April 2204

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April 2204

Postby procyon on Sat 04 Jun 2011 23:29

April 2204 part 1

April 1st 0320 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, Earth orbit

The Dutchman unlocked his station and left the bridge. He was past due for some rest, and this seemed the perfect time. The Chinese were now posting two of their frigates to convoy escort duty, while the Pan Euro was pulling all of their ships in for refits and upgrades. The US just didn't have any ships left to run escort with. For the Mary Reed to stay out by herself with a pair of Chinese frigates was foolish. This might be April's Fools day to some, but not for The Dutchman. The FSC civilian ships had moved out of the convoys, and should be relatively safe from Chinese predation at least. The aliens were another story.
And for some reason, the cartels wanted the Mary Reed on hand to keep watch on the airspace over the FSC research sites. Sounded a whole lot safer than waiting for the aliens to show up and attack a convoy you were guarding. Why had the aliens started that? This war was only getting worse.


April 2nd 0800 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan looked out at the vessel docked in the slip. Sections of the hull were being dismantled while nearby components were being prepped for installation. "This really lets you know how desperate we are." thought Jack.
He wondered how long it would take for the refits to be finished. They had said at Admiral Walters' morning briefing it would only take two weeks. That was less than half the time it took to build an Interceptor. Much less than half. But had it really come to the point the US needed to arm one of the government passenger transports to perform convoy escort duties? It would free the US from depending on the Chinese for convoy escorts, and when you're down to your last two ships you definitely need more. But refitting a freighter?
Jack turned and left the room. It was past time to check in on Meagan. He had forced her to go and get a check up before she went on leave, and it had turned out to be a good idea. She had managed to acquire a bleeding ulcer. That explained her poor color and worse appetite rather well. Instead of leave she was laid up in sick bay, but she needed it. The last few days she actually had color in her cheeks. She was to be released soon and sent on her planet side leave. "Perhaps I could join her," Jack thought. "It has been years since I walked on something other than a deck."


1200 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, Asteroid belt

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 seethed. The orders were clear, but cowardly and foolish. The Patrol Vessels were to cease all offensive operations until additional support arrived. Further losses were deemed unacceptable.
Unacceptable?! Allowing the enemy a chance to regroup and prepare an attack on New Home 3 was unacceptable! To sit back and allow them to do this while there were still combat ready ships that could strike the enemy was unacceptable! How could they justify such a course of action?
There were only 9 scout craft, and a handful of bombs for them, but they could be used to conduct an attack on the enemy settlement on the third planet of this system. They could quickly move to attack and then disengage. It would do little damage, but entailed little risk. It would help to tie down enemy ships, making New Home 3 safer.
In the end, the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 knew it was not his decision to make. The group would wait.


April 5th 1430 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, Earth orbit

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon wondered if the aliens would attack while the refits were underway. Even the Mobile Shipyards were busy assisting in the overhauls of the ships. Every ship, every single Pan Euro combat vessel was scheduled to be refitted this month. First up were the Red October, Rachel Pierce, and Mary Queen of Scots. Not only were they the first to be refitted with the new 'shield' technology as the US called it, they were to be redesignated as the 3rd Light Battle Group.
The Tatianna was the next to have her hull torn apart for installation of the new system. The Tatianna had needed to wait for the second Mobile Shipyard to arrive before her upgrades could begin. This new system would change how the battles against the aliens would be fought, and Brenna had tried to account for a system that she didn't have any experience with. Her training schedules and regimen for the upcoming month should give them an idea of how the system would impact the Pan Euro ships' operations, but the impact on combat was impossible to gauge.
The Queen Elizabeth class had always been able to withstand a few hits from the aliens, but the smaller ships were seldom able to withstand more than one or two impacts. The new shields were supposed to allow the Heavy and Attack Escorts to withstand the first few impacts with no real loss of combat efficiency. It could allow for successful withdrawal of ships from combat, without undue danger to the other ships of a battle group. It could also allow the US ships to utilize their laser batteries without it essentially being a suicide mission.
It would likely change how the aliens approached an engagement also. That would be the most difficult thing to anticipate and compensate for.
But training was going to be vital. With the number of new Pan Euro and US ships that were going to be coming out of the yards in the next few months, training would make the difference in whether those ships survived or not. And ultimately, the survival of all humanity.


