My brief story!

The junior naval officer entered the richly appointed anteroom and looked around at his plush surroundings; tapestries depicting battles fought long ago adorned the dark wood panelled walls, accentuated by the scarlet of the imperial Standard and the rich blue uniform of the Imperial guard.

The imperial crest was woven into the fabric of the carpets, the crossed sabres over star ships he wore on the insignia on his midnight black uniform, the crest was inlaid in to the wood panelling of the inner doorway and the front of the desk to the ensign's right, standing in the office of the Emperor was an awe inspiring and daunting moment for him and when the Stick thin man with sharp pale grey eyes coughed gently the Ensign started like a startled rabbit.

"Message for the Emperor, Milord" he managed to mumble.

The Emperors prelate extended his hand for the message chit and the Ensign passed the message board over. Prelate Jonkover looked over the message board and dismissed the Ensign with a languid wave of his hand, the ensign wavered in a pant wetting moment of indecision, "Sir," he managed to respond "my orders are to wait for a reply."

Jonkover looked over at the ensign who immediately imitated a statue standing at full attention, his Naval Cap tucked neatly under one arm, sweat pouring from his parade blank face.

"Very well" Jonkover replied "advise the Admiralty the Emperor will contact them directly, and when you have done that you may want to visit the physician and obtain a E-stim, dismissed Ensign"

"Yessir!" the ensign barked and beat a hasty, yet dignified, military retreat from the office.


Admiral Dax stood looking over the newly appointed HMCS Arnova. All stations reported readiness to complete the only mission this vast vessel was built to make, the colonisation of a new planet in a far distant section of the galaxy; all he waited on now was the co-ordinates from the Emperor and high command. Dax stood a couple of inches shorter than his contemporaries which coupled with his athletic physique had culminated in his nickname of the Dwarf at the Command training facility in Old Scotia, Dax had not risen to this and instead had completed all the Physical and Mental qualities in the top 10 students in all classes.

That was a long time ago and now the Admirals black hair had turned almost to white and there was a spread around his waist his rigorous training regime had not entirely been able to stop. Dax's mind had wandered to the possibilities of the journey ahead as he stared into the HoloVis showing the locations of all the vessels of the Colony flotilla in relation to all other military and civilian ships in the area and hadn't noticed the approach of his communications officer.

P.O. Juliette Jopin stood at parade rest next to the admiral waiting for Dax to notice her presence, "Yes Juliette" Dax sighed "what minute details do command want me to confirm today?"

P.O. Jopin's sea green eyes sparkled with repressed humour at the Admirals dry tone, "No details this time Admiral, just the co-ordinates of our destination, a large-ish water bearing planet in the Beta band able to sustain life, Temperate with frozen polar regions and a dry desert area around the equator, details have been uploaded to Nav-Con and the Cargo captains have been apprised of or destination. Command has confirmed our departure time in the next 30 mins."

Dax smiled, now all the odorous officials had had their time in the spotlight arguing for and against the founding of a new colony he could finally take his command out into the farthest reaches of space and create a new colony in the name of the Empire, "Has a colony name been designated as yet?" he asked.

"No Sir, Admirals discretion upon arrival Sir." Jopin smiled.

"Very well, thank you Juliette." he smiled taking the comms board and then turned more formally to his first officer, "Commander Dicks, please advise Engineering to spool the Impulse drive for extended deployment at one hundred percent capacity, set course for planet 6, System 94, Galaxy 6, best fleet speed please Commander!"

Commander Dicks saluted crisply, acknowledged the order and began passing commands to the various parts of the command staff, Captain Dax allowed the command chatter to wash over him like a balm, erasing the frustrations at being tie to a planetary orbit for too long.

"Sir," Dicks interrupted Dax's reverie "command station is requesting confirmation of departure."

"Very well, P.O. Jopin transmit or departure codes tom command station and give our departure particulars, helm disengage all mooring tractors enable all active debris scanners and navigational defences, communications set up the group navigational data net, all stations prepare for departure, and someone find me some coffee."

Dax sat back and waited for all departments to complete readiness reports sipping at the coffee placed in his hand, waiting for the appointed time when his ships can depart for that one distant speck of a planet in space.


Admiral Dax had disappeared into Impulse over an hour ago and Commander Ortega had felt the tension on the crew as he watched from the cruiser Prince William's old 2D view screen and understood the envy behind that tension, the newest colony ship was under way into the unknown and Prince William was left behind, holding the 'fort' sitting tethered to Command Control awaiting new orders of her own and Ortega knew as the HMCS Arnova left, that the HMSS Prince William would not be moving in the long term, so instead he called to LCDR Williamson and organised a drill to action stations for later that evening, preparations for which were coming along smoothly, however, Ortega could not help shake a feeling of unease as he watched the sensor output showing the slow progress of HMCS Arnova towards its destination.

