August 2204

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August 2204

Postby procyon on Fri 24 Jun 2011 03:30

August 2204 part 1

August 1st 0520 hours/Ground To Orbit Shuttle (GTOS) 03, 5000 km above Triton

Ensign Don Treeman struggled with the controls of the shuttle. 'Damned thing is older than I am and they send it into a combat zone!' The lifters were originally civilian boats, but their ability to carry large loads to and from one of the cargo liners or troopships made them valuable in military operations like this. Putting the big ships in a combat zone was unthinkable.
The lifters were becoming the lifeblood of the troops on the ground. The hostile environment of Triton was forcing the troops to burn through supplies at a voracious rate, and combat with the aliens was using just as much cargo space for ordinance. Coming back up from the surface the lifter would be full of wounded and dead. Just like it was now.
The lifter lurched again as the drive cut in and out. Ground fire had been heavy and the automatic safeties continued to shut down the drive as the sensors detected excessive stress, or heat, or radiation, or whatever it was this time. Then the drive would restart as the systems reset or corrected for whatever was wrong.
It was only a few more seconds and they would begin landing procedures on Survey Tender 1. The Tender was docked with the Pan Euro Troopship and the US Cargo Transport. When they landed the crew would off load the wounded for transfer to the Euro vessel, and then reload the lander with supplies bound for the moon's surface. Braking thrusters fired as the three ships loomed into view.
Don adjusted the course to bring the lander into the bay on the Tender, and locked the settings into the NavCom. He watched the bay doors open as the lifter switched to autopilot for final approach.
Don never saw the warning light as the auto safety shut down the braking thrusters, and the lifter slammed into the bay at 400 kilometers an hour.


1215 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 48 light minutes from Neptune

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 could sense the four 'extra' Patrol Vessels accompanying the Patrol Group. The Patrol Group had been reduced from 4 ships to three as Patrol Vessel 24 had been reassigned to convoy escort duty. The presence of enemy warships near New Home 3 threatened several of the major transport lines. A Colony Vessel of the Far Traveller Class would be moving nearly 390,000 colonists from New Home 4 to New Home 2. New Home 4 was in a vulnerable position now, and New Home 2 possessed much greater defenses, so the transfer was deemed necessary.
Two of the vessels in the Patrol Group had a great deal of experience dealing with the warships of the native race. Patrol Vessels 17 and 13 had been involved in a number of battles. The last ship in the Patrol Group was Patrol Vessel 25. It had only seen a few actions against the native race, but had aquitted itself well. Its crew worked and fought as one.
The four extra Patrol Vessels were Patrol Vessels 1 and 2 of New Home 1 Defense Group, plus Patrol Vessels 7 and 8 of New Home 2 Defense Group. All were well trained ships, but none had faced the enemy in battle. Soon that would change.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 altered the field at his station and issued orders to all the Patrol Vessels. Vessels 1 and 2 were to split off and proceed to one target, while 7 and 8 were to split off and proceed to another. The ships of the Patrol Group had their own mission to complete.
And then if they survived, there would be one more mission to complete.


August 2nd 0050 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, 12 light minutes from Neptune

The Dutchman checked the status reports from the Mary Reed, and then began to check through the logs for the rest of the ships in the convoy bound for Earth. It was not the first time he had been in command of more than one ship, but it was the first time he had commanded this many. Let alone ships of different nations. It seemed an unnatural and daunting task. To be responsible for the last warship of the FSC was a heavy duty. To be responsible for the ships of so many nations was nothing he had ever considered.
The Dutchman looked over the log. The Pan Euro Red October was the largest ship, and would have been in command. It had suffered crippling damage at Triton though, and even her newly promoted commander had refused control of the group. The only other warship was the US Vigilance, but her captain was less experienced and had readily ceded command to the Dutchman. There were also three troopships, two Chinese and one Euro, along with a US Cargo liner and the damaged Survey Tender. All told, eight ships. Three of them warships. One of the warships larger than any ship the FSC had ever fielded.
But all of the warships were damaged to some degree, as was the Survey Tender. It was a rather rag tag band, with more issues than the Dutchman cared to worry about. But the board had made it clear that this operation would improve relations with the other powers, and that it would be conducted successfully. Nothing less would be tolerated.
The Dutchman returned to checking the status reports of the convoy, and the sensor logs. They were still a long way from home.


August 3rd 0800 hours/Pan Euro Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Jude Kushnir sat back in her chair. The 0600 briefing was done, and the staff had filed out. A flurry of orders would be written and transmitted this day. In the end, it would make little difference. It didn't matter what basket you put them in, or what you called them, you would only have so many eggs until you got more. Hopefully what had transpired this morning would help the Pan Euro use its 'eggs' to the fullest.
The last two hours had been the fulfillment of several days of meetings. The new Order of Battle had been decided upon. The Queen Mary was to take the place of the Tatianna as the flagship of the 3rd Battle Group, with Jude in command. The 3rd BG would be responsible for the defense of Earth. The Heavy Escort Tatianna, which had long been Brenna's Flagship, was to be detached from the 3rd BG. Two new Attack Escorts that were already under construction would join the Heavy Escort at the beginning of September to form the new 4th Light Battle Group. Its Commodore was still to be appointed, but rumor was that Captain Stephan Vasilikos of the Tatianna, who had acted as Brenna's Chief of Staff for some time now, was the man in line for the job. For the moment, the Tati was to take up a position to guard Mobile Shipyard 2 as it continued to disassemble the alien Alpha.
The Queen Victoria had just cleared the slip 24 hours ago, and was preparing to make its way to Neptune, with Rear (no Jude corrected herself, Vice) Admiral Brenna Muldoon in command. When the Queen Vic arrived at Neptune, she would then add in the four Attack Escorts from the former 3rd and 4th LBG's to form the 4th Battle Group. This would give the Pan Euro two Battle Groups, each consisting of a Royalty Class Ship of the Line, and four Attack Escorts. Each Battle Group would be commanded by a senior admiral. Next month would see the Heavy Escort Tatianna become the lead ship of the 4th LBG, with the Red October eventually being joined by a pair of Attack Escorts (whenever we can actually clear the yard space and funding to make them) to reform the 3rd LBG. Commodore McNeely would command that group, assuming of course his safe return from outsystem.
'Of course', Jude thought, 'one bad turn of events and this could all go out the airlock. Not much I can do about that from here. Time to get back to the QM and make sure that doesn't happen on my watch.'


August 4th 2025 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po listened as the presenter from the Space Naval Forces gave his update on the construction at Venus. Minister Po could feel the warm glow of satisfaction as the speaker continued. 'They had planned to disgrace me in front of the ministery, but it has backfired on them.'
The controlling faction within the Ministry had appointed Po to raise the funding for a pair of new Frigates before the two under construction at Earth were completed. They had expected him to fail. Po had exceeded that demand. Funds for a new CRUISER had been aquired, and the frigates were still nearly a month away from completion. The new Cruiser was already under construction at Venus, in the slip beside the Heavy Cruiser that had been started last month. It will be done in half the time the Heavy Cruiser will require, and will give the Chinese three deployable groups to work with. Each group will be composed of a Cruiser and two Missile Frigates, and would boast 12 launch bays in each group. Two groups were already at Neptune. This third one will be complete in just over 4 months. With these three groups, and the Heavy Cruiser in the lead, no other power, human or alien, will be able to stand before the Chinese Empire.
And with this latest 'acheivement', Minister Po's faction was beginning to gain power. 'It will only be a matter of time before we decide policy. Then we shall see who is disgraced.'
...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: August 2204

Postby procyon on Fri 24 Jun 2011 03:32

August 2204 part 2

August 6th 0630 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Bradley Walters watched as the various staff members filed into the briefing room. The 0630 briefings had become habit for most, but some still looked half asleep as they prepared for their presentations. This day would see more work done than most, but much of it was 'on paper.'
Today part of the staff would be putting together the documents and orders to reorganize the US ships into three small task forces instead of a single task force and a collection of individual ships. Task Force 1 would be composed of the three MkIIb Interceptors stationed at Mars. This group would simply continue that mission until further notice.
The two MkIII's that had just cleared the yards here at Earth, the Sai and Kama, would join the Naginata at Earth and form Task Force 2. They would be responsible for security here at Earth while they were shaking down and preparing for operations. After a few months they would likely be reassigned to another duty, as putting the highest mobility ships in a stationary defense would be a waste. For the moment it was a fair assignment for ships with crews that had barely enough time onboard to find their way from bow to stern.
The last Task Force, number 3, was more a recognition that it was pointless to assign the Yari and Taylor to any other group. They were several light hours away from the inner system, and would be on their own for some time to come. They were assigned to supporting the operations at Neptune however Rear Admiral Ryan saw fit.
For the moment Jack seemed to be interested in taking the Yari out to making wide sweeps around Neptune. Accompanied by the two Euro Attack Escorts, Jack had taken to moving up to 36 light minutes from Neptune in an attempt to intercept alien shipping. It was unlikely anything other than a warship would come close to Neptune, but Jack was still out there searching.
The only other business for the day would be the final approval to begin construction of another Q ship here at Earth. It was more of a formality, as the politicians had already put their stamp of approval on the project, but an official recognition and request from the military would be required to cross the last of the T's. After that official construction would begin. Unofficially, prefabbed parts had already been shipped to the yard for staging. The crews were just waiting for the 'go ahead' to begin fitting sections together.
What was bothering Bradley, and the question no one at this meeting could answer was what were the aliens up to? Where had 'The Baron' disappeared to? The aliens should have had more than enough time to arrive at Neptune and attack or harass the ships there. If they were at Neptune, where had they gone and what were they up to.
Bradley knew that if 'The Baron' and the rest of the alien ships hadn't shown up at Triton, it was because the aliens felt they had something more important to accomplish. But what was more important than relieving a colony under attack? And what would it mean for the US, and Earth?


0840 hours/Elder's Chambers, New Home 1 (Eris)

The Elders reviewed the information presented. The last of the surface defense installations would be completed soon. Two new Attack Vessels had begun construction. These things were good, but they alone would not win this war. Other more important matters were the focus of the counsel.
The two Hive Vessels had finished loading the new bombers. They and the two Assault Vessels had begun their movements. With this group was a single Mobile Repair Vessel and four Light Support Vessels. They had their own special assignments that had been decreed by the Commander of Fleets. It had shocked the counsel that the Commander of Fleets had defied the Supreme Elder and had taken control of several Support Vessels not assigned to the Combat Group, but the Supreme Elder had not acted upon this, and his silence was considered approval by most. The Commander of Fleets had slept for many generations now, and his understanding of war came from a time when the survival of the race had also been in question. His commands in this time were given great weight. Apparently even by the Supreme Elder.
And so the reports of the horrible slaughter on New Home 3, and the calls for help from all of those living and dying there, were unanswered. New Home 3 would survive or perish on its own, alone against the race of machines that inhabited this system. Reports were coming in that some of the machines housed 'things' that might be creatures as opposed to artificial constructs, but this was only rumor from the confused combat zones of New Home 3. Until further proof was presented, the only hard evidence was that the enemy was nothing more than machines.
Of course, even if they weren't machines, it would not change what must be done.


August 7th 1115 hours/Queen Victoria, dark side of asteroid belt

Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon checked the status report from the ship's boat. The previous convoy had encountered alien warships near Jupiter. That convoy had been fortunate enough to have a Chinese Cruiser, a Light Battle Group, and two armed supply ships available. Even with all of that, the Esme had been seriously damaged and then lost. This convoy was guarded by the Queen 'Vic' as the convoy had dubbed her, and that was it. The fact that the crew had logged less time at their stations than Brenna had spent locked in one was not a reassuring situation.
And of all the ships, the QV was the only one with a ship's boat. The crew had been forced to take shifts in the small craft as it crept ahead of the convoy, looking for aliens. Two days at a time they would spend locked in their stations on the little boat. Most of the crew had barely logged any flight time before this. Now they were racking up the hours in the small boat at a grueling pace. Not that they were much worse off than the crew on the QV.
Brenna knew she was being merciless on the new crew, with incessant drills and snap inspections at any and all hours. Day after day. But they were headed toward an alien colony, through space that the aliens prowled constantly. Seldom did a ship slip past the belt without making alien contact, and alien contact always meant one thing.
With half a dozen unarmed ships carrying supplies the ground troops at Triton would die without, the crew of the Queen Victoria couldn't afford the luxury of a more leisurely training schedule. Too many lives depended on her to be able to fight. And fight well.


