A Left Turn at Albuquerque
Disclaimer: I do not own the characters that I am about to mangle around for my own amusement, sadly all Robotech and Star Wars characters remain the property of Harmony Gold, Disney and Lucasfilm Ltd respectively, I am merely borrowing them and make absolutely no profit whatsoever from their use. So please keep the legal attack dogs, also known as lawyers, firmly muzzled and on a leash as I have no money to give to anyone.
Author Notes: This story is a crossover story between Robotech and Star Wars. Timeline wise the story takes place during and immediately after the neutron-s missile test covered in the Prequel to the Shadow Chronicles comic for Robotech - though you don't have to have read it as this is going somewhat AU based on some of my own ideas, especially how I personally refuse to believe that the SDF-3 would be allowed to go anywhere alone since she's got the only working protoculture matrix – outside whatever the Invid use to turn the Flowers of Life into protoculture – on board. For Star Wars events begin a few weeks prior to the Battle of Scarif.
Also, characters from both Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Star Wars: Rebels will be appearing in the story though as the fate of many of the Rebels characters especially the Ghost crews two resident Jedi are not yet known things are certain to go AU from whatever happens in the show.
"T-Minus 3 minutes to neutron-s missile test."
Sitting in his command chair at the back of the SDF-3's bridge Admiral Richard 'Rick' Hunter resisted, just, the impulse to scowl at tactical officer Lieutenant Kyler Pren's announcement. He honestly wasn't sure that they were doing the right thing by allowing this weapon to continue to exist. The data they had on it, data they'd recovered from the computers used by the followers of that traitorous bastard T.R Edwards, was frightening. Per those decoded files the explosive filling the warhead, made as it was from matter harvested – through some mechanism he couldn't hope to understand – from the corona of a neutron star, was extremely dense and had potentially the power to literally annihilate the entire surface of a planet.
He couldn't help but wonder what the hell they needed a weapon like that for?
It wasn't like they already had some extremely powerful and destructive weapons; between reflex cannons and missiles – not to mention the newer synchro cannons – modern Robotech warships already possessed enough firepower to glass an Earth-sized planet in short order. Did they really need weapons capable of melting a planets crust and setting the atmosphere on fire all at once as well? Should they have that power as he couldn't help but worry what they'd do with it? It would, after all, be far too easy to let that power go to their heads and end up on the same dark path that both the Invid Regent and the Robotech Masters had walked as he understood that there was a great deal of truth in that old Terran saying about how absolute power corrupted absolutely. Having the capability to destroy the life supporting capacity of a planet with a single weapon was, in his mind at least, a dangerous step on the road to becoming potentially as bad as the Masters or the Regent if not worse.
His unease about the weapons had only increased after Dr Lang had gone over Dr Zand's notes on the weapons and compared them to the information on this kind of advanced plasma explosive that the Haydonites had shared with them. Emil had noticed discrepancies in numerous areas, discrepancies that suggested that the weapon that they now possessed was both more powerful and more dangerous than they currently believed. After Janice, had agreed with him – that the math didn't add up right – Emil had approached him with his concerns already being aware of his own concern about the missiles. Which had led to their current situation.
"T-Minus 2 minutes to neutron-s missile test."
Rick sighed aloud. If he could have he would have ordered the Liberation Fleet, currently being led by the SDF-4 Liberator under General Gunther Reinhardt, gathering at Moon Base Aluce in preparation to drive the Invid off Earth to leave the four neutron-s missiles they had with them on the base. At least until after this field test was run and they had hard information on the true level of destruction this weapons technology could unleash. But sadly, that had not been his call to make but the Preparatory Council's call and they'd decided to allow a limited number of the weapons to be carried. The most he'd been able to do was give Reinhardt strict instructions on when the weapons could be used and when they couldn't.
He just hoped the man, who had a notorious hate for the Invid, wouldn't jump the gun, defy his orders and use the planet killing weapons at his first opportunity. There were seven million humans – a sizeable percentage of their surviving race – living there after all. Seven million who were for the most part slaves to the Invid, people they needed to save and they couldn't well do that if Gunther used the neutron missiles to kill every living thing on the planet.
"Something's troubling you isn't it, Rick," a familiar voice said from beside him as a dainty hand touched his arm. Looking over he saw his wife former Admiral Lisa Hayes turned ambassador to the Sentinels Alliance – which allowed her to use her married name of Hunter without causing confusion in the ranks – looking at him in concern. "This test bothers you?"
