Chapter 3: First Conflict
"Computer, bring up all data on the Argus system sub-space distortions," said Admiral Cramge to a computer console.
A large screen suddenly lit up and showed the Argus system. Mark saw the planet Artrust immediately, surrounded by the sub-space distortions Admiral Cramge had been talking about. On the digital map the distortions were shown by a some blue lines that seemed to warp this way and that.
"We don't know how the distortions got there. But we do know a little about the planet. See, the Vorg sent a scout close to the planet, and it detected signs of an advanced civilization on the surface. But the Vorna intercepted the message the scout sent back to the main Vorg ship. After the Vorna did that they attacked the Vorg scout and the Vorg fleet. Soon everybody knew about the system and the advanced civilization that may be on the surface."
"May?" asked Mark.
"They may be extinct, we don't know yet. The Vorg and Vorna scouts that got close to the planet could only detect what looked like cities. However they couldn't detect any life. We'll never know until we land on the planet."
"How about a sub-space stabilizer. We install those on our ships to make sure they can go through hyperspace fast, and at the same time smoothly," suggested Lewis.
"I'm not sure those will work. I scanned your vessel when I first detected your fleet. They are too small to stabilize distortions of this magnitude I'm afraid," replied Admiral Cramge.
"Tacion Beam" We could use it to drain the energy fields sustaining the distortions. And even if the distortions don't go away completely, they may not be as intense," suggested Lewis.
"We've tried that. Tacion particles just can penetrate the energy fields that are feeding the distortions, or the distortions who are keeping the energy fields sustained. I just don't see how we are going to get through those distortions," said Admiral Cramge.
"I don't either. Maybe we can go to the Argus system and examine the distortions closer," suggested Mark.
"We could do that. Besides, I was about to ask you if you would like to see a battle," said Admiral Cramge.
"Where's this battle?"
"It's going to be near Raje Ma, which is held by the Vorna. The Crasluug, Kitex, Vorg have all assembled fleets to attack Raje Ma," said the Rogue.
"What about the Thinkers?"
"I don't know. We haven't seen any build up of forces, but then they could be hiding their forces. They can do that very well," replied Admiral Cramge.
"When do we leave?" asked Mark.
"Now, if you want. We shouldn't leave any later."
"Well then, lets go!" said Lewis
Meanwhile Daniel Ramer was eating a late dinner. He had been commanded to go to Gded Ki, a system close to the Argus system. He had reached Keikll and decided to wait for 2 days before going on. His fleet needed rest, most of the ships in his fleet hadn't even been repaired since the battle at Capella.
"I'm gonna head to my ship now, okay Daniel?"
Daniel turned his head towards his friend, Jim Gatman. Jim had been Daniel's friend almost since childhood, and all the way up to the present, Daniel was never far from Jim.
"Sure Jim, I'm going to finish up my lunch then head to bed. I'm really worn out," replied Daniel.
"Yeah me too. See you tommarrow Daniel."
"Bye Jim!" Daniel called back.
At that moment, another captain walked up. "Captain Ramer?"
"I'm Cody Omak, Rebel High Command sent me up here to join you. They heard that you didn't have much of a fleet, so they looked around for a guy willing to come up here."
"And they found you?"
"Actually, I voulenteered," replied Cody.
"Well, my ships are in docking bays 14 - 21. It was nice meeting you Captain Omak," replied Daniel, gulping down his last bite of sandwich.
"It was nice to meet you too, goodbye!" Cody then turned and walked away.
Daniel got up, and started towards his sleeping quarters. He was sure that tomarrow and the day after would be a quiet day, or so he hoped.
Two days later Admiral Cramge took Mark and Lewis to the Argus system. Mark quickly saw Argus, surrounded by the ever present distortions. It looked like a swampy world, with almost no deserts. Mark thought it would make a great vacation site.
"We're coming up on Raje Ma," reported Admiral Cramge, sitting in the captains chair.
Mark and Lewis stood, watching the view screen. On it were several large fleets-Rogue, crasluug, Vorg, Vorna, and Kitex.
"Why aren't the Thinkers attacking?" asked Mark
"I'll show you," replied Admiral Cramge. He pointed towards some energy disturbances on the view screen. "Those are Thinker warships. They're just waiting to pounce on one of those fleets. Our sensors can detect them, so our ships won't be surprised. The Vorna's sensors can also detect Thinker ships, but apparently they are either not looking at their sensors, or just ignoring those Thinker warships," said the Rogue.
Admiral Cramge pushed a button on his console. "Now we will be able to hear what the ships in those fleets are saying to other ships, but you won't hear a conversation between just two ships. Oh, and it can get pretty tense," said Admiral Cramge.
The 5 fleets moved in. The Rogue and Vorna fleets suddenly turned and attacked the Vorg fleet. The crasluug fleet responded by turning towards the Vorna fleet. But before they got there, the Thinker fleet decloaked, and pounced on the unsuspecting crasluug fleet. Then the Kitex moved in, attacking the Vorg and Thinker fleets. Soon the entire area was in chaos.
The speakers then turned on so Mark could hear what was going on.
"Gohar, come around and cover the Yuik!"
"Watch out! Enemy fighters..."
"Derrr, Vorg battle cruiser on your tail!"
"Skiaf, open fire!"
"Iosnsa, help me...."
"Fighters, move toward the Yuik..."
"I'm going in!"
"Gun ships! Gun ships! Watch out!!"
"Our weapons are gone!"
"Watch out! Wow..."
"HELP ME! HELP..."
"GAAAHHH! MAN! That was close!"
"Rockets! Get out of the way of those rockets!"
"I'm on fire!"
"Help that disabled..."
"We got lots of wounded down here!"
"Send ships to assist..."
"Board that ship!"
"My crew is dead!"
"Oh my. WATCH OUT!!"
"Come around and cover me, then move to..."
"Send in ships...AAHHHH!"
