Read The Star Cross: The Dark Invaders Online

Authors: Raymond L. Weil

Tags: #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Science Fiction, #Alien Invasion, #Colonization, #Exploration, #First Contact, #Galactic Empire, #Military, #Space Fleet, #Space Marine, #Space Opera, #Space Exploration

The Star Cross: The Dark Invaders

The Star Cross
: The Dark Invaders

(
The Star Cross Series
, Book 2)

By
Raymond
L. Weil

 

USA
Today Best Selling
Author

Books in The Star Cross Series

 

The Star Cross
(Book 1)

The Star Cross: The Dark Invaders
(Book 2)

 

Website:
http://raymondlweil.com/

 

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Facebook at Raymond L. Weil

 

 

Copyright © August 2016 by Raymond L.
Weil

All Rights Reserved

Cover Design by Humblenations.com

This
book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either
products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to
actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. All
rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted
in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the author.

 

The Star Cross:
The
Dark
Invaders

 

 

Chapter One

 

Fleet
Admiral Kurt Vickers waited tensely for the
Star Cross
to drop from hyperspace. On the tactical display, he saw the bright green icons
of the rest of his fleet accompanying the flagship. From a source on Kubitz, he
had learned of a Profiteer attack planned upon a helpless star system just 412 light-years
from Newton. If everything went according to plan, Kurt would drive off the
Profiteer ships and make that world an ally. It would also be extremely
gratifying to deprive the hated Profiteers from pilfering the wealth of the
system.

Nearly
fourteen months ago he had successfully driven the Profiteers from Earth, freeing
the planet. Unfortunately, as they withdrew, the Profiteers had nuked numerous
cities across the globe out of spite. Over forty million people died in the reprehensible
attack. While it wasn’t feasible to attack Marsten, the responsible Profiteer
world, due to its alliance with the Gothan Empire, Kurt could hinder their future
attacks upon unsuspecting and defenseless planets.

The
Profiteers made their money stripping the wealth from weaker worlds and selling
their inhabitants at the slave markets on Kubitz, a black market world deep in
the Gothan Empire. Kurt was determined to be a major thorn in their side
anytime the Profiteers ventured forth from their empire, particularly if it was
High Profiteer Creed.

“Hyperspace
dropout in six minutes,” Captain Andrew Randson calmly informed the admiral. “The
Profiteer fleet has just crossed the orbit of the sixth planet in the system
and is inbound to planet four.” The fleet was already at Condition Two with all
hands at their battle stations.

Kurt knew
from his sources that planet four held a humanoid race that had already reached
out and explored several nearby star systems. Their civilization was just
slightly behind Earth in its development. Unfortunately, like Earth before the
Profiteer attack, they had as of yet to encounter any other space-going
cultures.

“How many
ships?”

“Looks like
six battlecruisers and twelve escort cruisers,” Lieutenant Lena Brooks reported
from her sensor station. “Also about a dozen cargo ships with four more escort cruisers
are trailing the leading fleet.”

“Pirates,”
muttered Andrew, shaking his head in disgust. “We should drop in on their home
world and wipe them out, just like they did some of the cities on Earth.”

Kurt knew Andrew
was still bitter over the Profiteers taking his wife and daughter prisoner,
transporting them to the Gothan Empire and the deplorable planet Kubitz, where
anything and everything was for sale, a literal den of thieves. The Profiteers
had been training Andrew’s wife and daughter to sell as household servants,
when Andrew and Kurt had traveled to Kubitz and bought their freedom, as well
as the others taken from Earth.

“Are they
Marsten ships?” asked Kurt in a low voice.

Andrew had
mentioned several times about going to Marsten and dropping a few nukes in
revenge. Kurt knew Andrew wasn’t the only one to feel that way.

“Unknown,” answered
Lena, shaking her head as she narrowed her eyes, studying the data on her sensor
screen more closely. “We can’t identify the individual ships until we drop from
hyperspace and close the range.”

“Keep an eye
out for the
Ascendant Destruction
,” ordered Kurt in a colder voice. “If
it’s there, I want it destroyed.”

The
Ascendant
Destruction
was High Profiteer Creed’s ship, which had led the takeover of
Earth, and then Creed’s men had stripped the planet of much of its wealth. High
Profiteer Creed had ordered the nukes dropped on Earth as the Profiteers and
the Dacroni mercenaries fled the system. Kurt would never forget the sight,
seeing all the mushroom clouds rising above so many of Earth’s cities.