"It's not the test, Lisa but what it represents," Rick admitted, "I'm not sure we're doing the right thing by allowing these weapons to continue to exist. Do we have the right to wield such terrible weapons and what could our possession of such power ultimately turn us into?"
The context that they could potentially become as bad as – or worse than – some of the alien villains they'd been fighting on and off for the past few decades went unsaid, though Lisa heard it as clearly as though Rick has said it aloud. And she frowned. She could see where Rick was coming from, she really could. Indeed, she'd be lying if she said that she hadn't wrestled with many of the same questions, and come up with no answers, that Rick was currently wrestling with. They both after all came from a time when many had been unease in many parts of the military about the development of reflex weapons and the zero-point energy generated matter-antimatter pair bond annihilations that said weapons exploited to generate blasts far greater than any nuclear bomb ever detonated. Now they were talking about a weapon that could potentially be orders of magnitude more powerful than even those immensely destructive weapons.
"I don't know," she admitted. "But one thing I do know this field test is taking longer than we originally thought it would. We should send a message to the liberation fleet advising how were going to be late."
"T-Minus sixty seconds to neutron-s missile test."
"Good point, we should have finished half hour ago, Communications contact Moon Base Aluce. I want to speak to General Reinhardt immediately," Rick ordered.
"Aye sir," communications acknowledged before carrying out the order to hail Moon Base Aluce on hyper-comm. The distant base answered immediately and a projector field activated allowing a holographic screen to coalesce into existence in front of Rick showing the face and torso of General Gunther Reinhardt with the physically very imposing form of Captain Vince Grant standing in the background.
"This is Command Base One we read you SDF-3," Reinhardt said.
"General it is good to hear your voice," Rick said in greeting.
"Is there a problem, Admiral we were expecting your arrival an hour ago," Reinhardt asked sounding genuinely concerned.
"There's no problem. Doctor Lang noticed that some of the calculations on the neutron-s missiles weren't adding up," Rick explained. "Janice agreed so we're running a field test. Unfortunately, it's taking longer than expected."
Reinhardt nodded in understanding, like Lisa he was aware of Rick's unease about the neutron weapons even though he didn't personally share it. "Should we delay the attack until you arrive," he asked.
Rick frowned and considered that for a few moments. He knew why the other man was asking the question, between the Pioneer and the ships that the Preparatory Council had permanently assigned to escort her he had a considerable amount of firepower tied up in the current missile test. Firepower that was made even more formidable by the fact that – aside from the Deucalion – every one of the twenty-two ships in his battlegroup were carrying full combat loadouts of both space and ground combat mecha as well as entire divisions worth of infantry. A good-sized army was practically tied up aboard his fleet.
It was a significant force to be sure and one that would be of great help against the Invid hoards that had kept their long suffering homeworld from them for more than twenty years now. But after thinking about for a few moments he decided that his ships wouldn't make much difference, certainly not enough of a difference to significantly delay the start of the attack. After all Reinhardt had the SDF-4 Liberator present along with the whole of the First and Second Fleets - giving him a force whose size and firepower would have given even the Zentraedi at the height of their enslavement to the Robotech Masters pause. He easily had enough firepower and manpower to take Earth back from the Regis and her Invid, especially using all the new weapons and technologies that the Haydonites had either provided to them or - like in the case of the synchro cannons - helped them develop.
Besides the test wouldn't take much longer - he could hear on the other channel Janice over on the Deucalion counting down the final thirty seconds to detonation - and once it was completed and all the data collected for full analysis they'd space fold straight to Sol.
"Negative," he said at last "just continue as planned we'll catch up."
On the holographic screen floating in front of him Gunther nodded and started to open his mouth to speak again - presumably to acknowledge the order. But before he could do so a tremendous boom, like a billion bass drums being hit at once, filled the air and the ship shook fiercely as though suddenly gripped by an earthquake. It was all Rick could do not to be thrown out of his command chair as the sudden shaking was so fierce. Alarms went off, filling the air with a desperate emergency clamour, while sparks and smoke shot out of numerous junction boxes around the bridge.
