Battle at the Asteroid Belt

This story was one written specifically for my student teacher class, a bunch of lovely kids. The boys loved this passage, but the girls had that glazed look in their eyes. No space opera for them I guess.

Admiral Edward peered out the bridge of the Starflight into the murky blackness outside. The glass-like material separated him between the cold of the 12-degree Celsius interior, and the certain chill and deadly touch of the darkness that stared back at him. And out there were rocks. And more rocks. The only features that marked the Asteroid Belt.

“Something to warm you, sir?”

The voice of his personal assistant, Julia, broke his train of thought. He turned to face a cup of warm coffee, its sweet aroma welcoming him.

“Thanks a lot, Julia – you are a lifesaver!”

The many lines and scars that showed on his smile were the tell-tale sign of the many years, both of his age and of his service in the Terran Defence Force. This was the man that had always held the crew in awe – a legend himself among the service. Julia had considered herself privileged to be able to serve under this great man.

What Julia never understood was how this great hero ended up the captain of this insignificant cruiser. He should have been out there captaining the best ships the service had to offer. He had never talked about it, and nobody dared to ask. Perhaps today, while the captain was in a more relaxed mood? Perhaps just today she could know more about the man she practically worshiped? She took a deep breath and prepared to speak.

“Contact at Sector One-Four-Sixteen, Sir!”

“Two contacts at Sector One-Four-Eighteen, Sir!”

“Jamming signals detected – we are attempting counter-measures, Sir!”

Tense faces stared into the many panels and displays, as each awaited further instructions from the man who would decide their lives.

“Radio Officer – get the frequency right and send a message to the Command Centre. Ask for reinforcements.”

The Radio Officer could not believe the captain could be so calm. They were right in the middle of possible overwhelming hostile forces – already he could feel himself shaking as he attempted to contact the Command Centre.

Captain Edward took the microphone and spoke into the ship piping system, in his eerily calm manner. His voice echoed throughout the ship

“All crew to Action Stations. The enemy is coming within engagement range. We are most likely outnumbered.”

Captain Edward paused for a moment. “But we will win this battle.”

The crew cheered. All signs of the nervousness they had were now gone – the legend himself was leading them into battle! Surely they would win!

The images that flared up on the myriad of displays showed him the seriousness of the situation. Three Standard class cruisers, and while they were still recovering from the space jump, it would only be a matter of time before they got their firing solution.

“The scouting squadron….”

The words left his lips silently, caught only by his personal assistant. She knew what that meant – the invasion force was going to be following behind. And the Starflight was the only combat vessel in the vicinity.

“Firing solution achieved for Contact One, Sir!”

The Gunnery Officer awaited the order to fire. This would be his moment of glory.

“Gunnery Officer, change your acquisition for the asteroid at Sector One-Four-Seventeen. Use Neutron Torpedoes instead.”

“What? Sir – we have got a good target….”

“Trust me, Lance. Trust me.” The Gunnery Officer was cut off before he could finish. Still confused, he turned to the men and women manning the weapons.

“Reacquire for Neutron Torpedoes, Sector One-Four Seventeen. Target the big mean rock you see there, and get me a firing solution fast!”

Amidst the tense motion of trackballs, Admiral Edward suddenly barked out, “Defence Officer – set the shields to starboard maximum, now!”

The Defence Officer had learnt never to question the captain’s urgency. The ship rocked as multiple blasts of pulsed lasers struck it where the defence shields had just been set up. A second late and the whole ship would have been ripped apart.

“Firing solution achieved, Sir!”

“Good – let the babies go”

“Let the babies go!”

Four silver fish-like objects burst out and inched painfully towards its target. With the precision of 22nd Century engineering, the torpedoes hit true, exploding their target, and creating a powerful magnetic field as the explosions interacted with the magnetic ore of the asteroid it just destroyed.

Now Lt Lance could see why the captain had ordered that. The sensors began to go crazy as it registered contacts after contacts. An entire armada just space jumped into the sector!

And they space jumped right into a trap – the magnetic field interfered with the space jumping process immensely, and multiple explosions occurred as time and space collided with each other. This was a move that was never taught in the Space Academy!

Lt Lance looked away from the display to the man he called captain. A new awe and respect swept across him, and he found himself at a loss for words.

Admiral Edward caught his gaze. For a moment, Lt Lance thought he saw a fatherly smile. Then the familiar commanding voice boomed out.

“Gunnery Officer, you had better prepare for a reacquisition – we have still three more targets to deal with!”

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