The Evon Experience
by Alex Poff
Chapter 4 And On And On And On …
The war with the Tachidi added yet another front for Labon to deal with. Tovam was transferred from the Draconis system where he had been commanding the entire “2nd arm” defense force. Tovam was an excellent commander and had always been thought of quite highly by the entire military establishment and yet it was curious that he had never actually taken part in any expansion assaults for our Empire. Now he stood as a middle-age captain only ten years younger than Labon, not the young hotshot that Lotar, Labon’s predecessor, had seen so many years ago. Nonetheless, his record was spotless, counting amongst his achievements the two original successful Guardian assaults and of course, the ongoing continued success of our “2nd arm” and its defense against Nommo incursion.
Tovam would head up the attack force, which would leave Juta and head west to Gadoquat, the first of the Tachidi systems. “If I am planning on retiring when Coilis and Hektar finish their current phase of their Meklar mission, then Tovam will be retiring when he is finished with the Tachidi,” thought Labon. Because we had previously been engaged in a Defensive Alliance with the Tachidi, we were fully aware of the extent of their empire, or Collective, as they preferred to call themselves. They held a total of thirty-four planets in seven systems, all connected via standard space jump lanes and all easily accessible from Juta.
While the path seemed relatively straightforward, the task would be long and arduous. The Battleoid technology that we employed for ground invasion was now a relative standard across the galaxy, one that was evidently known and instituteable by all races. This was becoming extremely apparent in the ground battles now taking place in Butain and Nostrum where Coilis and Hektar were currently fighting the Meklar, Trilarians and Nommo. Our war ships were still meeting massive resistance but, as before, our kill ratio was staying around ten to one in our favour. The ground assaults were a completely different story. Individual planets in these two systems were so well fortified that it had taken more than a year of continuous attack to capture even one of them. Hektar and Coilis were forced to station their attack fleets above the planets and fend off defensive incursions and enemy attempts to reinforce ground units continually. Lebak had gone to the Rheans and had asked them to step up production of these mech
anical units; such was the drain on our reserves. Labon fully expected Tovam to meet with exactly the same type of resistance in the Gadoquat system and beyond.
With this posting, Labon also explained to Tovam that he would not be the person to fill the Vice Admiral position upon Labon’s retirement. Labon explained that he wanted continuity in command wherever possible and because this mission had an estimated span of between fifteen to twenty years, it would be highly probable that, while having great significance and glory associated with it, the likelihood that Tovam would even want to assume the position of Vice Admiral while closing in on the age of seventy would be highly unlikely.
Tovam was not discouraged. To be honest, he was thrilled with finally getting the opportunity to be involved in a mission so strategic to the Empire. While, long ago, Lotar had hinted at the prestigious position, Tovam was under no illusion. He was well aware that both Coilis and Hektar had proven themselves more than once in service to the Empire. He just wanted his own shot and he was about to get it. If all went well, he could join Labon on the beach and they could share Alkari ale when this was over.
The jump lane brought Tovam and his fleet to a point almost equidistant between Gadoquat I and Gadoquat II and at a relatively safe distance from the orbital missile batteries that were certain to be ringing the planets. “Tactical analysis” ordered Tovam. “Sir, Gadoquat I and II both have nine orbital batteries,” came the reply. “The Tachidi defense fleet is coming around Gadoquat I. Their weapons are charged and they are acquiring a lock.” “That makes it fairly simple,” thought Tovam. Gadoquat I would be his first target. “Position the fleet into standard attack formation, Lieutenant. Attack Gadoquat I.”
Standard formation was as follows: four Titan IF TF’s in front, backed up by four Titan CF TF’s directly behind them, followed by the two Dreadnought Transport TF’s in the rear, allowing maximum protection for our ground forces.
Tovam moved his fleet slowly ahead towards its target. His IF TF’s were tasked with, first and foremost, the destruction of the orbital batteries ringing the planet. His fighters would launch and engage the defense fleet. All ten TF’s in his fleet would remain closely bunched together providing maximum PD firepower and cover to each other. This had been a proven, extremely effective plan in all our latest assaults and was felt to be the main reason for our overwhelming advantage in kill ratio versus our enemies. Once the orbitals were destroyed, usually with our first missile wave, our gunners would launch the second wave of missiles at the opposing fleet. This would be coordinated with our fighter squadrons, who would withdraw and re-fuel at this juncture, launching again if required.
