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The Battle of Ormoc Station -A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 12)

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Birdie_Sparrow

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The Battle of Ormoc Station -A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter 12)

PostWed May 02, 2018 11:17 pm

The Battle of Ormoc Station

The initial moments of the battle went according to plan. The Scourge failed to detect the PHR task force as it Folded in nor when they stealthily picked their way through the Tlalocan asteroid field. While navigating the field the task force made minor final adjustments to the overall plan based on intelligence supplied by the slip ships.

A significant change to Commander Zahm’s plan was the task force had come in from a more trailing angle versus the rimward edge. While adding a bit of distance to the supply base it put them comfortably away from both the rimward minefield and main entrance. The latter was crucial as this removed the more heavily armed perimeter defense bases covering the entrance from the equation. The PHR ships would be safe from potential fire from that direction.

Surprise was absolute with the targeted defense stations quickly destroyed by Reyna’s squadron. Return fire had been wildly inaccurate before the stations were silenced. Only a few minor hits were registered. The most serious was one shot that – whether by luck or skill – had destroyed a maneuver engine on a Pandora. Not a devastating injury but just another problem to factor in as the battle unfolded.

Blowing a hole in the defenses allowed the Electra’s, Medea’s and the Calypso to pour through on a hot vector to their target. The new Electra destroyer class flashed past like a lethal specter. Unlike the tall, regal look of other PHR vessels’ these had a flatness akin to a vipers head with a bite just as fatal. While they were not to deviate from the primary mission, any Scourge targets within range would be engaged.

Supporting this effort Reyna’s force now split into three hunter-killer teams codenamed Vit, Svart and Gul. Each team was composed of a single Andromeda-I, a mix of Pandora’s and Europa’s, and three Echo’s. Their mission now was simple – roam the pocket, engage and destroy enemy forces at will, and, most important, screen the base attack force from a Scourge counterattack.

Initial pickings were as plentiful as a flock of plump pigeons. Transports and bulk landers quickly fell to the roving H-K teams. However, losses were inevitable. The destruction of two Echo’s and one Pandora from Team Svart occurred upon encountering a defense platform missed by the slip ships. The remainder of Svart efficiently silenced the platform.

Reyna gave thanks to the Sphere that no Scourge combat vessels were within the pocket. The enemy obviously felt that secrecy, the asteroid field, mines and defense platforms would suffice against a standard attack. The Scourge apparently never expected a swarm of light ships to sneak through the back door!

Reyna mentally Clipped up from her squadron’s communication band into the command channel of the attack force. One destroyer, the Nodachi, had been crippled with at least one Medea lost to base defenses. However, the remainder of PHR ground forces had accessed the base, which meant the mission was going as well as expected.

Long-range sensors indicated the heavy mass drivers of the Electra’s and Medea bombardment cannons were scouring the surface of the Scourge base. The data supplied by Zahm was the reason ground units were essential. Located within a large asteroid the Scourge base could not be destroyed by simple weapons fire.

To compound the problem buried deep in the rock lay the Scourge defensive systems. The only way to silence them was via the Medea cannons and heavy railguns of the destroyers. Optimized for engaging the heaviest of enemy forces the Electra’s twin heavies left massive craters on the surface of the base. Without the firepower and armor of the destroyers’ the PHR had no hope of success short of massive casualties to eliminate the base.

As in virtually all cases where everything was going according to plan, the plan suddenly imploded.

Within the screen of her mind, the AI detected a massive energy spike followed by Team Svart, who were skimming near one edge of the field, being vaporized almost to the last ship. Only the remaining Echo and a Pandora escaped the salvo from what had to have been a massive defense platform. How did the slip ships not identify such a threat!

Then a scan techs calm, almost serene, “voice” came up through the Clip.

“Contact – a single drive signature detected. Course vector is heading to the supply base. AI predicts a weapons yield to be roughly that of a battlecruiser.”

