One Against SixEdit
Daniel was wearied. He had just gone through yet another near-tortuous session with Ariel, trying to prevent her from breaking into and reading his mind like an open book. Just like stretching a muscle against a powerful resisting force, trying to block out an intruder with the mind was incredibly hard business.
Just as he fell into his personal cabin bed aboard the Hyperion in preparation for a nap, he was awaken by a message via comlink. He rushed out of bed, put on proper attire, and briskly walked over to the bridge, which was thankfully not too far away. Christopher, Sarlena and James were already waiting for him.
"Admiral Travincal," spoke Sarlena, "We have just managed to find the Confederate military ansible frequencies like you requested. Having worked with Ariel and the Protoss' immense processing capabilities, we have broken their real-time-encryption codes. Sir, they have dispatched navies out to destroy us. It seems Mengsk has tricked the Confederacy into believing that we are a greater threat than he is, and he has used the Agria matter to this end. Even now, six separate fleets are and have been for ten days advancing toward our position: one each from the remaining Confederate worlds of Brontes, Dylar IV, Halcyon, Proudwater, Tyrador, and Braxis. Each is a significant portion of the total Confederate fleet presence on the planet. They will lie in wait at the far edge of the Korhal system for the disparate fleets to group before striking at us. The last fleet to arrive is from Braxis, ETA. sixteen days. The fleets from Brontes and Tyrador have already joined and could strike within ten minutes if they had to. What are your plans?"
"Show me the numbers."
"They don't look very good," remarked James as the numbers of each class of vessel appeared on the computer screen. Aside from that of Braxis's, all the other fleets were larger than the one at Daniel's disposal, and unlike the incoming fleets, which were all just like new, the Harbinger Fleet had been laid waste to since the battle of Agria and were still undergoing repairs. Only the three battlecruisers were fully repaired. He couldn't hope to beat them all in straight combat.
They didn't want to show it, but Daniel saw it clearly on several officials' faces: they were afraid that this time their admiral's wits weren't going to be enough to save them.
He had to devise a way to put an end to the Confederate threat soon, before any more of the fleet could accumulate at the same place. But how? And if they destroyed each other, that would still be a defeat. He, Daniel, would still be responsible for the deaths of countless thousands - after all, if he surrendered to the Confederates, that would make the Confederate military that much stronger, and he could certainly count on the Confederates continuing the fight against the Zerg. So it all came down to his own desire for military power. And there was no getting around it: he really did like his position. And if he could, he was going to come up with a way to have it both ways. But the question remained: How? He certainly couldn't cloak his fleet and hide it from them; the enemy was bound to have effective detection capabilities and he didn't have any cloak generators anyway. He would have to fight them, or, like Ariel had been saying, find a peaceful resolution...
And like lightning, inspiration hit him.
"I want all current repairs to continue; any vessel that isn't in tip-top shape is going to stay here," Daniel ordered. "All combat-suitable vessels are to enter high orbit and prepare for warp jump."
"Great, so you have a plan. What is it?" asked the officials.
"Wait and you'll see."
"All ships prepare for warp travel."
"All Harbinger Fleet vessels are accounted for. The Hyperion I is fully prepped. The Mengsk's Pride and the Flannum's Legacy are fully prepped. The sole Valkyrie courtesy of Agria is fully prepped. All 39 Wraith-class starfighters are fully prepped and docked to the battlecruisers. All Fleet ships are within twenty kilometers of the Hyperion I. Preparing for hyperspace jump... " The adjutant pressed a button and the blinking drive activated. The hyperspace window opened before them and swept across the vessels.
The next thing anyone on the fleet knew, they had re-entered the real continuum, but with the same velocity as the Braxis contingent, a solitary Behemoth and two Valkyries traveling alone through the middle of nothingness.
"Admiral, the opposing colonel is hailing us."
"What the heck is going on? How come we're alone one moment and the next you're suddenly here?" the colonel demanded to know.
