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Widowmaker: The Defense of Earth by LordofDestruction

Widowmaker: The Defence of Earth Part One
Date: 4 February 2004, 5:06 AM

Widowmaker: The Defense of Earth Part One
Location: Earth Sol, Titan Orbital Platform Shipyard, Saturn Colony
Date: November 7th, 2554 Military Calendar, 06:30 Zulu Time

      Captain Jonathon Ivan Grissom stood in a dark corridor of the shipyard, looking out to the endless expanse of space. Saturn hovered in his view, its ghostly rings shimmered with the sunlight that struck them as they moved out of the planet's shadow. Sol was one of humanity's last fortresses left to defy the alien onslaught. The Saturn colonies on Titan and gigantic orbital platforms held the homes of nine hundred million people. The UNSC shipyards had been moved here since the Fall of Reach, and held humanity's last and greatest hope for survival. It wouldn't become another Reach either. The sub-system of Saturn held forty-Mk. 5 Orbital Magnetic Accelerator Cannons, all strategically located, either orbiting Saturn's twenty-some moons or hidden in her rings, safe from plasma bombardment. If the Covenant attacked the shipyards, they'd have a nasty surprise. Admiral Stanforth had managed two victories after Reach, one at Alpha Centauri A, where his force of one hundred-thirty state of the art cruisers and destroyers destroyed an attacking force of four hundred Covenant vessels by trapping them in a gas giant's gravity well which they had been led to believe was the main colony of Alpha Centauri A. He also defeated another numerically superior force at Tau Ceti IV through use of orbital guns. However, these victories had only stalled for time.
      But there was hope, and it lay right in front of Captain Grissom. In the shipyard were thirty of the hundred state of the art Decimator-class battleships. These ships were each four km long, and armored with five meters of photon-charged Titanium-A battleplate. They mounted three-Mk. 12 Magnetic Accelerator Cannons, mounted on rotating turrets, each capable of firing two super dense Iridium-Tungsten Carbide rounds. Two shots were significant to destroy a Covenant cruiser's shield and inflict damage to the ship, while a third round could cripple the vessel. On top of that, she carried a total of one thousand Archer missile pods, a wing of Longsword interceptors and a wing of the new Dagger space-dominance fighters. These vessels were also the first to carry defensive shielding, though only about two-thirds the effectiveness of an equivalent Covenant vessel, it was powerful enough to stop a plasma torpedo. Twenty-five of these battleships were even more effective ships. They were the Widowmaker-subclass ships. They were unique in that their shields had been boosted, at great cost, to twenty percent greater than Covenant equivalent ships, and that the ship's reactors had eighty percent greater power than the Decimator-class ships. They also mounted a battery of pulse lasers to augment their already formidable armament. The lead ship, UNSC Widowmaker, was Captain Grissom's new ship. His first command had been the destroyer Odysseus, one of the test ships for both artificial gravity systems and shields. He had proven that the cost of artificial gravity and shielding was worth it when he attacked and destroyed two Covenant destroyers and a frigate in an engagement over Tau Ceti IV. That is why he was trusted with the Widowmaker, because he was the only UNSC Captain with experience fighting with shields. He couldn't ask for a finer ship, or a finer crew. His AI was a new smart AI, who was designed with special interest in combat creativity and maneuvering, Belisarius, the great Byzantine general of the sixth century.
He had Command Master Chief Petty Officer to help supervise the running of the bridge. He had twenty years experience in engaging the Covenant in space, so was extremely valuable in any combat situation. His Navigation Officer was Lieutenant Russell Kelly, a very adept navigator and a superb thinker. His Weapons Officer was Lieutenant Commander Heidi Jacobs, whose skill and speed with ship weaponry was almost unequaled in the entire Navy. His Communications Officer was Lieutenant J.G. Svetlana Golovko, a recent Luna academy graduate. His Systems Officer and XO was Commander Preston Cole jr., Vice Admiral Preston Cole's son. He was a very good officer, though he was somewhat resentful of his rank because it reflected his father's political connections, and not his talent.
      Grissom fixed his gaze on his ship, in awe of her tremendous size and power. She had a red hourglass on her belly, mimicking its namesake, the black widow spider. Hopefully she would inspire the same terror into her enemies. He walked to the shuttle bay, and had the Ensign controlling it take him for a close look at his ship. As he cruised past the prow of the ship, he felt for the first time how big she really was. The shuttle brought him into the main hanger bay, a huge bay one hundred meters wide, fifty meters tall and completely bisecting the ships total beam of four hundred meters. After shuttle touched down on its pad, he walked off the ramp and met a tall, black haired man with the rank insignia of a Commander, who saluted him.
      The man said as he saluted, "Captain on deck." All of the crewmen and officers in the bay turned and saluted Grissom.
      Grissom reviewed them for a minute, then replied, "At ease. Commander Cole, thank you for the warm reception. What do you think of her?"
      Cole paused and thought for a moment, then said, "She's a wonderful ship. I've never seen a ship that's as well designed. Her structural design is similar to the old Halcyon-class cruisers, though modernized with a new super alloy frame. She could shrug off several plasma torpedoes and still survive. The charged battleplate can take a plasma torpedo and still have a meter of armor left."
      Grissom rubbed his chin thoughtfully, then said, "Let's hope we never have to test that. What do you think about the defensive shields?"
      He replied, "Well, I think it's about time we've evened the odds. We also have five SHIVA nuclear warheads and twelve HAVOK mines."
      Grissom replied in shock, "I've never heard of a vessel carrying that many nukes before. Well, let's get to the bridge. I want to get moving for a patrol out to Neptune to work out the bugs in the engines." He pressed his intercom key and said to the shipboard AI, "Belisarius, how long before we can leave the shipyard?"
      A confident, slightly disembodied voice came back over the intercom, "Reactor shakedown complete. Powering up reactor to forty percent. We can leave in twelve minutes, twenty-six seconds."
      Grissom replied, "I'll be on the bridge a minute. Make sure everyone is ready."
      The voice replied smugly, "Get moving, you only have fifty-six seconds before you're late."
      Grissom frowned and said, "Don't quit your day job, Belisarius. And disregard that last statement."
      "Yes sir." Replied Belisarius.
      Grissom moved onto the bridge, and noticed the increased sophistication in the control panels and holodisplays over his last command. The bridged hummed with excitement, the different officers and crewmen checked and rechecked everything. A few minutes later, the engines came to life, and the ship disengaged from the docking berth. Grissom said to his Navigation Officer, Lieutenant Kelly, "Bring engines up to thirty-percent. New bearing one-seven-five-point-two-five, declination minus zero-zero-three-point-seven-five.
      Lieutenant Kelly responded, "Aye sir. Course plotted and laid in. Time to arrival at Neptune Sensor Outpost in five hours, thirty-five minutes."
      Grissom then said to his Communications Officer, Lieutenant JG Golovko, "Monitor all frequencies, and screen out background noise. There may be some pirate ships that far out of system."
      She replied, "Yes sir. Monitoring all channels."
      Grissom then asked an idle midshipmen, "Could you get me some coffee?"
      He started, then replied, "Y-yes sir. How would you like it?"
      Grissom thought momentarily, then said, "With cream, two sugar cubes."
      The midshipmen saluted and moved off of the bridge. Grissom looked back the forward view screen. He could see Uranus, off in the distance, as well as a small comet beginning its path inwards towards the sun. He looked at the view screen displaying the rear sensor, and stared intently at Saturn. When Earth Sol was found by the Covenant, Saturn would be first hit. He pushed that thought away as the midshipmen returned with his coffee.


