Author Topic: Nemesis Campaign  (Read 14748 times)

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Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2010, 02:23:07 AM »
February 2203   part 1

February 2nd
   Admiral Jude Kushnir stood at the viewing plate looking at the progress.  Early this morning the Heavy Escort Tatianna had arrived at the Pan Euro Spaceworks.  She was docked in slip two, beside the Anastasia docked in slip one.  A last minute change in directives had brought the Tatianna in from the belt colonies.  It was planned for all the Heavy Escorts to refit the compartments holding the laser equipment over to long range missile bays. After the Red October's successful demonstration of the new sensor array's combat capabilities, it was decided that the Heavy Escorts should also be equipped with this new sensor package while they were in for refits.  It should significantly increase their combat effectiveness should hostilities flare again.  The Rebecca was undergoing the same upgrades at the Mercury Spaceworks.  The sensor array would end up weakening the outer plating and baffles due to its need to pass through these areas, but it would make little difference if it enabled them to engage targets at a range the enemy would be unable to respond at.  It would take most of the month to complete, but would be worth it.  The Chinese were still licking their wounds and were unlikely to try anything this soon.  
   'It will also give me a chance to talk to Captain Keely Sereg, and get a more personal first hand account of what happened out there.' she thought.  After Action Reports and ships logs were well and fine, but you could never replace the personal view and sense for the battle.


   Captain Jack Ryan looked about the bridge.  It was the first time he had set foot back on the JFK after he had been rescued from the damaged hull.  That had been when he and his five shipmates had managed to limp her back into the Martian Shipyards.  When he had left, he was simply the senior engineering officer.  Now he was going to be her Captain.  Jack didn't recognize any of the names on the ship roster, but there had been a flurry of new faces over the last month.  With the new treaty, perhaps there would be a chance to get to know these new shipmates.  If he got to stay.  Rumor was that he was to remain at Mars and await the rest of the newest US Task Force.  Joining him would be the newest Interceptor, the B. Franklin.  With her would be the two new missile ships of the Raptor class.  They were based on the Euro's Armed Explorer class that had performed well in the support role over the last few months.  They didn't have a lot of combat durability, but were quick to produce and put into action.  In a fleet with no active missile component, something to fill that role was needed.
   Rumor also had it that he would once again be promoted.  'What a farce.' Jack thought.  'They are calling me the hero of The Battle of Jupiter's Moons.  It was a catastrophe for us, and it was my fault for rushing in and not letting the Euro ships with their missiles do what they seem so good at.  Now after riding a wreck into Mars, and then getting another ship destroyed, they might promote me to Rear Admiral and give me a Task Force.'  Jack shook his head.  
   At least the task before him was something he could sink his teeth into.  Taking out a ship for a shakedown cruise, to see if the repairs and new systems were up to snuff.  Fixing the inevitable problems and breaking in the newbies.  Now he just had to do it on a much larger scale.

February 3rd
   Admiral Hu walked through the compartments of the Cruiser Tung for the second time today.  If she was still at Venus, they would have to suffer his attention on a regular basis.  The reports that had come back from the ships returning from Jupiter made it look like the Tung may not have done very well in that engagement.  Her sensors were no better than the Frigates, and would have been just as ineffective.  The short range missiles were powerful, but it was almost impossible to close to effective range for them.  There were already rumors that the Ministers were going to have the short range launchers replaced with the new longer range versions.  What wasn't rumor was what was happening in the work bays of Venus Station.  The first pieces of the hull of another cruiser were being fabricated.  She would eventually join the Tung, but would not be operational for quite a while.  For the time being, they would have to manage with the six Attack Frigates of the fleet.  They were dispersed at the moment, with two each at Earth and Ceres, and the last two split up between patrols around Venus and escorting the survey vessels bound for Saturn.  With no other colonization opportunities, expansion would have to wait for the surveys to be completed.

February 7th
   Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon looked over the training schedule for the day.  Scrolling through the listings on her monitor made her feel at home.  Training Command had been her first and only assignment when she had been posted after her training cruises.  Brenna's quarters here on the Cynthia were almost cramped compared to even the Tatianna, let alone the Red October.  But the Red October and Tatianna were both back at Earth, and she had six ships to look after and train.  Two were the newest Attack Escorts, the Boudicca and the Cynthia.  With them were the Armed Explorers Louis, Cornwallis, Cromwell, and Wellington.  They had been formed into the Pan Euro's newest combat formations, the 1st and 2nd Light Battle Groups.  It was her job to get them combat ready in as short a time as possible, just in case.  She had never seen so many ships in one place, even if they were small. She wished it was for a parade, and not such a necessity.
   She was also responsible for reviewing and in a remote way, supervising, the training of the Catherine and Isabelle while they were on patrol at Jupiter.  They were the security element for the three science vessels currently surveying Callisto. Current colonization efforts were aimed at the asteroid belt, but that would change as soon as the surveys were completed and the results compiled.

February 18th  
   Commander Larry Jessup wondered how long they would be out here.  The Outreach and her four 'dingies' had been compiling information on Uranus' moons for the last week.  It had been rather productive.  Several of the moons were showing rich deposits that the US would be able to exploit when colonies were emplaced on these moons.  But it would be in the far future.  That was why the Outreach was alone out here while the Discovery and all the small support vessels were working in the Trojans.  The environment was rich here, but extreme.  Most of the moons only hovered a few dozen degrees Kelvin above absolute zero.  A man could survive down there, but only with a lot of equipment and support.  It had also been interesting to study the planet, the thin rings, and moons.  They were unique in that the planet's poles for rotation were pointed in line with the sun instead of at some close approximation of 90 degrees from it.  At some distant time in the past something had tipped the planet.
   "Sir, I have a new contact.  Wait, three contacts.  Transferring data to your monitor."  The sensor officer was already prepping his position to lock for acceleration.  The monitor screen lit up with information.  How had they gotten so close?  Hold on, they were little things.  Ships' boats or such.  The sensor returns were not identifying the manufacturer, but with the plethora of civilian models that wasn't unusual.  What was very unusual was to see them out here!  They might occasionally make a run from the belt to Jupiter and back it the orbits coincided, but this was way too far for them to make it on their own.  Somewhere there had to be a vessel they were associated with. A vessel that had no commercial reason to be this far out.
   Commander Jessup keyed the all ship comm. "Outreach, lock and prepare for acceleration.  Landers one and two return to your bays.  Landers three and four move to intercept and identify the new contacts.  Sensor Conn download bearings and coordinates for contacts designated one and two.  Communications try to raise the new vessels.  Request immediate identification and reason for being in US controlled space.  Weapons crews, prep the laser for employment, just in case."  
   Jessup hoped in his gut (although he knew he didn't have one) that they weren't Chinese.  He had heard the Euro was doing training patrols.  Maybe they were part of some Euro group.
   "Sir, they aren't responding to any of our signals.  All contacts are engaging drives and maneuvering.  Contact Two is approaching Lander Four.  Contact One is coming about one two zero degrees to our bearing one seven five.  Contact three coming about onto our bearing one two two."  The Sensor Officer’s report cut out as Communications cut in. The comm link crackled with the static of a poor transmission.  "This is Lander Four.  We are trying to hail Contact Two but are getting no response.  We will pass at range of two seven thousand clicks from contact in thirty seconds. Will attempt identification at that time."
   Moments passed and the sensor readings from Lander Four began to fill Commander Jessup's screen.  They didn't make sense.  Drive bloom was of unknown manufacture, hull fit no known design scheme.  The civilian ships often were hard to identify, but there were only a few proven designs for the drives that would work on ships that small, and all the manufactures were registered and cataloged.  Same with ship hulls.  Unless they were a new military prototype. Then it wouldn't be listed anywhere in their records. And military meant trouble.
   "Drive engage, full acceleration.  Bring us about for a bearing to the nearest belt colony.  Euro or US, I don't care which.  Communications begin transmit of all information gained so far on Contacts to Mars Command.  Landers return to Outreach now."  Jessup hoped the base vessel for these boats wasn't to close.  The Outreach was a military design at heart, and capable of the same acceleration and speed as an Interceptor.  They just needed time to reach speed and a clear path.
   "Commander, new contact designated four.  Currently at six light seconds.  Unable to identify at this range.   Drive bloom present.  Um, there's more.  Transferring all contact information from sensors to your screen now."  The Sensor Officer, Lieutenant Commander Yanik, was a veteran of 22 years of service.  He didn't say um.  Not on contact information.  Jessup was getting more concerned.
   The screen showed that the contact was 60 degrees off their stern, but already moving at the maximum speed that the Outreach could achieve.  It would be hard to outrun them, but possible.  Kind of a gamble of who would burn out a particle accelerator or hit a piece of space debris first, but they would run just as much of a chance as the Outreach, if they decided on an extended pursuit.  They had to be using those ships' boats to check for contacts farther out than their sensors could reach.  What was strange were the magnetic readings from the ship.  All ships under combat acceleration projected sizable magnetic readings as they tried to compensate the acceleration's effect on the crew.  These magnetic fields and emissions could often be used to identify a vessel.  But this ship's readings were off the scale.  It would have to be the size of some of the smaller moons they had looked at to need this large a magnetic signature.  And then it would be much more diffuse.  This was so concentrated that it would cloud any attempts to identify the ship. They would have to get closer to get clear radar and lidar readings for a clean ID.
   "Sir, new contact.  Fast.  Probably a missile.  Inbound from Contact Four."  The Sensor Officer cut off any musings that Jessup had over the unknown contacts.  Jessup keyed up the readings.  It was too far.  Contact Four was still over five light seconds from the Outreach.  Even the reports from Jupiter of the Euro's new ship hadn't seen launches at ranges over four and a half light seconds.  Maybe they hadn't tried it at its longest ranges. Yet.
   The Outreach shook as the drive cut out.  Sensor readings showed a drive detonation at an unusually long distance from the ship, and a strange magnetic signature that had directed the superheated particles. The ones that had shredded the outer plating and ruptured the hull of the forward Lander Bay.  Bright red and white letters showed that Landers One and Two had been damaged, jettisoned, bay was venting, drive re-engaging.  Jessup keyed the comm link.  "Communications, send everything we've got and everything on the sensors and ship's log as it is recorded.  Also distress signal on all open frequencies."   Jessup knew the other ship was moving faster than him, and he was already in range.  His laser would never reach a target at this distance with any more effect than that of a flashlight.  "Bring us around.  Let’s see if we can get close enough to at least get an idea of who this ship belongs to before they kill us."
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #16 on: January 29, 2010, 01:48:36 AM »
February 2203   part 2

February 20th
   Captain Jack Ryan 'felt' the clicking of the magnets on his feet as they snapped onto the deck of the JFK.  He paced anxiously as he awaited the reply from US Space Command and Control in Houston.  He had received the distress call from the Outreach over 30 hours ago.  The first US ship to receive it had been the Outreach's sister ship the Discovery, out surveying the Trojans.  She had repeated the transmissions and boosted the signal as both she and the Outreach had been on sun grazing lines to Earth.  The solar interference was going to give them problems with transmissions.  To make it worse, Mars was actually in direct opposition to Earth, and had to relay any coded messages through links in the belt, slowing response time.  The delays were almost as maddening as the responses.
   His first request, and that of the Discovery, had been to request permission to attempt a rescue.  The Discovery was close, but not really meant for combat.  The JFK was the next closest combat vessel that could intercede.  Jack knew that regs would require a cruise speed that would make the trip to Uranus almost two weeks long.  But Jack knew the JFK, and knew her engines better than anyone.  He had also graduated first in his class at Annapolis in Astrogation.  He had already plotted a course that would get them to Uranus in less than six days without putting the engines over regulation limits on operation.  He had cleared it with Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon (sometimes it helped to know someone), to enter Euro space and use Jupiter to assist in the trip, making a slingshot maneuver using the great planet's gravity to take stress off the engines.
   That request had been turned down flat.  He had resubmitted it citing that the transmission had encountered interference.  The second response was the same as the first.  His last transmission had been a request to allow them to move to the Trojans to assist in guarding the Discovery and her tenders in case they were to be attacked.  The Martian shipyards had extensive defenses and shouldn't actually need the JFK to babysit them.
   The Comm Officer waved to let Jack know that the reply was coming in.  Jack quickly moved to his station and keyed the comm link on his monitor, not even bothering to sit down.  His hopes sank as he read the message.  There would be no rescue attempts.  No ships were to move from current stations.  The Discovery and her group would attempt to stay hidden among the asteroids of the Trojans while surveying.  Other ships were to remain where they were and prepare for possible hostilities. Neither Chinese or Pan Euro warships were to enter US space and any violation was to be considered an act of war.  Any unlogged ship movements were to be intercepted if possible, and reported to Earth if unable.  If attacked, close at max acceleration and transmitt all sensor data to Mars for relay.
   Jack sat heavily into his station.  He had thought that the risk of war had been avoided.  Someone out there still wasn't done.  What did command know that they weren't sharing?

3 hours earlier
   Admiral Bradley Walters shoved the portable monitor screen across the briefing room table and watched as it crashed on the floor.  "All right people.  You are supposedly the best out there. WHAT HAPPENED?!"  Admiral Walters knew that they weren't going to see any emotion on his faceplate, but that should have gotten their attention.  Over half the people in the room were from ground stations and had no cybernetic enhancements at all.  The others were all Space Fleet officers and wore the same cyborg body as he did.  They had been in this small corner of the US Space Station for the last 16 hours and he still didn't know what to make of it.  
   "Who the hell do we think is responsible for this?"  The flat monotone of the voice synthesizer didn't convey the frustration he felt, but it was all he had to work with. Half a dozen defense advisers all proceeded to put in their opinions, but not one had a real - solid - answer.  And there wasn't going to be any response other than waiting until there was an answer.
   "All right, enough with the opinions, they don't seem to be changing or getting any better over time.  What does analysis of the data downloaded from Mars indicate."  It had been the one gamble that the US had taken.  They had sent a troop transport out beyond the Pax line to get the downloads directly from Mars.  With the red planet on the wrong side of the sun, they had been forced to risk the transport's interception or destruction to get the data from Mars. A relay through the belt would risk interception by the other governments of Earth, or of its being compromised at the Transfer Station in the belt that would have to make the relay.  Both possibilities were unacceptable.
   "Sir."  Addressing the Admiral was a new face.  A human looking one.  'Ground lover.' thought Bradley.  "We have only a little information to work with but here are the conclusions we have been able to get from the two and a half minutes of encrypted transmissions we received.  The aggressor seems to have a targeting system beyond that of any currently known US ship.  It could be European.  If it were Chinese it should have seen employment at Jupiter, otherwise it is too new for them to be employing at that great a distance from any of their known production facilities.  They wouldn't have had time to get it out there without having been able to get it to Jupiter also.  And the magnetic emissions of the vessel would have made it difficult for them to employ a new sensor or targeting system without interference issues.  What the magnetic emissions are we don't know yet.  Current theory is looking into the possibilities of a targeting countermeasures system, or it might be part of a new drive acceleration compensator allowing for even greater short term acceleration in regard to the crew."
   "Who the hell are you."  Admiral Bradley began moving toward the new visitor.  This was the first bit of real information they had heard in almost 10 hours. And this visitor didn't look scared of an approaching cyborg.  Brave, foolish, or maybe used to the appearance.  Time to find out which.
   "Sir, Lieutenant Meagan Ryan reporting, sir."  Damn, it was Captain Ryan's daughter.  He had heard she had passed out of Annapolis with almost as good of marks in engineering as her dad.  Apparently she had found a job in the R & D sections. That explains why a cyborg doesn't bother her.
   "Sit down.  What else can you tell me."  Bradley moved close to her as she sat and slipped a small chip into the side of the only other monitor left on the table.  She began to key up the contents onto the screen.
   "Admiral Walters, we don't know for sure who this technology belongs to.  If it is European, we could be looking at the new owners of space.  We don't have anything close to field tests that can match this.  Here are the sensor readings on the missile.  For those of you in the room who can't see or don't know what you are looking at, let me summarize.  This engagement range is just outside the theoretical maximum range of the US Hera Class Deep Space Missile.  The hostile ship's magnetic distortion may make that reading inaccurate.  Or Euro deep space missiles' may have a slight edge on ours.  Here,"  Lieutenant Ryan pointed at the monitor, "is what is most disturbing.  The inbound seems to generate a strong magnetic pulse DURING the drive detonation.  This results in a much greater focus of the charged particles and ionizing radiation than anything we currently employ.  It would result in much greater on target energy delivered.  It would require an increase in current warhead yield of a factor of eight to achieve an equal on target yield."
   Several of the advisors in the room rose or sat back hard.  Several started to speak, but Bradley held up his hand and the room again fell silent. "You said eight times?" Bradley looked down at the Lieutenant.  She was biting her top lip, then nodded.  Bradley looked hard at the screen.  It didn't all make sense to him, but the young woman didn't look like a liar.  There was no way that the US could employ a missile with that warhead size.  Not in any short time frame.  And not against a power that already had a combat effective system.  Chinese short range missiles were rumored to have that level of yield, but payed for it in poor maneuverability.  And it had been shown rather conclusively that those short range missiles were not capable of this sort of long range engagement.
   "Sir, whoever is in control of this ship has a mastery of magnetics that we haven't even begun to consider.  At combat speeds, unless this aggressor was surrounded so that it was unable to gain an engagement range and hold it, all simulations have shown that it could likely destroy the US fleet.  If it's ammunition stores were adequate."
   "Are you referring to a one on one engagement?" piped up one of the other earthbound advisors.
   "No sir. This one ship should be able to engage the assembled fleet. And win." Lieutenant Ryan looked at Admiral Walters with a pale and cold look on her face. "The only simulations that showed any chance against the aggressor were ships in support of the US Ground Defense Grid and Martian Space Station.  The additional range of the ground based sensor stations allow us to use the current Hera missiles to almost their theoretical max range.  The aggressor only employed single launches on the three occasions it fired on the Outreach.  The US Grid can manage tracking on ten missiles simultaneously, while the Martian Station can guide six.  If the aggressor chose to stay in engagement range of those targets an Interceptor may be able to force an engagement on favorable terms.  This all hinges on the fact that the ship can only manage to control single or perhaps double launches.  The Euro Red October was capable of double launches at Jupiter, but is easily large enough to hold a third.  Unless this magnetic system uses up a substantial amount of ship volume.  We don't know.  But we do know that the Red October has been in Earth Space ever since her return from Jupiter."
   "Is it possible that the Pan Euro could build a ship this sophisticated at their Mercury shipyard's?"  Bradley bent close to Lieutenant Ryan, placing his faceplate just inches from her face. He could see the sweat beginning to bead on her forehead.
   "We don't know sir, but I would have to guess based on current information that yes, they could."  She stared back hard into the cold faceplate, refusing to flinch.
   "Order the fleet to hold stations.  We aren't going to abandon the belt now, but make sure the two Interceptors out there aren't together.  Send them coded orders for the captains' only.  If attacked to close at maximum acceleration and transmit on coded channel all sensor data to Mars. Make sure you receive that data Lieutenant Ryan."  As he stood back up and walked away he knew that everyone in the room knew that the belt and Trojan ships were being offered as bait to gain information.  But without that information, they were doomed to lose this war.

February 24th
   Admiral Hu sat in the fleet officer station onboard the Cruiser Tung.  It didn't make sense.  The open distress signal of the US Vessel Outreach had been received by the Attack Frigate Yunnan guarding the science ships at Saturn.  They had only been on station a few days when the message had arrived.  Admiral Hu knew that it wasn't a Chinese attack.  And the lasers sold on the black market were still trapped in Earth space, only safe because of the Pax Treaty.  Were the Euro and US fighting?  Was it a US ruse to lure other ships into a trap?  The later seemed possible as no US ships seemed to be responding to the distress call.  Why would they stay in port if one of their own were in distress?  Even if it were just to analyze the wreckage? Unless it was a trap.  Or they were that scared of the Europeans?
   With the Chinese fleet under strength, it was unavoidable to order the return of the Yunnan to Ceres.  A single Attack Frigate had proven to be ineffective against Euro ships, and even in groups they were hard put to meet them on even terms.  It was unlikely that they would violate the Pax Terra if it was the Euros' who were behind this, but Ceres was a rich piece of real estate, and the Euro was rumored to have a large number of ships in the belt for 'training'.  Under command of the now veteran Admiral Muldoon. That was a dangerous combination.
   Venus was also at risk, but as Admiral Hu looked about the bridge, he thought that the Euro might just regret trying to attack these shipyards.  The Venusian Shipyards were well armed, and with the Mao Tse Tung and Frigate Shangxi, they might be more than even the Euro could handle.  They were safe for the moment.  If the Pan Euro were to strike it would be in the belt, to cut China off from its one off-planet income source and holding. And if the Euro was just trying to exercise rights to all the bodies beyond the belt, they would find no Chinese ships to engage at Saturn.  Not yet.

February 28th
   Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon had transmitted to Earth that she had given permission for the Interceptor JFK to transit the Pan Euro's space near Jupiter.  Admiral Jude Kushnir wouldn't have let her, but it was done now.  What was curious was that no one had moved through Euro space. Jude fiddled with the monitor's keys.  It was an old habit she hadn't left behind with the rest of her body.
   The Heavy Escort Tatianna had left two days ago to join the rest of 3rd Battle Group at Jupiter.  With her new sensors she should be able to provide a decisive edge if anyone attacked the ships currently out past the belt.  The Heavy Escort Anastasia was due to be released for space duty in only a few hours.   With the 1st Battle Group, the Red October, and the Pan European Earth Defense Centers together, there was no chance of any realistic attacks on the Euro holdings inside the Pax Terra line.  The Mercury Spaceyards were equally as safe with the release of the Heavy Escort Rebecca to the 2nd Battle Group five hours ago.  Only the belt and Jupiter were vulnerable, but that couldn't be changed.
   Jude stepped off the GTO Lifter into the Loading Bay of the Red October.  An Honor Guard was waiting on her, as was Captain Robert McNeely.  If the Chinese and US were at war again, it would only be a short time before the Euro was pulled into the hostilities.  And this time she wasn't going to sit on the safety of the Euro space station inside the Pax line.  The Red October was a science vessel, but she was also a combat proven vessel.  And she would be Jude's flagship if all this went to hell.



