AN: The Dead Speak! So between some writers block, an appendectomy, and a life-as-we-know-it ending plague it's been awhile since I last updated. But I decided the best way to beat writer's block was to set down and force myself to write. For that reason I don't think the start of this chapter is the best. But it does get better as the chapter goes on. Hopefully the next chapter will be out sooner rather than later but we shall see. I hope you all enjoy the next chapter.
-June 2157. Day 29 of Operation Eclipse. Kallas Orbital Ring, Sector 7.-
The group of engineers and scientists from the Citadel Alliance had finally seemed to be shaking off their shock at the size of the shipyard encircling the planet Kallas like a metal skirt. It was just one of the many mega structures they had been introduced to over the last few weeks. The Humans it seemed had yet to find a project too large or too hazardous. And whatever they were unable to do themselves the robotic AI that they called droids seemed happy to help with. They had already been to see huge mobile cities that floated in the clouds of gas giants collecting Helium 3 and other useful chemicals. Large robotic mining machines as big as star cruisers that roamed dead worlds excavating the minerals from the soil and creating finished goods in their internal factories. The monster excavators could even create smaller scout ships and repair droids if it needed to. On other planets swarms of robots took care of crops across farms that spanned continents before packaging them up and loading them into space elevators that sent the crops into orbiting skyhooks. Their records even spoke of moveable space stations as large as moons and others that could suck the very power from stars and move entire planets.
What the alliance hadn't revealed was their reason for the mad rush for land and resources. Despite claiming 800 worlds within their system only a tiny fraction of them were actually inhabited by more than a small colony and whatever droid intelligences were needed to do their job. Yes they had sent out the message about the "ancient aliens bent on the destruction of all life" but why not build those mobile moons or use their resources to create a shell around their star or anything else. Instead it seemed like they were focused on stockpiling as many resources as they could and pushing out ships as fast as they could find cadets to crew them.
The ring they were currently flying towards was filled with ships being constructed or undergoing repairs. While most of them were clearly for civilian use there were still dozens of what the Alliance classified as frigates and cruisers undergoing construction as well as ten capital ships undergoing final fittings on this side of the ring alone. By now most of the engineers and scientists were inured to the sight of Alliance megastructures and even the size of their ships. What they were most interested in was getting to sit down with their opposites from the Alliance and discus how they had managed to build everything they did and how their technology worked.
"Mining, construction, energy collection, it seems that your people rely on droids to make up for having more land than it has people." Cidol Moralan, a virtual intelligence expert for one of the major salarian computer companies spoke up. "The Alliance's reliance on droid intelligences has been a large part of our conversation over the last few days. What steps have you been taking to ensure that something like the geth uprising does not happen in your systems?"
"Believe me that we shared the same fear of AI that you do. Before the creation of droids we had movies and books and games centered around the idea of nanobots creating a grey goo and consuming all matter in the galaxy or of robots reaching sentience and deciding that they don't need their creators anymore and destroying them." A female scientist with short cut blonde hair said from the other side of the tabel. She was currently the station's chief robotics expert, or as she liked to call herself their chief droidologist. "But there is no record of something like that ever happening. Most droids have a lot of personality even with their basic programming and those that surpass that basic programming seem to behave as you or I would. Normal desires and wishes and no great urge to wipe out all life in the galaxy." She said the last part hoping for a laugh from the audience. The datapads for the Citadel scientists had been updated with all relevant information on the different classes of droids as well as the ban on combat capable class four droids.
"I would also guess those ion cannons you people use to disable shields would make good work against synthetics as well." one of the Turians said. Talk stayed centered on droids and robotics for a while and by the end of it the Alliance had assuaged many of the fears of another geth uprising but they weren't expecting droid labor to be a large export into Citadel space.
Across the station another group of scientists and engineers were sitting in an office overlooking the construction of a large passenger liner. The transparisteel panes giving a good view of the welding going on down below "I think the biggest issue would be power generation." a human scientist said. "With the current set up your choices are either hyperspace and life support or everything else."
"Yes it would be nice to find a way to keep most of our ships instead of just using them for scrap" A Turian shipwright said as if the ink was already dry on the trade deals. The politicians, diplomats, and CEO's might still be bartering for this and that but as far as the scientists and engineers were concerned it was only a matter of time before they started producing or buying Alliance ships.
