Author's Note:

- Special thanks for jdog1021 for making this chapter readable, and for those of you who encouraged me to continue writing. It was difficult to get this chapter out due to lack of writing time, but it's here at last. Thanks!


Chapter Eight

Deep space supply depot – Interstellar space near Vega.

EAS Akagi – Avenger class carrier

Flagship 9th Fleet

December 10, 2245

The Akagi was floating alongside its entire battle-group in one of the four deep space supply depots created near Vega. Hundreds of containers were floating in neat order all around them. Some were full of missiles, others of fuel, and a few of ammunition for rail-guns. Close to the containers were line after line of Starfuries ready for pick up, and while the 9th Fleet was now at full fighter capacity, it was clear that the logistical operation performed during the past months had moved more than enough of everything, as there was plenty left over from rearming the 9th Fleet.

There were a few Cotton class tenders among the large number of Tonka class construction Starfuries still performing the resupply operation, but very few of them actually doing anything, because the Fleet was almost ready to go.

"We need to move now! The 8th Fleet's scouts began picking increased com activity and jamming in hyperspace 30 minutes ago, and we know the Minbari Fleet jumped two days ago. They have made a slow approach, but I'm sure it's them. If we are not in striking range within two hours, we'll jeopardize the entire 8th Fleet defensive operation. We need to be there now Lieutenant Commander."

"Just 10 more minutes, Admiral. The extra pilots needed to fully man our Starfuries are being moved to the Carriers via shuttle as we speak." replied Agnar.

"You said 10 minutes, 10 minutes ago. If in 10 minutes we are not ready, we are leaving without them. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Admiral."

"Signal the Fleet, every ship in every supply depot. We jump in 10 minutes."

The supply depots not only had a lot of hardware available in the containers and tenders, but they also got a few requisitioned passenger liners with replacement pilots on permanent station. The losses had been so high that while they had enough Starfuries in the depots for replacements, the extra pilots required had to be brought in from Signet as those in the liners had not been enough to fully replace the losses. The Hyperions making their way to Vega as reinforcements were used to ferry those replacement pilots, but the amount of pilots being moved, was equivalent to making a full deployment. Nevertheless, the operation was almost ready, and the 330 remaining units of the 9th Fleet were preparing to jump into hyperspace.

EAS Aetos – Sagittarius class cruiser

Flagship Ranger Expeditionary Force

That same time …

In normal space, it would have been a sight to behold, but on hyperspace, the ships streaming through it were barely seen by each other. Every Ranger Sagittarius and Oracle except those in the Pythia detachment was moving towards Minbari space. Moving with the Earth Force Naval Intelligence (EFNI) Ranger Fleet was the Oracle class EAS Delphi, the single Earth Intelligence Agency (EIA) jump capable vessel.

Supplementing the mission ships, were a large gathering of tankers specifically designed to perform their resupply operations while in hyperspace. They had latching arms to keep the refueling vessel in tone with the tanker's momentum. The hyperspace storms were not to be taken lightly, and any normal refueling operation would had most likely ended in disaster with just a small hyperspace breeze. The vessels latched to their tanker, and powered down their engines to allow for the tanker to do the entire job.

Dozens of this melding were currently being done, and the last vessels were about to finish their resupply.

Of all the ships, only the Oracles had fuel harvesting shuttles, and they were also the only vessels packed high with spare parts and food. The rest were not there to infiltrate Minbari space, but were still going with all the intention of giving them something to remember.

Soon, the mass of vessels was deep inside the com guidance line created by the eight ships of the Pythia detachment. These warships started to increase the distance from the tankers that were turning around and that would also be waiting for their return in the last active beacon.

Covering the rear of the Ranger Expeditionary Force was a detachment from the 5th Fleet that was acting not only as an escort for the tankers of the expedition, but as additional firepower for the Ranger's attack on Sh'Lekk'Tha. There were 8 Nova class dreadnoughts of the Charlie variant, all equipped with extra interceptors and the Electromagnetic spectrum / Search Track and Lock (EMS/STL) system.

The Sagittarius were quickly joined by the Novas while the Oracles pressed forward. It didn't take much time for the Oracles to lock their navigational systems to the Sh'Lekk'Tha beacon, but it had been an extremely risky com guidance beacon bridge crossing, one that had to be done if the EA was to have any chances against the Minbari in the Sh'Lekk'Tha system.

Hyperspace - Approaching Vega

Drala Fi – Shargoti class War Cruiser

Flagship 1st Attack Fleet

A few minutes later …

Shai Alyt Ner'shen stood on the holographic room of the Drala Fi. His expression showed that he was worried. The 1st Attack Fleet was approaching Vega, and he had no idea what the humans had in store for him. In every engagement fought against them, they had used a different strategy, and he had no reason not to believe that they wouldn't try something new.

"Shai Alyt. Our fighters report enemy presence in hyperspace. Several human fighters and automated probes have been destroyed, but we lost a few Nials in the process." informed Aeraan.

"As expected. Keep our stealth systems at maximum, and continue to approach the second planet according to plan."

"Yes, Shai Alyt" answered Aeraan before leaving to carry on his orders.

"Aeraan!"

The Alyt turned back to Ner'shen, and before being able to reply back, Ner'shen spoke again.

"If the humans manage to ambush us, you know what to do. Don't wait for my orders."

Aeraan nodded while saying. "As you command, Shai Alyt."

Vega star system – Earth Alliance

Orbital Command and Control - Underground bunker

That same time...

"Sir, 8th Fleet's scouts are reporting heavy enemy fighter presence in hyperspace, as well as heavy jamming. 8th Fleet Actual, requests interdiction attack. They don't have enough forces in hyperspace to counter them, and the 9th Fleet is still not close enough. Admiral Cotter also says to conserve our strength. Just a single missile per satellite." stated the communications officer.

Vice Admiral Bligh turned to the tactical officer and said. "You heard the orders. Fire one missile per GODS, and activate the gate; wide pattern attack; layered missile activation."

"Yes, Sir." replied the tactical officer.

The Global Orbital Defense Satellites, more commonly known as GODS, fired a single missile each. 72 of the cylinder shaped weapons accelerated away towards the gate. The activation process was calculated to coincide with the missile approach, and the vortex opened as the high speed weapons were closing in. They crossed the boundary into hyperspace, and changed course to their individual blast zones. One was detected and destroyed by the Minbari fighters, only to repay its destruction with immediate activation. Several Nials vanished in that blast. The others reached their preprogrammed activation coordinates and started exploding in a layered pattern. The ones close to the gate first, and the ones closer to the Minbari approach second. The explosions lighted up hyperspace like a Christmas tree.

The missile attack was not very damaging to the Minbari, as only a few fighters were destroyed, but the detection of the missiles scattered the entire Minbari fighter wings, and forced them to momentarily retreat towards their motherships.

