Several light-years from a planet held by the humans were multiple Terran Expanse destroyers and cruisers clashing with the disheveled wrecks that only a puwandese would be able to build. Where the human vessels had very angular, solid hulls with mobile turrets, mana-shield projectors, hangar doors, and well-placed bridges in the hull to let them see everything in front of their ships without being exposed, the puwandese vessels were a literal mess.
Bridges could be strewn randomly on the hull. Sometimes in the front. Sometimes standing on a rickety tower extension. Sometimes all the way on the right. There was no rhyme or reason to it. Afterburners placed in strategic positions to properly counter momentum in human ships would have just as random a placement on puwandese vessels and the power-plus-size of the exhaust ports were highly varied.
There was no real class of weapon on these hunks of metal, only how much the captain thought he needed. Some of the ships were quick with many, small turrets and hull-mounted guns meant to pepper ships from up close. Others had gigantic cannons jutting out of their hulls, punching holes into others.
“Captain Hanin,” a helmsmen shouted. “They’re pushing through the right side. Our ships can’t hold.”
“What about the left sides?”
“They’re holding, and they’ve mostly destroyed the enemy puwandese ships present.”
The woman slouched in her seat and pondered for a moment. “Have the left side regroup and focus fire on what enemy ships they have left. When they’re done, they need to flank around us and block the alien fleet. Also, tell the starbases in orbit of Elamno to send out our reserves.”
“What about us?”
Hanin leaned in to get a better look at the holographic display. There were dozens of dots, with blue being allies and red enemies. Under or over, depending on proximity, an estimate of ship class was given. If vessels were bunched up, the system would encompass the ‘fleet’ and show a number of each vessel. Luckily, only corvettes and destroyers had appeared, but their varied amount of weapons and chaotic combat style proved a lot to overcome for the inexperienced captain.
“We’ll hold here. Keep the ships from breaking through and reinforcing...” the captain trailed off.
The map started to distort, and the woman would not have noticed if her navigator had not alerted everyone to its presence.
“Captain! Huge vessel in front! It’s giving off a disruptive mana field!”
“They brought in a disruptor-type battleship?!” the captain shouted.
Cartographers working on the map console started to input new variables into the machine, moving the focus towards the battleship. After estimates were completed, the system indeed showed it to be a battleship, escorted by several small vessels. Where the cruisers and destroyers varied from seven hundred meters to one-point-five kilometers, the battleship was easily four kilometers across. Its height was still unknown.
“What do we do?” one of the cartogrophers asked.
“We fall back while firing at the ships still closest to us. We can’t stay close to it or it’ll disrupt the mana flow in our vessels.”
The human ships followed suite, some taking damage from the remaining corvettes still present. The battleship grew larger and larger in the distance, but luckily, the captain’s part of the fleet managed to regroup with the ‘left flank’ of the fleet that had gone to intercept the puwandese who had pierced through, and the fresh reinforcements consisting of cruisers just now engaging the alien vessels.
“It’s getting closer!” the navigator screeched.
“I know it is. Keep your wits about you! An unsteady hand cannot aim a gun. Keep it steady, and keep away from it.” She looked down at her own shakey hands. “I say that, but I’m probably the one most terrified right now.”
Flashes of light caused by the exchange of mana beams, ballistics, and missiles created a colorful and beautiful set of fireworks in space. They were emphasized by the light reflecting off the planet. It was rather cruel a thing to see when they were all from weapons meant to kill.
The captain of the reinforcing fleet called Hanin’s ship. “Captain Hanin, we are going to take the battleship directly. I need you and your ships to sneak around it, if you can.”
“Right. A good plan. My ships are too depleted for direct confrontation,” Hanin agreed with somber frown.
“Let us destroy these aliens for the good of the human race’s future.”
The chat was cut off and Hanin sent a message to the rest of her fleet.