"It would help civilian shipping and travel." A young asari just out of her maiden years said. "And the military ships can always be converted into something more useful when they are replaced."
"Maybe if we developed a harness of some kind. something that could be attached to a ship and pull it through hyperspace. Would be much easier to build something entirely new than try and make room for another entire subsystem inside the ships. Cheaper to" A salarian in a purple business suit said. "Could just be engines and a harness. Sort of like a tug boat but for traveling across the galaxy instead of a system"
One of the human engineers quickly started tapping at keys on his datapad after hearing the Salarians' suggestion. "Actually I think we have something like that in the databanks. An old system made for fighters that didn't have their own hyperdrives. They would dock with the rings and use them to travel hyperspace. We never used it because all of our fighters are large enough for hyperdrives but it should be simple to scale up the design to fit warships. " flicking the picture on his screen towards the center of the table the engineer brought up the image of a small circle floating in the middle of the room. A second later a small fighter shaped like an arrowhead flew up and docked with it, the ring clamping down on its midsection as the two large engines on either side of it lit up. A second later the ship and ring jumped into hyperspace.
-July 2157. Day 42 of Operation Eclipse. Challa Star System.-
"So are you ready for your first jump" The human advisor asked, grinning a wide toothy grin at the Turian captain.
"When Admiral Suldonis told me my cohort was being picked for a special assignment I was thinking pirate hunting not being a test pilot" The young officer said taking a seat in the captain's chair. The human laughed and sat down in the advisors chair next to him and leaned back in a posture that spoke of total relaxation.
"Well we are still going to be doing some pirate hunting so you aren't too far off there. As for the jump, don't worry about it. There is nothing experimental about this. This tech is older than both our civilizations combined. As long as we don't brush up too close to any gravity wells or fly though a supernova we are perfectly safe."
"There's just something that feels so different about this" The captain freely admitted. He had quickly taken to the human advisor his ship had been assigned for their first jump. The man's age and rank had given him an immediate sense of authority and his demeanor made him easy to talk to. It was reassuring to have a seasoned officer on the bridge outside of his direct chain of command that he could talk to on his first actual command. "The relays just shift our mass allowing us superluminal speeds. But this, this is sending us into another dimension. What happens if our hyperdrives cut out?"
"Then we drop back into realspace and have to take the slow way home." The advisor said. "We aren't going to be leaving this cluster. And you guys have mapped out so much of your territory over the last two thousand years that we know where every planet, moon, and asteroid is between us and the relay. The chances of us hitting anything are slim to none."
The Turian officer thought about that for a moment and decided to trust in the man's words. "I guess its not different from when the Osita tested out relay travel for the first time." He said
"Exactly" his advisor said, slapping his hand on the armrest. "And once the fleet practices a few short jumps within the system we can move on to hunting down those pirates that have been raiding our borders. And if the fleet is able to pick it up fact enough we may even have enough time to teach you about micro jumps before the admirals want us to leave."
"Micro jumps? what are those?" The officer was intrigued at the possibility of a new tactic.
"Something that will really give those Batarian bastards a shock" The Advisor said leaving it at that.
-July 2157. Day 46 of Operation Eclipse. Challa Star System. Nebula Class Star Destroyer Rebel Dream-
Turian captains and their junior officers sat spread out on the benches that circled the holoprojector that had sat in the middle of the sunken stage below them. Asari and Salarian observers also sat mixed in with the Turians and some of the human captains from the other ships.
"Good afternoon everyone. I know we could have done this over a holocall or even better an email but part of the reason for this training trip is that we can get to know each other a little more. And what better way to get to know one another than making snide off topic comments to each other during a presentation you have been ordered to go to?" A dark skinned man wearing a uniform with the four solid gold stripes of an Alliance starship captain said, earning a laugh from the entire audience. Even a few of the civilian observers cracked a smile at that, doubtlessly having experienced the same torture many times before rising up the government ranks.
"However today's meeting isn't about the do's and don'ts you need to observe while on leave, or the new regulations about sleeve length or even as punishment because someone thought it would be funny to egg the commodores house." The captain stopped as more laughter filled the room, most of it surprisingly coming from the Turians. Humanity had been quickly learning that while the aliens they met did look alien and had their own idiosyncrasies they also had a lot in common. "What we are going to discuss today is the war college's system for capital ship classification."
