February 2204

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February 2204

Postby procyon on Thu 26 May 2011 23:57

February 2204 part 1/Prelude

February 1st 0210 hours/Attack Escort Cynthia, 12 light minutes from Neptune

Captain Giovanni Vetra looked over the sensor returns. The scout was now overdue. There had been no word from the crew since departure. The US crew of Lander 7 had been punctual to a fault in the last two scouting missions. They were gone. Giovanni just knew it.
It would be only a short time before Vice Admiral Avery ordered the group to prep for acceleration. Only this time they wouldn't set course towards the next planet to be scouted. They would move toward Neptune. And whatever had destroyed the US Lander.
Giovanni looked over the sensor contacts again. The returns of the ships in the combined US and Pan Euro group dotted the screen. Small names displayed beside the icons. His eyes kept straying back to one. The Rachel Pierce. She had joined the 1st Battle Group a few days after Christmas.
Memories of Rachel haunted him every time he saw her name. Memories of a time when they had been school mates. And then more. Plans that had fallen away after the accident that had left him a 'borg.
She had volunteered to join the Pan Euro military. Went through the training to become an officer and then volunteered for space duty. Giovanni could remember the many times he had tried to talk her out of it. She had always been stubborn like that. And she had always been there for him, whatever the cost.
They had stayed close. Often served together. When they hadn't been posted together, they had always stayed in touch. Took leave together. Rachel had even been his XO for three years before she got her own command. Giovanni had never imagined a world without her.
Listening to her last transmissions had torn away more of him than the accident ever could have.
Somewhere ahead were alien ships. Somewhere was the ship that had taken away his Rachel. If he had to destroy every last alien ship to make sure, he was going to send that ship to hell.


0715 hours/Queen Mary, Pan Euro Space Station, Mercury orbit

Admiral Jude Kushnir sat in her station. The ship was due to clear the slip within the hour, and she wanted to be on board when it did. Jude knew she could have waited for the Queen Mary at Earth, but the temptation to take the Q.M. out for her first run was just too much. Now it would also help to keep her from dwelling on things she couldn't change.
The transmission from Vice Admiral Avery had been received only minutes ago. There had been no contact with the US scout. They were moving towards Neptune to ascertain what had prevented the Lander from returning. That message was four hours old when Jude saw it. It would still be another 20 hours before Elizabeth would reach the planet. It would then take another four hours for the transmissions of what happened to reach the inner system. The only reason the US Lander wouldn't have returned would be the aliens. There would be a battle. And that battle would likely be long over before Jude heard that it had begun.
Twenty four hours to worry about something she couldn't affect. Something she couldn't change. But something that could change everything.
Jude tapped the arm of her chair. Twenty four hours.


1940 hours/Interceptor Mk IIa J. Hancock, dark side of asteroid belt near Ceres

Rear Admiral Joshua Campbell wondered how badly Admiral Walters was going to chew him out. He should have checked the convoy flight plans. It was too late now. At least he could run the dark side of the belt to try and make it look like he wasn't overlapping security coverage unnecessarily.
Right now the Pan Euro Armed Science Vessel Red October was just a few light minutes away, escorting a convoy through the belt. Josh had been rather embarrassed to have 'caught and intercepted' the 'contact' out here in the belt. He now regretted the hasty transmissions to Earth about finding an 'unknown' contact.
A new light on Josh's monitor caught his attention. The Sensor Conn had caught a new contact almost dead ahead. The Red October would have had to wander quite a bit off course to be out here. Perhaps the shepherd had lost one of her sheep, and it was a freighter that had strayed off course. Could be a Chinese ship - they were close to Ceres after all. Josh keyed in for all ships to lock stations, but decided he didn't need to send off a message to Earth just yet. They had time to get a better ID.
"Sir, we have an active drive bloom. Two. No, three blooms. Contact is now three contacts. Contacts One and Two now showing magnetic field deployment." Josh listened as the Sensor Officer rattled off more data on the contacts, but he wasn't listening. This wasn't a lost freighter. And he needed to send that message now.


1947 hours/Missile Frigate Anhui, asteroid belt near Ceres

Captain Chen Ming keyed in orders for the helm to bring the ship hard about. The contacts had come from nowhere. The Frigates were supposed to have waited in the belt near Ceres, while the Tung had remained near the colony. If the aliens had returned in force, the Tung would have fallen back and drawn the aliens into an ambush by the Missile Frigates. But the Tung hadn't made first contact, and it was the ambushers who had been surprised.
Worse, Chen knew that assuming the contacts had been aliens traveling with their protective fields down was a mistake. Moments after the Frigates' protective fields had been raised the contacts had begun open radio broadcasts. The encryption was undecipherable, but it was undoubtedly Euro or US transmissions. To make bad into horrible - the resupply vessel had just arrived when the contacts had showed up. It was now running with the Frigates to avoid the pursuing ships.
The contacts were too far back in the asteroid field to identify who they were, or even how many there were accurately. They were persistent though. For the last 10 minutes they had chased the Frigates. Even turning off the magnetic generators hadn't thrown them off the trail. Luckily the civilian freighter was a fast model and had been able to keep up. Admiral Zhu would have ordered it destroyed if the small ship had been too slow. Admiral Zhu had given a new order though. One that was forcing the Anhui and Hubei to change course drastically.
They were to break out of the belt on the dark side and make a run for deep space. They were to see how far this US or Euro patrol would pursue them. Hope that the group would worry about an ambush in deep space, or that they were leaving their colonies unprotected. Much like Ceres and the Tung would be now. Every moment took the Frigates farther and farther away.
Captain Chen hoped there weren't any real aliens close by. It was complicated enough at the moment.
...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: February 2204

Postby procyon on Sun 29 May 2011 11:26

February 2204 part 2 /Of Stars and Shattered Ships

February 2nd 0332 hours/Queen Elizabeth, 8 light seconds from Neptune

Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery scoured the sensor returns for any hint of activity. The readings had shown a large energy signature on Triton, one commensurate with a sizable settlement. Triton and Proteus both lay on the far side of Neptune for the moment, as the Pan Euro and US groups approached from the opposite side of the planet. No drive blooms or artificial magnetic signatures were anywhere to be seen, but Elizabeth wasn't ready to believe that the aliens would leave a colony unguarded. They were here somewhere. Where was the question.
Elizabeth keyed in orders for the Q.E.'s ships' boat to be launched. The aliens had used small craft to flush out hiding ships before, and it worked. 'No reason not to learn from your enemies.' she mused as the sensor returns began to track the small craft on its way towards the planet.
Elizabeth relayed orders to the comm for the ships of the combined US and Pan Euro group to take up an orbit around the planet at 5 light seconds distance. Although only cruising at one third of max combat speed, it only took seconds for the new course to bring Triton and its large energy signature back into view. But still no movement or ships. Wait. New returns were coming back. Elizabeth watched the sensor updates on her monitor as objects orbiting Triton were identified. The distance was still too great to clearly track what they were, or even how many there were. But there were objects there.
Elizabeth had begun to court the idea that perhaps they had caught the aliens with their guard down when her monitor blossomed with flashing lights. The sensors had recorded a detonation at one and a half light seconds from Neptune, and the ship's boat was gone. Launches were being detected from just outside the atmosphere of Neptune, and multiple drive blooms and magnetic field deployments were being detected from near Triton. So much for surprise. Elizabeth keyed in orders for the group to increase the orbital course out to 6 light seconds, and watched as sensor returns showed three alien weapons detonating well behind the Q.E.
Sensor returns showed that two of the ships near Triton were Alphas, and that a Delta and Foxtrot class were parked just above the atmosphere of Neptune itself. The big ships were holding their position, but the Alphas were coming about on an intercept course. The 1st Battle Group was in the lead, and would enter weapons range of the Alphas within the next 60 seconds. The two US Missile Escorts were in formation alongside the Q.E., while the US Interceptors were the trailing element. Distance between the groups was just short of one light second, to avoid the drive blooms of the leading ships from damaging the ones behind.
The two big alien ships were out of range, but there were five other drive blooms that didn't show the normal magnetic signature of the alien combat ships. Two had appeared near the Delta, and the other three were moving along with the Alphas. None had been cataloged before, and the two closest alien vessels weren't firing - even though they were in range. That wasn't stopping the US Interceptors from launching on the closest alien ships though. The sensors picked up the drive detonations of the US missiles, and then the detonation an alien ship. A large detonation. It was obvious that the 'unarmed' ships were simply flying bombs.
The Q.E. and the 1st BG had reached 6 light seconds from Neptune, but the US Interceptors were still lingering at just over 5 light seconds as they continued to launch missiles on the closest 'unarmed' contact. The alien Delta and Foxtrot were launching on the Interceptors as they lit up their drives and began to pull away from the planet. The two Alphas were slowing down as the three ships with them continued on towards 1st BG. It was clear now to Elizabeth. The aliens were going to use these 'flying bombs' as cannon fodder, to draw the US and Pan Euro fire while the alien combat ships engaged her group. Long range launches were already beginning to detonate near the US group.
Elizabeth made a decision. She keyed in commands for all fire to be directed at the enemy combat vessels. The unarmed ships were to be evaded but not fired upon at this time. She noticed the blue-grey haze disappear as the drive cut out on the Q.E. while the missile bays opened and launched. As soon as the bays closed the drive flared to life. Elizabeth's monitor showed that 2000 kilometers away the US Missile Escort Eagle had broken apart under the impact of several alien weapon detonations. If they didn't start taking out the alien warships, the rest of the group wasn't going to end up any better. Elizabeth watched as the sensors tracked the missiles of the Q.E. and 1st BG as they closed on one of the Alphas and then detonated one after another along the ships course, trying to pinpoint where in space the ship would be as the waves of superheated gases rocketed out from the missile detonations. She noted with satisfaction that the ship had lost its drive, and was now coasting, and then wanted to curse as the sensors picked up another launch from the damaged ship.
The US Interceptors were launching on the Foxtrot, but the big ship's protective fields were shrugging off the detonations as it accelerated towards the Q.E. The Q.E. lurched as the engines cut out. Lights flashed before Elizabeth and a storm of clouds ripped by her. As the scene cleared she could see that most of the forward part of the bridge section was gone, and the aft section was a mass of twisted metal. Only two of the seventeen bridge crew were still at their stations, and one of them couldn't still be alive. Damn. How could it get worse? Elizabeth tried to get her monitor to turn back on, but discovered most of the keypad was missing, along with the lower half of her right arm. She plugged the auxiliary port on her left hand into the link on her station and hoped the connection was still up. Lights flooded her sight as the link booted up. Thank god for small favors.
As status prompts filled her vision she wondered if ignorance would have been better. Two thirds of the particle accelerators were off line or destroyed, and all four of the launch bays were either destroyed or damaged. The magazines had vented the last of the missiles into space to allow the drive to reengage. The comm system was down, as was most of the sensor array. Looking over the damage lists she wondered how in the hell the ship was even still there. The drive shield had managed to survive, and the ship was moving. With only her forefinger to control the cursor and prompts, she quickly plotted a course and locked it in. The drive cut out and maneuver thrusters fired as the ship changed course. Then blue grey again as the drive fired. She could see the stars through the gaping hole in the forward section. The countless points of light were beautiful. Elizabeth realized that she had been in space for decades now, and had never actually stopped to look at the stars in all that time.
From the little sensor data she could get, Elizabeth could see that the US Interceptors were closing on the Delta and Foxtrot, but the big ships had been coming about to bear down on the US group. The US data analysts had shown that those ships packed a powerful mass driver, but that it could only be deployed on the heading the ships' were moving on. They couldn't be allowed to bring those weapons to bear on the little US ships. They needed another target, a big important target. Something that could buy the Interceptors a chance to close, and bring the lasers that would pass through the alien magnetic fields unhindered a chance to fire. As the Delta and Foxtrot again changed course to face the Q.E. Elizabeth knew it was going to work. She would never be able to see the incoming death, as it moved to fast for the sensors to track. The sensors were tracking a number of inbound missiles from the two big ships, and then she realized that three more inbounds were appearing from near Triton. It appeared that three of the five structures still orbiting the moon were armed. At least they were firing on the Q.E. The other Pan Euro and US ships might still have some chance. Elizabeth felt pride as she noted that the 1st BG had finished off the damaged Alpha, and that the second Alpha was only moments away from joining the first. Then sadness as she realized the Anastasia was gone. Her flagship for the last 6 years, and the crew that had worked and trained so hard, were gone.
The hole in the hull lit up as if a dozen camera bulbs had gone off in rapid succession. One had been particularly bright. Then the sensors cleared.
NO! WHY! The little US Missile Escort had cut between the inbounds and the Q.E. The Hawk had been ripped apart in a storm of fire that would have shredded even the great Chinese ships. She had died protecting a ship that was supposed to have died protecting her.
Elizabeth watched, knowing the aliens would have realized that the Q.E. wasn't launching anymore, wasn't a threat. But they weren't turning. It was too late for the aliens. The US ships were already banking hard around the big vessels, giving them no chance to bring the big weapons to bear. One of the alien flying bombs detonated as the Interceptor J. Davis passed, but other than a momentary interruption of the drive bloom, the Davis seemed undamaged. Then it was the Foxtrot's turn to stutter its drive. Over and over. Elizabeth noted with satisfaction that the big ship's protective field was gone, and the ship was slowing and trying to disengage. The Davis had disappeared as missiles from the bases around Triton tore the ship apart, but the three remaining US ships weren't breaking off. Her group was being torn apart, but in moments the only alien ship left would be the Delta.


