I stared down at the ashes of my homeworld, our Earth. Fires raged on the surface, visible even in space. How did it come to this, I thought. How did it come to such destruction? I screamed my rage to the stars, to the cold, heartless, uncaring stars.
My men stared at me, some joining in my grief. After an hour of grieving for the souls we had lost I stopped. “Admiral, we must go.” The navigator said, his eyes red from crying.
“Yes” I whispered hoarse from my grief. “We must go. We have to protect Kaleesh, but after we do. We will have our revenge, these beasts must pay for this genocide.” I looked up into the eyes of my crewmembers. Some were still crying, others grim faced and red eyed met my gaze with determination.
Satisfied with what I saw, I looked at the navigator. “Set course for Kaleesh, inform the fleet.”
Without saying a word he started tapping away at his console. I ignored the obvious breach of protocol; they’d been through enough without bothering with the now pointless military protocol. All 2 heavy ships and 10 light ships departed from the system in a flash of light.
A stifling silence came over the burning world, the silence of the dead.
Kaleesh System 20 years later
“Do you uphold the promise of Admiral Christy?” Our Training Master yelled at the crowd in front of him.
“Yes Sir” All the Graduates yelled back
“Do you swear to obey the interest of Kaleesh”?
“Do you swear to lay down your life for the empire and its people.”?
“Have you succeeded in mastering the necessary skills to be a pilot in this navy?”
“Good. Than you have just passed training, make us something to be proud of.” The Training master said with a grin on his face. He saluted the graduates and left out a door off-screen. All 100,000 of the graduates started milling about. I used my implant and turned off the screen.
I was old, so old. But my revenge would soon be a reality. We had finished our duty 21 years ago, a duty that saved our species. The first colonization attempt that we were escorting had been successful. Upon receiving a distress call from the homeworld we had returned only to find that our planet was a burnt husk.
We had recovered data from ships destroyed by the invaders. Our greatest find was an unlaunched probe in a destroyed ship. The crew had thought to warn Kaleesh by launching it but had been destroyed before they could launch. They had; however, been able to upload what data they had on the invaders.
A ship had appeared in our solar system by Uranus. A bipedal creature covered completely in hair had answered our communication attempts. It had told us to become slaves and serve them or be destroyed. We had answered no. Then a fleet had appeared around the ship, about 10 Heavy ships, 20 Light ships, and 2 Carriers. 400 Fighters of various classes had been dropped from the carriers.
Our fleet had 5 heavy ships and 15 light ships. We had been severely outgunned. Their fighters had destroyed our light ships with what we now knew as plasma bombs. Their heavy craft had used particle beams and lasers. We had minimal defense against them.
We ourselves had, at the time, missiles, rail guns, and an early version of a laser. Our fleet had been ripped to shreds with the enemy losing 1 heavy, 3 light, and around 25 fighters in ships. The only way we had accomplished that much was that their ships had minimal defense against railguns. They had reprogrammed our missiles and used them against us. Energy shields had absorbed our laser fire. We didn’t have any energy shields ourselves so we were extremely susceptible to their return fire.
3 of our brave light ships had rammed the heavy ship that was destroyed. Our heavy ships had ganged up on their light ships and our light ships had ganged up on the fighters.
Giant ships had come afterwards and carried away a large portion of our population. Then they dropped thermonuclear bombs all over our planet, over a thousand of them.
They had left after they had dropped the bombs. We had come upon the planets corpse 10 hours after they had left. We had eventually decided that we would call our enemy The Slavers, because of what they did to our people.
I reactivated the screen but in hologram mode. A 3d model of the Kaleesh appeared in midair above my lap. There was the sun, the three inner planets, and the four outer gas giants. I zoomed in on the first gas giant, more specifically the smallest moon. The fleet surrounding the refueling station was displayed. We had designed a completely new spaceship to fight the Slavers.
These new ships were called, the Citadel ships. These were flying fortresses with over 30 feet thick armor compared to our heavy ships 5-foot thick armor. We had also dragged back pieces of destroyed enemy ships, successfully reverse engineered their energy shields and particle cannons. We even improved upon them in some cases, making our ships extremely deadly.
Thanks to the miracle of Quantum Entanglement we had instantaneous communication anywhere in the universe. So our citadels carried drones of various types.
I opened up communications through my Implant to the Citadel ship Gargantuous. There was a distinct clicking sound as it connected. “Hello Captain Wilson. Have you been given the new drone ships?” I asked. These new drone ships, nicknamed Snipers, used a completely new armament, a tachyon particle cannon.
Tachyons were FTL (faster than light) particles, which were captured and used, in a concentrated burst, resulting in what we hoped to be a devastating blast. It was an instantaneous effect because it was FTL so it was able to hit anywhere in the system so long as it was a straight line to the target. We had not tested it yet because of the danger if it went off on our main research and manufacturing planet.
