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Star Crusader: Battle Fleet Victorious

Star Crusader: Battle Fleet Victorious

Автором Michael G. Thomas

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Star Crusader: Battle Fleet Victorious

Автором Michael G. Thomas

Длина:
295 pages
3 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Jul 25, 2016
ISBN:
9781911092254
Формат:
Книге

Описание

Nate and his friends undertake their greatest adventure yet, when their squadron joins BATTLE FLEET VICTORIOUS on a top-secret mission. The elite group of powerful ships makes up the fastest and deadliest Battle Fleet in the entire Alliance. They are heading deep behind enemy lines, to where the Star Empire has located an ancient and deadly weapon. One that would give them the means to defeat the Alliance in a single overwhelming battle.

As the pilots of Ironclad Squadron arrive on board the massive assault carrier, Nate discovers this is no conventional military force. Their commander is the infamous Colonel Gun, and the assault teams will be led by no other than Major Spartan, the Alliance’s greatest warrior. Nate must leave the safety of the simulator videogame, and use his skills to prepare the fleet’s rookie pilots to provide fighter cover for the entire mission. This is Nate’s greatest challenge, and the fate of the fleet, and the entire Alliance lies in his hands.

Издатель:
Издано:
Jul 25, 2016
ISBN:
9781911092254
Формат:
Книге

Об авторе

Michael G. Thomas, is a writer, martial artist and military historian. He has written books on European martial arts and military history as well as Zombie Survival books and fiction. He is the co-founder of the prestigious Academy of Historical Fencing that teaches traditional armed and unarmed European martial arts. His specialist subject areas are teaching the use of the medieval two handed longsword and the German long knife in both the UK and other parts of Europe.He academic background is as varied as his writing with degrees in Computing, Classical Studies and Machine Learning. In recent years he has undertaken substantial research in the fields of machine learning and artificial intelligence as well as Ancient Greek and Byzantine military history.Michael is currently completing his Champions of the Apocalypse Series and Star Crusades science fiction series.

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Star Crusader - Michael G. Thomas

STAR CRUSADER

BATTLE FLEET VICTORIOUS

By Michael G. Thomas

Part of the STAR CRUSADES universe

First Edition

Copyright © 2016 Michael G. Thomas

Published by Swordworks Books

The official Star Crusades website:

www.starcrusader.com

The official Facebook Page:

https://www.facebook.com/starcrusader

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Click on the link and tell me where to send the book!

PRELUDE

The deadliest and most powerful technologies ever discovered originated with the ancient, and long extinct Trusskan people. Humanity regarded their society as the alien equivalent of Atlanteans, a race that lived among great godlike machines that provided guidance and protection for centuries. The discovery of the ancient derelict near T'Karan confirmed their existence once and for all, creating a thirst for their knowledge and secrets that spanned light years in all directions. Tantalising glimpses of new methods of interstellar travel and powerful new weapons were of great interest, but it was the perfection of sentient and potentially fatal artificial intelligence that sealed the derelict's fate.

Through the joint efforts of multiple agencies, the monstrous spacecraft was hidden inside an undisclosed location, known by the public press as the Pandora's Box. There the shattered hulk would remain, until the day when its terrible secrets could be probed in safety.

Technology of the Ancients

Byotai Imperial Attack Cruiser 'Marauder'

26th November 2472

Captain Korvast wiped the blood from his forehead as yet another volley of missiles struck his crippled warship. He flinched as explosions ripped through the weakened hull and tore open fresh breaches in the outer decks. The computer screen showed the ship had suffered mortal damage, but still he refused to back down. Even as fires burned through the hull, his crew fought valiantly to keep on fighting. Marauder was one of the few loyalist ships remaining, and he'd be damned if he didn't go down fighting.

I have to get my people home. It is my duty.

The Captain pointed ahead to his sole remaining viewscreen and tried to look positive. Deep down he knew they had little chance, but he couldn't show his crew his deepest fears. He was an officer of the illustrious Byotai Navy, and a veteran of the Biomech War. His reptilian skin was faded, a sure sign of age and experience that the Navy prided itself in. His Naval uniform was filthy, and dark areas of discolouration showed where blood had dried across the material. His left arm remained against his body and encased in a temporary sling. He was hurt, yet even in this battered state looked every part the warrior captain.

Take us through the Rift!

Sir! answered the young Ensign Tarn, who now acted as the ship’s helmsman.

The ship altered its course just as a pair of missiles slammed into the stern and detonated, ripping out an entire engine assembly and triggering a series of small secondary explosions. The cumulative effect was to throw the ship five degrees off its projected course.

Sir, I need more power to the lateral thrusters. We're losing engines faster than I can compensate.