"Get me out of here!"
"I'm bleeding bad!"
"Move in Uyyki! Move in!!"
"Get around him!"
"We gotta get out of here!"
"Shoot that escape pod!"
"Get that ship! GET THAT SHIP!"
"Come around Dfsgan, then get the..."
"I can't see!"
"PLEASE! HELP ME!"
"Die! Die! Die!"
"My ship is on fire!"
"Turn. Turn! TURN!"
"Attack the Ggrekk! Attack the..."
"We're goin in!"
"Cover the Ihan! COVER THE IHAN!"
"Move In! Move In! AAAHHHHHH!"
"Trdor, get out of there!"
"GET OUT OF THERE!"
Suddenly there was a crackling sound, then an ear piercing beep, then silence.
"What was that?" asked Mark.
"Eh, I don't know," replied Admiral Cramge. He looked at a small computer console and then sighed. "The Thinkers have set up a dampening field. We can't recieve any transmissions. I guess we'll have to head back now, that fleet battle is getting to close for comfort anyway."
Soon Mark, Lewis, and Admiral Cramge were back on the planet Derroro.
Lewis yawned, "Well, I'm turning in for the night, Mark. See ya tomarrow!"
"Okay Lewis. I'm going to go to bed right now too, is that okay Admiral Cramge?"
"Fine with me. I've got to go now, I have a meeting with another admiral. See you tomarrow," then Admiral Cramge walked off.
Later that day Mark, Lewis, and Admiral Cramge met again to think about how to get past the sub-space distortions.
Suddenly the door to the room opened, and a young Rogue stepped in.
"Admiral, your fleet is ready. We will be departing in 5 minutes," said the Rogue.
"Thank you, lieutenant. You may return to your post," replied Admiral Cramge.
"What's this fleet of yours?" asked Mark.
"I'm gathering up a fleet to retake Lamau. The Thinkers captured it from us a week ago. We've been trying to retake it but all our attempts have failed. But we may now have a chance of retaking it. Our scouts have detected a Vorg fleet assembling around the planet Zeus I. If I can attack after the Vorg have started attacking, I might have a chance of retaking the planet."
"Why do you say that?" asked Lewis.
"The Thinkers defenses won't be able to hold off an assault by 2 alien races. Also, the Vorg fleet isn't big enough to pose a threat to us. They won't be able to send reinforcements because we will also make an attack on the Vorg's main base in the system, Veus I.
"Also, would one of you like to join me? Mark, you could go with me while Lewis attacks Zeus I. How about that?" asked the Rogue.
"Actually, me and Lewis could go with you. I know another person who would do good in that attack on Zeus I," said Mark.
"What's his name?" asked Admiral Cramge.
"His name is Judah Hassid."
Everything was spinning. Matthew Derrk imagined that he was back at his laboratory. He imagined several commandos ran in and started firing at everything. He tried to get his laser gun out, but for some reason he couldn't. Suddenly one of the commandos pointed a gun at him, then fired.
Matthew screamed as he opened his eyes shot strait up. He only stood for a second before he collapsed, holding his leg. Matthew surveyed his surroundings. He was still in the bridge, but laying next to view screen. Most of the people in the room appeared to be dead.
"Hello! Anyone hear me?" Matthew cried out, hoping someone would hear him.
"Uhhhhhggg," moaned a female voice coming from somewhere in the room. Matthew straightened up as a female sensor officer got up from behind a collapsed structural beam. Matthew recognized her as the sensor officer who had told him about the Retaliator fleet. She looked all right except her forehead and part of her face was covered with blood.
"You all right sir?" she asked.
"I guess I'm okay. However I think my legs broken and I have a splitting headache," replied Matthew.
The sensor officer looked around the bridge for a moment, then sighed. "I think we're the only people who are still alive up here," said the sensor officer.
"What's your name lieutenant?" Matthew asked.
"Lieutenant Lauren Grams," she replied.
"Well Lieutenant Grams, lets see if we can get the comm system on line. I want to know if there's anyone left alive of my ship."
Mark and Lewis stood in the bridge of the R.O.S. Vengeance. Around 100 kilometers ahead of the Vengeance was Admiral Cramge's personal marauder, the R.O.S. Tremor.
"Tremor to Vengeance, prepare to go into warp. Captain James?" asked the comm officer of the Tremor.
"Captain James here," replied Mark.
"Admiral Cramge would like to speak to you," replied the comm officer.
"Mark, I warn you. You may have been in some major battles, but this will probably be nothing like you've ever seen before. I will be fast, it will be tense. Not many captains want to go to that system, I sure hope you'll do okay," said Admiral Cramge.
"Don't worry Admiral. I'll do fine," replied Mark.
"I hope you will."
The fleet moved into position to go to warp. Admiral Cramge gave the order and.... ZING! The entire fleet jumped into warp in a split second.
Meanwhile on the R.S.S. Trinidad, Judah Hassid was waiting patiently for Mark to attack the Thinkers on Lamau. He had been told to go to warp exactly when Mark and Admiral Cramge warped into the Argus system. As soon as they came out of warp next to Lamau, Judah was supposed to warp into the Argus system next to Zeus I. He was now waiting with a fleet of Rebel and Rogue ships, all hiding in the nebula that surrounded the Argus system.
"Sir, I'm detecting Mark's fleet entering the Argus system," said the sensor officer.
"Helm, prepare to go into warp," said Judah.
"They are entering the Argus system, in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!"
The Rebel/Rogue fleet zoomed into warp, then came out of warp about 15 seconds later. Unfortunately they came out of warp directly inside a small Vorg fleet. Judah's fleet was instantly pounded by Ion fire from the Vorg ships.
"Return fire!" Judah yelled.
Ion and proton bolts flew everywhere. Ion beams streamed in every direction. The Rogues deadly 'shredder' weapons created much chaos in the Vorg fleet. Disintegrator projectiles from the Rogue fleet crumpled Vorg gunboats, and ion torpedoes from the Vorg fleet blew huge holes in the hulls of Rogue Marauders.
