I was awake at 5am today, so I did this before going back to sleep. It’s very tangentially related to the mod I’m working on.
We had known about the enemy ship for three hours before we obtained a long-range visual and confirmed the presence of multiple smaller vessels accompanying it. A large portion of the next hour was spent engaging with the familiar game of “cruiser chicken”, wherein each ship edged gradually into weapon range while simultaneously trying to obtain enough data to determine the range of their counterpart’s weapons. We found out soon enough when, just moments away from being able to open fire, we tracked three incoming salvos of missiles. One of our support frigates, Hope I believe, managed a perfect interception of one salvo, her point-defense guns detonating the missiles harmlessly. Our own turrets took out the second salvo, while the third simply missed us.
A green indicator on my console told me that we were at last in firing range with our cannons. I was quickly given the order to fire on the other cruiser. Obtaining a lock, I authorised the automated firing systems to engage. There was a noticable vibration when the cannons opened up, their projectiles crossing the distance to the target in mere seconds. The first rounds missed their mark, causing the computer to make minute adjustments to the firing trajectory. The adjustments were complete by the time the magnetic accelerators had recharged, and the cannons fired again. Moments later I found myself staring in disbelief at my console. Before I could say anything I was interrupted by a shout of “Brace!” from Henderson at the defense console. A much stronger vibration passed through the ship and the lights dimmed for a fraction of a second. Henderson spoke up again,
“Direct fire. They took out cannon five, the damage is isolated, no chance of a magazine explosion. We also took a glancing blow to deck four, hull integrity was breached but the area is sealed off.”
“We were lucky,” replied the Captain, “Fire control, did we damage the cruiser?”
I spoke at the same time as I felt the cannons open fire again,
“The aim was good sir, but no damage caused. The report says they’re using energy shields of some type.”
“I didn’t know they had that tech yet. Send an immediate report to Sector Command. Helm, bring us about. Comms, would you kindly ask Suntown and Yorkville to cover our exit?”
I played my part in the trio of confirmations and constructed a message to inform Command of our discovery. I felt the ship begin to turn, a laborious process for something of her size. Meanwhile my tactical display showed our two combat frigates taking up positions in front of us, constantly moving in an attempt to reduce the effectiveness of direct fire weaponry. A single hit from the opposing cruiser would likely cripple, if not outright destroy, the smaller vessels.
We sent another volley into the void between us and our foe, the computer-aided targetting tirelessly attempting to find a weakness in their defenses. As with the previous rounds, these vapourised on impact with their shields. Against the odds, the next incoming fire went wide of its mark and I offered up a grateful acknowledgement to whoever was watching over us. Before we had managed to move out of the estimated weapons range of the other cruiser, Henderson reported three incoming missile salvos. Our frigates shot down two and we handled all but one missile from the last. That final missile breached deck twelve towards the rear of our ship, causing minor concussive damage to one of our engines. By this time we had finally managed to move away, and our frigates joined us for the jump to a nearby outpost.
We were lucky that day, very lucky. The damage was sustained could have been much worse. Our engineers later figured out how to detect the presence of shields on enemy ships of course, and as someone who was present for that first encounter I can tell you, that ability is priceless.