By Relic

3rd Jan 2010

Captain Richard Wiles watched in horror, seven thousand miles away the planet of his birth was now clearly in its death throes. The blue oceans had turned brown as the silt all along the the ocean's bottom was stirred up. The great forests were consumed with fire, and miles high tsunamis wreaked havoc all across the globe. The skies turned black from soot as volcanoes erupted and belched fire and soot into air, and every where lightning ripped across the skies, striking trees and grasslands aflame. Already the planet of Eleia was cracking up from the enormous stresses from the bomb the Urian star empire had detonated an hour after gaining the surface. First one crack than another till finally the planet could take no more. It exploded outward with such force and light the view screen was overloaded.
Ships still in the process of evacuating the planets surface were instantly vaporized as they were consumed by a fiery vortex. Further away ships, Eleian and Urian both, are crushed by the titanic blast wave like tin cans. Soon following a powerful Electronic pulse wave lashed out into space in all directions engulfing those lucky enough to survive the initial blast.
All unshielded systems were fried leaving many ships powerless and their crews and passengers adrift and helpless in the recently made empty space. The lights on the bridge flickered and went out.
In the dark Richard immediately ordered emergency power and the emergency lights soon flickered on. The bridge now cast in the low level light he looked around to regain his bearing. Many of his crew were young replacements of those forcefully conscripted by the now defunct militarist government of Eleia. Richard had been spared because of his "officer" status in the Merchant fleet. When the war finally turned against the militarist, the entire Merchant fleet was drafted into the Navy to help bolster them after their heavy losses. It was then that many of the most experienced personnel had been drafted, replaced by the inexperienced fresh out of the academy.
The ships were called into port to be retrofitted into warships, but the war approached faster than anybody expected, in three months the front lines collapsed and the Urian forces ran rampant and unchallenged throughout Eleian territory until only Eleia remained. Only about a hundred had been finished, Richard's Rhadamanthus among them.
The recently shielded computers came back on one at a time, casting more light onto the bridge. To Richard's left Lt.Commander Maria Vasquez regained her seat, having been thrown down by the concussion wave that had buffeted the ship. She felt warmness above her brow and found that she was bleeding from a shallow cut. Neglecting it, she turned to her console.
"Sir minor hull damage on deck six and seven, several minor systems down, fires reported on deck five, six, eight, shields at 30%..."
She continued to read off the damage report while the captain listened appraisingly. She had been transferred on-board just the week before to replace the first officer who had willingly transfered to a military ship. First of her class at the Naval academy. She was twenty five and stood at five foot-eleven and moved in a way that showed her military heritage. She had graduated just a year earlier and for all intents and purposes had had a bright future ahead of her had it not been for some altercation she had with a superior officer from her first post some months before.Richard did not know what that altercation was and had not had the chance to find out but she seemed a might improvement over her over-zealous predecessor and his political connections.
Remembering his duty he quickly checked the statuses of the other ships assigned under him and was disheartened to see that only Minos, Sarpedon, and the military escort frigate Wilson remained of the ten ships and three escorts that had taken on evacuees from Eleia.
"Sir Sensors have returned... Six small ships are approaching at high speed nationality unknown. Suggest we target weapons..."
The captain eyed his old second-mate, now self appointed tactical officer Perry Brister.
"Very well, and warn the others... It's not over yet." the last statement he muttered under his breath.
Lieutenant Perry Brister had been with Captain for 35 years and had passed up many promotions and retirement in order to stay on board the Rhadamanthus. At fifty he was the oldest member of the crew and had been on board since he was fifteen, having joined on as a deckhand by falsifying his age. He was a bear of a man standing at six foot-four and seemingly untouched by time.
"Sir confirmed they are Urian scouts."
"Four quad lasers and one torpedo tube at the bow."
"Train all guns... Helm evasive maneuvers!"
"Aye sir!"
Richard watched the helmsman Ensign David Peterson. Small and scrawny he looked like younger than the seventeen he said he was. Nonetheless he was a gifted pilot despite his age and inexperience.
"They have entered firing range permission to fire?"
"All ships fire at will Mr. Brister."
The salvo buzzer rang and Brister fired. Sixty quad lasers fired from Rhadamanthus but the veteran scouts avoided deftly. Shots from the Minos and Sarpedon were just as ineffective but the better trained crew of the Wilson scored several hits from their twenty quads but these did little visible damage.
The view screen, having finally returned to normalcy, turned on to show the six attacking scouts maneuver into an attack formation and fire a volley of torpedoes.
" Left full up four zero degrees full speed, deploy decoy!"
From the rear of the two mile long transport a forty foot long decoy shot away blaring tremendous heat and noise. The two torpedos targeting Rhadamanthus sped after the decoy exploding brilliantly in such a way only nuclear armed torpedoes could.
The salvo buzzer rang again and immediately the sixty quad lasers totaling 240 high density laser beams sped off at the attackers scoring many more hits than the previous attempts. Matched by those from Minos and Sarpedon, four of the scouts shields crumpled and exploded quickly only to meet the vacuum of space and wink out instantly leaving only the pitifully shriveled wreaks. The whole thing had the appearance of somebody flicking a single light switch quickly on and off in a cavernous room. The remaining two turned and fled.
"Cease fire, damage?"
"Wilson took a torpedo sir... shes gone..."
Richard took the news hard, the valiant frigate had sacrificed herself to protect the six million refugees packed into every nook and cranny in the three transports
"Twelve escape pods sir, shall we pick them up?"
"Yes make it so helm."
"Sir long range sensors pick up several ships closing in probably cruisers by their size,not are's sir."
"Very well... Helm the moment we have all the survivors set course to two six-four up two zero degrees I-flight if you will Mr. Peterson."
Realizing that he was standing he sat down, suddenly feeling older than his 46 galactic years.
Ten minutes later the three "modified" transports fled the battlefield and their lost home forever.

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