On the Marmatur, — Nyton と Tom
The two men turned tail and ran like hell.
Tom left Sprufnikkamazzar with more holes and wounds, more hemosynth fluid streaked with black flowing from the dying Mishhuvurthyar's body. There would be no clever, dashing end to one of the most powerful members of the NMX's military — his calculations had failed him thanks to the Miharu's
crew bringing back the Second Draconian Fleet to help smash his ranks and decimate his bid to eliminate Yamatai."Tiamat won't be stopped,"
he sent to them as they ran back to the closed airlock door. Tom and Nyton unloaded on it for a couple precious seconds, then both kicked it at once with all the might their armors lent them. The attack ripped the door off its hinges and sent it out into space.
Nyton went first, coming to the edge of the airlock's outer door. To his left, toward where the ship pointed, was Yamatai. It was all he could see; they were that close to the planet. When he looked out away from the Marmatur,
he saw other ships, identified by his AIES, heading for the planet's surface, trying to crash into it or without control to avoid it. Some were on fire; others were burning their engines as hard as they could.
He clutched the top of the doorway and pulled himself onto the dorsal side of the ship. Tom clambered up as well as the self-destruct clock ticked to 11 seconds.
The armors were clear of the bulbous engine nacelles, and Nyton snapped his legs' gravimetric engines on, going for the hardest burn they could manage. He and Tom sped up and away from the vessel, their armors adjusted for space as best as they could be. Tom did his best to keep up with just one leg engine, as the Ripper on the Tiamat's
bridge had done a number on one of his legs. The sealing and hemosynth along that leg still worked, so he was in no danger from exposure, but he took an extra couple seconds to catch Nyton.
Yamatai's gravity well tugged back at them. The Daisy's engines were meant for emergencies, but not within the orbit of a large planet. Tom's engineering mind did the math — a low orbit was probably the best-case scenario, allowing them to get picked up in a short time.
They looked down at the Marmatur.
Its hull was starting to glow a fiery red as it tried to crudely shove its way through Yamatai's atmosphere, just a few dozen kilometers away —
The explosions were small and pitiful. The ship did not expand with a raging fireball, but instead broke across its length, from nacelles to bow, with controlled bombs, puncturing the hull or rending it apart. The one at the tip, where the cockpit was, seemed larger than the rest, and its bow was peeled back like a banana. Whatever was inside was feeling the full heat and pressure of Yamatai's atmosphere.
Even a Mishhu could not survive it. The pieces would add to the flaming debris already crossing Yamatai's sky's amid the day or night of the planet's surface.
* * *
Rolf could see Nimura on his HUD, frowning at him. But she didn't do anything, even if stabbing him was all too easy.
Instead, she craned her head toward Yamatai, watching the Tiamat's
shining grey hull gracefully float toward Yamatai, surrounded by battleships furiously pulling back at the vessel.
* * *
"Two minutes!" someone yelled from the Mokuren's
bridge. They were close to Yamatai's atmosphere.Tiamat's
speed was about 1,000 km/s — a significant drop, but not enough to stop the ship from doing destroying life on the planet. They were not slowing the ship down fast enough!
"All available vessels, close on Tiamat
and fire upon it with everything you have!" Precision strikes had been used up to that point without enough effect. Hundreds of vessels replied in the affirmative, turning away from whatever NMX stragglers remained and jammed as hard as they could toward the stolen Chiharu
battleships were pulling with all their might to slow the ship down. The ships had no shields, could not power weapons and were lucky to be able to still have enough to throttle control. Yukari gripped the arms of her chair, then winced as she received a report of another engine going out on the Ajisai,
bringing the group's total thruster output to 45 percent. Mokuren
had lost an engine at the start.
The speed was down to 800 km/s. 1:37 left to impact.
fired its aether beam cannon from within 5 kilometers, trying to swipe off a piece of the Chiharu.
The deployable ablative armor stopped the shot from doing much more than flaking black stuff off its surface and leaving an ugly mark. The Yui
— named Tatsumaki
— kept shooting anyway, focusing on the same spot as it tried to claw through the armor.
More ships came to help, clouding the space around the enemy, each unleashing long streaks of aether into the Tiamat.
A dozen, five dozen, four wings' worth of ships no bigger than an Plumeria
attacked the Tiamat.
Yukari ordered them to narrow their efforts on small portions of the ship, to quarter it into hunks that could be pulled away.
It was not a well-thought-out idea. Yukari knew that if they could reduce the mass, it would work for them on both sides of the ballistic equation, so she stuck to the order.
