Author Topic: Race to the Stars  (Read 5471 times)

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Offline Zap0 (OP)

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #30 on: September 12, 2020, 07:56:16 PM »
Two more quiet years. The general mineral scarcity, especially Gallicite, has slowed construction and progress somewhat, leading to a somewhat stabilized strategic situation. Nobody can really rely on their extrasolar colonies yet, Sol is still the center of the universe, even if a lot of minerals are coming in from outside it.

A 5d increment takes about 20s time to process for me at current.



   2121

The Japanese navy lacks long-ranged sensors. The warships only carry short and medium-range sensors and there are no dedicated sensor ships. This will now change with the deployment of the Sendai class recons: small and fast 1k ton vessels with moderate range, able to be deployed in high numbers. They are mankinds first dedicated scout vessels.

Code: [Select]
Sendai class Recon Craft (P)      1 000 tons       23 Crew       149.9 BP       TCS 20    TH 156    EM 0
7815 km/s      Armour 1-8       Shields 0-0       HTK 8      Sensors 5/0/0/0      DCR 0      PPV 0
Maint Life 1.09 Years     MSP 18    AFR 40%    IFR 0.6%    1YR 15    5YR 227    Max Repair 78.125 MSP
Kaigun-Ch?sa    Control Rating 1   
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Morale Check Required   

Mitsubishi ION Small Craft Thruster (1)    Power 156.2    Fuel Use 122.28%    Signature 156.25    Explosion 12%
Fuel Capacity 179 000 Litres    Range 26.4 billion km (39 days at full power)

Hiraseli Short-Range Sensor (1)     GPS 40     Range 5.4m km    Resolution 10
Modegi Long-Range Detection System (1)     GPS 2880     Range 35.7m km    Resolution 80
Matsuhita Electric Thermic Detector (1)     Sensitivity 5     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  17.7m km

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

   2122

A PRL explorer sent to explore beyond the other unknown but stabilized JP in the Xining system finds a small Xining colony on the third planet, along with some kind of alien construct that appears much older than the Xining colony on the planet. It appears they are studying this alien ruin. Could this be a factor in their war with the Split? The planet itself bears several mineral deposits and would, with a slightly lower oxygen content in the atmosphere, be habitable for humans, too.
No ship was sent to explore beyond the Xining system until now to avoid upsetting the Xining, but their recent "declaration of friendship" is being taken as a promise not to fire on PRL ships. Either way, it appears their homeworld is farther out.

The EU discovers a habitable world three jumps behind the La Tablada colony and eight jumps from Sol. The world is remarkably Earth-like, albeit with more extreme tectonics and corresponding geographical features. A mineral survey and probing for eventual Qian forces in orbit remains to be carried out.

The star of European logistics operations is the starship Aachen, a multifunctional supply and 20k ton support vessel able to carry supplies, ordnance and a moderate amount of fuel. Military oilers like the Japanese or Chinese ones tend to have too little fuel capacity or are too inefficient to be useful outside their intended roles, the large Starfreighter tankers are too slow and carry too great an amount of fuel. In order to relieve the demands on the Aachen a set of more mordern supply vessels with similar proportions are being built.

The Russian exploration of the small alien outpost they discovered has identified 9 alien installations for potential reactivation. It'll take several years yet again to deploy an engineering force capable of recovering them here in Sverdlovsk, 7 jumps from Sol, but won't be a high priority. Other information gained by the exploration does not yield any strategic advantage, so the findings are publicized for national prestige.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2020, 08:06:02 PM by Zap0 »
 
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Offline Zap0 (OP)

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #31 on: September 14, 2020, 09:24:09 AM »
Just one year but a bunch of pictures this time.



   2123

The European Union is under great political pressure. The situation on Earth is not good economically, with all TN minerals now being mined off-world and having to be imported. Earth, and the EU especially, are still rich, but the radical economic changes over the last generation or two have left Earth with a deep economic inequality among it's citizens. On Mars, the source of much of the EU's wealth, government policy is actively being undermined by the corporations of the Martian Consortium and nationalist sentiments stirred - the idea of Martian independence is openly discussed. On Taíno, the domed Santa María colony soon to crack the 300m inhabitants mark, there is a hotbed of economic activity thanks to the mineral richness of the system. An effectively self-sufficient trans-newtonian economy has been created, a first for humanity outside of Sol. This stark contrast to Earth's economic staleness continues to attract more and more immigrants looking for a better life. As a silver lining at least most of Earth's member states now have similar interests due to them all facing the same problems on off-world issues and aren't as divided as in the past. The EU parliament is as such more and more looking like a parliament composed of parties representing different worlds rather than nation states. At current at least there are no perceived outside threats due Russia being kept in check by the large space navy and relatively good relations being maintained with all other powers.

