The Battle of Kanazawa ShipyardKanazawa Fortress
The Empty Quarter
24 February 3400
The Woukou had skimped on their anti-ESPer protection, and now they were paying for it. Salita Gajasa disentangled the handles and cruel thin wire from around the dead bandit fortress commander's neck, and then stashed the garrote close at hand, whilst quickly searching the corpse laying on the bed for weapons that did not have to make the tradeoff between concealment and firepower like hers did. His heavy energy pistol would be very nice indeed, if she had to shoot her way out. Feeling out with her powers, only the main bridge of the fortress was shrouded to her with some sort of anti-ESPer field. That mistake had let her make it this far, and now it would let her complete the rest of her mission.
Those whom passed her in the corridors of the asteroid fortress thought it unremarkable, their minds nudged by her to do so. Her excellent disguise of the heavy pistol in the fancy silk outfit, and the way it exposed so many more other tempting areas to look at, helped ease and misdirect their otherwise-disbelief. Staying away from the bridge, there were still so many other sensitive areas that were open to her, like the communications room she entered.
It was, however, not empty, as a single pirate sat at the computer that dominated the one wall of the room, and was using it to watch pornography. Engrossed as he was in it, even when he turned to see a beautiful woman holding a gun, he simply had no chance to react as the covert energy pistol in her hand fired a low-power beam, more than enough to drill a neat hole surrounded by a bloom of cooked tissue through his skull. Shoving him aside and minimizing the porn, it was easy to bring up the FTL comms system, and quickly scripted it to begin a delayed broadcast. Rearranging the pirate to have his own weapon in his hand, she let the porn again dominate the screen - perhaps it would confuse anyone sent to investigate.
Leaving the room, she had a few good spots in mind to hole up near the hangers, because everything was about to get quite active aboard the fortress, and she would need to make her escape at just the right time...RKS Hasanuddin
"Sir, FTL comms is picking up a signal on the wide-band, it's coming from the asteroid."
"Excellent, it seems our agent is keeping up her end of the operation. Let's not disappoint on ours. Fleet, initiate final hyperspace jump to target!" At Admiral Khalil Amazigh's order, Hasanuddin
and the squadron of starships around her leapt forth into hyperspace. The refit hyperdrives felt
different in some indescribable way to him, and it'd played merry hell on patrol schedules and shipyard crews while he'd had them swapped out in preparation for this operation, but the increased reliability in shoal conditions made up for their other flaws.--> Click here now for semi-timed musical accompaniment! <--
As the Klavostani battleship and her squadron emerged from hyperspace at the edge of the deep-space asteroid field, dozens of Woukou ships of were scrambling into motion around the asteroid fortress. No less than three gargantuan Woukou cityships floated out by various mobile heavy industry ships, all these ships clustered around a framework in space, as the nomads briefly became stationary for the act of reproduction - inside lay another cityship under construction. For all that their agent had attempted to remove at least one of their commanders, the Woukou pirate warships were deploying out in what seemed to be a decently-organized fashion to oppose them alongside the fortress.
However, it was not just an entire Klavostani battle squadron that had turned out to fight the Woukou this day. At the rear of the formation, a number of tug starships clustered snugly around the form of something large. Whilst its projecting forward hull greatly resembled that of most Klavostani ships, the rear half was not a sleek engined hull, but a bulkier mass. This was not a ship, but an OWP, a single beam cannon of tremendous scale - a device that served as a high-energy physics experiment and a major planetary defense weapon all in one. And now innovated as an offensive siege weapon, once Khalil'd successfully pried it from the kicking and screaming clutches of Shroomindanao's system defense forces.
Blossoming away after detaching, the tugs got themselves clear of the Klavostani OWP as it powered up the rest of the way, shields flickering to protective life around it in position at the front edge of the fleet.
"Admiral, the OWP reports ready to fire in seven seconds."
"Target the roidfort. All ships, synchronize firing with it." He paused until the countdown reached zero. "Fire!"
