Board (offline)



The Gathering Storm

Part Seven

The battle was going to Hell at a staggering speed.

Potemkin had managed to pull his forces back to Terra III with minimal losses – the Ithkul had been more interested in assembling the remainder of their forces at the star lane. When they finally attacked, it was with a vengeance. Seven hours of desperate fighting had ravaged Potemkin’s fleet. He had lost fourteen battleships, six carriers, and ten trilarian battlecruisers, along with countless frigates and PD cutters. His fighter squadrons were down to 70% effectiveness, and his bombers down to 62%. The Ithkul had even managed to destroy one of Terra III’s orbital weapons platforms. Potemkin had made his enemy pay dearly for every ship they destroyed – nine SuperDestroyers, eleven dreadnaughts, and several destroyers had been reduced to scrap. But it wasn’t enough. They were still outnumbered and outgunned, and it was only getting worse with each passing minute.

The Admiral had kept his fleet from being routed, but nothing he did could seem to damage the dreadnaught. Every tactic, trick, and gambit he had tried had failed to so much as scratch the paint. She just brushed aside everything that he threw at her and kept coming. For now, Potemkin was just trying to stay away from it while he picked away at its escorts – although he had a hard time calling something as large as a dreadnaught an “escort.”

The Lakul slammed hard to starboard. “Navigator – evasive maneuvers,” ordered Potemkin. “Signal our escorts to target that SuperDestroyer! Blow it out of the water!” His ship rattled again. The lights flickered, then came back on. His two graviton-beam cruisers opened fire on the offending SuperDestroyer, forcing it to break off its attack. “Damage report!” snapped the Admiral.

“Port shield down, dorsal shield weakening. Minor hull damage, nothing too serious,” answered the Operations officer.

A deep rumble reverberated through the bridge as a flight of bombers landed to refuel and rearm. Potemkin flicked a switch on his chair, “Engineering, I need those shields back up yesterday!”

The reply came back, “We’re working as hard as we can captain. We’ll have ‘em up in a few minutes. Engineering out.”

Potemkin looked at this tactical display. Things were not looking good. The Ithkul were attempting an enveloping maneuver. He frowned. The Admiral was quickly running out of options. He flicked another switch. “Task force three, head for grid Alpha-12 and hold that position. Everyone else, prepare to follow them.” Confirmations came in from the various captains and admirals in the fleet, and the maneuver began.

The Lakul shook again. Two Harvester bombers could be seen flying away, their ordinance already unloaded. As he watched, three of his fighters dropped behind the bombers and destroyed them in flashes of light.

“Damage to engine two!” declared the operations officer.

Potemkin flicked the first switch. “Engineering…”

“We’re on it, captain. Engineering out,” came the curt response. The Admiral’s brow furrowed. Perhaps he needed to stop pestering his engineering team…

Admiral Potemkin looked back at his tactical display. Things were not looking good. The Ithkul had anticipated this maneuver and were moving to block it. He was running out of options.

Three bright flashes on the viewscreen caught his attention. All that was left of the three nearest Harvester dreadnaughts was an expanding cloud of plasma and debris. Potemkin squinted. Where the Ithkul ships used to be, something new had appeared. Another fleet was decloaking. Yellow, triangle-shaped ships became visible, firing at the surprised Harvesters. The Admiral was shocked. The last people he expected to come to their aid was the Psilons.

“Admiral, we’re receiving a transmission,” the comm officer said.

“Put it on-screen.”

The viewscreen changed to show the bridge of a Psilon ship. The Captain hovered a little bit higher. “This is Ace Pace of the Psilon Battleship Memory of Mentar. We are here to assist you. Please pull your fighters and bombers back from the Ithkul capital ships. Memory of Mentar out.” The screen switched back to the battle.

Admiral Potemkin paused for a minute, shocked. Then he snapped into action. “You heard the man – pull our fighters back. Tell the rest of the fleet to maneuver to grids Beta-7 and 8. Concentrate all fire on that Leviathan!” Potemkin smiled. He may yet survive the day.

The Psilon task force swooped toward the Ithkul formation, firing their disrupter beams. The Ithkul were caught off guard and were struggling to meet this new threat when Potemkin’s forces struck at the Leviathan. Her shields flared and began to drain. The Psilons closed the distance between them and the enemy fleet quickly. Two Psilon ships exploded, along with five Harvester ships. The Psilons continued on, flying into the Ithkul formation, triggering their spatial compressor weapons. The intense gravimetric forces ripped apart two dreadnaughts and a SuperDestroyer, along with a half-dozen smaller escorts. The Leviathan returned fire at Potemkin’s fleet. Two more cruisers exploded, but the Admiral pressed on. Waves of energy crackled across the Leviathan’s shields. The Psilons began firing their disrupters on the Leviathan. Potemkin’s bombers, having just pulled back from the Psilons’ pulsar attack, fired again and again on the dreaded Leviathan. Her shields failed. She attempted to turn away from the onslaught, lashing back with her phasors and proton torpedos. Two more destroyers and a Psilon battleship exploded. Cracks began appearing in the Leviathan’s hull, and still she fired her weapons, like a bear trying to fight off a pack of wolves. As usually happened, the bear lost. As Potemkin watched, the Leviathan’s engines cut out. Smaller explosions blew pieces of her armor off. Finally, she disappeared in a flash of plasma. A cheer erupted on the bridge of the Lakul. They had defeated Goliath.

The remaining Ithkul ships, now at a numerical disadvantage, began to retreat toward the star lane. Potemkin ordered his fleet to continue to fire as long as they were in range, but not to pursue. He did not have the forces to stop them, and most of his ships had sustained severe enough damage that a pursuit would be costly. Three more enemy ships were destroyed before they reached safety. He watched as the Harvesters limped back to the star lane and escaped.

The battle for Terra was over. It had been a victory, but a costly one. Thousands of good men and women had lost their lives. But they had not died in vain – Terra was safe, for now. The battle was won, but the war had just started.

It wasn’t over yet.




Pardus - Free Massive Multiplayer Online Browser Game

Copyright ©2001-2009 All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Add The Master of Orion 3 Guardian to your favorites