Contingency, p.1Florian Nagy
Copyright 2014 Florian Nagy
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The Earth Defense Fleet’s ships zipped around the amassing enemy armada. At its head loomed the oncoming dreadnaught. The Skyrrnian flagship advanced slowly among the intense exchange of firepower. Deadly eruptions of light and destructive energy flashed all over the view screen of the EFS Vigilante. From inside, the crew of the now dwindling supply of Earth frigates could see the enemy behemoth. It picked off the fighters who were valiantly trying to hinder its advance by focusing fire on one of its windows or power relays. Unfortunately, the Skyrrnian flagship had blast shutters drawn over almost every sensitive component and was fully prepared for the assault. Its turrets took down the small strike craft like flies.
The flagship was a huge ship, larger than any previously seen in the Skyrrnian fleets. Its large, bulbous anterior section was outfitted with many viewports for its multiple bridges. Scans of the ship had shown a complex interior design, of which almost nothing was understood. There were many points of command, which took control over many simultaneous operations taking place in the battle between the two armadas. Operations on the ship itself and its hangars were controlled from these points. Operations based off of several groups of other large Skyrrnian ships seemed orchestrated from this one hub as well. The entire Skyrrnian fleet seemed to move as one, and the presence of this intense command network seemed to be the key.
The Earth Defense Fleet ran its chain of command in a much more distorted fashion. Whenever a general order was issued and then carried out by a hierarchy of commanders, each commander added his own interpretation to the plan at his specific command level, thus creating a less coherent fleet, which couldn’t work in all its possible efficiency.
The flagship had braces moved over almost all its windows (aesthetics was not of importance in a time like this), and its armor seemed layered, with many separate plates covering and reinforcing its hull. Defense turrets bristled at several locations on the side sections of the mass as well as the top, which seemed to flatten out and create a military platform. From a 45-degree angle downwards, the front and side sections of the ship formed rigid walls housing the command windows and hubs. This section abruptly ended to give way to the bottom of the ship underneath. Heavy weaponry protruded from both left and right sides, and multiple clusters of guns could be seen. The center portion of the behemoth was thinner than the rest and had some windows. It was shielded from view by the military platform above it, and was probably used for living space and thus showed no outward details. The aft portion came out of the middle like a triangle. At the top, connected to the military platform, gaped its immense hangar bay which spouted out ships and received crippled ones. It was a center of activity. Earth’s attacking ships tried to spearhead an entry but were furiously denied with raging shreds of light emanating from points bordering the massive dock. Skyrrnian ships lingered like an insect cloud in its vicinity. To the bottom of the hangar roared the behemoth’s massive engines. A set of eight large cylinders, blasting antimatter, shone palely blue.
Darius looked hopelessly over the remaining defense fleet. His deep-set eyes caught all the forms and shapes of the scene unfolding in front of him. Standing on the bridge of the EFS Vigilante, he could see that only a handful of frigates were left strategically retreating under their mediocre firepower. Only one war cruiser was left; the Earth Defense Fleet’s Aurora III. It was badly damaged, and its left weapons array all but destroyed. Its aft section was venting blue sparks and bolts from all of its broken power conduits. It was trudging slowly to turn and flee, but was under heavy fire from the majority of the Skyrrnian fleet. Crack after crash came through the communications link, and soon large hulks of seared metal started flying off at violent releases of energy as the contact beams fried off the sections of the ship. The other cruisers of the Earth Defense Fleet that had spearheaded the defense and had taken the brunt of the alien assault were all floating debris and carcasses of metal.
The Aurora would soon share their fate. Its hulk creaked and started the tear under the concussive blasts from the alien flagship and its escort. The end section came off grindingly and erupted in a shower of electric lights that flew off in every direction. Screams were heard through the communication link, and soon the captain's voice came on with a slight hesitation, "…is fleet commander Jerald warren of the Aurora III, I have set a collision course with the enemy dreadnaught. We hope to at most cause a distraction and buy some time for our fleet. The enemy’s arrival to Earth must be delayed as long as possible. All our escape pods and fighters have been launched.” A crackle was heard in the background, and some muffled voices quickly exchanged alarmed tones, and the captain continued, “…to the rest of the fleet, either delay the onslaught with your lives, or flee for them. I have no contact with the admiral and do not know if he is alive, no beacons respond from the EFS Adrada, and I do not hope for any. I leave you all, choose your fate well, and choose together as one. A few escape shuttles from Earth are already space bound; try to cover their escape if possible."
Darius watched the bulk of the cruiser’s front half change course slightly as its emergency side boosters flared. The half of a once proud totem of power, now crippled and punctured, sped up towards the enemy. Its slightly thinner front made it look like a blunt spear slowly trudging toward its target. Unfortunately, the cruiser was dwarfed by the behemoth and—at best—would only cripple it. The behemoth fired a bottom gun that emitted a bright orange glow in a conic projection, right as the cruiser was about to hit it. The cruiser gleamed with heat; the fiery projection seemed to disintegrate the matter in its wake. The EFS Aurora broke apart as it hit the ship. Its bold assault was severely hindered as the ship fell apart, sending large chunks of its metal scratching along the behemoth's surface. The pieces ground up portions of the dreadnaught’s armor, and then were sent bounding off along the sides of the ship. There were visible collision marks, and some chambers had become decompressed and refortified with the ship’s emergency doors, but overall too little damage had been done: the brunt of the impact had been nullified by the orange beam.
"Captain Targen!" called the helmsman from his station as creaks and groans from the Vigilante’s hull signaled enemy fire. Darius stood there behind the captain’s chair. He had stood up during the final stages of the fight.
Is this how the Earth Defense Fleet reaches its demise? It cannot be. Has the Imperium given its last breath? But a few weeks ago we would have been ready to meet and send back those incoming hyperspace trails. How sure we would have been of ourselves. The Skyrrnians had be
Had the Skyrrnians really been able to produce such an armada in a few hundred years? Their poor and resource-depleted planet had somehow managed to build all this grandeur. The fervor with which they must have worked was incredible, not to mention that they must have been able to construct it all in an undisclosed location, somehow hidden from Man’s sensors. Yet it was still physically impossible. They must have been sponsored by another powerful group that had equal motivation to get rid of humanity. Yet who could it be?
There was no time to think now. The billions of lives on Earth would be all but gone. Possibly a few of the renegades being evacuated could survive if given more time. His eyes scanned the battlefield before his eyes. Without voice he motioned his arm forward, and the helmsman, who sadly understood the captain's choice, pushed the engines, sending the EFS Vigilante lunging forward. Another gesture to the weapons officer set all the weapons, creating a dazzling display of light that was meant more as a distraction than an actual attack. Darius quickly reflected on all that had happened. How did it end up in such a mess? The EFS Vigilante met its end in the silence of vacuum as it flew towards the enemy armada. Surely it had to be an unfitting finale. The Earth Defense Fleet, what an ironic name.
Contingency by Florian Nagy / Science Fiction have rating 3 out of 5 / Based on15 votes