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Fiction Archive - First Clash by Crimson_Shiva
First Clash

This work of fiction was posted on Wed Jun 08, 2005 on the old PDS Website.

Aboard HGN CL Caal-Diam
Edge of Vaygr Occupation Zone
Hiigaaran Counterattack: Vaygr Asteroid Processing Facility

?Helm! One-five-four mark two-seven-zero! Maximum acceleration!?
The LiirHra cruiser Caal-Diam heels hard over, her fusion engines blazing, as a salvo of fusion missiles sweeps in past her stern. The last-minute maneuver sends the missiles zagging past the diving CL, and her stern point-defense autocannon blaze to life, swatting three missiles out of space.

Captain Aran ash-Sham fights off the urge to sigh in relief. It is a captain?s lot to appear ever cool, ever confident, supremely controlled. Nervous mannerisms are taboo in the rareified circles of command.
Ash-Sham is a veteran with superb kinesthetic sense; she knows where she is, always, no matter how many dizzying turns and high-G accelerations she has gone through. In their infinite wisdom Fleet Command has pegged her as a perfect captain for the maneuver-oriented LiirHra class.

She might not have been so eager to accept the posting if she?d known about the opposition.

The Vaygr Auvurnagal BB off Caal-Diam?s port bow looks like a blood-spattered blade; her crimson-and-white paint scheme glares in the dim light of the nearest, nameless star. Brilliant, sun-yellow highlights shine off her prow as her spinal ion cannons hurl ravening fury after Caal-Diam.

?Helm, bring us around and under her,? ash-Sham orders, her voice so totally calm that it reveals the full extent of her nervousness. ?Weapons, all main guns are free. Retain all CIWS for point defense.?

Caal-Diam?s full array of pulse-ion cannons, as well as her top heavy ion cannon, opens fire, carving into the Auvurnugal's nose and forward underbelly. Vaporized armor spalls into space like a metal blizzard as the energy weapons carve abstract graffiti into the Vaygr warship?s hide.

?No noticeable damage,? Guns calls. ?Maintaining fire.?

ash-Sham glances over her repeater displays with casual diligence. Indicators flash crimson as the Vaygr battleship noses down, and her heavy forward beams carve into Caal-Diam?s spine. The beam weapons slash across the light cruiser?s thinner armor with arrogant fury. One beam punches through the armor, slashing through a section mercifully free of crew and leaving a tangled mass of melted metal and dying flames in its wake.

?We?re hit,? the ops officer calls. ?Beam impacts in middle frames, upper decks. Armor penetrated in section Golf-Tango-Niner. Ammo feeds to AC3 are cut.?

?Roll ship!? ash-Sham snaps. ?Damage control, get on that ammo feed!? Losing one of our point-defense autocannon won?t help things when they get their next salvo loaded?

Caal-Diam finishes her diving turn, her prow sliding under the Vaygr ship?s nose. Her drives flare back to full acceleration, and the nimble light cruiser glides along the battleship?s underspine, her weapons pounding at the battleship?s armor. The battleship can only reply with light point-defense weapons, which merely dent the cruiser?s armor.
Ash-Sham allows a predatory smile to cross her face. We?ve got them now. If we can curve up behind and hit their engines?

She spares one eye to glance at the situation monitor. Caal-Diam is tangling with the Titan of Fire at the heart of the engagement; fighters and corvettes buzz around the two capital ships, occupied with each other. A few thousand kilometers beneath and to port, a dozen Vaygr and Hiigaraan frigates swarm in a massive furball; missiles slide out of the engagement to come arcing after Caal-Diam, only to be clawed out of space by the light cruiser?s gunship screen.

?Vampire! Vampire!? a bridge officer screams. ?Multiple launches, all tubes!?

ash-Sham rips her eyes away from the situation monitor and back to her repeater displays. The Titan of Fire is vomiting fusion missiles from seemingly every crevice of her hull, and each warhead is curving around towards her ship.

