July 2203

Procyon's family campaign

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July 2203

Postby procyon on Fri 06 May 2011 00:12

July 2203 part 1

July 4th 0900 hours/US Space Station

'It's unusually quiet' thought Admiral Bradley Walters. In the absence of a 'formal' war, the observance of the holiday was going on as usual. All non essential work was cancelled and the crew given a day to rest, or in rare cases a furlough to the surface. The station was a veritable beacon of radio transmissions as many took the opportunity to contact friends or family.
'The Joint Task Force won't be much of a beacon. They haven't been heard from for the last seven days. The communication black out will last for another 24 hours or so, until they pass inside of the belt. Until then, the only assurance we have that they still exist is the fact that they haven't transmitted any sensor readings of contacts - or distress calls.' Admiral Walters changed from one display on his monitor to another. Status reports, progress reports, theories on the data transmitted by the JFK. It all left more questions, and not comfortable ones. The chief question among them - 'Is this the last days of the human race?'
The US combat ship roster was terribly limited. If you included the ships of Task Force 1, it mustered only six Interceptor Mk IIa's, and five Missile Escorts. With no way of knowing what the enemy held in reserve, that roster was going to have to expand. When it did, the cat would be out of the bag. The folks at home would quickly realize that the rumors were true, and that a war was being fought. Shortly there after, they would find out who the real enemy was and all hell would break loose. For the moment, only military ships and personnel knew the truth, and not even all of them. None of the governments had released the information to the public.
'No matter how good the lies, this secret is going to be too big. Yes, it is unusually quiet today." Admiral Walters thought again as he tried to relax.

Also that day/Combat Vessel 7, Titania, Uranus

Commander of Combat Vessel 7 monitored the progress of the evacuation. The colony ship was nearly finished loading the last of the survivors from the moon's surface. The three Patrol Vessels and their nine scout craft were involved in forming the mobile 'umbrella' covering the rescue. If any of the enemy combat ships were in the area, or tried to intercede, they would be detected and destroyed.
The devastation on the surface of the moon was too precise, and the energy emissions from the ruins ruled out the weapons that this race typically used. There had been short transmissions from Defense Station 3 before it was destroyed, reports of impacts in the absence of any inbound contacts. Perhaps this race used some form of energy emitting weapon. If so, it would seem to be a short ranged weapon, as its use against combat vessels had never been recorded. It would not matter. Combat Group 1 would find this race's homes and destroy them. Just as this race had destroyed the helpless lives on this moon.
As soon as the survivors were safely off this moon, Combat Group 1 would turn toward the inner planets of this system, and one by one clean any infestation from them. Soon.....

July 7th 0450 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon wondered how long this assignment would last. The 3rd Battle Group had been assigned to convoy escort duty. 'Not that I mind.' she thought, 'but this isn't going to last. The repairs are complete, and soon they will give us another combat posting.' The 1st Battle Group had 'reappeared' at the Pallas Colony about 3 hours ago. Rumor had it they were a ship short of what they had left with. The commercial channels were full of speculation over what was going on, and where the possibly 'missing' ship could be, and what it was up to. Brenna knew that it wasn't going to return. She had no firm reports of what had happened, but she knew. No one who went beyond the belt and turned up ''missing' was ever coming home again. That would raise the Pan Euro's losses to two Attack Escorts and two Armed Explorers. Over two hundred crew. Someone was going to start asking questions.
She hoped that someone would actually have answers then, and not just guesses.
"Admiral, we have Cargo Liners 012 and 137 on the sensor track. Time till departure for Mercury, 3 minutes."
"Thank you Petty Officer. Helm, plot escort course and upload to my station." Brenna turned back to monitoring the civilian channels, looking for something she wasn't sure of, but was sure she would know when she found it.

