Author: Ash's Boomstick
Summary: Two Fleets, Two cultures, One Race, Vengence is coming.
NOTICE: THIS STORY MAY BE DISTRIBUTED FREE OF CHARGE BUT MUST NOT BE SOLD OR EXCHANGED FOR FINANCIAL RETURN IN ANY FORM.
The full disclaimer will be located at the end of this story. However be it known that I own nothing and expect to get nothing because the rights are owned by others. Only certain characters and technologies are mine and these are the creation of the author who is solely responsible for them as such. Neither Studio is responsible for the content of this story.
THIS STATEMENT MUST ACCOMPANY THE STORY 'Divergence' IF DISTRIBUTED. THIS STORY IS FREE OF CHARGE AND MAY NOT BE SOLD OR EXCHANGED FOR FINANCIAL RETURN IN ANY FORM. THIS DEDICATION MUST ACCOMPANY ANY DISTRUBUTION OF THIS STORY.
"Do not blame Brutus for he is an honourable man."
The last of ships had exited the hyperspace jump gate only a few minutes ago.
All that the flagship was awaiting was the last of the ships to assume formation around their escorts. The EAS Commonwealth had been the last ship built and launched by the Proxima fleet yards before they had been annihilated by the encroaching Minbari fleets.
The large and powerful heavy warship had been equipped with the few enhancements stolen or bought from the League or the Narn. It was the first and last of the updated ships that the EA had hoped would help turn the war in their favour.
Ships log. March 2248: The fleet has finished its latest jump away from what remains of the Earth Alliance, the last of the convoy jumping into normal space only minutes ago. The system we have arrived within is empty and with only a few planets within scanning range and as such I have ordered all ships to stand down their drives and to overhaul in turn. All warships will continue their patrols until the civilian ships are ready to leave.
I will admit however that I am uneasy about this. While the ships need the overhauls, the longer we are here the easier it will be for the Minbari to catch up with us. Since we lost the last of the transmission wavebands from Proxima and Earth we have been alone out here, the ships crews have been worried and understandably upset about leaving the Alliance before the last battle.
The battle was the last hope Earth had; a last ditch defence to stop the Minbari before they could destroy the last few planets we had left. The fleet was to be made up of everything that we could possibly pull together to face them. We couldn't win but we had to try something to get civilians off Earth to get anyone we could away from the encroaching Minbari.
A number of ships left Earth and made it to the convoy point not long after the battle started bringing what news they had. There was even a name for the slaughter:
The Battle of the Line.
But it was no battle. A battle has two sides that can fight each other with some success. This was a turkey shoot; a live fire exercise for the Minbari. The last of the ships had already gone before the battle was over.
The loss of any signals coming from Earth can only mean that Earth is gone. Mars and the rest of the Sol system colonies would have gone the same way. It's a distinct possibility that this convoy is the last of the human race, quarter of a million souls out of a race of ten billion. God knows how we will survive this or if any other ships might be out there, the Minbari truly know how to destroy a race.
Taking the few ships that arrived, we had to leave in order to save the last few people that we managed to get off of earth and out into space. It's funny that we used to be the rising star of the sector. The race that destroyed the Dilgar and fought off any of the races that invaded our space and threatened our borders, now merely reduced to a handful of warships and the attendant civilian fleet.
Supplies of food and water are still plentiful however. The crews are well fed and in good spirits otherwise. As with all long distance travelling however, life support elements and gravitational depletion on the bodies of the civilians is critical. The artificial gravity on the ships of the fleet capable of it, are however helping to reduce this to a minimum.
In the months that we have travelled we have been getting further and further from Earth towards the core of the Galaxy onto the edges of the beacon network. I don't know how much further we can go before we have to stop or before the Minbari find us. All we can do is continue on and hope for the best,
General William Hague
Commander: Alliance Refugee Fleet.