Drala Fi – Shargoti class War Cruiser

That same time …

Shai Alyt Ner'shen had seen the human missile attack, and was smiling. He had used his Nials wisely, and had forced the humans to blast hyperspace to destroy them. Knowing that the missile attack would have also destroyed or scattered any human ships in the area, he had the way clear to make his approach. He didn't had to worry about enemy warships lurking in hyperspace to ambush him, and with the speed of his vessels, there was no chance that the humans could move in before he made the jump into normal space.

His orders were being carried out to the letter. The Nials returned to escort formation, and every unit had ceased to jam hyperspace, but still continued with their stealth systems at maximum. The jamming was canceled so as to not give the humans a way to track them, which was something the Minbari needed for a safe approach.

The Shai Alyt had deliberately shown the humans that his fleet was making a strong approach and had forced them to clear hyperspace for him. He reformed his fleet, and was now making a fast but silent approach to their jump coordinates. Everything was going according to plan, everything but the presence of human ingenuity.

EAS Laconia – Hyperion class cruiser

Flagship 8th Fleet

A few minutes later …

Admiral Margaret Cotter kept a fixed stare at her holographic command console. She had seen the missile barrage followed by Minbari jamming emissions evaporating. She knew the attack had used a small number of missiles, and the sudden loss of Minbari emissions were not because they were destroyed. Her hyperspace scouts had launched more drones toward the core of the system earlier, and she was now watching the jump gate activate for a second time, this time sending through drones instead of missiles.

The Admiral was a veteran of the Dilgar War battle of Balos and Omelos, and as such knew the importance of quick action. She had created a set of special commands to initiate tactical scenarios on her Fleet, and her ships were ready to act on her orders.

Time passed, and while the Minbari weren't expecting to find units in hyperspace, they did find them in the form of drones launched from the jump gate. The dozens of them crossing the path of the approaching Minbari Fleet was more than enough to gather the data Admiral Cotter needed. The Minbari didn't waste time destroying the drones, but the beam weapons and sensor activations were more than enough to tell Cotter that the Minbari Fleet had breached the heliosphere perimeter, and was heading for the core.

For a moment her mind betrayed her. She doubted that it was the entire Minbari Fleet. She thought for a moment that they were only scouts, and that she should wait to show her hand. But the width of space her scouting drones had been cruising in, told her otherwise. If they had been Minbari scouts, most of her drones would have just passed through without detecting anything, but the fact that every single one of them had been engaged, told her that there were many vessels present in the area. So, she gave the order.

Just a single command on her console activated the combat scenario she had programmed before. The entire 8th Fleet was not in a fleet formation, but a total of 512 Hyperion class cruisers distributed individually throughout the entire solar system sphere with the additional strength of the ships of the 7th Fleet. Each of her vessels opened up a jump vortex, and a single missile exited from their frontal launchers and entered hyperspace.

Drala Fi – Shargoti class War Cruiser

That same time …

Alyt Aeraan was on the bridge when every alarm activated. The massive energies of the incoming jump vortexes were detected, and he knew what was happening. He didn't wait for a command from his Shai Alyt. He gave the order immediately.

"JUMP NOW!"

Every Minbari ship Alyt had been advised of the possibility of interception in hyperspace. They knew that if the jump command was given, they should execute it immediately, and there was no delay on it.

Jump vortexes started opening all along the Minbari Fleet. The first ship to open a vortex had been the Drala Fi, but the rest of the Fleet was just a few seconds behind.

What could have been a total disaster, and with a full fleet destroyed by a perfectly coordinated ambushed, ended up being a programmed jump. It was the first time that the Minbari had been ahead of a human tactic, and while they still lost 17 Tinashis and 1 Sharlin that were transitioning when more than 500 missiles detonated in hyperspace, the losses had been infinitesimal to what could have really happen.

Alyt Aeraan entered the adjacent holographic projection room to report to Ner'shen.

"Shai Alyt, we lost 18 ships."

"That is not a concern right now. The fleet jump had been too wide, we need to reform it. Keep the advance towards the second planet, but have the forward ships slow down so the trailing vessels can catch up."

"Yes, Shai Alyt."

"And give me an estimated time for fleet cohesion."

The Alyt interlinked to the bridge to carry on the orders, and a few seconds later he spoke again. "We estimate half an hour for the fleet to fully reform, and four hours to reach the second planet."

"Hmm. We were forced to jump farther out than I would have wanted. Have the Fleet ready for a strong human attack, and order the 2nd Attack Fleet to move to interdict their forces in hyperspace. Tell them not to enter the core, or they'll probably suffer a similar attack. Have them fight from the outskirts."

"Yes, Shai Alyt." Aeraan bowed to Ner'shen with respects and asked. "Shai Alyt, do you really think the humans will attack us in normal space? Do you believe them to have the strength to defeat a full attack fleet?"

"I don't see why not, and while I don't believe the humans to have the strength to defeat us in a standard battle, they do have the strength to defeat us in unconventional terms. I'm not willing to risk it. Have the Fleet prepared, and send the orders to the 2nd attack fleet."

Aeraan bowed and left to carry out his orders.

EAS Akagi – Avenger class carrier

Flagship 9th Fleet

A few minutes later …

The ship was shaking along with every other ship in the 9th Fleet. Every vessel had their engines throttled high, but that was not the reason for the strong vibrations. They were all moving inside the heliosphere perimeter in hyperspace and the shock-waves of the previous missile release were being felt strongly. The worse was over, but hyperspace was still very turbulent.

"Admiral Cotter is requesting our E.T.A." said Agnar.

"Tell her we'll be there in a few minutes, and ask her to link the ships near where the Minbari jumped to this fleet. I need to know where we are going to open our jump vortexes." answered von Koester.

A few seconds passed before the answer came. "I have telemetry, Sir. Three ships are on different vectors off the Minbari Fleet, but two are maintaining total electronic silence because they are in open space."

"What about the third? They should all be in open space with no cover. Tell them to deploy drones, and link through them. I need those jump coordinates."

"The third is active on coms, Sir. We can receive data through it."

"Okay, patch it through."

"Yes, Sir. I have Captain John Sheridan from the EAS Lexington."

Captain Sheridan had just been given command of the Lexington. The transfer of the ship from the Dakota cluster had seen the vessel passing close to the Sol and Proxima clusters where its previous Captain, Roger Sterns, had been transferred to command a new Nova III. He received a field promotion to Captain and the command of the Hyperion class cruiser.

"Captain Sheridan, are you receiving?" asked von Koester.

"Yes, Admiral, loud and clear!"

"Good, son. Do you have a clear view of the Minbari?"

"Negative, Sir. But we know where they jumped. I have three drones with interferometric sensors following their movements and their sensor emissions, but we are only able to pick up shadows in front of stars. The drones' passive sensors are small, and I have the Lexington inside an asteroid field. I can't move out as the Minbari are active on sensors."

"Inside an asteroid field? I didn't know there was an asteroid field in that area."