The small armada responded in kind, and the Mokuren's
main screen was filled with white beams colliding with the Tiamat
, over and over, in small sections.
650 km/s; 1:09.
The quartering started to work. A 200-meter-square block of the ship sparked along its edges as it ground against the part of the ship from which it was cut. One of the battleships, the Tsubaki,
yanked it away, burning out an engine as it left the rest of the group. Another chunk followed, almost the same size as the first, and the Suisen
hauled it away from the opposite side of the first one.
It still was taking too long. Fifty-seven seconds to impact, with the speed reduced to 525 km/s. Yamatai became the backdrop of the mainscreen, with no sign of safe, empty space.
They nearly were at the atmosphere. A third chunk was cut away amid the precision firing from the Second Draconian Fleet's vessels, and the Kuchinashi
tore it away an engine burst from its aft. Yukari felt the warnings go across that ship to fight the fire that had started in the engine room.
Forty-eight seconds, 350 km/s. A request came to her through the fleet's network, succinct and cold — three Yuis
wanted to ram and self-destruct. They were from the Divine Arrows' sister group; Karimata, Watakushi,
Yukari gave her blessing. She could see the commanders bow before ordering the attack.
With aether cannons leading their charge, the three Yuis
crushed themselves into the ship. Their glittering Zesuaium edges pierced the ablative armor and went into the guts of the ship as far as they could go, with the Watakushi
getting almost 60 decks deep before it stopped. The rest of the fleet backed off as far as it could, with the battleships remaining close enough to drag away whatever they could. Tsubaki
had caught up after setting its piece in a long, slow orbit around the planet.
The three destroyers exploded at once.
At 35 seconds to impact, with the Tiamat
traveling at 220 km/s, Yukari watched as the mighty Chiharu
flagship was enveloped by a white light for about five seconds. Bridge crew shielded their eyes as the KAMI tried to lessen the brilliance, and some commanders of other vessels cursed as they shouted at their crews to dim the light.
Yukari knew there was no method for sound to travel in space, but she imagined how the final second of the three destroyers would ring in her ears.
When the light was gone, the Tiamat
existed in two parts barely linked by the wings. The midships area was gone, obliterated by the aether, and with it was a majority of the ship's mass. What remained was the aft of the vessel, with the greater mass of turrets and engines, and about 700 meters worth of the bow, which had far less mass.
The battleships around the Tiamat
lost their holds on the wreck. It took them several seconds to regain it, with the battleships holding the bow and aft pulling as hard as they could in reverse to slow down the much lighter ship.
Debris from the explosion ripped at them, and several smaller vessels were bashed out of commission when one of the massive turrets on the aft of the vessel came off and hit them. Yukari shouted for the joining bridges of material between aft and bow cut, and the smaller ships lashed out with their aether cannons to do so.
They succeeded with 15 seconds left. Both parts still were going 100 km/s, and the hulls of the pieces, and the rest of the fleet, began to glow orange from impacting Yamatai's atmosphere.
Yukari ground her teeth together when she saw the trajectory of where it would hit. "All vessels, fire on the aft piece! Destroy it!"
was the only vessel that did not fire, as it focused all of its energy on the bow piece. Aether blasts poured onto the aft of the ship that started to turn in the atmosphere. Made of Zesuaium and Yamataium, it did not catch fire, even as it was hit with aether. The shots nibbled at what was left of it, further cutting its mass, trying to reduce it down to where it could not —
Instead of white, the viewscreens of the fleet suddenly were full of red and orange and yellow, as the aft piece bubbled with explosions along its surface, then boomed
as it exploded just under the upper atmosphere. Thousands of glowing chunks soared out across the sky, bits of smoke trailing behind them. A couple larger pieces were expertly snagged by the battleships, who now looked as if they had been through multiple wars without even a touch-up — pockmarked hulls, nasty scores, torn armor and entire portions black from entering the atmosphere unshielded.
The bow was all that was left. Five seconds. Many of the Mokuren's
systems were going out. She could not slow the piece down anymore, and neither could anyone else. The bow piece, a splinter taller than most towers in Kyoto, was going to hit the planet.
Four seconds. Its speed was 5,400 m/s."BEAM OFF!"
she shouted. The Mokuren's
graviton beam died as the Yuumi
battleship suddenly shifted back toward the stars.
The crew's gaze remained on the bow piece as it headed toward Vela Prefecture.
Two seconds. 5,000 m/s.
Yukari bowed her head and prayed. Forgive us.Impact.