Longsword R: Desperation, Part One
Posted By: Sterfrye36<Sterfrye36@yahoo.com>
Date: 18 June 2004, 7:16 PM
1029 hours, November 23, (Military Calendar) Bridge of the UNSC Cruiser-Carrier, Maverick
The Lighting, Thunderbolt, San Jacinto and Yorktown were among the surprise attack force. The Human ships spat triple MAC rounds in a fiery volley towards the invaders. Reeves fully expected the first two rounds of each salvo to stop at the enemies' shields...but they didn't. The trios of rounds slammed into the Covenant ships.
Reeves saw three shots from the Thunderbolt smash into the engines of a cruiser and all of the rounds exit out the nose in a single hole. The cruiser exploded a moment later.
They hadn't put their shields up yet. Human casualties: zero. Covenant casualties: thirty-eight and rising.
The Human destroyers and frigates were quick to take advantage of their enemies' error. The Humans split their triple MAC volleys; one shot per ship. The Covenant sat in formation, stunned as the Humans tore into their ranks. MACs fired and arced across the void, and Spitfire missiles left snaky tendrils of exhaust behind them as they slammed into the Covenant ships.
Reeves glanced at a readout of showing the number of enemy ships. It was dropping at a rate of two to five ships per second. There were, by this point, over a hundred Covenant ship hulks drifting dead in space. One unlucky Human frigate at the head of the attack was rendered "dead in the water" as a Covenant cruiser decided to take the risk and fired plasma torpedo. The torpedo pulsated in the visible spectrum of colors from hot pink to ice blue. It caromed through the Covenant formation towards the frigate. The torpedo glanced off of another Covie ship before it finally slammed into the frigate's engines.
The engines struggled to stay alive as several Covenant craft became bolder and opened up with their pulse lasers. The frigate's engines finally flamed as the concentrations of energy pounded its aft. The commander of the ship kept his cool, though he'd lost all normal methods of propulsion. He activated his boat's aft emergency thruster, and the frigate leapt away from the Covenant formation, on a vector straight for the debris field.
A destroyer moved into its wake and absorbed multiple shots from the Covenant's lasers in order to protect the frigate. Then, it too tried to retreat from the enemy formation. Unfortunately, the Covenant flagship fired one of its turrets. The beam of plasma nearly shattered the destroyer; the lance of energy penetrated deep into the hull and sent cracks racing along the destroyer's two meters of titanium A battleplate.
It ignited in a nuclear fireball that was too large to have occurred naturally. Reeves' eyes actually watered due to the fireball's brightness. He blinked furiously. The captain of the ship must have realized that they weren't going to escape and ordered all of the nuclear weapons to detonate at once. As a result, another two dozen Covenant craft, at the head of the formation, were thrown out of the fight.
Half of the remaining Humans finished their rampage and shot out the front of the enemy formation. They quickly made their way through pre-prepared holes in the debris field and made it to the safety of the other side. The rest of the group reversed their course and dodged through lifeless hulks of enemy ships; they slid back into the moon's shadow. None of the Covenant ships gave chase.
"Sir," Hayes intoned. "Incoming message from the captain of the Thunderbolt's A.I. It's alpha priority."
"Put it on."
"Gentlemen," a gruff voice chuckled. "I suggest you put on your sunglasses."
"Sunglasses?" Reeves wondered aloud. "What's he mean by...Eagle, activate the bright light filters on the Clarion!"
"Don't argue, do it!" The picture from the drone darkened to almost ink black. However, that didn't stop an intense flare of white light the size of a beach ball from piercing the filter as though it wasn't there. The Thunderbolt had laid one, if not several HAVOK nuclear mines and fired all of her SHIVA missiles. Unlike the destroyer from earlier, it had dispersed its nuclear arsenal, and the result was a wall of fire that overpowered dozens of Covenant shields and destroyed them. Their explosion added to fuel to the fire and kept it going for fifty kilometers.
"Report!" the Captain yelled. He was practically giddy at the success of the attack. Eagle grinned as he ran the numbers.
"Three HAVOKs and four SHIVAs detonated, sir. Over two hundred plus enemy casualties. Only four hundred ninety ships left; sir, they have less than two thirds of their original attack force." The bridge crew let out a cheer, and the Captain clasped his hands behind his back.
Perhaps we can win this after all, Gunter Reeves thought merrily.
"Sir!" Eagle suddenly yelled. "I've detected increasing heat levels off to our port!"
"What!?" Reeves turned to stare at him disbelievingly.
"The levels are consistent with a Covenant plasma weaponry."
"Bring us about! Launch our fighters! Scan the immediate area with EMP and radar." And then, under his breath, "Not good..." Without further warning, a lance of plasma came out of nowhere and impaled the nearest Super MAC.
1031 hours, November 23, (Military Calendar) Cockpit of Major Marcus Easley's Northrop-Grumman Longsword S Interceptor, on top of Number Three Catapult, Launch Bay Four
Major Marcus Easley tapped his foot against the floor of the cockpit irritably. Annoyance was too weak of a word to convey what he felt. Here he was, sitting all ready to go, and control wouldn't let him launch. He keyed his radio.