      For the next four hours, the bridge was unnaturally quiet. Then he heard Golovko say, "Sir, I've just picked up a ship transmission, coming from somewhere near the edge of the Neptune gravity well."
      His only reply was, "Source?"
      Belisarius broke in by saying, "It appears to be intra-ship communication between several unidentified vessels. I'm scanning the region." The AI paused, calculating trillions of variables, then said, "Confirmed pirate transmission. I'm picking up six vessels, two large tonnage, and four medium tonnage vessels."
      Grissom had to act, but how. He could engage them, but that might be rash and lead to damage to his ship. If he left them alone however, they might pick off some hapless transport vessel. He said, "Lieutenant Kelly, lay in intercept course, increase speed to fifty-percent. Lieutenant Commander Jacobs, bring the ship up to Combat Alert Beta, remove safety interlocks from all weapons, charge MAC capacitors and warm up pulse lasers. Make sure shields are at one hundred-percent when we engage them. Belisarius, any suggestions for combat?"
      He calculated for a millisecond, then replied, "Yes. From the scans I took of the pirate battle group, they lack powerful sensors. If we continue towards them at this velocity, we'll appear like a carrier, not a predator. Once they close within weapons range, we let their missiles explode on our shields. We then accelerate to maximum velocity. They will, with an eighty-six percent probability, turn and run. We open fire at point-blank range, and tear them to ribbons.
      Grissom pursed his lips in deep thought, then replied, "Right. They'll have never even heard of a battleship, let alone seen it in combat. They'll do the pirate thing and try to stay alive. We move in for the kill. Excellent. Lieutenant Golovko, inform FLEETCOM of our pirate friends, and our course of action. It's time to tear those sons of bitches apart.
      Lieutenant Kelly announced, "Time until weapons range, fifteen minutes."