The fringes of the single huge barrel crackling with incipient discharge, blinding energy leapt out towards the asteroid fortress. As the fortress had once proven in the past, it had relatively light shields for its size, choosing to rely more on point-defense and the free armor of the big rock. Whilst able to soak up smaller-calibre beam cannon fire relatively easily, the OWP's beam immediately penetrated through the shields, the bolt pounding a deep molten shaft into the rock, far deeper than any that already marred its ancient surface, or those that the beam cannons of the rest of the fleet added.Okami
Warlord Ichimoto snarled a fierce curse under his breath as he watched his hopes evaporate with the firing of the OWP. He knew what its like were, something he'd only ever seen from afar, with damned good reason. That was an entire Klavostani battle squadron out there, a force that he barely considered himself superior to alongside Kanazawa Fortress. That was the only reason he thought this place safe enough to stop for the months it took to build another cityship. Clearly, he had underestimated the ingenuity of these Klavostanis.
He could stay and fight, he knew he could still maul them badly... But despite any silly samurai pretensions the Woukou kept, there was no honor in annihilating his part of the Red Dragon Clan's fighting force, he would be a fool to fight a battle of attrition with Klavostan. And where the hell was that fool Morozumi, and why wasn't he scrambling the fortress' fighters? At least despite the ferocious energy weapons pounding Kanazawa was taking, its carpets of small-calibre weapons kept the torrent of Klavostani missiles well back from the rock's surface, for now.
Ichimoto sighed in despair even as he realized the one and only way he had out of the Klavostani Admiral's well-executed trap. It was the option that would cost him the least, because the Klavos had assuredly won this battle.
"Communications! Message to all ships; Form wall of battle alongside the fortress. All civilians to evacuate immediately. And launch the cityship. I intend to ram it down the Klavos' throats!"RKS Hasanuddin
As sensor input poured in, the tactical display became more refined over time, and the computer tagged out the enemy ships as a mix of familiar Woukou models - thirteen of their raiders and three cruisers - and one that brought a frown to his face, the clear silhouette of an older-model, refit Klavostani battleship, still clad in the paint that had previously befitted its role as the flagship of the defensive fleet of the independent planet Ramal, who thought they'd be safe with their new ship. Until the Woukou hijacked it. Something about that train of thought screamed to Khalil that he was somehow missing something more still.
"Admiral, the Woukou fleet is moving into formation around the roidfort."
"I see them. Have the OWP continue firing on the fort, target their fleet with ours." He waited a moment and a half, knowing the refire times of the various ships in his fleet by heart. "Fire!"
The blazing beam from the OWP erupted out again, stabbing a beam deep into the rock in a way that suddenly silenced several of the many guns on the fortress. Khalil's staff had put together a firing plan for the OWP that would take best advantage of what they knew about the roidfort, to fatally break it up. At the same time, 68 main beam cannons lashed out across space for their enemies, some continuing on in a slowly-dissipating streak across space, targeting spoofed enough by ECM, while others crashed into Woukou shields with all the violence of the surf against sheer cliffs.
The Woukou's return volley thundered back from all their ships and the many guns and box launchers of Kanazawa, for the moment giving as good as they got, blistering Klavostani shields. In between them, missiles bloomed into explosions as they were intercepted, or did the intercepting themselves. Disciplined volleys soon broke down into ships simply firing as fast as they could at the enemy, both fleets starting to slug it out, shield strengths dwindling towards failure. In the distance, there was a flash as one of the factoryships jumped out. Khalil cursed, and then what lit up the holodisplay made him curse again.
"What is that cityship doing? They're launching it from the shipyard, does it have hyperdrive already installed?" As it continued to maneuver towards the battle, rather than away, its intentions became all too alarmingly obvious to the Klavostani Admiral. He had not expected them to try and ram the OWP. Clearly, when their agent had made her escape, she had failed to neutralize the truly skilled enemy commander. Such was fortune in espionage operations. In the distance, another ship hypered out.
