PHASE II : THE TYR ARC ( 17 of 28 )

: “ Twilight Fury ”


February 4, 2681
TCS Agincourt; Briefing Room
Tyr System
0815 Hours Fleet Standard Time

Lieutenant Colonel Vladmir Davidovich Popov reached out and flipped the switch on the holoprojector, and the image of Yorktown's WC vanished. Stepping up behind the podium, the grizzled pilot surveyed the room, as he prepared to issue his own holobriefing to the three ships that held his

"Ladies and gentlemen." He almost couldn't say the words. Ladies and gentlemen? Most of these were boys and girls. Kids, fresh from the Academy, looking to put in a few years and get out with a pension or a cushy job flying for the corporations. Shaking his head to clear it, he coughed.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began again. "As you have seen, we will be conducting a sierra strike against the small force of corvette-type targets, and their escorts, in the company of the destroyers Maribel and Perez." He tapped a few keys, bringing up another holomap, of smaller scale. "As usual, we will be conducting a strike as a package, all three detachments."

A young lieutenant in the back spoke up, "Okay, Pops... we go out, wax the baddies, come home, get plastered...sounds like fun, what're we waiting for?" A few other pilots laughed nervously.

Popov sighed heavily and fixed his gaze upon the offending lieutenant. "Lieutenant Masters," his cold blue eyes narrowed, "Come down here." He waved him forward.

Lieutenant Masters looked around, then began shuffling up the aisle to the commander's station. "Yes, sir?"

Popov's hands danced over the holoprojector's controls. "Ladies and gentlemen," he said as he looked around the room. The rest of the pilots were looking on with apt attention, eager to see the fate of the hapless lieutenant. "I show you a man who obviously has such a wealth of tactical knowledge that he does not need a briefing. Hence... he shall finish the briefing, while I look on." He stepped back, gesturing to Lieutenant Masters.

The Lieutenant shifted, tugging at the collar of his flight suit. "Well, erm..." He looked at the holomap. "We, ah... launch... then... erm..." He frowned. "Send four of Perseus Detachment's T-Sharks forward on a sweep... and... uh... Theseus Detachment's Excaliburs stay with the Thuds as escorts..." The Lieutenant's floundering was cut off by a crackle from the intercom.

"If I may?" a crisp, clipped German accent came through the speakers.

"Um, yes, sir, Major von der Graf." Lieutenant Masters stepped back, saluting towards the holocamera. Major Wilhelm von der Graf, "Willi" to his friends and "Baron" in the cockpit, was the wing's executive officer. He was also the commander of Hercules detachment, the Thunderbolt fighter-bombers.

"No, Lieutenant, stay. You need to operate the projector," von der Graf said, cutting off the Lieutenant's last hope of escape. "Cue up the map showing Third Fleet and the estimated current location of the hostiles."

Masters worked the console awkwardly.

"There. Now... designate a point for the wing to form up... no, no, that's too far out from the fleet's pickets. Less than 25,000 klicks is best. Much better. Now, plot out a line of approach - No, no, no!"

The Major's voice grew suddenly hard, "A straight in and out path? Why not simply send the enemy an e-message telling them precisely our location? Now, replot a course. At least two navpoints. And don't forget to designate a rally point for units that get separated."

Lt. Masters sweated over the controls, trying to keep up with the rapid-fire directions that the Major issued. "Good, good. Now, you've managed to get us to arrive at the enemy location... now what?"

Lieutenant Masters frowned, running a hand through his brown hair. "Well... from there on, run a standard strike op...The Excaliburs and T-Sharks achieve local superiority, the Thuds drop torps...and then we get out of there." He punched a few buttons. "Leaving by a roundabout route, too, right?" he asked hopefully.

Popov nodded, eyes gleaming. "Now, Lieutenant... how do the TCS Maribel and TCS Perez fit into this?"

"Uh..." Masters almost fell over. "We... they... uh..."

An amused voice saved the Lieutenant. "We accompany your bombers, Lieutenant, and drop torps. If the torpedoes fail, then we close with guns."

