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The Sacrifice

November 11, 2012

The capsuleer came to and mentally groped for the system interfaces and after a worrying long time, the visualizations flickered into intermittent life.

Diagnostics was red, right across the board. He wasn’t flying a ship any more according to the readouts, this was a wreck. Sensor blindness was causing an itching feeling down the entire right hand side of his body, and after a few minutes of maneuvering the single remaining camera drone through twisted beams and hull plates, he could see why.

The most of the right hand side of the ship was gone, leaving a vaguely semi-circular, still glowing and no doubt heavily radioactive hole where the gunnery banks, propulsion and engineering used to be.

The capsuleer checked the ejection mechanism that should have sent the capsule into space when the catastrophic event occurred. Offline.

Eventually the camera drone made its way to the area where the capsule should have been. The view showed tangled mess of conduits, bulkheads, power feeds and the general plumbing required to run a starship. So then. Not going anywhere any time soon.

Communications? No control feeds to any systems, let alone being able to access any emergency frequencies. About the best the capsuleer could do was make a few lights on the remaining external hull blink. Estimated 5 minutes emergency power remaining.

The capsuleer hoped the salvage crews that usually swarm after such a big battle would reach him soon.

He didn’t really want his last mind state recording to be a race to the death between the terrible cold of space and some pretty exotic forms of hard radiation….

Four hours previously

“… hostile fleet has taken major casualties, all interceptor and interdictors close with the remaining battleships, spread points.. go”

“…squad five at tactical, commencing bombardment, primary is Blackstone, primary is Blackstone…”

“… scout break, scout break, cyno at 200km…”

This had been an out and out slugfest between two major battleship fleets. Slowly but surely, their adherence to fleet doctrine and discipline had won out over superior numbers. Initially ship was traded for ship, focused fire pouring energy into each hull sufficiently large enough to destroy it near instantaneously.

Slowly, ever so slowly the ratio began to change from 1 to 1, to 1.1 to 1, 1.2, 1.3, and suddenly there was just enough time for the logistics to lock and get off a single remote repair cycle. That ship still went down, but the next took longer still before destruction. Then another turning point where reps were holding ships up.

In desperation, the enemy called for increased weapons output in an attempt to break through the repair cycles and for a short time it almost worked. When their fleet was below 50% of their initial numbers a cynosural beacon was activated.

This was what they had feared. They were a smaller alliance, well ordered and run. Battle hardened and disciplined, but no match for the capital and supercapital fleets at their enemies disposal. Despite being on the verge of easily winning this battle, they were going to lose as soon as that cap fleet hit the field.

Tactical showed momentarily the scale of the fleet jumping into system before a massive ECM pulse from an opposition supercapital wiped targeting and sensor systems for a short period. Hostile warp disruption bubbles appeared across the battlefield preventing easy escape.

Through the distortion came the Fleet Commander’s voice “… all squads, all squads, code black, I repeat code black, It has been an honor. Lets take some of those bastards with us. Squad one – primary is Caliban, squad one Caliban, squad two – primary is TerrorTori…”

The capsuleer hesitated for a split second and then hit the evacuation alarm. He held on longer than he probably should have to give his crew at least a chance to escape. Then he disengaged all safety locks and protocols and activated the new system.

This was the first time he’d tried this and as a consequence did not know quite what to expect. Primary was locked and weapon systems were hot when the ship went quiet beneath him. Systems across the ship blanked out as all power was diverted elsewhere.

Navigation out, propulsion out, life support out. An external optical feed showed his squad, ships hanging by all appearances dead in space. Then one by one, an eerie luminescence began to grow around each hull, flaring brighter and brighter around the gun ports facing the enemy capital fleet.

He did not see the first catastrophic release of energy as the feed burnt out instantaneously. He did not see the firing ship explode as it failed to direct all of the horrifically overloaded energies outward. He did not see the lifeboats of his crew wink out like sparks before a furnace. He could only feel a terrible growing pressure at the base of his skull as the weapons banks built towards their terminal release.

Silence.

And then a light, brighter than all the seven suns.

H

P.S I do think we need a super cap counter. Jarvix Rixx at Eveoganda has some ideas. Kirith Kodachi (Ninveah) has also published a few thoughts on the subject as well.

I’ve got some ideas on it but the math doesn’t quite stack up, mostly because the disparity between the lowest alpha battleships and the highest alpha. I shall think on it some more…

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