July 8th 1620 hours/Interceptor Mk IIa JFK, Mars orbit

Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jack Ryan could almost feel his metallic and composite body relax as his ship settled into orbit. He had been on edge ever since leaving, and had never worked so hard trying to plot the best and fastest course back to this red ball of dust and rock. It had felt like hounds had been on his heels the whole way. Mars Station packed more firepower than his whole Task Force, and with it near he felt safe. For the first time in nearly a month, safe.
Unlocking his station, he gave the order for the crew to stand down. Soon they would dock with Mars Station, and begin resupply. The crew would be hoping to get off the ship, but that wouldn't happen for days. A great deal of debriefing, and many meetings, would have to take place before the crew would be allowed to step foot off the ship. Most of the crew by now had heard that a new race had been discovered, and that wasn't something command would want talked about willy-nilly. If at all.
But he was home, after a fashion, and that was enough for now. He decided as soon as he could, he'd write a note to his daughter to let her know that he was alive. No business, just a chance to let her know he was still here, and looking forward to hearing from her.

2240 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, Ceres orbit

Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji checked progress reports. The Missile Frigate Anhui had just finished with the installation of the new sensor system. The function checks looked good. The increase in range and sensitivity was impressive. More than double the capabilities of the other ships in the group. The only problem was the interface to the weapons station. Calibrating the new returns for targeting solutions was slow and imprecise. That would hopefully change as the crew grew more accustomed to the new system.
The Missile Frigate Hubei was currently beginning the installation process for the new system. It should go more quickly, as the work crews now had a better feel for what they needed to get done. Next would be the Attack Frigate Hunan. The last to undergo the 'upgrade' would be the Tung. It had been decided that the Cruiser would be last, as it would be the most capable at defending itself should the US or Euro attack, even without the new system. The smaller ships would have more to gain from the new system. They were also more expendable should the new system prove to be less successful than projected.
For the moment, it looked to be a valuable addition, and should prove to be a rude surprise for the US and Euro should they decide to challenge Chinese sovereignty.

July 11th 0210 hour/Heavy Interceptor Anastasia, Mercury Shipyards

Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery had been briefed on the ship currently under construction at the Mercury Shipyards, but actually seeing the Pan Euro's newest combat vessel was a stirring sight. She was fully twice the size of the Anastasia, and packed twice as many launch bays. She should help tip the balance of power in future engagements against the Alpha Class ships this new race used. Word had it that the Queen Elizabeth would clear the slip by the end of July, and that the 1st Battle Group would join her during the shakedown and training cruise. It was a shame she hadn't been ready a few months earlier. Perhaps the Victoria would still be here.
More stirring was a quiet rumor that Liz would be transferring her flag to the Queen Elizabeth when she started operations. To be the first Admiral to command her would be a great honor. There were rumors that Rear Admiral Muldoon, or perhaps Admiral Kushnir would claim her as their flagship. Liz was sure that Brenna was to junior of an officer to be placed on the Q.E. Admiral Kushnir might transfer to the Q.E., but Liz doubted it. The Red October was going to be the fastest ship in service for some time, and it allowed her to respond to situations more quickly than this ship would. The Red October was also more flexible in deployment as a science vessel. This ship was going to be a pure combat vessel. Vice Admiral Esme Jurkat of 2nd Battle Group was the only other serving combat ship flag officer, and she had yet to receive a combat assignment.
No, the Q.E. was going to be Liz's ship.

0315 hours/Attack Escort Cynthia, Mercury Shipyards

Commander Giovanni Vetra looked over the order again. The Cynthia was to be assigned to the 1st Battle Group. That could mean only one thing. The Attack Escort Victoria was gone. Whatever had destroyed the Boudicca had claimed the Victoria also. Maybe the Anastasia and Mary Queen of Scots had been able to make it pay in blood for that victory. He hoped so.
Regardless, he was no longer commander of the 2nd Light Battle Group. It was being disbanded. The two Armed Escorts, the Louis and Cornwallis, would be performing convoy escort duties for the next few days as they made their way out to the Pallas Colony. They would join the Red October and be the combat portion of a new science and survey group. A rather heavily armed one.
He didn't want command though. He wanted to see whoever had murdered the 1st Light Battle Group brought low. Whoever had killed his Rachel was going to pay for that. He didn't want to die. But if that's what it took to stop the killing...

