Vice Admiral Quentin DiPaullo of the Galactic Space Force stood on the main bridge of the Star Cruiser Reliant. He looked with pride on the information displayed on the main screen. The plan was going, well, as planned. He succeeded in forming a perfect parabola, luring the ships from the evil Corpellains.
The Parabola Maneuver was a classic plan taught to field grade officers in higher levels of Space Academy. The maneuver allowed maximum firepower to be brought to bear from 180 degrees out of a 360 degree space field. Every time the maneuver was successful, the results were huge victories with maximum damage dealt to the enemy.
“Sir, Combat Battalion One is reported the enemy is now entering maximum range,” one of the captains reported, pulling DiPaullo from his reverie.
“Maintain position. We’ll wait until they enter the killing zone.” Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes, DiPaullo remember the ancient saying from long forgotten battles. Too bad those Corpellian devils don’t have white eyes, DiPaullo thought.
“Where are the drones, Captain?” DiPaullo asked.
“They are entering the perimeter near CB4 and CB6. The nanobots are making contact with the Corpellian fleet now, sir.”
Outstanding, DiPaullo thought. The nanobots were small dust sized robots. They floated through space until they made contact with an enemy ship. They would then deploy micro-laser drills, eventually punching a hole in the hull. Enough nanobots could severely damage the ability of an enemy in combat.
“At the Corpellian’s current speed, Sir, firing should be effective in eight minutes,” the captain announced.
“Excellent, Captain. We’ll throw everything we’ve got at them. I’m not sure how I feel about accepting a surrender from them.”
“Not that I have any say in the matter, Admiral. But I hope you would remember the Hargrove.”
DiPaullo nodded. It was near the start of this horrible war. The Hargrove was on a patrol. It was attacked by a squadron of Corpellian fast attack destroyers. The captain of the Hargrove tried to surrender. The Corpellians kept up the attack until the Hargrove’s shield failed and hull was impinged. The firing stopped and the Corpellians laughed as air slowly bled out of the ship. DiPaullo was determined to be the one laughing now.
“Captain, transmit to all units, ‘Remember the Hargrove.‘”
“Will do, Sir.” The captain wore a wry smile.
“Five minutes,” the word came for somewhere. DiPaullo nodded.
“Sir, we are picking up an anomaly in sector 774.”
The admiral was puzzled. That was quite some distance away. Yet it was best to be sure.
“Can we get eyes on it?”
“We’re sending a probe. Should be about thirty seconds, Sir.”
“Three minutes,” a voice spoke somewhere in the room. “All weapons are powering up.”
“Sir the image is up on the main screen.”
DiPaullo strained to see what the “anomaly” was. It was fairly close to the system’s sun, it was hard to make out.
“Can we put a filter on it?” DiPaullo suggested.
“Sorry, Sir. Here it is.”
DiPaullo could see the outline – it was definitely some sort of ship. He walked up to the controls, highlighted the image and sharpened the focus.
He stepped back two steps, and felt the blood rushing from his face. “Holy Mother of Buddha,” he whispered.
Senior Captain Charlotte Douglas came next the admiral. “What is it, Sir?”
DiPaullo wished he could tell her, but was sworn to secrecy. The intelligence service recently identified this as the newest attack ship of the Corpellians. Intel dubbed the ship the “Star Splitter” class. It was first used two months ago. That’s how the Sirius 7 system disappeared, DiPaullo knew. He also knew that his armada was being set up.
“Captain,” DiPaullo barked. “This is a trap. All units disperse immediately. Go to Hyperspace. Now!”
Captain Jake Evans, commander of the space destroyer GSF Pickett hated hyperspace. He knew it was better than the past, where there was a 37% survival rate. One would only use hyperspace in the face of certain death.
His brain told him things have vastly improved since to old days. The survival rate of hyperspace was nearing 85%. With the latest navigational technology and up to the second orbital tracking, hyperspace was now almost routine. Should he survive this one, he would be eight for eight. He knew the odds were starting to work against him, but for the admiral to give that order was so out of character.
Old “Blood and Guts” DiPaullo never ran from a fight. He’d rather lose a couple a squadrons than lose the spacefield. Something big must have spooked him, Evans thought.
“Twelve minutes,” the helmsman JR, announced.
Twelve minutes until what? Evans contemplated. Do we come out into empty space, an asteroid field or even a sun? He shuddered.
The technology of hyperspace has existed for nearly a hundred years. It was a way of cheating the Speed of Light limitation. The ships would tear a hole in the fabric of space and reappear in another. The trip itself was perfectly safe; it was where the reappearance took place that was the problem. In asteroid field a ship would last seconds. In a sun, microseconds.
Evans hit the com button. “All crew. Stow any loose gear, get strapped in. Close all collision doors and test airlocks. Prepare for hyperspace exit.”
Evans knew his crew was already there. Having the old man yell at them made life a little normal. One of the first he learned in Command School – When the whole world was going to hell, swab the deck. It made the crew think things were not hopeless. That was the captain’s job.
Evans sighed. Normally the best situation was having near zero relative speed. Unfortunately, the Pickett was planting nanobot mines in the path of the Corpellians. The mines would explode and send a wave of nanobots towards an approaching Corpellian ship. To deploy the mines, the Pickett needed to have enough speed to avoid random blaster attacks. Speed and maneuverability where the standard of the “Lee” class space destroyers.
“Close scoops,” Evans ordered.
The scoops were ingenious devices. The scoops would haul in loose bits of matter. Some of this matter would be hydrogen or bits of ice. These would be refined and used for fuel or water, allowing the ships a longer operating range.
“No countdown, JR,” Evans ordered.
Evans checked his harness. His closed his eyes and hoped for the best. He took a deep breath, knowing full well it could be his last. He knew the time was close, and he opened his eyes.
The blank display screen blinked on. The ship jerked and felt as if it were slammed. Individual station modules blinked on and off randomly. A deafening roar resounded outside the hull.
“Where are we?” Evans shouted.
“We are in an atmosphere,” JR responded.
A large explosion jerked the ship. Red lights began blinking everywhere.
“Captain, our fuel tanks have been sheared. This atmosphere is too dense. The hull is beginning to heat,” said Evan’s number two, Arnold Putchin.
“What kind of reserves?” Evans asked.
“Not enough to reach escape velocity.”
Dammit! Evans thought.
“Launch buoy number one,” He ordered. “We’re going down.”