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) (6 page)

BOOK: Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series)
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“They?”

“Your evil twins,” Riley said, referencing the subject that Nefron knew they couldn’t talk about.

“Sometimes I think you’ve invented them just to mess with me.”

Riley smiled. “Damn, that does sound like something we would do. I’ll have to remember that for later.”

“The next Chixzon you find won’t be so talkative.”

“Dude, you really got to work on the jinxing thing.”

“Are we finished here?” Nefron said stoically.

The Archon visually brushed off the equipment around them. “Yeah. This stuff is no good aside from letting you steer. We’ve gotta get back in hardware mode.”

“The Chixzon tech isn’t easy to produce, and we’re not set up for it on this ship.”

“No, but we can get there. Give me a shopping list and I’ll see what we can pull from the fleet. If we have to send for parts I’ll send a courier off at the next system, but I’d rather build this inhouse if needed.”

“It’s going to have to be a
large
transmitter.”

“Yeah, I know. But going all the way back to a primary shipyard is a waste of time, and all we’re doing right now is sitting and twiddling our thumbs while we wait for Nami to get up the steps with her granny walker…and no, don’t ask. Old, old reference.”

“I think I got the gist of it. We lose nothing from trying…aside from some equipment.”

“We got plenty of that, so let’s get to shopping.”

Nefron disconnected from the Uriti and took a moment to flush his mind of its overbearing presence. “Very well. I instructed techs how to produce this equipment the first time. I can bear the tediousness again.”

Riley glanced over his shoulder at him as they walked out of the chamber. “Play nice,” he warned. “We put in a lot of tediousness trying to get your sanity back, remember?”

“That they did. You weren’t there.”

“My point stands.”

“If the techs that helped me build this were here, I wouldn’t have to instruct newbs a second time.”

“Then blame your Chixzon intellect for not anticipating we’d need this, and get to work on that list. I’d rather get to know Nami before the Trinx try and pull something.”

“A valid point, but I wouldn’t wager on the timing.”

“All the more reason to get this moving pronto.”

 

6

 

 

April 30, 3255

Targish System (lizard territory)

Stellar Orbit

 

Jarod Vermon woke up in bed suddenly as the ship’s alarm blared, half kicking off the covers as his mind snapped back into waking mode. He was only three hours into his sleep cycle, but a shipwide alarm meant that no longer mattered. It was one of several distinct, repetitive tones that had been drilled into him over 200 years before during his basic naval training, but this was the first time he’d ever been awoken by one.

The Human kicked off his covers and grabbed his shoes, not bothering to waste time changing into a proper uniform. He ran through the hallways in T-shirt and shorts until he came to a lift, took it four decks below, then ran some more until he eventually came to one of the large theater-like control decks onboard the
Excalibur
. Most of the seats were filled, but he hurried to an empty one and sat down, quickly logging himself into the station and awaiting orders as he pulled an auxiliary headset on and popped up a small regional map to see what the call to battlestations had been about.

“Shit,” he said a moment before a task was prioritized to him, seeing thousands of enemy vessels engaging the leading elements of the convoy as it came out of the jump ahead of the Uriti. There was a considerable delay between their arrival and it, then another delay back to the main group of escorts, meaning that Star Force didn’t have that many ships in the leading group as it seemed the Trinx had come back for round two in far greater numbers.

But what the Star Force task force did have was a lot of ships going to reinforce them within the hour, meaning that a stall play was in their favor, but more than that they had Paul onboard and there wasn’t another ship that Jarod would have preferred going into battle on than The Admiral’s.

A pair of Ichod pulse cannons were slotted to him onboard a drone cruiser with a slew of incoming missiles as priority targets. None of the missiles were directed at the ship he was now virtually on, but were headed for other targets and soon to be within weapons’ range of Star Force’s 2nd big addition to the fleet. For years Star Force had been making modifications to existing weapon systems, then over the last few centuries had been fielding more advanced batteries in a variety of designs. When the Dre’mo’don had come out it’d been declared as a ‘staple’ of the fleet, meaning tweaks would be made but they wouldn’t be looking to replace it with a different kind of weapon.

Given the sheer amount of firepower they possessed Jarod could see why. Just getting a weapon like that functional was a momentous achievement and he figured they’d been eyeing that bit of theoretical tech for a long time before finally making it viable even in the crudest of forms.

