Starfire Shorts - Terran Wars

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Starfire Shorts - Terran Wars

Postby Dawn Falcon on Thu 23 Jul 2009 09:05

Hi All - the following five short stories are GSF/Elite based, and little tales of noteable incidents from a solo campaign.

Story #1 – Hawker's Bane

Fighters vanished in the flicks of deep-space death as they slammed into the Hawker escorts. Dozens died, but most made it to their targets and a half-dozen frigates burned from stem to stern, while an equal number lurched behind the main formation, lamed. One pulled back into line, but others were left behind the racing formation as it closed with the Terran fleet.

Gunboats appeared on the display as the three big Hawker carriers launched, chasing up the tails of the fighters as they streamed back to their carriers, forcing them to chose between turning and engaging the Gunboats, or returning and rearming before the battle lines clashed. Reserve fighters spat from Terran catapults, as the main strike kept on for the carriers, even as the Hawkers faster ships drew ever-closer.

The fighters and gunboats clashed, and waves of flame pockmarked both sides, the fighters energy beams tearing a swathe through the gunboats but taking their own losses from the Gunboats lasers…and were unable to stop them all. The Gunboats volleyed their kinetics at long range, and several escorts went dead in space…accompanied by four of the Terran fleet cruisers. Their job done, the Gunboats flicked round and sped back to the carriers even now pulling back from the Hawker battle line.

The Terran missile cruisers turned slightly, and capital missiles slammed into the Hawker formation, but the range was long and the combination of ECM and capital point defence limited the damage. Still, more and more missiles slammed home..and then the Hawkers reached their own range, turning to expose their broadsides, but still catching the Terrans. Rapid-fire kinetic projectiles were flung by the Hawker ship's massdrivers, and Terran shields flickered and died under the impacts.

As the sides closed, the carnage grew worse..and worse again as the Hawkers reached extreme laser range. Laser beams flashed, and armour bucked. Several missile cruisers, out of datalink, turned away radically, trying to lure the Hawker line away from the main fleet, but Gunboats went to meet them, and they died.

Suddenly, the Terran line seemed to fold towards the Hawker one, bringing the missile ships secondary energy guns and the close combat cruisers sprint missiles into range, and heavy lasers ripped back. The Terran fighters slammed into the fight, and the Hawker death toll mounted.

And then suddenly the Hawkers pulled away. They had lost almost half the two score battlecruisers which they had brought into the system, and they - unlike the Terrans - did not have the economic strength to rebuild their fleet quickly. The Terrans missile ships were in bad enough shape, and more importantly for the Hawkers, low on missiles. While the Terrans could kill the remaining ships up close, they lacked the speed to catch the undamaged Hawker ships.

And so the wounded Hawker fleet sprinted back for the warp point to Vulture, fleeing to the heavy forts which guarded the gateway to the inner worlds. Fighters hovered, watching them but Gunboats drove them away and the Hawker fleet transited without further incident.

For their part, the Terrans were quite happy, they had lost just under twice the ships the Hawkers had, but most of their losses were in more easily replaced light and heavy cruisers - the reserve was being reactivated and modernised - and their own battleships were nearly ready…and when they were…


Story #2 – Disaster at Vega

The initial clash with the Skl'ri at Vega was a textbook case of an Admiral misjudging the enemy. Convinced of the Skl'ri's peacefulness - despite the somewhat overwhelming evidence available, even at that time - Admiral Dorse had allowed the fleet's readiness to slack off.

Worse, he had positioned the majority of his forces well back from the warp point, leaving only his corvettes and three squadrons of cruisers in close, which was hopelessly inadequate when the Skl'ri opened the battle with a torrent of drones through the warp point, damaging all the in-close defenders in seconds.

The six Skl'ri carriers which followed through the warp point catapulted their loads of gunboats and escaped the system with light damage thanks to the make up of the buoys around the WP - mainly energy-armed APew, and the Skl'ri used heavy shields.

Within 90 seconds of this, with the majority of the fleet still beyond weapons range most of the buoys still near the WP had been expended or smashed by the gunboats using their internal laser weapons - these gunboats then turning on the fleet - as the Skl'ri's assault battleships began to transit.

At this point, a swift retreat before the faster elements of the Skl'ri fleet could emerge would have saved Admiral Dorse's command. However, he decided to close on the WP. The decision was a disaster - the Skl'ri skilfully pounded his ships with a few small follow-up waves of drones, and he brought himself into the optimal range of the Skl'ri assault ships kinetic weapons.

The Skl'ri battle line was armed with plasma torpedos and heavy lasers, and as they began to emerge, they found the Terrans still frantically trying to close into optimal range for their energy beams and sprint missiles - they simply had too few capital missile ships to stop anyone, and their missile ships had already been savaged by the gunboats before the fighters stopped them - and got damaged in turn.

