October 2204

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October 2204

Postby procyon on Wed 13 Jul 2011 00:10

October 2204 part 1

October 1st 0300 hours/Elder's Chambers, New Home 1 (Eris)

The Elders began to leave the Chamber. It was time to rest. Much had been decided, but not without much debate. First had been a review of the progress in the work on the last Assault Vessel. Repairs had been completed and work had started fitting additional magnetic field generators into the hull. Interior plating had been removed to allow for the installation. This concerned some due to the presence of a weapon used by ships of the native race that could penetrate the magnetic fields, but it had been decided that strengthening the fields was more important. Next work would begin on removing the mass drivers and fitting additional torpedo bays into the vessel. This had also created much discussion as the mass drivers had shown better intercept rates on the enemy ships and were able to create nearly limitless numbers of projectiles from the fuel carried on the Assault Vessel. But they would be replaced.
The most difficult decision had been made concerning the survivors on New Home Three. A sortie would be made to the planet to determine if the native race was still present in force. It would place more vessels in peril at a time when no vessels could afford to be lost. But the survivors could not afford to be abandoned either. With the balance in the war shifting every last member of the race could spell the difference between victory and extinction.
It had also been decided that if ships were to approach New Home Three the native race would reinforce that area after the sortie. There would only be one true chance to evacuate the planet and it would be when the sortie was made. If the planet was guarded there would be no evacuation but if it wasn't this would likely be the only chance. To that end six of the Colony Vessels that had brought the race to the New Homes had been assigned to accompany the sortie. They would load and carry as many survivors as was possible.
It would take time to prepare for this. There were many details to look after and many transmissions to be made. But the first step had been taken.

October 2nd 2015 hours/Beijing, China

Minister Po relaxed in his home. Events were again beginning to go according to plan. The setbacks were large but not insurmountable. The disassembly and salvage operations were nearly complete and the combat groups had returned to Venus. It was time to begin the preparations for the next move. The Zhuang would begin repairs to the Shek while Venus Station would begin construction of two new Missile Frigates. They could be completed much more quickly than a cruiser should the aliens be planning a second strike at Venus. Untrained frigates had fared poorly against alien warships, but when supported by two cruiser groups and the Venus Station they should fare well enough.
The loss of the units under construction at Venus had nearly ruined Po, but as soon as the newest frigates cleared the slips a new heavy cruiser would be started. With the Shek and Minh Groups standing guard in addition to the Venus Station's own defenses, this ship would be completed.
Minister Po leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. 'Then we will destroy all our enemies, alien or human.'

2230 hours/Mary Reed, orbit of Triton

The Dutchman sat and checked the updates from South Africa and Australia. Preparations for the second support convoy to Triton were nearly complete. The newest FSC 'warship', the Krait, had been completed a few days ago. It had been based on highly modified designs of the Kestrel. Smaller and faster than the Mary Reed, she now included the latest technology. Her cargo and passenger capacity was only a fraction of the Mary Reed but in combat she should be just as dangerous. At least that is how it looked on the drawing board. Real life always seemed to have its own ideas of how things would work out.
That small cargo capacity was going to be a problem though. The Mary Reed and FSC Heavy Cargo Lifter 1(formerly Pan Euro he thought) had barely been able to carry half of the ordinance the troops had consumed in prior months of combat. Up to this point ground combat had actually been favoring the US/Euro/Chinese troops. But they had been adequately supplied and given orbital support by the US Interceptor Taylor. The ground troops would have barely half the supplies available and with the battle moving underground would have no support from the orbital laser. That wasn't good. Next month would only see the Krait and a much smaller cargo ship arrive. They would bring less than half what this mission had provided. Next month could be a disaster. At least no one was going to starve or freeze this month. FSC Major General 'Ricky' Billings had taken command. A veteran of the battle to defend the New Queensland Complex from the Chinese, he had ensured that supplies would be distributed to everyone left on the surface of Triton. No exceptions. Of course next month that might not be possible.
"Sir, loading complete. The last of the Chinese troops are aboard."
"Good. Helm, plot a course for home and engage drive as soon as the board is green. Acceleration at 10G's and hold." Pulling one of the Chinese Brigades off the surface should help with the supply situation. They don't have enough bullets for them this month, and it will be one less brigade to support next month. Of course with Chinese troops on board we will be limited to what we can do in combat. Standard acceleration would crush them.
'It also doesn't hurt to rub China's nose in the fact that we rescued their troops either.' he thought.
...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: October 2204

Postby procyon on Wed 13 Jul 2011 00:11

October 2204 part 2

October 5th 0930 hours/US Space Station, Earth

Admiral Bradley Walters felt the magnetic snap of his boot locking onto the work scaffold as he stepped off of the small lifter. The lifter was filled with materials for the workers on the station to continue their repairs with, but space had been made for an admiral.
Bradley walked along the platform and looked at the wreckage of Slip One. The slip had taken the brunt of the blast, but had protected the second shipyard by simply being in the way. Bradley could see where the metal and composites had been burned or shattered by the wash of superheated particles. It was hard to imagine a wisp of gas no denser than the air on Mars being able to cause this sort of damage. But make that gas out of protons and electrons heated to nearly one million degrees, and then slam it into an object at over twenty percent of light speed and the damage was substantial. A single proton would bury itself inside of a structure. It would transfer its kinetic energy to heat as friction slowed it, and then rapidly heat the atoms around it. In fractions of a second the transfer of heat and expansion it caused would turn into a shock wave shattering the materials around it. Where the particle had lodged the heat transferred would be too great for the atomic structures to withstand and materials would break down. Composites would fuse or oxidize while metals would lose temper and alloys char.
The magnetic pulse and radiation had burned up most of the electronics in the slipway. It had also taken out the command staff areas of the station. Most of the staff areas had been located in the outer rings to provide gravity for the personnel stationed there, but that had put them in a vulnerable position. The electrical surge had traveled through the outer ring and destroyed nearly all of the living quarters for the military staff. For the first time in nearly one hundred years, the Space Command and Control section was now located on the planet. Plans were in the works to update the electronics and defenses of the station, but repairs would have to be made first.
Bradley looked at the workers around him. Equipment was being moved and mounted. Sections of damage were being cut away. New materials were being used to start frameworks for later construction and repairs. Nearly all of the equipment of Slip Two was now moved out onto the hull of the station to assist in the repairs. It placed the equipment and workers in a vulnerable position but there was no other option. The US needed both of the slips operational.
The inspection was only part of the reason Bradley had come to the station. He looked out to the form in Slip Two and waited. Lights flashed as mounting bolts were blown. Streaks of white sprouted from the dark form and it began to move. Drifting and spinning at the same time. Slowly at first and then faster. It cleared the Earth's shadow and the object shined. A long white structure of struts and cylinders with a great circular mirror at the end. She was the Steadfast, the second of the US Q Ships to enter service. It became smaller as it drifted away and was joined by two other faint dots in the dark sky. And then the three dots became streaks of light, shooting stars in the darkness.
For the coming months the US would have to place even greater reliance on the Q Ships. With the equipment at Earth Station needed for repairs or upgrades, it would be many months before another ship could be started. The US needed more ships than what the single slip at Mars could produce. Ground based industry here at Earth would have to take up the slack but the Interceptor designs were not compatible with ground based launch. Shipping the materials to orbit and assembling them there was terribly expensive. The Q Ships were designed from freighters though and were made for landings on the Earth's surface. Two more of the freighters the Q ships were based on lay in storage on the surface, set back for the day when the current ships in service had worn out. Those two could quickly and cheaply be refitted and launched in the coming months. They were a poor substitute for the Interceptors on paper, but in service had proven very capable. For the next few months a fair percentage of the US Fleet would consist of converted civilian freighters.
The Steadfast's first voyage would see her bound for Mars with two FSC companion ships. At Mars the three would be joined by the Vigilance. The four ships, laden with supplies, would then begin the nearly month long trip out system to Neptune. Bradley knew those supplies were vital to the men and women trapped on the frigid moon far from home, but that wasn't what had inspired him to watch it leave. On the Steadfast was one other small bit of cargo. A bit meant for Rear Admiral Ryan. A message that would crush one person as the supplies would save countless others.

