Author Topic: Worlds Collide  (Read 5355 times)

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Offline MarcAFK

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #30 on: January 01, 2014, 07:06:16 AM »
I did not expect that battle to be a stalemate, you got lucky, and we got an exciting resolution to the chapter.
I have a question, I can see where most of the events are coming from, gameplay wise, but the unemployment and rioting, is that an invention for RP? Or was there riot caused by part of your fleet leaving the planet unprotected as the task group left for anderseriks? Or someother trigger?
" Why is this godforsaken hellhole worth dying for? "
". . .  We know nothing about them, their language, their history or what they look like.  But we can assume this.  They stand for everything we don't stand for.  Also they told me you guys look like dorks. "
"Stop exploding, you cowards.  "
 

Offline chrislocke2000

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2014, 05:16:20 PM »
September 2060

Sol – Navy Command
Vice Admiral Shots was sat back in the main briefing room of Navy command nursing a sore head and a large mug of coffee. Around him sat the similarly bleary eyed and slightly dishevelled members of his command group as well as a couple of government officials and junior ministers. He’d left his seat just four and a half hours earlier having ordered the emergency response committee to take a short break. They had now been working on a response to the clear and present danger of the X’Ching aliens for close to three days straight but had made little progress towards an agreed response.

Since the news of the X’Ching’s aggression broke across the news waves two days ago much of the planet was in uproar. Parliament had been forced to deploy troops in several cities in order to try and contain rioting whilst a further detachment was deployed around Navy HQ, keeping a wary eye on a large group of demonstrators that had gathered outside the main entrance. In a matter of days the voice of the anti-expansionist movement had gained a huge amount of weight and with it popular support. In fact most of the protestors sat around HQ were with the anti-expansionist movement.

In stark contrast many more people were demanding immediate retaliation through the launch of a huge expeditionary force to find the X’Ching home planet and remove the threat for good. They were urging the acceleration of the Navy’s exploration programme to make sure such alien menaces could be found and dealt with before they found Earth. More than one of the riots had been the result of fighting between the groups with these very different points of view. Such a range in views were also being expressed by the members of the response committee which was why it was taking so long to try and agree on some sort of middle ground that would hopefully keep all sides at least somewhat mollified.

Having spent well over a day picking apart the sensor and optical recordings of the Anderseriks encounter including watching the destruction of the TFS Bolivia and working through the casualty list, Shots was more than ready to consider such a response. Unfortunately the Federation’s current Navy was unlikely to be up to the task, largely as a consequence of the Federation’s real estate and population expanding nearly threefold in the last few years whilst the Navy itself had perhaps grown by no more than 25%. The need to defend so many planets along with so large a swath of space was already stretching them and the associated infrastructure to the limit. Any expedition at this stage would therefore either need to be very limited or require large areas to be left virtually defenceless and that certainly wasn’t an option.

Looking around Shots could see that they were still waiting for a few of the committee to remerge after last night’s recess so he grabbed one of the intelligence reports to reread whilst he was waiting.
 
The report was depressingly short, reflective of the limited information the intelligence officers had access to. Consequently much of it was conjecture based upon the best estimates of both the intelligence and scientific community.

Captain, or rather Commodore Barnett following his recent promotion, had performed admirably with the limited resources he had to hand. Managing to force a retreat by the X'Ching whilst protecting the salvage group had been a fantastic feat even if it had evolved no small amount of luck as well - just one more volley of those massive missiles would have likely devastated the remaining ships in his task group. As it was, loosing just one vessel and suffering significant damage to one more in return for the destruction of one enemy vessel and damage to at least a few more when the enemy significantly outnumbered them was undoubtedly a good outcome despite the loss of life it had entailed.
All of the information pointed to the X'Ching being a race that was somewhat less advanced than the Federation; but that margin appeared to be a lot narrower when compared to every other race encountered to date. In particular it looked like their warhead technology was at least on a par with the Federation.

The analysis of their missile technology was a definite concern. The whole scientific establishment agreed that it would be impossible for the X'Ching to build size 2 missiles with the size of warhead seen as well as having such a huge range. All indications where therefore that the size 16 missiles were in fact some sort of long range single use launch platform for those size 2 missiles. The result was massive waves of small but relatively hard hitting missiles which clearly had the capacity to rapidly saturate all but the most significant levels of defensive fire. In fact analysis showed that  if the anti-missile destroyers had not been carrying the mark 4 Stirges the destroyer's own defences would have been overwhelmed by every volley.

Exactly how far from their targets the missiles separated was unknown but it was clear that if they could intercept these larger, far slower, missiles before they would need far fewer anti missiles to protect against attack. A new class of anti-missile, the Imp, had already been given approval and would be put into detailed design immediately. The new missile would have a range of at least 30mkm ensuring that the latest anti-missile fire controls could take full advantage of the maximum possible engagement range.

On the sensor side the X'Ching appeared to mount a capable sensor package although general consensus was that the the task group and the salvage group were not detected until the first wreck was salvaged. One area where the federation seemed to have a clear advantage was in the field of propulsion. Whilst they couldn't be certain that the speed advantage was due to technological advantage rather than engine space allocation or efficiency the speeds of their missile indicated either ion or magneto plasma technology. Whatever the situation, the substantial speed advantage of the recently upgraded destroyers had significantly helped Barnett to manage the tactical situation and had reignited the discussion as to whether all of the Federation's current Navy vessels should have their engines upgraded.

Finally it looked as if the X'Ching vessels were particularly well armoured having required a large number of hits from the heavy hitting Harpy missiles. It meant that they would probably need volleys of between 30 and 40 Banshee missiles to destroy a single target.

All in all the Intelligence community had concluded that fighter strikes from beyond the range of the X’Ching’s own missiles should be more than possible and, given the effectiveness of the relatively small throw weight of the destroyers, should also be highly effective in engaging the X'Ching vessels.

That therefore just left the few fairly thorny issues of how to free up the carrier groups from their various defensive duties in order to deploy them against the X'Ching, how to locate their home world and how to push the Federation's logistics chains far beyond their current limits.
So far the committee had at least agreed that the land based defences around GJ 1065, Luyten 1305-10 and 107 Piscium should be substantially upgraded. To achieve this Luyten's economy would be refocused on military support. They had also agreed that the design and construction of orbitl defence platforms needed to be accelerated. The massive shipyard retrieved from the Followers would therefore be repurposed to build the platforms rather than more littoral cruisers whilst the design of a twin laser turret would also be brought forward.

Looking up Shots realised that the remainder of the committee had since filed back into the briefing room and were waiting for him to recommence proceedings. Shots took a few calming breaths before calling the meeting to order, it was likely to be another very long day.

Sol – London
Carter was back in his office, his recent trip to the shipyards in orbit around Mars cut short by the news of the hostilities with the X’Ching. Carter knew it would only be a matter of time before someone at Navy command stopped worrying about the X’Ching and started to wonder as to exactly where the orders to go back into Anderseriks with the salvage group and just a lightly armed escort came from. Given the loss of life and the fact the Federation might once again be teetering on the brink of war he also knew that anyone who started asking those questions was unlikely to be put off by the false trail that had been laid.

What he needed was a highly credible fall guy, someone who would have had the connections to pull it off and the motivation to do so, someone who was willing to blackmail, cheat and steal to make it to the top. A wry smile spread on Carter’s lips, he knew just the person who would fit the bill nicely.

After straightening his tie and checking his appearance in a small mirror Carter sat back down at his desk. He paused for a few moments, thinking of what exactly to say, before activating the holo imagers and recording his message.

107 Piscium – The Belorussia
Barnett was sat in his quarters gazing out at the star field being projected on one of the walls. He had just spent more than four hours working through the last of his personal condolence letters for all the crew members he had lost in Anderseriks. Each one of those letters had made his recent promotion more bitter than the last and, not for the first time since making it back to Federation space, he was again replaying the battle in his head, looking for where he might have avoided the engagements or prevented the destruction of the Bolivia.

A knock at the door brought him out of his contemplation. After the battering they had received in Anderseriks a number of the Belorussia’s internal systems including the comms had been working intermittently at best. Given the list also included some of the life support systems the crew had understandably resorted to more old fashioned methods of communicating with one another rather than focus their time maintain less critical areas. “Please come in” called out Barnett. A moment later his exo entered his cabin.

“Sir, I’ve just had the latest reports up from the boatswain. The last survey shows no further deterioration in the running repairs. The team paid particular attention to the missile tube actuators after that last pressure build up, no further signs of problems there. All the other bulkhead seals are showing green as well”.

“That’s good news but I want to keep up with the four hourly inspections for at least a few more cycles. Being this far out in deep space with only patchwork covering several chunks of our hull I think it best we stick to the prudent side of safe don’t you think?” replied Barnett.

“I quite agree. Latest navigation update puts us in orbit at the Luyten dockyards in fifteen and a half days’ time. The crew will have more than enough of a chance to relax then”.

“Ok, carry on. Just make sure you get a shift in the bunk as well. I know we are all stretched with the reduced crew on top of the repairs but I need you sharp to make sure we don’t miss anything before it’s too late”.

“Aye Sir” replied the exo before saluting and making his way back out of Barnett’s cabin, leaving him to return to his musings.

GJ 1065
For the first time in months Colonel Foster wasn’t either cooped up in some small barracks or up to her neck in alien technology. This time she was busy overseeing the massive ground works that would form the foundations for the prefabricated PDCs that were due to be shipped in from Luyten in the next few months. Foster was also the happiest she had been in months; the news of the tragic events in Anderseriks had at first been quite shocking especially when she thought of all the effort she had gone to in order to get a herself and a small unarmed scout ship into that system. However, over the last few days that shock had turned to thankfulness for her good fortune; it seemed to her that perhaps fate had played a role in preventing her from getting to the system.

There was however little time to celebrate her good fortune, the schedule set by Navy command meant that her engineers were in for a gruelling couple of months and she would need every ounce of her wit and knowledge to make sure they hit that target. Not one of them were complaining though, the sooner they got the sensor suite and missile defences up and running the better.

107 Piscium – Planet A IV
Kai Winter smiled at the couple of administration staff he passed as he sauntered towards his office. Ten minutes earlier his data pad had pinged to inform him of a priority encoded message from administrator Carter back on Earth. With the war ended Kai was finally going to get off this rock and back to a plush job back on Earth. He was therefore savouring the walk up through the labyrinth of tunnels and passageways that connected the habitats.

Finally, after a leisurely fifteen minute stroll and with a mug of fresh coffee in hand, Kai settled down in front of his desk before keying in his command codes to access the secure comms system that was reserved for the military and senior civilian administrators. In front of him the holo projector sprung to life displaying Carter’s familiar face and office surroundings.

“Kai, first of all let me congratulate and thank you for the incredible job you have been doing through these pressing times. Your contribution to the broader war effort has most certainly been recognised by all of us back home and again I can’t thank you enough for your efforts.  As I’m sure you are aware, with the cessation of hostilities between ourselves and the Followers we have moved to focusing our efforts on rebuilding the economies of both the Union and the Followers. Alongside out efforts the Navy is redeploying a number of carrier task groups to the area to ensure the continued safety and security of all three member races of the Federation. The management of our fledgling colony on 107 is therefore moving firmly under the remit of the Navy who will be leading efforts to continue its’ development. That means that your work there on 107 is done”.

Kai smiled and raised his coffee cup in mock salute to Carter’s image; the man had actually kept up his end of the bargain.
“However, the threats to the Federation are from over, as has been amply demonstrated by our illustrious Navy’s recent encounter with the X’Ching. The Federation therefore continues to need great men like you to help protect our freedoms and everything else we have fought for since returning to the stars.

The council has met and in response to this new threat has unanimously voted to reassign you to the post of Governor of the Union’s home world in Luyten 1305-10. You will be responsible for leading more than a third of the Federation’s population and to reinvigorate their ailing economy as we prepare to face the X’Ching. Congratulations Kai and God speed to you”.

The holo recorder cut off abruptly at the end of Carter’s message. It took a stunned Kai a few moments longer to register that he was not in fact returning to Earth. The scream that followed could be heard in the adjoining office block.

2060 October

Delta Trianguli
Whilst administrator Coles was still stuck in his temporary office deep within the TFAA base he was much happier with the overall situation. A freighter had finally arrived from Luyten bringing with it the much needed supplies of minerals to get the Followers’ economy on the mend. It had also meant the reopening of the planet’s maintenance facilities. That was providing a welcome relief to the many crew of the carrier group and frigate task force still in orbit.

Coles had also been able to secure enough construction factories to commence work on a new basic defensive network for the planet. First to be built were a pair of anti-missile defence centres along with a large active sensor array. With many of the Followers’ work force still boycotting their jobs progress was still painfully slow but at least it was progress.  

Meanwhile Thornton was also still hard at work slowly expanding his forces’ sphere of influence across the major cities. Several of the cities, including the capital, had responded well to the army’s light touch tactics with a marked reduction in levels of civil disobedience in those locations. In fact the response had been so good in a few cities that Thornton was now planning the handover of policing back to the Followers’ own civilian forces there. Once the handover was completed he would be able to move his own forces into more of the outlying towns. He would then repeat the process until the whole of the population was back under direct civilian control.

Looking at the long term plan Thornton’s main concern was the lack of troop training facilities available on the planet. Experience showed that locally trained garrisons were really the only effect way to maintain an enduring peace and unfortunately he was going to be able to make progress on that front for quite a while.

Sol – Mars Shipyards
Commodore Shaw was back in his own briefing room surrounded by an array of technical drawings, data pads, half eaten meals and numerous coffee cups. Sat with him were most of the shipyard’s key engineers and designers. They had been working together tirelessly over the last few weeks in response to the Navy’s engagement with the X’Ching and their consequent demands for an acceleration of the defensive programme.
Fortunately for Shaw the urgent demands had also come with a reallocation of resources to the military. This had primarily consisted of more than 30 research labs that enabled the accelerated development of two key new pieces of equipment.

First and foremost was the completion of the 20cm twin laser turret for mounting on the Federation's first orbital weapons platforms. With the reduced size turret compared to the triple turret used on the prototype the engineers had been able to drastically increase the number of engineering spaces as well as thicken the armour.

The result was a platform that could sit in orbit around a planet or even on station near a jump point for well in excess of six years without the need for maintenance facilities. The armament of three twin gauss cannon turrets along with the twin laser turret gave excellent protection against missile attack whilst providing area protection. The lacks of ordnance requirements further support the role of forward defence base.

Code: [Select]
Type 271 class Orbital Weapon Platform    6,000 tons     499 Crew     1587.4 BP      TCS 120  TH 0  EM 0
1 km/s     Armour 7-29     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 8     PPV 60.77
Maint Life 7.48 Years     MSP 1323    AFR 36%    IFR 0.5%    1YR 41    5YR 622    Max Repair 240 MSP


Twin 20cm C5 Ultraviolet Laser Turret (1x2)    Range 320,000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 20-10     RM 4    ROF 10        10 10 10 10 8 6 5 5 4 4
Twin GC 20r8 (3x8)    Range 20,000km     TS: 20000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 2    ROF 5        1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S08 160-10000 (1)    Max Range: 320,000 km   TS: 10000 km/s     97 94 91 88 84 81 78 75 72 69
Fire Control S06 48-20000 (3)    Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 20000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
MCF Reactor 10-1 (2)     Total Power Output 20    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Active Search Sensor MR5-R1 (1)     GPS 48     Range 5.2m km    Resolution 1

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

Having finalised and received approval for the design just a few days ago Shaw's team was now frantically trying to complete the manufacturing plans so that the first batch could start construction in the waiting Luyten shipyards.

The second piece of equipment to have been hurriedly developed was a new missile fire control for anti-missile engagements. Designed to be used in conjunction with the most powerful missile detection sensor currently deployed the new fire control would make maximum use of the search sensors range as well as the stocks of Mech long range anti-missiles recovered over the past ten years. Whist not immediately backwards compatible with the Navy's existing area defence vessels due to its' increased size, it was hoped that it could be deployed in relatively short order as part of the new wave of Federation vessels being built.

In fact Shaw's next big challenge was to draw up and get approved plans for the new Type 423 area defence light cruisers within the next few weeks in time for the re-commissioning of one of the Union's old shipyards. The shipyard was now on route from Earth following administrator Carter's hugely successful drive to build the Mars workforce up to a level where all shipyards could be appropriately manned. With the huge investment in shipping all of the colonists out to Mars it wasn't just the needs of the Navy that was driving that particular deadline.

Setting his own mug down to one side Shaw stood to call the room to attention. With the amount of work they had to do he needed to get the team organised and focused.

Luyten 1305
Surrounded by a small army of civil servants and a number of the Union’s local dignitaries Kai was slowly making his way through his fourth extended tour of a construction facility since arriving landside some two weeks ago.

Kai had spent the two weeks before that cooped up on a small civilian freighter prior to arriving on Luyten. During that time his shock at being posted to a highly visible position further away from Earth in total contradiction to his wishes had turned to anger and a seething hatred of Carter. He had however been able to tame much of his anger as well. Kai realised that his only real chance to hit back at Carter would be through exploiting his new found position to the best of his ability. That meant that however much he despised the posting he needed to excel in his work, building more allies in the military and government before he made his move. Finally, though he was loathe to admit it to himself, he was quite proud of his new position and the challenges it presented no matter what his route had been to get there.

Despite his short time on the planet Kai had already realised that the Unionists were woefully behind in their working practices. The methodologies he'd put in place back on 107 Piscium where he had been forced to make the best use of every available person were way ahead of the Union's own. Fortunately those new methods could easily be implemented here, substantially improving the planet's industrial output. That would be a great feather in his cap for his longer term plans.

Now all he had to do was somehow get a full grip on just how bad the current situation was and to manage the rapid implementation of some fundamental reforms that would undoubtably be met by strong resistance from some.  Hence has now touring a number of the planet's facilities, not just to see what a state they really were in but to also start winning the hearts and minds of the people he would need to rely on to start his plan in motion.

In the meantime he would busy himself radically improving the industrial might of the planet and making sure the factories met the urgent demands for ship components from the Navy.

Luyten 1305-10 Shipyards
Barnett stood in front of one the Belorussia's few remaining operational air locks watching as the side lights showed it cycling through the connection sequence. As the final lights turned green Barnett gave the cap of his immaculate Blue No. 1 dress a final touch to make sure it was straight.

Ahead of him the pressure door rolled back into its' recess with the usual hissing sound of the air in the two compartments equalising. With it came the smell of fresh clean air, reminding him of the crews struggle with the life support systems over the last few weeks of their journey. Involuntarily Barnett took a deep breath of the crisp air before making his way through the airlock and onto one of the many port decks within Luyten's massive shipyard complex.

Arrayed around the dockside airlock stood many of the crew and officers from the carriers of Alpha group along with hundreds of the dock workers and engineers; at their head stood the Rear Admirals Miller and Coles. As Barnett stepped through the airlock the thump of hundreds of boots echoed across the cavernous bay as all of the men and women present came sharply to attention. To one side a rating piped aboard Barnett with a very old but still used traditional boatswain’s pipe.

Barnett brought himself to attention before saluting the two senior officers in front of him. “Permission to come aboard sir” asked Barnett.
“Permission granted” responded Miller, the more senior of the two. “It is both an honour and privilege to be able to welcome you back on board. All of us have seen the reports of your actions and those of your fine crew. From now on the name Belorussia will by a synonym for courage, audacity and unrelenting commitment to duty. You have demonstrated all that is great in our Navy and why the people of the Federation should have such faith in us”. Striding forward Miller grasped Barnett’s hand with both of her own, shaking firmly “you are truly welcome back aboard”.
A wave of clapping rippled out from Barnett and Miller, the noise growing louder and louder as it spread to all ranks and corners of the bay. Before long it was a thunderous applause.  

GJ 1065
With the foundations having been laid several days ahead of schedule Foster's team were already back in the ancient abandoned city looking for likely installations that they might bring back to life. Foster meanwhile was sat back in their command post pouring over one of the ancient data storage devices that they had discovered several months back.

Whilst the work was often gruelling she was happy to have something to stay focused on. The news of a potential hostile alien race just a few jumps from the planet and the possibility of GJ 1065 becoming the battlefront sent shivers down her spine. Not for the first time she wondered whether they would have any chance of completing their research before wider events overtook them.

Foster forced herself to put those thoughts to the back of her mind so she could concentrate on the task in hand. Picking up another analyser she scanned the data device for a fourth time, trying to decipher some method for downloading its contents. It was then that the thought occurred to her that rather than trying to use her equipment to complete the work she should be using the alien's own technology.

Stuffing the device into a large ruck sack Foster headed back off into the city to one of the abandoned research facilities that was still awaiting dismantlement and shipment back to Luyten. Routing power to one of the laboratories took only a few hours after which it took her a few more hours to get one of the labs analysers up and running. By this time it was deep into the night but Foster continued to push on, driven by the familiar need to try and get something to work.

Finally she had the data device hooked up and an analysis program running. As she watched the now familiar script of the aliens start to scroll across a display and in turn get translated by her own data pad Foster slowly drifted off to sleep.

Foster awoke some time later to the sound of a soft beeping coming from the analyser. Stifling a yarn Foster looked over at the screen to seem reams of data scrolling down the screen. It took her a few moments to register that it had worked. Excitedly she started to skim through the data to she what had been uncovered.

It was just after breakfast that Foster finally made her way back towards her own command tent with a broad grin on her face. Not only had the data decryption worked but it looked to her that the information stored included some incredibly advanced mining control algorithms. The algorithms would likely substantially boost the output of any mining facility and could be a huge boon to the Federation.

2060 November

Sol – Mars Shipyards
Shots and Shaw stood shoulder to shoulder in the small viewing gallery overlooking the No.2 shipyard. In front of them the newly expanded, cavernous 24,000 ton docks stretched away into the distance. The floor of the dockyard was a hive of activity with men, machines and materials. In a few moments the first sections for the keels of the new Project 101 carriers would be laid down. Once completed the ships would be the largest in the Federation Navy and would likely be the vessels to take any fight to the X’Ching.

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Project 101 class Carrier    24,000 tons     1338 Crew     3919.4 BP      TCS 480  TH 3000  EM 0
6250 km/s     Armour 4-74     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 28     PPV 15.65
Maint Life 4.06 Years     MSP 1837    AFR 256%    IFR 3.6%    1YR 178    5YR 2674    Max Repair 144 MSP
Hangar Deck Capacity 9000 tons     Magazine 1152    

MCF Drive E5 (24)    Power 125    Fuel Use 50%    Signature 125    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 1,550,000 Litres    Range 232.5 billion km   (430 days at full power)

Twin GC 20r8 (1x8)    Range 20,000km     TS: 20000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 2    ROF 5        1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S06 48-20000 (1)    Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 20000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0

Banshee 6 (526)  Speed: 50,000 km/s   End: 16.5m    Range: 49.5m km   WH: 5    Size: 2    TH: 200 / 120 / 60
Wyvern 3 (100)  Speed: 47,400 km/s   End: 4m    Range: 11.5m km   WH: 2    Size: 1    TH: 410 / 246 / 123

Active Search Sensor MR5-R1 (1)     GPS 48     Range 5.2m km    Resolution 1

Strike Group
28x Starfury Mk2 (T) Fighter-bomber   Speed: 15000 km/s    Size: 5
4x Starfury Mk2 (S) Fighter-bomber   Speed: 15000 km/s    Size: 5
6x Wasp Mk3 Interceptor   Speed: 22727 km/s    Size: 3.3

Missile to hit chances are vs targets moving at 3000 km/s, 5000 km/s and 10,000 km/s

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

Both Shots and Shaw were on a tight schedule as in just a few more hours’ time they would need to transfer over to No. 9 shipyard to witness the laying down of the keels for the Navy’s first four Type 423 area defence light cruisers. The new light cruisers would form the back bone of the area defences for both the new carrier and cruiser groups and hence were a vital element of the new task groups’ composition.

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Type 423 class Light Cruiser    12,000 tons     967 Crew     2860.4 BP      TCS 240  TH 1500  EM 0
6250 km/s     Armour 7-46     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/28/0/0     Damage Control Rating 18     PPV 49.3
Maint Life 4.74 Years     MSP 1192    AFR 144%    IFR 2%    1YR 87    5YR 1303    Max Repair 288 MSP
Magazine 846    

MCF Drive E5 (12)    Power 125    Fuel Use 50%    Signature 125    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 410,000 Litres    Range 123.0 billion km   (227 days at full power)

Twin GC 20r8 (2x8)    Range 20,000km     TS: 20000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 2    ROF 5        1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S06 48-20000 (2)    Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 20000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0

Size 1 ML RoF 5 (18)    Missile Size 1    Rate of Fire 5
Missile Fire Control FC41-R1 (3)     Range 41.6m km    Resolution 1
Stirge 5 (846)  Speed: 50,000 km/s   End: 1.2m    Range: 3.6m km   WH: 1    Size: 1    TH: 550 / 330 / 165

Active Search Sensor MR40-R1 (1)     GPS 288     Range 40.3m km    Resolution 1
EM Detection Sensor EM2-28 (1)     Sensitivity 28     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  28m km

ECM 10

Missile to hit chances are vs targets moving at 3000 km/s, 5000 km/s and 10,000 km/s

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

With the latest round of designs completed Shaw was looking forward to at least a few weeks of relative calm to re-gather his thoughts and deal with the piles of admin that had been piling up.  

Luyten 1305 -Shipyards
Barnett was once again stood with Rear Admiral Miller in the main loading bay of Shipyard No. L1. In front of them the men of the Belorussia were filing back on board the vessel through the freshly repaired airlocks. Barnett still couldn’t quite believe that it had taken the shipyard only a little over a month to affect all of the numerous repairs needed; however his chief engineer was more than happy so that gave him a lot of comfort.

With the repairs completed, his crew thoroughly rested and replacement crew assigned Belorussia was ready to put out to space once more. Barnett wasn’t therefore going to waste any further time sloping around the Luyten docks. Somewhere out there were the X’Ching and he had a debt to repay for the Bolivia that he intended to make.

With a final salute to Miller, Barnett about turned and strode back onto his vessel, ready to face whatever the X’Ching might care to throw at him.

GJ1065
After her success with the last data storage device, Foster and her team had redoubled their efforts to seek out and test other data stores. They had also been back through all of the devices that they had previously found and run those through the jury rigged lab. In each case they had finally been able to read the data stored but to date nothing of anywhere near the worth of the first device had yet been found.

