July 2204

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July 2204

Postby procyon on Tue 14 Jun 2011 23:44

July 2204 part 1

July 1st 1715 hours/Pan European Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Jude Kushnir sat in the briefing room by herself. The 'afternoon' briefing had been informative, and depressing. 'If all of the data shows that we are finally winning, why do I feel like we are losing?' She thought to herself.
She looked out the viewing port in the briefing room. From here she could see the Queen Mary settled into a slip. Workers dotted the ship's hull, cutting away the damaged plating in preparation for repairs. The ship would be down for a week or so to have the plating and baffles replaced, and then the Elise and Sereg would take their turns in the yard. The repairs the two Attack Escorts had received from the Mobile Shipyards were holding up well, but the ships needed a good inspection here at the yards, if nothing else.
Brenna was now 'baby sitting' the captured alien ship and the Mobile Shipyard that was busy trying to disassemble the thing. 'Three months is a long time out there. Especially when the aliens know exactly where you are. If they show up with the strength they challenged us with earlier, she will never be able to hold. She could get her ships out of there, but the Mobile Shipyard is too slow.' Jude looked out the viewing port for a long while. 'But I don't think Brenna will run.'
Jude looked out at the Queen Mary again. 'The video feeds from Ian on the Mary QoS makes the QM look shiny and new. The Red October looks like a survivor from a banger race or demo contest. They aren't even sure that she will make the trip home. Captain McNeely doesn't sound like he is much better off than the ship. The report is that he had his left arm removed.' Jude sat and thought some more.
'We don't have a ship on line bigger than a Heavy Escort, and only two of those. The US has a single Task Force, and can't move it. We have been reduced to deploying Light Battle Groups as we have nothing else we can spare.' She looked out to the slip beside the Queen Mary to see the meshwork of supports and systems in the slip beside her. 'And the Queen Victoria is still months away from being finished. The Lady Di is just a pipe dream.'
Jude noticed her fingers thrumming away on the armrest of her chair. Here on the station it actually made noise. Jude forced herself to stop and turned her chair back to the table, then laid her head down until she heard the 'click' as it touched the surface. 'We're winning, but it will only take one mistake, one battle to go against us. And then it will be over.'

July 2nd 0020 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 3 light seconds from Jupiter

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 waited. The magnetic signature of the nearby planet, along with its many moons would make it difficult for the native race to find his ships. The orders were to return to New Home 3, but the Support Vessel that brought the Patrol Group's routine supplies was due to arrive shortly. The Commander had transmitted orders for the Support Vessel to divert from it scheduled resupply point in the debris field to here at the giant planet. The debris field was simply too close to the enemy at this point, and waiting for it to cross the distance to the debris field would slow them even more. The giant planet would still allow the ships of the Patrol Group to dock with the Support Vessel while being hidden from enemy ships.
And then they would be able to resume the trip to New Home 3, and the enemy ships waiting there.

July 2nd 0210 hours/Heavy Escort Esme Jurkat, 3 light minutes from Jupiter

Captain Michael McWilliams reviewed the status reports and ship logs for the 4th LBG, Mobile Shipyard 1, and the Troop Transport. The movement was going smoothly. The Troop Transport was the most difficult ship to manage from an astrogation stand point. The brigades of powered armor troops on board made ‘standard’ drive acceleration impossible. With the ship limited to sustained acceleration of 2 or 3 G’s, and maximum acceleration of less than 30 G’s, she was a slow and ungainly duck. She could go faster, but it would doom all the troops onboard. Normal human bodies just weren’t meant to ride a nuclear fireball.
His ships had performed well in their first engagement with the aliens. None had been damaged, and the sensor logs showed that several of the launches from the 4th LBG had intercepted the Echo's they had targeted. Now they would have a month to practice what they had learned. Then they would likely face combat again near Neptune. But if not then, eventually.
Captain McWilliams then changed the monitor display to show the current sensor returns. Every time it left him with a sense of wonder. This was a large group of ships. Six of them were combat vessels, and one was enormous. The Chinese 'Cruiser' dwarfed the rest of the convoy. It supposedly carried as many launch bays as all of the other combat ships put together. 'This is truly a multinational fleet. Every Earth power with the ability to move in space is represented here. The Pan European, the US, the FSC, and even China. Not just warships either. Troop Transports, landers, supply ships, repair ships, tenders. Thirteen ships in all. And we even have two more ships due to join the group soon.'
Mike flipped the display over to show the projected course plot. It had changed slightly. The US had detached one of the Interceptors from Mars with a cargo carrier. It held extra equipment and supplies for the ground troops, along with additional missiles 'raided' from the Mars Space Station. They were to rendezvous with the main group in the next few hours. It would stress the US ships' engines to try and catch the convoy, so a waypoint had been designated for the ships to meet. The main body of the convoy would stop at Jupiter while the US ships caught up. The group would then continue on toward Neptune, and whatever awaited them there.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: July 2204

Postby procyon on Tue 14 Jun 2011 23:44

July 2204 part 2

July 2nd 0845 hours/Heavy Interceptor Esme Jurkat, 1 LM orbit at Jupiter

Captain Michael McWilliams double checked the course plot. The convoy was cruising at a leisurely pace of 775 kilometers per second. At one light minute from Jupiter this left the ships pulling a constant 1.8 G's in angular acceleration. The troop transports would be able to maintain the life support for the human occupants, while the cyborg crews could move about the ships with ease. Most were on work details or simply enjoying the novelty of being able to walk around the ship without magnetic assistance.
Mike was checking the status of the preparations for launch of the ship's boat. With Jupiter so close, it had been decided that a quick sweep of the space around the giant planet was in order. The US ships would not arrive for almost 24 hours, and it would only take the little boat two hours to reach Jupiter, another hour to sweep the moons, and then the two hour return trip. The sweep would be done long before the US ships were even in sensor range.
A new contact was logged as the FSC Mary Reed launched its ship's boat. The small craft was going to move along the convoy's course plot about 15 light seconds ahead of the main group. It would then maintain that interval to ensure the civilian ships didn't blunder into any unexpected surprises. The little boats had limited sensor suites, but they were much harder to detect than a full sized vessel. They also didn't weaken the defenses of the convoy by drawing off combat vessels.
There was no lurch as the Esme's small boat launched from its bay. The ship was already well within the craft's tolerance for launch stress. The contact was logged as it separated from the Heavy Escort and moved away to start its sweep.

0905 hours/E.J. Ship Boat, 7.5 light seconds from Jupiter

Midshipman Mary Reeves watched the sensor returns and adjusted the thrusters as the ship's boat approached Callisto. They were to perform sensor sweeps of the moons and Jupiter's upper atmosphere. They couldn't pass by every rock that was in orbit of the big planet, just the largest ones, plus any of the smaller rocks that happened to intersect their course.
Mary brought the boat into a rough orbit of Callisto, at 50,000 km from the surface. It had been some time since any alien contact had been made at Jupiter, but routine sweeps were made to ensure that the aliens did not attempt to establish any permanent installations. Jupiter was too close to the inner system to allow the aliens a foothold there. It was also close enough to the inner system that Mary was sure the aliens wouldn't want to create any permanent installations. She watched as the sensor array began a surface scan of the moon.
And then she stared. The sensors had registered the drive bloom of another small craft lifting off the surface of Callisto. An alien craft. Mary quickly altered course and tried to break away from the alien craft, but could only manage to open the gap to 0.75 light seconds. Mary tried to break contact, but the alien ship refused to be shaken.
Mary checked her monitor. The RSO had already begun a transmission to the Esme. The alien ship was too small to have come from Neptune by itself. A larger ship had to be nearby. A warship. And it would be moving to destroy them. It would take the message a minute to reach the Esme. It would take the Esme 20 minutes to reach Jupiter at best speed. But it wouldn't leave the convoy for just a ship's boat.
Mary quickly keyed in a small message to her children. She had become a cyborg five years ago after a long bout with cancer. Her ex had divorced her even before the cancer had forced her to make the choice to give up her body. But the children had never deserted her. They still visited 'mom' whenever they could. And Mary didn't want the only message they got to be the dry notification the military would send them.
She piggybacked the message to her kids on the transmission to the Esme for rebroadcast to Earth. She then turned back to the sensor returns. She had managed to get an extra five years with her kids. If this was how it ended, at least she had that.

0910 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, Orbit of Europa, Jupiter

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 altered the field at his station. The four scout craft the Support Vessel had brought were deployed to sweep the space near the great planet and take positions on several of the moons to monitor for the approach of enemy vessels. The resupply operations were nearly complete. Only Patrol Vessel 25 was docked with the Support Vessel and loading missiles into its launch bay. Now one scout had reported contact with a small craft of the enemy near the outer most large moon. The scout craft was now following the interloper.
The Commander issued the orders for the Support Vessel and two Hive Vessels to move away from the giant planet. The Support Vessel would proceed 15 light seconds ahead of the Hive Vessels to scout the path and draw fire if the native race had ships on that vector. Two of the remaining scout craft would follow the enemy contact at a range of 3 light seconds. The Attack Vessel was to follow the new contact at a range of 5 light seconds. The Patrol Vessels would then follow at 6 light seconds behind the Attack Vessel. The last scout craft would follow 10 light seconds behind the Patrol Vessels to prevent the enemy race from slipping behind the group.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 was sure that the enemy scout would not lead them to any unarmed vessels. The native race would even now be moving them to safety. But it was likely that any vessels the native race had sent this far from the inner system were bound for New Home 3. It would be easier to fight the warships here than to allow the enemy to gather and concentrate his strength. Any enemy ship stopped here would be one less they would have to face there.
An ambush lay ahead. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 intended to make the native race lose more than what they had planned.