"Rick what's going on there," Vince Grant asked from the holoscreen where he was standing behind Reinhardt. Rick didn't have chance to reply as a second even more violent shockwave tore through the ship, this time pitching him out of the command chair to the hard metal deck. Simultaneously one of the secondary consoles exploded sending bits of hot plastic flying like razorblades. Flames licked up from the damaged console - but only for a moment as fire control nozzles on the ceiling automatically swivelled around and squirted fire retardant at the flames instantly snuffing them out.
Groaning Rick picked himself up off the floor and staggered back to the command chair. A moment before a third violent jolt rocked the ship. A glance showed that unsurprisingly the holographic screen had vanished indicating that long range comms - hyperspatial comms were always a fragile, and sometimes annoyingly buggy, systems - had been temporarily lost. The loss of communication would certainly cause a small panic at Aluce and certainly prompt Reinhardt to dispatch at least one ship to investigate what had happened. And if he knew Vince Grant - and he did as they'd been as close as brothers ever since Vince's elder sister Claudia had died, a pain Rick understood all too well having lost his own adoptive older sibling, Roy in the same war that claimed Claudia's life at the end - then that ship would be the Icarus.
Rick put that out of his mind for now. "Report," he ordered "what happened?"
"Sir the neutron-s missile detonated as planned however it triggered an unanticipated spatial shockwave," Lieutenant Pren reported from sensors. "Sir the test planet it's…. It's…"
"It's what lieutenant?" Rick asked, noting out the corner of his eye Lisa helping one of the security marines who guarded the entrance to the bridge who'd had a very nasty cut above one eye.
"The planets gone sir," Pren answered her voice shaking in a combination of shock and horror. "Sensors are now detecting some kind of spatial anomaly forming where the planet used to be."
Jesus Christ an entire planet destroyed by one weapon, Rick thought both stunned and horrified by the destructive power of the neutron-s missile technology. Stunned because while he'd known that the weapons were powerful and destructive enough to effectively kill a planet he'd never expected they'd be powerful enough to destroy one. Horrified for the exact same reason, especially the knowledge of what they could do to an Earth-sized planet. We need to get communications with Earth restored, Rick thought, under no circumstances must they use the neutron-s missiles they have with them. Even if it means Earth remains in the hands of the Invid I will not be responsible for our homeworld's destruction. Though what did Pren mean by a spatial anomaly forming where the planet was?
"Show me," he said after a moment of shocked silence.
Immediately a projector field activated and a holographic screen coalesced into existence in front of him showing an image of where the planet they'd used as a target for the weapons test used to be. As Pren had said the planet was gone, almost completely vaporised by the weapons detonation with only a few large asteroids marking where there had once been a planet. Asteroids that weren't moving outwards as he would have expected them to be, instead they were being drawn towards a large orb of bluish-white light where the warhead itself had been sitting just outside the atmosphere. An orb that was pulsing in a very ominous fashion and periodically emitting brilliant lightning like forks into space that as they passed seemed to make the asteroid debris they encountered burn and dissolve. Just looking at it set every mental alarm bell he had ringing.
"Analysis?" he ordered after a moment, while watching an asteroid disappear into the mass which pulsed even more ominously as the mass of rock was absorbed.
"Admiral our sensor feeds from the Deucalion indicate that we're looking at a large gravitational and spatial disturbance of some kind. The lightning-like discharges appear to be comprised of a combination of positrons and antiprotons," Pren reported a moment before her console chirped indicating fresh data. "Sir gravitational fields are spiking."
As the young woman spoke the orb pulsed more violently than ever, sending out more arks of antimatter lightning before suddenly starting to shrink, collapsing in upon itself folding tighter and tighter until it was only a tiny speck of light. A microsecond later it exploded outwards again sending out a rippling wave of energy and gravitational force that had almost reached the ship when it stopped, and began pulling back into a swirling dark whirlpool that now occupied where the energy orb had been. Even as he watched Rick could see the beginnings of an accretion disk forming around the new born black hole.
"Oh, My God," Lisa said aloud summing up what the entire bridge crew were feeling upon seeing what the ultimate consequence of a neutron-s weapon detonation was. These things were not planet killers, no they were far, far worse than that. They were star system killers, adding a whole and frightening new meaning to the term weapon of mass destruction.
After a few seconds, Rick shook off the horrified paralysis that had gripped him upon seeing the singularity form, urgency replacing it as he knew that the fleet couldn't stay here. "Navigation are our space fold generators still online," he asked.