Most of the team were now back in the old laboratory waiting for the last of the latest pile of devices to be analysed by the ancient machinery. The team's initial excitement at Foster's first find was slowly wearing off with the monotony of the task ahead however Foster remained focused.
Three hours later many of the team had headed off to grab some food and sleep, leaving just Foster and some of her closet team members to keep watch on the machine which unfortunately gave no indication of the time required to analyse each device.

Finally the machine gave out a very dull bleep and the now familiar scroll of information started to appear on the labs monitors. One of Foster's team stepped forward to start checking the data. Moments later the assistance gave out a whoop, startling Foster from her perch. All of them rushed forward to see what had been discovered this time round.

Fifteen minutes later all of them were grinning and congratulating themselves on a job well done. The final round of data included full details of the alien's manufacturing processes, all of which were substantially ahead of the Federation's. Implementation of these was likely to prove another massive boon and would substantially contribute to the Federation's output.

GJ1065 – Low orbit
Commodore Conor Stevenson was sat on the bridge of the TFS Long Island, the lead ship for Carrier Group Delta. After a charge across six systems the Federation's newest carrier group had finally arrived in orbit around the GJ 1065 colonies. About him his deck officers were already busy arranging for the refuelling bowsers to come up from the planet along with replacement maintenance supplies. His weapons officer was also busy liaising with the home defence detachment to organise the offloading of a number of the area defence light cruisers’ stock of Stirge Mk5 missiles and the replacement with a batch of long range anti missiles previously recovered from one of the Mech listening posts.
Looking down at his plot he could see the detachment of destroyers from carrier group alpha and the ageing, but not to be underestimated, frigates of strike group alpha. It was a sizeable force but one that could not be maintained in the system and hence could only be a temporary solution to the rapidly evolving situation.

Stevenson’s orders had been to make best speed to GJ 1065 and there assume overall command of Federation’s naval assets in system. His mission was to protect the colony and prevent the X’Ching from penetrating Federation space. With the size of the systems involved he had no way of covering all of the jump points as well as the colony and that meant he would need to forward deploy at least some ships. The question was which ones? To decide that he needed to get a measure of the men who would be under his command.

Stevenson turned to his comms officer “please send my compliments to TFAA commander and local administrator and ask if they would do me the pleasure of joining me for diner this evening. Could you also send invites to the commanders of each of the destroyers and frigates we have in orbit with us. Suggest an informal dinner and please notify the stewards and the cooks that we will be receiving guests this evening”.  

December

Sol - Navy HQ
Shots was yet again back in the main briefing room along with the rest of the emergency response committee. Around him many of the committee members were talking loudly whilst others were arguing amongst themselves. A few hours earlier they had received an urgent transmission from one of the Type 1103 survey corvettes that had been operating beyond Anderseriks before the hostilities with the X'Ching had broken out.

Thankfully the commander of the corvette had picked up the wreck of the Bolivia on jumping back into Anderseriks and had therefore taken a circuitous route back out to EG243 and onto GJ 1065. Sensor readings from the corvette showed that many of the Mech wrecks previously present in the system had disappeared but no further XChing activity had been detected by the otherwise limited sensors.

The information was useful but hardly warranted the convening of the emergency committee. The bomb shell that had caused that was the corvette's detection of a new thermal signature near to the Beta Virginis jump point. All indications were that there was yet another alien race in the system, one that could well be working alongside the X'Ching.

Whilst the corvette had been performing just a jump point survey in Beta Virginis it had detected two potentially habitable worlds and jump gates constructed on the two identified jump points identified to date in the system. There was therefore also a possibility that these new aliens had at least a base of operations in the system and have also just been encountered by the X'Ching.

That possibility aside, the Federation might well be facing not one but two hostile alien species located just a few jumps from one of their most important colonies and a population of over five million people. Up to a few hours ago the Federation's naval forces were looking stretched but adequate, they were now looking woefully lacking.

Shots peered down at his data pad looking at the disposition of the forces currently available to him.



Three of the four carrier groups along with the two ageing frigate groups were already deployed in the Luyten area. Only two of the carrier groups had full stocks of missiles and broader reserves across the region were limited, certainly not enough to support any extended engagement. Aside from the carrier groups the Federation's forces were still limited to fixed defences on some of the primary planets and wings of largely obsolete fighters. If they had any chance of meeting this growing threat they would need to accelerate efforts to release the carrier groups from defensive duties and substantially strengthen their combat service support.

Shots' most pressing concern though was his serious lack of information on the X'Ching and the complete lack of information on the recently encountered aliens. Such fundamental questions such as whether they were acting in concert with one another, had just encountered each other or were at war urgently needed answering. Without further information it would be virtually impossible for them to form an appropriate response. That meant he was going to have to send ships back into Anderseriks and, if necessary, deeper into X'Ching territory.

Until then he would need to run a delaying action with many of the emergency committee members, parliament and the broader public. He didn't fancy his chances of keeping that up for long which meant he was going to have to push Stevenson hard to get him the information he needed.  
Given the limited forces available to Stevenson, Shots was doubtful that any recon in force was going to be possible whilst still leaving sufficient protection for GJ 1065 and the approaches to 107 Piscium. That meant a more covert operation was called for. Unfortunately the Federation's recon resources were just as limited; Stevenson was going to have to think outside the box on that one as he wouldn't have much of a chance. What he could do though was move all of the region's sensor corvettes and as many survey vessels as possible to GJ 1065 for forward deployment. Sadly it would likely mean casualties but with no time for alternatives it was the best he could go for.

Shots stood and excused himself from the room for a short break. He had some urgent orders to issue away from the ears of some of the committee.

GJ1065 – low orbit
Stevenson was sat in his cabin working back through the plan he had formulated in respond to Shots’ orders. The last three weeks since the emergence of the survey vessel and news of another alien race had been a blur of activity and preparation.

As good as his word, Shots had organised the transfer of four of the Federation’s Type 161 scouts to be transferred to his command. Whilst not jump capable they were the fastest ships in service and mounted substantial passive sensor arrays that should allow them to observe the X’Ching and the aliens covertly. Aside from that he had received just one jump capable survey ship, which whilst not the oldest in the Federation, was close to it.

The plan was relatively simple. Using the survey vessel and the TFS Burma he would create a relay between GJ1065 and Anderseriks to enable close to real time feedback from the scouts. This would both maximise reaction time and help to ensure that any information gained was not lost in subsequent action. Two of the scouts along with the Burma would remain in EG453 whilst the other two scouts and the survey vessel would attempt to enter Anderseriks. If successful the survey vessel would remain on station whilst one scout attempted to move in system and the other moved towards the Beta Virginis jump point. Should that phase prove successful the Burma would move up to Anderseriks whilst the survey vessel tried to insert one scout into both the unexplored jump point and Beta Virginis.

His main carrier group would remain in orbit along with the frigates whilst the destroyer detachment lead by Commodore Barnett moved forward to cover the EG453 jump point.

Having completed his review, Stevenson penned a short missive to shots before heading up to the briefing room to deliver his orders to the now assembled ships officers.

GJ1065 – Belorussia
Barnett was back on the bridge, his destroyer task group hanging in space just 50mkm away from the EG453 jump gate. Several hours previously the scout group had separated from his task group to continue the mission and were now closing on the jump point.
Barnett had been back in system and reunited with the rest of his task group for less than five days before the orders from Commodore Stevenson had come in. He was still unhappy with Stevenson’s approach, having advocated a stronger recon in force given the known X’Ching forces and their clear hostility. Stevenson had however been unmoved by Barnett’s arguments and hence we was stuck with following through on the plan.

“Sir, Burma reports reaching the jump gate, they are spooling their drive and expect to make the jump in the next few minutes” reporting the comms officer. “Thank you, please get me a connection to Captain Booth” replied Barnett.

A few moments later the image of Captain Booth appeared on his screen. “Captain, I don’t have to remind you just how dangerous this mission is. You are to proceed with extreme caution; I want the rest of my task group back in one piece”. Booth grinned “don’t you worry sir; I’ll make sure we bring her back in, you still owe me that bottle of scotch from the last time we save your hide and I plan on cashing that it”. Barnett grinned back “happy hunting captain”.

Moments later the screen went blank as the ships of the scout group jumped.

Things are getting even more interesting! Re the rioting and disputes that just my war of RPing the significant cuts you get in manufacturing output when you capture a population.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2014, 05:20:40 PM by chrislocke2000 »
 

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2014, 05:29:19 PM »
2061 January

Delta Trianguli
Thornton sucked down another deep breath of the thin atmosphere as his body struggled to cope with the little oxygen available. Sweat beaded across his forehead and trickled down the back of his sodden combat vest despite the chill of the day. All about him the men and women of his division were working similarly hard as they jostled for position and struggled to get ahead of him. They were about eight miles into a run with a few more gruelling miles to go through the rocky terrain.

Since hearing about the X'ching and with the security situation on the Followers' home world continuing to improve, Thornton had ordered training to be stepped up considerably. He thought it would only be a matter of time before the TFAA were called on once more and he was damned if he and his men weren't going to be more than ready for it.

The weekly run had become something of a ritual for the division and a source of intense competition between his brigades. The PT instructors had also taken it upon themselves to give additional training to anyone who failed to beat the "old man" resulting in particular struggles as soldiers and officers alike pushed to get ahead of him.

In an effort to take his mind of the burning in his lungs and legs Thornton focused his mind on his current plans. With the completion of the first wave of PDCs almost complete, he had finally convinced Coles to schedule the construction of several training facilities. Hopefully those would be up and running in the next six months or so and the first trained troops would be passing out before the end of the year. That would greatly free up his own forces, namely the three divisions of troops still based on the planet. He just hoped that there was indeed enough time.

Luyten 1305-10
Kai was sat in his comfortable, recently refurbished office working through the days to do list. Glancing over at his calendar he realised it was six weeks to the day that he had first stepped foot on Luyten. Funny, he thought, it felt to him that he had already been there far longer given the routine he had already fallen into.

The anger at his transfer still simmered away but he was keeping that in check whilst he worked on rebuilding the Luyten economy. In fact there were even some days when he barley thought of the mis-justice netted out to him by Carter, such was his immersion in dealing with the planet's many issues. That had not however stopped him from putting the first stages of his plan in train.

At present he was wrestling with the Navy's demands to build many of the new orbital weapon platforms components in the factories rather than the shipyards. Production was going well, in fact too well with latest projections showing that they would run short of Uridium before they managed to complete the components. He had already requested the surplus store located on Delta Trianguli to be sent over but that would not arrive for another twenty days and was in any case only a short term fix if the Navy expected him to produce successive batches.

For the moment then he had decided to restart the planet's automated mine construction programme by diverting a sizeable chunk of industry to those efforts. The diversion would have the dual effect of both slowing down the component construction, allowing the delivery of additional minerals, and starting to build the infrastructure needed to meet the longer term mineral demands of the region.

GJ 1065
With the first of the three PDCs now assembled and the carrier group in orbit, Foster was feeling a lot happier about the security of the planet and, more importantly, her archaeological dig. The advances made by her teams over the last few months meant any questions from Earth as to whether the dig should be terminated and her engineers evacuated had ceased. She was therefore now planning on how to open up one of the previously unexplored sectors of the city which looked to be more of an industrial centre.

The logistics were becoming increasingly difficult as they continued to turn over more of the industrial facilities, fuel refineries and maintenance facilities to the Union's colony. On top of that they needed to continue clearing space for the growing number of habitation facilities required by the Union who, unfortunately, were particularly badly suited to the planet's atmosphere.

Sol – Mars Shipyards
Commodore Shaw was back in the viewing gallery of Navy yard 6 to watch the launch of the latest batch of Type 232 close escort frigates. Whilst hardly the largest or most heavily armed or armoured vessel in the fleet, the Type 232’s three twin gauss cannon turrets with individual fire controls gave them an unsurpassed point anti-missile capability.

Having recognised the benefits of such relatively cheap to build and easy to maintain vessels the Navy was now investing heavily in increasing the numbers in service. Unfortunately they had a way to go with only six of the older Type 231s and three of the more modern 232’s in service. Three more were in overhaul whilst those to be launched today would need to spend close to a year in shake down and training before they could be deployed.
At least now they had a fourth slip completed and starting construction with two further slips also planned. If everything went as hoped this would give Shaw more than enough of the escorts to protect the new carrier groups. 

Anderseriks
Commander Charlton stared wearily at the scope in front of him; about him many of the rest of the crew were looking similarly tired.  His ship, the Bushmaster was a Type 161 corvette, a vessel that had not been designed for long periods of high tempo independent operation. Consequently the crew all had to work additional shifts and, having been at it for nearly four weeks; it was starting to have an impact.

Since leaving GJ 1065 in December with the rest of the scout group they had made their way slowly through EG 453 where they had left one of the other corvettes and the Burma. They, the Cobra and the survey ship had then jumped into Anderseriks. There they had left the survey vessel, whose old engines and limited sensors made her more of a hindrance than a help for the task ahead.

Cobra was heading directly for the unexplored jump point to check for any activity there whilst his own ship was moving towards the site of the previous wrecks. Not that that there were many left. Since the Federation’s last visit all but three of the wrecks in the asteroid field had gone whilst there was just two left around the innermost planet. The wrecks of both the Bolivia and the X’Ching’s vessel were also still present. What was far more interesting though was the appearance of a large wreck on the Beta Virginis jump point. Analysis indicated this was from one of the new alien’s.

If that was the case it was possible that the X’Ching were fighting them as well; perhaps the Federation had finally found an ally rather than an enemy. At this stage it was rather hard to tell though as it appeared that the comms buoy left had made almost no progress in translating the limited number of transmissions received from the aliens before the ship was destroyed. In any case it was significant information that needed to be relayed back to Earth.
Meanwhile he was already thinking about the best way to get a closer pass of the gate once he had swept past the wrecks. However whilst still close to a billion km from the wrecks Bushmaster’s limited EM sensors began to pick up a hugely powerful active search sensor from the inner planet area.

“Sir, we’ve interpolated the sensor readings and calculated a range of just over 500mkm; that’s twice the range of the sensor readings the Burma picked up in its’ last encounter. Combat AI has assigned it to a new vessel accordingly. Wave length analysis shows that it is tuned for 6000 ton vessels, just the same as before”.

“Ok, let’s steer clear of that coverage for the moment. Nav, plot a new course to just outside that sensor range, let’s see if we can pick up anything else before we attempt a closer pass. Con, bring us down to 4000 km/s, let’s keep our engines running a little cooler for the moment”.

2061 February

Sol - London
Carter was stood at the head of a large board room table glaring down its' length at the rest of the assembled directors. Behind him a series of less than positive projections for the Federation's economy, industrial orders and his conglomerate's performance illuminated the room's smart wall.

"Let me get this straight, despite our order book being fuller than it has ever been, despite making record profits for the fifth year in a row and despite paying all of you god awful amounts of money our share price has dropped more than fifteen percent in the last three days alone. Would one of you please care to explain exactly what is going on to me?"

"Sir, it's that leak of the latest expenditure figures" began one of the Directors. "Whoever dropped the initial set of reports has continued to drip feed the press with more information. That's stopped us from getting it buried and we've had no luck in getting it discredited. Unfortunately, the analysts have taken note and run some re-forecasts based on those numbers. Based on current spending levels the Federation will be bankrupt in a little over nine years ignoring any of the planned expansion during that time or the likely costs of any war with the X'Ching. In fact they've already pointed out that if it hadn't been for the reparations received from both the Union and the Followers the Federation would already be bust. The markets are now pricing in an expected significant contraction in governmental spending in the next few years. With our high exposure that's hitting us more than most".

"Shut up you idiot" snapped back Carter "I know exactly what's happening in the markets, what I want to know is whether this is the first throws of a hostile takeover, some positioning to win our government contracts or something else"?

"We've still got no insight as to where the leak came from but there weren't that many people even in central government that would have had access to those numbers. It shouldn't therefore be too long before we have a good idea" replied Carter's head of security.

"I've not picked up any rumours in the market on potential takeovers. Even with our share price depressed it would require a massive rights issue by any of our competitors. Any book building of that sort of size and we would know about it" noted the finance director.

"Same here" noted the marketing director "I've not seen any sort of push into our contracts, no renegotiations demanded or anything similar".

"Well I simply refuse to believe that someone went to that kind of effort to get the information leaked so carefully just out of the goodness of their heart. I want to know who it was and why they did it and I want to be certain they are not going to do it again". Carter leaned forward with his knuckles on the table, looking into the eyes of each of the board members in turn. "Do I make myself clear"?

Ascent rippled round the table to which Carter nodded. "Ok, in the mean time I want all of you working through an appropriate response to this news. I want to see our share price back up by the end of the week. If it's not I will be coming up with some more direct incentives for you all" Carter gazed across the board room one more time, making sure his message had sunk in, before striding off through the board room door.

Anderseriks - TFS Bushmaster
"Contact, contact, range 325mkm, bearing 294 degrees" called out the electronic sensor operator.

Charlton stood up from his command chair and walked over to the ESO's station. "Con, bring us to a dead stop but keep the engines warm, I want to be able to move at a moment’s notice if needed. Nav, please lay in reciprocal course and prepare to execute on my mark. Now what else do we have on these new contacts?" asked Charlton as he reached the sensor station.

"Sir, spectrographic analysis just coming in, thermal signature matches X'Ching craft, output is 1056, we don't have any data base information on the exact outputs of previous craft but that would put them close to our light cruisers. We've got nine contacts in total with three signature variances, combat AI has tagged them as differing classes of vessel. So far there's no sign of movement, looks like they hanging round the planet just like the last lot did". Charlton leaned down to look at the scope for himself:



Charlton grimaced, that was an awful lot of new contacts for what were likely either larger or more advanced vessels compared to those previously encountered. The fact alone that the X’Ching could field ships with sensors more than twice as powerful as those last seen was cause enough for concern, let alone the clearly larger naval forces they had at their disposal.

Right, it’s my intention to hold here for a while and see if we pick up any movement. Signal the rest of the group and send them our sensor logs, also ask our friends from the survey wing to relay readings back down the chain. Inform Cobra that we will wait for further orders but they should continue with their own sweep as planned".

Charlton turned to address the rest of his bridge crew. "Listen in everyone. We are going to have to play the waiting game over the next couple of days at least which could well be the most dangerous part of our mission to date. We know just how aggressive these X'Ching can be and the extensive range of their weapon systems. What we don't know is just how many of them are in system or what their own passive sensor capabilities are. I want all of you to assume that we are being tracked and to remain appropriately vigilant".

Just over eight hours later Charlton got his response.

"Ok everyone, orders are back in from fleet command. We are staying on station whilst the Cobra completes her sweep of the Beta Virginis jump point. We will then rendezvous with the Cobra before pulling back to the EG 453 jump point. We are then going to stay on station to provide an early warning to fleet of any X'Ching movements towards GJ 1065. This is going to be an extended deployment so I want section heads running up revised roster proposals straight away. Engineering, I’m going to want the engines ticked down and set for minimal emissions once we are in situ but ready if we need to move so get me your projections on cold start sequence completion. I also want to see your maintenance schedules and current projections on stores usage. Get to it all, we have a lot of work to do before the rendezvous".

2061 March

GJ 1065
It was a Sunday morning and Foster had taken her customary spot in one of the many coffee houses that had opened up to serve the additional Navy crews who were rotating through shore leave. Looking around her Foster could hardly remember what the colony had been like when she had first arrived. With more than five million Unionists on the planet it felt and looked more like a small city than a frontier outpost.

Despite is being less than three months since the encounter with the X’Ching it occurred to Foster that a sense of normality had already returned to the colony. The presence of the carrier group and its’ support vessels in orbit was proving to be a reassuring calm to the general population. Civilians were no longer hurrying between buildings and levels of traffic within the domes appeared to be returning to pre-crisis levels.

The completion of more of the PDCs had also buoyed the population and the troops alike and Foster found herself worrying less and less about the menace of the Chigs and more on the mundane of her daily working life.

Grasping a large steaming coffee mug in both hands, Foster kicked back in her deep sofa and stared out of the window at the bustle in front of her. She had to admit that life was good on planet; perhaps it was time to think about settling down and stop haring about the galaxy in search of that next great find.

GJ 1065 – TFS Long Island
Commodore Stevenson was feeling remarkably less relaxed than Foster. So far the recon group had managed to identify a significant additional Chig force in Anderseriks whilst the appearance of the wreck associated with the new alien race seemed to confirm just how aggressive the Chigs were.
Having seen the initial reports from Charlton he was going to remain cautious and make sure his men did nothing to stir what was undoubtedly one hell of a hornet’s nest.

Stevenson’s one only real area of comfort was that there was no evidence of the Chigs operating in the EG 453 system which left him with a least a bit of a buffer between them and the Federation. He wasn’t however stupid enough to think that it would remain that way and hence was busy drawing up a set of contingency plans in case they did start to take an interest in the system.

In the meantime he would continue to push the local administrators to help him build up the military forces and support network. As far as he was concerned their defences remained woefully lacking, especially in the face of the Chigs apparent preferred tactic of huge volleys of missiles.

Anderseriks
"Sir, message from the Cobra; their passive sensors have just picked up another task group of nine X'Ching vessels sat on the Beta Virginis jump point. Thermal contacts are at 880 and there are no matches in their output signatures to previous vessel types".



"Thank you ensign, send the data to my console. Please instruct the Cobra to break off from their current fly past and to plot a course for the rendezvous. Con, execute our extraction plan. Exo, you have the bridge, I'm going below to look through these contacts and compile a report to headquarters.
Back in his quarters Charlton spent some time looking through the information amassed to date.



To date the Federation had identified 26 vessels from the X'Ching operating in the system. That was a substantial tonnage of ships. The replacement of the previous task group on the inner planet indicated to him that they were clearly protecting something down there; perhaps they had made a significant find, one which could give them a serious technical advantage. It was certainly concerning given how plausible that might be.

The disappearance of the wrecks would also indicate broader operations by the X'Ching and likely by ships they hadn't yet seen.

All in all it looked to Charlton that the X’Ching were steadily building up their presence in the system. IF they behaved anything like the Federation that meant that it would just be a matter of time before they felt sufficiently prepared to expand further out and that would take them into direct conflict.
He fervently hoped that the brass back home was coming up with some sort of plan to deal with them. In the meantime however he needed to keep his crew and own small task group focused and doing their jobs.

Sol – Mars Shipyards
Shaw was sat in the offices of Jonathan Akhtar, the civilian administration tasked with the day to day running of the shipyards, watching on in awe as Akhtar rapidly tweaked a few more of the delivery schedules for yard 8. Shaw was in for his weekly progress report and scheduling review but had arrived early so he just sat quietly and enjoyed the show.

As the appointed Navy liaison for the shipyard, Shaw had built a great working relationship with the man over the last few months but he was still amazed at his capacity to keep such a close watch on every small aspect of the construction schedules, to spot potential issues before the arose and to maximise the resources he had available. All in all Akhtar was proving to be invaluable with his ability to drastically reduce the construction times required for the Navy’s vessels. It was particularly impressive given just how many ships were in construction around Mars alone:



Shaw grinned, in front of him his plans for the expansion of the Navy were taking shape and it was quite a rush to see the sheer scale of effort that was going into making those plans a reality.

The Federation might be stretched at the moment but Shaw was confident that it would only be a matter of a few short years before the Navy was more than ready to avenge the destruction of the Bolivia.
« Last Edit: January 25, 2014, 08:27:54 AM by chrislocke2000 »
 

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #33 on: January 24, 2014, 06:31:16 PM »
Great update. I really enjoy your characterization. There appears to be a missing word though.

"Glancing over at his calendar he realised it was six to the day that he had first stepped foot on Luyten."

That is near the top in Kai's segment.
 

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #34 on: January 25, 2014, 08:28:52 AM »
Great update. I really enjoy your characterization. There appears to be a missing word though.

"Glancing over at his calendar he realised it was six to the day that he had first stepped foot on Luyten."

That is near the top in Kai's segment.

Thanks glad you are enjoying it and fixed!
 

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #35 on: February 17, 2014, 05:05:06 PM »
2061 April
GJ 1065

Sirens wailed across the forward operating base compound. Inside the all ranks mess there was pandemonium as officers from the 2nd mobile infantry battalion shouted orders to their men whilst they scrambled to comply. Only in one corner of the mess there remained an air of calm.

Sat amongst a group of her officers and NCO's, Foster sat sipping her coffee whilst watching the frantic activity. Having been through numerous alerts as well as being forcibly prevented from acting on the front line the engineers no longer paid much head to the various alarms; especially when they were so well back from the excavation sites.

Five minutes later and the room was close to empty, leaving turned over chairs and half eaten meals littering the space. Foster glanced over to one of her NCO's "Hiller, would you be so kind as to shut off that infernal racket, I'd quite like to enjoy the rest of this coffee in peace".

"Yes Ma'am" responded Hiller with a mock tone of deference before standing up to go and fiddle with the alarm system. After years of working so closely with one another her command structure had become increasingly flat and less formal; certainly not what was expected by the brass at home. Foster was however more than happy that when push came to shove the command structure remained effective and this way she got a lot more from her team.
 
A few minutes later the alarms finally ceased. Foster sighed and slumped back into her chair in appreciation. The team were due to rotate forward in the next couple of hours and she was glad of the short respite.
 
Moments later however the silence was once again broken by the faint but unmistakable high pitched staccato sound of RH212 assault rifles firing on automatic and accompanied by the intermittent thump of 45mm grenades. Years of living and working out in the planet's thin toxic atmosphere had acclimatised the team to its' disorienting effects on sound. All of the engineers therefore immediately recognised just how close to the camp the firing was.
 
 It took Foster a few moments to register before her brain kicked back into to gear. "Everyone get suited up, we need to get out of here. Karl, Richards you're with me, we need to get up to the CP and find out what's going on. The rest of you get over to the barracks and make sure the rest of the men are suited, armed and ready to move out. Hiller, I want our command net up and running in the next five and a sitrep from company commanders in 15".
 
Foster was already halfway back into her environment suit by the time she had finished her immediate orders, as were the rest of the group. Moments later they had cycled through the airlock and back outside. Behind them was left nothing but their own half-finished meals and an eerie hush.
 
"Ok Major, what on Earth is going here"? Demanded Foster to the manic officer she had found in charge of the 28th Mobile Infantry’s CP.
 