Later... in the space beyond Uranus
   The Dutchman sat locked into his station on the Kestrel.  The message of the Outreach had found him unloading a Euro cargo to one of their colonies in the belt.  He had thought if he could 'rescue' a few of the US crew members, that perhaps the US could be persuaded to let the Mary and Marie exit from Earth space undamaged. His momma hadn't raised a fool though, and he wasn't the type to just rush in.  'Enough folks out there want my hide, and I’m in no rush to give it to them.' he thought.  The Kestrel had passed beyond Uranus and come back towards the planet from the out system side.  And well off the ecliptic.  With her engines shut down, drifting through space like any other rock.  When a contact sprang to life on his screen he had thought he was a goner.  The Kestrel was as fast as any warship he knew and faster than some.  But it still needed time to come up to speed.  And the contact had been too close.  Barely two light seconds.  But it had turned out to be a ship's boat.  But not a US design as far as he could tell. And it didn't seem to know that the Kestrel was there, or at least that it was a ship.  So he had waited.
   Then the other contact had arrived.  The signature was unreal.  And not worth dying for.  It definitely didn't look like IT needed rescued.  The Kestrel had engaged its drives and red lined them.  The contact had activated it's drive also, but had been on a poor vector to pursue and had been unable to close.  It was a few minutes after the contact had dropped off of sensors that The Dutchman had ordered the course change that would hopefully confound any pursuit.  Then he had shut down the drives.  Invisible he hoped.  But still locked into his station.  As were the rest of the crew.  And they would be staying there for at least the next eight hours, maybe twelve.  What his sensors had recorded would probably be worth a lot of money to the right people.  If he lived to sell it...



Also near Uranus.....
   The ship came about and sent the message and data back to the colonies.  They had been seen and the contact had escaped.   Hours later the message to return to the nearest colony had arrived.  Their was no reason to die defending this empty planet. Return to base of operations.  The ship’s commander ordered the scout vessels to return, and then to engage drives for cruise speed and a bearing for their new home.

   The crew on the ship had evolved on a moon with less than one hundredth of a percent of the light earth receives.  But the planet and moon both had strong magnetic fields. It was in the pitch dark and vacuum of their home they evolved to use these magnetic fields to see, and eventually to communicate - manipulating the metallic hydrogen that was part of their metabolism.  They could even use it to manipulate other objects if the fields were right and the range close enough.  With no light, and living in near vacuum. the magnetic fields were everything to survival.  This new race used magnetic fields also, but there were also other emissions.  None had proved harmful, though.  But the first ship had turned and rushed at their ship after it had been damaged.  Perhaps it did carry some form of weapon, and this race understood war.  The drive systems were very similar between the races.  Maybe they had meant to use it to burn or irradiate them and cause damage.  It didn't matter.  They would never get that close.  And they would all perish, as the other races had....



///////////
Overview
I had seen the paranoia of my family during the pre game turns and first turn, and being your average space master, decided to run with it.
We have family game nights once a week, just so that we actually see each other occasionally.  With a family of two parents and six kids - four of which are teenagers, schedules can keep us apart quite a bit. Its not always the same game week to week, but something.
This night I had decreed that family game night would actually have everyone SEPARATE.  My wife was skeptical, but even she wanted to get onto the next turn (she loves it when she is winning).  I justified it by telling them that their were accounting inconsistencies on the first turn reports they had turned in, but nothing earth shaking.  I just wanted to go through turn twos sheets with them to make sure it was all getting done correctly.  No one wanted to have their turn sheets come up for public scrutiny so each happily went off to separate rooms - with instructions to finish up turn 2 and I would get to each of them a couple of times.  - Everyone out there can see where this is going I'm sure.
After correcting the few errors there had been, the oldest boy - who was already regretting focusing on a short range weapon only strategy in an environment where long range weapons could do as much damage at greater range - got to find out that his ship Outreach had made contact.  After each turn with him I went off to another room.  This had him fairly well convinced that another player was running the other side of it (we have a bunch of hex maps and counters from several editions of the game).  When his ship was about finished, he declared he would make an open broadcast distress call, so that everybody would know.  When the other players found out no one was in a hurry to respond.  Only the oldest girl decided to be nosy and sent her little ship Kestrel.
When we closed the turn and the players had done everything they wanted and gotten all the info I decided they had available, they were free to leave their rooms.  Then the fun began.
For days they would gather as a group or in ones and twos to discuss what had happened or what they thought had happened.  They occasionally asked me, and I only told them to go back to any notes they had made, or answered simple game mechanic questions if they had one. After a week they still were not sure what was going on and none of them trusted each other.  I think even if they had revealed their turn sheets, it would have kept going with them accusing each other of creating fake sheets for just such an occasion.  
No one even considered an outside force had arrived.
Kind of a sad social commentary when you come to think of it.  A family failing to work together.
But it sure was a fun start.

The ships involved at Uranus are as follows,

US Exploration Vessel Outreach      ES   12HS
[2]A A (BbS) H (BbS) Xp Lb Qa (Cp) [6/1]  gig x4

Nemotian Patrol Corvette      CT   16HS
[2]S S A A Hs (BbS) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1]  gig x3

And for those who are curious
-House rule for population growth was 10 turn rule (only growth on turns ending in 0) with slow growth set at 1.5% per 10 turns.
-FT leased earn 3/4 normal income (instead of 1/4 as normal for cruise speed 1).  Just enough to cover maint, but not as good as IU per MC.  But with war shutting down the CFN reliable FT to carry maintenance for ships was necessary.
-Escape/life pods just weren't really believable with the tech explanation. Out in a gig or not at all.  And you couldn't go faster than the gig for launch/recovery. Looked to be hard on the admirals you wanted to save.
-And everyone wanted the civilian structures from the Elite rules for Galactic Starfire included, just so they could pick on each others infrastructure. Or exploit their own when the opportunity arose.
-System generation was thrown out for Sol, with actual distances and orbits used as possible, although I have to admit that my math for predicting planetary position in 2203 leaves a little to be desired, but the major planets should be close to where they are supposed to be.  The moons were gauged off of internet engines for 2010 because I don't have enough accurate data on them all.  And all the dwarf planets are placed as accurately as I could manage with what little data I was able to amass or was available in some cases.  The Trojans are a half density field of 16 LM x2 with no impact on other bodies income and only half the normal pop cap.  For a moon to qualify for colonization it had to pass 500 km diameter or have a real good argument for inclusion.  Ceres counts as an O2 moon in the belt.
-And yes my majors in college were Chemical Engineering and Physics. Not English.
-Player start up was a modified version of NPR generation per the player's request.  They didn't want to all start the same.
-Don't ask about the pop. divisions on earth, it was a little complicated with players PU totaled for planetary PU total, and then the PTU divided up with the thresholds for a population level divided by four, etc, etc.  But the players were ok with it, and it seemed to work most of the time.
-Charged Particle drives aren’t supposed to be able to ‘detune’ for extra speed, but that seemed unrealistic, so we allow red lining of the drives to increase max speed by one with the same effect on targeting and turn mode. Its dangerous as the ships only carry half the number of engine rooms as an I or J equipped ship and burning one out would be close to a death sentence.  Seemed fair to us.

Turn 2
Pan Euro (EL1)   Confederacy      China (Ind 2)  Socialism   
GEV 1135.0MC            GEV 1241.5MC
Red October      FG x1      Cruiser Tung      CL x1
Heavy Escorts      CT x3      Attack Frigates      FG x6
Attack Escorts      ES x8      Convoy Escorts      EX x0
Armed Explorers   EX x4      Armed Colony Ship   FT2 x1

US Space (EL1)    Rep Democracy   Free Space Consortium (Ind 2) Anarchy
GEV 1059.5MC            GEV 215.8MC (not a typo, she wanted a small power that played pirate)
Interceptors      CT x5      Dutchman Class   FT2 x1
Exploration      ES x1      Kestrel Class      FT1 x1

Nemotians (EL2)
GEV 1156.2MC

At this point, with their over 3 to 1 advantage economically, if they would have trusted each other, the interlopers wouldn't have stood a chance.  But more ships were on the way. And like I said at the beginning, we are past turn 90 now.

PS, thanks to those who read all this so far and have said you like it.  Definitely makes it worth the effort. Hope you enjoy the rest as I get to it.
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #17 on: January 30, 2010, 07:49:23 AM »
March 2203 part 1


March 3rd  0520
   Dust swirled up from the Chilean street as The Dutchman stood in the dark alley.  The world had been a collage of green for the last two hours as he had switched over to the high gain circuit on the visuals.  He had adjusted the magnetics several times but just couldn't find a setting that didn't attract the dust to his faceplate.  He pulled the large hat down low to try and block the wind as his long duster flapped from the gusts.    Full cyborgs were almost unheard of in this part of town, and The Dutchman wanted as little attention as possible.  His left hand loosely held the grip of the MP71K under his coat as he scanned the darkness. The weapon was an antique by now, but the low noise signature of the carbon dioxide pulse laser was too useful to discard for this sort of work.
   A figure moved in the street.  Switching to thermal filter, The Dutchman could see the IR shape of the man as he approached.  Good.  No combat armor or cyborg,  just as he had told them.  He switched back to high gain as the figure drew closer to the alley.
   "Stop where you are, unless you want to die here."  The Dutchman had the uplink from the weapon tied into his visual and watched the targeting cross float on the man's chest.  "Why are you here."  He spoke in plain English, as he had indicated that he would.
   "I have confirmation of the Log Codes and frequencies for the Mary Reed and Marie Celeste.  They are even now enroute off the planet and into space.  Both the US Interceptors are docked at the US Space Station for 'repairs', as we said they would be.  We verified that the first 3 seconds of sensor data you delivered were real.  If you can deliver the rest of what you say you have, I can guarantee that the US Interceptors will remain in dock and your ships will not be followed.  Otherwise..."  the stranger let the sentence trail off.
   The Dutchman dropped a small package on the ground between them.  "The chip with the sensor logs is in the package.  So is eight ounces of complex B.  If my ships report any movement form the station, a signal will detonate that package. Our business here is done.  Go now."
   The man bent and picked up the package as The Dutchman backed into the alley even deeper.  Fifteen minutes later he set foot on the bridge of the Kestrel in orbit over South America.  "Lock stations. We're getting out of here before they figure out how to get that bomb defused."


March 4th  2215   
   Lieutenant Ryan sat in the briefing room with Admiral Bradley Walters and three other defense advisors.  She spoke as she pulled up information on the monitor screens.  "Gentlemen, the data from the sensors has been authenticated, but we can't be sure we are the only ones looking at this.  Our source is not what you would call 'exclusive'.  We have been able to get some more information from this, but not a great deal more than what we already knew. What's sure is that the unknown ship contact remained in the area of Uranus, and appears to have been using its small craft to perform surveys and reconnaissance of the moons there.  We have also been able to identify that the vessel does not seem to be able to accelerate more quickly than our Interceptors, and it maneuverability is not much better either.  The vessel making the recording was able to accelerate away from the contact before it could correct it's course and come up to speed."
   She looked up from the screen at the Admiral as she went on. "What we don't know is anything more about its combat capabilities or if it remained at the planet after the informant had left.  We also don't know who it belongs to for sure, as the magnetic distortion is causing issues we have not yet resolved.  Other sources of information confirmed that the Chinese have both of their Strike Vessels here at Earth docked in their shipworks and undergoing extensive refits.  We don't know what these refits are, or are for.  The Euro Fleet has not changed their deployment visibly, but have been tracked sending a large number of shipments that would seem to be bound for Mercury, although they could be diverting mid trip.  There is no indication that either group is preparing for an offensive inside the belt, while the Discovery and her escorts have reported no activity in the Trojans. That is all I have to brief on in this area."
   "What other information would you have to brief on Lieutenant?" the admiral said as he leaned forward in his chair.
   "Sir, we have been able to reverse engineer some of the data the Hancock gained on the Red October during the Battle of Jupiter's Moons.  Merill-Dupont is projecting that we will be able to deploy for field testing and use a sensor system based on the one employed on the Euro ship.  Initial testing looks very promising.  I have the initial test data transferring to your monitor now for you to review."  Lieutenant Meagan Ryan almost looked pleased with herself.
   "Alright, keep me up to date on any other information that we come up with in these areas.  For the moment you have been transferred to my staff while this situation is resolved.  You will make daily reports on the status of this new system, any new information on the unknown contact we can discern, progress reports on the refits of the JFK and Franklin, and any other tasks that Lieutenant Commander Jacobs details for you. Dismissed."  Admiral Walters looked at her as she rose and left.  When this was done, he might have to see about getting her transferred permanently.  She seemed competent, and was one of the few people he had met that did not seem intimidated addressing a cyborg.

   Rear Admiral Jack Ryan wondered how much less sense things could make before he started questioning his sanity.  He had just gotten done checking out the repairs on the JFK, the Franklin had just arrived fresh out of the 'yards from Earth, and now they would both be going back in for another round of refits.  The only operational ships at Mars would be the two new Raptor Class Missile Escorts, small ships with crews as green as spring grass.  'Thank god the Martian Spaceworks can protect themselves, their going to have to for a while.' he thought. 'Well, at least I will be able to concentrate on training up these two new ships, and learning just what the Hera class of missile can do before they install a bay of them on my JFK.'  He went back to checking the various news channels, looking for anything that might tell him where this 'war' was going.  


March 7th  0320
   Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon unlocked her station on the Heavy Escort Tatianna.  They had entered a stable orbit around Callisto five minutes ago, and checked out the new sensors in Jupiter's magnetic and radiation belts.  Readouts had been adequate, and a massive improvement over the former sensor suite the ship had mounted.  She still regretted leaving the two new Light Battle Groups in the belt.  She would just have to oversee their training from here.  The brass had decided the risk to Jupiter was just to great, and that she should be redeployed out here.  With no idea what was going on with the US, and the possible disappearance of the Outreach, they didn't want to take any chance that someone was up to no good out here beyond the belt.  The Trojans were an excellent place to hide a Battle Group if they were planning on making an attack on Jupiter.  She pulled up the patrol and general quarters rotation schedule for the 3rd Battle Group and began to make changes now that the Tatianna  had returned.


March 15th  0735
   Commander Rachel Pierce looked over the sensor returns as they came in.  A small mining craft had reported a contact here in the belt. The fact that the area was not yet open for civilian mining and exploration had missed the civilian crews' attention, but a contact in a restricted zone needed to be checked.  Particularly when the zone was only one and a half light minutes from Chinese held Ceres.  The Chinese had occasionally tried to sneak mining vessels into this section of the belt, but with the current situation, she needed to make sure.  She checked status reports on all three of her ships, the Attack Escort Boudicca, and the Armed Exploration Vessels Wellington and Cromwell.  All were currently at general quarters and primary safeties were released.  "Communications,  let the Chinese know we are patrolling this section of the belt.  No sense taking any chances they might overreacting to our presence if we surprise them.  It might get any small mining vessels out of the belt if they know we are here."
   "Commander, new contact, designating as alpha, bearing 057 at ascension minus 15, five point two five light seconds, heading one two zero plus three. Drive bloom detected, accelerating.  Hold, second contact, resembles inbound. Intercept in eighteen seconds."  The sensor officer continued to forward data to Rachel's monitor as she keyed for firing solutions.  The computer returns that the contact was beyond effective range made her heart sink.  "Engineering, full acceleration.  Comm, have the two Explorers..."  She never finished her command as the bright wave of superheated plasma washed across the space that the Attack Escort Boudicca hurtled through.
   Rachel's faceplate optic interface flashed wildly and then stabilized.  She watched as the computer vented the bridge compartment.  A hail of debris was thrown out into space by the torrent of argon.  She could just make out that it included the other 16 crewmembers of the bridge, her monitor, part of her station and her left leg.   Damage readouts on her faceplate had just shown that it was damaged and not responding.  Seeing it fly away gave her a sick feeling.  But her station had somehow survived.  She locked her fingers into the station link and saw a ship status readout begin to fill her view.  It was slow compared to the monitor, and she was forced to key with her left hand (it had always struck her as odd that even in a mechanical body the brain still tried to favor one hand), but she began to get results.  All weapons on the Boudicca were off line or destroyed, the magazine had vented, about the only thing still working were the particle accelerators in the heart of the ship and the drive shield that kept the nuclear bloom from consuming the ship.  A short range comm link still worked and she menu selected courses for her ship and the two Explorer's.  The Cromwell and Wellington were still undamaged, and after accessing their sensor returns, she gave orders to begin closing on the hostile contact. She selected a course away from the new contact and felt the ship lurch as the drive cut out and maneuver thrusters began the attitude change.  Only after did she realize that the sensors from the other ships had indicated another inbound on the Boudicca, one that had missed as she began her maneuver sequence.  The contact was following her as she moved away, and the two Armed Explorers closed with it.  As they reached effective range they launched on the contact, but seemed to have little effect.  She noted that during the exchange a third inbound had attempted intercept on the Boudicca and failed to damage her.  But how long would her luck hold?
   Rachel keyed the over ride from her ship and released the secondary safeties on the missiles onboard the Cromwell and Wellington, even as the Cromwell disintegrated under the impact of the detonation of the hostile contact's missile.  The Wellington managed one more launch before the link to the Boudicca cut out.  Rachel knew that both of the Armed Explorers were gone.  She selected for red line acceleration on the menu for Engineering, and felt her station vibrate ever so slightly as the engines drove the ship even farther from where the contact had last been.  She was almost six and a half light seconds from the contact before red lining the engines.  They should be able to keep out of weapons range now. She keyed the relay to download her log to the closest of the belt colonies.



   The commander watched as sensor returns tracked the damaged enemy ship, then it's drive bloom consumed the vessel as its shielding's integrity failed.  That was the last of them.  They had learned much on this patrol.  The enemy had weapons and could fight.  The first detonations of their missiles had caused two small particles to cross the bow shock of the magnetic field shielding the ship.  The field had been able to easily shoulder the particles aside, as they had picked up a substantial electric charge hurtling through the solar wind.   The last detonation had been much more violent, causing fuses to burn out and half the safeties to activate.  But the field had withstood the impact of charged particles with no real damage to the vessel.  The fuses would be fixed within the hour and the field returned to full strength.  
   The engagement showed that the Patrol Vessels would have to be more careful, as the enemy craft might be able to damage them if given enough opportunity. But the Combat Vessels should have no problem with the small vessels that this race used, and the short range and ineffectual weapons that they employed.  The commander doubted the enemy ships had even realized that they were escorting a mining ship here in the belt.  They would return to their new home now, early, but with a substantial cargo acquired from the asteroids of this sector.
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2010, 01:29:45 AM »
March 2203  part 2

March 16th  1000 hours
   The dead silence of the vacuum on the Red October's bridge was all that Admiral Jude Kushnir wanted to hear right now.  She was tired of requests from both Rear Admiral Muldoon and Commander Giovanni Vetra to attempt rescue operations in the belt near Ceres.  If it was the Chinese that were behind this, then they would simply be getting themselves killed, and losing combat vessels that the Pan Euro couldn't afford to be without.  If it wasn't the Chinese, then they would be risking another incident with them by operating so close to one of their colonies.  It would be better if a single science vessel were to analyze the transmissions and any wreckage that could be recovered.
   Jude had learned that the Attack Escort Boudicca had managed a short, very poor quality transmission before it had lost contact.  It's close proximity to Ceres meant there was a substantial chance that the Chinese had heard the broadcast, but it would take them a while to decode it if they had.  Currently the only ones possessing a copy of the transmission were the Belt Transfer Station and colony at Pallas, the ships of 2nd Light Battle Group run by Commander Vetra, and the 3rd Battle Group, which had managed to intercept part of the transmission.  The transmission had been immediately classified and rebroadcast forbidden due to the chance of interception.  The Red October would be in the belt in three days, and her onboard instruments and labs would begin analysis of the transmission at that time.  They might also scan for debris or survivors at that time, depending on the contents of the transmission.
   Until then, all that anyone could do was wait for the results.  Then they would take action.


March 17th  1225 hours
   Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon looked over the results of the analysis that Survey Vessel Raphael had performed on the short broadcast they had received from the Boudicca.  She knew she was violating regulations by releasing the transmission to the Raphael, but the scientific instruments she carried onboard would be able to make some sense of what had been broadcast.  The preliminary results were on her monitor now.  And they still didn't make sense.  But it was enough to send a cold chill down what was left of her spine.  One ship had destroyed an entire Light Battle Group.  One hit had taken the Attack Escort Boudicca out of the battle before she even reached engagement range.  And it appeared she was the only ship to survive an impact.  Barely.  The group's missiles didn't seem to have had any real effect on the hostile contact.  The battle had lasted less than four minutes from the first sensor contact to the last transmission of the Boudicca.
   What she was about to do would definitely violate regulations.  She could be court martialed, stripped of all rank, even executed.  She finished typing, and then pressed the transmit button, over riding the Comm Station and directly patching through to the tight beam transmitter on the Heavy Escort Tatianna.  
   It was done.

   1350 hours
   Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jack Ryan looked at the transcript of the message that had been received at the Martian Shipyard.  It had been transmitted in two sections.  The first had been an unencrypted memo from Pan Euro Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon saying that the second transmission was for Captain (she obviously hadn't heard of his recent undeserved promotion) Jack Ryan's eyes only.  The Sensor Conn had a running bet it was cyborg porno or some such, but Jack didn't think Admiral Muldoon was the type.  It had been sent in the old encryption protocol used between the US and Euro ships during the battle out at Jupiter, but the cipher was still in the JFK's memory banks.
   What was in the second half of the message was nothing he could have ever expected.  He had seen the Euro ships in action.  That three could be destroyed by a single ship was unthinkable.  And what in the hell was this other ship.  And why was it so close to Chinese held Ceres.
   Jack sat on the bridge of the Missile Escort Raptor, and keyed the comm switch.  He took the second transmission, returned it to its original encryption, and then subjected that to the current encryption protocol.  That would take anyone who intercepted it a while to figure out.  Jack had just gotten the note from his daughter yesterday of her reassignment.  To Fleet Headquarters and Admiral Walter's staff.  He added a small personal note, and sent the message forward to his daughter.  Anyone who got it would be less likely to try to decode what looked like a personal message between family.  Jack hoped they wouldn't, at least.


March 19th  0220 hours
   Lieutenant Meagan Ryan loved reading the notes she got from her father, but what was likely a congratulations note on her assignment had fallen on the back burner so to speak.  Her life had become very busy of late.  Very busy.  To busy for an 'I'm happy to hear it' note from dad.
   Now she wished she had opened it earlier.  The happy to hear it part was there, but what had been attached was not a cute little note.  Not at all.  It was obviously a sensor data record of a second contact with the hostile vessel.  And the analysis was horrifying.
   She keyed the comm link on her personal work station through to Admiral Walter's Administrative Assistant.  "This is Lieutenant Ryan.  Get the Admiral in his office in five minutes!  Do you understand me?!"  The babbling on the other end did nothing to impress Meagan.  "GET HIM NOW! THAT'S AN ORDER!"  She keyed off the comm and grabbed her dress uniform jacket.  She would have to leave making the uniform look good for later.  She downloaded the file on her personal chip, and ran from her room towards the Admiral's Office.