"There isn't, Sir. We had a close call when one of the Minbari scouting forces jumped in system a few days ago. They were a few Giga meters away, and could have picked us up if they had been scanning in this direction. There was a lone big enough asteroid nearby, and I decide to give the gunnery officer some target practice, Sir. We broke the Asteroid apart, and grappled some of the bigger pieces with Starfuries. We positioned the Lexington in the middle for cover. We are currently behind the biggest piece in relation to the Minbari Fleet."

Admiral von Koester chuckled loudly. "Nicely done, Son. Can you provide us with their position, heading and speed?"

"No, Sir, just a general vector. I've already dispatched 6 Starfuries to increase our interferometry capabilities. We should be able to provide the information you request in a few minutes, Sir."

"We don't have a few minutes, son. We are almost in position."

"Admiral, the Starfuries I sent are only coasting. They can't activate their engines, or they'll be picked up by the Minbari sensors. Their inertia should give us enough width to be able to give accurate data in less than two minutes. The enemy is too far out, but I still wouldn't want to risk it, sir."

"Two minutes is OK, son. We'll be listening, Akagi out."

Kofoed cut the communications link to the Lexington before the admiral spoke again. "Link me to Bligh."

"Yes, Admiral." answered Agnar, while linking the Akagi's com system to the Global Orbital Defense underground bunker on Vega. "Link active."

"Vice Admiral, Full release authorized. I'm sending the coordinates of the attack. We are almost in position, I need the missiles ready. Launch immediately." ordered von Koester.

A few seconds passed before Vice Admiral Bligh answered. "Authentication codes received and confirmed, Admiral. Full missile release on its way. Jump gate activation commencing."

Von Koester and Blight kept in contact for a few more seconds, but in the meantime, the 72 GODS II started releasing a total of 199 missiles each. 14,328 missiles were launched in under a minute, and went through the gate with their engines on cruise.

Von Koester had ended communications with Bligh and was now speaking with Admiral Cotter. "The 9th is reducing speed and preparing for the attack. The missiles are coming up behind us, and our Sagittarius have fallen back and are ready for a full missile release. Captain Sheridan of the Lexington has provided enough information for a successful attack. I wouldn't waste time, Margaret. You should all be jumping now."

"Sending the jump signal, I'll be joining your ranks soon, Otto."

The six Starfuries launched by the Lexington had created a big enough circle to gather detailed passive sensor data and were sending telemetry back to their ship for it to link it to the fleet.

In hyperspace, every missile launched by the GODS IIs was closing in on the position of the 9th Fleet and soon reached the Sagittarius. At that time, the missile cruisers started ripple firing all of their missiles towards the Avengers and Hyperions of the 9th.

A multitude of jump vortexes opened up all around and inside the heliosphere boundary in hyperspace. The hundreds of Hyperions of the 8th and 7th Fleets made the transition, and started heading towards the units of the 9th Fleet.

Hyperspace went dark red again after the closure of so many vortexes, only to get lighted up again by another set of vortexes, this time from the 9th Fleet Avengers and Hyperions. The missiles cruising to their position set their engines to flank and started crossing into normal space through the opened vortexes. The Hyperions of the 9th started firing their missiles from their frontal tubes, which soon joined the others in the crossing.

Drala Fi – Shargoti class War Cruiser

That same time …

The holographic projection room lighted up in a blue glaze. Dozens of jump vortexes had opened up in front of the 1st Attack Fleet, and the thousands of missiles launched by the GODS, Sagittarius, and Hyperions poured out of them at flank speed.

"I think that any doubts you had about humans attacking us in normal space are gone?"

"Yes, Shai Alyt." replied Aeraan. His face showed awe at the amount of missiles approaching the Fleet.

"It's good to know that you'll be giving the necessary respect this opponent deserves. But let's not waste time. We have a lot of guns, but there are a lot of human missiles on approach, and they manage to launch them relatively close, Fire!"

The human weapons started their erratic approach to target to fool the targeting sensors of the Minbari vessels, but tachyon sensors were extremely fast and adding the fast and accurate weapons they possessed, there was little for an erratic approach at those ranges to help in reducing losses. Space went green when the Minbari warships opened fire, and thousands of missiles disappeared in the blink of an eye.

For the Minbari, the human missiles represented the main attack. Their entire fleet was facing the deadly menace with every frontal gun, but for the humans, it was just a way of making their enemy to position their pieces in the way humanity wanted.

EAS Akagi – Avenger class carrier

Flagship 9th Fleet

A few seconds later …

"Every missile has gone through, Sir. Jump vortexes are closing, but we are losing missiles very fast." stated Agnar.

"Tell the Sagittarius to move at once. I need the Starfuries to attack at the same time Cotter launches her missiles."

"Yes, Sir."

The Sagittarius class cruisers that had previously launched their missiles from behind the 9th Fleet were accelerating to position themselves ahead of the Avengers and Hyperions to allow their Starfuries to use their charged jump engines. The human fighters had not joined the first missiles barrage, as those missiles were not only used as a diversion, but as a mean of receiving combat data for precise combat jumps.

Human forces in Vega now knew exactly where the Minbari ships were, and every capital ship was coordinating to open their jump vortexes where the enemy would feel it worse.

The Minbari Fleet had almost reformed itself in a wall formation, and every able gun was pointing and firing towards and against the first missile attack, when to the surprise of its commanders, normal space went blue with hundreds of jump vortexes.

Humans had tried to open vortexes on top of the Minbari ships, but normal space being so large, and the Minbari ships being very well spaced out, only 2 Tinashis suffered the fate of facing an opening vortex in the position they were cruising by. The ships ceased to exist in a flash, but even if that strategy had completely failed for humanity, it had allowed them to have vortexes opened near every single ship of the Minbari Fleet. Almost 6,000 missiles, launched by the Hyperions of the 8th and 7th Fleets, crossed into normal space to strike at the bluish vessels.

The Minbari point defense cannons repositioned to engage the approaching volley. Beams slashed at the relatively few missiles, but there were still almost 10 missiles per Minbari ship in the area, and if that wasn't enough, 3,200 Starfuries from the Hyperions of the 8th and 7th Fleets, and 4,914 from the 9th Fleet Avengers and Hyperions made it through to join the fray.

The Minbari Nial class fighters immediately went to intercept the human Nova class Starfuries. The advanced Minbari spacecraft was hundreds of years more advanced to the human x winged craft. Their sensor and weapon system could intercept any fighter from extreme ranges, even farther away than the human anti-fighter missiles were able to, but there was one thing in which the human fighter was unbeatable, and that was in agility. Its engines were mounted in the tip of it wings and that allowed for a huge leverage in any turning. If a Starfury was able to cross the distance to a Minbari fighter, then the battle was effectively over.

The Minbari also had the advantage of a stealth system that allowed it to fight in close quarters without worry of intercept. It was in every aspect a formidable fighter, and would have decimated any human attempt at engaging it if it weren't for two factors: One, the jump points had open inside the Minbari Fleet formation, and in consequence, the range of engagement favored the human Starfuries, and Two, every Nova class fighter was equipped with the EMS/STL system, and that made the Minbari stealth system effectively irrelevant.

