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The Alexanderov Federation
Book 1 The Grendarl War

Part Thirteen - The Battle for Rrk'g'kreg III (I)

Now that Goodman was a Commodore, he had a slightly different role. In the upcoming battle, he was still commander of his own vessel, but he was also a link in the command chain. So instead of hearing only orders on what his ship was to do, now he had to make decisions for both the safety of his ship and almost 550 others, while at the same time also responsible to make sure that no missiles or fighters got past them to the main fleet. And if that required the sacrifice of a few vessels, it was his job to order that.

Knowing his attention would be divided, he'd reassigned Commander de Campos to be on the alpha shift, which was the primary crew and in case of battle stations took over regardless of the hour. The shift they supplanted, in this case Gamma shift, manned backup stations and tried to stay out of the way, while always being ready to take over their primary duty stations or any secondary station they were qualified for in the event of an emergency.

As the fleet approached Rrk'g'kreg III, the orders began to come through the comm channel from Admiral Stockert, and he in turn started issuing orders to the rest of the fleet.

"Stockert to Goodman, have your people take point, newer ships in the rear, standoff tactics, formation your discretion."

"Goodman to 57.1, take point. Lets start with a wall formation, four ships deep. Goodman to 77.1, take positions behind 57.1 in a decoy X. Continue forward until we are in optimal sensor range, then cut to minimum station keeping."

de Campos spoke up now, doing her job of interpreting his orders for the rest of his crew. "Stockert, move us into position. We'll take lower left decoy position."

A chatter of acknowledgements came back over the comm channel and the ships began moving into position. Being relatively small ships, it didn't take long for any ships to assume position.

Turley spoke up. "Sir, we are approaching the outer edge of sensor range. I can't get an exact count yet, but I think I see about 15 orbital platforms, type unknown, signs of massive missile bases on the surface, and the barest indications of two of their standard carrier task forces in a defensive position in front of the planet.

"Goodman to Stockert. Est 15 orbits, 2 Car TFs, potential missile bases."

There was no response audible, because apparently whatever Stockert said next went to different task force commanders. But the tactical view on Goodman's armrest display showed Task Forces 77 and 57 launching fighters and 75 and 55 both opening up with a full missile salvo.

"Missiles en route, Commodore," Turley reported. "Estimate they will reach and engage targets of opportunity in 15 seconds. We will enter optimal sensor range just before that."

Those 15 seconds were some of the longest of Goodman's life.

Turley started slightly as he processed the data from the sensors. "Sir, all missiles were intercepted or shot down. I'm reading 9 PD orbitals of heavy defense platform class, and 6 defense platform class IF orbitals. No beam weapons detected on the planet surface, but massive missile emplacements. They have about 200 carrier frigates again. I'm reading their fighter groups, and apparently they are using their fighters as anti-missile rockets."

"They are not moving to engage us?"

"Not at all sir."

"What are they up to, I wonder."

"Sir! A massive missile wave was just launched! Their carriers too, sir! I read over 8,000 missiles! 30 seconds to our position."

"Goodman to 57.1 and 77.1, full fire on incoming at maximum range."

de Campos again spoke up. "Morse, target clusters of the missiles. See if you can't take out more than one at a time. Fire at will."

Five seconds passed as the Sharktooth II's weaponry sang under Morse's expert guidance. With their larger and more powerful PD cluster, they took out 15 missiles solo, and another twelve were seriously damaged and picked off by other ships, and their sister ships performed similarly well, though the older ships were only able to take out one or two each. But then Turley's jaw dropped, and then he slowly drawled out a, "Sir?"

"What is it?"

"I think those missiles are targeted on TF 77. Sir, they see us somehow."

For those unfamiliar with formations, in a decoy X the actual task force leader takes a position two ships off the center position so enemy ships can't concentrate all fire on the center to try to take out the TF commander. There are four decoy slots, de Campos ordered the Sharktooth II to take the one that, if you face the X formation from the rear, would appear to be to the left and below the center position.

When reading task force numbers, ignore the period. For example, if giving an order to Task Force 57.1, you would say, "Fifty-seven one," or to 77.1, "Seventy-seven one," followed by the command.




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