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A second story to go alongside the first. Please rate and compare to the first
When I am asked what I think of the Federation military, I will tell whoever asked me that I have lost any trust I may have had in our military capabilities a long time ago. I don't believe that a Federation comprised of eight different species has the ability to present a unified response to a threat. Relying on so many different species can only lead to disaster. Once I say that I am usually called all manner of different things, mostly a traitor and a defeatist, a shame to our glorious Federation which has brought peace upon our sector of the galaxy. After all, how could a Rafar, a member of the founding species of the Federation, have such views? But what these young and overly zealous people don't know is that I once was one of them. I had those same views, I said that I was ready to do everything to defend the Federation. And I did not just speak these words from the safety and comfort of my home, sitting in front of the holoprojector.
I joined the Federation Navy as a young recruit, willing to make a difference in the defense of our territory. As I went through basic training, my instructor noted my intelligence and wrote a report about me to the officer in charge of the Navy training center of my system. I can recall being called into his office. The large Paxoori studied me as I anxiously stood at attention. He had been a Captain in the 1st Guard Fleet and had seen action in the Core War against the Maujasi. He personally had executed the legendary maneuver that had decided the decisive battle of Marita and turned the war to our favor. But in doing so, he had lost one of his arms and since Paxoori bodies reject even cloned body parts and obviously both prosthetics and bionics, he was taken off the frontline and put in charge of the training of new recruits. He was highly respected by everyone and during my time there, seeing an admiral make a visit to meet with him was no rare event. When he told me that he had recommended me for the officer corps, I was so stunned I could not speak a word. His scales turned a shade of orange, indicating a sense of happiness and he said: "I have great faith in you. We need more like you." These words still ring in my head today.
At the Naval academy, I was the talk of the entire school. Beaming with pride I had arrived with my recommendation from this legendary war hero. Everyone wanted to know how I had managed to get such a valuable recommendation. I will admit, it made things harder on me. Teachers and instructors always expected me to come first and expressed their disappointment to me if I didn't. But these attitudes only motivated me. When we had free time and even holiday, the others went to bars or went home to their families. I stayed behind and studied, yearning to understand every aspect of war. I got into programs for fleet mechanics and engineers to better understand the capabilities of our ships. I sat down with fighter pilots to learn their tactics and the limits of their abilities. I even secured myself a place in an Army survival course because I believed it might endow me with skills that could come in handy one day.
When I graduated top of my class, I was assigned to a cruiser in the 5th Fleet. I was full of enthusiasm and was initially annoyed with the quiet nature of my post. There were no wars to fight, no honors to be won, no oaths to be fulfilled. After I pulled myself together and told myself to stop whining, I rose through the ranks. Overtaking nearly everyone, I was Second-in-command of the cruiser within three years. My skills were definitely coming in handy. When my captain retired and I was promoted to his position, it seemed like the rightful payment for years and years of hard work and dedication. As the Pirate War broke out, I was beginning to make a name for myself, not just among my peers, but also among the admiralty.
A few years later, I received what I had liked to call a double promotion. The Fleet admiral was reorganizing his force, going away from the traditional battle order of five large fleet sections in favor of a larger number of squadrons, all of which were more maneuverable though had less firepower individually. I had been picked by the admiral to serve as Commodore in charge of one of these squadrons. At the same time, he gave me a new ship. I was told to report to a shipyard. When I arrived there, I saw the greatest sight I have ever laid my eyes upon. A Seper' Essal-class battleship was waiting for me. This new generation of battleships had been comissioned at the start of the Pirate War. It was equipped with the latest weapon and shield technology and was supposed to ring in a new era of Federation naval doctrine. Standing on the bridge and feeling the power of the engines, it was one of the proudest moments of my life, second only to the day I arrived at the academy with the recommendation from a man who had long since become my mentor.
When war broke out with the Terran Union, I realized I hadn't really cared all that much for them or humanity as a species. This was in part due to their isolationistic nature, but also due to me not caring for anyone outside of the Federation. Humanity had developed in an isolated part of space and had therefore grown significantly before meeting the rest of the galaxy. They were powerful, yes, but also stayed neutral throughout the galactic conflicts. The image people had of the Terran Union was that of a friendly giant, strong enough to crush you with a single strike but never willing to, instead providing a helping hand. And only to be challenged by another giant, one which we figured to be.
As we moved towards our objective, the Manura-system and its only planet, I studied the intelligence briefings on the Terran Navy. I found them to be very meager. Apparently, the isolationist nature of humanity had prevented any significant intel grabs by our agencies. We also hadn't seen any wars fought by the Terran Union and we thought them to have not even fought a war in a long time. To this day I do not know if that was true or not, but in the end it did not matter. I was feeling confident.