The PRL explorer Aristarchus is still surveying the other system behind the Xining system where it found an alien construct on a world with a Xining colony. By the end of April it detects combat signatures in the inner system. They are a match for the Split fleet which destroyed a Xining fleet three years ago. The emerging Xining ship wrecks are a match, too. It appears the Split are on the move. After the initial destruction of four Xining vessels another two much larger wrecks emerge, assumed to be Xining support ships. Xining survivors are being picked up, unlike last time.


The same powerful energy weapon signatures as before. The Xining are getting their asses handed to them.

Russia is in something of a maintenance crisis. For quite some time most maintenance installations were being operated on Callisto, where the majority of the fleet was stationed. Earth's facilities were cut down again and again, until eventually they could not keep up anymore with the required production of precision-manufactured spare parts, which the facilities moved to Callisto could not help out with as all TN-based manufacturing is still done on Earth.
The navy can only have said to have survived the long period of near-total lack of maintenance that followed eventually due to their remarkable engineered resilience and sturdiness. Now all ships are stationed on Earth and most facilities are moved back to assist with the maintenance of the navy, but a lot of ships still have holes in their spare parts manifests and have to take turns undergoing overhauls.
Additionally, the 40 automines on Venus can't keep up with the increased demand on Gallicite between the MSP usage and ordnance production. Now even ordnance production has been paused. Without the compactness of the Russian navy, barely above the Argentine one in total military tonnage, it is unlikely that all ships could continue to be maintained in this situation. Colonization of the Novokutzneck colony, which the brave Russian navy dared the mighty PRL to take from them, is going slowly. Manned mining operations excavating it's 0.5 Gallicite deposits would help the situation immensely. 110 mines can be transferred from Callisto, where they are just mining relatively worthless Corbomite and Vendarite, but there are neither enough people nor infrastructure for them at the distant colony yet.

The "Dinosaur" line of PRL destroyers is as old as it's naming scheme suggests. The remaining five of originally six ships have all seen active duty, but after fifty years in space it is hard to continue justifying their maintenance when ships more than twice their speed are being built today. The combat ships will be recycled and the gained Gallicite will go towards another two modern strike cruisers, but the equally old supporting jump ships and tankers will remain in service.


This one took it's damage during the Battle of Mars and the second Machholz incident. Ships of few other nations can claim to have been part of as much action as the PRL navy.

Results are in: the habitable world found three jumps past the La Tablada colony is inhabited. Large thermal signatures are detected before the survey ship even gets close. The EU/ARG crew of the Tavernier was not prepared to find a live alien civilization, being unaware of the contact the PRL had with aliens.
The crew activates the transponder and is very surprised when they are greeted in spoken Mandarin.


Their home is a cozy quarternary system with a G-type subgiant as it's primary.

"...and they speak Chinese" was the especially shocking part to most people when they learned of first contact between an EU exploration cruiser and the aliens of the Xining Kingdom. Called "Shining" in the mouths of the populace in somewhat of a mispronunciation, but also appearing somewhat appropriate given the pictures showing alien... creatures in the bright light of their star. Yes, the EU has managed to stumble upon what the PRL has failed to locate for a decade: The homeworld of the Xining. And investigating a completely different chain of jump points at that.
The populace does not react well to the revelation that an active alien empire, not just the remnants of some, is out there. After the first contact battle and various losses against Qian precursors aliens are seen as a threat amongst the common folk. Learning that other empires already had secret dealings with aliens only fuels the paranoia. This could be the external threat that makes or breaks the EU as it is.
The Xining for their part are surprised at the surprise of the team contacting them. It appears that the PRL has failed to mention that they do not, in fact, rule all of humanity, and that they also kept their contact to themselves. This is likely to damage Human-Xining relations.
Over the following months the PRL eventually releases the rough outline of their alien relations: First contact with the Xining at an undisclosed location 13 years ago, establishment of diplomatic relations, discovery of a war between the Xining and a second alien empire with whom no communication has been established yet.


