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By the Horns (Chapter Cover Art)

Chapter 15 - By the Horns[]

Taurian Concordat Navy GuardShip Titan
Local Space, Taurus System
Taurian Concordat
October 24th, 3025

“Most impressive,” Helena Vickers commented to Space Master Liam Zahra as the tour of the twenty-five thousand ton Assault DropShip came to a close. “But I understand that there are just two of them in the entire TCN? Is that correct?”

“Yes, Marshal Vickers,” Liam replied crisply. “Several years ago we captured two Behemoth-class cargo ships from pirates,” and the Space Master smiled as he patted one of the structural bulkheads. “We can’t produce those ships—but we know how to work welders and cutting torches. Our engineers sliced this thing down to size and managed to make it the most heavily armed DropShip known to exist today,” then he sighed. “But, as you said, there are just two of them and we can’t make any more. I reckon, though, that they will provide your WarShip with sufficient protection until we get you fixed up.”

Helena shook her head, at both the audacity of the ship she was aboard and her newly bestowed rank of Marshal—she had always been a fighting officer, and those promoted to Marshal were mostly stuck behind desks. But Thomas had insisted—and now she was the senior officer of the entire Taurian Concordat Navy. What little there was of it.

“Forty-eight Class Two autocannons?” blurted Daniel Stiles. “Why in God’s name would you do that?”

Liam laughed. “You still aren’t getting the loss of technology we suffered—for this time, the Class Two AC is the longest-ranged weapon system available. Does a pittance of damage, but forty-eight of will still give ASF fits—and tear apart the armor of any DropShip out there. And that is the just the long-range ballistic guns, Commander. We also carry four ASF of our own, plus eighteen Class Five ACs, a dozen Class Tens, a half-dozen Class Twenty, a dozen LRM launcher, twenty-four PPCs and Large Lasers, eighteen Medium Lasers, a dozen SRM launchers; not to mention the thirty Small Lasers and forty-eight Machine-Guns installed for point-defense!”

“Exactly,” said Helena. “They did the best they could, Dan—and it is a remarkable piece of engineering. 6-G’s max thrust, you said?”

“Yes, Marshal, slimming this girl down to twenty-five thousand tons from one hundred made her one of the fastest ships in space—and left enough room to give her as much armor as many a Star League cruiser!”

“And you’ve still got your docking gear?” Helena asked.

Liam grinned broadly. “Aye. And according to the Protector, both Titan and Goliath are going to be assigned to the Saucy Sam when she gets all of repairs done; after all, after detaching the Red Hand, you’ve got two free collars.”

“They’re assault boats from Hell, ma’am,” Stiles muttered. “Damn, what I would have given for a dozen of these during the War.”

Helena nodded with a grim smile. So many things were so different today—the backwards technology and ideas of limited warfare . . . but then there were exceptions. The TCN of her day would never have spent funds on a 25,000 ton displacement DropShip—not when it needed raw ship numbers. But this design had definite possibilities. And those Hyper-Pulse Generators that she had been told were run by ComStar . . . she winced as she thought of the wacky pseudo-religion that had sprung up in the fall of the Star League. In her day, there had been no FTL comm; just what a courier ship could jump. What might have Marshal Santos been able to accomplish if he had these HPGs? And a government willing to carve up and rebuild entire DropShips to suit their needs instead of trying to build them from the ground up—lacking the knowledge to make the necessary drive systems?

Still, she thought to herself. I don’t like the idea of someone else handling our mail—it was far too tempting to imagine that they didn’t read it. Human nature being what it was, she would have been shocked if this ComStar actually did pass along messages without sneaking a peek—but she was certain that they took that peek. The biggest question was, though . . . what did they do with that information?

Information was power—and ComStar had a tremendous amount of power at its fingertips. What’s their game, she thought?

“Marshal Vickers? Space Master Zahra?” the GuardShips XO interrupted. “There is priority request from Samantha City for the Marshal and her staff to return immediately to the surface. From the Office of the Protector to be exact,” he concluded.

“Very well, prep my shuttle for immediate launch,” Helena ordered. “Space Master Zahra—an excellent inspection. I cannot wait to see this ship and her sister in action.”

“Thank you, Marshal. I’ll pass that along to my crew.”


“Yes, ma’am,” her XO and chief of staff said as he held open the hatch to the bridge.

Author's Note
The Goliath-class GuardShip is one of the designs that I have made. It is based on the Behemoth-class DropShip and is ALL level 1 tech. (i.e., 3025-era tech).

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