0341 hours/Interceptor MkIIa S. Grant, near Neptune

Rear Admiral Matthew Thomas had only a moment to note that the Euro flagship was gone. He was too busy. He had spent the last few minutes trying to assume command of the battle that was raging. The Grant now had to both act as flagship and still fight the damned aliens. The Foxtrot was taking a pounding, and still launching. But only one missile instead of two, and her heading made it impossible to target the US group with the mass drivers she carried. Assuming they even still worked. But the bases close to Triton were pouring in missiles.
Matt felt the ship stutter as the Grant launched another missile and discharged the laser capacitors. Sensors recorded the drive interruptions and venting from the Foxtrot as the US ships fired again and again. The alien ship finally came apart as its drive shield shattered and the drive bloom vaporized the ship. The T. Roosevelt was also gone though, a victim of its own drive bloom and the alien missiles from the moon.
Matt programmed in course changes to bring the Interceptors about again, and waited for firing solutions on the Delta to be completed. The Euro Attack Escorts were turned away from the planet, running before the alien suicide ships. They were still launching at the Delta, but the rapidly increasing range was ruining their chances of crippling the last alien ship.
Sensor returns showed that the Lincoln had gotten the firing solution first, as the Delta was venting damage. Her protective field was still up, but the lasers didn't care as the pulse shattered plating and hull. The Delta vented again as the Grant's laser found her target also. As Euro missiles detonated around the alien ship, the magnetic signature also disappeared.
'It's almost over for the Delta now, just a few more minutes', thought Matt.
The Interceptors Lincoln and Grant disappeared as the next wave of alien missiles detonated around them.


0343 hours/Attack Escort Cynthia, 7.5 light seconds from Neptune

Captain Giovanni Vetra watched as three alien ships pursued the remnants of 1st Battle Group while the Delta launched over and over. The Anastasia had been destroyed in the first few minutes fighting the Alphas, and the Suzette had just been torn apart by attacks from the Delta. The Q.E. and all the US ships were gone. It was just the Attack Escorts Cynthia, Mary Queen of Scots, and the Rachel Pierce. They couldn't win now. Between the Delta and the three orbital weapons platforms near Triton there was just no chance. Giovanni seethed inside as he knew all they could do now was disengage and hope to escape alive.
The damned flying bombs behind the 1st BG were still closing. They must have their drives running way past what the ships were designed for he hoped. The Mary QoS. changed course again and the Cynthia followed suit. Giovanni knew the course changes would only buy them a little more time. They couldn't outrun the aliens and still launch on the Delta effectively. Giovanni keyed in orders to the helm and waited.
The Rachel and Mary pulled ahead slightly as the Cynthia reduced output on the particle accelerators. If the Cynthia could draw the flying bombs off slightly, it would give the Rachel and Mary a chance to engage the Delta effectively. The Cynthia suddenly lurched as damage icons sprang to life across Giovanni's monitor. The hull was breached and the cargo section was venting, but the launch bay was still up. The three little ships were still closing so it had to be that damned high speed mass driver the Delta's carried. Giovanni watched the sensor returns as the Cynthia launched another missile at the Delta, and the alien ships closed.
The sensor returns blacked out as one alien ship after another detonated around the Cynthia. When only the small backup sensors came on line Giovanni knew that the long range array was gone. Reports showed that the missile bay was damaged also. One of the alien suicide ships was still there, but drifting. Its drive must have burned out as it made the attack run. The Delta was slowing down from the damage the Attack Escorts' missiles had caused, but she was still coming. Still launching.
The Cynthia's drive and helm were still undamaged, and Giovanni changed course once again. The Cynthia was beyond the orbital bases' range - they had stopped launching on the 1st BG several minutes ago, and with no suicide ships pursuing her, there was only one thing left the Cynthia could do. Giovanni keyed in a course to bring the Cynthia around. Take the ship right back at the Delta. Let them know they weren't the only ones willing to destroy their own ship to take out the enemy. Force the aliens to fire on the only ship that couldn't fire on them.
The Delta disappeared as the Mary and Rachel's missiles found their target, but the last alien missile was still bearing down on the Cynthia. Giovanni waited as the moments passed. His Rachel was gone, but at least the ship that carried her name would live on to avenge her.

0345 hours/ Space near Neptune

The wreckage of two battle groups drifted as a pair of ships moved away from the planet Neptune. Four missiles slipped silently through the debris and dispatched the last drifting ship of the race that lived on the moon there. Amidst the shattered ships lay the shattered hopes of two races - hopes that this war could be won quickly and decisively.
...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: February 2204

Postby procyon on Sun 29 May 2011 11:30

February 2204 part 3/ Interlude

February 2nd 0910 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon leaned her head against the monitor screen. She knew that the bridge crew could see her, but that seemed like such a small concern now. The message from the Attack Escort Mary Queen of Scots had arrived only a short while ago. The encryption had taken time to decode, but Brenna had already known what it would be. The only reason that the Mary QoS would be sending the message was that no one else was left to. That hadn't turned out to be entirely true, as the Rachel Pierce had also survived, but it didn't really matter. The 3rd Battle Group was the last Battle Group of the Pan Euro now. Along with the Queen Mary and Red October, they were all that was left of what had been Earth's premier combat force. With Vice Admirals Avery and Jurkat gone, Brenna was now second in command of the Pan Euro Space Combat Arm. Or what was left of it.
Not that it mattered. The writing was on the wall for the Pan Euro. There were no other Battle Groups to take the fight to the aliens. Even now that an alien colony had been located, there was nothing left that could be spared for an attack. Not when the largest combined group of US and Pan Euro ships had been unsuccessful and nearly destroyed. The US still had two Task Forces, but how could one succeed where twice as many ships had failed. All that could be done now was to protect what was left. Counter the inevitable alien attacks. But it could only prolong the end.
For the first time Brenna could see the end of her very long life. And along with it, the rest of the human race.


1235 hours/US Space Station

Admiral Bradley Walters looked over every detail of the report from the Survey Tender. The US Task Force was gone, but so were all of the mobile alien assets at Neptune. It would take nearly half a year to try and replace the loss of Task Force 2, and even longer to train the crews. The remaining US Task Forces were spread thin to try and defend against the alien menace. But the aliens had lost more than just a handful of ships over the past few months also. They had to be getting drawn thin. That was the only reason Admiral Walters was even considering this.
An hour ago Lieutenant Commander Meagan Ryan had come into his office with a coded transmission from her father. She had looked pale, unsettled, and very concerned. More concerned than what the loss of Task Force 2 should have meant to a young woman. Enough that he had looked at the transmission as soon as Meagan had left.
In the transmission Rear Admiral Jack Ryan had laid out a plan. A daring and horrible plan. The risk was great. Almost too great. Jack had laid out the course plots to take Task Force 1 from Mars to Neptune in barely 10 days. Jack had set a new standard at the Academy with his Astrogation Course marks, but even so it would push the ships to their limit. But they might be able to get to Neptune before the aliens were able to reinforce it. The data showed only three stationary bases near the moon Triton. With the two remaining Pan Euro Attack Escorts, Task Force 1 might be able to clear the last of Triton's defenses. Do what had to be done to shut down the alien's ability to wage this war.
The Pan Euro was down to its last Battle Group, but they were the best. They were the ones who would stand between the Earth and any alien attackers. Task Force 3 would have to guard the belt, while Mars Station would be on its own. If the aliens were to attack, it would be a poor defense at best. Unless the Chinese intervened, neither the US or Euro would have the resources to turn an attack back. And the Chinese weren't likely to help.
Admiral Walters typed out the orders, and hoped Meagan would forgive him for sending her father to what was most likely his death.


2015 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, 18 light minutes from Mars

Captain Robert McNeely stared at the orders on the monitor. What in the world was going on? The orders were directly from Admiral Jude Kushnir, so there was no questioning them. It still didn't make sense.
The Red October was to reroute the current convoy and proceed to a location in the belt. A location that was simply in the middle of nowhere. The Red October was then to wait for further orders. No, it still didn't make sense. Redirecting a convoy was nothing new. Sending them to the middle of nowhere to park was. Something was up. Hopefully it wouldn't take to long to make sense.
Robert plotted the course on his monitor and transferred it to the helm. Sense or not, they were going.


February 3rd 0540 hours/Queen Mary, Earth orbit

Admiral Jude Kushnir received the confirmation on her monitor. The Red October had met US Task Force 1 in the belt. The US Missile Escorts were to assume convoy protection duties. The Red October would go with the US Interceptors. It only made sense. The Missile Escorts were woefully under engined to make the trip in the time planned. They had also proved very vulnerable to the enemy's weapons. The Red October would carry as much firepower as the two Missile Escorts combined, could move much more quickly, and would be more durable in combat.
It was also the last Pan Euro ship available to perform escort duties. The Pan Euro would have to depend on the US for its convoys' protection for the foreseeable future. However long that might be.