   0255 hours
   Admiral Walters looked at the staff that had hastily assembled in the briefing room. Since Lieutenant Ryan had arrived, they had added seven more analysts and two of the defense advisors that were still onboard the station.  If what they were saying was true, this would go a long ways toward explaining why the Pan Euro's Red October had left Earth Space so quickly late on the 15th.  And it made it look like the Chinese had a lot more up their sleeves than anyone could have imagined.  
   "Admiral, I think we have something you need to look at."  Lieutenant Ryan said, pointing at her monitor screen.  The Admiral moved around the table to see what it was she thought was so important.  "Sir, the magnetic signature that we were unsure of.  I think we have begun to figure it out.  The transmission is poor, but the field is unmistakable on this hostile contact the Euro ships engaged. Its the same as the ship that engaged the Outreach.  Now here, where the two small missile ships launched, that's what is interesting.  The field seems to fluctuate some, but returns to its prior emission state in a few moments.  But here, just before the Euro Attack Escort loses contact with the second missile escort, is what looks important.  There is a few seconds of sensor data following that ship's missile detonating its drive.  Right here."  She pointed at the monitor again.
   "Tell me what I'm looking at."  Admiral Walters said flatly, in the monotone only a cyborg could manage.
   "The field seems to have lost almost half of its strength signature.  It might be a defensive system.  Just like the Earth's magnetic field protects it from the charged particles the sun sends out, only this ship seems to have a much more localized and powerful field.  It's like nothing we have, even on the drawing boards."
   Admiral Walters stepped back.  "So you are telling me that this ship has a way to 'stop' a nuclear blast from reaching the vessel?"  Lieutenant Ryan looked squarely at the Admiral.  "That's what it would appear as Sir. But it looks like it might have a limit to the amount of energy it can redirect before it overwhelms the field generating system.  And, theoretically, it should also be transparent to our laser emitters.  Light is magnetically neutral and should pass through the fields with almost no distortion.  You just need to get close enough."
   Admiral Walters moved back around the table and sat down.  "Lieutenant Ryan, where did you say you got this transmission from again?"
   Meagan looked down at the table for a moment, but only a moment.  "It was in a transmission from my father.  He indicated that it had been sent to him from Jupiter, or on that bearing. He didn't say who had sent it to him."
   Admiral Bradley Walters thought. Someone out there was sticking their neck out a long way, and they were probably in as much danger from their own folks as they were from whoever was running these 'unknown' ships.  But they also appeared to be on the same side.  And a small thank you might be in order.
   "Clear the room.  Ryan, you stay."  As the room emptied out, Meagan looked at the cyborg across the table from her with some concern.  She didn't think he was aware that the message had sat in her files for almost two days before she opened it.  Was there something else he could be concerned about?
   "Lieutenant Ryan," the Admiral started, "I want you to send a message back to your father with only the basic findings we have on this field and its vulnerabilities, but no technical data.  I also want you to indicate that this 'hostile' is what destroyed the Outreach.  And that he is to return this information to where ever he received it from.  And indicate that any more data would be welcome.  You are to tell no one of this.  Do I make myself clear?"
   "Crystal, Sir."


March 21st  0800 hours
   The science quarters on the Red October were abuzz with activity.  The data from the transmission was of maddeningly poor quality, and the data on the contact that had apparently destroyed the 1st Light Battle Group was something that made no sense whatsoever.  It was becoming the general consensus that interference had garbled the data gathered on the contact.  But some of it had to be real.  Something had destroyed an entire battle group out here in the belt.  But what was leaving the entire staff on edge was Admiral Jude Kushnir's obsession with finding who was in control of the vessel that had destroyed the ships of 1st Battle Group.  Her insistence on almost hourly updates concerning the progress of the science team was leaving them no time to complete the work that they needed to accomplish for any sort of meaningful analysis.
   That and the fact that the data simply made no sense...

    1645 hours
   Brenna sat at her station reviewing the transmission that had come in a few hours ago.  It left little question as to what the contact data meant, and that the US was most likely well ahead of the Euro in analysis of what this new hostile contact was.  The Outreach must have transmitted more useful data than the Boudicca had, but that only made sense coming from a science vessel.  Regardless, if the Chinese had a vessel like this it would make the Treaty of Serenetatis worthless.  There would be little to stop the Chinese from trying to exert control over the outer system.  She had taken what she could of the message, and passed it on to the Raphael.  Perhaps with the insights in the message from Rear Admiral (congratulations again) Jack Ryan, they would be able to come up with something that would enable the Pan Euro ships of the 3rd Battle Group some hope of combating this new ship.  Now the challenge would be passing on this information to Admiral Kushnir without ending up in a planet side prison awaiting execution.


March 25th 0620 hours
   Admiral Hu reviewed the last exercise between the Cruiser Mao Tse Tung and the Attack Frigate Shangxi.  This would be the last training mission for the two before the Shangxi went in for refits.  The two Frigates at Earth would be done with their refits in the next month.  The remodeling of the bays would allow them to deploy three of the long range Dragon Missiles in each volley.  This would hopefully balance the scales in future encounters between the Chinese Forces and the US and Euro ships that had defeated them in the regions beyond the belt.  Rumors were all that could be found in the weeks following the broadcast from the US ship Outreach.  It seemed the US and Euro were waging a secret war over the outer system.  It looked to be a war of unpublished engagements and unknown victories and losses.  But with proper positioning, the Chinese might be able to secure a better position in the outer system if one were just to wait until the Euro and US had exhausted themselves on one another.

March 29th  2205 hours
   The briefing room was quiet and empty. The advisors had all left a few minutes ago. The news had been mostly good for a change.  It seems the field tests of the new sensor system had been a resounding success.  They were claiming that it would be ready for installation on combat ships at the beginning of April.  Four of the Interceptors were scheduled for refits, to include Jack Ryan's group.  He's probably beginning to wonder when we will let him take his ship out of dock.  At least when he does, it should be the equal of any ship in service. Two more of the Raptor Class Missile Escorts had cleared the yards here at Earth, and would complete the 2nd US Task Force.  Tactically,  the combination of advanced Interceptors - now designated the Mk IIa - with smaller missile support ships would enable them to deal with the new Chinese threat ship.  At least that was what everyone hoped.
   At least the news was mostly good.  There was one bad point.  A message had been received from Pan European Cargo Freighter 017 enroute from Belt Transfer Station Pallas to Jupiter with maintenance supplies.  It was a normal commercial run, logged with all the necessary licenses and flight logs.  It had made a broadcast in the clear to any ship able to assist in range. It had indicated that it was under attack by an unknown vessel.  It had only been able to broadcast for about 30 seconds before it had been cut off.  Sensor logs that it had transmitted were sketchy and unclear, but it appeared the aggressor had been the same class of vessel that had engaged the Outreach and Pan European 1st Light Battle Group.  It was obvious whoever was in control of the vessel - most likely the Chinese - was making it clear that they would tolerate no ships beyond the asteroid belt.  It was probably only a matter of time before they challenged the veteran Euro 3rd Battle Group at Jupiter, and claimed the outer system exclusively.  It would probably be soon after that they would try to exercise the same control over the inner system.  God help them all when that came to pass.
   The problem right now was that the civilian news services had caught the transmission, and the news of 'unrestricted war beyond the belt' was spreading.  The civilian lines were already canceling any shipping beyond the belt, and filing the legal injunctions to require armed escort in the inner system.  This would strap the already thin forces of the US Space services and make any sort of effective resistance to this new problem even more difficult.  At least the Discovery had almost finished its work in the Trojans and would be able to dispatch one of its tenders to carry the maintenance normally carried by the civilian lines.  They just needed to hurry up and get home.


March 31st  1400 hours
   The Dutchman wondered if this would be a good deal or not.  He had just accepted a sizable payment to carry supplies from the Euro belt to Jupiter.  It would definitely help to defer the expenses of maintaining his ships, but it was obviously dangerous territory.  Ships were disappearing, and not all unarmed cargo ships.  The Mary Reed, Marie Celeste, and Kestrel would all be making the run to Jupiter.  Together they were more than a match for most combat ships of the major powers.  But something had changed.  He couldn't put his finger on what it was, but space was changing, and not for the better.  Perhaps the Pan European Confederacy would be willing to divert some funds to having the group remain with the 3rd Battle Group as support.  For the right price.  Assuming they actually made it to Jupiter.  The Dutchman  keyed the comm link to have the crew check all systems again.  For the fifth time...


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

This month saw most of the players waiting for a big attack at the beginning of the month, and when it didn't materialize, they began a bunch of hasty refits.  They had all hedged their bets by issuing the orders for the refits to begin several days into the month, assuming they could cancel them if a war blossomed early on.  The mid month attack on the Euro was run in the same way as the attack on the US the previous month, but now they were beginning to suspect breaking the group up indicated an attack by an anonymous player. They still weren't sure what was going on.
A small amount of discussion between my wife and oldest son began to crystallize into the thought that the Chinese were behind the attacks.  They seemed to be behind in every way, but both knew that everyone had been offered a selection of advantages in the pregame setup to chose from.  No one knew what China had chosen (except the boy running China), and they wondered if he had a different weapon system of some type, other tech system, or maybe had 'discovered' alien technology and was using some alien ship while he researched the systems. Lots of theories, and planning to try to counter the 'Chinese threat'.
The player for the Chinese was happy to let the other players fight it out - he thought - while he tried to play catch up with the other powers.  He had decided his big ship was going to be an expensive target until he got better tech for his fleet, and was willing to wait it out.

The battle between the Nemotian Patrol Corvette and the Pan Euro 1st Light Battle Group was not a planned encounter, but a lucky (unlucky?) roll by the group as it patrolled the belt.  House rules require that a planet have a freighter link to an asteroid belt to get the belt bonus to income, and the Nemotians had dedicated a FT for this.  The 1st LBG rolled a 01 and made an intercept.  The rest is history.

The Patrol Corvette also rolled to see if it could make any commerce raiding and managed to snag a single FT that I declared to be one bound for Jupiter, as it was on the same radian at that time.  Bad month to be the Euro.

Good times for the US though.  The players that had started as Ind 2 had received a random number of RP toward EL1 like any generated NPR.  The very first month (Jan) had seen the US make its roll and get to EL1 right off the bat.  March saw them make a critical success (another 01 in one month) in sensors and got their operational Ya in the first month it had been possible to receive.  Lots of refits, but rapid ship advancement in tech. They also choose to receive double RP for normal cost over the next three months in sensor research. It would chafe my wife no end later to find out that the oldest son had achieved in three months all her pregame advantages.

Next month would see the fated confrontation between the Euro 3rd Battle Group and its Admiral Brenna Muldoon, and the new race.  It did not disappoint.
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2010, 05:28:23 AM »
April 2203

April 1st 2203   0315 hours

   Admiral Bradley Walters toured the Interceptor Lincoln less than one hour after her arrival in the Earth Shipworks.  She, along with her sister ship the T. Roosevelt, were the first Interceptors to undergo refits to the new Mk IIa standard.  With the improved sensor suite, Hera Missile bay, and extended magazine they would be the equal of any ship in use, with the possible exception of these unknown (Chinese?) contacts.  The other two Interceptors of Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jack Ryan would soon be undergoing similar refits at the Martian shipyards.  They already contained the Hera Missile bays, but would benefit from the new sensors and extended magazine space.  The last two Interceptors were performing duties as convoy escorts and patrolling the US portions of the asteroid belt when they were able to.  They would be the last to undergo the refits to the Mk IIa class, starting in early May.  
   For the moment that was all that could be done.  Research into the new magnetic systems would likely take years to complete. This war would have to be fought with the technology being installed on the Interceptors now.  It would have to be enough.


      0630 hours
   Rear Admiral Jack Ryan wondered if the brass back at Earth ever intended to let him command another ship, or if he was just supposed to supervise a constant stream of refits.  These were supposed to make the Interceptors into the new Mk IIa class, but it made little difference if the crew never actually got to fly the damned thing.  If the US was going to win whatever it was that was going on out beyond the belt, they would have to take their ships out of the slips eventually.
At least it was giving him a chance to write to his daughter more often than he had in years.  It was a shame that she was now the one who was to busy to write back.


April 3rd 2203  0600 hours

   Admiral Jude Kushnir signed off on the orders that would direct the Attack Escorts of the 1st and 2nd Battle Groups to report to the shipyards at Earth and Mercury for refits. They would remove the chemical pulse laser onboard, and fit the new sensors in the space provided.  They would also see a generous augmentation of the plating and baffles mounted on the vessels.  The Boudicca's failure under a single strike from this unidentified aggressor had made the shortcomings of the current design all to apparent.  With the new sensors and stronger defenses, they should be better able to engage this new class of vessel.
   The research occurring on the Red October was a less productive matter.  The data transmitted by the Boudicca before she lost contact with the belt colony was only of marginal use.  It was obvious that after this first month of analysis that it would take more accurate and complete sensor readings to try and identify the craft, it's weapons, or it's capabilities.  The Red October was going to remain in the belt for the next month continuing the research on the data it had, but this had more to do with the 2nd Light Battle Group having been reassigned from the belt to convoy duty.  The Red October had become the new patrol ship for the belt colonies.  Jude actually preferred this post to her one on Earth.  She had better communication with the belt colonies and the 3rd Battle Group at Jupiter.  This seemed to be where the worst of this situation was occurring, and it was just where she needed to be to keep some control of it.
   And just maybe the Red October would have better luck if she had to engage one of these craft.  With her better sensors and scientific equipment, she could possibly get the information they needed to identify this new vessel.  Until they knew who was employing this new ship, they had little or nothing they could do.  And doing nothing did not set well with Jude.

April 5th 2203   1320 hours

   The Kestrel undocked from the Euro Heavy Escort Tatianna.  The Dutchman checked to make sure the thrust vectors were correct as the ships separated.  He had tried to discuss with the Admiral out here that arrangements could be made for his ships to linger in Pan Euro space to help should 'problems' arise.  Assuming proper monetary compensation was arranged between their various employers.  She had been uninterested, and truth be told that suited The Dutchman just fine.  Rumors were beginning to spread that an entire Pan Euro Battle Group had fallen off the civilian resupply schedules.  That was more than very unusual.  And ominous.  A war was being fought out here, even if no one was talking about it.  And The Dutchman had no interest in being caught in the middle of it.  A war was a good chance to expand his business, but not at the cost of getting killed.  And folks were dying out here, he was sure of it.  The Dutchman didn't plan to be one of them.  Locking himself in his station he keyed the orders for all three of his ships to engage drives for standard cruise.  In six days they would be back at Earth, and this new cash would provide for some enjoyable shore leave.  There might even be some left for improvements to the old girls.  They might be needing some improvements in the days to come.


April 6th 2203  2245 hours

   Technician Harold Jager finished his calculations on the field strength distortions versus the sensitivity of the new sensor array, and tried to tune his small receiver set to the proper calibrations.  After a few attempts (one ruined by the firing of the maneuver thrusters jostling the equipment at his work station), he was sure he had the proper settings.  The Raphael had been intended as a planetary survey ship, but the instruments were also working quite well on this new field reception application of the current passive sensor array.  The instruments had originally been intended to do a thorough study of Jupiter's magnetic and radiation belts prior to colonization of her moon's.  But it worked well for this new project also.  Probably better than Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon had anticipated.  As he downloaded the settings and data into the Raphael's memory, he wondered if this work might be worth a raise in the near future.  It would definitely help his family back on Earth.  The disruption of the civilian freight lines out here in space was giving the economy back home quite the hit.  A couple extra Euros a month would be wonderful.

April 7th 2203  0110 hours

   Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon went over the result of Tech Jager's work again.  It was very impressive.  He had managed to take the small amount of data that the Boudicca had transmitted, coupled that with his limited understanding of what was supposed to be the highly classified workings of the new Phoenix Sensor Array, and come up with a method that would be able to discern the magnetic distortion of this new defense system at a range twice that at which it could detect the drive bloom of a ship.  It should be able to detect the magnetic distortions at a range of 15 light seconds.  A warning that early would allow the ship to easily lock stations and accelerate to combat speed before weapon exchange was begun.  They would be prepared for combat, or able to avoid it, whichever they chose.  The only drawback that the Tech had passed on was that the sensors would only be detecting the distortion.  If multiple ships remained close to each other, they would only appear as a single distortion.  They would have to close to conventional sensor ranges to allow the array to distinguish individual ships.
   He had shown that the launch from these ships carried its own distinctive distortion that even the standard sensor arrays aboard the Attack Escorts could use to target counter launches.  The final intercepts would have to rely heavily on the internal guidance systems of the Scorpion missiles, and would have a much lower interception chance.  But even a low interception chance was better than no targetting solution at all.  Brenna knew that they were out here on borrowed time, and that eventually they would have to face this new class of ship.  With this information, she began to see a strategy forming that might give them an edge in the coming engagement.  Assuming that the new defenses truly were vulnerable to their current weapon systems.  


April 19th 2203  0905 hours
(Date  37-17429  time 17468)
The Second Battle of Jupiter's Moons


   The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 assessed the sensor readouts of this systems largest planet and its many moons.  Its powerful magnetic fields reached out to him, and he could sense its presence even without the ship's arrays.  Just as he could sense the ship, and all of its crew around him.  He manipulated the metallic hydrogen throughout his body, using the magnetic flux to issue orders to the crew throughout the ship, and activate systems at his station.  There was no need to identify who gave the orders, they would know.  Each crew members' magnetic field was as distinct and individual as they were.  Any communication carried the field signature of the one who created it.
   Moments later he could sense the deployment of the three scout craft from their bays.  Later they passed beyond his ability to sense the small magnetic fields they generated, but he could still sense them through the sensor array of the Patrol Vessel.  And he monitored them as they proceeded toward the great planet.  The planet carried almost half the mass of the entire system that he had come from.  But that would have been many lifetimes ago now.  This giant system with its wealth of planets and moons was their new home.
   One of the other giant planets had been the site of the first contact with the race that inhabited this system.  The indigenous race seemed to be very primitive and of little threat.  But Patrol Vessel 14 had reported that one of the small ships this race used had deployed a weapon that had damaged it's field generators.  So caution had been ordered with all Patrol surveys.  Where this race originated from in this system (the thought that they may come from another system was unimaginable) was still unknown, and surveys would continue until all infestations were identified.  Another Patrol Vessel was even now surveying the giant ringed planet to see if more ships were to be found there.  Patrol Vessel 17 was to assess this planet for infestation of the native race.  That would begin with the scout craft.
   Time crawled by as the craft slowly closed with each of the moons, slowly working their way in toward the giant planet itself.  The slow pace was only compounded by the delay in communication caused by the distance.  The Commander reached his four 'arms' across the various panels in front of him.  Manipulating the fields he gave orders and activated systems to bring them into a slow declining orbit of the planet, just slightly off the equatorial plane.  It would take time to complete the sweep, and the small craft could not gain all the information that command would want.  Only the Patrol Vessel could gather the detailed scans that would identify hidden outposts or colonies.  Patrol Vessel 17 descended inside the outer most moons’ orbits, and began to scan for any signs of this new race.
   Reports returned that as Scout Craft 2 approached the large moon orbiting at about one and a half light seconds, a weapon was deployed against them with a large heat pulse and nominal magnetic signature.  It had failed to damage the craft, and Scout Craft 2 had disengaged from the area with no other weapons reported.  The weapon's launch site was unknown, as the small craft had sensors only able to track items of such low signature out to about one light second.  They had been about two light seconds from the moon when the weapon had detonated, but the trajectory seemed to indicate a planetary launch.  Then Scout Craft 3 reported a similar incident as it approached the large moon at 2.25 light seconds from the planet.  Only this time two launches had been detected.  One had pulsed fairly close to the Scout Craft, but still had failed to damage it.  That Scout Craft had also disengaged from the area of the moon.
   The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 gave orders for the Scout Craft to return to their bays.  They were not combat vessel, and had served their purpose well.  With signs of two separate planetary launches, they may have located the first of the new race's habitats.  He again manipulated the panels and ordered the Patrol Vessel to change to an orbit that would take them in an arc at 6 light seconds from the moon that Scout Craft 3 had detected the two launches from.  That would be the extreme range that the Patrol Vessels sensors should be able to resolve any alien habitats.  In that no indigenous craft had deployed a weapon at a range of over 3 light seconds, six light seconds should be adequate distance to safely conduct the survey.  They were a Patrol Craft after all, and not here to engage in combat activities unless forced or favorable.  In fact, six light seconds was slightly greater than what even Patrol Vessel 17 could deploy a weapon too.  Not the greatest range the weapon was capable of, just what the on board sensors could manage.  Following the scan of that moon, they would alter course to conduct a pass at the same range of the moon with the single launch.  No other moon had displayed this activity, although the four tiny inner moons had never been approached.  At six light seconds they would be able to easily identify any alien ships and either destroy them or accelerate to leave this planetary system safely.  Assessments had shown the alien ships to be clearly identifiable at ranges of over 8 light seconds.  Well beyond any weapon range they should be capable of.
   The commander felt the magnetic fields around his station strengthen as the ship began to accelerate.  The ship's systems easily compensated for the acceleration, making the antiquated restraints that had been used unnecessary.  He closely monitored the sensor returns as they began their approach.  He didn't want to be surprised by any indigenous ships hiding in the magnetic belts of this planet.

      1032 hours

   Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon felt as tense as an over wound spring.   She had been expecting the new ships to barge right in like the contact had done with the 1st Light Battle Group in the belt near Ceres.  No....  Instead they sent in these little craft scooting all over.  She was glad that she had ordered the Michelangelo, Raphael, and Rembrandt to land on Callisto to perform their surveys.  Hopefully they hadn't been spotted.  For the rest of the ships she wasn't so sure.  Probably not, but no knowing for sure.  The Chinese likely purchased their ships' boats from civilian makers, just like everyone else did.  The sensors on most of them were just enough to get from point A to B, and little more.  Most couldn't recognize another ship at ranges past one half to one light second.  There just wasn't any need.  The Catherine had identified the first of the small boats at 1.5 light seconds, and Brenna had ordered them to launch on the contact immediately.  The launch had little hope of destroying the thing.  Scorpion missiles were not designed to track a target that small, so onboard computers had to handle the intercept.  With the almost 4 second time lag between sensor readings and transmissions to the missile, the precise targeting needed to hit something moving at five thousand kilometers per second was just about impossible.  At least the small ships had gotten the idea and turned tail when shot at.  Two minutes later and the Tatianna was in the same situation, launching on a second craft at just over two light seconds.  That was all the farther the new sensors could identify the small contacts.  She had been hoping to see the magnetic signature of an attacker at 15 light seconds, not a scout at two.  This changed everything.
   She quickly keyed orders to the Attack Escorts Catherine and Isabelle to land on opposite sides of the moon Io, which was the closest sizable body to them.  The large Mobile Shipyard 1 that accompanied them was to pick a point on the surface of Io facing Jupiter itself.  At least a ship would have to pass between the two bodies to spot their support and repair vessel.  She also ordered the ships to shut down all non-essential systems. Maybe they would be able to hide until the contact was close enough to launch on.
   She ordered the Heavy Escort Tatianna to move toward the small moon Amalthea.  She wanted the ship stationed only 200 meters above the surface and motionless in respect to the 120 kilometer long chunk of rock.  At that short distance they should be invisible to even the new sensors on the Tatianna.  All the ships had now moved from their original locations, but were still close enough to get a shot if someone came close enough to see what had launched the missiles.  Kind of like waiting in the deer stand with her dad when she had been little, hoping that something would come close enough to shoot.  Only now the deer would shoot back if they missed.  Maybe more like hunting tigers.  Brenna wondered if they had tigers in China.  What bothered her the most was that the Chinese had used the same tactic, hiding among the moons, and it hadn't worked so well for them.  She wasn't sure it would do any better this time.
   The minutes dragged by.  Then the contact they had been waiting on finally arrived.  She had them designate the contact as Alpha.  Seemed appropriate. Sensor readings showed it was at 15 light seconds and closing.  Slowly.  And moving so as to begin a slow arc around the inner moons.  Searching.  This tiger wasn't going to just come in and get itself shot.  It was hunting too.  And well beyond weapons range.  Perhaps they just needed a little bait.

