The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan

The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan by Jack Campbell Read Free Book Online

Book: The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan by Jack Campbell Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jack Campbell
fire control, they’ll also be going fast enough to complicate attempts to ram. Even a battleship is pretty tiny compared to the space around it.”
    He nodded, understanding where she was going with this. “If I had to make a wild guess based on my experience, I’d say maybe a fifty percent chance of a big enough piece of the destroyer getting through the defensive fire and striking the battleship.”
    “And if it’s two destroyers targeting each battleship?”
    “Pretty near certain, I’d guess.” He hunched forward, studying the situation again. “We need to start hitting them as far from the battleships as possible, but the farther ahead of the battleships our destroyers are, the more likely that they’ll get chopped up by the dark battle cruisers.”
    “What would Admiral Geary do?” she asked.
    He moved one hand to trace the movements of ships. “Send out several formations of destroyers and light cruisers to hit the flanks of the dark ships as they approach the defensive screen. I’d try to take out as many of the dark destroyers as possible before they reached the screen, and maybe cripple or destroy the heavy cruiser. So the dark ships will expect me to do that.” An idea came to him, causing his lips to form a cold smile. “But if those dark destroyers are going to accelerate to hit our battleships . . .”
    Desjani smiled back. “Yeah.”
    “Let’s set this up, Captain.”
    There was an undeniable sense of satisfaction in using the computer systems aboard
Dauntless
to swiftly come up with plans that would hopefully trip up the plans developed by the computer systems on the dark ships. Looking over the plan carefully, Geary nodded. “Captain Desjani, I need to talk to the battleship captains in the screen as well as the commanders of the destroyer and light-cruiser divisions.”
    Desjani gestured to the comm watch-stander, who hastily put together the conference message. “Ready, Captain. Circuit three.”
    “Thank you,” Geary said, touching the necessary comm control. A real-time conference was out of the question with the ships separated by at least twenty light-minutes. Any message sent to them on wings of light would still take twenty minutes to get there, and the replies would require another twenty minutes to cross back. There were few things more annoying than a conversation in which at least forty minutes separated everything said and each reply.
    “All units in the screening task force,” he began, “this is Admiral Geary. Your status updates indicate all of you have installed the software patch on all of your systems. It is critical that you keep those patches intact because otherwise all of your combat systems, sensor systems, and comm systems will be blinded to the dark ships and open to false messages.
    “You will have all seen the reports from Atalia. These ships are notas maneuverable as those of the enigmas, but they are better than our ships. They are also individually much more heavily armed than our ships. Do not underestimate them.
    “Captain Armus,” he addressed the commanding officer of the battleship
Colossus
, “it is likely that the dark ships will attempt to employ their five destroyers in suicide attacks on our battleships.” Was suicide attack the right term when it was an artificial intelligence that would “die”? “If the dark ships hold their current trajectory, I expect
Warspite
,
Vengeance
, and
Resolution
to be targeted, with two destroyers each going after two of the battleships and the remaining destroyer going after the third. We will attempt to hit those destroyers before they reach your screen.
    “I am transmitting maneuvering orders to you now. The screen will contract toward the contact point with the dark ships, but not by much because of the ability of the dark ships to outmaneuver us. Captain Armus, if we succeed in taking out the destroyers prior to contact, do what you can to cripple or damage the dark battle cruisers and the last

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