2210 hours/Beijing, China

Minister Po picked at the food on the tray beside him. It was a disappointing turn of events. The troops on Triton were consuming supplies at a much faster rate than anticipated, and would run out before they could be resupplied by Chinese ships. It also appeared that they would need reinforcements to completely secure the moon. The two Chinese Troopships would arrive back at Earth close to the end of the month. They would begin loading the next wave of troops and their supplies for the combat on Triton. The cost to mobilize the two additional divisions that would be shipped was going to come out of the funding Po had raised to build the next two Frigates. The two currently in production would be finished before the end of the month, and Po had hoped to be able to gather the funds to begin construction of two more when the yard space became available. This troop buildup was going to cut into that funding.
It was also obvious that the troops would need additional supplies just to continue combat at the current intensity level. Unfortunately they would need these additional supplies before the troopships would be able to return to Triton. Worse, no Chinese ships were available to deliver the supplies. The only vessel available to transport the supplies was a small FSC cargo freighter. The fact that the Chinese Military was about to find itself dependant on the FSC to maintain its ground troops was 'distasteful.' The amount the FSC was charging for the use of their freighter was far worse than just 'distasteful.' It was much closer to 'disgusting'. The cost of shipping a barely adequate amount of supplies was now far out of proportion to their cost. But there was nowhere else to go, and no other ships available. The US and Euro were being pushed to the limit supplying their own ground troops. They had no space left to carry supplies for the Chinese divisions at Triton.
The Ministry had decided that the 'additional funding' required to pay for the use of the FSC freighter was to be taken from the monies that Po had accumulated for the next two Frigates. This caused an even greater shortfall in Po's projected funding. Looking at the numbers, Po was sure that he would be lucky to have enough cash available to begin construction of a single Frigate at the beginning of next month. Maybe not even that.
With the war grinding on, and victory seeming to be a nearly unattainable goal, the future was looking grim. Po's faction may be able to gain in power within the Ministry, but it would be for naught if they controlled a bankrupt and exhausted empire.
'At least the US and Euro can't be any better off.'
...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: August 2204

Postby procyon on Sat 25 Jun 2011 03:15

August 2204 part 3

August 10th 0200 hours/Alternate Elders' Chambers, New Home 3 (Triton)

The Elders reviewed the reports as they came in. The underground shelters were still secure, and ten lightly armed divisions had been raised in addition to the 36 divisions of militia that had responded to the initial attack. The enemy troops had been contained in several of their landing zones, but others had managed to break out or use lifters to move across the surface. Losses were extreme. The initial landings had laid waste to several of the habitats on the surface, and civilian casualties were high. They would easily reach into the millions by this point. The machines made no distinction between combatants and noncombatants. Many 'civilians' had joined in attacks against the invaders, but it was suicide.
Combat against the machines was nearly impossible with their ships holding the high orbitals. Any organized attack was met with destruction from both the ground troops and weapon fire from orbit. Whatever weapon the enemy possessed that could pass through the magnetic protective field of the ships could also wreak horrible amounts of damage on the ground. Any concentration of troops was targeted and destroyed. The only way to engage the enemy was to get close enough to their positions that they could no longer use the tremendous power of the orbital weapons. Troops had been dispersed, and plans laid out. Several of the enemy concentrations were moving into the habitats and industrial centers on the surface. These areas would help conceal movements and troop concentrations. This would be combined with attacks from the systems of tunnels connecting these areas to the underground shelters. And in the habitats and factories, the enemy would find death.


August 12th 1945 hours/US Interceptor MkIIb Z. Taylor, orbit of Triton

Captain Randall Brown checked the status reports on the laser capacitor and output coupler. It was being employed well outside its normal operational limits. It had been designed for short engagements between ships, not extended use as a ground support weapon. Usually it was quite capable of a dozen discharges over the course of a few minutes. It would then be down for maintenance and checks for weeks, if not months. This was what it had been designed for.
Current usage was nearly ten discharges per day, with no let up for maintenance other than the down time between discharges. A few hours to check the system and then a new support request would come in from the ground. US, Euro, and even Chinese commanders were requesting support from the laser. Once or twice a day the Euro would fire a Scorpion Missile with the primary safety released to provide ground support, allowing the Engineering crew of the Taylor a chance to work on the laser when support requests came in too rapidly. Two days ago elements of the 2nd Armored had entered an alien construction center, and had met heavy resistance. The Chinese divisions had also entered a pair of alien 'cities' on the surface, and had been met with relentless attacks as they moved from one 'building' to the next. Their less advanced power armor design was also proving difficult to support, and poorly suited to combat on the moon's surface. Elements from the Euro division had moved to support them, but coordination between the two forces was poor at best.
Current usage would put the capacitor at over 400 discharges in five weeks time. That was over twenty times more discharges than had ever been attempted in the same span of time by any other ship. Randall checked the status reports again. This wasn't a record he wanted to set. Assuming the capacitor and output systems didn't just burn out.


August 15th 1210 hours/Construction Facility 12, Surface of Triton

Soldier Chen Hyang looked out over the 'ground' below. In the perpetual night of Triton, the world was a grey and white enhanced display on the HUD. Strangely shaped buildings rose from the jagged icy ground. They reminded him more of massive crayfish mounds he had seen as a boy lining the stream near his house. There were over two hundred of the mounds in this factory complex, and the aliens still held most of them. The fact that this complex was situated inside an alien 'city' with nearly five thousand structures just made it worse. Fighting in the small corridors, and from building to building, was deadly. Dozens of the aliens might die for every Chinese soldier they killed, but they kept coming. The fact that they could seem to fly over the surface or from building to building made it impossible to consider any area 'secured'. They could move so much faster than any power armor soldier over the surface made reacting to an attack all but impossible.
The laser from the US ship had been requested eight times in the last 24 hours to stem the surge of alien 'troops' that had attacked Chinese positions in the city. The laser could shatter buildings and the surface itself, for an area over one hundred meters across. Dozens of the alien structures would be flattened, stopping attacks and clearing lanes of fire. But the rubble left behind often gave cover to the next wave of alien attackers, and the frigid temperature of the moon's surface played havoc with tracking and weapon systems. Many soldiers died when their weapons or armor failed.
And when one died, others would follow. The limited number of troops was forcing the companies to deploy over large areas. To place more than one soldier in a position would leave unacceptable holes in the perimeter. But if a position was lost, others would rapidly fall as the aliens exploited the hole in the defenses. It was then a request would go out for support from the US ship. The aliens moved too quickly for the reserves to plug holes in the perimeter.
Chen rechecked the mounts of the Model 63 at his position. The weapon had been produced over a century ago, but had actually proved rather successful against the aliens. It had been intended as an anti vehicle or 'aircraft' weapon, but the antiquated magnetic proximity fuses on the 37mm rounds had proved very good at anti personnel work against the aliens. The aliens seemed to trigger the magnetic fuses quite regularly, and the large amount of copper fragments seemed to tear them apart nicely. Its biggest drawbacks were that it had limited recoil compensation, requiring it to be fixed or bolted down. Otherwise it would become a huge missile after the first shot. Its other drawback was the five round magazines it loaded from. The springs lost a lot of tension in the cold, causing frequent misfeeds. Any loose magazines tended to fly around if not secured when the weapon fired. All this, and simply that five shots wasn't much when a horde was bearing down on you.
Chen's radio crackled to life as reports of movement came in. First one, then dozens of calls. The aliens were making contact across a wide front of the perimeter. And then Chen heard the position to his right call in, and could see the bright flashes of explosions in the darkness. Chen could feel the sweat running down his forehead, and feel his heart pounding.
"Movement, section seven." Chen could hear himself say, but the radio was a mass of calls and screams now. At least a dozen aliens were moving in the jagged ice formations in front of Chen. Another alien shot from one building to another. Chen triggered the 63 and emptied the five rounds at the 'flying' alien. It was like five silent flashbulbs flaring in front of him. The alien crashed into the side of the building and then drifted to the ground. But this one was different. They all were. They were wearing some form of suit. Instead of a mass of spindly legs and tentacles, it was a long angular box with dozens of projections and fixtures. And then the world started to come apart.
The walls shattered and lights flashed as the aliens fired on his position. Chen abandoned the old cannon and hurled himself down the small tunnel of the building he was in. It twisted and turned, forked, then came out on what appeared to be the 'roof' of the building he was in. An alien was already there, and he could see a projection turning towards him on the thing's suit. Chen grabbed for his rifle, but knew he was going to be too late. The roof exploded in light and Chen could feel himself falling. Chunks of the building's icy material fell about him. Chen began to move, and saw warning lights flash across his HUD. The main power relay was down. The armor that was supposed to protect him had just become his prison. Chen could see two alien suits fly above his position, and then another pair began to move towards him. He tried to key the radio and let someone know what was happening, but it was silent. This was his third combat, and now his last.
Several dark forms moved at the edge of Chen's vision, and then more explosions followed. It was too soon for reinforcements, these would have to be more aliens. Chen felt something jar him through his armor, saw that something had landed on him. A dark grey black form, with projections like wings from its back. It looked like a woman, a dark angel with a sword of flame and light in one hand that it swung about. Chen saw the woman reach down and grab the shoulder plate on his armor, and felt pain as she pulled him from the rubble. But the woman had no face, only a blank, black hole where one should be. And then the world went black as Chen watched the angel of death take him.


1222 hours/Sector 38, Surface of Triton

Oberfeldwebel Tanya Frank held onto the motionless Chinese Power Armor as she tried to move back through the rubble that had once been an alien building. Dozens of alien 'soldiers' moved through the jagged landscape. She slung the PzGw 94 back against her side and locked the last of her Rollover Missiles onto an alien suit. She didn't even watch as she fired the missile, concentrating on getting her LE/SR out and off safe. The rest of her squad was already beginning to fall back. Tanya’s squad had been nearby and had moved to reinforce the Chinese line, but there were just too many aliens. And this time they weren't just creatures with weapons, they were alien combat suits. Flechettes shattered on the suits like straw. The Rollovers tore them apart, but you had to pick your targets, not just shoot at concentrations of them. Hopefully the 9mm AP/HE rounds in the LE/SR would fare better.
Tanya fired a burst at an alien moving between buildings 60 meters away. The 9mm rounds punched through the suit, but it took nearly a dozen hits before the thing stopped moving. Tanya fired her thrusters and kicked off backwards. The surface exploded behind her as alien weapons detonated where she had been. From 20 meters above the surface Tanya knew she was an inviting target, but she needed to see what the aliens were doing and a bird’s eye view would be fastest. Tanya fired a short burst from her rifle as she keyed her thrusters and rocketed back toward the ground. Lines traced across Tanya's HUD as it tracked the alien weapons flashing by her.
"Headquarters, this is Oberfeldwebel Frank. We are falling back from Grid zero two six seven three eight of sector three eight. Heavy alien contact. Seventy alien combat suits within one hundred meters of our position. Request fire support." Tanya crouched in the rubble for a moment and adjusted her grip on the Chinese armor. Looking up she could see nearly a dozen alien shapes sailing from the top of one building to another. She fired off a long burst at the group and then kicked off for a new position.
"Frank. US Taylor is currently engaged and we can't fire a Scorpion into Chinese positions. Will deploy Lancers times six. Mark targets with Q seven designators. Fall back to alternate fire base Tigress. Headquarters out." Tanya thought for a moment about the reply, and what she thought of it. But only for a moment before another alien shape loomed in front of her. Gyroc rounds stitched the alien suit even as she kicked off again. Then she found herself cartwheeling as multiple explosions ripped the ground apart.
As her thrusters damped the spin and forced her back to the surface she held still for a moment. 'Fall back? We can hardly move! Where did all these alien suits come from, and why didn't somebody see them coming?'
Tanya checked her HUD and saw that the rest of her squad was falling back. At least she hadn't lost anyone yet. But they had only been fighting for a few minutes. She pulled out her PzGw 94 again, dumped the current belt and locked in the small clip of designator rounds. Kicking off again she began to fire at every building close to her. As she crashed back to the ground she looked at the faceplate on the Chinese armor. 'No sense dragging this around if it’s dead.' Looking in she could see the face of a young Asian man. The face was bruised, but he still looked alive. 'I wonder if you were shooting at me a year ago?' Tanya thought. Pulling out the LE/SR again, she prepared to move.
Tanya opened the link to her squad. "OK, everyone on me. This area is going to get hot."
Tanya heard her comm link open. "Frau Frank, it’s already hot and we're already leaving. You and your souvenir need to catch up."

1235 hour/Cruiser Chiang Kia Shek, orbit of Triton

Admiral Hu pulled up the display for the surface tactical situation. Red patches for alien activity were everywhere. The main Chinese supply dump on the surface was only 3 kilometers from a heavy alien advance near one of the surface 'cities'. But it was happening on a planet wide scale. The US and Pan Euro ships were firing in support of positions on the far side of the moon, but the Chinese were the ones over the surface here. They were responsible for ground support. Prior to this, they had simply shifted and let the US ship provide ground support. That wouldn't work now.
A box blinked to life in the corner of his display. Hu tapped the keys and the box expanded.

FROM GENERAL FENG

ATTN ADMIRAL HU

REQUEST ORBITAL SUPPORT OF SECTOR 38
LOSS OF SUPPLY CENTER WILL SEVERELY IMPEDE GROUND OPERATIONS.
IF LASER SUPPORT UNAVAILABLE, CODE THREE THREE SIX AUTHORIZATION.