Location of the Xining homeworld on the EU map. The La Tablada colony is actually closer to them than it is to Sol.
 
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Offline Zap0 (OP)

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #32 on: September 17, 2020, 11:24:36 PM »
   2124 - the Five Nation Flotilla

Partially to recover lost trust by the publicization of their alien dealings, partially to position themselves as leaders of humanity, the PRL suggests a combined human military operation against a Qian target to serve as a test run for more serious cooperation against a possible alien threat. The other nations are of course doubtful of the PRL's motives but with aliens perceived a threat and the Xining demanding no ships enter their home system the proposal gains enough popularity not to be dismissed out of hand.

The target would be the Qian outpost on "Procyon's Rest" in Baton Rouge. With no Qian ships detected in the system so far and only two orbital weapon platforms of known design present this is as close to a known quantity as can be. There may potentially be an as of yet undetected STO force on the planet, but that should be much easier to dislodge than the STO force which ripped apart the PRL fleet during the first contact battle in Quanzhou, that one was dug in in a jungle, this is a desert world.

The PRL has been considering attacking the location for quite some time but figured a force too large would be required, leaving Sol open to Martian aggression. The main partner the PRL is courting for this project is the EU navy, who will hopefully pull in the Argentinians and the Japanese, at which point the Martians don't want to be left out and contribute ships themselves, allowing the balance of power in Sol to be maintained during the operation.

As no party is interested in expending their expensive missile stocks on an exercise such as this the task force will be composed of predominantly beam-armed ships. The PRL sets forth six of it's nine Dolphin type destroyers. The European Hades cruisers are too slow and rely on missiles and are therefore unsuited for the operation in question, but the PRL manages to get a squadron of escort destroyers promised to them. Smelling an opportunity to profilerate themselves and show everyone that they too play in the big boy leagues, Argentina offers to contribute ships as well. At that point the critical mass has been reached and Japan eventually commits two attack and two escort destroyers to the operation after facing pressure from it's relatively xenophobic population where the idea of pan-human military cooperation is very popular, or rather, the disunity shown since the advent of space colonization is not. The Martian businessmen were easier to convince than anticipated, a flashy operation like this with distinctly Martian ships contributing can be used for their propagandist agenda and the laser frigates they promise are old and expendable. Only the Russian state declines cooperation, citing budgetary issues preventing "non-essential" military maneuvers at current. Their all-missile doctrine does not fit in the planned operation anyhow. Any information gained as a result of the operation will be shared among the participants and physical loot will be divided according to warship tonnage contribution.

A Martian offer to use their flagship, the carrier Utopia Planitia, as a command and control platform is dismissed by EU delegates as needless showmanship as the vessel carries no offensive capabilities useful in the operation and will likely have to be defended outside hostile weapons range by escorts, likely EU escorts. European delegates are well aware of the Martian strategy regarding the EU Mars colony, and having a Martian ship steal the show as largest vessel in the fleet and center of operations would be a big boon to their agenda. Unfortunately for them the other participants see the practical benefits of using the carrier as a CnC platform, a role it was designed for after all. Martian negotiators accede that the tonnage of the vessel will not be counted in determining any eventual spoils and convince their own admirals to plan the operation with keeping the ship with the main fleet and bringing it into hostile weapons range, something they were quite opposed to. And so one more ship joins the fight. The enemy should be hopelessly outmassed and victory practically assured barring any major surprises - so goes the planning.

The real challenge begins now in organizing five different navies and their systems to interoperate smoothly, but that is the whole point, and likely the only real gain, from this operation. In addition each navy has to take care of their own supply chain, as Procyon's Rest is 24b km away from Sol no warship can reach there without refueling. Argentina does not even have the system mapped and will require assistance locating the jump points leading there.

By the time the various squabbles and negotiations finish it is already May. Until the ship dispatched to stabilize the last jump point into the Baton Rouge system arrives and finishes it's job another year is expected to pass. Smaller ships could likely all share the same few jump tenders but there are no tenders big enough to jump the large 20k ton capital ships used by the three largest powers.