October 7th 1500 hours/Queen Victoria, Earth orbit

Admiral Brenna Muldoon stood beside the podium absently listening to the speaker address the gathered crowd of reporters. Soon it would be her turn to make a statement. As the ceremony and conference had been called for her promotion and assignment to the post of Commander, Pan European Space Forces, she would be expected to make a speech full of thank yous, condolences, and assurances that she would see the Pan Euro protected from any threat. No matter how she actually felt it would all come out in the dull hollow monotone of her voice synthesizer. To be honest, she had actually recorded it earlier and intended to simply replay it now. She was not required to take questions at this ceremony and didn't intend to.
Brenna's thoughts were to busy with the details of the command she had assumed. That the Red October had been cleared for service that morning. That Commodore McNeely would take the Red October and the rest of 3rd Battle Group out to the belt on convoy escort and patrol duties. The reports on the newest missile research and work on what could be a revolutionary ship drive system if the scientists can actually make it work. Trying to make plans on how to integrate these things into the tactical plans and ops based on projections that were likely just wild guesses. The piles of daily administration and minutia that impeded any work that actually needed done.
And the fact that all of it, even this ceremony, reminded her of all the old friends she had lost. Esme, 'Liz, and now Jude. All the friends she had spent so much time with. Decades with. Friends who had taught her. Helped her. Looked after and protected her. She had thought she was alone before - cut off from the rest of humanity by the body she was trapped in and the service she had lost herself in. But now she knew that was a lie. Now the world would turn to her and depend on her, for help and protection. For hope.
Now. When she was truly, crushingly, alone.

October 10th 0215 hours/University of Cambridge, England

Henk spun a pen around his finger over and over as he sipped on his coffee. Waiting.
"Will you please stop that."
"Something wrong, Thomas?" A small smile was beginning to creep into Henk's carefully practiced blank expression.
"You know quite well what is wrong. Put the pen down. I can't concentrate with you doing that." Thomas picked up his cup of tea and glared at Henk.
"Ya. I don't want to start a food fight with hot beverages." Henk sat the pen on the desktop. "But why do you need to concentrate. You asked me to take a look at this. Not the other way around."
"Yes, yes. Fine. What do you think? Will it actually work?" Thomas took a long sip of the tea and set it down near the pen.
"Well, I can't see a reason why it wouldn't. I am almost ashamed I didn't think of it myself. You should be able to use this to modify the generated field and reorient the output of the multiple field lines on a single axis over quite a distance. Get the harmonics right and you could move things around a couple thousand kilometers from your generator. Doubt it would work near a planet with a substantial inherent magnetic field of its own. You wouldn't be able to keep the fields aligned. A version of this is probably how the aliens manage to manipulate objects without touching them." Henk swiveled his chair to face Thomas. "Who came up with this?"
"Damned if I know. Best as we can tell it came from some group of Chinese university students, but that could just be a cover story. Two thirds of the world won't be able to check and see if they are, while the last third will be looking for folks that aren't there. When China discover the folks behind this aren't in China, they aren't likely to share that fact with the rest of the world. Pretty good cover story if you think of it." Thomas picked up the pen and pointed to the screen both men had been looking at for the last two hours. "See this. Whoever it is either has access to classified data on the alien field generators, hacked their way into a database and stole it, or managed to figure the bloody things out for themselves. Then they managed to take it a step farther."
Henk chuckled. "I don't know Thomas. Sounds like a drunken frat prank from a bunch of college grad students to me. They make this priceless discovery that could make them rich, but it is based on stolen data that would get them killed or jailed forever if they told anyone. So what do they do?" Henk started to chuckle and could see the grin forming on Thomas' face also.
"Yes Henk. They spammed the whole world with it."
...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: October 2204

Postby procyon on Wed 13 Jul 2011 00:13

October 2204 part 3

October 13th 2245 hours/Interceptor MkIII Yari, 8 light seconds from Triton

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan felt the slight jostling as the Yari docked with the other half of Task Force 3, the Interceptor Mk IIb Taylor. The helm announced "Docking complete. Hard seal confirmed." The crew began unlocking their stations to move about the bridge. Jack could here Captain Wilson on the comm link. "OK folks; let’s make this happen as fast as we can. The Taylor has a job and we're keeping her from it."
Jack knew that the troops on the ground depended on the Taylor for support, but the Yari was desperately in need of the supplies stored on Captain Brown's ship. The surveillance of the alien convoy had taken a considerable amount of time and this had put an unhealthy amount of wear on the Yari. Interceptors were immensely strong. They had to be in order to survive the drive bloom that moved the ship. Even with the design focus on structural integrity the drive's acceleration placed incredible stress on nearly every system on the ship, and routine maintenance was necessary to replace components before they failed. The linkage in the forward section of the missile storage areas was beginning to show unacceptable amounts of wear, and nearly one third of the magnetic field generators were close to being taken out of service. The last supply drop at Triton had left the Yari's stores in Captain Brown's ship. It would take time to off load the material into the Yari's hold and during that time both ships would be vulnerable. If the ships stayed in orbit of Triton while they were docked it would be visible to any sensor arrays that the aliens may still have operating on the moon. Jack had ordered the ships to move out to eight light seconds - over the protests of Captain Brown. The number of support requests from the surface had dwindled now that most of the fighting had moved into the underground shelters of the aliens. They should be able to cope for the next hour.
From this distance the aliens would find it difficult to identify what the Interceptors were doing, but they would know the ships had not left. The Interceptors could identify any alien ships moving near the moon and would have adequate time to respond, thereby avoiding danger to the Interceptors. The greatest danger was to the ground troops. If alien ships arrived they could launch multiple times on the soldiers and their supply depots before the Interceptors would be able to intervene. Of course if the Interceptors were destroyed while they were docked, the aliens would be able to complete many more launches.
"Sir, Engineering reports that it will be twenty five minutes until the materials are on board and secured."
Jack looked over the reports on the shields. "Comm, relay orders to Captain Brown to resume station at Triton following separation. Captain Wilson, we will not lock stations following separation. Prep the crew for full diagnostics of all systems. All preventative maintenance and service checklists to be completed." Several of the crew paused in their work as he spoke. Jack knew the crew was looking forward to getting some free time away from their stations, but this wouldn't exactly be what they had been hoping for.
"Folks, we're a long ways from home and we're not in the good part of town. Get this girl ready to fight, then you can rest."

