ONBOARD THE CS TITAN-
200 MILES OFF THE COAST OF NEW YORK
Lieutenant Andrew J. Carl sat down at his station on board the CS Titan and started to run a few diagnostic checks. The actions were so regular that they came automatically and he didn't really pay attention to the many pages flashing across his screen. He gave the ordinance list a quick skim, and confirmed that no missiles had been "accidentally launched" while he was asleep. Lieutenant Carl was in charge of weapons control for the medium-sized destroyer, and even though his eight-hour shift had just begun, him waking up only 15 minutes ago, he was wide-awake. In fact, most of the people beginning their shifts were wide-awake in anticipation. Their ship was en route to intercept a group of rebels that were heading towards New York City, capital of United Empire. According to satellite surveillance, the rebels had either commandeered or bought a small amount of naval warships, which they massed together into a small fleet. Normally, this wouldn't concern them, but it was different this time. The satellite images had been sent to Intel for analysis, and they discovered several very distinct missile tubes on one of the ships. These missile tubes were only used for launching one thing: Nuclear missiles. Based of the fact that New York was not yet a pile of radioactive waste, Intel had assumed that the rebels either had missiles with a very short range, or that the tubes were empty. The Titan was heading to rendezvous with a CN battle group that was also en route to intercept the rebels. Their ETA to the battle group was 7 minutes, and a mere 53 minutes to the rebels. The satellite imagery had shown only three ships in the enemy "fleet" and Lieutenant knew that if this came to conflict, which it most likely would, it wouldn't be a fight. It would be a slaughter. The Caesar had ordered a dozen ships into the battle group, including two submarine7s, and the CS Nemesis, flagship of the UN. Carl was a good officer and would have been placed on the Nemesis, however, he had gone to school with the captain of that ship, Admiral Close when he was younger, and the UN had decided that there might be "conflicts" that could arise between them since they had a history together. But Lieutenant Carl wasn't complaining, the Titan was a respected ship that had been battle many times and survived to tell the tale. And Lieutenant Carl's CO was Captain O'Neil, who Carl considered him to be an excellent tactician, a strong leader, as well as a good man. Carl finished his checks and waited at the ready just as the Captain walked onto the bridge. On the newer ships that had been designed, most of the ship controls were now located on the bridge instead of all different parts of the ship. It made a lot of the old inter-ship communication obsolete since all the captain had to do was bark an order onto the bridge, instead of a COM.
"Were coming up on the battle group Captain,” said Lieutenant Beck, the navigational officer.
"Roger that Lieutenant. Lieutenant Zaneb, open a channel to the Nemesis."
"Aye Aye Sir."
The COM sputtered static for a moment then the crisp voice of Admiral Close, the Naval Fleet Commander, came on.
"Nice for you to join us O'Neil."
The Admiral had a knack for calling people by their last names and not by their ranks. Even though he wasn't required to, it still made Captain O'Neil roll his eyes.
"Thank you sir. Good to be here." replied Captain O'Neil. "Any word from Intel about those missile ports? "
"That’s affirmative Captain. ONI had some birds fly over those bastards with an IR cam to check out their hand. They've got some weaponry, but nothing we have to worry about."
"No nukes Admiral?"
"No nukes Captain. There's nothing in those 'Nuclear Missile Ports' but hopes and dreams." said Admiral Close, a hint of excitement in his voice.
Captain O'Neil realized he had been holding his breath and exhaled a long breath when he heard the news. He relaxed a bit and felt that his hands had also been sweating. He had family in New York, and the news that a ship that possibly had a nuclear weapon was on its way there had him a but rattled.
"Glad to hear it Admiral."
"Lieutenant Beck, what's our ETA?" said Captain O'Neil as he turned to address his navigational officer.
"Approximately 45 minutes Captain." Replied Beck.
"Admiral, do you mind if we take up the lead?"