"Um, of course..."

Lieutenant Colonel Popov smiled faintly. "Thank you, Lieutenant Commander Tolbert," he addressed the new voice, that of TCS Perez's commander.

"Anytime, Lieutenant Colonel. So, is that the plan, then?"

"Yes, it does seem so. Any comments, Major Coursain?"

Major Kyle Coursain's voice came over the communication channel. "Well, just one... are we doing a forward sweep, and if so, is it going to be your guys in T-Sharks or my Excals?" Theseus Detachment's commander was a slow-voiced man, with a curious and perpetually unrecognizable accent to his voice.

"Well, Lieutenant Masters?" Popov gestured.

"Ummm... send the Tigersharks?" The Lieutenant nodded emphatically. "Yeah, send a four-ship section from Perseus's T-sharks, that'd work..." He trailed off. "Right?"

"Should work," Major Coursain responded. "Since we'll have to slow down to the speed of the destroyers anyways... sending the faster fighters isn't that great an idea."

Lt. Col. Popov stepped forward. "Well done, Lieutenant Masters. Perhaps there's hope for you yet. Now, here are the section assignments..."


TCS Maribel; Flight Deck
0830 Hours Fleet Standard Time

Major Wilhelm von der Graf moved across the deck, every step the very image of economy of motion. All around him, the flight deck was alive with activity, as crews prepared the ancient Thunderbolt fighter-bombers for launch. Willi flew them during the Kilrathi War... now, as this "Nephilim" crisis unfolded, he watched young, eager pilots hurrying to their planes, much as he had over twenty years ago.

He continued, lost in remembrances of missions flown and friends met and lost, until he came up to his fighter. Running his eyes over the length of it, he smiled faintly and whispered under his breath. "Well, old friend... another ride to glory?"

"Major?" The voice broke into Willi's thoughts. "Major, your bird is all ready to go. Sam's on his way over for the turret." A young technician stood at attention.

"Very good... full load?"

"Yes, sir. Torpedoes check out, missiles are good."

"Any trouble with any other planes?"

"Not that I'm aware of, Major." They went through the routine of question and answer that had been echoed so many times through the years, on so many ships. Satisfied with the answers, Willi climbed up into his cockpit. "How old are you, Spaceman?"

The young technician adjusted a buckle, strapping Baron in. "Nineteen, sir."

"Do you realize that this bomber is older than you?" Willi smiled faintly as the young technician paused for thought.

"No, sir... didn't really occur to me."

"I was flying these while you were still in kindergarten... gives a man something to think about, doesn't it? Now, is my gunner here yet?"

"Yes, sir. He's getting strapped in now."

"Good... now, let's get this old bird powered up and launched." He waved to the technician as the cockpit closed. The engines rumbled as the Thunderbolt powered up. Willi ran through the old preflight routines with practiced ease. "Intercom check. Sam, you back there?"

"Sure am, Major. Ready whenever you are," Sergeant Samuel Reigen said from the gunner's station. Willi nodded, and flipped another switch. "Squadron channel check. This is Hercules Lead. Check in, Hercules detachment."

"Herc Two, on-line."

"Hercules Three here."

The rest of the squadron checked in.

"Well, pilots, we have a date with a Nephilim corvette group. I believe it is our duty as officers and gentlemen to not disappoint or be late. Maribel, Hercules is go for launch."

"Roger that, Hercules Lead. Lowering shields... ready to go."

Willi felt the rumble of the engines throwing his fighter forward into the void, and he began turning towards the rally nav point.


En route to Nav 4 -Autopilot- Piranha 500
Contested Zone, February 4th, 2681, 0900 hours

Captain Selena Martinez, callsign "Minnie," checked her HUD as the computer switched off autopilot. The entire squadron of 16 Piranhas was flying in a spectacular show of force. Every one of them would be required to fend off enemy fighters. The Piranhas were light, nimble, and weak. Armed with only a pair of ion cannons and a single laser cannon, the pilots knew that the only way they could survive in a large battle was to gang up on the enemy.