      1047hours

   Midshipman Roberts wondered how he had gotten picked for this duty.  Sending out a little ship to scout around when you didn't know what was there made sense (if you didn't have to be the one on the scout). Going out to look at something you already knew was there and hostile in a little unarmed boat was suicidal.  What the hell was the Admiral thinking?!  Didn't matter now.  He was already half way to the vessel he was supposed to make a fly-by on.  Not that he could tell.  This French crate was blind as a bat at that range.  Tightbeam laser communication was what guided him toward this death sentence.
   Suddenly warning lights flashed on the monitor.  "!! COLLISION ALERT !!"  He didn't need the Tatianna to tell him what to do now.  That wasn't another ship, it was a launch.  He keyed the attitude thrusters and then the drive.  This crate was small, blind, and slow compared to a combat ship.  But what it was, that the other ships weren't, was maneuverable.  Her low mass gave her a low moment of inertia, and allowed much quicker course corrections.  
   Even the blind crate's sensors registered the heat pulse of the weapon detonating.  But he was still here.  That was proof enough that it had missed.  He continued with the course corrections, trying to damp his current velocity,  turn back toward the Tatianna, and not run in a straight line, giving the folks trying to kill him a chance to do it easily.  But it took time.  And he was still in range.
   "!! COLLISION ALERT !!"  Here came the second one.  Midshipman Roberts tried frantically to work the attitude thrusters and drive to change course and velocity once again.  A second heat pulse and still he was here.  He found himself gong over the Hail Mary as he tried to get the crate pointed back to his ship.  He had lost communication with the Tatianna shortly after the first launch.  The tightbeam would never be able to follow the rapid course corrections, and she would never broadcast in the open and give away her position.  As far as he was concerned he didn't care what they had to say.  He was getting the hell out of here and going somewhere safer. The Tatianna wasn't safe, but at least she could shoot back.
   "!! COLLISION ALERT !!"  Damn, damn, damn!  A THIRD ONE!  Were the Chinese that scared of an old French ship's boat? One that was RUNNING AWAY?!  Keying the controls madly, trying to be unhittable, he waited for the inevitable impact.  They weren't going to miss forever.  Then the sensors registered a third heat pulse.  And he was STILL HERE!  Running the drive to max output, he had come full about.  He prayed that he would at least make it back to land on his ship.
   Ten minutes later he stepped off the little crate and ran to his station and locked himself in.  He had never imagined anyone could be so grateful to be onboard a ship that was about to go into combat.


      1056 hours

   Where the small craft had come from was of great interest to the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17.  It was to small to track at its current projected range, and had proved particularly elusive to the torpedoes that had been launched against it.  But they had been necessary.  It was possible that the small craft was actually a weapon system, designed to track another ship and detonate as it drew close.  But it had fled.  That proved the crew valued their own lives, if it had a crew.  The three torpedoes launched were almost 20 percent of the onboard munitions, but it was not a great concern.  They were not here to engage in combat, simply identify targets.  It was important to locate where it had come from, as that would lead them to any possible populations of the indigenous race.  But it was not worth risking the Patrol Vessel to track.  There were weapon stations located here somewhere, and possibly the small ships this race used.  The Scout Craft would be called on again to follow this contact.  They wouldn't be able to follow it directly, but would approach the last known contact points and bearings.  The Patrol Vessel’s pass by the moon at 2.25 light seconds from the planet was proving it to be a lifeless contact.  If it had hidden bases, then the launch signatures as they fired on the Scout Craft would be traceable by the onboard sensors at this range.  If they did not launch, then one of the Scout Craft would pass low over the surface, or even land to begin a search for any installations.  It was possible that there had only been mobile units here, and they could have disengaged before Patrol Vessel 17 had reached detection range of them, but it would be unimportant.  They were here to locate any populations, not just ships.
   Moments later the three small craft were away and heading in toward the moons of the giant planet.


      1109 hours

   The contact hadn't taken the bait, just shot at it.  It was still drifting out there and might eventually be able to resolve the signature of the Tatianna against the small moon.  The ship's boat had returned and was already secured.  They must not be able to track a boat that small at the current range of 7.25 light seconds, or they would have done something when the little craft had landed.  At least she thought they would.  Maybe they were just waiting to see it there were any other ships before moving in.  If it was the Chinese they were well aware of how easy it could be to hide a number of ships on the moons out here.  And they knew that one ship did not make a Pan Euro Battle Group.
   The Sensor Conn's announcement caught her off guard.  New contacts!  Three of them at one point five light seconds.  Bearing two three eight, ascension plus zero point six.  Course and speed followed but Brenna ignored them.  Damn it ! Those damned little craft. They had approached from behind Europa until they were just on top of the Tatianna.  The other ship had to know they were here.  Why chose the course that was blind to the Tatianna otherwise.
   "Weapons Conn, Iaunch on the closest of the three small contacts, all safeties off.  Engineering, engage drives and Helm plot for a course to put Io between us and contact designated as Alpha."  She hoped this enemy contact didn't know that the other ships were there.  If it would just follow the Tatianna, maybe they would be able to beat this ship.  But she knew it wasn't going to.  Whoever the Chinese Captain was on that ship, he wasn't a fool.  "Captain Sereg, handle communications with the Catherine and Isabelle.  Give them what our sensors can see.  Coordinate with them if it looks like we can get in a decisive launch."
   The sensor returns indicated that the lead small craft following them had been destroyed.  The second was changing course to put Europa between it and the Tatianna.  The last was still bearing down on the Tatianna.  'We are the deer now, and the hounds just flushed us out. Time to run and hide like one.'


      1110 hours

   The Commander assessed the returns as they came in.  The time lag would leave them moments behind what their opponent was doing, but it was unavoidable.  The sensors had detected two launches from one of the small inner moons orbiting this planet.  Then they had confirmed the destruction of Scout Craft 2.  The detonations of these weapons were not as focused as the torpedoes the Patrol Vessel carried, but the wide burst of the detonation worked well enough to destroy the small craft.  The Patrol Vessel was able to track the enemy vessel as it moved from its location, and sensors seemed to indicate it was attempting to place the large moon at 1.5 light seconds from the planet between the Patrol Vessel and itself.  Scout Craft 1 was moving to inspect the moon it had been assigned, but was also putting itself behind the moon to avoid the launches from the enemy ship.  Scout Craft 3 was attempting to do the same with the small moon the enemy ship had been floating beside.  It was almost safe when the fourth launch found its mark.  The enemy ship had already launched eight weapons, which was equal to half the payload of Patrol Vessel 17.  If they were responsible for the earlier launches on the Scout Craft, they may be running low on weapons to deploy.  Perhaps not.  Regardless, they had not attempted to launch at the Patrol Vessel.  
   The enemy ship had been too far out for the sensor returns to confirm if it was one of the known contacts, or a new class altogether.  Not that it was the most important information they could gather.  It was now becoming obvious that this race placed ships near the large outer planets for some reason, but none so far had been inhabited by the race.  Curious.  These ships had to be coming from somewhere.  Was it possible that they lived in the inferno of the inner system of this star?
   The Commander manipulated the fields on the panels again.  He had seen enough to decide that the race here did not possess longer ranged weapons, or they would have used them.  The destruction of an enemy vessel would bring glory to him and his crew, much as the other Patrol Vessels that had engaged the enemy now enjoyed.  But the Commander had no intention of losing his ship.  He ordered the Patrol Vessel's crew to bring the ship about and plot a course around the moon the enemy ship had fled behind. The arc was to be at the extreme range limit of the Patrol Vessel's torpedoes to engage a target.  He then began the wait to see if the scans of this second moon would reveal any of the populations that had to be somewhere in this system.  If that enemy ship ran again, they might be able to destroy it.  Scout Craft 1 was already landing on the moon to begin magnetic readings at surface level to try and find any hidden installations.  
   This race could run and hide for the moment, but its days were numbered now.


   1121 hours

   Brenna hated losing sensor contact with the hostile vessel.  Moving behind Io had blinded them.  Deer that didn't know where the hunter was tended to end up badly.  Brenna noticed a comm request from Captain Keely Sereg and opened the internal link.  "Do you have any good news, I could use some now."  Brenna transmitted as she opened the comm line.
   "Admiral, I have managed to establish a tightbeam link with the Michelangelo on Callisto, and they are running a second link to the Catherine on the far side of Europa.  It seems that Contact Alpha has closed to five point two five light seconds from Europa, and is just on the edge of the Catherine's sensor pick up.  The sensor returns are over twenty one seconds old by the time we receive them, but the ship appears to be holding its course.  We should be able to predict its location in our time by the sensor returns we are getting."
   "Excellent Captain.  If you can keep this going, maybe we won't end up as a collection of space debris."  Brenna studied the returns and plot of Contact Alpha.  It was holding just beyond the maximum range that the Tatianna could target another vessel.  How much did they know about her ship and its capabilities?  Were the Chinese spies as effective as rumors held?  How could they know the engagement range on a new sensor system only months after it had been deployed?  Not even all the Euro ships were informed of its capabilities and limitations.  It didn't matter.  She needed to get closer to that ship.  And she needed to do it when her whole Battle Group was together if possible.
   They hadn't chased a little bit of bait, Perhaps a larger morsel would interest them.
   "Captain Sereg, raise the Mobile Shipyard on the surface below us.  Inform them that they will be lifting off and making a run for it."


   1123 hours

   When the Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 sensed the returns coming in he was shocked.  The vessel clearing the space behind the moon they were circling was as large as a Combat Vessel.  Twice the mass of his Patrol Vessel.  The moon appeared to be uninhabited so far.  Why place a vessel this large out here then?  And what weapons did it carry?  The twelve weapons it had launched might be only a small portion of its complement.  It was running away though.  Perhaps the ship realized it would be unable to engage the Patrol Vessel and was trying to accelerate out of range before the Patrol Vessel could respond.   This contact information could be vital. The Commander issued orders to transmit all data gained so far.
   More fields?  Three more?  Three new vessels had appeared, two from behind the moon and a third lifting off the surface.  Two were of a class that Patrol Vessel 14 had first encountered.  The third contact was new and massed as much as the Patrol Vessel.  It had also just launched two weapons toward the Patrol Vessel?  From five light seconds? He ordered the ship to deploy a torpedo as sensors tracked the inbound weapons.  The Patrol Vessel was firing its drive to make intercept for the weapons more difficult, but one refused to lose its lock.  The detonation registered on the panels as several of the field generators activated their safeties or burned out fuses.  Sensor returns indicated the enemy ship that had launched was now venting gases and debris from the impact of the torpedo's wave of plasma.
   Moments later the sensors also registered that the other two ships had launched moments after Patrol Vessel 17 had.  The Commander ordered Patrol Vessel 17 to begin an attitude change and accelerate to take them away from the three contacts. A second detonation blew the last of the field generator fuses, leaving the ship's hull naked against any following blasts.  The Commander relaxed as he registered that none of the four vessels were attempting to pursue.
   The field generators would take hours to bring back online, and until then, they would be vulnerable.  But Patrol Vessel 17 had sustained no permanent damage.  And the data they had gained was possibly much more valuable than any that had been gained to date.  This new race was not as helpless as had been suspected.  They could build ships equal in size to the Combat Vessels, and could engage a target at combat ranges.  They had been unable to damage the Patrol Vessel though, and a Combat Vessel was much more powerful.  This race would still perish.  But it would be more difficult than had been anticipated.
   But there was one last detail to take care of.  A painful one, but necessary.  The Scout Craft contained a single weapon intended to be dropped on enemy populations.  Its core would generate a fusion reaction like the one the ship drive used.  It was very effective against planet bound populations.  The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 manipulated the field of his panels one last time and remote detonated the device on board Scout Craft 2.


   1220 hours

   Brenna reviewed the sensor logs again.  She had contacted the Red October in the belt, and in another hour would receive confirmation that they would be able to begin tightbeam transmission of the data they had gained. They would also have to await orders of what to do in the aftermath of the battle.  Contact Alpha had fled, but it's magnetic field had actually collapsed after the launches from the Catherine and Isabelle (thank you Tech Jager, without the ability to target the launch signature, the Attack Escorts would have been useless). They had been able to get some accurate sensor data on the vessel they had fought, but it raised more questions than answers.  It didn't look to be Chinese.  Hell, it might not even be human.  But it's one launch had torn through the Tatianna's plating and baffles, shredded the supply sections, the forward magazine, and cracked the hull on the bridge.  Only six of the crew had died, but Captain Sereg was unresponsive and would need better care than could be provided by the ships at Jupiter.  The Mobile Shipyard was currently making emergency repairs to restore the bridge to a minimal level of function again, but the Tatianna would need extensive repairs to reach full combat effectiveness.  The repairs could be done here at Jupiter, but would take time for the limited facilities onboard Mobile Shipyard 1 to complete.  Probably months.  They really needed be redeployed to the inner system.  Everyone was considering the engagement a victory, but it didn't feel like one to Brenna.  If that ship came back they were probably sunk.  It was only a victory in that they survived - but they had, and it was the first time a group of ships had done that.  In the end though, it had taken an entire Pan Euro Battle Group to combat a single vessel.  God help us if there are more....
   She had one more task to take care of.  Someone had given them a tip that had likely saved the lives of her entire Battle Group.  She would repay that favor now.  She keyed the command override of the comm station and again transmitted a coded message to Mars.  She then erased the transmission from the ships log and returned to waiting for the reply from the Red October.


   1445 hours

   Admiral Jude Kushnir reviewed the sensor data and ship logs.  She knew that leaving Brenna out there had been condemning her to face this new class of ship, but she was the most experienced flag officer in the Pan Euro Fleet at the moment, and the 3rd Battle Group was her command.  The news that Captain Sereg had been injured was grave, as a full cyborg could shrug off almost any damage unless it involved the nervous system, the only human components left.  The data they had gained during the battle was invaluable, and now made risking the Euro's most experienced group a winning gamble.  It would be weeks before the full analysis of the data was complete, but it proved the defensive screens could be overwhelmed, and the ships were not invincible.
   It also had some disturbing information, as the ship seemed to follow no known construction pattern.  Brenna did not come out and raise the question of this vessel being non terrestrial in origin, but she definitely walked around the subject several times in her After Action Report.  Jude would wait for the analysis, but it sure didn't look like anything she could imagine the Chinese using.  The weapon system the contact used definitely had only one launcher on the ship that Brenna had fought, but a single impact had almost taken the Heavy Escort out of the fight.  A second impact would have torn the Tatianna apart.  Jude doubted if the Red October would be able to defeat this vessel in a one on one fight.
   For now they would have to be happy with the fact that the 3rd Battle Group was still intact.  The crews and commanders would be the new heroes of the Pan Euro.  If the news was released.  If this new class of ship was an alien, the 3rd Battle Group may become more than the Pan Euro's heroes.  If that was the case, humanity may need something to rally around in the coming months.  Actually defeating one of these ships looked like it would be a bloody hard affair.
   Right now they just needed to get back home.


   2305 hours

   Admiral Bradley looked up at Lieutenant Ryan again as she went over the newest data that had been gained on whatever it was these new ships were.  Whoever was funneling information to Meagan's father deserved a medal, if they didn't get executed for high treason.  The data was amazing, and terrifying.  But without it they would have no hope of combating these ships.  It would also accelerate work on the systems that these ships used.  What these ships were, and where they were coming from, was only becoming more of a mystery.  For the moment, this newest data was the most valuable to date.  It would take weeks to analyze it, but even the initial work was going to make a difference in how the US approached the new ships.  And its policy towards the other powers of Earth.


April 24th 2203  1530 hours

   Admiral Hu reviewed progress updates.  The Attack Frigates Anhui and Hubei were due to finish their refits on the 25th, probably late in the day.  They would be redesignated to Missile Frigates after their release from dock.  They would begin month long training cruises following that, undergoing maneuvers with the Tung in preparation of a return to space beyond the belt.  China would reassert her control of Saturn, but the ships needed to be prepared for the eventual conflict with the Euro or US as they continue to fight for a monopoly on the outer system.  For the moment China had no intention of contesting the Treaty of Serenitatis, but if attacked on Chinese territory, they would do what was necessary to ensure the safety of Chinese holdings beyond the belt.  Even if it meant expelling the other powers.
   To ensure that China would be victorious, progress on the Cruiser Chiang Ki Shek was moving along.  She was due to be operational in July or August, and would be joined by two more Missile Frigates.  The first would be the Shangxi, and the second would be new construction.  The last two operational Attack Frigates would remain in service without the upgrades, serving as convoy escorts.  They would also be useful for ground bombardment with the heavy payload and yield of the shorter ranged missiles.  Hopefully that capability would never be needed.


April 30th 2203  0210 hours

   Commander Jeremy Leffler gave the order to ease the ships of his survey group out of the Trojans, and into clear space.  The survey of the US portion of this asteroid field was complete, and the data transmitted to Earth, but now the hard part would begin.  A coded transmission from Earth had indicated that if the ships of the Discovery Survey Group were approached beyond the asteroid belt, that they were to engage drives and avoid any contact within five light seconds.  Any attack was to be avoided if possible, and met with force if not.  Any data gained on an aggressor was to be transmitted in real time to the nearest colony in tightbeam with full encryption protocols.
   A war had broken out while they were hiding in the rocks of the Trojans, and now they would have to sneak through it to get home alive.


///////////////
Overview
This month again saw everyone parked in their own little rooms while we ran the month.  China (the middle boy) continued to do its own thing trying to catch up to the others and get ready for when he thought he would be able to challenge the others.  The Free Spacers (the oldest girl) planned on hiding from anything that looked like a fight and just try to get extra cash where she could (I reminded her that she had chosen this path).  My wife and oldest boy (the Euro and US respectively) were beginning to believe that something was going on that didn't add up, and could be found in quiet discussions when I wasn't around (amazing how quickly the 9 year old boy and 5 year old girl would rat out their family when I would make cookies - grin).  
They had come up with a nasty surprise for me though.  They had really gotten down and read the sensor rules.  ALL of them.  Even the little footnotes by the charts.  They discovered that a ship could return fire on another ship that had fired on it at -2 to hit if it was within the limits of the WEAPONS range, not just the sensors targeting range (page 300).  That was how she managed to get the Attack Escorts into the fight at Jupiter, and knock down the Patrol Corvette's shields, obliging it to retire from the fight.
They were all beginning to gear up for a war, but my wife and oldest son were beginning to realize this war wasn't going to be a simple affair of fighting each other.  

The ships designs can be found as follows.
Heavy Escort Tatianna      CT   16HS
[2]A A A H Mgs Qa Ra Ra Ya (cpCp) [6/1]

Attack Escorts Catherine , Isabelle
end of January 2203 part 2

Nemotian Patrol Corvette 17
end of February 2203 part 2

This month also saw Brenna improve to BG +1 (veteran - to our group)

It will be a while before I can write more.  H1N1 has hit its third wave in our area, right on top of the seasonal flu.  I will be spending the next week putting in extra time on the Peds unit helping out with the big influx of patients.  
Take care to all out there and thank you for reading.
Back soon…..
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2010, 04:22:38 AM »
May 2203

May 2nd  1015 hours

   Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jack Ryan keyed in the order for the JFK to engage drives.  The world became grey with a faint blue halo as the nuclear drive bloom began to push the ship faster.  In a few minutes either the ship would reach full combat speed, or come apart under the stress of the acceleration on the new components and fixtures.  If a single missile was loose in its launch rack, or a baffle had a poor fit or seal where the new sensor array was placed, then the JFK would become so much debris orbiting the sun.  The fact that he would be part of that debris always bothered Jack.
   Three minutes later, the monitor displayed that the JFK had reached maximum combat speed.  Jack keyed in the orders for the sensor and engineering crews to begin diagnostic checks.  They were just out of the docks and the new equipment would need to be checked under full stress.  For the next eight hours they would all be locked in their stations while every system that operated was checked for function and safety.    He felt the ship lurch for a seconds and then resume as it had.  The drive was going through combat cut outs and restarts that would allow deployment of weapons, venting of debris, or attitude thrusters to make course corrections.
   The next few weeks would be full of these exercises, checking out the JFK and Franklin, and making sure they were ready for combat.  Jack wasn't sure he was ready to get back into the fight, but he had no doubt that was where he would end up.  At least he wasn't stuck on the space station orbiting Mars, wondering if he would ever be able to get back on his ship.


May 5th  1300 hours

   Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon watched the metal cylinder drift out into space through the viewing window.  The sun glinted off the silver Pan Euro emblem on the side.  She could hear Vice Admiral Esme Jurkat saying something in the background, but she wasn't listening anymore.  She was back in the infirmary, listening as Captain Sereg's grown son and 17 year old daughter were told that their mother was never going to wake back up.  The injuries had been too extensive and there was nothing that could be done. She had watched as the son had signed the forms that would allow the doctors to let his mother die.
   The son and daughter were on the podium to accept the medals their mother had been awarded.  The Pan Euro Distinguished Cross was presented, along with the Order of the Star of Romania from her home country.  No pieces of fabric and metal would be able to replace their mother.  How many more funerals would there be?  When would it be her turn?  This war was only starting....


May 6th  0255 hours

   Commander Giovanni Vetra looked out from the small viewing port at his ship, the Attack Escort Cynthia, as workers crawled across her hull.  They had docked at the Mercury Shipyards six hours ago, and already crews were everywhere on the ship.  He knew why they were out there in such numbers, and the haste that was being used to refit his ship.  The two Armed Explorers of this Battle Group had been released as convoy escorts, but the Cynthia was slated for upgrades.  With the rumors of what was happening, he was glad to see his ship in the docks getting her plating reinforced, and an extra blast baffle added.
   But what kept catching his eye was in the slip next to the Cynthia.  He had never seen a hull that large.  They had been informed that they would not be released from the shipyards until that ship was complete.  Then the 2nd Light Battle Group would be assigned to this new ship as escorts.  He didn't know what it was or what she would carry, but she was a whole lot bigger than his Attack Escort.  And it might be nice to have that big of a ship around in the next few months.