"Be my guest O'Neil. The Hermes and the Achilles have point right now, you can rendezvous with them. Oh, forgot to tell you the best part." He said, with a tone of sarcasm. "Guess who Intel thinks is in charge of these rebel assholes."
"Thomas DeFlores..." said Captain O'Neil. "I thought he was killed in a Special Op."
"Nope, they think the little bastard made it out alive, and if he did I think he's a little mad at our Caesar, so make sure to give him hell."
"Aye Aye Sir. Thank you Admiral. O'Neil Out."
The COM went quiet, and Captain O'Neil mulled over the situation. Thomas DeFlores had survived an op that was supposedly planned my the Caesar himself. If the Captain knew the Caesar correctly, then he knew that there were a few Special Forces officers who had just "mysteriously disappeared." He'd have to make sure not to make their mistakes.
"Lieutenant Vega, give me full speed."
"Aye Sir. Accelerating to full speed."
"ETA to the Achilles and the Hermes is 17 minutes,” said Lieutenant Beck.
A nice thing about the Titan was that it was a Hyperion class destroyer, one of the newer models, which meant that it almost a third faster than the Nemesis, and a quarter faster than the other ships in the battle group. Give or take a few of the newer ones.
16 MINUTES LATER:
"Captain, we are approaching the Achilles and the Hermes."
"Sir, incoming hail from the Achilles." said Lieutenant Zaneb, who was at the COM station.
"Put it on my line Lieutenant." said Captain O'Neil as he picked up his line smiling. He knew the skipper of the Achilles, Captain Ashel. They had been in many naval engagements together, and some even referred to them as the O'Neil/Ashel team because of how well they fought together. As he waited for the voice of his compatriot to come over his receiver, the image of the Achilles came into view. It was a fellow destroyer, the same class as the Titan, and just as formidable and intimidating. With its bristling guns and numerous missile ports, it looked like it could destroy an entire city, which it could, depending on the size. The COM came on:
"So O'Neil, did you miss me, or just get sick of talking to the Admiral?"
O'Neil chuckled. Ashel had a habit of disregarding the traditional opening protocols when talking over a COM. He sounded like Admiral Close.
"The latter." He said, laughing.
"So Captain, what’s the situation? Admiral Close didn't brief me on what kind of fire were dealing with."
"We shouldn't have to worry,” replied Ashel. "Since they don't have a nuke, we don't have to worry about sinking these bitches. All three of the ships have some short range ship to ship missiles, which we'll be able to shoot down before they can even arm themselves, a few anti-ship guns, but no torpedoes. Only one ship has any ammo for their point defense weapons, but they look pretty intact. We assume that one's the flagship."
"Roger that Captain. Were supposed to get them to surrender first, but if this is DeFlores, I don't think he'll do quietly. So, this should be cake." Said O'Neil. "Who's in charge on the Hermes?"
"Oh, Jesus." he mumbled. "Some 12 year old whose daddy is a Vice Admiral. Punk kid thinks he knows everything. His ship has some good fire though, so he wont be totally useless."
"Peachy." said O'Neil wondering why Admiral Close had allowed such an inexperienced Captain to be in the attacking group. "Oh, Ashel, do you have any disposition against us handling the flagship?"
"Be my guest friend, we'll handle one of the others, and I guess junior over there in the Hermes can shoot peas at the last one."
O'Neil chuckled. If Ashel had a problem with another officer, he wasn't usually as "covert" about it as he should be. "Thanks Captain. O'Neil Out."
As Lieutenant Carl watched the Captain hang up the receiver, the XO of the ship walked on deck. No one really liked the XO, Commander Quinn, not even Captain O'Neil. Everyone knew that like the skipper of the Hermes, he was only here because he was an Admiral's son. He was also one of the cockiest officers to ever step foot on a UN ship.
"Commander Quinn, what’s the latest news?" asked the Captain.
"Intel intercepted some radio traffic from the flagship in the rebel battle group. They were right, it’s DeFlores."
