Friday, February 21, 2014

Homsar Delgana and the Dogs of Sirius-08

The Master watched the progress of both the Kinneson and the main Patrol Fleet on a viewscreen. He watched his own forces engage them, and other Patrol elements in the Sirius region, and noted the results of these engagements. On another viewscreen, he watch a stream of data regarding a device of great importance to him. He compared the two screens, adjusting an Estimated Time of Arrival on the fly as he did so. He did this for a few hours, and when he noticed both the main Patrol Fleet and the Kinneson cross a threshold on the map he glanced at the ETA and then brought up the ship captain on a third screen.

"Captain, this ship will take the advance position in the fleet formation. This fleet will now move to combat-ready status."

The captain saluted and the screen winked out. Klaxons went off, and faintly the Master heard the sounds of personnel rushing to duty stations. The third viewscreen returned to life with readouts of the fleet's formation and status updates. The Master said and did nothing as all ships in the fleet achieved ready status in a satisfactory manner.

The captain appeared on the screen again. "The fleet is ready and awaiting orders, sir."

"I will speak with all commands, captain." The Master said, and moments later he saw all of the commanders directly under him.

"The plan proceeds as expected. All variables are within projected parameters. This means that both the main Patrol Fleet and the Agent are due to arrive shortly, before the device is fully operational. We must hold the Patrol Fleet for no less than 30 minutes after their arrival, and we shall press them with utmost severity, compelling the Agent to arrive at best speed, but it is vitally important to keep them apart. We must hold the space that separates the two elements until the device is operational."

His subordinates nodded their understanding. They knew better than to question The Master.

"All ships will form up behind my flagship. I will personally lead the assault on the Patrol Fleet!"

His subordinates gasped.

"I will be armed and armored for personal combat. Do likewise. Expect boarding actions. Await orders. That is all."

The Master donned a suit of powered armor, and took up an axe. His suit possessed the ability to connect into his information systems, so he easily kept up his monitoring of the situation and then he inspected the various duty stations of his flagship during the time-to-contact interim. This put his crew into a state of heightened readiness, as they knew what became of crew that failed, but also a sense of admiration; unlike many Algolians, The Master's reputation--while bloody--was not one where one could die for arbitrary reasons (at least, if one were personnel and not extraneous courtiers) so it was seen as something of a good thing to be under his command.

When he took his place on the bridge, the Patrol Fleet came into contact and he ordered the fleet to battle.

"Spread out on all wings. Seek to half-englobe them."

Admiral Campbell, not a fool, reorganized the Patrol Fleet into a spindle formation in response and rushed the center point. The artillery fire began at maximum range for the primary batteries. The rays of searing light flashed across the sea of stars, and the screens protecting their vessels lit up as the frequencies of the beams dissonantly crossed those of the screens.

"Sir." the captain said, "We've identified the enemy flagship."

"Transmit target data to all commands. Focus all fire there and decapitate them."

The Patrol Fleet were no fools, as their fire also began to walk across the Algolian Fleet towards The Master's flagship.

"Captain, aggregate fleet screen management to this ship and activate the capacitors. Prepare for the Dolorus Stroke."

The captain saluted and executed the order. Across the Algolian Fleet, the screens of the vessels changed their frequency and modulation. The fire of the Patrol Fleet still hadn't beaten down any ship's screens, and now the close-order proximity of the Algolian Fleet revealed its strength: the power battering the screens began flowing from each vessel towards the flagship, and soon the bow of The Master's flagship began to glow like a sun in its own right. In the Patrol Fleet, Admiral Campbell recognized what was happening and immediately shifted tactics, but the Patrol Fleet's reorganization could not complete in time; The Master released the gathered power in a massive directed beam that lanced and burned through the center of the Patrol Fleet, outright destroying many ships and crippling many more- including Campbell's flagship.

"Forward elements are to contain the enemy while in disarray. Release marines and board the crippled vessels. Rear elements are to reorient to the rear and prepare to meet the Agent."

As Admiral Campbell and his staff hurried to abandoned the crippled flagship and move command to another vessel, the Kinneson arrived at the rear and charged into the fray with all batteries blasting away. In its wake, Homsar's own boat left the Kinneson and attempted to hide in its wake so as to slip into the Algolian Fleet and cause havoc that way, but both attempted got beaten back with punishing counter-battery fire and a firm screen of boats screening the ships.

The Master smiled as his plan reached its point of conclusion. The device's time of preparation concluded. With a gesture, he ordered to be put on open channels.

"Fools! You come now thinking yourselves able to foresee my aims and defeat my plans? No! It is I, The Master, who has brought you here to this space at this time, lured by phantoms of a weapon so terrible that none may defeat it! BEHOLD, FOOLS, THIS FULLY ARMED AND OPERATIONAL BATTLE STATION!"

Behind the Kinneson a planet-sized and shaped machine appeared. Out of its maw fired a massive beam, and instantly the Kinneson exploded in a fireball.

"Fully capable of trans-galactic travel! Easily able to annihilate entire systems in days! Can screen itself from detection of all sorts, and extend it outward for lightyears around! ALL SHALL KNEEL BEFORE THE MASTER!"

Without hesitation, Homsar turned his boat around and charged into the battle station. He easily dodged the battery fire attempting to shoot him down, and soon he closed with it. Admiral Campbell, now aboard another vessel, saw this happen as he arrived on the bridge to establish his command there, and he heard The Master's maniacal boasts- and worried. When he heard that Homsar turned to attack, he glimpsed the truth in a flash and tried to reach out to him telepathically- but, again, silence.

"Damn him!" Campbell said, "The interference! I can't reach Homsar!"

"But why?" the captain said.

"It's a trap! This whole operation is a trap- for him!"

Just as Homsar blasted open a hatch in the station's hull and flew into its superstructure, a bulkhead closed behind him and the familiar shift of going free washed over him. The Patrol Fleet, in astonishment, saw the massive station suddenly wink out and disappear into distant space. Unable to pursue, and blocked by The Master's own fleet, they held position.

"Withdraw." The Master said, "We're done here, and the enemy cannot interfere any longer."

The surviving Patrol vessels rescued their injured and recovered their damaged vessels, but still couldn't shake off the shock of seeing their best man captured and his friends slain- until, hours later, rescue crewed found Captain Simms and General Zuzu in escape pods, along with a few others.

"Reporting, Admiral."

"Acknowledged, men." Campbell said, "However bad today is, your survival will likely be what wins us the day in the end. Even Homsar thinks both of you are dead, and will proceed accordingly; he won't expect you two like he usually does. If we can catch up to that thing, and get you two in with as many men as we can spare, we can win this."

They nodded. "For now," Campbell said, "I'm putting your survival under seal; the fewer that know, the better."

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