September 2203

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September 2203

Postby procyon on Sat 07 May 2011 04:12

September 2203

September 1st 0820 hours/Patrol Vessel 17

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 sensed the drive engage and felt the acceleration of the ship. Combat Group 2 was complete now. Six Patrol Vessels, two Combat Vessels, and Assault Vessel 2. They would spend time now cruising through space towards their destination. They were bound for the inner system.
First they would pass by the planet where first contact with the new race had been made, and where the small colony had been destroyed by the enemy race. They would then proceed to bend their course off of its gravity and continue on to the great gas giant of this system. The race had been detected and fought here. The Commander remembered the battle he had fought amongst the moons of that planet and the small scout craft that had been destroyed. It had been his first time facing the new race. It had been a draw, with Patrol Vessel 17 withdrawing without permanent damage, and the native race had held the planet and its moons. His second contact had been less successful, and remembering the death of the colony at the hands of this strange race still caused him to emanate waves of hatred that the crew could sense. But they had been there also. Many among the crew shared his anger.
The great planet would bend their course again until they would pass through this system's debris belt near where the latest conflict with the new race had been fought. Two more Patrol Vessels had been lost in that engagement. The Combat Group would search to see if the native race had holdings in that area before moving on. The next stop would be the closest planet at that time. It was the third one in distance from the star in this system. They would then pass the fourth and second most distant as they bent the Group's course around the star. They would make a pass by the innermost planet before turning back out system. They had ample supplies, but would not be able to linger indefinitely in the inner system. After the sweep of the inner planets, they would have to return.
The Commander hoped they would find the home or homes of this race. He would enjoy seeing them destroyed.

September 3rd 1600 hours/Beijing, China

Minister Po toured the research facility. The day had been nothing but tours, well into the night. He hoped that it was nearly finished. The progress on the industrial expansion was admirable, and necessary in light of the alien threat. The progress on the research into the alien field technology was less inspiring. The facilities were simply too limited to do much of what was required, without going through large, and expensive, modifications to accommodate the necessary systems. Personnel were also difficult to find with the required skills and background. Po was sure that most countries would find themselves at a loss to come up with experts in the fields of the alien's technology, so China was no worse off than any other government in that respect.
Tomorrow would see a sub orbital flight in a cargo lifter. Po knew that the lifter was 'scheduled' to drop off parts and pick up equipment at the Queensland Corporation Center. Actually it was to allow him to tour the facility that the FSC was using to research this same technology. Hopefully they were having greater success than what the facilities in Beijing were showing. Regardless, it would be a long time, and many visits, before this system would be fully developed.
When it was, it would change the face of space warfare for all the governments of the Earth.

September 6th 0020 hours/Kestrel, Ceres Colony Distribution Station

The Dutchman monitored the progress of the docking between the Kestrel and the Mary Reed. The Kestrel was to drop off supplies for the Mary Reed and Marie Celeste, but she would also allow The Dutchman a chance to transfer to the ships that would be staying here in Chinese Space. Not that he liked the idea of staying here under the Chinese Government's nose, but the Cartel had given him no choice. The pay wasn't bad for a babysitting job either. So long as the aliens didn't show up. Of course if they did, it looked like even they might be in for some problems of their own.
The Dutchman had never seen a ship as large as the one on the display now. It was obviously Chinese in design, but it dwarfed even the large Euro Q.E. in Earth orbit. It was just huge. The two Strike Vessels with it made the group only more formidable. All three of the FSC's armed ships together would have no chance in a battle against that monstrous ship.
Yes, babysitting with that monster nearby to crush any alien problems sounded like easy money.

September 11th 2345 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, Titania orbit, Uranus

The Commander tried to control his rage at sensing the ruins on the moon below, but it was almost impossible. He could feel his crew struggling also. The other ships nearby radiated the magnetic waves of their crews. Hate, anger, disgust. The race that had caused this would be made to pay.
Sensor returns indicated none of the enemy's vessels were near this planet. A sweep by the scout craft failed to find any in the space nearby. The Combat Group engaged their drives and set course for the giant planet closer to the inner system. The native race had been found there also, but not lately. They were slowly being forced into the inner system, and likely closer to their home. Soon the Combat Group would find that home. Then this race would cease to exist.

September 18th 1205 hours/Science Vessel Discovery, Mars Transfer Station

Captain Jeremy Leffler looked over the itinerary of the Discovery for the rest of the month. They had just finished escorting a civilian colony ship to Mars, and were now drawing supplies at the Mars Transfer Station. The US Task Force 1 was conducting training at the moment, and their maneuvers caused constant sensor returns to pop up on Jeremy's monitor. He simply keyed them off as they showed up. He didn't want to override the inputs, for fear that the aliens actually showed up. It wasn't likely, and the Space Station, Ground Monitoring Stations, and ships of Task Force 1 would all be aware of alien movements. They would notify the Discovery, but Jeremy wasn't interested in overriding those returns yet.
The Discovery was still assigned to Convoy Escort duty, although it was obvious now after reviewing the data and reports that they would have little chance in combat against an alien ship. At best they would slow down an alien pursuit of the freighters they were to accompany. It was going to be a large group this time. Four civilian cargo carriers and a single passenger liner with 50,000 colonists bound for the Euro portion of the belt. All the ships were US registered, but would take business from anyone willing to pay the fee. Regardless, for the next several days the Discovery would accompany them. It would be a slow trip as the passenger liner was limited to less than three percent of the Discovery's standard acceleration. They would take time to come up to speed. They would also be very vulnerable if the aliens were to attack.
It seemed so strange for a Science Vessel to be a convoy escort, but times were hard. Jeremy settled back into his station and waited for the resupply to be completed.

September 23rd 0005 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, dark side of the Asteroid Belt

The Combat Group was now only 15 light seconds from the main belt of rocks and ice that drifted through this system between the largest planet and inner rocky planets. The Commander of Assault Vessel 2 had ordered the group to decelerate until they matched the orbital speed of the majority of the debris nearby. The native race seemed to make homes amongst the rocks and ice. The immense amount of debris would make finding the enemy more difficult. It was also ideal for the native race to set ambushes in, as had been seen in the attack on Combat Group 1.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 ordered his three scout craft to launch. The Commander could sense the other Patrol and Combat Vessels doing the same. The 24 small craft formed up in a tight formation and set off toward the debris. Orders came from the Assault Vessel for Patrol Vessels 6 and 9 to follow and support the scout craft. The Commander could sense the two ships engage their drives and follow the scout group. He monitored the group through Patrol Vessel 17's sensors as they reached the debris field and began to fan out.
They were going to move through the debris toward where the ambush of Combat Group 1 had occurred. If the enemy maintained a staging area for combat vessels in this area, it was to be located. The Combat Group would then destroy it, and any ships or habitats this race had here. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 could sense the waves of anticipation and fear ripple through the ship. The ship and its crew had fought this race before. They knew as well as any that this race could be dangerous. It had to be exterminated. And that it would not perish without a fight.