[i]Aboard Armada de Makaan BB Forgefire

?Burn, Hiigaaran dogs!?

Shiplord Varakan?s exultant exclamation is calculated to induce the proper mix of exultation and battle-fury in his bridge crew. He is no bloodthirsty fool ? but he understands the value of a little enthusiasm.

Vaygr bridge crews rely heavily on verbal communication; their battle language is sophisticated and information-dense. Varakan listens with pleased satisfaction as his weapons and ops officers engage chatter about missile telemetry and angle-of-arc.

?Helm, give me a rolling turn to two-seven-zero mark zero. Show the Hiigaarans our broadside ? and keep our engines off their vector.?

?Aye, shiplord!?

The huge warship thrums with power as her maneuvering thrusters drag her to port. Varakan?s eyes narrow as his tremendous missile salvo closes in on the irritating Hiigaraan light cruiser that has plagued him since the beginning of the engagement.

The ship?s point defenses are highly effective. Autocannon fire claws the first echelon of his missile spread from space ? but many of the warheads are burst jammers, meant to confuse point-defense sensors, and others spray chaff and decoys. The second wave is slightly more effective, and a few warheads slam into the CL?s hull, bursting in apocalyptic flowers of nuclear fire.

The third and final echelon of the missiles comes in from a slightly different vector, above the LiirHra?s rear port section. Varakan frowns as the point-defense autocannon covering that vector fails to engage. Perhaps the Hiigaarans are getting sloppy?

?Their point-defenses on the rear port section are damaged!? one of his tac officers shouts. ?We must have hit something with the beams!?
Varakan slams a fist down on his theatrically massive command chair, sending a flare of protesting static through his repeater displays.

?Guns! As soon as our next salvo is loaded, aim for that vector and kill them!?

Aboard HGN CL Caal-Diam

?Dammit! AC3 still has no ammo feed! We?re wide open on that quadrant!?

ash-Sham sweeps an eye across her maneuver plot. Four fusion missiles are barreling right down the vector that AC3 should have been covering. ?Pull us up!? she shouts. ?Zero-zero-zero mark four five!?
The maneuver comes too late. Three warheads slam into the ship?s spine and detonate, just to port of her main ion cannon turret.

Concussive ripples of shock slam through her hull, tossing unsecured crewmen into bulkheads and sending a groan of protest down the cruiser?s spine. The LDS installations covering that area are vaporized by the detonations, and autocannon fire begins hammering into the cruiser?s hull like a monsoon rain.

The Titan of Fire begins swinging to its port, pulling its engines around to the port of Caal-Diam?s vector. As the light cruiser climbs, it exposes itself to the battleship?s port broadside; plasma lances flicker across the cruiser?s spine, raising a morning fog of boiled armor. LDS systems struggle to keep up with the flood of incoming flechete munitions.

Ash-Sham finds herself suddenly on the defensive.
?Nose down and full acceleration!? she orders. ?Break off!?

The Liir-Hra accelerates away, presenting her tail to the battleship as the larger warship continues swinging its nose around after her. Ash-Sham grimaces in distaste as she notes the angle. The Liir-Hra?s rear is vulnerable in terms of point-defenses, especially with AC3 out of action.

As if to accentuate the thought, a wing of Saracen bombers slashes across the LiirHra?s top, pumping a hail of plasma bombs into the gap on her port rear armor. Fireballs bloom from gashed hull as the bombs detonate, severing power feeds and frying several of the repair bots at work on AC3?s ammo feed.

?Lost repair teams on AC3,? an engineering officer reports. ?Looks like they got fried by those bomb hits.?

Ash-Sham looks over in alarm. ?Retask another team! We need those point-defenses active five minutes ago!?

?No bots available,? the engineering officer replies. ?Sorry, sir ? we took a pretty sorry beating in that section -?