The Captain let out a low whistle. DeFlores was more resourceful than the Captain thought when he had originally heard about him. He had spoken out against the UE, survived an attack from Special Ops, and was now on his way to the capital in a group of commandeered vessels.
"Alright Commander, get everyone to battle-stations." said Captain O'Neil.
The Commander walked over to a control panel and flipped a series of switches then turned a large handle. An alarm sounded and the lights went to a dull red. The Commander picked up an intercom microphone and gave the battle station order.
"Captain, ETA is 23 minutes." said Lieutenant Beck.
"Thank you Lieutenant."
"I don't even know why the UN was worried." said Commander Quinn in a condescending voice. "The missile defense system on the east coast of the mainland would destroy an incoming missile before it could even lock on."
Lieutenant Carl chuckled to himself...a little too loudly.
"What's so funny Lieutenant?" asked Commander Quinn bearing down on him.
"Well sir, if I may explain." he didn't wait for an answer from the XO. "This wasn't just some ordinary missile we thought we were dealing with. Intel thought they had a new kind of ship to surface missile that worked on the same principles as an ICBM. They don't operate like the conventional missiles you see on ships or at SAM sites. When it's launched it wont just fly horizontally into its target. It will accelerate to very high speeds as well as climb into the upper atmosphere until it cannot be tracked by anything but a satellite. Once it’s relatively near its target it starts to descend from the upper atmosphere and fall to its target. So theoretically, it could be launched offshore and it could be out of range for the coastal defense system, and could fall on a target that is also out of range. It would totally bypass the perimeter defense. Our perimeter defense wasn't made in anticipation that our enemies would have weapons designed by us."
"Think you're pretty smart, don't you Lieuten-" said the angry Commander as the Captain cut him off.
"He's right Commander." said O'Neil, with a neutral, yet strong tone to his voice. "Our defense system would be useless against a weapon like that. So I suggest that you pray that they never get a weapon like that instead of getting angry with a fellow officer. You're dismissed."
"Aye Sir!" said Commander Quinn as he saluted and feeling very embarrassed as well as angry as he walked off the bridge.
The Captain and Lieutenant Carl locked eyes for a moment and the Captain gave him a curt nod before returning his gaze to the view ports. Carl was glad that the Captain had stepped in when he did. Since Commander Quinn's father was Admiral Quinn, he could have him "reassigned" to a remote surveillance facility in the blink of an eye. Sometimes he hated the chain of command.
"Lieutenant Carl, run a final weapons check." said the Captain. "I don't want to run into the shit and suddenly find out that our clips weren't loaded."
"Aye Aye Captain." replied Carl as he skimmed over the ordinance list once again. Everything was in order. "Were ready to go sir."
"Roger that Lieutenant. We're ready."
20 MINUTES LATER:
"Contact!" barked Lieutenant Beck. "I have three enemy contacts on screen, bearing two-six-nine sir!"
"Roger that. Bring us along side them, not too close, but I want us in an a firing position." said O'Neil as he looked out the view port at three medium-small frigates. They looked like very old models, and looked like they hadn't been kept in very good shape. The paint was peeling all over the ship, some of the weapons looked rusted, and two of the ships radar dishes spun at irregular intervals. "Try to hail the flagship."
"Sir, incoming transmission from the Achilles!" said Lieutenant Zaneb.
"My line Lieutenant." said the Captain as he picked up the receiver.
"They responding any of your hails?" asked the voice of Captain Ashel. The Captain took his ear away from the receiver and covered the mouthpiece. "Lieutenant Zaneb, any responses to our hails?"
"That's negative sir."
"Negative." said O'Neil, once again addressing Ashel.
"Alright." said Ashel. "Were in a firing position and I'm preparing to engage. I know that were supposed to make contact first, but they're not answering any of our hails either, and I don't want these assholes pulling a fast one on us. We'll keep trying, but if these bastards so much as twitch in our direction, I'm gonna blow them straight to Mars."
