Author Topic: (9) Reconnaissance in Force  (Read 1266 times)

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Offline Garfunkel (OP)

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(9) Reconnaissance in Force
« on: May 26, 2020, 08:43:15 PM »
Reconnaissance in Force

1907

Russia scraps Anadyr, the last surviving Krivak-class corvette, like America did for their Essex-class. Britain and Germany decide to hold on to theirs as does Italy and Russia for the Azov-class. The main problem facing the Grand Alliance is that all assault transports were destroyed, setting back plans for landings.

Germany is inspired by the Martian efforts to board Italian ships and begins a research project on similar capability, that would allow their Terminators and Sturmmanns to take the fight inside the Martian orbital constructs. Britain focuses on an effort to begin salvage operations though it will take until mid-1908 until a salvage module becomes available. AHM prioritizes researching larger troop transportability. France realizes that it is being left behind in the ground war and begins the development of its own armoured cavalry force, following a similar path that the Central European powers took. Russia is forced to focus on improving its economy, as while the country has finally climbed out of debt, the situation is precarious. America focuses on its new 'Big Ships' doctrine, researching technologies to help in that, like damage control and duranium armour. Italy also realizes it needs deadlier vessels to fight Mars, first focusing on weaponry. Japan draws the correct lesson from other powers and while its national pride is hurt by the lack of Japanese casualties in the Battle of the Orbitals, the smaller power rightly decides to not rush out corvettes at this stage, instead researching better carronades and going straight for frigates. Iberia still lacks the capability for landing troops in the face of opposition so this project is taking up all their research. RIM is happy that their sensor satellite worked flawlessly in conjunction with their ten Hjemmeforsvar fort and for the moment want better capacitors before building any combat ships. As the smaller power in the race, they can ill afford any missteps.

In March, the k.u.k Raummarine is reborn as SMS Innsbruck and SMS Klagenfurt float away from the shipyard. However, Vienna has decided not to build more at the moment. RIM completes its second sensor satellite, completing the order.

All powers are expanding their main (or only) naval shipyard to 3,000 or 3,500 tons to be able to build frigates. Notable exceptions are RIM and Iberia who still lack shipyards.

On 6 April, the surviving human corvettes gather in Earth orbit and depart towards Mars. Their mission? Reconnaissance in force. Leading admirals of the Grand Alliance agree that without knowing anything about the capabilities of the Martian orbital constructs, estimated to be fortresses of some kind, an invasion would be difficult to plan. As the Royal Navy has the slowest ships, it leads the way with the other powers following closely behind.


Wrecks are disabled for screenshots as they clutter the view pretty badly.

Just before midnight on 12 April, with the Alliance Fleet 33.8 million kilometers from Mars, their sensors picked more contacts. It was no great surprise that there were more than 2 Martian fortresses.



In addition to the two Baemoloth classes (15,341), there were four Bubonix classes (14,402), four Arcanaloth classes (7,006), and eight Anthraxus classes (5,701). Two days later, a smaller Echinoloth class (2,185) was found. Still, the human fleets kept closing in as there was no reaction from the Martian Menace.

That is, until nine past two on the 14th, when without a warning swarm of small explosions surrounded the corvettes. Every Austrian, British, and German corvette was hit. Despite 80 explosions, there was surprisingly little damage with HMS Hermes losing an engine, HMS Arabis and HMs Arrowhead losing two engines, as well as SMS Klagenfurt and SMS Dachs losing their only engines. Detaching the engineless ships, the humans kept pushing ahead. Ten minutes later, another swarm of small explosions surrounded them. Still no corvettes were lost, though more lost components and had to be detached. Urgent messages were sent back to Earth to report the situation. Confusion reigned on the human ships - was this a minefield they had stumbled into or some sort of new Martian weapon? They had to find out and as the damage was minor and the Russian, as well as the Italian corvettes, were not targeted, there was the hope of breaking through. Each national contingent went for maximum speed in hopes of passing through the minefield as quickly as possible.

Ten minutes passed and another horde of explosions happened. Then a fourth. Miraculously, not a single corvette had been lost though many were critically damaged and unable to continue their mission. All German corvettes were neutralized by now but the others kept going. The fifth string of explosions proved deadly for five corvettes - three Tribals and two Kaiserin Augustas. Sixth string hit five Russian corvettes. This made it clear that the Martians could not target all human ships at the same time and focused their weaponry on targets until these were completely destroyed. It also ruled out the minefield. These small explosions had to be some sort of extremely long-range artillery as there were roughly ten minutes between each "volley of fire". As there now was a significant distance between the leading corvettes and the last German ones immobilized in the aether, the unknown Martian weapon had a relatively low velocity when compared to lasers or plasma carronades as it took 25 seconds from the first hit on the Russians before explosions surrounded the German corvette.

Regardless of this information, there were now life pods of 14 vessels in space with very little hope of collecting them. This led the commander of the Russian Azov Flotilla, First Lieutenant Kazakov, to contact his Italian counterpart, Capitano di Corvetta Caruso, and recommend that while the Russians push ahead and distract the Martians, the Italians pick up survivors and race back to Earth. Caruso agreed, if only because the Italian corvettes were the fastest ones still around and had not been targeted yet.


The Russian view of the situation.

The explosions seemed relentless as corvette after corvette was engulfed in explosions. Yet the humans were persistent for they noticed that the number of explosions was lessening. And lessening. Until at 15:33:50 the last four explosions struck Alcione, one of the Italian ships, though not penetrating its armour. Nervous human crews steeled themselves but as the Italians continued to rescue survivors from life pods and the Russians maintained their charge, the explosions never resumed.

