The FTLSS Unification had come a long way. From what was once a relatively small and slow ship, a grand, fast, heavily-defended ship had arose. Despite all this, the captain was still Captain Marona Tinini.
After communications had taken off with the Zyrothans, the Urahobs had been able to get hold of a bit of necessary technology. Faster engines, for one thing, and force fields for another. For the sake of their pride, they had left some things alone. Ray guns were a thing best left to be invented by the Urahobs.
Another thing had been communicated about, though.
The Zyrothans had warned them of Flesh Thief activity relatively close to them. These foul beasts tore apart other sentient creatures to steal their organs, bones and flesh. Now, their ships were closing in.
"How many weaponized ships are in the fleet?" Marona asked through the intercom. "All 342," came the reply.
Marona turned back to the screen. The Flesh Thieves knew their location, so the captain attempted to hail them. No responce. "I fear we shall have our first conflict with an extraterrestrial being," he said through the infracom. "Be prepared."
The Flesh Thieves were planning as well.
Groseb, second-in-command, examined the opposing fleet. It was mainly made of small ships, with a few mid-sized ones and a large one. There was also a well-inhabited planet, probably the Home-world of this species.
"This shall be a good Harvest," Groseb said proudly. "The race has never even fought in space before, Mistress."
Keelia looked down at her servent. "Our scans show that the ships have antimatter weaponry. They may not be as primitive as you think," she said. "Of course, when we succeed, that shall not matter. The Flesh Thieves are superior to this race."
Their fleet had 20 or so ships, but they were far larger and far more weaponised. The brown sides had the name of their purpose smeared in blood.
The Flesh Thief fleet opened fire.
"Evasive action!" shouted Captain Tinini. "Don't let them hit you!" Ships were moving in a blaze of activity. Many were shot down.
"Return fire!" he commanded. Sure enough, antimatter, nuclear and hydrogen bombs (as well as the good, old-fashioned missiles) shot out of the ships towards their enemy. Most didn't make it, but some managed to get to the enemy ships and explode.
"12% of ships down!" came the reply. This was not good.
"Charge the Tornado Darts, and keep on firing!"
The numbers slowly rose. 13%. 14%. 15%.
The Flesh Thief ships were shrugging off most of the explosions. It was, however, slowly wearing them down. "It seems that my first thoughts were right," stated Groseb. "We're easily winning."
The shower of weaponry from the Urahobs were steadily increasing. Whether it was from luck, learning or simply more being fired, it was not known.
Then a Dart hit one of the Flesh Thief ships.
The sound of a mighty explosion came through the intercom, and then silence. The Dart had scored a direct hit, the front managing to partly pierce the shields. Then it had opened, releasing a blob of antimatter directly on to the ship.
"What!?" Groseb shouted. "That's... Recalibrate the shields! Something's gone wrong!"
Through the barrage, another Dart managed to hit. This one hadn't quite pierced the shield, and so it detonated itself directly next to the Flesh Thief ship. Relatively high damage was caused.
"24% of ships lost, including the Skylight!"
Maroni grimaced at this latest piece of news. The next news, though, was much better.
"Enemy ships damaged! 15% down!"
The Urahobs had taken out three ships. "Keep it up! We can't let these scraf-tearers get to the planet!"
"One of the enemy's shields have been broken!"
"20% of enemies down!"
Another explosion wracked the Unification. "Report!" he commanded down the infracom.
"20% shield functionality!"
Only a miracle could save the Unification, and most of the Urahob fleet, now.
And then it came.
An alert of a Dart getting through a shield again came through. They had lost a quarter of their fleet.
The nail in the Harvest's coffin arrived.
The Flesh Thief ships, steadily weakened by the barrage, were now hit by weapons they were used to and loathed. Two more ships exploded.
"Mistress!" Groseb shouted. "This is a disaster!" "Retreat!" called Keelia.
The Flesh Thief ships fled.
"Close fire," Marona said through the intercom. "We've fended them off."
The barage, in the course of about 10 seconds, stopped. 30% of the fleet had been lost, but they had survived. "May their souls be unfractured," the captain said in a short prayer. Many lives had been lost this day.
He opened a link between the Unification and the main Zyrothan ship. "If you hadn't arrived just then, it was unlikely we would've survived," he said. "Not even the Tornado Darts would've saved us."
He closed the link. They had won, but it didn't feel like it. It felt more like a crushing defeat.
Next time, they had to be prepared.