October 15th 0300 hours/Surface of Titan

Li Xue took off the weighted belt and hung it on the rack by the door. She rubbed at the muscles on her lower back trying to ease the constant ache. Wearing 15 kilos of lead all day to try and reduce the amount of 'bouncing' wasn't something she enjoyed. Li walked slowly to her bunk and sat down. Hers was the bottom bed on a stack four high. 'At least I got lucky there.' She looked around the room at the rest of the beds and women. She shared this bay with 31 other women, and likely would until she returned to Earth.
Li looked at the far wall of the bay. Her bay was set along the outer wall of the habitat, and the interlocking grey-black hexagons stretched from floor to ceiling. She wondered how many of them she had helped make. All day long she had worked in the plant producing the six sided 'panes' that were fitted together to form the outsides of the habitats. They were made from a type of 'fiberglass' made from the abundant hydrocarbons on the moon. She decided having her bed far from the wall was also a good thing. The four inch thick panes kept out the noxious atmosphere, but the cold still crept through. 'A cold draft on my sore back is just what I need. Then the cramps could go from uncomfortable to unbearable.'
"Are you alright?" It was Mae Ling. She was younger than Li, but they worked together in the fabrication section and had become friends. 'Quite a bit younger to be honest.' Li thought. 'A lot more coordinated too. How does she gets in and out of that bed four meters off the floor so easily?' Li looked up to see the bright face of Mae looking over the edge of the top bunk. 'I'm old enough to be her mother.' Li thought. Suddenly Mae pulled herself over the edge of the bed and made the slow motion fall to the floor. 'It's like watching a movie, only I'm in it.'
"It just my back. Sore again. Those panels don't feel like they weigh much but they are so awkward." Li could see Mae nodding, but she had seen Mae move the two meter sections around like it was nothing.
"Lay down." Mae said. "On your stomach silly. How can I rub your back if you’re looking at me?"
Li rolled over and wondered how Mae could always be so cheerful. Then Mae was wrapping her legs around the bed frame for leverage and massaging the muscles of her back.
"I got to go outside today, Li." Mae said. "It dark, cloudy, and smoggy. I was hoping to see the rings of Saturn, but you can't see anything in the sky. It looks like a parking lot at midnight out there. With rocks on it. Except the stream was fun. It is kind of like syrup, and if you stick the foot of your suit in the stream it starts to boil."
Li perked up at the last part. "Really?" Then she put her head back down. Her back was finally beginning to unknot.
"Yes, but I was really hoping to see the rings. Is your back feeling better?"
"Very much. Thank you. Is there something I can do for you?" Li said.
"Hey, it's your turn to rub my back tomorrow. Wearing those belts is murder." Mae stood and launched herself up to the top bunk. "Eight more hours and its back to work. See you then."
"Good night, Mae." Li lay in her bed and wondered if Mae's back actually hurt. 'Maybe this place is hard on even the young kids.' Li closed her eyes and went to sleep.
...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: October 2204

Postby procyon on Sat 16 Jul 2011 01:54

October 2204 part 4

October 17th 0740 hours/ASV Red October, asteroid belt 8 light minutes from Hygiea Colony

"Sir, we have sensor contact with Pan Euro Standard Cargo number zero eight six. They report that the drive shield is intact but the particle accelerators suffered damage when the coolant system failed. They report twelve crew on board. They do not have a ship's boat or lifter, only docking equipment."
Rear Admiral Robert McNeely listened to the Communications Officer absently. He was watching the sensor returns on his monitor. Something had happened out here and they were here to find out what. About twelve hours ago Convoy #041011 had lost two ships in a matter of seconds. A third had suffered drive damage as it had fled. Luckily the other twelve made it safely away from the area and had been diverted to Mars. 'I'm sure it had to be alien warships, but why let twelve ships get away and leave the cripple unmolested? Unless it is bait.'
"Prep the Ship Boat for deployment. We will transfer the crew of 086 to the Red October." Robert knew it was going to take two trips for them to transfer the freighter's crew, and that docking would be faster. He simply didn't want to risk tying down the Red October in a dock if alien warships were near.
"Sensor Conn, locate the nearest wreckage from the destroyed ships. Helm, as soon as the survivors are on board move us close enough to get a good scan of the debris. Comm, get a download of the sensor logs from Standard Cargo 086. Transfer all of our sensor data on any wreckage and 086's sensor log to the scientific crew for analysis. Notify all ships we will be maintaining general quarters until further notice." The convoy had indicated in its distress broadcasts that they had lost two ships to unknown causes and that their sensors had shown no alien ships present. Perhaps the instruments on board the Red October would be able to determine what had happened. Pirates were not unknown, but there was no sense in blowing up a ship before you looted it. No, this was the aliens. But where were they?

0830 hours/Patrol Vessel 17, 12 light minutes beyond the debris field

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 (the Commander of Fleets to everyone that isn't on this ship the Commander thought) issued the order for the Patrol Group to adjust their velocity and maintain this position outside the debris fields, then shut down their drives and magnetic protective fields. 'They seldom come looking for us beyond the debris fields. With our drives and fields down, we should be safe.'
The Commander replayed the ship's log and sensor returns from the recent engagement. The Patrol Group had managed to disengage rapidly and avoid sustaining any losses, but the Commander wanted to know if there was any way to avoid an encounter at such close quarters in the future. The last Support Vessel had only brought four Scout Craft. That made it impossible to emplace an effective screen around the Patrol Group.
The Commander rechecked the sensor logs, but the first enemy contact only became visible at less than four light seconds. Moments later it and a second contact had entered weapons range. To its credit the Patrol Group had been able to react quickly and destroy both contacts. Initial sensor readings had shown that both ships were likely the native race's version of Support Vessels, but during the last few contacts with enemy Support Groups they had been guarded by enemy warships. Avoiding those warships had been a priority, so the Patrol Group had engaged drives for combat acceleration and disengaged before any enemy vessels were able to close into weapon range.
The Commander closed the logs. For the moment it appeared the only action that could be taken was to relocate the group outside of the debris fields. There were other important tasks to attend to. The Mobile Repair Vessel had finished the modifications to Patrol Vessel 17. Most of the internal baffles and plating had been removed to make room for additional magnetic field generators. The number of field generators on Patrol Vessel 17 had now been doubled. Some of the Elder's had argued that removing the plating would leave the Vessels vulnerable to the enemy weapon that seemed to be able to bypass the protective fields. The Commander could still remember the forceful transmission he had sent to the Assembly of Elders. In it he had admitted that this weakness would be present, but that if the Elders were to review ALL available sensor logs that NO Vessel had been destroyed in combat by that weapon system. Several ships had sustained damage, but all had been destroyed by drive detonations of enemy torpedoes. For that fact any measure that could reduce damage from enemy torpedoes should be taken.
Patrol Vessel 17 and Assault Vessel 2 were now the first examples of this initiative. The unfortunate side effect was the necessary recalibration of nearly all the instruments on board Patrol Vessel 17. The additional magnetic flux would continue to interfere with sensor, weapon, and drive operation until all of the calibrations were complete. Risking an engagement with a Patrol Vessel in such a state was not an option. The Elders would most likely disagree with that assessment. They would want to see as many enemy vessels destroyed as possible. They would not consider that losing more Patrol Vessels just to destroy a few enemy support vessels was foolish. With fleet levels so low, every Vessel was valuable and not to be risked needlessly.
The Commander checked the progress on the recalibration. Much still needed to be done.

