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C# Aurora / Re: New role for construction ships in C# (split off)
« Last post by DocSpit on Today at 05:40:58 PM »
After a day thinking it over, if we're going to use construction ships for actual CONSTRUCTION, they almost certainly should be limited to assembling prefabricated components from a colony.  If for no other reason than simple manpower. 

A shipyard slipway employs tens, if not hundreds of thousands of workers.  MILLIONS by the late game.  The same goes for planetary construction facilities.   A construction ship has a crew of, what? 3-400?

Which, incidentally, is also approximately the size of a battalion of combat engineers. 

Though, that still leaves an issue of how to gather together all the components you'd need for a multi-million ton starbase.

Maybe the ability to designate a 'Construction Point', in the same manner that one creates waypoints? Where components could be unloaded by freighters into deep space, to be assembled by a construction ship once everything is in place?
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For what I'm doing I want a limit to how much sm I want to use
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If you're using SM mode it makes no difference.  You could just SM the colony to whatever size or terraforming level you want.
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I should have mentioned this before but eh
I'm using sm mode for all
Should still use infrastructure
I think so, I want to expand as fast as possible
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I often colonize Luna and Mars, and use them to generate infrastructure, then terraform them.  This frees up all that infrastructure, and I will have enough civilian shipping to move all that infrastructure.  Making use of that infrastructure is faster than terraforming.  I don't colonize a new world until I can get enough infrastructure to support 25 million pop, so that I can STOP colony ships from going to that new world to their deaths.

The reason to start with infrastructure is because a terraform heavy strategy requires you to have a lot of civilian shipping, period.
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C# Aurora / Re: C# Aurora v0.x Suggestions
« Last post by Hazard on Today at 12:13:44 PM »
Early Aurora ships are usually smaller than modern day wet navy ships, due to limits in costs. It takes a few generations of development to get to the point you have the scale needed for that.

I mean, the biggest military ships are supercarriers of about 100 000 tons, and I just don't field ships that big before I get well into fusion engines.
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C# Aurora / New role for construction ships in C# (split off)
« Last post by the obelisk on Today at 12:08:01 PM »
Splitting off from the Jump Gate thread.

A fourth option for balance would be that construction ships (or whatever they're to be called) would require more resources to build something than a shipyard would. That way you pay for your flexibility in mobility and not needing to retool with a resource surtax.
That's a possibility, though I personally don't like it.

How about just don't allow construction ships to build engines?  That way they can't build ships, and you'll still need shipyards.
Yeah, that definitely seems like an option, assuming it's not difficult to program.  The main thing for me is that I'd like to have construction ships that can build stations, and the reason for that is the lack of mobility.  Stations definitely look like they'll be more important, but if you have to rely on tugs to get them anywhere other than a colony with a large shipyard, I feel like that will limit their usefulness.  If you can build them on site, however, that's a different story.  At the same time, ships that can actually move around don't really need this, so preventing construction ships from building ships seems like it would prevent a lot of any potential abuse construction ships might otherwise allow.

Perhaps construction ships could be handled like combat engineers assembling PDCs? The components for the construction would need to be built planet-side, and a construction ship could only assemble them in space?
That also definitely seems like a good limitation.  Should definitely help to cut down on the versatility of construction ships.  I guess you could still manufacture a bunch of parts for different things to try and maintain that versatility, but that would require a significant amount of minerals, so I think it should be fine.

Conversely(or additionally), perhaps construction ships should need to be tooled at shipyards for specific projects? And that the project they're tooled for has to be done at a shipyard that could have done the construction itself(that way you can't have a 500 ton shipyard tool a construction ship for a 100k ton project).   It makes them more of an extension of a shipyard in that sense: a mobile slipway with the same costs and limits associated with the shipyard, but the advantage of being able to lay down construction at a specific location. 
I feel like requiring premade components serves more or less the same purpose, and in a more elegant way (though of course that's just my opinion).