0915 hours/Cruiser Ho Chi Minh, 1 LM from Jupiter

Captain Meng locked his station and checked the translation of the Pan Euro transmission. The Pan Euro Captain had reported that his small scout ship had made contact with an enemy bomber near the moon Callisto. The contact had been made nearly ten minutes ago, and the bomber seemed to be content to simply follow the Pan Euro boat. That was curious. The aliens had to have warships nearby to support the small bomber. Why had they not used them to destroy the small Euro boat?
Regardless, the Pan Euro Captain had announced his intention to move the Pan Euro warships to a location along the boat's flight path and either destroy the bomber if no warships were following it, or to engage any alien vessels that might be trailing the boat. He had requested the aid of the Minh in the event that the alien presence was significant. That would leave only the US and FSC ships to guard the convoy.
Captain Meng changed his display to the current sensor returns. The magnetic protective field could create ghost contacts on the returns, but for the moment the space around the convoy seemed clear. An opportunity to engage and destroy alien vessels stationed near the inner system would help to insure the safety of Chinese holdings and shipping while the fleet was engaged at Neptune.
"Comm, request from the Euro Captain sensor feeds from the scout and projected course plots. Indicate that we will accompany their 'Battle Group' to intercept the bomber and any possible alien warships. Also indicate that we will coordinate tactically with the Euro ships, but will not assume a subordinate position in the engagement. Tactical command of the Minh will remain with me." Captain Meng waited as the message was sent, and for the few minutes it took the Euro Captain to reply. By the time the sensor feed and course plot was translated, the Minh was locked and ready for combat acceleration.

1033 hours/Heavy Escort Esme Jurkat, 31 light seconds from Jupiter

Captain 'Mike' watched the sensor returns. The ship's boat and alien small craft were closing. They had entered sensor range 30 seconds ago, but at a range of 6 light seconds they both still merged into one contact on the sensor returns. The craft would likely be invisible at that range if Midshipman Reeves hadn't turn on the small boat's beacon. The intense radio signal was echoing off the small vessel tailing her ship. The radar signature was diffuse but traceable.
For the moment, there were no other contacts. That could change quickly though. The ships were positioned two light seconds away from the course the two small craft would take. All of the crews were at general quarters, with the ships' protective fields and drives off. They would appear as no more than a small grouping of rocks. Three quarters of a light second away the Chinese ship sat dead in space, another slightly larger rock. With luck any alien warships following behind the small craft would be unaware of the Pan Euro and Chinese ships' presence until they launched. With luck they would be able to destroy most if not all of the alien ships that would arrive.
Mike was fairly sure that wouldn't happen though. The aliens were far too good. Mike hoped to catch the aliens in a trap. He would be satisfied if he didn't get caught in one himself.
A warning flashed on Mike's screen as he heard the Sensor Officer call out. "New Contact. Small craft. Possibly more than one. Range at five point seven five light seconds. Heading, bearing, speed identical to EJ ship boat." Mike considered the situation. One or two more small craft were no great threat. They were to small to carry any real weapons capable of harming a warship, and their speed was to slow to catch one even if they could. Perhaps the warships that carried the small alien ships were unwilling to risk themselves chasing a little boat.
A new warning flashed on the screen. Mike looked down even as he heard the Sensor Officer. "New contact. Range eight point zero light seconds. Speed two three zero zero kilometers per second. No acceleration. Drive thermal signature low. No magnetic signature. Bearing zero three zero ascension minus four point five. Heading one four six ascension minus zero point three. Contact identified as Echo. Designating as One."
"All ships Battle Stations. Weapon Conn, I want a firing solution on Echo One. Feed to my station. Comm, tightbeam to the Chinese ship. Let them know we are tracking a single contact and the bearing for it. Prepare to broadcast launch commands to the Reynolds and Vetra." Mike tried to relax. This wasn't the first time the 4th LBG had been in combat. But it was his first time as the Commander.
Mike watched as the EJ's boat and the alien craft following it resolved, and then as the next two small craft following them resolved on the sensors. Slowly the Echo was drawing nearer. It took six minutes for the Echo to draw in range, and then it continued to draw even closer. It seemed to be in no hurry. Simply following the little ships as they moved along. No protective field. No attempts to maneuver. No...
"New contacts. Range eight point two five light seconds. Alpha times four. Speed, bearing, heading as Echo One. No magnetic signature. Low thermal. No acceleration. Designating as Alpha One, Two, Three, Four."
Mike could feel the cold creeping down his spine. The Alphas wouldn't be in range anytime soon. And the Echo would likely discover that the 'rocks' were actually ships when it passed close enough. This would be no easy ambush. The small Echo was the alien's bait. The 4th would either have to fire on it and give themselves away, or be discovered if they simply sat and did nothing. And then the Alphas would start the real battle.
It would be four on four if and when the Echo was destroyed. Mike hoped they would have the advantage then. The Chinese ship was much larger than an Alpha. That should count for something.
Of course if the 'Baron' as the US had codenamed him was one of those Alphas, that advantage might not be enough.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: July 2204

Postby procyon on Thu 16 Jun 2011 00:13

July 2204 part 3

July 2nd 1035 hours/Cruiser Ho Chi Minh, 31.75 light seconds from Jupiter

Captain Meng watched the sensor readout as the small alien warship drew to a range of three light seconds. The second group of alien ships was also visible on the sensor returns now. At a range of over 6 light seconds they would be unable to intervene in what was about to happen. In the next few moments the lead alien ship would be able to identify the Pan Euro Group and the Minh. Meng had no intention of letting it discover anything other than its own doom.
"Protective field to full power, all bays launch." Meng watched as the crew carried out the orders. The sensor returns clouded momentarily as the magnetic field generators came online. The crew had not yet completely calibrated the sensor array for the magnetic flux from the generators. Then the ship shuddered slightly as the six bays deployed their missiles.
"All particle accelerators to maximum output, engage drive, combat acceleration." The world changed color as the Minh lurched forward. The Pan Euro group had also launched missiles on the small alien ship. 'The ship will already be gone by the time their missiles can reach it.' Meng watched the sensor returns as the missiles closed. The alien ship must have detected the launch, as it was beginning to maneuver. And then it raised its protective fields.
"WHAT IS GOING ON?" Meng looked at the sensors as the bridge crew also tried to sort out what had just happened. The small alien ship had just seemed to 'jump' nearly 12,000 kilometers from where it had been.
The Sensor Officer was the first to respond. "Captain, the magnetic flux of our generators seems to have created a.... sensor echo of the alien ship. When it employed its magnetic field, we were able to fix its location." The hesitations in his response gave away the emotion his voice synthesizer did not.
"Weapons Conn, update data on target." Meng looked over towards the three crew manning the weapon consoles. "Captain, the missiles will be unable to correct for the relocation. Current velocity is too great for the maneuver thrusters to compensate." Meng could only watch as the six missiles from the Minh streaked harmlessly away into space.

1036 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 25.25 light seconds from Jupiter

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 sensed the enemy ships as they erected their protective fields. There were four, and one was an Assault Vessel. This would bode poorly. The Assault Vessel seemed to be having a problem with its initial targeting, as all of its weapons had missed. The three smaller enemy vessels had managed to collapse the Attack Vessel's protective field, but nothing else. The Assault Vessel had corrected for whatever had went wrong by the second launch as the Attack Vessel disappeared in the detonations of the enemy weapons.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 altered the field at his station and increased the output to the drive. Patrol Vessel 17 and the rest of the Patrol Group began to close on the enemy ships. Orders were sent for the two scout craft that had been near the Attack Vessel to close with the nearest enemy ships. They would not be able to harm them, but the enemy would not know this. The scouts might be able to draw fire or force the enemy to maneuver around them.
The enemy ships were close enough to engage, and Patrol Vessel 17 shut off its drive just long enough to deploy a torpedo from the launch bay. The Assault Vessel was to far away to target, but the enemy Patrol Vessel was easily within range. Four torpedoes sped toward it as enemy weapons closed on the Patrol Group. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 could feel the protective field collapse on his ship as the enemy weapons detonated. He could sense that none of the enemy ships had lost their protective fields.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 altered the course of his vessel to disengage from the combat. This battle was not starting well. They could not afford to lose any more ships.

