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Terpla'ns / The Terpla'ns - Chapter 11.25
« Last post by Zume on June 18, 2023, 04:41:02 PM »
It has been a month since the Axis lost control of the Bedrock system for the second time. Unable to flee further into Axis space, the task force that guarded the Bedrock/Tire Iron warp point had entered the Brickyard system, albeit taking severe punishment from an antimatter minefield on the Bedrock side, laid by the Allies by a fast minelayer group. The task group was now reduced to 12 fleet and 6 light carriers, 1 DN, 6 BBs 3 BCs, 6 BCEs and 3 CLEs. The DN and BBs all had armor reduced to negligible levels with the BCs now docked to an equally sized space station over Brickyard A-2, the only lunar colony in the system, each waiting their turn for repairs as they were nearly destroyed. Only emergency repairs allowed them to reach the station at all, and they dared not land on the lunar spaceport lest they tempt Fate and be bestowed with more misfortune. The CLEs all had their armor rendered useless as well, and what internal damage they sustained was tended by emergency shipboard repairs.

In all the task force had 89 squadrons of F1 Hatchets and 12 Stiletto escort shuttles. The DN, BBs, and CLEs orbited at 1 LS distance. Keeping them company was a CAP composed of 22 Hatchet squadrons and 3 Stiletto shuttles. The carriers and BCEs stayed at 6 LS distance with external ordnance racks fitted with capital missiles armed with1st generation lasing warheads. No mines and weapon buoys were on hand, and none could be manufactured because of the repair work being done to one of the Hero BCs. The only other Axis force in the system, a trio of BCs carrying armed pinnaces and escort shuttles, along with quartet of scouts, were still engaged in hunting down CSF auxiliaries that were hiding in the outer reaches of the system.

The crews were grim. Supplies had already run out for the bigger ships, and the A-2 colony couldn’t begin to maintain much more than what was in the system prior to the task force’s arrival. While they contemplated a slow, inexorable march of system breakdowns and power failures, in the minds of the crews they knew that wasn’t going to be their fate. The enemy had no firm idea of what was in Brickyard after their many absent months. For all they knew a huge cache of supplies was on hand, perhaps enough for years and even for the construction of miniscule freighters and use them to breach the minefield in Bedrock, raiding the system and disrupting abom operations.

Such ruminations were cut short as the CSF made its attack. 400 Whale armed pinnaces made transit in a single wave, losing 64 of their number from interpenetrations. The rest swarmed the close-in ships, dividing into two groups so that one could cover the blind spot of the other. Each pinnace carried four laser packs on their external racks. Despite being transit-addled the pinnaces tore into the ships and Hatchet fighters alike. Of the 22 Hatchet squadrons 12 got their weapons active, bagging 65 Whales while two active battleships nailed 8 more. In turn the remaining Whales destroyed all the close-in ships and swatted away 52 Hatchets, resulting in all 22 squadrons losing at least 2 fighters each while 8 of those losing 3.

The second wave came in, comprised of five Avami and one Bedrock class assault carriers. The active Hatchets peeled away and were atop the warp point. Those squadrons still trying to bring their weapons online were only able to move at half speed, ending up half a light-second out. The Whales followed, and with fully stabilized systems they tore into the Hatchets as the fighters in turn went after the fifth Avami. That ship was destroyed, and the Bedrock lost its shields and one-third of its armor. As for those Axis carriers and BCEs that became active, they fired their external missiles at the Bedrock, their lasing warheads doing more damage.

In turn all the close-in Hatchets were destroyed. Those atop the warp point were either finished by laser packs and internal guns while those a little further out had been swatted by point defense fire. The three escort shuttles were also dispatched, never getting the chance to fire their weapons. 46 Shark squadrons launched from the remaining second wave carriers as they transited out as the third wave emerged, five Salyfs and another Bedrock. There have been no launches from the Axis carriers yet. 40 more Shark squadrons launched as the fourth and wave entered, comprised of six Bowman BCEs.

The Axis ships turned about, retreating at full speed as the 86 Shark squadrons formed together and pursued, followed by the Bowmen.  402 Hatchet fighters and 8 escort shuttles were launched five minutes later and held station over the carriers, patiently waiting for the abom fighters to close to within jamming range of the BCEs. Then, just outside the reach of ship-mounted point defense and jammers, the Sharks fired their external missiles. Each squadron carried 18 missiles equipped with lasing warheads. Given the range and inherent lower accuracy only a relatively few missiles from each squadron scored lasing hits. However, hits piled up. The BCEs, already having lost their armor a month earlier, were the first targets, reduced to crawling wrecks only able to make one-third maximum speed. It took 48 squadrons to accomplish the task but was worthwhile to remove the cruisers from the equation. As for the other 38 Shark squadrons they concentrated on the light carriers, starting with the ones observed to have launched 3 squadrons instead of 2. Four light carriers were crippled, and the now lighten Sharks went to the Bowmen.