Captain Korvast snarled at the imagery on his screen. Diagnostic warnings showed the ship would soon be impossible to steer, and at that point it would effectively be over. He barked orders to the few remaining officers and then leaned on the nearby bulkhead as the ship shuddered violently. Like most of the first rate warships in the fleet she was well constructed, with a wide hull, a long forward section like the neck of a bird, and four massive arched wings that pushed out both vertically and horizontally in a cross shape. Massive guns extended out from the hull and wing leading edges, all pointing directly forward, while multiple gun ports hid the internal weapons from view until they were needed.

Divert everything we have left to the remaining engines and armour. Get us through the Rift, now! Now more excuses. The Imperator needs us!

The warship groaned once more as its engines roared with power. Secondary thrusters fired for the last time, expending every last ounce of propellant to get them through the Rift. Few might realise now that Marauder was actually one of the newest in the Byotai fleet, designed purely for capital ship engagements at all ranges, and had served for less than a decade of front-line service. Now she bore the marks of more than a month of heavy fighting. Long black scars were visible where two civilian ships had rammed her, and an entire section of the starboard hull was missing.

Small fires still burned through the bridge, and smoke drifted in the ship’s interior as it altered its course. Two soldiers flew across the open space as a secondary explosion tore apart a computer console, showering the officers with broken plastic and metal. Captain Korvast took several sharp chunks to his right arm, and when he looked down, he simply growled and ignored them. He had neither the time nor the inclination to do anything about them right now.

Gunfire raked the flanks of the heavy cruiser as she limped towards the swirling maelstrom of the Ctenosaura Rift. The massive tear in space-time was the only escape for the crippled warship as she staggered home, the sole survivor of the Byotai 4th Fleet. Flank gun ports flicked open, and the few remaining mass drivers opened fire, a pitiful last strike against her tormentors. The Mahingan and Mokku fighters of the newly christened Star Empire darted back and forth, hitting the burning ship with guns and missiles. To any person watching it must have looked like a wounded wildebeest being brought down by a pack of hungry wolves.

Sir, ten seconds! said the helmsman.

Captain Korvast showed little interest, though. His eyes were locked on the swirling tear in space-time directly ahead. Like the hundreds of Spacebridges spread through the galaxy, these strange phenomena allowed spacecraft to move from one planet to another, and sometimes even from one star system to another in an instant. Control of the Spacebridge network was critical in maintaining safe shipping lanes, as well as controlling access the resources of the Orion Nebula.

Almost through.

From where he was standing, it seemed they were already inside the crackling whirlpool of energy. A quick glance at the countdown showed there was just three seconds remaining. Already the great tendrils of energy flailed about, and the fighters pulled away, keen to avoid taking a hit that could destroy them in an instant. Even a capital ship could sustain major damage if it strayed too close to the edges of the tunnel, and Marauder was already in a very bad state.

We're through! Ensign Tarn said.

The cracking of light vanished, instantly replaced by the blackness of the Ctenosaura star system. For a fraction of a second, Captain Korvast wondered if they'd made a mistake. He'd expected to arrive within hours of the Byotai homeworld, and capital of the Empire. Instead there was no immediate sign of the star, or the planet. Then as the ship rolled about, the shapes came into view. At the same time, the onboard navigational system confirmed their location by the position of the distant stars. The planet looked massive from here, but what really stood out was the colossal orbital shipyard and regional star fortress, known as Beithir Primus. The structure was an ancient one, and each Imperator lavished a fortune on expanding and improving it so that the thing was now nearly two hundred kilometres in diameter.

Unlike other stations, this one was elegant and sophisticated, its three main sections covered in angular plates that gave it the look of a line of stalagmites deep inside a cave. The tips and edges glistened in the starlight, and a billion lights and windows twinkled, giving it a beautiful, graceful aesthetic.

Ah, homeworld. Now we will rally with the Imperator and the fleet. Then we will strike back with growing power.

Captain Korvast lifted his right arm and clenched his fist. He'd been fighting for days to get here, and even he'd had doubts as to whether they could make it back against such odds. The revolt had caught them all by surprise, both in the numbers and ferocity of the hated Anicinàbe, as well as the hundreds of thousands of young Byotai that had flocked to join them. It was a betrayal beyond comprehension, and he wanted nothing more than to seek his vengeance. Without checking further, he glanced to the handful of wounded, but still operational, crew and officers on the deck.

Give me a full report.

Ensign Tarn made subtle adjustments to the controls, and the engines then reduced their total thrust.

Transferring reserve power to life support and damage control, Captain.

Good work, said Captain Korvast, Weapons, keep our ports open and gun systems charged ready. We're not safe until we're behind a wall of Byotai iron.

