Worldbuilding Prompt #511 - Moonfall

in Worldbuilding3 months ago

Welcome to the next episode of the space opera I've been putting together inspired by writing prompts in the Worldbuilding Community. Last episode was really close-in and personal, a lot of it inside Fedric's head, so this time I'm zooming out and looking at the macro side of the saga.

This episode is inspired by a writing prompt in the Worldbuilding community - Worldbuilding Prompt #511 - Shattered Moon(s)

Image created by AI in

The atmosphere within Imperial Headquarters was calm on the surface, but everyone could feel the underlying tension. It was, of course, a virtual space. The war leaders of the Allied Imperiae were scattered across the universe, it would be far too juicy a target if they were all together in the same physical place.

But despite being virtual, it was fully immersive and very convincing. In the centre of the floor was the Central Imperial Holostrat Display, far greater in scope and detail than the holotac displays carried by Imperial warships.

Around it were gathered the top military figures of the Allied Imperiae. Most were humanoid, with a dazzling array of uniforms, but a good number of different species were also represented. But it was the two Arch Warlords of the Alonian Empire who were in control, Tahr Kvanar and Korvrell Ti Shonordihe.

"You're our defence specialist, what do you make of it, Lord Kvanar ?" asked Lord Ti Shonordihe. Tahr Kvanar stroked his goatee thoughtfully and walked slowly around the display, studying the patterns of lights, dots, lines and arrows that showed the movements of great fleets. Individual ships or squadrons were rarely represented on the Holostrat.

After concluding his circuit of the three dimensional display, he spoke, slowly and with precision.

"Large formations of Einheriar and Slavers. Both have called extensively on their assorted vassals for additional forces. Three major axes of advance, converging on the Tharwell sector. Projected rendezvous point is about halfway, the Rubadub system."

As he described the enemy dispositions, he waves his hand through the hologram, pointing out the key locations and movements.

"It is the largest operation they have mounted since we knocked the Rim out of the war. At least thirty million capital ships, equivalent to three thousand Battle Corps. We're talking about pulling in nearly fifteen percent of our entire strength to match them. But why here, and why now is still a mystery."

A slender light-grey clad figure at the back of the room cleared his throat. Lord Kvanar tilted his head towards him. "ASP Lord-Leader Trevillion ?"

Trevillon nodded. "I think I can shed some additional light on the matter. Two of my agents on Tharwell have reported on something which initially appeared trivial. A missing tax box. It turns out to have been weaponised. Not missing at all, it's just on a journey with a very steep return trajectory. The resulting energy release will send Tharwell hypernova. We don't want our fleets there when that happens."

Tahr Kvanar's brows furrowed in thought. "But the wavefront will move at the speed of light. Our ships can just stroll out of the way or drop into neighbouring dimensions and not even break a sweat. What else do the Confeds have up their little mechanical sleeves ?"

Trevillon shrugged. "Not a clue, we're still working on trying to find out."

Korvreall Ti Shonordihe spoke up. "Okay, I know I'm supposed to be Arch Warlord for Offence, and this is strictly defensive, but we need to slow the enemy down, give our ASPsmen time to find out what's really going on. We need to slow the enemy down, sow a bit of confusion. I have an idea...."

Commodore Alexandra Deroma watched her holotac display with horror as she repeatedly zoomed out and found no edge to the mass of enemy ships filling it.

Standing by her side, Lieutenant Yalandri's face was pale. "Ummm.... I'm glad we're on a multi-dimensional spiral orbit around that lot. I do not want to be tangling with all of those ships. That's a clusterfuck waiting to happen."

Alex nodded. "Yeah. But I've just seen our orders come through. They're calling it Operation Moonfall. Get me something stronger than this coffee, please. And some for yourself. Actually, get some for everyone. We're going to need it."

Image created by AI in

Circling the enemy armada and observing them, 3275-A Battle Corps, of which Alex commanded just one small squadron, started the preparatory phases of Operation Moonfall.

Squadrons and fleets would break away from the main body of the Battle Corps, moving into synchronous orbits with moons and planets in their path. Then they would send down engineer crews to fit them with inter-dimensional mass driver engines.

It took time to get such huge masses moving, but after several days of hard work, the Battle Corps was accompanied by a swirling mass of nearly one hundred assorted celestial bodies, all hopping through dimensions in time with the fleet, gaining speed and energy.

