Aurora Dancing With The Sky
Chapter 8
Chapter 10

Chapter 9

The remaining crew of the HSS Castor had received their new crewmates and commander in the usual fashion of such things. The ship had suffered a recent upheaval, losing their Commander, First Officer, Chief Engineer and Crew Chief to a new posting. Sky had made a mental note to thank Philippe again when next he could, for arranging his entire crew to fit into roles seamlessly. The only senior officer that remained on board was the ship's doctor; Doctor Joaquin Curador. He was a mild mannered middle aged man who Sky took and instant liking to.

It had taken Sky barely an hour to find every form of list, log and manifest regarding his new command. The crew who had not come with him all seemed to have clean records, No doubt another of Philippe's arrangements. His officers had disappeared in various parts of their new ship in the areas in which they would command. Harmony was exploring the CIC where she would command the weapons and make his orders a reality, Azlynn had forced everyone out of the main engineering deck saying 'She had to get to know the old girl' and the newly promoted Crew Chief Soren had helped Sky gather all the data he needed before saying 'It's time I make myself known to the crew, sir.'

Sky had received his orders for his first mission in command of the HSS Castor as he had arrived back from his initial tour of the ship. They were to collect a consignment of data cores from the Planetary Knowledge Academy, when it arrived at Titan Harbour Bastion; the cores contained a back up copy of all the gathered knowledge on Hereclisa, from culture and language to maths and science. It was to be delivered to the Secondary Knowledge Academy being established on the Achilian Moon Colony to serve as a backup of the information. It was a cake walk mission, most likely designed to be a reward after the rough time he’d been through when he lost the HSS Pan. However to him it was just a boring job that would usually be given to a delivery cargo ship. He’d initially thought of complaining about the mission but immediately thought better of it; “never look a gift horse in the mouth” as the ancient expression went.

The cargo was being delivered aboard even as he sat reading the files. They would be finished securing the data cores in the ships hold by the end of the watch shift.

He stood at the window and looked out over the first fleet in the space harbour. What had happened to his ship would no doubt be the talk of the fleet. As he imagined captains and commanders alike discussing the engagement in the arachnid nebula.

As he looked out at the flagship of the fleet on the other side of the harbour he spotted a sudden flash of light. It caught his attention and as he focused on the HSS Zeus it errupted in explosions.

His hesitation was only momentary as he saw the attack. He rushed to the comms pannel and sent his broadcast ship wide "All hands to battle stations! This is not a drill!" He grabbed his uniform jacket, his eathern battle paints and katana, with his mind focused in the way on battle could do. He used the lightning step to get to the bridge in seconds.

He looked at his sensor read out on his command chair's screen. There were Tongalin ships entering the harbour area, not just a few foolish captains there had to be two whole fleets all heading straight for them. He heard the distinctive click of Harmony boots in the CIC behind him. "Commander Dentelle, bring all the weapons online. We're going to war!" Harmony surprised him with her speedy response. "Aye sir, what are the priority targets?" He looked at his scanner screen again. "We're heading straight to the Zeus take out as many of the nova torpedoes as you can. When they run out; try for nothing bigger than a frigate if we can avoid it. They have the advantage today." He didn't have to look around to know what look was on faces of his bridge crew. Nova torpedoes were weapons of mass destruction only use in largest scale ship to ship encounters. The torpedoes were virtually the same size as the Castor and if they were hit or caught in the explosive blast from just one of them the Castor would be lucky to survive as simple scrap metal instead of dust. He grasped the hilt of his sword in the holster next to his chair “Helmsman, set course for the Zeus full speed.”

He set the comms system in his chair to broadcast ship wide “This is Captain Praetora to all personnel. We are heading into battle in support of the HSS Zeus, against the estimated two Tongalin battle fleets. I know we haven’t had much time to get to know each other, but our home world needs our A-game so let’s show them why you don’t mess with the Star Forces!” He heard a small cheer from a few of the bridge crew, though he hadn’t noticed if they’d been on the Pan or not but their cheer steadied him. He needed to be calm and at his best.

He picked up his Katana and laid it on the floor before his chair. He could see that even his old crew were curious. He laid the eathern paints down and began to paint on his family war face. The silence on the bridge seemed tense, but Sky kept his focus on the ritual.

He took his seat and could feel the difference in the atmosphere as he placed his katana in its holder. They were all suddenly very serious, ready to face the enemy and ready to risk their lives.

"We're coming into range of the Zeus, sir!" He looked at his scanner read out. "Take us right about their vertical axis. Give the CIC the best vantage point we can." Sky suddenly felt his body getting heavier as the gravity from the mass of the Zeus began to affect them.

"Ten Nova torpedos detected. Firing Solution's obtained. Firing on first target!" Sky watched as Harmony's target, the front most torpedos vanished in a enormous explosion. It sent a shockwave of burning gas that made the entire ship tremble with it's force. As the view cleared Sky saw that the torpedoes close behind had shifted their courses slightly away from the blast. "CIC aim for the torpedoes in the centere of the pack. Knock the others off course." Within seconds Harmony fired again, the shot sped straight to the centre most torpedos transforming it into a burst of brilliant light.