October 20th 2100 hours/Queensland Research Facility, Earth

Chairman Mukata walked down the hallway. He hated having to deal with cyborgs, but the board had decided this Jager fellow needed to be reminded that it was costing a considerable amount to continue funding his work. Work that had so far shown no usable results. The continued diversion of resources and assets from more 'profitable' endeavors would require some results quickly. With the financial strain of the deployment and support to Neptune that the FSC had undertaken, funding for 'frivolous' projects would not be tolerated.
He would also be reminded that his status as an immigrant to the FSC could be revoked. The penalty for a nonresident trespassing on secure FSC property was very severe. He also needed to understand the fact that members of his immediate and extended family could also suffer as they were 'detained and questioned' concerning any possible 'breach of security'.
The problem was that unlike a person it was nearly impossible to see whether these 'reminders' were having any effect. A shiny black polycarbonate composite faceplate showed no emotion. Most models also had neural filters in place to reduce any signals to the cyborg body that could be due to emotional or adverse stimuli. This was necessary to avoid unwanted reactions to the acceleration they would undergo on ships with a nuclear drive and improved performance under combat conditions.
It also made the damned things nearly unreadable from a human point of view.
Mukata stood at the entrance to Bay 3. The flat voice addressing him was just as emotionless as the one he would have to deal with. Mukata turned to face the small lens and said "Chairman." The door slid open as the voice and face recognition software verified his identity. Mukata stepped into the bay and was greeted by the view of an enormous structure with dozens of workers perched on it. Just as many workers were scattered about the floor attending to other tasks and equipment. Three sets of robotic production equipment were cutting and joining materials, fabricating parts for whatever this thing was. Mukata finally spotted the black form of Jager standing near a portable monitor looking over some sort of data. Mukata slowly picked his way through the equipment until he reached the cyborg. At least the workers had the decency to move quickly out of a board member’s way.
"Jager, we need to speak." Mukata waited as the cyborg finished whatever he was typing into the computer and then turned. "I need to know how far you are from completing your work." Mukata gestured to the large structure beside them. He watched as Jager turned to look at the structure, then back to him.
"That isn't the system. We haven't completed the design work on that yet. This is simply the frame and bay for it."
Mukata looked at the blank faceplate and saw his own reflection and could see that his face was betraying much more emotion than Jager ever could. It wasn't a happy emotion right now either. "This is WHAT! You haven't even begun work fabricating the systems yet? What have you been spending all of your funding on?! If we find any accounting discrepancies...do you understand what the consequence will be!" Apparently the workers nearby did as they tried to put distance between themselves and the Chairman.
"Chairman, you need to understand this isn't like designing a new radio and installing it in your limo. First we have to get an idea what it is that we are going to make, then we have to design something that will hold it while withstanding the stress of several thousand G's. Then we have to figure out how to get the two together so they will not only withstand that stress, but still be able to function during it. This is just the first small step." Jager stood as still as stone while Mukata listened to the flat monotone of his voice. Mukata took a deep breath to try and gain some control. 'The board will want this cyborg destroyed, and me along with him.' Mukata thought.
"This project is going to cost too much in its current form, and it would seem your progress is inadequate. I can assure you the board will not allow you to remain in control of this project. This lack of progress will have dire consequences for you and your family. Do you understand?" 'It will also have rather poor consequences for me, assuming they let me live.' Mukata looked at the cyborg. It might as well have been a statue for all he could tell.
"Chairman, the board can replace me if they chose, but I don't believe that will reduce the project's cost or speed its completion. I would expect it to do the opposite actually. We are nearly finished with the design stage of the system and hope to begin fabrication of a prototype by the end of next month. When that occurs we will be able to release a number of our developers, their staff, and equipment for other projects. This should reduce our current expenditures by twenty to twenty five percent."
The cyborg was still standing like a statue. Mukata was trying to put on his best poker face. Jager needed to be motivated to speed the completion of this project. But at the same time even twenty percent of his budget would be able to pay for the entire operation at Neptune, with some left over to spare. Mukata put on his hard, cold, you could be dead by next month look. "You can cut cost by no less than twenty percent by the end of next month? And show a completed prototype design?"
The cyborg just stood there. "This is an entirely new field. I can't guarantee results. My best projections would give a completed design schematic, not prototype, and completion of the design teams work by end of next month. We would start prototype work at that point if this frame is complete. Either projects completion, either the frame or the schematic, will reduce cost by no less than twenty percent."
Mukata looked at the black figure in front of him. "I can guarantee what will happen if there are no results or cost reductions by the end of next month. I want a full report on all current projects and research along with an accounting of all expenditures for the board's review before I leave." Mukata turned and began to make his way out of the bay. He was not sure if this Jager understood the seriousness of the situation, but the promise of a twenty percent reduction would keep them both alive for one more month.

October 26th 2250 hours/Ministry of Defense, Beijing, China

Minister Po tried to maintain a calm facade. This was not his embarrassment. Others had been instrumental in the landings and combat on Triton. His faction had stressed simple destruction of the aliens, or any enemies of the Chinese Empire, through space borne assets. Not getting bogged down in ground actions.
The problem was that this was an embarrassment for the Chinese Empire, and he would have to share in it.
It had been announced that a full brigade of Chinese soldiers would return to Earth on board FSC ships. Actually, on just one FSC ship. Having another power bring home her troops was bad enough for China. That it was the smallest of the space faring powers made it worse. Today had been an outrage.
The FSC ship, commanded by a known pirate called 'The Dutchman', had landed not in China to the heroes welcome that was prepared. He had landed near the Queensland Complex. The world watched the countless video feeds as ragged Chinese troops filed off the ship, help and aided by the FSC personnel. In the background were the remnants of the wreckage left from China's nuclear strike on that site. Interviews of the soldiers had been broadcast. Interviews detailing the lack of supplies and mass deaths of Chinese soldiers left on Triton. Making public the decision to only support combat effective units at the expense of all other personnel.
The worst was the video of soldiers requesting asylum in the FSC, and pledging to join THEIR military in support of those who had rescued them. Po was sure that any who had spoken out against China would need that asylum. Of course their families here in China might not fare as well.
Debate was raging on the floor amongst the Ministers. 'What is the appropriate response? Should there be any retaliation for this outrage?' On and on. Po knew it was only those individuals venting their outrage and fury. In the end nothing would be done. Those troops who wanted to come home would come home. Parades would still be held, and celebrations in their honor. Those who did not...well, there had never been any expectation of anyone coming home. It had been ensured that anyone who could be a security risk had been evacuated from the moon before the last Chinese ship had departed. Those left were an embarrassment, but not a liability.
...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: October 2204