Image created by AI in

Admiral Vakmar strutted back and forth across the perch-beams on the bridge of his flagship, the Backlash, pride of the Slaver fleet. It was a sign of extreme irritation, and his crew cowered back from him, afraid of his legendary wrath.

"You tell me Impie ships have been trailing us, ghosting in and out, but you can't pin them down and destroy them ? It is not good enough ! I want them gone ! The cowards, why can they not just meet us in battle so we can crush them ? I want them gone, you hear me ? If they are still here in twenty hours, I will personally crush the brood-eggs of each of you."

It was a terrible threat, removing them from the next breeding cycle and bringing utter dishonour on their clans.

At the far side of the bridge, the severity of the threat meant that Sensor Officer Kakawr was too afraid to tell the Admiral what his sensors were showing him. Traces breaking through from adjacent dimensions, all converging on the centre of the fleet.

The first indication the Slaver flagship had that there was a problem was when the communications systems erupted with a cacophony of screams and squawks, often rapidly truncated.

Scores of moons and planets appeared from nowhere, dropping through from neighbouring dimensions at velocities close to the speed of light. Great warships were brushed aside like insects, or disappeared in flashes of light as the surfaces of the rogue worlds swept them up.

But the Slaver crews were well trained and had the initiative to break formation to avoid destruction, opening up clear paths in front of the speeding moons.

That was when they realised that those clear paths always ended at the intersection with another similar path.

All the moons were on a collision course ! Even worse, computers indicated that all the collisions would be simultaneous, in less than twenty seconds.

Some ships dropped into adjacent dimensions. They were picked off by waiting Imperial battleships. Most tried to just get out of the way. It didn't work. Each pair of colliding moons sent massive amounts of hot debris careening in all directions, and soon space was full of flying mountain-sized rocks.

The results were devastating to all ships in the vicinity. Their computers were unable to calculate the trajectory and velocity for so many thousands of speeding objects, and the ships died. A few were able to stay alive by sticking to the same spot, rapidly rotating and firing.

But then half a moon randomly plunged into the star at the heart of the Rubadub system. Stars can handle impacts like that, but not when they are at nearly the speed of light.

Rubadub exploded, an instant nova, sweeping away Slaver ships that had survived the initial onslaught.

Image created by AI in

Back in IHQ, Tahr Kvanar handed a bottle to Korvrell Ti Shonordihe. Although they were just virtual avatars, the wonders of encrypted wormhole transfer made sure the bottle was real enough.

"Here we are, Deldrian Fire Vodka. Appropriate, really. That was a good idea you had, and Rubadub going nova was an unexpected icing on the cake. We only destroyed a few thousand ships, but it was far more than our projections. The best bit is that their fleet is totally scattered, it'll take a good couple of weeks to get their act together again, and all that time our forces will be picking off stragglers and isolated groups. Nicely done !"

To be continued.......

Previous posts in the series:
Part 1 - Worldbuilding Prompt #490 - Storing the taxes safely
Part 2 - Worldbuilding Prompt #491 - Avoiding trouble
Part 3 - Worldbuilding Prompts #493 and #496 - Hiding on Debris
Part 4 - Worldbuilding Prompt #497 - Hiding in a Closed Ecosystem Is Dumb
Part 5 - Worldbuilding Prompt #498 - Pursuit by AI is Terrifying
Part 6 - Worldbuilding Prompt #499 - Not The Answers We Were Looking For
Part 7 - Worldbuilding Prompt #500 - A Jailbreak or an Assassination ?
Part 8 - Worldbuilding Prompt #502 - Clean Energy. Instantly !
Part 9 - Worldbuilding Prompt #503 - A Close Call at Nexus 503E-32
Part 10 - Worldbuilding Prompt #505 & #506 - Poor Fedric's Fate
Part 11 - Worldbuilding Prompt #504 - Death is a Lifechanging Experience

There are also a few related posts from this setting which introduce some of the characters;

Captain Holmen was introduced in Worldbuilding Prompt #471 - A Question of Jurisdiction
Imperial Infomancer Dranton turned up in Worldbuilding Prompt #467 - The Imperial Halls of Information
Greville and the Tarnished Phoenix first appeared in Worldbuilding Prompt #432 - Debris, gaining velocity and energy