      Those fifteen minutes seemed like hours at first. The crew of the Widowmaker was taking her into combat untested. This would prove whether or not the ship was of fit design. When the pirates first saw, her they hesitated. They moved closer, and thinking that the ship was an easy kill, attacked her. The two larger vessels fired each a dozen Archer Missile pods, while the smaller vessels launched fighters at the Widowmaker. Grissom sat tensely on the bridge, as he watched the hundreds of missiles stream towards his vessel. Every part of him said to break and disengage, but he checked those instincts. The missiles struck the silvery film of her shields a meter in front of her hull. Hundreds of explosions dotted the length of the vessel, and her shields flashed white, then returned to normal. The Widowmaker accelerated as planned, and the six pirate vessels came about and ran from the battleship, mistaking it for a Covenant vessel in their fear.
      Grissom saw that his ship was quickly over taking the pirates, and said, "Lieutenant Commander Jacobs, lock firing solutions on the two cruisers for two MAC rounds. Lock firing solutions on the four smaller vessels for Archer missile pods A1 through B26. Fire on my mark." He pulled up the firing timer that Belisarius had prepared for him, and watched as the seconds ticked down. "Five-four-three-two-one-mark!"
      She pressed the weapon release button and looked to her left to the forward view screen. The four MAC rounds screamed ahead of the Archer missiles. Each cruiser was struck from stern straight through to her bow twice. The massive force of the projectiles caused the cruisers to crumple in on themselves and explode into an orange fireball. Each medium vessel was hit by four hundred Archer missiles, tearing hundreds of holes though their meter of armor, allowing their atmosphere to stream away. Two of the medium vessels exploded into a fiery supernova of plasma and ionized metal. The force the explosions dropped the Widowmaker's shields to a quarter of their strength. Seconds later, all was quiet.

To be continued in: Widowmaker: The Defense of Earth Part Two

Widowmaker: The Defense of Earth Part Two: Revelation
Date: 1 December 2004, 11:41 PM

Widowmaker: The Defense of Earth Part Two: Revelation
Location: Earth Sol, UNSC Widowmaker, En Route to Neptune Sensor Outpost
Date: November 7th, 2554 Military Calendar, 10:48 Zulu Time

      Grissom surveyed the wreckage of the six pirate vessels. They all were obsolete, with their spaceframes between sixty and seventy years old. They wouldn't even stand a chance against one of the newest UNSC destroyers, let alone an eighteen million ton battleship. He ordered, "Lieutenant Kelly, new bearing one-seven-three-point-two-one, declination minus zero-zero-one-point-one-five. Continue at present speed."
      Lieutenant Kelly responded, "Aye-aye sir. ETA at present speed, forty minutes."
      Grissom responded, "Good. Lieutenant Golovko, send FLEETCOM Belisarius' report of the battle. Commander Cole, get me a report of the status of all the major ship systems."
      They all responded, "Yes sir," and went to their tasks with great efficiency. They felt better knowing that the bucket of bolts they were stationed on could take a tremendous beating and dish out even more punishment then it took. Grissom looked through the various view screens sending visual data to the bridge. Nothing was unusual. A destroyer about three hundred thousand km away was testing its shielding systems she had recently installed. Some small meteoroids were traveling on safe trajectories in to the inner solar system. Just another day at the office.