"Damn it all. Re-target the OWP on the cityship, and draw the fleet's formation back a little, we're not going to be able to crack that rock as fast as I'd like. Launch Valkyries for point-defense." Stepping down some from the raised flag bridge level, Khalil addressed the Hasanuddin
's Captain. "Captain, I want this ship to remain at the front of the formation - tighten the beam cannon spread for tight single salvos. If we do hit something, I want it put down fast. I believe the enemy will be withdrawing very shortly." The Captain nodded, and relayed those orders.
The 4th Battle Squadron of 3rd Fleet crisply maneuvered into a more conservative attack formation, letting the larger ships take the lead, where their heavier defenses could more easily hold up to the ferocity of these final minutes of battle. As the more numerous screen of 9 destroyers fell back behind the 4 cruisers of Khalil's command and Hasanuddin
herself, the larger vessels, and the carrier in the far tail position of the formation, began to disgorge a flurry of starfighters. They raced out barely ahead of the fleet inside of designated safe corridors, their own beams and missiles blazing out to shoot down incoming enemy ordnance.
Pivoting about relatively slowly, the OWP soon brought its massive cannon into line with the kilometers-long cityship that was hurtling towards it ever-faster as its engines flared as brightly as they could, all safeties ignored. Aboard the ship, workers were stranded in many compartments deep in the ship, helpless and ignorant to their fate, as their lives ended in a light more intense than any they'd ever known. Far from seriously armored or shielded, what the cityship did have was mass, and lots of it. Tens of thousands of compartments flared into vapor as the beam ate its way in, the intense center of the beam coring in deeper to scourge the engine room into gutted uselessness, no longer driving the ship on faster, but the remains continuing inexorably still on its final course. Kanazawa Fortress
Even though it, for the moment, was no longer suffering the quakes that came as the enormous beam ate into the asteroid, the fortress was in complete chaos. Their panic over the signal they'd found calling the Klavostani fleet in had only intensified when they discovered their commander dead in his quarters. Those connected or clever enough were deserting their posts to escape out through the hangers now, before the Red Dragon fleet withdrew. Salita leaned tight back against the wall as she felt out with her ESPer senses, and knew that the way between her and the hanger was likely as deserted as it was going to get. She certainly wasn't staying to get blown up along with this damn rock.
Walking slow, she allowed a gaggle of pirates to make it through a cross-corridor first, rather than come into view of them, and then she began to run like the wind the moment they were past. Barefoot as she was, she was as close to silent as one could get as she raced up behind a single pirate walking at a more dignified pace towards the hangers. Just as she came close enough that he began to react, she leapt up to get a very good grasp on the man's head. Telekinetically shoving him to put him off-balance, her hands did the rest of their well-practiced move to break his neck. Dropping the body to the floor without another thought, she drew the heavy pistol she'd taken off the fortress commander as she pressed the buttons to open the large airtight door to the hanger.
The hanger was chaos, with Woukou prepping fighters for launch, and others were loading up transport craft with as many as could pile aboard before their pilots' patience ran out. Her heart raced, feeling serious worry for the first time in this operation. Nobody had noticed her in here yet, but when they did... She felt the presence of hundreds of minds, tried to sort them out into the shapes of ships in the hanger. There, that one was mostly deserted!
She felt her would-be assailant's intentions before he carried them out, a hand reaching out to grab at her arm with filthy words in his mouth. The words that came out were still filthy, but in utter surprise at the sight of the big pistol, and a ferocious bolt of energy struck out with force that blew apart his upper torso into a mixture of big gory chunks and pink bloody mist. Surprisingly, this did not immediately arouse the attention of the entire hanger, as already many disputes had been resolved in this way aboard the fortress, especially as the rats fled the sinking ship. For those close enough, however, many reached for their weapons, while others ran for cover.
