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Yorktown [V3 final]

This is a massively reworked repost. The original has been posted a couple of weeks ago. I reworked it several times so it bears little connection to the original.




Chapter 1: First Blood

Admiral Tosomo of the Heraldry fleet tightened his safety belt one last time in the command room aboard the 'Fist of the Six Kingdoms'. Moments later, his fleet dropped out of warp, catching the unprepared Terran Proxima Fleet off guard. A cunning attack on the warp inhibitors allowed his fleet to strike directly at the heart of the enemy's main fleet base. Just five minutes earlier, the Empire of the Hundred Suns had officially declared war on the Terran Federation.

Tosomo began issuing orders from his prepared checklist. Everything was going according to plan so far. "Launch all bombers, followed by the fighters! Rail-guns, target their launch bays! Prevent their drones and fighters from launching!"

A rain of death and destruction descended upon the unprepared base, causing ships to explode and turning the battle into a one-sided massacre. However, Tosomo felt unsatisfied as half of the expected enemy fleet was nowhere to be seen, particularly the heavy carriers. Nevertheless, he had managed to lay ruin to a third of the coreward Terran fleet.

"My Lord," a young officer reported with a polite salute, "a fleet is approaching at high speed. Seven carriers and twenty-eight support destroyers. They have already deployed their drones and are advancing in full battle readiness!"

Surprised, Admiral Tosomo felt his neck fur bristle. Some enemies had not only managed to avoid complete annihilation, but they had also regrouped quickly for a counter-attack!

With his own troops running low on ammunition and out of position, Tosomo ordered an orderly withdrawal. Most of his objectives had been achieved, and now it was time to minimize losses.

"All fighters and bombers, disengage and break contact!” Tosomo commanded, “Wings still armed with anti-ship weapons, delay the enemy fleet as much as possible. Your bravery will be honored in the afterlife. All other wings, fall back to the nearest carrier. To all fleet ships: prepare for an orderly withdrawal."

As the Imperial fleet aligned for the withdrawal, two wings of heavy bombers headed towards the approaching Terran fleet, ready to meet the honorable death of an Imperial knight. Out of the 26 Imperial bombers, 21 were destroyed by the drones, SHORAD, and CIWS of the Terran fleet. Four bombers rammed into support destroyers, reducing them to molten wrecks, while one hit the bridge of the light carrier Yorktown, causing her to lose control and break formation, with fires raging on half of her decks.

With most of their objectives fulfilled, the Imperial Fleet departed, leaving behind burning wrecks and ruins, marking the beginning of the second interstellar war against the Terran Federation.


Chapter 2: To Victory

"You have performed admirably, Heraldry Admiral Tosomo," praised the Emperor personally during the audience, commending Tosomo for his remarkable success. It been just three weeks ago since the significant blow to the Terran Federation, with only 26 bombers lost while eliminating the most significant obstacle in the campaign to gain control of the Centauri system.

"Thank you, Your Highness," Tosomo replied, "May your light shine upon your knights and your shadow fall upon your enemies."

On the sidelines, the Emperor's sycophants and courtiers rejoiced at the imminent victory. However, Tosomo remained silent, accepting the praise while knowing that the battle was far from over.

And no sooner had he left the throne room than his adjutant approached him with grave news.

"My Lord, a ragtag fleet has just attacked supply outpost seventeen. The enemy fleet consisted of two light carriers with four destroyers for support. The leading carrier was the Yorktown."

Again, Tosomo felt the fur on the back of his neck stand up. The Yorktown... she was supposed to be a wreck. The bridge, the sensors—everything had been destroyed, akin to a decapitation by a sword. He had witnessed the fires raging below deck. Impossible.

He straighten up. "Prepare the second detachment. I will personally deal with the Yorktown."

One month later, Tosomo stood on the command deck of the 'Fist of the Six Kingdoms' once again. And there, facing him, was the Yorktown. She bore the scars of her previous battle but had been mostly repaired. A new tower, new sensors, new drones. She had not perished last time. But today, she would meet her end.