In addition, the human Starfuries outnumbered the Minbari Nials more than 10 to 1. The Minbari fighters engaged with massive confidence in their technology and ability, but losses to the Minbari Fighter command went almost to 100 percent in the first few seconds of battle. The humans just saturated space with anti-fighter missiles and plasma pulses, and swarmed every Minbari squadron with ease.

The Minbari targeting computers were struggling to process so many targets, and their processing power was overwhelmed even further when the Starfuries started releasing their missiles.

A Tinashi burst open by the impact of 12 fighter launched anti-capital-ship missiles. The frigate's starboard side was a wreck, but soon the entire ship blew up when several other missiles arrived and detonated inside its structure.

While the same was being repeated all over the Minbari Fleet, the return fire was so powerful that human missiles and fighters were being lost at an alarming rate. The humans had achieved complete space superiority against the Minbari Nials, but against capital ship point defenses, the situation was completely reversed. The number of missiles and fighters deployed were definitely not enough to defeat a Full Minbari Attack Fleet, but they weren't the only card played by the Earth Alliance.

The Minbari knew that this attack was not everything the humans had to offer, as they hadn't seen a single ship, but they were still heavily engaged by the human forces already among them.

A Sharlin blew up at the same time as more than 20 Tinashis close to it followed its fate, but in the distance, more flashes indicated that Minbari forces were engaged everywhere.

The massive amount of missile impacts and the huge amount of quantum singularity reactors exploding when the ships lost containment, showed to every one present that the Minbari Fleet was in trouble, but for the humans in normal space, things were getting complicated, and after less than a minute of heavy fighting, almost 70 percent of the missiles were lost, and only 65 percent of the Starfuries remained, all with highly depleted anti-capital-ship missiles stores.

Losses for the Minbari had reached 234 Tinashis and 21 Sharlins, and even though it seemed that they had gone through the worst, the worse was about to happen.

The Hyperion's reactor strength allowed them to charge their jump engines relatively fast, and they were soon ready to attack in force. The Minbari line had been broken in several places, but there were others in which humans fighters and missiles had almost been wiped out. It was in those locations where Admiral Cotter, and von Koester were about to increase the pressure considerably.

The 122 Artemis and 104 Olympus of the 9th Fleet paired themselves with any of the 659 Hyperions available. Then the Hyperions opened up their vortexes, with the Artemis and Olympus going through them first, but closely followed by the cruisers.

The human forces timed their transition at the same moment as the Minbari point defenses were heavily engaged with the last remaining missiles and the harassing Starfuries. The Olympus were not yet out of their vortexes when their missiles were salvo fired. The Artemis joined in with rail-gun alpha strikes, but it was the huge plasma release from the Hyperions which prophesied doom for the Minbari. Hundreds of Minbari vessels were struck in some way. A few just got their armors tested with a few plasma hits, but some were completely obliterated by concentrated fire from human ships, and many missiles were still coming their way.

The Minbari lines broke formation in order to face the new arrivals at the same time as the constant plasma pulses from the human cruisers made their way towards them. Their anti-capital-ship beam weapons had not been used and soon demonstrated why they were so feared by any opposing force. Green beams started lashing out towards the EA ships, and soon, human capital ship loses started to mount, but with the ships positioned as they were, and the Minbari forces so heavily engaged, there was only a single possible outcome for the battle, and that was a human victory.

EAS Akagi – Avenger class carrier

Flagship 9th Fleet

A few seconds later …

Agnar was reciting the battle events to the Admiral. "Sir, Starfuries have expended every missile and are now heavily engaged trying to pick off point defense cannons from the Minbari Warships. Loses from point defenses are mounting. The last enemy fighters have been destroyed by capital ship interceptors. Admiral Cotter has ordered every remaining unengaged Starfury to rejoin the fleet in the event they need to retreat. Every other fighter has been advised to follow course as soon as they become unengaged."

"How is the mining proceeding?" asked von Koester.

"Every Sagittarius and Avenger is spread out deploying them. The Minbari will not be retreating safely, unless they do it now while we are still inside the field." answered Agnar.

"Good. Speed up the process. I want every ship out of here before they decide our forces have given them enough of a beating."

"Yes, S..." Agnar was about to reply, before the ship shook violently. He checked the battle net, and knew what was happening, but the Admiral was already ahead of him.

"Every ship move away from the system as fast as possible, and deploy every available mine in the process. It doesn't matter if it's not in the field. Drop them and run." He switched channels to the 8th Fleet Flagship and spoke again. "Margaret, we are being engaged by Minbari vessels on hyperspace, I have ordered an immediate retreat, and the release of every available mine. I'm transferring detonation codes to you. Be aware that you'll probably have incoming."

The commotion on the bridge of the Laconia could be heard loudly. It was clear that the vessel was in heavy combat. "Copy that Akagi. The Admiral is busy at the moment but has acknowledged your message. We are pressing the attack on local forces, and are preparing to retreat in case of new arrivals. Laconia out."

Jamming in hyperspace was strong, but that didn't stop the Minbari 2nd Attack Fleet from firing desperately from long range, and they had already been able to destroy a Sagittarius on the outer perimeter. The blast of the explosion was still rocking the Akagi.

Every human carrier and missile cruiser had activated their engines, and they were moving at maximum power on every possible direction. Minbari beams from more than two hundred ships were piercing the red blur of hyperspace, and before the fleeing human forces reached safety distance, an Avenger and another Sagittarius were destroyed.

Minbari 2nd Attack Fleet …

The Alyt in command of the reserve forces was trying to keep calm, but hyperspace fighting sent shivers into his spine. The Sharlin he was commanding shook from the explosion of the last destroyed human ship. The waves of hyperspace energies washing over its superstructure made the huge warship feel like an atmospheric shuttle flying through a storm.

"Alyt!" said his second in command.

"Report!"

"Our vanguard has detected a mine field in the area of space covering the 1st Attack Fleet. We can't go in, and they can't go out." replied the second in command.

The Alyt took a deep breath before replying back. "The 1st Attack Fleet can't go out, but we will go in. We need to save the day. Start sending detachments one at a time. We'll either reinforce the 1st Attack Fleet, or we'll force the humans to detonate their mine field in order to stop us, either way, we'll be doing our part. Order the vanguard to proceed forward and jump as soon as they reach optimal position, and have the rest of the detachments follow them.

EAS Laconia – Hyperion class cruiser

Flagship 8th Fleet

That same time …

In normal space, the Minbari 1st Attack Fleet was heavily engaged by the human entire 8th Fleet and 373 vessels from the 7th and 9th Fleets. Thousands of human plasma pulses were flying towards the Minbari vessels and the damage that had accumulated on them was extreme. Human ships had concentrated fire on individual Minbari units to overwhelm them, and an extra 74 of their vessels had been destroyed, even the Drala'Fi's heavy armor was scarred by the human plasma bolts. On the other side, any beam fired towards the human lines almost guaranteed a kill. There were very few EA ships damaged, but ships destroyed were already numbering 109.

