Authors: Ryk Brown
Tags: #Science Fiction
Table of Contents
The Frontiers Saga Episode #13: A Show of Force
Copyright © 2015 by Ryk Brown All rights reserved.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
The Jung battle platform held its position a few hundred kilometers above the surface of Copora, just as it had for the last three years. Its presence above the inhabited, Earth-like moon orbiting the third gas giant in the 61 Cygni system served as a constant reminder to those on the surface below that they were, and always would be, subjects of the Jung Empire. Unlike the smaller frigates and cruisers, both the battle platform, and the considerably smaller battleship, were forced to maintain their position on the opposite side of the moon from its parent world, Kleiades. The battle platform, being more than twenty kilometers in diameter, found itself expending far too much propellant as it fought the gravitational influences of the gas giant. Although impossible to see with the naked eye from the surface, on a clear night the citizens of Copora could easily spot the platform, glowing a brilliant turquoise as it reflected the light bouncing off of Kleiades.
As usual, shuttles of varying sizes, as well as small groups of fighters coming and going, could be seen entering and exiting the numerous flight bays located in three of the platform’s six arms. In addition, on this day, one of the four frigates assigned to the 61 Cygni battle group could be seen entering the massive docking bay on the outermost tip of the platform’s number three arm, to complete its scheduled resupply. With the exception of the frigate, the scene appeared to be like any other day over Copora.
Then something changed.
An irregular breach, at least three hundred meters in diameter, suddenly appeared in the battle platform’s central structure just above its number three arm. Massive amounts of debris shot out the opposite side of the platform’s central structure below its number six arm. Multiple secondary explosions followed immediately after, causing both the number six and number five arms to break away from the platform. An instant later, a second breach appeared, this time in the topside of the number four arm, the debris shooting out the bottom side of the arm as it too broke away from the platform’s central structure. Numerous explosions from within the still-intact portions of the platform continued to occur, spreading outward, as the entire platform came apart. More explosions from within the now-detached arms engulfed what little remained, as the symbol of Jung supremacy in the 61 Cygni system ceased to exist.
People moving about the streets of Gastien, Copora’s capital city, looked upward in astonishment at the display in the evening skies above. Where the ever present turquoise glow of the Ton-Kwieset had once been, there were now only orange-yellow explosions, appearing and then disappearing in rapid succession. Several small, brilliant, white flashes marked the platform’s final demise, as several of her automatically ejected antimatter cores’ containment systems failed. The Coporans could scarcely believe their eyes as the explosions in the sky faded, leaving only the occasional flash of latent secondary explosions amongst the many larger pieces of scattering debris.
The gathering crowds erupted in cheers at the realization of what had just occurred, despite the knowledge that they could be shot on site by any Jung soldier who might witness their joyous outbursts. The excitement of the moment was as overwhelming as it was unbelievable.
Again, in the skies above, more than eighty degrees to the west of the original explosions, more detonations appeared. The crowd again exploded with delight as they watched the Jar-Paddic meet its demise as well. “The Jung have fallen!” someone cried.
“Jump complete,” Loki announced from the backseat of Falcon One’s cockpit as the blue-white jump flash subsided.
The interceptor shuddered violently as it found itself abruptly forced into atmospheric flight after jumping in low over the streets of Gastien from their previous position well outside the 61 Cygni system.
“Damn!” Josh cried out as he slammed the throttles for the Falcon’s lift thrusters to their maximum setting. “Is the atmosphere thick here, or what?”
“Adjust heading, one point five degrees to port,” Loki instructed. “Reduce speed to three five zero.”
“One and a half to port, three five zero.” Josh made the necessary adjustments as his partner prepared to launch weapons. He glanced upward briefly, taking in the explosions far above them. “Holy shit! Look at that!”
“I saw them,” Loki replied.
“What about the others?” Josh asked, returning to business.
“Three jump flashes,” Loki responded. “One to port, and two to starboard. All trailing. Maintain course and speed. Locking on primary and secondary targets. Ten seconds to weapons release.”
“I’ve got nothing on my threat board,” Josh announced. “It looks like we caught them by surprise.”
“Weapons away,” Loki reported as he pressed the launch button on his weapons control screen. The red threat warning light began blinking at the top of his console. He glanced at his threat display as orange icons began popping up. “If we did, then their automatic defense systems are damned fast. I’ve got multiple air defense turrets powering up all over the city!”
” their commander’s voice crackled over the comms.