The enemy fleet was headed to join the main fleet, with the Imperial Fleet hot on their tail. The knights in their fighters and bombers closed in, overwhelming the main defenses of the enemy fleet. They fell swiftly, but not without a brutal fight. Only the Yorktown remained, her drones assembled around her, her flight deck riddled with holes, her guns glowing hot. She defiantly withstood the relentless assault of a superior enemy for another moment.

Finally Tosomo saluted the valiant ship as her engine exploded, tearing apart her aft section. She had fought bravely, but it had been a matter of honor for Tosomo to be the one to end her. He had gambled high to achieve his goal. Perhaps too high. Not only had he lost one wing of his best pilots to the enemy, but now his other five wings were dangerously low on fuel. The Terran Fleet's main force was closing in rapidly, their spearhead wings already engaging the depleted Imperial wings.

Tosomo decided to cut his losses and ordered the three most distant wings to die in honor while directing his fleet to retreat to safety. As his fleet disappeared into the darkness of deep space, the Yorktown continued to burn brightly while the Terran main fleet annihilated the remaining Imperial stragglers.


Chapter 3: Waypoint Station

Tosomo personally welcomed the replacement pilots aboard his fleet. Word had spread about the Yorktown, a mysterious ghost ship returning from the dead to haunt the living.

"You are following in the footsteps of the Empire's most honorable knights. We Knights strike hard, we knights strike fast, we knights hunt down our enemies without mercy. Do not believe the enemy's lies about the ghost ship. I personally witnessed her destruction. She is no more. Let the story of the Yorktown serve as a warning to our enemies that we never allow them to escape after shedding our blood."

He looked into the faces of the young recruits. They looked green, insecure. Those weren’t the elite knights he had to sacrifice to hunt down the Yorktown. But they would have to suffice for now. They would have to do for the upcoming campaign to capture Way-Point Station. A rotten dirt ball in the middle of nowhere, but also the most important resupply outpost within four light years.

Three months later his fleet dropped from warp, far away from Way-Point station. Eight heavy carriers, twelve battleships, sixty smaller escort ships. The Terran Warp-Scramblers were plenty and powerful, so this was the closest he could get to the outpost. He couldn't even determine the exact location of the enemy fleet, but he knew they faced the same challenge. The Imperial Fleet burned their engines hot to create distance from the warp exit point. Scouts raced off into the dark, fighters formed defensive screens around the fleet, and bombers prepared for action. After three days of stalking in the darkness, the scouts had reported only minimal enemy activity towards Way-Point Station.

The overall absence of enemy presence suggested that the station had no fleet defending it. Tosomo ordered his fleet to advance towards the station, preparing for planetary bombardment. From a safe distance, he launched his bombers and escort fighters, ready to surprise the station as he had done months ago against the Proxima base.

However, with his wings just halfway to the enemy base all hell broke lose! Several enemy scouts appeared from a different direction than the enemy base! Impossible! But what if the enemy fleet was nearby? Did both fleets pass each other just out of sensor range?

Tosomo immediately called back all fighters and bombers. He hastily launched his fighter reserve for fleet defense, urgently needed space in his hangars to accommodate the returning bombers, had to refit them for fleet operation, all while his flight decks were in utter chaos.

Just as he completed the reconfiguration, enemy bombers appeared on the sensors—six wings, a massive fleet. That was the complete complement of a heavy carrier! How could he have missed such a significant target?

His reserve fighters barely managed in time to engage the Terran bombers in a brutal fight and eventually emerged victorious. Meanwhile, his bombers and fighters returned from their interrupted assault on Way-Point Station, causing a bottleneck on the landing deck. Fighter after fighter, bomber after bomber waited for their landing clearance, resulting in overcrowding and confusion, several wings needing ammunition or armed with the wrong ammunition

Tosomo made the decision to reconfigure half of his fighters for fleet defense while refitting the other fighters and all bombers for anti-ship combat. He had just dispatched his first bomber wing to the suspected location of the enemy when the sirens blared again—more bombers were approaching from Way-Point Station!

