The Great War Finale: The Second Orion-Antaran War
Once again, the Humans pulled the Orion Sector together, politically, to unite their forces against the Antarans. CINCIN (Comander-in-Chief Interstellar Navy) Admiral Estrellita da Varga, was ๋the Ma'am with the plan,' and the Orion Senate approved it and her leadership overwhelmingly.
The first phase would be to use the best ships of their combined navies to disable the robotic Guardian of Orion and uncover whatever secrets could be gleaned. The Psilons had proven beyond anyone's doubt that where the Orions had once been, technological treasures might be found. Now was the time for them to unite to face the fierce Orion Guardian. It was a gamble that the Antarans would continue to give the Orion Sector more time (offering only occasional raids into their sector) while they took the chance of losing an incalculable percentage of their fleet, but it was a chance that the Orion civilizations had to take if they were to quickly find the tools needed to deal with the Antarans once and for all.
This would prove no simple matter. Not only did da Varga have to send ships against the withering fire of the Guardian's advanced weapons, but she had no way of knowing what other defenses might await them on the planet itself. Nonetheless, a United Orion Fleet was gathered in the nearby Vox system under her command for the opening move in her Grand Master Plan to defeat the Antarans.
Over 85 ships, including a half-dozen of the newest Punisher-class Doomstars, made the jump into the Orion system. They were detected almost immediately and the Ancient Orion's Guardian ship moved to intercept the invading host. As her fleet closed on Orion's ancient defender, it launched volleys of missiles in hopes of defeating the Guardian ship at a distance. Such hopes were short-lived as the missiles struck a of defensive screen that caused them to explode at a harmless distance from their target. A second volley confirmed the fruitlessness of such attacks. Admiral da Varga, her voice deep with menace, grimly ordered the fleet to close to effective beam range.
The true strength of the Guardian became quickly apparent. The smaller ships in the armada were barely able to dent the Guardian's shields and some sort of mysterious weapon was causing massive deaths on the ships it targeted in da Varga's fleet. The Admiral pressed on; the heavier ships continued to hammer away at the Guardian's shields until at last they were in a state of collapse. The task was only partially done, however; it was still necessary to punch through the ship's armor, which was of a type and strength not before known. Terrible casualties continued to mount among da Varga's fleet. By the time its fire was hitting The Guardian's armor, the fleet had been reduced to less than half its original strength.
Admiral da Varga continued to watch from the bridge of her flagship, the Retribution, as more ships were lost. The Vengeful, another of the Doomstars, exploded spectacularly under a barrage of some sort of plasma torpedo hits. The captain of the Punisher was himself cut off in mid-sentence as another of the death-bringing beams sliced directly through the bridge. The engines of the Alkari ship Wings of Wrath had been disabled, and she was drifting helplessly dead in space. The shields had collapsed on both the Bulrathi Dreadnoughts Hammer and Fireblade, and both ships were desperately throwing everything they had at the Guardian (including the last of their ineffective missiles). While the Orion defender continued to take steady damage, da Varga's fleet continued to lose ships (but at an ever-so-slightly decreasing rate). Hoping to find some way to end the battle, da Varga damned the enemy's weapons and ordered her remaining ships to target the engines and power systems of the Guardian.
The last few minutes of the battle were frantic. Even da Varga's own ship took more than a few critical hits. In a last act of heroism, the Admiral ordered a collision course set and started the self-destruct timer on her own ship. The Guardian, its sensors detecting the threat, concentrated its weapons on the Retribution, but to no avail. The Retribution exploded as it impacted the Guardian's hull. The battle then paused for several moments as the light and shock waves subsided. When those on the remaining ships regained their view of the battle zone, the Guardian was hanging dead in space, surrounded by pieces of the demolished Retribution.
With the defeat of the Guardian, troops and scientists landed on the planet itself; notably, only Human troops and scientists.