1650 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 23 light seconds from Jupiter

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 waited as the last of the ships finished loading supplies from the mining vessel. Soon they would begin the offensive against the native race's homes. Word had been received of the attack at New Home 3, and that they had succeeded in protecting the colony, but at great cost. A second Assault Vessel had been destroyed by the enemy. That such a thing could happen was just unthinkable.
It made this offensive all the more important. The native race had to be kept from attacking New Home 3 before more ships could be moved to protect it. This race had to be destroyed before it was able to attack any more settlements.
And Combat Group 3 would have to do it. Because there simply weren't enough ships left to continue the attack if they didn't.
...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: February 2204

Postby procyon on Wed 01 Jun 2011 07:17

February 2204 part 4

February 5th 1745 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, Near Hygiea Colony, Asteroid Belt

The Dutchman got up from his station to check on the crew. They should be busy with the trials on the repaired systems, but a little 'face' time always seemed to hurry things up. Now that The Dutchman could afford a little more time away from the bridge, he could look after some of the smaller chores on the ship.
Several hours ago they had managed to link up with a Pan Euro and US convoy bound for Hygiea, along with the two US Missile Escorts guarding it. With the three ships traveling together, a simple eight hour rotation on general quarters could be maintained. That allowed for much better rest, and more thorough maintenance of the ships. It was always difficult gauging the reactions of another cyborg, but even the US ships had seemed relieved to have another armed ship around.
Commerce was moving slowly, but at least it had not shut down yet. The aliens had yet to target civilian ships consistently. A few had disappeared, but not so many that shipping had shut down for fear of leaving port. That could all change, but for the moment convoy escort was not the hazardous duty it could be.
Of course, after losing the last few engagements, the aliens might decide attacking unarmed vessels was more attractive.


February 8th 0605 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 4 light seconds from Mercury

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 watched the sensor returns as the small craft bombed the enemy colony. The small craft would not have enough weapons to completely destroy the habitats, but the damage would be severe. Hopefully enough to draw the fleet of the native race to this location.
The Commander of Assault Vessel 4 had ordered Patrol Vessels 12, 13, and 17 to conduct the raid on this enemy colony. They were to engage and attempt to destroy any defenses, while the small craft deployed their weapons on the colony itself. The bulk of Combat Group 3 was still near the debris fields. The hope had been to lure more of the native race's combat vessels to this location, and then conduct the attack on the other enemy colony in the debris field. That may not work as well as had been hoped.
The last attack at this colony had faced both a stationary defensive platform, and a Combat Vessel of the enemy. This attack had found no mobile assets located here. The only defense of the colony had been the stationary platform. That platform had been destroyed by five launches from each of the Patrol Vessels. The unarmed platform had required another six torpedoes to destroy. Although it had been as large as the armed platform, it had proved much more fragile. The small craft would destroy much of the population on this colony. If the enemy had felt this colony unimportant enough to require mobile combat vessels to protect before, they were unlikely to commit them to protecting it when it was nearly destroyed.
Regardless, the next attack would still be against the enemy colony in the debris fields. It wouldn't happen now, but soon. Hopefully before the enemy could reinforce the defenses. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 doubted they would weaken them to protect the ruins here.


0612 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, Earth orbit

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon could still hear the broadcasts. They hadn't needed to be decoded. Civilians begging for help didn't encode their transmissions. The whole Earth would have heard the cries for help as the aliens had attacked.
The latest transmissions indicated that the aliens had moved away from Mercury now. But the damage was already immense. The Pan Euro Space Station and Shipyards at Mercury had been destroyed, along with the Transfer Station that the civilian ships used. Most of the habitats had been destroyed. The others were damaged, without power in many cases. Dying. And there would be no help. No rescue mission. A few civilian passenger liners might attempt to pick up some of the population that had survived, but no organized effort would be made. With US Task Force 1 and the Red October headed to the out system, there was no one to spare.
Brenna wondered how long it would be until it was the Earth's turn. Would she be able to do a better job protecting the Earth than the Mars Station had been able to do?
Brenna looked over the training plans she had been revising. Was there anything she was missing? Was there something that would better combat the aliens? She had always coped by burying herself in her work. Perhaps this time, she could make that work for her. And maybe even the rest of humanity.


February 9th 0025 hours/Missile Escort Falcon, near Mercury

Commander Justin Reynolds watched the sensor returns. If anything showed up, they would fight. 'It might not be much of a fight' thought Justin, 'but we are going to fight regardless. Sometimes you just have to draw that hard line'.
The Missile Escort Owl was on the far side of Mercury to make sure that if the Alphas came back, they would be seen. At least Justin hoped they would be seen. The Missile Escorts had never been outfitted with the more capable sensor arrays, and they lacked quite a bit on detection range compared to the Interceptors. The sensors couldn't even pick up the alien magnetic signature any better than the returns from the alien ships' hulls. 'Its all we have to work with, so it will have to work.'
On the planet was the FSC Mary Reed. The damned loon of a captain on that ship had transmitted to the Falcon that he intended to try and rescue whatever colonists he could, as soon as he could -whether the US ships came along or not. Well, it had sounded like a good idea at the time. Still did really. It just felt a whole lot more dangerous now that they were actually doing it. The folks on the planet below didn't even belong to either the US or FSC. They were just scared, hurt, and desperate. 'Yep, can't think of any place else I need to be right now. Sure hope Admiral Walters sees it that way.'
Justin's monitor lit up with signals confirming that the Mary Reed had finished loading. Fifteen thousand passengers that weren't going to die here. Not today. At this rate it would only take twenty five more trips. Justin hoped Admiral Walters didn't start pestering him for convoy reports anytime soon.


0715 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, 3 light seconds from Ceres

Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji keyed in the authorization and transmitted the orders. Admiral Hu may protest, or even sack him. But it would have to wait. Some things were too important right now to worry about what might be a problem later.
The Chinese had intercepted the Euro transmissions. The aliens had returned and attacked the Pan Euro colony on Mercury. Devastated it by the sounds of the messages. That was some distance from Ceres, but still important.
What concerned him was that the aliens had yet to attack the inner system without attacking Ceres. It concerned him enough to send the orders diverting the Shangxi and Henan from their convoy escort duties, and transfer them to the Tung Group at Ceres. Hopefully four Missile Frigates and the Tung would be enough to face down any alien attack.
If it wasn't, this war was over.
...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: February 2204

Postby procyon on Wed 01 Jun 2011 07:23

February 2204 part 5/ The Destruction of Ceres


February 10th 0100 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, 4 light seconds from Ceres

Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji moved to lock his station. His monitor had lit up with comm uplinks from Ceres. The colony was showing a single magnetic signature on the far side of Ceres at over 8 lights seconds. The other sensor report couldn't be right. Couldn't. The Tung was too far away to resolve the contacts. Zhu keyed the prompt for all ships to lock stations and prepare for acceleration. The combat ships were to come about toward Ceres, while the Zhuang was to move farther out into the belt and try to disengage. If the reports from Ceres were correct, then it would make no difference what any of them did.
As the Tung drew closer to Ceres, the truth became horribly obvious. The launches from the ground troops and defenses left hundreds of sensor tracks on Zhu's monitor, as did the five detonations from what had to be small alien craft being destroyed. Next were the detonations of nuclear bombs the small ships were releasing. Several, then dozens. In less than a minute over one hundred detonations had rippled across the surface of Ceres. There would be no survivors this time. No valiant defense. Only debris and burned wreckage. Launches from the alien combat ships were destroying the Transfer Station in orbit of Ceres, along with two civilian cargo ships that were just now firing up their drives to try and escape.
The alien combat ships were close enough that if the Chinese ships were to fire on the small craft, the aliens would be able to target the launch signatures. But at this range they would find it difficult or impossible to lock onto the ships' drive or hull signatures. There were just too many false contacts. The aliens were not hiding their magnetic fields this time though. It was as if they were daring anyone to attack. How many ships would it take to launch that many small craft? Zhu wasn't sure, but if they weren't going to rush his group, he would follow the aliens until they did. Perhaps something could be learned of the alien fleet and its plans. Something that could help to avenge the millions who had just died.


0335 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 32 light seconds from Ceres, Asteroid belt

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 wondered if the Commander of Combat Group 3 was either very brave, or just reckless. It was obvious that combat ships of the native race were following the forward detachment as they returned to the reserve element. Many of the small craft had already landed on the vessels of the forward detachment, but most were still waiting to return to the pair of Hive Vessels in the reserve group. Each Hive Vessel carried eighteen of the small craft. Of the sixty small craft that had attacked the enemy settlement, only five had failed to return. It had been a resounding success. The first test of the new ships had showed that they were effective. Now it was time to find another target. To continue destroying this race until there was nothing left.
But the ships that were shadowing the group concerned the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17. This enemy had shown it was capable of gathering its strength for a battle, and could launch vicious ambushes here in the debris fields of this system. They were not to be underestimated. But the Commander of Assault Vessel 4 had decided that chasing the native vessels would only allow them to choose the location and timing of the next battle. The enemy ships were as fast and maneuverable as any ship in the Combat Group, and they were out of range. Chasing them would not bring them in range, and would only stress engines for no gain. If the native race attacked, they were to be engaged and destroyed, but there would be no more pursuits. Any battles would be fought where the Combat Group chose to move.
This sounded good, but the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 still worried. If they were following the group and not hiding, it was because they thought that they could fight, and possibly win. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 had seen this 'backward' race destroy too many ships not to take them seriously.
For the moment there was nothing that could be done but wait, and prepare for the next target.


2120 hours/Interceptor MkIIa J. Hancock, 10 light minutes from Ceres, Asteroid belt

Rear Admiral Joshua Campbell read the transmission on his screen twice. It would be nearly twenty minutes before the message would reach Earth, and another half hour for any response to return this distance. With the Earth on the far side of the sun, it would simply take too long. The decision would have to be made now. Could the Chinese be trusted or not. If this was a ruse, then US Task Force 3 would be leaving the belt colonies undefended. If it was true, then the threat was too great to ignore. Joshua didn't want to make this decision, but it had to be made now. And there was no one else who could make it.
The Chinese had broadcast about 15 minutes ago that they were following a group of alien ships which had destroyed Ceres. Destroyed? A few garbled messages had been received, and it had been unusually silent. But they could still be experiencing issues with damage on that colony, or simply cutting down emissions to make it harder for the aliens to relocate the big asteroid. Regardless, the Chinese were now broadcasting that the alien ships had cleared the debris field and were headed in system. The course was on a bearing that could either take them to Mars, Venus, or both. Mars was the closest though. With US Task Force 2 gone, it was nearly undefended. The Mars Station was armed, but the Pan Euro Station at Mercury had also been armed - and destroyed. Mars also had over 6 million colonist.
There wasn't really any choice. Joshua began to put together the message for Admiral Walters back at Earth. Joshua hoped his only choice wasn't the wrong one.


2200 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Bradley Walters read the situation reports for a second time. It couldn't get much worse. It was far too late to have his office crammed with staff, but it was. They weren't making it easier to evaluate the situation. Not that much could be done. Just analysis and planning for the moment.
Rear Admiral Jack Ryan was currently 30 hours out from Neptune, and the alien colony on Triton. With luck it hadn't been reinforced and he would be able to deal with the stationary defenses. An attack would incur losses though, and if the aliens had reinforced, Task Force 2 could be destroyed.
Now Rear Admiral Joshua Campbell had reported that he was moving Task Force 3 out of the belt to engage a possible alien contact that the Chinese were tracking. A contact that could be headed towards Mars. An unconfirmed, but if real very dangerous alien contact.
No one had any information on the current disposition of the Chinese fleet, or the status of the colony on Ceres. What was slowly being analyzed didn't look good though. Relays from the Pan Euro Hygeia Colony had picked up fragments of broadcasts from Ceres that had indicated the colony was under attack, but nothing since then. Civilians under attack were a noisy bunch, and unless the communication arrays had been knocked out, it was just too quiet out there. Unlike in peace time, no news was seldom good news during a war.
If the aliens had a fleet that could destroy the colony on Ceres in only a few minutes, then Mars was in real danger. And so was Task Force 3. It didn't matter if it was aliens that destroyed Task Force 3, or the Chinese if this was some terrible ploy. With Task Force 3 gone, the US would have no real combat forces left inside the belt. That would change everything.
It would be better to have as much firepower as possible to combat a sizeable alien fleet, and the Mars Space Station carried as many long range missile bays as an entire US Task Force, and more laser batteries. It would be a valuable addition to any combat situation. Could they permit an alien fleet that had the ability to destroy a colony of over 2 million in minutes that close to Mars? That was the question that would need answered.
If the Chinese were being honest, the aliens could reach Mars in 9 hours. Task Force 3 could intercept in just under 8. The transmission delay meant there were only six hours left to decide what to do, and where to do it. The room quieted as Admiral Walters stood. "I need someone to contact the Chinese Admiral out there, and find out if he knows what the hell they are following. And then I need to know if there is ANY ship that can get there and verify if this is really happening. And it needs to be done in the next two hours. Does everyone understand that?"
The room emptied slightly as several bodies left. Admiral Walters sat back down. The training updates showed that Task Force 3 was one of the best groups, US or Euro, out there, but Josh was new to command. He was sharp, but was that going to be enough?
In chess, the winner is the one to make the next to the last mistake. The US couldn't afford a mistake now.