   1200 hours

   Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery finished her transmission to Admiral Jude Kushnir and keyed off the comm link.  The 1st Battle Group had arrived in the belt, but was still an hour away from arriving at Pallas Colony.  When they arrived she would leave the Heavy Escort Anastasia and report in to Admiral Kushnir onboard the Red October.  The original orders had only been to report to the Pallas colony and Admiral Kushnir, but she was sure they wouldn't be headed back to Earth anytime soon.  The 3rd Battle Group was there right now, waiting on repairs to the Heavy Escort Tatianna.  And it hadn't looked like that ship would be out of dock anytime soon.
.  The 2nd Battle Group of Vice Admiral Esme Jurkat had also settled into orbit around Earth.  Two Battle Groups was a lot of ships for a weapons free zone.

May 15th  0340 hours

   The Dutchman climbed back into his station and locked it.   The status display showed the Kestrel was ready for acceleration.  They would be unable to utilize the full power of the drive here in Earth's atmosphere, but the short stutter of bursts that it would use to reach orbit still generated enough force to throw the crew around the cabin if they weren't locked in.
   The Chinese surplus laser emitter had been replaced over the last two weeks with a bay filled with the new Devil Class Long Range Missiles that Australia had managed to develop - without the major space powers knowing.  Soon the Marie Celeste and Mary Reed would undergo the same refits.  The surplus lasers would be set aside for use on new vessels that might be built or converted over.  The Queensland Cartel apparently was looking to begin construction of warships to hire out as merchant escorts.  The other space faring groups would be needing their precious ships for the fighting, and would be willing to pay to be able to free up their combat ships from escort duty.
   The South African Corp that held The Dutchman's charter was more interested in arming commercial vessels that would both carry merchant cargos and serve as convoy escorts, whichever was needed - or both at the same time if possible.  The South African Corp held the rights to the lasers, but money was what made the world go round in the free wheeling world of the South Seas Free Space Confederation.  The Dutchman was sure if Queensland wanted to pay the right price, they would be quite welcome to use the old Chinese weapons.
   Just not on his ships.


May 21st  1100 hours

   Minister Po stepped out into the twilight of the evening.  He waited for the transport that would carry him home from the Ministry Building in Beijing.  It had been a long and difficult day. 'Have we made the wise decision.' he wondered to himself.  He doubted it, but it was done.  
   In just over 48 hours the Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, and the Missile Frigates Anhui and Hubei would leave Venus and begin the voyage to Ceres.  At Ceres they would be joined by the Marco Polo Survey Group and the Mobile Construction Ship Zhuang.  At Earth, the Armed Colony Ships Manchuria and Vietnam would load the 18th Independent Powered Armor Brigade and the 6th Cyborg Regiment - along with supplies for extended combat operations.  They would arrive at Ceres a week after the Tung.
   It had been decided that China would begin to assert its control of space beyond the belt.  The Tung, Anhui, and Hubei would accompany the survey group to Saturn, while the two Colony (Troop Transport) Ships would remain at Ceres.  It any armed vessel contested Chinese controlled space outside the belt, the Chinese would use troops to invade the belt colonies of that government.  The Armed Colony Ships, with their powerful short range missiles, would provide heavy support should the troops need bombardments to allow them to complete their missions.  The ministry would have to issue orders to allow the bombardment of any civilian structures, but that could easily occur if hostilities flared.
   He hoped that it wouldn't.  Once the bombs started falling on populations, it would only be a matter of time before they began to fall on Earth.


Date 38-17429  time 23258

   Commander of Combat Vessel 7 assumed his station for the first time.  His four legs readily found their divots and he adjusted the magnetic field to activate his panels.  He could feel the magnetic waves of information wash over him, carrying data on the status of every system on the ship.  They all signaled readiness, as did the crew.  He reached out with his four arms and began to adjust the fields on the panels in front of him.  The particle beams began to accelerate, and field generators spooled up to create the protective bubble that would surround the ship.  In moments they would join the three Patrol Vessels in orbit of this moon.  Then the group would begin the training series laid down generations before.  The same training that had allowed their ancestors to defeat the other races that had fought with them over control of their first home.
   Now they would use this training to fight the new race.  A race that was quickly showing itself to be far more dangerous than had originally been thought.  This race had fought twice against the Patrol Vessels, and had even disabled one ships protective generators.  But they had only faced single Patrol Vessels so far.  Now he would show this new race that they had no hope of surviving.  Combat Vessel 7, along with Patrol Vessels 14, 15, and 16 would become the 1st Combat Group.   And they would destroy the simple ships of this new race.  And then they would destroy the populations of their homes.  
   And for a second time his race would assume their proper place as the dominant one of the system.  For only one could survive.


////////////////
(I got a few hours down time [aka:  standby] on Peds,)
Overview

This month actually had no combat, mostly shifting about of forces and refitting of ships.  I was fairly sure that the Euro and US were preparing for a patrol into the outer system to see if they could find anything that didn't belong to one of the players.  How they were going to go about it was a mystery as yet (the 5 and 9 year old spies that I employed had their limits).  The middle boy (China) had told me he was planning on returning to Saturn in June, and that he was ready for a fight if there was going to be one.  My wife and older son (Euro and US) had tried to talk with him when I wasn’t close enough to hear - likely about what they had going on and knew - but he trusted them like a lion trusts jackals.  
The oldest girl was trying to figure out how to make a buck without seeing her ships trashed.  She knew she couldn't fight the others, but was worried if she helped one - the others would toast her.  The Euro and US saw her as an ineffectual power and didn't even discuss what they were up to with her (probably, I might easily have been wrong about that - I seem to have a talent for being outsmarted by the rest of my family).

By now the Nemotians had pretty much settled in, the first wave of ships was done, and defenses set.  With the failure of Patrols to clear the outer system, it was time to use a combat group to clear away the problems.   I was concerned at this point that if the players didn't get their acts together, this game might be over before turn 15, maybe sooner.  (which after all the work I had put into it, didn't appeal to me)  The players’ ships had proved to be a lot more fragile than I had anticipated.  
But the next couple of turns would begin to see several swings in the tide of events, kind of like an out of control see saw.

The Chinese curse, May you live in interesting times, would definitely have applied to the year 2203.
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline cjblack

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2010, 04:17:02 PM »
Very interesting, and I look forward to finding out what happens next.

I think I can clear up the question of why the human ships seem excessively fragile, too.  You are looking at it backwards, actually.  It's not that the ships are too fragile, but rather that the alien weapons are more powerful than they are supposed to be.  Specifically, torpedoes, unlike missiles and kinetics, are not supposed to cause triple damage to unshielded / drive-fieldless targets.

Of course, you can just retroactively houserule this away, and it will have little bearing if the players switch to non-Cp drives.
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2010, 01:18:11 AM »
Your very sharp CJ.  That didn't come up for us until turn 21 or 22 (I don't have my notes/records on those turns with me here at the hospital - got stuck here at work d/t the snow storm).  It became a several hour discussion on that subject.  In the end we decided/house-ruled that if a kinetic weapon does damage from plasma striking a target much like a torpedo, and the in game expanation for us was that the torpedo used the same energy source as a missile (detonating the fusion drive) - but simply used the magnetics to focus it, that they would all get the x3 damage bonus.  That, and no one wanted to redo the previous turns.  The +2 to hit vs non drive field and triple damage made the weapon system horribly powerful.
That combo made the higher tech Nemotians feel a lot more dangerous (of course that was because they were). And it made developing shields very important to the players.
Thank you for reading, hope you enjoy the turns to follow  (assuming I ever get away from work).
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline Sotak246

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2010, 06:05:02 PM »
Please do continue writing when you get the chance, work comes first but, hurry.  I have gotten hooked on your write-up and can't wait for the next installment.

Mark
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #24 on: February 12, 2010, 07:30:27 PM »
June 2203

June 1st  0720 hours/US Space Station

   Admiral Bradley Walters dismissed the staff from the briefing room.  He hit his comm link, "Petty Officer Hansen, notify Lieutenant Ryan to meet me in my office in ten minutes."   "Yes, Admiral.  Right away."   Petty Officer Hansen was always so cheerful in the mornings, although the long hours of the past few months had begun to wear on even her youthful enthusiasm.  But she was a damned good organizer.  'Which is good, because I'm not.  And the amount of work coming through here isn't helping matters either.' he thought.  Right now there was one thing to worry about that wasn't work, and time for it was getting short.
   "Good morning Lieutenant Ryan."  Admiral Bradley returned her salute, but didn't offer her a chair.  "You have done an excellent job here, and I appreciate it.  I can't give you any details, but if you have anything important to say to your father, you need to do it soon.  Within the next few hours.  You won't ask any questions why or act as if anything is going on.  Do I make myself clear Lieutenant?"  The Lieutenant's eyes had grown only slightly wider, but she nodded.  "Yes, Admiral.  Very clear, sir."  
   "Then you are dismissed.  That is all until the 1500 briefing."  He returned her salute and watched as she left the office.  She had managed to do his command a number of favors.  It was time to repay that to some small degree.


   1015 hours/Interceptor Mk IIa JFK, Mars orbit

   Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jack Ryan looked over the orders that the Comm Officer had sent to his monitor.  He had transmitted to Command that the JFK and Franklin had cleared their trials and were fit for duty just 17 hours ago.  It didn't take them long to respond.  As he read through the body of it, he decided that sitting on the Mars Station or putting the JFK and Franklin through a shakedown cruise wasn't so bad.
   "Comm, signal all ships of Task Force One.  All ships are to dock at the Orbital Transfer Station.  Draw fuel, supplies, and maintenance equipment for a four month period.  All ships are to lock stations and be prepped for drive engagement at 1200 hours.  Communications silence other than tightbeam ship to ship within the task force to commence at 1202. Rear Admiral Jack Ryan, out.  Regular encryption protocols."  Jack turned in his station and looked around at the cabin.  'Guess this will be home for a while,' he thought.  'But where the hell are we going.  The course bearings and waypoints take us nowhere.  Just out beyond the belt.  We won't be close to anything.'
   He looked hard at the coordinates again.  'Maybe that is what they want.  If we aren't close to anything, nobody will see us go.'
   'This can't be good.'


June 3rd  1645 hours/Baoji Military Barracks, China

   Senior Colonel Liang checked the status of his brigade on the ship's monitors.  The 18th Independent Powered Armor Brigade would be finished loading onto the Transport Vietnam within 90 minutes.  The operations were ahead of schedule by 22 hours at the moment.  Soon it would be up to the 'borg ship jockeys to keep them on schedule.  He hated that part.  Climbing into the fluid hydrocarbon chambers that they would sleep in.  First they would have to be hooked up to a number of tubes that would feed them, keep them asleep, and take care of other functions that he didn't care to think of until he had to.  What he hated most was having to breathe in the fluid before going to sleep.  It felt wrong.  Without the fluid they would be crushed by the acceleration of the transport, but the Colonel still hated it.  Even with the fluid the ship was limited to only about 10 percent of its normal acceleration.  Any faster and it would kill the entire Brigade.  He doubted the 'borg crew would worry about that if they came under attack though. Their orders probably even specified that the troops were expendable.  The other transport, the Manchuria, would be carrying a cyborg unit.  They would be able to survive the acceleration and still deploy, so his brigade, the powered armor troops, was less valuable.
   His troops would show them what valuable was if they ever made a drop.  Nobody was better.  Even those bodiless bastards in the next ship.  They would see what his troops could do.


June 4th  2050 hours/12 Light Minutes sunward from Vesta 4, Asteroid Belt

   Rear Admiral Jack Ryan glared at the monitor.  "Comm, all ships, general quarters.  Prep weapons and drives for combat.  Sensor Conn, give me a firing solution on that big son of a bitch.  Helm, bring us about to bearing one two two at ascension minus one zero."  Jack looked at the sensor returns again.  'Where in the hell did those ships come from and why are they out here in the middle of nowhere.  They haven't changed course yet so maybe they don't know we are here.'  "Sensor Conn, do you have identification of the contacts?"  He knew they didn't for the big one, but maybe the other returns were something they would be able to recognize.
   "Sir, contacts designated as Two and Three read as Chinese Attack Vessels.  Contact One is not currently in memory for the ship."
   Jack studied the returns again.  Whatever Contact One was, it was huge.  Probably massed more than his entire task force.  If China was behind whatever the small ship was that had destroyed so many US and Euro vessels, he sure as hell didn't want to tangle with its big brother.  It was obvious China had at least one ship that was off the logs, and it was something no one else could even approach deploying right now.  The thought that they were behind the combats over the last few months was beginning to look more realistic.
   "Communications, process sensor data for transmission.  Full encryption protocol."   The Chinese ships were passing by, and Task Force One's heading change was taking them away from the contacts. Allowing Task Force One to slip behind them.  "Prepare for tightbeam transmission to Mars in thirty seconds.  Continue to transmit all sensor data on Contacts One through Three until they pass beyond sensor range."  'We aren't supposed to break comm silence, but they are going to want to know about this back at home.'  Jack was sure of that.


June 5th  0830 hours/Heavy Escort Anastasia, Station Keeping near Pallas 2 Colony

   Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery couldn't believe what she was reading.  Admiral Kushnir had personally handed her orders and files an hour and a half ago.  Personally.  That didn't happen.
   Now she saw why.   Everyone had heard rumors of troubles here in the out system areas, but that was to be expected.  Treaty or not, there was bound to be a little jostling for position when it came down to it. Everyone was worried that it would spread, but concern was low back at home on Earth.  If they knew what was in these files, there would be uproar.  Chaos.   Rumor had the 1st Light Battle Group off spying on shipping in Chinese and US space.  Destroyed?  By one ship?!   The 3rd Battle Group fought to a stalemate by a single ship?  The US Outreach presumed destroyed?   This was unreal.  It wasn't jostling.  It wasn't even a war, it was a slaughter.  The entire 3rd Battle Group had only managed to knock down whatever those magnetic fields were, but the sensor returns didn't even show any damage to the enemy ship's hull after multiple intercepts with drive detonations.
   Her orders were to report to Pallas Belt Transfer Station and draw supplies for an extended deployment, and then engage drives and cruise toward Earth.  But that wasn't where they were going.  They would double back through an uninhabited section of the belt and take up station on the leeward side of it.
   Why?  Were they bait?
   It didn't make sense.  She keyed in orders for the ships of 1st Battle Group to move to the Transfer Station and dock for resupply.
   Sense or not, she had her orders.

June 6th  2255 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October,  2 Light Second dark side of Pallas 2

   Admiral Jude Kushnir watched as her monitor displayed the progress of the transmission to the 1st Battle Group and Vice Admiral Avery.  These orders would start a new age in relations between the Pan Euro and US Space Fleets.  Hopefully a good one.  The 1st Battle Group would soon make contact with and join US Task Force One.  Peacefully.  They were to begin a sweep that would take them back to Jupiter, across the US held section of the Trojans, and then out to Uranus and Neptune.  They would be searching for information, but that was only a secondary part of the mission.  The orders had made that very clear.

PAN EURO FIRST BATTLE GROUP TO ENGAGE IN JOINT OPERATIONS WITH US SPACE TASK FORCE ONE.
AUTHORIZATION FOR SECONDARY SAFETY RELEASE.
PAN EURO FIRST BATTLE GROUP TO SEEK / ENGAGE / DESTROY HOSTILE CONTACT NOW DESIGNATED AS ALPHA.
FULL SENSOR TRANSMITS IN REAL TIME.
ALL OTHER PRIORITIES SECONDARY.

Vice Admiral Avery would know that included the survival of 1st Battle Group.

///////////////
(Thanks for the encouragement.  It is much appreciated.)
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #25 on: February 12, 2010, 07:32:42 PM »
June 2203   part 2

June 9th  1600 hours/Mercury Shipyards

   Commander Giovanni Vetra watched from the viewing port as the two Mobile Shipyards worked in space near the station.  They were churning out a large number of prefabbed systems and components for the hull that was being finished in the slip beside the Attack Escort Cynthia.  Giovanni wasn't an engineer or specialist in ship construction, but he knew the components that were being stacked up along side the station.  Sensor array sections, plating, particle accelerators, and several missile launchers.  More launchers than his entire 2nd Light Battle Group.  This wasn't a science ship, it was a warship.  A big one.
   There was only one reason to need a ship that big, and it wasn't for parades and photo ops.  The rumors were true.  A war was being fought.  One that needed more firepower than what the current three Battle Groups and his Light Battle Group could muster.  Something which could fight a ship that could destroy a Light Battle Group by itself.
   Giovanni could still remember the transmission of the Attack Escort Boudicca as the 1st Light Battle Group was destroyed.  The helpless feeling as the transmission cut out.  A transmission that had been classified even before he began analysis of it.  What the ship was that had killed his friend, Commander Rachel Pierce, was a secret.  Secret or not, he wanted to see the giant in the slip before him crush it.  
   Their were rumors on the station, and a name.  The name whispered the most was the Queen Elizabeth.


June 12th  0230 hours/ Queensland Corporation Shipworks, Australia

   Chairman Mukata looked over the blueprints, and then at the assembled design team.  "You think this design will be able to compete with current warships in service? Or am I looking at an expensive way to place more debris in orbit?"  The look on the chairman's face was not a happy one, and disdain dripped from the statement.  His lack of faith in the design was obvious.
   "Honorable Chairman, we have high confidence in the components of the sensor system that were 'acquired' from American sources.  The Devil Class missiles have been calibrated to use the targeting data it will supply.  It should be capable of engagement ranges comparable to the best US or European vessels, and greater range than most of the older ships in service."   Several of the design team members nodded in agreement, weak smiles trying to convince the chairman that they had as much faith as what they said.  
   "So what does the test data show?"  The designers' weak smiles evaporated.  The lack of field trials was a glaring omission in the design, and the Chairman wasn't impressed.  Mukata looked over the group assembled around the table.
   "We will have adequate funds available for a prototype to begin construction, here in Queensland, within the next few months.  I will expect successful field trials of the systems, and a multi-role vessel that can be fielded before years end.  Understood, gentlemen?"   Chairman Mukata's expression let everyone know that failure would be a very unhealthy result.
   The designers breathed a sign of relief as the Chairman left the room.


June 18th  1320 hours/ Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, Ceres Colony orbit

   Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji unlocked his station and keyed the order for all ships to shut down their drives.  The Tung hummed as the banks of particle accelerators powered down.  A short distance away the Missile Frigates Anhui and Hubei followed suit.  A late addition, the Attack Frigate Hunan had been detailed to join the group and would also stand down.   A few light seconds further the three ships of the Marco Polo Survey Group, plus the Mobile Construction Ship Zhuang, had been preparing to begin the journey to Saturn also. Now they would remain at Ceres for however long the Ministers chose.  'If only I had this group when we fought the Euro at Jupiter.'  Zhu mused.   But the time for that may yet come again.
   The Transports Manchuria and Vietnam had arrived four hours before.  Along with the Attack Frigate Jilin, they would have been responsible for defense of the colony here at Ceres. Now the entire Tung Group would be joining them. The two brigades of troops would off load for extensive low G combat training.  If they were called on to assault a US or Euro colony, the training available in the belt would be invaluable.  For ground troops, the low G training at Earth was both limited and expensive.  In the belt it was all there was.
   Zhu wondered to himself if all this was actually just China claiming her sovereign territory.  It would take little to change this 'defensive deployment' into an assault.  After the defeat at Jupiter, and the shameful return, a chance to redeem honor would be welcomed.  A chance to prove to the other powers of the world that China was not so easily dismissed.  But why stop the ships even as they were preparing to leave?
   The return to Saturn was China’s only real chance to expand into the outer system and establish new colonies, but for some reason it was now on hold.  It made no sense to deploy this many ships to the belt in secret, just to let them sit.  Unless the belt had been their destination all along.
   Perhaps the intended expansion had never been planned for Saturn, but here in the belt?


June 23rd  0922 hours/ Heavy Escort Anastasia, 30 Light Seconds sunward from Uranus

   Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery keyed the 'all ships' comm link, "First Battle Group, Lock Stations, General Quarters.  Standard Attack Formation.  One quarter light second interval."  Elizabeth knew that the Attack Escorts Victoria and Mary Queen of Scots would already be prepared for battle.  They had done this before at Jupiter, and several times while sweeping the US portion of the Trojans.  Any location that contact had been made before, or could hide a vessel the size of Contact Alpha.  Uranus was the first site where Contact Alpha had been recorded.  It was of prime interest.
   The US Interceptors were forming up in a tight formation one half light second astern of the Anastasia, far enough back to be safe from the drive blooms of the 1st Battle Group.  Another half light second behind the Interceptors were the US Missile Escorts, small ships with little design difference from the Pan Euro Armed Explorer Class.  The Missile Escorts would only be capable of two thirds the maximum combat speed of the other ships, and were detailed to keep the area directly astern of the attack groups clear.
   The US commander Commodore (Elizabeth hated the term Rear Admiral Lower Half, it sounded ridiculous) Jack Ryan had proved invaluable on the patrol this far.  His understanding of Astrogation was simply astounding.  Elizabeth knew that her Navigator and Helmsman were tired of having their course plots corrected by the US Admiral, but his understanding of trajectories, gravity wells, and engine tolerances were uncanny.  He had probably reduced the travel time to reach Uranus by at least fifty percent.  In the next fifteen minutes the planet would enter the extreme range of her sensors.  Then they would know if this planet's space was also empty.


   0930 hours/Heavy Escort Anastasia

   "Contact detected, bearing zero zero two at ascension minus one point five.  Range to contact unclear, but no less than one four light seconds.  Contact appears to be in station keeping orbit with respect to Uranus, or at a velocity to low to register at this range.  Magnetic signature verifies contact as Alpha."
   Elizabeth looked at the Sensor Officer's report as it scrolled onto her monitor.  They had found their quarry.  Elizabeth had no intention of playing the cat and mouse game that Rear Admiral Muldoon had.  Her ships (and she was assured the US ships also) were state of the art.  A wolf pack.  And it was time to run their quarry down and bring it to bay.  It would not have the chance to slip away this time.
   "Comm open link to all ships.  Engage drives, full combat acceleration, secondary safety release.  Begin plots for firing solutions. Launch as soon as we enter range."  Elizabeth watched the world go gray as the drives shoved the ships forward through space.  The next few minutes would find out what this Contact Alpha could do.


