The volley of twenty-four LRMs launched from the Eridonia's Hope neared their targets; the vessel that was hit earlier was disabled but two more vesslels passed in front. Their inhuman forms visible on the Hope's command deck display. As the missiles reached the lead vessel, brilliant flashes of light erupted, sending burning particles into space around it. More flashes erupted, in staggered detonations across its organic surface as the entire salvo found its mark. The vessel's apparent bio-luminescence faded as it lurched off course, apparently disabled.
"Captain." Ellie stated, appearing beside the captain's command chair. "twenty-four confirmed impacts. The hostile vessel is going off course, it have been disabled. The remaining ships are not appearing to engage us" The AI reported as the captain squinted at the Holo Display.
"Well, we can't get comfortable giving them a warm welcome, orders come from the top after all". The captain replied. "I don't like this. Something is going on here above even my paycheck".
"A moment to offer my thoughts, captain?" The A.I asked, gesturing to the captain, of whom nodded to authorise it. "The unidentified vessels are of organic nature. I can say with almost certainty this is an extra-terrestrial space-faring alien species. Their aggression could have severe implications not just for Federal interests in Tempest, but for humanity in aquarius as a whole".
"Yeah. I know." Marcus replied, thinking about what the A.I had just said. "But orders are orders and I know Roland; he knows something I don't. And if he believes it's in our best interests to end this here then I trust that is the best course of action. We have a job to do".
"Understood, Captain". Ellie acknowledged.
"Let's finish the job. Track the remaining vessels, firing solution for the co-ax, if you would be so kind." The captain ordered, flipping a couple of switches on the command chair; producing a myriad alarm tones as the targeting system for the Battlecruiser's co-axially mounted 66-inch main gun started up. A series of infographs formed on the HUD, showing trajectory data for the enormous cannon, along with a central crosshair.
The A.I simply nodded as it prepared the main gun for a fire mission. Marcus knew the next few moments could change humanity's future forever. But he also trusted Admiral Roland, if these 'creatures' were hostile, they needed to be dealt with before they could threaten the Core Worlds. And besides, they fired first.
The captain adjusted the ship's trajectory manually, guiding the 11 million ton warship into a course directly head-on with the remaining alien vessels; of which had slowed to almost a stop, themselves facing directly at the Endeavour-class battlecruiser and her escort.
"Captain. Firing Solution is ready. The control is at your console." Ellie reported.
Marcus rubbed his brow. Why did the aliens cease their aggression? Where they trying to communicate now? He knew his orders but his instinct questioned them. Before he could make a decision, the Hope's proximity alert alarms sounded, a huge energy reading consistent with Federal Navy Jump Drive signitures manifested behind Hunter Group; several dozen contacts emerging from Sub-space shortly after.
"Multiple Contacts on scope. Lead signiture FFID tag confirmed: EDVR-CB-S5A 'Terra Sola'. This is Admiral Roland's flagship, an advanced S5 class. It appears Strider and Lancer groups have arrived, Captain." Ellie exclaimed, "I did not expect the Admiral to attend personally." it added.
Before the captain could issue a response, an incoming communication was forwarded to the Hope's command console; Admiral Roland Augr, via the direct priority transmission system.
"Eridonia's Hope, this is Admiral Augr of Strider-Lancer control on battlecruiser Terra Sola. I'm taking control of the situation, Eridonia's Hope is now under my command." The communication crackled out for a moment, before phasing back in. "The situation is of critical importance to national security. I trust you will do your duty to humanity without question." The Admiral paused momentarily. "Your orders are destroy the aggressors immediately. Strider-Lancer group will provide support and mop-up. Terra Sola, Out."
"You heard him, Ellie. Punch in the Fire Mission and I'll take the first shot. Load Penetrator." Captain Marcus Raiko ordered, clutching the control-column for manual targeting of the Battlecruiser's immense co-axial armament; able to accelerate a six-ton projectile to speeds approaching 25-percent the speed of light.
As the Eridonia's Hope aligned with the target, capacitor banks across the warship's power grid engaged to full capacity, charging thousands of megawatts of potential energy from the main fusion reactors. The dim, low harmonic reverberation of their charging could be felt across most of the decks, even on the bridge tower; a slight vibration took hold of the deck.
Within 30 seconds read-outs on the combat information display indicated that the capacitors had reached the minimum charge for ignition of the main gun.
"Ready to Fire". The ship-board computer declared, as the reticle on the HUD lit up green, highlighting the closest alien vessel.
Marcus closed his eyes for a moment before he squeezed the trigger; veteran captains know that firing this weapon is not something done lightly. It is a weapon of mass destruction. There was a brief pause as the power-couplings for the SMRG engaged, before an almighty flash erupted from the barrel protruding from the bow of the warship. The deck shuddered as the Nuclear Fusion charge detonated, propelling an 8-metre, six-ton super-dense depleted-citadrite penetrator outwards, at unimaginable speed. Less than a second later, the round found its mark.
Clouds of vaporised coolant hissed and sprayed from the barrel's cooling mechanism, cooling the super-heated power couplings and radiators that contained the Fusion Impulse charge. Beyond the Eridonia's Hope, an almighty burst of light erupted from the formation of alien vessels, expanding into a brilliant fireball of gaseous plasma and super-heated organic compounds. As it began to cool, it turned from a blue-ish white to a darker orange, then to red before the light subsided, revealing nothing but a rapidly expanding debris cloud in its wake.
"Confirmed hit. The target is completely destroyed." Ellie reported, as the HUD read-out confirmed her report. "I am detecting spikes from the remaining vessels, captain. They are powering up their weapons".
"We won't give them the chance, Ellie, charge second shot." Marcus demanded, clutching the control column once more.
"Acknowledged. Captain, Admiral Roland's Task Force is powering up their weapons. I have synchronised our battle-net systems. Integration Hand-Shake is complete, the Terra Sola is issuing new orders for us, sir." Ellie replied, after displaying a few system diagnostic readouts related to the battle-net system.
The second shot from the Eridonia's Hope found its mark on another alien vessel, splitting the larger form into several pieces, which violently 'bled' organic material into space around it. It wasn't long before Admiral Roland's flagship, an advanced Endeavour Series 5A battlecruiser; Terra Sola, added its own firepower to the weight of explosions; the dual, twin-barrel 66-inch SMRGs erupted, sealing the fate of the remaining aliens.
The events in Tempest Sigma that cycle, would change the UTN's history forever. After the remaining alien vessels were destroyed, Hunter Group linked up with Strider-Lancer group under the command of Admiral Roland Augr. Under orders from the very highest authority of the President herself, and the Naval Intelligence Agency, the fleet recovered the remains of the alien ships. The remains would be analyised and identified as belonging to an ancient race of non-bipedal extra-terrestrial organisms, refered to as 'Radacri' in ancient Aurc scriptures.
According to those scriptures, the Radacri pre-date mankind by several million years. Further details were limited by the understanding of UTN Xeno-archaelogists regarding Aurc Scripture.
The lost outpost was never officially recovered. In fact, its very existence was removed from Federal Records and the Naval Archive shortly after the events in Tempest Sigma, 4015 A.D. Naval command refused to acknowledge the outpost even existed, instead issuing a statement that the events that took place was an act of aggression by pirate elements on a routine Federal Navy patrol group.
It would be another half cycle before the Navy would be forced to admit it was more than simple pirates. But by then, a new, darker chapter in UTN history had already dawned.