This is the first attempt I ever took at writing a space story, and while it’s still VERY much a work in progress, I hope it brings some of you some entertainment! If anyone likes this horrible attempt you should, well, like it and tell me so! I might write a bit more. Onward into the trash, good friends!
Title Unknown, Chapter One
Located at the furthest edge of the Tanerian Empire, the Coris Sector was one of the latest to be brought under the banner of the Hyatt Dynasty. Thirty inhabited worlds and a territory that encompasses some 500 stars, the population alone was a boon to an Empire that had enemies behind every asteroid. Their shipyards, trade, and foodstuffs added to a war machine that never ceases or slows.
Emperor Gower Hyatt had…convinced the Lord-Merchants of the Coris Sector to join his cause, bringing their considerable wealth and resources under imperial control. For their cooperation, the Lord-Merchants were granted positions of nobility and Lordship over planets of their choosing, with priority of choice given to the wealthiest and most powerful.
Obviously, the lesser Lords of the once-independent Republic of Dath, named for the capital of the Coris Sector, were not pleased. Many had found themselves guests of their former political rivals, who were more than happy to detain their friends in the name of The Emperor. The unrest by these detainments had ignited more than a few fires in the sector, though it appears the Emperor had already moved on to his next acquisition. Leaving the pacification of the sector to his various Lord Admirals and other power-hungry sycophants.
And really, who could blame the Corisians? The “Union” wasn’t a unanimous decision. The stronger Lords practically dragged the rest, screaming and at blaster point, to the meeting table. Not that Captain Rikard would ever voice his opinion. He valued his life far too much and they don’t pay political prisoners. Not that a man of his social ranking would be worth much as a prisoner.
“Captain! Message from Lord-Admiral Garse. He wants us to take the Golden Sword’s position in the Dath garrison.” His communications officer, Rikard hadn’t had the time to learn his name, informed him.
“Thank you, Lieutenant. Please tell his lordship that we are most gracious for the appointment and will be in the Dath system by the end of the hour.” The man nodded in confirmation and relied his response.
Terrific. Rikard had been to Dath before, of course. He had been stationed on one of the ships present for the signing of The Union of Coris, providing security for The Emperor himself. A great honor, to be sure. One that only four-hundred other battlecruisers and a hundred battleships had gotten to enjoy. Dath wasn’t a poor system, not even close. It was a Class One habitable world, the same classification of the Empire’s capital world of Tanera. As close to paradise as one can reasonably expect if you didn’t mind mechanically filtered air and off-world imported water and food.
No, the issue was that Dath is a known hotbed for anti-Tanerian sentiment. There have been numerous attempts to sabotage, even outright destroy, their ships in the last month. Like he’d said before, The Union had not been a popular one among the lesser merchants, or even the average citizen.
And their leaders sold them to our Empire for titles and power. Rikard almost felt sorry for the poor bastards in the Coris Sector. But, seeing as they would likely be attempting to plant a viroblade deep into his chest soon, he dismissed those feelings entirely.
“Captain, engineering and navigation agree – we’re clear to jump.” The voice of his Bridge Commander, Merrit, broke Rikard from his thoughts.
“Excellent. Lieutenant, please give me access to ship-wide communications. I’ll be informing the crew of our destination and mission. Commander, please schedule a time within the next few days to…deal with any issues our crew may have with our destination.” Rikard just knew that some wouldn’t be happy with the redeployment.
Getting the thumbs up from his communications lieutenant, who Rikard really needed to get the name of, the captain took his seat on the bridge and cleared his throat, activating his communications device. “Loriem’s Faith, this is your captain speaking. I have been given new orders from High Command so please listen carefully. We are to be replace Lord-Admiral Garse’s Flagship, the Golden Sword, in its garrison of the Dath system. I know you are all familiar with the rumors of insurrection and unrest in the sector, and I will not lie to you. There will likely be conflict. However, you are all brave children of Tanera and the finest crew in The Empire. I have complete confidence that you will do your duty and do it well. Glory to The Emperor and His Empire.”
