A pair of yashcheritsy appeared in the crowd ahead. When they saw Varouforos and Ippocampos, they leveled their weapons. Varouforos pushed Ippocampos behind a nearby stall and slid into cover with it.
Plasma packets shrieked past them. There was a lull, and Varouforos leaned out from behind the stall. He leveled his pistol, took careful aim, and squeezed the trigger. For the merest moment, a glowing blue line linked the muzzle and a yashcherit’s chest. A charred crater appeared in the latter and the lizard-man fell backward.
Varouforos shoved Ippocampos. “Move!”
Perun had begun his life some seven centuries ago as a state-of-the-art armored cruiser in the Imperial fleet. He was faster than a battleship of his era, and his void screens and hull plating were tough to crack even by modern standards.
Upon his entry into Varouforos’ service, the navarch had stripped out his broadside guns and torn deep into his structure. Now, his foredeck held three giant turrets which housed six enormous laser cannon, one shot from which could pierce deep into a planet’s crust, or gut a smaller ship altogether, if its screens had failed.
By most reckonings, Perun was a battleship, and few would argue that he was the most formidable man of war in private hands in this part of the galaxy. He might have taken six yashcherit raiders on his own, but the dozen facing him were too tall an order. The battle had moved away from the station as the yashcherit ships turned to prevent Perun crossing their sterns, then formed a line astern and opened fire on the battleship. Perun shot back. Their plasma guns melted through his screens in short order, soon setting to work on his hull. His plating yet held, though it glowed nearly white in places, and his gunners returned fire. His escorts stayed hidden behind his protective bulk, darting out to launch salvos of torpedoes.
Two of the raiders had fallen out of line already, glowing holes punched clean through them by Perun‘s main battery, but fresh ships simply moved into position and brought the battleship under fire. Numbers would soon begin to tell.
Adalric Ewart set up his command post half a stadion from the amphitheater, rounding up the first hundred troops to land to secure the area. So far, the yashcheritsy had about two thousand men at arms, as best Ewart could tell, and they had gotten some boats away before Perun got stuck in to stem the tide. The yashcherit numbers would double or triple before the day was done.
Ewart had expected as much. Ten thousand of his best men were coming across, with some of the heaviest weapons from Morana‘s arsenals. Most of the yashcherit landing craft were coming to the dome. Ewart had his comms man send word to his boats: most should breach the dome, some should hold off to respond to any moves the yashcheritsy made elsewhere.