Without each other, the squadron was nothing. That's why Captain Martinez taught this philosophy to her newbie pilots. A kind yet strong pilot, Martinez was a small 5'2" Latin brunette. Like Alvarez, they both barely made the minimal height requirement for entrance into the Academy. In her middle twenties, Martinez was known for her extreme beauty. Oddly, it was also known that she was available. Every young plebe hit on her when assigned to the squadron. This would usually be met with a stern dressing down.

Martinez looked at her HUD and then looked up. It was what they had expected. Three Morays, the light fighter of the Alien fleet. It should be an easy battle.

"Okay, gang, arm weapons and dispatch the enemy. No survivors," ordered Martinez as she flipped the 'master arm' switch into 'arm' and smiled as the whine of the fighter got slightly louder as the lasers and shields charged up into combat mode.

Off at 20,000 klicks, Martinez's HUD showed a trio of medium alien fighters, which HQ has designated as "Moray-class." Against a wave of 16 Piranhas, the 3 fighters would be mincemeat, provided that they weren't falling into a trap. Selena switched her Piranhas weapons to the quick-firing stormfire cannon and dove in on the 3 awaiting alien fighters. The other fighters followed like a birds-of-prey and pounced on them.

The 16 Sindri Stars attacked in a coordinated and spectacular fashion. The three alien fighters, knowing that they had no chance for survival, fled at their top speed. However, the Piranhas were fast and quickly overtook them. Seemingly all at once, ion, laser, and Stormfire rounds sped through the sky and seared into the shields of the fighters. A sickly green light enveloped the fighters as the massive wall of energy and projectiles slammed into them. The alien shields deflected some of the rounds but after a quick second of the baptism by fire, they gave way to the weak armor below. The energy quickly enveloped the fighters and melted every piece of armor off of them until the sickly superstructure underneath the fighters showed and the fuel cells burst. The lead fighter quickly broke up, and the other two exploded a brief second after the first.

"Yeah! That's taking it to'em!" screamed out Martinez.

"Yeee-hah... them bugs won't be goin home," replied Justin "Longhorn" Peters. He was the biggest friendliest southerner that one could ever meet and because of that, he was popular aboard the Yorktown.

One of his rivals, 2nd Lt. Sean "Black Belt" Mckinny did not like him because Longhorn inadvertently stole his first kill by clipping a Kilrathi a few months back. Not being able to forgive and forget, he's made Longhorn's life a living hell. "Aw shut up you damn hick," he retorted.

"Black belt, I'm going to kick your fucking ass when we get back for that comment," announced 1st Lt. Michael "Saw Iron" Hewton, the XO for the Sindri Stars. Martinez was taken back by the rude and ill mannered comments that she heard from her own squad, even after their victory! Hewton's lack of tact especially surprised her. That would have to be dealt with at a later date.

"Okay, guys, shut up and lets get this show on the road! We still have...wait... shit. Multiple inbound, I count 4, no 5 medium fighters with a heavy escort. Break and attack! Repeat! Break and attack! All weapons go!" exclaimed Martinez as she pulled her fighter out of formation and dove head on into the group of alien fighters.

The Piranhas quickly split up into different solo groups, not giving a damn about each other then quickly converged on the enemy. Selena, being the first one there, dodged several bolts of incoming fire as she dove under the enemy fighters and pulled hard and got up on the medium. The enemy wing split up and started to swarm the light fighters in individual dogfights.

Martinez let off a sustained burst of stormfire rounds into the rear of the heavy fighter and followed up with a single heat seeking missile. The shields absorbed the burst but the missile knocked the fighter around and ruptured the rear shields with a large explosion. The alien fighter acted like nothing happened and targeted a Piranha. It was McKinny's ship. McKinny was had no idea that what they code named the Manta, the alien heavy fighter, was behind him as he continued to batter on a light Moray.