Ending the broadcast, he turned his attention to his Bridge Commander, who was patiently waiting to the right of the captain’s chair. “I hate speeches.”
“I’m certain no one could tell, Sir. Shall I give the command.” The corner of Merrit’s lips twitched ever so slightly, but the man’s stoic face didn’t falter.
“Yes. Send a message to the Lord Admiral that we’re on our way early, ETA ten minutes.” Rikard ordered, relaxing into his chair.
“Yes, captain!” Pressing several keys on the gleaming holographic yellow of his control pad, the young helmsman nodded to his co-pilot. “Jump in three…two…one!”
As the count ended the gleaming hull of the Loriem’s Faith stretched in defiance of physics, breaking through the boundaries of its home universe and entering another. Disappearing from its point of origin with a small blink of light as it entered The Void between dimensions. Glancing out of the display ports, the screens that acted as windows for the front of the ship using cameras and sensors, Rikard pulled his holo-tablet onto his lap.
“I’ve forwarded the most current armament and supply report to you, sir. You’ll notice that we have provisions for the next few months, though we may need to requisition more ammunition from the Dath system’s outpost.” Merrit informed Rikard, gesturing over Rikard’s shoulder to the stated information.
“Request a complete inspection once we’re in system and docked. I want the Loriem’s Faith to operate at peak efficiency, no sudden surprises. I also want our supplies filled and older provisions replaced – the fresher the better.” Nodding at the man, Rikard entered his credentials, making sure that he had the highest level of encryption available to a man of his rank first of course, and browsed his correspondence. As soon as he entered the Tanerian Imperial Messaging Platform, reserved for military and governmental correspondence, he noted a message from a contact he’d never seen before.
Sent two minutes ago? What in the- Carefully making sure that he was indeed encrypted – many far less competent officers had made similar mistakes – Rikard eyed the message with uncertainty. Deciding against opening it, he deleted the message and dismissed it as a mistype or a mistake.
“How long until we enter the Dath system?” His communication officer, B. Tyuel from the crew dossier that Rikard had discreetly checked between cycling mis messages, looked up from his display. Checking one of his many windows and pulling up a timer, which Rikard could only guess was set up the moment Void Jump had been initiated, Lt. Tyuel turned towards Rikard.
“Another four minutes, Captain.” The young man waited for any further questions before, at Rikard’s dismissive wave, returning to his tasks.
“Thank you, Lieutenant Tyuel.” A blinking on his own personal display drew Rikard’s attention and he saw that it was another unmarked message from an unknown sender. Glancing around, checking to see if any of his officers were perhaps playing a trick on him, Rikard saw that no one looked distracted from their tasks. Not that any would play this game. Officers have been disciplined for less.
Leaning back, Rikard debated on opening the message or deleting it. Curiosity getting the best of him, he decided to reach out and tap the flashing message, opening it. Taking a moment to read the message, he jolted up in his seat, re-reading the message again and again with growing horror as he stood suddenly.
“Full stop! Bring us out of Void Space!” Rikard yelled, his crew looking up confused. The helmsmen quickly snapped to and reaching out to bring their ship to a halt. However, Rikard saw the timer on Lt. Tyuel’s station hit zero the moment they did so and with growing dread realized it was too late. “Shield’s to maximum, all hands, prepare for battle!”
“S-sir?!” Commander Merrit asked, confused but relaying the orders to his communicator on instinct.
As the ship flashed back into reality, breaking out of Void Space and re-entering its home universe, Rikard and his crew could only stare in horror at the sight before them. The wreckage of a dozen ships and the massive outpost, more of a military space station, floating in the orbit of the tropical world of Dath. Rikard could see dozens, if not hundreds, of escape pods floating helplessly in the vacuum of space. Their occupants stranded – dead or alive, Rikard knew not.
“Sir! We’re picking up numerous unknown contacts on the sensors! There’s…sir, there’s 30 of them and they’re all locking onto our signature!” One of his officers shouted from his left, pulling Rikard’s attention.
“Tonnage and classification!” Rikard barked out, quickly pulling up his own display for the relevant information, dismissing the message he had been reading before.