“Yes Sir, we just received the experimental ships an hour ago. We are about to do test firing on an asteroid in 50 minutes.” He had taken longer to answer than I had expected. I assumed the good Captain had been gathering his thoughts or recovering from the shock of me calling him. After I had announced my plan for revenge I had become a great hero. The hero worship, honestly, just annoyed me.
“That is excellent news Captain Wilson I will be coming to your ship to view the testing of the weapon myself. Don’t bother with any fanfare, merely arrange for an extra seat on the bridge. I’ll simply be there to observe, not for any official ceremony.” I told him.
“Yes Admiral Christy, I understand. How soon can we expect you?” The Captain asked.
“I’ll be there in about 45 minutes.” I said.
“Thank you Admiral Christy, May you live to see the end of your quest. I ended the call after that. He had just said one of my very real fears. I had been 73 after I declared war and our lifespan was on average 140-150. Being 93 years old I was starting to feel the age.
I brought up personnel files onscreen. When I had first started worrying about this problem of mine I had mentioned it to some of my closest advisors. One had mentioned making a game of sorts called Fleet Command. It would present scenarios we anticipated in real life. All navy personnel were required now to beat the game in order to advance past cadet status.
My advisor had said it would help sort those who were potentially good admirals from those who just stubborn or good Captains. I remembered this as I looked at their files to see who might be able to succeed me if I died. At the top was my score. It said ‘ First Lieutenant Evan 1000 points,’ the only perfect score ever. The name was fake even though the score wasn’t.
Below me was a Captain Mark with a score of 782. So far there was not a suitable replacement for me. It was unfortunate, but not unexpected. I signed off with a sigh. “Please prepare a shuttle for flight Aro,” I asked.
“Yes Sir.” The AI named Aro replied via speakers on the wall. A circular hatch opened on my chair. A glass cup rose out of the opening, called by my implant, though the hatch didn’t close, turning the hole into recessed cup holder. I took the cup and rested a bit, pondering how we would do in the upcoming war.
“Sir, the shuttle has been readied.” Aro said. It couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes. “There is something else though. You asked to be made aware of this event if it occurred.
“Oh, and what event would that be Aro? “I asked. I swished the hot chocolate in my cup before taking a swig.
“Well sir, you were told earlier that you might die before the end of this war. A new medical procedure involving nanotechnology has been made available to help make sure you are kept young. There is also gene therapy available if you wish that will make you younger. “Aro said.
“Aro, you know how I feel about that. I will not modify my body and I will die when it is my time,” I said.
“Well since you have decided to forego any life extension, a graduate from the video you just watched has completed Fleet Command. He has a perfect score.” My drink shattered into a million pieces on the metal floor.
“What?” I whispered.
“Ahhh, thank God. My uniform is killing me.” I said, loosening the offending article. My friend and bunkmate Ian grinned at me as he did the same. We had just graduated from Navy flight school and were walking to our bunks.
“Yeah, I thought ahead though and used some bunched up cloth to make sure it didn’t cut too deep.” He said as he revealed some dry rags from under his shirt.
“Hey, no fair. If you’ve got a great idea like that, share it.” I said shoving him sideways.
“It’s not like we’re best friends or anything. “Ian deadpanned. I looked into his stoic face. After a second we burst out laughing.
“You…. you… almost…. had me going there ….for a second” I said between gasps of breath from laughing so hard.
“David, you’re so easy to fool. Why I can’t fool you in Sims are a complete mystery.” Ian said
“That’s cause you can’t play the game at all.” I shot back.
“Ouch. Well I guess I left myself open on that one.” Ian said wincing. We had reached the door by now. Ian unlocked the door by implant and opened it. ” So what do we do now?” Ian asked.
“I’m not planning on being an ensign all my life so I’m going to finish Fleet Command. I’m on the last required scenario.” I said. I sat down and grabbed the simulation wire made up of nanites. I put it by the port on the back of my head and it automatically connected itself.
Before I could activate it, Ian started talking. “You know, I’ve always wondered why Fleet Command is required. Haven’t you?”
“Of course I have.” I replied. “I’ve heard that the Admirals use it to choose officers.”
“Do you think that’s true?” Ian asked.
“Yeah it makes sense. It could also be that if our commanding officer is disabled somehow, we could take charge. We’ll never know.” I said.
Then I activated the Simulation and delved into my last scenario. This one was simple. I had to use the fleet I had left from previous battles to destroy the enemy fleet coming towards Kaleesh and then destroy their worlds.
My fleet was in orbit of the gas giant Jovius. Kaleesh was a moon as big as Earth, orbiting this Mega gas giant. The enemy had 100 Heavy ‘dreadnoughts,’ 300 light ‘destroyers,’ and 20 Carriers. Each enemy class ships had been given nicknames by my peers. I didn’t know what kind of ships or how many each carrier had onboard.