On his part the Axis commander sent his Hatchets and escort shuttles back to the warp point, intent on destroying the Bowmen and as many Sharks as possible. Leaving the six BCEs and four CVLs to follow as best they could, the remaining carriers continued to the A-2 colony. A half hour later the other shoe dropped. 24 destroyers, an equal mix of Falogrens and Okados, closed on the crippled cruisers and light carriers, along with an equal number of Quagaar corvettes and escorts. Drawn from a support group they were tasked to cover, the 24 Quagaar ships were determined to extract a measure of vengeance on the Axis for the destructive bombardment of the Uan homeworld a few years earlier. The Falogrens concentrated on the BCEs first, firing capital missiles equipped with second-generation lasing heads and capital force beams, keeping the range just outside of the BCEs weapons. Once that was the done the four CVLs were beset by the Quagaar and eliminated. With engines detuned and provided guidance by scouts the allied ships went after the remaining carriers. Unarmed and with expended racks the remaining carriers separated as to grant the A-2 defenders that much more time. It took the better part of a day for all the fleeing carriers to be run down and destroyed.

The Hatchet strike reached the six Bowmen, now covered by the 86 Shark squadrons and all comprised of gun armed F2 models. Four exchanges of AFHAWKs whittled down the Hatchets while closer in point defense took care of the escort shuttles. With intact jammers in play the resulting fighter furball only saw the destruction of two Bowmen and the crippling of a third, along with the loss of 31 Sharks.

As for the A-2 colony it was handled by a Quagaar task element, comprised of three Ruby and three Pearl cruisers. The three Axis BCs at the colony, despite only having half of their interior systems up due to emergency repairs and still denuded of armor, moved at half-speed towards the Quagaar ships as soon as they entered capital missile range, escorted by 12 Hatchet fighters. The Rubies fired their spinal lasers and capital missiles armed with 2nd generation lasing warheads while the Pearls used their spinal lasers and launched fighters, equipped for dogfighting with only ECM pods as their external ordnance. Along with their own externally launched missiles the Quagaar ships easily crushed the Axis ships while only losing four fighters. The small space station was dispatched, and marine units landed on the moon and secure the colonial spaceport. Once completed the task element struck out for the outer system, heading for the first of 24 designated areas to find if any of the support ships that retreated into Brickyard over a year earlier still existed.

Meanwhile Admiral Jki executed the assault into Gravel Pit ahead of schedule. Armed pinnaces, equipped with scanner packs, had made infrequent probes and ferreted out the defenses. A shell of 600 mine patterns surrounded the Gravel Pit side of the warp point, along with a CAP of 15 Hatchet squadrons, all of them F0s, and 3 escort shuttles. At 10 light-second range were 4 Type-4 bases and were identified as the same kind used in Metalstorm, being kept company by two undersized Type-2 bases. Each Type-4 had 15 squadrons of Hatchets and nothing in the way of defenses, both passive and active. Wishing to avoid excessive fighter losses at this juncture, Jki devised an assault that would play into the preconceived notions of the Axis defenders.

As much surprised as relieved that the assault was happening the Axis warp point defenders threw themselves at the first assault wave, comprised of five superdreadnoughts. While all fifteen squadrons moved and engaged at point blank range only seven managed to get their weapons online in the first exchange. The first ship was a Gravity Well, a warp point probe ship with exceptional heavy shielding and armor. It took all seven squadrons to breach the passive defenses for some relatively minor internal damage. For their part the five SDs fired mine clearance rounds from their external racks, rendering 17 patterns useless as their internal circuitry were fried by multiple nuclear detonations. Transit-addled point defense removed the three escort shuttles that had remained in the firing arc of the fifth SD. Just one base crash-launched its remaining 11 squadrons of Hatchets in this initial round.