0455 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, dark side of the Asteroid Belt, 8 light minutes from Ceres

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon kept a close eye on the sensor returns. The three cargo liners she was guarding had no tightbeam communication system, and the only way to keep track of them was to monitor them closely. Messages were passed by ship's boat only. Broadcasts would alert alien ships to the group's presence. Brenna had been assigned convoy escort duty for months now, but the regulations gave her a great deal of leeway in how she conducted her operations. In fact, there was very little spelled out in black and white about how to conduct escort ops. She had spent most of her time over the last two months plotting routes along the asteroid belt, and developing communication protocols for the various Battle Groups to study and employ. Brenna knew it would be hard to give up all the years she had spent as a trainer, or maybe impossible. She enjoyed teaching too much. She knew the civilians hated her for putting them behind schedule, but they had no choice.
She plotted courses so a group would navigate the belt until they approached their destination. They would then move out of the belt and bee line for wherever they were going. During the trip, the freighters would always remain inside the belt to better disguise their sensor returns, while the 3rd Battle Group would operate several light seconds outside of the debris fields. This allowed the Battle Group to best use their sensor suites, and made them the easiest sensor targets. Alien ships would hopefully spot the Battle Group, and fail to see the freighters. The 3rd Battle Group would move off or engage the alien ships, while the civilian vessels would slip away in the asteroid fields. So far they had never had to test it, but it was the best plan she had managed to devise.
"Admiral, we have a new contact. Bearing two four one degrees, minus 6 degrees ascension. Distance to contact eight point two five light seconds. Sensor returns confirm contact as US Science Vessel. Course plots transferring to your monitor." The Sensor Officer was already locking his station. The rest of the bridge crew began to follow suit.
"Helm, bring us to a stop with relation to the contact. Comm, attempt tightbeam comm link with target." Brenna knew that the US had a convoy due to pass through the area, and it was possible they were using this ship as an escort. It might be on other business or enroute out system. The Pan Euro and US were enjoying good political relations at the moment, but that didn't mean US ships could come and go as they pleased. It was in Euro Space and would need to account for itself.
Brenna waited as time passed. It was only a minute before the comm link lit up on her monitor.


Brenna nodded to herself. It was the US convoy. They must also be using the belt to hide their civilian ships and employing other ships as sensor bait. Brenna keyed in a response granting the US ship permission to proceed. They were still quite a ways from their destination, and would likely have to leave the belt when they reached the section under Chinese control around Ceres. Checking the convoy position and manifest as it came through she noted a passenger ship with a full load of colonists. All bound for Pan Euro Hygiea Colony. She keyed in a second note for transmission.


0725 hours/Science Vessel Discovery, Asteroid Belt, 6.75 light minutes from Ceres

Captain Jeremy Leffler felt that he was finally over the shock of meeting the Pan Euro 3rd Battle Group. It had been a rude surprise when the transmission had come in. It definitely showed that the Discovery's sensor suite was aged compared to the newest generation. Jeremy knew that the Mk IIa's had upgraded their sensor equipment months ago. He hoped it was as good as the Euro's. It had convinced him to change his tactics in escorting. Sitting out in the open didn't seem so good if everyone could see you, but you couldn't see them. After rechecking the reports on engagements with the alien Alpha Class ships, Jeremy realized that they were firing on each other at ranges his sensor suite couldn't even resolve a ship at.
Since then he had closed the gap with the freighters. If fired on, he would just have to charge the enemy ships while the civilian ships ran for it. Not much of a strategy, but all he would be able to manage. The entire group's best hope was to avoid detection in the first place.
His thoughts were cut short. A red light flashed on his monitor. Contact. He accessed the sensor data even as the Sensor Officer reported.
"Captain, single contact designating as One at one point seven light seconds. Bearing two two seven plus one zero. Course upload to your station sir. Appears to be some form of small ship's boat or lifter."
Jeremy looked at the returns. The little boat was moving toward them. It wasn't reacting to their presence, and wouldn't catch them at its current speed. He remembered the aliens used small craft in several of the encounters to date. Might just be a Euro miner out prospecting. Maybe not.
"Captain, second contact designating as Two. Bearing three three zero plus nine. Parallel course and velocity to Contact One." Jeremy watched as the Sensor Officer looked back at him from his station. This wasn't a mining sortie.
"Lock stations. Comm, broadcast to the convoy to continue on current course at best acceleration. Open broadcast our position and contact data. Request assistance. Helm, engage drive when all stations clear. Bring us sixty degrees port. Weapons crew, get me a firing solution on Contact One." The Discovery didn't have the latest sensors, but the laser battery on board was state of the art. Whether it could target something that small effectively was anyone’s guess. He hoped it could.
His monitor registered the stations locked and then the drive engaged. The grey blue haze set in as the ship tore forward, then vanished as the drive dropped so maneuver thrusters could correct. Jeremy saw the prompt on his screen that a solution had been plotted. He keyed the command to fire.

0727 hours/Patrol Vessel 6, Asteroid Belt

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 6 ordered all scout craft to come about. Three of the small ships had lost contact already. None had reported any enemy contact at all. Whatever was destroying the scouts was giving their sensors no time to see an inbound, and was too far or too small to register. Patrol Vessel 6 had been assigned 12 of the craft. Losing three was unpleasant, but not unexpected. The little things had many uses, but in a war were expendable. Much quicker to build, and using far less resources than any other space going ship, they would be used to locate the enemy.
The Commander altered the field on his station's panel and felt the drive engage. The ship's sensors still weren't registering any contacts, but the scouts had been five light seconds ahead. Sensor readings at that distance were clouded by so many false contacts that they were meaningless.
No. A ship drive was being tracked. The false contacts were making a constant sensor lock impossible, but the intermittent readings were enough to plot a course and speed. Whatever it was, it was accelerating. It had passed beyond the line of scouts, and would pass between Patrol Vessel 6 and 9 soon. It was already moving to fast to intercept, and the poor sensor quality made a targeting solution impossible. The weapon would wander off on one of the false returns. Following the enemy ship seemed unwise. The enemy race had used this ploy to position an ambush already.
If the group continued on its current course, the enemy vessel may have broadcast Patrol Vessel 6's course. An ambush could be waiting if they followed the enemy ship. Or continued on. Patrol Vessels 6 and 9 would have to alter course, but would not follow the contact. A report was transmitted to the Assault Vessel, but would take some time to reach it. A reply would take even longer.

0730 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, 9.25 light minutes from Ceres

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon quickly read through the transmission from the Discovery. She quickly plotted the course the alien scouts had been on. They were far astern. She keyed orders for the ship's boat to launch. It would carry orders for the freighters to engage drives in ten minutes. They would accelerate to 4500 kilometers per second for the next two hours. They were to move to maximum acceleration if they encountered any contacts.
"Helm, plot a course to intercept the Discovery. Comm, let the Attack Escorts know that we need to spread out. Interval of 8 light seconds. That US ship will be hard enough to spot. We will be able to sweep more area if we don't park one on top of the other. Lets see if we can find her."
Adding the US ship to her group would help. Her monitor showed that the destroyed alien ships would have eventually crossed with Ceres. The little ships couldn't be out here alone. Whatever was with them might still stumble across the Chinese colony. And who knew what was with them.
"Lock stations. All ships to general quarters." Then, thinking of the destruction of the Pallas Colony, "Comm, tightbeam to Hygiea Colony. Let them know we may need the 2nd Battle Group. Then let the Chinese know we are coming."
'We don't need them shooting at us also', Brenna thought. 'I have a bad feeling we are going to be shot at enough today.'

