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This Day in Science Fiction History: 11 August

Fictional Entry—Thursday, August 11, 3774 (1672 PD)

Cover art from “A Call to Arms”
Heavily damaged HMS Nike attacking pirates (© Baen 2015)

After the battle of Trautman’s Star in the Silesian Confederacy, Commodore Edward Saganami’s anti-pirate force was reduced by six vessels. Both the HMS Defiant and HMS Triumph had been outright destroyed and the damage to HMS Agamemnon, HMS Mars, HMS Swiftsure, and HMS Victorious was bad enough the ships had to return to Manticore for repairs.

Commodore Saganami dispersed the remainder of his ships to act as escorts for the merchant vessels in the area. The HMS Nike, Saganami’s own command ship, acted as an escort for a six ship convoy led by RMMS Prince Harold.

During a navigation stop in the Carson system, a pirate fleet consisting of a heavy cruiser, a battlecruiser division, and a destroyer division attacked the convoy. Severely outmatched, Saganami ordered the merchant ships to disperse and make a run for Carson’s hyper-limit and transition.

Prince Harold’s captain, Captain James Hargood, pleaded with the Commodore to join them. Saganami feared that if he did not decisively engage the pirates, several of the merchant vessels would be captured or destroyed. He refused to join the convoy in fleeing and instead ordered his ship to attack.

Nike turned toward the enemy fleet and bore into missile range. The pirates had more than four times Saganami’s firepower, but that didn’t deter the Commodore. Starting at extreme range, Nike fired missile after missile into the enemy fleet. The missile engagement lasted forty minutes.

As the range closed, Nike added laser broadsides to the missile mix. The first ship directly engaged was a destroyer. After being hit with a laser broadside from Nike, the ship’s wedge fluctuated, and a single missile destroyed it.

Nike accounted for two more destroyers before shifting weapons to focus on the heavy cruiser. A barrage of missiles managed to wreck the cruiser’s impellers. However, Nike was heavily damaged during the engagement. Her alpha and beta nodes were blown out, most of her missile tubes were destroyed, and over half of her laser broadsides had been rendered unusable.

Streaming air, Nike bore to a point-blank range of 8,000 kilometers and fired every remaining weapon. The pirate heavy cruiser’s fusion bottle failed, and the ship was vaporized in the ensuing explosion.

One of the undamaged battlecruisers arrived in range and brought its weapons to bear on Nike. As the lasers and missiles battered the remaining hull armor, Saganami screened Prince Harold one final time.

We’re done, James. Tell the Queen. Tell her what my people did. And tell her I’m sor—

HMS Nike was then destroyed with all hands. The entire six ship merchant convey was able to cross the hyper-limit and escape the pirates, thanks to the unwavering bravery and self-sacrifice of Edward Saganami and the crew of HMS Nike.

The Shadow of Saganami


David Weber


This Day in Science Fiction History examines notable events, real and fictional, concerning fantasy and science fiction in various media


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