July 17th 0735 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, near Pallas 2

Admiral Jude Kushnir tried to calm her racing mind. Her fingers were nervously and aimlessly tapping at the keys. Her old habit was displaying itself with a vengeance. The last few hours had been a blur of activity. Now she had to think, and clearly. Her next few choices would affect many more lives than those aboard her ship. Too many lives had already been lost this day. More were going to be. But a mistake now....
The Red October had been hit. The plating and baffles had kept the impact from breeching the hull, but only by the smallest of margins. She could still fight, but the next blast would rip through her. Definitely cripple her. Possibly destroy her. By herself she was no match for what was chasing her. In her current condition, she wouldn't last two minutes. The only thing keeping her alive was her speed now. For all of their power, the ships chasing her were no faster than a standard Pan Euro combat vessel. The little scout craft they used had no chance of keeping up. They had been left far behind. It was only the largest of the ships now, all slicing through the asteroid field. Darting by ship killing rocks and debris fields. Risking death to escape, or catch their prey.
Two hours ago a transmission had been picked up by the Red October. A Chinese Civilian Heavy Lift Cargo Vessel was enroute to the Pallas Colony Distribution Depot for a routine pick up of ore. The Chinese still honored the trade agreements of the Treaty of Serenitatis, and the arrival of a trade ship occurred regularly. Ceres was only a few light minutes away from Pallas at the moment. The freighter had reported contact with a small ships' boat and was requesting verification of ownership.
Jude remembered authorizing the transmission to the Chinese ship. Telling them to accelerate to their best speed and try to outrun the small craft. Then losing the freighter's signal minutes later. She wasn't sure if the ship had even had time to receive her transmission.
She had ordered the three small science ships and the Mobile Shipyard to engage drives and make best speed for Earth. The Chinese ship had been less than a light minutes from Pallas 2, and the danger was too great to risk the ships needlessly. 'They could always be ordered to return to the belt' she had told herself. If only she had known. But no, she wouldn't have done anything differently, even if she had known what was coming.
The Red October, Louis, and Cornwallis had positioned themselves close to the surface of Pallas, trying to hide their presence. She had sent orders for the colony to shut down all non-essential systems. Cut all broadcasts. 'Turn out the lights' as it were. But the Distribution Depot wasn't going anywhere. Even with all systems off line, it still floated in a slow orbit of the giant rock. And it was obviously not a natural object.
It had been twenty two minutes later when the single small craft had appeared on her sensors. It was going to pass within 70,000 km of Pallas 2. It would easily see the station floating in space near the great asteroid. Then it would notice the colony there. A colony of one million souls. It could not be allowed that close.
The Red October had launched on the small ship, but it was nimble. The asteroids had clouded sensor returns, fooled terminal guidance systems. Four separate missiles had detonated near the craft, but only the last made intercept. The small craft had been over a light second from the colony, but it had over 30 seconds to broadcast what was happening. It had only been a matter of time before the larger ship that carried it would arrive. But the Red October and two Armed Explorers could handle an Alpha Class ship and protect the colony. She had been sure of it.