Through the Clip, Reyna felt the echo of momentary shock come from her bridge crew. This did not surprise her as the prickly cool feeling simply road the coattails of her own disbelief. However, the crew was professional instantly focusing on their positions now that a turkey shoot became much deadlier. The pressing question was how the slips missed a vessel this large?

“MONITOR! Scourge monitor positively identified clearing the field perimeter!” the tactical scan tech said in both the Clip and verbally. This caused a slight echo as the outburst was a beat behind the words in her mind.

A monitor! Armor and weapons of a heavy class packed into the hull of a medium. When you did not have to add a Fold drive to a hull that opened up a lot of usable space. One small blessing is monitors were about as maneuverable as a slug in mud.

This also explained why the slips failed to detect her – Fold engines remained lit even at minimum power. If fully powered down Fold engines took hours to restart. Maneuver engines however could be cold but brought on line in a fraction of the time of the mains. Without even the minor signature of the Folds and if the maneuvers were cold a slip would need to be within visual range to detect the monitor.

In simple terms, the task force was now in deep trouble. Her two remaining squadrons could act as speed bumps but little more. The best ships she had available were the Pandora’s with their Supernova lasers. Their burn through capability could bite deep if they were lucky.

A tonal alert in her mind indicated she was being Clipped up into the flag command channel. Captain Reese, the overall commander, who was on one of the Electra’s, the Kirpan, issued commands.

“Captain Hevn, delay the monitor. Reinforcements have been detached to aid you but will not be there for a few minutes. Withdrawal of all forces will commence in fifteen minutes so the Medea’s must be protected.”

Reyna acknowledged the orders. Bringing Kornet, her CFC, and Viktor, her XO, into the Accipiter command channel she quickly outlined her plan. Both senior officers made suggestions that caused her to adjust on the fly. Similar to what Reese had done she “pulled up” her squadron commanders into her command channel.

“All Pandora’s are to form two three ship units. Europa’s remain with your Andromeda-I’s. Echo’s your weapons will not penetrate the monitor’s armor – withdraw to a safe distance to perform rescue operations as required.”

“All ships concentrate fire on the port side of the monitor if able. Bombers are to launch and target the engines – this should keep you out of most of the PDF fire. We need to damage her as much as possible. Help is coming but we cannot let this varg get within range of the Medea’s.”

Reyna gave a nod to Viktor who transmitted the overall battle plan to the squadron and task force command. With the speed of thought, she saw her squadrons break and reform as directed. Long sweeping movements brought them around to the monitor’s port side while remaining out of its weapons range. For their part the Scourge ignored the frigates as it pressed inexorably towards the base.

“Execute.” she ordered in a calm yet tight voice. On the bridge, her skin flashed silver with tension.

As one, her ships accelerated. Attacking as a swarm would overwhelm the Scourge fire control. Like a school of fish being attacked by a predator some would fall in the initial pass. However, most would survive to reengage.

All accelerated but not enough to give the monitor an advantage on a lock. The Andromeda-I’s and Pandora’s fired outside the initial range of the Scourge. As Reyna feared the I’s railguns, optimized to damage frigate sized vessels, simply skipped off the armor. The Pandora’s and Europa’s fared better with at least one breach detected and some weapons damaged.

A second volley yielded only minimal damage though focused fire from the burn through lasers again punch deep into the monitor. Then the Scourge returned the favor as the PHR ships breached the monitors firing arc. While their race were vile parasites they were not stupid. The real threat were the Pandora’s which a coruscating sheet of purple-green enveloped taking out half of them in one salvo.

Two were destroyed outright, The third began to tumble end over end while a single maneuver engine burned bright causing the ship to corkscrew. Some escape pods launched before the centrifugal force grew so great that her crew would have been unable to move. She finally separated under stress into large chunks that tumbled away - eventually fading from the sensor track. Echo’s darted in to recover those fortunate enough to survive.