2335 hours/Cruiser Chiang Kia Shek, Venus

Admiral Hu locked the Flag Officer's station on the cruiser and approved the request for acceleration. It was unfortunate and would put the Shek's refit behind schedule, but the alien ships were too close to remain at Venus. The Shek was nowhere near combat ready, but was still capable of cruising. They would simply have to finish the refit at Earth Station in the empty slip there. Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji had been in constant communication with both the Venus Station and the US ships near Mars. It would appear that the US group was going to assist the Chinese ships in an attack on the alien group, but the Euro group was not moving from Earth orbit. The large Euro ship there would be of great assistance in the battle, but they seemed unwilling to leave their current positions. The smaller US ships would have to do.
The last hour had made the alien's course more definite, and the probability that they were moving toward Mars was over 90 percent. The US commander wanted to intercept the aliens several light minutes from Mars, which was understandable. Dealing with the mass of small craft and the larger ships at the same time would be almost impossible. Current estimates had the Tung Group and US Task Force meeting at 0540, with the engagement to occur no later than 0600. Any alien course alterations might change that schedule, but only by a few hours.
The problem was the size of the alien group. The Tung had been unable to close sufficiently to resolve the individual ships without risking an engagement. But if the reports of 60 small craft had been accurate the alien armada would be of immense size, unless they had deployed a new 'carrier' class of vessel. The planned engagement might not be able to stop the aliens, even with the new protective fields on the Chinese ships. If that was the case there were less than 24 hours at standard cruise between Mars and Venus. The Shek could not be left in a vulnerable position, so it would be moved to Earth. If the Tung Group was able to withdraw from an unfavorable engagement successfully, they would move to support the Venus Station defense. The US would have to manage the defense of Mars on their own.
The world turned grey and blue as the Shek's drive engaged.


February 11th 0315 hours/Interceptor JFK, 13.5 light minutes from Neptune

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan waited impatiently. Every hour lost was another hour the aliens could improve the defenses of Triton. Stopping Task Force 2 at this time would do nothing to affect the events elsewhere. Jack wondered what could have inspired such an order.
The message had come in only minutes ago, and gave no reason for the halt. It was only a few light minutes distance to reach the rendezvous with the surviving Survey Tender and two Pan Euro Attack Escorts. Jack could see no reason to delay the meeting, and the combined group would be better able to defend itself than they would be separate. It was unlikely the Euro Red October would stop simply because the US group had received orders to do so. Jack ordered the message from Earth logged and to send a request for retransmission of the orders for US Task Force 2, to confirm what they had just received. It would take over 4 hours for the request to reach Earth, and another 4 for the retransmit to reach the JFK. More than enough time to reach the waiting ships, and cover over one third of the remaining distance to Neptune.
...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: February 2204

Postby procyon on Thu 02 Jun 2011 02:58

February 2204 part 6/ A Clash of Arms

February 11th 0505 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, Earth orbit

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon sat at her station. The whole crew was awake, even though they were not scheduled for 'At Stations'. Brenna figured everyone who could was listening right now. The engagement wasn't scheduled to take place for about an hour, and it would take another 22 minutes after that for it to reach Earth. But the world was listening - at least those who could translate the encoding. The US and Pan Euro forces would listen to the broadcasts from Task Force 3, while the Chinese would most likely be listening to the transmissions from their ships.
With the attack on Mercury and destruction of the shipyards there, and the apparent destruction of Ceres, this alien group seemed to be either powerful or lucky. No one seemed to know its exact composition. It was a deadly enigma that was now bound for Mars. If the alien fleet wasn't stopped it would only be a matter of time before they reached Earth.
Brenna looked around the bridge. The crew was clustered in threes and fours. Talking. Waiting. All thinking the same thing. Was this battle going to come to Earth? Brenna got up from her station and walked to the group at the Comm Station. They must have felt the magnets in her feet snapping to the decks as she approached, as they all came to attention. With a wave and quick "As you were" she settled in among them. For the moment she was just one more person waiting to see what card fate dealt. And she didn't feel like waiting alone.


0555 hours/Interceptor MkIIa J. Hancock, 3.25 light minutes from Mars

Rear Admiral Joshua Campbell looked over his sensor returns. The Chinese ships were now settled into formation with Task Force 3. The large Chinese ship was the center of the formation, with four Strike Vessels around it. Task Force 3 had separated into two groups and taken up position on the flanks of the Chinese formation. The aliens group had separated into two sensor returns. The forward return had resolved into a number of ships. A disturbing number of ships. Two Foxtrots, two Deltas, and four Alphas were approaching at just over 2000 kilometers per second. The second return was distant, only the magnetic signature was visible. But the presence of more ships than what was already in front of them was at best ominous. Realistically, it was disastrous. Joshua had studied the engagement records, and if there was anything more than support ships in the second group, this engagement was likely doomed. But other than the battle at Uranus, no one had ever recorded the presence of support ships with the combat ships.
The combined US and Chinese group was passing in front of the alien group. Several hundred years ago this would have been the ideal location. 'Crossing the T' as they called it. Limiting the opponent to only his forward batteries while your own ships could fire full broadsides. Now with launch bays that could deploy weapons in a nearly 360 degree arc, it was no better than any other position. The range was too great for any of the missiles to lock on, but the aliens had started accelerating. The range would shrink now until that was no longer the case. The Chinese vessels were beginning to accelerate, and had changed course. Joshua keyed in for the helm to follow suit when the new course plots lit up on his monitor. 'I hope I can do as well as this crew does,' thought Josh as he keyed in to accept the new course.
The blue halo disappeared for a second as the drive shut down and the maneuver thrusters fired. Then the grey and blue halo reappeared as the drive kicked in. The new course had turned them almost directly away from the aliens. They could just track the alien contacts past the nuclear inferno of their own drive blooms. Targeting solutions were beginning to fill Josh's monitor, but the aliens were still over a minute away from being in range at the current velocities and rates of acceleration. 'In one minute the fates of nearly six million people will be decided,' Josh thought. 'Most likely not for the better.'
Joshua's monitor lit up with new magnetic readings. "What the hell." The Sensor Officer caught himself before he could say more. Joshua checked the readouts. The contacts were to close. 'How did they get so close without us knowing?' As he checked the bearings and signatures it became clear. The Chinese ships were the ones that had deployed the magnetic fields. The implication of that in the long term was almost as ominous as the alien fleet bearing down on Mars. But for the moment it meant that six million people might have a chance of being alive tomorrow.
"INBOUND CONTACTS"
"FIRING SOLUTION PLOTTED"
"MISSILE LAUNCH"
Joshua watched his monitor as the crew brought the Hancock into the fight. They were one hell of a crew.


0558 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, 3.12 light minutes from Mars

Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji felt the Tung shudder as the drive cut out, then flared back to life. Damage readouts showed that the magnetic protective field generators had gone off line, and the outer plating was damaged, but the hull hadn't been breached. The Tung had passed through four detonations with only minor hull damage. Four impacts had nearly destroyed her in the engagement against the aliens at Ceres. The new fields were proving their value. But they weren't invulnerable. The lead alien cruiser was showing that. The first volley of missiles had collapsed the field surrounding the alien ship and caused it to shut down its drives and vent in response to the damage. When the drive had come back online the bloom had lost almost two thirds of its thermal signature. The alien ship was losing speed.
The Tung lurched again as another alien inbound detonated to close. Damage reports lit up Zhu's console. An auxiliary missile storage and the external sensor array had been damaged. The internal system was still up, but fire control would be degraded. One of the short range launch bays had also taken damage, but at this range those missiles were all but worthless. The four long range bays and all particle accelerators for the drive were still online. 'Five impacts and we are still in this fight.'
The sensor readings showed a large detonation nearly 4.5 light seconds away as the lead alien cruiser lost containment on the drive or some internal reactor. One of the mid sized ships had also lost its magnetic field and its drive never restarted after shutting down. 'The aliens won't find this quite as easy as they had hoped.'
Zhu watched as the third volleys crossed in space between the fleets. The aliens had changed their targeting. As one of the smaller US ships and then one of their Interceptors broke apart under the detonation of alien weapons, Zhu wondered if the US ships would break off and disengage. But as the moments ticked by the US ships were actually coming about and racing toward the alien group. Brave, if perhaps foolish, mused Zhu.
Returns showed another of the alien ships had been unable to restart its drive after several intercepts. It was one of the smaller alien ships, but it was one less to deal with now. The aliens were suffering in this exchange. As Zhu watched he realized that both of the coasting alien ships were launching. 'Their weapon bays must be hardened to survive for this long.'
The Tung lurched again as the next wave of alien missile detonated. As the drive restarted warnings flashed on Zhu's screen that nearly two thirds of the Tung's particle accelerators were off line - she was slowing. Readouts showed that all of the short range launch bays were off line and one of the four long range bays was damaged. 'We've taken six hits and survived, but we can't do this much longer' he thought. We aren't going to be able to get away either. The sensors were showing that one more of the US Interceptors had exploded as its drive shield failed. They also showed that another of the small alien ships had been damaged enough it had failed to restart its drive. For a moment three alien ships were coasting through space, until a US missile destroyed one of the smaller contacts. 'Just two floating targets now.'
Zhu transmitted the orders for the Missile Frigates to maintain their current speed as the Tung fell out of formation.
A moment later a two kilo chunk of metallic hydrogen struck the Tung's drive shield and the ship disappeared in an enormous flare.


0600 hours/Interceptor MkIIa J. Hancock 3 light minutes from Mars

Joshua was amazed at the crews of the US ships. Amazed and proud. They were taking it to the alien ships, without the magnetic shielding the heavy Chinese ships had. Josh watched the sensor track as the missile from the Hancock intercepted and destroyed one of the drifting Alphas, and then saw that the laser battery had actually forced the alien Foxtrot to stutter its drives to vent away shattered plating as the beam shattered the ship's outer skin. The Adams had also managed to scorch the large ship, even as one of the missiles from a nearby Delta had ripped into the Adams hull. The targeting computers had never been designed to plot multiple target solutions simultaneously. Somehow the crew was managing to get more out the Hancock than had ever been intended.
The Hancock staggered as the drive cut out and then restarted. 'Where did that come from?' Then Josh saw it. The rear alien contact had closed and two more Alphas were launching on the US ships. The Interceptors had gotten around the big alien vessels so that they would be unable to use the mass drivers they carried, but the two Alphas in the rear had closed and begun to launch. Two other ships were with the Alphas. Smaller, and not cataloged. Not launching. Joshua saw that the Sensor Conn had already logged the contacts and transmitted initial readings towards Mars.
Then the sensors showed that the Adams had been hit by a second launch from an Alpha and been destroyed. The Alpha was breaking away from the Foxtrot and trying to move behind the Hancock. It was too late to do anything about that now. Firing solutions were already locked in on the Foxtrot. The ship lurched slightly as the drive cut out to allow missile deployment and the laser output coupler to line up on the big alien ship.