The Manta opened up with full guns, and a pair of maser bolts and a big large green glob expelled from the fighter and slammed into the Piranha as the rear shields failed in a blue flash of light. The Alien followed up the attack with another green bolt and a missile that trailed a long, thin wisp of smoke. The bolt struck and destroyed the armor of the fighter, then the missile destroyed the bare core. No one saw a pod eject from the fiery ball of expanding gas.

The Piranha pilots were devastated by the loss, in a rage. They quickly pulled out of combat and came back fighting as a team. Targeting and focusing on each of the alien fighters, they promptly overwhelmed them. Martinez put her hand to her head and closed her eyes. Another death. It was her fault that he died. These pilots weren't prepared for this. What's going to happ...

"Minnie, we have to go. We still have to clear out two more Nav points then join the strike at Nav Five," Saw Iron stated as he pulled his Piranha next to hers. She said a small prayer under her breath and touched her flight suit where her cross was. Being of Latin descent, Selena was Catholic.

"God speed Mckinny," whispered Selena not realizing that her comm was active.

"Amen," responded the squadron, almost in unison. Martinez smiled at the respect the other pilots had and looked at her HUD.


All Systems Normal

She looked up at her other systems and checked that she was fine and she still had most of her fuel. She knew what she had to do, what her squadron had to do.

"Okay, people. We still have two more nav points to cover. We are going to hit them hard and fast and if none are there, then we move on. And besides, I don't think we are in a situation to assist the Dragonslayers right now," Selena ordered.

There was a series of "yes ma'am"s and "roger that"s but nothing with any conviction. Selena knew, that if this squadron was to survive this war, they had to stick with each other, motivate each other, and if needed die with each other, or nothing would change. Game over. We all lose.

"Set autopilot now," she ordered as she flipped the autopilot button on her fighter and closed her eyes as the fighter took over the controls and sped toward the unknown.


Tigershark "Perseus Five"
Approaching Nav 5
0915 Hours Fleet Standard Time

"All right, we're coming up on the Nav... Any sign of bogeys, Songbird?"

Captain Brendan Whitlam, better known to most as "Ranger," or, more formally, 98th Wing's Intelligence Officer, peered carefully at his scanner. The entire forward sweep had been devoid of contact. Not even a rogue asteroid had enlivened it. Nearly two hundred thousand klicks behind him, the main force was waiting, but right now all Ranger had to keep him interested was the occasional bit of comm chatter.

"Nothing, Ranger... same as the last hundred thousand klicks or so... dull and quiet. You sure Tactical got this location right?" The other leader in the section, Captain Rhiannon "Songbird" Ni'Dhonaill replied, her musical voice echoing in the comlink. "Y'know, it could've all been a careful plot to keep us out while Bennie dispenses free drinks back in the Lounge."

Ranger laughed, then suddenly fell silent as colored dots appeared on his scanners, signifying nearby craft. "Guys, you see that?" A handful of blips appeared at long distance on his scanner. "Perseus Six, stay with me... Songbird, drop back a bit."

"Aye, sir," his wingman, Lieutenant "Smokey" Karakis, replied.

Ranger turned left, sweeping at the outskirts of the nav point, watching the hostiles appear and disappear at the edge his scanner's range. "Look like they've seen us, Smokey?"

"Not sure, sir... I've got movement... not towards us, though."

"Ah, hell... heads up, Songbird. They're going towards you..."

"I'm on them. Keep with me, Platypus... we'll make a single firing run, then break, right?" Songbird and her wingman, a young lieutenant named Sonny "Platypus" Gell, began moving to engage.

Ranger watched from a distance, turning his fighter back towards the pair. Targeting data crystallized on his screen. Three bandits. His new warbook readout identified them as the Manta-class heavy fighter-bombers that he had heard about. "Keep it steady, Songbird. They're Mantas... the big heavies..."

"Oh, lovely. Any other bad news, Ranger?" Songbird's exasperation was evident in her voice.

As Ranger and his wingman closed the distance, he could hear her whispering into the still-open comm channel. "C'mon, boyo... another hundred meters. Plat - break!"