His smile quickly vanished as small black objects partially blocked his view to the homeworld. He instinctively lifted his arm to brush the objects aside before realising they were actually drifting in space.

Uh...Captain. Something's wrong.

What is it? demanded Captain Korvast, though already he suspected what had happened.

I...it cannot be.

Show me.

The mainscreen turned black, and then altered again until it showed a forward view from the Rift in space-time. Ahead of them were several dozen warships, and the Captain smiled on spotting several he recognised.

The Imperial Fleet, we're not too late.

Sir, contact from the flagship. It's the Red Star.

Just saying the name sent a hush through the battle-damaged hull.

The Imperator. Put him on the mainscreen.

At the same time, Captain Korvast stepped back and slumped into his command chair. He took a breath and then did his best to straighten his uniform. The image crackled and then came through crisply, the videostream providing a perfect image of the interior. As soon as the imagery came into focus, he almost fell from his seat.

Captain. You are here to surrender your vessel?

He had never seen the figure before but knew it was not a Byotai officer. The man was athletic and clearly of the Anicinàbe race. Yet he was bigger and heavier built, with a physique closer to a Byotai than the weak bodied clan warriors of the Anicinàbe. His pale skin betrayed subtle hints of viridian, instantly marking him out as different to those around him.

An Anicinàbe Byotai half-breed!

I am Tahkeome, and I am honoured to lead the Interstellar Empire reborn.

Captain Korvast pointed his one good hand at the armoured figure.

You are an abomination. Where is my Imperator?

Tahkeome appeared unmoved by the complaints and moved his hand as though dismissing the Captain. He was clearly used to saying whatever he wanted, and whenever he wanted.

Now, I offer you a gift, the gift of free will. This goes to you, and your crew. You have shown loyalty to the crumbling remnants of the Byotai dictatorship, and I understand that. However...

He lifted both hands in the old Byotai custom of disdain, and then spoke in a solemn tone.

In days past the ancient Star Empire led the way, and now we continue its great work. All races are welcome to join this great adventure. This is a meritocracy, where your skills and efforts are rewarded, not your birth.

The Captain looked to his crew and snorted with derision. Blood dripped from his nostrils, and as he rubbed it aside, the blood smeared along his upper lip. On a Human it would have looked bad enough, but on the leathery, pale skin of a Byotai noble it stained bright red. The resulting look was of a terrible, vengeful creature.

Now...turn over your ship to serve the Star Empire reborn, and become what you were born to be, a true Orion.

Captain Korvast had heard the rumours about this regime, but never before had he heard it couched in such terms. The name Orion was one used by the Humans, but in recent decades taken up as a unifying call to all those races in this part of the galaxy. In the ancient past they had worked together, and this was a clear attempt at subverting the authority of people like him. He looked into the eyes of his surviving crew, noting with satisfaction that their recent calamities had unified them in a way no politician could ever hope for. With a single movement, he cut the audio and began calling out orders.

We will not surrender this ship. Roll out the guns and prepare for our final battle.

Ensign Tarn pointed to the largest working screen.

Captain, what is that?

All attention turned to the massive orbital shipyard facility. With most of the scanners non-functional, he could only see the data from the image recognition support. The onboard computer was still fully operational, and a quick check matched various visible components to those in the database.

What is it? demanded the Captain, I can see the facility, and it looks the same as it always does.

No, Sir, look, in the dry docks.

It took a few seconds to focus his eyes on the many long sections jutting out from the facility. There were multiple large ships under construction, as always, but also something else sitting where the large dock towards the top of the facility should be.

I see it, a heavy ship of some kind.

The imagery shifted to show a blurred, but much bigger image of the massive dock. Most of it was inside the station, but the upper levels were open to space and surrounded by large metal ribs that functioned as the dock's structure. Hundreds of robotic tugs and assembly systems moved around it like ants.

Sir, it's not one of ours.

Captain Korvast's eyes narrowed as he looked at the section of ship, even though large parts were hidden behind gantries and metal plates.

It can't be.

He looked to the young officer.

Is the Rift still open?

It took barely a second for the response.

Yes, Captain. But we cannot turn back. We lack the power to change course and velocity in time, and the enemy, they...

The enemy do not interest me, and their weapons do not interest me. Prepare a distress buoy and load it into the aft launchers.

Sir?

Captain Korvast snarled.

Load it now, and make sure the data is up-to-date. Our friends need to see what is going on out here.

The voice of his foe returned.

Captain Korvast. I require your answer. Accept my offer and join us. Or prepare to meet your ancestors. What is it to be?

Captain Korvast closed his eyes and lifted his chin. His mouth opened, and he paused, letting the temperature change in his body to soothe his metabolism. The half-breed creature continued speaking, but Korvast was not interested anymore. He knew what was to come, and his battered and injured body was ready for it.