Of greater effect though were the bombers. Attacking tail first their combined torpedoes overwhelmed the PDF’s of their prey. Even so, only a handful made it through with most impacting the armor. One managed a solid hit that destroyed an engine causing the already slow vessel to become even more sluggish. In return a large percentage of the bombers were swatted from the sky. Even taking evasive action and accelerating to the limits of men and machine the PDF fire from the monitor was ferocious.

The battle raged for agonizingly slow minutes. Reyna gave terse orders in a non-stop stream as she adjusted to losses and damage sustained by her command. The PFR frigates darted in and out harrying their foe – a lethal dance where a miscalculation meant certain death. She now had a single Pandora left, not enough to damage the accursed enemy ship in any effective way.

The bombers also took horrendous losses. After several attack runs the PDF’s had effectively wiped them out. They paid dearly to destroy half of the monitor’s engines (as well as some collateral hull damage), but this bought crucial time for the Medea’s to recover the ground forces then begin to withdraw.

One bitter counterpoint was an Echo that got too close while attempting a rescue. Out of spite it seemed the Scourge withheld fire from a single Furnace cannon waiting for such an opportunity. Lashing out at the Echo the combination of burn through and scald effects atomized the corvette.

Now down to only a few ships not a one was undamaged. Even the Accipiter was hurt – her Interdictor system was down along with a compromised hull. A slight haze of acrid, ionized smoke hung in the air of the bridge. It was now, as she began to issue new orders, that two Electra’s swept past followed by an ECM spike as the Calypso jammed the monitors fire control.

Captain Reese dropped down into her squadrons Clip channel, “All forces under Captain Hevn are ordered to withdraw. The supply base has been destroyed. We will buy you time to disengage.”

The monitor began to shake as the destroyer’s railguns pounded its hull. Divots of bio-mechanical material lifted off leaving pockmarked scars across its surface. In return the Electra’s glowed from the sickly colored return fire, their hull melting where scald based weapons lashed them.

Her ships energy signatures spiked as she ordered full power to exit the field of battle as quickly as possible. Speed was now life. Once free of the engagement area Reyna broadcast an all clear. Captain Reese replied with what was his final command.

“All forces are ordered to disengage and retreat. Do not reengage enemy forces – make best speed out of the field. Fold out as soon as possible.”

“The Kirpan is unable to retreat due to damage. Commander Jessen is now in command. Per orders I will be destroying the Kirpan, but not without a fight.”

“May the Sphere watch over you all!”

The sensor logs of all ships showed the same sacrifice. Mortally wounded the Kirpan changed course and accelerated towards the monitor. The Scourge vessel, though greatly diminished now in firepower, unleashed a desperate salvo at the rapidly approaching destroyer. The first third of the destroyer tore off due to the withering fire before passing under its target.

The rest of the ship began to yaw then go off course - too little, too late. The Kirpan hit broadside with not only its mass dealing damage, but a drive core ruptured. An actinic blue briefly enveloped both ships. When it faded the monitor had been almost sheared in half. As the Scourge vessel rolled slowly on its axis an identifiable wing of the Kirpan was spotted. It was lodged firmly in the Scourge remains like a dagger through the heart of its enemy.

***************************

Days later the beleaguered task force Folded back into PHR space. As was normal all ships were immediately dry docked, the wounded tended too, and the rest went back to work. The commander’s debrief indicated the Scourge suffered a grievous loss of not only the base, but also many transports stuffed with troops and material. PHR high command concluded the entire mission to be a resounding success.

After the briefing Reyna and the other commanders met at a pub frequented by officers. A toast was made to those who were lost. A special toast – almost a eulogy – was offered in the name of Captain Reese. One piece of information did bring a slight smile to Reyna’s face.

The next Electra to be commissioned had been renamed the Reese’s Vengeance.
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Birdie_Sparrow

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Re: The Battle of Ormoc Station -A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter

PostThu May 03, 2018 9:32 pm

Bump to put Chapter 12 back at the top
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Thunderboy

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Re: The Battle of Ormoc Station -A Reyna Hevn Story (Chapter

PostSun May 06, 2018 1:09 pm

Good pace in the story! Clear image of the chaos of battle!
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