0735 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, Ceres Colony orbit

Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji locked his station. The US and Euro transmissions had just been translated. It could be anywhere from two hours to twelve hours before ships reached Chinese Space. There simply wasn't enough information to be sure. Keeping the crews on alert that long would be terribly fatiguing. He would wait for at least two hours before he ordered general quarters. After that, the wait would begin. The Missile Frigates were still testing their sensor equipment and training with it. Prepared or not, they would have to use it.
"Comm, translate for the two FSC vessels here. Let them know we may have need of their weapons before this day is out."
...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: September 2203

Postby procyon on Sat 14 May 2011 05:42

September 2203 part 2 (The Battle of Ceres)

September 23rd 0749 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Bradley Walters reviewed the transcripts of the messages the Discovery had transmitted. There was nothing he could do. People would be clamoring for some sort of action, but the closest help was the Task Force here at Earth. Moving them was not an option. The next closest was Jack Ryan's group at Mars, but at best speed they would still take over 8 hours to reach the area the Discovery was now in. They would likely burn out the engines of at least one of the ships on the trip if they tried it. No, the Discovery was on her own. He keyed into his monitor for the crew list and convoy number, just in case.
The display showed a passenger liner with 50,000 on board. Admiral Walters keyed the intercom.
"I need the Euro Space Station on a comm link. Attention Admiral Kushnir."

0807 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, Earth orbit

Admiral Jude Kushnir reviewed the transmissions and messages she had on her monitor. The US was asking for assistance in rescuing a passenger liner by supporting the US Science Vessel Discovery out in the belt. Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon had made a transmission to Hygiea Colony that she was moving toward where the Discovery was already. Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery was stationed at Hygiea and requesting guidance on deployment of the 2nd Battle Group - were they to remain at the colony, or assist 3rd Battle Group.
Too much was happening, and Jude knew at this distance any decision she made would reach its recipients based on a situation over 45 minutes old. She keyed in orders for Elizabeth to use her best discretion in the disposition of 2nd Battle Group. As for 3rd Battle Group, there wouldn't be any stopping Brenna now. She would already be wherever she was going by the time any message reached her.

0809 hours/Science Vessel Discovery, 8.5 light minutes from Ceres

Captain Jeremy Leffler was actually relieved to have been 'surprised' by the Pan Euro 3rd Battle Group. The transmission from Rear Admiral Muldoon had left him a little less excited though. She had ordered him to join her group. Could she actually do that? Not that he had much choice. Jeremy knew he was in Pan Euro space, and the 3rd Battle Group could destroy his ship from farther out than he could even detect them.
The Discovery was now just off the flank of the Attack Escort Catherine. The course they were on, and the speed they were going, would take them right back into the small craft he had just escaped from.

0815 hours/Assault Vessel 2, dark side of the Asteroid Belt

The Commander of Assault Vessel 2 transmitted the orders for Patrol Vessels 6 and 9 to return to their original course. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 6 was correct that this would likely place them in harms way. It was obvious that the enemy valued this area of the debris fields, and regularly placed combat vessels here. That meant somewhere they would likely find more fleet elements or a base. In that event, the Patrol Vessels were to withdraw, and attempt to lure a pursuit. Combat Group 2 would destroy any ships following the Patrol Vessels, and then move to destroy any stationary elements.
But first they needed the enemy's ships to reveal themselves.

1410 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, 3.23 light minutes from Ceres

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon checked the sensor returns on her monitor. It was definite that at least one alien ship was almost dead ahead. The magnetic field glared out through even the asteroid field's distortion. It also appeared that they were unaware of the 3rd Battle Group following them. They were making no attempt to change either their heading or speed.
Brenna keyed in the orders for maximum combat acceleration. She wanted to come in as close to dead astern of the contacts as she could.
She just hoped there weren't to many of them.

1418 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, 3.21 light minutes from Ceres

Brenna unlocked her station and stood on the deck. She had ordered emergency repairs on all vessels. She had authorized the tightbeam transmission to Hygiea Colony and 2nd Battle Group of the situation, and that all ships except the Isabelle were standing down from General Quarters for the next hour. They had gotten the jump on two of the alien Alpha Class vessels, but they hadn't gone down without a fight.
The alien ships had been separated by almost 2 light seconds when the 3rd Battle Group had reached a range that the sensors could distinguish individual contacts. Both of the alien ships had started to come about, but the first salvos from the 3rd Battle Group had left the nearest contact without its protective fields, and venting damage. The Discovery had bore straight in and actually fired before the 3rd Battle Group's missiles had made intercept. The fact that the alien ship started venting almost immediately had made Brenna take notice. Whatever the fields were, they didn't do much to stop a laser.
The aliens didn't seem to like that though, and the first launch had savaged the US ship. It had managed to fire twice more as it limped away, but it wasn't fit for combat at the moment. The 3rd had finished off the first contact, and then turned on the second Alpha Class. It had started to turn away even before the first Alpha had been destroyed. What followed had then turned into a long-range duel.
The Alpha had lost its protective fields over the first minute of the exchange, but Brenna had ordered the Catherine to drop back after the second launch from the alien ship had ripped through her hull and left her crippled. The next two minutes had seen a number of exchanges, with the Alpha failing to make any successful intercepts while it had slowly been pounded by the launches of the Tatianna and Isabelle. At the end the alien ship had been coasting through the asteroid field, its drive having failed. Even so, its last launch had managed to tear into the Tatianna even as the Alpha was destroyed.
'Two of the alien ships have been destroyed, but my Battle Group is pretty much out of the fight. Over half of our payload of missiles are gone, and three of the four ships are badly in need of repairs.' Brenna moved to see if she could help with any of the repairs.
She hoped this was all that the aliens had in the area.

1428 hours/Assault Vessel 2, dark side of the Asteroid Belt

The Commander of Assault Vessel 2 ordered the Combat Group to begin moving toward the area where the engagement with Patrol Vessels 6 and 9 had occurred. They would have to be presumed destroyed. The last transmissions had indicated that they were engaged with four enemy vessels, and had damaged at least two of them. That was the last they had broadcast.
The scout craft had scattered. Reports were that they had not detected the enemy craft at all. If the enemy had been aware of them, they would surely have begun hunting them down. The scouts could still be useful to identify further targets. He adjusted the fields at his station to relay the message to the scout craft to continue their sweep.
The enemy had to be nearby. If only they could be pinned down and engaged.