The Rogue's ships were much more maneuverable than Vorg ships, and with their disintegrator cannons they could quickly take out any Vorg gunboat.
However the Vorg's ships were much larger and much more heavily armed than the smaller Rogue ships. The Rogue Marauder was only a seventh of the size of a Vorg Battleship. Compared to a Vorg Battleship, the Confed cruiser would probably look like a dwarf.
The Rebel ships were a little of each. They were fairly maneuverable for their size, but were still well armored. Mantas quickly left their mother ship, attacked a target, then quickly went back to be refueled and rearmed. Even though the Rebel ships were good, Vorg ion cannons could still turn Rebel destroyers into unrecognizable space junk.
Within 18 minutes, the Vorg fleet had been liquidated. Suddenly another small fleet warped in from another part of the system. This is just what Judah wanted, the Vorg to send ships here, instead of where Mark was fighting. He just hoped that his fleet would stand up long enough for Mark to capture Lamau.
"Captain," called a lieutenant, "I'm detecting the Victory, it's engines have been hit."
The Victory was was a prototype Rebel Heavy Destroyer, the only one ever built so far, under the command of captain Ben Lordman. Ben had been a friend of Lewis's, and he also commanded a very deadly ship. Armed with 6 proton turrets, 4 turreted neutron blasters, and a large amount of missiles and torpedoes.
"Send ships to assist the Victory," replied Judah.
"Oh great, Sir! Its starting to fall towards Zeus I!"
"This is excellent! Follow him, and prepare to activate a tractor beam as soon as possible."
Meanwhile Mark and Lewis were fighting a ferocious battle. Admiral Cramge had been injured and had been evacuated. Lewis had then taken control of Admiral Cramge's personel marauder, the R.O.S. Tremor.
"Mark, come around and give me some cover fire! I'm in a fire fight with two Vorg Battleships!" called Lewis.
"I'm coming!" replied Mark.
The Vengeance, the Rogue marauder that Mark was in control of, swung around and sped towards Lewis. Mark fired his disintigrator cannon, which instantly tore apart one of the Vorg cruisers pilons. As he came around for another pass, 3 Vorg battleships got in Marks way. He was able to rip a reasnable size hole in the side of one, before several plasma charges crashed into one of the battleships, destroying it. Suddenly four more plasma charges destroyed another battleship. Mark saw what it was. It was the Crasluug.
The Crasluug fleet was an equal mach for the Vorg fleet. Then to Mark's surprise and delight, the entire Vorg fleet left to meet the newly arrived Crasluug fleet. That left Lamau, guarded now by only a few Thinker warships and frigates, at the mercy of the large Rogue fleet.
Within no time at all, the reminants of the Thinker defense force had been "utterly annihilated."
Meanwhile Judah's destroyer sped towards the Victory, while three cruisers gave him cover fire. The Santiago tried to catch up, but it was soon evident that the Victory would probably crash.
After about another minute, the Victory crashed on the surface of Zeus I. Fortunately, Ben Lordman had used his thrusters too slow his decent. Judah scanned his ship and discovered that it was still space worthy.
"Prepare a tractor beam," ordered Judah.
But suddenly three Vorg fighters zoomed down from orbit. They fired a few ion bursts at the Trinidad before zooming past the ship, then they began to climb.
The Trinidad engaged it's tractor beam, but it couldn't lift the much heavier Victory. The Trinidad's hull strained, trying to lift the immense Victory. The Vorg fighters swooped down again, firing their ion bursts. The Trinidad's turrets tried to ward them off.
"Increase power to engines and structural integrity!" ordered Judah.
"Here they come again!" warned an ensign.
The Vorg fighters swooped down for a third time, then a fourth, then a fifth. The Trinidad's shields could not hold much longer.
"Use our hyperdrive engines to lift it!" Judah ordered again.
Then suddenly, lift off! The Victory rose into the air, carried by the tractor beam. Soon the Victory and the Trinidad were both in orbit. The Victory's engines were being repaired while it was guarded by two Rebel cruisers, and three Rogue marauders.
In the meantime the Trinidad was continuing to fight, while the fighters that had harassed it were smoldering bits of metal, courtesy of a Rogue marauder.
"Sir, I'm receiving a message from Mark," said the com officer.
"What does it say?" asked Judah.
"Its says that they have control of Lamau."
A small cheer went up from the officers on the bridge. "It also says that Admiral Cramge was injured, and had to be evacuated."
"I hope he's okay. Contact the fleet, tell them to warp to Lamau. Helm, prepare to engage."
Judah's fleet was about to go into hyperspace, but suddenly 113 Vorg fighters swooped in from out of nowhere. But Judah was ready for this. Suddenly from every Rebel cruiser and destroyer, one manta popped out, or at least something like a manta. It was actually a Barracuda, a fighter with a Manta structure, except with thicker armor and better shielding, all designed by Judah. It could be carried both in a fighter bay, and a rack, which Judah used on his Rebel destroyers. But this wasn't the half of it; Judah had installed his new weapon on these fighters. This weapon was called the laser bolt gun.
The laser bolt gun was slightly like a laser machine gun. The Barracuda had one of these. The Barracuda also had in addition to the laser bolt gun, a rear laser turret for defense. Judah had taken out the missiles, and replaced them with Javelin rockets.
The Barracuda's swarmed the surprised Vorg fighters. In all there were 41 Barracuda's, and 113 Vorg fighters. However, the Barracuda was more than a match for the pitiful Vorg fighters. The Barracuda's laser bolt gun easily tore through Vorg fighters, and it's Javelin rockets turned top of the line Vorg fighters into space junk.
The Vorg fighters also could not outmaneuver the Barracudas. One by one the Vorg fighters were turned into fireballs and space dust by the superior Mantas.
