The Final (and Absolute Final) Conclusion to the Battle of Nova Genoa
Written by Fin, Siege, Shroom and Shady
Nova Genoa lay within the Western Command of the Imperial Armed Forces, and was thus also under the supervision of the Ultramarines Legion. When contact with Nova Genoa was lost, the Western Command, centered at Thessaloniki, had ordered a scout shuttle to head to the world to determine the cause of the loss of contact. When the transmission from Flash Stalin was received, the Western Command recalled the shuttle, and instead ordered the nearest battlegroup, headed by the Ultramarines Strike Cruiser Aetheon
, to respond. The Ultramarines were also ordering another battlegroup, led by the other Ultramarines Strike Cruiser Hyperion
, to respond, but it was likely that the Hyperion
battlegroup would not respond in time. Regardless, the Aetheon
battlegroup lept into the Warp, heading towards their target at maximum Warp velocity. Whether they could save the world, was anyone’s guess.
“This may have been a bad idea,” said Lucifer and his minder was inclined to agree. Space around the massive flagship was awash with explosions, and the Murderous
herself was very nearly invisible, obscured by dozens of stroboscopic flashes as her autolasers poured volley after hypercharged volley into space. The entire USSF flotilla was firing everything they had as they hurled themselves at the heart of the Swarm that was surrounding New Genoa. Tracer trails of exotic matter tore into the omega fields and carapace of the Karlack attack ships, the Star Force warcraft had reinforced their hyperfields to full opacity and space was full with the dead or dying corpses of lesser bioforms
Still, Brigadier Flash Stalin had a sinking feeling that it might not be enough. There were an awful lot of Karlack ships present, and unlike earlier bug-hunts the enemy showed no sign of retreating at the first sign of his flotilla. On the contrary, they were positively eager to throw themselves at his flotilla. I’m another tasty snack
the Brigadier thought and grimaced as the Murderous
shuddered ever so slightly as its fields were battered by slicer beams from a pair of overzealous Reapers. Autolaser fire from Murderous
’ escort Antares
stitched through space, tearing one of the two Karlack ships apart in a burst of ichor and dark energy backwash.
“We are under heavy fire.” The voice of the brigadier’s CI was calm as ever, but the minute tremors that passed through the deck plates of the massive Star Force flagship betrayed the sheer volume of withering fire directed at it.
“Tell me something I don’t know.” Flash Stalin’s voice was a barely audible growl. His eyes fluttered over the dozens of status screens that hung before him even as his ship pumped volumes of wireless data into his cranium, offering him an comprehensive view of the battlespace. ”Procyon and Aldebaran, fall back to the main formation.”
The nonverbal command was relayed instantly to the two warstars in danger of being cut off from the squadron by the looming mass of the World Eater mothership. Another command ordered a set of strikestars to change position in order to let the flagship’s superior firepower take out a flight of dozens of Karlack ships that hurtled at them. They reacted, but not fast enough: one of the sleek metal daggers was rammed by a Slicer ship, gutting the Star Force vessel. Flights of gunmetal gray gunships and IOU pickets harried the remaining Karlack ships, tearing into them with vicious abandon. Ships were on fire all around him -- Karlack ships, and his own. The computerized thoughtspace that existed between the Star Force battleships was full of flashing warnings and the dying cries of Offensive Units torn apart by fearsomely powerful Karlack beam weapons.
The Swarm may have a reputation of brutish creatures without intellect, but they were operating with a cunning intellect, Stalin noticed: even as his squadron pushed into the flank of the Karlack englobement, the Swarm was pulling back at the front of his formation in order to probe its sides for weaknesses - weaknesses that were then immediately exploited, as evidenced as another pair of IOUs flickered out of existence on his holographic displays, their armoured bulks mass-scattered by a fusillade of spores launched by one of the World Crusher ships that prowled the edges of his flotilla. Threat assessments projected over the brigadier’s retina showed almost his entire squadron covered under red lines as the entire Swarm it seemed squirmed and wheeled around to face this tasty new threat.