"No," responded Joseph Saldanna, the air boss. He was responsible for monitoring other ships activities around the cruiser. He oversaw the launch of fighters from it, too, and was doing his job just to well in the Major's opinion. "Not just yet. The Captain wants all squadrons to wait for authorization and--" he paused as he was momentarily distracted. The major heard yelling and screaming in the background noise and Saldanna's voice crashed back into existence. "LAUNCH!!!"
"Wait!" Marcus yelled. "Not ye--" Marcus's exclamation was cut short as he felt himself being slammed back into his seat as the g-forces pushed against his body; the catapult had activated without any warning, and the Major hadn't been able to grab the joystick. Once he got out of the launch bay, he would momentarily not have control of his ship. The Longsword tore down the straight line in the deck in which the catapult was imbedded and screamed out of the bay.
As recently as three centuries ago, launching a ship from the 'cat required dozens of personnel. One to check the pressure of the launch from steam generators, another to make sure the aircraft was hooked securely onto the launching mechanism, and more to be on hand in case any accidents happened. These days, however, the delicate operation only required a computer. Power to the catapult was supplied from the fusion generator onboard the ship.
The Major felt his weight leave him as he left the artificial gravity of the Maverick, and rocketed out into cold space. The g-forces quickly abated; the Major grabbed the joystick on the right-hand armrest and slammed it to the right as he stomped his right foot down on the rudder pedal. His 'Sword snap-turned to avoid what he had tried to tell control about. A corvette had moved in front of the launch bay, and he avoided it almost by pure luck.
The Corvette must have been too close for the Saldanna's radar to register it. The Major carried his snap-turn into a corkscrew dive that brought him under the ship and he pulled up. His sensors registered an explosion behind him. The Major assumed that one of the other Swordsmen from the catapult had slammed into the corvette, but the corvette continued on unimpeded.
"Seven is gone, repeat, gone!" somebody—Marcus couldn't tell whom—yelled over the squadron freq. "He slammed into the corvette!"
"Seven, here. I'm fine; I dodged it."
"Then who's that cloud of debris?" Marcus checked his radar and realized that only Swordsmen Two, Six, and Seven were out in space with him. Five, Four, and Three were rising on the catapults. That meant that Eight had bought it.
Oh, well. It wasn't a complete loss. One thing still nagged at the Major, though.
At the very least, the impact of a 'Sword should have swung the corvette slightly off course. And, as much as Marcus hated to admit it, Eight had been a better pilot than that...no, something else had happened. He brought his Longsword into a lazy port turn, which gradually allowed him to see the debris left by Eight's Interceptor.
The right side of the fighter was completely intact. The left side, however, was completely destroyed; what remained of it hung in space like so much confetti. There was also plasma scoring along some of the right side. But that shouldn't have been possible. The Falcon Mark One plasma cannons that the Longsword S had used tanks of hydrogen gas as ammo. Batteries contained near the tanks were charged by a nuclear fusion reactor before being installed inside the bird, and they could let loose a tremendous burst of positively charged energy. The burst caused the hydrogen to superheat, and positively ionized it. A positively charged magnetic panel in the back of each of each hydrogen tank propelled the positive plasma out through the gun ports. The power and frequency of the bolts depended on the burst of energy released by the batteries, which was controlled by how hard a pilot pulled the trigger.
Unless a battery on Eight's bird had released all of the energy stored at once, an explosion shouldn't have even been possible.
"Sir," Two said and broke his concentration. "Two sets of radar contacts inbound. It's the Stallions and the Black Knights, sir." The other two squadrons rounded the nose of the Maverick and floated in front of the Swordsmen. The Marathon-class cruiser-carrier began to rotate counter-clockwise slowly for reasons that Marcus could only guess at.
"What happened?" one of the Knights asked, incredulous. Marcus checked the readouts on the bottom of his faceplate. It was Knight Four who had spoken.
"We're not sure. We thought Eight had hit a corvette, but I'm not so sure that's what happened."
"If not that, then what happened? Do you think a Seraph got him?"
Marcus arched an eyebrow under his helmet. "Knight Four, that's preposterous. I don't see any Seraphs around here, do you?"
Marcus was finishing the sentence when he caught a view of something above and behind Knight Four.
"Well no, but—" Knights Four's defense was cut short as the Major yelled, "Evasive maneuvers!" He lowered his nose and slammed the throttle to the full open position. What he had seen was a pair of plasma missiles, more commonly known as "teardrops" for their baby-blue coloration and shape. From what the Major knew, a Seraph could launch two of those things at once. They were a pain to deal with, because they could chase a ship around for the better part of three minutes.
Knight Four met a fate similar to Swordsmen Eight; the two teardrops slammed into the Longsword's tail just as Marcus passed under the Interceptor. The tail armor, all three feet of the self-repairing material, boiled away and the tears continued into the main cabin. Knight Four was visible for a split-second as the plasma outlined him before vaporizing him. The nose of the Longsword melted into an unrecognizable mess. It hung dead in space and then began to fall as Earth's gravity captured it.