The Major barley glanced her way before noticing her rank slides and bringing himself to an abrupt halt on his current task. "Ma'am there's been a major excursion of Mech robotic infantry in sector RSA4. It's caught all of us by surprise, the 28th are already reporting heavy casualties although comms with them are patchy. We are struggling to get ahead of their pace of advance to set up a proper defence.
Foster quickly brought up the location of the fighting on one of the CP’s virtual map whilst more information flooded into her own console through the just activated combat net.

"That can't be right" exclaimed Foster, "we cleared that sector months ago; everything there is either unsalvageable or just in the process of being prepared for off world transport".

"You tell that to the bloody Mechs" retorted the Major. "We either missed something or the devious little buggers have worked out that it's better to keep quiet for a while before pouncing on us. Whatever's happened, they certainly caught us off guard here. Your team need to evac back to the main CP point before the local situation gets any worse".

The Major turned to the holo map in front of him, there were a worrying number of red markers lighting up the display and apparently all too few blue forces between themselves and the threat. "Actually it looks like we are pretty much cut off from reserve at the moment, god those things move fast".

"Not that fast" responded Foster, "I've seen them in action quite a few times now. They are far more methodical in the way they advance and consolidate; we also know they always sweep for non-combatants before moving on. They must be getting into the sector from more than one point, somewhere they haven't been engaged by us at all". Foster started to scan the map in earnest, trying to make sense of the shifting patterns of hostile troop movements.

"There!" she pointed to one region on the map, "they must be coming up through Research Facility alpha 4, it's the only undamaged facility in the area that's got the spread of networks underneath which they could be using".

The Major peered at the map "I think you're right" looking over his shoulder he shouted at one of the other troopers in the command post "Sargent, get me a flight of recon drones over to grid 38216652 right this minute". The Major turned back to Foster. "We'll know well enough in the next few minutes, if you're right we are in a whole heap of trouble as we can't hope to contain them in both locations. It'll just be a matter of time before they can build up enough numbers to overwhelm us here. Excuse me, I need to make a report up to HQ".

Foster took the time to call up her men, making sure they were ready to move. She was still talking to them when the Major returned.

"Colonel, the drones have confirmed your suspicions, we've got a break out in two locations behind our main lines of defence. HQ is forming a plan but right now I need your men deployed forward to help us slow the advance".

"Of course Major, happy to help where we can" confirmed Foster. "Karl, finish getting everyone formed up and ready to move out. I want platoon commanders ready for a briefing from the Major in ten. Oh and get one of the team to dig out my combat plates and webbing from Block 23G, it's in there somewhere".

"Sorry Colonel" interrupted the Major "HQ also gave me explicit orders not to let you or any of your senior staff near the fighting. I'm afraid you are going to have to sit this one out".

Foster was about to launch into an immediate protest when a priority signal came through from HQ, stopping her in her tracks. "Beak break, break break, all stations this is Zero Alpha, we've analysed the Mech's current advance and force build up. Our estimates show that we won't have time to airlift forward enough units before your positions are over run. You are hereby ordered to cease attempted containment protocols and pull your men back to 38536640. Sierra Oscar One Three has been tasked to provide immediate strike capability and is currently manoeuvring for position.

ETA for horizon clearance and establishment of ground handshake is 14:59:30Z, first overhead pass will be 15:18:25Z. Your immediate task is to identify fire missions which are to be cross checked and ready for upload by 15:00:00Z. You've got till then to get your men clear. Once completed you will link back up with the reserve and re-establish containment protocols.  The 35th will be in the air inside 45 minutes, ETA 17:15, they have been tasked with relieving you. Zero Alpha out".

Foster was stunned, the call sign Sierra Oscar was for a space orbital asset which meant they planned to us the massive firepower of the Navy’s destroyers. Glancing at her display she realised they had a little over an hour and a quarter before the whole area got flattened by the carrier group's escort vessels. On top of that the selected rendezvous point was more than three kilometres to the South. Not much for a simple stroll down the road but a substantial distance to cover when they were likely to be conducted a fighting retreat and remaining in contact with the Mechs.

Five minutes later Foster was sat in a rushed O group with a couple of the company commanders who had been pulled back from the fighting. In front of her the Major was pointing out his planned route back through to the RV. “Once we have pulled back from immediate cover Alpha company will take up defensive positions at the edge of the old terraforming factory grounds; Bravo and Charlie company along with the engineers will move through the site to this area two hundred meters to the South”.

As she looked on Foster’s eyes suddenly went wide with realisation. “The plans not going to work” she blurted out. Around her every pair of eyes in the room turned to look and she realised she would have to explain herself pretty quickly.

“The Union colony has been operating every operational terraforming installation we’ve found since we arrived. They’ve been pumping greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere like crazy as the first phase of making the planet properly habitable for them”.

“So what?” interrupted the major. “Don’t you see?” responded Foster, exasperated but not entirely surprised. “We’ve not done a survey of the planet since the Federation originally detected the ruins; all of the Navy’s atmospheric data is now way out of date. If the Navy fire without the correct adjustments for atmospheric diffraction they could just as well flatten us and more importantly they may well fail to destroy the Mech’s secondary beachhead”.     

It took the Major a few moments to consider the ramifications of Foster's statement. "Thank you Colonel, unfortunately though I don't think we are going to be able to do much about it. We don't have the weapons to collapse the research facility or the men to contain the Mechs in the area. I'll notify HQ of your concerns but for the time being we will continue with the existing plan; let's just hope that the Navy can hit the target. It's now even more imperative that we get sufficiently clear of the area".

"There is another way to bring down that research facility major" replied Foster. "We have detailed structural schematics on all of the research facilities and the underground transport system that was used by the workers to get around this area of the city. We also know that all of the major facilities were built on a series of seismic dampeners to deal with this planet's less than stable tectonic plates. If we took out enough of those dampeners the whole research facility would collapse under its' own weight".

"And just how on earth do you propose that we collapse those dampeners and what with?" retorted the major, clearly unused to having his briefings interrupted, even if it was a senior officer.

Foster took a deep breath before responding as she knew that what she had in mind was likely to be exceedingly dangerous and with only a limited chance of success. She would also need to put quite a few of her men's lives on the line. But what choice did she have? The Navy could very well totally miss the mark and cause untold damage to the wider city, not to mention the risk of hitting their own men. No, thought Foster, there wasn't much of a decision to be made at all.

"Simple Major, my engineers have a full supply of mk89 charges which we use for clearing sites and breaching installations. They will work perfectly well as demolition charges. With the structural plans it won't take long to figure out which dampeners we need to destroy to bring the whole thing down. We can also use the old service tunnels to get in under the Mechs. It will be close to get in and out in time but I'm confident that my men and I can do it".

"I'm sorry Colonel but that's madness; those tunnels could well be crawling with mechs and even if you did manage to find a way through in the time you would still need to locate and rig the dampeners and then extract without a single one of you being detected. Now we really can't afford to waste any more time on the matter, we must focus on planning and executing an orderly withdrawal".   

"Damn it! You need to listen to me Major" shouted back Foster as she banged her fist on the side of the holo map to emphasise her point. "Even if the Navy hit their target there's no certainty that it will have the desired effect. This is the only way to be certain of stopping even greater casualties and avoiding the destruction of the very stuff you are here to protect. Now you are either going to help me do this or get the hell out of my way".

The Major looked stunned by Foster’s outburst but composed himself quickly. “Ok, Colonel I can’t order you to pull back but I’ll be damned if I’m going to let you go into that hornet’s nest unescorted. Can your men ready, you’ll have a section of my best to go down there with you. I’m afraid there’s just no way I can spare any more men. Now get the hell out of my O group, I’ve still got a withdrawal to orchestrate”.
Foster nodded before getting up to leave, she was almost at the door before the Major called out to her. “Oh and Colonel, take care down there, we will leave the orbital strike to the last possible moment but if I don’t see that facility destroyed I will be calling in that strike”.
“Understood Major” replied Foster before hitting the door cycle to enter the external airlock.

                                                                                        ***

Twenty minutes later Foster found herself deep within the transport tunnels far below the old city. Ahead of her the squad of infantry were setting a punishing pace as they pushed to get in and out of the area as quickly as possible. Despite being in good shape Foster could already hear her own ragged breathing echoing in her helmet whilst she struggled to suck down enough oxygen. The combined weight of the environment suit, body armour and packs stuffed full of charges meant that the engineers were struggling to keep pace with the infantry in their combat armour with its’ powered assistance.

Sucking down another deep breath Foster glanced down at her forearm mounted display to check their progress. Thankfully they had made excellent progress and were already close to the Research facility boundary. That also meant they were well within the Mech’s expanded perimeter.

A few minutes later the colour sergeant leading the infantry signalled a halt. “Ok, passives are starting to pick up EM activity up ahead; looks like there are at least some Mechs down here with us. Everyone switch your suits to full passive, we will move forward in two minutes once the suit radiators have cooled a bit. Colonel, make sure you keep your men close to us, it’s going to be hand signals from here on in only”.
Still panting to regain her breath, Foster watched as everyone’s lights went out, plunging the tunnel into darkness. It took just a few moments before her suit’s own passive sensors built up enough information to start displaying an enhanced image of her surroundings but it was long enough to send a chill down her spine.

Finally they started to move forwards once more but at an altogether slower pace. To the front the infantry now crept forward in covering pairs, carefully sweeping the area. To Foster they resembled ghost like apparitions, flickering through her dim and grainy view whilst their stealth systems worked to confuse her own passive sensors.

After another five minutes of slow jogging Wade, the colour sergeant, signalled another halt before his men fanned out in a defensive pattern. Being so used to the comms system it took a few moments for Foster to realise that he was also signalling her. Hefting her pack to better balance the load she crept forwards to where he was crouching.

As she got near to him one of the darker shadows resolved itself as his outstretched arm. Taking a few more steps Foster reached out her own hand to grasp his wrist. Moments later she heard the soft crackle of her headphones coming to life, indicating that their two suits had established a hard link.
 
"Colonel, we are just about on top of the access hatches you indicated for the seismic dampeners. I'll leave one fire team here to cover our exit, the rest will come down with you and help set the explosives. By my watch we have a little over twenty five minutes to gain access, plant the explosives and be on our way if we don't want to be fried by our own Navy".
 
"That's going to be cutting it fine" remarked Foster. "This tunnel bisects the facilities main foundations so we will need to split the demolition team into two squads. I'll lead the team covering the western section whilst Hiller will take the Eastern area. I'm afraid that means we will also need to split your own men down further".

Wade nodded consent. "Ok, each team will have to make do with a two man escort. Let's just hope we don't run into anything down there. I'll pair one of my men and come with you and I'll get one of my more experienced corporals as one of the pair for your other team. I need to go brief the men quickly on the demolitions given the lack of time we had on the way down here".

"Of course Colour, I need to do the same with my own men. I also appreciate the offer of help but I'd prefer to let my own people set the charges. It won't more than a couple to fail to do their job to stop this brute from coming down. Given that we'd better get on with it then". Letting go of the colour sergeant's arm before he had a chance to respond, she turned to motion her own men forwards, directing them to some of the large grates in the floor.
 
Moments later the tunnel bathed in a mix of vivid blue lights and dancing shadows as the engineers used their cutting tools to gain access to the lower level. Foster could do nothing but wait as the heavy grates were cut free.

After what seemed like an age the first of her own two teams ceased cutting and lifted away a large section of the floor. Two of the infantry immediately moved forward to check the hole before easing their way down into the pitch darkness below.

With no signs of any activity from below she watched as her own four men lowered themselves in after the troops.

Moments after the last of them had disappeared from sight she felt a hand on her arm. Turning, Foster could see that the other section of grating had also been removed and the colour sergeant was already lowering himself in. Realising that she was going to have to follow him Foster took a deep breath before making her way over to the hole to wait for the rest of the men to descend.

Looking in she could make out nothing but an inky blackness that not even her suit's sensors could penetrate. A wave of apprehension washed over her and she had to reach out a hand to one side of the grate to steady herself. In her mind childhood memories of lying scared in bed in the middle of the night tumbled forth. Knowing this time that there really were monsters lurking somewhere in the dark left her routed to the spot for what seemed like an age but was in fact just a few seconds. Quickly reasserting her own discipline, Foster grasped the rope that had been hooked to the grate and slowly started to lower herself down.

Foster knew that the descent was going to be less than ten meters but the complete lack of visual inputs left her feeling like she was hanging in an abyss. A feeling that grew worse with every hand hold down when her feet failed to touch the floor.

After what seemed like an age her feet finally found the uneven floor of the bedrock upon which the research facility had been built; causing a small sigh of relief to escape her lips. Before she could stumble away from the rope a hand reached out to steady her before gripping her wrist.

"Ma'am, looks like we are going to have to do this pretty much blind" reported one of her sappers. "Thankfully the sergeants picking up a few details with those hyped infantry sensors of theirs. We've crossed referenced the outputs to the original structural survey and have a pretty good overlay which I'm sending over now".

On her HUD the blackness was quickly replaced with the faint green glow of the overlay. It was a pretty poor image but thankfully it would be enough for them to work from. It also brought back to her a sense of perspective on just how big the cavern underneath the facility was. Thankfully they would only need to destroy the central dampeners to cause a collapse.

"Thank you Clifton "responded Foster with real sincerity. "We've got 17 charges to lay and a little over 19 minutes to do it. Let's get linked up with the rest so we can co-ordinate locations. We are going to have to split into two yet again to do this".

With the complete lack of light and only the faint emissions coming from each of their suits it took the team another couple of minutes to get into a herringbone formation. More precious moments were spent assigning demolition points to each team before they were finally ready to go.

Ten minutes later and Foster had just finished setting the explosives on her fifth charge. She had four more to set and a little over seven minutes to do it in. Not for the first time she attempted to wipe the sweat on her brow with the back of her hand before remembering the futility of the action. At least they had started with the farthest out charges so there would be less time spent walking between the dampeners.

With the charge set Foster stretched out a hand to grab hold of the sergeant's suit once more. Next to her she could just make out the sapper Clifton, who was accompanying her doing the same. They had quickly worked out that it was far better to let the infantryman lead them rather than stumble through the darkness on her own.

Without the immediate task of having to place and set another charge Foster once again became painfully aware of just how much the world about her had shrunk to the confines of her suit. With almost no stimulus from outside, her breathing now seemed impossibly loud whilst her eyes easily picked out the edges of the HUD and the blackness all around. Once again she needed to summon her willpower to quash the mounting claustrophobia.

Six more tortuous minutes passed before they managed to reach the last dampener and were able to start placing the ninth and final charge. Holding the charge in place to allow Clifton to glue it in in position Foster glanced down at her internal chronometer. They had just under a minute to go to finish with the charges and move the fifty or so meters back to the hole in the ceiling and their way out of there. By her calculations the other team, who had one last charge to place should already be on their way back out of the cavern.   
 
They had nearly finished securing the last of the charges when the unmistakable clanging sound of metal striking bare rock rang out across the cavern. To Foster the sound was almost deafening given the long periods of enforced silence that they had been working in. Moments later Foster felt her arm being grabbed and heard her intercom click on.

"We need to move now" urged the Wade.

This time Foster wasn't in any mood to disagree. "Ok, we are near enough done here anyway; lead on".

It took the three of them little more than half a minute to cross back to where they had entered. At the bottom of the rope they found the second infantry man holding the line steady.

Grasped his shoulder the Wade linked the four of them together.

"What the hell was that noise"? he demanded as soon as the connection was confirmed.

"I think one of the sappers got some of his tools knocked out on the way back through the gate Sarge" replied the soldier. "I'm holding down this end to stop everything swinging around like mad".

"Ok, good thinking, we'll get these two up and out then get ourselves the hell out of here as well.  Keep a good hold of that rope; they are going to have to go up one after the other".

Foster was too focused on getting out to notice the sergeant's poor manners. "Right, my man will go up first. You two, don't hang around for us to get clear, we're getting behind schedule".

The sapper wasted no time grabbing the rope and started to haul himself back up into the darkness. Having counted to ten Foster grabbed the rope for herself and started climbing.

Whilst the reduced gravity on the planet greatly helped the climb, her heavy suit and gear, combined with her own long exposure to the environment once again left Foster panting for breath.

With her teeth gritted, Foster was continuing to drag herself back up the rope when her suit's helmet was filled with its' dull off-key warning tone. Glancing down at the graphics on the edge of her vision Foster struggled to refocus her eyes. It was precious moments later that she realised her suit was picking up significant EM and Thermal spikes from within the cavern; clear signs that an active Mech was in the close vicinity.  Avoiding the fruitless desire to try and look around the cavern, Foster instead turned her attention back to the rope and the rest of the climb.

She had made another couple of feet before the cavern about her was suddenly illuminated in a flash of UV light. Foster was dazzled despite the automatic filters blocking out most of the glare. She was still blinking the light from her eyes when a massive weight hit her from above, wrenching the rope from her hands and sending her plummeting back into the darkness below.

                                                                                ***

Foster hit the ground hard, knocking the wind from her and sending a sharp lance of pain across the left side of her ribs. Whatever had knocked her off the rope had half landed on her as well, effectively pinning her legs. Despite the pains Foster knew she had been lucky to get away from the fall so lightly; if it had been Earth gravity she would have most likely broken something.

As Foster tugged at her feet the command net came to life with the sounds of barked orders from Wade. “Contact contact, all units to go active, demolitions teams to evac immediately. We have at least one scout unit in the Eastern cavern, maybe more so expect reinforcements any moment. Looks like the Colonel and her man are down. If we are not out in the next minute start to fall back without us. You need to reach a safe distance before the charges go”.

Foster scrambled to activate her own suit’s active sensors and comms unit so she could at last see what the hell was holding her down and to let the pair of infantry know she was still alive. The thought of being left behind in the caverns didn’t bear thinking about.

With her own sensors finally online Foster looked down at her legs to see how she could possible get herself free. To her horror se realised it was the body of Clifton, lying in a twisted heap on top of her. Foster could immediately see the gaping hole across his right collar bone that had more or less severed his right arm as well.

“I’m ok” yelled Foster into her microphone, “but I’m going to need some help getting out of here”.

“Keep still” whispered back the colour sergeant “that scout is coming back round for another pass”.

Foster immediately froze. Looking down at her previously ignored HUD she could see a clear EM and heat signature moving about in the cavern. From its’ pattern of movement it looked to be jumping from one dampener to the next, keeping itself 5 meters or so off the ground. It was definitely heading in her direction.

Minutes seemed to tick by as it made its erratic progress towards her location and the base of their exit route. If the Mech got through to the tunnels above from there it would land right at the backs of the rest of the small team.

“200 meters, 180 meters, arm your grenades” whispered Wade to his fellow soldier. “Wait for it, wait for it, now”!

From the corner of her vision Foster saw the bright flare of four smart grenades launching away from the infantry. On her HUD they described a snake like wave as they dogged towards their intended target. At fifteen meters the grenades flared, indicating they had triggered the air burst of micro munitions.

Faster than any human eye could follow either follow or mind could make sense of, the Mech’s shoulder mounted micro point defence system started picking off the munitions. In the fractions of a second it took for the grenades to reach their target many of the munitions were destroyed whilst the Mech was already moving and returning fire.

Had the infantry only thrown one grenade the Mech may well have defeated the attack but there were just too many incoming projections for it to deal with. One of the contact munitions struck its’ upper left leg where moments later it fired a shaped charge that cut through almost all of it. Another connected with the Mech’s abdomen, sending molten material deep into its’ internals. Other kinetic rounds caught its’ sensor package, effectively blinding it whilst a standoff charge tore off the clawed hand holding it to the dampener. More still dug holes in armour and ripped deep into exposed joints.

Despite the horrendous damage the Mech however remained partially operational. As it fell its’ main UV laser lanced out at the last projected source of the attack. One beam caught the infantry man who was still in the act of trying to take cover after he had thrown the grenades. The beam played across his right arm and back, flash heating the area and causing parts of his armour to blister and split. Although the heavier armour was able to keep out the blast it left the man with scalded skin and several damaged servos.

Wade was moving before the Mech hit the ground. With his RH212 rifle in the shoulder he sprinted forward using the power of the combat suit to propel him far faster than any Olympic sprinter of the 21st century. Within moments he had an angle on the crippled Mech that was already trying to drag itself up from the ground.

With his rifle slaved to the suit’s targeting systems and guided by automatic inputs to his arm servos Wade couldn't fail to miss; even when a hundred meters distance and sprinting over rough ground.

The Mech jerked as the barrage of 4mm armour piercing incendiary rounds slammed into its' frame. Whilst some were deflected by its’ considerable armour many more penetrated, wrecking further havoc on its' system.

Wade wasn't looking at the Mech or even wondering if he was hitting it. Trusting to the suits technology to do that job for him he was instead focused on reaching the next piece of available cover ahead of him. With his rifle's magazine dry Wade slammed into the base of another dampener before looking around to check the results of his attack.

One quick glance told him all he needed to know; the Mech was finally down and the immediate area clear. With a grunt of satisfaction Wade rolled to his feet, smoothly slotting another magazine into his rifle with practiced efficiency as he did so.

“The Mech’s down but we need to get out of here right now. Anyone of us are sitting ducks on that rope if another makes it in here before we’re gone.  Archer, go help the Colonel, I’ll be back with you in 20 secs”.

Foster breathed a sigh of relief before returning her attention to trying to get her legs clear. She was still struggling when the infantryman returned and quickly pulled the body off of her before offering his hand to help her stand.

Foster grabbed it thankfully but as she pulled to stand a blinding stab of pain flashed back through her ribs; clearly she had done more damage than she thought. The pain caused her to stumble and if it hadn’t been for the quick reactions of the infantry man she would have likely fallen back to the floor.

“Ma’am are you ok?” asked Archer with clear concern in his voice.

“I think I must have cracked a rib or two in that fall. I’ll be fine, just give me a moment to steady myself”.

Foster tapped on her forearm panel, ordering the suit’s limited medical support facilities to give her a strong pain killer an anti-inflammatory.  It wasn’t much but it was the best she could hope for until they managed to get back to a proper medical facility.
 
Having made it back to the exit point it only took Wade one glanced at the battered form of the Colonel to realise she wasn’t going to be able to make it out of the cavern on her own.

“Right, Archer get your arse up that rope on the double and make sure everyone up there is moving out. We will follow you out. Colonel, I think you better come back up with me”.

Turning to her he clasped his hands on her shoulders and gently pulled her in until she was standing mere millimetres from him. At that distance her eyes were firmly level with his chest and she had to tilt her head back to still see his visor.

“Put your arms around me please ma’am. We will be up in a jiffy”.

Uncharacteristically Foster did as she was asked. Wade in turn quickly hooked several straps onto Foster’s own armour, pulling them still closer together. Satisfied with the fastening, Wade reached out for the rope and began to climb hand over hand in a fast flowing movement. Not for the first time since starting the mission Foster envied the infantry’s powered armour.

The short trip back up to the tunnels passed in a blur for Foster as the cocktail of drugs went to work numbing the pains in her ribs.
Back in the tunnel Foster was grateful to see that at least all of the rest of her men and all of the infantrymen had made it. Some of the infantry were setting up claymores in the hope that they would slow down any Mechs moving to their location.

Looking down at her chronometer Foster realised they had less than 12 minutes to reach a safe distance and set off the charges bore the Navy made its’ first pass. If things were going to plan the destroyer would have already risen above the horizon and received the initial fire control plans.

“Forget the mines, we have to go right now” called out Foster to Wade.

“I hear you loud and clear ma’am” replied Wade. “Everyone drop what you are doing and move out now”.

With the clock ticking the team began a mad dash back down tunnels; caring little for if they were now detected. Foster pushed herself onwards, conscious that she was getting close to the limit of her abilities. Try as she might she the men in front of her were starting to inch away.

Just as she was feeling her pace starting to slacken off Foster felt her left arm being hooked before being dragged forward at an even faster pace. Glancing over she saw the expressionless helmet of Wade by her side.

"Thanks" she gasped as she ran.

"Don't thank me just yet" replied Wade in an altogether far less breathless voice. "The claymores just activated and my sensors are going off the scale. Looks like we've managed to really piss them off back there. I reckon we've got no more than a few minutes before they catch up with us".

"That's not going to be enough time" panted back Foster. "Need at least another K to get safe".

"Well you better run like hell then; I'll be dammed if we've gone to all this effort only for you lot not to make it back out". With that Wade let go of Foster's arm, propelling her forward a little further before starting to bark orders to his men.

Foster ran on for a few more meters before she realised what the infantry were doing. Coming to an abrupt halt she turned to face the colour sergeant.

"Don't for one minute think we are leaving you lot down here. We're all in this together".

"I've not got time for this Colonel" retorted Wade, "you've done your job now lets us get on with ours. You have to get clear to set those dems off otherwise there are going to be one hell of a lot more casualties than just us. There's just no way to stop those Mechs and get clear".

Foster cast about herself desperately thinking of another option. The blasts from the Research facility were likely to create a huge pressure wave through the tunnels that would collapse much of them and likely throw anyone unlucky enough to be in them around like a rag doll. Wade was right, without a clear run they had no chance of getting to a safe distance and they just couldn't afford to turn their backs on them.

If they couldn't achieve distance then they needed to find a solution where they were. Unfortunately there was almost no cover in the tunnels and no other immediate exit routes. The only option then was make their own cover.

"Hiller, how much of this tunnel do you think we would need to take down to block the pressure wave and how many of the demolition charges do we have left"?

"I'd reckon a good five metres or so to be certain" responded Hiller. "We've still got three of the dems left, the two spares plus one we didn't manage to place before we got the orders to get out of there. Don't know how that's going to help though colonel, if we set those things off in here we will be just as dead".

"But not if we shape the charges just to hit just the roof no?" queried Foster.

"I guess so but we are going to have to strip down the charges, construct some sort of firing mount and improvise a replacement trigger mechanism. That's going to take a bit of time".

"Well by my count we've got a little over eight minutes before we are all toast so I suggest you get on with it right away. Pull back another 80 meters round this curve in the tunnel and set them up there. I'm going to speak to Wade about those trigger devices".

"Colour, do your men have one of those claymores left? I've got a plan to save all of our necks but you are going to have to hold off those Mechs for at least seven or eight minutes to let us do our job" asked Foster over the comm.

There was a short pause before Wade responded. "Colonel, if you don't mind me saying, I've met some stubborn officers in my time but you really do take the crown. Speak to Evans, he should have a few left. Then get yourself back round the corner, this little spot is about to get awfully interesting".