Postby procyon on Sat 16 Jul 2011 01:55

October 2204 part 5

October 27th 1415 hours/Interceptor MkIII Yari, orbit of Triton

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan sat locked at his station. It was the Yari's turn at general quarters, which meant a lot of time spent locked in your station. On the far side of Triton the Taylor was just standing down. They had watched from the sky of Triton, but no requests for ground support had been made. The combat was purely underground now, and definitely one sided from reports that came through. Only a small fraction of the aliens were armed now, with many small underground enclaves wiped out with no loss of human life. There were even reports of unarmed aliens attempting to fight power armor or cyborg troops. Twenty kilo creatures, even if they could 'push' you from a few meters away, stood no chance against power armor. Most reports of this seemed to occur when immature specimens were present. 'Even this race fights to protect their young.' Jack thought. 'Of course if any creature didn't, it wouldn't survive very long.'
A small box popped up on Jack's monitor. He keyed it open. It was simply a message from Captain Brown indicating that they were going to begin running diagnostics on most of their equipment. With the Vigilance and Steadfast due to arrive in the next 24 hours, he wanted to be ready.
Jack closed the message and wondered if it had been relayed by the ground station on Triton or if the Taylor's boat had sent it. With the Taylor on the far side of Triton, they were cut off from each other. With surface combat nearing an end, Captain Brown had requested that the ground troops place a communications relay team on a particular site. The standard station of the Taylor would become a position above Triton directly in line with Neptune. The Yari would take up the exact opposite position. Since Triton was tide locked to Neptune, a surface site that put Neptune just on the moon's horizon would be able to see both ships and relay messages. The ground troops had been only too happy to finally grant a request from the Taylor.
The problem was when the Taylor closed down to the surface for a fire mission. At that point it would lose line of sight on the ground station. To remedy that a ship's boat had been stationed one quarter of a light second from Triton. It could relay messages quite easily in that situation. It had actually made the ground site unnecessary as the extra half second delay using the boat was actually rather prompt considering most space comm traffic lags. But the ground site was still in use, and good back up.
A red warning prompt flashed on Jack's monitor. He could hear the Sensor Officer calling out new contacts even as he opened the alert message. "New contacts times three. Alpha times one. Echo times two. Range of seven point five light seconds. Speed is four six seven zero clicks per seconds. No delta v. Bearing zero three two, ascension zero point two. Course zero six one, ascension minus two. Magnetic signature now present."
Jack checked the tactical plot to see that the aliens were closing directly on Triton. The Yari was far enough from Triton they would be easy to see. Of course if the aliens didn't have communications with the surface, the Taylor might come as a bit of a surprise. Jack could hear Captain Wilson calling out orders to get the drive on line and begin acceleration toward the alien ships. The Yari would need to come up to speed, but had to turn rather quickly. If they got too close this fight would be over quickly. First priority was that the Taylor needed to know. With Triton in the way they were blind to what was happening. "Comm, alert the Taylor to these contacts. Order them to hold position until they have battle stations."
"New contacts times six. All contacts classed as Tango. No magnetic field. Same bearing and course as initial contacts. Trailing Alpha by one light second." Jack quickly pulled up what data they had on the Tango class while the world turned into a grey haze as the drive engaged. Tangos had only been noted in two prior engagements and were the large slow moving ships he had destroyed in the closing parts of the battle at Uranus. They were apparently unarmed but had been used here at Neptune as suicide ships. Their slow acceleration and low top speed had made them ineffective at that battle. 'Of course, if they simply aim for Triton and our troops, they will be plenty fast enough. But we need to worry about the ships that can shoot right now. It's three on one and they've got the speed advantage. For all we know that's the 'Baron' out there.'
Jack could hear Captain Wilson continuing to give orders. "Helm, bring the ship to full combat acceleration. Bring course to zero niner zero. Weapon Conn, begin plot for firing solutions." At least Wilson wasn't going to let the aliens get too close. Everyone knew that the US intercept rates were better only at the very long and very short ends of combat range. The trick was not letting them get past the end of the Hera Missile's effective range but inside the alien’s engagement envelope. Getting shot at when you couldn't shoot back was a good way to die.
Jack cut in on the comm link. "Weapon Conn, priority of fire to Echo One. They've all got just one launch bay, let’s take the easy kills first. Helm, try to hold range at five light seconds." Jack watched the sensor returns as the alien ships altered course slightly. 'We are just too slow; they are going to be able to dictate a lot of this engagement.'
The Sensor Conn cut in again. "Alpha and Echoes changing aspect and thermal signature. Coming about on heading zero zero three. Accelerating. Range five point two light seconds and matching course to us. New contacts times three, inbounds. Time to intercept nineteen seconds."
Jack looked at the sensor readings. They were too slow. They could implement the evasive maneuver protocol, but it would slow the Yari down even more. They might shake a few intercepts but would never be able to return fire. The Yari would just have to weather this storm as she came up to speed. Jack watched as the inbounds closed. Suddenly the sensor returns cut out as the weapons detonated along the Yari's course. Warning boxes flashed on Jack's monitor as shield generators went off line. Two thirds of them. But the shields had held and nothing had reached the hull. 'We can't take much more of that.'

1418 hours/Patrol Vessel 24, 5.25 light seconds from Triton

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 monitored the sensor returns. Through them he could feel that the enemy Patrol Vessel was trying to disengage, but it would be impossible. This ship was no stranger to combat. Patrol Vessel 24 had fought the native race twice already and served alongside the current Commander of Fleets. The enemy vessel would not escape in time. The second Patrol Vessel hiding behind New Home 3 was a coward. If it chose to hide, they would be able to destroy both of these enemy vessels in detail. Together the enemy ships might have had a chance for at least one to escape, but now the second enemy ship was in range and had not even started accelerating. It would never be able to escape.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 felt the drive stop and then a second torpedo leave the ship. Moments later torpedoes left from both Attack Vessels 3 and 4. Neither of those vessels had seen combat before this, but were performing well. Although they were smaller and carried fewer torpedoes, they could still launch as quickly as a Patrol Vessel and their magnetic protective fields were just as strong. The Commander sensed the torpedoes detonate one after another, and then could feel that the enemy vessel had lost its protective field. 'Good.' It would die soon enough.
The Commander sensed that the firing solutions for the third launch were beginning to cancel themselves out. The enemy Patrol Vessel had turned again. It was banking behind the great planet that New Home 3 orbited. This enemy commander was no fool either. His comrade may be a coward but his ship was vulnerable with its fields down. The planet would be able to protect him while giving him more time to come up to speed. The planet would prevent any successful launches for a short time, but the enemy ship would clear it soon.
The problem was that if the enemy Patrol Vessel used the planet's gravity, he could turn back toward Patrol Vessel 24 and bring the group into range. Patrol Vessel 24 could stop accelerating to prevent this, but if the group did and the enemy ship had turned away while continuing to accelerate, he would be able to successfully disengage.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 ordered the ships to continue accelerating. The enemy vessel was vulnerable. Its commander would try to disengage. If he did not, he would be quickly destroyed now that his protective field was disabled. And then the last enemy ship would be destroyed.

1419 hours/Interceptor MkIII Yari, 0.5 light seconds from Neptune

Jack looked at the pre-plot of the firing solutions. The ship's boat at Triton was still forwarding sensor data from the troops on the ground. The aliens would have to guess what he was about to do, but he knew where they were.
"Clearing Neptune. Sensor lock on Echo One. Missiles away." Jack watched as the sensors picked up the outbound missiles, and then moments later the inbounds from the alien ships. 'We are still too slow to try and shake those birds. We need to come up to speed.' Jack thought. "Helm, continue full acceleration. Bring us to course one two zero and get us away from those inbounds. Our only defense is going to be distance for the moment."
The Comm Officer cut through. "Taylor is reporting battle stations."
Jack quickly punched the Comm over ride. "Randy you hold position till those ships clear Triton. Then give 'em everything you've got. They will turn to follow us and it'll bring 'em right to you. Don't screw this up."
Jack watched as his missiles followed Echo One and then clouded the sensors as their drives overloaded and turned them into clouds of plasma and radiation. "Echo One, shield down." Jack wanted to grin as the Sensor Officer confirmed what he was seeing on his monitor. Then Jack turned his attention to the three inbounds quickly closing on the Yari. 'With all of our shields off line, we really could use some luck right now.'

1420 hours/Interceptor MkIIb Z Taylor, orbit of Triton

"OK people. You know what the plan is. You can do this. NO ONE is better than you. You've conducted more fire missions with this ship than every crew in the history of the US put together. MAKE THIS HAPPEN." Captain Randall Brown knew that gripping the ends of the armrests wasn't going to help, but he hoped his pep talk could. They were about to try something they knew could be done. They had seen the records of what Leffler and the Discovery had done at Ceres and this crew had put more time in on a laser battery than anyone. They just needed to get this right.
"Contacts times three clearing Triton. Range at zero point five light seconds. Closing. Sensor lock."
"Firing solutions coming on line."
"Drive engaged."
The crew was spouting off the information as it came up. Getting everything ready. It was now or never.
"Helm, get us as close to Echo Two as you can. Lock Hera firing solution on Echo One and launch. Hold on laser battery. Five meter colmination, emergency dump on the capacitor. I want the shortest pulse you can get. Wait for Echo Two to launch. Target launch signature." Randy watched as his screen filled with data. Changed colors as the drive cut in and out for the missile launch, then back in. Reports of launches from the Alpha and Echo One. And then the launch from Echo Two.
Randy felt the drive cut out, allowing the output couplers to align for the laser battery. Waited for the capacitor to release its energy and send a bolt of light speeding through the vacuum of space.
'We've put fire on over a thousand targets in less than three months. Now we just need to hit a bullet with a faster bullet.'