0601 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 2.97 light minutes from Mars

The Commander or Patrol Vessel 17 strained at the fields on his station. The crew was doing all they could to bring the ship in line but it was too late. The Commander could feel through the sensors as Assault Vessel 6 was damaged by the enemy weapons. One detonated against the magnetic fields, while the other seemed to be able to pass right through them and shattered more of the ships hull. A torpedo left the launch bay of Patrol Vessel 17 moments later and the Commander noted with satisfaction as the weapon shattered the enemy ship's hull, destroying it.
Three of the unshielded enemy ships had been hit or destroyed by Patrol Vessel 17's torpedoes in this engagement. The Commander would congratulate the crew later, if they survived. The large enemy ships had deployed protective magnetic fields also. How could they have managed to come up with them so quickly? It was simply unthinkable that they could copy and adapt so rapidly. The enemy Assault Vessel had been destroyed, but the other four smaller enemy ships still had protective fields up.
The last of the unshielded enemy ships had been destroyed, it was only the four shielded vessels left. But every launch from them was 12 weapons, and they had stayed distant enough that the Assault Vessels and Combat Vessels had been unable to employ their mass drivers. Only five torpedoes were being launched for every 12 of the enemy's weapons. The Commander followed the torpedo from Patrol Vessel 17 as it raced across the gap between the two fleets, and sensed the native ship lose the protective field as the torpedo intercepted the ship. As the next torpedo deployed, the Commander tensed as the Assault Vessel was struck by one enemy weapon after another. The protective field collapsed under the onslaught, and the ship vented again and again as it tried to clear the debris and damage from its hull. The Commander's hopes fell as the great ship's drive never re-engaged. It hadn't been destroyed, but the next wave of 12 weapons was already inbound. It would never survive another intercept. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 noted the message from the Commander of Combat Vessel 6 as the larger ship passed overall Command of the Combat Group to him. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 hated to do it, but the group would never be able to reach the nearby planet without being destroyed. The Hive Vessels were still intact, and the Combat Group would find another way to destroy the native race. There was nothing to be gained here anymore. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 ordered the surviving elements of Combat Group 3 to reverse course and disengage from the enemy.
As Patrol Vessel 17 changed course, the Commander noted that the enemy ships were not changing course to pursue. The one that had lost its protective fields was showing signs that it had been damaged. Perhaps the last torpedo from Patrol Vessel 17 had also found its target. The Commander decided that later the records would have to be analyzed for that little bit of information.
It had been a horrible day for Combat Group 3. It had lost both Assault Vessels, one of the two Combat Vessels, and three of the six Patrol Vessels. But it still had both Hive Vessels, and one enemy colony had been destroyed while another was in ruins. The enemy now knew how to create the protective fields, but did not seem to have them on all of their ships. The Combat Group would have to strike again before the native race could correct that situation. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 vowed to himself that the two bombed colonies would not be the only losses to the enemy's homes that Combat Group 3 would inflict before they returned to base.
...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: February 2204

Postby procyon on Thu 02 Jun 2011 03:10

February 2204 part 7

February 11th 1345 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October

Captain Robert McNeely looked at the message from the US Rear Admiral again. It wasn't an order. Not at all. It had just been a message to inform the Pan Euro ships of what had happened, and what was going to happen.

ATTN: REAR ADMIRAL J RYAN / UNITED STATES TASK FORCE 2
FOLLOWING DESTRUCTION OF US TASK FORCE 3, US TASK FORCE 2
AND ALL OTHER US ASSETS ARE ORDERED TO RETURN BY MOST
DIRECT ROUTE WITHOUT DELAY TO MARS FOR COLONY DEFENSE.
AKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT OF MESSAGE.
FORWARD TO PAN EURO ELEMENTS R OCTOBER, R PIERCE,
MARY QoS.
ADMIRAL W BRADLEY

Bob was sure the message had likely been abbreviated for transmission to the Pan Euro ships, but it wouldn't make any difference. Without the US ships there was nothing the Red October and two Attack Escorts could do against the alien defenses near Triton. The US Survey Tender and all of the supplies would also be returning to Mars so remaining was pointless. The group was now less than one days travel from Neptune, but it would make no difference. The alien colony was as safe as if the ships had never made the journey at all.
"Comm, request course plots for return to Mars from US Interceptor Hancock. Looks like we are going home again."


2215 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Bradley Walters looked over the reports. One of them kept drawing his attention, but for once he didn't know exactly what to do about it. Doing nothing for the moment seemed to be the best plan. The two Missile Escorts of Task Force 2 hadn't gone beyond the belt, but they had now turned up conducting humanitarian operations in support of the surviving population on Mercury. Pan European population. The fact that the FSC Mary Reed was with them only complicated matters more.
In fact they had successfully transported 15000 stranded colonists out of the wreckage and were currently returning for more. Those Missile Escorts should be at Mars providing additional defensive firepower to the colony there. But the public acknowledgement of the effort to save the Pan Euro colonists was gathering a great deal of publicity and public support. The fact that the only off world US shipyards were at Mars seems to have escaped the publics' notice.
The Missile Escorts had proved to be terribly vulnerable to the alien weapons, and perhaps their contribution to the defense of Mars was much less than the contribution to the morale of the people on Earth. The Pan Euro was already sinking into a recession, and morale was sinking just as quickly. The loss of two out of three US Task Forces wasn't likely to help morale on the home front. Perhaps the little ships should be allowed to continue their 'humanitarian' mission for the moment. Staving off the hopelessness he saw in his staff daily would be more valuable than two more ships at Mars.
Bradley shut down his monitor and decided that it was late enough to get some rest. Tomorrow would bring more pressing problems than the whereabouts of a pair of Missile Escorts. 'Why shouldn't it, every other day this month has.' he thought to himself as he left the office.


February 13th 1750 hours/Missile Escort Falcon, 2 light minutes from Mercury

Commander Justin Reynolds checked his monitor again. Four hours ago they had been in orbit of Mercury. The FSC Freighter Mary Reed had managed to fit another 15000 refugees from the stricken planet in her hold. This was the third time the ships had managed the journey. Now it would be their last.
The radio traffic had been brief, only a few minutes, but there had been no doubt of what had happened. The aliens had returned to Mercury. If there were any survivors, they were unable to send any sort of signal. But there wouldn't be survivors. Not this time.
It was also obvious that the aliens hadn't been driven off. Hurt, but not beaten. And now nearby. Only four hours ago the Falcon had been at Mercury. Four hours that separated the alien ships from the rag tag US/FSC group.
Justin checked the sensors again. The refugees on the Mary Reed had only narrowly escaped death just now. Justin hoped their luck would hold out just a little longer. Maybe they would all make it home.


February 14th 0800 hours/Queen Mary, Earth orbit

Admiral Jude Kushnir looked out the viewing port at the giant Chinese ship in the dock of the station in orbit below. Right now the Chinese ship was nearly helpless, with the bulk of her plating removed and many of her internal systems scattered about in orbit beside the slip. In a month though, that ship would likely be more powerful than the entire Pan Euro Fleet. Perhaps the combined Euro/US Fleets. The possession of the magnetic fields by Chinese ships changed the balance of power in a significant way. Possibly world changing.
'If we were to strike now, we could destroy the ship before it was operational. But that could easily doom the human race as the Chinese possession of protective field technology was what most likely saved the Earth only a few days ago from the aliens.' Jude thought.
'We need everything we can get against the aliens. The failure of Pan Euro and US ships to inflict any damage on the alien colony at Triton shows that the current designs are inadequate. The Chinese ships could easily have fought to a different conclusion out at Neptune. The Earth will need those ships in the months to come. The Pan Euro and US Fleets are spent, and won't be able to carry the fight to the aliens for months. We don't have months. We might not have weeks.'
Jude remembered the last brief transmissions from Mercury. 'Perhaps we don't have long at all.'


February 16th 1205 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, asteroid belt

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 pondered the display of the inner portion of this system. The destruction of the survivors on the innermost planet had been satisfying, but not of any great value. The enemy colony had already been in ruins, and was left unguarded. The native race was obviously placing their assets to guard the most valuable colonies. And the planet Combat Group 3 had failed to reach had displayed the most formidable defenses of any planet so far. Defenses that indicated it was a worthwhile target.
But to continue rapid attacks would only exhaust the crew and leave the native race wary and always on alert. The debris fields seemed an appropriate place to rest and perform routine maintenance on the ships. Soon enough they would turn toward the fourth planet of this system, and this time they would reach it. But for now, rest.

February 20th 0245 hours/Interceptor MkIIa J. Hancock, 24 light minutes from Mars

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan looked over the screen. It showed that less than 24 hours now remained before the group would reach Mars. No more human colonies had been attacked, and perhaps the aliens had left the inner system to resupply or regroup. Regardless, they were returning to Mars, Fleet Base for Task Force 2. It had been home for some time now and Jack was actually looking forward to getting off the Hancock. Perhaps he would be able to manage another visit to his daughter. If not at least hearing from her would help. Knowing that she was alive and safe made the days a little easier.
Just another day left and they would be home.
...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: February 2204