She ran, aimed, and fired, again and again, carving herself out a path between her and her only way out. Those who drew weapons in front of her died first, followed by those who were physically in her way. Those behind her would feel their arms yanked and jogged as their fingers squeezed on triggers, their fire going wild. By the way she was still breathing, running, and killing, she was successful in keeping herself from being shot. There was the ramp! Racing up it, she reached out to hit the control panel with a blood-slicked foot, drawing her smaller pistol as well, and rained suppressive fire from both weapons down the ramp until it closed up spacetight. Energy weapons sang against the outer hull, whilst slugthrower rounds bounced off with a metallic noise.
Salita felt only three more people inside this ship, and she knew she could fly most anything human-designed. Time to relieve herself of her unwanted passengers and get out of here...Okami
Warlord Ichimoto was disappointed as the OWP's beam seared out again towards the hulk of the cityship, the energies of it rending countless tons of starship into vapor and micrometeoroids, instead of a single deadly projectile. He so wished to see this expensive investment of his smash into that Klavostani toy, cost them what they were costing him right now! While more of the civilian fleet hypered out behind them, one of the Raiders in the Woukou wall of battle was finally caught by the intense volleys of the Klavostani battleship. Hasanuddin
's eight heavy-calibre main forward guns had futilely probed out together for many volleys now, but finally they'd landed a strike on the already-weakened pirate vessel, and it simply exploded in a blossom of fire, atmosphere, and wreckage.
At the sight of that, several other Woukou Raiders that had been severely battered broke formation to physically shelter briefly behind Kanazawa, desperately recharging their shields so they could stand out on the line for a while more - the smaller Raiders were not truly designed for fleet combat like this, and it showed. Still, so long as Ichimoto did not demand too much of them, they would do here today. If those damned lazy civilians would hurry up and jump out! As if his sheer anger had frightened them into it, the first of the three active cityships streaked away into hyperspace.
He ignored the slightest shiver that went through Okami
as a beam struck her shields, while the old bitch snarled back with her own guns. He approved of the way the Klavo fleet shied away from the still very much ferociously alive fortress, rather than pressing in so confidently as they had while the OWP carved into it. Nonetheless, the maiden and final voyage of his cityship was buying them precious, precious time, as its disintegrating hulk required yet a third hellish blast from the OWP to disperse the dangerous masses that still hurtled on course. RKS Hasanuddin
"Enemy ramship neutralized," the staff AI aboard the bridge intoned, as the graphic depicting the cityship finally de-rezzed under the third beam pounded into her. The forward viewscreen lit up glaringly for a moment, and Hasanuddin
shuddered as more enemy beams struck her. The Woukou were damned lucky he wasn't eager to get close to that roidfort, or else he would've taken this battle from standoff range to far closer, where targeting sensors couldn't be tricked so easily, where missiles had only moments in flight, where fleets could tear one another apart shockingly quickly.
"Continue the OWP fireplan on the fortress." Khalil bit his lip after giving the order, and then waited, watching as the battle raged on. In the distance, to his anger, more of the Woukou civilian starships continued to flee to safety. Trying to find them in the Empty Quarter would be next to impossible when they were on the move. A strike with these vital pieces of Woukou infrastructure temporarily tied down to one location was the holy grail of antipirate operations, and the prize was slipping through his grasp!
He furrowed his brow, and intently stared at the tactical plot. Stratagems to speed along the battle's outcome formed in his head, were analyzed, discarded. Nothing fancy could do it here, that clever Woukou Warlord aboard that brazenly-painted battleship would be able to take advantage too quickly. The OWP strobed out again, punching another shaft deep into the body of the asteroid fort. Already, some sections of the fortress were starting to go dark, while one that had previously been disabled suddenly snarled to life, unleashing a heavy fusillade of beams that made one of the Barbarossa
s fall back even further quickly.
