A tale of Firestorm Universe
Its engines at cruising power, the Valeriun darted through space like a sleek panther chasing its prey. It had marked a Muero battleship as its next target. On the bridge, Josidynn Prosidius smiled with anticipation as the moment approached - the moment she would send another of her hated enemy to the afterlife.
"Fire all weapons!" Josidynn bellowed as the enemy came into range. "Give them everything we've got!" At her command, several missiles sailed through the cold vacuum of space. The Muero battleship pitched and rolled in vain. Each missile found its target, leaving nothing behind but a plume of debris that the Valeriun punched through en route to its next target.
"Sir, another battleship and several fighters are closing fast."
Josidynn leaned in over the long-range sensors. "Show them our forward guns and take us in for an attack. That should buy us some time to launch our fighters."
"Fighters away, Captain," came the alert nearly a minute later. The digital strategic overlay that hung over the top-right corner of the forward view screen displayed the approach of the small cadre of Dysori fighters, in a wide, piercing vanguard formation. Two of the fighters broke off into wide flanking positions and fired together. Their attack was returned by the bulkier Muero fighters, supported by the massive space cannons of the battleship looming behind them.
Josidynn considered her options. The Valeriun had exhausted the last of its missiles to destroy the last target. But its power supply was still well above normal. "Fire the forward lasers," she ordered. The forward view screen lit up as the laser streams flashed out across the battlefield, toward the massive Muero predators. The battleship shrugged the barrage off as missiles arced out from it in return.
"The new pinpoint defense system online?" Prosidius requested.
"Since the lizards showed up on scope, sir."
"Excellent," Josidynn said under her breath, taking a moment to watch the defensive laser-grid take out the enemy's missiles.
The second Muero Elite fighter was caught in the crossfire of the two flanking Dysori snub fighters, and quickly reduced to space dust. They curved around just in time to witness the immense class of the battleships as they closed to immediate range. The scars along their hulls were obvious - both were veterans of this war, and had survived countess battles before.
The Muero was the first to act, firing its huge blast cannons into the Valeriun's shields. The invisible shell around the Valeriun crackled and bulged as the ship's shield disrupter extended out toward the Muero hull. The energy fields intermingled and flashed as the Muero shield wavered, then resumed, weaker than before.
The Muero ship fired its broadside guns again in what seemed to be a desperate attempt to take down the Dysori warship before its weakness could be exploited.
"Now." Prosidius' simple command was readily obeyed. A blast from The Valeriun's port guns easily penetrated the Muero war machine, clipping a chunk out into space. The battleship lurched and fell out of its path, then leaned and drifted away from the Valeriun, propelled by the crippling attack.
"Their engines are going critical!" came a warning on the Valeriun's bridge.
"Pull us away! Now!" Seconds later, as the Valeriun sailed away, the Muero ship detonated. The Valeriun rode out the shock wave, but the two snubs aiming for its landing bay were lost. One shattered instantly, mere hundreds of kilometers from the blast. The other took evasive actions, dropping low and leveling with the Valeriun, but in the final moments before landing its engines burst. Bay crews scattered, leaping behind blast doors as the fireball skidded across the bay floor.
On the bridge, Josidynn listened to the early damage reports, then commanded, "Find me Lotraag's ship!"
Primaag Taarkiis moved confidently through the Motann's meeting hall. He could already hear the whispers of others as he neared his father. My father is no fool. He knows that I am right.
Taarkiis bowed before the Muero leader, and his head remained down until he was recognized. When the Motann stood and approached him, Taarkiis was unsure if his head would rise again.
"Taarkiis, I am aware of your treason. Why did you send ships from our planetary defense to Sorvius One? Was it not my command that nothing should be done?" The Motann came face to face with Taarkiis, his intent clear through the rage in his eyes. Taarkiis would die if his answer did not please the Motann and his council.
Taarkiis' expression was calm but inwardly he scrambled for an answer that would stay his execution. "My lord, and fellow council members," he began, "after your command, we confirmed that several hundred Dysori warships were engaged at Sorvius One. If this is true, then our forces were doomed. More ships were required to counter the Dysori offensive. I did not consult you because there was no time. Please... forgive me. As Primaag of the Homeworld, I feel that our safety relies upon preventing the Dysori from entering our system. I... beg you to consider my motives."
The Motann rose and let his face fall into a contemplative mask. The council must believe that he was considering the death of his own son. Several tense moments later, he spoke. "We will wait for the reports from Sorvius One before we pass judgment on you, young Primaag." Glancing to the council, the Motann saw that his performance had met with approval. They nodded and watched Taarkiis exit the room with subdued anger. They were not ready to replace him yet.
For your sake, my son, the Motann thought, as well as my own, those ships must return from Sorvius One.
Taarkiis fled the chamber quickly, but slowed as a diplomtic envoy rounded a corner ahead. Among them was Krunos, the Soven representative. The warlord and the pacifist observed each other as they crossed in the grand hall, and a chill stole through Taarkiis' hunched form, followed by the sound of the Soven's voice in his mind...