Her fighter suddenly spun left crazily, afterburners pulsing. Bolts from her fighter's weapon systems smashed into the fighter's shields. Ranger's detached, intelligence-officer side noted that the shields were comprised of a green field of energy, rather than the blue that most craft used. Perhaps the aliens used some other form of energy...

Platypus's scream cut through his moment of distraction. Even as his wingleader had broken off to fire on the approaching fighters, the three Mantas had loosed missiles on his fighter. The pilot, young and green, had panicked, simply lighting his afterburners and fleeing. The missiles outran the Tigershark, consuming it in a fiery explosion.

Songbird shrieked in anger. "Die, you furry bastard!"

Ranger deemed it impolitic to mention to Songbird that the Nephilim, unlike the Kilrathi, were by no means furred. Blasts from her Tigershark's charging mass driver cannons tore through one of the Mantas, sending shards of armor plate into the void. Meanwhile, the other two had swung round near Songbird, and had begun firing their own cannons, firing strange - and large - green blasts at her fighter.

While Ranger was observing the combat, trying to gain data on how the enemy operated, his wingman was less interested in such study. "Got tone! Launching missiles!"

A pair of Image-Recognition missiles streaked from Smokey's Tigershark, pursuing one of the two Mantas flanking Songbird. They exploded against the Manta's tail. The alien fighter turned, slowly, evidently damaged but still more than willing to put up a fight. Smokey fired his afterburners and closed with the Manta, more than willing to give it that fight. Guns blazing, he recklessly came head-on into a pass.

The fighter fired one of those large blasts at the Terran fighter, and Smokey met it head on. He was closer, closer, another blast rocking his shields, and then suddenly opened up, firing a host of unguided rockets into the forward armor of the larger fighter. Even as the Manta was breaking up, Smokey was pulling hard to avoid the explosion of the dying alien craft.

"Smoked one!"

Meanwhile, Songbird had been steadily pounding her Manta with gunfire, rocking it with explosion after explosion. It exploded around her, and Ranger winced as Songbird unleashed a cry of hatred and fury so loud it hammered into his skull.

By now, Ranger had closed in on the second Manta, engaging it quickly. A few firing passes with guns and rockets, and the Manta was damaged enough to attempt to retreat. Ranger pursued, more slowly than he could have, hoping that the damaged fighter would point him towards its fleet.

Songbird had other ideas. Turning from her own kill, she closed on Ranger's Manta, afterburners flaming, her guns blazing and rocket pods firing as she descended, like an avenging angel of death.

"Songbird, no - " Ranger barely had time to begin before the battered Manta detonated into another fireball under her guns, littering debris across space.

"Damn it, Rhi, I had things under control," Ranger hissed through clenched teeth. "Your recklessness just cost us a shot at finding the main force.."

"Do ye hear me caring, Brendan? That son of a bitch tore apart Sonny! It deserved to die!" Her eyes, burning with hatred, bloodlust, and rage, practically glowed on Ranger's comm board.

"Perseus Seven, form on me." Ranger retreated within a shell of pure professionalism. "We're heading back to the Agincourt."

He switched communications channels. "Olympus, this is Perseus Five."

The communications officer on the Agincourt came on-line. "Olympus here, Ranger. What's up?"

"Clear for delivery, Olympus. We had a single engagement, three Manta-class heavy fighters. We..." He paused, the professional facade faltering. "Reporting a single casualty, Perseus Nine. No ejection pod sighted. Don't chance an SAR flight with our special delivery inbound."

"Roger that, Ranger..." The young ensign chewed her lip. "And... I'm sorry."

Me, too, Ranger thought to himself. Instead, he said, "Sorry's for later, Ensign. We're coming home."


Thunderbolt "Hercules Leader"
Nav Five
0935 Hours Fleet Standard Time

"Hostiles on scanner," Lt. Colonel Popov's voice echoed inside Willi's flight helmet.