1420 hours

Attack Vessel Three had restarted its drive after launching the torpedo. The Attack Vessels had been made to carry the same magnetic defenses and weapons as a Patrol Vessel, but in a smaller and cheaper package. This required some compromises. One had been that although the internal launch bay was still hardened, it was much more vulnerable than on a Patrol Vessel. Attack Vessels also had minimal external plating and baffles. The bay was still protected from the hull battering wash of particles and heat generated by a drive detonation. It was also safe from the rapid heating of the enemy's energy weapon that painted a ship with a beam which rivaled the surface of a star, then shattered away sections from the surface of the hull as they violently expanded.
But it was never designed to stop a smaller beam. One that carried the same energy and put it on an area only ten meters across. A brief pulse that coursed down only thirty meters of the Attack Vessel's hull, generating heat that rivaled the core of a star.
All of it focused on the small magnetic signature left by the torpedo's launch.
The crew never had time to react as a light brighter than any star pierced the Attack Vessel and turned the launch bay into so much melted composites and super heated gas.

1421 hours/Patrol Vessel 24, 0.75 light seconds from Triton toward Neptune

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 struggled to control both his station and the battle around him. 'How could the second enemy Patrol Vessel cause so much damage. The first launch from the second enemy ship had crippled Attack Vessel 4 and left it nearly blind, and Attack Vessel 3 had reported that its launch bay had been destroyed. How?! A second launch had destroyed Attack Vessel 4. Now Attack Vessel 3 was trying to disengage while the second enemy Patrol Vessel was coming around behind Patrol Vessel 24. The first enemy vessel was moving at a speed that Patrol Vessel 24 could not match and would soon be out of range. Abruptly the drive of Patrol Vessel 24 shut down and the ship began to vent. They had been hit with whatever invisible weapon the enemy used. Plating had been shattered along one side of Patrol Vessel 24. It was now two on one against him. How had the battle changed so quickly?
The Commander looked hard at the situation. The second enemy Patrol Vessel was trying to get behind his ship, but it was to slow. It did not have the speed to dictate the tactical situation. The first enemy Patrol Vessel was bereft of protective fields and damaged. It apparently had suffered no drive damage but couldn't withstand many more intercepts. 'It will be reluctant to engage Patrol Vessel 24 while our magnetic fields are intact.' This situation was less dire than it might seem. But the second enemy Patrol Vessel still had its magnetic fields and had shown itself to be a dangerous opponent. If Patrol Vessel 24 turned to face the second enemy vessel it could be caught between two enemy ships with only its single launch bay.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 altered the field at his station and a message sped away across the void. The native race was not the only ones capable of surprises. 'Now we will see who is caught in the middle.'

1422 hours/Interceptor MkIIb Z Taylor, 1 light second from Triton along moons orbital path

"Captain, shields at thirty percent strength. Third launch coming on line." Randy listened to the reports as the crew struggled to get the ship up to speed and behind the Alpha. If they could hang onto the fleeing ship they just might take it down.
Red boxes flashed on his screen. Even before he could open the prompts the Sensor Conn was on the comm link. "Change in contacts Tango Two and Five. Increase in thermal signature. Speed now seven one five zero kilometers per second. Accelerating. Magnetic field detected on both Tangos. Redesignating as Bravo One and Two. Magnetic pulse detected."
"Damn, those ships have mass drivers." 'At least they missed us. Otherwise we'd have been hit by now.' Randy looked at the sensor returns. The two 'Bravos' were closing on not only the Taylor, but Triton. 'If we disengage they are going to hammer our troops. We need to keep them busy, but this isn't going to be easy.' Randy keyed open the comm link. "Helm, bring us around to course two two three. Continue full acceleration. Weapon Conn, change launch priority to Bravo One."
"Captain, aspect change on the Yari. She's coming about and implementing the evasion protocol. She's going to re-engage the Alpha."
Randy checked the sensor returns. Sure enough the Yari was coming about. 'Lord knows we need the Alpha off our back, but you’re going to get yourself killed Jack.' Randy quickly typed a small note to Rear Admiral Ryan for transmission.



1423 hours/Interceptor MkIII Yari, 8.75 light seconds from Triton

"Come around and fight damn it." Jack stared at the sensor returns and tried to will the Alpha to change course. The few moments stuttering the drive and changing aspect had cost the Yari speed. He had hoped to avoid the next launch from the Alpha. Instead the alien had continued changing course and turning back toward the Taylor. The Yari needed time to come back up to speed and get the Alpha in range.
Randy was giving the aliens hell though. The two armed alien freighters had managed to batter down the Taylor's shields and even caused her to vent. But the Taylor had hammered Tango Two. Several times. Now they were locked in a twisting battle. The Taylor was faster and pouring fire into the lead Tango, and at the same time maneuvering to avoid letting the second Tango line up a shot. 'But he's a sitting duck for that Alpha.'
Seconds ticked by and then the first Tango disappeared as its drive shield failed. Jack watched as the Taylor maneuvered to bring the second armed Tango in line for attack. He watched as Randy's ship began to rapidly change aspect and decelerate. Employing the maneuver protocol to avoid the launch from the Alpha. But it was too little, too late. The Taylor and her crew disappeared in the drive detonation of the alien missile.
The Alpha was beginning to come around toward the Yari again. Its shields were still up, as were those on the second armed Tango. 'If I give the order, this crew will take us in against those ships. Even with us damaged and outnumbered. But we can't win. God help the soldiers on that moon.'
"Helm, bring us about to heading zero niner niner. Full combat speed. Comm, broadcast for the Vigilance and Steadfast. Let them know what happened here and our position. We're going to need their help to save anyone left alive when we get back."
'And we will be back.'

1431 hours/Armed Colony Vessel 7, 1 light second from New Home 3

The Commander of Colony Vessel 7 waited as the ships formed up. The Patrol Vessel had suffered minor damage to its exterior plating but that was all. Attack Vessel 3 had lost its launch bay, but was otherwise operational. All four of the unarmed Colony Vessels had escaped harm. Armed Colony Vessel 1 had been destroyed but his ship, Armed Colony Vessel 7, had survived undamaged. Now was time for it to fulfill its purpose.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 had issued orders to Colony Vessel 7. The Commander altered the field at his station and reached his perception out through the sensors of his vessel. Sensed the signatures of the enemy troops on New Home 3's surface. Their supplies and heavy weapons. Then felt the pulse as the mass driver launched the packet of metallic hydrogen at the surface.
Then felt satisfaction as he sensed the detonation on the surface, and the enemy died.
...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: October 2204

Postby procyon on Sun 17 Jul 2011 01:15

October 2204 part 6

October 27th 1810 hours/Patrol Vessel 24, 4 light seconds from New Home 3

The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 waited impatiently at his station. Most of the enemy troops and their supplies had been destroyed. A number had sheltered underground and that was regrettable. With the loss of Armed Colony Vessel 1, there was no longer enough capacity to evacuate the entire population remaining on New Home 3. A million and a half survivors could be loaded, but that would still leave nearly a quarter of a million that would be unable to make the trip. With enemy troops still on the surface of New Home 3, there was little hope for those left behind. There would be no more rescues.
No further contact had been made with warships of the native race, but it was only a matter of time until they returned. One enemy Patrol Vessel had escaped destruction and would carry news of the attack. The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 had orders only to clear the space around New Home 3 long enough to complete landing and loading the Evacuation Group. The mass drivers of the Armed Colony Vessels were to destroy what enemy troops they could target and then the group was to depart.
The Commander knew he had disobeyed those orders by committing the Armed Colony Vessels to combat against an enemy Patrol Vessel, and that the loss of Armed Colony Vessel 1 was going to be a serious blemish on his record. He was also sure that it had been necessary for the Evacuation Group to clear the space around New Home 3. One and a half million lives saved would be more important than a single Armed Colony Vessel lost.
The Commander of Patrol Vessel 24 felt the field at his station alter as the message announcing that the last of the Colony Vessels had completed loading passengers was received. The Commander altered the field at his station to send a message of his own to the group.
It was time to leave.