Grabbing the claymore Foster jogged back round the corner to a scene of frantic activity as the remainder of her engineers worked to strip the explosives and dig out a series firing pits. With the drugs having finally taken effect Foster was feeling a lot more focused again and she quickly joined the team in rigging up the improvised explosives.

                                                                               ***

Back down the tunnel Wade lay on his front, sighting his rifle down the tunnel. His men had managed to pull up a good section of the old rail lines and support beams with which to build some protection but it was all woefully lacking as far as he was concerned.

Two tense minutes passed with no signs of activity then his suit started to register the first pings of movement in the tunnel from where they had just come. Thankfully it looked like the Mechs were going slightly slower than expected, clearly conscious of further traps. As the seconds ticked away the reading grew rapidly; they were no more than 500 meters distant and closing.

"Steady boys" whispered Wade. "We need to hit them with everything we've got in our first volley if we've got any hope of stopping them".

Up ahead his sensors began to pick out the multi spectrum beams of the Mech's own active sensors as they swept forward.
At three hundred meters he could make out 15 to 20 Mechs moving down the tunnel in a staggered formation. There was a mix of Mechs with a number of scouts like the one they had destroyed previously but backed up by the larger, more heavily armed and armoured assault units. They were going to be a real problem for them. As Wade's range finder counted past 200 meters he gave the order to fire.

All about him the section of the tunnel was illuminated with the muzzle flashes and tracers of the squads rifles as they poured rounds down the tunnel.

Up ahead the scout units reacted immediately, diving to the sides and into the track recesses whilst the heavier Mechs lurched onwards. Rounds scattered off many of the Mech's heavy armour but a few clearly managed to punch through as a couple went down.

The response was almost immediate with pulses of UV lasers pummelling the temporary barricades, quickly turning them to slag. Behind him one of the men cried out as one of the heavy lasers found it's mark, punching through the unfortunate soldiers armour.
With the heavily armoured Mechs now at the fore and largely impervious to the infantry's small arms fire they continued to advance rapidly, continuing to fire as they went.

Wade looked around him. With the weight of fire coming in from the Mechs most of his men had their heads down, reduced to taking the occasional pot shot. Their own fire had slackened considerably as a result, allowing the Mechs to close faster. Wade new that if they made it to hand to hand combat he and his men would be ripped to pieces in moments.

Seeing that the Mechs were now less than a hundred meters away he called out new orders. "Everyone prime the last of your smart grenades and wait for me signal". Given his men just a few seconds to comply he started the count "Three, two, one, go!"

Wade twisted and flung his own single remaining grenade to join the ten from the rest of the squad. Another man was hit as he threw, decapitating him in a flash of molten metal. The grenades instantly ignited, flying their weaving route to the Mechs. Five of them were destroyed before they reached stand off distance but the rest burst, showing the whole of the tunnel and the exposed Mechs with a barrage of munitions.

The front two assault Mech's took the brunt of the blasts with multiple contact munitions connecting before setting off their charges, tearing great holes in their armour through which other munitions were able to reave yet more damage. About them other Mechs were also caught in the blast, loosing limbs, weapon systems and sensors.

The carnage only slowed them for a short period of time though. Two of the other assault Mechs picked up the battered bodies of their recently fallen kin, hefting them as shields whilst they stomped forwards whilst all the time continuing to fire on the Infantry's positions. Other Mechs that would have been incapacitated by their injuries had they been human slowly got to their feet as well to re-join the fight.

With almost all of the heavy munitions they carried expended Wade knew they had little chance of holding them off for much longer. "Everyone prepare to pop smoke and fall back under its cover".

"Sorry Sarge but I don't think I'm going to be able to manage it" came the reply from of his men. "One of my legs has been shot up pretty bad and the lower half of my suit is pretty messed up and all".

"Well we're just gonna have to drag your arse out of here then aren't we. No way I'm going let you get off ruining that rather expensive piece of tax payer bought kit" growled Wade. "Pop smoke now, we will fall back another 50 meters and hit them again when they come through".

In front of him his view of the tunnel was quickly obscured as the smoke worked rapidly to fill the tunnel. With a high crystalline and metallic dust content the smoke also worked as an excellent refractor, leaving most of the Mech's lasers largely ineffective. Unfortunately it also ruined the Infantry's own targeting systems and left them firing blind.

"Move move move" shouted Wade as he turned to help grab the injured man. "Colonel, we are pulling back, how are you doing with the explosives"?

"Almost there Colour" came the response from Foster "we just need a few more minutes to get them set up".

"Please hurry Ma'am, I'm not sure we going to be able to give you that long".

Having gone another 50 meters along the gently curving tunnel Wade stopped to hand off the badly injured man to the soldier who had followed him into the caverns and was himself suffering.

"Get yourself past the engineers and set up to provide covering fire, we are likely going to be coming past you in an awful hurry in a few moments time" ordered Wade.

With just five men now left under his command Wade once again spread them out and waited for the Mechs to reappear. He didn't have to wait long. First through was a scout unit, scampering along the side of the tunnel. It went down in a barrage of fire but not before it had reported back the troops positions to the rest of the Mechs. The Infantry desperately scrambled to move position but it was two late for two of them as laser fire from the two emerging assault Mech's tore into them.

The infantry's own return fire managed to catch the leg of one Mech, dropping it to one knee but it wasn't enough to stop it.

"Grenades and smoke now!" shouted Wade, throwing his own last smoke grenade into the mix. Just two last smart grenades were launched by his few remaining men which meant they were pretty much out of anything that could serious hurt them. Wade detected only one making it to standoff range before the tunnel was once again obscured by the smoke.

"Pull back" shouted Wade before turning and running himself. Checking his own stores he realised he had just a couple of magazines left for the rifle and a few basic fragmentation grenades. Sprinting round the corner he shouted out to the engineers "fall back, fall back we've got them hot on our heels".

Rounding the curve of the tunnel he could see some of the engineers frantically digging in a charge whilst several more had pulled further back to help his other two men pull up some more tracks for an even hastier barricade.

"Sarge, message through from Sierra Oscar One Three, they have a firing solution and are charging weapons" reported his 2ic.

"I don't want to hear it corporal" snapped back Wade. "Just help me get these engineers moved back to that barricade".

Wade could almost feel the Mech's weapons being trained on his back as he raced to Foster's position. Grabbing her arm he pulled her pulled her upright. "Now Colonel" he shouted.

"We need a few more moments, we've not set the remote detonator yet".

"There's just no time; will the claymore set it off if its near to them when it goes?" asked Wade.

"Yes but we've stripped out the arming mechanism, there's no way to set it off".

"A burst of 4mm will do just fine now let's get moving". Wade pulled at Foster, none to gently and, with the force of his powered armour behind him, she was powerless to stop herself being dragged backwards.

"Ok, I heard you. Everyone pull back with the infantry now" shouted Foster to her own men.

All of them scrambled one again to move the 100 odd meters down the tunnel. Behind them the diffuse beams of the Mech's lasers were getting increasingly coherent again, they were almost through the second smoke screen.

Wade dived for cover in the railway pit as one of the beams played across the side of his helmet. For a moment his sight was filled with an unbearable glare that left him with spots in front of his eyes and a flaring pain across the side of his face. Rolling onto his stomach he turned to see the Mechs advancing level with the improvised explosives, their lasers already playing across the far to insubstantial barricades just set up.

A burst of fire from the soldiers, supported with the engineer's side arms, rang out but it barley slowed the Mechs. Meanwhile Wade watched as the damage to his suit started to cause a series of malfunctions. Almost immediately his HUD flickered and died along with many of the suit's other systems, including its targeting routines.

"Someone hit the claymore now" he screamed, hoping that if his comm had gone down someone might still hear him.

"No shot no shot" came the message back from his men. All of them were too high up and didn't have an angle on the small container, even if they were to expose themselves to the withering fire that the Mechs were hitting them with.

Wade breathed deeply. He was the only one with the shot and he was going to have to do it the old fashioned way. Mentally shutting out the cacophony of noise about him and the pain in his face, he took a few more breaths to slow his breathing. This was it, do or die.

With his rifle close to being up in the aim, he rolled over into the middle of the tracks to get the angle he needed. Twenty five years of hard training and endless drills took over as he smoothly brought his rifle up into the prone position to gaze through the basic but functional emergency iron sights. Half exhaling his last breath to hold still he slowly squeezed the trigger.

A puff of dirt about a foot in front of the claymore's remains showed him he was low. Breathing again he readied himself to take another shot. Above him one of the Mechs detected his movement and sent a burst of laser fire in his direction. Several struck the ground in front of him, leaving smoking scars whilst a third caught his back. Decompression alerts immediately went off in his head and his suit's re-breather systems were ripped apart.

Still Wade didn't flinch. Instead he breathed out gently once more and squeezed the trigger.

For a split second he thought he missed yet again before a searing light followed by deafening boom rang out. Ahead of him the tunnel and the Mechs were engulfed in rock, dust and smoke as the shock wave from the blasts rolled out over them, bringing the tunnel roof down with it.

Struggling to breathe, Wade rolled onto to his back to look up at the remains of the barricade. Over the comm unit he could hear Sierra Oscar One Three counting down for their firing run. "Hit it he grumbled" before blacking out.

                                                                                ***

Up on the barricade, lying behind the body of another of the soldiers, Foster quickly tapped in the activation codes and hit execute. Almost immediately the whole of the tunnel was filled with a deep resounding vibration which shook chunks of material from the walls and set Foster's teeth chattering. Foster tried to curl herself into as small a ball as possible, knowing that the shock wave was still to come.

Moments later it smashed into the collapsed section of tunnel in front of them. Even with more than five meters of rock and stone between them the blast hit like a hammer. Large boulders were thrown clear of the collapsed ceiling whilst smaller stones exploded outwards, every bit as dangerous as a bullet.

Despite being more than a hundred meters down the tunnel the few remaining men and women were showered with stones and dust. For the remaining engineers that were less well protected, the stones brought another wave of pain as they pummelled their bodies.

For Foster, everything was obscured by the heavy dust. Fresh waves of pain rolled across her back where she had been caught by some of the rocks. Inside her helmet she could hear the urgent shouts of the infantry Major.

"Abort, abort, I say again abort. The facility has been destroyed"

"Roger that Two Eight Alpha, Sierra Oscar One Three aborting run in now"

Foster couldn't help but giggle to herself, the pain told her she was still alive and by all accounts they had actually managed to collapse the research facility as well. Groaning, she slowly staggered to her feet, wobbling slightly from the ringing in her ears.

As the dust settled Foster began to make out other signs of movement around her. Her HUD was however showing just five other active identifiers. Of the sixteen of them that had gone in it looked like just six had made it this far. A too brief glance of the list showed her that Wade wasn’t one of them.

“Everyone sound off now, we need to send a sit rep and sort out getting the hell away from here. I need to know if any of you are hurt and to what extent” called out Foster in a terse tone.

Moments later she had the confirmation she suddenly dreaded, Wade wasn’t responding, two of the remaining men had serious injuries and the last three had been pretty knocked about. Foster quickly organised for one of the more able men to conduct a quick search for the bodies of the others and to collect tags whilst she and the other two went to work helping the injured as best they could.

“Colonel, you better get down here right away; It’s the colour sergeant, I think he still alive” called out the soldier she had detailed to sweep the area from the bottom of the rail pit. Forgetting her injuries Foster jumped into the rail pit to see for herself.

                                                                                    ***

Wade groaned as he slowly came to. Bright light seemed to burning through his eyelids making them stream. Taking a breath more pain erupted along the length of his wind pipe and deep into his lungs whilst half the left hand side of his face felt like it was on fire. As he became more aware of his surrounds he realised he was flat on his back and there was a gentle swaying motion.

Daring to squint open one eye he could see the vivid blue sky of GJ 1065 above him through the crinkled hard plastic screen of a casualty evac bubble. Another breath brought about a coughing fit and more pain. Hawking, he spat out a lump of redish brown flem. That can’t be good he absently thought to himself.

“Mr Wade are you alive in there?” questioned Foster over the inbuilt intercom.

“Just about” he croaked back. “Did we do it?”

“Of course we did” quipped Foster “it was my plan after all”.

“So what the hell happened to me? I feel like I’ve been smoking fifty a day and just played 80 minutes against the Lions”.

“Well, aside from getting shot up, bringing half the tunnel down on your head and having a good go and trying to breathe this planet’s delightful atmosphere not that much. We’ve just moving to link up with a few of the forward units to help us lug your sorry arse back to a med facility. We may have cut off the Mech’s advance through the research facility but they are still swarming all over the place out here”.

Wade thought about retorting but decided he’d pushed his luck with one of the planet’s most senior offices about as far as he wanted for the day. Instead he closed his eyes again, determined to make the most of the lift back to camp. Despite his injuries he was in no doubt that he would be back in the front line before long.
 

Offline IanD

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #36 on: February 24, 2014, 08:39:35 AM »
Really good piece, enjoyable read. Keep it up!
Ian
IanD
 

Offline MarcAFK

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #37 on: February 24, 2014, 09:43:36 AM »
Seconded, first class work, Better than some published fiction I have read recently.
" Why is this godforsaken hellhole worth dying for? "
". . .  We know nothing about them, their language, their history or what they look like.  But we can assume this.  They stand for everything we don't stand for.  Also they told me you guys look like dorks. "
"Stop exploding, you cowards.  "
 

Offline chrislocke2000

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #38 on: February 25, 2014, 05:17:53 AM »
Thanks guys. That last update picked up a little bit of a life of its' own there. In one five day increment I released mechs, lost about 52% on one of my infantry battalions and had a research facility destoryed as a result of the fighting. Not exactly what you want when trying to build up the planet as a forward base against the Chigs.

Next update will be a bit more along the usual lines but if people are enjoying the larger chunks of fiction I may have another go at an extended piece when the next interesting chunk of action occurs.
 

Offline TheDeadlyShoe

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #39 on: February 27, 2014, 10:56:04 AM »
Erryone loves good writing, btu you do have to balance it with actually progressing the game. I would say just get going on a bit of fiction when the situation grabs you.
 

Offline chrislocke2000

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #40 on: March 05, 2014, 04:28:30 PM »
April 2061 (Continued)

Luyten 1305-10
For the first time in months Kai was back up in space, sat in the VIP lounge of the Union's main commercial shipyard facility. Today the Union were due to launch the first of the new series of bulk freighters. Capable of hauling 50,000 tons of material at a speed in excess of 4,750 km/s, they were being hailed as the solution to the Federation's logistics problems. The various Union dignitaries were therefore quite understandably seeing this launch as a pretty big deal for them. Unfortunately for Kai that also meant that he had become the unwitting guest of a launch ceremony which, even by Union standards, was pushing the limits on acceptable pomp and ceremony.

Kai glanced down at his watch, hoping that none of the Union members would notice; it was the height of bad manners for anyone to show anything but their full an utmost attention when an honoured guest.  Kai had to suppress a groan, they have been up in the preliminary reception for over three hours now. From memory there was still an upper reception, including sermons from all of the major religious leaders before the actual launch ceremony began and then of course would come the post launch celebrations. He was beginning to wonder if they would even manage to get back down to the planet to deal with his far more pressing problems.

Whilst the launch of the freighters was great news, their construction along with the hurried build of the new orbital platforms had placed a massive strain on the planets already limited reserves of Duranium and Uridium.  At current rates of consumption the planet would run out of reserves in the next few weeks. So far he had been unable to find any solution outside of shutting down most of the industry for several months whilst several freighter loads were brought up from Earth. That was going to go down badly with all of the dignitaries he was currently smiling at and being stuck up here he was unable to try and progress any alternative plans.

Spotting a waiter with a fresh tray of drinks Kai made a bee line for him; if he was going to be stuck up here for the rest of the day he might as well make the best of a bad situation

2061 May

Sol - Navy HQ
Vice Admiral Shots took another gasp of breath before diving back below the water. It was a little after six in the morning and Shots was back in the pool doing his morning laps. With the pool to himself and a solid rhythm established, Shots' gradually cleared his mind so he could concentrate on the thorny issue of the X'Ching.

Outside of the Mechs the Chigs were the only alien race so far encountered by the Federation that had been a match for their own fighting vessels. By all accounts, the previous engagement in Anderseriks had been far too close for comfort and could have easily resulted in the destruction of an entire destroyer detachment.

The latest intelligence, fed through the painfully exposed chain of unarmed survey ships, showed that they were capable of fielding at least two task groups close to the size of a Federation carrier group. Whilst they still had no idea of the whereabouts of the Chigs' home world and hence how far forward the groups were operating he thought it very unwise to consider them incapable of projecting their forces deep into Federation space.

The complete lack of response to the Federation's attempts to communicate with them, coupled with their aggression was a further major concern. At least with both the Followers and the Union the Federation had been able to understand their demands and drivers and could form a response shaped around this understanding. In this case they had no idea how the Chigs thought and hence what might be their response to any Federation action. It also meant they had no idea as to whether the Chigs were already planning further action.

Whilst many in parliament were advocating a defensive stance Shots knew all too well the challenges of trying to keep a substantial force perpetually on high alert. The massive distances involved also meant that if the Chigs did decide to attack they would most likely be left largely unable to respond in any meaningful way for an uncomfortably long time.

As much as it pained him, Shots had to admit to himself that the only real way he saw for them to deal with the threat was to go on the offensive before they did. That would however need a massive logistics push and the release of at least a second carrier group for mobile operations.

With the first batch of cruisers due out of the docks imminently and the progress made on the new orbital weapons platforms he thought that they could be ready to move within the next six to nine months; assuming he could get enough of a stockpile of munitions and fuel forward to GJ 1065. It would also necessitate some significant lobbying of government and that meant he would need to call in some old favours.

By the time he had finished working out the outline details in his head Shots had managed to cover more than double his normal number of laps. Invigorated both by the extended work out and having a clear plan of action Shots headed back to his office to start putting his plans into action.   

In the meantime he would just have to hope that the currently deployed carrier group could deal with any further aggression from the Chigs.

GJ 1065
Wade lay face down on the hospital bed, looking through the same narrow hole for his face that had been his only view for the past couple of weeks. Although there was a small data pad for him to look at the lack of activity and knowing that his fellow troops were still fighting outside was slowly driving him mad.

It also didn't help that almost the whole of his back was itching like crazy where the destroyed nerves on his back were rapidly re-growing under the intensive course of growth hormone injections and stem cell applications.

Behind him Wade heard the door to his room open and the sound of booted feet approach his bed. Over the past few weeks he had become very good at recognising the different footfalls of the various doctors, nurses and military personnel visiting him. Sure enough a few moments late the site of a small pair of standard issue combat boots appeared in his field of vision.

"Good afternoon Colour Sergeant" said Colonel Foster, catching Wade off-guard somewhat. "I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come visit. The Mech's having been putting up a real fight these last few weeks and we've only just really managed to regain the upper hand. The doctors also had you out like a light for the first few weeks after our mission; said they needed to keep you sedated whilst the deeper wounds were repaired so there wasn't a lot of point visiting before then in any case". Foster paused for a moment before continuing. "Sorry I'm wittering, how are you feeling?".

"Much better than I was thank you ma'am; although my back is still itching like hell and just lying here isn't much of a cop".

"Well if it's any consolation I can tell you just how many Mechs we reckon we managed to flatten  under that research facility".

"So it worked then?" asked Wade.

"Like a dream. We must have taken out close to a battalion of them. Not to mention completely cutting off that route of attack. What you did down in that tunnel may well have saved all of us. In fact I have it on good authority that you may well have been recommended for a medal or two".

Wade groaned. "To be honest ma'am I'd be happy with just a working back and a chance to get back out there and take it to them again".

"Well I think you may have missed your chance this time round. By all accounts we've managed to take out the bulk of them so its just a case of moping up and re-securing the area. Don't worry though, I'm sure you will get your chance. The Brigadier is assigning several more battalions to the dig in case something like this happens again. With the amount of the city still left to clear we will undoubtedly find more of them".
Foster paused again for a few moments and Wade thought she was about to leave when she spoke once more. "The doctors tell me you are pretty lucky to still be here. If you'd been an inch higher on the floor or that shot had been an inch lower it would have ruined your spine. Not to mention you having breathed in this atmosphere for goodness knows how long.

I suggest you count your lucky stars and make the most of rest. Once you are up out of that bed command are going to put you through the real horror - facing the press and your growing fame".

In front of him Wade watched Foster's feet move as she turned to leave. "Oh and Colour, I'm glad to see you doing so much better. I'll try and swing by again before you get discharged".

A little while later, having replied their conversation in his head a few times, Wade realised he was quite looking for to seeing the quirky young Colonel again.

Anderseriks – TFS Bushmaster
“Sir, one of the wrecks in group bravo just dropped off the scope” called out the junior rating currently manning the sensor suite.

Charlton flipped open his tactical display to look at the feed for himself. Although he and the crew were growing restless, having seen no further signs of activity in the system for the past seven weeks, he wasn’t about to charge in either.

After a few more minutes of musing Charlton decided on a course of action; “comms, notify fleet HQ of the loss of contact and that we will be moving forwards to try and identify the cause. Please also request the Cobra to jump back in system to cover the EG 453 jump point”.
Charlton turned to his exo, “ok, let’s get ourselves set for the run forwards. We will move in at best speed until we are a billion out then slow for the final approach”.

Approximately 36 hours later Charlton was roused from his sleep by a message from his exo. “Sir, sensors have just picked up an active search sensor in the vicinity of the remaining two wrecks. Analysis indicates it’s the same as the one we last picked up around the inner planet”.

“Slow us to 5k km/s but maintain course. I want to make sure we have whatever else is out there detected and logged before heading back. Make sure you keep HQ informed; I’ll be up for handover in just under five hours. Call me if anything changes”.

Carlton was close to the end of his shift when the rating on sensor suite called out new contacts. “Contact, contact, range 613.7m km, bearing 28 degrees, four new vessels identified and tagged. Thermals are showing 1760, they’ve got to be big brutes”.



“Thank you ensign” replied Charlton, his tiredness from the long shift quickly forgotten. “Let’s hold off with any supposition for the moment and keep focused on our jobs. We will continue with our current course and speed then slow further as soon as we are in the sensor range”.

Charlton sat back in his chair. He was expecting to see a number of new contacts around the wrecks on the assumption that they had deployed salvagers. Given that there was no jump gate on the unexplored jump point and no signs of construction Charlton also thought it likely that the larger ships were jump capable. The question now was, had they appeared in system with their own additional escorts or were they just relying on the already present task group. If the first, that could well mean they felt they already had good control of both this system and those on route to wherever the ships had come from.

Charlton is back on the bridge when the watch officer calls out the detection of the whole of the hostile task group which was previously spotted at the inner planet. This time however Charlton decides to continue closing to make sure there were no smaller vessels also in situ.
Just over four hours later Charlton is rewarded for his perseverance when the watch officer calls out a new contact with a far smaller thermal signature in the vicinity of the existing target task group.




Four hours later Charlton decides they are close enough. “Con, bring us to a dead stop. Nav, plot a course back to the jump gate for minimum transit time. Engineering, bring the engines down to 10%. Everyone else, we are now in an excellent position to observe the enemy and all indications are that we have not been detected. It is therefore my intention to stay on station for the next couple of weeks and see if we can pick up any further intelligence for the bods back home”.

With his crew busy Charlton took the time to study his plot in a bit more detail. There were an awful lot of hostile ships out there and if the Chigs were able to spare that many just to escort some salvagers God alone knew how many more vessels they might have in their fleet. As far as he could tell things were not looking at all good for the Federation and its' Navy.

2061 June

Sol
Shaw was back on Earth for the first time in over six months, having finally found a window to take a few weeks leave. Not that it would make much of a dent in the months of accrued leave he technically still had to take. It did however give him a great opportunity to sit back and watch the show for the launch of the Navy's latest warships rather than having to sweat over orchestrating the whole thing. He even felt a momentary twinge of guilt knowing that he had left Admiral Shots to field all of the senior parliamentarians and reports. A sip from the ice cold glass of larger sat on the bar in front of him worked wonders to banish those thoughts.

Despite having tracked down a small old world bar that was well off the beaten track it was still busy with a mix of factory and office workers. Many of the clientele, including himself, were watching the holo viewer that was sat in one corner of the bar. On it was a view of the Mars shipyards showing yard eight and its' slowly retracting slipway doors. The camera position and the timing of the launch had been carefully planned to show the launch of the new vessels as the yards past the terminator and were bathed in glorious sunlight.

In the background a commentator was busily describing the launch procedure whilst the matt black hulls of the four Type 511 cruisers, the Astoria, Atlanta, Birmingham and Brooklyn, emerged from the shipyards. Back in the bar Shaw could hear several oohs and ahas from the assembled drinkers, especially when four wings of the Federation's latest Starfury Mk2 fighters roared past the cruisers in close formation. Shaw grinned, with elections coming up the government were clearly out to make a statement on just how active they were being in consolidating the security of the Federation.

Raising his glass in salute to the new vessels Shaw took a long gulp, savouring the icy cold of the beer. Shaw knew that in  few short weeks all four of the new cruisers would be heading to Luyten 1305-10 where they would be placed under the command of the Luyten command fleet. They would be the first Federation warships to leave the system without having first completed a strenuous training session. That would now be done in Luyten where they could simultaneously provide protection to the Union population.

Whilst there were no official plans as yet, Shaw was also pretty sure that they would use the cruisers as a chance to free up carrier group Delta from defensive duties. That would finally give the Federation the opportunity to take a more aggressive stance with the Chigs.
Realising that his glass was empty Shaw motioned to the bar tender for another.

If he suspicions were right things were going to be getting incredibly hectic in the next couple of months. That meant no more leave and probably no chance of another trip back to Earth any time soon.

Sitting back in his chair, Shaw sipped his fresh drink. If that was the case he was going to make damn sure he made best of the calm before the storm.

Luyten 1305-10
Kai was pacing up and down in his office waiting for his next appointment. Knowing that it was going to be a difficult conversation to say the least he was half dreading it and half wishing he could just get it over and done with.

Finally he got the buzz from his PA indicating that his guest was on the way up. Hurriedly Kai sat back down behind his desk, grabbing a data pad to look at whilst he did so. Moments later the door to his office swung open. Kai looked up with one of his well-practiced and most disarming smiles fixed on his face.