Within 23 minutes, the entire Vorg fighter force was destroyed. Then Judah jumped into hyperspace.
"Hello? This Matthew Derrk calling anyone who can hear me?" Mathew Derrk listened for a moment. Nothing. As far as he could tell, there were only him, Lauren Grams, 17 people in engineering, and 19 people in several different locations were the only people still alive on his ship. As for other disabled ships in the system, no one was alive on those either.
"Sir, I just got a report from engineering, they say they have repaired the generator, and they also said the hyperdrive should be operational within 15 minutes. However, we only have 1 jump of fuel left," said Lauren Grams.
"I know, I've been trying to figure out which system to go to. One system might have nothing in it, another with a planet with lots of fuel, and yet another with a Retaliator armada ready to kill us all!"
"Uuuuuhhhh. I think I'm hallucinating," said a lieutenant from across the room.
"Why do you say that lieutenant?" asked Matthew.
"Because I see 19 ships on this sensor readout coming towards us."
"I knew you would think I was hallucinating!"
"WHAT! HOW? Let me see that!" yelled Matthew.
Matthew scrambled over to the sensor readout. What he saw stunned him. "Well lieutenant, your not hallucinating because I see the same thing you do."
"Sir, we're being hailed!" exclaimed Lauren.
"On screen," ordered Matthew.
An alien suddenly appeared on the screen. It was a Vorg.
"Identify yourself!" said the alien on the screen.
"Uh, I'm Matthew Derrk," replied Matthew.
That word seemed to make the Vorg much happier. He smiled a bit, then began to speak, "Well, this does change things. I am Captain Vigrov Jaket, from the Vorg Empire. Do you have hyperdrive?"
"Yes, we do."
"Is it operational?" asked Vigrov.
"Yes, but we only have 1 jump of fuel left," replied Matthew.
"I will have one of my ships fill up your tank. After he has done that, follow my ships. Once we reach our destination, I will tell you more."
Matthew only had one half dead cruiser, and Captain Jaket had 19, so he was forced to agree. After Matthew had his ships fuel tanks filled, he went into hyperspace along with Captain Jaket's ships. He did not know where he would end up.
Meanwhile Daniel was working on his cruiser, which was still damaged from the fight near Capella. It had numerous holes in it's hull, it's engines were a wreck, and it had almost no torpedoes, missiles, or operational proton turrets.
"How soon can you have her fixed?" asked Daniel, watching Jim Gatman putting in a new proton turret.
"In about half an hour," replied Jim, watching intently the new proton turret being lifted into place by a crane, "I've fixed up all the holes, but her structural integrity is questionable."
"What about her engines and ammo?"
"Her engines work, just they don't work to good. They probably won't break down, but you won't be able to go that fast. As for ammo and guns, this is the last new proton turret that needs to be installed, and I've stuffed her with torpedoes and missiles."
Jim finally got the last proton turret installed and then walked over to the engine section. ?I think we can..."
"What was that!"
"Daniel! Were being shelled!"
Another purple torpedo destroyed 2 parked Rogue gunboats. Another three torpedoes smashed into a Rogue marauder. Finally a beam nearly cut a hanger in two. Finally 3 anti-ship ground defenses started to fire, but suddenly 2 torpedoes and a beam took out 2 of them. Daniel order the Magellen, Daniel's cruiser, to get into orbit.
Soon, the Magellen and about 13 other Rebel and Rogue ships had gotten into orbit. Daniel saw who was attacking, the Vorna. There was around 11 of them, 4 of them battleships. Daniel launched his Mantas and then went for a Vorna gunboat. The gunboat responded by firing it's only weapon, a plasma blaster. The weapon smashed into the Magellen, making the entire ship shudder.
"R.O.S. Drolk, attack that gunboat!" called Daniel to another Rogue marauder just in back of him. The Drolk quickly turned the gunboat into a burnt out hulk. But suddenly 3 Vorna fighters came in from behind and opened fire on Daniel. But Daniel had developed a strategy for deal with fast nimble fighters. As the enemy ships came in for another pass, Daniel activated a tractor beam. The beam caught one of the fighters, which Daniel instantly disintegrated utilizing his proton turrets.
Soon the battle was over. The Rogue had lost 5 marauders and 7 gunboats. The Rebels had only lost 1 cruiser, 2 destroyers, and several fighters. About 9 of the 11 Vorna ships were destroyed, the rest had fled.
"How big of a battle was this?" Daniel asked the captain of the Drolk.
"Not a very big one at all."
"Not a big one? That battle seemed like a pretty big one to me."
"No, the big battles are only in the Argus system."
Chapter 4: Smash, Rattle, and Die
ZIP! Matthew's cruiser, the Mars, zipped out of hyperspace in the Yaidkig system. He was then ordered to land on Yaid, the only planet in the system.
As soon as he landed, several Vorg engineering crews went to work alongside the surviving Confed crews. Matthew was ordered to go to a briefing room.
As soon as he entered Matthew saw Vigrov. "Hello Captain Derrk. Please, sit down."
Vigrov then told Matthew the entire story about what had transpired in the Argus system, but he left out the name of the Rebellion because Vigrov didn't know who they were.
"Who is this 'unknown' government you keep talking about?" asked Matthew finally.
Vigrov handed him a sensor readout on a Rebel cruiser. ?That is their cruiser."
"Oh my... It's, it's the, the Rebellion."
"The Rebellion?" asked Vigrov, obviously confused.
"They're our enemies. Here, I'll tell you the story.
"It all started about 24 years ago. An alien race attacked us without warning, decimating the first few outer colonies within the first days of the onslaught. Us humans were at first disorganized, but we soon joined into a giant Confederation of planet.
"After eight years of war, the alien marauders were extinct. But the war hurt us badly, we were forced to put some colonists into labor on the outer planets. We were forced not to let them have any representation in the senate, for if they did they would end the labor, and soon the Confederation would collapse. Finally, with the help of some unloyal companies, they started a Rebellion.