1705 hours/Mary Reed, Ceres orbit

Contact warnings flashed on his monitor. Multiple contacts! The Dutchman wheeled his station about to lock it, and keyed the sensor returns through to his display. They were close, and small. Three of them, no four. They would be on top of the colony before the ship would be able to lock stations.
"Get me firing solutions, NOW!" The stations didn't have to be locked to fire the laser battery. He could feel the ship hum as the capacitors charged. The sensors tracked several of the Chinese fast missiles as they tried to intercept the small, nimble targets. The Mary Reed's laser discharged, but the small craft kept coming.
Damn it. The computers weren't programmed to engage targets like this. Twice more The Dutchman watched as the capacitors discharged, with no effect. The missiles of the huge Chinese ship were only a little more effective, destroying one of the small ships as they streaked by.
The Dutchman thought about ordering a pursuit. The small ships would never be able to outrun the Mary Reed and Marie Celeste. It was too late though. The location would have been broadcast. For all he knew, the Mary and Marie would be following the alien ships into an ambush.
No, all he could do was wait. And let the weapon crews know that if they didn't work on the targeting program fast, they would wish the enemy had killed them before this was over.

1729 hours/Ceres Colony, Huangdi Habitat

Colonel Liang gave the order. "Fire!" The surface of the asteroid lit up as every trooper in the 18th Powered Armor Brigade fired into the darkness above. With the low surface gravity, even small arms would have escape velocity. The tungsten and bismuth projectiles would have little effect, but enough might bring down one of the alien ships. For the last two minutes the Tung, Anhui, and Hubei had let lose with everything they had. Flashing stars appeared and died in fractions of a heartbeat. The FSC ships were up there also. Whether they were having any luck was anybody's guess.
"Sir, we have fifteen tangos inbound. Orders?"
Colonel Liang keyed the comm open. "MLOW's track and fire on any targets." The small missiles would deploy hundreds of small charges that would track and detonate as any ship came near. The large ships were fairly safe from the small EFP's, but small craft could be destroyed by the one kilo chunks of copper moving at several kilometers per second. They were meant to engage enemy armor, but could be used to try and destroy the small ships if they committed to bombing runs.
The sky was criss-crossed by hundreds, then thousands of small trails. Bomblets flashed as small craft flashed across the sky. The bright flashes as ship-launched missiles detonated over the surface caused the Colonel to flinch. 'Damn they are cutting it close.' The darkening of the lights in the habitat behind him was proof the civilians weren't hardened against the EMP.
The ground was ripped away from him as his screen blacked out. The left side of his armor felt painfully hot and vertigo swept over him as his armor bounced along the icy surface.
He stopped hard against a solid surface and used his chin to operate the filters on his helmet. The HUD showed a few small leaks, but he had several minutes before they would become an issue. He pulled the tape patches from his right leg and started fixing what leaks he could see.
As he looked up, he could see the habitat wasn't blacked out anymore. The glow of orange and blue balls of fire lit the wreckage that had held 100,000 people only moments ago.

1731 hours/Heavy Escort Rebecca, near Hygiea Colony, Asteroid Belt

Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery switch off the all ships comm link. The orders were given. Now she would have to hope she had done the right thing. The broadcasts from Ceres Colony in Chinese space were horrifying. Nearly a third of the habitats were destroyed. Others damaged badly. None of the Chinese ships had been damaged, but they had expended almost half of their on hand ordinance in defense of the civilians.
Elizabeth knew that it wasn't her responsibility to guard the Chinese colonists, but they were people. Just like the ones that had been on Pallas. And she wasn't going to let them die if she could help it. She locked her station as the ship prepared for acceleration.
She hoped Brenna would understand. Damaged or not, she had ordered the 3rd Battle Group to make best speed for the Chinese Colony. They would help however they could. For as long as they could.
If they could.

1737 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, Asteroid Belt

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 could feel the thrill and anticipation of the crew. Another victory. Costly, but a victory. Eighteen of the 21 scout craft had perished in the attack, but the enemy home had been heavily bombed. It was now time to finish the job.
Transmissions had indicated the enemy had five combat ships near the colony, and that one massed close to that of the Assault Vessel. That had to be an exaggeration born of the excitement of battle, or clouded sensor returns.
Regardless, the Combat Group had changed course. Hunting crippled enemy ships could wait. They had a better target now.
...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: September 2203

Postby procyon on Sun 15 May 2011 04:19

September 2203 part 3

September 23rd 2045 hours/Heavy Escort Rebecca, Near Ceres Colony

Vice Admiral Esme Jurkat reviewed the latest transmission she had received. For once it was good news. The Queen Elizabeth was enroute with Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery onboard. They were still two and a half hours out, but at least help was coming. Hopefully they would be here in time.
The Pan Euro 2nd and 3rd Battle Groups had been forced by the Chinese to deploy at 1 light second from the Colony. It had nothing to do with tactical position; the Chinese simply did not want them close enough to get detailed scans of the huge ship that was circling close to Ceres. It was enormous. Easily three times the size of her Heavy Escort. Larger than the Q.E. even. Where they had come up with the designs to construct a ship that large - that was stable under acceleration - was a mystery. A mystery they didn't want to share.
The 3rd Battle Group looked to be in sore condition. After docking and redistributing missiles from the 2nd Battle Group, the Pan Euro’s ships only carried enough for a dozen launches each. The Tatianna's magazine space had been damage and she would be carrying only enough for ten launches. At least both of her bays were functioning. But the crews of the 3rd Battle Group were close to exhaustion. They needed rest.
They had the US Science Vessel Discovery in tow, but she was a wreck. Her laser battery still worked, but not much else. It would take little to make her come apart. The FSC had two ships here, and they claimed to mount a single long range missile bay and one laser emitter each. That would help, but they claimed to only have five missiles onboard each of the ships. Not much, but if they could get close the lasers didn't need ammunition.
Worst was the Chinese declaration that their ships had only enough for six salvos each. If this turned into a long range duel, that meant the Pan Euro ships were the ones who would stay behind to cover the colony while the other ships withdrew with empty magazines. Not that she intended to leave Esme thought, but any fire would be concentrated on her ships as the others withdrew.
From what Brenna had passed on, after reviewing the engagement records, and listening to the Chinese accounts, it sounded like a large number of alien ships were present. If the Discovery had destroyed three small craft, and the Chinese claimed to have destroyed 18 of 21 small craft, that didn't look good for the future. Brenna said that the Alpha Class looked to carry three of the little ships, and that would indicate at least eight were present. The 3rd Battle Group had destroyed only two. That would leave six left. And it didn't seem likely they would send eight Alpha's without sending a few of the bigger Delta's with them. If they showed up, it would be a bloody fight.
Even from one light second away, Esme could tell from the sensor returns that it had been a horrible fight already. Clouds of debris and wreckage still floated near the colony. Fires burned out of control on the surface of Ceres. Only three of the small habitats appeared to have power at the moment. The Chinese had one ship that resembled the Pan Euro's Mobile Shipyards in orbit, assisting in the efforts to restore power on the surface. Helping to repair damaged habitats. Saving the countless workers and families trapped here.
No, leaving wouldn't be an option. The aliens would return. And she would do whatever it took to stop them.

