World Ship Horizon II

Previously.

Confused chatter continued non-stop.

“What happened?” Maxwell asked on the squad channel.

“No clue,” Tyrell quickly replied.

“I heard there’s been an explosion,” David added.

“What?”

“Where?”

“Cut the chatter,” Squad Leader Strum commanded. Silence.

Maxwell thought about the possibilities, according to training, upon arrival troopers load up, debark and lead a landing onto the target planet, secure initial landing zones for supplies, and specialists. Perhaps that is what happened, although in training the only time the emergency lights and sirens sounds was during an emergency.

Accelerating out of the launch bay, the blunt nosed assault craft banked to the right making room for following ships. On his helmet display, Maxwell watched the tactical display showing ships, their paths, and returns from ships scanners; in a smaller window, he watched live holo-from assault ship five. Tactical display showed the formation of ten assault ships and cover fighters moving around the edge of the Horizon. Live holo-feed switched to a side-mounted camera, the Horizon filled the feed.

Watching the Horizon slowly pass, Maxwell thought about their mission, colonization or subjection of the target system, establish a presence, and prepare for following world ships and supplies to bring the brilliance of the Empire to the corner of the galaxy they were assigned to. On the feed, Maxwell watched exterior gun batteries track their formation, thousands of windows he could not see through, ports for landing and launching; he felt proud to be part of a new world ship mission.

“Look at that!” Someone exclaimed. Other voices joined the chatter filling the squad channel with the white noise of confused and concerned people.

Another holo-feed window opened on his display; blackened and twisted metal filled the screen. The tactical feed borders flashed red as new information loaded, thousands of different sized dots, a debris field. As the assault ship moved closer to the Horizon’s hull, Maxwell saw the damage, a massive explosion or explosions created a large hole where according to his display the transport drives should be. He ignored the bodies floating in space and the debris, focusing on the damage.

“How could this happen?”

****

The edges of his tactical display flashed red, warning of danger; explosions from an unseen source bracketed the assault ship five, bouncing everyone inside. His tactical display updated with the likely source of fire; from the opposite side of the Horizon.

“Vacuum preparations!” Squad Leader Strum commanded.

Maxwell’s suit and helmet sealed, air system currently hooked into assault ship five’s systems kicked on, and seal flashed green on his helmet display. Pressed into his seat as the ship accelerated, Maxwell fiddled with his auto-rifle waiting for an update or some information. Waiting, always the hardest part.

More explosions and bouncing, a symbol for a patrol fighter blinked out of existence. Tactical updated, projected path around the Horizon and over the small moon. Maxwell thought whoever was firing had excellent targeting tech. Estimated time to contact under a minute. Clicking over to the external feed, nothing but the black of space and distant stars.

The edge of the moon slowly appeared in the live feed. Curious, Maxwell ran a check against mission data, no matching information. Nothing special there. As assault craft five crested the horizon created by the moon, large shapes appeared out of the black, indistinct at first. As the ship accelerated closer…

“What is that?” someone asked in shock.

“Is that another world ship?”

“How?”

“Look at it.”

Explosions, closer this time, bounced gear out of racks and at least one trooper shouted out in pain. Calls for the medic filled the channel. On the feed and tactical display, another world ship, heavily damage, floated amongst other smaller unidentified ships and debris. Opening up other comm-channels, Maxwell listened in.

“Hot Shot! Hot Shot!” some pilot shouted in response to fire from the new world ship.

“Not receiving any hail.”

“Can anyone get the registry?”

“Eject! Eject!”

“Recovery ships on the way.”

“Prepare for assault! All troopers prepare for assault!”

As one, Maxwell and all of the troopers stood, turned to face the front of the craft, readied their weapons, and waited. Acceleration pushed against the troopers and explosions caused them to sway and take steps to remain in position.

“Brace! Brace!”

The blunt nosed assault ship five crashed into the side of the world ship at full speed lodging deep inside the hull. Inside assault ship five, troopers rushed towards the front of the ship as the blunt nose opened and defensive guns laid down suppressive fire.

Com-channels immediately flooded with orders, sightings, requests, and the sounds of gunfire. On Maxwell’s tactical display, his position, the position of living members of his squad, and any enemies or points of interest. Even with the training, the flood of information overwhelmed him.

“Trooper! TROOPER MAXWELL!” Squad Leader Strumm shouted at him while shoving him forward, “Eyes on your objectives and mates.”

“Yes sir,” Maxwell replied while running down the ramp into the worldship.

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