"They soon grew into a strong force, a force which we could not kill, probably due to the help they got from some very unloyal and despicable corporations.
"Ten years after the start of the war, we started work on new hyperspace technologies. But the despicable Rebellion forcefully stole our technology! Fortunately we had copies. We both sent out two fleets, one commanded by me, the other commanded by some stupid Rebel captain."
Matthew was cut off by a Vorg lieutenant coming into the room. The lieutenant handed Matthew a small pad then turned and left.
"Oh no," said Matthew.
"What is it?" asked Vigrov.
"That Rebel fleet. Confed intelligence just got word that the captain of that fleet is Mark Curtis James."
"What about Mark Curtis James?"
"He's deadly. He controls a LOT of ships, and is very smart and very strong. He can outwit just about anybody. And if he's still alive, which he probably is, the Rogue could have a huge advantage over you."
"Not with you on our side!"
"Probably, but I still wouldn't take the chance. We must first neutralize them, we can do that by forcing them out of the system. How many planets do they own?"
"One, Lamau. They used to have another one but that fell to the Kitex."
"Have you been amassing a large fleet lately?" asked Matthew.
"Yeah, we've been planning to use it for blockading the system."
"We can use that fleet to take over Lamau. Once we control Lamau, all we have to contend with are the Retaliators, Crasluug, Vorna, Thinkers, and Kitex."
"Those odds seem against us."
"Don't worry Vigrov, it's better than just fighting against all those guys and the Rogue."
"I guess your right. We should be get started?" asked Vigrov.
"Immediately, if we wait much longer the Rebels and Rogue might fortify Lamau so that we can't capture it."
"You sure this will work?" asked Vigrov.
"Fifty-fifty chance. It depends on the size of the fleet and how fortified Lamau is."
"Well, lets get started."
Within a day the Vorg fleet was ready. This was good news for Matthew and Vigrov because if the fleet was not ready in time, they might not be able to take over Lamau. Another fortune occurred when Vigrov got a report that the Thinkers had small fleet that was about to attack Lamau.
After 9 days of warping between systems, Matthew was finally in the jumpstream that led to the Argus system. Vigrov had gotten word that the Thinker fleet had been decimated. However reports were that the base on Lamau had been damaged, thought the extent of which had not yet been determined.
However Vigrov had also gotten disturbing news. Another Rebel fleet, named fleet Siberia, was on its was to the Argus system. If Matthew didn't get to Lamau in time, he might never take it.
Meanwhile on Lamau, the week had been relatively boring. The only excitement came when the Thinkers had come and attacked the planet. They had damaged nearly every single planetary defense, and had also killed a lot of soldiers.
But Mark and Admiral Cramge weren't extremely worried about it. Most of the battle was going on near Raje Ma. And also Daniel Ramer was on his way with 13 ships.
"Sir, 79 Vorg ships are entering the system," said a Rogue watching a sensor screen.
"That's odd, the Vorg usually don't send such a large fleet," replied Admiral Cramge.
"They're heading straight towards us!" shouted the Rogue sensor officer.
Admiral Cramge picked up a phone, punched a button that made it so his voice could be heard at all the spaceports. "All Rogue and Rebel officers, to your ships! Repeat, this is not a drill! Enemy Vorg warships closing in on Lamau! Repeat, all personnel to your ships!?
Admiral Cramge turned toward Mark. "Mark I need you to stay here. If we have to leave, me and you need a ship to leave on. I think yours would suit the purpose."
Soon almost every single available Rebel and Rogue ship had taken off. Unfortunately, they only numbered 51, and even with Captain Ramer's reinforcements, they would not be able to hold off the onslaught.
The Rebels opened fire first, followed by the Vorg, and finally the Rogue. The weapons fire and explosions lit the skies of Lamau. The ships were getting so close together, fighters smashed into each other, and disabled battleships accidentally rammed each other.
The Rebels and Rogue tried to keep the Vorg ships away from Lamau, but there was just too many ships. Soon several Vorg Invasion ships landed on Lamau. Then a few more, then seven more, then another one. Fortunately Rogue troops were superior in training to the Vorg troops, and so were able to keep them in check.
Mark was looking at a sensor readout when he suddenly realized something. A group of supposedly Vorg ships had been delayed because of a Kitex raiding party. However, now the Kitex had been driven off, the group of ships started approaching Lamau. Mark originally Mark thought these ships were Vorg, but he now realized that the signatures of their engines were all wrong.
"Could they be the Confeds?" Mark asked himself. He turned towards Admiral Cramge. "Admiral, can you get a visual on those ships," he said pointing towards the sensor readout.
Admiral Cramge pushed a button and a viewscreen in the control tower turned on. Mark's worst fears were confirmed, the ships were Confed.
"Mark, we can't stay here," said Admiral Cramge. "The Vorg are landing too many troops, our ships are being destroyed too fast, and our planetary defenses on this planet can't kill enough ships. And they're also being knocked out because of orbital bombardment! We must leave now!"
"Okay, lets get out of here."
Admiral Cramge picked up a phone and started to speak. "All remaining personnel, prepare to evacuate! Prepare to evacuate! Destroy anything that's left behind!"
Admiral Cramge then turned to the other officers in the room. "Erase the memory banks of all our facilities on this planet. Move out everything you can, then destroy the spaceport. Once that's done, get to your ships. Mark, lets get to your ship!"
Within half an hour, the Rogue were off Lamau. Almost nothing had been left intact, although some Vorg troops did capture a spaceport with medium damage.
Mark felt relieved that he had made it out alive, but then he got disturbing news. The R.O.S. Mag, which Lewis Steele had been on, was reported destroyed with all hands lost.
Mark, terribly saddened at the loss of his friend, decided to turn in early. To him, there was nothing to celebrate.