Extrasolar fleet bases are becoming more and more popular. The EU and PRL colonies in Santa María are regularly overhauling explorers, especially now that the EU has as the second nation found the hidden JP connection back into the Santa María pocket that led the PRL to it's early contact with the Xining. Aside from Santa María the PRL's Wuhan colony is fully operational and serves as the nation's send-off base for it's contribution to the Procyon operation, as it's being called now. The Martian base in Salto, inbetween Sol, Santa María and Wuhan, is growing at rates exceeding everyone's expectation and now home to a squadron of plasma frigates in an interesting strategic location close to the Sol JP. Russia's Novokuznetsk colony is the farthest out of all but will no doubt serve as a great jump-off point for further expeditions. Even Argentina's Tablada colony is nearly operational with most of the spaceport facilities now in place.

   2125

A small, new Split colony is found by the PRL while surveying a planet. Activating it's sensors to determine threat from STO forces, the Astiarchus does indeed find ground force signatures - two of them, one of the Split, and one, one-tenth it's size, from the Xining. Are they fighting over this planet? Either way, no fire is directed against the Aristarchus in orbit.


The sizes didn't change while the ship was in orbit. Think they're slave laborers?

The long-awaited dedicated missile defense system for use by future PRL escorts is being unveiled: It is a dome of superconducting materials with a hypercapacitor at the center. Once the capacitor releases it's charge very finely tuned magnetic fields direct the energy to flow towards the incoming projectile. As it leaves the dome the energy is converted into a particle stream. Not relying on moving mechanical parts and barrels allow the system to hit incoming targets with near-perfect accuracy at up to 16k m/s, as fast as the electronics can resolve it.
Each unit and the systems behind it is still rather bulky at nearly 800 tons but can fire 72 times per minute. The principle engineering challenge was how to make the sensitive emission dome resistant to damage.
There has been debate over the platform which will mount these systems. A repurposement of the new and fast Jade Rabbit hull has been proposed. Such ships could protect the existing Jade Rabbits on approach to a target without forcing them to lower their speed, which would sacrifice their main advantage. Then there's also the reality that Gallicite is very scarce and an engine-heavy platform like the Jade Rabbit can't be mass-produced at current. A destroyer platform after the old model uses the available Gallicite more efficiently. A "Mighty Dolphin" type destroyer only has insignificantly less tonnage dedicted to it's mission payload (weapons) despite being limited to 12k tons as opposed to a Jade Rabbit's 20k tons. It also costs only 40% of the Gallicite.
In the end the need to deploy missile defense systems en masse wins out and a destroyer platform is chosen.



   Procyon's Rest

At the start of the year the fleets and their various support units are set into motion, for in March, the gates open. The Argentine ship gets to the meeting point first as it has high speed and was conceived with long-distance operations in mind. The Martian squadron in particular has problems arriving as there are no dedicated tankers in their navy - they have to refuel off of a PRL and a JAP tanker on the way. A direct result from their continued focus on Sol. Last was actually the EU squadron which had to wait for a tanker to catch up while sitting just 1b from the rest of the fleet on the Baton Rouge JP.


The Five Nation Flotilla - including support ships.

The assembled fleet is quite a sight. Total contributions to the operation are as follows:

Procyon Squadron PRL - 72k tons
Mighty Dolphin IIa class Destroyer - Codster, Devilfish, Great White, Halibut, Hammerhead, Humpback - Laser destroyer
Also underway: 2 troop transports to secure and investigate the surface

Procyon Squadron EU - 32k tons
Adana C class Escort - Kirikkale, Malatya, Manisa, Trabzon - Escort destroyer, railguns
Also there: salvage vessels

Procyon Squadron MARS - 36k tons (59k with carrier + fighters)
Utopia Planitia class Carrier - Utopia Planitia
Enterprise class Frigate: USS Ault, USS Bagley, USS Ernest G. Small, USS Hambleton, USS Herbert, USS Kidd - Outdated escort frigate, PD laser turrets
8x F-94 Eagle v2 class Attack Craft - ground support fighter, can alternatively launch single cruise missile
4x F-94 Eagle v2a class Attack Craft

Procyon Squadron JAP - 48k tons
Tama D class Destroyer: Ikazuchi, Yamagiri - Modern attack destroyer, particle beams
Yayoi B class Destroyer Escort: Kaba, Katsura - Modern escort destroyer, AMM

Procyon Squadron ARG - 12k tons
Esperanza 1 R10 class Destroyer: Salient - Modern attack destroyer, railguns

200k tons total. Expected enemy tonnage: 28k

When the order is given all ships activate sensors and proceed with the jump sequence. The jump is smooth as expected and the stabilizer begins working on the way back out. The fleet heads towards the target.