The green fighters of his reserve wing attacked the enemy straight forward and without fear. And sure they won but by paying a terrible price in blood.


Chapter 4: A rock and a hard place

Just when Tosomo thought he would get a break another wing approached from another direction – there was only one sane conclusion: His fleet was trapped between two fleets and Way-point Station! They could attack from three sides at will. Unbeknownst to Tosomo, the last wing had been mistakenly sent in the wrong direction and was now returning with its fuel dangerously low, inadvertently stumbling upon the Imperial fleet.

His half refitted bombers and fighters filled his hangers, his fleet was essentially not combat-ready. Whatever was combat ready he threw into the meat grinder, several unorganized fighters from several ships joined the fray – within minutes, hundreds of fighters and bombers darted on fiery lances in the endless dark, tracer rounds drew lines across the darkness, explosions flashed through the sky. Even Tosomo struggled to keep up with the fierce fighting happening so close to his fleet.

Amidst the chaos a single enemy bomber slipped through and went straight for the open hangar bay of the heavy carrier ‘Spirit of the Ancestors’. The carriers guns spat fire and death towards the intruder, damaging him but not stopping him. The bomber crashed into the hanger, full of armed ships, full of ammunition. What happened next was a fierce flash as the ‘Spirit of the Ancestors’ was simply vaporized from internal explosions!

Tosomo slumped back in his seat, horrified by the sudden loss of one of his most valuable ships. His fleet was trapped, and the enemy continued to relentlessly attack. The Terrans had already lost seven full wings, yet another wing appeared on the sensors.

Finally a scout reported the location of one of the enemies fleets.

Six carriers. Two heavy carriers, four light carriers. Among them...

The Yorktown!

Bearing even more scars from her last battles. However, still she was moving under full power, riding on bright flames towards Tosomos fleet! Where he had seen her old engines explode, new pristine engines drove her forward, out of hell towards him, driven by a thirst for revenge. She unleashed fighters, bombers, and drones without end, accompanied by her fellow ships. Seven more wings were heading towards Tosomo's fleet, and there could be even more.

Tosomo gave the order to launch any armed fighter and bomber, regardless of their fitting. He sent the ground attack bombers against Way-Point Station and two formations of anti-ship bombers against the two fleets, against the fleet he successfully scouted, and the one he mistakenly believed to exits but was just the single enemy wing having lost its way. It was a last gamble before the hammer would come down on him.

When the Terran fighters and Imperial bombers engaged above Tosomo's fleet, it turned into a massacre. For the first time, the Imperials suffered significant losses and became increasingly disorganized. A random anti-ship missile struck another carrier, causing it to lose power. An enemy fighter pursued an Imperial fighter near Tosomo's flagship – the carriers CIWS made quick work of the Terran fighter but also of the Imperial fighter, both crashing into Tosomos ship. One hit the engines, while the other crashed so close to the bridge that the bridge decompressed, causing all systems to go offline.

Tosomo found himself hurled through the bridge, surrounded by debris. His adjutant was impaled by a steel bar, and Tosomo briefly lost consciousness. When he regained awareness, two ensigns were dragging him to a shuttle and informed him they were abandoning ship and transferring to the battleship 'Worlds on Fire.' Just as he boarded the shuttle, a massive explosion rocked the carrier, and through the hangar shields, he witnessed the 'Valiant Victory' drifting, ablaze and leaking atmosphere—another heavy carrier lost.

Upon reaching his new command deck on the 'Worlds on Fire,' he surveyed the losses. Out of the eight heavy carriers, four were completely lost. Two were burning but salvageable. The enemy fighters and bombers were retreating after suffering heavy losses. His own fighters still were so numerous that he didn’t even have space to land them on his last two carriers, not to mention the many bombers operating in the deepness of space.

