Reclaiming a Sun, Part 4

Fiction for Noble Armada: Lost Worlds, set in the Fading Suns universe

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The miners had told Leopold of smugglers who had established a base on Opal, a small planet near Dalian itself. The miners occasionally worked with the smugglers, who had kept their heads down ever since an initial encounter when the Decados first arrived. Leopold took his two damaged craft to Opal. There the miners convinced the smugglers to repair the ships – in exchange for all the wealth Leopold had accumulated. A few of the smugglers also agreed to join their expedition, and Leopold split his crew between the two ships, leaving Tomas in charge of the Mane.

The smugglers had tracked the Decados movements around Dalian. The remaining Decados ships, two explorers and a galliot, were taking their time wearing down the planet’s defenses. They had already defeated the few space craft that could challenge them, and no orbital craft dared take off for fear of Decados blasters. Now the three vessels spent their time bombarding strategic locations and demanding the planet’s surrender.

This fight would be unlike either of the earlier battles. The galliot, while not as heavily armed as his frigate, usually carried a large compliment of troops. Leopold had lost a number of good marines in the last fight, and unless the Decados vessel was grossly understaffed, it had him outnumbered. While the Mane could try to fight from range, it did not have the firepower to defeat the enemy ships. The frigate certainly boasted the gunnery, but it would have to get close to the galliot to bring them to bear … and close to its grappling guns. If the Decados marines arrived in force, Leopold would lose the frigate just as he had captured it.

The Decados had to know that their frigate had lost its fight. What they should not know was that Leopold had been able to bring both vessels back to fighting trim so quickly. He would need every advantage in the coming battle. While he would not surprise his enemy, at least he could try to keep them off balance.

Leopold planned to fly in with the Mane in the lead and his frigate, now renamed the Pride, close behind. The explorer would race past the enemy ships, firing its lasers. Leopold hoped it would attract – and survive – the first salvoes from the Decados vessels before sailing out to long range. From there it would use it lasers to target damaged ships while the Pride closed with the three enemy ships.

Leopold hoped the Mane could damage at least one of the Decados explorers on its first pass to remove it as a threat. He then planned to use the frigate to cripple the enemy ships while keeping far enough away from the galliot’s grappling guns. In theory, it could work. However, in theory, this was a lost system with no Decados ships. Theory only got you so far before reality interceded.

 

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