"Congratulations Captain Derrk! Your plan worked! Now, we control Lamau. The Rogue and the Rebellion won't pose much of a threat now, will they!" exclaimed Captain Vigrov.
"No, they won't, for now. They'll eventually come back, so we need to fortify Lamau immediately!" replied Matthew.
"Sure thing Captain. We'll land on Lamau immediately."
BOOM! BOOM! BANG! KABOOM! KABANG! BANG! CRACK! CRASH! BOOM! The U.S.S. Ticeronga, the ship which Matthew and Vigrov were on, shook so violently that the jolt knocked out a quarter of the crew.
"WHAT ON EARTH!" screamed Matthew.
KABOOM! Another explosion rocked the ship, knocking out a dozen crewmembers.
"The Kitex sir! They've ambushed us!" yelled a Vorg lieutenant staring white faced at the computer screen.
The Kitex had been watching the entire battle between the Rebels, Rogue, and Vorg. They had waited until the Vorg had driven off the Rebels and Rogue, then they struck.
Their ships were almost a combination of Rogue and Vorg ship capabilities. The Kitex had super maneuverable fighters, and huge, heavily armed war battleships (as the Kitex and all other alien races referred to them). Even though their war battleships were fully armed with heavy weaponry, quite heavy, and huge, Kitex war battleships were quite maneuverable for their immense size.
The battle immediately took a turn for the worst for the Vorg. Kitex ships not only out maneuvered Vorg ships, but they usually outgunned Vorg ships, the only exception was the Vorg battleships.
BOOM! BOOM! Two of the Ticeronga's four magnetic core stabilizers exploded. Without them, it was only a matter of time before the massive cruiser exploded.
"Lets get to an escape pod, now!" shouted Matthew.
Just as he, Vigrov, and a few other crew members ran out of the bridge, it was engulfed in flames.
In the corridors almost everyone was panicking. Fortunately Vigrov remained calm (which was usual for his species), and that helped Matthew and the other 3 crewmembers that were with them stay calm also.
Matthew and Vigrov finally fought their way to an escape pod. Just as their escape pod cleared the hull, the third magnetic stabilizer exploded. Now the cruiser could explode within 30 seconds.
"Come on, come on. We must get farther away from that cruiser!" yelled Vigrov.
"We will be exiting the danger zone," said Matthew, "In 5, 4, 3, 2..."
The massive Ticeronga exploded without warning. Several escape pods that couldn't get out of the explosion range were engulfed in the huge fireball.
The escape pod that Matthew was in was singed, but otherwise it made it out OK. As the escape pod was descending towards the planet Lamau, the Kitex finally left. They had destroyed 33 ships in 10 minutes.
However, during all of the battle, Daniel Ramer had failed to arrive due to engine trouble with one of his cruisers. Daniel eventually had to leave the cruiser behind at the Xikik system. Fortunately a Rogue Marauder volunteered to watch the cruiser while its engine was repaired.
When Daniel eventually did reach Lamau, the Mark and Admiral Cramge had just left! Daniel realized he was late when he didn't detect any Rebel or Rogue ships in the system.
"Is there any signs of a battle?" Daniel asked.
"Yeah, a lot of it on one side of the planet. It must have been pretty fierce," replied Jim Gatman.
"See any disabled ships?"
"None. Hey, wait a minute, what have we here?"
"What is it, Captain Gatman?"
"I'm detecting a piece of a Rogue marauder. The R.O.S. Mag."
"What about it?"
"I'm detecting a life form aboard it."
"How is he still alive?"
"The section he's in is separated from the breached sections. It made it so he, whoever he is, could survive for a while. Soon, the air will run out or he'll freeze to death."
"Prepare to send a Manta over to rescue him, and do it quickly. If the Vorg attack us we won't stand a chance."
Within seven minutes a Manta was attempting to dock with the piece of wreckage. Unfortunately the Manta discovered the airlock had been destroyed, so it returned.
"You got any ideas, Captain Gatman?" Daniel asked Jim, hoping he had an idea.
"We could repair the airlock," he suggested.
"Why not just use the boarding clamps?" asked Daniel.
"The hull is too damaged, the boarding clamps might create too much stress," replied Jim.
"However the airlock is still highly stable," Daniel replied. "If we use the boarding clamps on the airlock, we won't have to repair it as much."
Jim thought for a moment. "You're right, we could do that."
"Now we just need someone to repair it in the first place."
"I passed space walk school with flying colors," answered Jim.
"Okay, let's go!"
Soon the Manta was floating next to the piece of wreckage. Soon Jim had left the fighter and was approaching the airlock. On the piece of wreckage alone there were thee airlocks. Jim had to check each one to evaluate the damage. The first two airlocks were damaged beyond repair, but the third one was capable of being used.
Jim first had to melt away all the excess metal and debris that was around the airlock using an ion welder. Then he had to replace the airtight seal ring with a new one, and several other things had to be fixed before the airlock could be used again.
"Jim, you have to hurry up. The air in there won't last forever, and the emergency generator is failing. When it fails, the environmental systems will fail and the guy in there will freeze," called Daniel from his cruiser.
Jim finished melting away the debris and then started work on the docking ring. He suddenly realized another problem, his exo-suit might not have enough air left to supply him before his job was finished. Jim tried to hurry up, but also tried to conserve air. Unfortunately the work was tiring, and he was forced to use up more air than he wished.
"Jim, hurry up!" called Daniel over the intercom.
Finally Jim was finished. He quickly got back to the Manta, and the fighter quickly docked with the wreckage. Jim was chosen to recover the officer.
Jim walked through the dark, only using a medium power light. Suddenly there was a ghostlike groan. It sounded as if it was coming from everywhere! Then Jim realized what is was. It was the wreckage itself! It's structural integrity must not be so good, and Jim decided to hurry up.