Though maybe with a construction speed penalty added, to represent a lack of easy access to experts and specialized equipment if(when) problems during construction come up? That way there's at least some incentive to still use shipyards most of the time, and make construction ships only appealing for projects that simply can't be done at a colony.
Well, if construction ships can only build stations, you'll definitely still be using shipyards to make your actual ships.  I do like the idea that shipyards do have an advantage in building stations if you are willing to actually make a shipyard big enough to do so, so a  bit of a speed reduction on construction ships might be a good idea.  Of course,
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C# Aurora / Re: C# Aurora v0.x Suggestions
« Last post by the obelisk on Today at 11:42:09 AM »
Quote from: Garfunkel link=topic=9841. msg108423#msg108423 date=1527130335
USO tours are basically that.  And during WW2 and before it, mobile bordellos were a thing in most armies.  A space station is not in combat 24/7 nor is it necessarily sitting in the "frontlines" all the time.  Having a recreational ship visit it once a year or two is perfectly reasonable.
No USO tour I've ever seen has consisted of the equivalent of the Queen Elizabeth 2 pulling into port for a month.
I'm not sure this is a fair comparison.  It seems to me that Ships in Aurora tend to be quite a bit larger than real world ships.  Not only that, but the largest cruise ships today are over 200k tons.
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The Academy / Re: why the civilians not building?
« Last post by Odin on Today at 11:36:37 AM »
To trigger the creation of civilian ship you need to move at least 1 infrastructure on Luna.
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The Corporate Federation / Corporate Federation: The Incident over Earth
« Last post by Kurt on Today at 11:28:18 AM »
May 12, 2134
The Board had been meeting regularly ever since the aliens had entered the solar system.  Their initial fear of an invasion from the new aliens had faded quickly when it became clear that the aliens were willing to talk.  And now they had the keys to untold wealth in their hands.

CEO Allen nodded at the officer on the display in front of her.  “Very well, we will record a message.  What is the time delay?”

“Ma’am, the transmission delay is approximately 25 minutes, each way.”

“Very well.  We will have the message ready for translation in a few minutes.  Send it as soon as you translate it into their language.”  She glanced at her colleagues, then back at the viewer.  “This will be classified at the highest level.  The contents of any communication between the board and the Dregluk will be considered privileged information and is not to be revealed to anyone without the Board’s permission.  Understood?”

Colonel Sinclair, the senior member of the diplomatic and translation team, stood to attention.  “Understood, ma’am.”  The colonel hesitated, then said, “Ma’am, the team asked me to make sure you understood the ramifications of our breakthrough.”  He waited until she gestured for him to continue.  “Unfortunately, the term “full communications” is very deceptive.  The translation programs developed by our team are capable of translating what the Dregluk say, but divining their intent is more a matter of finesse than anything else.  We understand very little about the Dregluk at this point.  We just wanted to make that clear.”

CEO Allen nodded.  “We understand.  Thank you.”  With that she broke the connection.  She was sure that Colonel Sinclair would obey her.  Just as she was sure that that last bit was just the team covering their butts if there was a misunderstanding over the translations.  Sinclair had been drawn from her own corporate militia and was personally loyal to her.  He would do what she told him to do.  She turned to the other CEO’s.  “Well, you heard his report.  The team is confident that the last few difficulties impeding clear communication with the Dregluk have been cleared away.  What are we going to say to them?”

George Little, CEO of K&T Space Construction, shook his head.  “We need to tell them to get out of our system, first!  Those ships flitting around the outer system are driving my people nuts.  They are all afraid of alien monsters boarding their rigs and eating them.  And I can’t say as I blame them, given how the Dregluk look.”  The Dregluk were hideous to human eyes.  They were tall and heavily muscled, with a long skinny ‘head’ split by a very large tooth-lined mouth.  The mouth was so large, and the head so skinny that the contact team speculated that the Dregluk’s brain must be housed elsewhere in its body.  The Dregluk possessed two large horns that sprouted from their head, and no visible eyes or other sensory organs.   Their appearance was very off-putting to everyone who had to deal with them in any way. 

The short CEO shuddered, then looked around.  “United Hyundai and Hanjin Heavy agree with me.  I’ve had both their CEO’s on the line in the last two days reading me the riot act for allowing aliens into this system where they can get at their yards!  We depend on those yards and they are hideously vulnerable.”

CEO Wright stood and walked to the refreshments set aside for their meeting.  “Now George, really, the yards are all under the guns of our planetary defenses.  They have nothing to worry about.  Especially now that the Dregluk are talking.”

Little shook his head again.  “I’ve told them that, and they don’t care.  No one knows what kind of tech the aliens have, and they are worried.  And when they worry, so should we!”