Postby procyon on Thu 02 Jun 2011 03:15

February 2204 part 8 / Whatever the cost

February 22nd 1410 hours/Interceptor MkIIa JFK, 1light second from Mars

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan pushed off from the sensor console hard and flew toward his station. In micro G it was faster to push, or in this case hurl yourself to your station. The Sensor Officer had reported intermittent faint contacts, and Jack had gone to make sure the array wasn't shorting or damaged and creating sensor ghosts. When the mass of small craft had appeared, along with magnetic contacts farther out, Jack knew it wasn't ghosts. And it wasn't good.
Jack locked himself into his station as the crew sprang to life throughout the bridge. The Sensor Officer had already broadcast for lock stations/battle stations. Jack's monitor flashed to life as he finished locking himself down. It always seemed unusual to get ready for a fight by making anything but the smallest finger movements impossible. A power-armored trooper or cyborg soldier would have greater overall strength, but nothing matched the power/hydraulics/composites applied to Space Model Cyborg's fingers. They were designed to maintain control of the ship's systems even under stresses or 1000 G's. A power-armored trooper may be able to pick up the front end of a tank, but Jack knew his fingers would be able to dig divots into its armor.
Jack took in the sensor returns. They were coming in at over 4000 kilometers per second. This always seemed to be the aliens' initial engagement velocity. The Interceptors could easily reach them long before the alien ships got to Mars, but they would be unsupported by the Mars Station's weapons at that point. Of course if they stayed closer to Mars, they would have to give up accelerating - and the aliens would be in range to launch on the colony. Except the aliens had never seemed to directly attack a colony. Jack plotted a course and quickly transmitted it to the rest of the Interceptors, and then used the Mars Station to relay the course to the Pan Euro ships parked on the far side of Mars. The Red October and the two Pan Euro Attack Escorts had stayed at Mars while Task Force 2 waited for the little Missile Escorts to come home. As much as he loved the crews of his own Missile Escorts, Jack was glad to have the larger Euro ships right now. Especially with what the sensors were showing.
The sensor returns had resolved. 'The forward group is composed of.... oh mother of god 48 small craft.' The more distant return was one Delta and three Alphas. 'That second group we have a chance against. How are we ever going to hit that many small targets and still shoot at the big ships?!!' Jack thought. The JFK was already coming about and looping away from the alien ships. Jack hoped they thought that his group was retreating. He doubted it. By looping away and then back he could come up to combat speed and still not pull away from the Mars Station. With that many alien ships, they would need all of the station's launch bays and laser batteries.
As the Interceptors pulled out and away from Mars, the sensors picked up the Euro ships mirroring them. The two groups would meet by the planet just as the aliens drew in range - if all went according to plan. The sensors picked up a pair of contacts lifting off from the surface of Mars. The Survey Tender and Pan Euro Mobile Repair Ship were both using the planet to shield them from the aliens as they began to accelerate away. 'Why didn't I think of that' Jack wondered.
The JFK was coming around toward the planet now. The laser batteries on the Station were already firing on the small craft as they reached 2 light seconds from the planet. A pair of small detonations as the alien craft passed through the invisible pulses were the only warning the aliens would have had that the station was firing. Moments after the detonations, the small craft began accelerating. Readings of nearly 7000 kilometers a second began to appear. Jack decided the small ships were either far more advanced than anything the US possessed or were pushing their drives to the limit.
The Pan Euro ships had pulled slightly ahead of the US Interceptors Jack noticed as he saw launch indicators spring up on his display around the Red October. The Mary Queen of Scots and Rachel Pierce were also launching. Then the alien launch signatures began to light up Jack's monitor. The US ships were still out of range, but their laser batteries could easily begin firing on the approaching small craft. The JFK stuttered her drives as the laser couplers aligned and discharged, as did the rest of the Interceptors, but only one alien ship broke up. Then another as the station discharged its batteries. 'Its not going to be enough. We aren't destroying them fast enough.' The sensor returns showed that the small ships would reach Mars in a little over one minute. Far to quickly.
Jack checked the sensor returns as the alien weapons approached. It was now obvious they were homing in on the Pan Euro ships. The four detonations were followed by the Red October shutting down her drives and venting damaged plating, but her drive restarted moments later and a second launch left the Euro ship's two bays.
The next few moments became a blur of action. Firing solutions lit up the monitor as the enemy vessels came in range of the JFK's missiles. Detonations lit up around the alien Delta as Pan Euro and US missiles strained to make intercept, and the large alien ship's protective field failed. Then it began to slow as its drive bloom lost strength. An outer module on the Mars station blew apart without warning and began to spin away out of orbit. No warning whatsoever - damned alien mass drivers. Small alien bombers shattered as lasers found their targets. The Red October began to vent again as alien missiles detonated along her path. When the big Euro ship restarted its drive it had also lost much of its strength.
Jack tried to sort through the information splashing across his monitor, appearing and scrolling away. Changing. Flashing. It was almost impossible. But the crew kept on fighting, each doing their jobs as Jack watched. The Red October was coming hard about, probably trying to put Mars between her and the aliens. She was still launching from both of her missile bays, but must be damaged badly to try and withdraw now. The Pan Euro Attack Escorts were both falling into formation with the Interceptors though. And then the Franklin disappeared as an alien missile detonated far too close for any ship to survive, and the Eisenhower began stuttering her drive and venting to clear damage she had sustained. But the alien and US ships had been rushing together. An alien alpha began to vent as the Truman passed by and discharged its laser. Another vented as the JFK's laser shattered the outer plating from its hull. Sensors also showed that Mars was launching everything it had from the surface defense batteries as the alien bombers descended toward the planet.
Then the detonations began to ripple across the surface of Mars. Points of light and swirls of dust. The Mars Station was firing on the small craft with everything it had. There were only 20 or so small craft left but they continued to bank across the surface - hunting for habitats to destroy. Then Jack's attention was drawn away from the planet as the sensor returns recorded the destruction of the alien Delta as its drive shield failed.
The Alphas were beginning a high-speed bank to disengage and Jack seized the chance to try and assist the planet. The Eisenhower broke into thousands of pieces as an alien missile managed to find the US ship. The JFK's laser tore into the alpha it had already damaged as the aliens pulled away.
The next few minutes were spent firing on the small craft as the alien ships accelerated away and disengaged. The small alien bombers tried to scatter, but to no avail. Lasers and missiles found them one after another as they tried to pull away from the planet. Jack knew that they would have hunted them down, even without the desperate calls of the civilians below - crying out for help as their life support and homes failed from the damage the aliens had done.
Jack looked at the status reports as they updated on his monitor. Only two of the Interceptors had been destroyed. The Red October was damaged, but still operational. The colonies had been savagely attacked, but it looked as if over two thirds of the habitats had survived undamaged. But the destruction of the Eisenhower and Franklin was half of the US Interceptors at the moment. And the aliens would be back. They would know they hadn't finished the job, and they would return.
Jack unlocked his station and thought for a moment. 'Is there any hope for my little girl?' He looked at the visual pick up and watched smoke drifting across the surface of the red planet below. 'Is this all that we have waiting for us.'

February 24th 0400 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Lieutenant Commander Meagan Ryan tried to relax. For the last two nights she couldn't sleep. To many nightmares. She know her dad was alive. The aliens hadn't killed him. But it didn't happen that way in her dreams.
She looked over the reports on her console. She was getting a little bleary eyed, but really didn't want to lie back down. It was just easier to try and get ready for the morning briefing for the Admiral. He had been in a terrible mood. At least she had some good news. The techs on the ground finally had a successful test of a full-scale magnetic field generator. Granted everyone in orbit would have been able to see it on their sensors, but at least it had been successful. It would be better if there were more ships to fit them onto when production started, but at least the ships they had left should be able to deploy the system in the coming weeks.
The test had also been very informative. It had generated a wealth of data on the system and on magnetic fields in general. Meagan had been working on some of the corollaries herself for the last few hours. It seemed the alien ships had slight variations in their magnetic signatures that were almost like fingerprints. You could track an individual ship by the perturbations of its field. It wouldn't be useful in combat as it took to long, and was impossible at longer ranges, but could possibly identify something useful on the alien's deployment.
The data on every engagement was available to Meagan on her databases, and the crunching of the data would be done soon. As the results began to list out, Meagan began to feel a cold chill creep through her. Her nightmares weren't going to get any better. Not now.
She hadn't woken up the Admiral in months, but she keyed open the comm to his office. He needed to see this.

0445 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Bradley Walters looked at the data. "Your sure this is accurate." The pale girl with dark circles wearing into her face just nodded back at him. She hadn't even gotten into her full uniform. She thought this was real. That meant there was every chance that it was.
She had been to trying to analyze alien ship signatures, and see if she could find out something about alien ship dispositions and deployments. She had only a small amount of success in that. But she had managed to find something else. Something very disturbing.
The article of interest was a return designated contact two, as it had been the second recorded contact of the aliens made. The first had been the fleeting sensor data gained by the Outreach. This 'Contact Two' kept turning up. Over. And over. It had been at almost every engagement that had been recorded.
It had been part of those responsible for the initial attack on Mercury and in the later destruction of the station and colony there. It had been at Uranus and destroyed ships there. It had been at Jupiter, and in the belt, and at Mars. Engagement records showed it had destroyed 7 US and Euro ships and damaged at least four others. No other alien ship even came close to that total. This was the alien's Red Baron. And as long as it was out there, well... they couldn't let that happen.
"The Chinese aren't exactly on friendly terms, but they might want to know about this. If this alien ship has destroyed 7 of ours, they have probably lost some to it also." Bradley looked up and saw Meagan nod in agreement.
"This ship needs to be destroyed. Whatever the cost."
Bradley couldn't have believed that the girl in front of him could have turned whiter. He was wrong.
He knew what she was thinking, and what that cost would be.
...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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procyon
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Re: February 2204

Postby procyon on Fri 03 Jun 2011 01:44

February 2204 part 9/And the pieces move into place

February 27th 0255 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, Earth orbit

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon stood and looked up at the stars. A vast gulf of them all around her. She looked aft and could see the engineering crews doing their regular checks on the hull and drive shield. Walking along the smooth skin of 'Anna and calibrating the sensor array pick-ups. It was a privilege of rank to be able to come out here on the hull. So long as you stayed on the dark side of the hull or the backside of a planet it was no different than the hard vacuum of the cabin. But inside 'Anna, the walls could begin to feel like a prison. It already felt as if her soul was locked in the body she now wore, with no way out. Out here she felt less trapped.
The devastation on Mars was just beginning to be grasped. Over two million died in the attacks. More would die in the days to come. It never seemed to end. Pallas. Mercury. Ceres. And now Mars. "How will it end?" She looked at the millions of lights surrounding her. "Will this be the site of our last stand? The end of the long years I've seen?"
"I love to look at this. How many times do I have left?"
She looked at the great gulf below her, falling away to the blue green planet below.
"Are we worth saving?"


0800 hours/Cruiser Chiang Kia Shek, Earth orbit

Admiral Hu sat and looked at the console. The Shek was nearly ready. Only a few hours left and she would clear the dock. And he would go with her. Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji was gone, and there were no other Fleet Officers to take command. The Cruiser would be his.
The US had sent data that had indicated one of the alien ships was beginning to become the main threat. Chinese analysts had looked over the data but were unable to correlate it with the combat records. The belt had made it almost impossible to get clear readings of the ships or of which one launched what weapon. They may have lost ships to this alien vessel, but there was no way to tell. But it was a small ship, no threat to the Chinese group.
What was important was the data the Pan Euro had sent. The source was unclear, but the data was crystal clear. An alien colony had been identified on Triton near Neptune. The US and Euro had failed to destroy it, and lost several ships in the attempt. Their losses weren't important. The target was. The aliens would find this Cruiser much more difficult to stop than the fragile ships of the other nations.
The scientist had come up with a way to bleed off the feed back from impacts with the protective fields into a magnetic loop capacitor. The fields would no longer burn out the generator and need repaired at a shipyard. They would be reset within an hour or two by simply replacing the capacitors when they burned out. Much like a fuse burning out and being replaced.
'Revenge is a dish best served cold it is said, and they have picked a very cold home.'


February 28th 0415 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, Asteroid belt

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 checked on the status of the transmission to the elders. The attack on the enemy colony had inflicted damage on the habitats there, but had failed to destroy it. The last Combat Vessel had been destroyed. Patrol Vessels 19 and 12 had sustained damage to the outer plating. And only one of the scout craft had managed to find its way home to the hive ships.
Repairs were being made to the damaged vessels, and new scout craft would have to be sent. The four Patrol Vessels would remain here in the debris belt of this system while preparations were made for the next attack on the enemy home. The Commander intended to stay here and continue attacks on the native race. Patrol Vessels 17 and 13 would be able to make harassing attacks to keep the enemy tied down here by their homes, and unable to attack New Home 3.
All of their race would know of the feats this Combat Group had attained. And of the destruction Patrol Vessel 17 had unleashed upon this enemy. But now he was no longer just the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17. He would be the Commander of all Vessels that would come to the inner part of this system. And the Commander intended to see this enemy race destroyed.


///////////////////////////////
Overview part 1
Yes, I am going to need more than one part to take a good look at what happened in this month, but here it goes.

First the tale of the tape. It was a bad month for humanity.
Really bad for the Euro.
Horrible for the US.
The FSC already has it so bad it was hard to get worse.