      Forty minutes later, the UNSC Widowmaker made a slingshot around Neptune, and shot back towards Saturn. Grissom was so far very pleased with his new vessels capabilities. Though, the ship hadn't ever run at full power, he was going to make sure he knew it could.
      He said, "Lieutenant Kelly, increase engine power to one hundred percent. Commander Cole, supercharge the reactor to one hundred-fifty percent.
      They looked at him, puzzled, but then went to their duties. They quickly realized what he was doing, see what she's got. The ship accelerated very quickly. At this rate, she would only need one hour and thirty minutes to get back to Saturn. The reactor wasn't in any danger of overloading, so they continued at that speed all the way to Saturn. It was just another day at the office, or so they thought.


      When the Widowmaker was just fifteen minutes away from Saturn, Lieutenant Golovko said, startled and suddenly pale, "Incoming Alpha priority transmission!"
      Grissom knew that an Alpha priority transmission could mean only one thing, invasion. He said as calmly as he could, "Put it on holotank 2." She tapped a few keys, and the message popped up for the entire bridge to see.

United Nations Space Command ALPHA PRIORITY
      TRANSMISSION 05593Z-91

Encryption Code: Red
Public Key: file /bravo-tango-beta-alpha-omega-one/
From: Fleet Admiral Sir Terrence Hood, FLEETCOM Alpha Commander/ (UNSC       Service Number: 00013-18890-HS
To: ALL UNSC warships in REACH, THERMOPYLAE, TANTALUS, ELYSIUM and       SOL systems
Classification: Classified (BGX Directive)

/start file/

      Covenant presence detected on the edge of SOL system, coordinates 030 relative. Course determined, hostiles inbound to Jupiter and Saturn sub-systems
      All UNSC warships are herby ordered to cease all activity and regroup at rally points BETA and GAMMA.
      ALL SHIPS are to disregard the Cole Protocol.

/end file/

      A nav coordinate appeared on the forward view screen, directing the Widowmaker to rally point GAMMA, right in the invasion path of the Covenant fleet heading towards Saturn. Grissom turned to Lieutenant Kelly, "ETA to rally point GAMMA?"
      "Fourteen minutes." Lieutenant Kelly replied.
      Grissom frowned, "Increase speed to one hundred-fifty percent. Bring the ship up to Combat Alert Alpha, vacate and decompress all non-essential compartments. Remove all weapon safety locks and arm our SHIVA missiles. Commander Cole, what is the ETA of the Covenant fleet?"
      Cole replied. "They will exit slipspace in fifteen minutes, then it will be three minutes until they are in range of the ships at rally point GAMMA.
      Grissom responded quickly, "Good. What is the exact number of our ships that will be at rally point GAMMA and the number of Covenant ships that will be at rally point GAMMA at engagement time?"
      Cole sighed. "Approximately four hundred UNSC warships will be at rally point, facing at least fifteen hundred Covenant ships.
      Grissom replied, "Well, its time to reveal the trump card. The Covenant know that some of our ships have shields, but what they don't know is that every warship in this system has been outfitted with them. When we line up for engagement in the Stanforth phalanx maneuver, our shields will buy us one extra salvo, something they'll never expect." He paused for a moment, deep in thinking. "This may be the last time that humans are a free and independent race. All I want to say is, that if we are beaten here, that we fight to the bitter end, and take as many of those wretched bastards with us as we can."
      The bridge crew nodded in agreement, then went back to their duty. Grissom watched them work, quickly and efficiently, all with a tenacious determination he had never seen before. Apparently they felt the same way he did. He muttered to himself, "They would follow me to whatever end. That is something that is truly honorable."
      He called out, "Commander Cole, get our interceptor wing launched and covering any approach vectors of Covenant troopships attacking Titan or Rhea. Also, see if you can get any of our SHIVA or HAVOKS into the nuclear minefield set up behind rally point GAMMA."