Meanwhile, his bombers had reached Way-Point Station and commenced bombing empty hangars, depleted ammunition depots, and half empty fuel depots. A pointless operation, Way-Point Station was just an empty shell after having dealt massive damage to his fleet.

Shortly after this Pyrrhic victory, the anti-ship wings Tosomo had launched earlier finally encountered the enemy carrier group. Two Terran fighter wings met them face on and Tosomos bombers melted away like snow in the summer sun, under the combined fire of the fleet and the fighters. However, an Imperial wing managed to break through the Terran line, firing their ordinance at the Terran fleet, resulting in the destruction of several support ships and direct hits on three carriers. Among them, the Yorktown suffered significant damage, losing its main maneuver thrusters and spiraling out of control.

With no place to retreat, the Imperial bombers received the final order from Tosomo: fight to the death. The Yorktown. He realized how much of a symbol she had become. A symbol which he intended to destroy, no matter the costs. Out of spite, he ordered his doomed wings to focus their attacks on the Yorktown.

The battle around the Terran fleet intensified as they valiantly defended the Yorktown. Despite the Terrans efforts, the Imperial bombers managed to strike the Yorktown seven more times until she finally broke in two, her keel shattered and her gut spilling into space.

Tis was good. The Yorktown was no more. A flawed but personal victory for Tosomo.

He immediately ordered his fleet to retreat, but it was not an orderly withdrawal. It was a desperate run for their lives. He left behind the wreckage of four carriers, two battleships, and six escort ships. Compared to his initial strength, only one-third of the fighters and bombers managed to squeeze into the remaining hangars, leaving a quarter of them behind with no room to land. They had no choice but to fight to the end, devoid of ammunition and fuel. They refused to surrender, and the Terran fleet simply waited for them to suffocate in the dark, cold void of space.


Chapter 5: The Ghost Ship

"So you have finally brought the Emperor's justice upon the Yorktown, Heraldry Admiral Tosomo."

Tosomo couldn't ignore the slight insecurity in the Emperor's voice, though he would never mention that publicly.

"Yes, Your Highness. She is no more. She broke in two. We haven't seen her for six months. She is gone."

Since the Battle of Way-Point Station, the Imperial fleet had been force into defense, and at Tosomo's request, he was now overseeing the fleet's rebuilding.

The Emperor waved his hand, and a hologram of a battle appeared in the middle of the room.

"Then explain this to me."

The Yorktown! Her flight deck ablaze! She was sailing without power above the burning Imperial colony of Oshtay Prime, surrounded by Terran and Imperial wrecks. The Terrans had rebuilt her AGAIN! The damaged midsection was visibly replaced with a new one, made from a different material. She had even gotten larger through this repair, now easily classifying as a medium assault carrier.

"My Lord, this cannot be true! I saw her... but... it is her! I recognize her scars! It is the Yorktown again! My Lord, I have no excuse for my failure."

"This is getting out of hand," thundered the Emperor. "The Empire is becoming alarmed by the rampant myths surrounding this insignificant ship. Even the children fear the undying Yorktown."

Tosomo didn't dare to look at the Emperor as his voice boomed through the hall.

"I, Emperor Yaday the 19th, command you to restore your honor by putting an end to this insult to our might once and for all. Dismissed."

Etiquette demanded that Tosomo remain silent and depart the hall, his face bowed in shame. Thankfully, this concealed his horrified expression from the Emperor.


Chapter 6: Undying

It happened again. At the battle of Leifstein the Yorktown showed up again. Bearing scars all over her hull she engaged in a one-on-one battle with Tosomo’s heavy carrier. She ultimately lost but managed to ram her burning hulk into a nearby Imperial battleship. Then Tosomo was then forced to order his fleet to fall back to avoid being flanked by the Terran main fleet.