Admiral Hu looked at the request. Three three six. Admiral Hu checked the enemy advance rate. They would reach the supplies in less than twenty minutes at their current rate of advance. Possibly sooner. They might have support weapons in range of the dump even now. If they know it is there, it might only be moments before they shelled the area.
Admiral Hu tapped the display in several locations, and then sent it to the weapon tables. "Weapon Conn, launch on designated coordinates. Full safety release."
...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: August 2204

Postby procyon on Sun 26 Jun 2011 00:22

August 2204 part 4

August 17th 1420 hours/Johannesburg, South Africa

Chairman Mukata looked out from the platform as the troops paraded past. They were dressed in dull black power armor copied from an older Pan Euro Model, acquired at the same time as the design for the Scorpion Missile. But they carried weapons purchased from the vast US armaments industry. The rifles were nearly new, as the FSC kept no stock of weapons intended for low G combat. The FSC only had rights to off world territories for the last few months, so they had never actually been considered necessary. Now troops would be carrying the new weapons with almost no chance to train with them, and go straight into combat with alien forces.
Chairman Mukata thought about the last board meeting and remembered how the assembled board members had decided that support of the ground combat on Triton would not only allow the FSC a chance for a closer look at some alien technology, but would build good will between the FSC and the other powers. To that end, this brigade had been mobilized and supplies raised or purchased. Upon the return of the Mary Reed, these troops would begin the month long journey to a nearly lightless ball of ice, whose only value right now was in the alien population on it.
Mukata wondered as he watched the rows of troops pass if any of them would ever return to the earth.


August 21st 1645 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, Mars orbit

"OK crew, here is what you've been waiting for. Unlock stations, Weapon and Shield crews stand down. We're back."
Commander Scott Moreland unlocked his station as the Vigilance docked at the Mars Station. The Vigilance, the US Supply Ship, and Survey Tender One had left the convoy as they passed the belt and had altered course for Mars. The red planet looked as good as home right now. This would be the first time in weeks the crew would be able to move about on the ship for any extended period of time. With the three Interceptor MkII's of Task Force 1 nearby, plus the five Defense Modules of the Mars Station, the endless days of remaining locked at stations was now no longer necessary.
On the far side of the station Survey Tender One was finishing docking maneuvers. Both she and the Vigilance would need repairs, but they would have to wait until the work going on in the slip was completed. The hull of a new MkIIb Interceptor was taking shape in the slip, and getting it finished would take precedence over repairing the damaged Q ship or Survey Tender. The 'three Interceptor Task Force' was becoming a little light on firepower for current standards.
Scott looked at the cramped bridge, and decided that a trip to the surface might be in order. 'This jury rigged old tub has brought us through a lot, but it’s time for a break.'


August 22nd 0305 hours/Survey Vessel Marco Polo, dark side of the asteroid belt

Captain Jingtsu continued working with the survey data from Titan. It had actually proven to be a far more valuable location than had initially been assumed. The environment was hostile, and constructing colonies would be difficult and dangerous. But the moon and the rings of Saturn had shown to be rich in many of the compounds used in the composites required for ship and drive construction. What made it even more valuable was the ease with which extraction was found to occur. Most deposits were locked in icy substrates that were easily broken up and mined, and then the ore required little heat to drive off the volatile ices. The minerals in question would be far more readily acquired than on Ceres. The rock and metal composition of most asteroids made refining ores as difficult as it was on Earth, and less profitable.
The data suddenly disappeared from Jingtsu's screen. Collision alerts flashed onto the screen in their place. Jingtsu keyed open the warning to find that two small objects were rapidly closing on the Marco Polo. Missiles. Alien missiles.
"Lock Stations. Engage drive. Change course sixty degrees starboard, down five degrees." Jingtsu looked at his monitor as he locked his station. They would never have enough time. Less than ten seconds until intercept, and this was no combat ship. Jingtsu gripped the ends of the armrests and waited for the inevitable. The sensors clouded over as the alien weapons detonated. And then they cleared. The Marco Polo was still there, but her sister ship had just become dozens of tumbling fragments. The two alien ships had also appeared on the sensor returns, racing straight toward the Marco Polo.
"Helm, get us moving. Comm, broadcast to Earth our current location, situation, and any sensor data you can get. We aren't going to live through this, but at least we may be able to save someone else." Jingtsu watched the monitor as another alarm box flashed in the corner, and another pair of alien weapons appeared.


0430 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po read the transcript of the last transmissions from the Survey Vessel Marco Polo. They had been attacked by two of the smaller alien warships near the asteroid belt and apparently destroyed. The survey group had completed its work at Saturn and had transmitted the data to Earth 40 hours ago, so the mission was a success even if the ships had been lost.
This proved that the aliens had not abandoned the inner system when Triton was attacked. It also meant that Venus was in greater danger than had been anticipated. Earth was protected by a number of ground based launch centers and the ships of the Euro and US. Venus Station had its internal launchers, and the newly added magnetic protection system. It was also in the process of constructing a new Cruiser, and the first ever Heavy Cruiser. These two construction projects represented a major investment for the Chinese. One that could not be risked. The two Missile Frigates under construction at Earth would be finished in the next 48 hours. That schedule would have to be expedited, and the ships immediately moved to Venus to begin their training there. Even poorly trained crews would still be able to double the number of launch bays available for the defense of Venus. No one in the Ministry had any question of what needed to be done in this regard.
The actual issue at hand was the matter of the transmission from the Marco Polo. The ship had maintained protocols and transmitted the message in code. The other nations of Earth would have received the message and know from what direction it had originated, but would not know its contents or the reason it had been made. They would have also received the other transmissions the Marco Polo had made as it transmitted the survey results from Titan. The other powers would likely just consider that this was continued information from a Chinese survey group, as Saturn was the only significant body from the direction the transmissions had originated. No known colonies in the belt were currently even close to this direction from Earth. The other space powers would eventually be able to triangulate that the last transmission had occurred near the belt, but it would be unlikely that they would assign the transmission a high priority and investigate the location.
Unless the other nations had encountered the aliens recently, they would also likely believe that alien combat vessels were not currently active in the inner system. Projections of the alien's location at the time of the attack and the time it would take for them to reach Venus would still leave the Frigates enough time to take up positions guarding the station there. If the other nations were alerted to the presence of the aliens immediately, and then saw the only two Chinese Frigates inside the belt suddenly depart Earth for Venus, they could become suspicious of what activity was occurring there. 'Why rush newly completed ships to guard a remote station instead of the home planet?' would be their question. The other powers could not be allowed to gain information on the construction there or even given reason to suspect its existence.
The debate was still going on in the Ministry, but to Po the answer was obvious. The contents of this transmission would remain unknown to the other nations of Earth. The departure of the Frigates would appear to be simple training and redeployment, and the US and Euro would remain ignorant of the alien presence in the belt.
...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: August 2204

Postby procyon on Sun 26 Jun 2011 19:53

August 2204 part 5

August 23rd 1950 hours/Interceptor MkIII Yari, 38 light minutes sunward from Neptune

"Contacts times four. Range eight light seconds. Tango Class times one. Romeo Class times three. Bearing zero two two ascension minus five. Heading zero seven three ascension zero point five. Speed two one zero zero kilometers per second."
"All ships lock stations, battle stations. Sensor Conn, clear nearby space, verify no other contacts. Helm, bring us onto a course directly behind the new contacts, and maintain range of eight light seconds. Comm, tightbeam to the Attack Escorts, hold formation. Engineering, get the ship's boat prepped for launch when we come onto the new heading. Boat to take up station ten light seconds behind the Yari. I don't want anyone sneaking up on us." Rear Admiral Jack Ryan pulled up the sensor returns just to double check that no other alien vessels were nearby. Tango and Romeo Class Vessels had never been armed in previous engagements but that didn't mean these weren't, or that they were unescorted.
As the Yari settled into its new heading and the sensor returns confirmed there were no other alien ships nearby, Jack began to let himself believe that perhaps they had actually found an unguarded convoy. It also didn't seem that the convoy was aware of their presence. Seven minutes later as the ship's boat took up station trailing the Yari, Jack ordered the crew to stand down from battle stations.
'Ok, these ships didn't come from Triton, and they definitely aren't going there. So where did they come from, and where in the hell are they going?' Jack pulled up the display of known bodies in the solar system and began a plot using the alien ships' current course. The back azimuth on the ships didn't seem to lead anywhere in particular. That meant these ships were likely making course changes instead of straight line headings. That would make this difficult. At the very least they were detouring around the battle near Triton. At worst they would be making course changes frequently to confuse anyone following them and make plotting the alien shipping routes impossible. The current course would take the four alien vessels far from the sun, and could lead to half a dozen different bodies in the Kuiper Belt. With the aliens living on frozen moons, those small bodies in deep space might just make a cozy home for them. The only way to find out where they were going was to follow them.
"Comm, get a tightbeam link to the Taylor. Transmit current sensor data and my intention to shadow the contacts until we find out where they are going." Jack knew that getting a tighbeam to the Taylor at this range would be difficult, perhaps impossible. But he couldn't afford to use a broadband transmission. It could alert the alien vessels to the Yari's presence. The only other option was to send one of the Attack Escorts with the message back to Triton. They could always destroy the small group of ships. The Tango was the size of a Pan Euro Mobile Shipyard, and the Romeo Class was the same size as the US Cargo Freighters. Losing four ships would hurt the aliens. Finding out where they were going was much more valuable, but it was going to take a while.
"Let’s settle in folks, this could be a long ride."


August 24th 0320 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, six light seconds from Earth

The Dutchman finally allowed himself to relax as the convoy came into range of the Earth's surface based launch facilities. Three US Interceptors had just passed the convoy heading away from Earth to ensure that the convoy had not been followed. A Pan Euro Battle Group was taking station around the convoy to escort it the last few minutes of its journey. 'We're home.'
Sensor returns suddenly posted two new contacts. The Dutchman displayed the sensor data to see that two Chinese Frigates had just left the Chinese Space Station and were beginning to maneuver. 'They wouldn't try anything now. They have ships in this convoy too.' For a moment the Dutchman wondered if the Chinese intended to escort their Troop Transports back to Earth, but the two Frigates took up a course moving away from the collection of ships. Their course didn't seem to be going anywhere in particular. 'Perhaps they are just setting off for training. Or maybe Triton.'
The Dutchman noticed that the amount of radio traffic from the Chinese was up a great deal. More than usual for the launch of a pair of Frigates. But these weren't exactly 'normal' times. US and Euro radio traffic were up also. The Chinese tended to keep their activities and intentions to themselves. So long as they weren't firing on the Mary Reed, the Dutchman decided that a little extra radio buzz wasn't going to bother him.
The Dutchman keyed in a course that would take the Mary Reed into orbit, and then a landing in South Africa. 'The old girl needs a little attention, and we all need a little rest. Maybe some fun too.'
"All hands prepare for landing."


1105 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, ten light seconds from Mars

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 could feel the tension in the crew. They were one of three Patrol Vessels about to engage the defenses near the fourth planet of this system. This colony of the native race had been attacked several times, and had always been protected by enemy warships. It also possessed an orbital defense station. A direct attack on the planet would be almost suicidal with only three Patrol Vessels.
The other two pairs of Patrol Vessels were moving into position elsewhere in the inner system. One of the groups had already encountered enemy ships near the debris field and had destroyed them. It was possible the enemy ships had gotten a warning signal out, and that was a problem. What was supposed to be a surprise attack may now be expected. Now the attacks would begin early to prevent the enemy from preparing its defenses.
The scout craft from all the Patrol Vessels had arrived only a short time ago, and the attack would begin now. The small craft would lead the way, with Patrol Vessels 13, 17, and 25 following just over two light seconds behind them. It was unlikely the seven scouts would ever reach the planet to use the bombs they carried, but they were intended to draw fire from the Patrol Vessels, not destroy the population. In that, they should be successful. For once the goal was not to destroy the population on the planet, but to destroy the enemy's warships. The hope was to draw the warships out and engage them from beyond the range of the orbital defenses.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 altered the field at his station and felt the ship begin to accelerate. The course changed slightly to allow the ship to maintain its distance from the scouts, as it began to edge around them to gain a better sensor reading of the planet. Moments later the orbital defense station became visible as magnetic protective fields surrounded it. Even more reason not to approach the planet. But no ships. Was the planet unprotected?
New magnetic fields sprang to life. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 could sense them. Four new fields had just cleared themselves from behind the planet. The range was too great for targeting, but the signatures of three ships indicated that they were models that mounted the weapons which could bypass a magnetic field. The last ship was of the same mass, but past engagements had shown it to be slower and carrying only a single launch bay. It was already nearly a light second behind the other three warships. It would be a secondary target. The mission was to engage and destroy main line enemy warships without losses to the Patrol Group. And that was what the Commander intended to do.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 noted that the enemy warships already had a slight speed advantage on the Patrol Group. The sensors on the orbital platform or planet must have given them more warning than had been anticipated. It would matter little in the engagement unless the enemy ships attempted to pursue the Patrol Group. It was unlikely they would leave the colony though. The defenses of the planet had never offered to pursue retreating vessels in the past. Machines would be unlikely to change their doctrine.
The range closed and targeting data began to fill the fields at the Commander's station. The Commander could feel the first torpedo launch from Patrol Vessel 17's bay, and the other two torpedoes as they left Patrol Vessels 13 and 25. Enemy weapons began their race towards the Patrol Group. Sensor readings detected that two of the scout craft had broken apart. The enemy ships were apparently using the invisible weapons to target the small craft. All data gathered so far indicated that whatever the weapon was, it was not capable of any great range. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 ordered the group to begin to come about. There was no sense closing with the enemy ships and allowing them to target the Patrol Vessels with those weapon systems.
The enemy weapons detonated along the path of Patrol Vessel 17, but the magnetic field held. It had been reduced to half its previous strength, but was still operating. The Commander could sense that one of the enemy vessels had lost its magnetic field, and had shut down its drive to clear damage. It would now be much easier to destroy.