CEO Potts, head of Copernicus R&D, jumped in.  “That’s just it George!  Think of the technology they must have!  Why, even if they aren’t ahead of us in general there must be thousands of things that they’ve thought of that we haven’t.  Millions of things that they do better, or worse, than we do.  Think of the trade possibilities!”

CEO Allen saw the speculative looks on the faces of her fellow CEO’s and knew it was time to strike.  “The possibilities for trade are tremendous.  George, next time Cho from Hyundai or Pembroke from Hanjin call you, try dangling the prospect of acquiring advanced construction techniques from the Dregluk in front of them.”  She looked around the table and saw the looks on their faces.  They weren’t hooked yet, but they could taste the bait.  “Think about this.  We control contact with the Dregluk, and that’s not going to change.  Control of communications will equal control of the trade.  Every deal we make with the Dregluk will flow through our companies.  I’m sure I don’t have to remind you of the wealth that will mean?”

That did it.  Their seats on the Board already meant they had access to the best contracts, and they all leveraged their position to be included in the best jobs out there.  As long as they weren’t too overbearing the other corporate heads would put up with it.  The potential of a new trade deal with the Dregluk, though, was something completely different.  This could mean untold wealth and power for them, if they handled it right, and they all knew it.  It took very little debate to determine the nature of the message to the Dregluk.  The important points were as follows:
1.   The leaders of the Dregluk Imperium were invited to a meeting in the Washington system at a time and date convenient for them, to discuss trade opportunities and areas of control;
2.   Until the time of the meeting the Board requested that the Dregluk remove their survey ships from the Solar System, and that the Dregluk would refrain from sending any other ships into the Solar System;
3.   Until spheres of influence were formally determined at the meeting to be held in the Washington system, the Washington system and all connected systems, excluding the Solar System, would be considered open to both races. 

One hour after sending the message a response was received from innermost Dregluk survey ship.  The Dregluk response was somewhat cryptic: “We survey.  Others will discuss possible transfers of goods and knowledge after meeting and agreement.” 

No matter how the Board tried to convince the Dregluk to leave they apparently could not understand the request and merely continued their survey.  When the Board asked the Dregluk when the ‘others’ would arrive, they were told: “Those who decide will arrive soon”.  The contact team warned the Board that their translations were approximate, and open to some interpretation.  For instance, the portion of the message “discuss possible transfers of goods and knowledge after meeting and agreement” was translated in several different ways by the software.  The translation given to the Board was considered by far the most likely interpretation by the software and the team, but there were other interpretations, some of which were quite ominous.  After some debate the Board decided to await “those who decide”. 

Commander Sarah Norman, second in command of the contact team, was very concerned by this development.  She had warned Colonel Sinclair, the CO of the team, that the Dregluk were being evasive.  In addition, she believed that the more ominous interpretations of the last message were more likely than the computers were rating them.  Colonel Sinclair refused to pass her concerns on to the Board without actual evidence to back them up.  Commander Norman, a former employee of Foster Interstellar, took her concerns to Admiral Foster as soon as she could.  She had faith in Admiral Foster, and she felt that if he knew what was going on behind the scenes, he would do what was right. 

Just over a month later, on June 20th, five Dregluk ships jumped into the Solar System from the Washington system.  Three of the ships had thermal signatures more than twice that of the Mars, which at 15,150 tons was the Federation’s largest warship.  Admiral Foster contacted the Board immediately, to request permission to consolidate his forces and sortie against the intrusion, but he was told that he could increase the readiness of his forces, but that he could not sortie his fleet.  In addition, the Board refused to allow him to recall the group of warships in the inner system on training exercises.  Admiral Foster protested, but the Board explained that the Dregluk were here on a trade mission, and that if they were hostile the planetary defenses of Earth would be more than sufficient to deal with them. 

Shortly after that an unarmed exploration ship was dispatched to meet the Dregluk with a delegation of negotiators.  The exploration ship met the Dregluk squadron ten hours later, but the Dregluk would only respond with platitudes and, when asked to stop, refused to answer or stop.  At this point Admiral Foster again asked for permission to consolidate his forces, but again the Board denied permission.  Shortly after that four small Dregluk ships jumped in from the Washington System and moved out-system, likely to continue the jump point survey.  Admiral Foster watched all of this with increasing concern.  By this point active sensors had been able to determine that the three larger Dregluk ships were 28,650 tons, while the two smaller Dregluk ships were 19,100 tons and 9,550 tons.  That meant that they out-massed the armed Federation ships in orbit over the Earth by about four times.  Admiral Foster felt a sinking feeling that only got worse as the Dregluk continued to approach, and the Board continued to ignore or brush off his warnings. 

