Ravens of Eternity -
Chapter 439 - 439 Ragnarök, Pt 4
439 Ragnar?k, Pt Matriarch de Jardin exhaled at length as she watched the Imperial devastator collapse in on itself. Its midsection crumpled inward as its demimatter generator burst and pulled everything into itself. Both of its ends were violently pulled inward, which caused its outer chitin to shatter and splinter on impact.
Massive cracks spread across the surface, particularly close to the collapsed midsection.
Its exoframe bent inward which caused the ship to twist and bend unnaturally, which cemented its demise. More than that, all of its major energy signatures plummeted swiftly before they vanished altogether.
Cheers erupted from around the control room, particularly among the analysts. Even Pavir and his officers breathed a sigh of relief.
But it was short-lived.
The Federation destroyer hovering alongside the now-wrecked Imperial destroyer was also on its way to destruction. A few explosions rocked it from the inside. They were strong enough that they burst through the armored surface and wrenched its plating open.
Though everyone in the control room was expecting a large explosion to consume it, none came. Even after squadron Achilles’ signals winked out.
It seemed that they weren’t quite as successful as their brethren.
“Can we confirm what damage Achilles was able to inflict?” asked High Admiral Pavir. His tone was rough, as though it was on the verge of cracking.
“My analysts are checking now,” said one of the officers next to him. “Here’s their initial report.”
An alert for an incoming datasheet splashed on the tacmap, but Pavir accepted it on his datapad instead. He quickly reviewed their assessment, though his frowning expression barely changed.
“Looks as though they were piled on by Federation defenders before they could destroy their primary power plant,” Pavir continued.
“They appear to have destroyed a major circuit junction,” the Grand Parliamentarian piped in. “Doing that permanently cut off power to a quarter of the ship. If that disabled their beacon module, then we’re in the clear, no?”
The officers around Pavir murmured as they dug into the data to double check if that was true. But Pavir himself simply shook his head.
“It’s still active,” he replied. “But we can’t worry about that any longer. We need to concentrate on the rest of the devastators on the field. The Imperials are down to two, while the Federation’s down to seven. We focus our fire on them, then we’ll have a chance at victory. No, not even victory. Survival.”
High Admiral Pavir then turned back to the tacmap in front of him and reviewed every fleet’s remaining strength.
Typhon Defense Fleet (merged)
“High Admiral,” said an officer. “Two of our devastators are reporting heavy damage to critical systems. Their operational capabilities are reaching their limit, and are requesting reprieve.”
“Cycle out,” Pavir replied. “Pull the Reinforcement fleet to the rear and have them perform rapid repairs. Let’s hope the Defensive fleet finished patching up as best they could, because they’re up again.”
“We need more reinforcements!” said the Grand Parliamentarian. “We’re still far outnumbered out there.”
“I’ve already made the call,” Pavir shot back. “Fact is there aren’t any Omega-Tau fleets out there that’re large enough to make a dent. Any who are, are already engaged in their own fights. What we’ve got is what we’ve got.”
The Grand Parliamentarian grumbled loudly. This entire battle was simply too close to call.
He was certain they’d all end up burning each other to death until there was nothing left.
“Extend the invitation to Alpha-Rho fleets,” the Matriarch chimed in. “They’re the only ones with fleets large enough to respond to this threat.”
The Grand Parliamentarian guffawed, then told her, “Are you mad? You’d have pirates and bandits in the same solar system as this weapon?”
“And just what choice do we have? Hand over Typhon Base to the Imps and Feds? That’s madness to me. At least we’d have a fighting chance if we brought in some heavy hitters.”
Silence exuded from the Parliamentarian. He wanted desperately to refuse, but the Matriarch was right – they really didn’t have much of a choice. All of the Hegemony’s major fleets were already engaged up and down their lines.
With a hard and heavy grimace, he instead nodded wordlessly to the Matriarch in agreement.
In turn, she gave Pavir the go-ahead with a simple gesture. His officers took only moments to adjust their emergency signal to include Alpha-Rho fleets. Specifically, large Alpha-Rho fleets.
And of course, it was quickly answered.
Eris’ holoprojection flashed on one corner of the tacmap, close to where High Admiral Pavir operated.
“Hello fellow Hegemony house,” she began. “It appears you’re in some kind of trouble. Perhaps the Temple of Discord could lend a hand?”
“Temple of Discord,” said Pavir. “I’m High Admiral Pavir de Jardin. My defensive fleet above a de Jardin weapons station is under siege. We’re in dire need of your help!”
“Oh, well, that’s quite the predicament. Of course we’d be happy to help…”
“Thank you, I-”
Eris swiftly interrupted Pavir before he could continue, “...For a fee, of course. My fleet doesn’t engage unless proper contracts have been established between parties.”
The Grand Parliamentarian was utterly aghast at what he was hearing. The woman was negotiating for pay! She was practically extorting them during a time of dire need. What would happen if they didn’t? Would she let them die? Would she let her own enemies win just to make a few lousy ducats?