Hague set down the microphone headset he had been speaking into and looked around the Spartan living quarters that he had been assigned as the ship's commander. Since the decision to run had been made, he had been responsible for putting together the defence fleet that would escort the hundreds of civilian ships that would make up the last hope for humanity. His flagship had been one of the ships chosen to protect the civilian fleet. The modified Nova had had every bell and whistle available added to its weaponry and defensive systems. Upgraded interceptors, increased E-web protection and heavy lasers bought from the Narns had been added to the front of the ships. The reduction in pulse cannons and the addition of the much more powerful and efficient cannons had allowed his ship more power than before for the other systems.
There had been plans to install the next generation of military grade reactor and engine systems; however the increase in losses and shipyards had meant that the construction teams of the Commonwealth had been forced to use the majority of the Nova class' main systems. For now however, he was forced to live with it. The General was fortunate enough that his new ship was as fully equipped as it was. Several of the upgraded Hyperions in the fleet had not even been completed and were used as little more than picket ships alongside the corvettes of the fleet.
"Bridge to General Hague."
Sighing, the General hit his link. "Hague here."
"Sir, we're picking up some kind of signal from up ahead. It doesn't conform to any of the known wavelengths or languages that we have on record. You might want to get up here."
"Very well, I'm on my way. Wake up the Captain."
Hague slipped on his uniform jacket and left his quarters heading for the closest lift. The Nova X was a big ship and it took time to get to the bridge however by the time he arrived the bridge crew were at full stations as was the ship's commander. Walking onto the deck the call went out from one of the junior officers.
"General on the Deck."
"At ease people," he told them. "Captain Sheridan report."
"Sir, long range scans have picked up what seems to be a cluster of small signals running what seems to be a regular search pattern. There are in excess of fifty signals in the area ahead and growing."
"Anything from the database?"
"No sir, we're too far out for positive identification. We're about to launch a flight from the Akagi to scout out ahead."
"Very well. Time to intercept?"
"Fighters will intercept in thirty minutes, the rest of fleet in around three hours."
"Good, continue on course and launch fighters."
"Fighters launching, Sir."
From one of the fleet's Avenger class carriers, a quartet of Starfuries launched from the forward bays. Within seconds they were streaming towards the unknown contacts close by.
"Furies away sir, fifteen minutes to target. No sign that they have seen us yet, or if they have they don't care. Hold that…" The sensor operator said. "Unknown targets change of course, reading twenty eight units heading for this position their speed has increased. I think they've seen the furies."
"So they may have seen us as well," Sheridan said
"That's a distinct possibility Sir; time to intercept is now six minutes."
"Deploy Squadrons from the carrier. Order them to fleet CAP. All ships to battle stations," Hague ordered.
Across the fleet defensive weapons, interceptors and main weapons powered up as the Starfuries launched from their berths aboard the fleet carriers. The intercept flight had closed to within only a minute or so from the encroaching ships. The remaining squadrons took up their position near the assembled civilian ships backed up by the corvettes and patrol ships already within the throng of vessels.
"Black Orion Squadron is closing with the unknowns, sir. Thirty seconds to visual range. Orion One is sending the standard contact messages. No response from the unknowns. Twenty seconds."
"Sir, the Squadron have sent back telemetry and scanner information on the unknown ships, unscrambling and running identification algorithms through the computer. Information on the main screens."
Above their heads a digital still had been cut from the scans sent by the flight commander. Even to the eyes of the men and women of the bridge crew the vessels were unknown. An elliptical saucer shaped craft was easily identified. However none of the databases aboard the ship had any record of such as ship design.
"Five Seconds, unknown ships are in range. SIR! The unknowns are attacking the Fury flight."
"What?" The general exclaimed.
"Confirmed, Sir. Orion two was destroyed the other managed to get out of the enemy's attack profile and are engaging."
On the main scanners the three remaining Starfuries were already banking away from the incoming energy fire from the two dozen unknown fighters, fire spewing from their pulse cannons ripping into the huge wings of the disc shaped fighters. Six went up within those few seconds, the answering fire from the Starfuries raking through the enemy ranks as their agility came into play against the less manoeuvrable saucer shaped fighters.