"Roger, I see them. Hercules Flight, this is Hercules Lead. Tally four large signatures, capital ships, apparently our little lost corvettes. Prepare to engage."

Willi pushed his throttle forward just a bit, easing out in front. He activated the Lance torpedo hanging under his bomber, and waited for the signatures to crystallize into a targeting solution. He eyed the alien warships, strangely bloated and rounded, with strange bulges - not at all like the jagged outlines of Kilrathi craft, or even the sleek, elegant lines of a Confederate warship.

Major Coursain's image appeared on the comm grid. "Heads up, Slayers, we got bandits inbound. Looks like five, no, six light craft. Should be a piece of cake. We'll keep your six clear, while you guys take down those 'vettes. Theseus, let's move!" The Excaliburs raced from the pack of fighters and capital ships to meet the fighters.

"Perseus Flight, come in for rocket runs on the turrets," ordered Popov.

Willi watched the sleek Tigersharks race past his lumbering Thunderbolt, headed in to 'sanitize the area,' destroying the corvettes' anti-fighter turrets.

Even as they entered the area, bursts of green exploded around the Tigersharks. Popov and his squadron danced around the bursts, rockets and gunfire ripping at the surfaces of the corvettes. Over the communications channels, Willi could hear the calls of the pilots to each other, muffled curses and calls, both for assistance and of success.

Still, four Tigershark fighters could only do so much so quickly, and it wasn't long before the corvettes were in range of the attackers, and there were still turrets blazing.

"Keep it steady, Hercules. Twenty-five seconds to torpedo launch."

Any bomber pilot could tell you that the time to torpedo lock, when under fire, trying to take out enemy capital ships with live turrets, could be the longest twenty-five seconds in existence. Green bursts ripped into the advancing bomber formation, as they advanced, unable to break off for fear of losing lock, fighting every instinct that screamed "Move! Dodge! Maneuver, damn it!" To be a bomber pilot, one had to utterly suppress one's self-preservation instinct and subordinate one's self to the mission.

The seconds crawled by. Blasts of green screamed around his fighter, missing by only a few metres. Others weren't so lucky. Willi heard screams - first one, then, as if in eerie counterpoint, a second - as two Thunderbolts were torn apart within seconds of each other. The cries of pain and fear echoed through his cockpit, momentarily deafening him.

Moments later - but an eternity in Willi's mind - he began to hear the shouts of pilots, filled with horror and vengeful rage at the deaths of their comrades. It briefly occurred to Willi that most of these pilots had never lost a comrade... indeed, for many this was their first time in combat.

"Damn, those are big guns," one pilot remarked, unnecessarily, to Willi's mind - even the little guns could get you - but still, he took note of it.

"Five... four... three... two... we've got tone, launch a spread, Hercules, and then let's move."

He felt the Thunderbolt shudder as the torpedo left the rail, streaking towards the alien warship. Willi began to pull his fighter upwards, climbing away. Then his fighter shuddered, this time from a hit from enemy fire. Even as the torpedoes flew at them, the doomed gunners were still firing away. First one, then a second blast shook the plane.

"Sam, you okay back there?"

"I've... I've been better, Major. Let's just go on home, huh?"

"I'm trying, Sergeant, I'm trying..." He looked over the damage report. Armor had been shredded off of his rear quarter, and one of the engines was sputtering unpleasantly. Still, it didn't look too bad, not in comparison with some. Willi twisted the fighter in a turn, looking up through the cockpit at the corvettes. Even as he looked, he heard the first whooping and shouting as two of the capital ships began breaking up.

"Got the bastards! Got those goddamned murderous bastards!"

Willi wasn't sure which of the pilots called out, but that one voice spoke volumes from the hearts of every one of the Thunderbolt crews. "Still two left, pilots. Move out of the way and let the destroyers engage."