There was a distant, faint thunk as the reloads for Hasanuddin
's main missile cells were rammed into place. Along the battleship's spine and belly, the big armored doors protecting those vulnerabilities swung open, and another volley of heavy antiship missiles roared out, orienting themselves towards the enemy for their terminal course. Before the last of them was shot down in a flare of premature matter/antimatter annihilation, another cityship had made its escape. Okami
Ichimoto spared a moment to glance over as the main lift to the bridge slid open, where one of his lieutenants walked in. He gave the man an acknowledging nod, and then looked back to the battle. As Kanazawa slowly crumbled - literally - under the devastating assault, shuttles and fightercraft raced out from it to find FTL-capable ships that could bear them away, dodging through a growing field of debris, as the quakes that rocked the asteroid every time the OWP's beam punched in caused fragmenting rock to spall off. Despite this fantastic punishment, Kanazawa was a tough old rock, and continued to fight on. But Ichimoto knew better - Kanazawa was dying, and this position would soon no longer be safe.
"What in the Hells is taking Oryoku Maru
so long to spool up her drive?" Ichimoto snarled, glaring as another enormous beam stabbed into Kanazawa - this time, there was a notable secondary explosion that burst out a spray of rock and debris that forced one of the Woukou cruisers to heel over and evade. "Give me a direct channel to Oryoku Maru
!" There was the equivalent of a mike click in his neural implant.
"If you do not jump to hyperspace by the time my weapons are in range, I will destroy you rather than see you captured. Okami
out." Ichimoto hoped he would not have to carry that threat out. Granted, the cityships were not expecting to move for several more months yet, but that was no excuse for them to be so slow about escape - it was the one job expected of their crew, to keep their hyperdrives in top condition. If this took much longer, he would have that ship's captain's head.
"All ships, begin withdrawing on the flagship. Helm, break us off, plot course for Oryoku Maru
and that shallow shoal salient." Okami
's engines surged for their new course. The fortress soon began to burn up the few unjammed comms signals with pleas to not abandon them, as still even more craft launched to escape, but they were left far behind by the powerful drives of the warships. Ichimoto could really care less, all the Red Dragon men aboard had long since gone, and the fortress was an installation operated by the Steel Pillar industrial clique. There would be bad blood over this, but he could survive it.RKS Hasanuddin
Across the bridge of the flagship and throughout the rest of the fleet, a cheer rose as the Woukou fleet turned tail and ran, even as the more numerous, smaller-sized flank guns on that enemy battleship blazed out in one last parting shot as she came about. The elation was kept as brief as necessary. Khalil briefly cracked a grin.
"Good! Now close in on that rock, heavy strike formation! Fire at maximum rate!" As another titanic bolt stabbed into the fortress' guts from the OWP, the Klavostani squadron closed in like hungry piranha, Hasanuddin
leading the charge in to close range.
In her main gunnery compartments, the sensor displays started to become much more clear, resolving the huge roidfort into a more detailed craggy surface, studded with highlighted weapons emplacements, which the gunners could easily lock onto. When the battleship fired like this, the sheer rock was insufficient protection for these guns, and they were silenced permanently.
Entire sectors of guns failed as power supplies were cut off, and many missile launchers had run dry, separated from their magazines. The worst to come, though, was as the missile duel quickly fell into Klavostani favor, and the fleet successfully pounded multiple antimatter missiles deep into her guts, as the OWP carved away. In a titanic crescendo of destruction, Kanazawa Fortress began to break apart, going from one of the bigger rocks in the field to many of the smaller.
Despite this victory, however, the retreating Woukou fleet was lit up briefly by the final cityship's escape to hyperspace, and with it, any meaningful victory for Klavostan. Then the pirate warships jumped out, and the battle was over, save for the mopping-up of those insignificant ships stuck in the area.
Khalil turned his head at the approach of the man in the Intelligence uniform who approached him, the other ESPer on this mission.
"Admiral, I am in contact with Agent Gajasa. She would be..... On that ship, there." He pointed out a tiny speck on the holographic display, which zoomed in and expanded, showing the profile of the craft, which waggled its wings as it was pinged all the more intensely by sensors.
"Good to know she made it out of there. Dispatch a squadron of Valkyries to escort that ship in. Have the Janissaries on standby to secure enemy prisoners from other craft that survived that."
The battle over, the Klavostani squadron's tugs and very lean fleet train would rejoin the main fleet, lingering only a short while before departing back again for civilization...