1108 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, two light seconds from Mars

Commander Scott Moreland verified the launch order and felt the drive of the Vigilance stutter for a moment as the launch bay deployed. Then the world turned grey again as the drive engaged. Moments later the world turned into the kaleidoscope of colors as the evasive maneuver protocol was implemented. The Franklin had lost its shields, and its bridge had been damaged. Captain Mitchell Vass had just transmitted the order to implement the new maneuver protocol before they had been hit. The Franklin wasn't out of the fight though. Scott could see on the returns that she had managed a second missile launch, and thermal readings indicated she was discharging the laser capacitors again. With the Vigilance in range it would be four missiles to the aliens three. The Interceptors had closed to just one half of a light second from the bombers, and their lasers should start taking a heavy toll on the little ships. The Vigilance was still five light seconds from the three Alphas, and with the alien ships turning away it was unlikely they would be in the fight for long. The Alphas were faster, and the maneuver protocol would slow the Vigilance even more.
The alien weapons closed rapidly on the Interceptor group. Detonations clouded the sensor returns, but a large thermal pulse showed that the Franklin had lost containment of its drive bloom. As the wave of plasma cleared enough for the sensors to resolve the Interceptors, only two were left. The sensors were also showing that one of the Alphas had lost its shields, but its drive had never shut down, a clear indication that the ship had escaped any damage. The missile from the Vigilance had been almost two light seconds behind the launches from the Interceptors, and frustration welled up inside of Scott as it became obvious the missile would never be able to make intercept.
Then Scott saw that the Alphas were coming about on to a new course that put them in an orbit around Mars at just under seven light seconds. They weren't running away. Perhaps the Vigilance would get another shot.


1109 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 6.75 light seconds from Mars

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 considered the situation. Patrol Vessel 17 had lost its protective field and the enemy warships had begun that frustrating maneuver that made successful intercepts difficult. It hadn't saved the damaged warship, but it would make destruction of the remaining warships more difficult. Worse, the main enemy warships were turning around and following the scouts instead of trying to close with the Patrol Vessels. The scouts had increased their drive output to dangerous levels, but they still wouldn't be able to outrun the enemy warships. If the native race's vessels continued to head back toward the planet, they would again come under the protection of the orbital platform.
Keeping Patrol Vessel 17 in range of the enemy was dangerous, but the current tactical situation would give the Patrol Group a limited amount of time to engage their targets. An extra torpedo could make all the difference. Patrol Vessel 17 would remain in the battle until damaged or the targets had passed beyond range.


1109 hours/US Q Ship Vigilance, 2.5 light seconds from Mars

Scott watched as the alien missiles closed on the Interceptors, and then relaxed as both the Jackson and JFK came out of the detonations with their shields still up. He could also see that the missiles from the Interceptors had failed to find their target also, and the unshielded Alpha's drive bloom continued to blaze. The small bombers were stretching the range with the Interceptors as the larger ships overshot the little craft and had to come about. Two of the seven had been destroyed in the first moments of the battle, but not a single one had been destroyed since. The Interceptors had never been designed to engage multiple targets simultaneously.
Scott watched as the lone missile from the Vigilance sped toward the distant Alphas. They were still on the edge of the Vigilance's maximum engagement range. The sensor returns distorted for a moment as the EMP from the missile and mass of charged particles obscured the unshielded Alpha, but a moment later the alien ship appeared stuttering its drive and venting.
Scott could hear the crew cheer as the crippled Alpha turned away from the battle. But he could also see that the Interceptors' course had carried them beyond the range of the Alphas, and that the Vigilance would be the only ship left within five light seconds of the alien ships. The next launch would be coming for them.


1110 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 7.75 light seconds from Mars

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 checked the ship's status. The outer plating had been damaged in several locations and the inner hull had been breached in one. The only damage so far had been to the storage section of the Patrol Vessel. They would have to draw extra supplies from the Support Vessel after the battle as everything on board had been vented, and would need the Mobile Repair Ship to make temporary repairs, but otherwise the Patrol Vessel was still fully functional. It would take time for the magnetic field generators to come back on line, but after that the vessel would again be combat worthy. The Commander of Fleets would be displeased, but the destruction of an enemy warship would help to deflect that anger.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 was not pleased with the remaining ships of the group. They had targeted and launched on the slower of the enemy warships, but had begun to come about to reengage the two main enemy warships. This was the primary goal of the mission, but the three launches from the orbital platform showed that they had strayed too close to the planet. Another of the scout craft had been destroyed, and Patrol Vessel 13 was reporting that half of its protective field generators were off line. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 ordered Vessels 13 and 25 to disengage. Little more could be accomplished here without loss of a serious nature.
One of the enemy warships had been destroyed, and the only damage to the Patrol Group was minor. This mission would be a success, and the Patrol Group would claim another enemy vessel destroyed.


1330 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Bradley Walters looked at the staff as they assembled for the briefing. Every last one of them was still busy trying to put together what they would be presenting. Although the battle had occurred two hours ago, the current time lag for communications was over 15 minutes. The delay was making it difficult to assess the situation. Initial reports showed that it could have been worse. No alien bombers or weapons had hit the colonies on Mars. But it could have been a lot better. Task Force 1 had not only lost an Interceptor, it had lost the Task Force Commander in Captain Mitchell Vass. He would have been promoted to Rear Admiral in just a few more days. 'He still will be.' Bradley thought to himself. 'But it’s going to be posthumous.'
Bradley had one other matter that he wanted to address first. He stood and addressed the staff. "Lieutenant Commander Ryan, I want your analysis on the engagement. I don't care if you have everything laid out or not, I want to know what you know. The rest of you can carry on with your preparations." Bradley turned to the young woman who just stared back at him. She looked at the monitor in front of her blankly, and then stood up.
"Yes Admiral. Uh, I haven't gone over everything yet, so this is all going to be subject to change. The initial analysis looks like 'The Baron' was present at the engagement and managed two of the three missile intercepts that destroyed the Franklin. One of the other Alphas seems to have been with 'The Baron' for nearly a year now, it seems to show up regularly when 'The Baron' engages. It hasn't accounted for nearly as many ships destroyed, but has managed several. I've coded him as 'The Squire' for the moment. Damage estimates from the intercept made on 'The Baron' are impossible to make. The range was too great and the sensor contact to brief before the ship disengaged. The drive bloom was at the normal combat levels for an Alpha when it disengaged, and all indications are that the alien launch bays are hardened, so they are likely to be intact also. It can probably still fight. The other ships never lost their shields. All told, the enemy group is probably still active and combat capable." Meagan shifted uneasily as she stood. Bradley was sure that having 'The Baron' several light hours from her father was a relief to the girl, but still having him in the inner system was not.
Next on the agenda would be finding out if the MkIII's of Task Force 2 were up to hunting this group, but Bradley already knew they weren't. It was just too soon. The Pan Euro Red October was too badly damaged, and the Yari was too far away. Every ship that could catch the bastard and keep him from getting away was not going to be available or capable. 'The Baron' was still out there, and for the moment there was no one to stop him.
...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: August 2204

Postby procyon on Mon 27 Jun 2011 23:54

August 2204 part 6

August 24th 1545 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, 11.82 light minutes from Hygiea Colony

Captain Stephan Vasilikos knew this was a terrible gamble, but he had spent his life as a maverick. Years ago that way of life had cost him his body and almost his life. That hadn't changed who he was though, only the rules and what he was capable of. A lone Heavy Escort against a pair of Alphas was not a fair fight, and the odds were against him. Was it pride that had put him here? Overconfidence? Or just a need to show that he could run this ship as well as Vice Admiral Brenna Muldoon had? It really didn't matter now. The only thing that would matter was what happened in the next few minutes.
The hours that had led up to this moment were going to test whether or not he would remain in command of the Heavy Escort if they survived, but what was done was done. Over three hours ago he had learned of the alien attack at Mars from decoded US transmissions. It would take half an hour for a request for orders to make the round trip to Earth and back, and longer for it to be processed. If aliens were active in the area, waiting a few hours for a response could be too long.
The Mobile Shipyards represented a major portion of the Pan Euro's space based construction capabilities now. It was no longer a handy repair ship; it was needed to keep the Pan Euro Station's shipyards open for new construction. With only two slips at the station, the two Mobile Shipyards were now high value assets. Much too valuable to risk. So Stephan had given the order for Mobile Shipyard Two to cease operations on the alien hull and proceed toward Earth. Little was left on the alien ship other than structural supports and framework. The engineers had assured Stephan that all active systems had been removed from the drifting hulk.
Stephan had radioed ahead that the Tatianna and Mobile Shipyard Two were abandoning the alien hull and proceeding toward Earth. An hour after that transmission the reply from Earth was received. 'Return to alien hull and resume operations.' With the alien wreck a possible target for the aliens, and the Mobile Shipyard having a maximum sustainable speed only one third that of a Heavy Escort, there would be no way to protect the construction ship in a combat situation. It wouldn't be able to run, and without a magnetic protection system and using a civilian designed hull it would be impossible to protect.
That was the first time this day that Stephan had violated his orders. He gave the order for the Mobile Shipyard to shut down its drive and drift toward Earth. With the drive deactivated and most active systems off, the Shipyard would be almost invisible. Just another drifting 'rock' in space.
For his second act of insubordination Stephan had returned the Tatianna to the alien hull, and taken up a position a few light seconds from it, instead of remaining with the Mobile Shipyard. He had shut down the Tatianna's drive and active sensors in an effort to disappear into space. The alien hull had drifted quite a distance over the last few months and Stephan had hoped it would take the aliens a while to find the wreck if they came looking for it. If nothing was there the aliens might go looking for another target. That could lead to the Mobile Shipyard that the Tatianna couldn't save. Stephan wanted to make sure any nosy aliens found something that would convince them not to look any further.
They had shown up all too quickly.
Two Alphas were even now moving through the area. They were going slowly, and were separated by three light seconds. The alien ships were trying not to draw attention to themselves as they searched for the wreck. At a range of eight light seconds, they were barely visible to the Phoenix Array. They had reduced their drive emissions, and if it wasn't for the fact that they were moving at several thousand kilometers per second they would be invisible. The two Alphas bow shock and friction through the solar wind was creating enough of a thermal anomaly to track. Not enough to target, yet.
Stephan considered his options. He could try to outrun the two ships, but they already had a sizable speed advantage. They were coming in on the starboard forequarter and it would take time to bring the Tatianna around. Time that would give the aliens a chance to move into range. In a long range duel, the Tatianna stood little chance. Even if the Tatianna got away, the aliens would just keep hunting. Running wouldn't win this battle. The question was how to even the odds.
Stephan looked hard at the tactical display. There was one small hope. Very small, but better than none. The Alphas were doing their best to avoid detection. They had their magnetic fields down. With the separation between the alien ships the closest would enter range a minute or so before the second would. In a straight up fight, that wouldn't be enough of an advantage. But if the Tatianna allowed them to close a little more....held her fire until the second ship was just out of range. Maybe the Scorpion Missiles would be able to make intercept before the closest Alpha could deploy its protective system. And then maybe the Tat could get off a second launch before the alien ships could reach battle stations and lock in a firing solution. It was a lot of maybes.
'Maybe is the best I've got right now.'
"Weapons Conn, firing solution on Alpha One. Helm, plot a course that will slow the closing speed between us and Alpha Two. Comm, prepare broadband message of our current location, sensor data, and everything else you can fit in as soon as this fight starts. Engineering, I'm going to need those Magnetic Field Generators on line the moment we launch. Everybody else needs to pray they don't see us first."
Stephan watched the plot as the Alphas closed. Timing would be everything. They needed Alpha One to get as close as possible to increase the chance of a successful intercept and minimize the aliens chance to respond. They needed Alpha Two to be at least a minute or so away from maximum engagement range once the fight started. Guessing how the aliens would react and how far the Tat could get from the second contact would make or break this plan. If they could hold Alpha Two beyond her engagement range for a full minute after the first launch, it would let the Tat get six birds away. Hopefully that would be more than enough to take the first Alpha out of the fight. Then it would just be Tatianna and Alpha Two. Not a sure thing, but a hell of a lot better than two to one.
"LAUNCH." Alpha One had just reached four light seconds while Two was just under six. The world turned grey blue and the drive bloom slammed the ship forward and then stuttered as maneuver thrusters fired to try and bring the Heavy Escort about on a new course. The sensor readings became a wash of static as the drive bloom eclipsed the targets and the magnetic field surrounded the ship. Seconds later the haze of static cleared just as the two missiles detonated.
Stephan heard the Sensor Officer even as he confirmed the second launch. "YES. Alpha One venting. No return launch detected. Missiles Three and Four away. Wait. Magnetic Field detected on Alpha One and Alpha Two, but still no launch." 'Ok,' Stephan thought, 'she's hit but she isn't out of this yet. We just need time to finish her off.' Stephan watched the next two missiles as they closed on Alpha One.
"Launch detected from Alpha One. Tracking inbound. Time to intercept sixteen seconds." Stephan had seen the sensors record a new contact, but hearing the Sensor Officer made it even more frustrating. 'Damn it. How did they get to battle stations so quickly?' The two Scorpion Missiles detonated as they reached the target's path but even through the distortion the magnetic field of Alpha One was visible. Alpha Two was still at five and a half light seconds and closing, but had not fired yet. Stephan decided that they would have to ignore Alpha Two for the moment. "Weapon Conn, continue firing solutions on Alpha One until destroyed."
"Captain, inbound seems to have lost tracking."
"Let's hope our luck holds out. How long until our third launch?" Stephan knew he could just key up the weapon status displays, but the crew knew what they were doing. Looking over their shoulders wasn't going to speed them up any more than the impending death a few light seconds away would. The grey haze disappeared for a second as the Weapon Conn announced "Missiles Five and Six away." Stephan looked over at the three forms locked into their stations at the Weapon Conn. All but motionless, with screens flashing and changing on monitors as they struggled to get new birds online and update firing solutions, or plot back ups in case a target change was required. The grey haze reappeared as the drive engaged again.
"Alpha Two at five light seconds. Launch detected from Two. Launch detected from One. Inbound times two. Time to intercept is twelve seconds and twenty two seconds." The Sensor Officer's voice brought Stephan back from watching the weapon crew. He switched his monitor over to a tactical display and checked the speeds of his ship and the Alphas. He had enough speed to begin using Vice Admiral Muldoon's evasion protocol, but it would only last for a minute before the ship lost too much speed. They needed to keep Alpha Two at the longest range they could, for as long as possible. Brenna was no gambler, but what she was included thorough, meticulous, and smart. He had seen the analysis before. Stephan knew at longer ranges the well trained Pan Euro crews had much better intercept rates than the alien weapon systems. He needed to keep that advantage. As the distance closed, the alien weapons quickly became more effective.
The tactical display changed. Missiles Five and Six had made intercept and Alpha One's color changed. 'No magnetic field. We've got you now.' The first of the alien inbounds disappeared from his display, replaced by an expanding red circle. Boxes flashed on Stephan's display but he ignored them. Engineering was already relaying the information. "Captain, field generators one through four down. Field at one third strength."
The Sensor Officer chimed in. "Inbound from Alpha Two has lost tracking. Alpha One coming about, she's turning away from us. Alpha Two still closing." The world changed color and the weapon crew cut in. "Missiles Seven and Eight away." Stephan switched back to the sensor returns and saw the indicators as the two Alphas launched again. 'I wish our ships could take a pounding like those damned alien ships do.' Stephan watched as the fourth launch streaked toward the damaged Alpha. Seconds later the returns clouded and then cleared. The Sensor Officer only repeated what Stephan saw, "Alpha One venting. Drive restart not detected. Inbound from Alpha One has lost tracking. Inbound from Alpha Two has lost tracking. Both detonating. Aspect change on Alpha Two. She's altering course, now two seven one. Trying to come in behind us."
"Helm, sixty degrees port. Weapon Conn, target is still Alpha One." Stephan and the crew had all seen enough combat to know that a drifting Alpha was almost always still dangerous. Until the ship came completely apart, it was still in the fight. However the aliens built their ships, they made sure they fought till the death.
"Missiles Nine and Ten online. Away."
'Come on, get there before they launch.' Stephan thought, but it wasn't to be as another pair of inbounds appeared on the display. "Helm, implement Evasion Protocol." Speed was no longer the controlling factor with Alpha One drifting. They needed to survive long enough to start targeting the second Alpha. The bridge became a constantly shifting play of colors as the drive cut in and out.
Stephan concentrated through the bewildering haze and watched as the Tat's missiles found their mark, and then saw the expanding mass of contacts as Alpha One broke apart into dozens of separate fragments. Moments later the missile from Alpha One stopped maneuvering and detonated over a light second from the Tatianna. Checking the second inbound, he could see that it had overcorrected and would never be able to make a successful intercept.
"Captain, aspect change on Alpha Two. They're breaking off sir."
Stephan clenched his fingers above the keypads on his armrests. They'd done it. "Helm, wait until Sensor Conn clears that Alpha Two has disengaged beyond sensor range and then take us at best speed back to Mobile Shipyard Two. We're getting out of here. Comm, send message to Command with my intention to return to Earth orbit for repair of Magnetic Field Generators." He couldn't see the Flag Command Station behind him, but he wanted to look back. 'I wonder what Vice Admiral Muldoon would think of all this?'
'At least after my court martial, they will still have to give me a medal.'
...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: August 2204

