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Fiction Preview - Talbock's Patrol (Part II) by Yasotay
This is a small excerpt from yasotay's excellent fiction now being prepared for a major rerelease

Commander Takhed elEtuh sat in the command chair and watched the semi-liquid ?ocean? speed by below his Blooodhound Assault Frigate. ?Bloodhounds are not made to operate in an atmosphere.? he thought as the ships frame creaked from the turbulent atmosphere. Still they were tough little ships; the workhorse of the fleet, if any ship was going to pull this off it was a Bloodhound. A glance at his tactical repeater showed the two other Bloodhounds following in his wake; a rather large wake at that.

?Course point five in thirty seconds. Decision point in one minute thirty seconds.? The tactical officer sitting to Takhed?s left said with remarkable aplomb considering he was on his first combat tour.

?Acknowledged.? Both Takhed and his navigator said simultaneously. Takhed looked at his Navigator, seated to his right. The young woman was engrossed in her displays, her right hand resting at the base of the manual control stick. Even with the software upgrades for this mission, the Bloodhound was not a graceful flyer. Computers that could use sensor data to make them one of the most agile space combat ships were dumb and blind. The mission dictated all sensors be left in standby or completely off until they reached land. She had about two seconds to realize an error and take manual control before the ship and crew became wreckage strewn across several miles of cold ocean floor.

?Course point coming up, five, four, three, two, one. Course point five.? The end of the navigator?s litany was almost lost in the sounds of the ship protesting the subtle ten degree right turn. Her hand tightened ever so slightly on the manual control until the Bloodhound rolled out on the new course. ?On course.?
?Decision point in fifty five seconds.? The Tac-O?s matter-of-fact voice belied the increased tension. In less than one minute the small flotilla would either commit to a very risky attack or point their noses skyward and use every ounce of power to escape to space before the Vagyr realized could effectively intercept them.

?Anything?? the commander asked as he watched the other two ships complete even more brutal turns to turn ?inside? of the leader to maintain spacing.

?No Sir, nothing from fleet or the passive sensors. The plan seems to be working.?

elEthuh painfully remembered those very words, ?the plan seems to be working? coming from Commander Hodomache just minutes before he and most of the crew of their Liir Hra where killed by the Taiidan. ?Farma, please never say that again.? He said quietly. The young officer murmured a bewildered consent.

?The Plan? had been made in haste. The ruse to fool the Vagyr was successful. Fleet Captain Riesseuer had arrived over the planet with little fighting. By the time they realized the FRF was not the main force there was little more the Vagyr could do than fall back to another system and join with other fleet elements. This did not end the Vagyr presence at Oboth however. Frigate sized missiles sent in numbers began attacking the fleet almost immediately. Instead of investing the planet, the fleet had to ward off the swarms of missiles thrown at them. After several days of non-stop operations the FRF had located a large base on a frigid moon of the gas giant that was Oboth?s planetary neighbor. Ideas from dropping a big rock on the base to waiting half a system cycle for the planet and its moon to be blocked by the systems sun, had been advanced and thrown out one by one. Time was critical. A Soban SOG had kept the Vagyr in other parts of the Hei?meridus sector from immediately reacting toward Oboth but now reported an increasingly large Vagyr fleet forming for a counter attack. With the FRF near the enemy base this plan hatched.

The base, it turned out was mostly underground, protected by massive antimissile shield and kinetic weapon defenses. It was decided that more protected ships with heavier firepower would be needed; missiles and strikecraft would not work on a base this well defended. It would take heavy cannon and hyper velocity missiles at close range to destroy three massive emitters that would allow other weapons to be brought to bear on the underground fortress. While the FRF had played ?hide and seek? with the sensor network of the base, the FRF engineers had developed and built discardable ablative shields and nose covers to allow the Bloodhounds to enter the atmosphere at the same time fine-tuning the inertial dampeners and software. The crews had rehearsed constantly.

?Thirty seconds to decision point.?

The entry into the moon?s atmosphere had coincided with a feint by the remainder of the FRF to both electronically and physically draw the attention of the Vagyr. It appeared to have worked. The three Bloodhound of Commander elEtuh?s flotilla had made it through the decent unmolested, blown off the massive ablative disks and accelerated to the breakneck speeds they now roared across the ocean at. Their low level mission was almost four hours old; in less than thirty seconds they would commit to the attack or abort the mission.

?Coming up on DP.?

Takhed heard his Tac-O, but he was already past that. If the mission was going to be cancelled that decision would have been made already. He went over the attack plan they would execute seventeen minutes after the decision. The thought caused him to smile; he was along for the ride, his crews could do this mission in their sleep, unless something went wrong. The Tac-O began the countdown to the point in time and space where the final decision was to be made. It came and went, as Takhed knew it would, with silence. The Navigator throttled back the ship ever so slightly to allow the other two ships to swing out on either flank of their leader. They would spread out over a hundred kilometers from each other. He looked at the engrossed navigator, ?How are we doing?? he asked.