As he walked into another section, he realized he was in the bridge itself! However it didn't look much like a bridge any more. Several large beams had collapsed, and all sorts of wreckage was strewn everywhere. Jim heard another groan, but this time it sounded human. He looked around the bridge, aided by the flashlight.
"Hey you, can ya help me?" a voice suddenly said from somewhere in the room.
Jim was quite startled, but decided to reply. "Where are you?"
"I'm right over here man," the voice replied.
"Jim! Jim, have you found him?" asked Daniel.
"I'm trying to find him right now," Jim replied. He suddenly saw the man's face in the light from his flashlight.
"It's..." Jim started.
"Who? WHO?" yelled Daniel over the intercom.
Mark sat a chair in a briefing room, thinking about his friend Lewis. Judah Hassid was standing nearby, reading a data pad he had just received. He was also sad about Lewis being "Dead." However as he read it he began to smile, and then chuckled a bit as he handed Mark the pad.
"Your not going to believe it!" Judah said as Mark began to read the data pad.
After he had read it he chuckled a bit too. "Lewis, he was always the survivor," he said to himself.
Suddenly Admiral Cramge came in on a wheelchair, helped by one of his assistants. Admiral Cramge was mumbling a bit about "having to be carted around everywhere."
"How are you doing Admiral Cramge?" Judah asked.
"I've felt better. Oh Mark, I heard about what happened to Lewis. I'm really..."
Judah started laughing hysterically, Mark couldn't help but laugh a little too.
"What? What is it?" asked Admiral Cramge, puzzled by Judah's and Mark's curious behavior.
"Lewis isn't dead!" said Judah, trying to contain his laughs. "He was found okay by Daniel Ramer and Jim Gatman." Judah then told the entire story to Admiral Cramge. After he had finished, Admiral Cramge started to speak.
"I was thinking about what we should do now that we don't control Lamau. Instead of just taking back the planet, why don't we evict the Vorg and Confeds from the system entirely."
"Don't you think that's a bit formidable?" replied Judah.
"Not if they can't fire back," Admiral Cramge replied.
"What do you mean by that?" Mark asked.
"The Vorg's main weapons building facility is on Gamba, in a relatively undefended system. We don't know why the place is so undefended, but we think it's because of Thinker raiding parties using their cloaking devices. Also, the system is quite close to the Vorg border, making it vulnerable to attack."
"How armored is the facility?" asked Mark.
"Heavily armored, only the core is vulnerable," replied Admiral Cramge.
"We'll have to land assault troopers. How many troops will they have defending the base?"
"What base?" asked Admiral Cramge.
"The Vorg base on Gamba of course."
"Oh! You seem to have misunderstood, Gamba isn't a land base. It is a huge space station. It produces 5/8ths of the weapons the Vorg use, builds ships, and many other things. In the Vorg language, Gamba means 'Floating Monster'."
"Yikes," Judah replied.
"How hard will it be to destroy it?" Mark asked.
"Well, Gamba's armor is VERY thick, it would take a while to penetrate it. However, if someone was to fly into the core of Gamba, they could destroy it, causing a chain reaction that would destroy the base," Cramge replied.
"What ship could do that?" Judah asked.
"Maybe one of our destroyers could, but they might be to slow. What about Rogue ships?" Mark asked.
"I don't think a marauder could, they're to big. Your Mantas and Barracudas couldn't, so I guess we'll have to use a Rebel destroyer," said Admiral Cramge.
"Judah, you're going to have to enhance the engines of a Rebel destroyer." Mark said.
"Sure thing, Mark. It shouldn't take long to refit a few Rebel destroyers, I would say about 4 days," replied Judah.
"Okay, Judah, you work on outfitting several Rebel destroyers. Mark, you come up with an attack plan. I'll work on organizing the ships needed. Dismissed!"
Matthew Derrk sat in the command center of a Vorg base on Lamau. It had just recently been set up. The Rogue and Rebel forces evacuating the planet had destroyed most of the military facilities on Lamau. Now Matthew was waiting for a report from a sensor station being set up on the other side of the base.
As Matthew observed the charred wreckage that littered the base, a Vorg lieutenant rushed into the room. "SIR!" he yelled.
"What? What is it?" Matthew asked, turning towards the alien lieutenant.
"We've detected a small Rebel fleet in orbit!?
"Fortunately, they don't seem to have noticed us, they are now retreating out of the system," the lieutenant said, then he left.
"Whew! That was close!? Matthew said to himself. Suddenly the door opened again, and this time a human admiral stepped in. Matthew spun around. "Luke!?" he exclaimed.
"Hello Captain Derrk," replied Admiral Luke Aeorg. Luke Aeorg was a rather important Confed Admiral. Matthew had once met him, but vaguely remembered him.
"Er, um, what are you doing here, Admiral?" Matthew asked, slightly bewildered at Admiral Aeorg's sudden appearance.
"Confederate High Command sent me over here to oversee Confed operations in this sector. In other words, I'm kind of replacing you," the Admiral said.
Matthew was disappointed, but he had to go along with it. He knew that the Confeds needed Aeorg here, especially since Mark James was here as well.
"The first thing I want to do," began Admiral Aeorg, "Is to bring our act together. We're a little disorganized. After that, we'll worry about evicting the other races from the system and trying to get past the energy field surrounding Artrust."
Zoom! Bang! The Rebel/Rouge fleet hyperspaced into the Fkerrette system, in which the massive floating station Gamba was located.
"All ships ready for the attack?" Admiral Cramge asked over the intercom.
"Rebel Fleet Ready," replied Mark James, who was commanding the Rebel Destroyer Bulldog.
The large Rebel/Rogue fleet approached the enemy station. It was massive. It was about the size of eleven human class 3 stations. It was mostly black except for the green lights which dotted the surface.
"Here comes the Vorg defense fleet," Lewis Steele said over the intercom as a hoard of Vorg vessels departed from Gamba. He was on the destroyer R.S.S. Phoenix.