“Grantz swore
this was a Marsten Profiteer fleet,” Andrew said. He didn’t like Grantz, but
the former-Profiteer-turned-informant had his uses. “The
Ascendant
Destruction
could be here!”

“I hope it
is,” Kurt replied. It would be a huge morale booster if he could go back home
and report the pirate leader was dead.

“Four minutes
to hyperspace dropout,” Lieutenant Charles Styles reported from the Helm.

“All ships
are maintaining formation and should drop out oriented for combat,” added Andrew,
looking at the long-range sensor screen.

The
long-range sensors were capable of detecting ships in hyperspace. Their design
had originated in the Gothan Empire but had been modified for use on Earth and Newton warships.

Kurt took a
deep breath and activated his comm unit, which could put him in touch with any
ship in the fleet, even in hyperspace, as long as they were nearby. “Rear
Admiral White, is the
Ranger
ready for its first combat mission?” The
Ranger
was the new heavy carrier built at Newton Station. It had all the most modern
weapons and incorporated numerous design upgrades to make her the most deadly
ship in her class.

“We’re
ready,” answered Rear Admiral Susan White. “Our Lance fighters and Scorpion
bombers are ready to launch. Fighters are armed with Thors, and bombers are
armed with two Hydra missiles each.”

“Keep in mind
we have two priority targets, the
Ascendant Destruction
—if it’s here—and
capturing those cargo ships.”

Kurt intended
to make the Profiteers pay dearly for this little venture of theirs. This would
be his first opportunity, since driving them from Earth, to hit them where it
hurt—in their accumulation of credits. The Profiteers did everything based on
how many credits they could earn on their raids. Kurt was determined to make
this raid a financial disaster, costing the Profiteers as many credits as
possible.

On the sensor
screen, twelve planets were now distinct orbs.

“What do we
know about this system?” asked Andrew.

Kurt knew Andrew
had gotten some of the basics from an earlier briefing, but he probably wondered
if Kurt had any additional information. Since a lot of what they knew came from
Grantz, Kurt and Andrew felt uneasy fully trusting it. As everyone realized, Grantz
was primarily interested in one thing and one thing only: acquiring more gold!

Kurt leaned
back in his command chair. They still had a few minutes before dropout. “It has
twelve planets with planet number four inhabited by a race very similar to
Humans. They’ve explored several of the nearer star systems but haven’t
encountered any alien or other humanoid civilizations.”

“Well, that’s
about to change,” muttered Andrew with a frown. “What about their space fleet?”

“Supposedly
they have a few armed ships but not many.”

“Any bases or
colonies on the moons or other planets in their system?”

Kurt frowned
and shook his head. “We don’t know. All Grantz learned was that a group of
Marsten Profiteers had discovered a new humanoid world which they intended to
exploit. We’re here to stop them and extract a little revenge.”

“One minute
to dropout,” spoke Lieutenant Styles.

Kurt nodded
and then announced over his ship-to-ship comm, “All ships, set Condition One
and prepare for imminent combat.”

-

Immediately
the alarm klaxons sounded, and red lights flashed. On various ships of Kurt’s
fleet, crews prepared for combat, hoping that finally they would get revenge on
the Profiteers who had so mortally damaged their home planet. Iron cold eyes watched
the viewscreens, and white-knuckled hands were poised above the controls. In
the fighters and bombers on board the
Ranger
, pilots sat in their
cockpits, their eyes focused straight ahead, waiting for the signal to launch.

Suddenly the
minute passed, and the fourteen ships of Fleet Admiral Vickers’s task force
dropped from hyperspace into the Julbian System. Four battlecruisers, one heavy
carrier, two light carriers, and seven light cruisers were ready to meet the
Profiteers in combat.

-

Alarms sounded
on the sensor console, and several red lights flashed. “Sensor contacts,”
reported Lieutenant Brooks, as red threat icons appeared on her screen.
“Confirmed six Profiteer battlecruisers and twelve escort cruisers in the lead
fleet. The second fleet comprises twelve cargo ships and four escort cruisers.”

“The
Ascendant
Destruction
?” asked Kurt, his eyes focused intently on Lieutenant Brooks.

Lena nodded as she turned to look at the admiral. “It’s here!”

Kurt let out
a deep and satisfying breath. “All ships, the
Ascendant Destruction
has
been detected. Primary targets are the cargo ships and the
Ascendant
Destruction
. One month’s leave to the ship that kills that bastard!”