As the first wave continued their maneuvering to achieve their exit vector back to Bedrock just three ships arrived for the second wave, all Oknib capital missile dreadnaughts. As for the last three superdreadnoughts of the first wave they were Monitors, a Humarsh design. With stabilized fire control they locked onto a base that had yet to launch its remaining fighters and let loose with a volley of 24 SBMs, all with 2nd generation lasing warheads. EDMs were of no use against such missiles, and the bases had no active defenses. 9 missiles achieved a lock-on and worked as design. Just enough damage was done so that a Hatchet armed with FRAMs was still in its bay when it collapsed, the resulting explosion utterly erasing the base from existence. All the remaining CAP Hatchets, 48, were in the blind spots of the Gravity Wells but not the of Monitors. Point-blank fire from plasma guns and point defense bagged three complete squadrons. The transit-addled Oknibs fired external mine clearance rounds and point defense, bagging 7 more mine patterns and 4 more Hatchets. Even with jamming the first Gravity Well was destroyed with the second losing over half its shielding. To their credit the other two Axis bases crashed-launched their remaining squadrons, 23 in all, and no doubt were highly motivated after seeing one of their own go up like a packet of petrol-soaked matches.

Just 14 Hatchets with ordnance remained on the warp point as the third wave emerged, again comprised of three Oknibs. Just one Hatchet fired its FRAMs before it and the other 13 were brought down by plasma and point defense fire. Together, the Monitors and the first three Oknibs crippled a fighter base. There was no fourth wave, and the remaining Gravity Well transited out. The cripple second base was taken out by the Monitors while the six Oknibs fired on the third, also crippling it.

By the time the first 11 crash-launched squadrons were within 2 light-seconds of the warp point the Monitors transited out along with one Oknib. It took the fire of one Oknib to finish off the third base while the remaining four wrecked the last one so thoroughly that no intact hanger bay was left. Thus, with tears of frustration in their eyes the pilots of the 11 squadrons missed their chance for vengeance as the five dreadnaughts transited back to Bedrock. Based on the results Jki waited two hours before sending in a solitary Whale armed pinnace to scout the environs. Apparently, some emergency repairs were done as only two Hatchets orbited the warp point. Acting on instinct the Whale crew shot down both with internal gun and external laser pack before transiting out. The wait for the last base was minuscule for just two minutes later a trio of capital missile battlecruisers and a like number of heavy cruisers built for minesweeper transited in. After dispatching the last of the bases and firing mine clearance charges to the point where the CAs could finish off the selected patch in one go, a task force of the Combined Fleet moved into Gravel Pit, heading for the Bulwark warp point. A ship was detached to search for life pods from the destroyed Gravity Well, though given the vengeful state of the Axis pilots it was highly unlikely any pod would be found. Another task force went to the four lunar colonies of the first gas giant to secure them before heading to the Abyssal 017 system.

On the way to the Bulwark warp point a flight of six escort shuttles and an assault shuttle was detected and intercepted by a task element comprised of two escort carriers and an escort destroyer. Warned by the sensor chain, the small craft poured on the coal, but the ships simply detuned their engines to keep the range and launched their F2 fighters. They had a speed advantage over the small craft, even with a full load. The small craft were carrying the pilots of the abandoned Hatchet fighters, intent on rendezvousing with a small craft carrier based on a destroyer hull sent from the Bulwark side of the warp point. Not one shuttle made it, though two Shark fighters were shot down.

Four days later, at the Gravel Pit/Bulwark warp point, Jki sent in a heavy probe comprised of 5 Singularity dreadnaughts and 60 Damage Sink explorers, the latter as a mass transit. Three of the Singularities came back, but only 24 of the Damage Sinks, sustaining losses from two consecutive mass transits and combat losses. What awaited the task force were three asteroid bases and three type-4 bases, at 1 LS and 6 LS distance respectively. A solitary full-sized type-2 base sat 9 LS out, most likely the automated weapons control base. There were no ships within detection range, and the shell of automated weapons was average at 600 mine patterns and 180 weapon buoys. All the weapon buoys were of the reusable laser type as they didn’t explode when fired, and a paltry 8 squadrons of F0 Hatchets and 5 escort shuttles formed the CAP.

As for Star Admiral Dovsol, commanding the defenses in Bulwark, she was coming to accept the fate Providence provided. Practically all her ships were recalled to Gymnasium, leaving just some scout ships and two squadrons of fleet carriers, though consigned to continue the hunt for the remnant of the abom task force hiding in the outer reaches of the system. There was some success in the preceding months provided by the abom themselves. What had to be support ships, denuded of maintenance materials, were found accompanied by singular escorts. When confronted with an appropriate force the support ships self-destructed, and the escort, always a destroyer, fled with detuned engines. All this did was to prolong its inevitable destruction, but every minute spent in such pursuits gave that much more time for the other abom ships to hide even better.