Well now they had another one, for the Ichod put every other point defense weapon Star Force had to shame and he expected to be piloting drones containing them for centuries to come. When he lined up both batteries to fire in different directions at different targets, he located a narrow slice of space rather than an individual target and pulled the mental trigger on a weapon that was too precise to be operated by hand controls.

The Trinx missiles glowed red and were the equivalent of tiny, agile spheres that were weaving in and out of ship formations and tracking whatever targets they wanted even if they had to fly far off course to get around obstacles. When they hit they stung individually, but in groups they could shred armor plates with ease…and they were even more dangerous against shields. Pelting them would drain their power so fast it was almost as if some of the drones had none the instant they were engaged in combat.

But Star Force drones were designed to fight without shields if necessary, and the more of these missiles that could be knocked down the more defenses Star Force would have intact…making Jarod’s small task extra important as he used computer calculations accessed through a mental link established via touch that allowed him to gain the speed and accuracy of a computer while retaining his own ability to guess and think ahead.

He fired the first pulse from one of the small cannons, sending a disc-shaped plate of white light out directly away from his ship, but as it flew it expanded in diameter, eventually covering some 23 meters by the time it hit the passing Trinx missiles, each of which was no more than 2 meters long, with more than enough lethality to wipe their little red glows from existence. The Ichod energy passed through, allowing another missile to be hit in the same salvo, but a split second later another Ichod pulse followed it, then another and another, firing off so rapidly that the pulse cannon looked like it was an oscillating lawn water sprinkler.

The missiles were flashing by in the hundreds on multiple sides of the cruiser and the further away from his ship they got the more the Ichod energy disc expanded. Once it got out to around 37 kilometers the matrix snapped and the energy mushroomed out like a small explosion, making these weapons short ranged whether you liked it or not. Fortunately shooting down missiles was exactly what they were designed to do, and targeting them at range was an almost impossible task giving the slightly weaving courses they all exhibited when flying in a ‘straight’ line. It was obviously a tactic employed to make them harder to shoot down, but with the Ichod he didn’t have to hit them dead on, rather he just had to get close…and the further away they were the wider the virtual hand he had to swat them out of existence.

Attacking two different targets simultaneously was old school for Jarod, a trick he’d learned long ago. He could operate 5 such weapons tracking individual targets with ease, but right now the massive command ship and its crew of drone pilots were packed into a relatively small number of ships given that a large chunk of those drones that they would normally oversee were trolling along behind the Uriti.

That was alright, because the less they had to work with the better they got in terms of accuracy and situational awareness. Jarod was even able to take a few glimpses of the overall situation as he efficiently shot down missiles, a lot of which were headed towards the command ship on which his physical body sat as his mind was situated in the perspective of the distant cruiser.

The pointed Trinx ships were teaming up to take on individual drones and take them down, with the tactic becoming abundantly clear that they weren’t going to let Star Force cycle them around to recharge shields. That had a disadvantage to it, for if the Trinx focused solely on a small number of ships the rest of them could pound the Trinx into oblivion…which is exactly what was happening.

Jarod didn’t get to see much beyond the immediate area around the cruiser where he was oriented from, but he could see the Trinx fleet being so obsessed with going after and eliminating specific drones that they were needlessly killed when flanked because they didn’t respond with weaponry or maneuvering. They just sat in place and fired, or continued chasing their targets. Some of the Star Force ships were being destroyed, and uncharacteristically quickly, but the Trinx were suffering horrible losses in exchange.

Then when a hole in the lines formed, the Trinx ships poured in towards the
Excalibur
with Jarod’s cruiser turned hard to starboard to cut across their path. The enemy ships ignored it, moving up and down to avoid a collision as they raced hard towards the giant armored donut. As their red hulls flashed by Jarod poured his two Ichods into their easy to hit targets, getting hundreds of repetitive hits that weakened shields and even burned away some armor from a ship that a Dre’mo’don hit just prior, knocking down its defenses.

There was no time to think ahead, so he just poured fire into every available marked target that came within range. A few had higher priority markers, which he paid due diligence to, but most were just common ‘shoot this if you can’ clearances coming from the pilots or commanders that were tagging everything so he and other gunners didn’t have to worry about sorting out friend from foe or good targets and bad targets…like a fuel ship that you didn’t want to detonate right in front of your face.