"Yes, sir they are," navigation reported, "all ships are reported that hyperspace fold generators are still online and functioning normally."
"Excellent. Alright all ships are to execute an immediate hyperspace fold jump to Space Station Liberty," Rick ordered a moment before a violent shiver ran through the deck beneath his feet. "What was that?"
"Sir the black hole's gravity field is expanding exponentially," Pren reported after checking her sensors. "At its current rate of expansion, it will start pulling the fleet in within the next twenty minutes."
"Is the gravity field strong enough to affect our space fold yet?"
Pren checked her instruments. "Yes, sir it is," she reported grimly.
"Damn it. Navigation engage the main engines at full power move the ship out of the gravity field, communications instruct all the other ships to do the same."
"Sir I'm afraid that won't work; the gravitational field is expanding too rapidly," Pren said in response. "There is no way we can outrun its expansion on sublight engines, certainly not from our current standing start. Our ships just mass too much, we'd be fighting inertia too long."
"Then we have no choice but to chance it," Rick answered with a sigh knowing from experience that initiating a hyperspace fold within a gravity well - especially one as strong as the one being created by the black hole - wasn't a very good idea as it completely randomised both the hyperspace entry and exit vectors so you were never precisely sure where you were going to come back into normal space. They'd found that out the hard way back on the SDF-1 when a planned space fold from Earth to the dark side of the moon ended up dumping them out by Pluto. And that had just been a space fold inside a planetary gravity well, he hated to think where space folding inside a black hole's gravity well would take them. Unfortunately, they had no other choice but to take the risk. If they stayed here, then their destruction in the black hole was assured - something that was further reinforced by another violent jolt through the deck beneath his feet as another gravitational wave assaulted the ship - only by taking the risk did they stand a chance of survival.
He just hoped the hyperspace fold drives didn't decide to mysteriously go bye-bye on them this time.
"All ships commence fold preparations," he ordered.
"Admiral Hunter I have a suggestion," Janice said reminding him that the short range comm channel to the Deucalion was still open.
"Yes Janice?" Rick asked the android as another gravitational wave jolted the ship.
"Admiral while the mass of our ships prevents any of us from having the power to escape the black hole's gravitational influence a probe would not have such difficulty," Janice said. "I propose that before we execute the space fold we launch as many probes as we can, each loaded with a copy of all our data along with a warning about the effect of the neutron-s missiles. Probes that any ship dispatched to find us from either Earth or anywhere in Sentinel Space will be able to retrieve."
"At least that way they'll have a warning about the missiles even if we end up who knows how many light years off course," Rick said thoughtfully. "Proceed with your plan, Janice. Launch the probes as soon as you're ready. We'll space fold immediately afterwards. Navigation relay that to all ships."
"Understood, admiral," Janice acknowledged her voice intermingling with the automatic 'aye sir' from the navigational officer. A moment later another holographic screen came to life showing numerous probes launching from what on a normal Garfish-class light cruiser would have been their VLS missile launchers but which on the Deucalion had been refitted to house long range probes. The probes rocketed away, spreading out as they did so, their engines having just enough power to push them out of the gravity field of the black hole.
"Admiral all ships report hyperspace fold computations completed," navigation reported.
"Execute space fold," Rick ordered as Lisa came up beside him and put a hand on his arm, offering silent support. He looked over at his wife of twenty-two years with a smile and took her hand in his own even as a thrum of power echoed through the ship. Through the viewports at the front of the bridge they could both see the frosted-glass effect of the hyperspace field forming around the ship…
...a moment before all hell broke loose.
Fold spheres enveloped all twenty-two ships of Rick Hunter's command battlegroup, appearing with the normal ripple of energy followed by an effect like a whirling ball of frosted glass as was the norm for a ship about to enter the multidimensional ether known as hyperspace. Again, as normal the outlines of the ships within the spheres blurred and became defocused as each sphere began to collapse into hyperspace - each seemingly shrinking down to the size of a tennis ball.
It was at this point that something out of the ordinary happened. Instead of shooting off into infinity on a specific vector - an act that would have submerged the spheres fully into hyperspace until they reached their destination - all twenty-two spheres became caught in the increasing gravitational pull of the singularity and shot towards it like bullets fired from a gun. Caught in the gravitational whirlpool the spheres began rotating faster and faster around the singularity, each pass of the tiny black point of infinite gravity exponentially increasing their speed.