Postby procyon on Wed 29 Jun 2011 01:34

August 2204 part 7

August 25th 0750 hours/Assault Vessel 1, dark side of asteroid belt

The Commander of Fleets considered the data gained by the Patrol Vessels. The attack on the native forces stationed at the fourth planet of this system had shown it to be guarded by a small combat group and its orbital station. One of the enemy vessels had been destroyed, with only a single Patrol Craft being lightly damaged. But Patrol Vessels 7 and 8 had found the wreck of Patrol Vessel 12 to still be guarded, and had lost Patrol Vessel 7 in combat. Patrol Vessels 1 and 2 had intercepted a pair of non-combat craft and destroyed them, and had then moved in system to take a first look at the second planet. They had found it to guarded by an orbital station and two of what were now being termed Heavy Patrol Vessels. They had also ascertained that the station was currently constructing a pair of vessels, but that the planet appeared to be uninhabited. They had broken off without pursuit, and reported in.
The Patrol Vessels had been ordered to regroup with the Assault and Hive Vessels here in the debris field. For the moment no further engagements would be pursued while the data was being analyzed. The second and fourth planets presented inviting targets. Neither was guarded heavily enough to defeat the Combat Group. Neither would be the ideal target for attack.
The destruction of the mobile assets in both locations could not be assured. If the second or fourth planet were attacked, the warships would likely retreat to the third planet. This would only serve to concentrate the enemy's combat assets. The destruction of the population on the fourth planet would also be valuable, but in light of the projected population of the third planet, it would have little effect on the native race. The construction assets at both the second and fourth planets were also valuable, but were still likely to be only a fraction of that available to the third planet.
No, in the end there could be only one primary target. It would have to be the third planet. The destruction of the forces at the second and fourth planets could be achieved after any engagement at the third planet. Allowing the native race to further concentrate their combat assets around the third world would only make a successful attack even less likely.
Accurate assessments of what defenses were available to the third planet were not available. Any attempts to gather information on the third planet would most certainly prompt the native race to further reinforce what would have to be considerable defenses. No. Once again in the end, there would be no recon of the target. No warning could be given. No reason to reinforce. Only reasons to deploy assets away from the true target.
When all of the Commanders had returned and the data had been analyzed, decisions would be made and plans created. But the true decision had never been in question. There could be only one target.


August 26th 1525 hours/Eindhoven University, Netherlands

Henk Leering PhD stared at the paper he had been working on. He began to gather the others scattered about the room. He had always enjoyed working on paper instead of a computer. It wasn't easier or faster, just more comfortable. Grappling with a problem physically always seemed better than simply tapping at buttons. You also had much less to worry about from others hacking into your work and pirating it for their own. If they had to gather dozens of papers and figure out how they applied to one another, it would take them time. It would also be obvious they had taken them, or at least disturbed them. Everything had its place it Henk's organized disaster of an office.
Henk spread the papers out in front of him. He looked from one to the next. Grabbing a pencil from the cup on his desk he began to write on the margins of several of the sheets. Opening a drawer he pulled out more paper and began to put together the equations. This would take more than just simple math. Henk turned on his computer and began to pull up data from research that had been published, and some that was proprietary to the corporations associated with the University.
Henk jotted more notes. And then a few formulas. Then more notes. And back to the computer. Hours passed. A quick call, and food was delivered to the office. When the janitor stopped by, Henk dismissed him for the night. Then Henk locked the door.
Henk was sweating and shaky when he finished the first of the derivatives. It would take formal testing, but it looked sound on paper. Much of the work had already been done in other research. The results had all pointed to a conclusion that had escaped the researchers as they tallied and published their results. They had data, but no one had put it together. No one had looked at it quite the right way. It was all fairly recent, and based on the work from the alien magnetic systems. Perhaps no one else had just had the time to put it all together.
Henk sat back. His hands trembled as he picked up his phone and dialed. A thick English accent answered on the other end.
"Henk, what in the bloody hell are you doing calling at this hour? Do you have any clue what time it is?"
"Thomas, is there anyone else in the room with you?"
"My wife, who seems particularly annoyed."
"Leave her. Get to a computer. I'm going to send you something. I know you have access to the military encryption protocols in your work. Use them." Henk tapped on the keys of his computer, crunching and encrypting the formulas and data as he spoke.
"My god man, what is it?" Thomas said.
"I've finally got it. Math to describe a massless spin two particle. We already had it, just looking at it wrong. It has negative temporal inertia. That's why we couldn't find it."
"The graviton. Stupendous. Send me the data and I will get to it first thing in the morning."
"No, you need to look at it now. That's not all. It passes through branes to conserve spin, so it doesn't have to renormalize in standard space time. On a standard manifold, it could locally violate conservation of momentum and spin by displacing them into separate branes."
"Wonderful, but what is the blasted hurry?" Henk could hear that Thomas was definitely becoming agitated.
"The alien magnetic generators could be used to GENERATE them."
Henk heard the phone on the other end hit the floor.
...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: August 2204

Postby procyon on Tue 05 Jul 2011 00:16

August 2204 part 8


August 30th 0040 hours/Assault Vessel 1, 20 light seconds from the third planet

The Commander of Fleets rested at his station. The Commander understood this could be the last time he might do so, and tried to savor the time. In the next few moments the operation would begin, and lives would be lost. Many knew they would die. Some would have to. Their deaths would save countless others, and do untold damage to the enemy.
The Commander of Fleets altered the field at his station, and orders were transmitted across the cold vacuum to the assembled ships. Drives flared to life and vessels moved in the darkness. The time of death had begun.


0051 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, 12000 km above the lunar surface

Captain Stephan Vasilikos absently tapped the icon on his monitor. Message traffic had been heavy for the last week following the alien attacks at Mars and near the damaged Alpha. With Mobile Shipyard 2 and the Armed Science Vessel Red October docked only a few kilometers from the Tat, there was a good chance it was actually just an accidental message intercept meant for the Mobile Shipyard.
Stephan sat up hard in his station as the message displayed on the screen. The US Western Zone Defense Command was tracking six small craft currently at 9 light seconds from Earth and moving on a direct intercept course at 4200 kilometers per second. Stephan began punching keys and tapping at the screen double checking all civilian flight schedules, but he knew in his gut it wasn't a mislogged flight. Not six small craft in formation at that speed.
Stephan pulled up the sensor returns. From the Tat's position near Luna, they would be one light second closer to the new contact than any surface installation. Sure enough, the six small craft had just appeared on the returns. The Sensor Officer was already beginning to call out the contact information as Stephan tapped the 'Lock Stations' icon.
"Transmission from the Queen Mary. Level Two Encryption. It's Admiral Kushnir. Forwarding to your station Captain." The Communication Officer was trying to tap on his screen even as he began to lock down his station.
Stephan read the transmission from Admiral Kushnir and tried to think through what it was she wanted. All ships were to hold stations. No drive activity and magnetic fields off line. Lock stations and Battle stations. Why.
Slowly it started to make sense. It was only small craft at the moment. They were there to draw a response. Lighting up the drives or magnetic fields would only make the ships around Earth more visible. The small craft were on course to sweep past the moon and Earth. They would pass right by the Tatianna and Red October. They could be destroyed without ever giving away the locations of any ground defenses.
"Weapon Conn, begin plotting firing solutions on the small craft. Sensor Conn, log contacts as Bombers One through Six. We're going to wait till the turkeys get a little closer before we start shooting."


0055 hours/Queen Mary, orbit at 0.5 light seconds from Earth

Admiral Jude Kushnir sat impatiently at her station, fingers tapping out an aimless rhythm on the end of the armrest. In the next 60 seconds the alien craft would enter range of the Red October and Tatianna. Jude was sure those two ships would be able to destroy the small handful of alien scouts, but the waiting was more than unpleasant. The small boats meant that other alien ships were in the area. The question was where and what.
"New contact. Magnetic field detected bearing one one seven ascension minus two. Exact range and speed unknown." The Sensor Officer's voice hit Jude like a hammer. Tapping on the keys she shifted the vector of the sensor returns on her screen. 'Damn it. Well, I guess I was wondering where they were at. Now what are they up to?'
Jude keyed open the link to the Comm Officer. "Priority Transmission. Battle Group Three, prepare shield generators for operation. Attack Escorts Kathleen and Scarlet, blow docking points and engage drives for Luna, shields down until further orders. Inform Admiral Bradley and Rear Admiral Overturf of contact. Transmit sensor returns to Chinese Space Station." Jude was sure the US Admirals were already aware of the new contacts, but it never hurt to make sure. Letting the Chinese know was only a formality, but if this whole thing went south then the support of their ground installations could be important. She also wanted the newest Attack Escorts to join up with the Tatianna and Red October. The crews on the Kathleen and Scarlet could definitely benefit from the oversight of the two more experienced ships. They also mounted the first of the Pan Euro's copies of the US system allowing the shield generators to damp the feedback of a weapon intercept and not burn out the generator.
'Now we have to wait and see if this is just prodding or not.'