And then, just as Stalin began to think he’d never make it through the hordes of Karlack bioforms, they were through. New Genoa glittered below him, and from this altitude it seemed barely affected by the Karlack onslaught. But the brigadier new better. “All ships, change vector. Assume a shielding position over the primary continent, then launch the transports. Emergency evacuation protocol -- nothing gets through as long as we’re here!”
In private, Flash Stalin just hoped he would be able to make it back out.
On Nova Genoa, it rained from the stars. The Karlack fleet rained spores from space, and landed troops onto the ground. The spores, which gained a notoriety during the Imperium-Karlack war, were changing the landscape, corrupting the fauna, and changing it fundamentally, and thoroughly. Spikes were growing on plants, and sickly green thorny vines were wrapping themselves around many a tree and appeared to be strangling them.
Anti-orbital plasma lances and photon lances lit the sky amidst the falling spores. Some Karlack ships were struck, forcing them to withdraw, while some troop vessels were set afire, sending them crashing down and burning. But there were too many, and no matter how frantic the firing was, with their barrels white hot, there was no way the Imperial garrison could stop all the troop ships from landing. What was left of the population was forced into a quarantined area within the base to prevent any more infiltrations by possible Karlack sympathizers. The bodies of the saboteurs were taken for further analysis and double guard was placed on sensitive areas. The Imperial garrison readied to fight off the Karlacks, even to the death if need be. Void shield generators were check and rechecked to make sure they extended well underground, especially given the Karlacks’ penchant for digging underground. Tank battalions sallied forth to fight off concentrations of Karlacks that had landed. If the Imperial garrison was to fight and die, they would make a glorious end of it.
But now something else was coming down from the skies as well -- something that fell far faster, and at much steeper angles. The USMC drop pods were accelerating even as they powered through the atmosphere. Their heatshields wore away into sensor-jamming chaff as they tore across the primary continent of New Genoa, trailing hypersonic shockwaves before impacting atop the advancing hordes of Karlack bioforms before they could reach the final Imperial line of defence. Their meteoric impacts devastated the Karlack advance and slammed huge gaping craters into the ground - craters from which emerged the dreaded forms of FORCE exoshells with all guns blazing.
The USMC special operators and the intellects that guided them began taking the Swarm to pieces. Imperial observers were now beginning to see the contrails of Para-Marine dropshops arc toward their hold-outs. Still, even the FORCE troops would not be enough to hold off the swarm indefinitely and the cold digital minds that guided the exoshells realized this. They began broadcasting a singular message back toward the Imperial lines:
"RUN! GO! GET TO DA CHOPPA!”
In space, the Aetheon
battlegroup emerged from the Warp a distance from Nova Genoa. High Captain Scipio Actium paced about the bridge in his Terminator Armor and stared at the hologram. Turning to the communication officer, he told him through the neural network, “Open a channel to Brigadier Stalin.”
“Brigadier Flash Stalin, this is High Captain Scipio Actium of the Ultramarines Legion. You have our thanks and gratitude for the message sent and we are moving to support. Suggest you support the evacuation efforts, while we attempt to divert the Karlack’s attention. High Captain Scipio Actium out.”
Turning to the helmsman, the Ultramarine High Captain instructed, “Helmsman, proceed along this vector at flank speed,” the High Captain gestured on the hologram, “and instruct the rest of the fleet to follow and to assume Arrow head formation.”
Turning to the weapons officer, “Weapons officer, prime the Warp cannons and the nova cannon. Instruct the fleet to fire long range weapons and synchronize with us. Scutum defence systems to engage in standard assault and defensive algorithms.”
With that the ships assumed an arrowhead formation with the Ultramarine Strike Cruiser in the lead. With the Solarian warships hard pressed against the superior numbers of the Karlack warships, the Imperial warships sought to strike the exposed flank of the Karlack fleet and to link up with the Solarian warships. Gravitic drives went up to full power, driving the fleet forward at high acceleration and as soon as the ships got into range, they lose a fierce cannonade of weapons. Following the flagship’s lead, the ships targeted individual Karlack ships one by one, particularly the ships escorting the World Eater mothership. By drawing off the escorts of the mothership, the Imperial ships hope to divert the attention of the Karlack fleet and grant the Solarians a breather and a chance to fight back. By all standards, this was going to be a close fight.
