Renoir smacked into the railing of the hologram platform and flipped over it. He slammed onto his back and grunted. The rocking continued for nearly a full minute, making it impossible for him to get up. Once they began to subside, he rolled over and pulled himself up, wincing with pain. Legun appeared at his side and helped him up.
“Status report!” he barked out through clenched teeth.
“Some kind of energy blast,” Lieutenant Biggs said as he climbed back into his chair. “Not sure what kind, but it was powerful. I’m reading…” Biggs turned in his seat to look at the Admiral. “Sir, I’m reading massive devastation across Belladrix, and no comm signals from anywhere on the planet.” Mutterings and gasps permeated the bridge at the news, and Renoir stepped back into his holograms to see for himself. His arms fell to his sides as the report was duplicated. No signals of any kind coming from Belladrix now.
“Wait…where are the other ships? Did our sensor array get damaged?” He moved the holograms around, searching for the other ships of the Alliance fleet, confused at their absence until the realization began to dawn, and Lieutenant Biggs confirmed it.
“I’m not detecting any signals from the other ships, sir. Checking visuals… I…think they’ve all been destroyed, sir…”
du Saniel had trouble believing it. The Great Enemy ship couldn’t possibly possess enough firepower to single-handedly destroy three ships and a planet simultaneously. He brought up the visual sensors, which showed expanding debris clouds where the other three ships were. He felt his jaw go slack, and the strength from his legs fade to where he had to support himself with the railing.
“The fighters…what about our fighters?” He said quietly. Legun consulted his handheld pad.
“Some were caught in the blasts, and others survived. Same with the Suits. We…we lost two of the Savior Suits…” He nearly mumbled this last part, clearly afraid to let the others hear. The Admiral put his free hand to his forehead and eyes, trying to massage the stress away, but to no avail.
“And Terranis?” He asked, trying to take his mind off the once-again crumbling situation.
“Looks like only one beam struck Terranis… An island in the south, a few miles of the southwestern tip of the eastern continent. No known settlements, at lea-are you alright?” Legun looked up, surprised to see du Saniel’s shocked expression.
“How…did they know?” Renoir’s eyes were starting to go wide, and Legun began to worry the shock was overwhelming him.
“Know what? It was an empty island. Perhaps it was intended for another target, but missed.”
The Admiral stepped over to Legun and put an arm around him, whispering. “That’s the official report, yes. But… There was a facility there.”
Legun’s eyebrows lowered in confusion. “I never knew about any such facility. What was it for?”
“It was for ATS production, and some ancillary research. It wasn’t the most extensive of factories, no, but it was enough. Most of the suits in our fleet were manufactured there.”
Legun remained silent for a moment, clearly contemplative. “I see… Was this the secret you mentioned before, why we couldn’t abandon the system?”
“That was part of it, but I know a small clandestine ATS factory is hardly something to doom millions of people for. No… There was something else.” Renoir instinctively thought of the other secret for an instant, and his mind filled with the images of infinite stars, shining blue hair almost hidden by overwhelming light, and a white feather drifting through the air.
Before Legun could say anything else, du Saniel released his arm and stepped back into the holograms, his usual confidence seemingly returned. “Damage report!” He commanded, and Lieutenant Biggs filled him in. The blast from earlier had blown clear through the Bastille, leaving a gaping hole in its launch decks, but thankfully no critical systems were affected.
“And the Enemy ship?” He asked. There were only the two capital ships remaining. They were still in roughly the same position they were when they started: the Great Enemy held the upper hand in terms of raw firepower, especially after this last display, but superior tactics would see the humans still victorious. Probably. Renoir had to admit to himself he felt a little less confident than he did a few hours ago. No, he couldn’t start doubting himself now. He had to see this through to the end, and let history decide whether he did things right.
“Its power levels are severely reduced, though it’s coming about.” The Lieutenant reported. “Its shields appear to be greatly weakened, and its weapons have ceased firing for now.”
“This may be the best time to try and finish them off,” Renoir said mostly to himself, though Legun heard him as well.
“We’re not exactly in prime fighting condition ourselves. None of our fighter and Suit units are at optimal strength. Most are simply fighting in groups of two or three at this point, instead of proper squads. I don’t think I need to mention the giant hole we have in our hull now, either.”
“I know, Legun. We can’t just let them go. I doubt their commander will abandon the rest of the system now. We need to consolidate on Terranis, and try to bring that ship down.” Renoir turned to the helm controls. “Bring us back into low orbit over Terranis. Recall all the fighters and suits, and maintain long-range bombardment of the enemy ship as best we can. Get repair crews focused on the shield system and getting the hangar deck at least operational enough to land and re-launch what we have left.” Renoir sank against the railing and stared at the floor for a few moments before looking up at Legun.
“I think I need to sit down.”