“Breaking left to engage live air-defense turrets. One, take down the three dead ahead. Two, take the two to the east. Three, loop over and kill the one behind us. Execute targets, then jump to rendezvous point alpha-1.
“One copies,” Loki responded back over the comms. “Veer right and take the far tower,” Loki instructed. “I’ll take the ones to the left with the nose turret as we pass.”
“Turning right!” Josh replied. “Let’s go blow some shit up!”
The crowds of onlookers who had been pouring out onto the streets of Gastien only moments earlier were beginning to realize that they were in the middle of a war. However, the battle wasn’t only in the skies above, it was also on the streets below. Three fighters of unknown origin had suddenly appeared from blue-white flashes of light. Within seconds, they had streaked overhead and launched missiles at distant Jung targets. Then, after a brief attack on Jung air-defense towers with their guns, they disappeared as miraculously as they had arrived.
The crowd began to disperse as the onlookers feared for their safety, seeking refuge anywhere they could as more flashes of blue-white light appeared in groups of three all around the city skyline. More missiles were launched, leaving thin contrails as they streaked between buildings. At the end of their journey, the missiles would arc upward briefly before turning back toward the surface, their warheads detonating just above their targets.
Alarm klaxons sounded in the distance, sirens wailed, and the thunderous, rapid-fire pounding of Jung air-defense rail guns that had not yet been destroyed could be heard in the distance. Flashes of blue-white light continued to appear in every direction as the fighters of unknown origin seemingly popped in and out of existence. They would linger only long enough to deliver their weapons onto their targets, disappearing again before the Jung air defenses could lock onto them.
Those brave enough to peer out from their hiding places watched as Jung vehicles filled with combat troops and technicians rolled past. The vehicles paused at intersections just long enough to drop off small squads of soldiers that dispersed quickly in preparation to maintain control over the population during the attack.
A brilliant, blue-white flash appeared in between the buildings, only a few meters above the street, accompanied by a deafening clap and a rush of displaced air. The flash immediately subsided, revealing a small, armed shuttle craft, its engines roaring at full power to maintain its altitude just above the surface. The shuttle’s forward momentum continued to carry it forward, as its reverse thrusters fired to decelerate. Menacing looking troops clad in flat black combat armor stood in the open doorway of the shuttle as it came to a hover, still only three meters above the street.
At the intersection ahead, the Jung soldiers who had just been dropped off spun around toward the hovering enemy shuttle. After a moment of hesitation at the unfamiliar sight, the soldiers opened fire on the shuttle. As the red bolts of energy from their rifles ricocheted off the armored underside of the shuttle, the enemy ship’s side-mounted, double-barreled weapons quickly angled downward and opened fire. Red-orange balls of plasma energy spewed from the twin barrels in rapid succession, obliterating the helpless Jung soldiers at the intersection. The engagement lasted only seconds, after which the shuttle’s guns went silent and the troops standing in its doorway leapt outward. The armored soldiers fell the few meters to the surface, hitting the ground running with their weapons raised and ready for action. By the time the six, black-clad soldiers had taken their first few running steps down the streets of Gastien, the shuttle had already pitched upward and begun a climb, disappearing seconds later in another blue-white flash of light.
The invading soldiers charged down the street directly into incoming Jung weapons fire directed toward them from the next intersection. The invaders zigzagged in practiced fashion, presenting difficult targets as they continued to charge forward with weapons firing.
The Jung soldiers fired multiple rounds in rapid succession, sweeping their weapons from side to side as they attempted to kill the on-rushing enemy. The invaders, on the other hand, fired single shots, each one finding its intended target with maximum effect.
“Jump complete,” Mister Riley reported from the Aurora’s navigation station.
“On direct heading to target charlie one,” Mister Child announced from the helm.
“Locking all forward torpedoes and cannons on target charlie one,” Jessica reported from the tactical console.
“Weapons free,” Nathan ordered calmly from his command chair in the middle of the Aurora’s bridge.
“Massive debris fields!” Mister Navashee announced with excitement. “The platform and the battleship,” he added. “Debris, gases, bodies, wreckage.” Mister Navashee turned slightly to glance over his shoulder at the captain. “Both targets are completely destroyed,” he declared, an obvious grin on his face.
“Firing forward weapons,” Jessica announced.
“Full mag,” Nathan ordered as the red-orange light of the plasma shots bathed the bridge in similar light. He watched as the image of open space on the semi-spherical view screen that encompassed the forward half of the Aurora’s bridge shuddered for a moment, after which it revealed two Jung cruisers, both of them showing their profiles, one near and one far.