Worst news first.
The US started the month with 12 Interceptor MkIIa's and 6 Missile Escorts in three battle groups.
The US finished the month with 2 Interceptors, and 2 Missile Escorts.
The Mars Station also lost one of its Military Modules.
That was 80 percent of the US fleet in combat HS's. Ouch.
Add to that the loss of two admirals.
They also managed to lose 43 PU on Mars in the attack at the end of the month.
Double Ouch.
You don't really want to know what someone's mood was like that month.

The Pan Euro started with 2 Queen Class Destroyers, 2 Heavy Escorts, 8 Attack Escorts, and the Red October.
They finished it with 1 Destroyer, 1 Heavy Escort, 6 Attack Escorts, and the Red October badly damaged.
They also lost the Mercury Space Station, with its six military modules and 2 shipyards.
This amounted to over 50 percent of their combat HS's and half of their construction capability.
They also lost an admiral. And 22.3 PU on Mercury.
Her mood wasn't much better. Wonder why?....

China lost one Cruiser. Less than 20 percent of their combat HS's.
The loss of the admiral hurt more. It forced him to put his only other one into danger.
The loss of 41.5 PU at Ceres was the worst.
China was now the most powerful military for Earth.
They had nearly as many combat HS as the Euro and US put together.

The FSC didn't lose anything, which was good as they only had one ship left.
With their only population on Earth, if they had lost any this would have likely been the game's last month.


The good news for Earth, although they didn't know it...
This month destroyed just over 60 percent of the Nemotian's mobile combat HS's.

Murphy's combat law says that when both sides think they are about to lose, they are both right.
This was that month.

The other interesting part concerns Patrol Vessel 17.
This is a danger of paper and pencil games with the dice out for everyone to see.
The early attack moved Patrol Vessel 17 up to elite. When the Patrol ships only have one shot, and no datalink, it is pretty easy to figure out which one is hitting on numbers it ' shouldn't ' at a given range. When it started racking up the kills they decided that they were going to hunt it down. I heard it muttered often that they needed to take that ship out.

They also mentioned to the middle boy (China) that if he wanted payback for Ceres, that Neptune was the place to go.

The next post will go over the battles and economics to a degree. If you've got a question, just drop it on the comments. This was a complicated month.
...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: February 2204

Postby procyon on Fri 03 Jun 2011 01:50

February 2204 part 10

//////////////////////////////
Overview part 2

For the economics

Pan Euro
The recession was still in effect for the Euro, so she decided to mothball her survey ships to try and offset the costs. She also sank a fair portion of her income into IU's to try and make up the continuing shortfall. She continued with a trickle of colonization out to the belt, but began to regret it as the turn went on as she was sure they were just going to become targets as time went on. The Euro progressed to just needing one success left for her shield research before she had the system, and the promise from the US to provide a tech copy was going to help that in March.
The big hit for her, although it would take time to be felt, was the loss of the shipyards at Mercury. This would put a crimp on her ability to both refit existing ships while building new ships to replace losses. The Euro's two Mobile Repair ships with the SYM's would actually become a vital piece of her construction assets for the year or so to come. The time it would take to build a new shipyard - and the shipyard that would become unavailable during that time while it worked on the construction, just couldn't be spared under the circumstances. She could have used ground construction, but the cost during her current finacial straights was just untenable.

US
The US economically had an ok sort of month. They piled all the money they could into developing shields, and made their last roll this month easily. They also quietly started working on the breakthru for datalink - but wasn't so lucky with his roll. He also managed to miss his roll for EL2 which miffed him somewhat.
He continued a small investment in IU's, and shut down colonization to Mars. Whether it was a good guess at the next target or just dumb luck, he quit investing in that right before it got hit. The damage to Mars was substantial, and coming right as he was looking for the PU increase due to a jump in EL hurt even worse. Each PU lost was lost growth when he made his roll.
The damage to the SS at Mars did not damage the core, so he retained all three of his SY, which was good. He had a LOT of rebuilding to do after this month. But he was also planning on introducing a new model of Interceptor, so it hurt to lose so many ships but did free up the maintenance for new construction. He grumbled a lot, but was planning just as much.

China
This month saw the complete transformation of China from the whipping boy of the other powers at the beginning of the game to the most powerful of the players bar none. The loss of Ceres hurt, but he had been anticipating it and pouring money into IU at a rate greater than the Euro and US combined. The loss of Ceres hurt, but the IU bought in February offset nearly one third of the loss. He also managed to get the success on S regenerating every hour roll this month, after mildly accelerating the research over the last few months.
Possibly the most game altering event was his rapid and extensive refits over the last two month. China's FG's now packed as many shields as a Nemotion Assault Vessel (Light Cruiser), and the Tung and Shek would pack almost twice that number. The Shek's conversion to a pure long range weapon platform put as many R's on it as an entire US Task Force. His greatest weakness was his limited strategic flexiblity. He had immense power concentrated in just a few ships (a habit he keeps to this day). He has a big hammer to hit with, but can only drag it to one place at a time. He understood that he probably had enough ships to pound Triton to rubble, but would have to leave everything unguarded at home if he did.
He was beginning understand (and discuss with the SM) that he would need the other players to guard his assets while he went of and fought the war. And that they would have to trust each other for that to happen.

South Seas Free Space Consortium (FSC)
The oldest girl pretty much had to sit back and hope for the best this month. Her only ship wasn't fit for the combat going on, and she wasn't in a position to risk it. So she used it to try and garner a little good will from the other players by taking on the missions they didn't have the assets to cover. Even if it was a slight risk. Her mission to Mercury (with US support) managed to rescue 0.9 PTU's for the Euro. Not a lot, but with the Euro already hurting for cash, it was appreciated. With the FSC supplying the FT support, and loaning her mom (the Euro) the cash for CFN H shortfall, all the Euro had to come up with was the emplacement cost to drop the rescued PTU's into her AB colonies.
The oldest girl was able to use this to gain a claim to the AB for emplacement of her own colonies (which she had already started - she just failed to mention that), and emplaced another of her own PTU's to the AB and emplaced a few more IU's on Earth. She also managed to scrape together the funds to begin her last research project on shields. Her growth was slow at this point compared to the other player, but it was the turning point for the FSC. Over the coming year, she would find her niche in this game.

Nemotians
Economically the Nemotians were continuing to grow. Their war effort took a pounding this month at the hands of the players, but they were a long ways from beaten. The survival of Triton not only allowed them to keep the income for another month, but allowed the growth off of it as the Nemotions grow by 2% every 5 turns. To give a little idea of how the Nemotians work, I combined several attributes of both the Ice Life and a Hive Mind with the Colonization random event. They grow fairly quickly and can ship PTU in much less Qv and H. They can only colonize O1 moons as benign - to me the enviromental difference between Triton and Neptune are WAY to vast for anything to consider both environments as benign. They also research slowly, although not as slowly as a true hive mind. I decided that would be unbalanced due to the severely limited PU caps on their worlds set by Ice Life - they get precious few SA and RDS. Slow it more and there would be no point to even trying to research. I also allowed them some individuality (as per the story) and gave the ships grades as opposed to straight average for all of them. If would have been too easy for the player to figure out just what they were facing if I didn't mix things up a little. I wanted them to work for the victrory, as what is gained easily is oft taken for granted. The players don't spend much time discussing the 'gimme's' of the game, but the hard fought battles that were nearly lost seem to inspire discussion years later.
What was hurting the Nemotians was their dwindling saving. With limited PU available, and maxed out IU (I allowed them to place IU on any pop over 60 as they maxed at 180 for the moment), and FT's actually losing you money with the math we used for our systems, the Nemotians earned over 20% of their income (early on it was over 35 to 40%) from interest on Treasury. That treasury was dwindling and with it their sustainable income. They still maintained a treasury of over 11000 MC, but with only 3 SY for building warships and no investment opportunities, it wasn't hard to see that the writing was on the wall for the Nemotians. Unless the players made some big mistakes.

On a side note, Patrol Vessel 17's move to Elite began to change the players tactics in the coming months. They realized that the little ships packed just as much firepower as the DD's at long range (both carried only a single Pt), and that some of those little ships were surviving long enough to get better at using that weapon. They didn't like that idea much.


And now for the ship lists for the battles....

First Battle of Neptune

US Task Force 2
Admiral: Rear Admiral Matthew Thomas / LG +0

Interceptor MkIIa A. Lincoln (BG+1) , T. Roosevelt , S. Grant (BG-1) , J. Davis (BG-1)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] A A A H Mgs Qa Ya Lb Ra (cpCp) [6/1] cg x1

Missile Escort Hawk , Eagle
Class: EX 7HS
[2] A Hs Qa Ra (cp) [4/1]
(by now simply called trash cans with firepower)

Survey Tender 1
Class: FT0 5HS
[2] H (Bsa) H Qa (Cp) [6/1] cg x1

Pan Euro 1st Battle Group
Admiral: Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery / LG +0

Queen Elizabeth (BG+1)
Class: DD 30HS
[2] A A A A A A A Hs Qa Mgs (Cp) (Cp) Qa Ra Ra Ya Ra Ra (Cp) [6/1] cg x1

Heavy Escort Anastasia (BG+1)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] A A A Hs Mgs Qa Ra Ra Ya (cpCp) [6/1] cg x1

Attack Escorts Cynthia , Suzette (BG-1) , Mary Queen of Scots (BG+1), Rachel Pierce
Class: ES 12HS
[2] A A A A Hs Mgs Ya Ra Qa (Cp) [6/1]

Nemotian Defense Fleet 2
Admiral: LG +0

Assault Vessel 5
Class: 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] cg x1

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

Patrol Vessels 4 , 5
Class: CT 16HS
[2] S S A A Hs (Bsa) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1] cg x3

Defense Base Mk I (x1)
Class: BS1 30HS
[0] S S S S A A A H Qa Mg Qa Ya Kb Pta Kb [0]
Note: Kb's are turret mounted on a BS1 so 360 degree fire.

Defense Base Mk 0 (x2)
Class: BS0 15HS
[0] S S S A A H Qa Mg Ya Pta [0]

New Home 3 Shipyards (BG-1)
Class: SS 82HS
[0] H Qa (SY2) [0]

New Home 3 Support Station (BG-2/CFN Terminal)
Class: SS
[0] (H H Qv) x60 (Bsa) (Bsa) (TCF) H Qa [0] gtos x2
(for those who like shooting civilian assets)

Mobile Repair Ships 3 ( 9 , 10 in mothballs in Triton orbit)
[2] H Qa (Cp) (Cp) (Cp) (SYM2) [6/1]
PT x2 on board for detonation

Support Vessels (BG-2) (x2)
Class: FT 2 16HS
[2] A (Bsa) H H H A H H H A H H H H Qa (Cp) [4/1]
PT x2 on board for detonation

Small Support Vessel (BG-2) (x2)
Class: FT1 12HS
[2] A H H H H A H H H H Qa (Cp) [6/1]
PT x2 on board for detonation

Reduce Combat Vessel and Assault Vessel magazines by the 10 PT on the FT's.
Nemotians may automatically "ram" (see below) to defend populations.

