A Grand Defense By Sean McBurney

"Damn," said Captain Hayward as he stared at the system plot projected by the large holoviewer in the middle of the Ops Center for the station, "how long before those Gruvan ships arrive?" "Ten hours, sir," answered the Lieutenant next to him, "the outer system sensors picked them up as soon as they dropped out of hyperspace. That was about five minutes ago." "Good, that gives us some time to prepare a welcoming party for them. How many ships are in that fleet?" "Five, sir. Three battleships and two carriers, one of which appears to be a troop carrier," answered the sensor tech. "And all I have are six corvettes and a squadron of fighters besides this station to defend the colony with. We'll have to make do though. Com alert the corvette squadron and tell them to come to bearing 184 at a positive 12 degree angle, and to remain at silent running until they're at point blank range." "Aye, aye sir." "Sir, shall I give the colonies evac order?" asked the Lieutenant. "No, those civvie yachts and transports can't outrun or outgun those ships. The Gruvan would eat them alive." replied Hayward, "Besides sounding the alarm would alert the Gruvan to the fact that we're on to them. I want them to find that out in the most unpleasant way we can think of. Fighter Control put your birds on standby, I want those ships off the deck the minute I give the order, understood?" "Aye, aye sir" "Excellent." "One hour till interception," announced the sensor tech. Terran stealth technology was much more advanced than the Gruvan sensors; this gave the human corvettes a great advantage in surprise. The problem was that the corvette was primarily an anti-fighter ship. A single heavy plasma cannon and six anti-ship missiles were all that the tiny pencil shaped vessels had to engage other starships with. Those pitiful arms were more than enough to deal with the two carriers as the squadron swept in behind the unsuspecting battlegroup. The first volley of missiles destroyed both of the carriers as they impacted on their drive tubes, causing the fusion core of each ship to detonate. The battleships turned about, bringing up their defensive systems in time to deal with the second volley coming from the Terran ships. Then it was a ship to ship battle as the two groups closed too close for the use of missiles. The Terran ships were simply outclassed in this round of the fight and soon were lighting up the endless night with their own explosions. "Sir, the entire force has been destroyed, but they managed to take out the enemy carriers and seriously damage one of the battleships," said the sensor tech. "Well that's it then Captain, isn't it?" the Lieutenant said," Without their landing force or their fighters the Gruvan can't possibly take the planet now." Hayward eyed the young officer. "Have you ever fought the Gruvan Mr. Bolstead?" he asked. "Uh, no sir. This is my first time in combat." "Well I have son, and I've learned a bit about their culture. Would you like to hear the points pertinent to our situation?" "Yes, sir." "Good, the battleships will continue the attack." "WHAT!?" Bolstead's mouth dropped. "But . . . why?" "Because the Gruvan are a warrior people. In fact they share many of the traits the Ancient Spartans had. One of them is a saying 'Come your shield, or on it.' " "Victory at any cost." "Exactly. If they manage to break through our defenses they will most certainly sterilize the planet." "But that would violate the Accords of Gethdros V! 'Any nation that willfully destroys an entire colony---' " "Be declared outlaw and all signers of treaty will declare war with that nation. I can quote that as well as you can, Mr. Bolstead, but the Gruvan don't care for little technicalities like that. Fighter control, launch our birds." "Aye, aye sir." The thirty Terran fighters streaked from the space station towards the approaching battleships. The fighters were heavily armed for their size, each of them carrying an impressive array of anti-ship missiles. Unfortunately the three battleships were too powerful for the Terrans, but that did not mean that the Terrans did not get their own pound of flesh before they were destroyed. The first salvo missiles were obliterated by the battleships' defensive systems, but many still got through, striking one of the warships' amidships, taking out its weaponry and its engines. It floated as a derelict away from the battle. The fighters were among the remaining ships. The remaining warships pounded away at the fighters, destroying many, but the second battleship had been severely damaged in the fight against the corvettes and the Terran pilots exploited this, destroying its weapons and causing its core to overload. The last Gruvan warship finished off the remaining human fighters and continued on towards the station. "Captain, all of our fighters have been destroyed by the enemy, but they took out two of the enemy battleships," said the sensor tech. "Understood, Mr. Bolstead arm all weapons and order all nonessential personnel to the surface. When they're gone order everyone into suits and then dump the air. That way if we take a hit they oxygen catch on fire and the damage will be lessened." "Aye, aye sir. But the Gruvan can't attack; they've only got one battleship left. It's suicide!" "I know Lieutenant, but that won't stop them, not at all. Weapons!" "Yes, sir." "Ready all long range missiles, let's try and see if we can take him out before he gets in cannon range." "Aye, aye sir." The two opponents launched their missiles at the same time. The defenses of the station were more than a match for the incoming weapons and took them out with surprising ease, the Gruvan ship however was struck several times, but pushed through with only moderate damage. For the last few hours as the ship approached the two opposing forces exchanged barrage after barrage of missiles, and then they were together. The Gruvan battleship fired its pulse cannons first; the greenish bolts of energy impacted on the Terran station, but the thick armor of the station shrugged them off. The station returned fire, its much heavier plasma cannons blasted away at the warship, tearing away armor and exposing decks. EM railguns rounds ripped through the hull, causing first decompression and then explosions as the oxygen atmosphere of the ship caught fire. The withering return volley of the station had wiped out nearly every weapon, sensor, and lifeform on the port side of the ship. It's maneuvering thrusters were damaged beyond repair, and it floated dejectedly in orbit, it's crew awaiting the final blow. "Captain, we got the bastards, we beat the tar out of them!" cried Bolstead, elation in his voice. The rest of the Ops Center started cheering as the view of the ship came on the main holoviewer. "QUIET EVERBODY!!" Hayward cried, immediately the Center grew silent," Engineering, what's our status?" "Minor damage to the outer hull, we were holed on deck seven, section fourteen. I'm isolating that part of the station as we speak. Batteries 3, 9, and 10 have received minor damage. Other than that we're in good shape." "Good, Medical?" "Ten dead sir, all from deck seven. Vacuum doesn't leave many wounded." "Thank you. Good job everybody, you have all done well." "Sir, permission to take a boarding party and prize crew to capture the enemy ship?" asked Mr. Bolstead, the eager in his voice quite evident. "Permission denied Lieutenant, no ones going over there. Weapons target the enemy vessel." "Aye, aye sir." "Captain, may I ask what you are doing? Why are we firing? They're derelict, we should ask for their surrender!" "Mr. Bolstead not only will they not surrender, they will fight to the death. Putting anyone aboard that ship would be a suicide mission and just give the Gruvan a chance to kill more of us. If we allow them to continue to float there then eventually their starboard weapons will come to bear on the colony and they will open fire, or they will wait till they get close enough to us and then self-destruct in the hope that they'll take us with them. Do you understand now?" "Yes, sir." "Good, Weapons you may open fire." Once more the station fired, turning the Gruvan warship into a rapidly expanding ball of flame and dust that quickly burned out, leaving no trace of the battle, or of the grand defense of the Terrans who fought and died for a small, almost insignificant colony out on the border.