforts were going to be a nightmare, so Paul laid down the operating rules and communicated that information to all the jumpship captains, then left his Admiral in charge of the overall effort before his head collapsed. Right before he released his link to the nexus he saw the Uriti still sitting where it had been told to, either oblivious to the combat or not caring. It was the reason for this carnage, yet it had been unaffected entirely. Neither side would go near it with their ships, leaving it perfectly pristine, and something about that just felt wrong.

With that final check, Paul disconnected and fell to the ground, cradling his head in his hands and trying to put himself into a regenerative mode with a combination of Sesspik and Haemra. The latter wasn’t all that effective on oneself when you couldn’t concentrate, but he was desperate now that the numbness of the effort was wearing off and the damage was asserting itself. This was beyond brain fried, and he had to trust in his crews, captains, and Archons to deal with the recovery effort and any defensive requirements going forward, because even if he wanted to reconnect he didn’t think he could, with thoughts of this being serious damage whispering in his mind as he pulled inside himself and went as inert as possible, hoping for his healing abilities to start eating into this nuking and pull him back into a semblance of order.

 

Riley rode a dropship over to one of the dead jumpships holding his damaged ship in place, all the while seeing out through the gaps at what looked like an asteroid field made up of destroyed ships. He couldn’t see stars through them, and the battlemap links were in and out given the line of sight restrictions. That said, he could see the three massive pieces that the jumpship ahead of him had been reduced to, each of which was held onto the others by the barest of structural linkages.

The dropship took him and a pair of Commandos up to the edge of what had used to be a hangar bay and nestled against the inner door. The entire hangar was gone, blown off the ship, so the three of them stepped off the ramp onto bits of floor that remained and floated to the inner hatch, finding a bit of gravity there that sucked them down to the deck.

The three of them worked to get a makeshift shield in place before Riley forced the door, only to find vacuum on the other side. They raced through, searching for the nearest contained area, and having to travel some 60 meters inward through four more closed doors before finding it. With additional atmosphere seals on them and hallway intersections, fresh air was pumped in and connected a pocket of living ship to what had once been the hangar.

From there it didn’t take long before Riley got to the minds he was sensing. They were in groups in different locations, the first of which were in a storage compartment working on opening up portable habitat modules. When Riley got to them he called them off the project and directed them to the waiting dropship as he continued to search the rest of this piece of the ship.

He found another group in an internal bunker, cut off from the living sections due to an atmospheric breach. Four more were in similar difficulties while a handful of others had survived in the areas that still had atmosphere and emergency power. Once he got them all off onto dropships he moved over to the other two pieces of ship and did likewise, evacuating about a third of the crew that had been onboard. The rest had died during or shortly after the fighting.

The survivors were brought back to the
Zeus
, wrecked as it was, but it was the most intact ship still in the fleet. Even the
Excalibur
was showing more damage, and the hull breaches in Riley’s command ship had atmospheric seals over top of them thanks to the Trinx, which he had replaced by his own techs with proper patches as one of the first orders of business…and there were many to follow. The battlefield was a disaster with surviving crews on both sides needing to be picked up and Star Force deliberately ignoring the Trinx vessels until all of their own and their allies were searched.

They weren’t going to let some of their own die in order to save those bastards.

That said, Riley had to talk down several of the other races vessels that were going around and toasting what remained of the Trinx. Some were doing so to eliminate lingering threats, for not all of their weaponry was knocked out, but others were just trying to kill their remaining crews or blast apart their ships out of vengeance when they should have been helping in the rescue efforts. Riley quickly got them back into line, for Star Force dominated the count in the survivor category, as well as being the ones who still controlled the Uriti.

And Riley was the only one left, aside from Paul, of the fleet representatives that had been conducting business with one another. All the others had been killed in combat, leaving him with lower ranking ship captains to deal with that badly needed guidance with their chain of command having been eliminated. Most immediately rallied around the Humans, for they were whom they were indebted to protect, with the others falling in line once Riley got what was left of the fleets actively hunting for survivors before any more of them died as their life support systems failed or their injuries bled them out.

Only the Yisv fleet hadn’t been touched, for it hadn’t been in the convoy due to the proximity with the Uriti. Where it was now Riley didn’t know, but they weren’t around to ask for help and the trailblazer needed every jumpship here to use as lifeboats for the survivors, unable to send a messenger out for assistance. Instead he dispatched a drone with a message, sending it on a slow journey from star to star to the nearest invasion zone.

Meanwhile he and the others waited, recovering crews and searching for more survivors while making what repairs they could. There were so many ships out there to search that they didn’t have a moment to spare, all the while knowing that the Trinx might return with more ships given that their worlds were far closer than any of the other 7 races, so sending one of their ships back for help made no sense whatsoever and the small number of ships left guarding Bahamut weren’t worth sending for in exchange for a badly needed recovery ship now.

BOOK: Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series)
13.67Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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