?Dampeners are still running higher percentage, but otherwise we are nominal.? She replied without looking up. The massive ice encrusted mountains of the coast where not only visible but growing rapidly.

Four minutes later the silence of the coast was shattered as the three Bloodhounds roared across the coast into the mountains that rose for the icy sea, the shockwave of their passing caused sheets of ice and rock alike to crack and tumble into the crags below.

When the Tac-O announced they had reached the attack position everyone heard a large ?clack? as the engineer blew the protective nose cover. It was immediately followed by a bone rattling rumble as the now tortured air beats against sensor plates on nose. The sensors all came on and Takhed?s tactical screen came alive with data from all three ships and the rest of the Fleet. Another strikecraft feint had the Vagyr?s undivided attention. With the active emitters on that would not last long.

?Firing ECM and spoofers.? Farma announced. The ?thunk? of missiles launching ratcheted the intensity of the crew up. The navigator was visibly sweating as the ship continued to weaves through mountains. Missiles continued to arch up from the three ships as they attempted to blind and confuse the enemy.

?Attack position in fifteen seconds.?

Commander elEtuh looked at the data from the other ships. Both were tracking their courses well within the expected parameters. With a couple of button pushes he saw that their ships were in operational order.

?Attack position!? the Tac-O grunted as the dampeners exceeded their limit, when the ship pitched up into a steep climb.

The tactical panel in front of young flotilla commander blinked with red icons and data as the warning receivers wailed as defenses begin targeting his ship. It also showed him that the other two Bloodhounds were right where they were supposed to be. The display also showed that the ships targeting systems had already acquired and locked onto the defense field emitter array that was their target. Of the eight that protected the missile base only three needed to be destroyed in order to collapse the shield over the base.

The Bloodhound rolled over onto its back and began a hard arc onto the target. The gun turrets of the Bloodhound had been designed for space combat. While they could take the pressure and friction of the wall of air they had to push through, the gears that drove them in space could not turn them in the atmosphere. The guns were fixed forward so the Bloodhounds would have to line up on the target like a giant strikecraft.

More red icons appeared as more of the defensive systems took notice of the real intruders, the warning receivers increasing in intensity. Behind the wailing of the warnings, as the ship arced over the top of a bone crushing turn into its attack profile, a calm voice announced over and over, ?Caution! Dampener overload! Caution! Dampener overload!? As the ship began to accelerate downward, the ship commander pushed the override marker on the display without second thought.

?Incoming missiles.? The Tac-O voice was now slightly strained. As if on queue the rail guns began sending hypersonic projectiles into the emitters. The ship rocked violently as defensive missiles detonated near the ship. Even though they did not hit, the concussion in the thick atmosphere pummeled the Bloodhound. The shrill emergency notice claxon hammered at the crews ears indicating a component of the ship had failed. The same calm voice announced ?Dampener failure, dampener failure!?

Before anyone could say anything a blistering white ball of light almost washed out the visual display. Then another, and another. The defensive shield collapsed as the massive shock waves spread across the enemy base.
The emergency claxon continued its dire warning. A quick look at the ship status showed the dampener unit forward bulkhead thirteen had failed. The three crewmembers who worked in the nose of this ship were no longer protected from the massive gravity surges that the ship would experience.

?Manual?? the Nav-O asked urgently, knowing the forward crew would likely die from the massive pull of gravity as the ship pulled up. While the other two ships would fly low to get out of the area, hiding in the mountains, the flotilla leader would pitch up and use ever bit of power to escape, trying to draw the attention of the defenses while hoping the second part of the plan would occupy the defenders long enough for them to make good their escape.

?No.? elEthuh said. Almost immediately a brutal crushing hand pushed him into his seat. A loud metal clangs followed by the same dreaded calm voice told the crew ?forward sensor failure, missile system one, two, three failure, forward dampeners offline.? while and red blinking segments on the ship platform display told the same story. The litany continued even as Taked vision went grey and tunneled, sure signs that he was loosing consciousness. He strained to see the icons of the other two Bloodhounds making good their escape. He also noted the momentarily stunned defensive systems of the fortress had only one good target now and as he sat their on the verge of unconsciousness he saw a flurry of enemy missiles begin to rapidly overtake the slower Bloodhound. Luckily as the ship was now almost out of the moons atmosphere the turrets could operate and began throwing shell after shell at the oncoming missiles. The one remaining missile launcher fired more ?spoofer? torpedoes as well.

As the wounded Bloodhound rocketed out from the moon?s grip, the semi-conscious crew took no notice of the two massive Hiigaran Battle Cruisers that had made a risky hyperspace transit over the moon. Nor did they witness the flood of surface attack missiles and huge kinetic rounds the two ships sent arching toward the now helpless Vagyr fortress. Part Two of the plan had occurred right on schedule.
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