Broadsides and Blindsides

The journey back to my ship is tense, to say the least. Dodging the occasional patrol Is simple enough but Fraeia doesn't say a word the whole way back.   I don't fully understand it. How could I? They lost everything they had, everything they were, in three days. My troubles must seem petty compared to that.   I can't get his face out of my head. Pulling the trigger may well be my biggest regret. That just makes the failure worse. I can't save mom. Killing Gibraltar may as well be impossible too.   The days go by and I don't have a single dream. I can't recall ever sleeping so well. For the first time in what feels like years, I wake up refreshed.   When we manage to board my ship, the once lush and beautiful hills and forests are dead and barren. The radiation is dangerously high, even with my suit.   When I walk toward the cockpit, Fraeia finally speaks. "I'm sorry."   I stop mid-stride. The sound almost makes me jump. "For what?"   "I'm going to ask something of you. It may be suicidal."   "Okay? That's not really out of my comfort zone. What exactly-"   "Come on." They gesture to the cockpit and follow as I march ahead. I sit in the pilot's chair and Fraeia stands just behind me.   "Have you been counting the ships in orbit?" They ask.   I scoff. "No, didn't know I was supposed to."   "There's one ship, the flagship of the fleet that took the Fever Breech. Yur's battleship." They take a breath and prepare their words carefully. "We won't be able to avoid engaging the ship but we do have a choice in how."   "I'm listening."   They take a step to make sure they can look me in the eye. I see anger draped across their face. I have to stop myself from apologizing even though I have no idea why I even want to. It's then I notice what lingers underneath the rage.   Fraeia may be livid but I see clarity and calm in their gaze like the eye of a storm. "That ship needs to die."
       
I've never done this before, but okay. My little corvette is gonna poke the sleeping giant; a battleship. It's not the worst matchup, but it's not great either. It goes without saying: Don't try this at home. Corvettes have some unique advantages in void warfare. They like to dance. Their size makes them perfect for maneuvering around enemy ships and avoiding incoming fire. We could end the fight in a single volley; a broadside.

Blindside vs broadside

It's common practice when arming military vessels: watch your blindsided and broadsides. Every weapon has a limited range of motion, called a firing arc. If an enemy ship is outside of that range, your ship can't hit it. When considering where to place weapons on a vessel, and what kind of weapons to use, you need to focus on where these firing arcs overlap, and where they don't.   A broadside is an angle of approach where every weapon can fire on a single target at once. All firing arcs overlap and the wider this range is, the better. The problem is that the wider the broadside is, the more likely you are to have a blindside.   A blindside is an area of the ship that cant be defended because it lies outside of the vessel's firing arcs. No captain would dare venture out into the void with a confirmed blindside. It's not just about engaging other ships. Debris like asteroids and random space trash can poke a hole in the hull just as easily.
     

Space and time

There's no way this battleship is alone in the system. There are probably close to a dozen ships patrolling from one side to the other. How do we expect to take this ship down and not have a small fleet bearing down on us, instantly?   Space is big, and even light takes time to get where it needs to go. Defending a system leaves you vulnerable. You won't know about an enemy fleet entering the system for maybe thirty minutes to an hour, but if you've been there a while, the enemy fleet can see you just fine.   That's the secret. We only need a few moments to launch a broadside. They won't be able to react to our ship in time. Why? Because they won't even know we're here until after we're gone.