A few heavy missiles were still approaching the Minbari lines, but there were several hundreds of the smaller Olympus and Starfury launched missiles still in play, and it was thank to them that losses were relatively low, as the Minbari firepower was being concentrated on them.

The Hyperion class cruisers were giving hell, but Admiral Cotter knew that if the damage being done didn't translate into destroyed vessels soon, then the entire attention of the Minbari weapons would be centered on her forces, and the time needed by the Minbari to waste her fleet would be counted in seconds. There were also more Minbari vessels approaching on hyperspace, and the lack of intelligence regarding their numbers made the situation tense to say the least.

As she thought of this, the Laconia's sensor officer shouted at the same time as the battle net was filtering the information on her 3D display. 9 jump points opened more than 4 light seconds away. The distance the emission had to travel meant that the Minbari were probably already in system, even though the sensors were just detecting the openings. A few seconds later, several human ships were struck by neutron and fusion beams fired in a slashing pattern.

The less damaging slashing attacks still heavily damaged the struck vessels, while some of them were cleanly cut in half.

Having 9 Minbari ships firing in a position where her forces were unable to answer was everything the Admiral needed to know about her chances. The battle as it was being fought was effectively over.

"Detonate all mines immediately and order all ships to jump 20 seconds after detonation. It'll be rough, but we need to get the hell out of here." ordered Admiral Cotter.

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Order all non-jump capable ships and fighters to rendezvous with the jump capable ones. We wait for no one! Is that clear!" barked the Admiral.

"Clear, Ma'am! Mines have detonated! Initiating count down!"

The human ships started getting into jump position, but their guns never ceased to fire. Minbari vessels that were already crippled were overwhelmed by the still ferocious assault, but human units were exploding even faster. The thousands of blue plasma pulses dwarfed the green beams in number and intensity, but every beam fired ended in a ship destroyed, while many pulses streamed through the distance leaving contrails of plasma when their containment fields dissipated when exceeding their designed maximum range.

Minbari 2nd Attack Fleet …

"Minefield detonation detected!"

"Pull our forces back! Immediately!" ordered the Alyt in command of the reserves.

"We are too close, we should jump!" countered his second in command.

"Then do it!"

The sensor officer barked from his station, "We already lost contact with two detachments, and our sensors detect heavy distortions consistent with shock-waves!"

The 2nd Attack Fleet had been moving ships forward in detachments to slowly bypass the minefield. It was thought that the humans would not detonate it on a few targets and that they would most likely wait for the entire fleet to be in range, but the opposite was happening, and now, every ship in range of the blast zone had been ordered to jump to normal space. The rest of the ships had been ordered to pull back to then turn around and attack in force without any fear of mines.

The shock-wave engulfed and disintegrated every unit on front, while the last in range of the hyperspace tsunami opened up their jump points to try and avoid it. One of those vessels was the Flagship of the 2nd Attack Fleet. The ship and its escorts started entering normal space, when the shock-wave reached them. Their jump engines struggled to keep the vortex opened. Massive amounts of energy from their extremely powerful Quantum gravimetric reactors channeled through the jump projectors to compensate, but it wasn't nearly enough, and the jump points disintegrated along with the crossing ships. 9 more Minbari vessels were destroyed.

Drala Fi – Shargoti class War Cruiser

Shai Alyt Ner'shen's view of the battle from the holographic projection room was unique and terrifying. The brawl that had become the battle was chaotic. His ships were completely out of formation and fighting as individual units. The firepower thrown at them was such that any attempt from him to reorganize the Fleet was futile. The humans had attempted to wipe his Fleet out in hyperspace, and almost succeeded, but it seemed that that was not everything under their sleeves, as the assault he was witnessing, was not only out of proportions, but extremely well executed.

His Fleet had received considerable losses, and while the human vessels were now being destroyed faster than they could, they still had enough vessels to defeat his forces, but the thing that really worried him was the status of the ships he still had in operation. There was probably not a single vessel that hadn't been impacted in some way. He knew that even if he survived this engagement, he would probably or most likely had to send almost the entire fleet back to Minbari space for repairs, and that would heavily influence the invasion timetable. Whatever the outcome, the humans had stopped the Minbari advance on its track. They were definitely not going to be able to project power beyond the Vega cluster for at least a few months.

"Shai Alyt!" barked the sensor officer. "All human fighters are disengaging, and the small capital ships are forming up with the heavier vessels."

"They are retreating." replied Ner'shen in a small voice.

Aeraan looked at his Shai Alyt in confusion. "If they stay a little longer, we'll be unable to mount any serious opposition. Why are they leaving?"

Ner'shen pointed to a point in the battlefield where green beams were crossing in the opposite direction. "Enemy Jamming may impede communications, but I'm sure that is the 2nd Attack Fleet. At the range they are firing, the humans cannot respond. They fought well. Their attack was perfectly executed, but their commanding officer timing to order the retreat is even more perfect. I can say that the average Alyt would have stayed to fight, and in so doing would have lost its fleet."

The entire battle field ignited in the yellow of so many jump vortexes. Minbari ships were still firing into the approaching missiles, but those guns that were available were still targeting human ships. There were many Hyperion cruisers destroyed forcing the collapse of some of the opening vortexes. Some were lone vessels; others had a few of the non-jump-capable ships and fighters nearby effectively stranding them in normal space. The human fleet retreated, and the Minbari vessels retaliated with force against the few stragglers. None of them survived. For the humans, some pay back was gain when a few of the remaining missiles immolated several Minbari ships in fusion detonations.

A few seconds later, and with the last human missile destroyed, the massive fleet battle in normal space was effectively over. A few more human ships were hunted down and destroyed in hyperspace by the 2nd Attack Fleet, but the fusion mines released by the retreating human vessels soon forced the Minbari forces to think twice before continuing their assault.

EAS Laconia – Hyperion class cruiser

Flagship 8th Fleet

A few minutes later...

"Keep dropping mines and have some of them detonated in random patterns. Let's try to keep those Minbari ships out of our back." ordered Admiral Cotter.

"Yes, Ma'am." answered the EFNI tactical officer.

The Admiral turned to the helms officer, and spoke at the same time to his EFNI assistant. "Set a course to the deep space supply depots, and tell Admiral von Koster to do the same."

"Admiral, those depots are very close to the Vega star system. The Minbari may follow us into normal space. Shouldn't we continue to Signet?"

"Only if they detect our openings at close range. There are no beacons there. We are triangulating the depot positions with other Vega cluster beacons. If we are able to deter any vessel from following us, we shouldn't have a problem, and we need to rearm in case we are ordered to attack again. The Vega colony now stands alone, and even though we gave the Minbari a thrashing, they still have enough strength to beat the defense grid and this fleet combined. If Earth Force doesn't commit more forces to engage the Minbari, we'll most likely lose the colony."

