Tools of War
Location: Local Space, Drendor V, Alliance Core World, the Hub
It was a thing of deadly beauty. The sleek grey lines of the Destroyer, with its twin sensor antennas at the sharp pointed nose, gave it an uncanny resemblance to a heavily armored wasp. The craft floated in space, next to the big orbital shipyard floating just beyond Drendor V’s atmosphere.
Suddenly…something happened. A barely detectable coded message was beamed from the communicator arrays of the shipyard. The twin Impulse II engines on the craft came alive in a halo of intense yellow fire. The ship shimmered as the gravitronic field grew in strength and then abruptly disappeared in a blinding yellow flash.
Out in space, half a light year away from Drendor V, a heavily armoured probe continued on its way, unmindful of the devastation rapidly approaching it. As sudden as its entry into fold-space, the Destroyer re-appeared in normal space. Scanning the area, it detected the probe and locked onto it. Then it unleashed its payload, as a single large guided missile was fired from the launcher slung under its right wing.
In reply a series of mass driver rounds stabbed out from the probe, the lethal concentration of round metal shot out at incredible speed. As it approached the probe, the Destroyer went into a series of erratic maneuvers meant to confuse the probe’s defensive sensors. Miraculously, due to its speed and pre-programmed series of maneuvers, it had managed to avoid getting hit.
The probe started zigzagging itself in an attempt to throw off the missile’s targeting system…but it wasn’t as lucky. A bright flash lit space and all that remained of the unfortunate probe was a small pile of superheated debris.
The craft broke through the dusty brown atmosphere of Drendor II’s moon, a contrail of fire indicating that it had fired its other missile, this time from the launcher under the left wing. As fast as it had come, it turned hard on its wing and headed back to space, chased by a couple of missiles fired from AA-Batteries on the moon’s surface.
The missiles kept going until they reached the upper limit of the moon’s atmosphere, at which time their engines gave up and they exploded as the auto-destruction sequences were executed. Even as the craft headed out into space, orbital sensors picked up an explosion on the moon’s surface.
Grand Admiral Graenor Bravura turned to his group of awestruck spectators and reported with a grin – “Enemy Radar Array System has been destroyed.”
As a series of claps started, the tallest of the spectators – a tall man in grey and black regalia (who was none other than the esteemed Alan Bradley, the President of the Terran Alliance) held up his hand.
“Impressive…Admiral! What more can you tell me of this Raptor?”
The Grand Admiral nodded and pressed a button on a nearby console. A hologram popped up, showing the rotating model of the craft, while a series of statistics appeared next to it.
“Gentlemen, as you have seen for yourself, you are looking at one of the galaxy’s most advanced war vessels. 450 feet long, the Raptor, designated ASW X-1, is a Missile Destroyer, with excellent atmospheric maneuvering capabilities as well and crewed by a team of 20 personnel. Although outgunned by its heavier Drengin & Yor counterparts, the Raptor’s two Impulse II engines give the destroyer a maximum speed of Warp 5, enough to outrun and outmaneuver most enemies, while the long wings allow it to function in even the most turbulent of atmospheres. But the real strength of the Raptor lies in its weapons systems. Consisting of two Cryo-Tech Harpoon II Mega Missile Launchers, one slung under each wing, this gives it significant firepower. The Raptor may not be able to take too many hits, but its high speed and formidable firepower should allow it to survive long enough to deal the killing blow.”
Although he looked visibly impressed, the President couldn’t help asking the next obvious question.
“So by when can we get a sufficient number of these ships Grand Admiral?”
The Grand Admiral looked a little deflated.
“At current production levels, we can produce on an average only one Raptor per month…that means 12 per year. These numbers will definitely go up as more factories and spaceports are built, although we still don’t have the ability to compete numerically with any of the other civilizations. Most of our numerous colonies have still not developed to the stage where they can start building these sophisticated warships. Of course, if we could get more funds diverted to the military and specially towards upgrading our spaceports and building up our industrial infrastructure…then we can maybe increase the number to more than 20 per year.”
At this point he looked hopefully at the Finance Minister, who in reply visibly hissed and grew even more rigid, if that was possible.
Recognizing the danger signs, Alan Bradley sighed and quickly interjected before an argument could break out.
“That is a discussion for another day. But Graenor, don’t depend on it. Try to increase the production rate any way you can. You know things are getting more…tense.”
The Grand Admiral nodded grimly. Of course, he knew about the Drengin Empire & Yor Collective’s apocalyptic message to the president. Although the President had refused to pay tribute and both the alien leaders had backed down, it was only a matter of time before hostilities began. And after 13 years of peaceful exploration and colonization, all 32 planets of the far flung Terran Alliance had no fleet to protect them from two of the galaxy’s most powerful and aggressive races. There was only a line of well armed military starbases guarding the borders.
Of course the Yor & Drengin were currently busy against the Torians, but reports had already reached the Alliance of a possible peace treaty being signed soon. The Alliance territories were surrounded by these 3 races, each of which had a large fleet of powerful warships at their disposal. According to the latest Intel reports from Allied Security Agency (ASA), the Yor had also recently been gifted an advanced warship by the Drengin. To make matters worse, both of the Alliance’s friends (the Altairians & Arceans) were located on the other side of the Yor Collective & Drengin Empire and their fleets were less powerful. Together they might stand a chance. But would they help if it came down to war? The very survival of the Terran Alliance seemed to depend on that question…
He said with more confidence than he felt. “We’ll be ready Sir!”
The President seemed older than usual. He tiredly clapped the military man on the back before turning to leave.
“I hope so…old friend. I pray you are right.”
The massive metal doors slid open and then closed.
A storm was gathering…