Imperial warships dived headlong into the the great shadow created by the innumerable Brood ships of the Karlack Swarm that loomed over Nova Genoa. Only the flashes of Byzantine and Solarian weapons pierced through the darkness as they tried desperately to save as many inhabitants of the doomed planet as possible. The battle was fierce, explosions and beam weapons glittered through space around the planet.
The bold maneuver of the Solarian fleet and the timely arrival of the Imperial Navy managed to temporarily disorient and confuse the Karlack Broods, forcing the Aspect in command of the battle to reorganize its forces for a decisive confrontation with this new threat, thus giving the human forces the window of opportunity they needed in order to pull off a rescue operation. But that window was closing fast. The Swarm was already redeploying, driven by the steel will of the Hive Mind and guided by the awesome power of the Mothership. They were surrounding the human fleets, enclosing them inside a swarming mass of bio-forms. The humans were outnumbered and outgunned.
Both Imperial and Solarian long range sensors detected additional Karlack reinforcements en route to the planet. The situation was grim and getting worse by the minute. The humans knew they were fighting a losing battle, and not even the mighty Flash Stalin himself could change the end result. Between the corrupting spores and the onslaught of the Swarm this world was irretrievably lost. But that didn’t really matter. What mattered now was to use the time they had to save as many people as possible. They had enough firepower at their disposal to hold of the chitinous hordes, for a time. And with every passing minute, more survivors could be lifted to the relative safety of the flotillas in orbit.
As bad as the situation was in space, it was far worse on the planets surface. Karlack spores had already began to affect the planets environment, mutating its plants and animals, contaminating the air itself and transforming the whole world into a hellish landscape that no human would dare walk on if he had a choice. Millions upon millions of Karlack Bio-forms were already on the planet, slaughtering and devouring everyone and everything in their path. Defenses already weakened by Karlack infiltration and sabotage, quickly crumbled under the relentless assault of the chitinous hordes.
Not all of the humans on the planet had the good fortune of being inside the Imperium base, or close enough to be able to retreat there. Many others, civilians and soldiers alike - were scattered across the planet. In the cities and villages, cut off from their comrades, surrounded by swarms of Karlack creatures intent on devouring them and the planet itself. Some of them would be rescued. Others would not. Only time would tell which group anyone belonged to. Battles raged across the surface of Genoa...
The Imperial base itself was slowly being surrounded, attacked from all sides by an endless stream of Karlack creatures. The armored regiments were fighting hard, but they were facing attackers who knew no fear, no cowardice, and they attacked with the ferocity of a mindless beast and an intellect that matched - and in some cases exceeded that of ordinary human soldiers. Omega energy beams pierced the armor of the Guardsmen from the distance with relative ease, while their claws and teeth ripped into the flesh of the humans who were unlucky enough to survive the ranged fire. Matters only got worse when bio-forms began erupting from the ground itself, killing dozens in the process, the infamous Karlack Specters -- creatures of great power. When faced with such enemies, even the bravest among the guardsmen felt a need to gasp for air. The Specters descended like a swarm of black locusts upon the soldiers, ripping both humans and tanks with equal ease.
The Solarian FORCE troops distinguished themselves as expected of them. They fought the enemy tirelessly and relentlessly, buying time for the Imperial garrison. However, they were spread thin. Major General Dimitriy Volos of the Imperial Guard, supreme commander of the Imperium forces on the planet, reluctantly ordered his forces to retreat to the main Imperial base on the planet, hoping that concentrating his troops in one place would allow them to hold out longer. The Imperial Guard and the PDF troops fought valiantly, giving their lives in an attempt to hold of the unending tide of death that had descended upon them. The arrival of Flash Stalin and his USMC troops had given them hope, hope that salvation was possible, that escape was an option. He ordered most of his men to hasten aboard the evacuation barges that were taken from storage.