1037 hours/Heavy Escort Esme Jurkat, 31.25 light seconds from Jupiter

Captain 'Mike' McWilliams checked the status of the magnetic field generators. Two thirds of the bank had burned out from the first alien salvo. One of the Alphas had lost its protective field and broken off, but the other three were still in range. The Minh was too far to launch yet, but was coming around to close the gap. Two small alien craft were closing rapidly with the 4th LBG. Mike wondered it they carried nukes inside. The aliens had used suicide attacks before.
"Helm, bring us sixty degrees starboard. Weapons Conn, firing solution and launch on Alpha Three." Mike could feel the drive shut down several times as the ship came about onto its new course and the two missile bays deployed their weapons. The sensors were also showing three more inbound contacts. 'Probably targeted on the Esme. The shields won't take another hit like that first one.'
Mike watched the sensor returns as the weapons crossed in space. The Chinese had launched three missiles on the alien bombers closing on the 4th LBG. Both of the bombers disappeared in the sensor haze from the detonations. Seconds later both were tumbling through space. 'Looks like the Chinese figured out how to shoot.' The Esme's missiles, along with those of the Vetra and Reynolds closed on Alpha Three and detonations again clouded the sensor returns. The sensors had almost cleared when the alien missiles detonated.
Suddenly the blue-grey haze was gone, replaced with rushing white clouds as the bridge vented. Mike could feel his station shaking with the violence of the argon blasting through the bridge to clear any debris. As the cloud disappeared, Mike looked at his monitor to check the sensor returns and damage reports, but it was only a black mass in front of him. Looking about he could see that the bridge had been breached in two areas, each several square meters in size. The return of the grey haze told him the drive had survived.
'I wonder if anything else works', Mike wondered. He plugged his fingers into the port on the arm of his station and saw lights begin to blaze across his faceplate. The sensor array had survived, as had both of the launch bays. The drive was still functioning normally. 'We are still in this fight. We just can't let that happen again.' Checking the returns on the Alphas, Mike saw that a second was disengaging with its magnetic field down. The Chinese ship was slowing and coming about to join the 4th LBG's formation. 'That should chase off those last two.'
The Attack Escorts had come about more quickly than the Esme, and both had moved beyond their maximum engagement range. One of the Alphas seemed to have overshot the battle and was nearly 6 light seconds away. That left only one Alpha in range of the Esme, and the Esme in range of it. "Firing solution and launch on Alpha Four." Mike tried to remain calm as he saw another inbound contact appear. It had to be targeted on the Esme. Another hit would rip the crippled ship apart.
Suddenly the sensors clouded over and all readings were lost, then came back a few seconds later. "What is the problem?" Mike hoped that someone was still alive at the Sensor Conn to respond.
"Captain, the Reynolds had to pass through the drive wash of the Chinese ship to hold formation. The Reynolds still has her shields up, but the spray as the magnetic field passed through the charged particle stream was too great for the array to compensate. Inbound still tracking, sir." Lieutenant Kathleen Wells voice reminded him that there were still more pressing problems.

1039 hours/Attack Escort Giovanni Vetra, 32.75 light seconds from Jupiter

"Reduce drive output twenty percent. Firing solution on the first Alpha to break range." Commander Cameron Watson watched the tactical display. 'The Esme got lucky and slid past the last alien missile. If those Alphas want another shot at her, they will have to come into range of us first.'
The two Alphas were currently 6 light seconds from the Vetra. Alpha One had managed to overshoot the battle, and Alpha Four had closed formation with it. But they had been moving when the battle started, and that speed advantage would let them close while the 4th LBG was still coming up to full combat speeds. Maneuvering around the large Chinese ship as it had joined the formation had cost them more speed. It would only be a minute before the Alphas could close to firing range again.
"Sir, Alpha Four in range. Missile away" Cameron could feel the ship lurch only slightly as the missile deployed. Two inbound missiles had also appeared on the sensors. "Inbound times two. Targeted on Jurkat." Cameron listened as the Sensor Officer recited off more information, but it was obvious that the aliens were set on destroying the damaged Heavy Escort. The Vetra would never be able to destroy both of the Alphas before one of them got lucky.
"Comm, let the Reynolds and the Chinese ship know that I intend to come about. Helm, plot a course change to bring us directly back at the Alphas and then transfer it to Comm." 'If we can't get them to back off, we're going to have to chase them off.' Cameron felt the Vetra's drive stutter as the maneuver jets fired. The tactical display showed the Reynolds and the Chinese ship were also coming about. A few seconds later the Alphas mirrored the movement. 'Ok Mike, now get your ass out of here.'
The Vetra shut down its drive again as another missile launched. Two inbound missiles also showed up. 'Shoot at someone who's not a cripple and see how well it works for you.' Cameron waited as the alien missiles closed. The sensors clouded as the detonations spewed clouds of plasma through space. The shield generators pushed the waves of super heated particles aside, but payed for it as one third of the generators burned out.
"They are riding the edge of their range. It is going to take them a few seconds for their sensors to pick up our course changes at this distance, and then a few more to react. Helm, bring us about again, bearing one one seven. Redline the reactors. They shouldn't be able to hold range if we do this right."
Cameron waited, and then felt the ship heave as the Helm tried to bring the ship about with the drive wide open. The sensors blurred as the EM bleed from the drive washed past the drive shield. Targeting would be impossible, and the Alphas were nearly invisible. After thirty seconds the Vetra had come about, and it looked as if the Reynolds and Minh had followed. "Give us another thirty seconds of redline and reduce output to max combat acceleration." Cameron waited as the clock counted down and the drive finally reduced its output. The sensors cleared to show the Alphas had fallen back to 6 light seconds behind the group. Speeds had equalized between the groups.
"Good work Helm." Cameron regarded the tactical display. 'You won't be able to catch us now, so let’s see how long you are interested in playing chase.'
Ten minutes later the last two Alphas broke off.

1058 hours/Heavy Escort Esme Jurkat, 65 light seconds from Jupiter

Midshipman Mary Reeves brought the ship's boat into the landing bay. The Esme looked bad. The plating and baffles had been torn away in several places, and hull breaches were obvious in at least three. In the bay were at least three crews preparing for external work. As Mary climbed out of the pilot's station, she wondered if maybe she hadn't been better off in the little boat.
As she walked away from the boat, Chief Engineer Mulins approached Mary. "Glad to see you made it back Midshipman Reeves. Your on Work Crew Two. We will move out onto the hull after we dock with the Mobile Shipyard. With luck we can have her back on line in a few hours. If not, we'll probably be headed home."
Mary remembered what the hull had looked like on her landing approach. She doubted that a few hours would be enough.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: July 2204

Postby procyon on Thu 16 Jun 2011 00:14

July 2204 part 4

July 2nd 1330 hours/Pan Euro Space Station

Admiral Jude Kushnir dismissed the staff from the briefing room. There were no decisions to be made. This was just another problem that would have to be allowed for and endured. The lead ship of the 4th Light Battle Group would be turning back before the journey to Neptune had barely gotten started.
The 4th had taken quite a bit of abuse at Jupiter. Both of the Attack Escorts, the J. Reynolds and the G. Vetra, had taken damage to their magnetic field generators. Both would be continuing on to Neptune with over 30 percent of their generators off line. The remaining generators would be able to withstand another intercept by an alien missile, but that would likely be all they would handle. The Esme was much worse off.
None of the Heavy Escort's generators had been repairable without a complete overhaul. Her cargo hold and her supplies for the trip out system were destroyed. Her auxiliary storage of missiles had also been damaged. Worst was the support systems. Cyborgs needed little to survive the harsh environment of a deep space warship, but what they did need was vital. The ship's hull built up an enormous static charge as it operated the drive, and a smaller amount as it moved through the solar wind. The grounding circuits had been destroyed in the exchange. The ship could continue to move, but doing so would put the crew in greater and greater danger. The circuitry in a cyborg was heavily shielded, but it was not invulnerable. It was only a matter of time before the static charge would reach levels that would destroy the ship's systems and interfere with the crews' circuits, killing them.
The US had cleared the Esme to dock at their space station at Mars for repairs. It would be right on the edge of what the ship could do without killing the crew. That was if everything went right.
The Esme had off loaded most of her missiles onto the Attack Escorts, and several more into the Troop Transport's cargo bays. Some of her crew had also moved over to the Troop Transport, to help fill in for the missing crew on the Red October when they arrived at Neptune. The remaining 27 crewmembers, along with Captain McWilliams, would take the crippled Esme to Mars.
Jude looked at the clock/calendar on her monitor. It hadn't even been a year since Esme had given her life, along with all of 2nd Battle Group at Ceres.
It seemed like a lifetime....

July 3rd 0430 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, 1 LM from Jupiter

Oberfeldwebel Tanya Frank walked down the corridor to the cyborg troop bay. It seemed odd to be on a US ship, but it made sense. The Vigilance was a combat vessel. She would be unable to maneuver if she held a cargo of US Power Armor or Armored Cav Troops. The soldiers would be killed by combat acceleration. So the Pan Euro Cyborg Brigade had been transferred over to the US ship. The US troops were now sleeping onboard the Pan Euro Troopship. Would they be in for a surprise when they woke up.
Tanya sat down at her station. More and more of her brigade were filing back into the bay. It would be only an hour or two before they got the order to lock stations again. Then the group would continue on towards Neptune, and the alien colony on Triton.
Tanya looked down at her feet. No, they weren't her feet. Her feet were long gone, with just about everything else that had been Tanya. 'They took everything. And left me locked in this cage. I was so glad when we finally got off that alien ship. I wanted to go home. I want to go home.'
Tanya thought about what her mom would be doing now. Just waking up for the day. Getting breakfast started. 'I miss eating. Smelling the food cooking.'
'I really want to see mom again. I can't feel it when she hugs me, or kisses me good-bye, but I can still see her. Hear her voice. I miss her.' Tanya slammed her hand against the bulkhead. She could feel the slight vibration in her station, but the vacuum of the bay was silent as death.

