Episode 16

***Elysium System, Bridge of the OWAS Helios***

The nervous sensor operator double checked his sensor readings as his stomach worked itself into a knot. The anticipation of being on the brink of a major action was getting to him. Trying to run silent but not blind while hiding in the asteroid belt was slow tedious work and not helping to pass the time. However, the results of these scans could not be mistaken; even a cadet in training could make them out. Two UEE Hornets have entered the asteroid belt and are heading towards their location. “Sir! Two Hornets just entered the Asteroid belt!”

“Very well, keep active sensors silent. Signal all craft to prepare to fire transponder homing missiles, with the UEE transponder code marked as enemy.” Malachi, calmly gave orders to his crew. He needed to ensure destruction of these fighters before they could get enough information to blow the cover on their ruse. Based off the vectors being fed to the captains command console, he saw an opportunity to fire all missiles without being seen, using the weak gravity of a large asteroid to curve the missiles towards their targets. “Helm, put the asteroid I tagged on the console between us and the vectors provided by the passive sensors. Targeting, follow the targeting solution plotted on the command console, fire missile volley at two clicks out”

The next couple of minutes were passed with absolute silence outside of the gentle rumble of the engines and the low hum of electronics. Right on schedule the Helios and its escorts launched a large salvo of missiles into the darkness of space. Several seconds after firing, the missiles passed close to the large asteroid, their flight path bending in its gravity. Soon the missiles disappeared around the opposite side of the asteroid.

Malachi engaged the communication system and gave the order to begin their attack “Helios to all craft, execute flight plan, NOW!” Within seconds all of the craft engaged thrusters. Their positioning allowing them to get a gravity assist from the asteroid.

The UEE Hornets picked up the signal from the transmission and turned towards the asteroid and increased their thruster power. While their pilots did not capture the message itself, it was confirmation that their enemy was out there. Seconds later their warning systems came to life in a panicked array of beeps and warning tones.

The missiles’ velocity was fast enough that they did not remain in orbit and as they climbed away from their orbit of the asteroid their guidance sensors quickly picked up on the hornets. The logic programmed into each missile’s targeting system detected the flight path of the other missiles and both Hornets ended up with a nearly even spread of missiles locked onto them. The pilots of the Hornets in a fearful hopeless panic each began evasive maneuvers.

The Helios made visible contact with the Hornets just moments before the missiles impact. As the missiles began to strike the fighters in rapid succession, the crew of the Helios watched as one of the pilots attempted to eject. This escape attempt came too late. The reactor core of the fighter ruptured, a flash of superheated plasma exploded out from the craft, rapidly overtaking and consuming the pilot. O’Brian watching from the bridge of the Helios said a silent prayer for the pilot, hoping that death came quickly and painlessly. O’Brian reflected on how just a short time ago these pilots that he just saw vaporized were brothers in arms, and now they both would attempt to give each other the same lonely cold death in the darkness of space. O’Brian wondered just what he was fighting for, and if his own desire for revenge against Shaw has turned him into a monster as well. How many people will die today because of his desire for revenge?

The sensor operator broke the silence with a hint of fear and nervousness in his voice, “Sir, I detected no transmission from the fighters, they were taken completely by surprise. Only a small debris field remains of the two fighters”

Malachi, smiled and looking rather pleased responded, “Very well. All crew are to remain on combat stations. Fighters move ten clicks ahead as a forward screen. Orders are to fire at targets and keep them off of the Helios, but do not engage in prolonged dog fights until we begin our run on the Artemis. Bring all sensors online and let’s start getting a picture of what is out there”

Within minutes active sensor signals flooded out from the Helios, within minutes various ships in the system detected the Helios and its flight vectors. A swarm of communication traffic spontaneously erupted. The point of no return had been reached. There was no avoiding the coming deadly contest, and the blood already shed would quickly be added to…

The End

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