Okay, so because I actually can’t come up with anything particularly interesting to talk about and haven’t finished a couple of other things I promised to do on this blog, I thought I’d start posting my flash fiction here every now and then. The series is called “Tales of the Nineteen Galaxies” (as evidenced by the title of this post), and will continue indefinitely. They’re meant to be little random slices of life in the Nineteen Galaxies universe.
The first, entitled “HMS Poseidon”, is set 1000 years before Adam Caine’s adventures. This is the final moments in one of humanity’s most tragic events: the Interior Wars, where Mankind fought each other like the World Wars of old. The final War was fought because one faction of the Terran Navy believed they should rule humanity and not the duly-elected Parliament. This battle is the last gasp of the loyalists against the traitors, trying to cut the head off the traitors…
Battle of Karmana.
The final battle of the Interior Wars.
Everything was riding on one last strike at the heart of the renegade fleet. But it had turned into a bloodbath.
“The Hawkwing’s coming around again, Commodore!” the tactical officer shouted. The Poseidon’s bridge was falling apart around Commodore Grant, his uniform torn from flying debris, and his XO dead at his feet. But they were winning; damn it, but they were winning –even if winning meant destroying a fellow Terran Navy vessel.
Grant could see the Churchill-class battleship turning towards the Poseidon through the forward viewports. Her keel was spewing flames, and she was listing like a drunkard, but her crew evidently still had her under control.
The Hawkwing presented her port side: the only batteries she had left operational.
“Re-direct power to the bow and port shields. Take it from life support if you have to.”
The two battleships -locked on their course by the masses of starship debris either side of them- knifed forwards. Grant grabbed what was left of the railing around the command pulpit. First the re-directed shields lit up like an umbrella under the rain as the Hawkwing pounded their shields.
“Sir, there is a fluctuation in their shields. The energy from our weapons is being dissipated across their shields, but they are having trouble deflecting the debris.”
Grant smiled, hitting upon an idea.
“Helm, change heading to port by two degrees.”
The helmsman frowned, but complied, changing the ship’s direction by a fraction.
Grant continued smiling as the lumbering Poseidon’s shields suddenly connected with the Hawkwing’s. It was a matter of size: Poseidon was longer by another kilometre, with bigger shields, and a tougher hull.
Hawkwing’s shields failed first, spluttering and flickering before the feedback of the contact between two energy fields blew out a long row of shield generators that threw fire and hull plating into space. Then the Poseidon’s massive collection of port gun batteries opened fire at point blank range.
Grant had to cover his eyes the explosions were so big since the viewports’ polarisation was damaged.
“Report,” he ordered.
“Hawkwing is drifting without power, Commodore.”
“Take us into a low orbit of Karmana. Communications; contact the HMS Roskoff, tell General Yu he’s clear to come out from hiding in the Linkway. After that, he may deploy his troops when ready, and begin the operation.”
The officer in question nodded and turned to her assignment.
“Sensors, how is the rest of the fleet doing? And what is the status of Admiral Risley’s loyalists forces?”
“We’ve lost thirteen main capital ships, including the Triton, the Helix, and the New York, as well as twenty-two smaller capitals, and fourteen gunships. We lost fifteen squadrons of starfighters, and two bomber wings.” Shock ran through him: Helix had been a medical ship, caught in a maelstrom of combat. “The opposing fleet has no combat-capable vessels active, sir. The commander of their command ship wishes to surrender to you.”
Roskoff suddenly appeared in the viewports ahead of the Poseidon, powering toward the lush green planet below, where First Star Lady Jane Risley had established her headquarters after declaring martial law three months before. The Army transport slowed to a low orbit.
Puffs of steam and condensed air erupted across the battleship-sized transport’s sides, ejecting hundreds of SOD Pods into the atmosphere, each one carrying a ten-man squad of Special Ops Drop Troopers. Starfighters from half a dozen battleships still in orbit descended with them, roaring through the sky.
“Communication form the surface, Commodore,” the comms officer announced. “It’s Admiral Risley.”
“Put her through.”
Jane ‘Grizzly’ Risley’s wrinkled face and uniformed shoulders appeared in holographic form, hanging above the bridge, enlarged as if she was trying to be physically bigger than he was. Years ago, people had said that she was completely mad, now Grant could see it: she was practically frothing at the mouth.
“Commodore Grant; Geletti’s faithful servant, and a serious pain in my neck.”
“This civil war has to end; you’re fleet is neutralised, and your headquarters is about to be invaded. Give yourself up; surrender and we can finish this without any more bloodshed.”
“I am the rightful supreme commander of the Terran Navy, and thus have the legal power and right to declare martial law amongst the Terran territories during a major emergency or crisis.”