The EFNI operative just nodded to his Admiral and then released the order to the rest of the fast reforming Fleet.

The battle had been one of massive proportions, and while the vessels involved where not even a fifth of the vessels that fought at the Battle of Balos during the Dilgar war, the Exa-Joules of firepower thrown by both forces in the few minutes that it lasted were considerably more than what was released at Balos, with that being mostly due to the extreme power output of Minbari weapons and the amount of fusion tipped missiles released by humanity.

Losses should have been total for both forces, but the Earth Alliance survived thanks to the Minbari concentrating fire on the incoming missiles, and the Minbari thanks to the arrival of units of the 2nd Attack Fleet.

The major fleet engagement of the day was over. Both forces had had enough action for a day, maybe even for a month, but the reality of warfare dictated other terms, and those were saying that it was not over.

Drala Fi – Shargoti class War Cruiser

40 minutes after the Human retreat...

The 1st and 2nd Attack Fleets had joined forces and were now under the command of the Drala Fi. The Minbari had been mauled. Losses had been very heavy. A total of 40 Sharlins and 395 Tinashis had been lost. The amount of vessels damaged exceeded 50 percent of the 519 remaining, and that was mostly because nearly half of them were from the 2nd Attack Fleet. On the good side, Shai Alyt Ner'shen had reformed the fleet into a wall formation facing the second planet. They were not moving, as many shuttles were performing search and rescue operation on ships that had been destroyed, but that were sufficiently in one piece to suggest that there could still be survivors.

"Aeraan!"

"Yes, Shai Alyt!"

"Prepare the Fleet to attack the human colony."

Aeraan bowed before answering. "Shai Alyt, we have many ships damaged and rescue operations on destroyed vessels are still ongoing. Shouldn't we wait until we have secured the crew of those units?"

"As long as the defenses of that colony remain intact, it will not only give the humans a stronghold in the system, but also a reason to continue their attacks. We need to destroy their defenses and secure orbit to discourage an assault. Once we destroy their defense grid, we'll spread our forces so that the humans cannot concentrate their attacks. Any attempt of retaking the planet will fail if our ships are sufficiently spread-out to provide long range fire support. They won't be able to attack every ship, and those out of range of their weapons will annihilate any human attempt to recapture their colony. We move now. Leave a few damaged vessels to continue the rescue operation, but the rest will follow the Drala Fi. We can't risk waiting any longer."

Aeraan bowed again and replied. "Yes, Shai Alyt..." he paused for a moment before continuing. "The human defense grid is powerful, and many of our vessels are in no shape for another battle. Shouldn't we leave the most damaged behind?"

Ner'shen turned to look at Aeraan with piercing eyes. "I gave an order Aeraan. Every combat able vessel is to follow the Drala Fi."

"Yes, Shai Alyt. Forgive me."

Ner'shen sighed. "There is no need for forgiveness. You are clearly worried after what we have been through, but every beam weapon is still a weapon that can make a difference. The human defense satellites are a concern, but our numbers are far superior to them. We'll probably receive losses, but we need to launch a concentrated attack on their defense grid before they can call on the support of their fleet. Proceed with my orders."

"Yes, Shai Alyt."

While the ships that had their gravitic drives shattered remained in the battlefield to continue rescue operations, the rest of the fleet started accelerating towards the human second planet in the Minbari standard wall formation.

Vega IIA

Orbital Command and Control - Underground bunker

That same time ...

"They are moving, Sir." stated the sensor officer redundantly, as Vice Admiral Roger Bligh could see that clearly on the main screen.

"Are our GODS sensors picking them up?" asked Bligh in return.

"No, Sir. The Planet is still in between. We are tracking them with the satellites deployed by the Lexington. Our outer sensors will move out of the Planet's shadow in about 20 minutes. The GODS should pick them up a few moments later than that."

Bligh just nodded and then turned to the tactical officer. "Spread the defense grid out, set jammers at maximum power, deploy decoys, and empty Vega station of its Starfuries. Send them behind the colony, and order the last remaining crew in the station to abandon it."

The tactical officer replied immediately. "Vega Station has ordered evacuation of last remaining personnel and has activated its detonation charges in case they are needed. Jammers are active and at maximum power, the active sensor decoy satellites are on-line, Starfuries have been ordered to launch, and the defense grid is spreading out. How much distance should there be between each one, Sir?"

"Maximum, keep their thrusters active and the GODS moving away."

"Sir? We won't be able to concentrate fire with our plasma cannons."

"I doubt the Minbari will close to our GODS secondary weapons range. This will be a long ranged fight. If we concentrate our defenses, they will be wiped out very fast. We'll try active locks with our decoy satellites, and fire our GODS with their EMS/STL passive tracking; they'll be firing against our decoys. By the time they find out, I hope our GODS had been given the chance to fire several times."

"Yes, Sir."

The 72 GODS II started spreading away. Their thrusters were set at maximum, but they were not capital ship rated engines and in consequence were moving really slow. Vice Admiral Bligh had concentrated them in orbit to have better firepower against individual Minbari ships, or small group of vessels, but against a full fleet, he needed to spread them out to reduce their vulnerability.

On Earth, the thousands of GODS I were concentrated in orbit to allow their short ranged weapons the ability to hit incoming warships with a wall of plasma, while relying on missiles for long ranged punch, but the Dilgar War showed that the long ranged defensive ability of the Abbai and Hyach defense grids were the only thing truly effective at planetary space denial. The GODS II was designed precisely with this concept in mind, and while they had strong secondary weapons in the form of Nova class dreadnought plasma turrets, their real strength were their main particle cannons. The close to two thousand GODS II protecting Earth were spread all over, its farthest layer going outwards for up to two light seconds from the planet, giving the two farthest satellites a distance of 4 light seconds between each other, barely enough to effectively cover themselves, but at the same time covering a huge volume of space. Anything jumping at a range of 6 light seconds from Earth would jump inside the effective range of an extremely strong defense grid, forcing any invasion or assault fleet to deploy far away of population centers if they wanted a chance to live more than a few seconds.

Vega IIA was a completely different scenario. The numbers of satellites deployed were just 72, and while they were still able to effectively engage targets at 4 light seconds from the planet, and far farther away with reduced effectiveness, the numbers deployed were just not enough to handle what was coming their way.

The minutes passed, and soon the outermost sensors picked the Minbari Warships through interferometry. The GODS II sensors were able to do the same a few seconds later. Without the vector provided by the sensors deployed by the Lexington, it would have taken far more time to pick them up. The Minbari were still too far away to try to engage, but at least Bligh knew where they were, and had planned accordingly.

The Vice Admiral turned to the tactical officer and asked. "How are they approaching?"

"They have a fixed heading and acceleration, Sir."