Historical Note: Admiral David Hood, da Varga's second-in-command and now the fleet commander, proved as ruthless politically as he was militarily. The cunning old master explained to the multi-ethnic leaders surviving in their fleet that the Orion landing needed to be a uni-species operation to facilitate command and communications functions. The other leaders in the fleet demurred, but Hood would hear no discussion of the subject - the matter was settled.
Those who sought the prize secrets held by the musty, long-forgotten research centers of the Orions had to run a gauntlet of automated defenses. Despite the age of those systems, many still functioned well enough to be deadly. Scores of Human lives were lost in this effort to gain the knowledge so critical to the eventual defeat of the Antarans, and their haste to consolidate Orion's gains only cost them more lives. The hulk of the Guardian was also searched diligently and the secrets of such deadly weapons as the Death Ray were unlocked. This knowledge in hand, the Humans returned to their worlds hoping for enough time to make use of it.
The second phase of da Varga's Grand Master Plan was put into effect. If the Humans could maintain their peaceful borders against their neighbors (now jealous over their acquisition of Orion and all its technological bounties) long enough, it might work. A full fleet overhaul of the Human Interstellar Navy was necessary and, once completed, it would be launched en masse through a single Trans-Dimensional Portal to confront the Antarans in deadly combat. This would occur in the fateful cycle of 18012.
The Battle of ConJenn
Factoid: At the time of the Second Orion-Antaran War, the hyperdeveloped world of Conjenn was an important Sector Seat in the Antaran Hegemony. It was serving as their base from which they had been raiding Orion.
It was High Noon in the galaxy as the Humans and Antarans met at famous battle of ConJenn. Both sides had their share of luck, good and bad. For the Humans, their equipment, leadership and morale were all up to the task. Better still, their attack was a complete surprise and the opening moves went like clockwork, completely according to plan.
For the Antarans, they were fortunate to have a substantial defending force present at ConJenn when the battle commenced. A fair number of ships from both the Green and Black fleets were "on rotation" back for a rest and refit, while a new Antaran Cruiser prototype was being escorted around the system on its shakedown cruise.
Initially, the Antarans, though surprised to see the barbarians had arrived at their gates, scrambled aboard their ships and approached the battle with optimism. After all, their technological superiority had long been proven. Even though they were outnumbered about two-to-one going into the battle, these "Orion Mutants" had always needed a lot higher ratio than that to bring down Antaran ships. The Antarans expected this battle to be little more than target practice.
But the Human fleet enjoyed the technological enhancements gifted to them from the Ancient Orions. Unbeknownst to the Antarans, the now Admiral Hood-lead Humans had learned the secrets of the Death Ray, Xintium Armor, Reflection Fields, and the Black Hole Generator from their victory at Orion. Secrets their armada had been largely refitted to employ. Thus, the Antarans' technological edge had been measurably reduced, something they would soon discover to their great peril. And to top it off, Loknar himself lead the main assault task force.
Although the Antarans fought with their usual aggressive zeal, the Humans' improved weaponry and tactics carried the day. Although the attrition was still greater for the Humans than their foes, the outcome of the battle was never in doubt. It was merely a matter of the price that had to be paid.
The battle-scarred remnants of Admiral Hood's Human armada limped home to a heroes' welcome. The Senate declared national holidays to celebrate their glorious victory and the gallant warriors, lead by Admiral Hood and greatly scarred Loknar, were paraded throughout the Orion Sector as grateful citizens cheered them. Admiral da Varga and the other heroes of the campaign were honored with a memorial and her son was presented with her posthumous Senatorial Medal of Honor. The calculating Human leaders, seeing this as an opportunity too good to pass up, seized upon this sentiment and their currently Orion-given technological military advantages to once again secure their leadership role in the Orion Sector through the Senate.
Uncertain of just how long this era of tranquility would last, however, the Humans set about rebuilding their Armada, which would now incorporate advanced Antaran technologies as well, such as the Spatial Compressor and the all-too-evil Quantum Detonator. As the post-war era dawned, the dominant Humans once again set out to maintain peace in the Orion Sector.
NEXT IN THE BACKGROUND FICTION: "The Post-War Era"
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