Legacy of the Guardians
by AJ Marks
Ahmed sat belted into the captain’s chair on the bridge. The Moscow ran silent, her engines off, everything shut down except life support and the scanners. Even gravity had been shut off to prevent detection by the enemy. The crew had to keep to a rigorous workout schedule to prevent problems.
The patrol group lay hidden in the asteroids in the neutral zone keeping an eye out for any Skartians ships. Ahmed had moved his ships in quickly hoping to avoid being picked up by the Skartians. So far he thought it had worked, and had been there for two weeks without any sign of the enemy.
The battle plan to lure the Skartians out for a massive and, hopefully, decisive battle had been simple. They did not change certain codes, and really important messages were delivered by hand, or a new code which started each message. The result was to make it seem like the ships from Earth had left to defend Independence Station. The Skartians would probably try another decoy fleet. This time they prepared for the real invasion to come from one of the least likely sectors, like sector X or Y. Fleet R would move the moment the attack began.
“Sir, we have movement on the scanners,” the operator said, getting everyone’s attention. Such a force could be the beginning of an invasion force, and the real battle.
“How many and the heading?” Ahmed asked. He remained sitting in his chair. If gravity was on he’d have walked over to see for himself.
“Faint sir, I’ll have it in a few minutes,” the reply came back.
“Communications, anything coming though yet?” Ahmed asked, hoping for something from either HQ or from the approaching fleet.
“Continue to monitor, let me know if anything changes,” Ahmed said. He, like everyone else on the bridge, wondered if this was the attack fleet, or the decoy fleet. He needed numbers and types.
“Captain, I have the numbers and course. There are approximately thirty-five ships, including ten heavies, heading towards Independence Station,” the scanner operator said to him.
The force was larger than intelligence had anticipated. Ten heavies would be a formidable force with the current plan, and sent the information off hoping the admiral would change the plan accordingly.
“Admiral Dinen,” the communications operator said, gaining George’s attention. He walked over to officer. “We have a small communications burst from the first patrol group.”
George pulled up the star map, checking where they were, in sector B-5.
“What’s the message?” George asked, looking at the spot in question.
“Force of thirty-five ships, including ten heavies on course to Independence Station,” the reply came back.
“Alert all command, everything is quiet,” George said, knowing that the other commanders would recognize that as an approaching fleet.
The biggest problem he had, was the size of the incoming fleet. Did such a force mean the any other invasion fleet would be smaller, or did they have more ships than intelligence realized?
“Signal sent sir.”
Now George would wait and see if any other commands reported Skartian ships.
Jack looked up as Greg made his way into his office, handing him a message. He looked at it, quickly reading it though, and that all commands were now on alert.
“Okay, tell the C-in-C I’ll be there shortly,” Jack stated, watching Greg take off towards the command center. He read that the first patrol group had spotted an incoming fleet of thirty-five ships including ten heavies, a larger force than expected, but nothing they could not manage.
He made his way over to Steve’s office, informing his secretary to have anyone look for him in C-in-C.
“Steve,” Jacks aid, looking into Steve’s office.
“Yeah?’ Steve replied, looking up to see Jack standing in the doorway. “What’s up?”
“The all quiet message was sent by the Seydlitz,” Jack replied, watching Steve put aside the report he was working on.
“You’re headed to the C-in-C,” he said.
“Of course, but first going by the cafeteria to grab a cup of coffee,” Jack said. “You want any?”
“No, I’ll meet you down there,” Steve said.
Jack left the office, heading quickly to the cafeteria then to the C-in-C. People were walking in and out, carrying out orders to avoid the open communications which the Skartians might be monitoring. So with the most sophisticated communications in humanity, they had gone back to the old hand-held communications relay to securer the messages. Everything was being done for the upcoming battle.
Jack quickly took in the numbers, and noticed that the Skartian fleet was just now coming into scanner range. He was not surprised by the larger force, already expecting it, but this only confirmed it. Admiral Dinen reported he already adjusted the number of ships accordingly, with the Seydlitz and ten other ships staying here to help out in the battle.
Jack briefly wondered if keeping the Seydlitz was wise, but understood that by keeping the Seydlitz, Dinen would not have to keep additional heavy units, only the Seydlitz. The only troubling part, no news from any approaching ships in any other sector. The Skartians not following along could put a huge problem in the battle plan, even worse would be a double distraction.
“Sir, report of incoming ships in sector Z,” the reply came in. Jack looked over the report, they had thought sector X or Y, not Z, but they could adjust the plan a bit to accommodate this slight change in plans.
He looked over to see the closest two ships, the battlecruisers Calgary and Edmonton and their escorts heading off to delay the invaders. Already ships headed in the direction to engage the fleet in sector Z as the ships in the asteroids powered up to engage the ships closing in on the station.
