Thursday, April 7, 2016

A-to-Z Blog Challenge: F is for Fighters

The Cerberus HACV

    This is what we’ve been working on.”
    First Starlord 7Hatawe Ahn floated next to the Prime of 3Gleise’s government-in-exile.  The armored shutters over the Cavalier Arms’ carrier, Shakespere’s Widow, were open and polarized for visible light viewing of space beyond.  The viewports were speckled with overlapped information - windows, heads up displays, and walls of text.  3Vonday looked at the displays without trying to read them.  His eyes would record he information and let the augmented parts of his mind begin to cross-reference and tabulate the data for later use.
    Beyond the glass, a killer kept station.
    It was part missile, part weapons platform, and part hybrid chimera.  The nose of the spacraft was armored with a blunt parasol of insulated shielding.  The narrow body prickled with holding clamps for submunitons; some for use against it’s rival combat vehicles, some designed to crack capital starships.  The stearn bloomed with radiator  vanes that were webbed with a colapsable, parabolic dish, the focus of which was tiny craft’s narrow exhaust bell.
    “We call it Cerberus.”  Hatawe said.  “A laser-boosted Hybrid Autonomos Combat Vehicle.”
    Dish extended, the aft of the Cerberus glowed with fire and left a white streak across the observation windows of Shakespere’s Window.  The harsh afterimage was all Vonday could see of the spacecraft.
    “It can boost at nearly fifty gravities,” Ahn explained. “And by varying the propellant flow, we can change that acceleration at random and instantly.  Makes tracking and targeting the little bastards almost impossible.”
    Hatawe and Vonday weren’t the only ones observing the test.  The newly minted Grand Admiral 4Neuman Kehahn asked, “How powerful a laser do you need to boost these HACVs at full accelleration?”
   “That’s the beauty of it,”  Hatawe said, “A Maurader Starfighter like the Widow can boost six at a time for a period of at least ninety seconds at a time without thermal failure.”
    A murmer went through the room as the implications set in.
    The Second Starlord, former Commodore 2Hilna Lin, spoke first. “A destroyer could boost four of those birds for twice that long, easily.  Without modification.”
    “A cruiser like Varangian could boost an entire wing on her point-defence array, for as long as we’d want.” Mused the Naval Cheif of Staff, 4Charl Itawa.
    “What does this mean for our prospects?” Vonday asked.  “Does this let us take on a capital fleet?”
    “Well, a cruiser fleet, anyway.” Hatawe conceeded. “Capitals have such long ranged weapons on their broadsides they could hull a Maurader before it could boost a Cerbeus flight into attack range.” She tilted her head in a freefall version of a shrug.  “The weapons system’s designed tobe a force multiplier, not a miracle worker.”
    “That being said,” Hilna put in, “by adding a carrier to each of our divisions, and maybe a flight per destroyer, we can divide our forced, cover more territory, and become that much more effective.”
    “Effective at what, though?” Vonday asked the room.  No one had a ready answer.
    “I we can’t take on a capital fleet, we can’t take back our territory.  Make no mistake, Taking back the Throneworld is the ultimate goal, but realistically it’s a long-term one.  We need to start thinking about ways to leverage the Cerberus vehicles and our fleet assests into something we can use to get capital ships.”
    “Get capital ships?”  Admiral Neuman asked, “How exactly do we get multi-billion crown starships?  Steal them?”
    “Not a bad idea.” Vonday countered.  “That at least sounds like something we can do with a destroyer fleet.”
    “Hijack ‘em from the shipyards,”  Hatawe mused, “and arm them at Cavalier HQ.  We can tool up our Sannic factories for capital weapons.  I’ve already got them building more Mauraders.”
    “We can even sell Mauraders to other small polites on AdStar’s boarder,” 4Charl added. “and it’s worth thinking about arming privateers to raid AdStar shipping.  As an official government, we can issue Letters of Marque and GalUnion will condone it.”
    “Privateers and mercenaries,” 2Hilna looked down.  “is this what we’ve become?”
    “Why not?” Vonday asked.  He glared at the assembled officers and Lords.  “Why not?  The Third Monarchy may not have been founded by a pirate king, but the First sure as hell was.  I for one am not too proud to turn merc or pirate if it means getting our home back.  Anyone who is had better speak up now.”
    There was silence.
    “Very well.”  Vonday turned to Lord Hatawe.  “Get us as many Mauraders as you can, and start full production on the Ceberus HVACs.  I want to replace all the Centaurs in the fleet soonest.
     "We're going to war."

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