Big Game V – Chapter Twenty Two: Old Grudges

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“Steady as she goes, take us in.”

The Azure Flames Strike Cruiser Honor slid into the cloud of gas and dust, leaving a spiraling contrail in their wake.   Captain Ganendra of the 4th company felt both of his hearts pounding.  This was a risky maneuver, and went against the rules of engagement Atrus and Kalmsan had ordered, but he had to be sure.  The CE 811 system was the most to the Galactic East in the Chasma Spica, and therefore reinforcements from Bakka would likely come out of warp here.  If there were any traps laid, Ganendra had to root them out, or retreat and return with reinforcements.  The viewscreens of the exterior cameras showed indistinct gray blurs.

“Captain, contact, bearing two-eight-three mark three-oh-nine.” Brother Nicholas sang out.

“Identity?” Ganendra asked as he called up the resultant view.  His screen was still obscured by the cloud.

“Negative confirmation on the contact, recalibrating long range… BRACE FOR IMPACT!” Nicholas shouted.  He slapped a large red button and a klaxon sang out.  Seconds later the ship shuddered as they were raked by battery fire.

“Report!”  Ganendra shouted.  Too many voices answered him.

“Minor damage to port hull.  No casualties.”

“Shields at 87%”

“Compensating for impact drift”

“Coming out of the cloud.”

“Target identified.  Forge of Hate!  An Iron Warriors vessel!”

Ganendra’s head snapped to the Marine at the Tactical console.  “Is that confirmed?”

“Yes, sir.”

Ganendra opened a comm-link to the interior vox systems.  His voice rang throughout the ship.  “Attention brothers.  We have a Chaos Vessel belonging to the Iron Warriors in our sights, and we will show them no mercy.”  A cheer echoed all about the bridge.  Ganendra smiled.  The Azure Flames love to kill Iron Warriors.  He cut the comm-link.  “Full Speed Ahead, take us right at them.”  He activated another vox channel. “Master at Arms, wait until we close to 500km, then fire bombardment cannons.  Thunderhawk flights away.”  The vox chirped a response, and Ganendra closed the channel.  The ship shook violently several times.

“Fire on deck 8, response teams en route.  Port batteries offline. Estimated time to repair, seven minutes.”

“Come to heading two-nine-zero mark three-zero-zero.  Engines at half speed.  Master at arms, fire at will.”  Ganendra shouted.  The cannons fired as the ship swerved to the left, and the Chaos ship glowed red on Ganendra’s display.  Two hits.  The Batteries opened up.  Several red lights on the display.

“Enemy shields down, Thunderhawks beginning attack run.”

The ship rocked again.

“Pressure loss on deck four, bulkheads in place.”

“Shields at 34%”

Ganendra’s hearts raced with the thrill of battle.  “Target the enemy’s warp engines.  Bring us about to zero-one-zero mark zero-two…” Ganendra was cut off by another impact. “…five.  Damage report!”

“Hull integrity is at 93%.  All fires extinguished.  Shields are down.  Jam in Starboard Batteries one and three.  Thirty seconds until clear.”

“Thunderhawks report enemy ship boarded, engines crippled.”

“Power surge from enemy weapons systems, they have a lock!”

Ganendra signaled for another brace, seconds later the ship lurched.  Lights on the bridge went out, replaced by harsh, red ones.

“Primary power interruption, secondary power online.  Prow weapons damaged.”

“Fire.”  Ganendra said.  The remaining weapons systems fired in unison, and struck the enemy vessel amidships.  The tactical display lit up.

“Enemy weapons crippled.  They’re running. ”

Ganendra reached up and wiped the sweat from his brow.  “Give them one more good volley, just to be…”

“New contacts!” someone shouted.  “Enemy vessels, two capitol ships and several escorts, 5,000km abeam.”

Ganendra sighed.  They could not take a fleet of that magnitude as damaged as they were.  “Divert power from weapons to Warp Engines and shields, take us into the Empyrean as soon as shield strength is enough.  Contact Thunderhawks, emergency combat landings.  Set heading for the Julius system, send word to His Anvil of our skirmish, and inform them we will be arriving with guests.”

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