   0933 hours/Patrol Vessel 17

   The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 rapidly began manipulating the field on the panels of his station.  Half his crew was dormant now, it was going to take precious time to get them to their stations.  The ship would be able to begin acceleration and maneuver, but he could not begin to plot the firing solutions and activate weapon systems at the same time.  He would needs his crew to control all the system.  The contacts were closing terribly fast, and they outnumbered his group by over three to one.  Two to one if you counted Defense Station 3 in orbit above the new colony.  The Station had only finished construction a few weeks before. Its systems were not fully tested, and the crew was still engaged in training.  The Station had field generators half again as powerful as the Patrol Vessels, but it would be unable to maneuver against the enemy vessels.
   Worst was the small colony on the fourth moon of this planet.  They had only recently settled on their new home, and had only the most basic of defenses.  There were 370,000 lives in the newest colony.  All of their fates would be decided in the next few minutes.  It would come down to Base Station 3, and Patrol Vessels 17 and 18 to protect them.  The two colony ships were also still on the moon's surface, and would need to try and leave the combat area without being detected.
   The Commander felt the drives of Patrol Ship 17 and 18 as they engaged, and the ships began to pull away from each other.

   
   0934 hours/ US Interceptor Mk IIa JFK

   "Resolving now, three contacts.  Contacts designated One and Two at seven point seven five light seconds, drive blooms detected.  Contact Three magnetic signature between eight point five and nine point five light seconds. Unable to resolve for drive bloom at this range.  Transferring contact data and vectors to your station Admiral."  
   Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jack Ryan considered the plot.  Three contacts?  No one had ever seen more than one.  Or even considered trying to fight more than one at a time.  With the Missile Escorts falling behind, the opening volleys would be fought at odds of 5 on 3.  So far no one had successfully engaged this type of contact at odds of less than three to one. 'We won't even have two to one for the first minute or so.'  Jack thought.  This tactic of charging straight in seemed awfully familiar, and it didn't work so well for him at Jupiter.  The plot showed the contacts were pulling apart, on trajectories separated by almost 120 degrees at the moment.  If the US and Euro ships could swing to one side and hold the range open, they may be able to bring the full power of the combined groups to bear on a single contact before the others were able to come about and assist.  Jack keyed in the course adjustments, a quick overview of his plan, and then transmitted to Vice Admiral Avery.
   Five on one sounded a lot better to him.  This fair fight thing sounds good in theory, but in practice you could get hurt doing that.


   0935 hours/Patrol Vessel 17

   The Commander struggled to control the fields on his panels.  The strain of maintaining this level of flux was draining.  The sensor returns drove him to even greater lengths as the crew of Patrol Vessel 17 tried to overcome the limits of the ship that carried them.  The enemy vessels had changed course and turned away from Patrol Vessel 17 and the Defense Station.  Patrol Vessel 18 would be forced to face them nearly alone.  The station would be able to engage targets at the projected ranges, but just barely.
   Sensor returns suddenly showed the eruption of contacts from the enemy vessels as they attacked.  Patrol Vessel 18 was trying to turn away, keep the range open, but the enemy vessels were already at combat speeds.  Patrol Vessel 18 managed to launch before the enemy contacts could intercept her, but it was going to be a lopsided engagement.  The Commander tried futilely to force Patrol Vessel 17 to turn faster than it would ever be able to.  Tried to will it to move faster.
   The Commander could sense as the field around Patrol Vessel 18 collapsed.  The sensors showed she was venting debris.  One of the smaller enemy vessels in the lead group was also venting and losing its position in their formation, but the enemy vessel's drive reengaged and it corrected course.  Patrol Vessel 18's torpedo must have impacted the craft, as the Defense Station's torpedo had obviously lost tracking.
   A single hit wasn't going to save them though.  Patrol Vessel 18 wasn't going to be able to survive another exchange like that.  

   /Heavy Escort Anastasia

   Admiral Avery tried to key commands into the comm system and monitor the situation at the same time. It was maddening, too much information, too much to do, and only so much she could control.  The Attack Escort Victoria was reporting extensive damage, but her missile bay was still operational.  Contact One had lost its magnetic signature, and was even venting!  Contact Two was altering course and would be in position to come around behind the 1st Battle Group in the next few minutes.  The last Contact hadn't even moved?  It was close to the moon Titania, perhaps it was a base?
   She finished keying in the orders to come about 60 degrees to starboard and continue fire on Contact One.  If they could just keep away from Contact Two.  If the US Missile Escorts could tie it up, hold it off for a few more minutes.  But no time to send that message, new inbound contacts flashed on Elizabeth's monitor.  And how the hell was Contact Three engaging them at a range of over six light seconds?  


   0937 hours/US Missile Escort Falcon

   Lieutenant Commander Justin Reynolds keyed in orders for the third launch on Contact Two.  The onboard sensors could barely resolve the contact, and hadn't been able to plot a firing solution until it had launched.  At least the range seemed a bit on the long side for Contact Two also, as its first two launches had mis-timed the intercepts.  Contact One was being reported by the JFK as destroyed, and the main group of US and Euro ships was coming around to make a pass on Contact Three.  
   Justin knew this was the real battle though.  Maneuvering five large combat ships on a stationary contact was one thing.  Fighting this contact with the two smallest and slowest ships of the US Task Force, to keep it from getting behind the main group.  A position that would force the group to break up, so their sensors would be able to target the contact around the group's drive blooms. Then they would be maneuvering to try and avoid each other's drive blooms.  It would leave the main group scattered and vulnerable.  And these ships were too dangerous to take on piecemeal.  Too dangerous to take on with a pair of pip squeaks, also.  But that was he had.  This right here was where the true battle was at.  
   The second salvo from his ship and the Missile Escort Raptor had managed to cause Contact Two's magnetic signature to shift, but not disappear.  Now they were closing on each other.  This third salvo would be within range of the Missile Escorts' onboard sensors to guide.   Contact Two wasn't changing course though.  It wouldn't break off from trying to get behind the Interceptors.  They would have to stop it.  He watched the monitor indicate " MISSILE AWAY " as the sensors picked up the third launch from Contact Two.

   0939 hours/US Interceptor Mk IIa JFK

   Jack wanted to cringe.  The Euro Attack Escort Victoria had been destroyed as they had closed on Contact Three.  Sensors had confirmed it had been a stationary base of some type, and the Interceptors had been able to close to laser range before the contact had blossomed from internal explosions.  Now the Falcon was confirming that the Raptor had been destroyed, and the Falcon was fighting alone against Contact Two.  The Euro ships had detected two more large ships moving away from Uranus, larger than any ship in the US fleet.  Admiral Avery had given orders for a pursuit of these new contacts, Four and Five.  At least Contact Two was accelerating away from the battle, no longer maneuvering against the main group of ships.  Jack keyed in commands for Falcon to break off.  Return to the main body as best it could.  Get the hell away from that monster it was chasing alone.  But it was going to take time for the message to reach them.  Time for them to come about.  Time for them to extend the range beyond Contact Two's ability to fire on them.  Too much time.
   Jack watched as sensor returns tracked a fourth launch from both the Falcon and Contact Two.  The returns were of things that had happened almost half a minute ago.  Ancient history in a space battle.  Pride flooded through him as he saw returns indicating that Contact Two's magnetic field had collapsed.  Then a fifth launch between them.  The Falcon was banking hard, trying to follow Jack's orders it had received perhaps a minute ago now.
   Jack watched as the missiles crossed and time crawled by.  The JFK was fast.  The distance between the JFK and Falcon getting longer.  In moments they would have to rely on transmissions from the Falcon as they went beyond sensor range.  Then Uranus passed between them.
   Agonizing minutes passed.  Contacts Four and Five were drawing closer.  They were moving with barely one third the speed of the US and Euro ships.  They also had none of the magnetic fields surrounding them that the first three contacts had displayed.   And they weren't launching on the group either.  Some uncataloged and huge variety of unarmed freighter perhaps.  Then the orders from Vice Admiral Avery arrived.  The US Interceptors were to close on Contacts Four and Five.  To destroyed them by laser fire if they did not shut down drives and surrender.  She was conserving the missiles.  Leaving his comrades on the Falcon behind.  If they were even still alive.
   Then the two Euro ships came about to port and began to sweep wide of Contacts Four and Five.  Clearing the area behind Uranus.  Making sure that Contact Two wasn't coming up behind them after it had destroyed the tiny Falcon.
   The comm link relay surprised him. The Heavy Escort Anastasia was downloading sensor returns.  Then the Comm Officer broke through on a priority link.  The Falcon was transmitting!  They were still there!  How in the hell?!  Sensor files were showing that a sixth launch from the Falcon had left Contact Two venting and crippled!  Somehow the Falcon had survived seven separate launches from Contact Two! Not only had they kept Contact Two off the main groups tail, they had actually out fought the damned ship.  Talk about David and Goliath.  'Reynolds is definitely going to be getting a promotion and a big medal if I have to kick asses all the way up the chain of command.' Jack thought to himself.  They tried to call me a hero.  Now they've actually got one.
   "Communications, get that data sent out now.  All of it.  The folks back at home are going to want to hear this."
   The ship lurched and hummed as the drives cut out and the laser output coupler lined up Contact Four.  'These two ships will be following Contacts One and Three into oblivion soon enough thought Jack.'


   1000 hours/Patrol Vessel 17

   The Commander all but shook with fury, and the magnetic pulses from the crew made it clear that they shared in the rage.  They had destroyed two of the smaller enemy vessels, but LOST both a Patrol Vessel and Defense Station.  Patrol Vessel 17 wasn't returning with glory.  It was with shame and damage.  The signals from the colony on the planet were making it clear that this race also understood that coexistence was futile.  With the second ship of the Commander's Patrol group gone, there was nothing left but to volunteer his ship to join the Combat Vessel when the time for retribution came.  Patrol Vessel 17 would see this enemy race pay for the lives they were taking.


   1005/Heavy Escort Anastasia

   The transmission to the Red October should be done now.  They should be moving away from here.  Waiting for confirmation of receipt of the transmission and further orders.  The US ships and their actions were holding them up.  Forcing them to continue the data transmissions.  This changed everything.
   Putting an armed base station beside a moon tended to indicate that there was something there to defend.  A pass had picked up unusual energy signatures from the surface.  Active scans showed structures and movement.  Not human structures.  A ship's boat had performed a low pass on the moon and actually drawn fire from small ground based weapons.  The pass had confirmed that what was down on the surface of Titania wasn't human though.  Elizabeth wasn't sure what the hell they were, but they weren't even remotely human.
   There wasn't going to be much studying them.  When the US Interceptors had returned, Commodore Ryan had ordered the two ships two close to 10,000 kilometers above the moon's surface.  Then the laser batteries of the ships had begun raking the surface.  Superheating the crust of the moon. The structures and creatures not instantly vaporized had perished as the heat explosively expanded rocks and ice, hurling them for kilometers across the surface.  Using the missiles the Interceptors carried may have been slightly quicker, but no more effective.
   When Elizabeth had tried to stop Commodore Ryan, questioned what he was doing, the reply had been short and curt.  This race had never attempted to communicate, and every time a contact had been made, this race had attacked.  They had no intention on living peacefully together.  And Commodore Ryan had no intention of negotiating for ownership of what amounted to seized US territory.
   Elizabeth knew she wasn't going to try and intervene.  But she didn't like where this was going.  Even if she agreed with what Commodore Ryan had said.


June 25th   0200 hour/150 meters below the surface of Titania

   The Outpost Commander received the news that the enemy ships were no longer in orbit.  Barely 7000 had survived the bombardment by the alien weapons.  Huddled here in the subsurface shelters, they would await relief from the other colonies.  They would also begin to ration what supplies they had, training soldiers to protect the survivors, and prepare for a possible alien invasion of the outpost.  Many had already stepped forward, hoping for a chance to avenge dead family and loved ones.  The Outpost Commander hoped that it would not come to that.  There would be enough challenges to just surviving, let alone combat against some strange foe.
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #26 on: February 15, 2010, 08:59:43 AM »
June 2203 part 3

June 26th  0325 hours/ Armed Science Vessel Red October, Pallas 2, Asteroid Belt

   Admiral Jude Kushnir reviewed the transmission from the Heavy Escort Anastasia again.  The techs were busy going over the data, analyzing the wealth of new information that had been gained.  Proof that another life form was behind the attacks was undeniable.  The actions of Rear Admiral Ryan had cost them the opportunity for study of anything other than sensor data and ruins, but she couldn't waste time fretting over that.
   The combined Pan Euro / US Task Force was now deep out system,  They had lost two of their combat vessels, and with them 25 percent of the groups' long range launchers.  The remaining ships were at less than two thirds of their initial load out of missile.  Complicating matters was the indication from the US that if the group was to continue operations, the US Missile Escort Falcon would be off loading its last remaining missiles onto the Interceptors JFK and Franklin.  It would then return to the inner system.  This would reduce the launchers available to the group by almost 40 percent - down to only 5 launch bays - although the US missile load out would improve slightly.
   With no way of knowing what lay farther out in the system or of what may even now be closing in on the ships near Uranus (if anything), there was only one option.  Jude keyed in the orders for the 1st Battle Group to return, and sent them to the comm section for transmission to Vice Admiral Avery, with a copy forwarded to the US Space Station at Earth.
   With the knowledge that the enemy wasn't China, she also keyed in a request to Euro Headquarters that disclosure of available data be made to the Chinese.  The Earth may need all its governments to fight this new foe, and the eruption of a war between them now could be disastrous for them all.


   0650 hours/ US Space Station, Earth orbit

   Lieutenant Meagan Ryan rubbed her eyes and tried to focus on the monitor.  The amount of data that the Interceptor JFK and Franklin had gathered was enormous.  She was amazed her father had managed to get his ships this close to both an alien base station and settlement.  The sensor's ability to scan for data at these short ranges was much greater than what could be obtained at normal combat ranges.  But Admiral Walters had ordered a briefing at 0800 and she needed to get everything she could together that had been analyzed.
   The base had sustained severe damage by the time the Interceptor JFK had closed with it, but the weapon system it used had still been operational, and data on the 'missile' when it was deployed was giving great insight into its capabilities and design.  The JFK had also managed to pick up active emissions that appeared to be part of a sensor and targeting system.  It was based on entirely different principles of operation, and would merit a great deal of study.
   Also scanned was the surface of Titania, and what were definitely alien structures and creatures.  The resolution of the creatures was very poor, as they seemed to be poor heat emitters, somewhat transparent to radar, and the light gain on a moon so far from the sun made enlarging the visible light pictures very grainy.   The dust and debris from the strikes on the planet made things even worse.  What was most important was simply that they were alien.
   But possibly the most important information that had been gained, was what the close range scans DIDN'T show.  Although the alien nature of the base and settlement made the last conclusion uncertain, it seemed impossible for the base, settlement, or two large unarmed vessels to have facilities capable of building or maintaining the two (now) Alpha Class vessels or the base, let alone the two large vessels that had been scanned and destroyed.  Somewhere, there had to be facilities capable of building and maintaining all of them.
   And if a moon incapable of doing that merited two Alpha Class vessel and a defensive base station, Meagan dreaded what would guard the facilities that COULD build them....


June 30th  1500 hours/Mobile Construction Ship Zhuang, Ceres Colony, Asteroid Belt

   Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji listened as the engineers aboard the Zhuang went over the work list for the coming month.   All combat ships of the Tung Group would be down for one week each over the coming month.  Apparently the design teams back on Earth had come up with a sensor system they felt would be able to compete with the European's.  Each of his ships would have the new equipment installed as quickly as possible.  The hasty nature of the work, and alterations to the ships' layouts bothered Zhu though.
   The Cruiser would see some of her internal magazine space filled with the necessary equipment, and her armor was substantial enough that the arrays would make little difference in her protection.  It should vastly increase her force projection if the sensors work as well as the engineers say it will.
   The Missile Frigates and Attack Frigate are smaller, and internal space is at a premium in their designs.  Work to fit the sensor systems internally would take months per ship out here in the belt.  So a 'compromise' had been made.  The engineers called it a 'field expedient' design.  That would be the nice way to say 'cobbled together'.
   The equipment would be housed in the space allocated to the inner most protective baffle.  Instead of a gap to allow for expansion of superheated gasses and particles, it would be filled with the sensor equipment.  Which meant the sensor array would be in a rather vulnerable position.  The Attack Frigate mounted considerable plating and baffles and only one long range missile bay, so the long range sensors would be fairly safe, and their loss would only slightly decrease its (alas, limited) combat effectiveness.  The Missile Frigates' refits had already necessitated a decrease in the number of baffles to accommodate the two long range missile bays, so the sensors on these ships would be particularly vulnerable.  Loss of these new sensors would severely impact the long range combat designs.
   Not having the sensors at all would leave him at a great disadvantage though.  A vulnerable system was better than none at all.  He signed the work orders.


////////////////////////
Overview
To those who noticed the big typo in June part 1, sorry and it’s fixed. (My wife has already chastised me for posting after work without allowing her to proof read.)
I will also apologies for the large number of typos in the early months.  My lunch breaks & stand by time were when I wrote them, and my workstation only has WordPad - no spell check. I don't plan on going back to fix them any time soon as I would rather keep writing than fixing.
With that done, on to the meat of the month...


China had planned on going to Saturn, but successfully rolled to develop the Ya, and felt it was worth stopping the Tung Group for the refit before they left.  His refit really is a desperate one, as the Zhuang can only work on 4 HS a month - so it had to be a one HS project on each ship.  I OK'd the four projects for one construction complex as they wouldn't exceed capacity, and he would have to put an entire group down for two months (1 for refit, 1 for shakedown), for a really less than ideal fix.  It kind of stretched the rules to let him do all this, and stop mid month, but China had been left on the back burner for a while and I figured he could use a break.

The Free Spacers also managed to develop the Ya in the same month, but were in no position to capitalize on it.  The oldest girl just added it into the warship designs she was looking at and kept saving her cash (so to speak).  She picked up a little extra money providing convoy escort for the Euro that month, so her mom could free up ships.  

The Euro and US (my wife and oldest boy) worked together again this month - sort of.  They were both sure if they went looking for their "Alpha Class" target, they would eventually find it.  They were also sure it wouldn't likely be alone.  Whether it would be with Chinese ships, or alien, it would probably have buddies.  Neither wanted to try and take on a couple of advanced ships alone, so they teamed up.  But not without friction and deceit.  
Each wanted the other to bring a ship with science instruments, in case they ran into something to do with a warp point, or some other situation they would be beneficial in.  The Euro wanted the US to bring the Discovery; the US wanted the Euro to bring the Red October.  Neither wanted to risk their last armed science ship.  So in the end neither did.
The US got a lucky random event (Crack Leader discovered), and the oldest boy asked if he could just move Jack Ryan up to BG +1.  I saw no reason not to, and it furthered the story and his attachment to the character, so I ok'd it.  (I must have been in a really good mood this turn.)
But my wife had the senior admiral, even if only BG +0, and wouldn't give the US the initiative roll (she wanted to be able to roll for advancement if a battle occurred, and didn't want to give the oldest boy the chance to get a BG +2 admiral if he got a lucky advancement roll).  This caused more than a little grumbling, especially when the battle occurred.
The battle saw a bunch of bad rolls from all sides (Patrol CT 17 got one hit out of 8! launches, the base and CT 18 got one each before they were destroyed. At least 7 of the launches had 70% chances of hitting. The Mary QoS was BG +1 and only got one hit in 6 launches)  The only lucky roller was the little EX Falcon - with three hits on CT 17 in 6 launches, most with 20% or less to hit odds.   It then went on and got one last good roll and made its advance to BG +1 (which everyone thought only appropriate).  First time (only time?!) I've ever seen someone do a victory dance because their EX made BG +1.
The oldest boy must have also been the one who did the most research on the sensor tables, as he made sure to get into scan distance of everything he could (the base, colony, FT's).  He passed it off as wanting to use his lasers and save missiles during the fight.  Afterward when mom wasn't around, he brought it up and asked for the info he wanted based on turn notes from the battle.

Notably - Tech data on Plasma Torpedo d/t base launch
Facilities on the planet (PDC, SA, RDS)
General systems on the FT's several times over - he took his time destroying them. Notably SYM

He must have been a little miffed with his mom on the admiral issue, as he shared NONE of this info.  
Both I and my wife were surprised when the oldest boy decided to genocide the colony.  When asked he was very straight and to the point (surprised me actually).  'They never attempted contact, always fired first, and I'm not negotiating for something that's already mine'.

For those curious for the ship designs that took part, here they are...

US Task Force 1 (Admiral Jack Ryan BG +1, Navigator)

Interceptors Mk IIa  JFK , Franklin (BG -1)   CT   16HS
[2]A A A H Mgs Qa Ya Lb Ra (cpCp) [6/1]

Missile Escorts Raptor , Falcon         EX   7HS
[2]A Hs Qa Ra (cp) [4/1]


Pan Euro 1st Battle Group (Admiral Elizabeth Avery BG +0 - commanding)

Heavy Escort Anastasia            CT   16HS
[2]A A A H Mgs Qa Ra Ra Ya (cpCp) [6/1]

Attack Escort Victoria , Mary QoS (BG +1)
[2]A A A A Hs Mgs Ya Ra Qa (Cp) [6/1]


Nemotian Patrol Group 1

Patrol Corvettes 17 , 18            CT   16HS
[2]S S A A Hs (BbS) Qa Mg Ya (cpCp) Pta [6/1] gig x3

Defense Base Mk0 #3 (BG -2)         BS0   15HS
  • S S S A A H Qa Mg Ya Pta


Colony Ships 3 , 4            FT4   30HS
[2]A H H A H H Qv (x15) H H H H H H H Qa (Cp) [2/1]

Once again, thanks for reading.
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #27 on: February 17, 2010, 06:37:03 PM »
July 2203  part 1

July 4th  0900 hours/US Space Station

   'It's unusually quiet' thought Admiral Bradley Walters.   In the absence of a 'formal' war, the observance of the holiday was going on as usual.  All non essential work was cancelled and the crew given a day to rest, or in rare cases a furlough to the surface.  The station was a veritable beacon of radio transmissions as many took the opportunity to contact friends or family.
   'The Joint Task Force won't be much of a beacon.  They haven't been heard from for the last seven days. The communication black out will last for another 24 hours or so, until they pass inside of the belt.  Until then, the only assurance we have that they still exist is the fact that they haven't transmitted any sensor readings of contacts - or distress calls.'  Admiral Walters changed from one display on his monitor to another.  Status reports, progress reports, theories on the data transmitted by the JFK.  It all left more questions, and not comfortable ones.  The chief question among them - 'Is this the last days of the human race?'
   The US combat ship roster was terribly limited.  If you included the ships of Task Force 1, it mustered only six Interceptor Mk IIa's, and five Missile Escorts.  With no way of knowing what the enemy held in reserve, that roster was going to have to expand.  When it did, the cat would be out of the bag.  The folks at home would quickly realize that the rumors were true, and that a war was being fought.  Shortly there after, they would find out who the real enemy was and all hell would break loose.  For the moment, only military ships and personnel knew the truth, and not even all of them.  None of the governments had released the information to the public.
   'No matter how good the lies, this secret is going to be too big.  Yes, it is unusually quiet today."  Admiral Walters thought again as he tried to relax.

