SAW 1: Stars at War

BOOK: SAW 1: Stars at War
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Stars
At War

 

By

Lee
Guo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text
copyright © 2014
Lee Guo

 

All
Rights Reserved

No
part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from
the author, except for brief quotations embodied in critical articles and
reviews are permitted.

This
is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products
of the author’s imagination or have been used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

 

Content Editor: L. Elliott

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Mom

~
Prologue
~

 

Star System Dalon, Core of the Viron Empire

Planet Dalon's World

 

H
e
kept falling, falling. Blackness everywhere—no light, no ground, things did not
exist for him to hold onto…Just nothingness. A total void, and so he fell.

Who am I? What am I?
He
didn't know. He didn't even have the emotions to feel afraid, or to be curious,
or to wonder. All he knew? He’d been in a falling trance for as long as he
could remember.

Time. What is that?

A body. What is that?

A light. What is that?

A small light, very miniature, shone
from far away.

He couldn't quite tell what it might
be, but it certainly looked different. At least, it was
something
.

When the light became brighter, he
became curious—certainly something new.

Curiosity. He could feel this
emotion, again.

The light. It became larger. Like a
single star in a black sky.

Prancort wanted to touch it, to grab
hold of it.

Prancort...yes, that’s my name,
as it has always been, and always will be.

He seemed to have hands, now. He
reached for that dot of light, but instead it reached out for him.

The point of light zoomed at him. It
enclosed him from all sides. It surrounded him. Colors emerged around him.

Objects filled the sky. A place. A
time. A reason.

Logic existed, again. Things existed
and were related to each other.

I am Prancort. I am me. Prancort
de Gaulle—a machine—a god.

He now saw it in his mind…Hundreds
of starships firing laser beams at each other. Thousands of people died every
second—and High Admiral Prancort was the mastermind behind it all. The Supreme
Commander of all he surveyed.

He was going to win. He would win.
He always won—every game
.

Yes, the war…The battle, it all came
back to him now…

Act 1

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

Star System Orasis V

Flag Bridge, Mobile Battle
Fortress
VSF Epsilon
Decimus

B
attle…Battle
happened all around him.

I can win—I can win.
Prancort gripped the
railing with tight fists and he could hear his own breathing through his
armored suit.
Huff. Huff
. His brain worked at maximum speed.

Below him, hundreds of uniformed officers carried out his
orders.

The flag bridge busied itself in an unnatural high as it
controlled the entire human space navy in what was the largest battle humanity
ever encountered to date. The product of hundreds of worlds and billions of
human laborers fought against the alien armada that wanted to kill every human
being in the galaxy.

Huff. Huff…
Prancort's nanite enhanced brain sent out
orders at lightning speed.

His eyes darted at the giant holographic display in front of
him. The red and green images flashed across his face, constantly changing,
constantly updating as the holomap tried to represent what was happening on the
battlefield in three-dimensional form.

He was a machine…He was a god.

Yet, even as his lightning fast reflexes commanded entire
squadrons of starships,  a thought kept repeating through his mind of how —he
was indeed failing.

The truth is—the enemy he fought turned out to be even more
vicious and cunning. The alien out there, commanding the opposing fleet, rarely
made mistakes, and constantly overpowered Prancort on numerous occasions.

Yet, Prancort persisted. He tried his best to kill that
emotion—the fear that he might lose. He must do it for humanity. He needed to
do it for himself. Because—if he failed here, he would never allow himself to
live…

Star System Orasis V

Bridge, Juggernaut VSF
Asterix

Captain Donovan bit at his lip. As a forward commander, his
duty was to hold the line, but there’s only so much even
he
could do. In
the end, he was just a pawn on the board, a pawn the higher ups commanded.

"All laser batteries, fire!"The Captain stared at
the holomap with blood-struck eyes.

The twenty-kilometer super-dreadnaught
Asterix
readied its 400 laser batteries and fired into the leading snake warship.
Massive amounts of energy ravaged the enemy starship, crisping its outer layer
of armor to bits.

However, this didn’t seem to matter. The snake warship had
so
much
armor, it seemed undeterred as it fired back.

Damage sensors went ablaze. The bridge rocked as waves of
violence slashed through it.