Jack could only hope the two battelcruisers in sector Z could hand on enough for the rest of the fleet, on its way. Now he could only watch as the fighting started, and keep an eye on the overall battle picture.
Admiral Dinen sat back down in his chair, after giving the quick rush of instructions, including which ships should go where. He glanced over at the tactical map, gauging where the enemy ships were, and the friendly units. The Skartian fleet had passed by the hidden fleets without even noticing them. That had been the good news, the bad, the fleets were larger than anticipated.
George ordered Fleet R to intercept the Skartians in sector Z, while the Ark Royal and Seydlitz and their escorts were to engage the enemy fleet in sector B. He already regulated the duty of the battle in sector Z to the commander of the First battlecruiser fleet.
The crew of the Seydlitz rushed to their battle stations, ready for combat. The weapon systems came online and the gun ports opened. Targeting radars went to full pour, burning through the electronic jamming the Skartians deployed, even as the Seydlitz’s own jamming equipment powered up to prevent the Skartians from targeting them in return.
“Targeting lock achieved admiral,” the scanner operator said.
“In firing range in two minutes, in the Skartians range in four minutes.”
“Target closest ship,” Dinen said, wanting to go after the closest ship first. He hoped to knock those ships out first, then move on to the next ship.
“Scanners indicating large number of fighters, Ark royal has scrambled fighters to intercept.”
George nodded at the information before turning to the scanner, seeing the information for himself.
“Tactical?” he asked, looking over at the captain and the second in command.
“Use our speed to maintain weapons range for our advantage,” the second in command said.
“It should work for a bit of time, give us a bit of an advantage for a few minutes, provided they turn to attack us, if not, we’ll have to close the distance. We stand a better chance of survival than the station does,” the captain said.
George pondered the plan for a few seconds. The distance would reduce the effectiveness of the weapons, but hey would still be able to hit the Skartians. Depending on how the Skartians reacted, George would know if he had to close the distance, or maintain it.
“Radio all ships, fire at extreme range, try to maintain that range,” he said to the communications officer.
“Skartian fleet now in range,” the weapons officer said. “Beginning fire.”
George kept an eye on the scanners, looking for the next move by the Skartian commander. They had acted, now, how did he react.
The two fleet approached each other, closing the distance. The human fleet opened fire outside the range of the Skartian fleet. The Seydlitz opened fire on the lead ships with deadly accuracy. Several shots went wide, others were stopped by shields, a few managed to inflict damage.
The Seydlitz and her escorts turned to maintain the distance between the two fleet. Several Skartian ships tried to return fire, but the range was too far.
Fighters from both sides dueled between the fleets, a few of the fighters managed to break through and dodging through the anti-fighter defenses to strafe the warships. The Skartians had turned, trying to close the range so their weapons would be effective. This served the purpose Admiral Dinen desired, leading them away from the station.
He watched the scanners as the Skartian commander tried desperately to re-engage the human fleet. After several minutes the Skartians reversed course, heading back to the station. Dinen saw the ships turning around and ordered the fleet to close and engage. The engagement had damaged a few Skartian ships.
Dinen knew his ships would have to avoid point blank range, where the Skartians had an advantage. The two sides developed different weapon systems, the Skartians close combat, the human fleet, long range combat. They had done so because of how at a disadvantage they had been for most of the war.
“Continue concentrating fire, target their weapons and shield generators,” Dinen said. He hoped to damage their firepower allowing them to close the distance even more.
The Seydlitz rocked slightly as the Skartians opened fire.
“Shields holding,” the reply came back to him.
“Continuing fire,” George said, hoping the shields held out.
Jack paced around in the command center, watching the screens showing the battles going on. The outcome of the battle still was in question, and the other fleet in sector Z was engaging only two battlecruisers.
“Any other reports of ships at the border?” Jack asked.
“No sir, nothing but the two forces, one headed here, the other for Earth,” the reply came back to him.
“Make sure they keep an eye out for any movement, we don’t want to be caught off guard,” Jack said to them.
He turned back to the monitor, willing the battle to turn in their favor. Fleet R seemed heading towards the Skartian fleet in sector Z, and the remaining fleet had turned to engage the Skartians fleet here when they turned to head towards the station. Jack could not see that the fleet here was a decoy by the attempts they made to engage the human fleet.
To the Skartian commander he had delayed the fleet to the intercept the fleet in sector Z. If they had left now, they would not intercept the fleet until they reached Earth. Jack would be worried, if not for the fact they planned for this to happen.
On board the Seydlitz, Admiral Dinen watched for any sign of the Skartian fleet to retreat. So far they had managed to damage the enemy quite badly, and the return fire had died down a bit. The focus on weapon systems seemed to be taking their toll on the Skartians fleet.