?Then send some of the Marines!? ash-Sham orders. ?They?re always crying for some action!?

?Aye, Captain. We?ll have that AC back in a minute.?

AC-3 Ammo Feed

?Martyrs of Kharak! Something just cut the whole thing right in half!?
?Shut up and work, Corporal!? Marine Sergeant Saran-ko bellows. ?You?re going to be the one cut in half if you don?t get this gun shooting!?

The ammo feed is sliced in a convenient location ? a wide, easily accessible compartment in the rear decks. The ceiling and floor are a blasted wreck, and the hulks of several repair bots ? literally melted by plasma wash ? float as unpleasant reminders of what happened to the last repair team.

The power-armored marines shove the destroyed machines aside and crowd around the ammunition feed, anchoring themselves to the wall with magnetic grapples. They begin clearing debris, straining to push huge melted chunks of bulkhead away from the feed access.

Other marines cart a series of patches, fusion torches, and gear into place, cursing at the difficulty of zero-G maneuvering. The feed tube is relatively short, but it needs to be intact; the autocannon munitions are small, but have to be loaded rapidly and efficiently, and any break in the feed tube wall ? like the ragged slice bisecting it ? makes firing impossible.

Saran-Ko wrestles with the chunk of shrapnel that is jamming the tube, finally wrenching it from the interior of the feed line and throwing it aside. Fusion torches blaze to life as marines slam patches into pace and begin hammering and melting them into shape. Carelessly applied quick-hard patch foam sprays everywhere, coating the Marines and their gear, but no one pays much attention. The direction of gravity is changing ? a sure sign that the ship is launching into another series of evasive maneuvers.

Aboard AdM BB Forgefire

?They?re climbing away!?

Shiplord Varakan leans forward, glaring at the LiirHra. I?ve never seen a ship that size move so quickly?or prove itself such an annoyance. No matter; my steed has proved its worth in battle against ships many times larger.

?Follow it, then,? he orders. The battleship?s prow has finally come around to follow the nimble light cruiser, but now the Hiigaaran ship is climbing away, forcing the near-stationary Titan of Fire to nose up after it.

?Missile loading complete!? Guns cries victoriously.

The ship judders as a Hiigaaran Lothringen carves an ion beam along her stern, but Varakan ignores the irritation ? he has bigger prey. ?Ops! How?s our lock??

?Shifting, sir. The damn little gnat has a lot of ECM.?

?That?ll change soon,? Varakan promises grimly. ?As soon as you have a fair lock, cut loose with all tubes. Bring your missiles in on their weak vector.?

He leans back in his command chair and smiles victoriously. ?Then we?ll see how well she runs.?

A series of dull hammer-blows sound through the battleship?s hull as her plethora of missile tubes open fire. The first-echelon missiles, are, as usual, seeded with decoys and jammers; the second and third echelon follow on their heels. The entire gaggle of warheads forms up on a specific vector, tracking the Liir-Hra as the Hiigaran ship banks hard to starboard.

?Clever maneuvering,? Varakan acknowledges. A starboard rolling turn puts the weakened point-defense system away from the missile salvo. ?But it won?t help you.?

The Vaygr fusion missiles overshoot the LiirHra. The light cruiser?s point defense systems blaze away, pumping out autocannon rounds furiously, and several missiles blow up in silent puffs of flame. But the other warheads curve back, coming in from the weakened quarter, and there are still at least a dozen missiles in space.

A Saracen squadron sweeps in ahead of the missile salvo, pumping fusion bombs into the cruiser, then pulls off to the left as a group of Blade interceptors come screaming in from behind. The Blades rattle off a few rounds at the bombers, then turn towards the missile salvo, firing missiles and decelerating to maximize their engagement window.

They kill another four missiles before their combat pass takes them out of range. Eight warheads hit terminal-attack range and dive in on the light cruiser?s damaged section.