“No; you had no right to do that. Nor should you.”
Risley smiled, and reached off-camera to something, and nodded to someone to one side of her.
Warning alarms blared across the Poseidon’s bridge.
Risley’s holographic head disappeared.
Someone shouted the obvious.
“Commodore! The Omega Salvation just jumped into the system! Looks like they used their FTL drives to get around our fleet’s defences and come straight at us.”
Grant had been expecting this: Omega Salvation –one of the original ten super-heavy carriers built during the creation of the Terran Navy- was Risley’s flagship, and last ditch offensive tactic. He saw it for what it was: a trap. He cursed himself for not seeing it before. She had let Grant’s forces smash themselves to pieces against her main fleets, and then left the Omega Salvation out of it so that it could come in afterwards to blast whatever survived.
He nodded to the comms officer, who put him through to the rest of the fleet.
“All ships and starfighters, concentrate all firepower on the Omega Salvation. Do whatever you can to disable it.”
There was a chorus of acknowledgements.
The gargantuan carrier opened fire. The sheer amount of fire obliterated Poseidon’s bow, turning it into mince. The great ship began to list badly, its starboard sublight engines not getting enough power through.
Grant was on the deck, thrown there by the force of the attack.
When he picked himself up, the Omega filled the forward viewports. The massive carrier opened fire on the other ships, vaporising the heavy cruiser Great Britain, and breaking apart the battleship Glory. Starfighters swarmed over the shields of the carrier, tiny flashes of light popping along its flanks as the small one-man craft unloaded their munitions.
Then the Poseidon’s remaining guns opened up on the Omega, thumping her bow shields with powerful plasma weapons.
“Concentrate all fire on their bow shields,” Grant ordered. “Spread the fleet out as much as possible; that way they will have to divide their attention.” As he said that, the Sword of Orion erupted in a fountain of fire and debris, its wreckage brushed away by the shields of the big ship.
Torpedoes slammed against the Omega’s shields, energy rounds dissipated across its shields.
The heavy cruiser Potemkin was accidentally hit by a chunk of starship wreckage, sending it off course, and into the path of the carrier. The carrier, too big to manoeuvre, ploughed straight through it like a train through a hovercar. Omega’s bow shields sparked and then abruptly died under the impact.
“Target that hole, and fire!” Grant shouted excitedly.
Poseidon’s guns and torpedo launchers roared and thumped, joining a wave of lethal munitions that slammed into Omega’s armoured prow. Massive hull plates were buckled, twisted, or outright vaporised.
The carrier tried to turn, smashing aside a pair of gunships and a squadron of bombers as well as millions of tonnes of wreckage that taxed its remaining shields to the limit. But it was slow, and Grant’s fleet kept up the pressure, knowing that this could be the end if they didn’t bring this monster down.
The Battle of Karmana was a gambit to end the current –and most brutal- civil war to strike the Terrans.
It ended as it began: in fire.
The Omega started falling apart nose-first, just as the Poseidon was starting to come apart.
“Poseidon is lost, sir,” the acting XO announced.
Grant refused to believe it could come to this, but the officer was right: Poseidon was losing structural integrity, her guns were on the verge of overloading every single power conduit aboard, and more than two-thirds of the crew had been killed.
“Abandon ship,” he ordered.
As if to highlight the point, the upper command deck collapsed behind Grant, spilling inactive consoles all around the bridge. Now that the Poseidon was dead in space, the battle continued to move off away from Karmana’s orbit, and slowly away from Grant’s ship.
It only took a few minutes to get the survivors into the escape pods.
Grant got one more message off to General Yu before setting the ship on a collision course, and jumping into an escape pod. The enlisted man manning the controls rushed the escape pod out of its launch tube.
Dozens more accompanied the small cylindrical craft, heading towards the planet below and away from the battle. Although it wasn’t long before they were into the atmosphere, though it was long enough for Grant to watch as the Poseidon smashed into the side of the Omega Salvation.
The Omega broke in half, ending Risley’s reign.
* * * *
When he finally made port on the surface, Grant was welcomed with solemn looks and sad stares. Today had been the bloodiest battle Terrans had experienced in centuries, and had had Terrans on both sides. Too much had been lost.
General Yu was waiting for him.
They nodded to each other, and entered Risley’s office where she had barricaded herself in, awaiting the two senior officers.
Grant stifled a curse when he saw Risley.
Blood and brain matter was splattered over one side of the huge desk that had apparently once been used by the planetary governor. Risley was slumped in her chair, a huge hole through her head, and a smoking silenced pistol in one hand.
With one shot, Risley had effectively ended the last Terran Interior War.