For several relativistic minutes – or nearly an hour in normal time – the spheres remained trapped in the gravitational field. Then their speed became too great for the fledgling black holes gravitational grip to be maintained and the spheres shot away from the black hole all along the same vector and all of them vanishing into hyperspace travelling far faster than anyone or anything ever before had through that multi-dimensional space and on a vector, that would take them clear out of the galaxy, across the vast, dark expanse of intergalactic space to another galaxy that hadn't been visited by any race known to Earth in thousands of years.
Haydonite Battleship A-102
Safe Distance from the Black Hole
In the command room of one of its people's mighty battleships the Haydonite known to Terrans and the other Sentinel races as Ambassador Veidt observed the neutron-s missile test and its consequences with the kind of cold detachment that only a machine race was capable of fully encapsulating. It was mildly disappointed by the outcome as the Awareness had hoped that the SDF-3 – and the protoculture matrix being carried aboard her – would be destroyed in the test of the weapons that they'd originally allowed Colonel Edwards and his Grey Squadron followers to acquire.
Which would have ended the threat of protoculture addicts once and for all as while the Terrans had been kind and helpful ever since their first meeting with them the Awareness had foreseen that that would not last - not while they continued to possess and use protoculture. Sooner or later the incredible power that was contained within the Flower of Life would go to their heads. And then they would begin to suffer from the same imperialistic desires for power and domination that their Tirolian cousins had fallen victim to - leading to the rise of the Robotech Masters and the generations of tyranny that said Masters wrought upon the galaxy - only the Awareness had projected that they'd be worse than the Masters had ever been. For the simple reasons that they were far, far more innovative than anyone save the Invid themselves and had a martial heritage and skill that had let them defeat both the Zentraedi and the Robotech Masters – Masters whose technology had honestly rivalled their own in both power and sheer sophistication. Which would have let them found an empire that would dominate all before it, something that the Awareness had decided that the Haydonites had had quite enough of.
The destruction of the SDF-3 would have ensured that future never came to pass. And the best part of it would have been the Terran leadership would have put it all down to a weapons test gone horribly wrong, if they weren't destroyed themselves either by the Invid or by using the neutron weapons on their own homeworld. But that had not happened.
"Inform the Awareness," Veidt instructed the lesser units manning the control stations that were flush against the walls of the command room.
"As you command ambassador."
"What about the probes launched from the Deucalion," Vowad, one of his fellow command triumvirate members, asked from another part of the command platform which was built around a holographic emitter. "They certainly contain the sensor records of what happened here. We should destroy them so the Terrans never find out; if they do not know the battlefortress containing the protoculture matrix survives they will not search for it and will - once they run out of protoculture - cease to be any threat to us."
"Agreed. Dispatch fighters to intercept and destroy the probes."
"Ambassador, sensors indicate a Terran warship is unfolding nearby, we read one Shimakaze-class attack cruiser, its transponder identifies it as the Icarus," one of the other lesser units reported, "Captain Vincent Grant commanding."
"We cannot allow them to interfere with our destruction of the probes," Veidt said. "Dispatch our escort to intercept the Icarus. Detain her and prevent her interfering with the completion of our mission or if necessary destroy her, engage with standard weapons only."
"As you command ambassador."
Veidt watched the holographic display as their escorting frigates and cruisers broke off and began to advance upon the Icarus. The alien warship showed no sign of being aware of them as their stealth systems, which were several generations more advanced than the systems they'd provided the other Sentinels with, keeping their approach hidden from her sensors. Instead the vessel seemed to be manoeuvring out of the gravitational influence of the black hole, using what per their sensors was a modified fold sphere only using the dimensional shift field of the stealth system instead of her space fold generators to create and maintain the sphere.
Ingenious and showing again why the Awareness regards them as a potential threat, Veidt thought as he watched the small but powerful warship emerge from the black hole's influence, the sphere around it collapsing as it did so. New information appeared on the holo display informing him that the Icarus had begun thoroughly scanning the area – the pattern of the scans being a clear search pattern. The scans quickly detected the probes and the cruiser instantly changed course moving to intercept the closest one, her intention to recover it perfectly obvious.