Also that day/Combat Vessel 7, Titania, Uranus

   Commander of Combat Vessel 7 monitored the progress of the evacuation.  The colony ship was nearly finished loading the last of the survivors from the moon's surface.  The three Patrol Vessels and their nine scout craft were involved in forming the mobile 'umbrella' covering the rescue.  If any of the enemy combat ships were in the area, or tried to intercede, they would be detected and destroyed.  
   The devastation on the surface of the moon was too precise, and the energy emissions from the ruins ruled out the weapons that this race typically used.  There had been short transmissions from Defense Station 3 before it was destroyed, reports of impacts in the absence of any inbound contacts.  Perhaps this race used some form of energy emitting weapon.  If so, it would seem to be a short ranged weapon, as its use against combat vessels had never been recorded.  It would not matter.  Combat Group 1 would find this race's homes and destroy them.  Just as this race had destroyed the helpless lives on this moon.
   As soon as the survivors were safely off this moon, Combat Group 1 would turn toward the inner planets of this system, and one by one clean any infestation from them.  Soon.....


July 7th  0450 hours/Heavy Escort Tatianna

   Rear Admiral Brenna Muldoon wondered how long this assignment would last.  The 3rd Battle Group had been assigned to convoy escort duty.  'Not that I mind.' she thought, 'but this isn't going to last.  The repairs are complete, and soon they will give us another combat posting.'  The 1st Battle Group had 'reappeared' at the Pallas Colony about 3 hours ago.  Rumor had it they were a ship short of what they had left with.  The commercial channels were full of speculation over what was going on, and where the possibly 'missing' ship could be, and what it was up to.  Brenna knew that it wasn't going to return.  She had no firm reports of what had happened, but she knew.  No one who went beyond the belt and turned up ''missing' was ever coming home again.  That would raise the Pan Euro's losses to two Attack Escorts and two Armed Explorers.  Over two hundred crew.  Someone was going to start asking questions.
   She hoped that someone would actually have answers then, and not just guesses.
   "Admiral, we have Cargo Liners 012 and 137 on the sensor track.  Time till departure for Mercury, 3 minutes."
   "Thank you Petty Officer.  Helm, plot escort course and upload to my station."  Brenna turned back to monitoring the civilian channels, looking for something she wasn't sure of, but was sure she would know when she found it.


July 8th 1620 hours/Interceptor Mk IIa JFK, Mars orbit

   Rear Admiral (Lower Half) Jack Ryan could almost feel his metallic and composite body relax as his ship settled into orbit.  He had been on edge ever since leaving, and had never worked so hard trying to plot the best and fastest course back to this red ball of dust and rock.  It had felt like hounds had been on his heels the whole way.  Mars Station packed more firepower than his whole Task Force, and with it near he felt safe.  For the first time in nearly a month, safe.
   Unlocking his station, he gave the order for the crew to stand down.  Soon they would dock with Mars Station, and begin resupply.  The crew would be hoping to get off the ship, but that wouldn't happen for days.  A great deal of debriefing, and many meetings, would have to take place before the crew would be allowed to step foot off the ship.  Most of the crew by now had heard that a new race had been discovered, and that wasn't something command would want talked about willy-nilly.  If at all.
   But he was home, after a fashion, and that was enough for now.  He decided as soon as he could, he'd write a note to his daughter to let her know that he was alive.  No business, just a chance to let her know he was still here, and looking forward to hearing from her.


   2240 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, Ceres orbit

   Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji checked progress reports.  The Missile Frigate Anhui had just finished with the installation of the new sensor system.  The function checks looked good.  The increase in range and sensitivity was impressive.  More than double the capabilities of the other ships in the group.  The only problem was the interface to the weapons station.  Calibrating the new returns for targeting solutions was slow and imprecise.  That would hopefully change as the crew grew more accustomed to the new system.
   The Missile Frigate Hubei was currently beginning the installation process for the new system.  It should go more quickly, as the work crews now had a better feel for what they needed to get done.   Next would be the Attack Frigate Hunan.  The last to undergo the 'upgrade' would be the Tung.  It had been decided that the Cruiser would be last, as it would be the most capable at defending itself should the US or Euro attack, even without the new system.  The smaller ships would have more to gain from the new system.  They were also more expendable should the new system prove to be less successful than projected.
   For the moment, it looked to be a valuable addition, and should prove to be a rude surprise for the US and Euro should they decide to challenge Chinese sovereignty.


July 11th 0210 hour/Heavy Interceptor Anastasia, Mercury Shipyards

   Vice Admiral Elizabeth Avery had been briefed on the ship currently under construction at the Mercury Shipyards, but actually seeing the Pan Euro's newest combat vessel was a stirring sight.  She was fully twice the size of the Anastasia, and packed twice as many launch bays.  She should help tip the balance of power in future engagements against the Alpha Class ships this new race used.  Word had it that the Queen Elizabeth would clear the slip by the end of July, and that the 1st Battle Group would join her during the shakedown and training cruise.  It was a shame she hadn't been ready a few months earlier.  Perhaps the Victoria would still be here.
   More stirring was a quiet rumor that Liz would be transferring her flag to the Queen Elizabeth when she started operations.  To be the first Admiral to command her would be a great honor.  There were rumors that Rear Admiral Muldoon, or perhaps Admiral Kushnir would claim her as their flagship.  Liz was sure that Brenna was to junior of an officer to be placed on the Q.E.   Admiral Kushnir might transfer to the Q.E., but Liz doubted it.  The Red October was going to be the fastest ship in service for some time, and it allowed her to respond to situations more quickly than this ship would.  The Red October was also more flexible in deployment as a science vessel.  This ship was going to be a pure combat vessel.   Vice Admiral Esme Jurkat of 2nd Battle Group was the only other serving combat ship flag officer, and she had yet to receive a combat assignment.
   No, the Q.E. was going to be Liz's ship.

   0315 hours/Attack Escort Cynthia, Mercury Shipyards

   Commander Giovanni Vetra looked over the order again.  The Cynthia was to be assigned to the 1st Battle Group.  That could mean only one thing.  The Attack Escort Victoria was gone.  Whatever had destroyed the Boudicca had claimed the Victoria also.  Maybe the Anastasia and Mary Queen of Scots had been able to make it pay in blood for that victory.  He hoped so.
   Regardless, he was no longer commander of the 2nd Light Battle Group.  It was being disbanded.  The two Armed Escorts, the Louis and Cornwallis, would be performing convoy escort duties for the next few days as they made their way out to the Pallas Colony.  They would join the Red October and be the combat portion of a new science and survey group.  A rather heavily armed one.
   He didn't want command though.  He wanted to see whoever had murdered the 1st Light Battle Group brought low.  Whoever had killed his Rachel was going to pay for that.  He didn't want to die.  But if that's what it took to stop the killing...


July 17th 0735 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October, near Pallas 2

   Admiral Jude Kushnir tried to calm her racing mind.  Her fingers were nervously and aimlessly tapping at the keys.  Her old habit was displaying itself with a vengeance.  The last few hours had been a blur of activity.  Now she had to think, and clearly.  Her next few choices would affect many more lives than those aboard her ship.  Too many lives had already been lost this day.  More were going to be.  But a mistake now....
   The Red October had been hit.  The plating and baffles had kept the impact from breeching the hull, but only by the smallest of margins.  She could still fight, but the next blast would rip through her.  Definitely cripple her.  Possibly destroy her.  By herself she was no match for what was chasing her.  In her current condition, she wouldn't last two minutes.  The only thing keeping her alive was her speed now.  For all of their power, the ships chasing her were no faster than a standard Pan Euro combat vessel.  The little scout craft they used had no chance of keeping up.  They had been left far behind.  It was only the largest of the ships now, all slicing through the asteroid field.  Darting by ship killing rocks and debris fields.  Risking death to escape, or catch their prey.
   Two hours ago a transmission had been picked up by the Red October.  A Chinese Civilian Heavy Lift Cargo Vessel was enroute to the Pallas Colony Distribution Depot for a routine pick up of ore.  The Chinese still honored the trade agreements of the Treaty of Serenitatis, and the arrival of a trade ship occurred regularly.  Ceres was only a few light minutes away from Pallas at the moment.  The freighter had reported contact with a small ships' boat and was requesting verification of ownership.
   Jude remembered authorizing the transmission to the Chinese ship.  Telling them to accelerate to their best speed and try to outrun the small craft.  Then losing the freighter's signal minutes later.  She wasn't sure if the ship had even had time to receive her transmission.
   She had ordered the three small science ships and the Mobile Shipyard to engage drives and make best speed for Earth.  The Chinese ship had been less than a light minutes from Pallas 2, and the danger was too great to risk the ships needlessly.  'They could always be ordered to return to the belt' she had told herself.  If only she had known.  But no, she wouldn't have done anything differently, even if she had known what was coming.
   The Red October, Louis, and Cornwallis had positioned themselves close to the surface of Pallas, trying to hide their presence.  She had sent orders for the colony to shut down all non-essential systems. Cut all broadcasts.  'Turn out the lights' as it were.  But the Distribution Depot wasn't going anywhere.  Even with all systems off line, it still floated in a slow orbit of the giant rock.  And it was obviously not a natural object.
   It had been twenty two minutes later when the single small craft had appeared on her sensors.  It was going to pass within 70,000 km of Pallas 2.  It would easily see the station floating in space near the great asteroid.  Then it would notice the colony there.  A colony of one million souls.  It could not be allowed that close.
   The Red October had launched on the small ship, but it was nimble.  The asteroids had clouded sensor returns, fooled terminal guidance systems.  Four separate missiles had detonated near the craft, but only the last made intercept.  The small craft had been over a light second from the colony, but it had over 30 seconds to broadcast what was happening.  It had only been a matter of time before the larger ship that carried it would arrive.  But the Red October and two Armed Explorers could handle an Alpha Class ship and protect the colony.  She had been sure of it.
   What had arrived wasn't one Alpha Class, it had been three.  The other ship with them didn't even have a designation yet.  It massed more than the Red October.  It was nearly equal in size to the ship Jude knew was being built at Mercury.  The Red October had detected the magnetic signature of the ships at just less than 8 light seconds.  The asteroids made detection even at that short range difficult.  They had come in slowly, circling the area where the small craft had been fired on.  They were just over 4 light seconds out when the small craft had come pouring at them.
   Ten of the small ships had made a bee line for the colony's location.  The group must have been able to detect the Depot station at that range, and had sent the small ships in to see what it was.  They were close enough for the Red October to see the four large ships on her scanners, but to far for the systems to plot targeting solutions through the rocks.
   When the small ships had closed to one light second, the entire group had opened fire and engaged drives.  Jude had no illusion of her chances, and had ordered her group to accelerate away from the enemy ships.  She had hoped to draw them away from the colony.  It had worked, to a degree.  The three Alpha Class had launched only once on the Distribution Depot as they passed it.  That had been enough to destroy it utterly.  The large ship was easily big enough to mount several launchers, but it only made single launches at her group.  The large ship and three smaller Alpha Class vessels had launched five salvos on her group.  Both the Louis and the Cornwallis had come apart after single intercepts by the enemy's missiles.  Even the Red October had taken a single impact as she came up to speed.  The return fire of her group had managed to collapse the field around one of the Alpha Class ships, but Jude couldn't stay within range to pit her two missiles against the launchers of these four alien ships.  She could only run.  But the ships had followed her, and not stayed to attack the colony.
   The cries for help, and distress calls, had come as a horrible shock.  The small craft that were left behind had begun deploying small munitions on the colony.  The bombs didn't have to be big to pack a nuclear payload.  The sealed habitats of the colony were terribly fragile in the face of such an attack.  The Red October had been able to detect 18 separate detonations across the surface before the range grew too far.  The few transmissions as the Red October had pulled away made it clear that at least 90 percent of the population had been killed.  Ninety percent of one million people.  The rest were doomed.
   The Red October was a good ship with a good crew, but she was damaged.  Her drives would likely give out long before her pursuers.  She would hit a rock, of burn out a particle accelerator.  The drive shield may give out if it was damaged too much in the attack.  She would need to do whatever she could in the next few minutes.  It would all be over after that.  The speed she was going made a clean transmission on a tightbeam impossible in this asteroid field.  The colony had broadcast on broadband waves though.  In less than an hour the Earth would hear the cries of the dying colony.  Know that a million people had died.  The secret was out now.  It was obvious that mankind would have to face this truth or perish.  She keyed the link to the communications officer.
   "Radio in the clear, no encryption.  Tell the Chinese at Ceres colony they are going to have visitors in the next few minutes.  If they have any warships there, to get them to battle stations now.  Then transmit everything we've got on these damned ships.  Tell them I'm going to lead them right to them.   And let them know to blow the bastards to hell."
   Ceres colony held nearly 3 million Chinese nationals by the last estimates the Pan Euro had.  They were also less than 3 light minutes away from Pallas now. These alien ships were going to find them soon enough.  Maybe if the Chinese knew they were coming, they might have a chance.  If she could lead the aliens into some ambush. She hoped the Chinese had something there to defend that colony.  She didn't want to be the one responsible for what would happen otherwise....
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #28 on: February 24, 2010, 01:56:38 AM »
July 2203 part 2

July 17th  0740hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, Ceres Colony orbit

   Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji looked at the transmission that had just been translated and forwarded to his station.  A large number of transmissions had been intercepted, all originating from the area of the Pan Euro Colony on Pallas 2.  Some disaster was befalling the inhabitants of the colony.  Zhu couldn't understand any of the languages, but the fear was obvious.  Initial translations tended to indicate the colony was under attack.  That would bode poorly for the future.  If the US was willing to attack civilians in the belt, it would only be a matter of time until it spilled over onto Earth.  The loss of contact with Chinese registered Heavy Lift Freighter 02 in the area of Pallas Colony tended to indicate the US wasn't too worried about whether the Chinese became involved.
   "Admiral, you need to see this."  The Communications Officer, Xiao, seemed insistent.  He seldom spoke to the Admiral directly, using the proper channel of directing information to the Captain, and allowing the Captain to choose what was pertinent for a Flag Officer's review.  Zhu nodded to the Comm Officer, and then looked at the monitor as a new message translation was displayed.

   TRANSCRIPT AS FOLLOWS:
   THIS IS PAN EUROPEAN ARMED SCIENCE VESSEL RED OCTOBER ESF015
   ATTN COMMANDER CHINESE SPACE FORCES VICINITY OF CERES COLONY
   THIS VESSEL CURRENTLY AT 2.873 LM FROM CERES AT 238.6 DEGREE    
   +.03 DEGREE REFERENCE SOL
   CURRENT COURSE 55.2 DEGREE -.03 DEGREE REF SOL
   CURRENT VELOCITY 14966 KM/S REF CERES
   INTEND ENTER CHINESE SPACE
   PURSUED BY HOSTILE ALIEN VESSEL TIMES FOUR
   VESSELS RESPONSIBLE FOR DESTRUCTION PALLAS 2 COLONY
   ENGAGE AND DESTROY HOSTILE VESSELS
   DATA TRANSMISSION ON VESSELS TO FOLLOW

   "Xiao, it this translated correctly?  What do you mean 'alien'?  Do they mean 'foreign'?  Helm, plot their course and send it to my station."  Zhu looked at the Captain, who was busy sorting through a number of other translations on his own monitor.  If the Euro was leading US ships into Chinese space, they would be destroyed along with the ones pursuing them. Whatever was going on, it didn't make much sense.
   The plot of the Euro ship and its course appeared on Zhu's monitor.  'Damn, they will pass within 10 light seconds of the colony itself, and they will be here in less than an hour.  We will have to intercept them before they get that close.'  Zhu turned and locked his station.  "Comm, signal all ships to battle stations."
    Zhu watched the bridge as the moments passed.  The ships signaled all stations locked.  "Captain, order the Attack Frigates and the Armed Colony Ships to make intercept. Drive detonations authorized."  Zhu quickly sent the Euro ship's course plot and the intercept point he wanted to Captain Qin.  There would be time to worry about the details of the intercept shortly.  Right now he wanted the Sensor Officer's input on the data that was streaming in to the comm station, and then to his monitor. Zhu keyed the link to the sensor station and began the download of the data that was coming in.  "Sensor Conn, what do you make of these logs."
   "Admiral, I'm not overly familiar with the European data string, but the sensor returns seem similar to the new systems on the Missile Frigates.  I can identify some US and Euro ships on this first file, along with what has to be the planet Uranus and its moons. These other contacts, and what looks like some type of colony on a moon....  Admiral, I don't know what to make of them. Other than the fact that they are willing to shoot at both the US and Euro ships.  We could tune our sensors to look for this magnetic distortion, but I don't know what they are.  These files will take months to analyze, Admiral."  The Sensor Officer left the channel open, but silent.
   Zhu looked hard at the various translated transmissions on his monitor.  If these Euro transmissions were to be believed, these ships weren't human.  The Euro Admiral didn't say what they were, where they came from, or how they knew about them.  The files and transmissions could be fabricated, but it seemed unlikely.
   It didn't feel like a Euro ruse.  Why give away an attack by silencing a freighter early?  Why create all the false transmissions and warn your enemy of an approach?  Why not simply attack us when we were unprepared?  Perhaps they hoped to draw the ships away from the colony?  It didn't add up. Unless this European Admiral might be telling the truth.
   Zhu didn't like it, but this would have to take place within sight of Ceres itself.  They couldn't leave the colony unguarded.  They didn't have to be obvious though, and they didn't have to send all their ships.  The two Attack Frigates were quite capable of moving out to the point where the Euro ship indicated it would pass.  The two Armed Colony ships could join them.  Hiding in the debris fields near Ceres, they would be invisible until a hostile ship was within range of the powerful short ranged missiles that all four ships carried.  
   Zhu wished he had more time.  He'd had days to prepare for the battle at Jupiter.  Now he only had a few minutes to get his ships positioned and ready.  What happened in the next hour here at Ceres would likely decide the shape of the war to come for the Chinese people.

   0802 hours/Combat Vessel 7,Asteroid Belt

   The Commander of Combat Vessel 7 tracked the sensor returns of the 'fleeing ship'.  It was obvious from the initial readings that it could outrun the Combat Group if it chose to.  It had been tracked at a speed the group could not match.  Yet it still stayed just inside of sensor range.  It was obviously leading them somewhere.  That somewhere would have a number of this race's combat ships waiting.  That would be sure.  There was no other reason for this course of action.  
   The entire Combat Group could not be risked in this pursuit.   They would compensate for this ship's actions.   The Commander adjusted the fields of his station's panel.  Patrol Vessel 14 maintained its position in respect to the alien ship, while the rest of the group began to drop back.  Patrol Vessel 14's protective field generators had failed in the initial contact with the alien race. This race had tried to protect their colony, and failed.  The small scout craft had deployed the bombs that had proved so capable in the past.  Leaving the small craft behind had been regrettable, but they could return to pick them up later.  The small craft could survive for an extended time on their own.  
   Patrol Vessel 14 would be able to restore part of the protective field's function shortly, but for the moment it was the most expendable vessel of the group.  All the crews knew this was a battle group, and that they might be called upon to die for their race.  And that this was what had to be done.  He hoped they wouldn't have to make that sacrifice though.
   Combat Vessel 7 and the two other Patrol Vessels reached a point six light seconds behind the fleeing ship.  They were far enough back now that the enemy ship could no longer be tracked on Combat Vessel 7's sensors.  These asteroids created too much interference.  But Patrol Vessel 14 was able to keep track of the enemy, and transmit the data to the rest of the group.  Patrol Vessel 14 would also transmit when they made contact with additional enemy vessels.  It would then return to the group (hopefully), and together they would destroy this race's ships once again.


   0835 hours/Cruiser Mao Tse Tung, vicinity of Ceres

   Vice Admiral Zhu Rongji issued the order for the Missile Frigates Anhui and Hubei to stand down from Battle Stations.  The Tung would stay at general quarters for the next seven hours.  It would be longer if he could, but even a cyborgs' human components could tire if kept active for too long.  The human brain still needed to rest and sleep.  Sleep wouldn't come easy for some time though.  The 'alien' ships had been gone for fifteen minutes now, but the memories would haunt him for the rest of his life, Zhu thought.  In only two minutes, he had lost four ships.  Nearly twenty five percent of the Chinese Fleet was now fragments scattering through the asteroid belt.
   Zhu replayed the sensor record from the Jilin again.  It had broadcast right up to its last moments.  Initially the Pan Euro Red October had rushed past the two hidden Attack Frigates and Armed Colony Ships.  Then the second contact had appeared, rushing after the Euro vessel.  It had been obscured in some magnetic interference, but that hadn't stopped the rush of the Chinese short range missiles.  The Euro vessel had come about, probably to launch on the alien (he was sure it couldn't be human now) ship, but too late.  The six high speed missiles from the Chinese group had ripped the vessel apart.  Unbelievably, the ship had managed to launch a missile of it own, but the weapon had lost tracking shortly after the destruction of its mother ship.  
   The Jilin's sensors could not pick up the other vessels that the Euro ship had indicated were chasing it.   The Euro vessel continued a constant stream of transmissions, just as it had done during its entire trip to Ceres.  It was broadcasting the enemy's position, and had begun to try and move towards them.  It was here Zhu remembered keying in the orders for the group of four ships to accelerate at maximum rate towards the enemy ships' reported location.  The Tung and the two Missile Frigates had remained in an orbit of Ceres nearly brushing the surface.  
   Less than a minute later the three remaining alien ships had appeared on the Jilin's sensors.  Two were the size of the Euro's Heavy Escorts, the last somewhat bigger than the Attack Frigates.  Not as large as the Tung, but larger than anything the US or Euro claimed to be flying.  A first launch from the ships had destroyed the Armed Colony Ship Manchuria with only a single intercept!  The Attack Frigate Hunan had been crippled, with its long range missile bay and half of its particle accelerators down.  The return fire of the long range missile from the Jilin and two from the Euro ship had managed to cause one of the smaller ships to lose its strange magnetic signature.  The Euro ship had also accelerated to the speed that its government had bragged about, moving faster than anything Zhu knew about in the Chinese forces.  The next sixty seconds were a blur even on the Jilin's sensors.  The Hunan and Colony Ship Vietnam had broken up before they ever got in range to launch on the alien ships.  The Jilin and Red October had launched on the vessel that had lost its magnetic fields, and the strange ship had even cut out its engines and vented in response to the damage the missile detonations had caused.  But the exchange had left the Jilin crippled.  Its plating and baffles had been shredded before an inbound contact had even been identified.  How??!  A laser could damage a ship without a sensor contact, and at close range could even begin to rival the damage the long range missiles could cause with all safeties off.  But the Attack Frigates had been designed to withstand a near space detonation of the short range missiles.  It should have shrugged off a laser and continued to fight.  SEVERAL lasers.  The Jilin had been breached like its plating had been tissue paper.  The follow up missiles had gutted it.  Her captain had tried to bring the crippled ship about.  The Euro ship had continued to pour missiles back at the alien ships as it accelerated out of the area.  The Jilin had lost contact moments later.  That has been the last reported contact with the alien ships.
   'We destroyed one of their smaller vessels when we surprised it.  The others were outnumbered five to three, and destroyed every ship we had without losing a single ship more.  If they come back, I don't know if even the Tung, Anhui, and Hubei will be able to stop them from destroying the three million people on the colony here on Ceres.'
   Zhu keyed in for the tightbeam transmission to Venus of all the data he had gained.  And hoped the three alien ships didn't come back.
   But he knew, sometime, they would.