April 8th 0445 hours/Cruiser Chiang Kia Shek, Venus orbit

Admiral Hu reviewed the progress reports on the new cruiser. The Ho Chi Minh was on schedule, and would be ready for deployment in just over 3 months. At that point the Shek would likely be on her way to Neptune. Along with the bulk of the Chinese Fleet.
The first of the Close Assault Escorts was complete and undergoing trials here at Venus. Two more were under construction at Earth, while a third was being built at the Venus Station. When trials of all the Close Assault ships were finished, it would be time to move toward the out system and Neptune.
But for the moment it was trials and training for the new ships. The first, the Matsu, would hopefully prove a capable design, as the Taiwan, Penghu, and Kinmen were already under construction. They had primarily been designed for rapid assembly and ease of maintenance. Hopefully they would also prove capable in combat. The sensors and short range missiles were basic and rugged, but had fared poorly against the Pan Euro and US ships in the Battle for Jupiter. Hopefully with the new magnetic protective field generators they would prove more successful against the aliens.
The Yunnan had returned to Earth, and would eventually lead the Close Assault Escorts in the move to reduce the fixed defenses around Triton. The Anhui and Hubei had been assigned to convoy escort duty to ensure that a ship with more advanced sensors was available. They would also be able to deal with alien 'Alpha' class vessels unsupported by the US and Euro. The US had withdrawn from convoy escort duties with the loss of its two small missile ships, while the Euro had simply withdrawn for 'refits'. It was possible the other powers now had the protective field technology available for installation, but it would matter little. The US and Euro fleets had been reduced to almost token sizes by the aliens. They would provide no real opposition when the time came to assert Chinese dominion over the Earth.
But first the other powers would have to believe that supporting China was in their best interests. The attack on Triton would take all of the Chinese fleet elements, and the US and Euro would be responsible for security here in the inner system.
Then the aliens would pay for the lives and ships they had destroyed.
...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: April 2204

Postby procyon on Sat 04 Jun 2011 23:29

April 2204 part 2 / A Gathering Storm

April 11th 2215 hours/Queensland Research Facility, Australia

Chairman Mukata continued his tour of the research facility, but he had already seen what he had come for. The work on the protective fields, shields as the US termed them, was progressing nicely. Within the next month or two the system would be ready for deployment. The Mary Reed would be the first trial of the new system, to verify that it was compatible with current designs. After that a second ship might be commissioned for use by the FSC. But that might be deemed too great a drain on current resources. It would be addressed at the next meeting of the board. For the moment it appeared that the US and Pan Euro would be willing to defend the FSC's assets in the event of hostilities. The rest of the tour would simply be to ensure that the repairs to the facility were complete and satisfactory. Signs of the damage could be seen outside, but not in the workspaces. The damage outside had been left to camouflage some of the work done here, and to try and discourage a repeat strike by the Chinese on the complex. Much of the work had been transferred to the South African research center, but much would still have to be handled here in Queensland.
The new project had looked intriguing, but whether such a farfetched system would be possible, or cost effective, had yet to be seen. If the long term implications of the current work panned out, it could have a major impact. The technician in charge of the system integration, this Jager, seemed to be completely loyal to the FSC, and rather disgruntled with the Euro after having been discharged from duty following his ship's decommissioning. He was now teamed with the drive design teams to see if a more appropriate platform could be designed for the new hardware. Current models were completely unsuitable for conversion to this technology, and a new design would be needed for it to be effective. That was assuming a drive shield of the proper size and capabilities could be designed. "If it was even possible" had been the design team leader’s way of saying it.
In two days he would have to present all of his findings here to the board at the meeting in Port Elizabeth. They would decide the fate of this new project then. In an unusual move it had been decided to have The Dutchman attend the meeting, to give his input on the new project. Whether he felt it would be worthwhile. 'For what it is worth, I think that I will support this endeavor. It would seem to be the one area we may be able to gain an advantage over the other world powers, at this moment', Mukata decided.


April 12 0200 hours/Fulda Gap, Germany

Feldwebel Tanja Frank moved across the rocky ground quickly. Far more rapidly than she could have managed in her old powered armor. This new body was fast, and strong. It didn't tire. And it wasn't hers. She still hated it.
Crouching in a depression on the rocky slope, she paused while her squad secured the area. It was only training, but everyone took it so much more seriously now. Everyone felt like it was only a matter of time before they were fighting again. Whether against the Chinese or the aliens, on Earth or some other body, it wouldn't matter. The dying would become close and brutal once again. The sterile battles across the long dark of space would end with the bitter and close battles fought face to face. Wars weren't won by owning space, nobody lived there. You had to own the ground. Hold it. And a ship in orbit could only do so much.
Tanya checked her power and heat output readings habitually. The PT and OT following her discharge from the hospital had given her that habit. If either got to far out of limits, she would die as quickly as a normal person running out of air. It took a lot to overload or overwork a cyborg body, but it could be done. Particularly if your weapon put a heavy load on the power or cooling circuits.
The HUD showed that the area was secure. The squad was moving again. Upslope to the next objective for the days training. Tanya got up and began to move with the group. She was still alive, while the rest of her old company had died there in India. She wondered if she was the lucky one, or not.