      The next eighteen minutes were the most agonizingly long time they had ever felt. The four hundred twelve UNSC warships were packed into a tight overlapping phalanx formation with twelve refit and repair ships holding station above it. The Widowmaker was placed on the right flank of the formation. All around the formation were various privateer craft and old missile corvettes with only one task in mind-to prevent the capital ships from being torn apart by fighter attack. Grissom paced nervously on the bridge, watching the main forward holotank, a three-dimensional display that covered the entire front of the bridge. He looked at all of the weapon and shield displays, and, to his relief, everything was in order. He looked next at the firing timer, it displayed fifty-two seconds. The forty Mk. 5 orbital guns were all poised to fire, their three thousand ton shells lethal to any Covenant ship.
      Grissom then saw a massive capital ship sitting in the center of the advancing Covenant formation. It was the same type of ship that turned the tide at Reach. He was absolutely amazed by its size, it was more than twice the size of his battleship. He then gave one final order before Fleet Admiral Hood came on the comm. "It has been the greatest honor of my career to serve with you. Before we are destroyed, I will make sure that the Covenant flagship accompanies us to oblivion."
      An aged, grizzled Scottish voice came over the comm. It said, "All ships, prepare to engage the enemy. Godspeed, and good luck." Grissom glanced at the timer, just twelve seconds remaining. Belisarius was furiously calculating firing solutions for the second, third and forth volleys, while Lieutenant Commander Jacobs just finished locking down the fire control panel. The Covenant fleet grew ever larger and ominous, advancing like menacing death machines. He counted down the last five seconds to himself, feeling his life drip away with the seconds like morning dew from a leaf. When he reached zero, the entire ship rocked back from the force of the three Magnetic Accelerator Cannons firing two rounds simultaneously at three separate targets. A volley of crimson red plasma streaked out of the advancing Covenant. The rounds from the orbital guns shot passed the UNSC fleet, and shattered forty Covenant ships like glass models.
      The whole bridge crew watched the MAC capacitor's charge level fill back up, followed by another shudder of the ship as she spit out six blazing white projectiles into the hard vacuum of space along with the close to one thousand rounds fired off by the rest of the fleet, followed by another volley of orbital gun fire that shattered thirty-nine more Covenant ships.
      The Covenant formation spit out another crimson wave of death towards the humans. The human fleet managed a third salvo before the refit and repair stations hummed to life and settled in front of the human fleet. Each of the three km long plates caught dozens of plasma torpedoes, and began to melt and boil away, jetting off gouts of ionized metal, buying the human fleet time for another volley. While the repair stations were being burned away, the first human salvo hit, stripping three hundred ships of their shields.
      When the second salvo hit, close to three hundred Covenant ships were torn apart from multiple MAC round hits, spitting plasma and debris across the cosmos. The remaining ships steamed stoically into the third salvo of white-hot death, which knocked out eighty other ships and stripped one hundred more of their shields. They then fired their next salvo of plasma torpedoes at the humans, and then steamed full speed towards them.
      The UNSC warships fired off one more vengeful salvo of MAC rounds at the charging Covenant. Normally, they would then break formation and charge into a melee with the Covenant fleet, hoping to dodge some of the incoming plasma torpedoes, but instead they remained adamantly fixed in formation, charging their capacitors for a fifth salvo.


      The bridge of the Covenant cruiser Purity of Essence hummed with excitement. Her Ship Master, Sekma 'Toranamee watched this odd behavior with morbid curiosity. She couldn't help but exclaim, "Magnificent valor!" She had seen many years of combat with humans, and had learned that they were anything but stupid. Humans simply didn't do anything without a reason. She instantly realized what they were scheming might cost the battle.
      Her immediate underling, Forna 'Mortarnamee said with obvious disdain, "You give the talking monkeys to much credit, Master. They are obviously just too stupid to move out of the way."
      She snapped back, "You have missed the point, Bridge Master. By maintaining formation they can fire one more coherent shot at us, doing more damage then if they broke formation and engaged us ship to ship." She turned back to the holo display and watched the fifth salvo launch from the human interlopers. She clicked her mandibles, as the front of their ships blossomed with the characteristic crimson red of an exploding plasma torpedo. The entire front of the formation became a boiling mass of blue and red-orange plasma, completing obscuring that the human ships were still intact.