What had arrived wasn't one Alpha Class, it had been three. The other ship with them didn't even have a designation yet. It massed more than the Red October. It was nearly equal in size to the ship Jude knew was being built at Mercury. The Red October had detected the magnetic signature of the ships at just less than 8 light seconds. The asteroids made detection even at that short range difficult. They had come in slowly, circling the area where the small craft had been fired on. They were just over 4 light seconds out when the small craft had come pouring at them.
Ten of the small ships had made a bee line for the colony's location. The group must have been able to detect the Depot station at that range, and had sent the small ships in to see what it was. They were close enough for the Red October to see the four large ships on her scanners, but to far for the systems to plot targeting solutions through the rocks.
When the small ships had closed to one light second, the entire group had opened fire and engaged drives. Jude had no illusion of her chances, and had ordered her group to accelerate away from the enemy ships. She had hoped to draw them away from the colony. It had worked, to a degree. The three Alpha Class had launched only once on the Distribution Depot as they passed it. That had been enough to destroy it utterly. The large ship was easily big enough to mount several launchers, but it only made single launches at her group. The large ship and three smaller Alpha Class vessels had launched five salvos on her group. Both the Louis and the Cornwallis had come apart after single intercepts by the enemy's missiles. Even the Red October had taken a single impact as she came up to speed. The return fire of her group had managed to collapse the field around one of the Alpha Class ships, but Jude couldn't stay within range to pit her two missiles against the launchers of these four alien ships. She could only run. But the ships had followed her, and not stayed to attack the colony.
The cries for help, and distress calls, had come as a horrible shock. The small craft that were left behind had begun deploying small munitions on the colony. The bombs didn't have to be big to pack a nuclear payload. The sealed habitats of the colony were terribly fragile in the face of such an attack. The Red October had been able to detect 18 separate detonations across the surface before the range grew too far. The few transmissions as the Red October had pulled away made it clear that at least 90 percent of the population had been killed. Ninety percent of one million people. The rest were doomed.
The Red October was a good ship with a good crew, but she was damaged. Her drives would likely give out long before her pursuers. She would hit a rock, of burn out a particle accelerator. The drive shield may give out if it was damaged too much in the attack. She would need to do whatever she could in the next few minutes. It would all be over after that. The speed she was going made a clean transmission on a tightbeam impossible in this asteroid field. The colony had broadcast on broadband waves though. In less than an hour the Earth would hear the cries of the dying colony. Know that a million people had died. The secret was out now. It was obvious that mankind would have to face this truth or perish. She keyed the link to the communications officer.
"Radio in the clear, no encryption. Tell the Chinese at Ceres colony they are going to have visitors in the next few minutes. If they have any warships there, to get them to battle stations now. Then transmit everything we've got on these damned ships. Tell them I'm going to lead them right to them. And let them know to blow the bastards to hell."
Ceres colony held nearly 3 million Chinese nationals by the last estimates the Pan Euro had. They were also less than 3 light minutes away from Pallas now. These alien ships were going to find them soon enough. Maybe if the Chinese knew they were coming, they might have a chance. If she could lead the aliens into some ambush. She hoped the Chinese had something there to defend that colony. She didn't want to be the one responsible for what would happen otherwise....
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: July 2203