“Oh, this is too damn easy,” Jessica exclaimed as the first round of three plasma torpedoes slammed into the unsuspecting cruiser.
“Multiple direct hits,” Mister Navashee reported. “Secondaries… charlie one is coming apart.”
“Pitching up,” the helmsman reported. “Bearing onto target charlie two.”
Nathan watched the main view screen as the first cruiser slid downward and out of view as it broke apart. “Jump flashes, Mister Navashee?”
“Scouts Two and Three have just jumped in, Captain. One should be jumping in any…” Mister Navashee’s brow furrowed as he studied his sensor displays. “Charlie two is powering up her defenses. She’ll have full shields in twelve seconds.”
Nathan glanced at the image of the distant cruiser on the main view screen. Although he could see the ship clearly, he knew that it was still a considerable distance away and was visible only because of the view screen’s current magnification setting. “Range to target?”
“Twelve hundred kilometers,” Mister Navashee answered.
“Mister Riley?” Nathan urged.
“Micro-jump, aye, sir,” the navigator responded.
“Zero mag,” Nathan ordered as the light from their jump flash washed over the bridge.
“Locking all weapons on charlie two,” Jessica announced.
“Target’s shields are at eighty percent and climbing,” Mister Navashee reported.
“Switch to triplets on all forward weapons,” Nathan ordered.
“Firing triplets, Jessica replied. The bridge became illuminated with flashes of red-orange light as the first plasma charges left the Aurora’s forward torpedo tubes.”
“Jump complete,” Commander Eckert reported as Scout Three’s blue-white jump flash subsided.
“Jung frigate, dead ahead and down three,” Ensign Agari announced. “Range to target; ten kilometers and closing fast.”
“Pitching down,” Captain Nash said as he manipulated the ship’s attitude thrusters to bring their nose onto the approaching target.
“Port and starboard plasma cannons charged and ready,” Lieutenant Scalotti confirmed. “Weapons lock in three…”
“Escape jump, plotted and ready,” Commander Eckert stated.
“Stand by to jump,” Captain Nash ordered calmly.
“One…… Weapons locked! Firing!”
Red-orange light flashed over Scout Three’s flight deck in rapid succession as the ship fired its newly installed weapons in combat for the first time. Captain Nash fought back the urge to smile as the last red-orange ball of plasma left their cannons. “Escape jump,” he ordered as the first shots slammed into the enemy frigate, still far beyond their visual range.
“Escape jump in three…” Commander Eckert began.
“Direct hits!” Ensign Agari reported with excitement.
“How bad, Toosh?” Captain Nash asked as the ship’s jump field emitters began to spew forth blue-white light that quickly engulfed the entire vessel.
“Four! Five! Six…!”
“Jumping,” Lieutenant Commander Eckert reported as the jump flash washed over them. “Jump complete.”
“Toosh?” the captain urged, still waiting for a definitive answer.
“Not sure yet, sir,” Ensign Agari responded. “It will take a few seconds for me to get new readings since we jumped, but she’s got to be breaking up. I thought I saw secondaries just before we jumped.”
“Let’s come back around for another pass, just in case,” Captain Nash suggested as he initiated a one hundred and eighty degree turn. “Have our next attack jump ready,” the captain added.
“Already loaded, Captain,” Commander Eckert replied.
“There’s no way that frigate survived six plasma shots,” Lieutenant Scalotti insisted, “not with her shields down.”
“I’m sure you’re right, Donny,” the captain stated.
“He sure is,” Ensign Agari declared. “She broke into three pieces! Huge debris field! Almost no energy emissions.” The ensign turned to look forward at his captain. “That target is definitely destroyed, sir.”
Captain Nash turned to his right, looking back over his shoulder at his crew, a smile forming. “Looks like we got our first official kill, gentlemen.” He looked at Commander Eckert on his right. “New jump, Skeech. Let’s see how Captain Poc is doing.”
Four more blue-white flashes over the central square made the Coporan dusk appear as day for the briefest of moments. Shock waves of air displaced by the suddenly arriving ships rattled the nearby buildings, blowing out windows at ground level. Engine pods screamed as the four strange-looking, alien ships descended the last ten meters, riding down to the surface on fiery jets. Almost simultaneously, oversized landing gear deployed from the four ships, locking into position just as their wheels touched the ground.