      The whole crew of the Widowmaker went tense as the ship lurched backwards from the force of the impacting plasma. The bridge crew watched morbidly as the display of the ships shield strength first fell fast, then began to slow until it reached the one quarter strength area, were it held steady. By now, everyone was sweating bullets and quite a few might have to change their underwear afterwards, but now they had to focus on the task at hand. Belisarius inputted the sixth and seventh firing solutions into the fire control. The whole fleet fired yet another wrathful volley at the now point blank range Covenant fleet. They had not charged up another volley of plasma after the salvo they thought would gut the human fleet had hit. They never expected the sixth salvo, it claiming close to one hundred and fifty ships and wounding one hundred more. They began firing one more cascade of plasma when the seventh human volley hit, combined with the devastation already wrought by the orbitals, leaving only eight hundred Covenant ships intact. The human formation came about, and fell back to cover the orbital guns, losing more than one third their number to the last second cascade of plasma. Dozens of UNSC combat ships were gutted by plasma torpedoes, then raked by pulse laser fire as the Covenant fleet passed them. The Widowmaker barely missed getting hit with a torpedo, as she shot into the nuclear minefield, only to nearly get hit by one of the scintillating white projectiles fired from the Number 17 orbital gun. The fleet emerged from the other side of the minefield seventeen seconds later, followed three thousand kilometers behind by the Covenant fleet. The came about at the last possible moment, and bared their weapons at the enemy.
      Fifty HAVOKS and twenty SHIVAS exploded, burning out the shields of half of the Covenant ships. The human fleet then fired volleys of Archer missiles and a few MAC rounds. The Archer missiles hit unshielded Covenant ships like a swarm of angry wasps, tearing into their armored carapace, blasting off thousands of tons of metal off of each ship, and then eviscerating the newly exposed superstructure. Ships not torn apart by Archer missiles were punched cleanly through by one thousand ton tungsten carbide rounds, biting into their vital components like well aimed rapier thrusts. Close to two hundred enemy ships met their demise here to this well executed combo, either as burning radioactive hulks, twisted metal derelicts, or battered debris fields torn apart by thousands of missile impacts.
      The orbital gun batteries fired yet another salvo into the raging debacle, breaking forty more capital ships into millions of metal shards. In the confusion, the attacking assault carriers launched thousands upon thousands of troopships towards Titan, Rhea and the primary orbital platform orbiting Saturn, and escorted them with thousands of Seraph fighters.


