No Fate But What We Make

Tech Infantry - Season 10


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Forum Home > Now This Ain't No Frak > Viktor's Bug Battle

Posts: 164

So originally, Viktor's prologue began with a space battle with the Bugs.  There were only two problems: First, it was a flashback to something that happened ten years before the miniseries even started, and second, it was told from first-person POV.  Well, Moderator Lorpy took one look and that nonsense and smacked me in the nose with a red pen saying, "Bad Ed!  No biscuit!  And turn your orders in on time, dammit!", then put a big ol' red X through the Bug Battle while I yelped and scurried away with my tail between my legs. That'll teach me to be all artsy and literary in a TI game.

Still, I think it's a fun scene you guys might enjoy reading.  So if you want to find out why Viktor destroyed Youngstown - or even just want to see lots of things explode (cities, ships, heads, etc.) - read on!  You can download the .rtf version here, or read it below.

INS Terrible Swift Sword, Deseret system, June 20, 2265


         When the battlecruiser New Passover couldn't get its grav shield up before shotgun fragments of Bug asteroids smashed into it, I knew we'd lost the battle—especially since we'd already lost the fighter carrier Nirav. What their sensor officer thought was a squadron of Stinkbug fighters and ignored as harmless turned out to be Botfly breaching pods.  The last we heard from their communications officer was gunfire and screaming.

         We'd given the Bug fleet one hell of a fight, though.  No one could say we didn't.  We didn't have to destroy the entire swarm—just kill the huge Hive ship with the Queen on board, and the Bug invasion of Deseret would instantly be converted into just a suicidal raid, damaging but not fatal to a colony.  But there were five Bug dreadnoughts big enough to be Hive ships, and we didn't know which one had the Queen.  Worse, the rest of the swarm protected their Hives with a suicidal devotion the Emperor himself could only dream of.  We'd only shot down one so far, and that had been as much luck as anything.  This was a battle of attrition, and I'd known from the start there was no way we could win it.  We were the technologically superior force, yes—but our numbers were limited, and there were no reinforcements coming anytime soon.  Bug ships were weak, slow, and clumsy—but they never tired, never stopped, and there were so very, very many of them!  Our starfighters shot down ten Stinkbugs for each fighter we lost—but the Bugs had thousands of them.  We held the line as long as we could—but I'd always known it was just a matter of time before they wore us down.

         How long had we been fighting the Bugs?  Twenty-four hours?  Forty-eight? I'd lost count.  We'd run out of fusion shells, missiles, and lance torpedoes hours ago.  Hell, we'd even run out of reactants for our chemlasers.  We were down to point defense and grav lasers—while their chemicals held out, that is.  They had only lasted this long because the cool-down period between shots was longer for grav lasers than chemlasers.

         The New Passover's destruction left a huge hole in our lines between the Bug fleet and Deseret, and the Bug swarm instantly began pouring through, Stinkbugs and Botflies buzzing in clouds around Bug asteroids and the four remaining Hive ships.  Fear seized me as I recognized their angle of descent—they weren't preparing for orbital bombardment, they were approaching for a crash landing.  If we let the Hives reach Deseret's surface…

         "All units, fire on the lead Hive ship," I ordered over the comlink. "Pursue, maximum speed." I turned to the tactical officer of our dreadnought, the Terrible Swift Sword.  "Lieutenant, target the rear Hive ship with our forward capital grav lasers, but hold your fire for now.  Wait for my order."  She looked confused, but obeyed. 

         Crisscrossing lasers, grasers, and particle beams filled the battlespace between our fleets, converging on the lead Hive ship.  Hundreds of Bug ships moved as one, shifting forward to protect the lead Hive, smaller ships and fighters throwing themselves in the path of our weapons in fanatical frenzy to get their Hive ships through intact.

         The Terrible Swift Sword's grav lasers were in fixed mounts, so targeting meant the helmsman had to reposition the ship with maneuvering thrusters, which took a few seconds.  I spent them watching the tactical display on the holoprojector as the Bug's fighter screen thinned out in the rear.  Waiting…  "Now. Full burn."

         All four forward grav lasers burned into the rear Hive ship.  Stinkbug fighters threw themselves into the beam, incinerating themselves in seconds, but there weren't enough of them left in the rear of the Bug swarm to block all four grav laser beams, not completely, not continuously, and they cut into the rear Hive ship.

         "Bomb Bug salvo!" the sensor officer called out.  "Incoming, dorsal-portside!"

         "Raise the grav shield!" Captain Mayweather ordered.