The Vice Admiral smiled lightly and then nodded "I want the GODS to be able to fire when the Minbari are exactly 4 light seconds away. That distance is the location where our weapons are effective enough to make an impact with the approach the Minbari are having. Calculate the speed and acceleration of Minbari ships and the recharge rate of our satellites and program them to fire beyond those 4 light seconds, but I want every single one of them charged and ready to fire when the Minbari reach that distance. Let the battle-net dictate how many GODS to be used beyond the 4 light seconds, but at that distance, I want one sat per target."

The tactical officer and other operators started calculating the distance where the 72 GODS could fire on a single vessel with some chance to hit, but also calculated the recharge rate of the defensive satellites to have them ready to fire with effect at the 4 light seconds specified by the Vice Admiral.

The Minbari had very advanced ships, and their top speed was approximately 20 percent that of light. It took time for their gravitic drives to reach that speed and it was mostly used on long hyperspace routes or long interplanetary travel, and while they started their approach far away from the Human colony, they needed to enter orbit and in consequence were making a slower approach. It took some time, but finally the Vega colony defense grid opened fire.

The decoy satellites activated their sensors at full power at the same time as 72 GODS II opened fired on a slashing pattern against a single Minbari vessel. The jamming done by the humans was very high, and helped in masking the beam emissions and the decoy satellites active sensors. A Minbari Sharlin was destroyed at the same time the Minbari fleet responded with intensity. No GODS were struck. The distance was too high, jamming too strong and the Minbari fire was concentrated against the small decoy satellites. Just a few of the hundreds deployed were destroyed.

Seeing no response from the humans, and having no contacts, the Minbari momentarily stopped firing. The jammers being used by the EA were based on recovered Dilgar tech. They were similar to the systems used against besieged worlds. These systems had demonstrated to be effective against the advanced Hyach and Abbai sensors. The jammers operated by emitting massive bursts of electromagnetic and tachyon emissions, and were successful because they worked in huge numbers. The small satellites charged their capacitors and unleashed their contained energies with a wide area jamming effect to then spend several seconds or even minutes recharging their capacitor banks for another burst. The area around the Vega colony had sufficient jammers to keep a constant and variable emissions pattern from several dozen of them.

The EA was also using several of these jammers as active sensor decoys by using them in a constant mode instead than in bursts, and while with this mode they could remain active permanently, the emissions generated were barely able to compare to a capital ship grade sensor system. In any case, while the EA was trying to deceive the Minbari into thinking that the active sensor decoys were the actual satellites; their GODS were operating exclusively with the EMS/STL system. Just with the jammers, the EA had been able to block any attempt by the Minbari to get a lock or even just detect one of the human heavy particle cannons, so the active sensors were just a secondary bonus.

Thirty seconds passed before the human defense grid was able to fire again. Many jammers released their disruptive bursts at the same time as the active sensor decoys activated and the GODS II fired. The bright orange beams smashed another Sharlin to pieces. Again, the Minbari responded with extreme power but little effect. Not a single human satellite was destroyed, but this time, the bluish vessels kept firing trying to hit something with a lucky shot. The combination of space being so huge, their sensors so heavily jammed, and their passive systems unable to perform interferometry with the required precision for weapons fire at those distances, meant that only a few jammers were struck before the GODS II were able to fire again.

Drala Fi – Shargoti class War Cruiser

That same time…

Shai Alyt Ner'shen was watching with concealed awe, the impressive firepower of his fleet. Thousands of beams were slashing towards the planet that was barely visible at this distance, with its small moon not visible at all.

The Humans had destroyed two Sharlins, and he had order all vessels to fire in the immediate area close to the moon. He could clearly see space in front of him, but the fleet's sensors were extremely jammed. He just didn't know if he was causing any damage at all.

"Have we made any progress in beating their jamming?"

Aeraan turned towards his Shai Alyt. "They are releasing an impressive amount of Tachyon emissions, and we are unable to isolate our return signals. I'm afraid we'll need to get far closer before we are able to …"

Another set of bright orange beams struck two Sharlins in front of and to the starboard side of the Drala Fi. The two ships exploded with the frightening beauty of uncontained singularities.

"Two more ships, Shai Alyt. We need to break formation!" stated an altered Aeraan.

"We'll do better than that. Order one battle group to accelerate at maximum thrust. Tell them to just overshoot the planet while clearing the way for us. The rest of the Fleet is to break formation in detachments, while making the approach with altered heading and speed. Match the distance to that moon in light seconds, and alter our heading at the same intervals."

"Alter our heading at the same intervals? I'm sorry Shai Alyt. I do not understand."

"It's most likely that the humans are targeting us through visual triangulation. They need our visual emissions to do that, and those travel at the speed of light. I want our ships to change course every time our emissions reach them, if it takes ten seconds for that to happen, then change course every ten seconds."

Aeraan bowed. "Yes, Shai Alyt."

Vega IIA

Orbital Command and Control - Underground bunker

That same time...

Bligh was watching the main screen, while a few technicians worked on the unfinished holographic display in front of him. He spoke before the tactical officer had any chance of doing so. "They reacted slower that I would have thought of an advanced race. Make the detaching ships our primary targets."

"Yes Sir!"

The main screen showed a group of Minbari ships accelerating at a rate a human vessel could only dream of. Behind them, the main force of enemy vessels was maintaining their speed but altering their heading every few seconds.

The forward 81 Minbari units were composed exclusively of Tinashi class frigates detached from the main fleet to form the battle group. They were moving and accelerating fast, but were only decreasing the range towards the best firing solutions of the Human defense grid. Another set of 72 orange beams and the now trademark burst of human jamming emissions emanated from Vega IIA's surrounding space. Two Tinashis were slashed to pieces.

"Recharging! No impacts on the defense grid. Enemy fire is concentrated close to the planet and is missing our GODS by a wide margin. Battle parameters are readjusting. We'll be able to engage three targets on our next volley." stated the tactical officer.

Bligh just nodded. He looked at the Starfuries on the other side of the moon and said, "Order all Starfuries to fire their missiles on the vectored path of the Minbari's forward units approach. Take command guidance of those missiles from here. Shut them down when they reach position, then order every fighter to land. We'll not be using them. They'll be slaughter if we do."

"Yes Sir!"

Four missiles were released from each fighter. They followed a parabolic path through the upper lunar orbit to then gain escape velocity and straighten on the Minbari approach. After firing, the fighters started to slowly descend towards the main colony compound.

The Minbari forward deployed ships continued to accelerate and their accumulated speed was closing the distance to the human colony very fast.

"Firing!" shouted the tactical officer with a strong voice.

Three Tinashi class frigates were slashed by 24 particle beams each. One ship broke up, while two exploded with the extreme energy release of their quantum singularities.

Bligh was watching one of the explosions on one of the multiple screens of the command and control center. He said with a low voice "I have to say that the Minbari ships are extremely advanced, but those reactors, while powerful, have a serious design flaw."

The Tactical Officer just nodded, but kept staring at his console for a few seconds before saying "They got very close this time Sir!"

