1005 Hours, June 12, 2613 (Military Calendar)/
U.S. Navy defense fleet, military staging area in
orbit around York
Captain Derek Stewart and the rest of Banshee squadron raced toward the Torinth fleet. A small force had left the primary fleet and had microjumped to the edges of the York defense grid.
The defense fleet had not expected the aliens to do this. The brass didn’t even know that they were capable of doing such a precise jump. However, before the aliens could even unleash a salvo from their laser cannons, the orbital defense stations brought their turrets to bear and unleashed a storm of heavy cannon fire.
Three stations unleashed twenty-four rounds, each made of titanium, depleted uranium, and tungsten. The rounds impacted the aliens’ shields. They shimmered for a few seconds and soon collapsed. The remaining rounds impacted the ships, exposing decks to the vacuum of space. Some started to move out of control. A few collided with other ships, and exploded. Those that had managed to survive were quickly destroyed by the fleet guarding the planet.
The fighter drones, those that had managed to have been launched, were quickly mopped up by the defending fighter squadrons.
Banshee squadron destroyed the last of the fighters they soon regrouped and waited for the rest of the Torinth fleet to arrive. The captain knew that those fifteen ships were only to test the defense of the planet, and now that the Torinth were going to come in much larger numbers.
“This is Admiral Gates,” came a voice over the COM, “it looks like we’re going to have to fight the Torinth earlier than expected. I want all ships ready for immediate assault. We’re not letting York fall to these aliens.”
The message ended, and the captain waited as the defense fleet maneuvered into a new battle position. With the Torinth able to jump within a system, the alien could outflank them. The only thing that the defenders could do was wait for the imminent attack from the invaders.
“Did any of you know that the Torinth could do that?” asked Banshee 4.
“That was impossible for them to do that,” said another pilot. “I’ve looked over hyperspace theory, and there’s no possible way that they could do that.”
“There’s no possible way for us to do that,” Captain Stewart corrected. “Remember, those damn aliens are capable of doing things that we can’t. And that includes microjumps through hyperspace. So stop complaining and start focusing on defending this planet.”
Captain Stewart switched off the COM and looked down at the radar screen. He could see the fleet in a new position and from the data he was receiving from Delta Station, the Torinth fleet was readying itself for another assault on the planet. And if the data was correct, then they were sending in every ship that they had on the attack.
Admiral Gates looked over the tactical situation with a worried look on his face. There were over two hundred Torinth ships in system, and one-hundred fifteen naval craft within the system. These weren’t the ideal conditions that he would have wanted for defending the United States’ primary stronghold within the Outer Colonies.
He turns toward the communications officer, a young woman who appeared to have only graduated from the academy only a few weeks ago. “Lieutenant Hudson, what’s the ETA for our reinforcements from Highland?”
“We received a transmission from Admiral Whitmore and he says that the fleet will arrive in system within forty minutes.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant,” the admiral replied, and he turned his attention back to the tactical display. Those forty minutes might as well have nee forty years. The battle could be over by then.
The admiral wished that his fleet was equipped with the same kind of technology that the Torinth had. Then maybe that it would be an even fight, but he knew that Research and Development, a part of the Office of Naval Intelligence, was still trying to understand how they worked. The only advantage that they had over the Torinth was the fifteen Orbital Defense Stations, each equipped with four turrets that were capable of stopping a Torinth ships with one salvo.
“Admiral, sir,” said Lieutenant Hudson, “you’re not going to believe this, but we’re picking up a signal from the long range sensor station, Sentinel. They’re practically within the Torinth fleet.”
“Why the hell didn’t they self-destruct when the Torinth arrived?” he demanded.
“Unknown sir,” the lieutenant answered. “They’re disconnected from the network. Give me a minute. I’m going to see if I can reconnect them from our side.”
This didn’t make any since to the admiral. Standard military procedure dictated that any vessel about to be captured by Torinth forces was to self-destruct to prevent the Torinth from capturing the data on the locations of any more colonies.
This was a complete disregard of military protocol, but something didn’t quiet make since. Gates had specifically chosen Captain Walker for that position, and he knew that he would follow orders to the letter. He would never have allowed the Torinth to take the station unless…
“Don’t reconnect,” the Admiral barked. The order had come so abruptly that everyone on the bridge had stopped what they were doing and turned their attention to the admiral.