However, evacuation would not be simple. Major General Volos swore when he looked at the sensor readings showing the activity in the air above the base. At the rate things were going, the evacuation might as well not be completed. The sky was filled to the brim with Karlacks, and more had to be done to clear the skies. But he knew the ships up above were preoccupied and could offer little support. The fight was definitely going up a pitched notch. Baneblades and other tanks were unleashing volley after volley to keep the tide of the Karlacks at bay, but the Karlacks were approaching inexorably, and it was only a matter of time before the base was overwhelmed.
Up in space, the Strike Cruiser Aetheon
shuddered as the Void shields took a direct hit from the great Omega cannons from the World Eater mothership. “Ventral Shields have fallen by 5%” indicated the Shield control officer. “Rerouting power to compensate.”
“Any word from the Hyperion
battlegroup?” High Captain Scipio Actium asked the communications officer and the sensor officer.
“Nay my Lord. Wait. Ripples in the Warp! Bragulan ships coming in!” yelled the communications officer.
“This Warp-cursed day apparently is a day for many surprises. Damn stupid bears. Send word to Major General Volos that he must speed up the evacuation immediately. We cannot possibly wait any longer. We must leave!”
“My Lord, apparently, the Karlacks are closing fast on the base, and he begs for some additional time. The sky is also thick with Karlacks. The Solarian FORCE troops are doing their best but there are simply too many Karlacks.”
“Gah! I think it’s time we sent in Astartes to aid him. We should have done so at the start, instead of solely engaging the enemy. Instruct the 12th Company to board the Thunderhawks and get down there to these coordinates. Instruct Captain Dominos to give any support that Major General Volos needs and get back up to the Aetheon
on the double!”
Captain Dominos and his company of 100 Astartes and their associated vehicles were waiting patiently in the hanger deck waiting for orders from High Captain Actium. Captain Dominos knew that the situation down below was desperate, and it was a matter of time before Actium would issue orders for the 12th Company to deploy and land fast and hard on the ground and grant supporting firepower to the Imperial Guard. His Company would be bringing along mostly Land Raiders, though a single Nihilus Super Heavy Tank would accompany them to provide vital fire support. Captain Dominos would himself lead the 12th Company from a Dreadnaught and his command squad would be equipped with Terminator powered armor.
When the order to deploy came, he turned to his men, and yelled, “Ultramarines! We are going to deploy to the surface and rescue servants of the Imperium. Courage and Honor! For the Strategos Primus and for the Emperor!”
“Courage and Honor! For the Strategos Primus and for the Emperor!”
“The Emperor Protects! Board the Thunderhawks and prepare for the rapid orbital insertion.”
The Strike Cruiser Aetheon
, surrounded by her escorts, oriented itself towards the planet. With that, the forward armored reinforced hanger bay doors opened and the Thunderhawks were launched from the forward hanger bay onto the surface of Nova Genoa. The battle in space was a pitched battle with both sides trading lances of energy at each other. Some of the frigates and corvettes were pocked marked with direct hits, while one of the Scutum cruisers had taken some hull damage, though was still in fighting shape. Just then, to the cheers of the Imperial crews, the Hyperion
battlegroup emerged from the Warp.
“Damn it, Aggripa! Not a moment too soon!” exclaimed High Captain Scipio Actium.
“Sorry for the delay Scipio, but it seems that the situation can only get worse. My long range scans indicate more Karlacks on their way, and there are some Bragulan elements on the outer system perimeter, waiting. My arrival might trigger their arrival as well,” said High Captain Aggripa Aurellian.
“I have deployed the 12th Company to the surface to aid Major General Volos’ evacuation. Hopefully, Captain Dominos can make a difference.”
“Captain Aetius Dominos? Good man. His company is one of the most decorated in our esteemed Legion.”
“Which is why I’m sent him.”