Dovsol didn’t have a long wait following the CSF probe. A wave of 200 Whale armed pinnaces transited in, followed by 60 Magnets and four assault carriers. Again, despite minefield attrition and fire control degraded by transit the Whales pounced on two of three asteroid forts, destroying them. Those Magnets that survived interpenetration fired their addled plasma guns at the third fort, which happened to have Dovsol on board, causing some shield damage. Those Hatchet CAP squadrons that became active went after the assault carriers. Dovsol’s fort fired on the Magnets, further reducing their numbers. One assault carrier was destroyed.

There was no doubt about the outcome of the battle, but Dovsol was resolute. The second wave was comprised of three dreadnaughts and three more assault carriers. Energy beams from the former licked away the fort’s shielding even as more Magnets fell to the critical number. 120 of the 180 laser buoys fired, all but killing the remaining Magnets. Those Whales that retained their FRAMs went after Dovsol’s fort, smashing what was left of the shields and armor. Further hits dealt considerable internal damage, and combined with further energy beam fire the fort was rendered useless.

With no jammer to support the remaining 26 Hatchet squadrons, and with the three minesweeping dreadnaughts of the third wave equipped with jammers of their own, the 34 Shark squadrons and the remaining Whales dispatched the Hatchets quickly. Dovsol survived the massive electrical discharges that rendered her fort impotent. The self-destruct function failed, and what few monitors remained active in the CIC allowed the admiral to watch as one more ship made transit. A liberal dousing of energy beam fire took down those few shields that were restored, and with twelve assault shuttles launched by the newcomer was all that Dovsol needed to know. She checked her service pistol as she closed the visor to her pressure suit. The fort was going to be boarded and captured. Taking a few aboms down before dying was the last thing she could do for her people.

Two weeks later had the Combined Fleet at the Gravel Pit/Abyssal-017 warp point, waiting only for a final set of reinforcement before proceeding. Just beyond Abyssal-017 was the Gymnasium system, a former possession of the Eletoshani. Based on captured records the population of the system was 100 million, spread across its habitable world and numerous asteroid and lunar outposts and colonies. Industrial potential was inferred to be considerable, as well as any defenses reinforced since the first time Bedrock was conquered.

Admiral Jki sat in the wardroom of her command battleship, the Coral Sea. With her was Captain Lanaq, her staff intelligence officer, and Commander Linus, the ISN liaison officer. Previously, Linus hoped Jki would’ve selected a dreadnaught for her command ship, not just for a more durable ship but as well enhanced amenities. He learned that the biped E’sani were used as Marines only on dreadnaughts and larger hulls as well as fleet carriers. Thus, when it came to sitting arrangements only stools and the crash frame in the CIC were initially available. It was an oversight that was quickly corrected in less than a week. The ship’s chief engineer and quartermaster constructed several chairs for the Hokum officer. After a few months Linus found the one in the wardroom to be his favorite.

“Admiral,” said Linus, looking up from the datapad he held in his front left hand, “do you expect any skirmisher forces in Abyssal-017? The distance between the two warp points is considerable, a full nine days for a battleship at cruising speed.”

Jki turned her eyes from her own display, blinking twice in rapid succession as she waited the briefest of moments for the translation software to finish. “I’d be disappointed if they didn’t, Commander. The Axis has seen enough instances where we send task elements ahead to reconnoiter for the fleet. Now, due to the fresh infusion of dedicated recon pinnaces, we can have a more extensive sensor web while reducing the hazards for the ships involved.”

Lanaq joined in. “I’m wondering how much in the way the Axis has in fixed defenses in Gymnasium. The warp points in 017 are closed, and from the records we obtained on Bedrock the Eleotoshani and the extinct Nu’Chut AIs never encountered the other in 017. So, from an economic perspective, it would make little sense for the Axis to fortify their end of the warp point in Gymnasium. Until we had captured Bedrock for the first time.”

The admiral gave Lanaq a look that Linus inferred was of stoic wisdom. “There’s little point to ponder on the imponderable until we do our probe, Lanaq. Whatever fortification plan they had would’ve been greatly accelerated after we recaptured Forger’s Gate. Speaking of acceleration, there has been good news from the other fronts. The Data Disk system has been secured, and an assault to the connecting pre-war Axis system will happen within days. Advances from Borehole and Brass Latch will ferret out any Axis formations that retreated into Gilded Wire, Tinsmith, Ohm and Impedance.”

“Sufficient to say, Admiral, those companies manufacturing minefield patterns and weapon buoys will continue to enjoy the ever-increasing demand for their products. It remains to be seen if the Axis formations hiding in those aforementioned systems are willing to die on the vine or conduct a suicidal gesture of defiance.”