0056 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Admiral Bradley Walters held on to the arms of his chair. Most of the staffers in the briefing room were trying desperately not to be thrown across the room by the station's violent maneuvers. The US station was not meant for combat maneuvering, but it was doing its best to crowd the western limit of the US controlled zone. They would need to actually enter Chinese controlled space to put Earth between them and the new contacts, but that might have to happen.
"Update on sensor data. Anyone." Bradley waited as one of the staffers struggled to operate the monitors.
"We are currently tracking twenty four small craft on a bearing one hundred and eighty degrees from the initial six contacts. We have verification of their speed. It actually is fourteen thousand kilometers per second. Current range is eight light seconds. Two minutes and forty seconds until they reach Earth orbit. Class unknown. More distant magnetic contact still not resolved. Wait, we have confirmation of initial launches from Pan Euro Red October and Tatianna from lunar orbit. They are targeting the first six alien contacts."
Bradley shook his head. "Meagan, any idea what these things are?"
"Not a clue sir. We don't have anything that small capable of surviving that level of acceleration. Logging as much as we can. It looks like they plan on letting us have an up close and personal look at it though. Let's hope they haven't figured out how to fit a shield generator on those things."
Bradley looked at Meagan. Leave it to her to find a way to make the horrible even worse.
"Admiral, we have twelve new contacts. Two Foxtrot, six Alpha, and four contacts as yet unclassed. Approximately the same mass and cross section as an Echo. Might be a variant. Same bearing and heading as the new high speed small craft, trailing them by three light seconds."
"OK people, put the planet between us and the new contacts. This isn't some probe. Let the Chinese know were going to be parking above their territory. Tell the Pan Euro Admiral Kushnir that she has overall tactical command." Bradley held onto his chair as the station began another round of hard accelerations. People and equipment began to slide and bounce about the briefing room. 'Looks like its going to be a contest as to who tears this station apart first. The aliens, the Chinese, or us.'


0057 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, approaching lunar orbit

"Missile away."
The Dutchman heard the Weapons Tech announce the launch, but that wasn't the focus of his attention at the moment. He had gotten the Mary Reed off the planet and moving toward the six small bombers just in time to fall in behind the two Euro Attack Escorts that had blown their docking collars and fired up their drives. The two Euro ships were struggling to get into formation, and avoiding the wash from their drive blooms was nearly impossible. The Helmsman had been able to keep the two Euro ships from scorching the Mary Reed so far, but they weren't out of the woods yet.
"Bring the nose up, ascension plus five. Six degrees starboard. Keep me updated on the newest contacts." The Dutchman had Mary pointed away from the new mass of warships, but he knew that the aliens would be much faster than they were if it came down to a chase. He needed to close with the two larger Pan Euro ships pulling away from the moon. The Mary Reed couldn't take much of a pounding in the first place, and she was already damaged. The fact that the aliens tended to target the largest ships in a group hadn't escaped him, and the Red October made the Mary Reed look pretty small. Even the Euro Heavy Escort packed twice as many launchers as the Mary Reed. It could take awhile before they decided to target the Mary with those ships nearby.
"One alien bomber destroyed. Firing solution online for second launch. Missile away."
"No further launches without authorization." The Dutchman looked at the sensor returns. With two dozen impossibly fast bombers inbound on the far side of the Earth, and a dozen warship behind them, every missile might count. The Mary only carried ten to begin with and two of them had just been launched at small bombers. Granted the little buggers could cause untold damage if they got to the Earth and dropped their payload, but the Euro ships had much larger magazines. They could afford to engage the evasive little targets. The one extra missile of the Mary Reed struggling to intercept a bomber wasn't going to win this battle.
But using the eight left on the thirty six alien ships coming from the other direction might.


0057 hours/Interceptor MkIII Naginata, passing lunar orbit

Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Brandon Overturf watched the tactical display. The Pan Euro 3rd Battle Group had come full about and was finally on a vector to intercept the incoming alien warships. The Pan Euro ships were still coming up to speed and were over a light second behind Task Force 2, but Brandon intended to give them a chance to catch up. Taking three US Interceptors nose to nose with a dozen alien warships without support wasn't in his plan. Especially when two of them had been in service less than a month. Barely a week really.
"Helm, bring us onto course zero six zero ascension zero. Prepare to implement evasion protocol on my command."
Brandon watched the display. The new class of small craft was moving impossibly fast, and there would be a very small window of time that they could be intercepted. The MkIII's didn't carry the laser battery that a MkII did, which had proven so much more effective against the tiny targets. With these bombers coming in so fast, Brandon doubted that the Hera Missiles would be effective at all. But if they weren't going to be much use, there was no point in pressing home the attack. By breaking off on a tangent, he could hold the range open between Task Force 2 and the incoming alien warships. That would give the Euro Battle Group time to come online. If they could time it so the surface sites would be able to launch at the same time as the US and Euro ships, the first salvos that intercepted the aliens might have enough punch to convince them to break off the attack.
'Unless the folks on the ground decide to target those fast little suckers first. If they do, we are on our own. Ship to ship, the odds aren't in our favor.'
The bombers were only three and a half light seconds away, the alien warships just over six. With the combined closing speeds, less than thirty seconds remained until the warships entered weapons range. "Helm, implement maneuver protocol."


0057 hours/Queen Mary, 1.5 light seconds from Earth

Jude studied the sensor returns. It was an enormous mass of contacts. The 3rd Battle Group had launched eight missiles, and the US Task Force had sent six towards the aliens. The aliens had answered with ten inbounds. The smallest four alien contacts hadn't launched and had increased their thermal signature and speed. Whether they carried a new shorter ranged weapon system, or were just a new type of suicide ship was yet to be seen. The only comforting thing was the thirty outbound missiles from Earth that were targeting the alien warships. It looks like every launcher on Earth had cut loose as soon as the aliens had entered range. The ground installations were ignoring the small craft for the moment, but that wouldn't last. In another minute the little alien ships would reach the Earth, and the surface sites would have to do what they had been designed for - to protect the population of the planet. And the 3rd would have to do what it was designed to do. Keep hostile ships from ever getting close enough to become a threat. At least the first launch from the planet would help to even the odds.
Jude felt the Queen Mary lurch slightly and felt the drive cut out for a moment.
"Shield generators off line. Hull intact, no structural damage reported." The words from Engineering were a small comfort to Jude. It was well known that the alien Foxtrots carried a pair of mass drivers. It had simply been a question of when the nearly invisible weapons would arrive. The Magnetic Field Generators had been able to protect the ship, but now the hull was naked to the blasts from the alien weapons closing in.
Jude checked the display. Time till the alien inbounds made intercept - 13 seconds. "Weapons Conn, time until next launch is online."
"Admiral, next launch ready in twenty two."
Jude watched the display. The 3rd Battle Group was just getting up to speed after coming about to intercept the aliens. Implementing the evasion protocol now would leave the group too slow for the coming battle. They needed to accelerate or the aliens would be able to exploit their range advantage. Being hard to hit wouldn't win the battle if you couldn't shoot back. The QM was going to have to weather this the hard way, pitting plating, baffles and struts against raw plasma.
'Come on girl, we can do this.'


0058 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, 2 light seconds from Earth

Commodore Robert McNeely looked at the message. Now what.
"Helm, bring us about. New heading of one two five. Continue acceleration. Sensor, I want an update on the position of the Kathleen, Scarlet, and Mary Reed. Comm, order Third Battle Group to implement evasion protocol."
It just didn't seem real. The Queen Mary was gone, destroyed in the opening salvo. Admiral Kushnir was gone. And now he was in command. With the fate of billions at stake.
The Sensor Officer's voice caught his attention. "Kathleen and Scarlet closing from astern. Mary Reed closing but on a wider arc. Last launch making intercept with alien bombers. No remaining alien drive blooms detected from targets. Looks like the last five are gone. Update from Azores Ground Array. One alien Foxtrot destroyed, second Foxtrot shields down with drive field interrupt. Hold. Sixteen of the twenty four fast alien bomber contacts breaking formation. It appears eight are moving to intercept the Third Battle Group and eight moving to follow US Task Force Two."
'Great, one problem down and another shows up.' Robert tried to look for a solution. There wasn't one for the remaining Attack Escorts of the Third. The speed of the small craft combined with the Third slowing down from implementing the maneuver protocol meant there was no way to avoid the little alien ships. Whatever the aliens were hoping to do, they were going to get their chance. But the aliens would have to take US Task Force 2 from astern, and Robert knew from experience what those US MkIII's could do if they decided to pour on the speed.
"Comm, message for the commander of US Task Force Two (what was his name again?). Cease evasive protocol. Full acceleration. Attempt to maintain range from alien warships." Robert knew this would make them easier targets for the alien weapons, but at least if the US ships could hold the range open, they could make it hard for the alien missiles to make intercept regardless. The US ships could take a couple of intercepts at long range and survive. But what those little boats could do was anybody's guess. In this case it was better the devil you know than the one you don't.
Robert watched as the seconds slipped by. The US group began to pick up speed and suddenly the small alien craft chasing them broke off and turned back onto their original course toward Earth. 'At least something is going according to plan, not that the folks on Earth are going to appreciate it.'
"Commodore, Commander Brittany Bortz requesting authorization to target inbound alien small craft."
The Comm Officer took Robert by surprise. It hadn't occurred to him to shift fire. Robert looked at the display. The aliens must know full well that the small Pan Euro Attack Escorts only carried a single launch bay. There were twice as many of the small ships as missiles the Third would be able to launch. No, whatever the aliens were hoping to do was going to happen. If the new ships carried some weapon, the shields of the Attack Escorts should be able to hold for awhile. If they were just bait, then the missiles of the Third would be better used to target the remaining Foxtrot.
"Tell Brittany to continue firing on the Foxtrot until it is destroyed." Let's hope they are just a red herring.

0058 hours/Attack Escort Keely Sereg, 2.5 light seconds from Earth

"Incoming alien bombers on intercept course. Six seconds." Commander Brittany Bortz gripped the ends of the armrests. It was a futile gesture with the rest of her body locked in its station, but she couldn't help it. She did it every time alien weapons tried to make intercept. Only this time it was alien ships. Little ones, but any collision at the speeds a combat warship moved at would be catastrophic. The chance of the ships actually colliding was so miniscule as to be nearly impossible, but that didn't make it any easier.
"Detonations detected." The Sensor Officer's words only confirmed what Brittany was looking at. Both of the alien boats bearing down on the Sereg had exploded and the wave of superheated particles was expanding in front of the ship. But not fast enough as the Sereg passed by the wave of plasma before it had reached the ship's course. She checked her display and was relieved to see the other three Attack Escorts of Third Battle Group appearing from their clouds of particles with their magnetic fields still up.
The Comm Officer opened the link to Brittany. "Commander, the Elise and Isabelle each report damage to their shield generators but are ready for launch."
Brittany looked at the sensor returns again. "Looks like the aliens have shifted their fire towards the US Group. Let them know we are still here."
"Aye, Commander." The crew at the Weapon Conn finalized the launch codes and the ship stuttered its drive for a heartbeat as the launch bay deployed another missile. 'It may be seven on seven now and you've got the big bastard on your side, but we're not out of this yet.' Brittany watched as three of the alien Alphas launched late and the inbounds began tracking on the 3rd Battle Group.
"Guess they noticed we're still here folks."


0059 hours/Interceptor MkIII Naginata, 2.75 light seconds from Earth

Brandon watched the tactical display. Task Force 2 was doing its best to hold the range open between them and the alien warships. Dropping the evasion protocol had allowed them to shake the small alien craft. But the alien warships had begun targeting them as soon as they had begun their straight line run away from the small craft. The Naginata had several of her shield generators off line, but a few were still holding the field up around the ship.
"Evasion protocol NOW!" Brandon watched the markers for the five inbound alien missiles as they closed. No sense making this any easier for them. The world turned into a kaleidoscope of colors and Brandon could feel the Naginata pitch as the drive cut in and out. The drive cut out for a moment longer than usual as a pair of missiles left the ship, but then the engines were immediately back to slamming the ship in what seemed to be every direction at once.
Brandon felt the shock through his body, like a hammer blow. The bridge was a huge rushing white cloud that cleared as fast as it came. Flashing red boxes lit his display. Shields down. Damage to several electrical systems and a number of the missiles in the bay had gone off line. Whether damaged or vented by the argon didn't matter. Outer hull breached in three areas. Looking up Brandon could see several of the stations around the bridge had lost power. But the world began shifting colors again as the drive restarted and the evasion protocol kicked in. "Can we still launch."
The Weapon Crews' monitors flickered through several screens. "Sensors and launch bay are still online. Targeting computers still up and running. We can still launch."
The Sensor Officer broke in. "US missiles reaching intercept with alien vessels. Foxtrot stuttering drive. Venting. Drive restart detected. Thermal emission reduced. She's losing speed Admiral. Seven seconds until Euro missiles make intercept."
Brandon watched the display. 'OK now, she's crippled up. Just finish her off.'
The Naginata disappeared as a chunk of metallic hydrogen slammed into its drive shield.