October 28th 1930 hours/7 light minutes from Triton

Rear Admiral Jack Ryan looked over status reports on his monitor. They had managed to rendezvous with the convoy bound for Triton, but the next step was not so clear. The convoy included three armed ships, the US Q Ships Vigilance and Steadfast, and the FSC Armed Freighter Krait. Four on two was good odds but deceptive in this case. The Steadfast and Krait were only weeks out of dock and the crews were unprepared for combat. The Vigilance was a veteran of several battles but was still in the process of recalibrating and checking systems after the recent repairs at Mars Station. The Yari was in even worse shape. The shields had been restored to function, but portions of the missile storage bays had been damaged, along with most of the electronics on the bridge. Many of the systems on the bridge were now operational, but it would take little to knock them off line. It would only take a little more for the ship to come apart.
'Regardless, we have to go back. The aliens may have reinforced but it seems unlikely. If they had any more assets nearby, they would have committed them to the attack. If there are any troops left alive on the ground, the longer we wait the more of them will die.' The thought of the ground troops made Jack remember Randy. Captain Brown has spent the last few months doing everything he could to keep those troops alive. It now included dying to protect them.
'We need to hurry back.'
For the moment the Yari wasn't going anywhere. She was docked to the Steadfast. The supplies they had loaded only days ago had ended up vented during the battle. The crew was in the process of loading on the bare minimum required to keep the Yari operational, but it was still going to take time. As soon as that was complete, the group would begin the move to Triton. 'What we're going to do when we get there, well, I've got six more hours to figure that out.
Jack looked up to see a cyborg standing at attention in front of his station. It was a vaguely female form holding a small metallic tablet. 'Must be from the Steadfast. No one on this ship would bring me a report.' Jack looked again and noticed no name or rank was displayed on his HUD. 'Strange. Looks like this one is put together from odds and ends of several different models. Hell, looks like it might even be from several manufacturing sites. Not all of them US by the look of it.'
Jack paused for a moment to think. No name or rank, and the model is indistinct. 'Is she a spook?' Jack had heard of cyborg spies before, but always dismissed the whole thing as rumor control. Scuttlebutt was that they were cobbled together to make them fit in about anywhere, particularly with civilian models. They were supposed to be dropped on other nations colonies. They could survive in most any environment, and conduct surveillance on otherwise unreachable locations. They had no intrinsic identity, and using onboard programs could copy another 'borgs ID software settings and blend into a foreign population. 'But why in the hell send a spook out here. There isn't anyone out here other than aliens to look at, and they are underground. It won't be easy to get a look at them.'
Jack suddenly realized that Triton wasn't the only possible site this spook would want to go. 'They know about our little trip to Sedna back home.' Jack could feel himself slump into his station. 'My ship is shot to hell, and they are going to expect me to get this girl on the ground at Sedna so she can begin surveillance on any aliens there.' Jack sat back up at his station. 'This isn't going to work if that is the plan, and whoever ordered this insane little mission is about to be disappointed.'
Jack stood up and held out his hand. "Alright whoever the hell you are. Give me the damned orders and report in." The cyborg in front of him handed the tablet over and Jack began to key in a code to unlock whatever message it held.
Jack sat down heavily in his station and the tablet drifted absently across the bridge as the crew fell silent. Jack felt as if he had been hit by lightning as the cyborg had reported in.
"It me daddy. Lieutenant Commander Megan Ryan, reporting."
...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: October 2204

Postby procyon on Sun 17 Jul 2011 01:16

October 2204 part 7

October 29th 0610 hours/Elders' Chamber, New Home 1 (Eris)

The Elders assembled to review the latest developments. First among them were the transmissions from Patrol Vessel 24 that one and a half million survivors had been rescued from the surface of New Home 3. The destruction of one Armed Colony Vessel had left the group unable to completely evacuate the survivors, resulting in several hundred thousand being left behind. The pain of leaving that many behind to their inevitable doom would weigh heavily on all those involved. But so many had been rescued that would also have died, that this operation would be declared a great victory and those involved in the rescue would be remembered in tales for generations to come.
Also of great interest was the news on the small mass driver system. It had finally been completed and initial tests had shown promise. The development team had been able to demonstrate successful interception of surface launched torpedoes from New Home 1 by the new rapid-fire mass driver. Initial tests had shown about a 20 percent interception rate, but this was expected to improve as crews gained familiarity with the system and the software of the system was refined. Projections indicated that when properly deployed the pattern density it could project should be capable of nearly a 50 percent interception rate on the torpedoes of the native race. It was even feasible that a single installation would be capable of deploying several patterns of the 0.2-gram projectiles with sufficient densities that intercepting multiple inbound torpedoes in an incoming salvo would be possible.
The elders took little time in confirming the installation of the new defensive system on all available Patrol Vessels and the remaining Assault Vessel. If possible two of the new defensive systems would be installed on the large ship, but even a single installation would vastly improve its ability to engage the native race.
It had been a long time since the Assembly of Elders had heard so much good news in a single meeting.

1925 hours/GTOS 23, orbit of Triton

Lieutenant Commander Meagan Ryan wanted to get sick or close her eyes, but she couldn't do either one. The inside of the lander seemed to spin and roll out of control as the drive fired and cut out. 'It's just a routine landing on the surface.' Meagan tried to tell herself that over and over again. It made no difference.
She was still adapting to this new body. She had passed the initial testing and training, but was far from finished. 'I haven't adjusted to all of this yet. I should have waited.' Her head started to hurt from the vast overload of her senses and she finally keyed off the visual feed. It didn't stop the vertigo but at least eased the pain somewhat.
'Did I make a mistake? Is it to soon?' Just thinking made her head throb more. 'It normally takes four months to complete the testing and classes, undergo everything it takes to adjust to 'the change'. But I need to do this. If I didn't, Admiral Walters wouldn't have ok'ed it.'
The headache began to fade as she heard the comm system announce they were landing. Turning the visual feed back on the grey haze had disappeared and she started to feel better. A slight jostling let her know the ship had touched down. Meagan unlocked her station and moved toward her equipment. It was time to test her theory. She had studied the alien ship's magnetic fields longer than anyone she knew. But this was definitely uncharted territory.

October 30th 1255 hours/Sector 20:25, 4500 meters below the surface of Triton
Oberfeldwebel Tanya Frank held her hand up and signaled the squad to halt. Not that they were going to go anywhere if she stopped. The tunnel they were in was a tube just a little over a meter and a half wide. But ahead the tunnel widened as it intersected with another tube. This was always the sign that another 'shelter' was ahead crawling with aliens. Perhaps hundreds of them. Tanya raised her 18mm and fired down the tunnel ahead. The tunnel filled with dust as chunks of the walls tore away. It would be impossible for the alien 'suits' to operate down here so the flechettes would do just fine. The aliens were difficult to see on thermal readings, and using lights just seemed to be good way to get yourself killed. So every chance you got you cleared the tunnel ahead.
This operation was different though. Not your usual search and destroy. They were babysitting some US 'borg that was obviously a spook. Wouldn't show up on anyone’s display as anything but an outline. No code number, name, rank, anything. Just a shape. Which meant they had to be careful as the automatic weapon safeties wouldn't prevent you from shooting it.
Tanya moved into the tunnel and stood up. She moved forward and signaled for the squad to advance. What they were looking for was ahead. They really needed more troops if they were going to crack a nest of the aliens. But once again, that wasn't the plan. 'What the hell is the plan though. Might be nice if they told us.'
Tanya looked at the US 'borg and tried to figure out what the thing was wearing/carrying. It looked a little like a generator, an antenna array, and a keyboard. Nothing like any weapon she had ever seen. The US lasers sometimes looked a little strange, but they at least resembled a rifle. Not this though.
Tanya stopped and dropped to one knee. Her HUD was showing movement ahead. Dozens of aliens. Most of them were smaller. Immature. But the bigger ones were moving forward. Tanya had seen it before. The grown aliens would try to close and ''push' you into walls or each other. Some could even mess with the electronics on a cyborg if they got close enough. But these were too far away. They would never get the chance. Tanya raised her weapon.
"Hold your fire." It was that damned US spook. She hadn't spoken in German, but the translators had handled it. The aliens kept closing. In seconds they would be to close. 'We don't have this sort of time, and we aren't dying this way.' Tanya aimed at the closest alien, and then stopped.
She lowered the weapon and looked. They had all stopped and were hesitating. Then as one the aliens settled to the floor of the tube with their longer tentacles tucked underneath them. "What the hell just happened?" Tanya risked a look back at the US 'borg.