The planet was named in memory of the USS Procyon who's wreck is visible in the screenshot.

Tension rises as the fleet approaches and at 1.6m from target the first hostile AMM volley is detected - quite as expected. Despite everything going according to plan several ships leave formation as they decelerate in the face of an oncoming barrage. One Japanese escort launches interceptors, but all 20 "Shurikens" miss the extremely quick Qian projectiles. In a further display of disorganization, no point-defense fire is made and all 33 projectiles impact the PRL destroyer Codster. The next volley is absorbed more professionally, with half of incoming destroyed by PD fire. It seems the disorganization was only momentary.


A typical increment during the approach. The EU destroyers ended up getting the most missile kills.

The Japanese AMM volleys keep being too late to intercept the faster enemy volleys, so the escorts cease fire. It seems enemy targeting prefers targeting the escorts now, probably because they've outed themselves as launch platforms. Their shields fail and they start to retreat, giving a few counter-volleys again as the time-to-intercept is now lessened and there is no final fire cover from the rest of the fleet anymore. The AMM hail does not stop coming, however, and the Katsura and Kaba eventually receive internal damage. Before they get out of range the Katsura loses 20% engine capacity. The main fleet is now halfway through the hostile fire zone of 2m km.

A malfunction or something must have happened on the enemy stations as they now reduced their volley size to 27, instead sending the remaining 6 projectiles offset from the others. That makes them easier to destroy. The PRL destroyer Codster is still frequently receiving hits and it's heavy armor belt is getting worryingly light, if the enemy can keep up their assault for the remainder of the approach (which is the prediction) the ship may well get destroyed. Very unfortunate happenings accelerate it's demise: soon after the first hits penetrate and take out the first component on the Codster one of it's engines suffers a critical hit. The ship does not survive the str 62 secondary explosion.


Very unlucky to explode just after the armor has been penetrated! The PRL navy never really recoverd from the first contact battle where they fielded 15 modern destroyers. With this one lost now only 8 remain.

Still, the fleet presses on. It'll be all over once the allied ships are in weapons range of the planet. Subsequent volleys target the Utopia Planitia. Distance: 700k. It's mighty shields hold, but as the distance shrinks further there is no time anymore to coordinate point-defense fire between each volley launch and impact. The enemy uses this fact and changes his target once more to a PRL destroyer. The distance closes to beneath 240k and therefore within weapons range of the Japanese. Targeting data for the Qian AMM platform is relayed and the counter-fire begins. The attack ships break formation and charge forward, a few shots hit the platform - but once the PRL destroyers get in range their sheer volume of fire blows away the platform in one blast. Still, the Qian weren't silenced before they could inflict a good amount of internal damage on the PRL Devilfish.
Combined fire from all attack ships hits the remaining platform which just sits helplessly just outside it's weapons range.


Fear the might of Humanity!


The micromanagement involved in coordinating five different empires was actually rather managable. This engagement was a test run for me too.

The second kill goes to the Yamagiri and it's particle beamers. The fleet enters orbit, but no ground force is detected. The victory is celebrated, the crews and commanders are congratulated, hands are shaken. The support ships are called in, there are four wrecks in the system to salvage: The wreck of the Codster, the two Qian platforms and the old American survey ship in orbit.
PRL troopers land on the surface and, as expected, find no live population, only ruins. There is also a curious alien construct present which may or may not have been constructed by the people that once inhabited this world. There is very little functioning infrastructure left but a basic sensor station and a cargo lift, plainly designed to resupply the AMM platform in orbit. At it's base the real find is made: almost 12k of the alien AMM missiles that the fleet had to face in orbit. As their performance is plainly superior to human-built ones they are classed as alien artifacts and will be distributed among the participating nations according to the pre-arranged contribution key.

4250 - PRL
2833 - JAP
2125 - MARS
1889 - EU
708 - ARG

This is the distribution of AMMs between nations. Several of these do not even have AMM-capable ships at current, but such technology is not hard to develop. Most human nations having access to such advanced anti-missile technology is likely to encourage more offensive beam doctrines rather than missile doctrines in the future.