Across the
fleet, the gazes of the commanding officers grew determined. Here was the ship
and the Profiteer leader who had killed tens of millions of Humans in the
nuclear bombardment of Earth. There was no thought of mercy; the Profiteers,
due to their callousness, deserved none.

“Rear Admiral
White, your job is to capture the cargo ships and annihilate those four escort cruisers.
The battlecruiser
Trinity
will assist you. Captain Watkins, you have
command of both light carriers. I want as many of those escort cruisers as possible
taken out. You have the light cruisers
Alton
,
Sydney
, and
Dallas
to assist. The rest of us will go after the Profiteer battlecruisers and the
Ascendant
Destruction
. Good luck and good hunting.”

-

In space, the
Human fleet broke up into three attack formations. From the three carriers, all
fighters and bombers launched while the main portion of the fleet raced toward
the Profiteer battlecruisers with weapons primed and revenge in their sights.

-

“Sensor
contacts!” called out Third Profiteer Bixt from his sensor station on the
Profiteer flagship. “They just dropped from hyperspace behind us.”

“Another
Profiteer fleet moving in on our territory,” rumbled Second Profiteer Lantz,
showing anger in his eyes. Lantz was bipedal and slightly taller than a Human.
His skin was a light-blue color with coarse white hair on his head. His face,
while humanoid, had larger-than-normal eyes. “How did our destination leak
out?”

“Contact that
fleet and see who dares to intrude on us,” ordered High Profiteer Creed angrily.
“We have a signed contract with the Controllers on Kubitz, claiming this world
as ours to exploit. There will be stiff penalties if another Profiteer clan is
attempting to infringe on our rights.”

The sensor
operator’s eyes suddenly widened, and his face turned pale. “They are not
Profiteer ships. They’re Human!”


Plhtup
!”
swore Creed, turning toward the sensor operator in disbelief. “Are you certain
of that?” This had to be Fleet Admiral Vickers. Creed knew he should have
killed the admiral when he had the chance.

“Yes, they’ve
already launched their small attack craft and are moving rapidly into weapons
range.”

“The Humans
seek to destroy us for what we did to their world,” said Second Profiteer Lantz
fearfully. “We must withdraw. There is no profit to be made here if we engage
the Humans.”

Still Creed
hesitated. Since the Humans had driven his fleet and the Dacroni mercenary
ships from Earth, Creed had been searching for a new world to exploit. This
humanoid-inhabited planet in the Julbian System, while not as rich as Earth, would
have served as a reasonable replacement. Its women would sell well in the slave
markets on Kubitz for use in the pleasure houses, and the men would be ideal
for hard labor. Now the Humans threatened to ruin everything. Creed regretted
not bringing a few mercenary ships with him. He had opted to save a few credits,
and now that decision might prove costly.

“They’re
attacking our cargo ships,” cried out Second Profiteer Lantz, as he saw several
small explosions on one of the viewscreens on the front wall of the Command Center. The cargo ships didn’t have energy shields and were vulnerable to attack.
Those ships were expensive, and he could already see his profits plummeting from
this venture.

Creed snapped
out of his thoughts to save his fleet. He could always find other worlds to
conquer and strip them of their wealth. Better to preserve his fleet and return
home. “Order all ships to jump into hyperspace and return to Marsten.”

-

Strike Commander
Captain William Anders felt the power in his Scorpion bomber as he streaked
toward his target, a large Profiteer cargo ship. “All bombers, target the engineering
compartments. We want to disable the hyperdrives so they can’t jump out.”

Around him,
the nine other small bombers in his squadron were formed up in a diamond
formation. “As soon as we get within range, split up and target the cargo ships
designated Big Momma and Big Poppa. I don’t want to see either of them jumping
to safety.” Captain Anders knew that other bombers were targeting the other
cargo ships.

The bombers
flew in, facing no resistance as the escort cruisers were busy with the fighters
and the battlecruiser
Trinity
. Two hundred small attack craft had been
launched by the
Ranger
. One hundred and twenty Lance fighters and eighty
Scorpion bombers were inbound toward the Profiteer vessels. The bombers were primarily
targeting the cargo ships, and the fighters were headed for the escort
cruisers.

A pinging
noise on the flight console in front of Captain Anders indicated a target lock
on the large cargo ship he was approaching. Pressing a button on his flight
control panel, a Hydra missile dropped away from the bomber’s wing and headed
swiftly toward its target.

“Missile
away!” yelled pilot Lieutenant Davis over the squadron comm channel.

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