Nepture will fill the hex it is in.
Proteus is an O1m at 2tH from Neptune.
Triton is an O1m at 5tH from Neptune with 180PU, 90 IU, RDS x1.
Triton has planetary fallout shelters for 36PU (you can't nuke 'em).
(Players didn't know about fallout shelters yet)

We had long discussions on ramming in this game, and settled it thus.
In the absence of drive field, not possible for ships of ANY sort to ram one another.
(Players definitely scared of kamakazie attacks. At the speeds used, if you could ram another ship with yours, direct hits with a missile should be easy. A direct hit with an X megaton missile would destroy any ship.) Ramming of planets/pops possible.
Use of large explosion rules allowed, with increased damage for warhead in force for the detonation but FRN. Ie, 2 PT's would have 2 pts x2 for Lg Exp. damage normally, x3 for our no field mod for 12 damage. A successful ram roll would inflict all 12 points, a miss would inflict 1/10th (FRN not FRU) for 1 pt
Dumb bombs were ruled to do 1 pt on planet strikes due to precision, not as a ship to ship damage level. They could do 1 pt base damage - not tripled - on a successful ram. You'd need a bunch if you missed.
You could load more PT's on the suicide ships if you wanted. The Assault and Combat Vessels carry a BUNCH.
The players still wanted to be able to load ships with missiles from the PDC's and "ram" to defend Earth, but that was about the extent of it.

The aftermath was the loss of all US and Euro ships other than the Rachel Pierce and Mary QoS.
Both advanced with the R. Pierce to BG+1 and the Mary QoS to BG+2.
Triton lost all mobile assets except the mothballed ships, and none of the orbital defenses were touched. No damage to the moon.

(I will confess to having lost the original ship lists, but know which ships were there by that month's deployment orders. I am fairly sure of all the ship grades from the fleet rosters that month, but that wasn't recorded on the turn notes. Sorry.)


The Second Battle of Mercury

Pan Euro Ship List

Mercury Space Station
Class: SS 162HS
[0] H Qa (SY2) (SY2) [0]
Mercury Station Military Modules 1-6 (BG-1)
Class: SS 12HS
[0] A A H Qa La Ra [0]

Mercury Transfer Station (BG-2/CFN Holding)
Class: SS
[0] (H H Qv) x22 (Bsa) (TCF) H Qa [0] gtos x1

Nemotian Combat Group 3 Detachment

Nemotian Patrol Vessels 12 , 13 , 17 (BG+1)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] S S A A Hs (Bsa) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1] cg x3
cg carry bombs x2 each

Mercury has 22.3PTU.
The complete destruction of all population on Mercury is a tactical defeat for the Nemotians as this was an attempt to draw defenses from Ceres. (They wouldn't know these folks don't really like each other. A race fighting itself, that is just plum silly.....)


The Destruction of Ceres

Chinese Ship List
Admiral: Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji / LG+1

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

Missile Frigates Anhui , Hubei (BG+1) , Shangxi , Henan
Class: FG 22HS
[2] S S S S Qa Hs Qa (Cp) Ra Mgs Ra Ra Ya (Cp) [6/1] cg x1

Ceres Transfer Station (BG-2/CFN Holding)
Class: SS
[0] (H H Qv) x40 (Bsa) (Bsa) (TCF) H Qa [0] gtos x2

Chinese Light Cargo Freighter (BG-2/CFN Holding)
Class: FT1 12HS
[2] A H H H H A H H H H Qa (Cp) [6/1]

Mobile Construction Ship Zhuang
Class: FT4 30HS
[2] H A H Qa (Cp) (SYM1) [6/1] cg x1

Ceres has 41.5PU, and 6Qv of troops with 3H.

Nemotian Combat Group 3

Assault Vessels 4 , 6
Class: 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] cg x1

Combat Vessels 4 , 6
Class: DD 30HS
[2] S S S A A H Qa (Bsa) (Cp) Mg Mg Mg (M1) Qa (Cp) Kb+ Ya (Cp) Pta [6/1] cg x3

Patrol Vessels 19 (BG-1) , 20 (BG-1) , 21 (BG-1)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] S S A A Hs (Bsa) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1] cg x3

Hive Vessel 1 (BG-1) , 2(BG-1) - not actually present at battle, hiding in belt 240 tH away.
Class: ESf 12HS
[2] (Bsa) x9 H Qa (Cp) [6/1] cg x18 - these did go to Ceres.

All cg carry bombs x2 each

AB rules for reduced sensors in force.

Notes. Historically speaking, this battle never happened. The Chinese simply left the colony to its fate. But it could have if you want to give it a shot. You could put bombs in the FT's if you make your roll for the CFN to help (the GaM's would do nicely). The gtos's speed of one would make it an easy target for big ships but a bomb or two in it wouldn't hurt. At least it could draw fire.
Trying to save the colony from the swarm of 51 gigs is pretty much hopeless though.
And China wanted some help facing down this group. What they did is trail the Nemotian Group to keep track of it so they couldn't just show up at Earth or Venus unannounced.
The Zhuang was sent off toward Venus.


The Clash of Arms / Defense of the Inner System

Chinese Ship List
Admiral: Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji / LG+1

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

Missile Frigates Anhui , Hubei (BG+1) , Shangxi , Henan
Class: FG 22HS
[2] S S S S Qa Hs Qa (Cp) Ra Mgs Ra Ra Ya (Cp) [6/1] cg x1


US Task Force 3
Admiral: Rear Admiral Joshua Campbell / LG-1

Interceptor MkIIa J. Hancock (BG+1) , J. Adams , T. Jefferson (BG+1) , G. Washington
Class: CT 16HS
[2] A A A H Mgs Qa Ya Lb Ra (cpCp) [6/1] cg x1

Missile Escort Vulture (BG+1) , Condor
Class: EX 7HS
[2] A Hs Qa Ra (cp) [4/1]
(by now simply called trash cans with firepower)

Nemotian Combat Group 3

Assault Vessels 4 , 6
Class: 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] cg x1

Combat Vessels 4 , 6
Class: DD 30HS
[2] S S S A A H Qa (Bsa) (Cp) Mg Mg Mg (M1) Qa (Cp) Kb+ Ya (Cp) Pta [6/1] cg x3

Patrol Vessels 12 , 13 , 17 (BG+1) ,19 (BG-1) , 20 (BG-1) , 21 (BG-1)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] S S A A Hs (Bsa) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1] cg x3

Hive Vessel 1 (BG-1) , 2(BG-1)
Class: ESf 12HS
[2] (Bsa) x9 H Qa (Cp) [6/1] cg x18

This happens in deep space, no terrain.
The Hive Vessels 1 and 2, plus Patrol Vessels 12 and 13 start 16 hexes behind the lead group.
No gigs had been launched. None were used to attempt "ramming" with bombs on board as that wasn't Nemotian SOP/Tactical Doctrine. They were to be held for planetary bambardments. The Nemotians actually have about 5 gigs less, as they were destroyed by the PU/Qv on Ceres. Exact number and which ships were short are unavailable.

Notes. This battle was fought to a draw, with both sides withdrawing to preserve their remaining ships. The US Task Force and Tung were destroyed. Every FG made its advancement roll. They retreated to Venus to protect the shipyards there and to allow better rolls on the emergency repair of the S's since they would not regenerate at this time.

The Nemotians used this opportunity to lose the constant surveilance of their group so they could attempt a more favorable attack on Mars. This was the first engagement that the players really noticed PV 17. Due more to lucky rolls, PV destroyed 2 ships outright, assisted in the destruction of the Tung, and finished or a crippled Interceptor. After the battle all of the surviving PV's succeeded on their advancement rolls (you need one week of downtime as I read it, so they just hung out in the AB). The surviving destroyer didn't go up and stayed average.

Although if the Nemotians had won this engagement, the next battle would have looked very different. In the interlude PV 17 and 12 returned to Mercury to finish its destruction. They were the only ships present, so I see no point in typing it out as a battle.

The Battle for Mars

Pan Euro Ship List
Admiral: None. Senior Captain Robert McNeely of the Red October

Armed Science Vessel Red October (BG+1)
Class: FG 22HS
[2] A A A A A A H Qa Mgs Xp (cpCp) Ra Ra Ya Qa (Cp) [6/1] cg x1

Attack Escorts Mary Queen of Scots (BG+2), Rachel Pierce (BG+1)
Class: ES 12HS
[2] A A A A Hs Mgs Ya Ra Qa (Cp) [6/1]

Mobile Shipyard
Class: FT4 30HS
[2] H H H Qa (Cp) (SYM1) [6/1] cg x1


US Ship List
Admiral: Rear Admiral Jack Ryan / LG+2 - Navigator

Interceptor MkIIa JFK , B. Franklin , H. Truman , D. Eisenhower (BG-1)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] A A A H Mgs Qa Ya Lb Ra (cpCp) [6/1] cg x1

Survey Tender 1
Class: FT0 5HS
[2] H (Bsa) H Qa (Cp) [6/1] cg x1

Mars Space Station (BG-1)
Class: SS 82HS
[0] H Qa (SY2) [0]
Mars Station Military Modules 1-6 (BG-1)
Class: SS 12HS
[0] A A H Qa Lb Ra [0]

Mars Transfer Station (BG-2/CFN Holding)
Class: SS
[0] (H H Qv) x60 (Bsa) (Bsa) (TCF) H Qa [0] gtos x2

Mars has 139.0PU.

Nemotian Combat Group 3

Combat Vessels 4
Class: DD 30HS
[2] S S S A A H Qa (Bsa) (Cp) Mg Mg Mg (M1) Qa (Cp) Kb+ Ya (Cp) Pta [6/1] cg x3

Patrol Vessels 12 (BG+1), 13 (BG+1), 17 (BG+2)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] S S A A Hs (Bsa) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1] cg x3

Hive Vessel 1 (BG-1) , 2(BG-1)
Class: ESf 12HS
[2] (Bsa) x9 H Qa (Cp) [6/1] cg x18

cg carry bombs x2 each

Notes. The story says 48 gigs, it was really 47. Oh well. This is a nasty fight that both sides claimed to have won afterward. The Nemotians lost the DD and most of their gigs (only one survived). The US lost two Interceptors and 43PU, plus one destroyed Military Module. The Red October was hit twice and hid behind Mars - where she shot at the gigs as they attacked.
Neither side was decisively defeated, as the Nemotians withdrew as soon as the gigs started bombing.
After the battle the JFK finally made it to BG+1. The rest either didn't or couldn't (already rolled for the month) advance.
This battle singled out PV17. The DD took out the Mil Mod on the SS, and hit the R. October. I think PV 12 hit an Interceptor. PV17 put the other hit on the October, finished off the Interceptor, and took out the other MkIIa by itself. Several were on rolls that 'shouldn't' have hit.
And so began the story of the 'alien ace' that the players claimed was BG+3 or better to start the game. Little did they know that they helped create it by targeting the big ships.

For some what if scenarios, you could always take the Euro/US group from the last battle (without the SS's) and have them try to crack the defenses of Triton in the battle that got called off. (Would have left the Mars SS alone against the surviving parts of Combat Group 3.)
Another that almost happened was the FSC Mary Reed and US Missile Escorts Falcon and Owl. They could have fought PV 12 and 17 at Mercury. Both the US ships are BG+1 and the design is covered above. The PV12 and 17 would be the same as the last battle. The Mary Reed would be...

Converted Frieghter Mary Reed
Class: FT2 16HS
[2] A Qv Qv Qv H H La Ra Qa (Cp) [4/1] cg x1

Reallistically, if I were the human player, I would hide on the backside of Mercury and try to force them to close to point blank range for the engagement. At least the lack of sensors wouldn't make any difference. It would be better to hope the alien ships would just go away after they kill the PU.

In that this post if fairly immense to stick in the middle of a story, if folks post a fair amount in the comments that they would rather see this stuff moved to the Starfire Scenarios section, I would be willing to do that (so as to not clutter the story to much). Otherwise I would rather post it where anyone can get to it without having to log in if they choose not to (or aren't registered yet).

Thanks again for reading...
March won't be near so big....(sigh)....
...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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