The Evon Experience
by Alex Poff
Chapter 12 Setback in Ognath
Labon's heart raced and his pulse quickened with excitement. The thrill of battle was soon to be upon him; of this he was certain. Long-range sensors had indicated the presence of thirty Laaran vessels in the Ognath system, a decent force, but nothing his fleet couldn't handle. In addition, the system only held a solitary planet, so, if all went well, the next stage of their mission could be accomplished relatively quickly. Surprise was the order of the day when they exited the jump lane into the Ognath system.
"Red Alert - Proximity Warning" banged the sensors as they exited the jump lane. Labon's orders had been simple; the four LR TF's would advance on the planet, followed behind by the slightly slower but still formidable two transport TF's. Labon and his four IF TF's would lock on and launch at the nearest threat to our advancing fleet. The problem was, which one to lock on to?
There were not thirty Laaran ships in this system; there were one hundred and eighty. In addition, the planet was fortified with Missile, Beam and Fighter bases as well as five IF Orbital Stations. The wave of missiles and fighters that flew at our four advancing LR TF's was staggering. Our missile TF's launched at the incoming SR Attack TF's, in an attempt to at least counter the Laaran plasma weapons that they would be sure to carry, but this left our LR TF's to have to rely on their own point defense weaponry to stave off their own destruction. The heavens once more took on that ghostly green glow, hard beams firing at will at the uncountable number of enemy targets that swarmed our advancing fleet.
Within moments, the outcome was obvious. If we stayed, we would all perish. Two of our four LR TF's were gone, obliterated, while our missiles had destroyed only one Laaran SR TF. The Laaran fighters were refueling, their missile ships reloading. Labon had ordered the immediate turn around of our two transport TF's, which were now racing to join up with Labons' four missile TF's; a greater concentration of PD weapons in one place would at least give our Rhean troops a chance at survival. Semak radioed in from his LR TF, indicating that their shields were failing and his armor had absorbed all that it could; a second wave would certainly kill him and his remaining wing. Labon made the correct decision. Now, while they still had the chance, retreat to Moya and regroup. Losing all ten TF's in a vain attempt would be foolhardy. Labon gave the order "All units, retreat to the jump lane, full impulse!" All remaining eight TF's made the lane in time, but the Laaran forces were in hot pursuit.
Labon jumped on the interstellar communicator as soon as they had reached the relative safety of the jump lane. It would take just two cycles to reach Moya, and Labon was certain that the Laaran were coming in. Lotar was obviously distraught over this setback. Obviously the Laaran had detected their imminent arrival in Ognath. How else could one explain the disparity in actual defense forces versus what our sensors had indicated? Nonetheless, Lotar was ready. Already, four additional 3rd generation IF TF's had been mobilized in Moya. The system stood ready with one hundred and forty-four ships. With Loban coming in with an additional one hundred and forty-four ships, Lotar knew there was nothing more that he could do. The best that he had were in Moya. Let the Laaran come. One more cycle and we would have our answer.
The Laaran came. As Labon had expected, they had followed him into the jump lane. When he exited the lane into Moya, sensors once more snapped on the "Red Alert - Proximity Warning" signal. Amazingly, only four Laaran TF's emerged, just seventy-two ships. Labon and his fleet were wheeling to face the Laaran, but he never even had to fire a shot. Evon missiles from Moya locked on to the Laaran hulls, streaked by his ship, and smashed into the Laaran vessels. Strategically positioned Evon LR TF's, positioned just at the lanes' entry point, tore through the Laaran shields. Lotar had been waiting.
When the dust had settled, Lotar was perplexed and not sure how to feel. Yes, he was disappointed in our failed attempt to gain control of the Ognath system and devastated by the loss of two LR TF's in the initial assault, but overall, we had destroyed ninety of their ships with only a thirty-six-ship loss on our side. In addition, the two TF's that had been lost were both 1st generation ships, with lesser shielding and armor than what was now currently available and being deployed in Moya. Moya was safe, he was sure of it. We had fourteen fighting TF's, plus our two transport TF's in Moya, but Lotar was going to scrap these existing Battle Cruiser Transport vessels. He wanted bigger ships, Battleships, loaded with missiles. Tactical analysis showed that the Laaran's vessels were especially susceptible to missile fire.
Our scientific advisors continued to come forward with more good news. An even larger class of ship was less than twenty cycles away, a Dreadnought class. "Excellent, room for even more missiles!" Lotar was certain that Ognath would fall; it was only a matter of time.
Tovam was the name of the fleet commander responsible for our forces in the Selia system. To be honest, he was bored. Lotar had said he showed great potential, and even though he was quite young, had been given command of the system. He yearned for action, but knew there was no way that Lotar would re-deploy him to Moya anytime soon. Tovam commanded a fleet of, as indicated before, seven TF's made up of five 1st generation LR Battle Cruisers and one each of 2nd generation Battleship LR and IF TF. Without even any more "fish" to hunt, Tovam's mind began to wander once again to thoughts of the mysterious Guardian, only two systems and four cycles travel away. "What strange and wondrous secrets does it protect?" Tovam pondered.
Amazingly, a request to explore the Guardian system returned with a positive response. Lotar instructed Tovam to leave immediately, taking the five LR Battle Cruiser TF's to investigate the system and destroy the Guardian, if need be. Casualties would only be acceptable if there were only truly something magnificent and beneficial to the empire at hand. The two, more powerful Battleship TF's were to remain in Selia to guard against any annoying "fish incursion" (one just could never tell when they might show up again). It was done. Tovam's heart and fleet set sail.
When the "Red Alert - Proximity Warning" sensor snapped on, it was the first time in what seemed like forever that Tovam felt apprehension. The "fish" incursions no longer thrilled him, it had become like shooting so many "fish in a barrel".
Sensors showed five planets in the system, but that was the limit of their scanning ability. Tovam had no more time to scout these new planets. A massive vessel with an enormous power signature was bearing down on them, fast. Tovam hailed the vessel, as policy had to be adhered to, but it was obvious that this "thing" would not be answering them with chatter. Tovam's fleet launched their single shot missile volley and all their fighters at this Guardian. The sky around the Guardian was alight with point defense weaponry and missiles exploding on seemingly impervious armor. Sensors indicated that the damage to the Guardians' hull and shields was minimal, at best. And now, it was upon us.
Tovam did an exceptionally magnificent job that day, attacking the Guardian, rotating and shifting his wings of TF's about, so that not one took direct hits for any extended period of time, but in the end, the battle could not be won. Tovam ordered the fleet's withdrawal when it became obvious that our shields were collapsing and the Guardian's was not. Staying there would have simply wasted the lives of brave Evon crewmen, and Tovam did not want that on his young head. Tovam retreated and left the system, returning uneventfully to Selia. Again, the Guardian did not follow. Tovam was quite disappointed with himself, but Lotar was not. He had followed orders, lost no lives, had determined that great firepower would be needed to defeat this Guardian and that there were five more planets (uninhabited, it appeared) potentially available to our Empire, at some point in the future. No, Lotar was impressed with his Southern Fleet Commander, and he told him so.