"Understood Captain." said O'Neil.
"Ashel Out." The COM went dead and O'Neil hung up the receiver. He looked out the view port and saw that both the Hermes and the Achilles were in attack positions. O'Neil knew how this would end.
"Lieutenant Carl, load Wasp rocket tubes one through sixteen, starboard side."
"A double salvo sir?"
"That’s correct Lieutenant. The flagship is the only one with point defense weapons, and I'm sure that they'll use them. And we don't want to give them a chance to shoot back. So make sure that you can take out their targeting systems."
"Aye sir! Making it happen." replied Lieutenant Carl as he typed in commands. Wasp rockets were small and unguided weapons, but when they were fired, they fired a lot of them. They were ideal in situations where missiles or torpedoes weren't a possibility, like this one. Since the opposing ship had point defense weapons, meaning many auto-targeting, highly automatic turrets used to destroy incoming ordinance, they could destroy a missile or a torpedo before it hit their ship. But since they're were so many rockets in a Wasp salvo, then the guns probably wouldn't be able to hit them all before some of the rockets hit them, therefore doing the most damage. But the Captain had ordered a double salvo, which Lieutenant Carl had never done before, in fact, he hadn't even seen it done before. A single salvo was a total of 48 rockets, and on each side of a Hyperion class destroyer, there were 32 Wasp rocket tubes, each with six rockets tucked inside. By shooting a double salvo, which was firing 16 tubes, the enemy would be looking at just under a hundred rockets. Just as Lieutenant Carl was about to notify the Captain that the rockets were ready when he heard the Captain say: "Damn fools."
Lieutenant Carl turned to see what the Captain was looking at and spotted it. The frigate to their port side was turning its anti-ship guns to face the Achilles, it was preparing for an offensive. Half way before they were aimed in the their direction, the Achilles launched two Anaconda anti-ship missiles. One collided with their anti-ship gun emplacements, and the other hit the bridge. The impact zones exploded into plumes of fire and smoke and sent huge pieces of metal flying into the water. The gun emplacements exploded once, and then set off a chain of smaller explosions as the ammunition went off inside the ship. Its engines slowed and finally stopped as the ship drifted dead in the water.
"Cap-" Lieutenant Carl was once again interrupted, but this time by the Hermes, which had launched two Swordfish torpedoes at the ship to their starboard side. Since the ship didn't have any point defense weapons, all it could do was watch, and try to outmaneuver the incoming torpedoes, which was a desperate action at best. The first torpedo hit the engines, which exploded, and shot shrapnel throughout the lower decks and the second hit the hull and blew a hole the size of a two semi-trucks out of it. The ship slowly started to sink and the collision alarms from the ship were audible even from the bridge of the Titan.
"Captain. Wasp rockets are hot sir." said Lieutenant Carl finally being able to speak uninterrupted.
"Thank you Lieutenant. Hold fire for now." said the Captain, his eyes still on the sinking ships. "Lieutenant Zaneb, show me the starboard cameras on my screen please." Captain O'Neil looked down at his screen and saw through the view of the starboard cameras: the enemy flagship and behind it, the torpedoed enemy ship sinking. "Switch to IR cams." The display went to the rainbow glow of the infrared cameras. O'Neil recognized the movements that appeared on the lower decks. They were loading their missiles. They weren't going to make the same mistake as their comrade by moving their turrets, which would be a dead giveaway, instead they were going to launch a salvo of missiles out of nowhere.
"Lieutenant Carl, activate point defense weapons and launch Wasp missile tubes one through sixteen!" barked the Captain. Lieutenant Carl hit the fire control.
