Jade’s Dish By Brandon C. Hovey Excerpt Number One

Jade's Dish Cover

 

 

Typically, the auto pilot guides the ship in. Proximity alarms interrupted my confidence in the automation and I disengaged it. There was an incoming rod, one hundred feet away. Primitive but a stone-cold killer of a kinetic energy projectile that would impale me, or cut me to ribbons with the shrapnel it would create, or it would just leave two big holes in my ship to asphyxiate me. I didn’t like those options. I veered to the right and turned the afterburners on to create some more distance. Hopefully, the rail gun that fired it would not fire it too soon.

 

This is interesting.

Looking out the canopy as I banked the ship then left, right, left, and then in a zig-zag fashion to escape whoever who had me in their kill zone. The proximity alarms were still ringing. Whoever had me in their sights was a decent gunner, or they were just lucky. I could see Thomka Station, my destination passing as the ship tumbled out of the kill zone and behind the station near one of its nodes. I armed the main gun (a 30mm railgun of my own) and activated the shield generator. It wouldn’t stop the rods, but it would slow them down just enough to not breach the fuselage, only dent it.

I diverted all power to the engines briefly. Yes, that’s risky. But in many fights distance is your friend. I should know. I’ve been doing this for a while. After getting about ten miles away I looked through the opticam and replaced my sensor readout screen with a display of who was shooting at me.

“Four fighters launching and we have a frigate that was doing the shooting.”

I wasn’t talking to myself, I was thinking aloud. No, I’m not crazy at all. I’m just somebody who needed a friendly voice to hear. And that friendly voice is mine right now. What I was up against was going to be a challenge, but doable. How? Well, first I need to explain the situation to you. After all, I get the feeling you are not from around here.

I’m hoping to get inside Thomka Station, think of it as a waypoint. It is a station where you can berth your vessel, get a decent night’s sleep in the central node and you can get a hot shower after a long run. That is if the heater is working. Thomka Station is old, cruddy, to be honest borderline derelict. The worst part is that it is defenseless. Unless you count the cheapness of the owners as a deterrent to keep sentients away.

These pirates were bold and they likely planned this. The fighters are there to keep customers of Thomka Station at bay should any of them leave a docking node they could be dealt with. These fighters looked like an older model of interceptor made by a third-rate manufacturer. They were sleek single seaters built for speed. Speed and surprise were their only advantages over me. The surprise was no more, I knew where they were now. And they were approaching the station in an echelon formation. Whoever was leading these pirates was conservative in their approach as the fighters were merely going to orbit the station to attack only if necessary.

Their command ship, a Tyvalion Class Frigate manufactured by Eskram Shipyards on a planet which name escapes me now is a long vessel with V shaped wings on its top and bottom and a hangar at its rear for sub ships. This is a vessel that can hold around six fighters and two troop transports. The real teeth it has though are from its main gun and photon missile system. The main gun is a rail gun firing a 203-mm alloy rod that is superheated and propelled by magnetic force.

This 203-mm projectile doesn’t get stopped by shields it only gets slowed down by them when it comes to starfighters like the Blue Eclipse, I’m piloting currently. A capital ship’s supercharged shields can make those rods harmless and they turn into dust once they contact the fields. The number one risk was the frigate. The fighters were a threat though. I opened my targeting optics and aimed my missiles at the fighters. The frigate would have to contend with my own rail gun in just a moment. I had the stuff to make them tremble amongst my ammunition, but luckily, they had forgotten my presence and thought I had retired from battle.

I had a 30mm rail gun in the nose of my ship. Four hundred rounds were available at my disposal to destroy the frigate after I eliminated the fighters. I placed a pip with my finger on the targeting optic on each of the fighters and then I engaged salvo mode. Finally, I put my finger on the secondary trigger on my control stick and four missiles silently were launched into deep space towards my targets ten miles out. If they had any countermeasures, it wouldn’t do them a lick of good. These missiles had multiple secondary warheads that would fire off in case of the main missile getting destroyed.

Engaging the thrusters I maneuvered towards my primary target which was the frigate. The four Brimstone Black ship to ship missiles were away speeding towards their four individual targets in different spirals. While they did that I kept my heading maintained towards the frigate. I looked at the 30mm rail gun’s readout and I selected the magazine carrying the SDHE+T rounds (Shield Disruption High-Explosive plus Tracer). These rods could whittle their way through shields with a special pulsing warhead at their tip, behind it would be a warhead that would strike the actual ship and hopefully breach the target’s hull. The tracer allowed me to have a bit better aim from a distance. I had two hundred of these rounds.

 

The tactical readout on the targeting optic told me that the enemy’s shields were at a hundred percent. This wouldn’t be the case for long. As I pressed the trigger on the rail gun to fire the first round, my optic showed the destruction of the four fighters. They never knew what hit them. They must not have had any countermeasures on their vessels to protect them from homers.

“Here it goes, Rod.”

 

As I said this aloud I kept firing watching the frigate’s shields drop. However, the rods were being intercepted by the point defense cannons after the shields were pulsed out of the way.

“Damn!”

I kept firing. The tracers paved the way for me to follow towards the ship. They were shooting rods back, but this time I had them in front of me not behind me. I evaded every rod like it was a harmless spit wad at a junior high teacher. I looked at the readout and finally the shields were at ten percent. I switched my ammo to the inert kinetic penetrators. They were about to be cut off from oxygen. I slammed on the throttle and began my close in gun run.

The pirate frigate soon felt the hits from my rods as they tore into its hull. I fired forty times and the ship began to turn away from Thomka Station in retreat. I wasn’t going to let them attack Thomka Station again though with them living to fight another day. I needed a shower and by golly although the owners of Thomka Station are cheap bastards they didn’t deserve to die at the hands of pirates.

I fired six Brimstone Black missiles into the frigate’s belly. Escape pods jettisoned and the rail gun that was a menace to me and Thomka Station was now falling out of the ship’s hull as breaches in the hull were causing the structure to fail. Dead bodies, space junk, and sparks were flying from the frigate. I sped away as the ship fragmented into a blast where its hull and cannon now became one with space as a vapor.

Thomka Station hailed me immediately afterwards. The owner, Bill Thomka appeared on my view screen.

“Veska! You did it! How?”

“Just good flying. Can I have my clearance to land?”

I was all business. I wanted my shower, a beer, and a little place to stretch my legs before the trip back to Goharti where my real bed is.

“Sure. You can have a free shower too and a free meal.”

“Thanks.”

I sure hope the water is hot.

          “You are welcome, Veska. We’ll put you in Node Six. Thanks again, Rod.”

“No problem.”

I turned the autopilot back on and placed a destination beacon within Node 7 via my ship’s computer I made myself comfortable.

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Jade's Dish Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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