1226 hours/Brood Mother 218, 4500 meters below the surface of Triton

The Brood Mother was not sure if she had done the right thing, but they would surely have died anyway. All of them, including the young. She was prepared to die, but didn't want to. No one wanted to. But all the machines could do was kill. And they were good at it.
But what had just happened had shocked her. It had never happened before. There was no emotion to it. No soul. It was definitely a machine.
And it had said only one thing over and over.
"Stop. Live."
"Stop. Live."
"Stop. Live ....."
...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: October 2204

Postby procyon on Sun 17 Jul 2011 01:17

October 2204 part 8


This month saw a large amount of activity from everyone, just no huge battles. Most folks had taken too much of a beating to keep up the previous levels of combat, but preparations for the next round of battles was underway.
Focus shifted to new construction and refits, or ground ops on New Home 3/Triton. Research was still a focus but only bore fruit in a few places. The only battle was a see-saw affair that I had thought was going to be entirely one-sided.

For the Pan Euro,
This month was mostly about staying out of trouble while she finished up repairs on the Red October, shook down the crews on the Attack Escorts she had repaired last month, and tried to get farther on her research projects that she hoped would change the balance of power. She continued to colonized in the belt and invest in IU, but this month was spent by my wife hoping nothing would happen to her.

For China,
With his ships gathered at Venus, it was time to restart his grand project. But as he looked at it he decided that a few more ships he could quickly put into service was more important than tying down half of his construction assets in a project that would take a year to complete.
He continued his colonization of Titan so he was pleased to see his income actually growing again, abet slowly. He also managed a success on his roll for his research in Q to SL1, Not a game shaking event but it still improved his mood.
His random event roll turned up a breakthrough that would be shared with all races in contact with the world it occurred at. I decided that tractors would be a boon to the players without giving them a huge advantage and that no one would be to upset if everyone got it but one person was successful in implementing it first.

For the US,
This month the US was the only player to see ship to ship combat. It was a frustrating combat for both sides as the balance swung back and forth, but the lost truly frustrated the oldest boy. He was torn between trying to cripple up or destroy more alien ships or save his admiral. In the end he decided that the loss of Jack Ryan would be far worse than letting the aliens win an engagement.
He continued to pump his income into colonization and IU to try and even the current imbalance in resources, but he was already looking at what it would take to capture an alien pop unassisted. His focus on production of Q Ships was more of a drive towards this than a desperate attempt to rebuild his combat forces.
He also had a random event for the month that I had been struggling with. It had turned up an act of heroism that would give his ships a +2 on advancement rolls that month. I had been trying to come up with some FT rescue or such to justify it, but the heroic stand of the Taylor at Triton fit the bill. The lucky shot narrow beaming the Lb on the Taylor and taking out an Attack Vessels Pta was a real battle changer in itself. The 'dance of death' with the Armed Colony ships put the icing on the cake and the legend of Capt Randall Brown was born - who destroyed two alien ships and crippled two others with an outdated US design to save the ground troops he had helped for so long.
It helped the Sai and Yari make it to Elite, the Vigilance and JFK to Vet, and a roll by the Steadfast got her from Poor to Average in one month (technically still against the rules, but if combat could get a ship there in one month for us, the Taylor's sacrifice felt like it merited the same consideration).

For the FSC,
This month saw the oldest girl take over the battle on Triton's surface. What looked to be a cake walk turned terrifying for her as she watched the troops destroyed and her helpless to intervene. Discussions on using the underground shelters to save some ended up with the ruling that one Qv of troops could shelter in each unoccupied PTU capacity of shelter. In this way she saved some. The arrival quickly thereafter of the supply ships kept her from ending up with no H to support her troops.
A lucky roll put her over the top and she managed to succeed on the assault phase and next month would enter the consolidation phase. Her luckiest roll was on trying to open communications. She managed another good roll (the dice favored her this month) and she got partial communication. In that she would need full communications to enter the peace phase, she was quite pleased.
She didn't realize her older brother was possibly even MORE pleased.

For the Nemotians,
The big gamble for the month was the rescue at New Home 3. The loss of one Colony Vessel prevented the complete evacuation, but getting 30 of the 35.2 PU off that world was still a huge victory. The loss of one Attack Vessel and a converted FT was acceptable in light of the increased income the victory represented. The loss of a US Interceptor (the player with the most interest in continuing the fight out system) made it an even better trade.
The success of the Armed Colony Vessels did make me look at the possibility of reactivating the last five of the Colony Vessels as a quick boost to Nemotian fleet strength. They had proved rather durable.
The success on the Da was a big bonus, but would require another round of refits for the Nemotians. The return to combat (and slowing the players) would be delayed, but I hoped the addition of the Da would make a large difference.

I will edit in the ship statistics for the battle tomorrow night. I just realized as I was spell checking this at work that I hadn’t included them. Oops.

This was pretty much it for month 22. Thanks again for reading.

Ok, here is the battle I forgot to post.

Releif of New Home 3

US Task Force 3
Admiral Jack Ryan (LG+2 / Navigator)

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

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

Nemotian Patrol Group

Patrol Vessel 24 (BG)
Class: CT 16HS
[2] S S A A Hs (Bsa) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1] cg x1

Attack Vessels 3 (BG) , 4 (BG)
Class: ES 12HS
[2] S S H Ya Qa (Cp) Pta [6/1]

Armed Colony Vessels 1 (BG-2) , 7 (BG-2)
Class: FT4 30HS
[2] S H H A H H Qv (x15) Kb+ (Cp) Qa (Cp) [4/1] cg x1

Colony Vessels 2 (BG) , 3 (BG) , 6 (BG) , 10 (BG)
Class: FT4 30HS
[2] A H H A H H Qv (x15) H (x7) Qa (Cp) [2/1] cg x1

This battle started with the Taylor hiding behind Triton and the Yari about 2 hexes away. The Nemotians started at the outside of sensor range with the Armed Colony / Colony Vessels in a group about 12 hexes behind Patrol Vessel 24 and all of the Nemotian ships shields down.
The opening parts of the battle went about as I expected, and I wasn't too worried about the Taylor hiding behind the moon. I had expected to maybe lose the hold and sensor on the undamaged Attack Vessel, or for the Lb to speed the destruction of the damaged Attack Vessel. The lucky roll on the narrow beam taking out the Pta was a rude surprise.
In the end the Taylor's twisting battle with the Armed Colony Vessels left it open for the long range attacks of PV 24. And so ended the little ship that had cost the Nemotians so many ground troops and PTU on Triton. But it did manage to destroy one Attack Vessel, leave a second unable to fight, and destroyed a third armed vessel in a single engagement.
Not bad for an average grade crew on the oldest boy's second line ship design.

But as the saying goes "Show me a hero and I shall write you a tragedy...."
...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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