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Widowmaker: The Defence of Earth Part One
Posted By: LordofDestruction<Exwing4123@aol.com>
Date: 4 February 2004, 5:06 AM

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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