Friday, January 3, 2014

Homsar Delgana and the Dogs of Sirius-01

Deep in the void of space, a teardrop-shaped starship cruised from star to star. This was the Howard, a Campbell-class cruiser of the Patrol seconded indefinitely to Agent-At-Large Homsar Delgana--its sole crewman and occupant--who laid in repose in his quarters meditating upon matters great and small while the autopilot handled the routine of interstellar travel.

A klaxon activated, and Homsar let forth his special sense of perception. He sensed, as if bodily present, that a transmission on the emergency band now reached the Howard. In moments, Homsar awoke and rushed himself to the cockpit; this was important enough to handle awake, and not merely by way of mental technique.

"Mayday! Mayday! This is the R.S.S. DeCamp, calling all Patrol vessels within range. We are under attack by unknown hostiles, counting 30 ships. Our squadron is in disarray, and we request immediate assistance!" Homsar immediately checked the Patrol network; no vessels were within range other than his own, none that could arrive in time. Homsar repeated the signal to the nearest Patrol base, and then strapped himself into the pilot's chair.

"DeCamp, this is the Howard. Light up your beacon and hold fast. Help is on the way. Over."

Homsar faintly heard his name said in the background, followed by cheering. "Hurry, Howard, they're a lot stronger than your usual pirates. Over and out." Homsar threw open the throttle, and at maximum thrust the Howard closed the distance within minutes. As he approached the DeCamp's position he projected his sense of perception forward to acquire up-to-date intelligence. What he sensed was an orbital fleet battle in the Sirius system, where a hostile flotilla ambushed a Patrol squadron near a heretofore ill-known planet and its moon. The ambush broke the Patrol formation, in part because this was a training cruise for Patrol cadets and in part because the Patrol had no reason to expect hostiles in this area of space, but failed to destroy any Patrol ships yet; despite being outnumbered a little over two to one, and getting hammered hard, so far the Patrol cadets have held their ground.

Homsar found the squadron commander, the captain of the DeCamp, a Commander Sprage- an aging Patrol fleet officer, now relegated to teaching these new recruits, whose best years were well behind him. Yet those best years were during the Algolian War, and Homsar remembered Sprage from his youth as one far more respected than he is today.

"Commander Sprage!" Homsar said over the comm, "Come in."

"This is Sprage actual." Sprage said, relieved, "I'm holding it together here, trying to get my ships back in order, but it's damned tough."

"I'm coming in 45 degrees above your plane at 9 o'clock." Homsar said, "I'm going to slice away at the outer edges and push them back to you. Regroup in a tortoise shell formation and switch over to close-range bombardment."

"Understood." Sprage said, and he gave those exact orders to the squadron. As Homsar stated, he entered the fray high over the DeCamp's position off the port bow. He switched over to the maneuver drives, going inert, and ripped into the three nearest hostile starships. Between his own fire and that of the Patrol vessel he aided, those ships got knocked out of the fight and attempted to disengage. Homsar wouldn't let them, and drove them inward instead. He repeated this maneuver several times, putting the hostiles between his fast-acting cruiser and the Patrol's well-armed ships. The result was that several of the hostile vessels got sunk, a few more disabled, and the rest broke away and fled for home. Neither Homsar nor the squadron decided to pursue. The disabled ships got boarded by Patrol Marines, and despite fierce resistance they too were overcome; most of the hostile crews died, with only a handful still alive for interrogation.

Afterwords, on the DeCamp, Homsar met with Commander Sprage and his subordinates.

"We managed to collect the remains of the enemy vessels destroyed, and prize crews are aboard the captured ones. We'll make for Sirius Prime from here and turn these over to the Patrol office there." Sprage said, "On behalf of all of us, I'd like to thank you for coming to our aid."

Homsar waived it off. "As if I wouldn't come." Homsar said, "You know better, Commander."

"That only means that nothing more important hadn't come to your attention." Sprage said, and then one of the crewmen entered the room.

"Sir, one of the prisoners requests parley. We believe it is the ship's captain."

Sprage stood up, but the crewman stopped him. "No, sir, not with you. He wants parley with Agent Homsar."

Homsar gave the young cadet the look that said "And he wants to speak with me why?" The crewman then said, "He said 'Dragonsworn', sir.", and that was enough for both Homsar and Sprage.

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