"Report!" said Donovan.

"I'm reading light damage to our forward armor! Power
conduits on our forward section have been damaged by 25%. Light
casualties!"

Flag Bridge, Mobile Battle Fortress VSF
Epsilon
Decimus

“I wish I could use missiles in this battle,” Admiral
Prancort said aloud, but he knew he couldn't. Too much intersystem dust and
small rocks existed within the asteroid field. Missiles would blow upon hitting
any rock since they didn't have a gravity-field powerful enough to deflect
them, especially with the missile's extreme speed.

Battle space looked like a gigantic asteroid field.
Nothing—but a thick particle dense field with millions of mile wide asteroids
in every direction…the proto-stellar dust field of a newborn star. The snake
admiral had chosen it, and High Admiral Prancort had been forced to follow the
enemy admiral into the stellar dust cloud with the belief human ships could
outperform because they were smaller.

“Well, the enemy cannot use their missiles, either,” Vice
Admiral Prion observed.

The battle in Block E-9-C was won, but the other battles in
other blocks weren’t as victorious. Prancort already sent an overwhelming
number of ships to Block E-9-C to win that battle, but he didn't have an
overwhelming number of ships in all the other blocks.

A large part of the enemy's success could be attributed to
the power of the enemy juggernauts. They were unfathomably well armored and
could take on a lot of damage, especially from the front. He learned several
things during the battle of block E-9-C. A snake juggernaut couldn’t be
destroyed from the front, unless overwhelmed by firepower from a human
juggernaut and only if the snake were already damaged. The only cost-effective
way to destroy it was from the flanks where the armor seemed weaker. Also,
because of the way snake starships were designed, where the aft and side armors
were especially weak, a single Viron element could turn the tide of the
particular battle if properly positioned. In the case of Block E-9-C, it was a
single Viron light-cruiser.

This directly related to his tactical successes. Certainly,
surrounds and ‘bear claw’ tactics worked when they were done fast enough by
small elements like his destroyers and light-cruisers. Even a single
light-cruiser positioned in the rear or flank could give the enemy a dilemma it
couldn't solve without repositioning its own units, thus wasting valuable time
and exposing even more side or aft armor.

The exception would be with a head-to-head confrontation,
then the snakes definitely took the advantage. Their frontal armor was
that
strong. Worse yet, the enemy had eighteen remaining juggernauts while Prancort
only had fifteen.

Gripping the railings with his sweaty hands, Prancort
continued scanning the battlefield for solutions.

Battles now occurred in over eighteen blocks. Over 80% of
Prancort's fleet engaged in direct combat. The 20% unengaged starships rushed
inward, away from the fleet's flanks. The snake fleet continued pushing
high-density forces through openings in an attempt to overwhelm by sheer
firepower. Prancort's only resort besides pushing more ships directly into the
‘action zones’ would be by flanking and rearing. He could do it easily because
his smaller ships could maneuver through pockets. In general, his ships were
faster because they could do so.

So, there were two things which would impact the success of
this battle: how well the Viron ships already in combat could flank and rear
the snake attackers, and how fast Prancort could get his remaining
twenty-percent away from the flanks and into the battle at the center wall.

Losses in the center already soared to over a third of all
of Prancort's starships.

The snakes lost Twenty-percent of its pre-battle numbers,
but this was mostly in terms of smaller starships like destroyers and
light-cruisers. The snakes beat Prancort in the heavy-cruiser tally, killing
twenty-eight Viron heavy-cruisers compared to fifteen snake heavies lost.
Despite this, Prancort did destroy two snake juggernauts while losing only one,
but this was because of a fluke in the orders.

The battle still raged on. Prancort had little choice but to
continue giving out orders, both on a large scale and on a small scale. He made
sure those ships arriving into the center battle wall would arrive from a point
where it could flank the enemy ships. He ordered starships already in battle to
proper locations, especially if they were idle. For instance, most of the
combatants in Block E-9-C were already mopping up all the snake units. These
units could be sent to a neighboring block, where their firepower could win the
day there… All in all, he’d gained a slight advantage when the enemy attacked
on all fronts. Many bottlenecks were made, which allowed Prancort to shoot
enemy ships coming out of cracks one at a time. However, he lost the advantage
once the enemy got through, as head-to-head, his units couldn’t fight a frontal
battle with snake units.

