Trondle ran the scan idly over a large expanse of space. A pointless exercise here in the Sodyl system, but then, it wasn’t as if he had anything better to do.
Battleship ‘Emperors Vengeance’ was stationed here because it was at the end of its useful life. The ship had deteriorated so much, it was pointless refitting. As it was, it was parked here as a way station and a com relay. When it failed even to manage that task, it would be nudged into a nearby sun.
Something flickered on the screen. At first Trondle thought it was the screen itself. Power surges were common and were forever throwing the sensors out of calibration. He adjusted the sensors. No, there was something out there. Unusual energy waves, not dissimilar to the start of warp phenomena. He checked the logs. No ships were inbound today, certainly not in this sector of space. The energy signature changed, resembling more and more like a warp signature.
Alarm klaxons blared throughout the bridge. Trondle jumped in surprise. Looking around, he noticed everyone was staring at him. He looked down at his console. His hand lay over the bridge alarm. He felt his stomach sink to the deck and all warmth leave his body.
The Master of the Watch came over. “WHAT?” the command was full of menace.
Trondle had no option but to explain and hope his death was swift. “Warp signature sir. East handle quadrant sir”
The Master of the Watch looked at the screen “NAVIGATOR! Any ships plotted for that quadrant?”
The navigator shook his blindfolded head.
The Master of the Watch addressed the bridge crew. “Ship wide alert, till I say otherwise.”
“Mass forming sir! Could be a warp transition.”
“Battle station now! Bring the engines up, shields ready for deployment, and I want weapons armed.”
Trondle looked at is screen. Mass was forming. Not just one mass, but several. The warp twisted with gravity wells as several large battle cruisers coalesced.
“Imperial build, sir”
“Well don’t just sit there. HAIL THEM!” Trondle winced even though the Master of the Watch’s ire wasn’t aimed at him.
“Missile launch detected sir!”
“Shields up, helmsman evasive manoeuvres. Pyscher, inform the planet and fleet command”
“Fighter Launch detected sir!”
Trondle studied is own sensors. One thing was blatantly clear. If these ships turned out to be hostile, they had no chance.
“Hail the ships. Ask them what the blazes they think they’re doing”
“No response sir. They’re not answering our hails sir.”
The lights flickered as the first missiles impacted against the ships shields.
“All non-essential personnel are to abandon ship. Any unused escape pods, fire them off as well. Launch the shuttles, including those not fit to fly. In fact, jettison everything.”
Officers and servitors rushed to obey the orders.
“The fighters sir...”
The Master of the Watch turned to the hapless officer. “The shuttles and pods are decoys. We have no chance of surviving this. What we can do is take as many of them with us as possible. Now get back to your station.”
The bridge hatch rattled open on worn hinges.
“WHAT IN THE EMPERORS NAME IS GOING ON IN HERE?” The fat greasy grey bulk of the Captain stood in the doorway. He had obviously been interrupted during a meal, as a sizeable portion of it was spilt down his front.
“Hostile forces have just warped in sir,” Explained the Master of the Watch. “Missiles and fighters incoming sir” As if to punctuate his statement, the whole sip shuddered under the blast of several direct hits.
“Fighters going after shuttles and escape pods sir.”