Authors: Aer-ki Jyr
February 24, 2933
Sara-012 sat in the nexus onboard her warship, not
heavily engaged in anything but keeping an eye on the fleets while they were in
orbit of the lizard world sitting too far up the gravity well for the enemy’s
anti-orbital batteries to reach them and already having beaten the massive
lizard fleet that was on station here. It had taken more than a week to get
through the naval battle, for this system was one of the extremely valuable
dots connecting the lizard core worlds and their holdings in the chunk they’d
bitten out of Skarron territory.
The Voku and Preema had likewise carved a huge chunk
of territory out of the far side of lizard territory all the way over to the
midline that Cal-com had agreed upon. They stopped there, expanding their wedge
of conquest laterally and, in the case of the Preema, all the way to the
coreward edge of the galactic arm in order to try and get ahead of the lizard
spread there. The ships they were devoting to actually aiding the Skarrons were
limited on the far side, but they were taking names and kicking ass all along
the closest border to Preema territory and leaving a swath of empty systems for
the Voku and others to keep unoccupied.
Star Force had likewise been pressing towards the
midline while the H’kar were headed
. In truth
Star Force was attacking on multiple fronts, but their emphasis was on getting
at least a strand of systems out to the midline so they could connect with the
Voku and establish a firm linkage while severing what the lizards had. While
there were hundreds of systems along the ‘middle’ of enemy territory, the
lizards had been fortifying a single line through, expecting to lose the
This one had been so well fortified
that even the huge Star Force fleet Sara had
brought with her and Kiran-011 had had its hands full. They’d chewed threw more
than a million enemy ships by the time it was done, losing a third of their
drones in the process, including six of the new
-class warships that Paul had designed. Each year that
passed saw them getting smaller and smaller as the techs refined the Dre’mo’don
specs, but the ones that she had in her fleet were among the oldest
versions…though still damn more powerful than any of the other drones.
She had 11 left and
had 8, plus 182
jumpships between them and 4 command ships, not to mention the supply and
transport fleet that was fueling the ground invasion. There were two inhabited
planets in this system plus a scattering of outposts and Star Force had chosen
to go for the biggest of them first. Right now Sara was keeping an eye on
events below, as well as the relatively quiet orbit. There were still some
lizard ships out there, she knew, sneaking around the system. If they slipped
up she’d get them, but they were no threat to her fleet.
However, if they got to ground they could cause a lot
of trouble for their armies, which was why she was standing guard in the nexus
for a few hours, taking turns with
veteran Archons just in case the lizards pulled something fancy…or kamikaze.
Her ship had shields to deal with ramming debris but you had to set it up
first, so staying vigilant was essential. Her crew could handle that, but there
was something in her gut that told her this wasn’t going to be a regular
The only activity going on right now was the ambush
groups around the star. Giving that this was on the lizard lifeline between the
two hemispheres of their territory there was a massive amount of cargo transit
occurring through this location. Her ships were stationed to poach them as they
came into, then tried to round the star and get to the exiting jumppoint for
the next leg of their journey. Most of them were easy kills and normally she’d
feel bad about that, blasting away at cargo ships that couldn’t defend
themselves, but in truth none of the lizard ships could defend themselves
against an equally sized Star Force vessel. The tech levels were too far apart,
despite the impressive gains the enemy had been making in recent decades.
But the bottom line was that there were too many
lizards to play nice with, and even if you did bother capturing them they’d try
and kill you the moment they had an opportunity or, barring that, try and kill
themselves. Knowing what they were and what they’d done, for instance this
planet used to belong to a race known as the
that was now extinct because of them, Sara was comfortable simply blasting away
at them as they came within range, for if she let them go they’d only aid the
rest of their empire, perhaps against Star Force, or maybe against someone else
less able to defend themselves.
If it was the Skarrons she’d think twice about letting
them go, just so they could fight it out, but this juggernaut of an empire was just
too deadly. Not to Star Force anymore, but Sara could remember back when it had
been. When they’d been the lesser and hanging on by a thread. The Hycre had
saved them back then, and they’d since repaid that favor with returning the
bulk of their conquered worlds back to them, but she wasn’t going to make the
mistake of thinking that the lizards were less dangerous than before. She and
the others had simply gotten a lot more dangerous themselves, though to unknown
races out there far, far away it wouldn’t matter. The lizards would simply run
them over and slaughter them.
With that in mind, Sara kept her warships at the main jumppoints
with orders to blow away anything lizard on sight.
One factoid that she’d been noticing, and confirming
what the Voku had already told them, was that the lizard cargo ships were only
full heading coreward, with the bulk of them returning empty. That suggested
the lizards were heavily favoring the combat in the Skarron zone…not a bad move
considering that Star Force and its allies were winning out here and pressing
ever closer to the lizards’ core worlds. If they’d devoted those resources here
it would have delayed things further, but not stopped it. Though now that they
were effectively blocking off their internal highway those ships and supplies
would be staying put and fortifying the
There were plenty of other systems still in lizard
hands to send convoys through, which they no doubt would begin to divert
through until Star Force and the Preema/Voku eventually spread out to take
those systems as well, but any ships traveling off this line were vulnerable to
ambush because there wasn’t heavy lizard defenses waiting to screen for them.
If they could break this link in the chain the lizards would either have to
risk being ambushed constantly, which they would be as the Voku were already doing
a very good job of it throughout this area, or have their empire effectively
cut in two.
And it was for that reason that Sara felt uneasy about
this. It’d been a hard fought win to claim naval dominance, but her gut said it
wasn’t over yet.