Aboard HGN CL Caal-Diam
AC-3 Ammo Feed

Unbeknownst to Shiplord Varakan, the Saracen bomber?s second pass has wreaked havoc on the marine damage-control crew. A plasma bomb detonated only a few sections away from the marines, incinerating a dozen of them instantly and mauling more.

Sergeant Saran-Ko groans in pain. The blast pushed him into the path of an active fusion torch, which cut off his lower left arm, suit and all, before the safeties cut on. The cauterized stump is open to vacuum.

?Corporal,? he moans, addressing a nearby drifting form via his suit com. ?Can ? can you get to the torch??

He blinks and takes a closer look. The drifting form is missing most of its chest. Saran-Ko looks around, and finally spots another Marine, drifting towards him. ?Lance corporal! You alive!?

?Yes, sir. Are you ? s***, sir, your arm!?
?Forget the arm,? the sergeant snaps. ?Get that torch and put that final patch in place!?
?Suh! Yessuh!?

The corporal grabs the drifting fusion torch and plants himself against the ammo feed tube. He wrestles the device into position and slams the controls forward. An arc of plasma reaches out and licks at the final patch, cauterizing it into position.

?Make sure it?s sealed, Corporal. If they magnetize the tube and it?s not seated right, the whole thing will disintegrate.?
?Aye, sir. It?s done!?
?Good work, c-corporal? now t-tell the Captain!?


?Captain! AC3 is back up! Ammo feed is working, and she?s loaded!?
Captain ash-Sham looks over in startled astonishment. ?Then engage, Guns! Engage, for Sajuuk?s sake!?

The gunnery officer hammers at his console, and the reticent AC3 roars back to life. Mass-driver shells slam out at the incoming warheads, killing three in rapid succession. The sudden awakening catches the Vaygr gunnery officer totally by surprise; his warheads don?t even launch into maneuvers for another few seconds.

Only one survives to strike the hull, but it?s a near-direct impact on the previous detonation points. The fusion blast kills Sergeant Saran-Ko and the surviving marines instantly, then cauterizes AC3 right out of the hull as well as killing a third of the power to the top main ion cannon.

Ash-Sham does sigh in relief this time. That could have been much worse. ?Helm, take us around! Let?s show this Vaygr clown how a real navy does things!?

The resulting knife-fight is short and to the point. A tangled three-minute close-range engagement ends with Caal-Diam seriously scarred and Forgefire at around 60% operational effectiveness.
The numbers don?t tell the whole story, however. Ash-Sham?s maneuvering action keeps the battleship, and its huge complement of missile launchers, occupied long enough for the Hiigaaran frigate forces to rout their Vaygr counterparts.

The Hiigaaran battle frigates descend on Forgefire, their weapons nipping at her spine and cutting through the breaches that Caal-Diam?s weapons opened. Four Lothringen heavy frigates combine their firepower to breach the huge BB?s armor and slice open a missile magazine, hobbling her offensive capability.

Aboard AdM BB Forgefire

Ten minutes after the beginning of the engagement, Shiplord Varakan elects to withdraw. He recovers his surviving light cavalry and fighters and disengages by hyperspace exit. [I]Forgefire is badly wounded, her missile magazines nearly empty and her hull scarred in a thousand places by the massed fire of the Hiigaaran light cruiser and its frigate consorts.

Worse, Varakan has lost a vital strategic facility ? a blow to his prestige and power, as well as to the war effort. Some Vaygr captains might find themselves consumed by hatred; others might contemptuously dismiss the day?s experience as another example of Hiigaaran cowardice.

But Varakan is more dangerous and wise than that.

I will find my mistakes, he promises himself grimly, his fist tapping a slow beat on the arm of his massive command throne. I will correct them. I will forge my crew into the kind of keen blade that the Vaygr need so badly.

And next time I encounter Caal-Diam, I will be prepared.
Edited by TelQuessir on 05-09-2005 09:11
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