When a ship drops into warp it effectively removes itself from the universe. This obviously makes it VERY hard to detect.
If you get “close” enough to a ship in warp, it is barely possible to detect its detection field that is looking at the gravity out in “real” space. From those data, it would be possible to determine its path but not its destination (i.e. the end point of its warp).
Once the ship’s warp path is determined, a wise captain can chart a course to where he would GUESS the warped ship is heading, and head there himself – hopefully faster. The goal is to surprise the enemy ship either before or just as it comes out of warp.
The Rahnian Sphere, being frighteningly technologically advanced and possessing all sorts of Usefull Tech , has many extremely destructive ways to kill sentient beings and their spaceships. The scope of weaponry available to Rahnian ships is so vast that it’s simply impossible to list all the close-combat equipment available. Suffice it to say that if the two ships are within a few AUs of each other, and UNLESS the goal of BOTH captains is boarding and capture of the other vessel (see “Boarding” below), the chances of a ship’s destruction are about total.
The basic long-range attack is a transported explosion. The attacking ship explodes some sort of ordnance (nuclear, gravatic, photon, whatever) and the instant it explodes, the explosive energy is “beamed” to as close as possible to the enemy ship’s projected “exit point”. This has the effect of hitting the enemy ship without giving it a chance to fire and destroy the actual ordnance itself. The down side to this is the attacking ship can’t “beam” the explosion directly onto the enemy vessel – the ship’s shields prevent this. So it becomes more of an exercise of dropping “depth charges” at the enemy ship. Certainly a direct hit or repeated hits can destroy the enemy. But unless the attacking ship is very lucky it will give the enemy captain time to once again drop into warp, meaning the attacking captain has to start over and determine the ship’s new path.
Alternately, the attacking vessel can indeed “beam” the ordnance directly to the predicted location just outside the enemy’s shields. Certain weapons can force their way through the shields in a variety of fashions, and detonate inside the shields destroying the enemy ship. However, this time it is possible for the enemy ship to fire on the attacking ordnance, detonating it outside the shields. This may perhaps damage the enemy ship but perhaps not. This ends up becoming more like “laying mines” than a direct attack.
Recently some ordnance has been fitted with warp capability of its own, and a vibrational system that can follow and merge with the enemy’s warped bit of space. They are VERY effective when successful, since the missiles then penetrate the enemy ship’s pocket space and detonate there, giving the enemy captain no time to react and destroying the enemy ship without any disruption to “real space”. Successful use, however, requires a level of skill that rapidly approaches “art”.
The attacking captain needs to fire warping missiles at the last possible moment, to reach the enemy ship right as it enters warp – just as the enemy loses contact with real space (and is thus unable to see the missile) and just before the enemy ship’s “gravity signature” fades out. If the missiles are fired too long after the enemy ship enters warp, chances are drastically reduced that the missile will be able to locate and enter the enemy ship’s pocket space. Most often captains will err on the side of firing a warping missile just a bit too soon, just before the enemy ship actually warps. In that case it becomes like something out of “The Hunt for Red October” – the enemy ship knows the “speed” and direction of the torpedo, so it times things and pops out of warp just before the missile gets to them, destroying the missile as the pocket universe collapses.
The best possible situation is fireing a torpedo at exactly the moment when the enemy ship warps. Just as they can no longer detect the torpedo and just before their gravity signature fades from real space.
Boarding is a bloody hand to hand fight. The goal of boarding is to take the enemy’s ship or technology so fighting is limited to very low velocity slug weapons. Or swords. However first two ships have to get relativly close together.
Obviously, A captain can’t just fly up next to an enemy ship without the enemy ship just warping away or blowing the opposing ship to atoms. It requires something, again, approaching an “art”.
When a ship is detected in warp by it’s gravity signature it is possible to tell the speed (IE what “level” of warp it’s in) and it’s direction but not it’s end point. A clever captain can match speed and heading and wait till it detects the collapse of the enemy ships warp feild. At that moment he can also come out of warp and ,idealy, be inside the sheilding of the enemy ship.
This allows the attacking captain to “beam” marines aboard the enemy ship and/or grapple the ship with tractor beams, electromagnetic nets, garvity inducers, etc. At this point its a battle inside the enemy ship with the marine hopefully taking out the command deck and engineering first.
The problem comes in the timing of coming out of warp when the enemy ship does. If the attacking captian is too quick the ships may end up in the same space or close enough that a collison is inevatable without some brilliant piloting. If the captain is too cautious the attacking ship may be close but outside the shields and thus targetable by the enemys weapon array, assuring destruction.
The timing must be perfect for the attacking ship to be close enough to be inside the sheilding but not too close to cause collision and destruction.
In reality, most space combat goes like this: Two ships detect each other. They both drop into warp and disappear. The end.