Just two days later, Tosomo witnessed the badly damaged Yorktown escorting a troop carrier, using her SHORAD and CIWS systems to protect the troops during their landing. The bow of the Yorktown was mostly gone, ripped away, exposing her interior structure. Although unable to function as a carrier, her guns proved effective in suppressing the imperial ground forces. In the end, the Yorktown crash-landed alongside the troop carrier, and her crew joined the ground assault. As a result, the Imperial fleet had to break orbit after losing their ground-to-orbit cover.

Following a brutal six-week slaughter, the colony fell. The Emperor's personal order was for his troops to fight to the last drop of blood, demonstrating to the Terrans the high cost of further incursions into Imperial territory. Thus, his troops perished while fulfilling their duty. Out of nearly three million Imperial soldiers, fewer than 300 survived. The toll on the Terran side was also significant, but their war machine, now running at full steam, showed little sign of slowing down.

Four weeks later, the Yorktown reappeared, hastily patched together but already operating at 80% efficiency. While patrolling supply lines, she encountered an Imperial fleet detachment and rescued an Amazonax Super Freighter from certain destruction. Facing an Imperial light carrier and two escort ships, the commanders on both sides stared each other down for a minute before the Terran Captain transmitted his laughter via radio to his enemy and ordered the attack on the superior force.

The Imperial ships' final transmission reported a burning escort ship, one escort ship dishonoring itself by fleeing with dozens of fighters in pursuit, and the Yorktown ramming her nose directly into the bridge of the Imperial carrier. The Yorktown had been leaking atmosphere even before the ramming operation, so her crew was as good as dead. The next day, Terran news reported the successful boarding and capture of the imperial light carrier by the Yorktown's crew—an unprecedented feat in the age of space combat!

When the Terran fleet reached the last world before the Imperial planetopolis two months later, it was hardly a fair fight. The Imperial ships were in dire shape, with even their vac-doors failing to seal properly due to a lack of spare parts. For every Imperial ship there were three Terran ship, for every Imperial fighter there were five Terran fighters, for every Imperial bombers there were three Terran bombers, twice the size of the Imperial ones.

The battle commenced with the Yorktown flanking the enemy and launching waves of bombers at the Imperial supply ships. The results were devastating for the Imperial force. What was expected to be a months-long siege was reduced to a battle lasting days before supplies ran out. Sure, the Yorktown got punished hard—railguns and torpedoes tore open her portside, she began to tumble and slowly descend into the atmosphere, trailed by dozens of enemy and friendly fighters and bombers locked in combat. When she crashed into the south pole's ice, she lost her bridge once again, broke her keel, and half of her decks burned out. Nevertheless, her surviving crew held out in the grim cold isolation for three weeks until rescue arrived.

The last Imperial transmission from the world of 'Gods Praise' depicted heavy Terran carriers towing the wreckage of the Yorktown into the newly conquered Imperial docks for repairs. The Yorktown had become an almost unrecognizable heap of junk and twisted metal.

For the first time, Imperial forces surrendered en masse on the ground and in orbit. When the Imperial knights were asked about their surrender, many claimed they were afraid of the undead ship. That they believed they couldn't fight an enemy that returned ceaselessly from the afterlife to fulfill her duty.


Chapter 7: Endgame

The palace of Emperor Yaday the 19th shook under heavy shock waves. The end was nigh; it was obvious to everyone except the Emperor. The Terran fleet darkened the sky and swiftly overwhelmed the orbital defenses. The once honorable knights of the Empire still stood before the enemy, but they were so few in number, most knights now were fearful youngsters, hastily conscripted, filled with doubt and fear. They surrendered in droves.

Heraldry Admiral Tosomo stared down the Imperial bodyguards.

"Let me in. This is your final warning," he commanded.

The last of the Emperor's bodyguards stood at gunpoint, facing Tosomo's personal knights.