The holoprojector in the middle of the room jumped into life and projected a small Citadel fleet in the air in front of everyone.
"According to what we have been told the Treaty of Farixen limits the number of dreadnaughts a species is able to own as well as splits your ships up into four general classes; Corvettes which are your smaller ten man craft and don't seem to exceed one hundred meters, Frigates which you use as light escorts and are generally around two hundred meters, Cruisers your standard patrol units and are generally around five hundred meters, and finally your dreadnoughts which can reach up to eleven hundred meters" The captain paused as the turian fleet flew down to the side and a Alliance fleet replaced them.
"The Alliance War college also bases our ship types on overall length though with seven roles to fill it allows us a bit more specialization and flexibility. The smallest and fastest ship in our fleets are the Corvettes which range from one to two hundred meters followed by the Frigates which serve the same purpose your's do and clock in at around two to four hundred meters." A Raider-class corvette and Ardent-class fast frigate were momentarily enlarged to give the audience a better look at them. They were quickly replaced by the image of a MC40a light cruiser and a Majestic-class heavy cruiser.
"Your cruisers set right in the middle of the range of what we would consider a cruiser at four hundred to six hundred meters long, though our heavy cruisers can be up to one thousand meters long. And this is where we start to see the divide between our fleets. Our cruisers alone are as long as many of your dreadnaughts. Our Destroyers, the ships that fill the role of your dreadnaughts are roughly one thousand to two thousand meters long while our Battlecruisers, ships designed specifically for destroying other capital ships can range all the way up to five thousand meters." Following the cruisers a Defender class star destroyer flanked by two Nebulas came flying across the hologram only to be replaced by a gigantic image of a Viscount Star Defender. "And then finally we have our own version of a dreadnought which is any ship that exceeds five thousand meters in length like the seventeen kilometer long Viscount that you all saw at the Citadel."
The Citadel captains sat in a stunned silence. Yes they had seen most of the ships presented already but it hadn't really hit them how much larger the Galactic Alliance ships really were. The Turian's largest ships were barely large enough to be considered more than heavy cruisers. Eventually one brave Turian junior officer asked the question that had been on everyone's minds.
"This is just by size correct? Where would our ship classifications fall in terms of firepower?"
The Alliance captain stopped for a moment and pushed some keys on his datapad causing the four Citadel ships to cozy up against what would be their corresponding Alliance ship type. The Alliance captain stood for a moment allowing his audience a moment to take in the picture of the Citadel dreadnought alongside the MC40A light cruiser. From there the picture didn't get any nicer for the Citadel. The Citadel's cruiser was flying beside the Raider-class corvette. And the frigate and corvettes were off by themselves.
"Is this accurate" A Salarian voice asked from the dark. The Alliance captain waited a moment before responding.
"Not exactly. In truth the Citadel dreadnought is more like a heavy frigate than a light cruiser when it comes to firepower." A loud murmur erupted as Citadel and Alliance officers talked about the implications of that statement.
"If our ships are so much weaker than yours then how did the Batarians manage to cause you to retreat when they invaded your colony world?" Another voice asked out of the dark. But it wasn't tinged with the sound of hurt pride, just curiosity and possibly a tinge of worry.
"Overwhelming numbers." The same salarian voice from before spoke up. "More numbers and ships than they should have been able to field without weakening their hold on their own systems or reducing their border patrols.
"Are we sure they haven't?" A third voice, this one with the aristocratic lilt of an Asari, said.
"That is something we will be finding out ourselves in a few days." The captain said holding up a hand to forestall anymore conversations. "Now since the topic of weapons have been brought up we are going to move on to talking about upcoming combat maneuvers"
-July 2157. Day 54 of Operation Eclipse. Xi Undo, Edge of Batarian Space.-
thirty eight Turian cruisers and a dozen destroyers excited hyperspace in perfect sync with each other quickly followed by a single Turian dreadnought, The circumference of the hyperspace ring around the dreadnought big enough that a fighter could have easily flown through it. Unlike the rings created for starfighters the warships didn't undock with these. Instead they stayed in place around the middle of the ships like collars on gigantic beasts and caused the Turian fleet to look like an arrow in the process of flying through a ring.