He was just standing up when his guest, Rear Admiral Miller, spoke in a decidedly frosty tone. "Spare me the pleasantries administrator Winter".
Keeping his smile, Kai stood nevertheless, proffering one of the chairs in front of his desk. "Rear Admiral Miller, so good to see you again and congratulations on your new position with the TFN. I'm just sorry that we have to meet in these more difficult times".

Glaring at him, Miller stalked the rest of the way into the office to take a seat. Kai waited for her to be seated before taking his own seat again.
Kai was too short what he had just done but for whatever reason Miller seemed to relax somewhat once she was seated. Sighing she continued in an altogether more apologetic tone.

"Sorry Kai, I've just come a two hour meeting with my head off operations and the ships' captains. All of them are screaming bloody murder over the lack of operational maintenance facilities. I've got a list of repairs as long as my arm and chief engineers crying out for replacement spares. The last time we spoke you promised me you would have the facilities back up and running in a matter of weeks; that was nearly eight weeks ago now. What on Earth am I meant to be telling them?".

Kai sat back in his chair, unconsciously scratching his head as he did so. "I know what I said and I can only apologise again for the delay. As you know, this planet was pretty much stripped off minerals by the time we managed to liberate it. We are still years off of having a balanced extraction industry capable of supporting not just us but Delta Trianguli as well. Between trying to get that up and running and Earth's constant demands for getting the defence bases built there just isn't the minerals to round".

"I quite understand your conflicting demands Kai. What you need to understand is that I have a full carrier group floating up there with orders to be ready for immediate deployment. If those ships have to go into a full overhaul before deployment it may well put the security of this entire sector at risk. I simply must insist that you scale back some of your industrial work to allow the maintenance facilities to run. The Navy and Parliament back home just won't stand for this so unless I see some movement pretty soon I'm going to have to start making my own arrangements".

"Now come on Admiral" retorted Kai, trying to sound hurt by Miller's last thinly veiled threat. "We are both on the same side hear and in any case I have some very good news for you on the minerals front. I've managed to redirect one of the salvage groups from Delta Trianguli to us. They will arrive in under a week and by all accounts have enough minerals and salvaged components to keep both our industry and maintenance facilities going for a good few months".

"Well that is good news" replied Miller, "but it hardly deals with the longer term issues of trying to keep the Navy up and running out here no does it" she continued.

"I quite agree and that's exactly why I've also secured the delivery of over 25,000 tons of minerals from Earth's strategic reserves. The freighters will be arriving in just a couple of months so as long as we are careful with the salvage we will be fine for the foreseeable future".

"Hmmn, well it seems that you finally have the situation under control then Kai. Just make sure you deliver on it, otherwise we won't be having anywhere near as pleasant a conversation next time round".
« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 04:39:06 PM by chrislocke2000 »
 

Offline chrislocke2000

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #41 on: June 22, 2014, 06:40:23 AM »
2061 July

Anderseriks
"Sir, we just lost contact with the last of the wrecks" reported Commander Charlton’s warfare officer.

Charlton grimaced, over the course of the last six weeks he and his crew had been forced to watch helplessly as the Chigs slowly reaped the harvest of the Mech wrecks. The loss was a double blow for the Federation given that they had both lost the opportunity to gain further valuable tech and had had to leave it for a hostile race to salvage.

"Ok, bring the ship up to action stations and get our engines warmed up, I want us ready to react to anything that task group does as soon as possible" he responded.

Five minutes later the warfare officer reported again. "Sir, the hostiles are moving. Speed 1,750 km/s, bearing 243 degrees. Plot suggests that they are on an intercept course for the wreck of the Bolivia".

"Helm, bring us about, I want a plot for a point 75m km equidistant from the two remaining wrecks on the side closest to the EG 453 jump point. Keep her at 3,000 km/s. WO, let me know if we lose contact with any of the task group. I'm going down to my cabin to log a report to HQ; let me know if the situation changes. XO you have the deck".

Six days later Charlton was again back on the bridge watching the slow advance of the large Chig task group from their new position. HQ had responded to his latest report with more vague assurances that relief vessels were being dispatched and little indication of how they were reacting to the Chig's heavy military presence and clear consolidation of the system. He was therefore resigned to at least a couple more months stuck out in the system with largely no support from the Navy's fighting vessels.

Charlton's musing was interrupted by an excited call from the duty WO. "Sir, we've just detected a vessel breaking free from the main task group. They've accelerated to 5500 km/s and are on an intercept course for the EG 453 jump point".

Charlton leaned forward in his chair, thinking furiously. The Chig's had just demonstrated that they had vessels capable of speeds well in excess of what was previously thought. Whilst that would have significant ramifications for the Navy's plans his more immediate consideration was what it meant for the old and slow survey vessel currently acting as their link back to the Federation.

As far as he could tell there were no Chig vessels anywhere near the jump point so it was possible that they were just moving to secure the area. However if they had been detected then the vessel would need to make best speed as soon as possible if it was to avoid being overtaken.

"Comms, signal Lieutenant Commander Saunders on the survey vessel and give her the update on the new hostiles movements. Please also suggest that they signal the Cobra and get them to jump back in system for a better scan of that jump point. We will hold here for the moment but if it looks like that ship is going to get between us and the jump gate we will make best speed back to ensure we are not cut off".

A few moments later Charlton listened as the comms officer reported the message sent and confirmed that Saunders would bring the Cobra back in system.

Less than ten minutes after the order had been given the Cobra appeared on the tactical plot. Almost immediately the comms officer reported a message from the Cobra as a new hostile contact flashed up on Charlton's plot. "Sir, Cobra is reporting a new contact 8.45m km off the jump point on a bearing of 343 degrees. Target is stationary and no active sensor emissions detected".

Seeing the new threat, Charlton responded immediately. "Helm, lay in a course for the jump gate at best speed and execute immediately.  XO, please bring the ship to full alert. Signal the Cobra and let them know we are on our way".

With his orders issued Charlton looked back over to the plot. Even at best speed it would take them more than 36 hours to make it back to the jump point and the rest of small task group; far too much time to be able to react should that new contact prove to be anything more than a scout. However, given its’ lack of movement, lack of active sensors and low thermal emissions he thought it unlikely.

What was more concerning was the speed of the other closing contact. If the vessel near to the jump point was a scout it could well trail them back to GJ 1065; continuing to report their position. That would likely allow the closing contact to catch up to the relatively slow survey vessel well before they made it back through EG 453. For the moment though he could only wait to see how the situation evolved.

A stressful day and a half later the Bushmaster was closing rapidly on the jump point. For the whole of that time the hostile contact near the jump point had made no sign of any movement whilst the contact from the main task group continued to close.

The journey had however given Charlton more than enough time to consider what course of action to take and with the jump just minutes away he issued his orders. “Comms, signal the rest of the task group. Inform them that we will be making the jump back to EG 453 immediately on our arrival and will then be making best speed for GJ 1065 gate. If there is no sign of pursuit after two hours we will establish a new picket point within passive sensor range of the Anderseriks jump point”.

15 minutes later the small task group jumped out of Anderseriks and back into EG 453 with still no sign of any movement from the Chig’s own scout vessel.

EG 453
With his small task group reassembled and heading for the GJ 1065 gate Charlton sat in his acceleration couch watching his tactical plot for any signs of activity at the Anderseriks jump point. Unfortunately for him he did not have to wait long.

“Contact contact, range 7mkm, bearing 337 degrees. Single vessel detected, thermal profile matches the Chig vessel detected near the Anderseriks jump point sir” reported the warfare officer.

“Thank you, let’s wait and see if they plan on doing anything before reacting shall we” responded Charlton.

Five minutes later Charlton had his answer. The hostile ship had closed to 7mkm and was maintaining the same course and speed as his small task group.

Charlton took a few moments to consider the situation. The Chig vessel was undoubtedly keeping them within sensor range and was more than capable of outrunning his task group’s old survey vessel. If the larger contact was still on route from the main Chig fleet then his own task group would be overhauled in a little over a week unless he abandoned the survey vessel.

Finally Charlton made up his mind. “Comms, I need a priority message to Commodore Barnett. Inform her that we have been forced to retreat from Anderseriks and are now being trailed by a hostile scout. Also send them the latest upload on their deployments and that vessel that broke from the task group. Request a detachment to enter EG 453 and destroy the hostile before they follow us to the GJ 1065 gate”.

With the message sent Charlton could only hope for a rapid response from the rest of the carrier group. In the meantime he and his crew would just have to put up with the unwanted guest.


Delta Trianguli
Thornton watched on as his men once again made their steady way into the waiting shuttles. In a few short days the whole of the 1st heavy assault division would be loaded on the troop transports and headed for GJ 1065.

The move was ostensibly being driven by the need to reinforce the local infantry battalions in response to the recent significant Mech activity in the ruined city there. Thornton was far from convinced though. Whilst official reports from Anderseriks were few and far between, he knew from his own contacts in the MOD that there was a significant build-up of the X'Ching in that system and they appeared to have a lot of interest in one of the planets there.

For him then this was likely far less about providing additional protection to the local population of Unionists and far more about forward staging an assault division for action in Anderseriks. If that was the reality he would need to keep his men and equipment at an even higher state of readiness than now.

Ever the pessimist, he was already working through some planned training regimes on opposed ground assaults and thinking through the logistics of bringing in reinforcements. That thought left a scowl on his face. Despite his repeated protestations with the Navy and the MOD there had still been no advances in the design and launch of a new series of troop transports for the Federation’s rapidly growing ground forces. He knew that that was going to bite someday and unfortunately it was probably going to be him and his men who would bear the brunt of it.

Resigned to whatever the move did have in store for him Thornton took one last look around, as was his way, before heading back to join his troops for the lift.


Sol - Earth
Regional administrator Catherine Short was sat in one of the government's main briefing rooms, a short walk from Downing Street on the site of the old war office. Around the table were sat a number of her close aides and several economic advisors.

The recent urgent demand for minerals by Administrator Winter had prompted a root and branch review of the Federation’s current and projected mineral demands. Unfortunately the results were not looking good. Whilst Sol was well provided for and could, even with the massive shipbuilding programme that was underway, easily meet the demands for the foreseeable future the same could not be said for either the Follower's or Union's home planets.

Both planets appeared to have invested heavily in local industry and mining facilities but had spent next to no effort on establishing off world mining facilities. As a result of their lack of foresight both planets had a critical lack of key minerals and no easy way of quickly increasing production.

Reports from both planets showed that ongoing psi-ops were continuing to work effectively at reducing unrest and improving the productivity of those planets. That perversely caused more of an issue on the minerals due to the lack of locally extractable minerals leaving a growing imbalance between production and consumption.

With their combined potential output well in excess of Sol, that meant that in just a few short years the Federation would be unable to supply the necessary minerals to the industrial bases and shipyards of all three of its' home worlds.

As soon as Short had realised the predicament she had set up a new working party to try and find the best solution to the problem. With the challenges of substantial logistics, a huge range of planets and resources to consider and the politics of major change that solution was proving exceedingly hard to resolve. In their current meeting alone, that had already dragged on for more than six hours, they had managed to achieve little more than identify a wide range of differences in opinion.

Unfortunately, much as Short wished she could just call the meeting to a close and go and get some much needed rest, she had little option but to try and find a way through all of the internal bickering and disputes and find a solution to what would shortly become nothing less than a major disaster.

2061 August

EG 453
Commodore Barnett stood on the bridge of TFS Belorussia watching as the plot updated for the task group’s first sensor sweeps. 899m km ahead of their current position was Charlton’s scout group and the pursuing Chig vessel.
Barnett wasn’t happy with just how close the hostile ship had made it to the GJ 1065 gate - a result of having to wait for one of the jump cruisers to join the picket task group from its’ previous station in orbit around the planet in GJ 1065. What he had to do then was make sure that ship never made it back to the Chigs’ command.

“Nav please plot an intercept course for the hostile contact, maximum speed. Comms, inform  Commander Charlton that we will be engaging the enemy as soon as we have achieved a firing solution”.

Meanwhile, on-board the Bushmaster, Charlton and many of his crew breathed a sigh of relief when the transponder for Barnett’s task group appeared on the plot. They had been running from the Chigs for more than nine days, placing tremendous stress on the crew.

After more than 17 hours of pushing his ships hard, Barnett’s relief group finally got an active sensor sweep on the Chig vessel. At four thousand tons the ships was substantially larger than the Federation’s own scout corvettes yet it had a lower thermal signature. It appeared that the Chigs had found some way to reduce the emissions of their engines; something that could prove to be a critical piece of information in future engagements.

It was another four hours before the hostile ship had closed sufficiently for the group’s missile destroyers to engage. Yet again Barnett could not fathom the enemy, surely they had detected the Federation’s active sensors so what possessed them to continue their pursuit was beyond him. Sighing, Barnett issued the order to fire.

Less than fifteen minutes later little more than an expanding field of debris was left of the Chigs’ vessel after 12 Harpy mk4 missiles tore it apart. Sensors were however picking up a number of signals that looked to be coming from life pods. Barnett grinned, perhaps now they might finally start to get some answers.

Sol - Mars Orbit
Shaw stood in Shipyard No. 6's observation deck musing on the Federation's continued military build-up. Outside, the running lights of the latest Type 232 frigate threw dancing patterns of lights against one of the slips, marking the departure of the Federation's newest vessel.

Not too many years ago the launch would have brought up enough military brass and dignitaries from Earth to fill the observation deck several times over. Now however Shaw was the only senior officer there to mark its' launch; a sure sign of just how large the Federation's ship building programme had become. It was also clear to him just how much the public were taking it all for granted, something that bothered him far more than the lack of actual crowds.

In reality the Federation was more stretched then it at ever been with more colonies to protect and the looming threat of the X'Ching to no doubt deal with. So far at least the politicians back on Earth seemed to recognise the need to prioritise the continued growth of the Navy and the huge demands on the treasury that came with it.

With the billions of pounds pouring in each month Shaw had also been able to boost the fighter factories back on Earth as well as commission the construction of two new shipyards to take on the expanded frigate production. That meant he was well on track to being able to deliver a full complement of fighters to the new carriers once they were launched and give them an appropriate complement of combat scout escorts.

Glancing round the near empty room though he couldn't help but think that the Navy's prime had passed and it wouldn't be long before the politicians turned their focus and the money to things that mattered more to their voters. 

Luyten 1305-10
Rear Admiral Miller sat at her desk absently listening to the comms chatter between her fledging Naval base and the recently arrived squadron of Type 511 cruisers. The ships were in the process of loading almost 400 Harpy Mk5s in order to complete their ordnance load out; an eye watering two thirds of her entire stock of ship based ASMs. Better to be up there where they can be put to good use, rather than down here just taking up space she reminded herself.

Miller could hardly gripe either. The ships arrival, which had been extensively publicised, seemed to have finally put the Union's population at ease. The local police commander had reported a near total cessation of protests regarding the lack of protection afforded the locals - never mind the fact that the present carrier group had been able to sweep up the entirety of their previous defences. With any luck the minority of the population that were still complaining about the Federation's occupation of their planet would finally see some sense and get back to work as well. Miller wasn't however going to hold her breath on that one.

Miller had formally taken command of the squadron three days ago when the ships had arrived in orbit. Since then her head of operations had been busily briefing the captains on the planned training exercises to bring the crew fully up to speed. Miller was extremely impressed with the proposed programme which would hopefully shave several months off of the previous schedule. That was good news given the recent action in EG 453 and the ongoing threat of the Chigs. As far as Miller was concerned, the sooner she could get the static defences and littoral cruisers up and running to release her other carrier groups the better.

2061 September

Groombridge 34
Administrator Howl was perched in her small cramped office, deep within the crust of the barren planet she had been calling home for these past two years.

Since implementing the mining system updates that were recovered from the ruins of GJ 1065, Howl had had little more than regular maintenance requirements and the infrequent visits of one of the mineral freighters to keep her occupied. It was a simple routine that suited her well and one that she was happy with, having come to terms with the fact that she wasn't cut out to be a leader of a major colony.

That however looked like it was going to be changing in the not too distant future. The missive glaring from her data pad were orders to start planning and ground works for the delivery of an additional 45 auto mines.

That was almost a 30% increase in the total capacity of her existing facility. It would mean a reasonable increase in the number of crew she would have to manage as well as more frequent trips from the freighters. That in itself wasn't too much of a concern for her; what really worried her was just how much more of a strategic resource the mines were going to become. It would likely mean the arrival of troops, planetary defence centres, orbital defences and very much the end of the quiet happy life she had managed to carve out for herself after her previous fall from grace as the governor of Delta Parvonis.

Luyten 1305-10
Administrator Kai Winter was down in the city's main spaceport personally overseeing the much needed delivery of over forty thousand tons of TN minerals from Sol. Whilst there was no real need for him to be there he had decided to make absolutely certain there were no last minute cock ups having already incurred the wrath of both the Regional Administrator and the Rear Admiral.

The minerals were going to provide some much needed breathing space for the still recovering economies of both the Union and Followers home worlds and hopefully allow for the continued conversion of auto mines and their redeployment to the mineral rich planets discovered in Iota Persei and Kappa Ceti.

However, that was only going to work if was able to re-prioritise more of the local industries towards the work. With the current effort on expanding the local fleet, defensive facilities, maintenance facilities, troop training and a whole host of other areas that was looking like a tall order. In fact he was already making plans for another delivery of minerals from Sol given the current rate of consumption and extended lead times. That would likely cause yet another almighty stink with the politicians back home but if he was going to avoid yet another shut down before the end of next year without compromising the war effort they would just have to suck it up.

Unfortunately for Kai it also meant that he had had to put his efforts to deal with the back stabbing Carter on hold whilst he got his own house in better order. The leaks had been satisfying though largely ineffectual which meant that Kai was going to have to find some other way to hurt the man. He already had a few ideas but between battling with his own problems and trying to effect any actions without leaving a trail he had simply run out of time for the moment.

Sol – Earth
Carter was back in his office busily working through the myriad of financial updates from his various business interests across the Federation. Looking around his desk and the litter of data pads still to work through Carter set down the pad in his hand and stood up to stretch. Slowly his back unkinked and he breathed a satisfied groan as his back finally popped back into alignment. Realising that it was going to be a long evening, Carter wandered over to his drinks cabinet to find a suitable bottle of red to help him through.

Five minutes later and standing with a freshly decanted glass of Château Mouton-Rothschild in hand, Carter looked back over the pile of data pads and, not for the first time, wondered if it would actually be worth the risk to have all of the disparate reports loaded onto a single pad. An A.I. could complete much of the analysis in a matter of seconds rather than the hours it currently took him. Carter however quickly pushed the thought from his mind; given just how much of his success over the years had come from maintaining a healthy paranoia over anyone's knowledge of the extent of his true financial interests and level of influence in the economy. Sighing, Carter wandered back towards his desk and the waiting piles of data to be sifted and actioned.

At least the reports were not making anywhere near as grim reading as those of six months ago thought Carter. Whilst the Federation's economy was still in a structural deficit and the main markets continued to be depressed as a result of concerns about Chigs; the rapidly improving performance of Luyten and Delta Trianguli meant that they were well on the way to reducing that deficit. That, combined with the expected curtailment of the Navy's construction requirements in the next five years, meant there should be some light at the end of the tunnel. All he had to do then was time moving his interests from the various shipyards to the substantial maintenance facilities before shorting out the shipyard stocks.

His team’s efforts on the now infamous leak had resulted in excellent progress being made in repairing most of the damage although he was not quite done with seeing heads roll in the PR department for letting the info get out there in the first place. The investigation into tracing the leak was proving to be less productive as the investigators were moving very carefully so as not to tip off the perpetrator. That meant they had to wait for scheduled maintenance cycles on the jump gate communications ansibles before stripping the backbone data and digging out the routing of the message. It was all far too slow for Carter's liking but at least progress was being made.

Six hours later and with just the final drops of wine left in the decanter Carter finished his review. His work had confirmed that the business was back on the up and he had identified quite a few new potentially lucrative opportunities in the process. In fact Carter was feeling positively happy for the first time in months as he carefully fed the data pads through his office incinerator.

2061 October

EG 453
2nd October 2257
Commander Ross Graham sat in his chair watching as the minutes slowly ticked through third watch. Following the destruction of the Chigs’ scout vessel more than a month ago Commodore Barnett had kept the carrier group on high alert with Graham’s own vessel, the scout corvette Boa, deployed less than 200mkm from the Anderseriks gate. There hadn’t however been any sign of further Chig activity since then and even allowing for reduced speed, the previously detected task groups would have had more than enough time to reach the gate.

Whilst his crew continued to work with all due professionalism he could feel their restlessness beginning to mount and knew it would only be a matter of time before they started getting sloppy. As it was through all of military history, no matter how more advanced the weapons got, the challenges of maintaining morale and responsiveness were acute worries for any defending force. Something Graham was certainly seeing the realities of now.

Unfortunately there was little that he could do about it at the moment. The Bushmaster and Cobra were both undergoing a significant overhaul back in Luyten. That would leave them unavailable for redeployment for at least another six months and left it to his ship and the Copperhead to maintain a watch on the two approaches into the system.

Graham was still musing over his predicament when the contact alert signal blared across the bridge. True to his expectations the crew reacted immediately and just moments later the warfare officer was making his initial report.

“Sir, jump transit detected, we have twenty two new contacts on the Anderseriks gate. Thermal profiles match the Chigs, looks like both of the task groups that Charlton encountered there, plus a few additional ships”.



Graham thumped his control panel to sound actions stations. “Bring us about and lay in a course for the GJ 1065 gate, initial speed 5000 km/s. Execute as soon as we have a green board for emergency acceleration. Comms send a priority message to the Commodore with the contact details; inform him that I intend to make an immediate withdrawal whilst maintaining passive sensor contact with the hostile force”.
Moment later the Boa’s engines roared into life, forcing all of the crew down into their acceleration couches. Behind them the Chig forces were similarly accelerating towards the GJ 1065 gate.
 

Offline chrislocke2000

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #42 on: July 21, 2014, 06:08:02 PM »
2nd October 2301
Commodore Barnett, the commander of the Carrier Group Alpha detachment was in a deep sleep when the message came through from Graham.  It took him a few moments to process the information but in less than ten minutes the carrier detachment was heading deeper into EG 453 on an intercept course with the hostiles.

3rd October 0015
Back in Luyten 1305-10, Rear Admiral Miller is similarly roused from her sleep as news of the new contacts makes its’ way back along the communications network. After a hasty briefing with intelligence and ops officers Miller orders Carrier Group Delta to move forward from GJ1065 and to engage the enemy whilst the carriers and immediate escorts of Carrier Group Alpha are also dispatched from their orbital stations above Luyten.
Miller knows that the departure of the main fleet is going to result in considerable consternation in the local population and that would more than likely manifest as more marches and riots but she saw little option. By the time the fleets were breaking orbit Miller was already briefing Kai Winter on the likely unrest about to come his way having already forewarned Sol HQ.

3rd October 0215
“Sir, passive sensors are picking up a new contact, range 48.7m km, bearing 342 degrees, speed 5000kms, track shows contact is on a similar course to us. Thermal signature is just 140, looks like it’s another Chig scout vessel” reported Charlton’s warfare officer.

Charlton stood up and walked over to the warfare officer’s station so he could get a look on the full size tactical plot.  For the last couple of days he had been running his ship at the apparent top speed of the Chig task group, just 4400kms. He had also been forced stay an uncomfortably close 187m km from the hostiles in order to stay in contact with the smaller vessels to ensure they had not split off.

Given the proximity of the vessel Graham is left with no choice but in an effort to outrun the hostile even though it would mean breaking thermal sensor contact with the main body.

“Helm bring us to 5500kms. Comms, notify the fleet that we are being forced away from the main task group and will likely loose contact in several days”.

8th October 1600
With so many jumps behind him, Commodore Stevenson barely registers the disconcerting effects of the jump into EG 453 and moments later his bridge is back to its usual level of hushed efficiency as his crew rapidly confirm the successful jumps of the rest of Carrier Group Delta. Stevenson takes a brief look at the updating plot before hitting his general broadcast.

“All vessels, all vessels, this is Commodore Stevenson. I have been ordered by Rear Admiral Miller to take command of all Federation vessels in the system and co-ordinate our response to the approaching X’Ching force. Please stand by for updated orders, Stevenson out”.

“Comms, send the orders packs to the rest of the fleet. Nav, plot in an intercept course to Commodore Barnett’s group, flank speed. XO, I’d like an O group with the carrier captains and the strike planning staff scheduled for 0600 tomorrow and let’s bring the group to standby stations”.

With his immediate orders delivered, Stevenson returned to the plot and the rather substantial task of preparing for what could be the Federation’s largest ever space combat.

10th October 0530
On board the TFS Belorussia, Barnett’s warfare officer reports that the task group is being actively painted by the Chigs’ sensors. Looking up at the plot Barnett can see that his task group is still more than 500m km from the Chigs’, putting their active sensors at least on a par with the best that the Federation has. For Barnett the news only reinforces his earlier estimates that, unlike other races encountered to date, the Chigs were far closer if not superior to the Federation in their technical advances.

Despite the active sensors, Barnett orders her own ships closer, determined to get the Denmark’s ultra-powerful high resolution sensors to bear on the hostile fleet.  He is also fairly confident that nothing in the Chig arsenal to date has shown any capability of being able to engage them at over 200m km.

10th October 1155
Lt Commander Hale, CAG for the Starfury MkI fighters in Carrier Group Delta, was sat in his acceleration couch listening as the rest of his small crew completed the pre-flight checks whilst checking the straps of his own five point harness. In front of him the small tactical plot on his console overlaid the count-down timer to launch as well as showing the ever decreasing distance between themselves and the large flotilla of Chig ships.

At a range of 1bn km the hostiles were still well outside the technical 1.4bn km endurance of the fighters for a strike and return however, with both fleets closing at close to 10k km/s they were now just within range.  Commodore Stevenson had ordered the fighters to action stations mere minutes after they had crossed the maximum range. He was clearly keen to start engaging the hostiles.

Glancing out from the heavily armoured canopy Hale could see that the other seven fighters from his own squadron, the Sluggers, being carefully manoeuvred into their individual launch tubes. In a few short minutes they would be catapulted into space under more than thirty gees of acceleration, allowing them to clear the carrier and ignite their own engines less than a second after launch. It was an exercise that never failed to thrill, even if the vast majority of that acceleration was never felt by the crew.