DATH – VIKTAR-ALPHA-18772-30
“Smallest vessel is reading at an estimated 35,000 tons while the largest is…” the woman cleared her throat, turning to look at Rikard. “Captain…It reads 750,000 tons.”
Silence fell across the bridge as all the officers and crew turned to stare at the tactical officer, then to their captain. Unease and fear clear on all their faces. Rikard didn’t blame them, the Loriem’s Faith wasn’t the largest vessel in the Cruiser classification, in fact it was considered rather small at a mere 155,000 tons. This put it firmly in the “light cruiser,” nearly “heavy destroyer” class. Except it wasn’t built for combat. It was a patrol vessel, not designed for straight engagements or assaults like some of its heavier and more powerful siblings.
750,000 tons…that’s as large as a Heavy Cruiser, if not a small Battleship! Clearing his throat, looking around the bridge, Rikard quickly took command. “Helm! Get us out of here! Take us to the nearest friendly system – any system!”
“Sir! The Void Drive needs time, it’s barely recharged from-“ The helmsman began, nervously looking through the displays and flying through commands on his station. “We need a minimum of four minutes yet!”
“We don’t have four minutes! We have to-“ Rikard stood from his seat, shouting before being cut off.
“Captain! We’ve got deployment! Over 300 signatures – they’re closing in fast, ETA two minutes!”
Rikard cursed, grabbing his display and pulling the tactical information. “Missiles! Get our point-defense systems online and deploy our interception missiles! All of them! Helm, I want us out of here in two minutes or less!”
“Captain, we only have enough missile defense to counter one volley of this size…” Commander Merrit swallowed. “Recommend moving non-essential personal to escape pods and standby for emergency deployment.”
“Approved. Sound the alert.” Rikard watched as the missile defense systems of the Loriem’s Faith deployed, meeting their unknown enemies volley mid-flight. “50 of the missiles survived the encounter, our point defense can handle the rest- “
“Captain! Additional contacts from the rear – distance 400 kilometers! They’re locking onto our signature! At least four, unknown affiliation!” The tactical officer shouted, practically leaping from her seat. “We’re within range of their guns!”
Rikard froze in his seat, the world slowing down to a crawl as he processed the information. From the rear? Then…
The ruined station. It was the only plausible explanation. They’d used the debris as cover – it was large enough to obscure their position from the, admittedly dated, sensors of the Loriem’s Faith. If they fired there’s a chance the engines could be damaged – destroyed even. Rikard leapt from the command station towards the front of the bridge, shoving between the two helmsmen there. “Helm! Jump status!”
“A minute remaining, Captain!” The young man on the left panicked, hands flying across his display.
“You don’t have a minute! I want us in Void Space, now!” Rikard practically roared at the man, watching the display. Behind him he heard his tactical officer declare that the enemy ships were locked on.
“Sir, we can’t-“ The poor lad was terrified, near tears, but Rikard had no time to comfort him.
“Ship firing, Captain!” The tactical officer shouted, and the Captain made his decision.
Slamming his hands on the controls, pushing the young helmsman out of the way, Rikard activated the ship’s Void Drive and initiated an emergency uncharted jump. Watching, breath held, the Captain’s eyes widened as the ship’s sensors began screaming at him. “Brace! All hands, brace!”
The bridge crew scrambled to grip anything they could, some too slow to react, as the ship shook from the impact of several anti-matter shells slamming through the rear shield. Some missed the ship entirely; flashing passed this display cameras in streaks of white energy. The ship’s shields faltered under the barrage immediately, blocking only the first dozen rounds of nearly a hundred. Most of the power having been mostly diverted to the front of the vessel. Alarms blared across the bridge as the engines where struck and Rikard watched in horror as Void Jump continued unabated. The crew behind him screaming, some praying, as their vessel engaged in an uncharted jump.
“Emperor save us…” Commander Merrit muttered as their ship completed its transition into Void Space, disappearing in a flash of light. The missiles that would have struck true flew harmlessly through where the Loriem’s Faith had once been, their target now flung into the far reaches of the unknown…