Ortega stretched is Six foot frame out of the cramped concussion rig that served in the stead of the comfy chairs placed aboard the new Destroyer class ships now being constructed in the Proxima Centauri Ship Yards, the most advanced vessels in the Imperial Fleet, feeling a pang of envy for the first Captain to place his esteemed rear end on one of those beauties, he stalked towards the bulkhead door to visit the head when activity at specialist Devon’s scanning station attracted his attention.

"What ya got fer me Devon?" Ortega asked.

"Unknown sir," Devon shrugged "long range scans are picking up something inbound but nothing definitive."

"Update the Vis and report the details to Command Control, let me know if you see anything else."

"Eye Sir!" replied Devon.


Listening post 17 was quiet, in fact Listening post 17 was always quiet, LT James was staring into is 2D VisPlot thinking about what was happening in the mess and came to the un-questionable conclusion that actually, nothing was happening, cook had just dished out the days slop, which most likely included some form of reconstituted meat by product and potatoes, usually cut into French fries, Chips! His mother would usually scream, or mashed and judging by the smell permeating through the air recyc system today was fries, chips a voice screamed in the back of his mind.

Sighing heavily James re-focused on the scan sat reading on the VisPlot and noted an unconfirmed, unidentified reading on the screen, LT James queried the database for a match to the reading and it came up blank, indicating an unknown object was heading in system and the readings indicated the object was gradually getting slower.

James pinged Command Control for further updates and an updated plot re-construction as regs stipulated and got a surprise. A Battleship size vessel and flotilla was inbound from an unknown location and slowing, Command and Control had pinged back the alert status seconds after LT James has sent the initial Query, Indicating someone had the unknown on the plot. Feeling the cold Icicle of dread tingle down his spine, LT James unceremoniously punched the alert button on his console and fired up all active scanners.

As the ratings under his command rolled in to the command room thinking the old El.Tee. had interrupted lunch again for a drill the first readings on the unknown were beginning to come through, 2 Battle Ships, 10 Cruiser 20 Heavy Fighters and 100 Light fighters were inbound. LT James stood in shock at the reading coming up on his console.

"All stations verify" he barked, all systems concur were the responses from all stations. "Dear lord" James whispered, then asked "Back plot?"

"Back Plot indicates the attackers originate from 1:110:12, Planet Athena" was the response, then "Sir data tracks indicate 2 of the cruisers and several of the light fighters are breaking from the main group, current heading appears to be on intercept with Listening post 16, with a parabolic course to come into range on us, ETA to LP16 10mins, ETA to us a further 5mins, scanners indicate all active targeting systems are up and weapon bays are open"

LT James' core froze to ice, active systems had signed their death warrants, all his staff knew they were doomed and LT James was not going to let that happen, not to Mrs James's boy, no sir! "Continue to update the plot, Frank get on the comms and see what ships are nearby, someone must be near enough to lift us off and take us in to Impulse!"

James watch the chrono count down the last 2 mins to enemy range on LP16 in despair, watched the VisPlot as the 2 Cruisers and her escort fighters opened fire as one in a well-planned and co-ordinated attack and wiped LP16 from the universe, watched in cold dread as those same ships made a minor course adjustment and headed directly for LP17, LT James was relaxing into the certainty that the next 5 mins would see his command wiped away in such a quick and easy manner when there was a shout from the comms station.

"SIR! short range Comms line on VHF frequency only, transmission in the clear, Sir, its the HMSS Argive operating under emissions control, CDR Uleses Mitchell sends his apologies for a late reply, dock in 1 min, now that LP16 is gone they have enough space for all personnel!"

LT James sat in stunned silence for a few seconds, looked one last time at the plot.

"Communications send all data, transmission Code Gamma2, place on auto update from plotting, all hands to the evac point, NOW!" he yelled and looked back at the plot, this was going to be close, too damn close for Mama James' boy.


LT Gonzales 'Gonzo' Ortega was just finishing up in the head when the scream of the action stations alarm crashed through the ship. Ortega grabbed his gear and raced through to the Command section of the bridge, still called the con by the Navy in a sop to the wet Navy Conning Tower. "Report!" he barked as he bounced through the bulkhead door.