The fleet arrived a few days before the Army did. We were to engage the Terran fleet and secure an approach vector for our troop carriers. I had my own battleship under my command alongside two older battleships, six cruisers, ten destroyers and fifteen corvettes. Our initial advance was going quite well. The Terran fleet in this system was rather small and we were able to establish a position in orbit that would allow our ground forces to find favorable positions on the planet surface while still having cover from space. Over the next few days, we fought inconsequential skirmishes until a larger Terran fleet, capable of fighting back effectively, arrived.
As they spread out I realized that my squadron would have to fight the toughest fight of the entire battle. Arrayed against me were two carriers and three battleships, with eight cruisers, eight destroyers and fourteen corvettes as escort. But these ships all seemed insignificant to one other ship present. Even the large carriers and battleships only served as escort to a much more dangerous ship. A dreadnought. This monstrous ship was three times the size of a regular battleship. Its main weapon was a gigantic massdriving railgun on a spinal mount. It looked like it was capable of destroying any ship with a single shot. The railguns that their cruisers used as their heavy weapons were mere point defense guns on this ship. It was terrifying, but I had to keep calm. Remembering the capabilities of other mass drivers we had seen so far, I ordered my squadron into a loose formation, assigning each ship a piece of space in which they could freely move. This was to dodge any shots from the dreadnaught. Against the carriers and their compliments of fighters and bombers I set a picket line of corvettes in front of my ships and called for reinforcements.
I received them the next day, two more battleships and four cruisers, as well as six destroyers. We skirmished some more with the enemy, but nothing decisive happened. Then, late in the day, they attacked. When our sensors picked up the enemy advancing in a long line, matching the width of our deployment. Their destroyers were in the front, hoping to attack my first line of corvettes. Swarms of fighters emerged from the hangars of the carriers and other large capital ships to cover them. I pulled my line back closer to the main unit and reinforced it with cruisers and fighters. As the fight began I could not help but marvel at the beauty of it. Plasma torpedoes and lasers suddenly appearing, the bright flashes whenever the humans fired their railguns. Salvoes of rockets racing through space and fighters ending their mission as small fireballs. For a moment I was captivated by this sight, then I caught myself. Since both main lines were not engaged yet I decided to move my squadron upwards to be able to fire above the fight into the Terran fleet. I figured that we could be able to cut off their reinforcements for the ongoing fight and win that way, by destroying them piecemeal.
It was my first mistake. During the climb, my sensor officer screamed out that she was registering a massive energy buildup from the dreadnought. I had barely enough time to warn everyone when the projectile was already racing towards us. A cruiser from the reinforcements was hit right into the middle section. The projectile ripped through the entire ship, blowing out the engines in the back. The entire ship began to burst open as munitions stored inside the ship detonated. The cooling system for the reactor had been annihilated and immediately, the reactor began to overheat, rupturing the last sections of the ship that had yet to be completely destroyed. I was shocked. Our sensors registered zero percent survivors.
After that day, we studied the results. The maneuver to cut off enemy units from joining the fight between the first lines had been effective in doing so. We had won that engagement and significantly weakened the enemies fighter and destroyer fleets. But that success had come at a heavy price. I had lost four destroyers and two cruisers of the main line with three more cruisers being deemed combat ineffective by the damage control units. Two battleships had taken significant damage and the captain of a destroyer had only avoided destruction by firing plasma torpedoes at the projectile fired by the dreadnaught, but the fragments of that projectile had either completely or partially destroyed the main weapons on three destroyers, including his own. Our estimations were that the Terran Navy had lost five ships of the main line either destroyed or combat ineffective while both sides had lost significant numbers in the first engagement. Our corvettes had proven to be effective against the Terran fighters and in conjunction with our own fighters and protection by the cruisers had been able to stem their tide and take the fight to their destroyers. We had taken them out, but had lost five corvettes after the Humans had identified them as the strongpoints in our anti-Fighter defense.
I reset the picket line and reinforced it with destroyers and a cruiser. Our ground forces were reporting heavy casualties and constantly requested close air support and orbital bombardment. I could provide the former, but every time I deployed ships to provide support for the Army, they were matched by a Terran contingent and forced to retreat lest they be attacked while their weapons were trained at a different target. The responses from the Generals angered me. They were accusing me of betraying them and their effort for the federation that their respective species had put in over generations. At some point I just turned the communicator off after telling an Alvanian Warmaster to either "take what I could give him or roll over and die".