On June 20th, at just after 1:30 in the morning, the Dregluk had closed to within a million kilometers of the Earth without transmitting anything substantive or responding to requests or orders in any way.

In a command center, outside of Detroit, North America…
“Colonel Sinclair, have they said anything else?”  CEO Allen was trying to hide the concern that was growing within her, but she feared she wasn’t controlling her emotions as well as she should be. 

The Colonel on the view screen grimaced.  “No, ma’am.  They just keep responding with ‘Those who decide are here’.”

“Well get something else out of them.  And tell them to stop outside the orbit of the Moon!  Again!”

“Yes ma’am.” 

CEO Allen turned away from the screen and looked at her fellow CEO’s.  “For heaven’s sake, what do they think they are doing?”

Oscar Hunt, suave and urbane manner slipping, shook his head.  “I don’t know.  Maybe…maybe we should have listened to Admiral Foster?”

George Little stirred in his chair.  “Those are some pretty big ships out there.” 

CEO Allen opened her mouth to reply, but before she could say anything the screen in front of her chimed and one of the Board’s executive assistants appeared.  “Ma’am, Admiral Foster is calling.”

CEO Allen looked at her fellow CEO’s.  They were worried, and they clearly wanted the Admiral to solve this problem.  “Yes, Admiral?”

Admiral Foster was in another command center far removed from the Board’s, and behind him she could see aides and officers all in frenetic activity.  “Ma’am, the aliens have broken the million-kilometer line and are continuing to close.”

CEO Allen felt fear coil within her.  “Admiral, they have ignored multiple commands to stop.  I want you and you fleet to stop them.  Now.”

Admiral Foster shook his head, his face grave.  “Ma’am, the time for that has passed.  They are too close to Earth now.  Any mistake, any misstep, and they could strike at the Earth before we stop them.  That’s why I wanted to meet them out there, away from our home planet.”  He stopped and looked across the room at the large plot table showing the approaching alien ships.  “They haven’t done anything hostile yet, aside from not stopping, and they may not consider something like that a problem in their culture.  I suggest we wait and see what they do next.  My ships are all at general quarters and squared away for battle, and I assume your PDC’s are too.  If they do something clearly hostile then my fleet will lead the battle against them, but until then I recommend we wait.  As far as they are concerned we invited them to talk.  Attacking them might be considered the basest betrayal.”

CEO Allen shut down the comm line without any further words.  “Foster won’t do anything.  What now?”

In the command center Admiral Foster stared at the monitor in disbelief.  The Board had ignored the warnings of its own diplomatic team about the possible alternate meanings of the Dregluk messages.  Fortunately, Commander Norman had alerted him to the other possible translations.  One of the alternates implied that ‘those who decide’ were coming to decide whether humanity would be incorporated into the Dregluk Imperium!  He had been against letting the Dregluk into the system in the first place, but now that they were so close to Earth they had to be careful.  Very careful.  He turned from the monitor towards the plot table in the center of the room.  The five icons representing the Dregluk ships were light blue and headed steadily towards the Earth in the center of the plot.  Turning, he punched the key that connected him with Captain Law, the commander of the Federation warships in orbit. 

Within seconds the monitor showed the jump ship Bihar’s bridge, with Captain Law looking into the pickup.  “Yes Admiral?”

“Alex, the Board is getting nervous.  Be prepared, but do not fire first without my orders.  Understood? You are authorized to return fire immediately should the Dregluk fire first.”

“Understood, Admiral.  We’ll be ready, no matter what.”

Admiral Foster felt like pounding his head against the wall in front of him.  The Board had invited the Dregluk here, and now they were panicking.  This situation was going to go from bad to worse, he just knew it. 