Daniel smiled. "Let me just say this: We have advanced technology that you don't have, and our fleet is double the size of yours. Well, what shall it be?"
"What might you be hinting at?"
"Come on, are you so dense? We can blow you up right now if we wanted to."
"Not if I have anything I can say about it!" protested the colonel with fire in his eyes. "Take us on an alternate itinerary, destination unchanged!" Suddenly the Braxis fleet veered off in a different direction, quickly distancing itself from the Harbinger fleet.
"You can't run from me," Daniel replied with a snicker, for his fleet had already matched them and were still in firing distance. Wraiths on both sides had assembled fighter screens in front of their vessels, ready to open fire at a moment's notice. The colonel looked at him through the viewscreen with anxiety. "Change your mind? I assure you, we are fully human, if that's what you're worried about. You might want to surrender control of your ships, because I have gotten my hand on my trigger, metaphorically speaking."
The colonel took a protracted moment of silence to consider before saying, "Please spare us."
Daniel smiled. "I don't break my word." The viewscreen winked out.
"Admiral," reported the adjutant, "all vessels of the Braxis fleet have surrendered electronic control to us."
"Transfer command to our people back on Korhal IV for remote control via ansible."
"Congratulations on a bloodless victory," cheered Sarlena.
"Preparing for hyperspace jump..." A shimmering portal opened up before them, taking them all dozens of light years away.
"Admiral, we've just received ansible from the Braxis contingent," reported an adjutant aboard the Behemoth-class Wrath. "They... I don't know how this happened but evidently somebody has subverted our plan. They have just surrendered control of their entire fleet to another that has seemingly appeared out of nowhere - one that hails itself as the Harbinger fleet. Their fleet was comprised of three battlecruisers and a valkyrie."
"What, out of nowhere? How can that be possible?"
"Whatever is the cause, we don't know yet. The military on the core worlds are already working on this problem, but there haven't been any reasonable explanations other than that they have somehow tapped into the technologies of the golden fleets."
"Or... they could be the golden fleets themselves in disguise," mused the admiral. "In all my years of military experience I have never heard of such abilities. We must continue on our course and hope that they don't take us by surprise," he ordered.
"I... believe it may be already too late to hope for that," said the adjutant. "The Harbinger fleet is hailing us already."
"What!" roared the admiral. "That's impossible! This must be a sham!" The hologram in front of him showed the Harbinger fleet - the Wraiths already fully deployed - no more than two hundred kilometers from theirs, and with matching velocities.
"No, I believe they are real, sir--"
"Whatever! All ships open fire!" The admiral roared. They don't know what they're getting into with this one. Their fleet is barely half of our Halcyon fleet.
The next moment turbolasers struck out at the fleet, vaporizing several Wraiths. Missiles and rockets launched from their magazines, speeding toward their targets. The same instant the Harbinger fleet focus-fired all of their turbolasers at a single Valkyrie, etching massive holes across the armor and breaching in multiple locations. Their own payload of ballistic weaponry locked onto that single target as well. Then, even as the Wrath turned its laser fire on the incoming missiles, the Harbinger fleet vanished through their hyperspace window, only to reappear on the other side of the fleet. The Halcyon fleet's missiles and Halo rockets were left dead in space without a target to seek, while the Wrath lost an escort Valkyrie from concentrated fire.
"Shall we do that again?" Daniel taunted, though with a semblance of seriousness. The deaths of fifty or so people on board the shredded Valkyrie wasn't so easy to swallow, especially since they could easily have been under his command.
"Our fleet is far larger than yours, we will destroy you!" vowed the admiral.