April 15th 0620 hours/Pan Euro Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Jude Kushner watched as the Queen Mary was locked into the slip at the station. Soon the outer hull would be opened up in several places to allow the installation of the new magnetic field generators. The ships were being overhauled as quickly as possible. The goal was to have all of the Pan Euro combat ships done by the end of April, or early May. It looked like they might be able to make that deadline, but Jude hoped the speed wouldn't leave any of the ships with fatal flaws in the work. It took only a loose fitting in one place to destroy a ship when the drive engaged. A small strand of wire coming free as the rest of the ship accelerated at over 1000 G's would be able to tear a ship apart if it struck the right supports or systems. A generator or hull plate coming loose would easily rip the ship apart.
Early May would see the first new production for the Pan Euro. Two new Attack Escorts and a new Heavy Escort would begin construction. They would form the 4th Light Battle Group and hopefully be ready for deployments in June or July. They would be able to take over convoy escort duty and allow the Pan Euro to avoid the dependence on outside powers for guarding the commerce between the belt and Earth. They would also free up the Red October to assist the newest US Interceptor in hunting down the alien ships moving through the inner system, and hunting down the alien ship the US had codenamed the 'Baron'.


April 21st 1740 hours/Elders' Chambers, New Home 1(Eris)

The Elders were uneasy. Great changes were being made to combat this new race. Soon the first three of the new Attack Vessels would join the three completed Patrol Vessels. They would accompany the Support Vessels carrying the new scout craft to the waiting Hive Vessels in the inner parts of this system. Then a new, more cautious offensive could be undertaken. With the enemy's true home, and true size known, attempts could be made to try and defeat this ominous foe. The need to design new vessels to combat this race had proved that the original designs were not as formidable as had been thought.
The ground based defenses were being strengthened, to help them withstand enemy fire. With the native race now displaying that they were able to deploy protective fields on their ships, the danger of enemy attacks reaching the populations of the New Homes was increased dramatically. The ground based defenses would need to be substantial to provide the necessary protection that the decreasing mobile assets had once provided.
The orbital defenses of New Home 4 were also being disassembled for transport and reassembly at New Home 5. New Home 5 was of far greater importance, and in a much more vulnerable position. The ground based defenses there were not adequate protection. Many of the elders disagreed on this point, and their fields still betrayed their agitation, but it had been decided.
This conflict had become too prolonged. Steps would now have to be taken to create an offensive and defensive structure that could be supported solely by the resources of the New Homes. The time when the supplies and materials that had been sent with the colony ships would be exhausted was quickly approaching. Soon this war would have to be fought with much more limited resources.
The unease of the Elders would not soon be resolved. This enemy was proving far too durable.


April 24th 2010 hours/Beijing, China

Minister Po relaxed at his desk. His position was once again secure. The peace with the US and Euro was allowing the Chinese to strengthen their military uncontested by the other Earth nations. The supremacy of China would only be a matter of time now.
The massive growth of industry to support the wartime economy was rapidly being emplaced, and morale within China and its holdings was high. They had shown that their fleets were now the supreme power in space. Even the large alien fleet had been turned back. The alien armada had destroyed all of the flimsy US ships, but destroyed only one of the five Chinese ships present. The loss of the Tung hurt, but as a martyr it was generating great resolve in the people.
'The massive bond fund I started will be able to cover half of the construction cost for the new cruiser. Having framed it as a ship to avenge the lost cruiser has gotten a large public subscription to the project,' mused Po. 'With the public supplying half of the construction fees, the investment in this cruiser will be less than the cost of a new frigate.'
Po leaned back. It was only a matter of time...


April 27th 1530 hour/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Bradley Walters looked over the morning's reports. The progress on the protective fields was slowing to almost a halt. With Lieutenant Commander Ryan gone, the whole project seemed to have lost its momentum. She wouldn't be available for the next two months, so that could be a problem. The fields themselves seemed to work well on the Interceptors, but would require overhauls each time the fields encountered any major influx of charged particles. Devising a way to prevent this, or make it an easily reversed problem, was at a standstill. Still, Bradley reminded himself, having the shields was a vast improvement in the ships' ability to engage the aliens.
The newest Interceptor, the MkIII Yari was on her way to Mars with Rear Admiral Ryan on board. She would join the two MkIIb's at Mars for her shakedown cruise. With the Euro committing to assist with their Red October in the coming months, this 'Baron' should find surviving quite a bit more difficult. Two more of the MkIIb's were even now under construction in the yards and would be ready late in May. With four operational MkIIb's, the MkIII, and the armed freighter Vigilance taking over convoy escort duties, the US might again be able to claim that we have a credible war fleet in space.
'Perhaps we will be able to defeat these aliens after all. Assuming we don't end up killing each other in the process.' Bradley looked over the reports of the Chinese construction over the last two months. Three craft the size of Euro Attack Escorts, and a big ship well on its way to completion. And that was just what we can see here at Earth. Who knows what they have built out at Venus? The aliens may not be the worst of our problems in the end.