As for the other uses of the planet, each participating nation will be invited to found colonies on the surface for study of the alien relics. An orbital survey by the nearby Argentine explorer Aguaray confirms that there are no other structures nor any mineral deposits on the planet. Whether colonies will be established depends on what the Lunar Xenoarcheologists can make of the ruins and the dormant construct. Some of the technology salvaged still intact from the Qian wreckage provides clues to improving current technology, but the gains are relatively minor.

The discovery of advanced and immediately usable alien weapons, even if just AMMs, is not going to fuel more cooperative adventures of this sort. It would not be surprising to see the competing human nations try and secure such advantages on their own in the future. But given that all other Qian outposts detected so far are stronger than this one there won't be much of a rush to tackle them right now - just less incentive to cooperate in taking them down. Any real military cooperation in the future will likely be targeted against live aliens like the Xining, if any.

The Russian state is not too pleased that advanced alien missile defenses are now in all their competitors hands but not in theirs, especially as such weapons are very effective against the heavy Russian missiles. Still, as Russian doctrine calls for a massed strike, not a continuous barrage, it does not invalidate current doctrine entirely. Regardless, the best time for an offensive may be now before these alien AMMs enter regular service. Not being able to study the alien structures to derive more technology from them may prove a disadvantage long-term, but first the value of a research outpost on that planet must become clear. The state does not believe that this exercise will spark humanity to finally unite, as some dreamers are hoping, and is only concerned with the material changes in the strategic situation.

The actual efficacy of the Qian interceptor missiles recovered may have been overestimated by initial appraisal. While their speed is impressive and twice that of even the most modern human prototypes, the missile relies completely on it's high speed and accurate launch trajectory to hit a target, no special maneuvering capability is present. That makes each projectile incredibly hard to shoot down, as was the problem in both Human-Qian battles so far. But in it's intended use as a missile interceptor EU military R&D demonstrates a highly maneuverable prototype that can reach and even exceed the projected destruction rate of the captured Qian interceptors. A devious weapon: flexibly useful against the enemy but not as effective in their hands.



A new Japanese construction project begins: a military dropship capable of dropping 4k tons of ground forces. The hull is an elongated version of the currently active destroyers and can match their speeds. The indended use is to approach a defended planet under the cover from other destroyers and drop it's Gekishin TSF Squadron, a unit of 10 super-heavy mechas. Multiple dropships are required to drop supporting units and supplies as well. Three ships are planned.

By the end of the year most ships involved in the raid on Procyon's Rest are home again. The PRL's gambit to reduce Solar fleet strengths proportionally has worked and there were no major incidents in Sol during the operation. The gained technology is nice, but to the PRL the real gain in the project was the creation of a precedent for pan-human military cooperation that can serve as an example in case of a conflict with the Split. The large fleet numbers discovered by the diplomatic ship Xining several years ago have not been made available to the other nations. If it comes to war it'll be a great advantage to be able to use the other nations to soften the blow.

The project to terraform Luna began in the early 70's and was declared "finished" in 2083, but only now it's secondary effects are beginning to materialize. Creating an artificial atmosphere and seas can be done with technology, but a biosphere requires time to grow and adapt. The PRL's efforts have born fruit and Luna has become an idyll where plants and a few low-gravity adaptable animal populations are thriving. Massive forests with trees of sizes already outgrowing the largest on Earth span an increasingly large portion of the Lunar land, together with other plant species they have begun to form a sustainable ecosystem. Luna is now a jungle world.


Welcome to the jungle

Although they would never admit publicly that it was done for military reasons, the lush vegetation covering Luna's continents is going to be a great boon to the defender in any ground campaign on the body. Likewise it will make orbital targeting very hard. Together with the massive numbers of the PLA (People's Liberation Army) Luna is now an unstormable stronghold - just outside of weapons range of Earth itself.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 11:57:31 PM by Zap0 »
 
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Offline Zap0 (OP)

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #33 on: September 25, 2020, 12:00:00 PM »
Went into a deep dive into Russia's situation to start with today. I'm always worried about what is too detailed and what not, what is interesting and what not, typically erring on the side of verbosity. Let me know what you think.