         "NO!" I barked.  "Let the point defense handle it!  Keep firing on the Hive ship!"  Mayweather hesitated a moment before confirming my order—that was bad. Seconds later I felt our dreadnought tremble as Bomb Bugs that got through our particle phalanx detonated themselves into showers of high-velocity carapace shrapnel that punched into our port side fighter bays—but we gave that rear Hive ship hell, the searing blast of all four grav lasers for a full ten seconds, burning into the Bug Hive until the cursed thing finally exploded in a cloud of plasma.

         Normally, a bridge crew would erupt in cheers.  We didn't cheer.  We only got one Hive ship—a mere twenty percent chance of having killed the Queen—and three other Hive ships were still on course for landfall on Deseret.  The Queen could still be in any of them… and that was all assuming there was only one Queen.

         "How soon until we can fire the forward grav lasers again?" I asked the tactical officer.

         "Fifty-three seconds left on the cool-down cycle, sir."

         The bug swarm was already skimming down through Deseret's atmosphere in streaks of fire.  By the time we could shoot again, it would probably be too late.  I turned to the sensor officer.  "Tell me where they land."

         The sensor officer's eyes were glued to his display.  "First one crash-landed in the Comet Impact Zone."

         A collective sighed swept the bridge.  No colonists lived within a thousand kilometers of there; the closest settlers would have at least a little time to prepare before thousands of Bugs swarmed down on them.

         "The second grounded in the Brigham mountain range," the sensor officer continued.  "Some mining operations there, but no major settlements.  The third…"  His voice caught.  "The third… hit Youngstown."

         No one spoke. Youngstown was the second-largest city on Deseret. Over a million people lived there.

         "That wasn't a coincidence," I said.  I felt numb.  "The Bugs planned that."

         "Uh… what?  Come again?" Captain Mayweather stuttered.  "What the devil are you talking about?  Hives aren't that maneuverable!  And they wouldn't land in Youngstown if they were—they'll meet more resistance there!"

         "Sewers," I said.  "Subways.  Utility tunnels.  Makes it easy for Bug Queens to burrow down deep—fast."

         Captain Mayweather had no snarky comeback to that.

         "At least now we know which Hive ship has the Queen," I mused.  "Is it still in range of our grav lasers?"

         "From outer orbit?  Though an atmosphere?"  The tactical officer shook her head, skeptical, but ran the analysis anyway.  "Barely.  We could hit the Hive ship… but not hard enough to kill the Queen inside."

         The bridge grew quiet as that sunk in.  We'd failed. All the ships we'd lost, all the people who'd died… and we'd failed.  Once a Bug Queen burrowed underground and began breeding, it was all over.  The colonists would only have a few days to evacuate or die.  And with Van Dieman cutting us off from the rest of the Empire, evacuation wasn't an option.  And we couldn't help the settlers, not anymore.  Hell, we weren't even a real task force!  Just whatever ships happened to survive the battle at St. Michael's Star, combined with the patrol picket that managed to escape Van Dieman after the system rebelled and before Earth Fleet arrived to support them, all of us thrown together at the Bugs in a desperate last-ditch effort to stop their advance before they infested the Imperial core systems.  We could fight the Bugs in space, yes… but once they landed? Deseret's Imperial Guardsmen couldn't hold off them for long, and we simply weren’t equipped to land troopers on the surface to contain the infestation.  We only had a handful of marines, and no assault ships, no drop pods, no transit beacons, no landing craft...

         But my Avalon-class dreadnought did have one planetary assault system…

         I stroked my mustache, contemplating what few choices I had left.  It was ugly… but drastic situations call for drastic measures. "Lieutenant."  I pointed at the tactical officer.  "Load the mass drivers."

         "The… the mass drivers?" she sputtered.  I could almost feel the confusion wash over the bridge crew.

         "Is there a problem with your hearing, Lieutenant?" I asked.

         "No sir!" she answered; then, a second later, "Mass drivers loaded."

         "Target the Hive ship landing sites—all three, just to be sure."

         "Belay that order!" Captain Mayweather called out.  "Commodore, what the bloody hell are you doing?"

         "Not even a Bug Queen can survive a hundred tons at terminal velocity," I replied.  "We can turn those landing sites into smoking craters and kill the Queen before she has time to dig an egg chamber—if we act now."

         "But Commodore Molotok… you can't!  We're here to save these people, by jingo, not slaughter them!"

         "The colonists in Youngstown are already dead—they just don't know it yet," I said.  "We can't save them anymore—but we can save the other twenty-eight million settlers on Deseret."