////////////////////////////////////////
Overview

This month was fairly quiet, but everyone was still trying to rebuild/refit. But the momentum for an offense was building, especially with China. It wasn't going to take long before the groups came back out swinging.

For the Euro,
The recession was still siphoning off money from the economy. Continued colonization into the belt, and investment in IU were offsetting it a little, but it was still making itself felt. The Euro's research projects were slowly moving along, but nothing was anywhere close to producing useful results for months. The refit of every ship to using S's was quite the juggling act for the month, with every available asset being brought to bear. In the end she managed it, but just barely. It was a massive drain on her assets though, as paying the new class cost on every ship amounted to most of what she made. She normally liked to carry a treasury balance of about 60-100MC to cover repair costs, etc, that would crop up. This month left her scrapping the armor she was stripping off the ships just to have single digits in her treasury at the end of the month.
The fact that all of her ships would be Poor grade the next month was worrying her quite a little bit also.

For China,
The middle boy was on a roll. He was plowing as much into IU as the other were into their fleets. He was still building ships at the same time though. He could see the economic boom's end was in sight, as he only had 10 IU left before he had maxed out the Earth. He was going to need a place to colonize in the near future if he was going to keep his economy expanding, and with Ceres glassed (we use the reduced PU limit if a site is nuked), he was low on options. Saturn was waiting, the question was if he would be brave enough to stick his neck out and try to settle there. He knew if he waited too long, the other players were going to catch up.
The random events roll in March for the public subscription paying for half of the new CL (did I get that in the write up???) was still in the works, and I am pretty sure that refund was what he was waiting on to try and prototype a CA. He didn't want to strap his economy trying to come up with the cost of a prototype hull and new class cost all at once, and the refund would turn the trick by boosting his income for the month.
Dice just seem to love this kid.

For the US,
The oldest boy was doing his best to put a shattered power back together. He was looking forward to getting EL2 in May to boost his income and build rate. He even decided that converting a FT was the fastest way to put another combat ship on the line. With 2 shields, a Ya and an Ra, it would be able to take two hits, and was as effective at range as the Interceptor MkIIa's. At least it was something, and would be able to free up his real combat ships.
He managed a trickle of investment in IU and colonization this month, but was frustrated by a lack of success on his roll to get the shields to regenerate in an hour. He had poured a bunch of money there, accelerating it as much as he could. No luck. But he was making progress, Mars was still there, and he had all of his SY's. Could have been worse.

For the FSC,
The oldest girl's luck was starting to turn around, as she made her roll for EL2. It would make her new research project go even more quickly, if not any cheaper. She continued her trickle of colonization to the belt, doubled her investment in IU (worse return, but less chance it would get nuked by aliens), and started investing in her new project slowly. She didn't want to dive in and then not have any money to work with when she got there. She decided 25 turns was a while, and she would try to build and research together. Unfortunately she didn't make her roll on S's, so she would have to continue with that expense for the time being.
She could see light at the end of the tunnel now, but it was a long way off, and she wasn't sure if she would make it to the end.

The Nemotians,
The bad guys were definitely working hard to keep an even footing this month. I decided to pull in PV17 and its group. They were just getting too thin on ships to keep pushing it. With reinforcements on the way, there was no sense in risking the ships unsupported. I decided the Nemotians would also move the bases around Home 4 to Home 5. Home 5 had three times the income, and was closer to the inner system. It made little sense to put more protection around the smaller colony. The downside was that neither was going to get any use from the bases while they were disassembled, shipped, and reassembled. The risks we take in war......
The gigs were done, the bombs purchased, and the six new ships were finished at the end of the month. May would see them head on in to join the fight. The trend toward smaller ships was a little disturbing so early, but it was necessary with the Nemotian's treasury dwindling. It fell another 1100 this month, and was just going to keep getting smaller. I had increased the Nemotian's income to its max this month, without population growth. Growth wouldn't happen again till month 20 (this was 16). They were going to have to be able to get by on what they had for the time being. They were rolling for EL3 now, and that would help.
I decided deepen the defenses of the PDC's, and doubled their size this month. They were cheap to maintain, and almost certain to see use in the coming months. They might as well be ready for it.

As always, thank you for reading.
...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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