Old Age and Treachery
“He’s not close enough,” noted Captain Marlon Mayfield.
He turned from the holo display of the military starships in orbit around Calvinas. He sipped coffee as he walked across decking of the bridge. A trail of old coffee stains marked his path from his “office” beside the bridge to the command chair. He spun suddenly. Coffee sloshed from his cup. “Are they ready yet, Gridley?”
The young weapons officer shook his head. “Won’t be long now, sir. New technology, you know.”
“Better bloody work,” he murmured. Though he spoke softly, everyone on the bridge heard it. The area was quite small. Room on a warship like HHWS Ajax came at a premium. Crew members knew Mayfield enjoyed affecting the aspect of a crusty old man, but he was nothing of the sort. He was the crew’s superior but more of a beloved uncle to them all.
“Winfield?” he turned.
“No further contacts, sir,” smirked the slender blond sensor tech.
Mayfield ran a hand through silver hair. “Well, then. Let’s have a chat, shall we?”
Ensign Barkley didn’t need an order. “Channel open, sir.”
Mayfield’s voice suddenly developed a feeble rasp as Winfield hid another smirk. “Skeller? Is that you over there?”
Given the interstellar distances, it took 77 seconds for a response. The face of a young man, hair coiffed just so, appeared wearing a smirk of his own. “Captain Mayfield. How are you, old man?”
“Bloody tired, I’d say.”
Skeller smiled sympathetically. “Sorry to hear that old boy. If it’s any consolation, the war will be over soon.”
“That’s what I hear.”
The civil war had dragged on for nearly three years. While the Hegemony of Human Worlds built a first-rate navy, anticipating an attack from the Miloski Concordiat, their foes planned something else entirely. Though militarily larger, the Concordiat developed Machiavellian plans to turn naval officers into willing minions of their fascist beliefs. For a time, it seemed the HHW might collapse, but a series of naval victories had changed everything. New Hegemony technologies made the difference.
Out on the frontier, news of the Concordiat’s catastrophic failure was slightly slower than HHWS Ajax.
“Any chance you’ve joined the cause? We could use some help with the Reeducation Camps,” said Skeller.
“Is that what you’re calling it?” frowned Mayfield. “Years ago, we called it raping and pillaging.”
Skeller rolled his eyes. “Collateral Damage. You know how soldiers are.”
“Would you mean, honorable, trustworthy, defenders of the weak?” He looked askance at Winfield. The sensor tech held up five fingers. Wordlessly, she pulled her fingers down until zero. She nodded with a mischievous grin. Skeller’s far larger cruisers had moved to intercept Mayfield’s single destroyer. At last, Skeller was close enough.
“Is there a purpose to this impossibly outdated rhetoric?” groaned Skeller.
Mayfield looked to Gridley. The weapons tech shook his head. Mayfield sighed expansively.
“Feeling tired, old boy?” quipped Skeller. “Naval battles are a young man’s game. Are you sure you’re up to this?”
Mayfield slumped dramatically in his chair. “I still have my duty.”
“You’ve got one old destroyer,” Skeller shook his head with a smile. “Each of my two cruisers brings double the firepower to bear. You’re outclassed, old man!”
“Does that mean you’re ready to surrender?”
Skeller laughed outrageously. “Hardly. I could ask the same of you!”
Gridley spoke up with a relieved sigh. “Ready, sir!”
“Ready for what?” sneered Skeller.
Mayfield’s full-voiced baritone returned suddenly. “Fire when ready, Gridley.”
“You’re out of range, you senile old fool!” Skeller turned and checked his sensor plot. “Missiles? What are you playing at?”
The HHW abandoned missiles as a viable weapon decades before. Their short range usually insured they could no longer maneuver and attack by the time they reached the enemy. Meanwhile, energy weapons engaged from much further out and they never ran out of ammo. All that changed when hyper-skip missiles could enter and leave hyperspace multiple times. Attack range opened dramatically. The missiles possessed no warheads. They didn’t need them. Opening a hyperspace portal beside an unprepared enemy vessel could rip a ship apart. Lastly, they were damned difficult to intercept since they constantly dodged in and out of space-time.
Beams fell and sparks flew behind Skeller as he growled at Mayfield. “You said you were tired!”
The bridge crew grinned and shook their heads. Captain Mayfield’s military deceits were legendary.
Mayfield affected innocence. “I never said I was tired of fighting. I meant I was tired of fascist wankers like YOU!”
After finishing another Honor Harrington novel, I just had to write a space battle. If you like space battles too, then the Honor Harrington series by David Weber is one of the best. This is the first book in a very long-running series: http://www.amazon.com/On-Basilisk-Station-Honor-Harrington/dp/0743435710
This week at Grammar Ghoul Press’ Mutant 750 writing challenge, we have a picture of a coffee cup for the media prompt. The word prompt is: Tired. Look here for more stellar stories (pun intended) based upon the prompts: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-24/