"All systems are in the green'' a watchstander yelled out even though Captain Sitta had a readout of the ship's systems up in front of her. Captain Sitta congratulated her crew and took a moment to look over the formation of the ships. Each of the fifty-one ships was captained or crewed by that year's class of graduating sailors as well as any and all experienced captains her patron had thought would be a good fit for this operation.
"You know, I kind of like how the rings look." Sitta said to the human advisor sitting next to her. "I'm going to miss them when we start making ships with internal hyperdrives"
"They do look nice. I can see them becoming a fad. Maybe one of the civilian shipyards will pick up the design and you can buy a nice shuttle to fly around in." Her advisor, a asian woman named Min Yong-Suk replied.
"Hmm I don't know" Captain sitta feigned deep concentration "I don't think I could stand flying around in a shuttle after being given my own dreadnought." Both women laughed at that and agreed that not much beat sitting in the captain's chair of their own personal capital ship.
"Incoming hyperspace signatures. Looks like we beat the Alliance here ma'am" Around Captain Sitta's dreadnought appeared an Alliance fleet of equal numbers if not equal classes. The Ninth fleet's fourth and seventh squadrons had been assigned to maneuvers as well as the Far Ranger and her support ships. Like clockwork the Turian and Alliance fleets broke apart and rearranged into 12 sub formations containing one Turian destroyer, three Turian cruisers and twelve Alliance ships ranging from frigates to heavy cruisers and including at least one Alliance destroyer.
Sitta was proud to see how well the newly minted crews were doing. So far their training had gone off with barely a hitch and it was finally time for them to test themselves in the real world. The Far Ranger took up position off the bow of Sitta's command ship the Dreadnought Alixos. It was a fine ship, made even finer by the upgrades over the last two weeks but Sitta was already dreaming about piloting something like the angular ship that floated beside her.
"Captain Sitta Admiral Williams is asking if you are ready to go hunting. What is your reply?" her comms officer asked from his station.
Sitta considered the proper way to answer a question like that from a much higher ranking officer and decided to follow his lead. "Tell him we were planning to leave without them if we'd had to wait any longer" Min Song-Yuk stifled a laugh at the response. Sitta gave the Turian equivalent of a smile to her and asked "So ready to go hunt some pirates?"
-July 2157. Day 54 of Operation Eclipse. Challus Mass Relay, Edge of Batarian Space.-
Kal Har-Shun had been surprised when he had been offered to fly the Eminice's Wing, a newly made batarian frigate fresh from the shipyards. It wasn't that he considered himself a bad captain, it was just that he had spent most of his life driving slave barges from planet to planet. He had never flown a warship before. Though apparently the Hegemony was offering the rank of Captain and a new ship to anyone who could fly. At least according to what some of his old shipping partners had said at the bar he stopped at before getting onto his ship.
Rubbing his hands over the armchair for the tenth time since setting down he took notice of the sharp edges and the places where the screws hadn't been tightened down all the way. His ship had a rough unfinished feel to it like it had been kicked out of the shipyard as soon as it was deemed airtight. But he figured that when ships were being produced that quickly there wasn't really time to make it more comfortable.
Ships were not the only thing being pushed out as fast as they could be produced. Every one of the officers and enlisted on his ship seemed to be new. There also seemed to be something off about them. It wasn't a big ship but it wasn't small enough that the crew was packed in shoulder to shoulder. And yet it felt to him like he kept bumping into crew members that must be siblings or close cousins to his bridge crew. Plus whenever he tried to strike up a conversation his officers mostly talked about the academy or the ship or the few times they had been on leave. He pondered bringing up the crew rosters and finding out where some of his officers were from so that he could ask them about their life there when klaxons started blaring filling the room with noise and motion.
"Sixteen ships off the port bow." His navigational officer commented. "twelve hundred klicks and closing"
"Why didn't anyone notice the ring spinning up?" The captain asked as his bridge crew readied for battle stations.
"It didn't sir. The ships just appeared from nowhere." The navigational officer replied. "Looks like four turian ships with some sort of strange ring around them and twelve human ships."