In the Board’s command center outside of Detroit, the Board was working assiduously on making things worse.  “What the hell do the Dregluk think they are doing?”  CEO Little gestured at the plot table.  The Dregluk ships were now inside of the orbit of the Moon and were…doing something.  They’d move forward, stop, and then move away from the Earth.  Then they’d move in circles for a while.  It was almost like a dance.  “That’d just be weird if it was happening at the jump point, but they are way too close to us!  We have to do something!”

CEO Allen could feel her control of the situation slipping away as the panic built within her.  She looked at the others and saw the same panic on their faces.  All except Charlotte Potts, who looked nearly as serene as she always looked.  “Charlotte, what do you think?”

“I think we have no choice at this point.  The Dregluk have demonstrated that we cannot productively deal with them.  That option is gone.”

CEO Allen felt the floor drop away under her feet.  “But…but war?  How can we…”  Her voice trailed off as the immensity of it all fell on her shoulders. 

CEO Potts shrugged.  “Think about what a war will mean.  Think about the power that will accrue to those who lead the Federation through that conflict.  A conflict not only with the Obscura but with the Dregluk as well.  The other corporations won’t just rely on us, they will need us, desperately.”

CEO Wright jumped to his feet.  “Yes!  We can make this work!  The public doesn’t need to know anything about this, but the other corporations will, and they will recognize the terrible situation we are in!  They will give us anything we say we need, and we will need everything there is to meet this threat.  The buildup to defeat the Dregluk and the Obscura will ensure our positions for the rest of time.  We will be the most powerful people, the most powerful corporations, in history.”

The others were looking at Wright with hope in their eyes for the first time since the Dregluk jumped into the system.  CEO Allen stood.  “Very well.  We all agree?”  They all signaled their assent and CEO Allen stabbed the comm button.  In seconds the screen cleared to show a trim woman in Federation Earth Defense Force greens standing in her PDC’s command center.  “Defense Commander Russell, this is Federation CEO Allen.  Do you recognize me?”

“Yes, ma’am, I do.”

“I hereby authorize you to destroy all Dregluk ships in close proximity to the Earth.  The Board has agreed on this action.”  One by one the Board members stood and agreed.   

Commander Russell began to turn away, then hesitated.  “Ma’am, you understand, the Dregluk are too close to Earth.  I cannot guarantee that we can destroy them before they can get a response off.”

“We understand, Russell.  You have your orders.”

“Yes ma’am.”  She snapped off a salute and turned away. 

Admiral Foster was standing over his plot table when a technician handling sensor inputs to the command center began frantically pointing at one of the sensor displays on the center’s wall.  “Sir, the PDC’s are preparing to fire!”

“What!”  The exclamation was torn from him as he turned to the display.  Sure enough, the signals were clear.  The PDC’s had acquired their targets and were preparing to fire.  “Comm’s, route this through the Dregluk translation routine.  ‘To all Dregluk ships!  You are to leave Earth space immediately!  Withdraw to fifty million kilometers from Earth and await contact.  Do it now!’”

“On the chip and sending!”  A few tense seconds passed as they watched the Dregluk ships do their baffling dance in between the Earth and the Moon, then the tech paled.  “Sir, we have a response.  It reads – Those who decide have arrived.”

Admiral Foster looked at the communications officer blankly.  “That’s it?  That’s all?  For the love of god, they have to withdraw.  We have to…”  His voice trailed off as the four Federation Board class PDC’s on Earth began launching massive Bludgeon anti-ship missiles at the Dregluk ships.  Foster was shocked for a few crucial seconds, but then turned to his comm officer.  Whatever he was going to say was lost when the comm officer bent over his console, listening to something.  Foster held off until the comm officer turned to him. 

“Sir, the Board of Directors is on the line.  They say…”  The junior officer looked pasty and greenish.  “They say that you are to surrender yourself to Federation Marshals that are on their way.  You have been removed from command.”

Admiral Foster looked around the command center in shock.  The Board was insane.  They had just provoked a war with an alien race of unknown strength and then, just to put the cherry on the cake, removed the head of their mobile forces at the same instant that those forces were needed to engage an enemy within firing range of Earth.  For a few seconds he actually considered ignoring the order from the Board, but as he looked around the command center he realized that the confusion he would cause would be worse than whatever actions the Board had taken.  He bowed his head for a second, then looked at his subordinates.   “Captain Law is in command of the orbital forces.  Do your best to support him and coordinate between the orbital forces and the PDC’s in my absence.”  His toneless voice firmed up.  “Remember, we serve the people of the Federation!  We are all that stands between them and the Obscura, and now the Dregluk!  Do your jobs!”  With that he turned and walked out, returning to his office.  The marshals would be there soon. 