"Attack their gravitic drives!" ordered Daniel. The next moment the two fleets had exchanged laser volleys and fired their missiles. The Harbinger fleet vanished into hyperspace and reappeared right in front of them, having evaded all their ballistic weaponry. Several Harbinger starfighters were destroyed by laser fire. The Halcyon fleet, however, was crippled, the Wrath's main gravitic drive, as well as its backup drive, blown up. The ship fell out of the gravitic slipstream so necessary for faster-than-light space travel, dead in space, while its companions continued forward, within seconds thousands of kilometers away. The people on board the Wrath suddenly became frantic as it was now hopelessly outnumbered by Daniel's fleet and without any means of escape.
"Admiral, if you keep this up you will be the death of you and your crew," Daniel pointed out.
"My men will keep fighting without me," the admiral declared.
"Of course they will. But question is, do you really want to die?"
"I'm not-- oh what's the point, you got me cornered," the admiral muttered, staring at the hologram which showed that his lone, debilitated battlecruiser was up against four others. Within seconds he had surrendered control of his craft.
The rest of the Halcyon fleet, having turned around, came out of slipstream... and were startled to find the Wrath on Daniel's side, firing a warning shot at their fleet.
"Admiral, the enemy is commencing fire," reported the adjutant.
"Insolent, aren't they?" mused Daniel, as his fleet warped to the other side of their attackers and proceeded to blast the gravitic drives of the remaining two enemy battlecruisers. It was now evident that there was no way they could escape.
"Admiral, the opposing commander is hailing us."
"Okay, okay, stop! We surrender!" shouted the rear admiral, biting his tongue.
"Stunning how quickly a display of firepower gets you to renounce your vows," Daniel remarked as his adjutant affirmed that the Halcyon fleet had turned over electronic ship control to him.
"Preparing for hyperspace jump..." A shimmering portal opened up before them, taking them all dozens of light years away.
"We have exited hyperspace. Scanners confirm presence of the Proudwater fleet: Two Behemoths and ten Valkyries. They are requesting to speak to you, admiral."
"Admiral! How did you... last time you had only seven vessels!" exclaimed the Proudwater admiral incredulously.
What, you mean to say you didn't hear the Halcyon fleet's distress calls? Daniel smiled back. "It's called assimilating the other fleets. I promise we will not throw you into the fire. Now, surrender your vessel, and we will assimilate you."
"Fire at will!" screamed the admiral desperately. That same moment the scintillating window brought the Harbinger fleet to the other side of the fleet. "Crap!" she blurted. The Harbinger Fleet's concentrated fire blew away the roof plating of her flagship's bridge, leaving her gasping for breath and holding onto a desk upside-down as oxygen vented out into the great vacuum.
"Resistance is futile," Daniel said steely as the icons representing four of his Wraiths vanished.
"We have exited hyperspace. All nine battlecruisers report battle-ready. All nineteen assault frigates report battle-ready. Scanners confirm presence of the Dylar IV fleet: one Hyperion, two Behemoths and seven Valkyries. The opposing admiral is requesting an audience with you, admiral."
"Well that went faster than I expected..."
As the Harbinger Fleet returned victoriously to Korhal IV and landed to send their SCV's to work contributing to base construction, Daniel found himself suddenly suffocating from a crowd of adulating subordinates.
"My goodness admiral, how did you manage to pull that off?"
"Wow, you far exceeded our expectations!"
"You did it!"
"Whoa! I can't stand this any more!" Daniel shouted in delight, half wondering if that could even be true.
"Six fleets in twelve minutes!"
"Is there no end of wonder coming from your exploits?"
"You are definitely the one chosen to save us all!"
Daniel's jubilation rose to new heights as he found himself being picked up and heaved into the air over and over again. Flower petals and confetti were thrown everywhere, as the growing crowd of people rejoiced in their great victory, some even believing that getting to even touch the admiral was a great honor.
And so it was, that a pittance of a fleet with only four vessels and besieged by six fleets suddenly blossomed into three Hyperions, 13 Behemoths, and 37 Valkyries, not to mention over six hundred Wraiths. Time elapsed from when Daniel set off to his fleet's return: 12 minutes.