   1020 hours/Combat Vessel 7, dark side of the Asteroid Belt

   The Commander wondered if he had acted rashly.  Had it been a mistake to pursue the enemy ship?  Should they have broken off and continued looking for this race's homes.  No.  The ship he had followed would only have followed him.  Broadcast his position.  The ambush would still have occurred.  Perhaps with worse results.  Although that might be difficult to imagine.
   Patrol Vessel 14 had been destroyed rapidly by this race's weapons.  Patrol Vessel 16 had sustained so much damage that it would have never been able to survive the return trip.  There had been no other choice but to transfer the surviving crew and scuttle it.  With the loss of two ships, half of the group's scout craft had no landing bays.  The crews of six of the small craft had been transferred and the small ships destroyed.  His Combat Group had managed to destroy six enemy ships, but had lost two in the process.  It sounded like a victory, but if this race outnumbered them by more than three to one, then this was no victory.  The broadcast had already been made.  The elders would have to decide the next step.  It was time for Combat Vessel 7 and Patrol Vessel 15 to return home.


   1025 hours/Armed Science Vessel Red October

   Admiral Jude Kushnir unlocked her station.  The two Alpha Class contacts and the 'Delta Class' contact had fallen behind over an hour ago.  The drive was showing the wear of the last few hours.  A slow cruise back to Earth might be all the overheated particle accelerators could handle without failing.  She knew her nerves couldn't handle much more.  She also knew that she would have a great deal to explain when she got back to Earth.  The open and unencrypted transmissions.  The loss of Pallas 2 colony.  The destruction of the Armed Explorers Louis and Cornwallis.  Not to mention two Chinese Strike Vessels and Colony Ships.  The intentional violation of Chinese space.
   No.  Jude was in no hurry to get home.


July 25th  2000 hours/Ceres Colony

   Jeng didn't like people.  He knew they didn't like him either.  He didn't care, so long as they left him alone.  When he had been on Earth, they had called him names.  Some of the other kids had even tried to hurt him.  The kids had called him retard, or weirdo.  The adults had said he was slow, or different - but not in a nice way.  The doctors had used big words he didn't understand.  He was sure that it all meant the same thing.
   He knew his mom loved him.  He wasn't quite sure what that was, but it meant that she hugged him and yelled at him.  It didn't make sense, but it was supposed to be a good thing.  That was why she said she had moved them to this new home.  He hadn't liked coming here, but she said maybe they wouldn't be mean to him so much.  They still weren't nice here either.
   But there was a good thing here.  His mom said they made more money.  He wasn't sure what that meant, but it did seem to mean he got more things to play with.  He liked the things, and helped her find ones he liked.  On Earth he only had little things to look in the sky, and they didn't work good.  Here he had much better thing to look at the sky.  Some could even see things he couldn't.  He liked his things.  And his mom let him spend all the time he wanted to with them.
   A few days ago, his things had picked up strange things in the sky.  He had seen ships come and go, even on Earth.  But these were different.  And someone had been talking a lot on a radio.  It didn't make sense at first.  The words were funny.  He always had problems with words.  There had been numbers too.  He liked numbers.  He liked them as much as he liked looking at the sky.
   The numbers had been different.  But a pretty kind of different.  He had stayed up for days trying to figure out the pretty numbers. His mom had told him to sleep, but he couldn't.  Not until he knew how the numbers were pretty.
   Then he found it.  The pretty bubble the numbers made.  The pretty bubble his things could see around the strange new ships.  The ships that had come and gone so quickly.
   He had been so excited.  He even showed his mom.  She had always tried to act like she liked the things he saw and found.  He didn't think she really did, but she said she did - so he showed her.  She didn't act like she liked it this time.  She acted scared.  Real scared.  Like he felt when the other kids hurt him.  She had looked, but she was scared.
   The next day, funny men that weren't men had come and talked to his mom.  They had said funny things.  They had even looked at the things he had found.  Then they had talked to him.  He didn't understand much, but they had said they would come back with more numbers.
   He really liked the numbers and looking at the sky.  He hoped they would come back with more numbers soon.


July 28th  0430 hours/US Space Station

   Lieutenant Meagan Ryan looked over the data again.  She wondered if anyone else had noticed the tiny anomalies on the data transmitted by the Pan Euro Red October while it had been in Chinese Space.  It was obvious the Pan European Admiral was trying to assist the Chinese by broadcasting the readings her ship was taking, as the Red October most likely mounted far more sophisticated systems than what the Chinese ships carried.  It hadn't helped the Chinese much.  They had lost every ship that had engaged these alien aggressors.  Everyone now knew of the destruction of Pallas 2 Colony, and that it wasn't anything human that was responsible.  In all the uproar and meetings to cope with the public outcry and concern, analysis of the data had taken a back seat.  At this point in time though, Meagan had a few moments to herself.  She also had a 0600 briefing for Admiral Walters.  She needed to know what was in that data stream the Red October had sent.
   At first it had looked like a normal engagement.  Further analysis seemed to show damage to both of the Chinese Strike Vessels prior to the alien missiles making intercept.  It might have been a beam weapon.  If it was, the power output made even the advanced US Laser Output Couplers and Capacitors look puny.  Three to six times the on target energy at ranges the US lasers couldn't reach.  It seemed unreal, but so did everything about this new race.  Then as Meagan had run the magnetic analysis, a few blips had shown up.  They were very weak, almost sensor ghosts.  The asteroids made analysis very difficult.  Many of the asteroid debris fields in the area also had radioactive decay signatures that clouded any returns.  But two had occurred just before the Strike Vessels had suffered impacts with no intercepts.
   Meagan then began to sort the data for any of these 'sensor ghosts'.  She weeded out a number of false readings, and managed to come up with three more of the anomalies.  All near the Red October as she disengaged from the alien ships.  Resolving the sensor returns had been a chore.  The 'blip' finally resolved into a tiny magnetic signature attached to an object not more than 5 cm across, 45 cm long, and weighing a few kilos at most.  Awfully small to resolve, even without the asteroid field to interfere.  What had made it almost invisible hadn't been its size though.  It was the fact that it had passed the ship at 98.7 percent of the speed of light.
   The next to last one had passed within 10m of the Red October.  They never knew how close they had come to being destroyed.
   Admiral Walters would be interested in this.  Not happy, but interested.  This war only seemed to get worse.



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

Sorry it took a bit.  Someone must have had a real big party about 9 months ago because we have been swamped with babies.  Glad I wasn't there.

This month came as a rude shock for the Euro and China (my wife and middle boy).
For the Euro
The destruction of the two little ships was no big deal.  Almost losing her flag ship and senior admiral shook her a little.  Losing 2% of her income with the destruction of the colony definitely hurt. At the rate she had been colonizing the belt, it would take her 20 turns to recoup.  She decided (and told me) that this wasn't going to be a 'nice' game.  'Dirty' was the word I think was used.  There really didn't seem to be a good point to the month for the Euro.
For China
The loss of his last colony ships and the two attack frigates hurt.  That, along with paying for the CFN FT lost was going to take a lot of time and resources to rebuild.  The middle boy also realized he was probably the only Ind 2 player left, with the smallest fleet (other than his oldest sister), and little hope of making up ground.  His ships he had hoped to leave in the belt where their short sensor range might not be such a disadvantage had been trashed.
His one silver lining was a lucky roll on an attempt at a random breakthrough.  He paid for just one, and actually got it.  All the players have to keep a list of no less than six areas they would like a breakthrough to occur, and I randomly roll which one they get.  He just happened to get shields out of all 'wish list'.  What he didn't have was going to be the excess of cash to research a technology higher in level than he was - along with rebuild his crippled fleet.  Tough decision.  He surprised me with the solution he came up with for month 8 (August).
For the US and FSC
The oldest boy and girl got a free ride for the month, and after hearing what happened to their mom and brother were glad of it.  Both had small fleets and couldn't afford the losses that China and the Euro had soaked.  

The Nemotians Combat (Destroyer) Vessel mounted a single plasma launcher, and a single kinetic weapon.  I know that you are supposed to have a drive field to use a K type weapon, but that is to penetrate another drive field protected ship.  When nobody uses that tech, well....   A race that is good with magnetics and cryo super conductors OUGHT to have been able to create a particle accelerator/mass driver that would work, and work well.  The players didn't like the fact that it filled in the bad guys gaps in weapon coverage.  They had figured out that the Plasma Torpedoes were weak up close or at the end of their range.  The K weapon compliments that gap quite well with an almost double the chance to hit at close and long ranges.  The damage was pretty hard to shrug off also.  The players were maybe a little miffed.
But anything gotten easy is taken for granted, and a dear victory is well savored.

For those curious about the ships, the Chinese Attack Frigates Hunan and Jilin and Armed Colony Ships Manchuria and Vietnam are identical to those used at the First Battle of Jupiter's Moons.  The Red October and Armed Escorts Louis and Cornwallis are identical to earlier ships listed of that class.  As are the Patrol Vessels #14,15,16.  The new one is the Combat Destroyer.

Combat (Destroyer) Vessel 7      Class:  DD      30HS
[2]S S S A A H Qa (BbS) (Cp) Mg Mg Mg (M1) Qa (Cp) Kb+ Ya (Cp) Pta [6/1]  gig x3

And for those who were thinking it, my family also thought after the first shock of a K weapon that it wouldn't be that bad.  They would simply maneuver around its limited ability to target another vessel.  It was the middle boy (China) who pointed out - since he was already looking at the big ships in the near future in his fleet - that any ship from explorer to heavy cruiser would have the same speed and turn radius with the engines they were using.  A heavy cruiser dog fighting with the corvettes didn't appeal so much anymore when the big ship could maneuver just as well as the little one.
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

Offline procyon

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Re: Nemesis Campaign
« Reply #29 on: February 28, 2010, 02:44:34 AM »
August 2203

August 1st 0430 hours/New Delhi, India
   Chairman Mukata stood and addressed the board. "Gentlemen, we are faced with a choice that is unprecedented. We have conducted 'business' with Chinese interests on several occasions, but never of this magnitude. The Chinese Government has discreetly passed to us data that would indicate they have discovered how the aliens are able to erect the magnetic barriers around their ships. They only need facilities to create operational prototypes."
   Mukata looked at the passive faces of the assembled group. None flinched in the least at what had been said, but none would. Dealing in life and death was what these people did on a daily basis. Board member Tehk raised the question that was on everyone’s' mind. "What are the arrangements of this? What will it entail?" What he meant was 'what was in it for the corporation and him, and what were the risks'.
   "Gentlemen, they need more 'capable' facilities than they have available to them at the moment. They have the capital, but lack adequate research facilities to develop a system in an acceptable time frame. In return for our assistance, they will allow us full rights to deploy the system on any of our ships. They will also provided monetary assistance to start the project totaling the equivalent of two hundred and fifty million, in US dollars. We will be provided all of the data they have at the moment. The requirement is that none of this data be provided to other governments outside the FSC. We will also not deploy a ship with the system before the Chinese have done so. If we accept and fail to meet our obligations, well, the Chinese deployment of a Strike Vessel in orbit should clarify that."
   Tehk again questioned him. "A quarter of a billion US seems lacking. A system like this could take billions to develop. Are we sure that this is worth the investment we will have to put into it? It would put our deployment of any new vessels from Queensland or South Africa on hold indefinitely."
   Mukata turned to face Tehk. "The investment could be more substantial, but the rewards of a successful system are great. It would place us in a position to demand greater recognition from the US and Pan European power blocks. It would also give us a powerful ally in the future if we continue to support Chinese interests. Developing and deploying ships without these systems will be fruitless when the Chinese, or other powers, manage to develop this system. We lack the quantity of close sensor data the other powers possess. Without assistance we will be left far behind in the current arms race. With this arrangement we stand to profit greatly both materially and politically. If we can deploy ships with this system before the US and Pan Euro, they will find hiring our vessels to protect their interests a necessary situation. Not pursuing this is unthinkable. Shall we move forward on this?"
   A low murmur finally turned into a quiet but general approval by all of the board members present. Tehk stood. "It is decided. Mukata, make the necessary arrangements."
   Mukata nodded and pressed a key on his console. "Get me the South African Cartel. They need to get their man Dutchman to Earth now."


August 2nd 0800 hours/Chinese Space Station, Venus orbit
   Admiral Hu reviewed the progress reports. The Cruiser Shek was undergoing the same sensor refit the Tung had, while all the Missile Frigates were undergoing work to place the sensors in a more protected location inside the hull. The battle near Ceres had shown that the sensors would be quickly destroyed in the current location on the Frigates. The innermost baffles were compromised by single impacts of the alien weapon system. Losing the sensors that quickly would be devastating. They had to be moved.
The aliens had lost one ship, and another was damaged. If the Euro transmissions were accurate, they had lost two other combat ships in June. If they had any depth of reserves, they would likely have deployed them already. This was possibly the best opportunity for taking the ships out of service, while the aliens were reorganizing. It was worth the risk.
   The fact that the Cruiser Mao Tse Tung and the Attack Frigate Yunnan were the only operational ships was the terrible consequence of this rapid upgrade. The aliens couldn't come back now. If they did, this war would be over for the Chinese.


August 4th 0205 hours/Patrol Vessel 17
   The Commander of Patrol Vessel 17 assessed the sensor returns. The repairs of his vessel were complete, and for some time they would verify that the systems were functioning properly. It would take time, but they had more than adequate time. The race that inhabited this system had never been seen this far from their sun.  It was strange to consider a race that could live in the inferno so close to a star.
   For now they had joined three other Patrol Vessels, and two Combat Vessels. This was the beginning of the next Combat Group that would destroy the native race's homes and ships. Nearby, at the station in orbit of the largest moon of the nearby planet, was the vessel that would complete the Combat Group. It was one of the Assault Vessels that had accompanied the colony ships on the long trip through space. The Assault Vessel was massive compared to the simple Patrol and Combat Vessels. The native race had managed to destroy two of the last Combat Group's Patrol Vessels. They would stand no chance against the power of an Assault Vessel.
   The Commander looked forward to again finding the native race. They would pay for the many lives they had destroyed. This group would see to that.


0600 hours/Pan European Space Station, Earth orbit
   Admiral Jude Kushnir walked through the Red October. Repairs of the plating and baffles were progressing, but not scheduled to be done until late in the month. The repairs would probably be done long before Jude's boards of inquiry were done with her. They had allowed her to continue serving as the Senior Pan European Space Fleet Officer.  She knew it was because the turmoil of relieving her at the same time as they were dealing with the uproar from the public concerning the destruction of Pallas 2 Colony would be too much. For the moment she was the only officer they could hold up as having faced the aliens - openly. Even if it wasn't a victory. They were going to have enough problems explaining that all the 'missing' ships were gone. She had exercised her authority, and it had stirred a small amount of controversy.  None of the civilian groups had attempted to challenge it though.  She had given the order that all engagements, unless the contact was confirmed as human, were to be engaged with all safeties released.  No sense wasting time or missiles anymore.
   The Queen Elizabeth had arrived in Earth orbit two days ago, along with 1st Battle Group. They were flying the flag to help the folks at home feel safe. The ground based silos were probably better protection, but the ships were far more visible. Vice Admiral Avery was flying the flag on the Q.E. for now. Jude knew she was in to much hot water to take command of the Q.E. while the Red October was down for repairs. That was ok with Jude for the moment. The Q.E. was destined for combat, and Jude had seen enough of that for the moment.


August 6th 1615 hours/Kestrel, approaching Earth orbit
   The Dutchman wondered what could be going on. He had been involved in a number of unusual situations over time, but this was unreal. NO ONE who wasn't a Chinese combat vessel docked at the Chinese Space Station. The Chinese Transfer Station would accept civilian ships and cargos, but the Space Station was a military structure. The Chinese Strike Vessel shadowing the Kestrel at only 1000 meters proved that. 'The pay for this had better be incredible' he thought as he approached the station.
   The Dutchman had received orders to report to the Chinese Space Station and pick up a 'cargo'. He was then to descend to the Queensland facility and deliver the 'cargo'. Any vessel attempting to intercept him was to be avoided. If The Dutchman was unable to avoid being boarded, the 'cargo' was to be destroyed by any means necessary. Including scuttling the Kestrel. He had been warned that if he didn't, the Chinese would take care of that detail for him. It shouldn't come to that. The Kestrel was as fast as any ship in service, with the possible exception of the Red October if the Euro hype was to be believed. But the Red October was in for repairs.
   Hopefully this would be a routine pick up. They seemed to be having a large number of dealings with the Chinese of late. The Mary Reed and Marie Celeste were headed for Ceres to act as troop transports and convoy escorts for the Chinese. The Dutchman wasn't sure if he liked the idea of siding with the Chinese. They were an awfully big brother to have watching over your shoulder.
   And The Dutchman didn't like anybody watching him.


August 12th 0830 hours/US Space Station, Earth orbit
   Admiral Bradley Walters watched as the members of his staff assembled for the morning briefing. They would each come with some new concern or development, but little of it could be dealt with from the station. Civilian issues were the problem now. Lots of them. At least they had loosened up the purse strings on the budget for the military.
   They were still only frameworks, but in the two slips outside were what would become a pair of Interceptor Mk IIa's. The slip at Mars was likewise occupied. And after these three were completed, another three were to begin construction. The work would be rushed, but the plan was to double the number of Interceptors in service by the beginning of next year. It was a rather optimistic timeline, but any new ships would help. The sad truth was that they were horribly outclassed by the alien ships, but they were the best the US had in service right now. The best they might have for some time to come.
   Although many alien systems and weapons had been identified, progress in research was painfully slow. Developments that were likely to have any impact on the war were possibly years away. Lobbying for increased research funding was rampant, but throwing money at this was of little help. Facilities, personnel, and just plain luck was what were needed, and the US was painfully short on all three.
   At least US Task Force One was back up to full strength. The completion of the Missile Escort Owl had filled out the roster. The ship would be going through its shakedown cruise, but was combat capable in a pinch. Hopefully they would share the luck the Falcon had enjoyed.
   Admiral Walters settled back for another long day. Hopefully it would be uneventful.


August 17th 2120 hours/Heavy Escort Rebecca, near Pallas 2
   Vice Admiral Esme Jurkat looked at the visuals of the ruins of the Pallas Colony. Whatever these aliens were, they were thorough. And heartless. To destroy so many unarmed civilians. To destroy warships was one thing. To kill a million colonists was another. She had orders to scan the ruins, transmit the data to Earth for study. It was pointless. There was nothing to study. Scorched rock and structures. Shattered debris floating in a cloud around the asteroid, a million tiny moons circling, colliding. No grave stones. No memorials or statues. Just destruction.
   She had heard the transmissions from the colony. The transmissions from the Red October. She knew that the ships the alien race used were more dangerous than anything she had in her group. And that the 2nd Battle Group's new post in the belt put her where the aliens would show up first. Her crews were well trained, her ships in top condition. The question was, would that be enough to stop the aliens when they came back?
   She had a bad feeling she would find out. Sooner than she would like. But enough or not, scared or not, Esme knew she wouldn't run. She wouldn't leave another colony behind. Not to face this fate.  
   Not while she lived.

//////////////////////////////////////////
Overview
This month gave most folks a chance to rest.
The big events were between China and the FSC (middle boy and oldest girl).  China decided that getting the R&D on shields (SL 1) was going to be pricey as he was Ind2.  It was also going to take longer.  He didn't want to go to his mom or older brother (Euro or US) as they would only gain a larger edge on him.  If he was going to be competitive with the other big powers, he decided he couldn't give this one away.  His older sister wasn't a threat, but after talking to her he found out she was EL 1, and would be better able to do the research.  So he offered to pay most of the verification costs of the new tech for her (she couldn't have put together the money for months), and enter into a defensive military treaty (per se), so they could assist each other with the development.  She was small in size, so the percentage of total income cost for the research was only a tiny part of his resources.  His research had to deal with his larger resources (higher cost by percentage), and the doubled cost of being an EL behind.  He would simply funnel her the cash. It was win-win for them.
China also took a big gamble putting in all but two ships in for refits.  That gamble would be tested in September.

The US and Euro were trying to figure out how they could make a sortie/attack into the outer system.  They knew that they weren't going to win waiting on the other race to attack them, but neither could come up with a way to free up the ships to do anything.  Both wanted to keep their colonies protected, and refused to be the one to leave any unguarded.  The US started to build up ships for an offensive, but the oldest boy knew that his little Interceptors and Missile Escorts were going to have a rough time of it against the alien ships. He wanted mom to commit her destroyer (the QE) and he would support it, but she didn't want to risk losing it right away (or maybe at all).

As for the Nemotians, I had decided they were going to step up the level of combat power coming into the system, but they were going to need a month to unmothball one of their bigger ships so it could relieve one of them currently guarding the colony 'worlds'.

September would see a large number of plans collide.  A lot of cards were played that folks had hoped to keep held for a while.

A note on July and the destruction of Pallas 2 colony.  Some folks have noticed that a bunch of gigs did in a settlement.  The rules don't allow it, but it has been a house rule for so long that it never occurred to me to be a 'house rule'. Bombs are 1 MC for 10 and each occupies 2 csp.  Shuttles and Assault Shuttles can drop them (as can big ships), and Gunboats/Fighters can carry them on external points.  Gigs have had a cargo capacity of 5 csp in our other games, and we always allowed the slow little buggers the ability to carry a pair of the bombs.  Makes them a little more useful, and harder to ignore.  Otherwise the only use they serve is to move admirals from ship to ship generally.  This was how Pallas 2 died.  The ten gigs of the Nemotians dropped the bombs that killed the colony.  Didn't surprise any of the players, but did draw some questions from folks out there.  Hope that answers the questions.  Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy.  September will take a bit to put together - maybe three parts.
... and I will show you fear in a handful of dust ...
 

 

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