         "Admiral Sirawatan would never have—"

         "Admiral Sirawatan was relieved of command after his failure at St. Michael's Star," I snapped.  "As his executive officer, I am acting admiral of this task force until relieved of duty—and I take full responsibility for my actions!"  I spun around to the tactical officer.  "Now follow the order, Lieutenant!"

         "Belay that!" the captain barked.  "I'm sorry, Commodore Molotok, I can't let you do this."

         The poor girl hesitated, looking back and forth between the captain and me, unsure. Whatever she did, she'd be in trouble with someone.  Precious seconds ticked by.  Her hand hovered over the terminal, motionless.

         "Disobeying a direct order is a capital offense, Captain," I warned him.

         "Not an illegal order like this one," he spat back. "You can debate it with the defense at my court martial."

         Frustration spilled over into cold calm rage.  "We don't have time for this, Captain—the Queen's digging as we speak!"  I yanked my burp pistol from its holster and pointed it between his eyes.  "Now give her the order."

         He smirked, shaking his head.  He thought I was bluffing. "Oh no, old chap, I don't think you'll pull the—"

         I pulled the trigger.  The shotgun blast of high-velocity razor disks dissolved his face into red mist. What remained of his head splattered across the bulkhead—and the unfortunate Lieutenant behind him.  His beheaded body collapsed to the floor with a dull thud.  The background chatter on the bridge died instantly, everyone shocked into silence.  I turned and leveled the pistol at the wide-eyed brevet Executive Officer.  "Give her the—"

         "Yessir!"  He saluted. "Lieutenant, fire the mass drivers!"

         The tactical officer stared at us, dazed.  She didn't seem to realize she had the captain's blood spattered across her face.  "Y-yes sir."  She turned and selected the targets for orbital bombardment with trembling hands.

         "I'm glad we all understand the chain of command."  I holstered my pistol, turning to study the holoproj displaying a live video feed of Deseret's surface, the Hive ship landing sites marked with red targeting icons.

         I felt our mass driver's ingots accelerate down the magnetic drive coils, exiting the massive muzzle at fifty thousand gees.  I tracked their trajectory—at such speed, it took each less than ten seconds to reach its target.

         I watched as the second-largest city on Deseret was engulfed in a huge, ever-expanding cloud of smoke and light, the blast visible even from orbit.  At least the colonists died instantly.  That was some consolation.

         Most of me felt cold, empty; I knew it was the right call, no matter how hard.  But a small part in the back of my head was still screaming in horror at what I'd done.

         I stopped the Bugs.

         I saved the planet.

         God forgive me.




August 29, 2013 at 1:28 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Lorpius Prime
Posts: 184

The first time I read through this, I confused Captain Mayweather for Season 8 Player Character David Weathers, which I thought was a fun reference... until Viktor blew his head off, and then I was appalled.  I tried to figure out a way to give him a bit more dignity or a larger reference, until I realized he was actually just some faceless mook (heh).

August 29, 2013 at 1:46 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Martin The Mess
Posts: 247

Heh, I pictured Mayweather as the character Travis Mayweather from Star Trek Enterprise. 

August 29, 2013 at 5:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 17

Pretty epic, I like the part where he blows the guys face off mid-sentence...  Really makes him seem loveable and cuddly...  I'm mildly curious what complication are involved in firing mass drivers at something other than a planet though...  Would that be possible?

August 30, 2013 at 5:17 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 164

I imagine at close range, it could be devastating to another warship, as a mass driver is essentially just a gigantic railgun.  It would be less effective at medium range, though, and pointless at long range, as the other starship will have plenty of time to see it coming and get out if its way.  Lance torpedoes, missiles, and (to a limited extent) fusion shells can all maneuver to pursue a target - but once the ingot leaves the barrel of a mass driver, it just keeps going in a straight line until it hits something.  Works fine on planets, though, since planets can't run.



August 30, 2013 at 3:21 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Martin The Mess
Posts: 247

One extremely minor additional nitpick...

The INS Terrible Swift Sword is apparently a renamed Avalon-class dreadnought, yes?  At one point the grav lasers are referred to as fixed mounts.  The grav lasers on those are supposed to be in limited-traverse turrets.  They can't quite turn to fire broadside, but they DO have some ability to be independently targeted across the forward-facing arc. 

Any objection to saying the INS Terrible Swift Sword is the ex-EFS Phoenix? 

August 30, 2013 at 4:30 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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