0500 hours/Queensland Research Facility, Australia

Chairman Mukata walked through the labs. The board had made it very clear at the last meeting that the lack of progress on duplicating the US device allowing the magnetic field generators to avoid burning out under a static load was UNACCEPTABLE. The drain in resources, personnel, and space was preventing progress on the other project the research facility 'should' be working on. And that was why the chairman was here. To ensure the technicians and researchers understood that failure to devise a suitable copy for use on Free Space Vessels would be very 'unhealthy'.
That this 'oversight' was jeopardizing the last Free Space warship was being impressed upon the workers here vigorously. They needed to understand that if the system was not fielded quickly, and that the Mary Reed was lost, they would become the crew of the next warship. Whether they had any predisposing health conditions that would require 'conversion' or not.
Of course, the fact that the board had indicated that the chairman would likely be the new ship's captain was inspiration of its own.

0727 hours/Heavy Escort Esme Jurkat, 4 LM from Mars

Captain 'Mike' McWilliams felt the Esme lurch, and then the grey haze disappeared. Warnings flashed across his monitor. Engineering was reporting that the drive shield had suffered a failure. It was a miracle that the ship hadn't simply exploded or vaporized. The drive had been running wide open at the time.
Mike read through the reports as they came in, and it became obvious that the drive shield must have suffered some structural weakening during the battle near Jupiter. It had simply failed under the load the drive bloom had imposed trying to return to Mars.
It also became obvious that although the failsafe had kept the ship from exploding, it hadn't saved the ship. The burst of ionizing radiation had doomed the ship. The static charge on the hull had already been sizable. It was now fatal, or soon would be. If anyone was going to survive, they had to leave now.
"Comm, patch me through to the landing bay." Mike waited as the comm relay was made and then picked up.
'Midshipman Reeves should be in the bay if she isn't dead. Her last trip in the boat was nearly a suicide mission. I guess she deserves a spot on what is about to become the life boat.'

0731 hours/EJ Ship's Boat, 4 LM from Mars

Midshipman Mary Reeves switched the monitor return over to visual. The blackened crack in the drive shield was all too visible as she made a pass by the Esme. 'How we didn't end up in hell is beyond me', Mary thought.
Mary brought the small craft away from the drifting warship and then engaged the drive. The visual pickup became a blur and then the Esme disappeared into a small dot in the distance. She checked the systems on the boat again. 'This crate had quite the ride around Jupiter. It would be a shame for the lifeboat to breakdown too.' The boat was built for a crew of two to four. Right now it was holding eight. It had stations to carry that many, but it was still a strain on the little dingy. Everything looked ok.
A small flare of light flashed in the distance, and Mary shut off the visual. 'Only eight of us are going home. How will I ever tell my kids about this?'
'At least I'll get the chance.'
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: July 2204

Postby procyon on Fri 17 Jun 2011 02:22

July 2204 part 5

July 3rd 1400 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

"Admiral, the Pan Euro boat has docked at the Mars Station. Reports indicate that broadcasts from the Pan Euro Heavy Escort Esme Jurkat were accurate. The ship suffered a drive shield failure and was scuttled following the separation of the ship's boat. We are debriefing the eight survivors now, and coordinating with the Pan Euro for their transfer to a civilian liner for transport back to Earth." Commander Rachel VerSteegh looked at the blank faceplate of Admiral Walters, and then continued. "We also have decrypted the transmission from the Interceptor Zachary Taylor. Captain Randall Brown indicates they have joined the Vigilance and Survey Tender One at Jupiter, and have begun acceleration for Neptune." Rachel stepped back from the large display screen and faced the Admiral at parade rest, waiting for the inevitable questions.
"That will be all Commander. Lieutenant Commander Ryan, do we have the initial analysis from the engagement at Jupiter." Admiral Bradley Walters turned toward where Meagan was seated.
Meagan stood and turned to look at the Admiral. "Sir, we've only had the sensor log from the Pan Euro for a short time, and their system returns are not identical to ours. Based on what little data we have gathered though, I would say that the 'Baron' was present at the engagement, but was the first of the Alphas to be targeted. It would appear the 'Baron' disengaged early in the engagement. The other ships appear to be the same group which attacked near the crippled Alpha on June Twelfth, but that is not confirmed. Group composition was the same as the group that disengaged on that date." Meagan looked down at her monitor for a moment, and then looked back at the Admiral. "We won't be able to confirm any of this for some time. We were awaiting detailed transmission of the Jurkat's sensor records, but will now have to wait for the transmission from one of the Pan Euro Attack Escorts bound out system. Time lag in transmission and the degradation of the signal will slow any confirmation."
"I will want an update on identification of the alien ships as soon as possible. If the 'Baron' is headed out system, we need to know that." Admiral Walters motioned for Meagan to sit. "We are going to assume for the moment that the 'Baron' is still operating inside the belt until we know otherwise. For the moment, we are going to let the Pan Euro ships handle convoy security. I want the Naginata to begin her training cruise here at Earth as soon as she clears the dock." That will only leave three Interceptors at Mars he thought, but the folks on Earth haven't seen a US ship keeping them safe for a while now. "I want updates on the progress of the two Interceptors under construction here at Earth in the morning, along with updates on our research projects and all out system deployments. Dismissed."
As the staff began to leave, Admiral Walters stood. "Lieutenant Commander Ryan, stand fast for a moment." After the rest of the staff had left, Admiral Walters turned toward Meagan. "Any word from your father on his take about Chinese intentions at Triton?"
"Nothing that we haven't already heard. The Chinese group seems content to simply circle Neptune at eight light seconds or so. They seem to be ignoring the US and Euro ships stationed there. He assumes, like we do, that they will resume the offensive when the convoy reaches Neptune, but they seem content to blockade the moon for the moment. They don't even use their ships' boats to sweep nearby space for any movements." Meagan shrugged her shoulders and waited.
"Thank you. I'll see you in the morning." Admiral Walters sat and watched as Meagan left the briefing room. 'I'm sure she wants to know if that was the 'Baron' as much as I do. But as much as we need the 'Baron' to move out system, I'm sure she hates to see that ship get any closer to her father.'

July 4th 0630 hours/Attack Escort Elise, Earth orbit

Commander Dana Breiholz settled back into her station and locked it. The yard workers had finished up the last touches on the Elise, and it was time to take her out of the slip. Shortly the Sereg would take her turn in the yard, and after her the Queen Mary would dock for repairs. This portion of the 3rd Battle Group had taken its licks out by the belt, but everyone had come home.
"Helm, take us out of the slip and bring us alongside the Queen Mary at one half light second from Earth." Dana watched her monitor as the course plot appeared, and then felt the gentle push as the maneuver thrusters brought the ship away from the station. A moment later and the world turned grey as the drive fired. In less than a minute the Elise was settled into formation 2000 kilometers from the Queen Mary.
Dana brought up the sensor returns on her monitor, and then switched over to the visual feed. Toggling the feed toward Earth, she brought first the US and then the Chinese Space Stations into focus. Both had their shipyards at full capacity. The initial work on a pair of Interceptors was obvious at the US Station, while the Chinese were busy assembling a pair of Attack Vessels. Dana swiveled back to the Pan Euro Station and watched as the Sereg slid into its berth and docked. The second slip was also busy, building the one new ship the Euro was working on. 'At least she dwarfs the other vessels, even if there is just one of her,' Dana thought as she looked at what would become the Queen Victoria. Rumor had it that the Victoria would be coming out of the yard early in August. 'With the Esme gone, we need her.'
Dana turned off the video and brought up the status reports as the crew went through their system checks. 'Time to get this lady ready to fight. Rumor is that anything alien will be heading toward Neptune, but I'm not buying it. And I intend to be ready.'

July 7th 2015 hours/Survey Vessel Marco Polo, orbit of Titan, Saturn

Captain Jingtsu checked the surface sample reports from the landers. 'Very promising. Titan may hold more resources than we had anticipated for its low density.' Jingtsu flipped through the various reports on the survey's progress and was pleased. It would be another 40 or 50 days until the survey was complete, but the survey was over half finished with no sign of any alien presence.
Jingtsu rechecked the sensor returns again. It had become a habit. Think of the aliens, check the sensors. With the Marco Polo hugging the moon's atmosphere, the ship should be almost invisible. They would hopefully be aware of an alien presence long before the aliens were aware that the survey group was here. That would give the small unarmed ships a chance to run from the aliens and hopefully stay out of weapon range.
Jingtsu returned to the surface mapping of the moon. 'Finding an optimal location for a colony will be difficult with the amount of surface activity. But with Ceres uninhabitable, we need to find somewhere.'