“We should call up a tele-conference with Brigadier Stalin.” With that, an image of the Brigadier Stalin appeared. “Brigadier Stalin, this is High Captain Aggripa Aurellian of the Hyperion
. From our sensor scans of the Warp which we are transmitting to you at this point, the enemy force is going to be reinforced within the next 15 minutes by this group and that group. My suggestion would be this: the Hyperion
and her battlegroup will attempt to draw off the Karlack forces by engaging them on this flank.” A hologram appeared and showed the tactical vector of the Hyperion
. “I suggest that as we open up fire along this vector, you make your way out through the same vector in the opposite direction. We will then form the rearguard for the withdrawal. As I have understood from High Captain Actium, he has deployed the 12th Company to the surface to help with the evacuation of surviving Impeial forces on the ground. He has only 15 minutes to accomplish that, or we will be quite simply in a very big trouble.”
“Any other news of further reinforcement?” asked High Captain Actium.
“That is iffy. Command now knows that a World Eater mothership is on the prow, and may be able to send in the Titanicus
and her battlegroup, all the way from the sector capital.”
“That.. will take time.”
“And time is something we do not have.”
The situation on the ground was getting more desperate by the minute. The entire field battle had been abandoned to the Karlacks. Many Imperial Guard and PDF regiments which were stationed outside the main base were surrounded and annihilated piece meal. The situation was desperate enough that the Major General Volos ordered a nuclear strike on a regiment that was under attack by Karlack Specters, in hope to neutralise the strongest troops in the Karlack brood. Unfortunately, the Karlack Specters managed to erect a shield, which neutralised most of the nuclear blast. Many of the Specters were killed, but enough survived to remain as a cohesive unit. The regiment in question was completely destroyed by the nuclear strike.
Elsewhere, the sortie by Imperial armor had initially managed to repulse the initial attack on the main base, but the Karlacks returned in greater numbers, and drove the armored regiments back. The base was forced to open fire its defensive lance and plasma cannons to save the armored units from complete annihilation. Anti-air weapons lit the sky as they attacked Karlack spacecraft descending from the sky and other Karlack flying beasts.
Volos was particularly relieved when blue streaks lit the sky and unleashed a firestorm on the ground surroudning the base. The Thunderhawk gunships of the Ultramarines Legion bearing the 12th Company had arrived. The Thunderhawks unleashed a fury of ordinance and then landed on the ground, offloading the Astartes of the Ultramarines. “Ultramarines, to your position!” roared Captain Dominos, who lumbered out of the Thunderhawk in his dreadnaught suit. The Company Banner carrier unfurled the banner amidst the Astartse as they began assuming their designated positions.“The Chapter banner stands tall, Ultramarines. Do not fail your Strategos Primus! Fight for the Emperor with Courage and Honor!”
“Courage and honor!” the Ultramarines roared in reply. Land Raiders and the sole Super Heavy Tank repositioned themselves facing the Karlacks. With the Land Raiders on either side of the Nihilus Super Heavy Tank, aptly named Fist of Ultramar
, the great tank opened fire on the thick swarthe of Karlacks bearing down on the base. Its mighty warp cannon unleashing a powerful bolt of warp energy that simply sliced its way through columns of Karlacks, and simply clearing a wide path. The Astartes stood ready as well to fight the Karlacks and when the Karlacks entered range of their weapons, they opened fire a furious fusillade of bolter shells. Shards of energy lanced their way into the ranks of the Karlacks as lance and plasma cannons opened fire. Backing the Astartes were the Dreadnaughts, which simply spat out relentless fire from either arms.
Opening a channel to the Solarian FORCE troops, “This is Ultramarines Captain Dominos of the 12th Company. The Imperium expresses gratitude for your support. Might I suggest we hold this front, while you gather your forces on the other side of the base?”
“Acknowledged Captain Dominos, we will do so,” replied the FORCE troops in unison. The Solarians did not have a formalized ranking system, but instead operated through a joint thought-space. Even so, the various forces arranged themselves to cover the base more effectively.
“Hurry up you maggots! Get on board the transports!” waved one Commissar. “The Emperor’s Angels of Death are here and they doing duty for God and Country! Don’t let them down!”
