Extract from ‘War of the Element’

This was one of my favourite moments to write. It depicts the first naval battle to ever occur in a hundred years of war. I was inspired by the concept of the ‘risks were too great, and the potential gain too small’, which was mirrored in WW1 when the world’s souped up navies only actually participated in one major naval battle in a five year war. Compared to WW2, where half the damn war took place at sea, and dozens of ships went down at a time and were simply rebuilt.

Well, here’s the piece. It describes Vorith’s newly selected war council, as permitted by the democratic leaders of the Inner System. One of them makes it onto this council for the merit of being a veteran and a politician. The rest are inept at being wartime leaders, and Vorith knows that. Ignis is not really involved in the broader strategic thoughts on the war. However, his task is such that he needs to know what’s going on, and thus receives a seat on the council.

—–

The Quasar fired the first shell of the battle. Over three million fleet personnel thought briefly of their families, their parents, their lovers, or their children. The sound rang through the halls of the Inner System flagship, signalling the beginning of the second most decisive battle in history, while others saw the shell hurtling through space with ballistics detection. Space warfare was counter-intuitive. While thousands of tonnes of explosives were being fired in bizarre proportions and speeds, silence reigned in the void, only disturbed minutes after the battle had truly begun as the first of the missiles penetrated an escort ship’s hull, rending the left side of it and tearing the life from its interior.

The sun shone coldly on the scene. Its weak rays bombarded the frozen bodies suspended in space. Some were punted out of the way by the lumbering ships, travelling at only several hundred kilometres an hour. It was dreadfully slow in the vastness of space. From deep within the confines of The Quasar, Vorith received reports and plotted his next moves. With the help of a hand-selected council, he had successfully maintained a powerful grip on the situation. General Shellet was his new right-hand man. Not only had he proven his worth as an able soldier, but his prowess as a man between the political and military spectrum in the last few months had revealed him to be an asset like no other.

Other members of Vorith’s war council included the first-man of The Quasar (simply because the captain was far too busy commanding his own vessel), the Captain of The Nebulous Spirit (The Inner System’s prototype stealth-ship), as well as Lucas, the only political leader to be invited into Vorith’s war council. Four other generals were included too, though Vorith had a sour gut-feeling when it came to them. They didn’t seem to care much about anything, and had what was commonly called ‘tunnel vision’. However, Vorith couldn’t hope to command the entire military unquestionably unless he had orders coming down from every high-level leader.

Finally, at the end of the table sat Ignis. The heat that radiated from him appeared intense, but really settled into an ambient warmth. Nothing he touched burned.

In a cacophony of silence, the ships played out their roles, zapping warheads in mid-space and firing their own back at the enemy. Ship after ship was destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of lives were lost in a second, and a million more in another. The fight continued for a week, a week of constant tension, of knowing that one’s life depended on the whims of chance. Slowly, by process of blunt attrition and slow strategic manoeuvres, the Outer System fleet was whittled down. It was comparable to a week-long game of chess, with thousands of pieces on the board, but enough time to ensure that each one was in its most advantageous position. Vorith had never played this kind of game before. It was the largest naval battle in history, but he trusted his instinct and the strategic advice from his council, and it seemed to be working.

—–

Needless to say,

Image

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