Postby procyon on Fri 06 May 2011 00:13

July 2203 part 2

July 17th 0740hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, Ceres Colony orbit

Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji looked at the transmission that had just been translated and forwarded to his station. A large number of transmissions had been intercepted, all originating from the area of the Pan Euro Colony on Pallas 2. Some disaster was befalling the inhabitants of the colony. Zhu couldn't understand any of the languages, but the fear was obvious. Initial translations tended to indicate the colony was under attack. That would bode poorly for the future. If the US was willing to attack civilians in the belt, it would only be a matter of time until it spilled over onto Earth. The loss of contact with Chinese registered Heavy Lift Freighter 02 in the area of Pallas Colony tended to indicate the US wasn't too worried about whether the Chinese became involved.
"Admiral, you need to see this." The Communications Officer, Xiao, seemed insistent. He seldom spoke to the Admiral directly, using the proper channel of directing information to the Captain, and allowing the Captain to choose what was pertinent for a Flag Officer's review. Zhu nodded to the Comm Officer, and then looked at the monitor as a new message translation was displayed.


"Xiao, it this translated correctly? What do you mean 'alien'? Do they mean 'foreign'? Helm, plot their course and send it to my station." Zhu looked at the Captain, who was busy sorting through a number of other translations on his own monitor. If the Euro was leading US ships into Chinese space, they would be destroyed along with the ones pursuing them. Whatever was going on, it didn't make much sense.
The plot of the Euro ship and its course appeared on Zhu's monitor. 'Damn, they will pass within 10 light seconds of the colony itself, and they will be here in less than an hour. We will have to intercept them before they get that close.' Zhu turned and locked his station. "Comm, signal all ships to battle stations."
Zhu watched the bridge as the moments passed. The ships signaled all stations locked. "Captain, order the Attack Frigates and the Armed Colony Ships to make intercept. Drive detonations authorized." Zhu quickly sent the Euro ship's course plot and the intercept point he wanted to Captain Qin. There would be time to worry about the details of the intercept shortly. Right now he wanted the Sensor Officer's input on the data that was streaming in to the comm station, and then to his monitor. Zhu keyed the link to the sensor station and began the download of the data that was coming in. "Sensor Conn, what do you make of these logs."
"Admiral, I'm not overly familiar with the European data string, but the sensor returns seem similar to the new systems on the Missile Frigates. I can identify some US and Euro ships on this first file, along with what has to be the planet Uranus and its moons. These other contacts, and what looks like some type of colony on a moon.... Admiral, I don't know what to make of them. Other than the fact that they are willing to shoot at both the US and Euro ships. We could tune our sensors to look for this magnetic distortion, but I don't know what they are. These files will take months to analyze, Admiral." The Sensor Officer left the channel open, but silent.
Zhu looked hard at the various translated transmissions on his monitor. If these Euro transmissions were to be believed, these ships weren't human. The Euro Admiral didn't say what they were, where they came from, or how they knew about them. The files and transmissions could be fabricated, but it seemed unlikely.
It didn't feel like a Euro ruse. Why give away an attack by silencing a freighter early? Why create all the false transmissions and warn your enemy of an approach? Why not simply attack us when we were unprepared? Perhaps they hoped to draw the ships away from the colony? It didn't add up. Unless this European Admiral might be telling the truth.
Zhu didn't like it, but this would have to take place within sight of Ceres itself. They couldn't leave the colony unguarded. They didn't have to be obvious though, and they didn't have to send all their ships. The two Attack Frigates were quite capable of moving out to the point where the Euro ship indicated it would pass. The two Armed Colony ships could join them. Hiding in the debris fields near Ceres, they would be invisible until a hostile ship was within range of the powerful short ranged missiles that all four ships carried.
Zhu wished he had more time. He'd had days to prepare for the battle at Jupiter. Now he only had a few minutes to get his ships positioned and ready. What happened in the next hour here at Ceres would likely decide the shape of the war to come for the Chinese people.

0802 hours/Combat Vessel 7,Asteroid Belt

The Commander of Combat Vessel 7 tracked the sensor returns of the 'fleeing ship'. It was obvious from the initial readings that it could outrun the Combat Group if it chose to. It had been tracked at a speed the group could not match. Yet it still stayed just inside of sensor range. It was obviously leading them somewhere. That somewhere would have a number of this race's combat ships waiting. That would be sure. There was no other reason for this course of action.
The entire Combat Group could not be risked in this pursuit. They would compensate for this ship's actions. The Commander adjusted the fields of his station's panel. Patrol Vessel 14 maintained its position in respect to the alien ship, while the rest of the group began to drop back. Patrol Vessel 14's protective field generators had failed in the initial contact with the alien race. This race had tried to protect their colony, and failed. The small scout craft had deployed the bombs that had proved so capable in the past. Leaving the small craft behind had been regrettable, but they could return to pick them up later. The small craft could survive for an extended time on their own.
Patrol Vessel 14 would be able to restore part of the protective field's function shortly, but for the moment it was the most expendable vessel of the group. All the crews knew this was a battle group, and that they might be called upon to die for their race. And that this was what had to be done. He hoped they wouldn't have to make that sacrifice though.
Combat Vessel 7 and the two other Patrol Vessels reached a point six light seconds behind the fleeing ship. They were far enough back now that the enemy ship could no longer be tracked on Combat Vessel 7's sensors. These asteroids created too much interference. But Patrol Vessel 14 was able to keep track of the enemy, and transmit the data to the rest of the group. Patrol Vessel 14 would also transmit when they made contact with additional enemy vessels. It would then return to the group (hopefully), and together they would destroy this race's ships once again.