0059 hours/Attack Craft 1, 1 light second from the third planet

The Commander of Attack Craft 1 could feel the magnetic field of the planet in front of him. He would not even need the sensors to know that it was there. But the sensors were telling him much more than just that. They were tracking the many enemy weapons rising from the surface to destroy his squadron. They may manage to destroy a few of the Attack Craft, but they should find them much more difficult to target and destroy than the old scout craft. In doing so the surface defenses were giving away their positions. The Attack Craft's sensors were also much more sophisticated than those of the old scout craft. They quickly identified the locations and the information was transmitted to the Combat Group.
The pilot of the Attack Craft began to make rapid course adjustments. The enemy weapons were detonating now, spreading death through space. Moments later it was over. Only four of the sixteen Attack Craft had been destroyed. The twelve that were left would continue the mission. The payload in the bay would find its target. The planet grew closer and the Commander knew that the smaller weapons of the native race would be preparing to defend the surface when the Attack Craft entered the atmosphere, but they would not get the chance. The pilot adjusted the field at his station and the Attack Craft wheeled slightly, breaking on a slight tangent to the planet racing toward them. The massive energy signatures of the population below were inviting, but they were not the targets.


0100 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit

Lieutenant Commander Meagan Ryan struggled with the erratic maneuvers of the Space Station as she tried to collate the data coming in from the engagement. As if the three superpowers' Space Stations weren't enough to crowd orbit as they tried to keep the planet between themselves and the alien warships, the six enormous civilian commercial stations were also trying to accomplish the same thing. Add to that the dozens of civilian lifters and boats trying to evacuate all non essential personnel and you had nothing but barely managed chaos.
"I can't tell if the small contacts we have been tracking are actually crewed, or if they are unmanned drones. They seem to have some weapon payload but whether it is integral if is capable of being dropped from orbit isn't clear. They seem to have very sophisticated programming if they are drones. The time lag between them and the larger alien vessels would make the level of control we have seen nearly impossible. The transmission delay would make trying to intercept another ship impossible. They weren't very successful, but the fact that some of them appear to have completed intercept with the Euro ships indicates some autonomous guidance."
Meagan could see that Admiral Walters was barely listening to her as he tried to direct some of the staff and get the rest moving toward the airlocks for evacuation to the surface. He had even told her to leave her station, but she had told him she only needed a few more moments to download some of the data. That was almost two minutes ago, though it seemed like forever.
"Admiral, I've got confirmation. Alpha contact four is a match! It's 'The Baron.' " Meagan struggled to hold on as the station shifted again. "I'm transmitting the data to any units in the area. Maybe one of them can get a clean launch on him.
Meagan paused. "The small craft just altered course. What are they doing? Oh no." Meagan looked at Admiral Walters for just a heartbeat and then out the viewing port. Outside drifting a few kilometers away was the partially constructed hull of the newest Q Ship. And then it disappeared in a bright actinic flash.
"GET OUT OF HERE!" Meagan could hear Admiral Walters yelling at her as the station suddenly shifted violently. Meagan could feel herself slam against something and the world went dark.
The last thing she could hear as she passed out was the rushing of air venting into space.


0100 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna, 1.25 light seconds from Earth

Stephan switched his monitor over to the visual feed. He needed to see what the sensor readings really meant. The sight that greeted him made the numbers all too real. Every space station in Earth orbit was spewing forth flames and debris. Several of the small alien ships had been intercepted by the last flurry of missiles, but not enough. The shipyards and slips were burning, and the civilian stations that supported their operations were devastated.
The Sensor Officer's voice couldn't even break his focus on the screen. But Stephan heard the words with horrible clarity, and he realized this attack hadn't been about the Earth's people. It had been about destroying its capability to fight this war. With the shipyards in flames, the production of new ships would slow to a trickle, and it might take years to rebuild the construction capability that had been lost. Even repairing and maintaining what ships they had would be difficult. And then the Sensor Officer said something that caught Stephan's attention.
"Repeat that last." Stephan ordered as he switched away from the visual feed and tried to pull up the sensor returns again.
"Contacts designated as Echo One and Three altering course. Now two two one ascension minus zero point eight. Course plot shows probable interception course with ships of Third Battle Group. Now contact Echo Four altering to same course."
Stephan watched as the four 'Echos' changed course directly in line with 3rd BG. They had come barreling in even as the main body of alien warships had begun to turn around and put distance between themselves and the Earth. They were most likely not Echos, as none had launched at any time during the battle, and had mostly been ignored for that very fact. Stephan now saw that had been a mistake. The aliens were quite willing to use suicide tactics to win a battle, and this was one of them. The little ships had packed a sizable payload when they detonated. These ships were as large as an Attack Escort, and likely carried much more. They were also protected by magnetic fields and would not be easily destroyed. Third BG would have to engage them but with precious little time to come up with firing solutions. With four inbound ships and only enough time for a single launch, they would never be able to stop them all. They might destroy one if they all concentrated their launches on a single target, but that would be the only way.
"Weapon Conn, firing solution on Echo One NOW!" Stephan saw an incoming message prompt on the side of his display and glance for only a moment. It was from Commodore McNeely. Stephan knew what it had to say, Robert could see this as well as he could. Even with the launches from the Tatianna, Red October, and two Attack Escorts pulling into formation with them, they could never hope to destroy all of the alien ships bearing down on the 3rd.
It made perfect sense. The main group of warships was pulling out of range of the surface based launch sites, and with most of the space borne launchers tied up firing on these kamikazes, the aliens would be able to make good their escape. The only ships able to fire on the aliens were the two remaining US Interceptors. It would be two ships against seven, and one of the seven massed three times what an Interceptor did. The US ships would be lucky to survive.
As Stephan watched the Pan Euro missiles steak toward the alien 'Echos', he had the sickening feeling that humanity had lost this battle. Every ship that would be destroyed in the next few minutes would be nearly impossible to replace. And the aliens had lost only a single warship. The rest of the small alien ships had come with the intention of being destroyed. The aliens already considered them expendable.
The missiles from the 3rd made intercept long before the Tat's missiles could cross the three light seconds separating the groups. The 3rd concentrated its launches and managed to leave one of the three 'Echos' with no shields and no drive bloom. With no ability to maneuver it would be easy enough to avoid, but that still left three others. When the detonations of the missiles from the ships gathered with the Tatianna cleared, the coasting alien ship had been destroyed, and another had lost its protective field, stuttered its drive and vented, but was still plowing on toward the Attack Escorts of the 3rd. Stephan wanted to close his eyes, to not have to look. But that was something a cyborg would never be able to do. Unless damaged, the visual feed was constant. He would have to watch.


0100 hours/Attack Escort Elise, 4.5 light seconds from Earth

Commander Dana Breiholz watched the sensor returns as the alien ships closed with the 3rd Battle Group. The launch from the four Attack Escorts had crippled one of the four incoming ships, while the launches from the Red October, Tatianna, and Mary Reed had finished off the cripple and knocked the shields down on another. The missiles from the two newest Attack Escorts had straggled in, but failed to make intercept. 'The Elise already has over half of her shield generators off line from that alien kamikaze. That little ship packed quite a wallop. The ships rushing us right now are as big as this Attack Escort. And I'm sure they are full to the brim of warheads.'
Dana watched as one of the alien ships began to angle its course toward the Elise. 'Just great. Pick on the cripple.' As the alien ships drew close, the sensor returns began to lose resolution as the Elise entered the expanding cloud of charged ions left from the detonations aimed at the incoming ships. Suddenly the sensors were awash in wave after wave of magnetic pulses and thin waves of plasma. Elise waited for the damage reports to come in, but as the seconds passed and the sensors cleared....nothing.
Then the sensors registered the tumbling wreckage of the remaining alien vessels falling astern of the Elise.
"OK. Not that I'm complaining, but anyone have an idea what just happened." Dana looked at the bridge crew and was answered with stunned silence.
Then the Comm Officer spoke. "Commander, incoming transmission from the Red October. I think they've got your answer. They say that the aliens were destroyed by a launch from Earth. The launch signature was masked by the detonations near the space stations in orbit and the missiles weren't caught on sensors until they began their attack runs."
"Hot damn, I'm glad our boys on the ground saw this one coming." Dana decided that she would actually have to lay off the 'land lubber' jokes for awhile.
"They weren't our Commander. They were Chinese."


0101 hours/Interceptor MkIII Kama, 5.25 light seconds from Earth

Commander Jason Collins III read the message from the US Space Station, then checked the sensor returns. 'OK, so that is 'The Baron.' What do they think I can do about it?' Jason looked at the display. There were only two US Interceptors left in range of the alien warships after the aliens had turned around and begun to pull away from the Earth. The alien formation had broken up slightly with the hard banking maneuver, and 'The Baron' had set himself up so that if the US group tried to get him in range, then EVERY alien ship would be able to fire on them.
'Nope, this is dangerous enough right where I am. Just to get shots at the Foxtrot we have to face off against half of the alien armada. If we can get that big sucker crippled up bad enough we might have a chance to destroy it.' Jason looked up to the bridge crew. "Continue firing solutions on Foxtrot Two. Helm, keep us right at the edge of range with them, don't let them slip away."
Jason felt the ship shudder for a second as the drive cut out and another pair of missiles deployed. Sensors confirmed another launch from the Sai. 'Four more outbound. And here come the five inbounds.' The sensors clouded and cut out as the detonations overwhelmed the array.
"Commander, sensor report that the Sai has lost it protective field and is venting to clear debris."
"Commander, transmission from the Sai. They've sustained damage to the missile storage bays and bridge."
"Commander, missiles seven and eight have lost tracking. Twenty six seconds until next launch."
Jason tried to take it all in as he watched the display. Everyone had something to say, all at once, and sorting it out was frustrating. "Comm, order the Sai to break off. Continue with current course and target." Jason watched as the Sai changed course and accelerated out of range of the alien warships. 'Now it’s just us. Two missiles against five.'
'Missiles away."
"Inbounds times five. Time to intercept seventeen seconds."
"Incoming transmission from the Pan Euro Red October. Commodore Robert McNeely orders US Interceptor to disengage."
"Missiles nine and ten have lost tracking."
"Detonations detected."
The world shifted colors as the engines cut out, and then restarted.
"Shield generator banks one through four and nine through twelve off line."
Jason had heard enough. "Helm, bring us about to course two seven zero. Max combat speed."
They had tried. With only three weeks aboard ship, the Kama had stood toe to toe with an alien task force for five minutes. Dying in the sixth minute would accomplish nothing.


0104 hours/Converted Freighter Mary Reed, 2.5 light seconds from Earth

The Dutchman tried to relax as the alien warships moved away, but it was futile. A single look at the space stations around earth took that away. The Earth depended on the ability of the major powers to produce warships for the meat grinder that this war had become. That time was over. With most of the orbital shipyards either destroyed outright or burning, everyone would be forced to convert ground industry over to the construction of warships. Something the FSC was already familiar with.
Worse was the choice that would be facing the leaders of the US and China. Each still had off world shipyards, but they were vulnerable compared to what had been at Earth. Those installations would be easy targets. The US and China would either have to transfer more assets to protect those shipyards, or wait for them to be destroyed. Every ship that went to protect those stations was one less that would be protecting the Earth, or supporting the conflict going on at Neptune.
There weren't all that many ships guarding Earth right now and most of them, the Mary Reed included, were damaged to one degree or another. With the orbital shipyards either damaged or destroyed, it would take time just to get them repaired. Even longer to start on anything new. Until twenty minutes ago, the Dutchman had begun to think that Humanity was winning this war.
As he watched the space stations burn, he wasn't so sure.


1635 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 7.2 light minutes from the third planet

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 decided that the battle had gone well enough. The victory was not decisive. The orbital stations of the native race, and likely with them most of their construction assets, had been damaged or destroyed. The enemy would be far less willing to expend its ships in combat now. That could give the New Homes a chance to rebuild the fleet and emplace substantial defenses. This was good.
The Combat Group had lost a Patrol Vessel and an Assault Vessel, with the remaining Assault Vessel badly damaged but repairable. Patrol Vessel 17 had also sustained some minor damage, but it could be easily repaired by the Mobile Repair Vessel in the coming weeks. The loss of the 13 Scout Craft and 24 Attack Craft was expensive, but planned. The crews would become heroes to the New Homes, haven given their lives to destroy the enemy.
The native race had lost a Combat Vessel, two Patrol Vessels, two unarmed vessels, and had many other vessels damaged. The enemy had not been crushed in space, but that had never been the plan.
The most grievous loss had been taken early in the battle. The initial waves of enemy weapons had destroyed Assault Vessel 1, and with it the Commander of Fleets. He had died accomplishing the operation he had envisioned, and would also be enshrined among the Elders of Legend. Transmitting the message of his death had been given to the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17. It may have been the duty of the Combat Group Commander to report the death of the Commander of Fleets, but the Commander of Assault Vessel 2 had deferred to the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 was known throughout the New Homes, and it had only seemed fitting that one hero should carry news of the loss of another. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 had also announced that the Combat Group intended to complete the operational plan of the Commander of Fleets. The Combat Group now only awaited the confirmation of the message and instructions on what was to happen following the last phase of the operational plan.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 could feel the transmission from the Elders of New Home 1, but it would take time for the message to be decoded. He could feel the unease, and then pride of the crew as the message was finally understood. It was simple, and left a great deal of discretion as to what would be done following the completion of the current operations. The leeway had been granted in one statement that made the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 feel as if a great weight was crushing him.
"The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 is to assume the position as Commander of Fleets."
...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: August 2204

Postby procyon on Wed 06 Jul 2011 00:06

August 2204 part 9


August 30th 1730 hours/Queen Victoria, 2 light seconds from Triton

Vice Admiral Brenna Muldoon could feel an icy chill in her spine. Transmissions from Earth to Triton were less than routine due to the time lag involved. A priority transmission on the Pan Euro Executive Council's channel was ominous. The Queen Victoria had just reached Triton two days ago without enemy contact. Congratulations from Jude might have been expected. This wasn't. Brenna slowly reached up and touched the prompt to decode the encryption. As the message spilled upon the screen, Brenna could feel herself start to shake. Cyborgs don't react to stress normally. There are no adrenal glands to flood the body with adrenaline for a fight or flight reflex. But shock can create a reaction all of its own.