July 11th 1020 hours/South African Shipyard, Earth

Chairman Mukata looked over the assembled board members. Moods were hard to discern in such a group. Most were still human, but their faces were as expressionless as any cyborg faceplate. The economic review was improving. Open colonization in the belt, plus a massive investment in industrial infrastructure was paying off. The FSC was still small change compared to the cash the big powers could throw around, but the last eighteen months had seen an increase in 'usable' revenue of nearly 36 percent. There was talk of more 'aggressive taxation and utilization' of assets, but for the moment those plans were only that - plans.
The US had managed to funnel a substantial amount of capital through South American interests, and that would help. It was the 'payment' for the assistance of the Mary Reed in transporting US troops out system. The additional funding would help to offset the expenditures that the current research projects required. Projects that were producing far less in results than what had been hoped for.
The project to duplicate the US equipment for upgrades to the current Magnetic Field Generator design was hitting a snag. Tooling for production was just not available and would take some time to emplace. When the 'tools to make the tools' were finally complete, the necessary testing would begin. Until then there was little that could be done.
The other major research project, headed by the Euro Tech Jager, was still in the 'theoretical' stage. Some of the work was finding compatible hardware, but the science behind what they were trying to accomplish just didn't exist yet. At least not for what they were hoping to accomplish. It would take time. A lot of time. The Euro Tech had indicated that the board needed to think in 'years, not months.' Of course, he didn't have to sell that idea to the board.
Chairman Mukata returned to listening to the presentation, and wondered what 'errand' the board would require of him next.

July 12th 0240 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po reviewed the information. The meeting had been about current Defense issues, but was mostly concerned with new construction. Progress on the two new Missile Frigates had been the sidelight. They would be ready near the end of August, and two more would begin construction at that time if sufficient funding was available. Ensuring that sufficient funding was available had been assigned to Po. It was a rather dubious and trying honor. Failure would not be greeted well.
Of great interest was the construction occurring at Venus. The new ship would take a year to reach service and so far only the most basic of progress had been made. But it still inspired great interest. Projected strength of the magnetic field would be such that it should be nearly invulnerable to anything but a concerted effort from the largest groups the aliens had so far displayed.
A lesson had also been taken from the aliens, with half of the launch bays being placed in a hardened position within the hull. With luck they would remain operational for as long as the ship held together.
Of course, all this depended on actually completing the ship. Hopefully the aliens would oblige and stay far away from the inner system.

July 19th 1755 hours/Elders' Chambers, New Home 1 (Eris)

The Elders filed into the chamber to learn of the new developments. Two new projects had been started, and one completed. They all looked to increase the effectiveness of the war fleet. It was unusual for the race to need new technology, as it was considered that no other race would be able to challenge them. The conflicts in the Home System had proven that. Or so it had been thought.
The Elders waited as the first of the new technologies was presented to the assembled Elders. It was based on the current scout craft, but was much larger and more capable. It would be capable of speeds that would enable it to keep pace with the Patrol, Combat, and Assault Vessels. It would also be able to carry a much larger payload than the current scout craft. When used to attack enemy colonies, it would be able to carry up to 50 bombs. This was much more than would ever be needed, but it could also carry a single torpedo in the craft's cargo section. The torpedo would allow it to be used as a weapon against enemy vessels, albeit in a suicide roll. That would be regrettable, but possibly necessary in light of the current situation.
The second development was an extension of the current design of the race's warships. It had been devised that the hull had sufficient integrity to mount structures close to the hull that would allow mounting of an additional torpedo outside the vessels. It would only be possible on the Combat and Assault Vessels, as the Patrol Vessel lacked the necessary structural integrity. The external mount would be able to release from the vessel with or without an internal launch, and would increase the vessel's ability to engage enemy ships decisively.
The last development was an extension of the mass driver in use on the Combat and Assault Vessels. It had always been used as a weapon to engage enemy vessels, but was limited by the size of the installation - forcing the Combat or Assault Vessels into a particular orientation with the target. New developments were underway that would miniaturize the system and allow its use on a high speed mounting with a high volume of fire. It would be too small to use against another warship, but it was hoped that testing would show that the enemy's weapons could be engaged and destroyed by the near light speed projectiles of the new system. Hitting a target moving at a significant fraction of light speed would be difficult, but it was hoped that the high rate of fire, coupled with the low maneuverability of weapons moving so fast would allow for successful engagement of such a small target.
None of the systems alone could hope to change the current events that were unfolding, and the last two would not be ready for use until some time had passed. But together it was hoped that these developments would allow for a rapid reversal of the current trend in the engagements with the native race.
It was the first hopeful news presented to the council for some time.

July 22nd 0900 hours/Pan Euro Space Station, Earth orbit

Vice Admiral Brenna Muldoon sat in the chair that Admiral Jude Kushnir motioned to. "I promised you a night on the town to go with that promotion, but for now you will have to settle for the rank." Jude paused and picked up a piece of paper off the desk, and then passed it to Brenna. "You won't be the only one getting promoted at the ceremony this afternoon, although you will be the only one actually here on the station. Captain Robert McNeely will get moved up to Commodore. Captain McWilliams was supposed to be here, but unfortunately his promotion is going to be posthumous. We are going to have to come up with a new Commodore for the 4th Light Battle Group, but that isn't what I asked you here for."
Brenna sat the program for the evening ceremonies back on the desk. "I didn't figure you had me report in for a 'congratulations' meeting. Not that I had any plans for this morning." Brenna ran her hand across the leather armrest on the chair, and wondered if it still had that new leather smell. It didn't look like it was very old.
"No, you’re right." Jude tapped her monitor in a few places and then turned it to face Brenna. "I've got work for you. Ever since the First Battle of Jupiter's Moons, we haven't exactly led the way in scientific development. The Chinese and US have not only caught up in sensor and missile technology, but passed us in the use of the new magnetic field generators. The only advantage we still hold has been in training doctrine."
Jude leaned forward and put her elbows on the desk. "That looks like it might change. A group of corporate weapon researchers on the ground have come up with a new missile design they hope to implement. In light of the new situation it was deemed production of the old Scorpion Missiles, with their large payload of small kinetic kill projectiles, was wasteful. The large mass of the payload was never getting used as it was intended. Every launch was full safety release, and with every warship mounting some version of the US shields, a primary safety only release is unlikely." Jude pointed to the monitor screen. "They think they can build a new missile. It would be the first new development in over forty years. They will do away with the old payload, and replace it with a much lighter and solid one piece nose section. Normally that would result in a loss of on target energy due to the loss of mass, but they think they have managed to duplicate the alien's magnetic focusing device. This will allow the same on target energy with a lighter missile." Jude stood up and walked around the desk, then tapped the screen again as Brenna leaned in closer.
"The new missile is projected to have an extended engagement envelope, due to both greater speed and maneuverability. They are hoping for successful intercepts at a range of six light seconds. The new missiles are also expected to require less onboard space for the same missile capacity. What that will amount to when it is time for refits will have to be seen, but that isn't what you are here for. I need a new engagement doctrine for this weapon. For the first time since First Jupiter, we may have the range advantage again." Jude knelt down beside Brenna. "This is what I called you here for."
Brenna turned to look at Jude. "You want me to design a doctrine around a weapon system that isn't even in field testing yet? And work it around ship designs we can't even project? In my immense spare time I suppose." Brenna turned back to look at the monitor.
"Bloody hell Brenna, it’s not like I have anyone else with your tactical experience, particularly with a background in Training Command." Jude stood up and returned to the chair behind her desk. Sitting back down, she leaned forward on the desk again. "The corporate boys down on the planet say it will take some time, but the politicians have assured me that this project will get all of the funding it needs to put these into production as soon as possible."
Brenna stood up and looked down at Jude, and then at the monitor again. "Guess I don't have a choice do I? I'm getting to old for all of this."
"You look as good as you did the day you came out of the academy. Maybe better."
Brenna looked back at Jude. "You always were the sweet talker. Make sure I get the updates on these new missiles."
"You know you will." Jude said as she stood to escort Brenna to the hatch.

