Seikai no Senki:Volume4 Chapter4
Chapter 4: Stronghold
“Incoming inter-bubble transmission from the flagship.” Yateshu raised his voice on the bridge.
“What does it say?” Lafiel asked in his direction.
“All stop and go on standby. Over.” – Yateshu
“Reply with a confirmation signal. Navigator, put our time-space bubble on standby.” Lafiel ordered.
Lafiel looked at the planer space map. Currently, the 1st Scourge squadron has all stopped in a line. Numerous time-space bubbles pass by the 1st Scourge squadron and proceeded forward. They are the guard ship squadron that was on reserve and how heads to protect the fleet. Next, there seems like some other ships that broke away from their squadron to join these ships that are proceeding forward.
The Twin Thorne 24th fleet currently is sending waves and waves of attacks toward the Kemal Sord. Although the battle is so intense that it cannot be described by words, it looks like the battle is now finally making progress.
The enemy’s artillery barrage has started to become sparse. This is evidence that the enemy’s consumption of time-space mines is finally outstripping production.
But this could also be a deception tacit by the enemy. In other words, the enemy could still be sitting on many more mines but is deliberately cutting down on their use. This looks like it could be a trap.
Even so, this is not something that Lafiel should concern herself with. Although she has the potential to eventually sit on the throne one day, she is never-the-less just the captain of a ship for now. For a person in her position, giving their life for their duty is their greatest joy.
Indeed, the duty to decipher the enemy’s strategy is left to HQ and HQ has decided that the enemy is not concealing their full capabilities.
This last time, the artillery barrage was extremely sparse and the Flicaubh fused with only three mines. Not only that, they expecting to encounter no enemy warships ahead and the only thing left to greet the Star Force are long range autonomous mines.
It was the same with the wave before that, and the enemy hasn’t sent any additional ships in to planer space. However, the Kemal star system not only has a mine factory, but also a huge shipbuilding workshop so their production capabilities should not be underestimated. Since the Twin Thrones operation has yet to engage in any large scale battles, the enemy vessels that were destroyed should be easily replenished. But even though the vessels could be constructed in a short time, their crew would not be so easily replenishable. In other words, the military force of the enemy should be greatly decreased.
If this is so, then our best strategy is to let them wear themselves out in normal space. However, even these things are not required for Lafiel to worry about. For as soon as the enemies show their face, she will attack head on: her duties are just this simple.
In short, her current task is to guard the guard ship squadron: a dull and mundane task.
In addition, Lafiel has yet the opportunity to display her abilities because the enemy fleet just won’t come out.
“Incoming inter-bubble transmission. All ships will go into active mode and follow the guard ship squadron at a distance.”
Upon hearing what Yateshu reported Lafiel nodded and immediately issued the relevant orders.
A long and boring trip is about to begin.
When the guard ship squadron reached the edges of the sord, the commander again sent out orders to stop again.
It is finally time for the ship-of-the-line squadron to appear on the frontlines. Fully loaded with anti-matter mines, they are ready to fire them into the sord attacking the enemies inside. But even after this wave of attack has ended, the assault frigates and the cruisers still will not go into combat.
Another squad of ship-of-the-line seems to be going through the gate one by one. These ship-of-the-line do not carry anti-matter mines but instead anti-matter missiles. These missiles are designed for normal space and pack just as much of a punch as the mines. However, since they do not have the time-space bubble generator, they are quite a bit smaller. So each ship can carry much more anti-matter missiles than they can with mines.
Lafiel wonders if HQ sending these vulnerable ship-of-the-lines up to the front is really the best option. Although her heart feels unsettled, all she can do is quietly watch from the sidelines as they charge into the Kemal Sord.
Command finally issued orders for the cruisers and assault squadrons to proceed.
“Distance to the Kemal Sord: 5 minutes.”
“Attention, this is your captain.” Lafiel spoke on the ship-wide intercom, “This ship will enter normal space soon, and we can expect an intense battle ahead. Everyone be well prepared.”
Next, she orders the engines to max and do a final check on weapons. Other officers are reporting in one-by-one of nothing abnormal and it looks like this assault frigate is done with final combat preparations.
“One minute until we enter the sord” Ekuryua said.
“Start the countdown at 30 seconds.” – Lafiel
The countdown began shortly.
“…25, 24, 23…” Ekuryua’s calm voice fills the bridge. The nervousness of the crew members amidst the quietness is rising steadily.
Lafiel concentrates her attention on her spatial sensor device.
“…5, 4, 3, 2, 1, passing through.” – Ekuryua
The area grasped by her spatial sense rapidly expands, as if the world had suddenly expanded infinitely in all directions. This made Lafiel feel a sense of giddiness, in fact, every time that Lafiel has exited planer space to normal space, she has felt this and does not dislike it.