0835 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, vicinity of Ceres

Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji issued the order for the Missile Frigates Anhui and Hubei to stand down from Battle Stations. The Tung would stay at general quarters for the next seven hours. It would be longer if he could, but even a cyborgs' human components could tire if kept active for too long. The human brain still needed to rest and sleep. Sleep wouldn't come easy for some time though. The 'alien' ships had been gone for fifteen minutes now, but the memories would haunt him for the rest of his life, Zhu thought. In only two minutes, he had lost four ships. Nearly twenty five percent of the Chinese Fleet was now fragments scattering through the asteroid belt.
Zhu replayed the sensor record from the Jilin again. It had broadcast right up to its last moments. Initially the Pan Euro Red October had rushed past the two hidden Attack Frigates and Armed Colony Ships. Then the second contact had appeared, rushing after the Euro vessel. It had been obscured in some magnetic interference, but that hadn't stopped the rush of the Chinese short range missiles. The Euro vessel had come about, probably to launch on the alien (he was sure it couldn't be human now) ship, but too late. The six high speed missiles from the Chinese group had ripped the vessel apart. Unbelievably, the ship had managed to launch a missile of it own, but the weapon had lost tracking shortly after the destruction of its mother ship.
The Jilin's sensors could not pick up the other vessels that the Euro ship had indicated were chasing it. The Euro vessel continued a constant stream of transmissions, just as it had done during its entire trip to Ceres. It was broadcasting the enemy's position, and had begun to try and move towards them. It was here Zhu remembered keying in the orders for the group of four ships to accelerate at maximum rate towards the enemy ships' reported location. The Tung and the two Missile Frigates had remained in an orbit of Ceres nearly brushing the surface.
Less than a minute later the three remaining alien ships had appeared on the Jilin's sensors. Two were the size of the Euro's Heavy Escorts, the last somewhat bigger than the Attack Frigates. Not as large as the Tung, but larger than anything the US or Euro claimed to be flying. A first launch from the ships had destroyed the Armed Colony Ship Manchuria with only a single intercept! The Attack Frigate Hunan had been crippled, with its long range missile bay and half of its particle accelerators down. The return fire of the long range missile from the Jilin and two from the Euro ship had managed to cause one of the smaller ships to lose its strange magnetic signature. The Euro ship had also accelerated to the speed that its government had bragged about, moving faster than anything Zhu knew about in the Chinese forces. The next sixty seconds were a blur even on the Jilin's sensors. The Hunan and Colony Ship Vietnam had broken up before they ever got in range to launch on the alien ships. The Jilin and Red October had launched on the vessel that had lost its magnetic fields, and the strange ship had even cut out its engines and vented in response to the damage the missile detonations had caused. But the exchange had left the Jilin crippled. Its plating and baffles had been shredded before an inbound contact had even been identified. How??! A laser could damage a ship without a sensor contact, and at close range could even begin to rival the damage the long range missiles could cause with all safeties off. But the Attack Frigates had been designed to withstand a near space detonation of the short range missiles. It should have shrugged off a laser and continued to fight. SEVERAL lasers. The Jilin had been breached like its plating had been tissue paper. The follow up missiles had gutted it. Her captain had tried to bring the crippled ship about. The Euro ship had continued to pour missiles back at the alien ships as it accelerated out of the area. The Jilin had lost contact moments later. That has been the last reported contact with the alien ships.
'We destroyed one of their smaller vessels when we surprised it. The others were outnumbered five to three, and destroyed every ship we had without losing a single ship more. If they come back, I don't know if even the Tung, Anhui, and Hubei will be able to stop them from destroying the three million people on the colony here on Ceres.'
Zhu keyed in for the tightbeam transmission to Venus of all the data he had gained. And hoped the three alien ships didn't come back.
But he knew, sometime, they would.

1020 hours/Combat Vessel 7, dark side of the Asteroid Belt

The Commander wondered if he had acted rashly. Had it been a mistake to pursue the enemy ship? Should they have broken off and continued looking for this race's homes. No. The ship he had followed would only have followed him. Broadcast his position. The ambush would still have occurred. Perhaps with worse results. Although that might be difficult to imagine.
Patrol Vessel 14 had been destroyed rapidly by this race's weapons. Patrol Vessel 16 had sustained so much damage that it would have never been able to survive the return trip. There had been no other choice but to transfer the surviving crew and scuttle it. With the loss of two ships, half of the group's scout craft had no landing bays. The crews of six of the small craft had been transferred and the small ships destroyed. His Combat Group had managed to destroy six enemy ships, but had lost two in the process. It sounded like a victory, but if this race outnumbered them by more than three to one, then this was no victory. The broadcast had already been made. The elders would have to decide the next step. It was time for Combat Vessel 7 and Patrol Vessel 15 to return home.