Even as Admiral Foster gave his people a pep talk, CEO Allen was in communication with Captain Alex Law, CO of the Bihar and senior officer in orbit.  “Captain Law, Admiral Foster has been removed as Admiral.  You are in command now.  You will engage the Dregluk along with the PDC’s and end the threat to Earth!  Do you understand?”

Captain Law looked at CEO Allen with confusion.  “You relieved Admiral Foster.  But…”

CEO Allen broke in before he could finish.  “That doesn’t matter now, Captain Law!  Engage the enemy!”

Captain Law had a dozen questions, but this wasn’t the time.  “Yes ma’am.  Orders understood!”  CEO Allen broke the connection and Captain Law turned to his command team.  The orbital units were at alert stations, of course, but no one had expected the battle to begin like it had.  He had work to do.     

The first Federation orbital unit to fire was Missile Boat #007, a first-generation missile boat equipped with five reduced-size, slow-loading missile launchers firing Thunderbolt II anti-ship missiles.  The Thunderbolt II was the Federation’s latest missile design, capable of a top speed of 25,600 kps, a range of 22.1 million kilometers, and mounting a strength six warhead.   The 1st generation missile boats were a compromise design, intended as nothing more than a stop gap.  The final design, intended to engage the Obscura, was the Missile Boat refit 2, equipped with five Lord Ordinance Heavy Box Launchers capable of launching Bludgeon Planetary Anti-Ship Missiles.  These monster missiles had a speed of 20,000 kps, a range of 41 million kilometers, a strength 24 warhead, and were equipped with armor and ECM.  The box launchers would take a long time to reload, of course, but the Bludgeon anti-ship missiles would give the small ship quite a punch.  The 007 hadn’t been upgraded yet, though, so she was still equipped with the older launchers and the smaller missiles.   

The lead Dregluk group, composed of the two smaller Dregluk ships, was just 54,000 kilometers from the Earth when the Federation units fired, and so it was hit first by the incoming missiles.  Both Dregluk ships were destroyed by the avalanche of heavy missiles, although the larger of the two, designated as the Demon class by Federation Militia intelligence, managed to intercept four of the Bludgeon missiles before they could hit with point blank point defense fire. 

CEO Allen watched the destruction of the two Dregluk ships with fascination, but her concentration was interrupted by an emergency call from Defense Commander Russell.  “Yes Commander?”

DC Russell was seated at her command station.  Her command center was shaking, and dust was falling from the ceiling.  “We are taking fire, Chief Executive.  Some kind of kinetic or energy weapon capable of penetrating the atmosphere.”  The shaking ended and she looked around.  An officer spoke off-screen, barely audible.  She turned back after a second.  “Our armor is intact, but we’ve taken minor shock damage.  We estimate that we were hit by 47 strikes, about a third of which were strength nine.  The rest were strength six.”

CEO Allen’s gaze sharpened.  “They were ready to engage.  They fired immediately after we launched.”

“Yes, they did.  Remarkable reaction times.”  She glanced down.  “We’ll need eighty seconds to reload, so the orbital ships are on their own till then.  Fortunately, they are targeting us.  Our armor can take it.” 

They disconnected as the remaining Bludgeon ASM’s closed on the main Dregluk group approximately 150,000 kilometers from the Earth.   All three Dregluk ships intercepted some of the Bludgeon’s short of their targets but were unable to stop them all.  One of the Dregluk ships was hit by eight of the Bludgeons, another by sixteen, and the third by nineteen.  All were left streaming atmosphere and slowed.  The five Thunderbolt II missiles launched by Missile Boat 007 were swatted out of space by one of the big Dregluk ships before they could hit. 