"We cannot. We have sworn an oath," one replied as they reached for their swords.

"Very well. May the gods honor your loyalty. I will not."

Tosomo waved his hand, and his knights gunned down the Emperor's bodyguards. Without wasting a second, they broke through the door to the throne room, surrounding the Emperor without an Empire, their guns pointed at him.

"Put an end to this madness NOW!" Tosomo barked.

"You are betraying your oath, subordinate!"

Tosomo held up a communication device, displaying the face of a human admiral.

"I am Grand Admiral Wilhelm Praetorius the Elder, commander of the allied Terran Fleets. We are prepared for a full-scale invasion of your last world. Your game is over. Save face and salvage what remains of your Empire. Surrender now."

"Never!" Yaday defiantly cried out.

"Then we will send the Yorktown after you. She witnessed the beginning of this war and will witness its end. This frequency will remain open until she arrives."

Tosomo had reached his breaking point. He stormed forward, grabbed his Emperor by the collar, held a gun against his head, and dragged him toward the balcony.

"Look at what you have brought upon your Empire! Upon your Heir! Upon your people!"

A distant light in the sky gradually descended and accelerated, leaving behind a trail of smoke and fire. It seemed to move slowly, but that was an illusion; the object was simply far away and immense. Slowly, the light grew brighter, the flames surrounding it became more distinct, and its shape began to take form. The flames receded, and the silhouette became recognizable—it was the Yorktown, heading straight for the palace!

"They wouldn't dare!" cried Yaday.

"Think, you fool!" shouted Tosomo. "Your Heir is in this very palace. Your entire family is in this city! You have mere moments to save your family, your dynasty!"

The Yorktown thundered above the roofs of the peasant quarters. Windows shattered and roofs collapsed from the powerful shockwave. It was now evident that she was a crude patchwork of different metal plates, a wounded and vengeful monster. Nevertheless, Yaday remained resolute.

Tosomo took a deep breath. These might be his final words in this world.

"Yaday, do you understand what will happen when the Yorktown arrives? Your dynasty will perish, and the Yorktown will be repaired to sail the stars once more. Do you want to grant a piece of junk the honor of ending an 80-generation heraldic line? Do you?"

Yaday realized the gravity of these words. He twitched briefly in shock, grabbed the communicator, the bow of the fast approaching Yorktown now casting a colossal shadow over the Imperial gardens before him.

“I surrender! Stop her! Stop the Yorktown!”

With those words spoken, the reverse thrusters of the Yorktown engaged. A tempest roared through the gardens, uprooted trees, shattered windows, raised a cloud of dust across the palace. Yaday and Tosomo were blown off their feet, fell backward into the throne hall. Yet, the Yorktown continued moving forward.

She grew larger and larger, dominating the sky. Her bow loomed higher than the Imperial palace. The storm transformed into a hurricane, shaking the very foundations of the Empire. The cries of Yaday and Tosomo were drowned out by the deafening hurricane.

Then, silence.

Tosomo peered out to the balcony. All he could see was the bow of the Yorktown, obstructing the view of the outside world. The ship that had hunted him for years, the ship that refused go down. She stood unmoving for a moment, hovering above the garden, her bow so close to the balcony that Tosomo could almost touch her. Then, she descended a few feet and sank into the soft grass of the imperial garden. And never moved again.

For the first time, Tosomo didn't see the Yorktown as an enemy. She was a noble warrior who had reached the end of her duty. And laid down her sword without question when her fight was over. She bore countless scars. Tosomo examined her armor. Made from the hulls of her slain adversaries—the 'Fist of the Six Kingdoms,' the 'Valiant Victory,' the 'King's Honor,' the 'Protector of the Light'. And so many more. Not a single piece of her hull originated from Terran forges after all those battles.

He took a step closer, reached out, and briefly touched the still-hot hull.

"May you find peace now, my honorable adversary.” he whispered.

“May we all find safety from your wrath."