I had several large defense platforms surrounding Kaleesh and 392 Citadels. I also had over 1,000 bombers and 300 fighters. There were also 200 Mass drivers in the rings of Jovius, each loaded with 100-400 thousand ton rocks. There was also a scattering of automated missile platforms hidden in the asteroid belt about 1 million miles from Jovius.
The enemy had appeared over 12 million miles away. The enemy moved in a large block formation with the dreadnoughts upfront, half the destroyers and the carriers in the middle, and rest of the destroyers in the back. It would take the enemy over 3 hours to reach me.
I studied the holographic map with real-time data, being relayed by stealth probes through Quantum Entanglement or QE communication. I sent orders out. The mass drivers fired twice, unleashing over 200 huge rocks at the fleet. They wouldn’t see them until it was too close to avoid completely.
I then used the fast forward option on my HUD. Some space battles could take days and most people didn’t have that long so the skip option was a viable alternative. 2 hours and a handful of minutes passed by. It stopped 10 minutes before the rocks would hit.
Their sensors had picked up the rocks. Now ships desperately maneuvered to escape destruction. Unfortunately for them we had hallowed out our asteroids and put in gravity attractors. They were such simple machines. They were attracted to the artificial gravity on space ship. No reactor could function without it and without the reactor active a ship was useless.
I activated the gravity attractors, which had been dormant to avoid mishaps. The rocks shot towards the fleeing ships, cutting down intercept time to 4 minutes. Missiles launched and plasma mixed with lasers shot towards the unshielded asteroids.
Some rocks were destroyed but most of them were still on track. In a sacrificial move, destroyers rammed the rocks heading for the dreadnoughts and carriers. Explosions ripped through the enemy fleet. Hulks of ships, some with huge holes ripped through them, decorated the front of the fleet. Most of the asteroids were drifting, the impacts destroying the delicate gravity attractors.
I grinned. Some asteroids had inexplicably failed to activate, the gravity attractors and floated harmlessly past the edge of the regrouping formation. Now I activated the secondary reaction in them. The asteroids blew apart in a soundless explosion, 100 shielded atomic missiles were released into their formation.
Huge explosions once again rocked the enemy fleet. Priority targeting on the missiles caused carriers and dreadnoughts to explode, shields shimmering briefly before yielding to atomic fire.
An automated tally showed that 7 dreadnoughts 91 destroyers and 13 Carriers had been wiped out. Another 13 dreadnoughts and 21 destroyers had been damaged. No Carriers had survived, presumably destroyed by the ammunition they stored for their bombers.
The enemy fleet sent out destroyers to scout ahead. Then they sent small craft to fix the damaged ships. 5 dreadnoughts and 11 Destroyers were able to move at full speed. The others were left behind as their fleet moved on 2 hours later.
I once again used the fast forward option. It stopped as they approached the asteroid belt. Their fleet stopped before they entered into the asteroids. Smart move, I thought. The small shuttles they had used to repair their ships launched. They scouted ahead and eventually they started forward. Luckily I had no missile launchers in that area so their vigilance seemed unnecessary. Their pilots relaxed as they got out of the asteroid belt.
I smiled. I had once more, through careful planning, outmaneuvered the enemy fleet. Missiles launched diagonally and some from behind their fleet. A total of over 1,000 missiles, nuclear tipped, flew at them directly towards their engines.
Once again atomic fire ravaged their ship’s. With that devestating blow, now there was only 17 dreadnoughts, 82 destroyers, and one carrier.
The enemy was 15 minutes out.
Using the defense platforms I unleashed a barrage of missles along with mass drivers, lasers, and plasma bolts out towards the enemy fleet. I had the citadels along with the bombers and fighters hiding on the other side of Jovius so that their scanners couldn’t pick them up.
As the ship’s approached they were able to withstande some of the fire. Destroyers and dreadoughts shields withered under the concentrated fire. Some of them exploded, or had holes burned through them, or shattered as a hunk of rock went completely through their ship.
Eventually though they reached Jovius. The carrier unleashed a swarm of 100 fighters, 100 bombers, and 100 missle fighters. I shivered. If I hadn’t put priority targeting on the carriers I would have definitely been killed.
Of course the enemy ship’s had not been idle targets. They had destroyed two orbital platforms along with numerous civilian ones. I swung the citadels around the edges of the planet along with the fighters and bombers.
After they attacked there was a series of dogfights broke out. The dreadnoughts were destroyed first by the citadels. Then the destroyers were wiped out. The enemy fighters and bombers were wiped out one by one. Eventually all of the enemy ship’s were gone, leaving my screen devoid of any red lights.
I counted up my losses. 4 defense platform, 12 Citadels, 71 fighters, and 256 bombers were lost. Altogether a rather acceptable loss.
After I finished the computer rated my score. It was adapted to reduct points if a better strategic plan was available, or if it determined that a mistake was made. After that it gave me my score.
It was 1000 points.
A perfect score.