2350 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, close orbit of Ceres Colony

Admiral Zhu Rongji keyed in for transmission of the orders releasing the two FSC vessels to accompany the US ship. They all carried lasers, and would do a better job supporting one another than the FSC ships could do supporting the Chinese group with their single launcher each. Their light construction also put them in danger trying to orbit in the debris floating near Ceres. The Europeans had posted the US laser ship with the undamaged Battle Group, while the damaged Battle Group had formed up on the newest arrival. The Euro called it the Queen Elizabeth. Each group was cruising in a circle at one light second from the colony, and on opposite sides. They would be easier to pick up on sensors, but no one here was hiding anymore.
Repairs on the surface of the colony were progressing, but they would need more time. Much more time. The inventory of missiles was low, with only six salvos on any of the Chinese vessels. Worse was the state of the high speed missiles. There were only nine left. Three per bay on the Tung. The Tung, Anhui, and Hubei could launch from ten separate long range bays, but the two Missile Frigates were still training with the new sensor equipment. Launches would be at less than full effectiveness. They would try to save the high speed missiles for close defense of the colony from the little bombers, but may have to divert long range ordinance to that role if the colony was attacked with a large number of the small craft. If the long range missiles were also running low, it would be up to the emplaced defenses of the colony (which were almost nonexistent) and the two brigades of troops on the surface. The soldiers had survived almost completely intact, protected by their combat systems and the fact they had emplaced at a fair distance from the habitats. The hope had been that if the soldiers were targeted, the habitats would suffer only minor damage. It seemed the aliens were uninterested in attacking planet bound military targets.
Hopefully the Euro and (small) US support would keep that from becoming a problem. Zhu wondered if he should broach the subject of trying to improve Chinese and Euro relations following this (if he survived). The Euro had deployed over half of their known fleet here to protect Chinese civilians, and left their own belt colonies at risk in the process. Perhaps a less tense peace could be achieved. Assuming there was anyone left when this was all done.

September 24th 0210 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, Asteroid Belt

The waiting was horrible. The Commander of Assault Vessel 2 had stopped the Group just over one light minute from the target. He wanted the local enemy support vessels to have time to arrive. At first it had made no sense. Destroy them quickly before they could prepare. The Assault Commander wanted to draw out the defenders. This could not be the only holding of the native race. They would have to draw from their reserves for the defense of this colony. Leaving less to face later. Better to face the reserves a little at a time, than to quickly destroy each habitat, and give the native race a chance to concentrate their reserves in a final defense. It also forced the defenders to tire their crews maintaining an extended defense - if they tired. It made sense, but did not make the waiting any easier.
The fields on the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17's station changed. The order had come. They would make the final approach. Soon they would destroy their enemies home and ships.

0404 hours/Heavy Escort Rebecca, 1 light second from Ceres.

Contact warning lights flashed on Esme’s console. A magnetic signature detected at over 7 light seconds. The sensors were unable to resolve individual ships, but the aliens had returned. And these weren't the small ships.
They were moving quickly, perhaps 9000 kilometers per second. Exact speeds were difficult to determine with the interference of the dust and debris of the belt. Tightbeam transmissions were already away, but the Chinese and 3rd Battle Group would become aware of the alien contacts within the next 30 seconds or so regardless.
Return transmissions indicated that Vice Admiral Avery wanted the 2nd Battle Group to decelerate and wait for the rest of the Euro ships to reach them. That was going to take time. Making the orbit at one light second from the colony would take the Q.E. and 3rd Battle Group nearly three minutes to reach the 2nd Battle Group. The aliens would reach weapons range of the colony and its defenses in less than two. The civilians would be butchered, and the Chinese forced to fight unsupported while the Q.E. and two Euro Battle Groups got in position. If it was only a few alien ships, maybe the Chinese could hold.
Less than a minute after first sensor contact, Esme had her answer. The alien ships had resolved. Four Alphas, two of the Deltas, and one big ship that would rival the Chinese vessel orbiting the colony. The Chinese must have picked that up also. They were moving away from Ceres. The Chinese would be trying to intercept the alien ships before they could reach the colony. But they would be alone, outnumbered, and out classed. Their crews had been on alert for too long. They would never be able to effectively respond to the alien ships. They would be destroyed, and with them any chance of stopping these damned aliens.
Elizabeth technically was senior, but today it wasn't going to be her decision. Esme knew her ships were in position, her crews the most rested, and they were going to need the big Chinese ships, the Q.E, and the experienced 3rd Battle Group to have any chance at all of stopping the alien ships. What they didn't have right now was the time to draw up an effective battle line so they could coordinate and concentrate their fire. And do that at a distance from the colony. The 2nd Battle Group could buy them that time. The 2nd could also draw the alien's fire, allowing the Chinese ships and Avery's command a chance to target the alien ships and launch before the aliens could return fire. Esme keyed in the orders for the 2nd Battle Group to accelerate towards the enemy formation. She couldn't order the US and FSC ships to follow, but hoped they would.
The next minute crawled by as the 2nd Battle Group and the alien ships closed. The FSC and US ships were still in formation with the 2nd Battle Group. They had to know they wouldn't survive, but she was glad of the help. A third order from Vice Admiral Avery came onto Esme's monitor. The first two had been to hold position. She glanced at the latest. Good hunting and she hoped to see her at Esme's court martial. Esme wished she could have smiled at the humor of it. Elizabeth had to know she wouldn't be going home.
Esme's monitor lit up with damage indicators as the Rebecca lurched. What in the hell? Where were the inbound indicators? There. They were just appearing. What had hit them? The Rebecca's missile bays and sensors were still online. She keyed in for a firing solution on the nearest Alpha. They didn't have the firepower to take out one of the big bastards, but they could kill or cripple her escorts. And the big ships were firing, giving the Chinese and Elizabeth's ships the targeting data they would need.
Esme watched as the alien inbounds, eight of them, raced toward her group, detonated one after another. And the Rebecca was still here. Maybe god was going to be on their side this day. Esme watched as the four missiles of the 2nd Battle Group and the two FSC missiles tracked the Alpha she had chosen. Sensor returns showed the targeted Alpha lose its magnetic signature. Vent. Hot damn, the drive never came back up. The alien was coasting now, an easy target. What really held Esme's attention after that were the contacts she was tracking even now. Chinese and Euro missiles. Eighteen of them! Fifteen seconds later the big alien bastard lost its magnetic field, and was even venting! Yes! They might just be able to beat these aliens yet.
Esme's sensors never picked up the two chunks of metallic hydrogen moving at nearly the speed of light that turned her ship into one more nuclear detonation in space.
The rest of 2nd Battle Group and the Marie Celeste followed her into oblivion thirty seconds later.