The Ichod were not meant to take on capital ships, but they were so damned powerful that they could do the job if given enough time. Like a chain saw cutting through a log, they’d whittle a ship down gradually though the enemy wasn’t standing still to oblige as they raced past his cruiser, so priority went to just inflicting whatever damage he could as they came into and out of range.

 

Paul saw them angling around the drones he’d ordered to interpose themselves between the
Excalibur
and the Trinx, judging correctly that that the enemy was interested in taking out specific targets and that his ship was now next in line. Fortunately Paul knew how to play hard to get, and he had drones angling in from all directions to break up the thick tendril of ships the Trinx were sending towards him. If they didn’t engage the flankers, all Paul had to do was turtle up and wait for the attrition to ensue…and if they did engage the attackers it would weaken their attempted gut punch against the now obvious flagship.

He sensed they wanted to eliminate him before the Uriti and the rest of the fleet arrived…which was why he gave the untypical order for the
Excalibur
to retreat as more and more drones darted in to fill the gap and play traffic cloggers.

“Sacrifices,” Paul whispered to himself as he saw how the Trinx were fighting and dying recklessly. It worked when they were able to overwhelm a target, but stretch them out a bit and you quickly reached a tipping point where your advantage switched over to vulnerability…and if you weren’t aware of that you’d end up aggressively delivering yourself to a slaughter.

The numbers the Trinx had here were significant, but if he could stretch them out just a bit more he thought he could get them to that decision point all the while his ship and the drones were filling the approach vector with so much weaponsfire that the Fourth of July would have been envious. Bloons launched where available, but it was the Dre’mo’dons that really packed a punch and they were flying from all directions. Tight clusters of them on the
Excalibur
were launching in sync and literally blowing holes into the Trinx ships with each salvo. Firing one against their shields hurt, but launch eight side by side and even the advanced enemy shields couldn’t stand up to that.

The drones couldn’t carry that much weaponry, but a few points on the
Excalibur
had been packed with it instead of spreading out the cannons evenly and Paul was rotating his big ship around to put those sweet spots into the most advantageous positions.

As all that happened he saw a
Warship
-class jumpship also be targeted, with a slew of Trinx ships ignoring all else and heading for it. It was heavily armored, but not as much as the
Excalibur
. It wouldn’t go down quickly, but Paul could already see that he had too few ships and the Trinx had too many to keep them from picking off a few select targets if they didn’t value their own lives.

That left him one option, and at the cost of the majority of his drones, he ordered all his big ships to turtle up and have the expendable weapons platforms form a defensive sphere around them to take the brunt of the attack.

Getting them into position was costly, for they’d fanned out upon arrival to better fight with crossfire options and Paul had to sometimes ram drones into Trinx ships in order to clear a path for recall, but eventually the
Excalibur
and the six warships with it got in so close together that they were able to increase shield strength in select areas while counting on the bulk of the nearby ships to block firing runs on others. A few Trinx ships could get through into the gaps, but not enough to do damage when they’d be toasted at point blank range with weaponry hitting them from multiple angles.

Now reinforced but with no chance of going after the enemy, Paul waited to see if the Trinx would back off or force the issue…and their tenacity did not disappoint. They refocused their efforts on a single warship on the edge of their 7 ship clump and Paul likewise reinforced the drone ‘hive’ in that area, but so much weaponsfire was getting through that the shields on the warship were already beginning to fail.

By the time they fell completely the Trinx were literally sacrificing three ships on approach to get one into firing position, but they were scoring some very big hits and Paul couldn’t move the
Excalibur
in to block for them because of their already packed formation. All he could do was play with the drones and try and buy time.

It wasn’t enough, and the warship took a huge hit on the port forward flank. Deck after deck was punctured even while other parts of the ship were still fighting. Drones flew in to interpose themselves like living armor, but the Trinx were in so close that they had to ram them out of the way in most cases. The carnage at that one spot was incredible…then all of a sudden the Trinx ships abandoned the attack and began to run away.

Paul saw why immediately as the system battlemap showed the Uriti braking out of its deceleration phase and coming up right behind them. That freaked out Paul too, because he didn’t know how it would respond to them being so close. He got everyone moving immediately, including the damaged warship that still had some engine capability, and out of the way of the smaller, but far deadlier player that had just arrived on the naval chess board.

BOOK: Star Force: Zealot (SF87) (Star Force Origin Series)
5.81Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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