FROM PAN EUROPEAN WAR DEPARTMENT / SECURITY COUNCIL

FOR 4TH BATTLE GROUP
ATTN B MULDOON, VICE ADMIRAL

NOTIFICATION OF PROMOTION R MCNEELY, CMDR TO REAR ADMIRAL
NOTIFICATION OF ASSIGNMENT R MCNEELY, REAR ADMIRAL
COMMAND, 3RD BATTLE GROUP
NOTIFICATION OF ASSIGNMENT R OCTOBER AS FLAGSHIP
3RD BATTLE GROUP
NOTIFICATION OF DESIGNATION AS 4TH LIGHT BATTLE GROUP
H ESCORT TATIANNA
A ESCORT KATHLEEN
A ESCORT SCARLET
NOTIFICATION OF PROMOTION S VASILIKOS, CPT TO CMDR
NOTIFICATION OF ASSIGNMENT S VASILIKOS, CMDR
COMMAND 4TH LIGHT BATTLE GROUP

NOTIFICATION OF DESTRUCTION OF Q MARY
NOTIFICATION OF DEATH OF J KUSHNIR, ADMIRAL

ORDERS AS FOLLOWS:

EXTRACT 13TH MECH INF FROM SURFACE OF TRITON AS POSSIBLE
AUTHORIZATION FOR SURFACE BOMBARDMENT
COORDINATION WITH US AND CHINESE ELEMENTS AUTHORIZED
4TH BG TO RETURN TO EARTH IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING

B MULDOON, VICE ADMIRAL PROMOTED TO ADMIRAL
B MULDOON, ADMIRAL TO ASSUME POSITION
COMMANDER PAN EURO SPACE FORCES
EFFECTIVE DATE IS RECEIPT OF TRANSMISSION

NOTHING FOLLOWS


1820 hours/Cruiser Chiang Kia Shek, 0.5 light seconds from Triton

Admiral Hu looked at the reports from the Ministry and knew he had no choice. Not that the Ministry had given him any. The Shek and Minh Groups would both be returning to the inner system. What had to be done in regard to Triton was regrettable at best. Criminal in reality, but necessary.
The available ships would be unable to withdraw the ground forces from Triton. It was simply impossible. So they would remain on the moon. The Chinese and Pan Euro would wait until the troops had withdrawn sufficiently from all known alien settlements, and then a nuclear bombardment of the surface would begin. When that was completed all of the supplies that had recently arrived would be landed on the planet. The troops would then be left behind.
It was confirmed that the aliens had extensive underground shelters that would be able to survive the bombardment, and it was possible that millions of the creatures would survive. The troops would simply have to continue to fight. And die. With luck some of the troops would survive until they could be relieved and evacuated from the surface.
Admiral Hu knew that would never happen. The troops left behind would never see their homes or families again. This ball of rock and ice would be their graves. The only markers for them would be the scars left on the surface by the bombardment.
In the days ahead the troops on the surface, Chinese, US, and Euro, would have to fight as brothers in arms against a common foe. They would have to live and die for each other with no concern for nation or country, only a common home.
Hu wondered if the governments of Earth would even find such unity.


2050 hours/Interceptor MkIIb Zachary Taylor, orbit of Triton

Captain Randall Brown looked at the transmissions from the Chinese and Pan Euro Admirals. Everyone was pulling out. Everyone but the soldiers on the ground. They had nowhere to go, and no one to take them. They were desperately moving away from any alien concentrations before the Chinese and Euro ships began nuking the surface. After that they would receive the last supply drop they would likely ever get. After that...
Rear Admiral Jack Ryan had already been notified that the two Pan Euro Attack Escorts would be breaking off the pursuit of the three alien ships he was in contact with. He had been given authorization to order the destruction of the ships if he desired. His reply that he intended to continue to track the vessels had come in 10 minutes ago. He had indicated that the Yari should have sufficient speed to evade any pursuit, and that knowledge of any other alien colonies was worth the risk.
Jack had made it abundantly clear that he had no intention of leaving now that he had come out here. Not with work to be done, and people depending on him. Randy knew he could do no less. The troops had come to depend on the support of the Taylor over the last month. They would need her help even more in the months ahead.
"Comm, transmit that the Taylor will remain on station until further notice." Randy leaned back and waited as the confirmations came in.
"Ok, we need to get this girl ready. Weapon and Engineering crews. I want the laser systems recalibrated and tuned in the next hour. I'm guessing the aliens won't be making any offenses while our friends nuke the surface. After they realize that we are the only ship left up here, our services should be in high demand."


August 31st 0125 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 20 light seconds from the second planet

The new Commander of Fleets (although he still considered himself the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17) rested at the old familiar station he had served in. It had been his prerogative to take the Command Station aboard Assault Vessel 2, but it had not suited him. At least for the moment. Assault Vessel 2 was badly damaged. Although the Mobile Repair Vessel had been able to restore the damaged particle accelerators to function and had restored full life support capability, much of the vessel was still in need of repair. With both of the mass drivers destroyed the Assault Vessel was little more than a large and fragile target.
The Commander of Fleets had issued orders for the Assault Vessel to transfer half of its remaining torpedoes to the Patrol Vessels, and then escort the Hive Vessels and Support Vessels back to New Home 5. There it would undergo repairs while the Hive Vessels would await shipment of replacement Attack Craft. The Commander of Fleets had no intention of leaving before the operation was complete, and had chosen to reside on the ship he was most familiar with.
Now it was time to complete the final step of the operation. The hulls of two vessels under construction had been detected during a previous pass of the second planet. They had been guarded by two of the enemy's Heavy Patrol Vessels. It had been considered unwise to attack at that time. Now with six Patrol Vessels to engage the defenses, it was no longer unwise, it was necessary. The native race could not be allowed to put any further warships into service. The New Homes needed time to rebuild the fleet, and allowing the enemy to strengthen his would defeat that goal.
The Commander of Fleets altered the field at his station and sensed as the magnetic protective field formed around Patrol Vessel 17. In moments the defenders would be aware of the Patrol Group's presence. It would do them no good.


0134 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 6 light seconds from the second planet

The Commander of Fleets could feel the tension beginning to release from the crew. The last few moments had been a terrible ordeal. The native race had fought fiercely to defend their orbital construction platform. It had also been protected by its own magnetic field and weapons. The loss of Patrol Vessels 1 and 25 would be mourned. With their destruction it would be even more difficult to continue the war against these machines. At least their loss had not been in vain. The enemy had paid dearly.
The Commander replayed the sensor record to try and decide if mistakes had been made, or opportunities missed. The opening parts of the battle had been fought well. The two defending Heavy Patrol Vessels had simply interposed themselves between the Patrol Group and the orbital platform. It had been obvious they had positioned themselves so that their onboard weapons and the orbital platform's weapons would be able to engage at the same time. The initial salvo of six weapons from the ships and three from the platform had surprised no one. The Heavy Patrol Vessels had entered range first and had been engaged by the Patrol Group in turn.
The first of the Heavy Patrol Vessels had been destroyed moments before Patrol Vessel 1 broke apart. The second Heavy Patrol Vessel had been destroyed rapidly there after. The orbital station had moved to place the planet between itself and the oncoming Patrol Group, but not before its protective field had been struck by at least one torpedo. The orbital platform's use of the planet as a shield had been anticipated. The native race had used this defense before. The Patrol Group had altered course and speed then passed within a few thousand kilometers of the second planet, with Patrol Vessels 2 and 7 to one side and 13, 17, and 25 spaced around the other. The orbital platform had been left no room to maneuver. It had been understood at this close range that the torpedoes of the Patrol Group would have little time to maneuver, and that had been accepted. What had not been anticipated were the many launch bays containing the native race's heavy and high speed torpedoes. Patrol Vessel 25 had been devastated almost before it was able to launch, and Patrol Vessel 17 had its protective field ripped away by a single close range intercept.
But the pass had succeeded in its goal. The orbital platform had received many intercepts and been damaged. Both of the enemy ships under construction had been destroyed. The construction assets of the platform had survived undamaged, but it had proven impossible to decisively engage them. Moments after the pass the orbital station had once again maneuvered so that the planet was again interposed between the Patrol Group and its target. The only way to re-engage it would require the Patrol Group to once again come in range of the high speed and devastating torpedoes of the enemy. That was simply not an option.
Luckily another target had presented itself. A ship moving at only one third of the Patrol Group's speed had been detected moving away at five light seconds from the planet. It was the size of a Combat Vessel, but appeared to be unarmed. A closer pass showed it to be a mobile construction platform. It had been engaged and destroyed.
Even with the loss of Patrol Vessels 1 and 25, coupled with the survival of the construction capability of the orbital platform, the Commander decided that this engagement had been a success. The native race had lost two Heavy Patrol Vessels, two more vessels under construction, and a Mobile Repair Vessel. Five ships destroyed for the loss of two.
Yes, it would be a victory.


0310 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po sat within his office. He knew this would not go well for his group of supporters. The projects that had brought the group to power were now nothing more than scattered wreckage. The loss of the two newest Missile Frigates and a Mobile Construction Ship only intensified the loss. With one of the orbital slips here at Earth destroyed, and the other damaged and barely managing to keep life support on line, the ability to begin new construction projects was VERY limited.
The Ministry had immediately ordered that all of the warships near Neptune would have to be transferred to Venus to protect the only surviving construction facilities, and the troops were to be abandoned to their fate. No new construction would be undertaken until the warships were in place to protect the station. In that Po's party had based its agenda around massive military construction in space to guarantee Chinese dominance; this was viewed in many circles as proof of their inability to direct the current government. Po knew he only had one chance to try and salvage the situation for his supporters.
If he failed, he wouldn't likely live to see the results.
Po and his advisors had devised a plan that would give the Chinese Empire some ability to make good on the current situation, as terrible as it was. The Mobile Construction Vessel Zhuang would begin repairs to the Venus Station to replace the two destroyed Defense Modules. This would take months, but would not create a great drain on resources and would allow the slips at Venus to operate freely.
Reports had shown that some of the materials intended for the construction of the Cruiser and Heavy Cruiser at Venus were either undamaged or recoverable. This would help to begin the construction of new ships. In that no combat vessels were to be stationed at Earth under current directives, the protection of the orbital station here would be difficult, if not impossible. The attack at Venus and the repeated attacks on the US station at Mars had shown these platforms with their magnetic protective shields were very resilient to alien attack. In light of this, Po was going to recommend that the station at Earth was to be scrapped for all available materials and this used to support further construction of ships to combat the alien menace. The combined resources of the scrapped station and salvaged vessels would allow China to maintain its dominance in space.
This all depended on the aliens not destroying the Venus Station before Admiral Hu was able to return.


0700 hours/New Delhi, India

Chairman Mukata knew he had the boardmembers’ attention. The risk was substantial, but the opportunity fleeting and valuable beyond measure.
The FSC Cargo Freighter would arrive at Earth near the end of September. By then the Mary Reed would have completed repairs and be ready for service. The FSC had already raised two battalions of troops for combat on a moon that everyone else seemed to have abandoned, along with over three divisions of troops and equipment on the surface.
Chairman Mukata had proposed to the board that this would be the FSC's chance. The major powers would be busy trying to defend the inner system, and had already abandoned the souls on Triton to their fate. This would be the chance for the FSC to step in. By using the carrying capacity of the Mary Reed and Cargo Freighter, they could become the saviors of the troops on Triton. Video of the FSC and her soldiers valiantly supporting the troops on Triton single handedly would generate untold support from the families of those with loved ones trapped on the planet. The return trips could carry troops wounded or no longer able to fight for lack of supplies. They might even be able to fit in maintenance and repair equipment for the US ships rumored to have stayed behind.
The public relations coup would be enormous.
The possibility that they would have first chance at any recovered alien technology would be a sizable bonus. Especially any data on the new fast 'bomber/drone' the aliens had employed. Scans had been acquired as the craft passed Earth, but any additional information could be invaluable to future developments.
Chairman Mukata watched his screen as the votes from the assembled boardmembers were entered and tallied. And then it was done.
In one month the first of the FSC's troops would leave Earth for Triton, with as many supplies as they could pack into the ships. And for the first time the FSC would come to the forefront of this war, as all three of the major powers would depend on her for the support of their troops and ships in enemy space.
...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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