Even at close range, things did not improve much. The heavy shielding blunted the energy beams, and their weapons mix proved effective against the fairly lightly defended Terran ships of the time - especially their light point defence loads and the fact that Dorse neglected to mount any EDM's in favour of sprint missile loads on the fleet's XO racks.

In the end, the entire fleet except two heavy cruisers (detached), and the three light cruisers with long range scanners and survey instruments plus the three light carriers was destroyed. It is estimated that before they did, they destroyed under half their weight in attacking ships.

Some have pointed out that in his defence, the Skl'ari eventually lost half their carriers and nearly a dozen other capital ships, but that overlooks the fact that the Terrans lost TWO dozen - and the fact they were battlecruisers's to the Skl'ri battleships hardly makes up the difference.

The losses to the Sk'lri screen were also light , while complete five cruiser and two corvette squadrons were lost – fifteen cruisers and eighteen corvettes. While the Skl'ri gunboats were wiped out, this hardly compensates for the ship losses, and only three mauled and one unharmed Terran fighter squadrons survived. Worse, some of the Sk'lri losses were energy-beam “destroyed” hulks which they could - and did – salvage.


Story #3 – Parting Shot – a tale of PDC’s (Planetary Defence Center's)

The anti-space PDC’s had died, although not without taking their toll of the fleet which had so recently departed. A dozen battlecruiser hulks bore witness to the striking power of Terran capital missiles, and the plasma-charred craters of the three huge PDC’s the world once boasted.

The PDC centre was deeply buried, an expensive presence deep under the earth, awaiting the time to strike. A dozen corvettes drifted around the world now, awaiting the troopships arrival. Now was the hard time…the hidden PDC and it’s counterpart on the other side of the world, so small compared to their now-dead counter parts, but entirely sufficient for their purpose.

The Nemesis troopships arrived in orbit, and their shuttles prepped for launch, their troops ready to drop into the hot zones down below, where Terrans hunkered behind barricades and in hastily built defensive positions. The first shuttles had launched when it happened.

The room was shocking still, and the voice was sharp in the red-tinged lighting and the silence. “Targets acquired…tracking…firing”. And the lights dimmed, sharply. The energy beam is a fine weapon, but it cannot penetrate shields. However, the Nemesis troopships, for all their cruiser-sized bulk, were not shielded and the half-dozen energy beams flayed two dropping their drive fields and leaving them dead in space. Moments later, three rapid-fire missile launchers opened up and they vanished in nuclear fireballs. Another two troopships died as the other hidden PDC opened fire.

The corvettes frantically tried to activate their systems, as the troopships ran for open space. They got far enough away for range to seriously attenuate the energy beams effectiveness, and only one more died, with another savaged…and the PDC’s turned their attention to the still-activating corvettes.

Energy beams and missiles blazed upwards, even as the corvettes obsolete plasma launchers spat downwards, and the corvettes spiralled away from the planet…their total lack of point defence laying them open to fire even as they drew out of energy beam range, leaving three of their number dead in space, and another two bleeding air even as they ran.

The PDC’s had died now, but a squadron of the fleet had to return to finish the job. Six troopships, with thousands of Nemesis onboard, seven corvettes and even minor armour damage to a battlecruiser was more than the Terrans little surprise had ever hoped to achieve. Certainly, a telling parting shot.

Historical note:

Less than a month later, and before the Nemesis could launch another invasion, the Terran Defence Zone and their Tahr Dominion allies blew back into the system, sweeping away the Nemesis battlecruisers with Terran Cruisers and Tahr Frigates, and recaptured the world, Faraday. Three weeks after that, when the Terrans took one of the Nemesis homeworlds, Avira, the Nemesis sued for peace.


Story #4 – An unfortunate glitch

"Admiral Edwina..."

The admiral swing her chair around, to see an extremely nervous lieutenant. By the patch on his uniform, attached to the dockyards. The admiral raised an eyebrow. She was pleased that the second and fourth fleets refits were complete…but obviously something was up.

"The voice cueing systems..."

The Admiral held her hand up, which cut the Lieutenant off, mid-sentence. She walked over to the drinks cabinet, poured a vodka and walked back to her desk. The Lieutenant swallowed visibly, and the admiral raised an eyebrow again.

"There's a bug. Sir. In the missile targeting package. It seems that it...well...has to be reset on a regular basis because it can't authenticate the voices. There's a slight difference between our computers and the fleet hardware...." his voice trailed off.

The Admiral downed the vodka in one gulp, and winced. "So," she said after a short pause, "how is it being fixed"

"It seems" the lieutenant seemed ...upset... "that the problem is in the embedded software in the new hardware modules. And that we can't just replace the old module, because it also ties into the standing systems, which were also upgraded and can't handle the old module"

The Admiral winced. "So…you're saying that until we come up with the replacement module, our ships will have missile launchers which will, in the middle of combat, have to be reset. And this isn't an overnight fix?"

"Essentially" the lieutenant seemed about to die "yes. Sir."