The Seydlitz rocked slightly as the range closed down. Damage reports filtered in, and the shields were still at full strength. The weapons continued to fire, and he looked over at the power levels, noticing they were high.
He watched on the scanners as the Skartian fleet seemed to be taken off guard by the deadly firepower of the Seydlitz. It had been designed to counter the in close problems of human battlecruisers. Several Skartian battlecruisers now came under fire, damaging them even further than before. The Skartian ships turned about and started to retreat.
“Get me Captain Ahmed,” Dinen said, watching s the Skartians thought they had delayed the fleet long enough, they would head into their own trap.
“Sir, incoming communications from Admiral Dinen,” Ahmed’s second-in-command said.
Ahmed turned to his monitor as the comm line was transferred to his station.
“Captain, begin the second stage,” the admiral told him.
“Yes sir,’ Ahmed replied. His ships were already on red alert, now they would swing the trap close on the fleeing Skartian ships.
“Location of Skartian fleet?” Ahmed asked.
“A couple of minutes away,” the reply came back.
“Alert all ships, power up, prepare to engage,” Ahmed said, watching his order go out to the rest of the ships.
The Skartian fleet trying to flee the human pursuers failed to look in front of them. They had scanned the asteroids on their way past, and did not expect new ships to appear from it now blocking their retreat. The first patrol group along with several other ships from Fleet R now moved out from their hiding spots.
The Moscow quickly rushed into battle against the damage ships of the Skartian fleet, opening fire and concentrating on the damaged ships. Many of the Skartian ships were looking behind them, and when the ships appeared in front, had to figure out which group to engage.
The pursuing ships quickly caught up again to engage the fleeing ships. They wanted to kill as many enemy ships as possible. The goal was simple, destroy the enemy, and hopefully force them to a peace treaty once more, or so the upper brass hoped.
The Seydlitz quickly finished off a frigate, then joined the Moscow in attacking a carrier. The fighters zoomed around the battlelfield, and into the asteroid field where their maneuverability gave them a large advantage over other ships. The battle would wind down as the Skartian ships barely slowed down to engage the new ships, instead trying to go right through them and back to their space.
Ahmed directed his ship in the battle, hoping to maximize its firepower. So far they had inflicted even more damage on an already damaged fleet. His own ships had not suffered too much even as his ship rocked with a hit, which damage control teams quickly went to repair.
He looked at the Skartian fleet, they had barely reduced speed despite being overwhelmed by the human fleet. A couple of ships had fled into the asteroids, and they concentrated on destroying what they could. Making the battle as costly as possible for the Skartians.
Ahmed thought about calling some of his ships to pursue, but decided he wanted to destroy as many ships as possible with the ammo they had. Many of the Skartian ships would not return from this battle. And then it would be a matter of collecting the escape pods for prisoners.
Jack watched the Skartian fleet as it was caught in the trap they set. Even though the number in the decoy fleet had been larger than intelligence expected, the tactics of Dinen kept them in the battle.
Jack turned his attention to the fleet in sector Z, it had approached the point of the hiding spot of the intercepting fleet. It was the fleet protecting Earth, and the gamble was if another group came in, they would not have had ships in position to deal with that. However, the border still appeared quiet except for the two fleets in sectors B and Z.
On board the Skartian flagship, the commander noticed the success of the delaying force. The main human fleet would be unable to stop them this time. The scanners showed a clear path to the planet Earth, and an end to the war once and for all. He had enough firepower to invade the planet, or bombard it, destroying major metropolises, and manufacturing spots. Intelligence indicated the fleet around Earth had been called away to help with the station.
He never noticed the powering of the human fleet close by until the ships were pressing forth in front of him to engage his ships. He felt surprised at the accuracy the human ships displayed. Had they gotten better in the years of peace? His intelligence did not cover that. He ordered all his ships to return fire. They would quickly deal with this fleet and continue on to Earth.
The Skartian carriers were the first ships to be hit, their large hulls making excellent targets. The next ships were the main battleships of the fleet. The commander realized the human fleet was larger than he first thought. Where had these ships come from? Intelligence did not say anything about such large numbers.
He looked around seeing his fleet fully engaged in one of the largest battles since the previous war. The humans had an entire fleet here waiting for them, did they know about the plan? That thought made him shiver, if so these humans were even more deadly than he ever realized. He could remember during the war their ability to adapt quickly, did they do this again? No, that was impossible, he had been trained to think a human could not out think a Skartian, yet they had many times.
He ordered a retreat, knowing that the delaying force would only work for so long, and then the ships at the human station would head here. If they joined forces, his fleet would be destroyed. That he could not allow to happen.
The Skartian fleet turned finding themselves trapped as another human fleet had moved to block their retreating path. The commander knew they had made a mistake.
End part 21
Comment below or send to AJMarks01@aol.com