You must be careful, Primaag. You are the best hope for both our worlds.
The appearance of the secondary Dysori fleet annoyed Lotraag. Even with the enormous losses his armada had suffered, he still viewed the Dysori as little more than a personal amusement. This new wave of ships brought him several more delectable choices, but they were ultimately a distraction from his real target.
"Now, at last, this planet is mine!" Lotraag's squadron of battleships converged on Sorvius One, releasing an endless stream of missiles and projectiles onto the planet below. "I will dance upon its ashes!"
Lotraag's ship suddenly bucked and panels exploded throughout the bridge around him. "Report!" he screamed, grasping his command chair as the flagship's erratic motion sent everyone around him across the room.
"Planetary defense mines," said a young lieutenant, one of the few to remain on his feet. "Multiple hull breaches. And the sensors detect several Dysori heavy cruisers matching our position."
"We're receiving a message from Primaag Suutraal," another lieutenant called out as he returned to his post. "He wishes to thank us for diverting the Dysori fleet from Cruxtacia, and says that the Dysori shall pay for our deaths in blood."
"Death?! I am Lotraag! Eldest son of Motann-Raxx Agruun. I cannot die at the hands of a mere Dysori!" Another wave of mines crashed through the ship's hull, tossing the bridge crew away from their stations again. Lotraag's anger, now unchecked, dominated the room. "All ships are to regroup with Suutraal's fleet. The Dysori will pay for this in blood. So will he."
Prefect Lusana Alseriun watched Lotraag's retreat on the view screen aboard her flagship. Sorvius One was safe... for now. But Lusana knew the cost in lives had been high. "Inform Captain Prosidius to return to Cruxtacia at once. Pull all the others back as well. We need to concentrate our forces here, where we know we can finish this. Put me in contact with Karynn Prosidius."
Several seconds later, Karynn Prosidius appeared on the view screen. "Prefect, the battle goes well for us."
"Yes, but I fear it has been at a very high cost. Our base on Cruxtacia won't last the hour. I want you to remain here with the remains of our forces."
"I'm going to Cruxtacia, Karynn. We'll drive those Muero devils back to the abyss where they came from!"
Suutraal watched the remains of the Cruxtacia base drift into space with pride. His fleet had performed well. This victory would turn the war in the Muero's favor at last. All that remained in the Muero fleet's path was the troublesome Sorvius One...
"Lotraag's fleet has broken away from Sorvius One, sir," a communications officer said behind Suutraal. "They're headed here."
Suutraal's eyes narrowed. The spineless hatchling... "Take us to them. I have a few words for our dear Lotraag."
Lotraag observed the wreckage surrounding the moon of Cruxtacia. The devastation was complete. The entire complex had been leveled. He imagined the rage the Dysori were feeling at this moment, and smiled. With renewed determination, he asked for a tactics report. "How many are there?" he asked.
"We're still outnumbered, sir - at least four to one."
"Hold!" the communications officer said, watching his equipment intently. "Sir, we have Muero ship beacons coming from the Firestorm. They're heading in our direction. They're... homeworld defense ships."
My brother! I'll have his head for this! "Rendezvous with the incoming fleet. Inform Primaag Suutraal that we'll regroup with the new fleet and renew our attack."
Josidynn Prosidius received a hail from Lusana Alseriun with resignation. She already knew what the Prefect would say.
"This new Muero fleet changes things, Captain. We cannot engage them yet. Let them pull back and renew the offensive. We stand to lose fewer ships that way."
"Take your fleet and search for survivors. Do not engage the enemy unless they target you."
"That's an order, Captain!"
Josidynn knew that the Prefect was right, that the renewed Muero fleet could shrug off any space-borne offensive. But the need for vengeance burned in her heart, as she knew it would for many years to come. So many Dysori had died at Cruxtacia, all of their blood on her hands.
"Take us to Cruxtacia," she ordered. "By way of the Epsilon cluster. We don't want to risk alerting the Muero of our presence before we can save a few lives."
The commander of the Muero homeworld fleet patched into the conference between Lotraag and Suutraal. "Xuul Maak," Lotraag said, not at all surprised to see him at the helm. "Your ships will replenish my fleet as we move to take Sorvius One."
"I'm sorry Primaag, but my orders are clear," Xuul Maak responded. "We are to assist your retreat."
"What?" Lotraag growled. "By who's order?"
"I agree, Lotraag," Primaag Suutraal said. "We've destroyed Cruxtacia and the Dysori will be busy with rescue efforts for days. Their fleet outnumbers ours, even with the homeworld defense ships."
"Which Taarkiis was very clear that we not risk needlessly," Xuul Maak added.
"I will not forget this Suutraal," Lotraag spat before breaking his communication link.
"If I were Taarkiis, I would stay out of Lotraag's way on his return," sniped Suutraal.
"My commander can take care of the Rarrkar. Don't worry for him." Xuul Maak signed off.
"Maybe he shouldn't worry, but you are another matter," Suutraal whispered to himself.