Moments later, his fighter was loaded into the short thirty meter long tube. As the rear doors sealed them away from the hanger deck a series of dull red lights winked on to illuminate the launch rails.

"Launch control, Sierra Foxtrot 192 has greens across the board and is ready for immediate" called Hale’s pilot.

"Roger 192. Break Break. All flights standby for immediate in five" replied the launch controller.

In front of him a series of amber warning lights flicked on whilst the lights in the cockpit also dimmed and the mechanical voice of his fighter's flight computer completed the countdown. The moment the countdown completed Hale was slammed into his acceleration couch as his fighter was propelled down the rails towards the heavy composite armoured doors. As always, just as he was sure they would slam into the doors, the release mechanism triggered allowing them to slide through at the last possible moment. Seconds later the fighter was under a heavy burn, heading straight for the Chigs along with the group’s other squadrons: the Rebel Riders, Hell Razors, Flying Dragons, Tridents, Flying Boars and Kangaroos.



10th October 2000
Barnett was roused from his sleep by the Belorussia’s duty WO. “Sir, you are going to want to see this, the Denmark just made active sensor contact with the Chig  task group. They are reporting over 200,000 tons of vessels in the group with a mix of six, eight and twelve thousand ton vessels”.
Barnett sat bolt up in his cot. “I’ll be up in five minutes”.

Barnett dressed as fast as he could. The Chig fleet was significantly larger than he had ever contemplated and also contained a large number of vessels massing more than they had previously encountered. It looked like they were going to have a serious fight on their hands.



10th October 2300
“Sir, contact update; the hostile fleet has come about and is heading back towards the jump gate. They will be out of the Denmark’s active sensor range in approximately 183 minutes.”

“What’s the estimated time to target for the fighter?” responded Stevenson.

“Just over 530 minutes sir”.

Stevenson cursed quietly to himself under his breath. From a quick check he could see that his fighters still had the fuel to continue the flight but if he held off firing until his own ships had narrowed the distance enough to paint the hostiles they would need to burn yet more fuel.

“Comms, signal Commodore Barnett. Inform him that she is to follow the hostiles but under no circumstances break 200m km separation”.

11th October 0120
On board the Type 422 light cruiser, the TFS Holland, alert sirens blared as the ship’s long range anti- missile active sensors pick up eighty massive size 16 inbound missiles. Before the crew had time to react the ship’s own automated systems launch a full barrage of AM missiles.

Seconds later the XO, who had the late watch, hit the emergency manoeuvres alarm which in turn sounded across all of the vessels in the task group. On board the Holland the ship’s own fifteen second countdown warning blared across the intercom ahead of the fleet’s normal emergency deceleration when faced with incoming missiles.

Down in his cabin Captain Knowles could do little but strap in knowing he has no chance to reach the bridge before his ship begins to manoeuvre.
Moments later the crews of the carrier alpha detachment are forced deep into their acceleration couches as the whole of task group makes the violent change of course. Despite the warnings, there are more than a few crew who have been unable to get to stations; many are thrown across the living spaces and into bulkheads leaving a trail of broken bones and blood. Miraculously however no one is killed.

In less than ninety seconds the whole task group manages to reverse course whilst the rapid firing missile tubes on the Holland have released 160 AMMs to intercept the incoming missiles. Knowles makes it to the bridge just in time to watch them home in.

“Sir, sensor reports all inbounds destroyed. Analysis indicates that a 1v1 ratio would have been sufficient when using those Mech missiles” reported the warfare officer.

“Excellent, that was a job well done. Make sure the rest of the ships are aware of the new engagement parameters. Comms, open a channel to the Commodore, inform him of our results and please note that I would recommend staying on our current course for at least another five minutes to ensure there are no further inbounds are out there” replied Knowles.

It wasn’t until he sat back in his chair that he realised his hands were trembling from the rush of adrenalin brought on by the sudden attack.
Meanwhile back on the Belorussia, Barnett has recovered enough to start considering the implications of the latest attack. The Chig’s certainly had weapons capable of hitting them at ranges in excess of two hundred million but, based on recent experience they were reliant or huge multi-stage missiles to deliver those weapons. Unlike previous encounters there had been no swarm of smaller missiles following the huge ones. It was therefore likely that the TFS Holland had been able to detect and intercept the missiles before they reached separation range, something that had only been possible because a) the Holland had substantially better sensors and fire controls than the rest of his area defence destroyers and b) the store of Mech AMMs on board with their range ten times that of the Federation’s own AMMs.

Without the Holland his task group would have likely faced several hundred fast moving missiles rather than just the 80 slow moving one. With a reasonable number of Mech missiles on board and the proven interception rate Barnett is confident that he can deal with any additional strikes. After ordering the Holland to conserve the Mech missiles for long range engagements he turns his task group back around and continues to close with the Chigs.

11th October 0553
Barnett’s detachment of ships finally closes the range on the Chigs to below 206m km, allowing them to paint the hostiles with the Denmark’s high resolution sensor. The scan reveals another four vessels in the 4000 ton range bringing the enemy task group to twenty six vessels.

Barnett immediately orders his task group to match speed with the retreating vessels to ensure the group can provide the necessary firing data to the rapidly approaching squadrons of Starfurys.

11th October 0644
After nearly nineteen hours of hard burn the fighter groups reach their launch point some 41.5m km astern of the Chig fleet. Since launching, Commander Hale had struggled to keep all of his squadrons in combat formation, largely due to the lack of training on the part of the Saipan’s replacement squadrons.

As the distance ticks down Hale raises the fighter group. “All ships stand by for launch on my mark, cross check targeting parameters and confirm master arms are clear in turn”.

Moments later the squadron leaders begin to confirm firing solutions set when the orderly stream of calls is interrupted by the excited calls of the Rebel Riders’ squadron leader. “Fox 1, Fox 1 all missiles have cleared the tubes and show green across the board”.

Hale was caught agape before his wits caught up. “All ships all ships cease fire, I say again cease fire. Do not engage until my mark”.

Hale fumed, he had just lost 12.5% of his strike capability to the ineptitude of one of the new crew. Such a mistake may have cost them dearly but it was nothing he could do about it now. His only hope was to launch the rest of the missiles as soon as possible and hope that any missile defence was still busy with the early launch when his main strike arrived.

“All ships, standby to launch in three, two, one, launch” instructed Hale.

The rest of the squadrons reacted immediately, launching 64 missiles each at their pre-determined targets. Despite being a tail chase the missiles, which had been designed around fighting the Mechs, would catch the Chigs in a little under 15 minutes.

It wasn’t until thirty seconds later that Hale realised the second major mistake of the Saipans’ fighters and crew. Apparently one of the wings had been left loaded with the now aging Banshee Mk3 missiles which were both slower and substantially shorter ranged than the current Mk5 standard. That was it thought Hale, heads are going to have to role once we get back from this engagement.

11th October 0658
With the missiles just 700k from the hostiles Hale’s passive sensors picked up five nuclear explosions and the same number of Banshee missiles disappeared from his plot. Hale grinned, although the Chigs looked like they had a reasonable missile detection range their strength of fire would be nowhere near enough to eliminate a significant number of the inbounds before they hit.

Thirty seconds later his estimate was proven true as more than 230 missiles intercepted the Chig task force in blinding flashes of nuclear explosions. Moments later, as the on-board sensors completed their analysis Hale’s weapon officer starts to report the results.

“Sir, sensors show that 48 missiles were destroyed by point defensive fire. Primary target, the Jormungandr was hit by 47 missiles, no evidence of hull breaches detected. Two other vessels, one 8000 ton and one 6000 ton have dropped out of formation. A number of others have indications of hull breaches but the remainder of the fleet looks to be largely undamaged as a result of the engagement”.

“Roger that, transmit sensor logs to the Corregidor for tactical analysis. Stevens, lay in an intercept course for the carrier group and transmit to the other squadrons once cross check complete. Gordon bring us about as soon as we have coordinates and set for maximum burn. We will give it half an hour then start a downtime rotation, I get the feeling we are going to be heading straight back out” responded Hale.

Back on Stevenson’s flag ship, the TFS Long Island, the command crew were desperately trying to interpret the results and work out the implications for the current engagement. It was the first time in the history of the Federation’s fighter force that a full carrier strike had not delivered a devastating blow to the enemy.

The sheer number of hits that most of the vessels had taken showed that they were massively armoured as well as having a significant point defence capability. It was just lucky for the Federation that the same could not be said for their AMM defences.

Stevenson poured through the data and his intelligence officer’s assessment. At first pass it looked like the carriers simply would not have enough ordnance to take down all of the Chig hostiles. Stevenson knew he would need to reduce the Chig’s anti-missile capability significantly if he was to succeed. That meant a focus on any sensor vessels as well as their escorts.

After a further hour of planning Stevenson issued his next set of orders for an immediate follow on strike. The carrier group would continue to hound the Chigs until they were either abandoned the system or they were destroyed.

11th October 0910
“Vampire Vampire, 80 new inbounds detected, 144 degrees at fourteen point four million clicks. Missiles are closing at 25k km/s, all AMM tubes show successful initial launch, next launch in two seconds” called out the Holland’s warfare officer.

This time Knowles, the captain of the area defence light cruiser, wasn’t fazed by the alert. The last wave of Chig missiles had been destroyed with consummate ease. “Thank you, report when firing complete. Helm maintain our current course and speed”.

Less than three minutes later the warfare officer reported all of the inbound missiles destroyed with a perfect hit ratio.

“Very good” responded Knowles, “please ask Commodore Barnett for permission to come alongside the Britain and China and for them to provide us with a replenishment of Mech AMMs. I don’t want us caught short if these Chigs have more of those monstrous missiles to throw at us”.

11th October 1617
Less than two hours after touching down from his last disastrous sortie Hale was back in the cockpit, once again burning for the Chig fleet with all eight of the carrier group’s fighter squadrons.

The last two hours had been more or less a blur of activity for him. The reprimand he had received from Commodore Stevenson had been swift and blunt; he wasn’t under any false impression that anything less than perfection was going to absolve him of his fighter wing’s actions.

After that he had thrown himself at checking and rechecking the load outs for all of the fighters as well as preparing and delivering a detailed plan for the follow on strike. That had left precious little time for him to have some stern words in turn with the Saipan’s fighter crews before finalising the checks on his own fighter and setting up for launch.

Finally, with the manic turn around behind him, Hale was able to relax slightly whilst double checking his strike plans and target allocations. Hale’s stomach was grumbling and his eyes bleary from lack of sleep but he knew that would have to wait until he was absolutely certain that the follow on strike would run like clockwork. 

11th October 2217
“Sir, missile fire control is reporting a firing solution on the trailing Chig frigate” stated Barnett’s WO in a somewhat expectant tone.

Barnett took a quick look at the tactical plot. Since the fighters initial strike all but one of the damaged Chig vessels had apparently been able to repair all of their engine damage and re-join the main fleet. The one remaining frigate was still limping along at barely 1,000km/s which had allowed Barnett’s task group to gain rapidly. It also meant that the inbound fighters would pass very close to the frigate before reaching their own firing range which wasn’t something Barnett was keen on.

“Very well,  XO, bring us to action stations, I want a full spread launch of 12 ASMs as soon as you” ordered Barnett.

Just over twenty two minutes later a cheer erupted across the bridge of the Belorussia as the WO reported the destruction of the enemy frigate.
“Silence please everyone” scalded Barnett, “we may have just taken first blood but there is still a huge hostile fleet out there and just because they are heading away from us does not mean we are winning”.

12th October 0755
Hale was woken by the shrill buzzing of his alarm. Yawning, he carefully extracted himself from the tiny recess that served as one of the fighter's three bunks. Below him he could hear his WO still snoring loudly. Hale wasn't surprised that the alarm hadn't disturbed him; the rapid turnaround of the fighters had left precious little time for the crew to prep for the next strike, let alone get some food and rest. Hale leaned down to give his crewman a good prod to get him moving before finishing getting dressed himself.

After a quick trip to the head and a couple of energy bars Hale made his way up to what could only loosely be called the bridge. Clambering into his own seat he asked for an update from his No. 2.

"Morning Sir. We're about five minutes out from weapons range and twenty five from our designated launch point. The Chigs are still on course; no change from them except that that last trailing ship looks to have repaired its' engines and caught back up with the main body. The other squadrons have just starting reporting in to confirm at action stations. We are all strapped down here and ready to rock and roll".

"Excellent. Let me know as soon as they've all reported in. I want a full weapons check and targeting confirmation in five and I want a double check from those reprobates off of the Saipan. We need to give these Chigs more than just a bloody nose this time round".

"Aye aye Sir" responded Hale's 2ic.

Twenty five minutes later Hale listened in as the crews across the strike group reported completing their final checks.

"Sir, all fighters report ready to fire; targeting cross checks and safety releases confirmed. Handshake is green across the board, all fire controls have authenticated and accepted slave command; master arm is red".

Leaning forward, Hale flipped open his firing command panel "Fire control master confirmed, firing in three, two, one, mark". Hale hit the launch icon.
Hale's own fighter immediately lurched as the 8 Banshee mk5 missiles streaked away whilst back in the cockpit he scanned the readouts to confirm a successful launch. It only took him a few moments to realise something had gone seriously wrong yet again as the plot showed just 48 salvos had launched.

"What the hell is happening?" he snarled.

It took more than ten seconds of frantic analysis before Hale's WO responded. "Sir, it's the Saipan's fighters again. It looks like the software patch to update their systems from the Banshee 3s to the 5s didn't complete. They are resetting the system now".

"Goddam it, get those missiles in the sky right now" shouted Hale. He knew that a second mucked up strike was unlikely to be accepted by his superiors as reasonable no matter how badly trained some of the crews were.

"Sir, reset complete, missiles firing" called out the WO.

Hale clenched his fists. All he could do now was wait and hope that the staggered launch would still prove to be effective.

12th October 0811
Fortunately for Hale he had less than fifteen minutes to ponder the second potentially disastrous action of his fighter group before the initial wave of missiles struck the Chig task group. It took the passive sensors of his fighter a few seconds to analyse the cacophony of explosions and release of energy that resulted.

“Sir, sensors show 211 hits as well as numerous secondary explosions. We are detecting five new wrecks in the vicinity of the task group; looks like we got their main sensor vessels, a couple of the destroyers and a couple of the frigates. Another frigate appears to have dropped out of formation and has slowed significantly. All destroyed ships appear to have launched life pods”.



Hale grinned, that was better than expected given the uncoordinated fire. It also looked like the Chig’s AMM fire had been even less effective than last time round. That had undoubtedly helped mitigate against the poor actions of his group.  Now with any luck the destruction of the sensor vessel would leave the remaining salvos of missiles a clear flight into their targets.

His smile was however short-lived as his warfare officer reported sixty one banshees in the second wave destroyed by AMM fire and a further twenty three destroyed by point defence fire. The resulting hits left two more of the destroyers streaming atmosphere and dropping back from the main group but that was all.

Hale tersely ordered his fighters back to the carriers.

12th October 0930
Having spent the last hour pouring through the data and his intelligence officers' analytics of the last fighter strike, Commodore Stevenson stood up from his seat, stretching to try and unknot the stiff muscles in his back. Aside from the abysmal performance of the fighter crews from the Saipan, the lack of really significant damage to the Chig task group was causing him real concern. After reloading the fighters from this sortie the carriers would be down to less than 30% reserves; that equated to less than a full reload for the entire fighter group for a fourth and final strike before exhausting their supplies of Banshee missiles.

Stevenson had already decided not to launch the Saipan's fighters for a further sortie. Their inability to coordinate their launches had already cost the fleet a significant portion of its' strike capability and he was in no mood to make the same mistake a third time round. Holding back the Saipan's fighters would however allow the carriers to redistribute enough munitions to enable two further full strikes against the Chigs.

The good news was that his intelligence officers believed that many of the destroyers were already damaged and that they should take fewer additional hits to finally destroy. The bad news was that there was a strong risk of the 12,000 ton hostiles being just as well armoured as the Chigs' sensor vessel. That might mean each of the ten remaining cruisers could need upwards of 128 missiles each to destroy. That was more missiles than an entire strike could deliver in one go even before the impact of their point defence was taken into account. There was therefore a very real possibility that he would exhaust his fighters’ ordinance before fully eliminating the Chig task group.

Depending on how effective the next two strikes were that would leave him with either the option of moving his destroyers into missile range or moving closer to engage them with energy weapons. Given the limited volley size from the destroyers the first option could be exceedingly costly in terms of ordinance whilst the second option risked exposing his ships to significant counter fire should the Chigs' point defence prove to be effective anti-ship weaponry as well. At least he wouldn't need to make that decision for a day or so.

Spying his XO to one side of the bridge, Stevenson made his way over to hand over command. With the formalities completed he then headed for his cabin to prepare a full report on the battle so far and to detail his recommendations for the immediate withdrawal of all partially trained fighter crews from front line duty.

13th October 0542
Hale watched on as the missiles from his fighters’ third strike speed towards their targets. This time the launch had gone exactly to plan which was one small piece of consolation for him. Hale was in no doubt that following the battle he would be looking at disciplinary action for his failure to adequately train his fighter crews; irrespective of the fact that they had been sent to him for operations whilst still completely green.

Following the second less than successful strike against the Chigs Hale had pushed his crews even harder in an effort to try and make up for the recurring mistakes of the Saipan’s fighter crew. Consequently they had been able to turn around and re-launch in less than two hours, close to the record for the Navy. With the 3rd straight mission it was however sapping the energy of the crew and he knew that they would be unable to keep up the current tempo of attacks for much longer. If yet another follow up strike was ordered he would need to give the crew at least a few hours downtime at turnaround if they were to stand any chance of completing the mission without further incident.

A few moments later the missiles struck and Hale was forced from his melancholy as he worked to assess the immediate impact.
“Sir, sensors show 272 hits, they still managed to knock more than 100 of our birds out of the sky. New wrecks detected looks like we got two more of their destroyers and one of their frigates. Two more destroyers and one light cruiser have also dropped out of formation. We’ve picked up a number of large secondary explosions as well”.

“Thank you” replied Hale. “WO, set all weapons to safe and cycle a fire control flush. Nav lay in a course for the carriers and execute as soon as you have confirmations from the rest of the wing; then go and get yourselves some rest, you’re going to need it”.

Back on board the TFS Belorussia, Barnett also noted the growing numbers of wrecks and life pods that were being left behind by the still retreating Chig fleet.

“Xo, I think it’s time we did something about those life pods. Please inform Commodore Stevenson that I will be dispatching the China and the Congo to begin rescue operations immediately. With any luck we will find some more talkative crew and might get to the bottom of what they are trying to achieve”.

13th October 0630
On board the TFS Congo, Sergeant Tallow stood in the main cargo hold airlock double checking his kit and that of his nominated buddy. Around him the other 18 members of the ship’s security detachment were similarly teamed up and were rechecking their personal body armour and environmental systems.  In the background he could hear the radio chatter of the rest of the crew as they worked to finish loading the first of the Chig’s life pods into the cargo hold.

Seeing that everyone had completed their checks Tallow unslung his carbine before trigging his unit comms. “Listen in everyone. In a few minutes we will be taking custody of the first Chig survivors. We are going to be the first humans to make direct contact with these aliens and how they will react to us is completely unknown. We are therefore going to do this strictly by the numbers. Our first and foremost duty is the protection of this vessel and the crew on-board her. However, I need not remind you that, until we are told otherwise, these aliens will be our prisoners of war and shall be afforded all of the rights and protections of the 2031 London treaty. You will not fire unless you, one of your fellows or this ship is directly threatened, any questions?”

With no response from his team Tallow turned to face them, bringing his carbine up to the shoulder as he did so. “Port Arms!” he bellowed. Down the line all of his men brought their own carbines to the shoulder. “Make Ready!” In unison the men pulled magazines of 200 2mm case less flechette rounds, the standard ammunition for ship board personal weapons, snapping them into position and swiftly cocking their carbines. With their carbines loaded, the squad stood ready and waiting for the command to go.

After what seemed like an age Tallow’s command net finally sparked to life with the XO confirming completion of loading and pressure equalisation in the hold. Ahead of them the temporary air lock and decontamination chamber cycled to green. Tallow motioned his men forward into the hold, carbines at the ready.

In front of them the Chig life pod sat at the edge of the cargo bay door, a squat octagon some five metres in diameter and about two metres high. One side the pod was partially melted whilst other sections of the matt hull were charred, clear evidence of the violent destruction through which it had come. Aside from the single airlock on one side there was no other evidence of any other ports or means of entry to the pod.
Around the cargo hold the men fanned out, taking up fire positions to cover the pod's one apparent hatch.

"Jones, Taylor, Anderson, you know the drill, move in" ordered Tallow across the unit's comms link.

The three men in question quickly slung their carbines, swapping them for sets of cutting tools and field probes, before moving up to the hull of the pod. Moments later the cargo hold was bathed in near blinding light as the attached cutters seared several holes through which the probes could be placed.
Tallow watched on through the dimmed visor of his personal armour, fighting the urge to attempt to wipe the beads of sweat that had broken out across his brow. The cutters were taking a lot longer than expected to breach the pod's hull, leaving them all straining to maintain their firing stances.
Eventually however the cutters stopped and the three men were able to insert a number of probes before hooking them up to scanners.

"Sergeant, we've breached the hull. Sensors are showing an oxygen rich atmosphere with high moisture content and multiple trace elements. Temperature is at about 45 degrees C in there and its pretty humid as well, looks like a sauna. We are picking up at least thirty life signs as well” reported Jones.

“Ok, get those readings up to environmental; let’s hope they won’t take too long matching the atmosphere for this place as it’s going to get mighty sweaty in here pretty soon. In the meantime let’s pull in some of the heavy duty cutters, I don’t fancy waiting a couple of hours to get through that main hatch of theirs” responded Tallow.

Fifteen minutes later the team were back at the hatch with their cutting tools. Around the cargo hold many of the surfaces were now covered in condensation as the room continued to warm to the new air temperature. It took another ten minutes of hard work before the hatch finally relented to the cutters and dropped to the floor. A thin mist spilled from the doorway as the two atmospheres began to equalise.

The men around the hatch immediately sprang away whilst others moved forwards with their carbines raised, trying to make out any detail in the gloom of the pod’s innards. Across the pa system in the cargo hold came the unmistakable sound of the Chig’s language, a shrill mix of chirps, clicks and whistles, as the bridge crew announced their capture and orders to leave the pod, promising no harm would come to them.

After the message had repeated for the third time with no apparent response from the Chig’s Tallow got a ping from the XO. “Sergeant, you’re going to have to go in there and pull them out. Remember, you are outnumbered so any sign of trouble pull your men back and leave us to flush the atmosphere”.

“Roger that, moving now” responded Tallow before signalling for several more of his men to follow him in.

Peering into the still hazy interior of the pod Tallow could see that the ceiling high was little more than 1.8 meters high, meaning he would need to stoop inside. A deep red light with a far greater infra-red output then the ship’s own lights illuminated a short one and a half meter long corridor that ended in another hatch. The walls inside appeared to be made of a similar substance to the hull although swirls and undulations in the texture gave it an almost organic look. Tallow stepped inside.

At the inner hatch Tallow could see two simple catches that looked to be opening mechanisms. The hatch itself was just a metre and a half high. Having tried just one catch it looked like he would need to operate both at the same time. Slinging his carbine, Tallow knelt before the hatch and grabbed both catches to operate them whilst behind him two of his men crammed into the passage to take up firing stances over his head.

A short chirp signalled the activation of the hatch which quickly retracted into the walls revealing a single internal octagonal room less than three metres in diameter. The room was bathed in the same deep red light whilst a sheen of water on some of the walls showed just how hot and humid the atmosphere was. Aside from a single metre high dark octagonal pedestal that was sat at the centre of the room, the only feature of the room were yet more octagonal hatches about 80 centimetres in diameter interspersed around the whole of the outer wall.

Keeping his eyes and his carbine trained on the room, Tallow activated his comm "Talk to me Evans, where the hell are they all?".

"Sarge, the sensors are going off the scale here. I don't know how they've done it but it looks like most of this interior is some sort of semi organic compound. I'm getting more readings from the wall but the sensors are struggling to work out where the pod finishes and where the crew begin".
"Alright team" responded Tallow, "looks like we are going to have to do this the old fashioned way and actually use our eyes. Squad one will advance in pairs with me and cover off all these hatches. We pop these things one at a time. Move up".

Confident that his men were covering him, Tallow stalked forward, quickly covering the distance to the nearest of the octagonal hatches. With one final check of his men's positions Tallow reached out to activate what looked to him to be the locking mechanism.

Almost immediately the hatch panel took on a translucent quality as the space behind was illuminated in the same deep red glow of the main compartment. Tallow had just a few moments to register an apparent dark shape at the centre of the space before the hatch flipped open disgorging a torrent of think greenish yellow liquid and the writhing form of a Chig.

For a few precious moments Tallow was shocked into inactivity before his well-honed training kicked back in. Registering movement from some of his men, Tallow immediately barked orders for them to hold fire whilst in front of them, the Chig slowly clambered upright.

With the thick viscous liquid clinging to much of its’ yellowish mottled body, the Chig rose up on four long multi-segmented legs which supported an entirely insect-like body of three chitin covered and ridged segments. Four more limbs sprouted from its’ upright thorax, two from the front and two from its’ shoulders. The front limbs were heavily jointed and ended in dextrous looking four fingered hands. The shoulder limbs in contrast were longer and just double jointed, ending in two fingers with short claws. Eight ink black lidless eyes looked out on Tallow from the Chig’s small broad bony head whilst its’ series of mandibles worked furiously, emitting a staccato of clicks and buzzing noises. 

At full height the Chig stood little more than five feet high, it wore no clothes or adornments to speak off, just a small back pack on the upright portion of its’ body along with what looked to be some sort of comms unit on one arm. A final ridge of what appeared to metallic material appeared to be fused directly to the Chig’s body in a ring about its’ shoulders.

“What the hell is this thing saying?” asked Tallow.

Moments later the voice of the XO came on across the command net. “Sergeant, the Chig seems to be given you a set of designations which as far as we can tell are the same as our name rank and number. We think it’s actually looking for orders. Hold still we are going to try something”.

A buzz of similar sounding clicks and buzzes played out from Tallows own external speaker and almost immediately the Chig stopped its’ own speaking.