July 27th 1705 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, 10 light seconds from Neptune

The Dutchman sat at his station. He didn't see any reason to get up. Most of the crew was moving about the ship, but it would be only a short time before the Chinese signaled that they would resume the bombardment of Triton. Their supply ships were already docked and off loading missiles. Prepping the ships for the coming assault. An assault the Mary Reed would have to take part in.
She and the Vigilance were the only troop carriers with magnetic field generators. They would have to put the first wave on the ground. Right in the midst of the Chinese bombardment. The Dutchman had spent his life trying to avoid getting into situations like this. People who made their money fighting for a living tended to end up dead. This looked like an excellent opportunity to do just that.
The 'plan' looked good, but it was a military operation, and military operations never went according to plan.
A year ago he had commanded three ships for the Free Spacers. Now the Mary Reed was the last one left. And he was going to fly her right between the aliens and the Chinese. 'It probably isn't so much a question of "if we will get blown apart", as much as it is a question of "which side is going to do it". Maybe my mom did raise a fool.'
The Dutchman unlocked his station and got up. Maybe it was a good day to walk the bridge one last time.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: July 2204

Postby procyon on Sat 18 Jun 2011 01:32

July 2204 part 6

July 28 0005 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, 8 light seconds from Triton

The Dutchman watched the clock count down. At ten minutes past midnight the attack would commence. The warships had assembled at 10 light seconds from the moon, and would begin their attack run from that point. That would allow them sufficient time to reach combat speed before they closed to weapons range. Chinese analysis of the enemy weapons seemed to indicate that closing to just under three light seconds from the moon would actually favor their Dragon missiles. Records indicated that the intercept rate at that range was better for their missiles than it was for the alien weapons. It might help, but they were committed at that range. There would be no falling back, just two sides pouring fire into one another until one of them was gone.
The Mary Reed and US Vigilance were parked at 8 light seconds. The lower maximum speed the two ships could manage meant they would be left behind if they were to start with the main group. They would close on the planet from this distance. Even then they would still be passed by the warships as they closed on Triton. 'Which is fine with me, let them draw the fire for a while. We are going to draw enough once we begin our landing runs.'
The only ship that would accompany the Mary Reed and Vigilance was the US Interceptor Zachary Taylor. It would provide close support at the landing site with its onboard laser battery. From testing, everyone knew that the magnetic 'shields' wouldn't work on a planet or moon's surface. Since the aliens designed the damned things, it was a sure bet they knew that to. So as soon as anyone landed to dismount troops, you could bet the aliens would hit them as hard as they could. The US Interceptor's laser could provide closer support than any nuke. 'I wish they hadn't pulled the Mary's laser battery on the last round of refits. It would do us a lot more good when we get down to the surface.'
The landing area is the Kraken Catena. It’s a long straight chain of craters left by some piece of debris that broke up just before it slammed into Triton. The hope was that the crater walls would provide the troops and ships with some cover during the landings. 'Doubt that will work, but at least it gives everyone else a clear area NOT to shoot at. Of course if the Chinese decide to drop a nuke on us while our shields are down, I guess it would make a good sighting mark also.'
The clock on The Dutchman's display began to flash. "OK 'mates, time to visit the neighbors. Take us in."

0010 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, 8 light seconds from Triton

The world turned grey with a blue halo for Commander Scott Moreland as the Vigilance's drive engaged. 'I wonder what else they could find for this old crate to do next. Good lord, we've seen more action than most of the US Interceptors at the moment. Maybe they figure it’s no great loss if some old freighter gets blown to hell.'
The tactical display showed the main group was closing on the moon, and quickly closing the gap with the Vigilance. Scott double checked the course plot to make sure he was well clear of the large Chinese ships' approach vector. He was sure the Chinese weren't going to worry if the Vigilance got torn apart by one of their drive blooms. Thirty seconds later the large group passed and immediately warning lights flashed on the console. 'Inbounds, but only four. It doesn't look like they are aiming at us yet. Good lord look at that.' The display was suddenly filled by new contacts as the Chinese ships began their bombardment. Twenty four Chinese missiles were launched over the space of a few seconds. The Euro and US ships added their two cents, but it was a trickle compared to the Chinese torrent.
The next two and a half minutes were a blur of inbound and outbound missiles swimming between the moon and the ships. They seemed to be targeting the large Chinese cruisers, which was fine. They could take the most pounding. And then the launches stopped. The alien surface sites were no longer firing. The Chinese had launched several missiles into the boiling mass of fire and dust that had been the launch sites even after the aliens stopped, but even they had broken off. If the alien sites began firing again, the battle would start anew, but the warships were trying to conserve their missiles for the alien counterattack everyone expected. The sensor returns showed that one of the Chinese cruisers had managed to lose its shields, but had not broken off.
Scott listened as the Sensor Officer recited distances to the surface, watched the kaleidoscope of colors as the ship's drive cut in and out as the Helm tried to brake and bring the ship in for a landing.
"Thirty seconds to landing."
"Weapon Conn, launch." Scott felt the drive cut out again as the ship deployed the Hera missile, and watched as it streaked toward the landing site. He hadn't OK'd it with anyone, but there wasn't much they could do about it now. Seconds later the primary safety sent the missile into its deployment spin and thousands of small metal and composite disks streaked toward the landing zone at over 20,000 kilometers per second. Thousands of fireballs erupted across the landing zone as the disks vaporized on impact. Scott switched to the visual feed as the ship closed with the moon. The red-brown tholins and frozen methane formed large clouds that obscured the surface in a blanket of dust and vapor. 'At least when our shields go down, they will have a harder time seeing us. And the troops when they get off.'
For long seconds as the Vigilance descended toward the red cloud Scott could see the ship's shadow as the drive of the Interceptor Taylor fired above them. A lifetime ago, when he had been in school, he had loved poetry, but the verse that sprang to mind left him no comfort.

"But where the ship's huge shadow lay,
The charmed waters burned alway
A still and awful red."

Scott looked down at his cyborg body locked in the station. 'Is this... are we, the "Nightmare Life in Death"?'

"Shields down. Landing in five seconds."
'I sure hope there is something solid to land on underneath us.' Scott thought as the ship disappeared into the cloud.

0015 hours/Surface of Triton

Oberfeldwebel Tanya Frank unlocked her station and grabbed her weapon. "MOVE, MOVE, MOVE." She could hear herself and dozens of others yelling at their squads as the landing lights flashed. Seconds later the bay doors began to open.
Two enormous detonations ripped through the hull plates and threw cyborgs, or parts of them, around the bay. In the low G of Triton the bodies became more shrapnel as they bounced within the bay. Dozens of smaller holes were ripped through the hull as some weapon fired on the ship. Tanya watched as three of her squad were ripped apart before they could even clear their stations. "GOD DAMN IT MOVE!"
Tanya pulled one of her squad, Hauptgefreiter Schwartz, and all but threw him toward the bay doors. Tanya then kicked off from some piece of debris (or maybe another trooper she thought) and followed him out of the bay.
The small maneuver thrusters on her pack fired, pushing her back to the surface. The huge cloud of dust made it nearly impossible to see, and fighting on the crippled Alpha had taught her that thermal pickups were nearly useless on the aliens. Tanya checked the transponders on her HUD and picked out the 5 surviving members of her squad. "ON ME. MOVE OUT." Somewhere behind her the heavy weapon squads should be deploying the MLOW's and Lancer Missile Packs. 'If they're still alive.'
Running had been impossible on the alien ship, and was awkward as hell now. Each step threw you forward and up, while small nitrogen jets fired and drove you back down to the surface. The small 'Movement Packs' were supposed to be good for a day, but at the rate it was firing she doubted it would last an hour. The two lead troops were firing their weapons as they advanced, the 18mm Gyrocs filled with nearly 200 flechettes per round. With Tanya's squad assigned to clear the nearest ridge (if it was even there), and the aliens nearly invisible, the hail of metal slivers was supposed to help clear the way.
Tanya's HUD picked up the small metal cylinder a fraction of a second before it slammed into the squad. The two lead troops were hurled to the sides as Tanya felt herself thrown back. The maneuver pack slammed her back down, and she could feel the ice of the moon's surface crunching beneath her as she skidded along. Pushing herself back up, she armed the Rollover missile launcher on her shoulder, and then set it to fire back down the route the alien cylinder had come in on. The Rollover missile disappeared into the dust cloud as soon as it was launched.
Tanya stood again and rechecked the transponder. One of the five squad members was gone, and another was badly hurt. There was no time for rescues now, they needed to get out of the area and secure the landing zone. The rest of the 13th Mech Infantry and the two Chinese Divisions weren't going to land until the area was secure. She started moving again, and was glad to see the others who could follow her. A small red light on the side of her HUD flashed that her right knee had been damaged to some degree during the blast, but it was still working. For now.
The dust suddenly thinned and swirled away, and Tanya saw something that just didn't seem real. Dozens of aliens. Hundreds. They swooped or glided along, floating a meter or two above the surface of the moon like fish swimming in a pool. Darting, swirling. Explosions flashed among them. Some seemed to be moving towards Tanya's position. Most were moving away. Tanya brought up her rifle and began firing at the closest. Missiles flashed beside her as other soldiers fired Rollovers at the mass. A large thermal signature flashed on her display as some alien weapon fired from the ridge line 1900 meters out. Tanya fired the last two of her Rollovers at the signature and turned back to firing at the creatures in front of her. A small group of aliens flashed in front of her as they cleared the dust cloud. She watched as her HUD traced the tracks of the 18mm rounds that tore them apart. Most of them had been much smaller than the ones she had seen on the crippled Alpha.
'You've killed enough of our babies,' Tanya thought. 'Now it is your turn to cry if you can.'