All was seemingly going according to plan. Tovam’s first missile wave knocked out the orbital batteries and our fighters were inflicting serious damage on the Tachidi fleet. The Tachidi had been able to get off an initial missile salvo from their orbitals, however (this was not unexpected) and their fleet had launched their own missiles and fighters, which were now engaging Tovam’s fleet. Our PD weapons, comprised of multiple Lightning Generators, Disintegration and Phaser Beams blazed continually and status reports from all vessels indicated that, while shields and armour were taking a pounding, not a single fatality had yet been recorded. “Target the remaining Tachidi TF’s and launch our second missile wave,” ordered Tovam. “Recall fighters for re-fueling, get them out of our blast radius now.” “Aye Si… Captain!” shouted his tactical officer. “Additional ship signatures entering the system through the jump lane, directly behind us, Sir!&r
dquo; “Who? How many? Give me a rear view on screen, now!” ordered Tovam.
It was a sight that Tovam did not want to see. Ten Psilon TF’s had just entered Gadoquat space, directly behind us, their weapons locked on our hulls. This was obviously a well thought out trap, timed perfectly. Our IF TF’s had just launched their second wave and could not immediately fire again until they were reloaded and recharged. Our fighters were inbound, almost out of fuel and ammunition.
“They are firing weapons, Captain! They have targeted our Transport and CF TF’s, Sir!” As our second missile wave raced across space to engage the remaining Tachidi, they in turn launched what would be their last missile and fighter wave at our fleet, also apparently targeting our Transport and CF TF’s. “Damn smart,” thought Tovam. “Take out my CF’s and my remaining IF’s will be sitting ducks without fighter support.” As the last of the Tachidi defense fleet erupted in a blaze of self-sacrificing fire brought on by our second missile salvo, so too did our Transport TF’s, unable to withstand the massive onslaught that hit them like Thor’s hammer, PD weapons firing until they seemingly melted in their mounts.
“Turn the fleet, target those Psilon scum, fire all missiles as soon as possible! Order all fighters with anything left to engage, refuel and reload only if absolutely necessary.” “Aye, Sir, twenty-five per cent of fighters capable of re-engaging, Sir” came the reply from his tactical officer. Our CF TF’s took the brunt of the assault. In addition to Psilon missiles and fighters, their fleet was also comprised of SR TF’s, which, because of the point blank nature of the assault, were able to unleash a devastating attack. Two CF TF’s were obliterated before our third missile salvo took flight from our tubes. Our missiles smashed through the weaker Psilon armor, instantly vapourizing the four front-running SR TF’s and then re-acquired new targets, the Psilon missile boats. Our two remaining CF TF’s flight crews worked frantically, refueling and re-arming fighters for a second launch. Once again, our PD weapons blazed, and as stated earlier in our history,
if it were not for our superior defensive capabilities, all might have been lost. As our remaining fighters swarmed the Psilon TF’s, Tovam’s four IF TF’s launched their fourth and final missile wave. “Get our boys out of there, now!” he screamed. Fighters zipped through space, turning and burning, many trying to get off a final parting shot at the Psilons before our missiles ripped them a new one. The remaining Psilon vessels exploded like fireworks on a national holiday, the threat eliminated, at least for the time being.
“Status report, all TF commanders report in.” “Sir, four TF’s destroyed, both Transport TF’s and two CF TF’s gone, Sir,” came the reply. “All other TF’s report minor damage only, Captain. Orders, Sir?” “Request reinforcements from Juta, including additional Troop ships, Lieutenant. Form up the fleet, take a defensive position, we’ll take point,” replied Tovam. “ I am not going to glass these bastards from space, not on my first mission,” he thought. “No, I am going to wait here until more ground troops arrive and then I am going to go to the planet surface myself and personally execute the bastard bug that’s responsible. And if I’m really lucky, some Psilon scumbag will be sitting there with him.”