“This is a security emergency that affects the entire Hegemony!” he cried out. “We need to destroy our enemies immediately, or all our futures are at risk!”
“All our futures are at risk at every moment of our lives,” Eris retorted. “And as a rule, the Temple of Discord risks nothing without a promise of payment. Now, shall we get down to business? Or will your fleet fall apart instead?”
The Grand Parliamentarian was greatly irked by Eris’ nonchalant attitude, as though their desperation was something she was above. Or maybe it was something she enjoyed seeing.
He wanted to shut the call instantly and refuse her help. But there was nothing he could do. No-one else seemed to be answering their call. More critically, he had an idea of how large the Discordian fleet was.
It was certainly enough to give them a massive advantage.
“Major House,” he said. “When this is all over, when the war has finally settled down, the Grand Parliament will upgrade the Temple of Discord up to a Major House of the Hegemony. Is that good enough?”
Eris chuckled lightly.
“It’s not a bad start,” she replied. “Honestly, once this is all over, the Temple will probably be one of the few major powers left in the Hegemony itself. You’d have no choice but to make us a Major House no matter what. So maybe try a bit harder with your promises, eh?”
The Pirate Queen watched gleefully as the Grand Parliamentarian silently fumed in his officious robes. She could practically feel his heat rising even across the galaxy.
In truth, she hardly cared about what they were offering. She already had her sights on the station and nothing was going to tear her away from it. All she was doing was bide her time and slow things down.
The more she delayed, the more the de Jardin fleet would get eroded away. And the longer she held their communications connection, the more effective her datacoders became. They swept through the circuits and took control of numerous nodes along the way. And in doing so, blocked off all other Alpha-Rho communications from getting to Dendrus.
Eris wanted to ensure the optimal amount of casualties as possible before she even made her entrance.
At some point, the Grand Parliamentarian sounded extremely irate and at his wits end. He promised all manner of riches and titles along with great honors and even the territories where House Felrahn used to rule.
At that point, the Pirate Queen grinned happily.
“Now that’s a much better offer!” she said. “I accept this agreement. You can count on the Temple of Discord to save your hides.”
Her holoprojection winked out for a few moments as the space above the whirling hurricane of destruction flashed and warped. One by one, the ships of the Temple of Discord blinked in, their resplendent black and red liveries a sharp contrast to the de Jardin’s noble greens.
Of course, each of the ships were emblazoned with their trademark golden apples, clear for all to see. 𝘪𝓃n𝐫e𝗮d. co𝗺
Temple of Discord
For the first time since the beginning of the battle, Pavir grinned. His eyes lit up as he saw the Discordians’ numbers. He hardly even knew they had that much firepower.
In fact, he had always believed that they were some ragtag group of privateers. He had thought that they might have had one devastator at most. But clearly, they were far more organized and powerful than he first thought.
Better than that however, although their ships had designs from both the Federation and the Hegemony, they had all been highly altered and engineered. Their signals were far greater than standard fleets, and were clearly optimized for heavy combat.
The Discordians’ guns gleamed and glowed as they charged up for a volley.
Pavir realized that the tables had finally turned in their benefit. Their numbers were now superior to their enemies. And even better, they still retained their technological superiority. If they worked together, they could crush whatever remained of the invaders.
Of course, they would be forced to issue punishment as the Matriarch had promised.
He watched as Eris’ fleet advanced on the enemy. But instead of spreading out and merging into the vast cyclone, they instead stayed up and above the whole thing. They spread out a little bit as they began to swirl around, then fired at an angle down onto Federation and Imperial ships.
They specifically aimed at the outer edges of the spinning wheel, as though to wither the enemy’s forces where they were weakest.
Pavir couldn’t help but nod in approval at their choice to attack the outer edges. That was where they were sending their ships for repairs – if the Discordians hounded them, they wouldn’t actually be able to repair at all.
“Tighten our defenses!” he said aloud. “Pull in everyone closer so we can defend each other better. And make sure to concentrate fire on those devastators! We need them down as fast as possible!”
Outside, chaos and destruction reigned. The de Jardin fleet followed their orders and concentrated their spiraling wheel further inward. Doing so tightened up their defenses just a little bit, but also allowed the Discordians a greater purview over the battle lines themselves.
Pavir had hoped that they would use that to further their advantage and tear into their enemies wholesale.
In a way, it worked.
The Temple of Discord hung over the cyclone like an overhanging storm cloud. It shot down thousands of hyperphotonic thermal beams and optimized plasma lances down at their targets. The lances scraped against Imperial chitin and tore deep into them while the thermal beams slagged Federation armor as though they were made of raw ore.
More than that, they ripped into any topside turrets or emplacements with terrifying ease, then punched down into the ship interiors themselves. Beams and lances alike turned everything inside into dust and magma.
Many of the Discordians concentrated their fire on some of the heavily armed destroyers and cruisers in the Imperial fleet. Their plasma lances bore into their chitin with such intensity that they ripped right through in moments, chewed into everything along their path, then punched out the other side.
Dozens of Imperial ships collapsed in on themselves as their punctured demimatter systems ate everything around them.
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