1025 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October

Admiral Jude Kushnir unlocked her station. The two Alpha Class contacts and the 'Delta Class' contact had fallen behind over an hour ago. The drive was showing the wear of the last few hours. A slow cruise back to Earth might be all the overheated particle accelerators could handle without failing. She knew her nerves couldn't handle much more. She also knew that she would have a great deal to explain when she got back to Earth. The open and unencrypted transmissions. The loss of Pallas 2 colony. The destruction of the Armed Explorers Louis and Cornwallis. Not to mention two Chinese Strike Vessels and Colony Ships. The intentional violation of Chinese space.
No. Jude was in no hurry to get home.

July 25th 2000 hours/Ceres Colony

Jeng didn't like people. He knew they didn't like him either. He didn't care, so long as they left him alone. When he had been on Earth, they had called him names. Some of the other kids had even tried to hurt him. The kids had called him retard, or weirdo. The adults had said he was slow, or different - but not in a nice way. The doctors had used big words he didn't understand. He was sure that it all meant the same thing.
He knew his mom loved him. He wasn't quite sure what that was, but it meant that she hugged him and yelled at him. It didn't make sense, but it was supposed to be a good thing. That was why she said she had moved them to this new home. He hadn't liked coming here, but she said maybe they wouldn't be mean to him so much. They still weren't nice here either.
But there was a good thing here. His mom said they made more money. He wasn't sure what that meant, but it did seem to mean he got more things to play with. He liked the things, and helped her find ones he liked. On Earth he only had little things to look in the sky, and they didn't work good. Here he had much better thing to look at the sky. Some could even see things he couldn't. He liked his things. And his mom let him spend all the time he wanted to with them.
A few days ago, his things had picked up strange things in the sky. He had seen ships come and go, even on Earth. But these were different. And someone had been talking a lot on a radio. It didn't make sense at first. The words were funny. He always had problems with words. There had been numbers too. He liked numbers. He liked them as much as he liked looking at the sky.
The numbers had been different. But a pretty kind of different. He had stayed up for days trying to figure out the pretty numbers. His mom had told him to sleep, but he couldn't. Not until he knew how the numbers were pretty.
Then he found it. The pretty bubble the numbers made. The pretty bubble his things could see around the strange new ships. The ships that had come and gone so quickly.
He had been so excited. He even showed his mom. She had always tried to act like she liked the things he saw and found. He didn't think she really did, but she said she did - so he showed her. She didn't act like she liked it this time. She acted scared. Real scared. Like he felt when the other kids hurt him. She had looked, but she was scared.
The next day, funny men that weren't men had come and talked to his mom. They had said funny things. They had even looked at the things he had found. Then they had talked to him. He didn't understand much, but they had said they would come back with more numbers.
He really liked the numbers and looking at the sky. He hoped they would come back with more numbers soon.

July 28th 0430 hours/US Space Station

Lieutenant Meagan Ryan looked over the data again. She wondered if anyone else had noticed the tiny anomalies on the data transmitted by the Pan Euro Red October while it had been in Chinese Space. It was obvious the Pan European Admiral was trying to assist the Chinese by broadcasting the readings her ship was taking, as the Red October most likely mounted far more sophisticated systems than what the Chinese ships carried. It hadn't helped the Chinese much. They had lost every ship that had engaged these alien aggressors. Everyone now knew of the destruction of Pallas 2 Colony, and that it wasn't anything human that was responsible. In all the uproar and meetings to cope with the public outcry and concern, analysis of the data had taken a back seat. At this point in time though, Meagan had a few moments to herself. She also had a 0600 briefing for Admiral Walters. She needed to know what was in that data stream the Red October had sent.
At first it had looked like a normal engagement. Further analysis seemed to show damage to both of the Chinese Strike Vessels prior to the alien missiles making intercept. It might have been a beam weapon. If it was, the power output made even the advanced US Laser Output Couplers and Capacitors look puny. Three to six times the on target energy at ranges the US lasers couldn't reach. It seemed unreal, but so did everything about this new race. Then as Meagan had run the magnetic analysis, a few blips had shown up. They were very weak, almost sensor ghosts. The asteroids made analysis very difficult. Many of the asteroid debris fields in the area also had radioactive decay signatures that clouded any returns. But two had occurred just before the Strike Vessels had suffered impacts with no intercepts.
Meagan then began to sort the data for any of these 'sensor ghosts'. She weeded out a number of false readings, and managed to come up with three more of the anomalies. All near the Red October as she disengaged from the alien ships. Resolving the sensor returns had been a chore. The 'blip' finally resolved into a tiny magnetic signature attached to an object not more than 5 cm across, 45 cm long, and weighing a few kilos at most. Awfully small to resolve, even without the asteroid field to interfere. What had made it almost invisible hadn't been its size though. It was the fact that it had passed the ship at 98.7 percent of the speed of light.
The next to last one had passed within 10m of the Red October. They never knew how close they had come to being destroyed.
Admiral Walters would be interested in this. Not happy, but interested. This war only seemed to get worse.