But now is not the time to focus on such sensations.
Her previous worries are confirmed because the current battlefield situation is very bad.
Given that Point A is the gate and Point B is a location in planer space, then those two points would not have any relationship regarding their positions. In other words, when a ship exits a sord, they cannot predict where that ship will exit from.
Of course, even if a squadron tightly charges into a sord, unless you are extremely lucky, you will not be with your squadron when you arrive and will still be scattered about when they exit.
On the other hand, the defensive side can arrange its fleet in an orderly manner beforehand, and can position their mobile space fortress. For them, this is closer to a hunt than a battle and perhaps it is more interesting to think of it this way.
Although the mines and missiles fired from the ship-of-the-line will have certain impact, this doesn’t mean that the battle will be in Star Force’s favor.
Originally, Lafiel wanted to head for the fleet rally point, but she suddenly realized right now is not the time because there are tens of unknown projectiles flying their way, and most likely they are nuclear fusion warheads fired from electromagnetic cannons.
“Evade!” Lafiel shouted.
Movement occurred in Arubofu’s control interface attached to his left hand.
Although he did not respond, Lafiel would not fault her Gunnery Officer for it. She only gave the crew this warning: “All hands, prepare for sudden acceleration!”
At the same time, the jets on the starboard (right) side of the Flicaubh suddenly fires and the assault frigate begin to drift sideways. The lasers on the ship also begin to fire upon these projectiles sent by the enemy.
A huge blast occurred near the ship and the shockwave shook the Flicaubh.
Although Lafiel has avoided the first wave of attacks, but she has still yet to take a breath.
“Three enemy vessels have fired unknown objects at our ship!” Yateshu reported.
Lafiel is still attempting to grasp the current battlefield conditions.
Looks like the ship-of-the-lines that went in first did indeed get excellent results, but their losses have been also quite severe.
The battlefield is further complicated by the wreckage of warships from both sides and clusters of antimatter which have not yet diffused.
Lafiel lightly closed her eyes and concentrate on her spatial sensors. Among the wreckage and debris, she found a route to the rally point. However she is unsure whether she should proceed to the rally point or should she stay and fight off these three ships that are rapidly approaching the assault frigate?
Those three ships looks like are all defense ships which just mean that they do not have space-time generators and are purely for normal space combat. Although most interstellar armies have all but ceased making these defense ships, these ships are actually a defining characteristic for the army of The People's Sovereign Stellar Union. This is a difference between the Abh, whose knowledge is of planar space as the main battlefield and who did not adhere to the defense of star systems, and the Union who considered ground worlds to be their whole focus.
Moreover, these three ships are heavy defense ships equipped with electromagnetic cannons. Their armament is almost equal to that of an assault frigate, but because they don't have space-time bubble generating engines, their mobility is higher. After all, this is normal space and a time-space generator for any ship is no more useful than a useless limb.
Although it would hurt Lafiel’s pride a bit, she knows that she has little chance in a three-versus-one fight. But even if the Flicaubh were to head straight for the rally point, they may still not outrun the electromagnet cannons of the enemy.
There is no more time to further consider her options as everyone on the ship is waiting for Lafiel’s orders.
“Arubofu,” Lafiel finally issues her orders, “Turn and fire once upon the enemy vessels, the target is up to you, afterwards, make straight for the rally point.”
“Understood.” – Arubofu
Both the primary engines and the side jets began to roar as the Flicaubh began to gradually face the enemy vessel. Although the ship cannot make a complete stop will certainly leave then gunner unsatisfied, Arubofu still pull the trigger to fire the electromagnetic cannons.
The assault frigate fires a salvo of nuclear fusion warheads from its electromagnetic cannons.
The enemy ships have already launched their second wave of attacks, but Arubofu was still able to masterfully control the Flicaubh to dodge their incoming attacks.
In order to evade the Flicaubh attacks, the three enemy vessels scattered. Ceasing this opportunity, the Flicaubh made their way pass the enemy ships and at maximum speed headed straight for the rally point.
“What is the status on communicating with flagship?” – Lafiel
“Currently, the signal is extremely poor and unsteady.” Yateshu reports.
“Can we make a connection?” – Lafiel
Even if they can’t get a direct uplink, they could still communicate to the flagship via audio only. Although there may be some noise from interference, Lafiel’s ears would not mind such inconveniences.