Admiral Foster sat in his office watching helplessly on his office’s displays as the battle progressed.  A second missile boat launched five more Thunderbolt II’s and he silently willed the other ships in orbit to begin firing as well, but they remained silent.  The sudden and unexpected attack followed by the even more sudden change in command was taking its toll.  There were two 1st gen missile frigates, two 3rd gen patrol cruisers, and four missile boats of various generations in orbit, along with two unarmed scouts and a jump cruiser armed with only defensive missiles.  Admiral Foster felt a burst of frustration as he willed the other ships to begin engaging the Dregluk.  He hadn’t wanted this battle, but now that it was underway there was only one way it could end.  The confusion in orbit was, like so many other things, the Board’s fault.  They siphoned off all of the best officers for their PDC’s and other pet projects.  He had argued, forcefully, after the Honolulu debacle, that he needed more officers, and better trained officers and crews, for his ships, but while they had appeared to listen they only paid lip serve to his arguments.  The Board members were focused on the bottom line and tended to ignore the ‘human factor’ whenever possible, a serious failing, in his opinion.     

Admiral Foster focused on his plot display.  The Cairo, one of the missile frigates in orbit, had launched three Thunderbolt II missiles, while the Missile Boat 009, the first of the new 2nd gen missile boats, had launched five Bludgeon missiles.  While the missile boat was launching more and larger missiles, it wouldn’t be able to fire again for quite a while, while the Cairo would be able to fire again in fifty seconds. 

The Federation Board was watching the conflict on their command center’s displays.  “Ma’am, PDC 001 reports it is under fire again by the Dregluk weapons.  Three strikes only.”  CEO Allen was beginning to sweat, in spite of the rooms conditioned and constant temperature.  The PDC’s failure to destroy the Dregluk ships with their first salvo was shocking, as was the Dregluk’s focus on striking back at the planetary target.    Seconds later, even as PDC 001 reported additional kinetic strikes, two of the missile boat’s Bludgeon missiles hit one of the limping Dregluk ships and completely destroyed it, raising another round of cheers around the command center.    There were cheers amongst the command center’s crew and relieved looks were exchanged between the Board members. 

Seconds crawled by as Federation crews struggled to get their ships under way and the PDC’s steadily reloaded their missile launchers.  Sporadic weapons strikes pounded PDC 001, eventually destroying a missile launcher through shock damage, but the PDC’s armor continued to hold out against the Dregluk weaponry.  Finally, seventy-five seconds after the battle started the Patrol Cruiser Leviathan moved out of orbit as the second missile frigate, the Shanghai, launched its missiles.  Shortly after leaving orbit the Leviathan fired its lasers at long range, missing.  Behind it the Intrepid got underway as well. 

The Leviathan fired shortly after leaving orbit, scoring a minor hit with one of its 150 mm near UV lasers.  Behind the Leviathan the PDC’s launched a second salvo of forty-seven Bludgeon missiles, divided between the three remaining Dregluk ships.  Even as they launched the Dregluk continued to pound PDC 001, destroying another missile launcher with shock damage. 

Eighty seconds after the first salvo, the PDC’s launched a second salvo of the massive Bludgeon AS missiles, wiping the remaining Drgeluk ships out.  The battle was over. 

In his office in the Fleet command center, Admiral Foster watched with relief as the last Dregluk ship exploded.  The officers and technicians in the next room began cheering, more in relief than anything else, but Foster didn’t feel like cheering at all.  The Board had just started a war with the Dregluk that might destroy them all.  As the cheering died down Foster could hear his communicator chiming, and looking down, Foster recognized that it was the Board.  He punched it up.  “Yes?”

The small communicator screen showed the guards at the command center’s entrance.  “Sir, there are Federation Marshals here.  They say they are here to escort you to the Board.   Should we let them in?”

“Yes, of course.  Escort them to my office.  I’ll be ready to go by the time they arrive.”  Foster sat down heavily.  He had no idea of what the Board had planned for him, but he had a sinking feeling that the Dregluk were not going to take this laying down. 

The Federation marshals escorted him out of his command center with a modicum of dignity.  Once in their transport, though, the façade fell away.  They search and cuffed him efficiently, and then bundled him off to a detention center.  He would not see the Board that day, or any day soon. 

In the meantime, CEO Allen wasted no time reaching out to Captain Law.  “Very good job Captain!  Very good.  The Board is pleased at your performance, and the performance of the fleet.”  She paused and looked back at the other members of the Board, visible behind her.  They nodded and she turned back.  “Until the Board makes its decision about the future leadership of the Fleet you are to remain in command.” 