As their view cleared Sky watched in awe as the remaining Nova Torpedoes sailed harmlessly past the Zeus' sides. "Commander, we're beinng hailed by the Zeus." Sky used his own controls to answer it, causing the face of Admiral Periclius to appear on the main screen. "Well done Castor, you really saved us with that quick reaction. Your orders are to act as our independant escort, provide support for us any way you see fit." Sky stood and threw up a salute "Aye sir!" Then the communication was cut.

"You heard the Admiral, prepare for the next wave." He sat back down and waiting for the enemy to make their move. "The enemy has launched a lot of small objects. They look like small missles, they're really tiny sir." Sky was thoroughly confused by this. There weren't any small missles that could possibly damage the polarized armour of the Zeus. What are the Tongalin thinking? "Open fire on the closest cluster. Let's see what they're trying."

He waited as he watched the proton cannon charge and then fire. The explosion from the impact was immense. When the shockwave struck it felt as strong as the all the nova torpedoes combined. Sky was nearly thrown from his chair as the Castor was thrown about like a rag doll in the explosions gravity wake.

Sky looked down at his scanner screen, gripping the chair for dear life as the shockwave rocked his ship. "Only half of the enemy missiles were stopped! The Zeus is going to be hit!" There was another flash of light and followed by an even greater shockwave. Sky could hear his ship's hull begining to buckle under the force of the blast. He watched as his crew were thrown about the bridge unable to hold themselves down. He held on with everything he had and eventually the shaking stopped. "Give me a damage report, now!" Soren was ther first person to regain his composure. "The proton cannon is gone sir. The polarized armour is only working around the bridge and engineering. The chief managed to divert enough power in time. We have hull breaches in twenty places, the sections have been sealed. All we have left are the ZPE Drive, Life support and somehow sensors."

Sky was in shock, one attack had almost completely crippled his ship. They hadn't even received a direct hit. "What about the Zeus? Put her on screen." Sky could hear the horrified gasps as the image appeared. The Zeus was burning, it's hull had sheared apar by the sheer force of the blasts. The crew watched in horror as the Zeus began to split apart. "The Zeus is sending a transmission sir!" The screen flashed on to an image of Admiral Periclius, his face was covered with blood. "Commander, take the Castor and get to the second fleet tell them what's happened here. Half the fleet is gone, the defences at Titan are destroyed. This battle is lost!" Sky felt a knot in his chest as the meaning of the words sunk in. Admiral Periclius was giving up on the strongest Star Navy fortification in the galaxy and the primary defence for their homeworld had fallen.

The transmission suddenly cut and the screen returned to an image of the Zeus as it finally was torn apart in a mass of twisting metal and small explosions. Sky felt his muscles tighten as his rage grew, glaring at the enemy capital ship and the wild recklessness came.

"Charge the ZPE Drive we're busting out of here." He could feel the nervousness of the crew, but he knew what needed to be done. "Leiutenant Commander Dentelle, take every member of the crew to the engineering department right now, no exceptions!" He could see the looks of confusion on the faces of the bridge crew, but the look on his face made them obey.

It took only a moment for the bridge to empty out leaving Sky alone with Harmony on the bridge. "Sky, what's going to happen to us?" Sky picked up his katana and turned to face her. "We're going to Dark Shift out of here, but we're going to have to go close past the enemy Capital ship. I'm gonna dark shift close and try to take their bridge off as we go. If we don't the fleet won't have any escape routes left." He could see the fear in her eyes now. If the enemy's bridge followed then into the dark matter streams it could slam into them and rip them apart. "You'll all last longer if something goes wrong sealed in main engineering." He thrust his Katana into Harmony's hands "I'll want this back Harmony. Now get going." He could see her mind straining against the idea of leaving him alone on the bridge, but her soldier's discipline carried her off the bridge.

As he sat down at the helmsman's station Sky couldn't figure out why he'd given Harmony his Katana. A Misalli warrior should always face death with his sword close at hand. If he died now, would lose any chance at an honorable death.

He imputted the co-ordinates for the Dark Shift. The jump would be short to minimise the risk, hopefully just far just enough to be out of range of the enemy fleet. The screen above the helm controls displayed 'ZPE drive charged'.

Sky activated the jump feeling the sudden buzz as the Castor accelerated straight at the enemy capital ship. He felt the sudden pull of the enemy ship's gravity getting entangled with the gravity well being produced around the Castor. The ship shook and trembled as the enemy's exposed bridge began to tear away. Sky felt the wild smile break on his face, the enemy capital ship was disabled and the fleet had an escape route. Sky felt the rage drain from him as the Castor slipped into the dark matter streams. As the light turned black all he could do was wait.

Chapter 8
Chapter 10
Aurora Dancing With The Sky