"LP16 and LP17 have a good read on hostiles entering the system from sector 1:110:12, 2 Battle Ships, 10 Cruiser 20 Heavy Fighters and 100 Light fighters inbound, scans also indicate 2 of the hostile Cruisers and escorts have broken from the main group on an attack vector to LP16 and LP17, Command Control have cut all mooring tractors on all vessels in orbit, the Transports have been ordered to head out system at best speed, our orders are to remain on station and support planetary based defensive systems, weapons clear!" reported Williamson.

"Comm from CnC sir, Attack all targets of opportunity, Good Luck and Good Hunting, message ends" reported P.O. Simon from the Comm Station.

Ortega looked into the plot, which was rapidly becoming a mish-mash of interpenetrating codes as missiles and ships of the imperial fleet converged onto the attacking force in a confused mayhem, and tried to organise the confusion.

"LT Williamson," Ortega said, "there are 40hf and 400lf to our rear pull them into our command net and set course for the attackers left flank, parabolic course to take us past HMSS Dashund, Weiks, Francesca, Ark, Demon, Manchester, Lincoln, and anyone else we can tie into the net, Tactical range on planet?"

"Main Hostile party ETA 20mins, detached group 10mins after that, Time on target on current course 15mins for missile batteries, 19mins for energy weapons."

"Thank you Tac."

"Sir,” Williamson interrupted what Ortega was going to say, "we now have 40 cruisers, 400lf and 40hf tied into the Data Net, command has been apprised of the situation and has approved the manoeuvres retrospective and authorised you to complete the attack run."

Ortega stood silent for a few moments to take in all that had happened in the few short minutes since he had left the bridge, now he was in command of 480 ships of the Imperial fleet, no one from Admiralty was present for the attack as they were all off on Proxima Centauri for the commissioning of the new Battleships and some rear echelon puke had just dumped mobile planetary defence on his neatly trimmed head, Ortega was intending on asking for assistance from CnC but that was now out of the question, he had been cut loose to crash and burn.

What should he do now, according to the book a direct assault was the best option from his current position, however, he decided to throw the book out the lock with all the other garbage and cut in behind the attacking force.

"LT Williamson, please create a course to take us behind the main attacking force, feed the details to the rest of the fleet, we are going to make like we are running before cutting back in behind the main attacking force, hopefully we can pin them against the planetary defences long enough to wipe them out."

"Yes Sir." Williamson replied and started distributing orders across the data net; Ortega sat back and smiled a hunter’s smile.


Ensign Ort re-entered the plush Antechamber again for the second time that day, only this time his fear of the Emperors Prelate was replaced by what was happening in Command Control at the present moment in time, it was utter carnage out there as assets went missing only to re-appear again a few moments later. Hardware and software failures on the CnC control equipment making a Joke of the command infrastructure, the scuttlebutt Ens Ort had heard said the mobile defence forces were under the command of a Commander in an out dated cruiser.

Ort stopped in front of the prelate’s desk, snapped off a crisp salute and handed Jonkover the message board.

Jonkover glanced at the message board and turned whiter than his usual pasty pallor would warrant, Ort took back the receipted message board snapped a salute and walked to the door, at the same time Jonkover had stood and walked to the inner door to the antechamber the last thing Ort heard was the deep breath Jonkover took as he entered the inner sanctum of the emperor, Ort almost felt sorry for the prelate, almost.


Ortega sat in his concussion frame, which had locked into combat mode as soon as he sat in it and watched as the fleet came up on the final manoeuvre point, “Point nexus coming up in 5” Ortega stopped listening as his stomach tightened into a rictus of acid as the fleet manoeuvred on to the final heading taking all 480 massed ships towards the attacking force. Ortega thought of all the men and women his orders had just committed to an attack, lives that would be lost if his gamble failed and he wanted to scream at them to run, not to listen to his stupid asinine ravings, the decisions of a madman, but he didn’t. His orders had been authorised by Command Control, so he rode the Valkyrie of death with his personnel.

“Commander,” LCDR Williamson called “Attacking force one has changed course, it looks as though they are going to try to leave the system without entering the planetary defence envelope, it looks as though they anticipated your move.”

“Sir attack force 2 has also changed course from LP18 and is now rushing to re-join the main attack force, the fighter escort will pass within missile range within 3 mins, the Cruiser within the next 5” reported Specialist Devon.

Ortega thought a moment, “Williamson order all light fighters to move on the main attack force and draw out the fighter escort, then take the Cruisers to intercept attack force 2”

“Eye Sir” Williamson replied and started giving out orders.