      The 487th Tactical Interceptor Wing, commanded by Commander Sergei "Prince" Romanov, moved in delta formation to intercept the incoming troopships approaching the moon Titan to destroy the orbital defense generators. Romanov went on the radio, saying in his rich Russian accent, "Okay comrades, split up into flights of four, one flight attacks each troopship. Come in fast and hard, and then get out ASAP, or those Seraphs will tear you to pieces. We'll stagger our attacks to draw off their fighter cover. If you are engaged, begin the Thatch weave, don't try to dogfight. Over and out."
      The one hundred forty four fighters in the wing broke off into thirty-six flights, each attacking one troopship. The troopships each carried nearly ten thousand ground troops and were heavily armored, thought not enough to withstand several ASM-111 Warhammer cruise missiles. Each missile had one ton of C12 shape charge packed into the nose, enough power to drill through battleship plate. Commander Romanov centered his attack run on the fourth troopship in the column heading towards Titan. His three wingmen and him were in two columns running two hundred meters apart. He obtained a radar lock and selected a Warhammer cruise missile. He counted on his radar six Seraphs guarding the troopship, and locked his radar on one of them for an ASIM-34 Anvil II space interceptor missile. His wingmen followed his lead and each selected a Seraph for termination. They then throttled up to one hundred percent power and began their attack run. At one thousand kilometers, barely ten seconds away from the target, they launched their missiles. The four Warhammers and the four Anvils shot out in front of the Longswords. The Anvils hit their targets first, their explosive charge splashing off of their shields, breaking them and having enough energy left to destroy the less resilient fighter inside. Two seconds later, the four cruise missiles hit the side of the troopship, blasting through its relatively weak shield and splitting her in half amidships. The four Longswords overshot their stricken target, followed by the two remaining Seraphs. They began weaving back and forth, so that if a fighter tailed on a column, on the pass the other column would get a shot at them, allowing a less maneuverable fighter to defeat one much better suited to dog fighting. The two Seraphs attacked the column opposite of Romanov's, making him select his guns and prepare for a head on attack on a preoccupied Seraph. He said to his wingman, "Alpha two, get the one on the left, I'll get the right."
      He heard a "Roger," come over the radio. The two columns were coming together at more than ten kilometers per second, so his timing would have to be perfect. He lined up the sight projected on his HUD, and squeezed the trigger, sending out a line of 110mm Vulcan fire at the target. Its shields flashed off the first three hundred rounds, then failed, allowing one hundred rounds a second to tear through its space frame, causing it to break up into a cloud of debris and plasma. The other Seraph fared no better, and one moment later they prepared for a second run on the attacking troopships.
      The formation lined up for a run on the lead troopship. They locked on, and prepared to fire their Warhammer cruise missiles. On this run, however, the troopships were putting up pulse laser fire to deter attacking Longswords. Flashes of blue-green light shot past Romanov's fighter, nearly hitting it. He was about ready to launch his weapon when he saw a flash to port, and looked to see the Longsword running two hundred meters away exploding in a brilliant flash of blue pulse laser fire. "God damn it!" he cried. His weapons officer then released the cruise missile, and he pulled the craft into a climb to avoid pulse laser fire. The three missiles fired streaked into the troopship's starboard side, tearing 3 sixty-meter wide holes in her port side. She listed and spun to port, striking a troopship running parallel to her. Seconds later, they both detonated into a mini nova of red-orange plasma, taking three Seraphs with them.


      Meanwhile, the UNSC Widowmaker detonated her dorsal emergency thruster, knocking her downward into the path of a plasma torpedo streaking towards the No. 5 Orbital gun, one of the more exposed and vulnerable orbitals. The torpedo impacted on her shield and exploded into a dark blue orb of death. Her shields flashed, and failed, and allowed two meters of her ventral armor to be burned away. Grissom wiped the sweat from his forehead with his cuff. "Bring us about. Belisarius, give me a firing solution on the destroyer that launched that plasma torpedo for Archer missile pods B1 through B20 and three MAC rounds."
      Belisarius' holographic avatar nodded. The ship reversed direction, though it was almost unnoticeable because of the artificial gravity systems. Belisarius said, full of rage, "Firing solution calculated. Launching Archers, five seconds to MAC discharge." The symbols on his avatar flashed and rearranged faster now as he perfected the firing solution. "Firing Magnetic Accelerator Cannon."
      The ship rocked back as three white-hot tungsten orbs shot across the vacuum of space towards the destroyer. She was charging another plasma torpedo, and simultaneously engaging the Archer missiles with her pulse lasers. One third of them were shot down before the MAC rounds hit. Her shields flashed twice, then failed, allowing second round to transfer its remaining energy, then be completely penetrated by the third round. The Archers hit next, knifing into the open hole in her amidships, splitting her in half at the center. A frigate moved up on the starboard side of the destroyer, charging a plasma torpedo, only to be cut down by an orbital gun, shattering her and continuing on to hit another frigate, destroying her as well.
      A second destroyer moved on the Widowmaker, pulse lasers firing and splashing on to her not yet recovered shields. Grissom shouted, "Belisarius, return fire with any MAC rounds you can fire, and our pulse lasers.
      Belisarius nodded, and the symbols on his avatar froze and change sequence. "Solution calculated. Firing three MAC rounds." The ship shuddered, and three burning white meteors shot out of her Magnetic Accelerator Cannon turrets, striking the destroyer on her prow. Her shields flashed twice, then failed, allowing her hull to be raked by dozens of capital ship pulse laser blasts, burning through her starboard armor and sending plumes of ignited atmosphere and ionized metal jetting off into space. A spread of Archer missiles from the destroyer Ajax tore into the Covenant destroyer's port side, turning her into a broken derelict.

To be continued in: Widowmaker: The Defense of Earth Part Three: Debacle