That is until the Russians were 2.6 million kilometers from Mars. This time there were 34 explosions but these were gigantic compared to the earlier ones. Later calculations placed at them approximately nine times as strong. All seven Russian ships were completely destroyed immediately with very few crew members making it into the life pods.

The stunned Italians were at a loss of what to do. At over 6 million kilometers from Mars they were safe from attack as the Menace had run out of ammunition for its extreme-range weapon but they could still have plenty of ammunition for the shorter-range one.


Italian situation.

Capitano di Corvetta Caruso decided not to abandon the Russian survivors. His ships would dash to the life pods and immediately turn and race away. The hope was that they wouldn't all be hit or that the Menace had run out of ammunition. Caruso could not stand for Italians to retreat with their hulls intact.

With the Italians close enough to see the Russian life pods, the explosions resumed. Yet there only five. None of the Italian ships were destroyed, though all four were badly damaged with multiple lost components. Most importantly, all of them had at least two engines still functioning. They pushed on. Every moment could have been their last but the Martian long-range guns were silent. Each of the four ships was extremely crowded, their life support systems barely keeping up but they were on their way home. The Menace had thrown yet another surprise at the humans but humanity has persevered.

On 19 April the Italian ships arrived on low Earth orbit and unloaded the survivors on the surface. All four corvettes would require overhaul and repair work at the shipyards.

Each power continued with their previous plans. With their Surface-to-Earth units at ready and the Menace significantly worn down, the risk of new Martian ships was reduced to almost nothing. King Umberto II was keen on polishing the Italian shield even further so on 7 July, with the ships fully repaired and the crews refreshed, Italia Fleet headed back towards Mars.

On 8 July, at 11:15, the Italians regained all Martian objects on their sensors. There had been no change to their numbers or composition. The Italians slowly crossed the 2.6 million kilometer line without any Martian reaction. Emboldened, they kept going ahead. On 9 July they were close enough to target the shipyard complex - ensuring that no further Menace vessels could be produced was priority number one for humans.

Yet they never got close enough to open fire.

At 01:51, heavy laser beams struck up from the Martian surface and hit Agostino Bertani and Airone. The former lost an engine. The Italians were still over 200,000 kilometers from Mars orbit. While Capitano di Corvetta Casartelli was trying to decide whether to retreat or not, the Agostino Bertani was hit again, this time knocking out one of its two lasers. There was no way the Italians could withstand the Martian fire while getting close enough to fire at the shipyards.

As they turned to retreat, more laser fire scorched their armor, knocking some components offline and causing casualties but no ships were lost. On 12 July they made low Earth orbit and repairs were begun anew. The Italian dream of striking a decisive blow on their own and forever elevating Italian prestige had failed.

By August, all Italian ships were repaired but this time they remained on Earth.

The few nations that had adopted gauss cannons as their primary weaponry abandoned them due to the range issue and instead went for rail guns, plasma carronades, or lasers. 10,000 kilometers was not enough.

Thus 1907 came to an end. There were significantly fewer human ships orbiting Earth but so was Mars depleted even further. And with bigger transports and the new frigates coming into production, and their ground forces growing, the Earth powers were becoming confident of their eventual victory. Yet the Martian shipyard kept working, undisturbed by human activity. And still no human had laid eyes on the Martian surface.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 11:29:17 AM by Garfunkel »
 
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Offline Garfunkel (OP)

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2020, 08:45:55 PM »
The next update will be delayed: I'm hopeful that 1.10 patch will come soon and since it will not be DB compatible, this is an as good a break as there can be for manually updating to the new version. It'll also allow me to fix a few issues that cropped up when making this game like for some reason half of the human powers aren't allied with the other half and the Martian continued maintenance issues and so on. Thanks for reading!
 
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Offline kks

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2020, 11:09:53 AM »
Great writing!

I wonder which of the earth powers will first capture an missile base and develop space torpedos. Germans could do that if they develop boarding forces.
 

Offline Vastrat

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2020, 03:54:00 PM »
Great work, can't wait for the next one.  :)
 

Offline Ehndras

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2020, 06:59:07 PM »
Thanks for the update! Always a pleasure to read your work.
"Boop!" goes the thermonuclear missile salvo
 

Offline Hydrofoil

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2020, 03:57:27 AM »
Love this AAR its great! cant wait to see what happens next!
 

Offline Father Tim

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #6 on: June 10, 2020, 11:45:09 AM »
Did you get far in 1.10 before 1.11 came out, and if so are you rolling over to 1.11?
 

Offline liveware

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2020, 10:58:45 PM »
Sir Caruso of the Italian persuasion showed considerable gallantry in his actions. A difficult choice he faced for sure! My own forces have suffered considerably when attempting such noble maneuvers.

I enjoy your writing Mr. Garfunkel. I hope to see more some day!
« Last Edit: June 18, 2020, 11:01:39 PM by liveware »
Open the pod-bay doors HAL...
 
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Offline punchkid

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2020, 02:47:54 AM »
I would also just like to say that I enjoy the story so far and hope that you will continue it =)

 

Offline Garfunkel (OP)

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2020, 02:17:55 PM »
Did you get far in 1.10 before 1.11 came out, and if so are you rolling over to 1.11?
No, haven't had time to move the campaign to 1.10 so I'll move it straight to 1.11.

However, when that will happen I can't say. It looks like I'll remain quite busy over the summer. There's a strong possibility that the story & campaign will not continue until September.
 
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Offline L0ckAndL0ad

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Re: (9) Reconnaissance in Force
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2020, 11:18:51 PM »
I read the entire AAR including up to this point. Great stuff! Can't imagine having to deal with/actually implementing it, with such a number of sides involved. Hope you're having as much fun as we do reading it!

Loved the spirit of the adventure and the thrill of battling the unknown! Looking forward to reading the next chapters.
 
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