Captain Law kept his face still as his mind raced.  He was as loyal to Admiral Foster as any other officer, but there were currents here he didn’t understand.  It appeared that the Admiral was out, but he had no idea what the man who had single-handedly created the Federation Fleet had done. 

CEO Allen might have seen something in his face, or maybe she just identified his silence as hesitation.  She leaned forward into the pickup.  “Admiral Foster undermined our efforts to defend this planet against Dregluk aggression.  He was fanatically focused on the Obscura to the exclusion of all other threats, and he had to go.  He won’t be back.  You are in change for now.  Here are your orders.  You are to take your fleet out and clear the system of all Dregluk ships.  Once that is completed you are to move into the Washington system and clear it of all Dregluk ships.  Once that is completed, we will begin the search for the Dregluk world.  Is that understood?” 

Captain Law braced to attention.  He had no idea what Admiral Foster had actually done, but it was clear that Foster was out.  “Your orders are understood, ma’am.”

“Captain Law.  Let me make myself clear.  Your campaign against the Dregluk is to be without mercy.  You will chase down all Dregluk ships, whether civilian or military, and either force them to surrender or destroy them.  Accomplish your mission and you will be favorably considered to replace Foster.”

Captain Law saw new vistas open in front of him.  He had grown up in the Texas Autonomous Region, and like most people in the Region, pride was about all they had.  He had risen to attend one of the few astronautical schools in Region through sheer determination, and CEO Foster had picked him out of the school for his burgeoning exploration corporation.  As the key to his and his family’s economic security, Alex Law had been devoted to Foster first in his exploration company and now in the Navy that he had created.   There was no way he was going back to the poverty of his Texas upbringing, though, and near as he could see that was what defying the Board would get him.  “I understand ma’am.  I will rid this system, and the Washington system, of the Dregluk.”  He hesitated for a second and glanced at a screen to his side.  “Uh ma’am, if I might suggest.  There are Dregluk life pods out there from the ships we destroyed.”  He saw the beginnings of a reaction from the CEO and hurried on.  “Rescuing those crews would give us invaluable intelligence on the Dregluk.  I propose taking my ship out to perform the rescues while the rest of the Fleet prepares to sortie.”

CEO Allen looked at him for a minute, then nodded.  “Very well, Captain Law.  That’s a good suggestion.  Make it happen.”  She began to turn away then turned back.  “Oh, and congratulations on your promotion, Rear Admiral.”     

The Board would explain the nuclear explosions in orbit to the public as a training exercise for the planetary defenses.  While conspiracy theories and rumors abounded, for the most part this was accepted. 

Captain Law recalled the ships from the group training in the inner system and dispatched ships to run down the Dregluk survey ships in the outer system.  In addition, he ordered the Bihar to pick up the Dregluk life pods from the wrecks in between the Earth and the Moon.     

After action analysis showed that the Dregluk acted in an incomprehensible manner.  They closed on the Earth without responding to humanity’s obvious and reasonable concerns.  Once they reached approximately 100,000 kilometers, shortly before the first missile launch, they began flying in circles, steadily inching closer to the Earth.  They waited until the PDC’s and orbital units fired before they themselves fired, but they were obviously ready to engage in combat as they responded immediately. 

The strange behavior by the Dregluk continued as the Federation forces pursued the ships in the outer system.  For a time, it seemed that the Dregluk ships welcomed a fight as they rushed inwards, towards the Federation interception groups.  However, after hours of rushing inwards they then turned outwards, before once again turning inwards.   The Dregluk were proving to be completely incomprehensible.

On June 22nd the Patrol Cruisers Swiftsure and Victory chase down and destroy a Dregluk survey ship off of Ceres in the Solar system.  Over the next five days the two cruisers would destroy five more Dregluk survey ships without loss to themselves, or even any sign that the Dregluk saw what was coming for them.  After eliminating the Dregluk ships the two cruisers joined the rest of the Federation fleet at the jump point to the Washington system. 

Shortly thereafter, two Tennessee class jump cruisers jump into the Washington system along with their escorts.  They find no Dregluk ships near the jump point.  The Nimitz, a scout equipped with a very large active array, does not detect any Dregluk ships within 250 million kilometers of the jump point, and the construction ship building the gate on the Washington side of the point reports no Dregluk activity.  The force splits, with some units left to guard the jump point while the remainder return to the Earth in case the Obscura choose this time to attack.   
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