Sorry it took a bit. Someone must have had a real big party about 9 months ago because we have been swamped with babies. Glad I wasn't there.

This month came as a rude shock for the Euro and China (my wife and middle boy).
For the Euro
The destruction of the two little ships was no big deal. Almost losing her flag ship and senior admiral shook her a little. Losing 2% of her income with the destruction of the colony definitely hurt. At the rate she had been colonizing the belt, it would take her 20 turns to recoup. She decided (and told me) that this wasn't going to be a 'nice' game. 'Dirty' was the word I think was used. There really didn't seem to be a good point to the month for the Euro.
For China
The loss of his last colony ships and the two attack frigates hurt. That, along with paying for the CFN FT lost was going to take a lot of time and resources to rebuild. The middle boy also realized he was probably the only Ind 2 player left, with the smallest fleet (other than his oldest sister), and little hope of making up ground. His ships he had hoped to leave in the belt where their short sensor range might not be such a disadvantage had been trashed.
His one silver lining was a lucky roll on an attempt at a random breakthrough. He paid for just one, and actually got it. All the players have to keep a list of no less than six areas they would like a breakthrough to occur, and I randomly roll which one they get. He just happened to get shields out of all 'wish list'. What he didn't have was going to be the excess of cash to research a technology higher in level than he was - along with rebuild his crippled fleet. Tough decision. He surprised me with the solution he came up with for month 8 (August).
For the US and FSC
The oldest boy and girl got a free ride for the month, and after hearing what happened to their mom and brother were glad of it. Both had small fleets and couldn't afford the losses that China and the Euro had soaked.

The Nemotians Combat (Destroyer) Vessel mounted a single plasma launcher, and a single kinetic weapon. I know that you are supposed to have a drive field to use a K type weapon, but that is to penetrate another drive field protected ship. When nobody uses that tech, well.... A race that is good with magnetics and cryo super conductors OUGHT to have been able to create a particle accelerator/mass driver that would work, and work well. The players didn't like the fact that it filled in the bad guys gaps in weapon coverage. They had figured out that the Plasma Torpedoes were weak up close or at the end of their range. The K weapon compliments that gap quite well with an almost double the chance to hit at close and long ranges. The damage was pretty hard to shrug off also. The players were maybe a little miffed.
But anything gotten easy is taken for granted, and a dear victory is well savored.

For those curious about the ships, the Chinese Attack Frigates Hunan and Jilin and Armed Colony Ships Manchuria and Vietnam are identical to those used at the First Battle of Jupiter's Moons. The Red October and Armed Escorts Louis and Cornwallis are identical to earlier ships listed of that class. As are the Patrol Vessels #14,15,16. The new one is the Combat Destroyer.

Combat (Destroyer) Vessel 7 Class: DD 30HS
[2]S S S A A H Qa (BbS) (Cp) Mg Mg Mg (M1) Qa (Cp) Kb+ Ya (Cp) Pta [6/1] gig x3

And for those who were thinking it, my family also thought after the first shock of a K weapon that it wouldn't be that bad. They would simply maneuver around its limited ability to target another vessel. It was the middle boy (China) who pointed out - since he was already looking at the big ships in the near future in his fleet - that any ship from explorer to heavy cruiser would have the same speed and turn radius with the engines they were using. A heavy cruiser dog fighting with the corvettes didn't appeal so much anymore when the big ship could maneuver just as well as the little one.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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