Ortega sat back and 3 mins 30 seconds later the fighter element of Attack Force 2 were decimated and the Cruisers were trying to overhaul the fleet, it did little good however and both ships were also blown away.

“Move the fleet to attack all remaining forces please Mr Williamson” Ortega ordered formally.

“Eye Sir, the fleet will advance!" Williamson ordered and all 40 Cruisers and the remaining 40 heavy light fighters moved forward to intercept the main Attacking force.

“Sir, reports are coming back from the light fighters, losses are approx. 50% of the fighter strength returning to cover the fleet, however, there are no light fighters remaining to cover the remnants of the attacking fleet, The Fleet will be in range of missile batteries in 10 mins, energy weapons will be in range in 15mins at the current rate of closure.”

Ortega looked to Williamson, “Thank you Mr Williamson” he said, what else was there to say.


Jonkover entered the main office and looked directly at the Emperor who was sitting on the throne, quietly contemplating the tome of a book he was reading, normally Jonkover would have marvelled at the archaic texts the Emperor read, however, the news of the battle raging above their heads was of greater concern, pushing aside all other notions.

Jonkover coughed gently, “Your grace, I have a report from Command and Control that hostile forces have entered the system and are currently engaged with our mobile system defence forces, currently we have lost Listening Post 16 with all hands, Listening Post 17 has been lost, however, a Cruiser was in the area on a training exercise and was able to remove all personnel before the station was destroyed. I believe Commander Ortega on HMSS Prince William is currently engaging the enemy and has destroyed 240 enemy fighters and is closing with the main bulk of the forces to continue the engagement.”

As Jonkover stopped the Emperor stood and moved towards the panoramic window behind his desk, and stood staring out of the window for long moments. “Keep me informed.” Was all he said and waved a hand to dismiss Jonkover from the room, which Jonkover was only to glad to do.


Ortega looked into the VisPlot and counted down the seconds in his head to the point where his ships came into range of the attacking forces, even as his Tactical Officer counted them down for the record.

“Object separation.” Shouted Specialist Devon, “missile launch, impact in 5.4.3”

Ortega braced himself in the concussion frame as the missiles sped in from 20 Cruisers and 2 Battleships. The Missile density was lower than Ortega expected for ships that size and he made a mental note to discuss this with Devon after the engagement, if there was an after the engagement he thought wryly.

"Sir, they are firing on the fighters!" the Tac officer reported

“Return fire,” an oddly calm voice replied in imitation of his, “concentrate on the Cruisers first, helm keep us at missile range."

"Sir, their entire Cruiser strength has turned and is advancing on the fleet at flank speed"

"Looks like they're trying to buy some time for the battle ships" Williamson murmured from his station, Ortega looked at him questioningly, "not that it will do much good sir, we have the numerical advantage."

"Energy Range!" the Tac Officer screamed.

“Sir, HMSS Manchester, Dashund, Weiks, Francesca, Lincoln, Deacon, and Wellington have taken critical damage and have been removed from the data net,” Williamson reported "all Damaged ships have fallen out of formation, we have 5 confirmed kills and the remaining ships of Attack Force 1 are all damaged”

Williamsons report was savagely cut of as the rolling thunder of warheads detonating against Prince Williams shields shook the ship to its keel, “Damage report” Ortega snapped.

“Minimal Damage to the hull, some weapons took a pounding, but all systems seem fine.” The engineering officer sighed.

“Take us in closer,” Snarled Ortega, “kill the bastards!”

Ortega knew the battle raged in space, intellectually he knew there would be no sound other than the detonations of missiles on his ship, but he was still mentally unprepared for the total and utter silence on the bridge as the officers and crew around him fought their ship, punctuated by the reports coming through detailing the vessels lost from the fleet.

None of the remaining 3 enemy cruisers were left, but their cruiser element had wrought an exacting toll. Of the cruisers that had fallen out of formation from the fleet only Manchester and Lincoln had survived, the rest had succumbed to their wounds, 3 taking their entire crew complement with them when their power plants had given out in spectacular fashion and rescue attempts were being made by the crews of Manchester and Lincoln on the rest for all it was worth. Worse than that was the loss of Atago, Michigan and Blenheim who could not manoeuvre away from the suicide attacks the remaining enemy cruisers made.

"Remaining Cruiser element has been neutralised Sir."

"Thank you Tac", Ortega murmured and slumped in despair in his concussion frame.

"Orders Sir?" his helm officer requested.