“I will try my best.” – Yateshu
The rally point changes moment by moment. If there is no command ship for direct uplink, then you would be as lost as a child in a department store. But if we were to look for the flagship amongst the countless number of ships around, with spatial sensors alone, it was be nearly impossible. The spatial sensors are limited in their capabilities in this respect. The on-board sensors can also be restricted due to interference and is also nearly incapacitated. Lafiel has seemingly been thrown in a thick fog, even though objects near can be discerned with clarity, anything beyond is impossible to grasp.
The enemy vessels have already nearly caught up.
“Make acceleration the top priority.” Lafiel said to Arubofu.
“Do I have permission to fire the rear electromagnetic cannons?” – Arubofu
If the two rear electromagnetic cannons were to fire, then it will somewhat negatively impact the acceleration of the ship.
“You have permission.” However, Lafiel still gave the gunnery officer permission.
Looks like even Arubofu cannot tolerate the embarrassment of escape. But in any case, this assault frigate cannot just single-mindedly escape without preparing for a fight. This is, after all, a battlefield and increasing their speed merely meant that they are leading the enemy to their own demise.
Arubofu quickly fires the rear electromagnetic cannons as the enemy fires as well. Both volleys pass by and missed each other. At the same time, the jets on the starboard (right) side of the ship roared to maximum. The enemy warhead shot right past the flames of the jets, and Gunomuboshu concentrated all lasers upon it.
Lafiel senses the rally point. However, none of the warship silhouettes resembles that of the flagship. Or perhaps there are just too many objects and she cannot even decipher which one is the flagship.
“Incoming communications signal!” Yateshu shouted.
Lafiel at the same time loosens her frown.
“This is command.” Although there is only audio the quality was rather clear.
“Commander,” Lafiel straightens her back and salutes to the blank screen with no video. Just because she cannot see the video feed from command, it doesn’t mean her every move cannot be seen by them. Furthermore, she doesn’t want her subordinates think that she is officer with low discipline, “Please to see that you are alive as ever.”
“If you did not come as you did, then I might not be here anymore.” Atosuryua said, “Because the uplink is still having difficulties, I will send over the navigation data.”
“Yateshu?” – Lafiel
“The data has been received.” – Yateshu
After Lafiel nodded towards the communications officer, she reported to Atosuryua, “We have received the data.”
“Great, I was afraid I had to relay all that verbally.” – Atosuryua
“The feeling is mutual.” Lafiel was afraid of the same thing.
“Currently my squadron will proceed to escort the ship-of-the-line back to planer space. You are to proceed to the rally point. If your communication were to be severed, the data I have given you should lead you to the flagship.”
“Thank you for your assistance.” – Lafiel
Arubofu quickly entered in the coordinates for their destination and continued at high speeds.
Lafiel once again closed her eyes to concentrate on her spatial sensors. As long as they don’t encounter any issues, they should arrive in about 25 minutes.
Of course, it is almost impossible not to be met with any issues along the way. First, the three enemy ships are still pursing like admirers, and in addition, several groups of enemy vessels have also taken a great interest in the Flicaubh.
To Lafiel, their current situation has not improved by much. The only thing that can still be considered good news is that the fleet is still dispatching more ships through the gate.
“Arubofu, ” Lafiel begins to issue new orders, “Can we fly near the sord?”
“Are you daring me to?” The gunnery officer asked as he raised an eyebrow.
“Is that what you think?” – Lafiel
“This depends on how near to the sord you want me fly.” – Arubofu
“1,000 wesdaj away.” – Lafiel
“This undoubtedly is a dare.” Arubofu said calmly.
“Are you up to the challenge?” – Lafiel
“Not quite.” – Arubofu
“Then get to it.” Lafiel exposes a smile. “Gunomuboshu, I have a new task for you.”
“Yes ma’am!” although unnecessary the line wing flyer still stood up from his seat while responding.
“Keep an eye on the surface of the sord so you don’t miss any signs of exiting bubbles.” – Lafiel
“I understand!” – Gunomuboshu
“We are counting on you, rookie.” Arubofu also added.
When the surface of a sord bubbles, it's a sign that something is descending to normal space, in this case it would most likely be a Star Force warship. Although Lafiel is aware of the fact that at any moment she may lose her life on the battlefield, but if it's caused by collision with a friendly ship, she would be embarrassed to have her name carved on a stone monument in the Hall of Loss.
However, for the enemy this is a very dangerous location because their chances of being attacked are raised. Even if the attack came from a weak blast of laser fire, at close range, it can still cause serious damage.
From the beginning of when warfare began among humans, friendly fire has always been a byproduct of the battlefield. However, military technology today has advanced to the point that the risk of friendly fire has almost been eliminated.
Therefore from the viewpoint of the enemy, if they were to fly close to the sord, they must bear the additional risk of the unknown. To Lafiel, this is of some benefit, but is still of little comfort.