0408 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, near enemy colony

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 strained to monitor the events unfolding around his ship and direct his crew at the same time. Several enemy ships had charged their formation and crippled, then destroyed as they passed, Patrol Vessel 10. Four of the six enemy ships had been destroyed for the loss of one Patrol Vessel, but now the remaining two were behind the formation. The Combat and Assault Vessels could not target their mass drivers anywhere but in the direction the ship was moving. Worse, the two enemy ships that had moved behind the formation were using some form of weapon that could pierce the magnetic shielding and damage the ships directly. The damage was not catastrophic, but it tore into the ships nonetheless. One attack had even pierced through the plating and baffles to cripple one of Combat Vessel 5's particle accelerators. It would be able to continue at its current speed, but full combat acceleration would now be impossible.
Most distressing was the damage that the Assault Vessel was absorbing. The enemy weapons had ripped through her shielding and baffles, tearing into the hull and internal systems. The enemy had brought out their own version of an Assault Vessel and Combat Vessel that were pouring destruction upon Assault Vessel 2. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 targeted one of the two small ships behind the formation and watched as the torpedo found its target. The enemy ship disappeared as some fusion plant lost containment and consumed the vessel. Moments after that the Commander shuddered in recognition of the Assault Vessel disappeared as an enemy weapon detonated too close to its hull. The leader of the Combat Group was gone. It would now be up to the Commander of Combat Vessel 5 to take control.
But even now the enemy Assault Vessel was bearing down on the two Combat Vessels.

0409 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, 2.75 light seconds from Ceres

Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji knew he only had one choice. The enemy 'Delta Class' (as the Europeans called them) had closed to within weapons range of the colony. He had to give them a target they COULDN'T ignore. The Tung, Anhui, and Hubei had bore full down upon the two largest of the alien ships. The three smaller escorts had broken off.
Two hits tore into the Tung as they closed. Plating and baffles were torn away. Forward crew work spaces were breached. But the Tung had been designed to weather far worse. At only half of a light second from one of the Deltas, Zhu ordered the ships to launch everything they had. Ten long range missiles followed the three high speed short ranged weapons as they streaked through space to intercept the alien Delta. Heartbeats later the first intercepts were made. The high speed missiles had shattered the magnetic fields and torn into the Delta's hull. The following detonations left the ship a wildly tumbling hulk, drifting uncontrolled through space.
It came with a price. The remaining alien escorts had launched on the Tung and two of the three missile had made intercept at this close range. Zhu could feel the ship slammed by the hammers of the alien weapons. Damage lights flashed across Zhu's screen. All the short ranged launch bays were out of commission, along with two of the four long range bays. The sensor arrays were shredded and the ship was flying almost blind. Two thirds of the particle accelerators were damaged or had overheated. They could still maneuver, and even launch using second hand readings from the Missile Frigates and the missiles onboard guidance system.
But for all intents, the Tung was out of the fight. The Anhui and Hubei were still out there, and undamaged. The launches from the Euro ships and the lone FSC ship had further damaged the last of the alien Deltas. The three Alphas were disengaging as rapidly as they could.
Zhu keyed in the orders to bring the Tung around. Get her out of range of the enemy Alphas. Get the big girl home.

0415 hours/Mary Reed, 3.5 light seconds from Ceres

The Dutchman was amazed he was still alive. They Mary Reed had managed to come through it all untouched. This was good. A single hit had torn the Marie Celeste in half.
Status displays showed the Mary Reed had only a single Scorpion Missile left on board. The laser capacitors were using the heat sinks to maintain operating temperatures, but were far from overheating. Only two of the alien Alpha Class ships had managed to disengage. No one was ordering a pursuit. The Dutchman knew he wasn't going to go on one anyway.
Hopefully the aliens didn't have any more ships nearby. The Chinese Cruiser was HEAVILY damaged (Just how did it take such a pounding? At least four enemy hits, each powerful enough to DESTROY the Mary Reed), one of the Frigates had been damaged finishing off one of the Alphas, the US ship was gone, the Euro had lost the ENTIRE 2nd Battle Group, and the Queen Elizabeth had been hit dueling with the last of the enemy Delta Class ships. The Euro 3rd Battle Group had started the whole thing damaged. Of all the ships present, only the Mary Reed, Chinese Frigate Hubei, and Pan Euro Attack Escort Isabelle were undamaged. Not much to put up a defense with if the aliens came back.
That was assuming they could make a defense. The Chinese had to be almost out of missiles, and the Euro wasn't much better off. The Dutchman didn't figure his single missile was going to make any real difference.
If the aliens did come back with more ships, it was over. If they didn't, they were all heroes.

0457 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 18.75 light seconds from Ceres

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 sat as still as death. The battle had been a horrible loss. Assault Vessel 2, Combat Vessels 5 and 7, and Patrol Vessels 10, and 11 had been destroyed. Patrol Vessels 6 and 9 had been destroyed in an earlier engagement. Only Patrol Vessels 15 and 17 had managed to disengage. But the stress on the drives during the final escape had been too much for Patrol Vessel 15's particle accelerators. They had burned up the superconductors. It had finally coasted to a stop here.
The crews were finishing transferring the remaining torpedoes and supplies of Patrol Vessel 15 to Patrol Vessel 17. The crew of 15 would then transfer onboard when that was finished. A torpedo would be left to remotely arm and detonate after the two ships had undocked and separated a safe distance.
Patrol Vessel 17 would be the ONLY vessel to return from Combat Group 2. It would be the responsibility of the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 to relay to the elders the events that had unfolded. The catastrophe.
This would be no short war of extermination. This would be a war fought for survival.
A survival the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 no longer assumed was certain.
...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: September 2203

Postby procyon on Mon 16 May 2011 02:19

September 2203 part 4

September 27th 1420 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, 1 light second orbit of Ceres

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon wished she could get sick. Or cry. Or something other than sit in the small cabin she had to herself on the Tatianna. But she couldn't. Her body wasn't designed to do anything like that. Anything to help her let out how she felt. The decades she had spent as a cyborg hadn't helped her to cope, just to shut herself off from anything but her work. She couldn't do that anymore. This war was just pushing its way in.
Her private room had a monitor. It said she was to receive an award for her actions in the belt and here at Ceres in defense of the Chinese colonists. That she would be among the guests of honor at several functions. Rumor even had it that she would be up for promotion again.
The only reason she was up for promotion was that Esme was gone. Along with the 196 crew members of the 2nd Battle Group. She had lost 16 crew in the earlier engagement. She would be a guest at those ceremonies also. The medals. The funerals. The families left behind. All those who would cry. Could cry for those that were gone.
She shut off her monitor and laid her head down on her desk. The Chinese relief group had arrived. The Euro ships would be leaving for Earth in two hours.
'I can't feel my head on the desk. Why do I have to feel anything else?' Brenna wondered.