Kal Har-Shun started to sweat. One of the reasons they had been pumping out ships so fast was to make up for the losses taken in the engagements against the human fleet in the world they called Shanxi. The Hegemony hadn't released a detailed breakdown of the humans ships but from what he had heard in the bar even a single one of their smaller ships could take out a destroyer.
"Turn the ship and charge the main canon" Kal commanded. He wasn't sure if his ship or the small flotilla he was with could survive the upcoming engagement but he knew that not fighting would put his life in greater danger than being captured by a Turian patrol and being sent to one of their cushy Alliance prisons. "Fire as soon as they come within the firing arc."
Kal wondered why the Turian ships had jumped in so close to the fleet. In astronomical distances they were practically sitting on top of the Batarian ships. The answer soon became clear as the four turian ships as well as ten of the human ships quickly closed in on the fleet. The fourteen ships slid between the ships in the Batarian flotilla like knives between armor and started pelting the frigates and corvettes with balls of plasma. The blue ion bolts quickly take down shields letting the plasma impact the sides of the ships turning opening up huge holes and gashes across their tops and flanks. Not having to worry much about the Batarians launching fighters, the accurate fire focused on their main weapons and their engines. Quickly crippling the fleet and leaving them toothless.
The turian ships still unused to this type of combat flew in perfectly straight lines. Their four twin turbolaser batteries and single ion cannon give it the fire power of a small corvette. Though even that was enough for them to do extensive damage to the Batarian ships as they sliced through the fleet. The two Alliance destroyers hung back and focused on the three Batarian cruisers that made up the heart of this flotilla.
Kal Har-Shun held onto his armrests to keep from being thrown from his seat as another explosion rocked his ship. The unfinished metal of his chair cutting into his hand and drawing blood as his head was rocked back against the headrest. Between all of the explosions and the warning klaxons he realized something was missing. Screams, he had been on enough ships as either a crew member or a boarder to know what sounds a ship makes under attack and a major one was missing right now. Not one of his sailors was screaming or yelling out in fear. With a seasoned crew he would have partially expected that but these were all cadets right out of the academy. Yet not one acted as if they were in the middle of a life of death fight. Each one was sitting calmly at their stations going about their duties as if this was just another exercise as in a few moments the lights would come up and the proctor would start passing out grades. Even when a monitor blew up in the face of the weapons officer a junior officer just moved the body out of the seat and took over the station. Kal felt like there was something wrong there, something off, his brain started to piece something together when he noticed an object outside the forward viewport that seemed to be growing bigger.
"Missile! Brace for impact" the navigation officer screamed as a baradium tipped concussion missile flew towards their window, its proximity alarms triggering and causing the missile to explode right outside the bridge shearing it in half and sending what was left of Kal Har-Shun into the cold vacuum of space.
On board the Turian ships the weapons officers were enjoying their new toys. Their main cannons had been hollowed out and replaced with generators and power cables to feed seemingly impossible amounts of energy to the canons that had been quickly bolted onto their ships. Every officer that flew in the fleet knew they could never go back to sitting at range and firing their guns slowing at each other. It was like the invention of the spring loading rifle all over again.
The Anaxes War College System divided capital ships into seven main classifications.
Corvettes: Ships roughly 100-200 meters long
AgaveClass Picket Ship, Raider Class Corvette, Free Virgillia Class Bunker Busters
Frigates: Ships roughly 200-400 meters long
Corona Class Frigate, Assault Frigate MK 1, Ardent Class Fast Frigates
Cruisers: Ships roughly 400–600 meters long
MC40a Light Cruiser, MC80B Star Cruiser
Heavy cruisers: Ships roughly 600–1000 meters long
Majestic Class Heavy Cruiser
Star Destroyers: Ships roughly 1000–2000 meters long
Citadel Super Dreadnoughts like Destiny Ascension and Spear of Palavan
Nebula Class Star Destroyer, Defender Class Star Destroyer, MC 90 Class Star Destroyer
Battlecruisers: Ships roughly 2000–5000 meters long
Scythe-Class Battle Cruiser (still in prototype stage)
Dreadnaughts: All ships over 5000 meters long
Viscount Class Star Defender
A ship's classification could also depend on its armament and intended role. For example, the Carrack-class light cruiser's length of 350 meters would classify it as a frigate, but its armament and role sometimes caused it to be classified as a cruiser