The two fleets met in a flurry of energy fire. Missiles and torpedoes streamed everywhere. Mark and Lewis just zoomed past most of the ships, not bothering to concentrate on any one ship. They were both headed towards Gamba itself.
Suddenly a Vorg cruiser maneuvered in front of the Bulldog and Phoenix. Mark fired his mass drivers at the enemy cruiser before pulling up steeply. The Phoenix went below the cruiser, launching several missiles as it went by.
Suddenly, as the two destroyers neared the massive black and green station, a swarm of fighters attacked Mark. Fortunately a group of Mantas quickly fought off the intruders, who were quickly joined by another larger group of Rouge and Rebel vessels.
As the large group of ships got closer and closer to Gamba, Mark realized how big it really was. The group of ships then pulled up and sped alongside the station until they reached a certain open spot, or at least it was supposed to be open.
The passage that lead to the station core was blocked by two large station doors. Before Mark could think of a way to get past it, another large group of Vorg ships attacked him. Mark turned his destroyer around and blasted apart a Vorg Gunboat with his mass drivers.
Lewis, who was in a gun fight with a Vorg destroyer, fired several heavy rockets before the Vorg destroyer finally exploded. Suddenly a wave of fighters swooped towards Lewis. Firing two heavy rockets, the entire wave was destroyed.
Suddenly Lewis was face to face with a Vorg cruiser! Lewis immediately knew he was not going to win, so he quickly hailed a few Rogue marauders nearby, asking for assistance. Suddenly the Vorg cruiser was face to face with four angry Rogue marauders! As the Vorg cruiser started to disintegrate, Lewis got an idea.
He quickly looked around for a Vorg destroyer. He found one and headed towards it. As the Phoenix zoomed past the enemy vessel, the destroyer started to pursue Lewis.
Meanwhile, Mark hadn't had a great time. He had so far been attacked, pursued, and nearly destroyed by almost a dozen destroyers and several cruisers.
"They must know I'm on this ship, so they want to kill me," Mark thought to himself.
Suddenly he saw Lewis being trailed by a Vorg destroyer, then Lewis hailed him. "I need you to fire two heavy rockets into that destroyer's engine section."
"But, why, Lewis?" Mark asked, puzzled.
"Just do it, and make your aim good!" Lewis replied.
Mark shrugged and armed two heavy rockets. As it neared the station doors and Lewis, Mark fired the two heavy rockets. The two rockets smashed into the engine section of the Vorg destroyer, completely disabling it. As the vessel drifted towards the doors, Lewis got out of the way, and the disabled Vorg vessel smashed into the large station doors. The doors were engulfed in a huge fireball. After the explosion, Mark looked at the doors. They had been completely obliterated!
The Bulldog and Phoenix rushed into the open port as the Rebel and Rogue ships defended the opening.
Mark's destroyer rushed through a maze of large conduits and tunnels. Suddenly the destroyer shook from an ion blast. As Mark looked at the radar, he realized 3 fighters were trailing him!
Increasing speed, Mark's destroyer shot forward, and Lewis also increased speed. Mark quickly aimed his proton turrets and started firing at the pursuing Vorg fighters.
In the meantime Lewis was kept busy by having to evade Vorg ion fire and return fire with the Phoenix's turrets. Just as a Vorg fighter exploded behind Lewis, a Vorg destroyer suddenly zoomed out in front of Lewis and Mark! Lewis switched on his afterburner and, while maneuvering lower, zoomed past the enemy destroyer.
The enemy vessel, firing, then sped towards Mark, who had just enough time to maneuver around the suicidal Vorg destroyer. After Mark passed it the destroyer turned around and it pursued Mark and Lewis, followed closely by the Vorg fighters.
Suddenly Mark and Lewis sped into a large enclosed area. Mark looked forward and saw the Gamba's core generator. Mark armed three heavy rockets, then fired.
Lewis, who had slowed down a bit to let Mark pass him, now fired four torpedoes at the generator, then turned around, just as the Vorg destroyer entered the area.
It didn't have a chance. Lewis fired a barrage of heavy rockets and then zoomed in close, firing missiles and his proton turrets. The vessel rocked from the multiple hits, then exploded, separating the forward section from the rear section. The two pieces flew away from the initial explosion, when they suddenly exploded too.
By that time Mark had turned around and soon he and Lewis were speeding back towards the entrance. Just then the Vorg fighters flew into the large area from another entrance, just in time to see the generator explode. Once they saw this they all turned around and pursued Mark and Lewis.
As they closed on the two destroyers, Admiral Cramge ordered all Rebel, and Rogue ships to move away from Gamba.
As parts of the outside hull started to explode, Mark found himself not only running from the Vorg fighters, but also from the shockwave (created by the destruction of the core) as well.
As the shockwave closed on them, Mark and Lewis finally zoomed out from the passage, and immediately started heading towards their fleet.
Mark put on the rear view, just in time to see the Vorg fighters that had pursued him flying into an awaiting Vorg battleship. As the Vorg fleet prepared to move away from Gamba, the massive station suddenly exploded.
Most of the Vorg fleet was instantly vaporized because of their proximity to the explosion. As the remnants pulled away, huge pieces of debris pelted them.
After that Admiral Cramge ordered the fleet to return to their base, and Mark's destroyer quickly docked with Cramge's and he went to the bridge. As he entered, and ensign shouted. "Admiral, I'm detecting unusual energy signatures at the border of this system, and they're moving towards us."
Admiral Cramge and Mark moved to the ensigns sensor display. "Do you recognize these readings?" Mark asked Cramge, peering at the display.
"Well, they look familiar, but I don't..." Admiral Cramge suddenly stopped, his face looked a tad pale.
"Admiral, what is it?" Mark asked.
"Sir, they are entering visual range," said the ensign. Admiral Cramge and Mark turned around, and on the view screen was over four dozen gleaming Metalite ships.
(This message has been edited by moderator (edited 03-31-2003).)