Ortega sat motionless watching the Battleships on the VisPlot strain to leave the system before they could be destroyed, images of the men and women on the destroyed cruisers dying in an agony of flame, or their blood boiling and then their bodies exploding as they were lost in the vacuum of space, screaming silently as the agony overloaded their senses, Ortega wished silently to him self that he was not left behind to have those nightmares.

"My fault, all my fault" he whispered to himself.

"Bollocks," murmured Williamson, "how were we to know the bastards were willing to kill themselves, Orders Captain!"

Ortega looked at Williamson and then the VisPlot, the despair and sorrow he felt in his core was pushed aside, replaced by the cold steel of determination to punish those responsible "Signal fleet", he said at last "Pursue remaining hostile forces, flank speed."

"Eye Sir!" Responded LCDR Williamson

"Tac, target the nearest BS, feed all targeting data to the fleet," Ortega wanted there to be no doubt the ship was going to be destroyed. "Helm shape your course to place the target between us and their sister ship." he instructed without waiting for a response from Tactical.

"Time to Missile range 2 mins," reported Tactical "Range on Energy a further 30seconds at present speeds."

Not this time thought Ortega, your not getting away now. As the seconds passed away and the range closed Ortega could feel his innards tighten, the VisPlot was not large enough to display the enormous vessel and he looked instead through the main view port.

"Keyroyst, that’s big" someone exclaimed just as the missiles started to swarm from the sides of the giant ship.

"Steady on course, Open fire all missiles." Prince William twitched as a full load out of missiles belched like fiery wrath from the missile decks and Ortega watched as the massed salvoes of his 32 remaining cruisers flashed across space carrying fiery vengeance, half way between the remnants of the two opposing fleets the missiles crossed, some made contact and exploded in a orgasm of mutual destruction, the remaining missiles continued to their targets.

"Second launch detected Sir; Hostile BC 2 is trying to move to bear her weapons."

"Thank you Tac, Helm adjust course accordingly, Mr Williamson instruct the fleet to fire as they bear"

"Eye Sir"

At that moment the initial enemy salvo flashed into Ortega’s defending ships, this time the attackers were choosing their targets with care too, targeting only a handful of the defending fleet. Shields flared and Metal-Chrystal alloys screamed in pain as missiles struck home and Ortega watched helplessly as another 6 Cruisers of his rag-tag fleet were destroyed.

"Energy Range" shouted HMSS Prince William's Tactical Officer, the tension palpable in his voice.

"Fire" Ortega barked the command without a moment’s hesitation and watched as 26 of the Emperors Cruisers fired lethal energy fury into their prey. Milliseconds later the vessel blew apart in an eye searingly bright boil of atomic destruction as her energy plants and drive gave way to the onslaught.

The visceral howl of triumph reverberated around the Command section and Ortega allowed the crew a moment of jubilation, and then gave the order to pursue the remaining ship which even now was clawing round, trying to evade the Prince William and her consorts.

"Missile range in 5.4." the Tactical Officer counted down the seconds, then.

"Fire all missiles," Ortega barked and watched a eerie replay of the last engagement as missiles sped out from both sides, however, the loss of 6 ships had thinned the defending fire and Ortega’s ships took another pounding.

"Their firing solutions are off, we only lost 2 ships." Michalson stated flatly surprising himself and Ortega at the matter of fact way they had come to view their losses so quickly, but before he could respond Tactical shouted they were in energy range and Ortega gave the firing order, this time however, the attackers were quicker in their death throes and HMSS Prince William shuddered as a single hit from an energy platform tore mercilessly through her, tearing through the Metal-Chrystal alloy hull, rending bulkheads to useless detritus leaving the Command section open to space.

Concussion Frames sealed automatically preventing the occupants from dying an agonising death, however, not everyone was spared, Specialist Devon’s Station was in a direct path for the laser beam and mercifully Devon didn't know what had happened, dying instantly as the beam rendered flesh from bone leaving nothing behind.

HMSS Prince Williams Tactical Officer did not fare as lucky as a large piece of shrapnel scythed into his chest the instant before the Concussion frame closed. Commander Gonzalez Ortega, LDCR David Williamson and the remaining bridge crew could do nothing more than listen in stunned futile silence as CPO Frank Daid suffered an agonizing death.

Each laboured breath rattling in his bloodied chest, listen in horror to each whimper as his life drained away, listen in agony as CPO Daid finally died sobbing for his mother, an imprecation all on the bridge knew was not possible, then finally with Gods grace and mercy, all was silent on the bridge of HMSS Prince William.