TCS Perez DD-121; Bridge
Tyr System,
Contested Zone, February 4th, 2681,
0938 Hours

Lieutenant Commander Tolbert surveyed his bridge, as his destroyer closed with the surviving Alien warships. They seemed too lightly armed, really. Where were the torpedo spreads or missile launchers that were the hallmark of such light warships? Instead, they kept pumping out their bursts of green energy at the fighters, striking various Thunderbolts and damaging them, destroying two. Was this truly going to be as easy as it appeared?

"Incoming fire!" The shout from the helmsman made it clear that, once again, the universe had decided not to make Lt. Cdr. Tolbert's life an easy, pleasant one.

"Brace for impact..." Tolbert held onto his chair, as the Nephilim fire screamed in on his warship. While the fighters had avoided many of the bursts, the Perez, being considerably larger, slower, and less maneuverable, was less fortunate. The green maser blasts washed over the shields of the destroyer in bright green flashes of light.

"Report, Mister Buchholz?"

"Port shielding overloading! Those things put out a lot of power, sir." The Damage Control officer looked up from his consoles. "If we get hit in the next five minutes or so... it'll get through to the hull."

"Understood. Helm, bring us around to a heading of two-one-six."

"Two one six, aye, turn - " The helmsman was cut off as another burst, from the second corvette, hammered the weakened portside shields. Tolbert was suddenly reminded of documentaries he'd seen about predators, who would attack one at a time, to wear the enemy down. It seemed oddly appropriate here, as he heard the twisting and buckling of metal under the fire.


"Started hammering at the port-side armor, sir. About 25 percent reduction on that side. All told, sir, could be worse."

"Weapons, commence firing guns on that bastard."

"Aye, sir."

The destroyer's turrets opened up, sending round after round of blazing energy into the Nephilim warships. Under the fire of both Perez and the Maribel, added to by the occasional strafing run by the fighters, the corvettes started their descent into death. The destroyers continued to fire on the corvettes as they traded shots. The leftmost corvette taking most of the beating started to give under the massive power that the destroyers were unleashing on the ship. The shields gave way and the red lasers smashed into the green and black hull of the ship, blasting the "skin" off and showing the inner decks as the Perez fired blast after blast.

As the first corvette started to give way to the rain of fire, the second corvette saw its chance. It lurched forward at a speed that rivaled a Confed Los Angeles-class PT boat and started pelting the weakened destroyer's hull. Explosions sounded throughout the hull of the ship as the blasts tore into the side of the destroyer. The lights turned a sickly blue and red as a small hole started to form at the side of the ship.

"Warning. Hull Breach," chimed in the computer.

"Report! Bellowed Tolbert as he gripped his armrest in distress.

"Sir, small breach on Deck 4, corvette is coming at ramming speed!"

"Shit... helm, roll us 72 degrees port side. Tactical, get me a firing solution on that corvette and get every weapon we have on that bitch!" ordered Tolbert.

The corvette bore in, firing its sickly green maser cannons on the destroyer. As the corvette entered 15,000 feet, Tolbert said a small prayer, as he knew that only a miracle could save his ship. He knew that there was no way that tactical could fire torpedoes in the short amount of time left.

Just then, a pair of torpedoes launched out of the Maribel. The torps smacked into the side of the offending corvette and blew the rear half of the ship off in a massive shock wave. The force of the explosion shot debris all over the shields of the wounded destroyer.

Tolbert relaxed in his seat. "Well done, crew... Yolanda, I owe you a drink when we get back home." He smiled, at last.

"Just doing our job, Tolbert," replied Yolanda Zavala, CO of the Maribel, "Just remember, we may need your help next time."

"Anytime, dear. Comm, let our pilots know they can land for rearming and refueling, if need be. Let's get back to the Fleet."

Now that the action was finally over, Tolbert had a chance to review the reports coming in. All in all, the Yorktown's fighters and escorts had accounted for just over 60 enemy fighters, as well as two Nephilim destroyers and the four corvettes. That was in exchange for seven of their own fighters, and the damage to his destroyer. It looked great on paper, but considering how badly the Nephilim outnumbered them, it was only a small victory.

Then again, a great victory is made up many small ones.