Skirmish At Keres

A note about the story: I wrote a book a couple of years ago called "Aether Origins", it's a second book in a series. As part of editing the book, I write short stories to flesh out various concepts. From space battles to mythology, and from planetary settlements to character perspectives. This is one of them.

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"Sir, we are six hours away, the pre-Battle meetings will commence in half an hour," Poenti, the ship's MPI announced to one of the Legimators. Yinti stood up and put on her clothes. Her cabin was a small one but at least it was only hers.

Querying a transporter capsule, she checked her flight route. The meeting would take place on the Congregation's mediatecraft as opposed to the portstation. The Congregator found the station to be an easy target in case of a problem and the MediateCraft was outfitted with luxury accessories for the Congregator.

Her small two-man crew welcomed her to the capsule and they took off. Drifting in HyperSpace was not an easy task but with only a few ships moving personnel about, it was a breeze. She'd reach the mediatecraft in only an hour.

Hyperspace was cold and dark, much like regular space except that there were no stars whatsoever; however, what light there was, it could travel much faster thus its use by the ships. It had a few other bendable physical laws that made it a perfect dimensional space to use for transportation.

The transport docked into the Jumper IOS along with twenty other similar ships. Yinti walked in, standing up straight and brushing down her uniform, the nanomachinery assembled itself to create a minimalist and strict look. No other officer followed her but she made her way to her SubCongregator's designated section of the craft along with fellow Legimators.

The main meeting hall was circular with SubCongregators siting facing each other. The Congregator sat in no particularly special place. Each of his subordinates periodically looked over to see what she would do.

Yinti positioned herself behind Lemperon, her own leader and waited for the meeting to start. Several others walked into the room and an audible click sealed it. The middle of the circular hall was a circular table which started to glow and nanomachinery formed a levitating star system. The congregation appeared as a group of arrows on one side, the Nethers appeared on the other side as red arrows. One more set of arrows glowed faintly yellow

The Congregator Yelen stood up and pointed at the formation, "Welcome, everyone. I hope you found Jumper a hospitable ship so far. For the Legimators, you may have just arrived; however, the SubCongregators and I have been discussing the situation for the past several days.

"To catch you up, let me put things into perspective."

The star system zoomed in to show the main planet with the glowing yellow arrows, "This is Keres. Five months ago, a battle took place here. The planet was declared Dead afterward when the population was evacuated. As is custom, both sides leave Dead planets alone. This is to ensure that after a battle, there is something left behind to resettle. Despite the vastness of the galaxy, it is difficult to find fully reformed planets."

The star system zoomed in on the Nether red glowing arrows, "However, in the past month, the game changed. After Napoleon, which resulted in complete planetary destruction, the Nethers have been conducting a Total Destruction initiative in which they no longer respect the ‘Dead Planet' mutual agreement."

The scene changed to show several planets with glowing signs on top of them, "We've currently lost fifteen separate systems, and twenty planets total. They will no longer be recoverable.

"Our goal with Keres is to destroy the Nether fleet completely to prevent the destruction of the planet or, in the least, recover the Xenon left over. There are repairs that need to be done and the material is valuable."

The meeting continued detailing all of the strategies, positioning the Congregation into multiple waves.

Yinti stood upon the ship's bridge. He captained the Uhon, a MediateCraft under Lemperon who was currently on one of the five BroadShips in the Congregation. Yelen, strangely enough, took place on a MediateCraft as well while the rest of SubCongregators took seats at various specialized crafts.

Each craft had several million kilometers between the other. Yinti thought about how strange such strategy must have been in early historic times where large armies met head on while space-era battles took place between relatively small crafts at extremely large distances.

The plan called for five separate waves to be deployed to Keres. The Nethers had a plan of their own, similar in nature. They generally focused on three large waves. The first wave established ground contact and secured airspace on the planet while scouts and small defense ships took position. The second wave would hit with the "big guns" so to speak. Last wave usually carried Aroids, military robots, and last of the heavy artillery which was largely able to function from large distance. However, at the last part of the attack, faster response times and attacks were required.

Yelen had something else in mind with her five-wave attacks. The initial group would counter the Nether's first wave; however, the second and third waves were meant to keep the Nethers busy while fourth and fifth wave finished the job. The reason for that was to minimize Congregation damages and to allow Nethers to get Xenon ready for extraction. Not only that, it also gave Nethers a false sense of security, allowing the planet to survive until they were crushed.