When an unusually large number of incoming ships
popped up on sensors arriving at a jumppoint on the
side of the star she took notice, with her warships and their drone fleets
ambushing them as they arrived…but they kept coming in a long convoy that
didn’t stop, eventually dumping off enough cruisers to fill the jumppoint with
a beehive of contacts that kept getting larger by the minute, for they were
jumping in so close to each other that she knew this wasn’t a standard
Already linked into the nexus she started giving a
flurry of orders to both her fleet and
didn’t know where he was at present, but he wasn’t logged into a nexus so she
had priority command. Taking control of every ship in the system she began
maneuvering her chess pieces around and pouring a chunk of them in towards the
star including her command ship, for she couldn’t suffer the lag involved if
she was going to micromanage the arrival point battle.
Her connection cut out when the ship made its
microjump, with the speed messing with the battlemap reception. Rather than
send corrupted signals the technology switched to observation mode until the
braking microjump was made and the speeds of location and ship returned to
relative stability. As the battlemap updated so did the ship counts, with the
lizards literally ramming their empty jumpships into her fleet.
She saw one of the massive jumpships flash into the
side of four drones, vaporizing them on impact with a shiver running down
Sara’s spine. The drones had been
the lizards couldn’t accelerate off the gravitational mass at system’s center.
Rather they’d have to push off of distant planets for slow movement navigating
the star, but this one hadn’t. Where they normally would have been safe from
such a tactic, her fleet was getting hammered by what was obviously an upgrade
in gravity drives.
The lizards now had binary versions.
Another flash ended before it began, with a command
ship on site bracing against the kamikaze jumpship. The dampening shields had
gotten up in time, and given the short distance between the two vessels the
lizard jumpship hadn’t been able to accumulate a massive amount of speed. As if
punishing it for its impudence, the command ship lit up the jumpship’s surface
with dozens of weapon strikes visible at range, including a bloon launch that
carved a crater into the bow, spraying debris out in a quickly expanding halo.
Sara made adjustments to her ship formations
immediately, recognizing this battle was quickly turning into chaos. The
lizards weren’t just trying to damage the Star Force ships, they were buying
time for the new ones coming in to dump their cruisers before they could get sheared
off their docking ports by Star Force’s superior weaponry.
And there were more and more coming, with no way for
her to scan to see how many were on the way. Star Force transmitted signals
ahead of them when entering friendly systems, but the lizards were not, meaning
there was an unknown number of ships coming in and she was losing drones
rapidly from the kamikaze runs, not by the cruisers, but by the humongous
jumpships. That was a waste of resources she’d rarely seen the lizards commit,
but this system was their lifeline to the other half of their empire and it
seemed they were more than willing to commit excessive reinforcements to try
and hold it.
That meant they had a genuine war on their hands this
time, not the one-sided affairs that Star Force had to work for, but whose
ultimate outcome was never really in doubt.
“So be it, then,” Sara whispered, stretching her
-enhanced limits and taking a deeper control of the
fleet movements, yanking priorities out of captains’ and remote pilots’ hands
and making this her personal battle more so than normal.
She broke off a group of drones and sent them
bypassing the lizards at the forefront, diving in between their fleets and
heading for the incoming jumppoint itself, which was creeping outward into the
system like a slowly deploying rug laying down ships. It was there that the
loaded jumpships were coming in, and it was those that Sara wanted to hit
before they could unload, figuring that they wouldn’t go kamikaze until they
did so, as well as realizing that there were other lizards ships in the way up
front that they would run into.
With that front line being the collision risk, the
trailblazer forced part of the fighting behind their lines, getting far closer
than normal. Typically it was Star Force that stood off and sniped from range,
but now they were doing the reverse across the battlefield as Sara ordered all
incoming ships into pointblank range to lessen the impact velocities of any
ramming vessels. She knew she was going to lose a lot of ships, but better to
fight this here and now than give them easy access to the system.
Sara kept calling in more ships from planetary orbit,
but didn’t pull them all out, for she didn’t want
running reinforcements down to the surface where the ground battles were only 2
months old. The planet was still mostly in lizard hands, and it would be easy
to reinforce them if they could get their ships down inside the safety zone that
the planetary defenses provided.
She sent a message to the commander there to form a
defense line at the jumppoint in from the star and at several of the
subsidiaries coming off the planets. If the lizards did try that tactic they’d
have to approach much slower or creep in on an indirect jumpline, but for now
the battle was here and Sara tried to focus as much as she could without
Minutes passed with the carnage continuing to
escalate, then a chunk of the ships under her direct command were siphoned off
by another person in the network. The only one who had access to override her
, whose command ship had just jumped into
stellar orbit and was on approach. Thankful for the help, both in firepower and
mental workload, the two trailblazers split up the battle into two parts…the
front line and the flankers. Sara was already working the flankers in between
the enemy ships so
let her keep those, pulling
the main defense line to his control and reworking it slightly to fit his
That Sara didn’t mind, for each commander handled
things a bit differently. She could see the changes happening as she watched
the overall battle in mind’s eye, but most of her focus was on the weapon
strikes she was coordinating to cripple jumpships within a few seconds of their
shields going down. Boring strikes down deep into the hull to knock out gravity
drives and power generators, she left the ships otherwise intact but unable to
summon up the energy for kamikaze dives…or at least not very fast ones, for
hitting every single gravity drive within a jumpship was difficult, for in the
lizard designs they were spread throughout the ship in numerous locations.