"How close?"

"One missed by just a few clicks, but there were fifteen other GODS that were also threatened."

"Stop firing. Increase jamming, and prepare to fire every defense satellite on single units once they reach 4 seconds out." Bligh paused for a second before saying, "Wait! What does the battle parameters specify for one sat per target at their current speed?"

The Tactical Officer responded a few moments later. "3.89 light seconds out Sir."

"Mark that distance on our firing solutions, but be ready to fire on single targets if the enemy attacks again and manages to hit one of our satellites."

"Yes Sir!"

The time that followed was a nerve wracking experience. The tension in the command center was high. The Minbari kept their approach towards the 3.89 light seconds' line marked for the human orbital defense grid firing solutions. As the enemy vessels approached, the intensity of their scans began to be felt, and Vice Admiral Blight ordered an increase in jamming.

The success so far was due to the cycling of human jamming satellites that allowed a constant jamming operation. As more satellites started to be used to compensate for the increased strength of Minbari sensor's emissions, there was less and less energy available in the satellites to keep the constant jamming active. The Vice Admiral knew this, and he ordered the programing of jamming operations to send the last strong burst at the same time the Minbari reached the firing line. After that, jamming would decrease considerably before the satellites recharged to operate at normal levels again. Blight just hope the majority of the forward deployed Minbari vessels would be out of action before the second group of Minbari units crossed the distance to make a difference.

The Minbari battle group reached the human predetermined firing solutions as the energy drain on the jamming satellites was reaching critical condition. A last burst of jamming emissions joined a total of 72 beams firing on a straight line. The human Global Orbital Defense Satellites sent a message of what was about to come if the Minbari pressed any further on Earth Alliance space. 19 Satellites missed their targets or barely scratched them, but 53 orange beams impacted head-on into the approaching Minbari units.

The Minbari battle group was decimated, but the now highly reduced jamming environment allowed the remaining 23 Tinashis to lock-on the human defense grid.

The shouts of victory on the Vega IIA underground bunker were silenced by the Minbari return fire. Neutron and Fusion beams impacted on the huge human satellites. Their armor was strong, but the shear strength of Minbari weapons made that irrelevant, and one after the other they started to be destroyed. A few seconds later, a massive burst of green beams, coming from the rest of the Minbari Fleet, finished the last remaining satellites.

The emptied Orion class Vega Space Station suffered the same fate a few seconds later. The ring shaped station was slashed to pieces.

The 23 remaining Tinashis started to overshoot the human colony, but they didn't stop firing for a moment. The jammers were now their targets, and while their emissions had being highly depleted in the last attack, many of them were finishing their recharge cycle and started again to fill space with heavy emissions. It was irrelevant. The Minbari were just too close, but not too close for the anti-ship missiles launched by the retreating Starfuries, for them, the emissions were enough to cover their last approach.

One of the Minbari Tinashi passed close to where the missiles were gathered. The ignition of their engines was detected, but the amount of jamming helped a few missiles reach their target. One last Tinashi was destroyed in a show of unending defiance from the human defenders.

Drala Fi – Shargoti class War Cruiser

Approaching Vega IIA…

The Battle for Vega was effectively over. Shots against the jamming satellites were still seen for several hours as the Minbari Fleet settled into orbit, but there was nothing else the defenders could do to avoid the Minbari controlling space around the colony.

Aeraan reported as the first vessel entered orbit. "Shai Alyt, our fleet is entering orbit. There are very few jammers still in operation. The shuttles we sent to capture the satellites report that humans are causing them to self-destructing before we are able to."

Ner'shen sighed, "I would have liked one for study, but the humans are not stupid, they won't let us get a hold of one. Tell the transports to keep trying, but destroy the closest ones to secure orbit. Spread the fleet. We don't want to be caught in a position where the human fleet can concentrate its fire. I want our vessels to be able to cover each other from long range. That will make them think twice before attacking."

"Yes Shai Alyt."

"Send some ships to recover the damaged vessels. Bring them here. If the humans counter-attack, they'll probably be hitting them first. Let's avoid that. Disband the 2nd Attack Fleet and merge their units on this one."

"Yes Shai Alyt."

"One last thing Aeraan. Report our victory and inform command that we have a large number of damaged ships. Inform them that those vessels will be kept until they are replaced by reinforcements. We can't decrease our presence here."

"As you command." replied Aeraan bowing.

Vega IIA

Orbital Command and Control - Underground bunker

A few minutes later…

The Minbari had gained orbital superiority, but moral in the command center was still high. They had managed their orbital resources efficiently, and the defense grid had been able to inflict heavy losses to the Minbari advance.

Bligh was half smiling. He knew the defense grid had been destroyed, but the effectiveness of the few GODS he had available had been high to say the least. They had been able to inflict almost the same losses suffered, while being outnumbered almost 8 to 1, something the fleet had not been able to replicate at all. He knew the Minbari would have a very hard time defeating the defense grids of the bigger colonies, and he now knew that the Nova IIIs would allow the fleet to not only replicate what had just happened, but to effectively fight the Minbari on even terms.

"Is everyone in the tunnels?"

"Yes Vice Admiral. All units are in the interconnecting tunnels. The cities are only defended by our automated defenses in the designated choke-points."

"We'll wait to see what they do. We can't do anything against an orbital bombardment, but if they try to land, then we'll move our troop out of the tunnels and make them regret they sat foot on a human colony"

"Yes Sir."

Vega was the first human colony to fall to the Minbari advance. The underground domed cities were mostly emptied of civilians, but a lot of ground units were preparing for a possible invasion. Vega was under siege, but still under human control.

EAS Aetos – Sagittarius class cruiser

Flagship Ranger Expeditionary Force

That same time …

The human Ranger Expeditionary Force was still crossing the com guidance line created by the Pythia detachment towards the Minbari colony of Sh'Lekk'Tha, but they now only needed that line for the return trip, as they already had a clear contact with the Minbari beacon.

The range had decreased, but they were still one day out of reaching jumping positions. The 52 remaining Oracles of the EFNI Fleet were deployed forward ready to launch hyperspace jamming drones and to deploy scout satellites into the Sh'Lekk'Tha system to provide targeting data. Following them was the entire EFNI Sagittarius force composed of 79 vessels and the 8 Nova class dreadnoughts of the Charlie variant deployed as support from the 5th Fleet. One of them was the Legendary EAS Nemesis, the most decorated unit of the Dilgar War, and the one with the highest number of kills in the Fleet. After them came the EIA EAS Delphi. This last vessel was following a slightly different course, as it was only positioning itself in range of the Minbari beacon to operate as an electronic intelligence (ELINT) vessel.

The Minbari had finally made progress in the War. They had sustaining heavy losses, but in their strategic thinking, Vega was the first of many human colonies to fall. The reality was that humanity was ready to teach them a lesson in psychological warfare, and the introduction of so many ships into Minbari controlled space would surely send shockwaves through the Minbari high command.