Sixth Chapter WIP for 'Invisible Enemy'
Continuation from Chapter 5.
Everything written is subject to change, even the names. Also may be some continuity or plot changes from the previous chapter. Feel free to comment here or on Facebook.
HFSS Sword of Damocles
Kenga watched the display. She saw the tachyon stream of the decoy veer towards the colony planet.
“She’s not taking the bait,” Reed said as the corvette continued steady on course, slowing to a manageable acceleration speed.
“Where’s the second corvette?” Kenga asked to get him to leave her alone for a moment. She studied the tachyon emissions and buzzed Sensors.
“Sensors, sir. Still tracking the decoy.”
“Never mind the decoy,” Kenga said. “Sweep the corvette bearing again. I see weak tachyon streams.”
“Checking,” Sensors said with a pause. “Yes main, one faint stream, possibly two from the corvette.”
“What does that mean?” she asked.
“I’m not sure, sir,” Sensors replied. She switched off the circuit and sat back. It wasn’t a surprise that the Confederation had figured out the N-Hull technology. But why were they streaming tachyons now? The corvette was an Anvil class—not new and not designed to take advantage of an N-Hull design. She examined the passive scans of the enemy vessel that matched what the Hegemony knew of the class. Unlike the Damocles, the Anvil corvette class had been part of the greater Federation Fleet before war broke out and the original design. There were a few new blisters, new probes and the torpedo ports were widened, but nothing else drastic to make her believe this ship was N-Space capable. Her tea had gone cold. She checked the shedding counter. N-Space was a tricky thing. It was reliable to enter N-Space, but coming out influenced the ship and the hull. The N-Hull had to shed the dark energy accumulated within the N-Space. There was a limit to the energy retention, but not how long they could be in N-Space. The time they spent in N-Space had some nonlinear impact on the time to shed dark energy and be ready to re-enter. No one knew what the real impacts were to shift to N-Space before the N-Hull had shed the energy, but most were catastrophic. Re-engaging the N-Hull after dropping out of N-Space led to an implosion of the hull itself and loss of all hands on board as the matter inside the ship were flung into N-Space. Its difficulty led most scientists to steer away from its challenges and stick with the safer and more predictable quantum technology involved in compression drives, which were just as dangerous when you came too close to any gravity well. She checked the range of the corvette. They’d opened range, trailing the corvette toward their intended target.
“Tubes One and Two have been reloaded with standard torpedoes,” Reed replied, echoing the report on Kenga’s screen. “Passive spectral sensors have no corvettes active in system. Spectrum analysis of the shipyard shows one ship docked. Possible corvette, but indeterminable at this range or without active scan.”
“Analysis, conn, process spectral data using known Anvil class signature criteria,” Kenga said.
“Conn, analysis, aye. Initial data confirms corvette or tug size engines detected. Running data filters now,” the comm panel said.
She switched the comm panel to the galley. “Send up a fresh bulb of tea and refreshments.”
“Shouldn’t we watch for her to attack?” Reed said.
“Take a look at the ship. She’s got bots on the hull. She’s not going to make drastic maneuvers just yet. Probably wondering what the hell happened.”
Reed inspected for himself, chagrined he hadn’t noticed it before. It was odd, she thought. She didn’t think the other captain would attack. When he turned away and returned to course, he had anticipated her real target, but hadn’t guessed she was behind them now. Or had they? She took the fresh bulb and pondered the for the next hour as they watched the sensor scans.
“Conn, analysis, confirm Anvil class corvette in the shipyard. Based on the data received, they look like they are undergoing repairs to one of their main engines.”
“Analysis, conn, aye,” Kenga replied. So they wouldn’t have to wait for a pincer attack as this corvette hunted in N-Space and played bait. Time to go on the offensive.
“Prepare Tubes Three and Four. Pilot, standby for evasive maneuvers.” Kenga checked the shedding counter, which had sped up. If she could time it right….
Weapons reported over the open mic. “Tubes Three and Four ready.”
Kenya felt a wave of nausea hit her and she doubled over in pain. She ground her teeth, holding back the onslaught of stabbing pain that followed. She pulled a paintab from a suit pocket and slipped it under her tongue. Blood pounded in her ears and she lost a sense of time until the medicine entered her bloodstream. When she recovered, Reed, and the pilot were both looking at her, waiting for her orders. She wiped the sheen of sweat from her forehead.
“Are you all right, captain?” Reed asked.
“I’m fine,” Kenga said. “Status of Tubes Three and Four.”
Kenga vision wavered, but she focused on the shedding counter. It was a matter of moments now.
“Range to target?” she asked Reed.
“.75 AU,” Reed replied.
The pain continued to recede as fast as the shedding counter well. Her mind cleared, and she focused on the problem. It wasn’t too late. “Outer door open,” she tapped the console, taking tactical command. “Shoot Tubes Three and Four.”
Damocles shuddered as the torpedoes rocketed out.
“Counterfire,” Reed reported after a few seconds.
“Standby countermeasures. Standby shift to N-Space,” Kenga said. The counter sped toward zero. It would be close. “Flank speed.”
Pilot responded and the bridge crew were crushed into their crash couches.
“Torpedoes on acquisition,” Reed grunted, breathing hard.
“Countermeasures!” Kenga said.
Damocles let loose with jammers and mimics to fool the incoming torpedo. The shedding counter was a blur, but it wasn’t zero.
“Torpedo circling,” Reed said. “Reacquiring.”
“Second countermeasures!” Kenga relayed as closed range to the corvette.
More countermeasures shot from Damocles hull into space, trying to blind or attract the torpedo away from the ship. She was too big to evade such a fast weapon, but she could confuse it.
“Ten seconds!” Reed wheezed, his head immobile and watching the display. Kenga ignored the tactical and held onto the view of the counter. Her vision tunneled as the ship’s acceleration overrode the inertial dampeners. She couldn’t wait any longer and hit the button to execute the shift into N-Space.
Everything went black.