Buoy ready, Sir.

Fire!

There was no shudder from the ship, not even a blinking light from the few remaining systems.

Sir! yelled the Ensign, The Rift had closed.

Captain Korvast closed his eyes.

Did the buoy get through?

As he opened them, he saw the young officer shaking his head.

Very well. Then we will do what we can with what we have. Are we ready for combat?

There was no answer. Korvast moved towards the young officer and grabbed his arm.

There is no time for this. Are we...

He stopped speaking and looked in the same direction as the Ensign. The screen showed the area of space off to their starboard bow, where the largest of all the shipyard’s dry docks extended out into space. It had been designed hundreds of years ago to house two Legion Class battleships at the same time, and had been responsible for the construction of the Empire's finest warships for as long as any of them could remember.

Magnify that.

With the radar systems destroyed, and most of the crew dead, none had noticed the unusual vessel sitting inside the dock. One starboard camera was partially operational, but even with its noisy image, they could all see its vastness as they slowly altered course.

I've never seen anything like it, said Ensign Tarn, It doesn't look like any...

Captain Korvast interrupted him, I have, in the texts of the past.

He let out a long, slow breath. It wasn't easy to make out, but there were key components he remembered seeing in historical texts back when he'd also been an ensign. It wasn’t a new ship, or even a functional one. It was something from the ancient past.

When did they find the time to start on that thing? This half-breed must have allies to do this. They couldn't have made this progress in what, a month?

He looked to Ensign Tarn.

It is something that should never have been built. They've looted the secrets of the Ancients, and they will burn for it.

Concentrate all power to the rear armour and our weapons. Bring us about.

What about the other ships, Captain?

They were already turning away from the formation of warships so that their bow now faced off towards the massive orbital facility. Korvast pointed to the screen just as the first indicators flickered green when the forward gun ports opened up. The mainscreen panned towards the dock that now lay directly ahead. As it shifted into view, they could all make out its shape, design, and colours.

The ships do not interest me, only that dry dock. Lock weapons and fire! That ship’s secrets must be destroyed, or all life will face extinction.

The ship shuddered as the remaining forward batteries opened fire. As with all Byotai heavy capital ships, it was equipped with large numbers of heavy mass drivers. These electromagnetic weapons hurled dense projectiles at high-hypersonic speeds of twenty-five thousand kilometres per second. Almost immediately the target area erupted with white flashes.

Interceptors! said the tactical officer.

Keep firing!

The mass drivers continued their barrage, while the defensive weapons around the orbital shipyards returned fire. The automated systems targeted the approaching projectiles, and then blasted them with their own short-range high-velocity interceptor guns. The flashes continued as many of the shells were torn apart. Some made it through, and Captain Korvast nodded with satisfaction as multiple gantries split away, exposing the incomplete hull to his guns. The engines pulsed with power, giving their last full measure of thrust.

Captain, the other ships are powering up their weapons. Should we...

Negative. Power the rear armour and keep firing. It has to be destroyed!

But, Sir!

The Captain reached his side and pulled out a Seax thermal bolt weapon, a standard weapon used in the Imperial Military, and deadly at close range. He flicked off the safety and half-depressed the trigger. The chamber already contained a single bolt, charged and burning hot, ready to fire.

Carry out my orders.

As he said the words, he lifted the barrel and pointed it towards the head of the tactical officer. Ensign Tarn spotted what was happening and called out.

Captain, you cannot...

Captain Korvast twisted to the left and fired. The pistol spat once and narrowly missed the young officer, embedding in the front of an already crippled forward display unit. The white-hot bolt remained embedded in the structure; hissing and spitting like a piece of meat on a burning hot pan.

I won’t say it again. Now boost the engines. All ahead full, take me into that dry dock!

Sir!

The ship shuddered as the first barrage of gunfire slammed into the tough warship. Eight ships opened fire, using a mixture cannon rounds and missiles. Any other vessel would have been ripped apart, but not this one. The few remaining chunks of motorised armour moved into place, protecting the new gaps just as extra shells struck home. They lasted a full seven seconds before multiple breaches opened up in the wing sections and engines.

Taking damage, massive aft breaches. Reactors are leaking, the ship is dying, Sir!

Korvast showed no emotion, simply locking his eyes directly ahead. As the gantries and plates pulled away, he had the perfect view of the massive vessel under repair. Most of the hull appeared complete, though large sections of the superstructure were barely started, and entire sections showed damage from centuries of neglect. It was a derelict. As they moved closer, he noticed the next part of the station was exposed to the elements and covered in machines. He might have ignored it had it not been for the strange pulsing colours coming from its centre. At first glance it looked like a ship had crashing into the station, but then he could see it was actually

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