"Orion Three fox two."
"Orion One, I have three on my tail."
"Orion four, fuel is at critical. Ten minutes remaining, need reinforcements immediately."
"Orion Three, roger that four same here, Command."
"Orion one, all fighters break through go to maximum burn. We might be able to out run these bastards."
"Orion Three, Negative One I can't get clear."
"Three, Four Hang on We'll get you out."
"Four. Three. Negative Four. You and one get out I'll mix it up try to get you guys clear."
"Three. One. Negative, we're all getting out."
"Dammit Keffer, get your arse out of here.
One of the three Starfuries goosed his thrusters to maximum slamming through the almost completed enemy attack formation, surprised two of the larger fighters who went up in massive explosions. For larger than any fighter should have done. Before his first attack was even completed Orion three had moved into another run from behind his fighter's incredibly more enhanced agility allowing him to burn down another fighter before the enemy could finish their own turns.
"Get out of here NOW!"
"Orion three, come in! Dammit Peter come it."
Harry Keffer tried to contact his wingmate to no avail; the small Starfury was continuing his attacks from behind the enemy's lines unfortunately few of his targets were going down. "Four this is One. Form up on my wing and set course back… back to the fleet."
"One, four Sir we can't leave him."
"If we keep after him we'll all lose, we have to get back to the command ship and report we may have a new enemy out here. Peter's no longer got the fuel to get home; if he survives we'll send a shuttle out to get him with a hell of a bigger Escort."
"Roger that One, forming up. This sucks Sir."
"That it does four."
The two remaining fighters broke away from the expanding fireball. Three of the enemy fighters making an attempt to cut them off exploded from the jinking fighter's cannons. Behind them a single smaller explosion was picked up by both the fighters and the fleet scanners, aboard the Commonwealth a single transponder faded from view.
Nova X Class Dreadnaught
"Sir, we've lost Orion Three's IFF. He's gone. Remaining fighters are returning to the fleet, forty three enemy units are trailing them."
"Ready anti-fighter defences and dispatch squadrons Delta and Epsilon Proxima squadrons to long range intercept. Maximum thrust."
"Fighters away. Enemy units closing on Orions. Our fighters will intercept the enemy thirty seconds after the enemy are in firing range."
"Let's hope that's a short enough time to get those pilots back. Captain Sheridan?"
"Bring up Corvette unit three to picket positions ahead of the fleet, Hyperions Churchill, Alexandria and Athos to backup positions."
Twenty four Aurora class Starfuries broke from their positions and engines blazing threw themselves into space trying what they could to save their fellow pilots. Only minutes later the two groups clashed at maximum speeds the twenty four nimble human fighters slammed into the saucer shaped fighters from two sides shattering almost a dozen of the fighters with cannons and missiles.
"Orion flight this is Epsilon One, break off and get back to the fleet we'll cover for you."
"Epsilon One this is Orion one, thanks for the assist. Fuel is almost depleted. We won't be able to go much faster without depleting our breaking thrusters."
"Alright all fighters, Delta Squadron will escort the Orions in. Epsilon squadron continue interception and attack formations. Do not let them through to the fleet."
"Delta Squadron acknowledges."
Breaking off from the battle, twelve of the Starfuries took up escort positions around the two damaged fighters. Six of the furies reversed and fired into the enemy ranks forcing the enemy off of their backs and away from the epsilon fighters. Spinning in place the six fighters took rear positions alongside the speeding fighters leading the survivors out of the battle.
"They're out, Lead."
"Got that Three. All units hit them."
The unknown fighters blew in at that moment, a wave of them having formed up into attack groups of three fighters each, a pattern that to the pilots was eerily familiar. The pilots that had survived earlier battle knew that the Minbari Nial fighters had flown in that same kind of three ship attack formations. Each alien fighter fired repeated blasts from what looked like twin energy cannons, each cannon spewing strange blue-white pulses that looked almost like plasma bolts but clearly were not like their own. The energy fire formed a thick wall of death, forcing the Starfuries to take evasive action to avoid being wiped out by the barrage. Delta's six and eight weren't quite quick enough, as alien fire hit them full own. Mercifully the two Starfuries blew apart before their pilots even had a chance to scream.