Yinti was part of the fourth wave and so he watched the scene play out in front of him.

"First wave deployed," Yelen spoke, addressing every SubCongregator and Legitimator in the Congregation. The information was passed along to the lowest channels.

Yinti watched the conflict unfold on his own projection area, similar to the one Yelen used to demonstrate her points. A large circular area glowed with arrows while nanomachinery create a planet. Some of the arrows started to transform into their actual shapes as the crafts were identified.

The initial wave, he saw, carried faster smaller battleships that positioned themselves far from the enemy and deployed airspace artillery as well as ground troops.

The swarm entered Keres's space.

"Initial results within expectations," the ship's MPI announced.

"Second wave deployed," Yelen spoke, some of the Legitimators were on those ships, "Get third wave ready to hit before their third wave."

Several larger ships deployed with a hazy cloud of smaller ships. They countered straight to the second Nether wave. They could barely hold them off before the third wave hit and helped turn the tides somewhat.

"Won't they see through this?" One of the officers asked. It was not his first mission but it was the slowest, most organized one. There was no element of surprise.

"They are used to our five-wave formations; however, they will be off balance," Yinti summoned a map, "Our fifth wave dropped out of Swift Space on the other side of the system, mirroring one of the gas giant's far side. Their communication system is turned off.

"We've also left a larger portion of our Congregation for the fifth wave thus even if the Nethers are aware of them, they are not aware of their size."

Fourth wave launched with Yinti and the rest of the SubCongregators and Legimators. The attack did indeed look like the entire Congregation was joining the fight. The Nethers however, changed their tactics.

"Please advise fifth wave of the situation, relay to them an information burst," Yelen advised, "The Nethers have split their final wave into two. I believe they will be hitting hard with the first and following up with the second, possibly trying to create a flank.

"It's not outside of possibility that they're keeping another wave in hiding."

"Alert! Alert!" the MPI resounded, alarms blaring. The battle was heavily under way.

"What's happening?" Yelen called out on the conference channel.

"The Druid is down. Some ship used hyperspace to jump inside the cargo bay and tore it up using the same technique to jump out."

"I haven't heard of this Nether technique before, send a message to headquarters-"

"It wasn't Nethers," Yinti cut in, "The latest known logs talk about a spherical ship, unlike our design and unlike Nether design. It looks like a civilian craft."

"Send the data to PortStation and have them analyze it. Meanwhile, get some of our people on the field to find counter-measures."

"Will do," Yinti replied and queried the ship's MPI. A burst of information was sent through the local DomeStem out to the PortStation. The PortStation usually housed non-battle personnel, repairs-people, and those on leave or sick. And kept out of the battle at the edge of the system.

"Fifth wave launched," The MPI announced.

Yinti's ship had waged an attack-n-hide game with one of the Nether ships. The ship would hide behind a moon, or enter a field of debris left from the last battle. Then both sides would deploy long-range weaponry, and wait.

A part of the crew concentrated on attacks, tracking the long-range missiles, taking over for manual overrides, and finding the best weaponry for use. A different part of the crew would watch for signs of incoming weaponry, and formulate the correct defensive measures.

Both parts of the crew were busily working at their jobs when one of their missiles finally caught a tail of the opposing craft.

"The Nethers are launching a fourth wave," The MPI announced and showed the attack vector.

"Let's break off, we have some of the Xenon and I don't believe we'll be able to salvage Keres," Yelen announced and after a minute added, "Once all the ground teams are aboard, launch a laser strike team, leave nothing for the Nethers."

Yinti was left to deal with the planet along with other Legimators.

"Launch three hundred laser satellites, ask the other crafts to do the same. Let's surround the planet, strike with a five minute blast and rotational movement."

"Sir?" one of the officers looked up from their console.

"Yes, officer?"

"May I suggest scattering the formation with an increased density at the tectonic plate weak points?"

"Send over a heatmap and adjust for the change."

Several of the Legimators broke formation and started firing laser satellites into the upper atmosphere. The satellites adjusted course and started firing.

Within a few minutes, a cataclysmic event took place. Seismic shifts leveled cities, hundreds of volcanoes exploded at once filling the atmosphere with soot and smoke. An enormous storm powered by high winds swirled over the continents, obscuring every bit of visible surface.

Finally, the laser satellites moved over large cities and moved within a grid to destroy any functional part of the civilization remnants.

The Nethers were already on their way out, leaving the conflict behind.

"Time to go."