September 29th 1600 hours/Pan Euro Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Jude Kushnir just looked at the orders she had received. They had just transferred her to the Queen Elizabeth. The Q.E. hadn't been back from the belt for over an hour and they had transferred her. She was sure that Vice Admiral Avery would be taking command from the Red October now. Elizabeth would lead the 1st Battle Group back to the belt soon.
Jude knew that the 'honor' of being transferred to the Q.E. had more to do with the fact that the ship would be in for repairs for the next month or so. A pleasant excuse to keep her here at Earth while the hearings continued. The hearings seemed to be dragging out forever. Talking about the same things day after day. As if it was going to somehow change if they kept talking about it.
This wasn't the time to spend day after day talking. The Pan Euro had just lost a WHOLE Battle Group! The aliens had taken a hit too by the sounds of it, but this was no time to sit around talking about something that couldn't be changed. No one was going to win this war sitting around waiting for the aliens to come back and attack again. Eventually someone was going to have to find out where they were coming from and take the fight to them. And the Red October would be the ship to do it. The aliens hadn't shown a ship faster, and nobody on Earth seemed to have a better sensor array or scientific suite available on a war ship. Somebody needed to get out there and find them before they came back.
Elizabeth, Brenna, and the Chinese had stopped them this time. They might not be so lucky the next time.
There was going to be a next time unless someone stopped the aliens.

2000 hours/Commander's Boat, Venus orbit

Admiral Hu looked out the viewing port of the small ship's boat at the Tung. She was a wreck. The Mobile Construction Ship Zhuang had managed to get one of the two damage launch bays for the long range missiles working, one of the short range bays, some rudimentary sensors, and enough life support to get a cyborg crew home. Not much else. Even those systems were going to need a major overhaul. Estimates were that it would take at least 3 months to get her back in service. 'Three months.' Hu thought. 'Do we have that much time?'
The Anhui had suffered much less severe damage. The Frigate's heavy plating and numerous baffles had spared her from serious damage. The hull had been breached, but the internal damage had been light. She would need a few weeks for repairs but would be out of the slip before the end of October. The Hubei would take up duties escorting convoys for the moment. Her crew had seen enough combat over the last year. A few lazy cruises and down time would do them good. Hopefully they would get more rest than the US convoy escort had.
The Cruiser Chiang Ki Shek and Missile Frigates Henan and Shangxi would be on station now at Ceres, overseeing repairs. Reports were indicating that although the damage was severe, it could have been worse. Dead were estimated at just over one million. But the defense of the colony, and hard work from the crews of the Zhuang and many ground support workers had kept the other two million alive.
Folks were going to have to look at the bright side in this war, because the dark side didn't bear much scrutiny.

September 30th 0630 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Bradley Walters watched as the staff filed into the briefing room. Most looked tired. Those that didn't looked like cyborgs. They were tired too, they just wouldn't look it. The last few days had been long and busy.
Debates over recommendations to the Defense Department on ship construction seemed endless. The first of the new Interceptor Mk IIa's would be coming into service in the next few days. That was good news. Plans had been to build more until the close of the year. That was getting debated heavily. Some groups and staff wanted plans for a newer faster Interceptor, a Mk III. Something that could better dictate the tactical situation or disengage if needed. But they would be expensive and some sacrifices would have to be made for the extra engine power. Others wanted a new class altogether. A larger ship to better deal with the alien Deltas and the big SOB they had rolled out for this latest attack. Intel was designating the new ship as a Beta Foxtrot. Rumor said the code name came from some Intel officer saying it was a 'Big F***ing' ship, and the initials had stuck. Nice to know that some idiot in Intel still had a sense of humor during a disaster.
The last group wanted to replace one of the Interceptors slated for construction with a new Science Vessel. The destruction of the Discovery had cost the US its last operational Science Vessel. That hurt. Problem was, the Discovery Class was severely under gunned and outdated for combat against the aliens. And every ship right now was a combat ship, like it or not.
The Discovery had gotten close enough to one of the Deltas to get information on the mystery weapon system that Lieutenant Meagan Ryan had first identified. The Discovery had closed to barely 70,000 kilometers after the Delta had lost its magnetic shielding, and got a load of data on what was obviously a very powerful and sophisticated mass driver. It had cost Captain Leffler his life, but the information was priceless. Analysis was already identifying many of the weapon's capabilities, and more importantly - limitations. Lieutenant Ryan would be giving the brief on that today.
Rear Admiral Jack Ryan's source of information seemed to have dried up of late, but there was already so much data to sift through that it would take months. If the source was still alive, perhaps they would make contact in the next few months.
What none of the staffers knew, and had just been passed to Admiral Walters this morning, was that the Euro and US had just signed an agreement to begin joint research into the alien's protective system. How long it would take no one knew. Without it though, the aliens had an almost unbeatable advantage. Unless someone could come up with the secret of how they did it, there was only one way this war was going to end. And it wouldn't be in humanity's favor.


This was a horribly busy and stressful month for all the players. Nobody got out without a fight. Only China didn't lose a vessel, but having the Tung down for three months was almost as bad.

China finally did make its roll to reach EL1, so the middle boy was looking forward to better income in October, and the chance to make real progress in research on shields. But he was sweating bullets during the defense of the Ceres Colony. He had horrible luck trying to shoot down the alien's gigs, and nearly lost the Tung in the final battle. One more hit and she would have gone down. If I had known that during the battle, I would definitely have pressed the attack one more round. His luck during the last battle was good though, and he had string after string of rolls that put almost all of his missiles on target, even with the two Frigates effectively Poor grade due to the prior month's refits.

Momma (the Pan Euro) had quite the roller coaster for the month. She was so excited by her early battle that took out two alien Alphas without her losing a single ship. She spent two days with a smile on her face talking to any of the kids about it that would listen.
Her smile went away when she helped the Chinese and ended up losing the entire 2nd Battle Group in two rounds of combat. After that the Q.E. and 3rd stayed back at long range and poured in missiles. She didn't want to get so close she couldn't get out. She also knew that the Tatianna and Catherine would be out with single hits. When the aliens did start to close, she put the Q.E. into their effective sensor range and kept the 3rd back. I decided the extra +2 to hit was worth not shooting at cripples ( a 5 vs. a 3 on to hits). The Q. E. picked up some armor damage, and the 3rd survived. Still no smile though.
Failing her roll for a focus breakthrough on shields didn't help.

The US (oldest boy) spent his first encounter scared, but managed to take out three of the alien gigs in three rounds with the little Discovery. He didn't have sensor range to spot the two alien CT's, and managed to zip right out between them and got away. He got brave with the later battles and paid the price with the Discovery taking one hit in the battle helping the 3rd against the two CT's, and then lost her when he made a run on a Delta. He did manage to help cripple a CT with a long range shot, and then got two in on a Delta - with the second being a close shot that he had skip armor for internal damage - and took out the only forward engine. Every other system up front would have had no impact on the battle. I was actually kind of glad when the pesky (and lucky) little ship finally bought the farm. The boy was sure proud of his contribution, and tried as often as possible to inflate his impact on the battles.
He finally succeeded on his last science research project (Y SL1), which opened up his SA, and was looking forward to trying for the breakthrough on shields the next month. He made an agreement with the Euro that whoever got the breakthrough first, would share it with the other.

The oldest girl was perhaps a little overconfident, and was in shock when the Marie was taken out in a single hit. She fought out the rest of the battle, but tried to be as inconspicuous as possible. She also had a string of really bad rolls. She is quiet by nature, but after the battle disappeared for a long time, and then came back to mom and her older brother looking for advice on a small but more durable warship she could build, especially when the shields became available. She had ideas, but wanted input from folks who had done more fighting with the aliens.