Hardpoints

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Any weapon that applies a force will apply the same force to the ship it's attached to. The bigger the boom, the bigger the strain on the hull. Hardpoints are areas of the hull designed to handle that strain, but they have limits.   The general rule is this: if it fires a big chunk of metal, use a hard point. The only weapons that can be fired safely outside of a ship's hardpoints are particle lances and beam weapons. Beam weapons apply heat, as opposed to kinetic force. There's very little recoil.   Particle weapons technically apply force, but on such a small scale it's negligible to the integrity of the hull. It's a weaponized particle accelerator. To think we used to build massive buildings just to watch particles slam together at ridiculous speeds. the more I think about my species the more I feel like we're basically children.
"Where's your broadside?" Fraeia asks.   I smile. "Dead ahead. We can launch all weapons as we pass under the ship."   I feel the ship rumble as it rises into the air. We have seconds before we're detected. I let the engines fire and the ship pierces through the atmosphere. The higgstech kicks in, leaving a restlessness in my legs. Despite its careful regulation, I feel lightheaded. The g-forces build up faster than they can handle. I kick the air to relieve my restless legs as I try to stay conscious.   Fraeia stands behind me, unphased. They fiddle with a nearby console, marking targets for each weapon. "Stop accelerating. Be ready to evade."   I nod and shut the engines down. The rumbling fades. The constant shaking stops and I finally feel like I can breathe.   I activate the panoramic view. The battleship gets bigger as we approach. It's big. The rounded frame and metal hull are painted light brown. It makes the weapons harder to spot with the naked eye. Then again, it could be because we're going too fast. "Should I slow down?" I ask.   Fraeia replies, "No." They're focused, calculating every shot. I hear the hum and whine as every weapon prepares to fire. They aim and lead the target perfectly. "Prepare the warp drive," Fraeia commands. "Firing in ten seconds."   I set up the coordinates and prime the warp drive as Fraeia counts down. I'm jostling in my seat. The battleship is already targeting us. I use the thrusters to dodge incoming fire, doing my best not to slow the ship down. I'm not scared of failure, certainly not after these past few days. If we fail, we die. Well, I'll die. I just hope it doesn't hurt.   I try to keep my breath steady as missiles zip by, barely missing the tail end of the ship. I see a beam of red light, a laser that connects with the roof. I feel the heat in moments. The temperature inside the ship rises to the point where I'm sweating.     "...3 ...2 ...1. Firing."   "Engaging warp drive," I reply. I hear the weapons go off. I see the hailstorm of autocannons firing 300 rounds of flak per second into the hull. I hear the missiles fire, the electric hum of the particle ram activating, and the familiar crack and bang of the railguns.   The lights shut off, the warp drive kicks. I hear the sound of metal grinding on metal. It almost sounds like rain. I then hear a loud pop, followed by a high-pitched whistle.   "Hull breach," I scream.   "I see it," Fraeia replies.   "What?" I reach for my flashlight, and it takes me several moments to find it, even in the red glow of the backup lighting. I flip the switch and a bright white light illuminates Fraeia's face. They stand on the other end of the cockpit, their hand pressed firmly against what I assume to be the breach.   I stare at them with my jaw wide open. "How did you-"   They cut me off, their voice calm but urgent, "Amber, please. This is very painful."   I jump up and run to the common room, open the emergency panel, and retrieve a roll of patching tape. (It's a crude form of duct tape and yes, duct tape works in space!)   I rush back, already tearing a piece of the tape from the roll. Fraeia pulls their hand away and I slap the tape over the breach. I smile when I realize how crude the hole was. I let out a giggle. Maybe it's the adrenaline or perhaps the rush of victory.   Fraeia rubs their hand and smiles back, "What is it?"   "That hole is too small for weapons used on a battleship." I turn to them, my arms crossing and then falling to my sides as if unsure of what they should be doing. "I think we did it."   "You think? Did you not feel it?" they ask. I shake my head and they continue. "Electromagnetic pulse. They may have tried to interfere with the jump, but I doubt it. I imagine we managed to hit their reactor."   I run my fingers through my hair as I reply, "Nice shooting."   Fraeia shakes their head. "It wasn't just me. Well done."


Cover image: by Donald Giannatti

Comments

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Jan 19, 2022 07:23

Amazing chapter as always!   Now I really want some space tape, could come in handy...

Check out my world World Behind the Veil!
Jan 19, 2022 15:29 by R. Dylon Elder

Right?! So many applications.

Jan 19, 2022 10:00 by TC

Well damn that was intense!! I really enjoy how you manage ti describe these space battles in a both realistic and engaging way, its always really fun to read through them. I hope Fraeia is doing ok- emotionally and mentally <3

Creator of Arda Almayed
Jan 19, 2022 14:10 by R. Dylon Elder

As someone who also internalize every struggle and bottlesnit up... no... no they are not. :)

Jan 19, 2022 15:10 by TC

As someone who is the same. Damn here goes my wishful thinking. So much love to them ;-;

Creator of Arda Almayed
Jan 19, 2022 14:17 by Luca Poddighe

Duct tape works for everything...

Jan 19, 2022 15:24 by R. Dylon Elder

Right? Its magic!

Jan 19, 2022 14:44

That was just beautiful! As you know, I love the space battle/naval connection, and this was a lovely example. I also loved the information interspersed with the battle. And finally: *See*? This is why you depressurize prior to contact! :-P

Jan 19, 2022 15:32 by R. Dylon Elder

Thank you! Also yes! Always depressurize the ship. I forgot about that, obviously. Lol thank you for reminding me. I may actually add that to this. While amber likely didnt think about it, Fraeia definitely would have mentioned it. Amber may not have kept the ship as well maintained as she thought XD thanks so much!

Jan 22, 2022 17:21 by C. B. Ash

Again, just a fantastic chapter! This one is just so full of nice tidbits. The combat, depressurization, use of duct tape! Love it!!

Jan 23, 2022 15:09 by Bart Weergang

Excelent addition to the saga!

Jan 24, 2022 08:42

Love it, such a great way of showing and writing the scale of might and maneuverability between to different ship classes. Pleasant and informative to read. And duct tape for the win!


Graylion - Nexus   Roleplaying
not Ruleplaying
not Rollplaying
Apr 27, 2022 08:46 by Grace Gittel Lewis

Huh. I didn't know duct tape worked in space, keeping that note in my back pocket now...

Apr 28, 2022 03:42 by R. Dylon Elder

Yup! To quote The Martian, an excellent book if you havnt read it or seen the movie, "Duct tape is magic."

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