 

CHAPTER TWO

Flag Bridge, Mobile Battle Fortress

VSF
Epsilon Decimus

A
dmiral
Prancort played the game. The game was called…Who could outflank the other. The
snakes played the game as well, even though they were ahead, without knowingly
playing it. Prancort needed to play the game exceptionally well in order to
win, but the enemy didn’t.

The asteroids made the game more crucial, but it also
blocked the way. If the battle were held in open space, flanking would have
been more difficult because both sides would have begun shooting each other
from tens of thousands of kilometers away. In reality, the line-of-sight became
much harder to get, then because you needed to slow down in order to maneuver,
an object that moved to your flanks would stay there.

Prancort controlled hundreds of units in a kaleidoscope of
movement. Vice Admiral Prion helped out, too.

Often times, their strategies for a particular block
mingled.

“See you those two snake cruisers?”  Prancort pointed out.
“We have to pull away or reflank, if we don’t they’ll get side shots on us.”

“We don’t have the troops to counter flank,” Prion
countered.

“Then we bend back,” 

A few seconds later, Prion spoke, “Why did you commit to
that attack? We’re in a disadvantage in that block.”

“It’s okay. I have two destroyers ready to rear attack.”

“Two destroyers won’t make a difference in that block.”

“Trust me, they will.”

Then, there was the enemy commander. He seemed to react
faster and have greater map vision. Which is only natural since he’s a
centipede with many legs, and so it wasn’t unexpected how his alien brain could
multitask better.

It turned out to be uncanny how well the snake could play it
out. Talk about getting the snake to make mistakes. Now when the snake was in,
he could play it well.

“I’m pulling out of Block D-7-C,” Prancort announced.

“If you’re pulling out of D-7-C, I’m pulling out of the
neighboring blocks. I’ll get surrounded,” Prion responded.

“Maybe not, then.” Prancort shook his head. “But I can’t
hold D-7-C. Can you spare me some reinforcements?”

“Two light-cruisers is all I can spare.”

“That might balance the odds.” Prancort nodded. “Do it.” His
mind focused onto the battle. The fate of his nation’s future rested on it. He
couldn’t believe it all came down to this—whether or not he could outplay the
snake commander inside an asteroid field. Outrageous, but true. It seemed like
a dream.

I can win,
I can win.

 

Bridge, Juggernaut VSF
Asterix

 

“Weapons, fire!”  Donovan ordered. On the map, he watched as
the snake light-cruiser on the seventeen snake battle wall suddenly took an
entire frontside of
Asterix
’s laser beams into its right armor.

Its side armor splintered in blinding hot explosions. Armor
fragments spewed in every direction. The light-cruiser stopped firing into the
human wall of the ships ahead of it, and instead teetered over like a puzzled
child.

Asterix
’s next discharge of laser beams burned even
deeper into the snake’s side-innards.

The snake suddenly turned towards its right, in an attempt
to forward face
Asterix
, which flanked it.

When it finished the turn, some human captain in the human
wall ahead of it noticed it had revealed its side, and fired onto the snake
light-cruiser’s left armor. Another human starship in the big wall followed
suit, then another.

The light-cruiser exploded white-hot. Fragments of its
ten-kilometer hull ricocheted on a snake heavy-cruiser nearby, leaving giant
marks as well as moving the ship.

“Weapons, switch fire towards snake heavy-cruiser, E52,”
Donovan ordered amidst the cheering on the bridge.

“Aye, sir!”

Asterix
’s forward laser mounts beamed into its next
victim, a snake heavy-cruiser on the snakes’ remaining battle wall—who also
faced the human wall. The beams slashed into its side armor like it did to the
exploded light-cruiser. Explosions pockmarked all across the second victim’s
side-hull. Once again, weak side armor fragments spewed in every direction.

“They don’t know what to do about it,” Commander Rajek noted
from beside him.

“We’re a game changer,” Donovan concluded as he stared at
the snake.
What can you do? If you turn to face me, the human wall in front
of you will fire at your sides.

The snake didn’t move.