“Ok that worked” stated the XO. “We think the Chigs have very much a hive like structure similar to insects back on Earth. It looks like we have captured a number of worker type specimens that we presume have little self-initiative. We will know more once we get them back to a facility for proper examination. In the meantime we are going to order this one to release the rest of the crew and have them move to the temporary holding cells. See if you can some samples of that goo and look for any food stuffs or liquids, we need to work out how to keep this lot fed”.

“Right you are sir, we will maintain a watch on them until they are safely away and finish our sweep as soon as the area is fully secured” responded Tallow with a tone that clearly let the XO know he was less than convinced.

13th October 0825
“Sir, message from the Congo, they’ve managed to rescue 250 Chigs from the lifepods. They are also reporting that all of the Chigs rescued are entirely passive and that they have been able to strip several databases from the pods” reported Barnett’s comms officer.

“Excellent news, have them continue with the rescue operations and forward those databases for analysis by the int boys” replied Barnett.

13th October 0931
“Sir, enemy task group has reduced speed to 3000 km/s, maintaining same course and formation. No further detonations or secondary explosions detected” reported Stevenson’s sensor operator.

“Order the task group to reduce speed to match. We are close enough for a further fighter strike. I want our destroyer escort to take the opportunity to move forward to Barnett’s own task group as well. I suspect he will need all the missile tubes available if we are going to have to slug it out in ship to ship combat” replied Stevenson.

Looking down at his plot Stevenson could see that several of the damaged Chig vessel had managed to make engine repairs and were now moving at just over 3000 km/s. It looked to him that the main fleet was slowing down to allow them to re-join. A sensible move given their substantial point defence, unfortunately it wouldn’t make his job any easier.

13th October 1311
The TFS Congo reports the successful rescue of a further 400 prisoners of war along with several more database caches. Meanwhile Barnett composes a short message to Colonel Foster back on GJ 1065, asking her to begin preparations for a prisoner of war camp to house in excess of 2,000 Chigs.

13th October 1351
After yet another punishing turn around Hale’s fighters launch for their fourth and final strike on the Chigs. Not only are the flight crew exhausted but the deck crew are starting to raise concerns over the strains the tempo of operations is putting on the airframes themselves.

Hale is less then interested though. After finally getting a smooth strike on the last operation he is now heavily focused on getting the next one correct as well in an effort to try and erase his less than exemplary track record. Fortunately for him the rapidly dwindling ordnance situation has made it an easy decision to launch again with just the six squadrons of fighters rather than the task group’s full complement of eight. Hale is now counting on the far more experienced crews to ensure the next strike is also a success.

13th October 2338
China and Congo complete their rescue operations. Both now have their holds crammed full of Chig survivors and although they remain entirely passive they are putting a significant stress on the ship’s environmental systems even before the extra stress of the changed environment is considered.

Barnett requests that the two vessels be allowed to return to GJ 1065 to drop off the survivors but his request is overturned by Stevenson who has now wish to reduce his fighting power at this stage of the engagement.

14th October 0122
Hale was once again back in the cockpit of his fighter listening in as his crew went through the run in checks, fire control assignments and weapons release confirmations. Whilst the reduced distance had allowed for a shorter burn the crew had also had less opportunity to get some rest and Hale could sense they were being pushed to the limited. He knew however he just needed a few more hours of performance from them and then they could get the rest they deserved.

Looking down at the plot he could see that their task was still a significant one. Since their last strike all but one of the ships has been able to repair its engines and re-join the main task group meaning their point defence would still pose a major obstacle. Clearly the Chigs had very advanced damage control capabilities in vessels given the pounding they had received from three successive strikes.

After a few more moments Hale got the green light from his weapons officer confirming that the squadrons were ready to fire. Half holding his breath, Hale hit the launch order.

It’s a few moments later before Hale finally breathes out having seen a green board for all 384 missiles. Yet again however the missiles start dropping as the Chigs’ AMMs engage. Not only do they have fantastic damage control but they have deep bunkers though Hale ruefully.

Another 83 missiles are shot down by AMM fire and a further 20 by point defence before the rest slam into the remaining ships. Unbelievably however, when the scanner clears Hale can see that they have only managed to destroy another of the destroyers and one of the cruisers. Whilst three more of the cruisers appear to have taken damage and have dropped out of formation the remainder continue on course.

Exasperated Hale orders his fighters to return to the carriers. With their ordnance now depleted they will take no more of a role in the remainder of the battle.

Back on the TFS Long Island Stevenson decides that he can’t afford to allow the remaining ships to escape and repair. He therefore orders Barnett to close the distance with his destroyer group and engage the hostiles with ship to ship missiles.

16th October 1907
After more than two days of hard pursuit Barnett’s task group closes to ASM engagement range. Barnett immediately orders the launch of an initial strike from all six of his destroyers to test the remaining defences of the Chigs.

Less than three minutes later five salvoes of 72 missiles each streak away from the task group towards the Chigs. With the number of damaged vessels in the target group Barnett has spread the fire in the hope of causing several more ships to drop out of formation and allow and easier follow up kill.
Unfortunately Barnett can do nothing but look on as all but three of the first salvo are destroyed by a mixture of AMMs and point defensive fire whilst none of the second wave make it through the still prodigious defensive systems.

Finally, the third volley scores 21 hits, forcing two of the already badly damaged cruisers to drop out of formation.

Of the 26 missiles that hit from the fourth volley one causes a critical failure with a strength 16 power explosion ripping through one of the already lagging cruisers, leaving it little more than a drifting wreck.

23 missiles from the final volley make it through the Chigs’ defences heavily impacting one of the cruisers and tearing apart the two remaining destroyers in a series of massive secondary explosions.

With six cruisers and four frigates still active Barnett decides to expend most of his remaining ordnance with a follow up wave of four volleys. Given the significantly reduced number of missiles intercepted in the last wave he hopes that the Chigs’ store of AMMs has finally run dry. He is also hoping that the loss of the last two destroyers will have curtailed their still effective point defence systems.

16th October 2002
Fortunately for Barnett his hunch proves right. The next four salvoes smash into the Chig fleet with only point defence reducing their numbers.
The trailing cruiser is destroyed along with two more in the main body whilst another two drop out of formation.

Barnett can’t quite believe the punishment the Chig vessels have taken. His missile destroyer group is down to less than 15% of its’ ordnance and he is worried he simply does not have the munitions left to finish the job, let along defend against any counter attacks into the system
Barnett decides to conserve his remaining missiles and orders Captain Booth of the TFS Burma to lead an energy weapon engagement. Only three of his more modern destroyers are actually laser armed and he therefore decides to send forward two of his area defence destroyers as well.

17th October 0004
After a tense couple of hours in which Booth has held the crews at high alert, his task group closes to within 100k km of the first trailing Chig cruiser. The task group does not however encounter any missile fire which seems to confirm that the Chigs have exhausted their stock of missiles.

The triple 15cm Ultraviolet lasers of the three Type 312 destroyers make quick work of the first cruiser, systematically pounding it into wreckage.
Booth leaves Barnett’s task group to conduct rescue operations and immediately heads for the next trailing cruiser.

17th October 0137
“Vampire Vampire; we have forty nine missiles inbound” shouted the Burma’s warfare officer as the detachment closed to within 250kkm of another of the trailing cruisers.

Booth instinctively grasped the rests of his acceleration couch as the ship’s AI took control of the helm, immediately throwing it into a series of violent evasive manoeuvres.

Moments later the Burma shook even more violently and Booth knew they had been hit.

“Warfare, I want a full spread ASM launch now. XO, report” called out Booth as he continued to grit his teeth against the ongoing violent manoeuvres.

“Sir, we’ve taken five hits. Light damage only to our armour belt. It looks like that cruiser was one of their main missile combatants. It must have been holding fire until we were too close to react. Looks like our AMMs got 33 of the missiles though and point defence the other 4. We also knocked out six of those heavy missiles. Thankfully their last one missed”.

Ten seconds later the warfare office reported the complete destruction of the Chig cruiser as 36 Harpy 5 missiles slammed into its’ already damaged hull.
“Ok, set an intercept course for the remaining Chig vessels. We will fire a full salvo at the last cruiser as soon as we get within 20mkm then follow up with a further energy engagement to finish them off”.

17th October 0520
“Sir, sensors are showing 22 hits on the cruiser, looks like they still managed to destroy 14 of our missiles with point defence. Spectrographic analysis indicates that it has suffered hull breaches and it also appears to have dropped out of formation with the frigates. Tactical thinks that the ship is likely still largely operational and capable of an ASM launch” reported Booth’s warfare officer.

Booth clenched his right fist, the only sign of the frustration he was feeling. His destroyers had just 18 more missiles left between them and whilst his two area defence destroyers still had good stocks of AMMs, they were the precious Mech missiles.

“Let’s give them one last salvo. We will re-evaluate once we see the results from that hit. Fire when ready please” replied Booth.
Less than fifteen minutes later Booth got his answer as 13 missiles were shot out of the sky, leaving just five to impact the cruiser and of those just two causing internal damage.

Booth pinched the top of his nose, trying to relieve some of the built up pressure that was causing his head to throb. “Signal Commodore Barnett, inform him that we have expended all of our ASMs and that we shall wait to re-join his task group before commencing a further energy weapon engagement”.

17th October 1637
With his task group reconstituted and closing rapidly with the damaged cruiser that had now been abandoned by its’ frigate escort; Barnett decides to expend the last of his last ASMs in an effort to avoid another point blank missile launch.

Incredibly the last of the Chig cruisers manages to shoot down 6 missiles and survive another twenty five before finally between torn apart by a series of large secondary explosions.

With the destruction of the cruiser the four remaining hostile ships of 4,000 tons each quickly accelerated up to 5,500km/s and started to open up the distance from the destroyers.

17th October 1642
Having spent several minutes examining the plot and checking his task group’s status Stevenson reluctantly orders Barnett to break off the chase and re-join the main body of the task group. Whilst his task group had been able to comprehensively destroy the Chig invasion force they were now more than four billion kilometres from the nearest friendly jump gate without offensive ordnance and with ships straining to cope with the influx of prisoners of war.

In short he was in no position to deal with any possible counter attack or other reasonably large Chig task group and might similarly expose his own vessels to a protracted chase and attrition as they ran back to the safety of GJ 1065.

Since commencing the engagement his task group had managed to expended 411 Harpy Mk4s, 414 Harpy Mk 5s, 128 Banshee 3s and 1304 Banshee 5s as well as several hundred Mech AMMs. An inordinate amount given the lack of really effective AMM fire the Chigs put out. If this last engagement was anything to go by then Stevenson thought that Federation would need a significantly enlarged military industry to support the war.

In the meantime he could do little but pull back and await the arrival of Carrier Group Alpha to relieve his fleet and battle weary men.
 

Offline PaxMondo

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #43 on: August 17, 2014, 07:53:50 AM »
looking forward to the next installment ...
 

Offline chrislocke2000

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Re: Worlds Collide
« Reply #44 on: August 22, 2014, 06:50:11 PM »
October, Elsewhere In the Federation

GJ 1065
Thornton stood in the main landing field control centre, watching on as the last of his Division of heavy assault troops disembarked from their transports. It was the first time in a long time that he hadn’t actually had to oversee a combat drop, leaving the pace of the exercise feeling painfully slow, especially when he thought of the many tasks ahead of them.

For starters the troops would need to help modify some of the planet’s significant infrastructure facilities in order to house the recently captured Chig POWs. Those POWs would in turn need to be guarded whilst the rest of the planet’s defences were reinforced. All the while he would also need to find time for him men to both train and prepare for work up exercises when the assault infantry units currently being trained both on Luyten and back on Earth arrived in a four or five months’ time.

Thornton was also particularly unhappy about the broad spread of men between the young colony of Unionists and the massive archaeological dig half way round the planet. That was something that would need to be addressed in time, but judging by the rather terse conversation he had had with Colonel Foster on the subject, it wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

On the plus side the Engineers had done a fantastic job of getting the barracks assembled and in good working order which meant he should be able to get his men settled then back to work quicker than he originally expected. He was also sure that the availability of hot showers and decent fresh meals would go a long way to help improve the morale of his men who were never in the best of spirits when cooped up on Federation’s aging and now painfully slow transports.

Luyten 1305-10
With the panic of the Chig’s attempted invasion now several weeks past and her carrier groups reorganised to provide relief in EG 453, Rear Admiral Miller had finally found the time to review the combat data from the engagement in more detail.

Following the poor performance of the Saipan's fighter crews in the last engagement Miller had ordered a hasty root and branch review of the state of training within the rest of the fighter wings under her command. It hadn't taken long for her ops team to complete the review and the results made grim reading indeed.

As well as the Saipan, the fighter wings of Belleau Wood, Cabot, Cowpens, Monterey and Princetown were all crewed by pilots who were unpractised in fleet manoeuvres and co-ordination. That meant that of the twelve carriers with fighters on board a full half of them were unlikely to be able to participate in significant fleet actions without an intensive period of training. That drastically cut down her options on the deployment of her forces, especially in the face of the Chigs where it was clear that only overwhelming waves of missiles were sufficient to penetrate their defences.

With the current deployments between Luyten and Delta Trianguli Miller was therefore faced with the need to pull a large number of her forces off active duty and back onto the training roster just when she needed them most. It also meant that she would have to send Carrier group Delta pretty much straight back out to EG 453 as soon as they had had the chance to resupply and re-arm. She knew Stevenson wasn't going to be particularly happy about the turnaround and the fact that he would have no chance to give his ships an overhaul before returning to deep space.

About the only positive that Miller could see at the moment was that the first six orbital weapons platforms were due for completion early next month and with any luck they would be in position around Delta Trianguli before the end of the year. That would enable her to free up one of her carrier groups and help manage the sudden training demands.

Her first jump capable pure scout vessel was also due for completion soon which would provide some better placed eyes and ears in EG 453 for the rest of the fleet. The corvette sized vessel was small, incredibly fast and equipped with high sensitive passive sensors.

Code: [Select]
Type 161 (J) class Corvette    3,000 tons     290 Crew     893 BP      TCS 60  TH 500  EM 0
8333 km/s    JR 1-50     Armour 2-18     Shields 0-0     Sensors 70/70/0/0     Damage Control Rating 3     PPV 0
Maint Life 6.4 Years     MSP 558    AFR 24%    IFR 0.3%    1YR 23    5YR 352    Max Repair 360 MSP

J3200(1-50) Military Jump Drive     Max Ship Size 3200 tons    Distance 50k km     Squadron Size 1
MCF Drive E5 (4)    Power 125    Fuel Use 50%    Signature 125    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 155,000 Litres    Range 186.0 billion km   (258 days at full power)

Active Search Sensor MR201-R16 (1)     GPS 5760     Range 201.6m km    Resolution 16
Thermal Sensor TH5-70 (1)     Sensitivity 70     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  70m km
EM Detection Sensor EM5-70 (1)     Sensitivity 70     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  70m km

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

Miller reached for her data pad, she had a lot of orders to prepare and a likely upset Commodore to try and placate.

Sol
Commodore Shaw watched on as the first batch of the latest Type 313 destroyers - the Kuwait, Laos, Lapland, Latvia and Lebanon were launched from Navy yard 5. Equipped with the latest 20cm UV lasers, improved resolution fire controls and a magazine of 138 Harpy missiles they were a significant addition to the fleet.

Code: [Select]
Type 313 class Destroyer    9,000 tons     1033 Crew     1982.2 BP      TCS 180  TH 1125  EM 0
6250 km/s     Armour 5-38     Shields 0-0     Sensors 16/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 4     PPV 60
Maint Life 3.29 Years     MSP 551    AFR 162%    IFR 2.2%    1YR 77    5YR 1157    Max Repair 240 MSP
Magazine 552   

MCF Drive E5 (9)    Power 125    Fuel Use 50%    Signature 125    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 250,000 Litres    Range 100.0 billion km   (185 days at full power)

20cm C5 Ultraviolet Laser (2)    Range 320,000km     TS: 6250 km/s     Power 10-5     RM 4    ROF 10        10 10 10 10 8 6 5 5 4 4
Fire Control S08 160-10000 (1)    Max Range: 320,000 km   TS: 10000 km/s     97 94 91 88 84 81 78 75 72 69
MCF Reactor 10-1 (1)     Total Power Output 10    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Size 4 ML RoF 20 (12)    Missile Size 4    Rate of Fire 20
Missile Fire Control FC106-R50 (2)     Range 106.9m km    Resolution 50
Harpy 5 (138)  Speed: 50,000 km/s   End: 28.2m    Range: 84.6m km   WH: 6    Size: 4    TH: 233 / 140 / 70

Thermal Sensor TH2-16 (1)     Sensitivity 16     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  16m km

ECM 10

Missile to hit chances are vs targets moving at 3000 km/s, 5000 km/s and 10,000 km/s

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

The Navy had already ordered another five to be laid down immediately and Shaw was back up in Mars orbit to make sure that the slips could be turned around as quickly as possible. Shaw did however have his reservations on the continued build out of the current destroyer design. Whilst clearly exceedingly capable in their primary role of close support and the medium range engagement of larger numbers of small ships, their rapid but low weight of fire had proven to be a significant disadvantage in the latest engagement with the Chigs.

Shaw had already suggested the replacement of the existing launch system with a series of VLS cells however concerns by the senior brass over an inability to reload away from dock facilities, not to mention the 30% reduction in total ordnance carried had stopped that suggestion in its tracks. Never mind the fact that the Navy still had no dedicated colliers to actually perform such a task.

Still sore from the bruising he had received at the hands of the politicians, Shaw was in no mood to try and push his case and hence had decided not to push the matter at the stage.

November

Sol – London
A deep resonating chime from the room's ancient grandfather clock told Shots that he had been waiting for less than fifteen minutes in the ante room for the Minister of defence. Resigned to a wait of at least another half an hour or so Shots started to mentally run through how he was going to try and manage the upcoming meeting. Since the action in EG 453 just a few weeks ago his command had been working relentlessly on trying to identify the Navy's next best course of action whilst also trying to make sense of the reams of data obtained both during and after the engagement. Consequently, he now had to try and deliver a summary of the output of several thousand man hours of work to the minister in a little under a couple of hours.

Fortunately for Shots, he had continued to build a strong working relationship with the Minister and had grown more comfortable with his often probing, complex questions. Unfortunately his companion, Professor Patrick Cairn from the Edinburgh institute of applied Trans-Newtonian physics was not. From the corner of his eye Shots could see him frantically flipping through a large actual physical notepad whilst his already ruddy complexion was starting to take on a worryingly dark shade of purple.

Before Shots was able to try and calm the man's nerves the double doors to the Minister's office swung open to reveal his personal aide. "Gentlemen, the Minister will see you now. If you would be so kind as to come this way" he boomed.

A few moments later and the two of them were sinking into the deep leather bound armchairs arrayed in front of the Ministers' perpetually over stacked and chaotically arranged desk. Judging by how little time they had been kept waiting, Shots knew that the minister was keenly interested to hear first-hand about the actions of the fleet, their findings to date and what he thought it may mean for the Navy in the long run.
"Admiral Shots, so good of you to come and see me and a pleasure to meet with you as well Professor Cairn, I found your papers on gravimetric entanglement to be some of the best I've read" beamed the Minister.

Shots smiled back, he knew just how quickly the man could change and just how vicious his tongue was. Thinking back a year to when some poor fool in the civil service had dared to suggest that the Minister had reached retirement age was enough to send shivers down his spine even now.
Stepping in-front of the Minister's ancient desk Shots pulled a small silver device from his pocket and flicked the single switch before setting it down.
"My apologies Minister, the information we are about to discuss remains highly classified and I am therefore required to take every precaution to ensure that our conversation today is neither recorded nor overheard by anyone else".

"No need to apologise Admiral, I quite understand the sensitivity of the matter at hand".

"Thank you for being understanding. We will just need to give the device a few minutes to sweep the room to ensure there is nothing untoward and to build up the scrambling field".

"Well in that case why we don't you take the opportunity to pour us all some fresh tea, my valet seems to have disappeared just when I need him yet again".

Shots smiled to himself, he may well be the Admiral of the fleet, the most powerful fighting force in the history of humanity and the known galaxy but when it came to dealing with the minister it was wise just to do as asked.

A few minutes later, and with the two visitors clinging to what looked to be frighteningly fragile cups, the device emitted a small beep before displaying a series of three green lights. Seeing that the room was secure and no bugs had been found Shots started the briefing.

"As you are aware minister, we recovered a significant amount of information from the Chig life pods as well as learning more about them albeit that has been indirect only. To date none of the prisoners of war have responded to any of our interrogation techniques and our intelligence team are now doubtful that we will ever extract any useful information directly from them".

"Yes yes, I’m quite aware of all that thank you" interrupted the minister.

"What I really want to understand from you is this basis for upgrading the assessed threat to critical after your fleet managed to smash apart a far larger hostile fleet with virtually no damage to itself; and don't give me any of that mumbo jumbo claptrap about their significant defensive capabilities and the strain on our ordnance production".

"Of course sir" replied Shots "I just wanted to clarify some of the limitations in our current data gathering efforts before presenting you with our assessment as I'm sure you will have plenty of questions on the matter".

The minister looked back at the Admiral from over the top of his ancient spectacles and bone china tea cup, with a thoughtful expression. "Quite correct Admiral, please continue".

"To put it bluntly sir we now think we got hit by some of the Chigs older, less capable fighting vessels. We think they were probably just probing our defences and we could well face a far more sustained and significant attack in the near future".

"Ok Admiral, you have my attention, now just how did you get to this conclusion"?

"To be frank sir, we uncovered a number of critical pieces of information that have so far not made it into any of the official parliamentary reports".

The minister arched a single eyebrow. "Go on".

"At this stage we thought it potentially too sensitive to release to Parliament as a whole due to the risk of inappropriate use for some political manoeuvring or leakage to the press which could well cause significant unrest.

Firstly, the large commercial freighter designs we had reportedly uncovered were in fact for a heavily armoured troop transport. The vessel itself is substantially ahead of any of our own transports.  At close to 37,000 tons it's capable of transporting a full nine battalions and has a cruising speed that's close to double our own ships. It's capable of those speeds as it's equipped with Magnetic Confinement Fusion drive engines, the same as our own most recent vessels. Whilst it is unarmed it has very heavy armour which could likely absorb a significant attack, indicating to us that they may well expect to deliver troops in an active theatre. It also indicates to us that the Chig are more than capable of planet side military operations as well as space borne. We must therefore assume that there is a threat of a ground invasion as well as orbital bombardment of our population centres and ground installations.

Given the significant performance gap between our own limited troop lift capacity and the Chigs I've already instructed Commodore Shaw's design group to look at designing a comparative troop transport and associated jump capable ship that will allow us far better force projection and reaction time in the future".

Shots reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a couple of pieces of paper which he handed to the Minister. "We've summarised the full stats for you here. Apologies again for not having this in a briefing pack for you but the Int boys were insistent I should not be taking any of this information out of the intelligence centre in electronic format".



"Now, turning to second design you can see minister that this vessel is a collier as already more widely reported. What wasn't mentioned were some of the components of that vessel. First and foremost it appears to be supporting a number of shield generators and at this point I will hand over to professor Cairn to explain further".



The professor, seeming somewhat startled by the mention of his name took a few moments to shuffle his papers before beginning. "Yes of course. Well members of my team have long theorised that it would be possible to project a gravimetric bubble around a ship that was not only capable of deflecting kinetic impacts but also redirecting almost all forms of directed energy as well. To date however the scientific community has paid little attention to the theory as all of our initial calculations have shown the need for massive generators in order to generate even a basic field. Current day armour tech has been far more effective and less costly to consider the need to take this area forward.

These blueprints turn our accepted wisdom on its head. Whilst we have absolutely no idea on how they have achieved it the Chigs appear to have succeeded in designing a generator some five times more efficient in terms of power to weight ratio as well as being substantially faster to both charge and recharge. What they have achieved is really quite astounding”.

"Thank you professor" interrupted Shots. "If our calculations are correct, this ship's couple of shield generators would be capable of deflecting three or maybe four of our ASMs and would be recharged within five minutes or so. Whilst that is not a huge number we must remember that this is purely a logistics vessel and hence other combat vessels may carry substantially higher numbers of generators. Ships equipped in such away could easily replenish their shields between our typical fighter strikes, hence eliminating our ability to wear down hostile vessels through successive strikes.

Probably more worrying though are the engines that the Chigs have mounted on this ship. Whilst they are no more advanced than our own they have, unlike our own designs, continued to boost the engine output at the costs of efficiency. This ship is therefore some 500 km/s faster than our own fleet standard. If this is the case across the Chig fleet, and we see no reason why it would not be, then we may well loose our ability to dictate the range at which we choose to engage these more modern vessels.

I've discussed the option of retrofitting our own ships with power boosted engines but the task is a daunting one to say the least. Not to mention the logistical problems of trying to recall the whole of the Luyten fleet to affect such an upgrade. We are looking at revising successive versions of our current ships but that will also be a long way down the road. We must therefore plan on the basis that we will lose our speed advantage at some point in the future".

Shots paused to take a sip of tea and to give some time for the information to sink in. As expected it didn't take the minister long to grasp the implications of their findings.

"So in essence, not only would we lose the ability to simply give ground in a defensive operation, the Chigs could well utilise our own tactics against us in any offensive operation as well.  Hmmn, in fact any engagements in smaller systems or where we don't detect them well in advance would leave us having to fight toe to toe, whilst if we are deep into enemy territory we are unlikely to be able to simply retreat to safety. In fact, the more I think about it the more I believe we are going to have to look at the need to refit our offensive vessels with faster engines".

"Understood minister, unfortunately the bad news does not stop there either" responded Shots.

"A chunk of the data also revealed schematics for a high yield warhead some 25% more efficient than the best we can currently manufacture. The good news is that we have been able to reverse engineer the schematics and design our own version. The good professor here has been through the information and believes that it would have taken us well over a year of dedicated research by the majority of our campuses to work it out for ourselves. The bad news is that the Chigs have obviously had this tech for a while and will have likely already been manufacturing missiles to make best use of this advance".

Shots once again turned to the professor, "would you be so kind as to explain our current challenges with this information"?

"Yes of course Admiral. I'm told that simply releasing this new found technology is out of the question. Our citizens believe and trust in our technical superiority and military might and much of the peace that the Federation has seen has been predicated on its' ability to protect its people. Revealing this technology would very likely cause a great many of our people to doubt that trust and could lead to significant social and economic disruption. Thus far from helping the war effort this may well damage it.