“We’re going to go around to this position of the map, and shut off all but life support functions to trick them into thinking our ships were destroyed.” The captain typed in coordinates thanks to a holographic keypad appearing in front of her. “Get there right now. That’s an order!”
A few managed to worm their way out of the battle with the intruders and join up with their captain. Half an Earth hour later, the battleship had fully appeared, the reinforcements readily shelling its hull. The pull of the battleship was so great it nearly took the smaller ships of Hanin’s fleet with it. In fact, it was so close and large, relatively speaking, that the crew could see puwandese on the hull actively grabbing metal plates breaking off and riveting them back to the main body. Some fell off from the attacks of the other ships while most just plopped off on their own.
In fact, one of the engines was wobbling so much it disconnected from the main battleship and lost power, but the blue giants were quick to reconnect it and weld it back into place, letting it spew its fiery breath once more into space.
“They’re absolutely insane,” one of the crew members said.
The navigator checked their position relative to the battleship and its escort and nodded.
“Captain, we’re far enough that we can reactivate system and flank them!”
“Do it,” Hanin ordered.
The human ships all lit up back to life and started destroying the battleship’s engines, prompting return fire from the numerous turrets and guns of various sizes in its hull. While the battleship was taking a tremendous amount of damage, it refused to go down. Plates of metal would be cut and welded back into place while the crew inside the ships would frantically repair and replace damaged parts within.
“Captain Hanin, we’re taking a pounding from this beast! It just won’t take permanent damage! How is it on your end?”
“I’ve lost five more of my twenty-seven remaining ships, with three in a severe state of disrepair. I’ve sent them back to the orbital shipyards. My own ship is losing power as we speak. One of the battleship’s turrets severed vital mana cables. We’re trying to-GAH!” Another shell from a large turret slammed into the ship, tearing off a large chunk of its left hull.
“It tore off the left hull!” a helmsmen shouted.
The whole of the ship went to a bleak red and started blaring with sirens.
“Is there ANY chance we can seal the breaches and continue the fight?” Hanin asked.
“If there were just a few sections punctured, yes, but the whole side was ripped off! We weren’t equipped to fight a battleship!”
The captain slammed her hand on the armrest of her chair, pressing several buttons simultaneously. A few holograms popped up in quick succession, but Hanin ignored them. “Fine. Tell the crew to evacuate. I’ll set the ship on autopilot so it can fire what’s left of our ammo at that monstrosity before slamming into it.”
Everyone left the bridge at behest of their captain’s orders, eager to fight another day with her, but what nobody was expecting, even less so the puwandese themselves, was the eruption that occurred during evacuation of the ships.
The holographic map showed a disturbance right next to the battlesite where the puwandese and reinforcing fleet were located. A large circle right next to them, the likes Hanin had never see before.
“What is that?!”
Directly viewing the circle showed a sort of undulating plastic in the area, easily capable of engulfing the battleship and its escort at the same time.
“That’s a transport field. It’s seven kilometers in diameter, captain,” a cartographer of the reinforcement fleet noted.
“Ha!” the captain laughed. “They’re trying to escape. Kill them now!” he ordered.
“C-captain. Th-that’s an exit point...” the navigator stated meekly.
The surface off the field was pushed forward, then popped, revealing a massive puwandese vessel slightly ajar rushing forth at full speed and possessing the exact diameter of the field itself. Its nose was covered with a smooth, curved protrusion of steel, but the rest of it followed the chaotic mess of typical puwandese ships.
The humans thought these were reinforcements for the current puwandese fleet, but they were wrong. This metallic monstrosity crushed several smaller ships in front of it, be they human or puwandese, like simple debris, to finally punch through the battleship with little effort. A massive fleet of varied vessel types followed it out of the transport field, including battleships.
“Th...that’s a puwandese dreadnought...” the captain from the reinforcement fleet stammered. “Impossible...”
“Ha ha! We’z crumped dem gumps good!” the puwandese big ’un shouted from his dreadnought's bridge. “Went royth threwgh theht wee space floaty-boat!”