The ship shook as the tubes discharged 96 rockets into the air, all headed towards the enemy flagship. Soon all they looked like were whisps of exhaust as they closed it on the frigate, which was desperately trying to turn out of the line of fine. As the rockets headed for the enemy vessil, the ship's point defense system activated and its anti-missile turrets began to target the rockets. They opened fire on the incoming ordinance and started popping off individual targets. About a third of the rockets were destroyed before they were too close to hit with turret fire and the rest peppered the enemy ship with small explosions, which massed together caused such a force, that for a moment, it looked as if it the ship would keel over. Everyone was silent on the bridge, even after the deafening explosions from the ordinance impacts. The Captain was the first to speak:
"Two of their turrets are still intact, but their targeting system has been destroyed, as well as their radar. Communications are also down. They have sustained critical damage, but the ship's engines are still operational." said Lieutenant Beck.
"Lucky bastards." whispered the Captain. "What about their bridge?"
"Damaged, but intact sir, and after a double salvo too. Jesus, that must go against every statistic in the book." said Beck in an awestruck voice.
"Are they lowering their speed?"
"Alright. Lieutenant Carl, remove the safeties on one Anaconda missile, and plot a firing solution."
"Target sir?" asked the weapons officer.
"Their bridge. Fire when ready Lieutenant." said the Captain in a neutral tone.
"Roger that sir. Missile away."
The Captain watched the Anaconda anti-ship missile headed straight for the ships bridge, past the line of fire of the now motionless turrets, and collide. The explosion was rather spectacular, a massive fireball, sending huge chunks shrapnel in every direction. The ships engine's died and it drifted motionless in the water.
It was over.
ONBOARD THE ENEMY FLAGSHIP:
Thomas DeFlores ran onto the bridge of the commandeered frigate that he had been ordained the 'Captain' of since the start of their journey. He looked out the starboard window just in time to see one of his ally’s vessels engines explode, and see a hole blown into its side. He looked over to the port side to see his other comrade's ship already sinking.
"What the hell is going on?!" he yelled.
"Fuckin' CN bastards are shooting us!" yelled one of the men on-deck.
"Why? Didn't you respond to any of their hai-" DeFlores was cut short by someone yelling.
"This'll show em'!" said another man, who was acting as the weapons officer.
"What are you doing?" asked DeFlores.
"Sending them a few presents." said the man at the weapons panel, with an evil grin, as he started to load missiles into the launch tubes.
"You're going to shoot at them? Are you insane? If they see us loading even a peashooter, they're gonna blow us--" he was cut off by a hundred small wisping sounds. DeFlores looked out the window to see what looked hundreds of rockets heading towards their ship.
"Emergency maneuvering! Right full rudder, reverse starboard engine! Sound collision alarms and brace for impact!" he barked to his bridge crew. The rattle of their automatic anti-missile turrets was drowned out by the sound of a shrill collision alarm. Men on the bridge hastily entered commands and locked down the bulkheads. DeFlores looked out the window once again and saw his fate closing in on him.
"Impact in two seconds!" someone yelled.
The explosions were deafening as DeFlores was thrown into a railing and knocked to the floor. He could hear his heart beating. He wasn't dead...yet. Blood seeped from his wounded temple as he stood up to assess the damage. All of the crew on the bridge were on the floor, either dead, unconscious, or having a lot of difficulty standing up. DeFlores hobbled over to a computer panel and ran a ship diagnostic. They had taken quite a beating, and he was surprised he was still alive. He could feel his side aching, and thought he may have cracked a rib. Another "wisp" caught his attention and he turned his gaze to the view ports once again. The attacking ship had launched a missile, and he knew it was headed for their bridge. Their turrets were out of commission, and there was no way they would be outmaneuvering a missile, in a damaged ship or not.
Most men would probably have either started screaming in anger, panicked into insanity, or collapsed into a sobbing mess. But he didn't. He watched the missile closing in and experienced the most intense emotion he'd felt in years besides anger: relief. He had fought them, he had run from them, and he had seen death from them. He'd seen his entire family murdered at the hands of his enemy, and he was tired. Tired of running and tired of fighting. He watched the missile closing in and felt relief wash over him, and knew he was about to rejoin his wife and children.
It was over.
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