“Yes sir!” yelled the Imperial Guardsmen. The last few platoons and the surviving armor brigades were boarding the last few transports and taking off. General Volos was one of the last to leave. “Did you get the specimens aboard the command craft?” Volos asked his aide.
“Yes I have, sir. The specimens are on board,” answered his aide.
“We need to get those specimens to the Inquisition. We can’t have these bastard insects infiltrating us the way they did again.”
“They might adapt.”
“That I know. But we must do something regardless.”
They rushed towards their shuttles which then lifted off. Thunderhawk gunships and Solarian craft gave them escort to space. When the Imperial soldiers had evacuated the base, Captain Dominos gave the order to his men to get back to the gunships. “Get a move out! To the Thunderhawks!”
Just then, a Karlack Carnifex burst right before the marines between them and their gunships. This Carnifex was larger than most, and had neutronium hard skin. It was clearly meant to be something of a super beast to combat space marines. Ten battle brothers fell to the swing of its claws. “Do not falter! Concentrate all fire on the xeno scum!”
“Aye m’Lord!” they yelled in unison, opening fire with everything they had. Dreadnaughts unleashed the fury of their cannons, and missiles of various types flew and struck the Carnifex. The Carnifex yelled in fury, and swung its claws, striking a dreadnaught and sending it flying and landing a few meters away. Space Marines ran to the aid of the dreadnaught, to bring it back to the Thunderhawks. The creature’s armor was ablating away, and showed numerous penetrations, but something with greater firepower was required to take it on.
The argument finally ended, when the sole Nihilus Super Heavy Tank swung its cannon to attend to the Carnifex. Opening fire its warp cannon, a storm of exotic space-time warping particles struck the Carnifex, breaching its armor and striking its flesh, sending a limb exploding and dispersing organic matter everywhere. The Carnifex roared in pain and attempted to charge the tank when the tank aimed for the head and opened fire once more. The head disappeared in a mist of purple blood and the Carnifex exploded. “To the Thunderhawks!” The space marines rallied and raced to their Thunderhawks.
Once in the air, the Thunderhawks blanketed the ground with more ordinance and raced into space. The handful of Solarian FORCE troopers holding the other side of the base followed suit and boarded their transports - little more than a set of magnetic harnesses strapped to an anti-g engine - and leaped for space. The Imperial base fell. As the Karlacks overran the base, tearing the remaining automated defences apart, and tearing huge gorges in the walls and swarming through the cracks, the base appeared from the air to be completely covered in a sea of Karlacks.
But not for long. The fleeing Imperials had deliberately set their massive plasma core to self-destruct within 5 minutes of their departure as part of standing orders when evacuating a base. A base might have been abandoned, but it must be denied to the enemy. When the plasma core detonated, the explosion was so large and powerful that it was visible from space, cracking a portion of the crust in the area.
“That’s it, we are out of here. Let’s go through the corridor opened by Hyperion
,” High Captain Scipio communicated to every other commander. “All ships form up! Transports between the Murderous
and the Aetheon
. Brigadier Flash Stalin, you take the lead, we will follow.”
“Roger that,” said Flash Stalin. The ships did as they were told and the Hyperion
battlegroup intensified its weapons fire, allowing the ships to escape through the hole opened in the Karlack formation.
Previously on SDNW4...
The Right Fist of Byzon was quickly joined by its sister-ship, the Left Fist of Byzon, mere microseconds after arriving. In moments, the rest of the Bragulan fleet arrived, hypering in and rematerializing in bright flashes of light. Half a Bragulan warfleet, with two battleships of the Imperator's Fist class, and likewise two Chernovyi-class battleships, along with accompanying warcruisers, paleocruisers, and gunskimmers, all joined the fray of this latest Tannhauser Tango. Steely, unflinchingly, and imperiously did they dive in ready to dance to the beat of war.
It was going be a Tango de la Muerte.
Deep within the armored form of the Right Fist of Byzon
, Admiral Nykloyai Gearsmyoviych Bragznetsov surveyed the scene before him. In the telescreen displays, the fleets of the Solarians and Byzantines were forming up for a concentrated push through the englobing Karlack lines. The Swarm’s bioships were spread out in an attempt at engulfing the allied fleet, but the wily humans were attempting to punch through them and make their escape. In all likelihood, they looked like they were going to succeed too.