Spinning on their own axis while continuing to pull away, the rest of Delta Squadron immediately returned the favour with every pulse cannon and missile that they had available. Two alien attack groups disintegrated in short-lived explosions as plasma from the furies pulse cannons caught them, or a missile impacted on the enemy fighters.
At that moment the three approaching Olympus-class corvettes opened fire from long range. Plasma bolts impacting the alien fighters and wiping whole groups out of space. The Starfuries joined in between them and the corvettes they set up a lethal crossfire that forced the enemy fighters onto the defensive.
"General, picket corvettes have picked up a number of enemy fighters coming in from a different course. Twelve fighters coming in from underneath, sir they used the fleet's exhaust emissions to hide in. Rear squadrons are converging to intercept incoming fighters."
"Time to intercept?"
"Not soon enough, sir."
"Ready interceptors and pulse cannons."
"Lexington is closest sir, enemy range in ten sec… Sir the Lexington is taking hits from the enemy fighters. Energy weapons of some kind, hull breaches across the starboard side."
On the monitors of the Commonwealth, the smaller Hyperion's hull could be seen burning from a half dozen rents across its entire frame. As they continued to watch helplessly, more and more rounds slammed into the hull opening the breaches and explosively decompressing the inner hull sections of the Lexington. In retaliation interceptors and pulse cannons were picking enemy fire out of the sky and reaching for the large fighters attacking them. Breaking off into three ship flights, the unknowns slipped across the hull of the damaged Hyperion and off into the fleet itself, interceptor fire and pulse cannons from a dozen ships crossed in front of the fighters as they charged into the throng of civilian ships in the midst of the collected warships.
Already fighter flights had begun their runs into the charging saucer fighters, Starfuries slammed into the unknowns from all sides. Two enemy fighters crumbled as a dozen plasma bolts smashed into their hulls blowing them into pieces, the third of their group took a full salvo from a Starfury into its wing disintegrating it and sending the remaining fighter spinning into the closest of the civilian ships.
The massive Asimov class civilian transport shuddered as the impact from the collision recoiled through its hull. The enemy fighter's detonation ripped its engines from the ship's rear, causing the delicate rotational systems that generated artificial gravity aboard the ship to come crashing to a halt.
The flights of Starfuries opened their engines to full cruising in and out of the gaps between the earth vessels herding the saucer shaped fighters away from the thin hulled civilian ships. More and more interceptor fire streamed out from the Novas and Hyperions at the very edges of the fleet reaching for the enemy fighters. Another three, four, five fighters went down as hundreds of bolts converged within their course annihilating every atom of their existence.
Sensing their time was at an end, the four remaining fighters began a powered 'dive' into any ship within range. One of the fighters was stopped by the interceptors of a close by corvette. The other three fighters were luckier. Two of the saucers impacted on the main hull of a Hyperion one slamming into the vulnerable bridge and exploding, decapitating the vessel's command centre.
The last fighter impacted directly onto one of the fleet's supply ships. The massive two kilometre long fuel and provisions ship took the final fighter's impact directly into its 'spine'. The freighter's back broke causing the now halved ship to separate and float away from the others.
All fire and flight by the Starfuries stopped as they neared the broken and bleeding ship. All along its separated spine electrical discharges and fires created by a mix of spilt fuel and oxygen from the broken containers raged. Detonations throughout the ship caused more and more of the damage ship's sections to erupt.
The returning fighters of the Proxima squadrons could only watch as the rest of the fleet scrambled to assist the other ships in the fleet. The loss of yet more lives was a shock to the already dire morale of the Earth Refugee fleet, even damping the anger that they should have felt at this attack.
What they need to know was what happened here and why?
And most importantly… WHO?