As Lafiel has predicted, the enemy ships are keeping their distance from the sord. Lafiel is happy to meet such sensible enemies. But this also means that she no longer has any more luxury to allow her thoughts to wonder. If she did, then she would have been in great disdain for the enemy’s monotony.
By doing this, Arubofu only has to worry about what is in front of him, which are just ships about to exit the sord. At the same time, Flicaubh’s movements are also greatly restricted: to approach the sord any further would also be very risky. To leave the sord too far and they would once again lose the advantageous position they have so far. For now, Lafiel can only limit their movements to the boundary between the two spaces.
‘Is this really the correct strategy’ thought to herself as doubt begins to grow in the heart of Lafiel.
Although Lafiel knows that she should not expose her doubt, but even for her current self to control her expressions is still rather difficult.
Suddenly, her clyuno rings and it’s from Jinto.
“How is it?” – Jinto
“Great.” Due to the low volumes, Lafiel had to put the clyuno up to her ear.
“Your expression right now is as if you have the insight of the entire universe.” – Jinto
“Idiot, don’t be making fun of me at these kinds of times.” – Lafiel
“Sorry.” Jinto responded filled with quiet laughter as he ended the connection.
Just when Lafiel went back to concentrating, she noticed that Ekuryua looking subtly at her. Although Lafiel believes that her XO’s face is always expressionless, even up until now it has always remained the same, but she noticed that Ekuryua’s expressionless face may actually be divided into several types. Or it could be said that Ekuryua’s expressionless face is actually just a thin outer layer for others to see, and this mask may disappear for but a moment and then go back to being expressionless again.
‘Has she seen through me as well?’ Lafiel asked herself as she relaxes her eyebrows.
Perhaps she is lucky, for besides these two, the rest of the crew has yet to notice what Lafiel was feeling. The assault frigate is wobbling left and right as it glides along the sord surface as they are fast approaching the rendezvous coordinates. Lafiel’s spatial sensor has clearly picked up the location of the flagship as well.
“An uplink has been established!”
“Really?” Lafiel nodded.
A large amount of information is pouring into the assault frigate. Lafiel is using her spatial sensors to determine the position the ship is to take up and glancing at an update of the progress of the battle.
“Execute the orders from the flagship immediately!” – Lafiel
“Gunomuboshu, you are relieved of your previous tasks and continue to monitor the mobile laser cannons.”
The enemy ships numbers six. Including the Flicaubh, there is already eight assault frigates gathered. In addition, while gathering the ships, the flagship has ordered them to take up a surrounding formation.
It looks like the ship-of-the-lines has already successfully made it through the sord and the once confused fleet is starting to get organized.
“Welcome Flicaubh.” Atosuryua’s image finally is displayed on the screen.
“Immediately adjust our position.” – Lafiel
“Understood.” Arubofu replied as Lafiel looks upon him.
Because there had been a slight shift between the position now directed by the flagship and the position received prior to the information connection, a correction is needed.
They finally arrive at the best place for firing upon the enemy warships.
“All ships, open fire!” Atosuryua’s orders quickly came.
“Fire!” Lafiel also orders.
The electromagnetic cannons fires their nuclear fusion warheads as the main engines were set to max. Lasers from the mobile cannon banks of an enemy warship sweep the bow of the Flicaubh.
An oncoming enemy warship explodes, becoming countless fragments. These fragments are then sucked in by the gravitational pull of the star, heading towards the Flicaubh. Even the magnetic defense shields isn't able to deflect the fragments, which are made of normal matter.
The debris caused damage to the outer hull. A shadow of a ship broke through the anti-matter cloud spewed by the destroyed ship and heading towards the Flicaubh, but the ship is actually an ally ship: the Kerukovu and the two ships pass by each other.
When the eight ships of the 1st Scourge Squadron have finished the combined attack, the enemy warships had been halved. As far as Lafiel's spatial sensors can tell, their side had not lost a ship. At this time, the enemy warships seem to be planning to withdraw from combat.
“Give me a damage report.” Lafiel ordered.
“Three of the lasers are damaged.” Gurinshia reported, “Our ship has not suffered any critical damage.”
Lafiel carefully looks at her control panel to check on the statue of the other seven ships and it looks like they are all ok.
‘Are we to pursue to enemy?’ Lafiel thought as she awaits further orders.
“Attention all 1st Scourge Squadron ships.” Atosuryua’s voice appeared, “We are to stay put and maintain control of the area around the sord. The enemy has lost the will to fight and we are to standby until further orders are issued to us.”
Lafiel takes a deep breath. Looks like she survived this time as well.
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