“What of Kerama Retto and Battlement?” Linus injected. “With one known closed warp point in Kerama Retto it could be used again by the Axis to stage a definitive campaign to reclaim their Citadel sector.”

“A fact that will divert more resources than expected, Commander,” Jki replied. “There was a second Axis incursion into Kerama Retto. Thankfully, the second closed warp point was rather close to the first one, and the defending task group was able to handle it. The Axis did send a separate formation to engage the anchorage itself, but the defenses dispatched them, though with considerable losses.” Jki paused for a moment, suppressing the twinge of pain she felt in her gut. “As for Battlement, the Royal Valhallan fleet is standing on the defensive until it is reinforced and refitted before investigating that system’s remaining known warp point. How is your Imperial Navy being doing of late?”

“From what I’ve been given by my superiors, Admiral, we’re doing well,” Linus said with what he hoped was measured confidence. “We’ve isolated the Iron Sky system, located deep in former Nu’Chut space. Reinforcement for the fleet in Bandstand has been accelerated, and once your fleets have gained sufficient depth into systems beyond Gymansium the fleet in Tire Iron will be redeployed to whichever avenue of advance requires it the most.”

“That’s good to hear, Commander. I’m sure Admiral Janus will appreciate going back on the offensive.”

Linus consulted the datapad he held in his back right hand, stopping when a tidbit of information caught his eye. “Admiral, what is to become of that senior Axis officer the Hazen marines managed to capture in Bulwark?”

“Dovsol? Yes, she and the other POWs are heading for Hamthem Prime aboard a priority cargo corvette. They’ll be held separately from the other POWs and will be interrogated during the trip.”

Linus made a curt nod. “Given that all Axis planets are still contested on the ground it makes sense to hold prisoners where they can’t be rescued. I trust the Hamthen won’t be prone to displaying their prisoners like exotic animals in a zoo.”

Jki’s eyes blinked in a manner that Linus learned was a sign of assertion. “Despite the degrading behavior that was inflicted upon them the Hamthen will not visit that behavior on their prisoners. Whatever fate awaits those Comensal being held it will be administered impartially through laws, not whims and emotions.”

“Well stated,” said Lanaq. He said this before Linus could reply, knowing the subject of the treatment of Hamthen civilians by the Axis was a sore point for the Admiral. “With the progress we’ve made the engines of this war are turning in our favor.”

Linus discerned the tone in the translation and wisely decided not to pursue the subject further. “Agreed. With multiple breaches into their pre-war space the Axis is decidedly on the backfoot.”
New Cold War / Cold War: Alliance Frontier Sector
« Last post by Kurt on May 31, 2023, 05:22:30 PM »
New Cold War / Cold War: Alliance Chruqua Defense Zone
« Last post by Kurt on May 31, 2023, 05:21:50 PM »
New Cold War / Cold War: Alliance Core Systems
« Last post by Kurt on May 31, 2023, 05:20:54 PM »
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Shinanygnz on May 31, 2023, 02:16:02 PM »
Thanks for the campaign write-up Kurt.  Your work is always a great read  :)
New Cold War / Cold War Wrap up - Confederated Sentient Races Map
« Last post by Kurt on May 29, 2023, 01:00:38 PM »
New Cold War / Cold War Wrap up - Colonial Union Map
« Last post by Kurt on May 29, 2023, 12:58:33 PM »
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Kurt on May 29, 2023, 12:28:15 PM »
Thanks to all who have expressed an interest in the Campaign!  It warms my heart to know that there are people out there that enjoy my campaigns.

Gyrfalcon: Yes, they would have made an appearance at some point in the late game.  I forgot to put that into the "future" post that I recently uploaded, so I'll do one more that will cover that. 

Doublerobz23: Thanks, I really appreciate it.  I like your idea of the maps and I'll upload them over the next couple of days. 

StarshipCactus: Nothing like the threat of destruction to convince you to get along with your neighbors!
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by StarshipCactus on May 28, 2023, 04:00:57 AM »
Sounds like a very nice way to wrap everything up. Nothing like a massive schism and then a huge war to get everybody to be friends, or at least put everybody into a cooperative mood.
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by doublerobz23 on May 27, 2023, 10:42:57 AM »
Hey Kurt,

Long time reader, first time commentor here.   Just wanted to say thank you for all the hard work that has gone into this campaign.   It has been a joy to read over the years!

I was wondering if, now that the Campaign is winding down, would it be possible to add some updated maps of the universe to the maps thread? It would be fascinating to see the scale of everything!

Cant wait to read whatever your next play through ends up being.   
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