Bragznetsov gave the order for the Bragulan fleet to advance cautiously into the melee, all while broadcasting their IFF through their gamma-pulse arrays. He was in no hurry to get into the middle of a Karlack swarm in a full frenzy. There were few ways to communicate with the bioships, and no known method to network and coordinate Bragship supercomputers with their organoids. The potential for friendly fire was always there with these beasts, as well as the dangers of being assimilated into their Swarm.
Yet just as the Solarian and Byzantinian ships breached the Karlack lines and made flank speed for the opposite direction, heading for the system hyperlimit, so too did the Karlack bioships part ways for the arriving Bragfleet - giving them a clear view of the fleeing human vessels, a clean line of fire.
Admiral Bragznetsov held a radio receiver to his snout and declared the following, on wide-band frequency directed at the human ships:
“Puny humans of the Solarian and Byzantinian forces, this is Admiral Bragznetsov of the 4th Imperial Bragulan People's Most Byzonist Space Guards Vigilant Patrol Kosmoflot Oktyabrsky
. We demand that you cease all combat operations in this system, tuck your tails and head home. The de-militarization of the Genoa system shall commence.”
One of the Byzantinian ships, in utter irritance, turned around and fired its nova cannon. “Shut your bear trap you stupid filthy animal!”
The nova beam hurtled at near-light velocities and struck a leading paleocruiser at the fore - breaking through its forcefields and melting through the fossil warship’s venerable prow armor. A bow statue of the Imperator Byzon melted under the searing plasmatic heat. This scene was played out on all the telescreens in all the Bragships, incensing Bragulan sailors and commanders alike throughout the fleet.
“How dare they!” Admiral Bragznetsov bellowed. “All ships, fire at will! We shall show these humans the price of their impudence! Launch the missiles!”
Countless silos and missile tubes were emptied as the Bragulans unleashed wave after wave of missiles - from the latest-generation space Spuds to less massive but more modern munitions, smaller and faster missiles designed for less-explosive more-kinetic impacts, stealthy missiles launched from mass drivers to ‘glide’ towards their target before initiating their atomic boosters for the final approach, large long-ranged expendable fodder missiles and even nuclear-tipped decoy missiles. They rocketed towards the human fleets, directed by a combination of ship-controlled interception as well as their own networked sensor systems - using designated missiles that would light up their active-aggressive sensors and gamma-pulse arrays, and passive-aggressives as well, to feed targeting data to the rest of the salvo.
There were too many, the humans couldn’t stop them all. The Solarian and Byzantine ships activated their point defense systems, firing autolasers and phased plasma cannons, bolters and tachyon guns, creating a fatal phalanx of fire aimed at the incoming missiles. But there were thousands of them, and while the scything close-in weapons systems took them down by the hundreds, the sheer volume of the Bragulan missile swarm threatened to overwhelm them. In an attempt to disrupt the incoming salvo, targeting computers aimed for the missiles that had active sensors, the ones that were beaming coordinates to the rest of the barrage, but these missiles were dispersed and whenever they were shot down, other missiles would light up their own sensors and take their place.
Of the thousands launched by the Bragulan warships, only a handful hundred made it through the gauntlet of autolasers and tachyon beams. The Spuds weathered the storm and punched through the crossfire, their armored noses scarred and pitted from energy weapon strikes, while harder to track stealth missiles ignited their atomic rockets upon reaching dangerously close proximity to the human ships. The human ships launched anti-missile missiles towards the Spuds, but the gargantuan paleomissiles had a trick up their own sleeve - namely their own defenses in the form of K-bolters and jamming pods, which activated and began shooting at incoming anti-missile missiles in a mockery of the humans’ previous defensive maneuvers. Meanwhile, the stealth missiles hid under the silhouette of the Spuds, only launching out to strike at the last moment - taking advantage of the distraction the Spuds graciously provided.