As for the Nemotians, they had a rough month. I really hadn't anticipated the players being as successful as they were. They had really worked it out during the last battle at Ceres (I think it was mostly the oldest boy who is the math whiz) that if they started with all but a few little ships beyond sensor combat range, and only shot with the little ones up front, the big ones in back were safe from return fire until they had ALSO shot. The player ships outnumbered the Nemotian ships, and the little group up front had just enough ships to force the Nemotians to fire all of their ships (as the sides alternated) without being able to target the large ships in back that had never shot. When all the Nemotian ships had fired, then the Tung group, QE and 3rd BG cut loose. That long range fire at -2 crippled the Nemotian CL before it could ever fire on any of the larger human ships.
The 2nd BG, Discovery, and two Mary's got tore up drawing the entire Nemotian group's fire, but crippling the CL (dang the Chinese' lucky rolls) and a CT in the first round really cinched how the battle was going to go. It also made me decide that if all the players got together for a battle and came up with a plan, I was really going to have to be on my game or I would lose. Bad.

That CT 17 was the only survivor was a really bad roll. I had red lined (aka detuned) the three surviving CT's to get the extra one speed to disengage. The CT's had split up and I was fairly sure all the players were hurting bad enough they wouldn't want to chase, just in case I had anything left in hiding in the belt. (I am unfortunately known to my group for my tendency to bait and drag my opponents if I can) The players managed to blow out one CT's engine before it got away, so that left me with two. I then rolled poorly and burned out one of the last CT's engines. Sadly, with CP drives, the little ship only had one engine room. Emergency repairs won't fix a burn out, and the repair ship I had brought along to help emergency repairs between battles wasn't going to park for a month by Ceres to do repairs and hope no one noticed. So CT 15 was scuttled after offloading everything I could. I took nine ships in system and lost eight. I was really kind of ashamed of myself for a while after this battle and swore to be more careful and cunning the next time.

Thanks for reading, and for those curious - here are the ships that took part in the battles for September.

US Ship Roster (Captain Jeremy Leffler BG)

US Exploration Vessel Discovery ES 12HS
[2]A A (BbS) H (BbS) Xp Lb Qa (Cp) [6/1] gig x4

Pan Euro Ship Roster (Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery BG - on board QE)

(Destroyer) Queen Elizabeth (BG -1) DD 30HS
[2]A A A A A A A Hs Qa Mgs (Cp) (Cp) Qa Ra Ra Ya Ra Ra (Cp) [6/1] gig x1

2nd Battle Group (Vice Admiral Esme Jurkat BG - on Bec)
Heavy Escort Rebecca CT 16HS
[2]A A A H Mgs Qa Ra Ra Ya (cpCp) [6/1] gig x1

Attack Escort Sheeba , Sorcha ES 12HS
[2]A A A A Hs Mgs Ya Ra Qa (Cp) [6/1]

3rd Battle Group (Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon BG +1 - on Tati)
Heavy Escort Tatianna CT 16HS
[2]A A A H Mgs Qa Ra Ra Ya (cpCp) [6/1] gig x1

Attack Escort Catherine (BG +1) , Isabelle (BG +1) ES 12HS
[2]A A A A Hs Mgs Ya Ra Qa (Cp) [6/1]

FSC Ship Roster (The Dutchman BG +1 - on M. Reed)

Converted Freighters Marie Celeste , Mary Reed FT2 16HS
[2]A Qv Qv Qv H H La Ra Qa (Cp) [6/1] gig x1

Chinese Ship Roster (Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji BG - commander at Ceres battle - on Tung)

Cruiser Mao Tse Tung CL 45HS
[2]A A A A A A A A A A H Qa Qa Mgs Ya Ga Ga Ga (cpCp) (Cp) Ra Ra Qa Ra Ra (CpCp) [6/1]
gig x1

Missile Frigate Hubei (BG -2*) , Anhui (BG -2*) FG 22HS
[2]A A A A Qa Hs Qa (Cp) Ra Mgs Ra Ra Ya (Cp) [6/1] gig x1
*Adjusted for shakedown period following refit.

Plus 6 Qv of troops and 60 PU on Ceres (treat as O2m)

Nemotian Ship Roster (Commander Assault Vessel 2 BG)

Assault (Light Cruiser) Vessel 2 CL 45HS
[2]S S S S A A A H Qa Qa (cpCp) (M1) Mg Mg Mg Mg Kb+ Kb+ (Cp) Qa Pta Ya (CpCp) Pta [6/1] gig x1

Combat (Destroyer) Vessel 5 , 7 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

Nemotian Patrol Corvette 6 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 15 , 17 CT 16HS
[2]S S A A Hs (BbS) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1] gig x3

(Engagements with CT 6 and 9 detached vs. 3rd BG or Discovery were conducted with no flagship penalty of -1 to Initiative)

Post Script

I've thought about putting it on its own fiction forum so I could put in a comments thread without the clutter in the story. I could also see if a comments thread could be added to the open forum. Either way is fine with me. Preferences anyone?

As for the hits on the Tung, the ship layout is above. Two Kb hits, two Pta hits (we still did Pta having x3 on no drive field). She was running with only the last two Ra's and last engine room. Emergency repairs got one Qa working or she would never have made it back to earth. If I had only known.

As for the family working together, it was split into two sides. China-FSC and Euro-US, with snide comments from China that they planned to genocide anyone to close to Venus (or other spots), and the US-Euro always making sure they kept full battle groups at Earth to nuke the chinese if they sneezed wrong. The oldest girl was looking often with the Kestral for a convoy that she could hit without getting caught, but she is a wary little thing and was worried that the US-Euro could take her out of the game with the groups they kept at earth if she stepped to far out of line. Such a loving and trusting little family we are.
The only thing they agreed on was that trashing dad's aliens was a good thing. That and working together allowed them to get a good look at each others ships and what they could do.

As for Patrol Vessel 17, yep, they have led a charmed life to this point. Except for advancement rolls, which had been bad. This month was the first time they finally advanced - to a whopping BG +1 (Veteran in our parlance)

The Discovery was a stout little boat. And she went down fighting - hard. She pretty much doomed the DD that she took out the engine on. As I said above, the oldest boy sang her praises for a long time. Still will if you bring the battle up. Has even named another ship in a second campaign for her. That boat has been just as charmed. 51 turns so far, and it is also an ES. In an EL8 game now with DN running around.

As for ammo, yes - all LRW except K have ten loads on-board at the launcher. K is unlimited. The Chinese and FSC ended up so low starting the last battle because they fired A LOT at the little gigs. The middle boy had heard about Pallas, and he didn't want that to happen at all. Every gig that didn't make it home wasn't coming back for a second strike. So they shot them coming in, and going out. The Mary's actually made a short pursuit to use their La's one extra time. The battle with the combat group left them all running on empty.

So glad you enjoy. Will try to start/post Oct before the weekend.
...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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