All the while, the
Asterix
continued to blast its
side-armor and destroy its side-hull.

A light-cruiser crept up besides
Asterix
, and Donovan
noticed its insignia, the Viron light-cruiser
Pendam
.
Join the party!
Donovan snickered.

The light-cruiser
Pendam
also fired into the snake
heavy-cruiser from the flank, adding to
Asterix
’s destructive firepower
on the snake’s side.

The snake, instead of twisting to face its assailants 
attacking its vulnerable side, simply stood still and let itself be
destroyed…such was the dilemma it was in. A minute later, it exploded in
another white-hot fireball. Pieces of its twenty-kilometer hull splattered in
many directions.

“Good. Target the next…“  Donovan’s voice faded away, as he
spotted it on the central holomap. A little thing, about half the size of a
human destroyer. About one kilometer in diameter. He’d previously ignored it,
thinking it to be merely hull fragments—but no, it now moved too carefully and
purposely for that. Worse, its emissions told him that it was a piloted ship.
Though, not a Viron ship. He’d never seen it before.

Donovan now remembered the debriefing.

Admiral Prancort, in the center of that massive auditorium,
told all the captains of the human fleet to be wary of the kamikaze ship, or
the K-ship. A true suicide ship, armed with as much antimatter as it could
carry.

“Weapons, target that small K-ship behind the human battle
wall and fire!” yelled Donovan.

“I can’t, sir! Our ships are blocking it! I don’t have
line-of-sight!”

“Comm, tell the captains of
Ashigaru
and
Mitsume
that—”

Just then—the k-ship blew. First, a blinding white-flash
occurred right in the center of the fourteen-ship human battle wall. A blinding
shockwave expanded—unlike anything Donovan had ever seen before. From his
distance, it looked like it would rock
Asterix
and drain its shields.
From the close-in distance of the ships inside the human battle wall, it was
like absorbing a supernova’s energy explosion.

Immediately, two human ships, the closest to the detonation,
exploded into giant fireballs as the shockwave crashed into them. Three other
human ships within the next closest vicinity had their shields ripped off their
skin. Green-blue shield energy splashed outward, along with pieces of their
hull.

Donovan didn’t need to magnify the holomap’s zoom to see
fireballs whooshing through those ship’s innards.

The rest of the human squadron seemed to break formation, as
soon as they were struck by the shockwave.

He sure didn’t want to be in Prancort’s position. The damage
to the fleet was vast. Damage control sensors on those ships must have been
beeping like sirens. When he studied the human wall of fourteen again, it
wasn’t a wall anymore, but a scattering of ships trying to come to their senses
among the snake’s fire.

Six to seven human ships—disabled! Just like that!

Now, the twelve-ship snake battle wall turned several of its
ships towards Donovan’s
Asterix
.

“Helm, reverse course! Reverse!” Donovan commanded, “Get us
out of line of sight!”

“Aye, sir!”

The Viron light-cruiser beside
Asterix
, the
Pendam
,
also retreated.

“Are we abandoning them?” Rajek asked.

“Look at that human squadron. That’s not a battle wall
anymore, it’s a scattering of disabled ships! It’s just us and
Pendam
versus all the snakes!”

“Surely, some of our ships that withstood the shockwave
could still fire,” Rajek offered.

Donovan sat silently. “You’re right. We do still have
flanking position on that snake squadron. But we’re severely outnumbered. It’s
now seven versus fifteen—”

“Sir, look!” the helmsman yelled. “The holomap!”

Donovan twisted his head to look forward into the central
holomap and he saw it. It’d been crawling in order to sneak up on
Asterix
and its ally, the
Pendam
. Another snake k-ship, some three hundred
kilometers aft of
Asterix
.

“Weapons, do you have firing solution on that?”  Donovan
asked.

“Yes, sir—but we don’t have much laser mounts back there.
Only twenty rear laser mounts.”

“Is that enough to take it out? Fire!” Donovan ordered,
“Helm, turn us 90 degrees so our side laser mounts can fire on it.”

“But that’ll expose our side to the snake squadron!” Chris
at weapons replied.

“We’ll die if we don’t take it out! Do it!”