They reached the rearmost Byzantine and Solarian ships, slamming against their backsides in a brilliant flashing flurry of vegemite-enhanced explosions. The ships shuddered, the most battered ones’ shields outright collapsing from the onslaught. This was only the first wave, and already the human fleets’ capabilities were being attrited little by little. There was another salvo incoming, another wave of Bragnukes bound for the human fleets. This time, the Karlack Swarm was emboldened by the Bragulan interferance, and at the sight of delicious human morsels lagging behind the rest of the fleet, languishing in their crippled state, they couldn’t resist the call to consume
The countdown clock ticked down as the missiles neared and neared their intended targets, as the Karlacks descended upon the human fleet, and as the FTL drives of the Solarian and Byzantinian ships spooled up. The ragtag human fleet was reaching closer and closer to the hyperlimit, while the damaged ships lagged further and further behind. The clock ticked down.
A shadow fell upon the left-behind ships. As the Karlack swarm blotted out the sun, as the Bragnuke missiles came forth. A mountain of metal, gunsteel grey hull cratered and dented but still resolute in the unending tides of monsters and missiles.
The USS Murderous
Accompanying it were the two Strike Cruisers of the Imperium. The three mighty vessels emitted tractor beams and pulled the left-behind vessels to safety as they made for the hyperlimit, the Dreadstar and the Strike Cruisers using their shields and armor to form a wall against the tide of bioships and nuclear missiles. Autolasers, plasma guns, lances, nova cannons, warp guns, all hell was unleashed upon the descending adversaries. Thermonukes detonated in the dark and ignited shield walls, Omega Energy beams and bioplasma scorched armored hulls. The Solarians and Byzantines fought in the shade.
At the incoming Spud missiles, the Byzantines launched their own mighty munitions. No mere point-defense anti-missile missiles, but anti-ship missiles - to shoot down other anti-ship missiles! The torpedoes rammed into one another, kissing each other before disappearing in thermonuclear blossoms.
The human warships continued their running firefight before finally reaching the hyperlimit. As the bulk of the Karlack Swarm and the Bragulan missile salvo threatened to overwhelm them, they engaged their FTL drives and winked out of reality.
In the bunker-bridge of the Right Fist of Byzon
, and all over the warship, and in all other vessels of the Bragfleet, cheers erupted as the scenes of the humans’ humiliating defeat played out. How the humans ran, mewling like frightned trees, fleeing the might of the Bragulan juggernaut - it was their revengeance for the Bragulan retreat at Majella. Finally, the time had come for humanity in all its myriad forms - both Byzantinian and hated Solarian - to be taught a lesson in humility. They would rue this day.
Admiral Bragznetsov looked around, watching the furry faces of his cheering crew, listening to the congratulatory speeches of the Commissars as they read various compilations of quotes from the Imperator Byzon, looking on at celebratory firearms discharges inside the ship. In his heart, he knew that no true victory had been won this day. At best, the reestablishment of the Koprulu Zone status quo. But the humans had not fled from the Bragulans themselves, they had not been crushed by the iron boot of Byzonisc righteousness. No, they ran from the insatiable hunger of the Karlack Swarm...
…a Karlack Swarm that had been denied Genoa’s precious biomatter, no thanks to the explosive presents left behind by the humans. A Karlack Swarm that had expended considerable energies in repulsing the human fleets, and would now be looking for fresh meat to replenish their stores. A Karlack Swarm that was still... hungry.
A Karlack Swarm that was now surrounding them.
“Order the fleet to begin unilateral withdrawal from the system,” Admiral Bragznetsov said to his adjutant. “It’s time for us to go.”
“Are we not joining the Karlacks in the liberation of this system from the vile clutches of humanity?” his adjutant asked. On the sensors screen, the Karlack bioships seemed to be consolidating after their mad dash towards the human ships. They were now, once more, gathering in numbers and returning to their former positions - very close to the Bragfleet. Very very close indeed
“Nyet.” Bragznetsov replied. “Set a course for the hyperlimit and move at flank speed. Okay, we’re leaving now.
USS Murderous retreats from Nova Genoa