July 30th 0600 hours/US Interceptor MkIII Yari, 6 light seconds from Triton

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan keyed up the display on his monitor. It was the Yari's scheduled time for watch. For the next eight hours the entire crew would be locked in their stations. It had become a routine now. Everyone knew it was coming, and the grumbling had long since quieted. Now the only noise was the quiet conversations of the crew trying to entertain themselves, whatever music they had managed to sneak into the onboard computers, or whatever game they chose to pass the time.
The landings had been completed. The sixteen thousand troops were on the ground. Most of them. Eight hundred had been killed before they ever got off the Vigilance or Mary Reed. Both ships had been hit hard by ground weapon fire. The Mary Reed had taken the worst of it, as the surprise launch from the Vigilance had helped clear her LZ. There were rumors that the Taylor had also favored the Vigilance's landing zone, targeting the alien structures around it first. That would have to be left for the spooks back home to worry about and analyze. Personally, Jack didn't believe it. The Vigilance was a US Vessel, but it was landing Euro troops. The Mary Reed was FSC, but had been landing US troops. Captain Brown would have done the best he could to protect both ships.
The ground combat was vicious to say the least. Losses were going to be high clearing this moon. The Taylor was doing all it could to support the troops from orbit, but there was a limit to what a fusion powered laser battery could accomplish from 500 kilometers above the fighting. Even on the lowest settings the capacitor dumped enough energy to make the moons crust buckle for one hundred meters around the target.
Jack checked the sensor returns. Nothing. The aliens seemed to be in no hurry to relieve the colony on the moon. If they reclaimed space around it, the troops would be doomed. But if they didn't show up here, just where were they.
And what were they up to?

1820 hours/Assault Vessel 1, 36 light minutes from New Home 3 (Triton)

The Combat Group had assembled. It included two Assault Vessels and eight Patrol Vessels. The Hive Vessels were still enroute to the construction centers where they would pick up the new bombers. A support ship was loading additional bombers from New Home 4. These additional bombers had been intended as a reserve for any that were destroyed in operations. The Commander of Fleets had decreed that they would be placed in the bays of the Patrol Vessels. Keeping them aboard a ship they could not be rapidly deployed from was wasteful.
The Commander of Fleets monitored the transmissions from New Home 3. The reports indicated that the native race had destroyed the last of the surface based defenses and landed troops. The enemy had expended a great number of weapons on the surface, and the destruction was enormous. They also maintained a substantial fleet near New Home 3. There were at least 25 vessels, and 15 had shown themselves to be armed in the last attack. Two were Assault Vessels, five were larger than a Patrol Vessel, and four others were the size of Patrol Vessels. The final attack on the surface installations had recorded over 30 launchers in the enemy fleet.
The Commander of Fleets had not been at the Elders' Chambers when the Supreme Elder had made his decision. The Commander of Fleets was also an Elder, but remained with the 1st Assault Vessel. This was where he would spend his life. If the Commander of Fleets had been at the Chamber, he would have had no choice but to fulfill the order that had been given. That was why a Commander of Fleets never attended.
The possibility of defeating the native race at New Home 3 did not exist. The Combat Group did not possess enough weapons or ships. To expend what capability there was wastefully would doom all of the New Homes. With foreseeable developments that could influence the course of this war, expending the Patrol and Assault Vessels was inexcusable.
But something would need to be done. The number of ships available to the native race had to be limited. The projected population that existed on the third planet in this system would be able to support a massive fleet, but much of it would now have to be at New Home 3. The native race was technologically inferior, but had shown itself to be very adaptable, and even more dangerous. However it had occured, they were familiar with war. They would not have left the inner parts of the system unguarded just to strike at New Home 3.
It was equally likely that they were unaware of the location of the other New Homes. If they were aware of those locations, they would simply have destroyed everything they could at New Home 3, and then proceeded to the next target. Placing their ships around the planet and landing troops indicated that this was the main focus of the native race's offensive. This lack of knowledge, were it true, would provide the New Homes some time. And opportunities.
The enemy had no knowledge of the improved bomber that had been designed. They had not yet seen it, or employed a craft resembling it. In fact, they had yet to employ small craft in any type of offensive role. They had used them to scout on a number of occasions, but that was all. The new bomber would provide this Combat Group an advantage that the other Groups had not enjoyed.
The Commander of Fleets altered the field at his Command Station. A review of the capabilities of this new bomber would be required. And then action would be taken. The Commander of Fleets had slept for a great time now, but he had been awakened for a purpose. He alone of all those who had come to this new system had been alive during the Time of War. He had seen many battles. And he knew what was required to exterminate a foe.
...and I will show you fear in a handful of dust....

Cralis wrote:I would point out that the "what was" which is different from "here and now" can easily change in the "future then."
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Re: July 2204

Postby procyon on Sat 18 Jun 2011 01:33

July 2204 part 7


Well, this month had a lot of little things going on that just kind of turned into a big busy month for those of us who played it. Nothing 'earth shattering', but busy.
For the tale of the tape as it were...

For the Euro,
With the Esme losing her Q at the battle and failing emergency repairs, then blowing her roll trying to get to Mars before her 12 hours were up, the battle at Jupiter went from looking like another loss for the Nemotians to a loss for the Euro. And then her only two SYM were either at Neptune or tearing apart PV12. She didn't want the aliens to get hold of the Esme so she scuttled it before the crew was gone. That hurt.
She also put in the repairs on the Queen Mary, Elise and Sereg, so they would be at poor quality for the rest of this month and all of August. She didn't repair the Red October for fear the aliens would show up and she needed her to be able to fight at something other than poor.
Economically, she was continuing with her slow AB colonization and a larger than usual investment in IU. Not going anywhere fast, but slow and steady. For her, the big excitement of the month was rolling an 11 on her SL2 project on R's. The breakthrough immediately went to the knot on SL3 and she was very happy that she could go straight to work on getting SL3 and then the Rb's done. She had been drooling over having the range advantage for a change. She figured it would only be a few more months until she got EL3, and then she could work on the Da's. She really hoped that if she could get both of them finished before they beat the aliens, that she would stand a fair chance against the Chinese if things went sour. But she did manage to fail her roll for the S's regenerating after an hour.
Overall, with the Queen Vic about to come out of the yard, research looking good, and her troops on the ground at Triton, my wife felt she had a pretty good month.

For China,
The middle boy was just itching to get Titan surveyed so he could start colonizing again. He knew that with IU full and nowhere to go, he was losing ground to the other players every month. He also got a little embarrassed when his new cruiser started the fight at Jupiter by missing with all six missile at a range of 12. Not the best showing for the boy who usually had the magic touch with dice.
The battle at the end of the month finished off the last PDCs on Triton, but also left the Minh down 3 armor. Now both the Shek and Minh were damaged. He didn't want to fix them though because he was worried that the aliens would show up, and then his big ships would be Poor crews while they shook down. Since his shields could regenerate, he just decided to wait it out.
Otherwise he paid the (for this game) huge amount to start work on his first CA with a total cost (with prototype and new class) cost of 1253.8MC. That is more than the GEV for the US for this turn, and almost equal to the Euro's. China's GEV was1441.6, so it was a large percent of his. He also managed to start a pair of FG's. He had been saving up for a while and the payoff from the public subscription made for a big turn for China economically.
In the research arena, this was his first month to try and roll for EL2, but he didn't make it. His other projects were just starting so that was his only roll.
The Minh did spark a small debate between the middle boy and myself. It made its roll to advance grade following the battle at Jupiter. This moved it up to green for the rest of the month. He was of the opinion that it should go up one more grade at the end of the month for having completed its shakedown. I wasn't so sure. After some rule searching that seemed less than helpful, I decided to let the Minh advance to Average at the beginning of August. It seemed only fair that if he made the advacement roll, he should have something to show for it. I just made a mental note to apply that same rule to any other ship that ended up in the same situation.

For the US,
This month he continued with his colonization to Mars, and a fair investment in IU. He also forked over some MC to the FSC to ship his troops out to Neptune. The middle girl was unusually generous and decided not to charge him for the return trip or damages incurred, which was her usual deal. She was also rather brave and agreed to land the troops. Both she and the US paid for it when the expendable attack for Triton managed to do enough damage to cause 2 points, which I distributed as 1 point to each ship. So the Vigilance lost its forward Qv, and so did the Mary Reed.
He shifted his newest MkIII to Earth to help cover there, as half the Euro 3rd BG was out at PV12/convoy escort, and the other half was in for repairs or shaking down from them. Not that another poor quality ship helped much, but it was the most the US had been able to do for a while. He also pulled one MkIIb from Mars to send out to Triton for ground fire. The damage to PU from the laser - without having to burn up missiles - looked pretty good to the other players. I know I overheard several conversations about special 'ground support' ships. The fact that the expendable ordinance attack is based on PU on a particular facing hadn't escaped the boy, and since his Vigilance was going to land, something that could wipe out several PU on that facing without burning up missiles appealed to him.
He also decided to launch one missile without having it as a nuke - in the normal antishipping role where it didn't score x3 dmg. I ruled that it would just act like a beam and gave it 1/20th damage vs the PU. He thought that was ok, if a little weak, but ran it through as it was a neat little RP'ing thing. I let him subtract 0.1 of the Qv loss from the Euro for the neat little idea.
He also started a pair of MkIII's at Earth, to continue rebuilding his fleet. I think at this point he was hoping for a pair of four ship groups with MkIIb's x2 and MkIII's x2. One for out system and one for inside the belt. This is just my guess, but I think that was the plan.
He also gave up on the focus breakthrough and switched to a pair of SL projects at his SA. Tired of throwing away money and resources for no result.