Marcus cursed and brought his nose up to fire on the Seraphs, but there weren't any. He cursed again and swapped his nose for his tail, which brought the fighter back around. The Maverick finished turning, and sunlight bounced off of her armor. It would have blinded the Major had his helmet's faceplate not polarized in time.
That polarization was exactly what allowed him to spot the Seraphs. They were hiding just off of the Maverick's port upper side. They weren't usual Seraphs, though. These seemed to be a meter or two longer and they were painted jet black instead of the usual purple. Marcus focused his eyes over the nearest of what appeared to be more than a squadron's worth of bogies, but the space around them flickered as they appeared to become part of the Maverick's hull and disappeared. They had cloaking tech on them! The sunlight must have disrupted their illusion...But that would also mean...
Oh, no. You're not getting away that easily. The Major removed his chin from the radio switch, and gave a command to his Interceptor's computer. "Thermal." The faceplate in front of his nose resolved itself into a sea of colors as the computer used thermal sensors instead of normal radar.
There—patches of red and yellow, the Seraphs. They were coming just above the Marathon-class cruiser-carrier's hull. Marcus focused in on the closest of the enemies. The computer boxed the fighter in deep green color, and the speakers in Marcus's helmet sounded the keen tone of a clean lock. "Swordsmen One, fox two!" he yelled as he brought his thumb down on the large red button under his right hand twice in quick succession. Immediately, his port side weapon bay opened, and the Major felt twin thumps as the VREJ inside punched a pair of AIIM-22 Diamondback missiles out. The missiles were gray on his HUD, but their engines were a dark red color.
They snaked away from his bird, corkscrewed in towards their intended target—and connected. The twin missiles slammed into the piscine-like enemy, and it became a large, oversized fireball. Just as Marcus had guessed, like Elites that carried light-bending cloaking technology, they had no shields. That made these phantom Seraphs would be hard to detect, but easy to kill.
Shrapnel propelled itself from the kill, and the other Seraphs were exposed as the debris hit the enemies and disrupted their illusion. The Maverick's point defense system reacted instantaneously as sixty-millimeter autocannons all over the ship lit up. Marcus watched as one of the teardrop shaped fighters was chewed to pieces as the large rounds slammed into it. Flakes, then chunks of the enemy's hull flew off as the rounds penetrated.
He keyed his radio for the command frequency. "Maverick, this is Swordsmen Leader. Be advised; we have cloak-capable Seraphs out here. Use thermal imaging to detect them. And if the Seraphs have cloaking, there's a good chance that..."
"Acknowledged, Swordsmen Leader. And thanks."
1032 hours, November 23, (Military Calendar) Bridge of the UNSC Cruiser-Carrier, Maverick
Captain Reeves began issuing orders while the Major's warning was being played over the bridge's multiple speakers. The holotank became awash with colors as Eagle switched over to thermal sensors. The Covenant capital ship was easy to spot. It was completely black on the screen, though stripes of red could be seen in it—probably the ship's weapons. Interesting that the ship could be completely cold, yet still fire plasma weapons without revealing itself too easily. Also, that cloaking tech had to be centuries beyond anything the Humans could develop. It had absorbed the radar and EMP scanning as well...Oh, well. Not that it would matter; it'd be gone in a few seconds anyway.
Or so Reeves hoped. "Sakura!" he yelled at his weapons officer. "Fire a single MAC round. Let's take it down. I'm willing to bet good money it doesn't have shields up."
The schoolgirl faced Japanese girl with a petite body to match nodded. "Aye, sir," she said. " Triple MAC one is at eighty percent charge. Full charge in two seconds, sir."
"Fire at will," Reeves said as he nodded appreciatively. Even though she was just a Second Lieutenant, Sakura Konoko definitely had initiative. She must have begun to charge the Maverick's main weapons when he had ordered the ship to be brought about. The woman had potential with skill and insight such as that. He was glad to have her on his crew.
The Captain felt the deck shake beneath his feet as the Triple MAC on the top of the ship's hull spat out the fiery projectile. Reeves watched as the bullet shaped round zeroed in on its target—then stopped short. Great, Reeves thought as the round flattened itself against an invisible wall. "It does have shields," he grunted. "Sakura, empty the other two rounds into that assassin. Space its occupants. No, wait, belay that order. Fire one at full power and then one at fifty percent. Target their bridge."
"Don't argue, do it."
Sakura grinned and tapped commands into her console. The deck rumbled again as the same cannon loosed another two shots. The first one smashed into the shield and crumpled like a coke can being stomped. The ship was revealed as its shields flickered once, twice, and then disappeared, as did its camouflage.
The ship's size was somewhere between a Covenant frigate and a destroyer. Naturally, it was matte black, almost invisible if viewed normally. The only way to spot it by eye would be to look for a completely black section of space. It was flattened more than a normal Covenant ship, and it had bulbous sections that ran all along its hull. Reeves guessed they were either systems for the ship's shields, weapons, or camouflage. Its engine emissions were not the normal crimson color that Reeves had begun to associate with Covie ships. Instead, they were...colorless, an off-gray color that wasn't easy to spot.
How in blazes had the Covenant engineered this thing?