“Something has happened on the station,” he said finally.
“With all due respect, Admiral,” the captain of the John Adams replied, “we can’t allow the data to fall into Torinth hands.”
“It hasn’t,” the admiral replied. “Clever. The Torinth left the station in tact just so that we could try what we are exactly doing. They have something there in the network, and as soon as we reconnect, there goes the location of every colony in not just our empire, but in the others as well.”
Everyone n the bridge was silent as they let the information soak in. Some didn’t believe it and others thought that there were men still alive and they needed to be informed of what was happening.
“We’ll take care of the station, but only after we manage to repel this attack,” Gates said finally. “If we try to anything now, we’ll be overpowered. The only thing we can do is stop this threat on our terms.”
“Sir, incoming transmission from the York Command,” said the communications officer.
“Patch it through to my screen,” Gates replied. On his screen, he read a transmission from York High Command. It read:
United States Space Command PRIORITY ALPHA
Encryption Code: Red
From: Fleet Admiral Roland, Commanding Fleet Officer, York High Command
To: Admiral Franklin Gates, Commanding Officer of the York Planetary Defense Fleet
Subject: Evacuation Status
Evacuation of all nonessential military personnel is proceeding as smoothly as possible.
Databases are being wiped of all data in accordance to Order 0245639B-3.
Self-destructs of all military complexes are being initiated and set on remote fuses.
Civilian population in panic due to the presence of the Torinth in the system. Space ports are being swamped with fleeing refugees. Marines sent to maintain order.
We need as much time as you can give us to save as many live as possible.
Give them hell, Admiral.
Admiral Gates read over the last part again, and knew for sure that they could not keep York from falling to the hands of the Torinth. All that they could do was hold them off and save as many as they could.
“Bring fleet up to red alert,” the admiral ordered. “Have each battle group form a defensive perimeter around each station. They’re our only advantage over the Torinth’s shields.”
“Aye, Admiral,” replied the comm. officer.
Soon, the entire defense fleet was taking defense positions around the stations; each station having about ten ships to protect it. As the ships were making the final corrections to their course, all the Torinth ships disappeared, but only for a second. In front of the formation, space bent and hyperspace windows opened. Out of these came dozens of Torinth ships emerging ready to annihilate the fleet and enslave the inhabitants of the planet.
The Torinth craft launch hundreds of fighter drones, with the defense fleet sending out their own fighters as well. Captain Derek Stewart watched as the drones come closer and closer. He can see the main cannons on the station swivel and fire. The shells hit the shields of a Torinth destroyer. The shields flickered for a moment and then collapsed. The rest of the shots impacted the hull, tearing several holes within it.
The destroyer, most likely having its engines disabled, drifted and collided with a Torinth frigate, causing both ships to explode ad disappear off the scopes.
“We’ve got contacts,” said Banshee 2 over the COM “Torinth drones on intercept course with the station.”
This was it. There was no turning back. Not that Captain Stewart would turn his back on a fight. “Banshees, engage at will. I repeat, engage at will.” He pushed the throttle forward and singled out a drone from the swarm. He raced toward it. He could see laser bolts fly from the surrounding drones, trying to shoot him down.
He was too good of a pilot. He easily dodged the shots, and brought the drone into his sights. He pulled the trigger. He could feel the craft vibrate as the shot were fired.
The drone vanished in a bright explosion, and Captain Stewart brought his fighter onto the tail of another drone. He waited until the fighter got into his gun sights and fired another storm of bullets in its wake. This drone didn’t explode like the rest. This one’s propulsion system had been damaged and it began to spiral.
All around him, ships were firing cannons, launching missiles, or sending laser blasts into the other’s lines. He watched as a Peregrine was swarmed by drones and destroyed. He watched as a Javelin, the fighter bomber in the fleet, crashed into the shield of a Torinth cruiser, in a last ditch attempt to damage the craft.
The John Adams raced into the fray. It took dozens of hits, but kept moving. Its cannons opened fire, and disabled the shields on a Torinth cruiser. It then fired a storm of missiles, leaving a severely damaged hulk of metal.