For all three of the above powers, concerning the landing....
I gave them the choice to not run a month of ground combat in July since they didn't land until it was almost done, and just roll it into the next month. Or they could take the full losses for just 3 days of combat, call it a vicious landing action, and let August be month 2. They all opted for July to be the first month, take the hit on lost Qv and H, and keep going. They wanted to start getting a handle on just what EL, etc the aliens were and this was the easiest way to do it.
They also decided not to just nuke everything right away, and see how it went. Glassing the planet was always and option, but hard to reverse if you decided it was a mistake. The modifier for the month was a huge negative number at -124, and only a really good pair of d100 rolls by my wife kept it from becoming a disaster. Still was pretty hard on the players though. The 'big three' landed 28Qv at Triton. The Euro lost 1Qv on the landing and 0.5 to combat. The US lost 1QV on the landing and 0.4 to combat. China lost 0.9Qv to combat as they landed after the expendable ordinance had been used.
They all agreed they needed more troops, and fewer aliens on the surface.

For the FSC,
This month saw a small investment in colonization, her biggest ever investment in IU, and slight influx of MC from the US. Even with all of her work, she was still only 25% or so of the US in GEV. But she was trying.
Her research still seemed stalled, but she took that in stride. She was hopeful that things would start turning around. She had snuck her ship through the fighting with no major damage, had the US/Euro owing her some favors, and was hopeful for her research. She was also wheeling and dealing with China as the middle boy had just discovered he had more of an H requirement at Triton than he realized, and had no more FT's to cover it (he had managed to forget it was a month out, and BACK). The FSC had a spare FT0 that might be available for a price...
She wasn't going anywhere fast, but at least she was moving forward instead of back.
All of her big plans were long term, and she was beginning to make progress.
She had even come up with a few FT designs that would earn her money instead of lose it, so she had a back up for when her colonization and IU ran out.
(I'm sure that the middle boy - China - would have done anything to learn there was a FT design that would make some MC instead of just losing it.)

For the Nemotians,
This first month at EL3 saw several projects started. First and foremost were XOa and verifying the breakthough on D. I really wanted the Da, it would have a big impact. I didn't plan on rushing out with the XOa as the players would just get it sooner.
Economically, the EL growth offset the lost income from the problems at Triton. The Nemotians pumped up the IU on worlds with newly enlarged population caps. They also began churning out st in preparation for the next turn. They also began another 6 PDC's to try and secure the last three large colonies. With the last of the mobile assets needed to go fight the war, the PDC's were going to be needed to carry the weight.
The loss of the Attack Vessel hurt, as I was hoping to use it as a convoy escort when it reached the outsystem area. That was going to be a problem.
Now for the matter of the Commander of Fleets.
The Nemotians had one BG +1 Admiral, whom I had left on Assault Vessel 1, parked at New Home 1. Other groups had run on the senior Captain's grade (at -1 per our house rules. We feel a Capt. running his ship and the battle should be inferior to a dedicated Admiral.). Also up to this time I had played a little loosely with the Nemotian's ships and groups. The player's all had a couple of years experience, but were still willing most of the time to play it by ear. They don't spend all of their time analyzing ranges and counting hexes during the battle. Takes too long and takes the fun out of it. They will do it if they feel it is important or they have a lot of free time, but otherwise just aren't that interested.
I had played in groups when I was younger where that would have been Empire suicide. I decided the Commander of Fleets was going to be that end of my experience. My younger brother once said 'If your fighting fair, you just don't want to win bad enough.' I decided that was the motto for the Commander of Fleets.
This next month became a rude surprise for the players.
I never cheated, or used information the Nemotians didn't have. But in any engagement he was in, I made no allowance for ignorance.

And now for the two battles of the month

Third Jupiter

Chinese Forces

Cruiser Ho Chi Minh (BG-2)
Class: CL 45HS
[2] S S S S S S S A A A A Qa Qa Mgs H (cpCp) Ra Ra (Cp) Qa Ra Ra Ya Ra Ra (CpCp) [6/1] cg x1

Pan Euro 4th Light Battle Group

Heavy Escort Esme Jurkat (BG-1)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] S S S Hs Mgs Qa Ra Ra Ya (cpCp) [6/1] cg x1

Attack Escorts J Reynolds (BG-1) , G Vetra (BG-1)
Class: ES 12HS
[2] S S S A Hs Mgs Ya Ra Qa (Cp) [6/1]

Nemotian Patrol Group

Patrol Vessels 13 (BG+1), 17 (BG+2) , 24 (BG) , 25 (BG)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] S S A A Hs (Bsa) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1] cg x1

Attack Vessel 2 (BG)
Class: ES 12HS
[2] S S H Ya Qa (Cp) Pta [6/1]

The Chinese and Euro ships start with shields down and parked. The Nemotian ships have to follow the route of the Euro gig and can't accelerate until they become aware of the other groups. You could definitely vary the orientation of the ships and the course of the Euro gig. The players settled on a position 8 hexes to the side of the gig's path. You could also vary the formation of the Nemotian ships and their positions relative to each other. For us it became a battle for position after the opening shots.

Final Assault on Triton

Chinese Forces
Admiral Hu (LG+1 / Decisive)

Cruiser Chiang Kia Shek (BG)
Class: CL 45HS
[2] S S S S S S S x x x A Qa Qa Mgs H (cpCp) Ra Ra (Cp) Qa Ra Ra Ya Ra Ra (CpCp) [6/1] cg x1

Cruiser Ho Chi Minh (BG-1)
Class: CL 45HS
[2] S S S S S S S A A A A Qa Qa Mgs H (cpCp) Ra Ra (Cp) Qa Ra Ra Ya Ra Ra (CpCp) [6/1] cg x1

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

Pan Euro 3th Light Battle Group
Admiral Robert McNeely (LG-1)

Armed Science Vessel Red October (BG)
Class: FGf 22HS
[2] S S x x x x x x x x (x Cp) Ra Ra Ya Qa (Cp) [7/1] cg x1

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

Pan Euro 4th Light Battle Group

Attack Escorts J Reynolds (BG) , G Vetra (BG)
Class: ES 12HS
[2] S S S A Hs Mgs Ya Ra Qa (Cp) [6/1]

US Forces
Admiral Jack Ryan (LG+2 / Navigator)

Interceptor MkIII Yari (BG+1)
Class: CTf 16HS
[2] S S S Hs Mgs Qa Ya (Cp) Ra Ra (Cp) [7/1] cg x1

Interceptor MkIIb Z Taylor (BG-1)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] S S S H Mgs Qa Ya Lb Ra (Cp) [6/1] cg x1

US Forces
Q Ship Vigilance (BG)
Class: FT2 16HS
[2] S S Qv Qv Qv Ya Ra H H H (Bsa) Qa (Cp) [4/1] gtos x1, cg x1, Qv x3

FSC Forces

Converted Freighter Mary Reed (BG+1)
Class: FT2 16HS
[2] S S S S Qv Qv Qv H H Ya Ra Qa (Cp) [4/1] cg x1, Qv x3

Nemotian New Home 3 Defense

Planetary Defense Installation (x2) (BG)
Class: PDC 28HS
[0] A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A Pta Pta [0]

Planetary Fallout Shelters for 36PU (you can't nuke 'em)

184 PU / 75.8 IU

If facing 1 of Triton is toward Neptune, the PDC's are located on facings 5 and 6.
You can get the layout of the moons from June and advance them the required distance if you are worried about it. With only one player mobile, it makes little difference.

There are a host of support ships, supply ships, and troop ships not listed. If you want to see what they were, let me know and I can run them off.
This battle was less of a battle and more of an exercise in seeing how little damage you can take. It would have been easy for the players to have just glassed the surface and then landed the troops. The Mary Reed and Vigilance would have fared much better, along with the Qv, but the players wanted to try and drag it out and goad the Nemotians into attacking the planet. They were also interested in trying out the ground combat rules, pillaging, opening communications (my wife mostly on this one), capturing the research facilities on the planet (China and the US were both scheming to be the one to get it, and it sounded like China was willing to risk ground combat with the other players to get it), capturing tech data and other info, etc, etc, etc....
Overall, they looked at the moon as a prize. If it could be pacified, they had already figured out they would likely make a LOT more from a captured/slave/subject moon than any colony of theirs would ever amount to. With the limited incomes in this game, and slow colonization rate from the tiny CFN, GFFP on an icy moon with 9 times the pop you can put on it, plus a better REI for the 'natives', was just stupid. They wanted the cash they could see on the moon below, and were willing to risk a number of problems to get it. Who would claim it... well, that was still up for debate among the players.

Landing forces for the various powers added up to
Pan Euro 10Qv @ EL2
US 6Qv @ EL2
China 12Qv @ EL1

The losses they took during the combat and landing is covered above.
Losses for the Nemotians were pretty bad.
Between the PDC bombardment, orbital bombardment from the MkIIb Taylor's Lb x100 shots, and a demonstration strike of 10 nukes followed by ground combat, the Nemotian losses were 55.0 PU and 38.6 IU.
The Nemotians rolled a 97 on the HEL race reaction to invasion, so losses on all sides in Qv and H were doubled. It was going to be a bloody conflict. Go figure.

Brace yourself for August. Its not pretty.
Again, thanks 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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