Asterix’s twenty rear laser mounts spammed twenty beams at
two second-intervals into the snake K-ship.

The K-ship looked like gigantic cockroach, except with a
very vast abdomen that held its antimatter stores. Its forward hull carried all
the propulsion units and defenses.

 Did it have a crew? Donovan would never know and didn’t
care to find out.

The rear laser mounts crashed into the K-ship’s forward
hull, but to Donovan’s surprise, he saw green-blue shield scatter! It had
shields!
I guess the snakes equip some of their ships with shields after
all.
Shield blasts splattered as the
Asterix
’s laser beams continued
to prick the K-ship.

“It’s closing to two hundred kilometers,” the helm reported.

The
Asterix
finished its 90-degree turn, and its
forty-side laser mounts added to the fire that splashed the K-ship’s shields.

“Sir!” helm called again. “The
Pendam
turned, too!
They saw it!”

Donovan looked over at his ally.

The light-cruiser
Pendam
had a much faster turn rate,
because it was much smaller. Within a minute, it’d fully turned a 180, while
Asterix
kept turning to face the K-ship. The
Pendam
fired a full frontside of
two hundred cruiser-sized lasers. They dove into the K-ships shields, and
instead of making a blue-green splash, they directly hit the K-ship’s armor, or
whatever protected it.

The K-ship rocked as both
Asterix
and
Pendam
jammed their laser beams into its rather unprotected hull. Explosions easily spasmed
across its forward hull and more secondary explosions followed. Within seconds,
the K-ship was no more, but in its place stood a gigantic white-hot explosion
followed by a similar shockwave that expanded and expanded.

“Shockwave incoming!” said damage control.

—until it enveloped both
Asterix
and
Pendam
.
The bridge of the
Asterix
rocked back and forth and its shields bled its
iron-cobalt matrix off.

“Shields at 10% and falling!” damage control advised.

My god, that was a big explosion, thought Donovan.

The bridge buckled and gravity shifted sideways as the
inertial stabilizers tried to compensate. His armpad shook and people on the
bridge who tried walking couldn’t. Everyone held onto something.

Finally, the shockwave of highly energized plasma created by
the dust and small rocks of the asteroid field passed.

“Shields gone!” damage control noted.

Donovan gazed up at the neighboring starship
Pendam
and realized it also lost its shields, but because it had a smaller surface
area, the shockwave did relatively proportional damage to it. Luckily, the
K-ship exploded one hundred and fifty kilometers away. Closer—and both ships
would’ve been neutralized.

Both
Pendam
and
Asterix
now turned their backs
at the enemy squadron in an effort to destroy the enemy K-ship. This was no
good.

“Sir! The enemy behind is firing!” damage control shouted.

Three snake starships…a light-cruiser and two heavy
cruisers—fired their full frontside grazer mounts at three hundred kilometers
away.

Virtually point-blank, Donovan saw the
Pendam
’s rear
explode from numerous grazer hits.

The
Pendam
was a light-cruiser, and its rear armor,
the weakest of all its armors. The enemy fire smashed its rear hull. Beams of
gamma-ray photons from all three snakes machine-gunned into
Pendam
’s back,
wrecking internal equipment and explosions flamed every quarter of its hull.

Donovan winced and already knew what would happen before it
happened.

The
Pendam
’s power plants, with its fusion reactors
and its antimatter stores, lost containment and exploded in another dazzling
array of bursts.

The
Pendam
was gone.

I’m next…
“Helm! Full speed ahead!” Donovan shouted,
“Get us out of here! Put that asteroid wall in between us!”

“Will do, sir!”

The
Asterix
’s gravitic drive went to full, while it
still could. The big gravity emitter fore and back glowed to purple and the
ship accelerated full speed at 0.4 kilometers per second squared.

“The enemy behind is firing on us!” damage control called.

Donovan closed his eyes for all the good it would do.
The
enemy is firing. The enemy is firing at my rear!

The bridge shook to gigantic blasts that tore through the
Asterix’s aft armor like paper. Damage control sensors blazed with alerts from
many of the aft quarters. Damage control yelled out, “I got red-red-black from
aft decks C12 to E19! Sections are blinking!”

BOOK: SAW 1: Stars at War
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