Thankfully the first of their escort frigates distracted her unleashing a barrage of anti-ship missiles towards her. The salvo was small and wouldn't tax the cruisers defences to any appreciable degree - but then it wasn't meant to. Instead it was meant to distract which it did admirably as, despite being obviously too startled to launch their lethally fast and nimble defensive missile in time to stop the salvo, the Terrans opened fire on the incoming missiles; their defensive pulse laser batteries throwing out a dense web work of energy flak that even the Invid – the galaxies undisputed masters of swarm tactics – had learned to be cautious around. Instantly missiles began dying, punched into hazy balls of vaporised metal by the bright yellow energy pulses. Only three making it past the initial cordon of defensive fire, another missile died a moment later - another victim of a laser pulse - but the other two slammed into a faintly glowing translucent silver screen of energy that appeared right in their path and instantly disintegrated on contact with the pinpoint defence barrier.
Obviously annoyed now the Icarus fired back at the offending frigate with her main turret. Dual blue beams of relativistic supercharged particles slamming into the frigate with searing force, brutally raking it from stem to stern making its advanced defence screens flare into visibility with the strain. A second salvo of beams impacted the frigate and its shields flickered and died, a barrage of missiles followed ripping open frigates hull and exposing its reactor compartment to another beam hit. With predictable results as the frigate exploded with appalling savagery.
Had he been capable of it Veidt would have scowled as he saw one of his ships be, seemingly effortlessly, destroyed. Though it wasn't surprising, Terran particle beam weapons were incredibly sophisticated and powerful things even by Haydonite standards. As he watched the other frigate and one of the cruisers attempted to avenge their comrade, sending vicious barrages of blood red fission lasers at the Icarus. The cruiser intercepted most of the shots with her pinpoint defence barriers, only a handful hitting her hull and not doing much damage beyond creating light shows as the advance alloys of the hull refracted almost all the energy straight back out into space. What remained dispersed over a much wider area of the hull so damage was minimal little more than light carbon scoring.
"Ambassador, sensors indicate that the Icarus has established a tight-beam radio link with one of the probes and is uploading the data," another lesser unit reported.
"Destroy that probe now. We cannot let them take the data."
"It's too late. They have disengaged the signal and are initiating space folding."
"Instruct our ships to switch to disruptors we cannot allow them to escape."
"Too late," Vowad commented as the holo display showed a fold sphere envelop the Icarus and contract before shooting into the distance as the ship vanished into hyperspace - just ahead of a salvo of beams that would have in concert with the ship's dimensional shift field initiated a disruptive wave in the ship's reflex furnace causing the energy loci in the core to become completely desynchronised resulting in first an overload and then energy implosion - which would destroy the ship.
"Well that was not foreseen," Veidt said showing no irritation - or in fact any emotion at all - to the fact that the Icarus had escaped. Emotions were for organics not by nature superior cybernetic creatures like himself. "But it matters not. The Terran forces have already engaged the Regis' forces in combat and will soon be forced to use the neutron weapons. Even at maximum speed the Icarus will not reach the planet in time to warn them."
"We should still inform the Awareness of this development," Vowad counselled. "We should also begin working to precisely identify and track the hyperspace vector of Admiral Hunter's battle group. Just in case the Awareness decides that pursuit is required."
"Agreed though even for us it will be difficult considering the nature of the environment in which they folded and the extreme acceleration imparted by the singularity," Veidt agreed prompting Vowad to nod in agreement, both understood the difficult at the best of times job of tracking a ship through hyperspace would be even more difficult now. Even with their methods as while the Haydonites had the most advanced technology of all the known spacefaring races even they had their limits.
"Difficult or not we will do it if the Awareness asks it of us."
Author Notes: If anyone is wondering why I reclassified the Icarus as an attack cruiser the reason is the Shimakaze-class ships are, in my opinion, far too lightly armed for their canon battlecruiser designation possessing only four dual pulse laser batteries, thirty anti-ship missile silos, one particle cannon turret and a synchro cannon. Even though I've naturally upgraded their defensive capabilities as I do in all my Robotech fics – seriously what is it with canon Robotech and point and close in defences that are positively anaemic, you'd think that they'd be more extensive like in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica given that in both fighter based combat is a key component of space warfare – the ships are still far too light IMO to be battlecruisers. Hence the re-designation as ships that are basically designed to unleash as much firepower as possible from long range with their missiles and synchro cannon and only having limited capability for combat at conventional range. I hope no one minds.
Finally can anyone guess exactly what the stories title is a reference to.