If ever there was a fortress in space, it was the Unity fleet. If ever there was a great keep within, it was the Terraniia. The fleet formed a spherical formation around the sacred vessel while its leapdrive charged. Ships rotated from the frontline to the rear so as to not weaken too greatly or be destroyed, with repair vessels hastily working away on the temporarily retreating ones.
As Janeth had predicted, the decoys came first--largely pieces of junk with false transponders so they appeared to be functioning vessels at a glance.
Then came the long-range artillery, which was swatted away by the ancient, powerful Unity weaponry and point defence systems.
Then came the swarms of Wolf fighters.
Yet the Unity specialized in something no other current faction went through the trouble of doing. They effectively disabled combat systems in enemy vessels, rendering them useless but leaving the crew unharmed and safe enough to flee. Most Unity weapons were of the beam variety, and so struck the vital organs of their opponents with terrifying precision.
The Behraanese, too, had repair vessels. However, they did not work as efficiently and were not in as great a number as the defending fleet.
The squadrons upon squadrons of Dragonflies worked beyond the capital ship wall, basking in the advantage of being utterly undetectable by scanning, aside from that which was visual. Even then, the chameleon armour worn by every Dragonfly made even that very difficult. They were largely unhindered as they struck at the engines of the capital ships, neutralized hundreds of Wolf fighters, removed leap inhibitors and harassed the repair crews.
Behraan attempted to do the same, pushing their fighters through the walls at a great loss. The few that blasted their way through to the repair crew were erased by the lethal white-hot rays of the Terraniia herself, at Grace’s command.
In just an hour, the first and second wave of Behraanese ships were set adrift. Life support, manoeuvring thrusters and short range communications were the only things spared by the back-door squadrons of Dragonflies.
Other waves were reported to come in, but not for another hour at minimum.
Janeth watched in marvel, as the Unity fleet made short work of Behraan’s fleets while barely destroying any. It was likely those ships still bore casualties from being shaken up and pushed to the brink of destruction and left there, and Janeth knew this.
Grace was strangely silent amidst the battle, as if her mind was elsewhere. And indeed, it was, as she reached out through the ship and began to feel it, see through it. Become it.
<Incoming transmission,> said Grace, <From Behraanese Carrier Maker One.>
“He could try to kill you again,” said Janeth, “deny transmission.”
<This transmission is from Damaal Alvoa,> said Grace, <she cannot affect me.>
“Her father could still be present--”
<My father is dead,> said Damaal, as the screen appeared and she stood before it. The bridge she stood upon was lit red with emergency lighting, panels strewn about and consoles flickering on and off, <He walked off the ship into space. Killed himself.>
Janeth and Wilhelm looked to each other, their brows raised. Janeth then turned to the screen, “He failed the Imperator. He would rather die while he had a chance.”
<I don’t care what his logic was,> she said, <He was a monster. Every day, I listened to him on fear of him putting me away otherwise. And I know what happens to female prisoners.>
Janeth remained quiet.
<Behraan insists on sending more forces your way,> Damaal said quietly, <but we’ve all seen what you can do here. We couldn’t destroy one ship of yours. Nothing worked. And strangely—I’m kind of glad.>
Wilhelm moved forward to speak, but Janeth looked to him quickly and shook her head. He closed his mouth.
<As General Alvoa is dead, I have assumed command of this fleet,> said Damaal, <and on behalf of this fleet, please accept our two-condition surrender.>
Janeth still remained quiet, but through her attentive face showed that she was still listening.
<Allow us to collect our adrift vessels,> said Damaal, <and please, help us repair our engines, so we can escape both Behraan and the Bentorii. Both will destroy us if they see us like this.>
Janeth looked to Wilhelm, “Now you may speak.”
“If more are coming, we won’t be able to repair their ships and leap away,” Wilhelm shook his head, “not if we want to take the whole fleet with us.”
“I’m listening,” Janeth crossed her arms.
“Our repair crews would easily be able to tow their ships into our docks and take them with us,” said Wilhelm, “as it is, they are in no position to do us any harm. We will put heavy security detail on the docks, of course.”
“We could always get them to evacuate,” Janeth added.
“Still, time constraint,” Wilhelm said as he shook his head rigidly, “we can take them with us, restore basic functions on their ships, then send them on their way. I don’t think our men and women are too unhappy with them just yet. They didn’t do much.”
<You spared the manoeuvring thrusters on most of our capital ships,> said Damaal, <we can limp to your docks. You have my word: we wish no further conflict with you. You saved my life in my youth, Admiral. Many of us remember you, or know you as a legend. You are a symbol of unsung heroism in Behraan.>
“One more condition,” Janeth finally replied to her, “If you’ve assumed command, then use it. Nywan. Tell that fleet to back away from Nywan.”
<I can’t promise anything,> Damaal said weakly, <as it is, our communications arrays are barely operational since one of the Dragonflies hit it over Suragaa Three. But—I’ll try.>