"And they dumped telling me onto you...how thoughtful of them. Oh, relax, Lieutenant. Someone's in big trouble, but not at this point you. Dismissed"

The Lieutenant saluted smartly, turned on his heel and left.

Admiral Edwina sighed once more, then picked up the intercom on the desk and called her secretary. "Bring me the head of hardware design!"


Story #5 – A Short Visit

The All-Seers had only been travelling the spaceways for a short while, but they had what they considered a good fleet...a dozen light cruisers and the same again in destroyers to defend their two systems.

Now, with new science instruments they had detected a WP in their home system which had previously been undetectable, and their scouts transited, finding a system with a terran and a super-terran world, both of which showed the electromagnetic radiation which was a sure sign of intelligent life.

Several drive fields around the planets appeared, and moved at military speeds to join and approach the leading survey ships. As they closed, it was revealed they were three corvettes and two escorts. The linguistic banks seemed remarkably similar, and soon negotiations started.

---

The Seer council wasted no time, sending half the fleet to "have a word with" the race behind the WP. If all they had was corvettes, then a light cruiser squadrons would show them the error of their ways. So they could enlighten them into the ways of the All-Light.

---

The Terran governor of the Atlas system pondered briefly as the Cruisers showed up on the scanners. Obviously, they didn't realise what they were dealing with, or the fortifications around and on the planets. Or indeed that they were talking to the systems customs detachment.

A comm laser aimed itself at a small buoy besides one of the systems other warp points, and a summons was sent.

---

The "Terranen" were being stubborn. Seer Captain J'Dar began idling his force forwards, and called for another cruiser squadron to come forwards from the home system. The system had a production, judging by the energy signature, of almost half the homeworlds...a valuable prize, and his promotion.

The pitifully few ships in his way issued protests, but fell back a little. Soon he'd...wait, what was that on the scanner? Hmm...

----

Admiral Gray, commander, second fleet smiled as the unknowns panicked. He supposed he would as well, given he had twenty four cruisers, two battleships, six carriers and over thirty lighter escorts to the enemies eighteen fighting ships.

They were running for the warp point, and better they didn't seem to have detected the scout fighters which were shadowing them - they must not have long-range capital sensors at all.

---

High Seer Ventai frowned as the light codes of the ships poured back through the warp point. He gestured to his comm tech, and radio waves crossed space, demanding an explanation. It wasn't long in coming, and neither were the Terran ships.

---

"What do you think they'll do sir" asked Commander Kelia, Admiral Gray's staff spook.

"If they're smart", he replied, "Surrender"

"And if they don't", she pressed

"I think reducing their fleet to rubble will convince them, Commander"

Admiral Gray leant back, and smiled. His half-dozen carriers alone could probably deal with the entire enemy navy, but taking them with capital missiles would let him deal with them for no loss. Especially since he doubted they had point defence. If they did, well, they'd just need a few more salvos.

---

"They demand WHAT" screamed the High Seer, "Never!"

There was a moment of shocked silence, which was followed by a faint buzz. The High Seer's head jerked up at the sound, and was just in time to see the Second Seer's pulse pistol fire, blowing a hole in his chest.

Second - now High - Seer Telnar looked around the room, and took a deep breath.

"Brethren, we cannot oppose them. They have many times our ships, and I suspect a radically higher technology level. If we surrender now, we can negotiate our terms. If we resist...we will not"

The Seer Council members looked at each other, and then bowed to his wisdom. And the still smoking pistol in his hand.

---

"I thought they'd see reason" said Gray, "they're ordering all their ships to stand down"

"Yessir, t.." the comm officer replied, but whatever he was about to follow that with was drowned out by the tactical alarm. One of the enemy cruiser squadrons and the destroyers had dropped their drive fields, but the other three cruisers were lunging towards the Terran fleet.

Gray's always thin lips narrowed into a dangerous smile. "Take them", he said.

---

Seer Captain Allranti snarled as no other ships followed his charge. Very well, he and his two fellow captains would be remembered as defenders of the faith. When they got into weapo...

His thoughts trailed off as the enemy cruisers began to fire, at over twice the range of his ship's kinetic weapons. And large missiles...accurate and deadly. Five of the nine first launched were on track for his flagship, and the two point defence units burst into life, firing desperately. Two were stopped, and the other three smashed through the shield and armour, taking out the hold.

More and more missile tracks sprang from the enemies, and he snarled. It was the last thing he ever did. His ship died, but the other two survived the initial volley. They didn't survive the second.

---

"So we're leaving two carriers, one light cruiser and one destroyer squadron to watch them" said Gray.

"Will that be enough, sir" asked Kelia.

"Oh, I think so - for the moment anyway", answered Gray, "after the fighting they seem to have had on-board some of the ships, they only have two cruisers and four destroyers spaceworthy, plus the three space stations over their planet which have minimal weaponry."

Keila nodded, "I don't think the Seers will be much of a problem in the future."

Gray smiled "Yes, all it needed was a short visit from the Terran Navy"
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Dawn Falcon
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