Of course it would be madness for us not to make use of the technology and hence we have begun a programme of slowly introducing elements of the findings into the work of one of our more junior researchers in this field. If all goes to plan the young lady in question is going to make a miraculous breakthrough in her studies within the next month that will rapidly advance our missile construction capabilities. We will of course have to provide her with some sort of award and recognition but we think the price is worth the return".

"Thank you professor, I would agree that that makes for a pragmatic approach to the problem and we can of course always give her early retirement if the fame goes to her head. In the meantime I assume you are not wasting any time in actually designing the new marks of missiles to make use of this leap" enquired the Minister.

“I believe that Commodore Shaw is giving the designs the final once over as we speak” replied Shots. "We have already set out the designs for a new series of ASM, AMM, AFM and fighter based ASM. Between the new warheads and engine technology we are going to be able to produce substantially better performing missiles and are going to be able to reduce the number of role specific missiles we build - that will really help with the logistics in the long run".

"Well I must admit I think I would look at that finding as a glass half full issue. Whilst the Chigs clearly do have superior technology in some areas this last engagement has allowed us to narrow the gap with little additional effort on our part. We now better understand their capabilities and are well positioned to adapt. Now is there anything else I should be aware of"?

"Unfortunately sir there is one more finding that we need to discuss" sighed Shots. "Along with the details of the missile construction data we found developed theories on how one might be able to cloak a ship in a form of distortion field that could make detection significantly harder for our Trans- Newtonian sensors to pick up. I won't admit to even beginning to understand the physics behind it but it looks to us that the Chigs have evolved this far enough to make a workable solution just a few steps away. We of course have no idea as to whether the Chigs have actually developed such a field generator or the eventual effectiveness of such a piece of equipment but given our current findings on their engine technologies I find this piece of information particularly worrisome. If they are building ships that can largely evade our fleet sensors we could well lose any current tactical advantage we may have and could well be reduced to just hopping from one jump gate engagement to another".

The Minister paused for a few moments, clearly thinking through the conversation "Hmmn, I can see how concerning that would be and at present I can only see one practical next step given the current disposition and requirements of the Navy. Against my otherwise better judgement we are going to have to let the salvagers back into EG453 to see if they can uncover any further information on the Chigs and their technology. We need to be sure of what we are dealing with before we make any significant counter attacks into their territory".

"That was our conclusion as well sir. I have issued orders for Admiral Miller to keep a carrier group on point in EG453 as soon as she has worked through the logistics of reorganising her carrier groups and ensured they are rearmed. I’ve also released several more scout craft to help ensure nothing slips past into GJ 1065. The group will retain an active sensor sweep on the Anderseriks jumps gate and engage any further hostiles that enter the system. In the meantime we will dispatch the two salvage groups operating in the Luyten cluster with orders to recover the considerable number of wrecks in the system. The salvagers will start with the wrecks closest to the hostile gate in order to make best use of any delayed reaction time from the Chigs to the loss of their last fleet. We will at the same time maintain strict operational security by moving the jump vessels away from the jump point so we can make sure there is no inappropriate communication of findings.

It's no doubt going to be a risky operation and I would hate to think what would happen if the two salvage groups got caught so deep into the system but I agree, we can't lose the opportunity to further close the gap between ourselves and the Chigs".

"I quite agree Admiral, just please don't make it in any way easy for those Salvagers to get the rights to the system. I want as many blocks as we feel comfortable putting in their way. If they even get the whiff that we actually want them doing this they are going to suck the treasury dry on fees, not to mention thinking about why we would accept such horrible rates".

"Don't worry Sir, I promise you we will give those leeches a run for their money".

Sol – Mars Shipyards
Shaw was yet again back in Mars orbit having caught a lift on one of the freighters dedicated to running the necessary minerals and equipment from Earth to keep the shipyards running. He was looking forward to the launch of the ships in question he had come to see both in a couple of days’ time and just a few weeks after that. The first batch would they would mark the first of the Type 501 jump capable cruisers to be completed. Whilst less heavily armed than their Type 511 counterparts their ability to combat jump a squadron of three cruisers plus itself the vessels would fundamentally improve the value and capabilities of the existing cruisers which would no doubt have a leading role in taking the fight back to the Chigs.

Code: [Select]
Type 501 class Cruiser    18,000 tons     1614 Crew     4687.8 BP      TCS 360  TH 2250  EM 0
6250 km/s    JR 4-50     Armour 9-61     Shields 0-0     Sensors 350/70/0/0     Damage Control Rating 30     PPV 54.99
Maint Life 5.23 Years     MSP 4255    AFR 129%    IFR 1.8%    1YR 260    5YR 3899    Max Repair 625 MSP

J18000(4-50) Military Jump Drive     Max Ship Size 18000 tons    Distance 50k km     Squadron Size 4
MCF Drive E5 (18)    Power 125    Fuel Use 50%    Signature 125    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 750,000 Litres    Range 150.0 billion km   (277 days at full power)

Triple 20cm C5 UvL Turret (1x3)    Range 320,000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 30-15     RM 4    ROF 10        10 10 10 10 8 6 5 5 4 4
Twin GC 20r8 (2x8)    Range 20,000km     TS: 20000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 2    ROF 5        1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S08 160-10000 (1)    Max Range: 320,000 km   TS: 10000 km/s     97 94 91 88 84 81 78 75 72 69
Fire Control S06 48-20000 (2)    Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 20000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
MCF Reactor 10-1 (2)     Total Power Output 20    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Active Search Sensor MR5-R1 (1)     GPS 48     Range 5.2m km    Resolution 1
Active Search Sensor MR552-R120 (1)     GPS 43200     Range 552.1m km    Resolution 120
Thermal Sensor TH25-350 (1)     Sensitivity 350     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  350m km
EM Detection Sensor EM5-70 (1)     Sensitivity 70     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  70m km

ECM 10

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

Once launched, the two jump cruisers would immediately be dispatched to Luyten 1305-10 where they would join the Type 511s currently on work up training exercises there. With a little luck that would mean all of the cruisers would be fully trained, armed, overhauled and ready for combat operations within the next eighteen months.

Thankfully the Navy had also recognised the importance of these new ships and had therefore signed off on the pre-construction of many of the components needed for the next batch of vessels. Once completed in a few months’ time, these would be used to rapidly speed up the construction of the next two ships and therefore hopefully catch up to the already well progressed construction of the next four Type 511 cruisers.

The second, and possibly the more significant batch of ships to launch would be the TFS Okinawa, Puget Sound and Tripoli. At 24,000 tons the Project 101 carriers would become the largest combat vessels in the Federation’s arsenal. Capable of carrying four wings of Starfury Mk 2 fighters as well as a wing of Wasp interceptors each carrier could not deliver more than double the firepower of the existing carriers but do so at close to double the range and without the requirement for a ship based active sensor. The carriers were also better armoured and, for the first time, carried their own point defence gauss cannon.

Code: [Select]
Project 101 class Carrier    24,000 tons     1338 Crew     3919.4 BP      TCS 480  TH 3000  EM 0
6250 km/s     Armour 4-74     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 28     PPV 15.65
Maint Life 4.06 Years     MSP 1837    AFR 256%    IFR 3.6%    1YR 178    5YR 2674    Max Repair 144 MSP
Hangar Deck Capacity 9000 tons     Magazine 1152   

MCF Drive E5 (24)    Power 125    Fuel Use 50%    Signature 125    Armour 0    Exp 5%
Fuel Capacity 1,550,000 Litres    Range 232.5 billion km   (430 days at full power)

Twin GC 20r8 (1x8)    Range 20,000km     TS: 20000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 2    ROF 5        1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fire Control S06 48-20000 (1)    Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 20000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0

Banshee 6 (516)  Speed: 50,000 km/s   End: 16.5m    Range: 49.5m km   WH: 5    Size: 2    TH: 200 / 120 / 60
Griffin 1 (60)  Speed: 50,000 km/s   End: 6m    Range: 18m km   WH: 4    Size: 2    TH: 383 / 230 / 115

Active Search Sensor MR5-R1 (1)     GPS 48     Range 5.2m km    Resolution 1

Strike Group
4x Starfury Mk2 (S) Fighter-bomber   Speed: 15000 km/s    Size: 5
6x Wasp Mk3 Interceptor   Speed: 22727 km/s    Size: 3.3
28x Starfury Mk2 Fighter-bomber   Speed: 15000 km/s    Size: 5

Missile to hit chances are vs targets moving at 3000 km/s, 5000 km/s and 10,000 km/s

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

Although it would still be another month or so before all of the carriers complement of fighters were complete and they could start training, just having them in system would likely create a huge boost to the morale of the civilian population.

In the meant time though Shaw knew he would be kept more than busy continuing to manage the still frantic construction schedules of the military and civilian shipyards alike as well as finishing the build out of the new frigate shipyards and the designs of the vessels to be built by them; not to mention the new troop carrier that Shots had personally asked for.

Catching himself from getting too caught up in the future plans Shaw stopped himself from thinking any further ahead, wanting to enjoy the current moment. Whilst part of him still yearned for a return to active service and a chance to once again lead a task force into battle he knew that he had found a sweet spot for his talents in his current role and that the satisfaction from getting the job done could be just as good as that felt from a successful mission.

Luyten 1305-10 - Navy Command
A gentle tap at her door caused Miller to look up in irritation having been deeply absorbed in the latest "her eyes only" intelligence update from Sol HQ. The report's findings made terrifying reading and the last thing she needed were distractions whilst trying to take on board all of its' contents. A second, slightly louder tap, sounded on her door. Miller sighed, whatever it was, it would likely to be important given they had managed to both get past her attendant and were willing to upset her after she had given express orders not to be disturbed.   

Carefully shutting down the data pad and placing it in the top of her desk Miller called out in a stern terse voice "Come In".

The door opened to reveal Lieutenant Commander Samantha Fuller, her chief logistics officer looking in a somewhat harried state. "I'm terribly sorry to disturb you Admiral but something has just come up that I thought needed you immediate attention".

Seeing the state of her staff officer Miller decided to remain polite and understanding, at least until she knew whether it really was an issue. "Of course Samantha, don't worry about it in the least, please come in and close the door behind you".

The door had barely sealed before Fuller started talking again. "I've just come from the low orbit maintenance facilities where I was hoping to do a quick inspection on Commodore Stevenson's ships before they headed off again. As part of that I was looking at the requisition logs to see what sort of spares etc they were after, thought it might be helpful for designing the longer term overhaul schedule. Anyway, I'm digressing. The point is that I realised that the destroyers are asking for more than 800 Harpy Mk5 ASMs. I had no idea they had managed to burn that much ordnance otherwise I would have raised it earlier but the fact is that we have barely 500 Mk 4s in stock and almost no Mk5s at all. As it stands we would be sending them back out to the front line with very little to shoot with".

Miller ground her teeth. She had been arguing with the civilian administrators for the past six months over the need to increase ordnance production both in Luyten and Delta Trianguli. That under investment was going to bite now and most likely even worse in the near future if any more significant engagements like the last had to be fought, especially so given the Top Secret report she had just been reading.

"Ok that really is a problem for us. Well done bringing this to my attention straight away. What are the stocks of other ASMs looking like at the moment, I assume we can at least rearm them with some slightly less advanced missiles whilst we continue to build up our stocks?" responded Miller.
"I'm afraid we are in a pretty bad position with those as well. I had a check done whilst on the way down to see you and from what I can ascertain we only have 48 Harpy Mk2s and 8 Mk3s in stores. I also took the time to check with the stocks in Delta Trianguli, 107 Piscium and GJ 1065. Their entire stores consist of AMMS and reloads for the fighters ".

"In that case we are going to have to strip the missiles out of Carrier Group Bravo’s destroyer escorts although it means we will be more than a month delayed in getting the ships back out to EG 453. Hmmn, we might also have to look at sending a reduced detachment now and then follow on with the remaining destroyers once we have them resupplied.

"Ma'am, there is another option we might consider. The cruisers currently out on training exercises all have full stocks of ASMs, that's just shy of 400 missiles which would be more than enough to allow us to deliver a full complement to each of the destroyers. I know that would strip the cruisers of a large part of their fire power but given we are keeping them back here for at least another twelve months or so I would think that would be manageable".

Miller considered the proposition for a few moments. “I knew there was a reason I made you my chief of logistics. That’s an excellent idea. See to it that the cruisers are recalled from training immediately. I will inform Commodore Stevenson that we should be able to have him on his way in a matter of weeks”.

Luyten – Main civilian administration block
Kai stood with his arms crossed starring defiantly at Rear Admiral Miller sat across the meeting room table.

"For the last time Admiral, I simply cannot divert further manufacturing facilities to support the construction of the next wave of orbital weapons platforms. The mineral situation between ourselves and Delta Trianguli remains critical and I have been reliably told by central not to expect any further mercy runs from Sol. If I divert any more of our existing manufacturing outside of the already significant commitment made to boost arms factories and build sufficient maintenance facilities to service those monstrous cruisers you now have blundering around the system we simply won’t have the minerals to support anything. I'm sure you would agree that it would be far better for the Federation to receive its next batch of platforms a little behind the Navy's original schedule rather than not at all".

For a few short moments Kai thought he may have actually won the argument with the Admiral. Unfortunately she was just drawing breath.
"Mr Winter, I need not remind you that just a few short weeks ago the Navy fought it's largest ever battle against a race that so far we no almost nothing about.  I'm sure I don't also need to remind that the carrier group in question failed to destroy the hostiles in their entirety despite expending every single missile at their disposal.

The threat of the Chigs is every bit as large as it ever was despite our victory. If we don't build adequate defences now to allow us to get on the front foot we risk having no way to protect those precious mines of yours.  You may well manage to build them but they will be of little use as smoking, irradiated ruins which is exactly what they will be if just one of those hostiles get through.

Whilst I know I can't order you to change the build schedules I must insist that you redouble your efforts to find more capacity to support the Navy. I would hate to have to take this up with central command and administrator Carter whom I'm sure would be dismayed to hear about your lack of enthusiasm for the war effort".

Kai bristled. He had no idea just how much sway Miller might have with Carter but he did know he couldn't afford another show down with the man, especially when his own plans were so far from fruition. Kai therefore decided that a slightly more conciliatory approach was going to be needed.

"Admiral, off course I'm more than aware of the current situation and the massive undertaking of the navy to keep us all safe. The reality though is that if we focus on ship construction now we will very likely run out of minerals before we complete them and, as far as I'm aware, a half-finished ships are just as useless as no ships at all.

Now I know that the first batch of system patrol craft is still quite a few months from completion. If we used that time to finish the current build of mines we should be able to divert some of the industry then to getting the next batch produced. In the meantime we can focus on rebuilding the stocks of Harpy missiles that your people seem to have already managed to burn through during the Chigs last incursion. I know it doesn't meet your immediate requirements but in the circumstances it's absolutely the best we can do for you".

Miller glared back at Kai, still fuming from the need to have this conversation in the first place. She knew however that she had to temper her arguments carefully. To date the Navy had released only very sparse details to the general public and wider government on the Navy's findings so she knew that Kai was entirely unaware of just how large a threat they thought the Chigs were. As far as he was concerned they had fought a decisive battle against another technologically inferior enemy rather than a lucky engagement with an aging part of the enemy fleet. She knew therefore that she wasn't going to be able to push the point much further without potentially alerting him to a deeper concern.

"Ok Kai,  I'm going to accept your proposal but only on the condition that you give me at least 75% capacity for however long it takes to build a full stock of engines, sensors, lasers, fire controls and launchers for a full wing of the literal cruisers".

"Done" responded Kai with no hesitation, confident that by the time another half year had passed the threat would have abated and he would have little problem renegotiating with the Admiral then.

Miller stared back at him for several long moments, worrying Kai that he may have given in too easily. However, just as he was about to speak in his defence Miller extended her hand across the table to shake on it.

"Done".

Sol – London
Carter was back in his office after another hectic day of negotiations and favour pulling. Since finding out from one of his inside men in the Navy about the tens of thousands of tons of Chig wrecks left littering the EG 453 system he had been working like a mad man to make sure it was the salvagers that were backed by his own companies that won the contract to recover them and any components that might still be functional.

The black market value of real Chig warship parts would be huge when sold to the right private collectors and he had a long list of them already lined up. If they also managed to find some new technologies in the process it could send the stock prices soaring.

Carter was pretty pleased with himself. The costs of securing the contract had been pretty minimal as far as he was concerned. Although the civil servants had fought a particularly vicious battle over salvage rates, customs requirements and security precautions he was sure that he would be able to more than make up for it.

Getting his company to the front of the line had also proven to be pretty easy. Once his people had been able to find out who the chief engineer on the key competition's salvagers was it had taken only a night of expensive drinks and a couple upmarket escorts to get him into an appropriate compromising situation that he was keen for his wife not to find out about and certainly not see the holo images of. With just a little guidance he had therefore been more than willing to pronounce the discovery of a number of stress fractures in the ships' engine struts and the need to bring them in for a comprehensive overhaul. That had put them out of commission for six months and out of the running.

There had been one small blip in the plan when the captain of one of the salvagers that had previously been active in Anderseriks had quit at the news of the deployment. It had taken a few frantic hours to find a suitable replacement but fortunately they had been able to convince one of the Navy officers to take early retirement and join the team. They might not be the best option for the replacement but they still had solid engineering skills. In any case, any slowdown in the salvage rates would be more than made up for by the fact they were actually bale to fulfil the contract.

For some reason though Carter wasn't 100% happy about the situation and it bothered him that he couldn't put his finger on why. The bidding for the contract had been no less fierce than usual and his usual trawl of Navy contacts hadn't revealed anything unusual yet there was something still not quite right about the process. In fact it was almost as if the process had been too usual given the unusual circumstances.

Carter started pacing, his customary response when he needed to think. The deal was far from clean and he needed to work out how to get to the bottom of it before he found himself outsmarted and out of pocket.

GJ 1065
Foster stood in one of the environmental control rooms that managed the newly sectioned off segment of infrastructure. The Infrastructure, which they had been hastily reconfiguring to house the Chig POWs was almost complete although the scattered lines of piping, partially re-soldered control boards and wiring hanging from exposed panels in the ceiling bore testament to just how much work had been needed. Foster was also far from happy from the end result. Whilst they had had the environment running as required for just over a week now the level of effort to maintain it had been huge.

Without purpose built infrastructure they would be facing a long painful road of ongoing maintenance and management to keep the environment in an optimal situation for their captives. They would also need to train up a large number of the population to help them run the infrastructure if Foster was ever going to get her people back to working on the dig or improving the ground defences further. To date she had had little to do with the Unionists so turning over the facilities to them to run was a particular concern.

Unfortunately, with the Carrier group now in orbit and already sending down the first wave of transports she had run out of time to improve the facilities any further or make better plans for the ongoing upkeep of them. As it stood they had had to commission double the capacity so they could flip the prisoners between the two compounds whilst sections were cleaned out to deal with the ultra-high humidity levels. Trying to find a solution to that problem with the facilities available was going to take time they no longer had.

Thornton had also been pretty unhappy to hear that he would need to be guarding double the number of facilities compared to the original plans. In fact Foster had to suppress an involuntary shudder when she thought back to the less than pleasant experience of breaking the news to him.  Over the years Thornton had built up quite a reputation and Foster had found out the hard way that he had earned every bit of it. 

December

Sol – Navy HQ
Shots was back down in the depths of the base once again enjoying having the pool to himself for a morning swim and some clear time to collect his thoughts. Since the manic rush of activity after the last Chig incursion Shots had had precious little time to himself and virtually no chance to swim. He was therefore relishing the period of relative calm and the chance to get some exercise in.

He was feeling particularly happy as today he would be signing off on the new missile designs as well as the salvage contract for the Chig wrecks in EG 453. As far as he was aware both plans had worked flawlessly. Jay Black, a little known scientist of little importance had made the breakthrough in warhead technology actually ahead of schedule whilst the Federation’s main missile specialist, Kieran Dennis, had managed to complete the research on the miniaturisation of magnetic containment engines that enabled their use in missiles.

Armed with the two new technologies, Commodore Shaw had quickly helped to progress the design and prototyping of a match of new missiles that would drastically improve the combat effectiveness of the Navy. With the proof of concepts now having been taken through live firing all that was left was for Shots to officially approve their adoption by the Navy. Every ordnance factory across the Federation could then begin to produce the new weapons.

Similarly the plan to allow salvagers back into EG 453 was getting close to fruition. Two salvage groups were already on station in GJ 1065 waiting for final approval to jump in and again all they needed was a signature from Shots. The only crinkle in that process was the underhand tactics taken by one of the companies which meant the Federation would be short of the other Salvage team until they could clear up the supposed issue with their engines. As much as he would love to tell them there were no issues he wasn’t go to reveal the extent of the Navy’s own information gathering capabilities to either corporation.

Shots felt sure that if they could just continue to make the same steady progress they had been making for another year they would be hugely well placed to take the fight back to the Chigs and ensure the security of the Federation. In the meantime though he would just enjoy the water and the peace.

Delta Trianguli
Lieutenant Commander Alfie Pollard, commander of the Orbital Weapon Platform Imperial and squadron leader for the six platforms newly delivered to Delta Trianguli, stood stiffly to attention whilst the formal handover of defensive responsibilities for the system were completed.

From the corner of his eye he could just make out Administrator Coles. Much to the chagrin of Pollard, Coles clearly had other things on his mind as he was paying almost no attention at all to the ceremony. Fortunately for Pollard he had received an extensive brief from Commodore Webster before he had departed along with the rest of Carrier Group Bravo so he had a good idea of what to expect from the man.

Pollard wasn’t however entirely correct in his assessment. Whilst Coles was somewhat distracted he wasn’t at all disinterested in Pollard. In fact he was very keen to find out more about the officer in whose hands the protection of the planet had been left. Unfortunately he had far more immediate matters to contend with.

The planet’s supply of Duranium had once again reached critical with less than ten months of supplies left to fuel the current levels of industry. Not that that was very high in any case as the Followers were still far from accepting their membership of the Federation. Daily riots and strikes remained common place leaving the planet deep in the grip of an ongoing recession from which he was struggling to help them escape.

These days Coles was quite frankly happy that two full divisions of troops remained on the planet to keep the peace, especially now that Thornton had departed, leaving him to deal with a far more amiable Lieutenant General.  About the only good thing that was going for him at the moment was that they had managed to stay on schedule to convert the numerous but largely useless manned mines to automated ones. That had at least kept regional administrator Bolton off his back for a few months. 

Coles could really only hope that the population would have somewhat more of a change of heart in the not too distant future and get on with going back to work and pushing the economy forward. Until then he was going to have to continue the delicate juggling act and that meant little time to foster any close ties with the new lieutenant.

Luyten
“Ma’am, I’d thought you might like to know that the Coral Snake just signalled jumping from the system. Commander Johnson reported all systems nominal and that they were continuing on to take up position is support of Carrier Group Delta over in EG453”.

“You’re right, I’m very happy to hear we finally have the first of our scouts up and running and more importantly it means we have now shown to the rest of the Federation that, despite our problems, Luyten is more than capable of contributing to the war effort” replied Admiral Miller.

A few moments later Miller received another ping from her operations officer.

“Ma’am, if you liked the last update I think you are going to be over the moon with this one. We’ve just received a signal from the TFS Buffalo. Her and her sister ship the Cheyenne have just jumped in system and are heading for the planet to resupply before commencing their work up training. It looks like Sol was good on its’ word for sending us the first of the jump cruisers”.

“That is indeed excellent news. Could you please send a signal back welcoming them to the Luyten fleet. Please let the Captains know that I would be delighted to entertain them as dinner as soon as they make the planet. Could you please also let commander Finch know we have new vessels in system that will need a set of codes and passphrases uploaded to their cores as soon as they make dock” beamed Miller.

“Aye aye Ma’am, will do”.

EG 453
“Sir, message received from Commodore Stevenson. The Commodore sends his complements and notes that Carrier Group Delta is now in position and ready to assume responsibility for the system” reported Rear Admiral Coles’ comms officer.
“Ok, it seems our short stint here is done for the moment. Nav please lay in a course for the GJ 1065 jump gate and onwards to Luyten. It seems that Admiral Miller has some other plans for us and is in a rush to share them. Helm, you may engage as soon as the rest of the task group has confirmed course and ready to get under way.

Comms, please return my compliments to the Commodore and wish them a thoroughly boring and uneventful stay. I will be in my day cabin if required, meanwhile XO you have the bridge” responded the Admiral as he stood up to leave.

Whilst projecting an air of calm, Admiral Coles was still seething inside. His own task group and so far spent the whole of the war with the Chigs defending the back echelon of the Federation’s forces and now they were getting sent to the rear yet again to repeat training when his replacement had already been out of dock for over a year and had had the honour of engaging the last wave of Chigs. To have his command effectively removed from him in deference to a more junior officer was, as far as he was concerned, a massive slight by Miller.

One thing Coles knew he was going to be doing when he got back to Luyten was make dam sure that Shots was aware of the appalling treatment he had received at the hands of Miller and do his level best to get her replaced.

Eta Cassiopeiae
Administrator Shah slumped back into the chair in his office. He had just endured a three hour roasting from the planets elected civilian representatives. It seemed that no matter what he did the civilians always wanted more and somehow expected him to magic the answer out of thin air for them.
Not a week past, having scrimped and saved on minerals for the best part of a year, the colony had finished the construction of fifteen new factory complexes; bringing much needed work to the population and a base from which to expand.

Far from pacifying the population though this had led to the redoubling of complaints about the state of the systems defences and the lack of munitions for the aging Hammerhead fighter squadron assigned to them. In fact it, it was probably only the continued presence of the 12 battalions of mobile infantry that had so far prevented the complaints from turning into outright protest.

He had really therefore had no choice but to accede to the representatives wishes to redirect the manufacturing base away from continued expansion and into the construction of a series of ordnance factories instead. As far as Shah was concerned these were a complete waste of time given that if the fighters were actually called upon the Federation would have likely already fallen. 

Not for the first time Shah thought about pushing for a transfer but having now been on the planet for as many years as he had it now felt a little too much like home to him; even if it did drive him half mad from time to time.


Phew, that update took a bit longer than planned to get sorted. I've managed to play up to mid Feb so hopefully can get the next update out a little sooner. I'm keen to see what all these new ships can do...
 

 

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