On the next day, the second after the first engagement, everything seemed quiet. The Terran fleet was still reorganizing. Our patrol were still up and I was still rotating some ships from and to the picket line for repairs behind our line. I can recall watching one of our destroyers passing my ship on its way to the front around midday when all of a sudden a wave of explosions ripped through the squadron. I was thrown to the ground of my bridge. Before I knew what had happened the lights went out and our systems went down. I rose with blood in my mouth and called for an explanation. Outside, I could see the other ships be in the same situation, engines powered down and lights turned off. The destroyer that I had watched earlier drifted through space, away from our line, propelled by the explosion and completely helpless. Several ships had been directly hit by explosions and sustained damage. A sailor forced the door to the bridge and reported that he had been sent by the chief engineer. All electrical systems had been turned off and were not responsive to all repair attempts. Only the mechanical reserve cooling system of the reactor was still operational. He recommended a reactor shutdown and restart as a solution. I approved it and sent the man back. When our systems came back online about ten minutes later, I was able to reestablish communications as the ships all went through the same procedure. I immediately opened the tactical map on my personal terminal. The picket line was racing back to provide assistance to the main line. They were horribly out of position and the Terran fleet advanced. Our sensors were still disturbed by radiation. "Nuclear mines!" exclaimed one of my officers. To this day I do not know how they got them into position.
A corvette had docked on the destroyer that was still being hurled towards the enemy to provide assistance and slow it down with its own engines. To this day still I honor its crew and their heroic sacrifice, as futile as it may have been. The dreadnaught fired and its shot completely disintegrated the corvette, turning a fully functioning warship into a small debris field that no one could have ever guessed was a warship at some point. The destroyers engines powered up and it tried to turn and evade the two Terran battlegroups advancing on its position. For a moment I felt hope, then a salvo of rockets struck the engines and they were completely and utterly gone. The ship drifted into the enemy fleet to never be seen again.
We were able to fend off this attack too, driving back the two battlegroups, but we were stretched to the breaking point. I moved my right wing away from the main force as if reinforcements were coming to mend the gap in an effort to discourage the enemy from attacking again. I thought it was working as they did not attack the next day. My sailors got their well deserved rest. Even though our casualties were significant, we had felt that we had won both previous engagements and we felt confident we could do it again. They were confident that I would be able to find a solution to defeat the dreadnaught. Such a vote of confidence was amazing. I only hoped to live up to their expectations.
It had been quiet when once again disaster struck. I was in a heated argument with an Army General when all of a sudden the connection broke off. Angrily, I commanded my communications officer to hail him again to provide an explanation as to why he had cut me off. But he answered that he could raise neither him nor anyone else on comms. No one was responding. All communication was down and no one could figure out why. Someone must have given the enemy access to our communications network. A traitor. My first suspicion was one of my squadron. But I quickly dismissed that thought. It had to be someone from the Army. They were the ones that had so often disobeyed orders from high command. And the species of the Army were massively mixed while the Navy was nearly completely consisting of Rafar and Paxoori, the founding species of the Federation. To this day it is my belief that the Army betrayed us in the Battle of Manura.
We established a makeshift communications system with messenger shuttles and waited. Expectedly, the Terran Navy attacked for a third time. We matched them, trying to hold them off once again. But without proper communication, we could only offer so much resistance. For a few hours, we held the line but late in the afternoon as I watched my last fully operational battleship move into position next to mine, that ship was his by a powerful salvo of energy beams from the bottom. The ship made a slight jump, then rockets struck the holes in the armor and parts of the ship broke off. "Planetary defense guns!", my sensor officer screamed. I could not understand. Were we not above our lines? Had the Army betrayed us and defected? It seemed impossible and at the same time so reasonable. It is the last thing I can remember before a white flash blinded me. I was thrown off my feet and everything went dark.
When I awoke in a Medbay, I saw the face of a captain of my squadron. The man was commanding a cruiser and was a grim veteran. He explained what had happened. Fire from the planet surface had all but destroyed our fleet. A projectile from the dreadnaught had completely shaven off the bottom half of my ship, missing the reactor by only two decks. He had rescued as many as they could before being forced to retreat from their sector. Our admiral had called for an evacuation to the Centax-system. I was being sent to a military hospital in federation territory. My fight was over.
A few months after the war had ended I left the Navy. Disillusioned and disgruntled, I did not want anything to do with the military. I refused my honors and turned my back on all of them, especially the Army. I felt betrayed by them. If they had held the line on the ground and kept their troops in check, we would not have been butchered in orbit. Who could win a battle with no communication and while being attacked from two sides? I had believed in the federation and its members like we all did and this was our payment. Either the loss of our friends or comrades of the cold, vast grave that was the space.
submitted by InterestingUnit0