   2126

The Russian situation is not good. The colonization of Novokuznetsk is stalling, the civilian shipping industry is not moving any installations to the body right now. Regardless of when this strike ends, Novokuznetsk is a long-term project and won't have immediate usefulness.
What matters is the now: Mineral income is pitifully low. Commercial comet mining never really took off as much as it did in other states and their income consists of a declining rate of Duranium and Uridium extraction. Novokuznetsk does not yield appreciable amounts yet, Callisto was always just a source of secondary minerals in Corbomite and Vendarite. The real income is provided by a network of 85 state-owned automining facilities, half of them mining Venus with Japanese permission. 40 mines dedicated to Gallicite does not sound so bad, but to put this into perspective:
  • The ordnance factories can use up to 485 units of Gallicite a year producing Pavlov E Heavy Missiles, manufacturing 91 missiles during that time. A full strike from all eight Krivak box-launcher frigates amounts to 256 missiles.
  • The non-commercial parts of the navy have a total cost of 12 155, meaning a yearly maintenance cost of a quarter of that, 3 038. That is the yearly MSP consumption, before any extra costs from maintenance expenditures from ships on missions. Each MSP costs 0.25 wealth and 0.25 minerals, 0.1 of which are Gallicite. So yearly minimum consumption of 303 units of Gallicite.
The annual Gallicite income of those 40 automines is 700 units, assuming top grade management. It's no wonder the state is struggling. The other automining complexes are primarily concerned with Corundium (to expand mining capacity) and Tritanium (also to keep feeding the ordnance factories).
Not all is bad, however, and there are a few strengths to show. The wealth situation is fine. Callisto's long-term terraforming project has given the body an increasingly thick greenhouse atmosphere, reducing the amount of artificial heating infrastructure to just beyond that of a regular domed colony at this point. That allows 305m people to inhabit the moon now, more than a quarter of all citizens. Callisto and control of Jupiter's system may be the state's one true advantage.

Regardless, as just demonstrated, there simply isn't enough of an economic base. Mineral income is insufficient and in order to not fall behind the other powers conquest may be the only option. With the recent reports of alien missile defense weapons making their way into the competitor's hands, war plans are now drawn up in earnest.
Who are the possible targets?
  • Mars and it's riches in Corundium and industry make it very tempting, but any attack aimed at taking the planet is likely to result in retaliation from both the EU and the Consortium. Besides, the army would struggle to overcome the extensive Martian ground forces. While the Martian navy is considered defeatable, taking the planet itself is unachievable.
  • The Europeans, the traditional competitor. An Earth campaign could have a measure of success, given relative ground strength estimates. Yet their navy is quite strong - 6 large cruisers and a high number of destroyers, designed with Russian doctrine as their opponent in mind. The truth is, a strike from all ships at once would likely still be insufficient to destroy or cripple their usual Sol fleet, they simply have too much tonnage. Attacks on any other colonies of the EU are out too as space superiority can't be guaranteed.
  • Any attack on the EU would also call Argentina into the fight, who are ostensibly allied to another to defend against Russian aggression. Argentina itself is not considered much of a threat in space or on the ground, but due to assured EU intervention they're out, too.
  • What about poking the mighty dragon? The People's Liberation Space Navy has seen better days and is projected to fare poorly against a concerted missile attack, but their similarly high tonnage and armor-heavy ships may be able to absorb high amounts of missiles. Concerning are their modern strike cruisers which outspeed the Russian missile frigates, making them priority targets. Assuming the PRL navy can be beaten, what then? Luna is an unstormable fortress, the amount of troops deployed there alone exceeds the total of any other nation, Russia included. The PRL's Santa María colony of Sheng Yúe however possesses rich mines, if none mining Gallicite. There would likely be ground-based laser defenses to discourage any landing attempts, those would have to be eliminated from orbit, devaluing the planet a little bit. If one is willing to gamble on taking out the PRL navy in one strike, this may be an option.
  • Last, and most promising, are the Japanese possessions. Taking full control of Venus would be the obvious goal. The two chief issues (besides taking out the navy) are taking control of the orbital habitats and there actually being something worth conquering on the surface of the planet - at current the Japanese are attempting to transition from automatic mining complexes to manned ones, controlled from their orbital habitats. Until they are in place a campaign would have no value. The Japanese navy is also one considered beatable by the navy, JAP missile defense systems are reported to have performed poorly in the recent Qian excursion. There is also the colony of Neo-Kobe City just past Santa María. Gaining it's industry would be a boon and it could be done before the Japanese set up the new Venus mines. They would likely not leave Venus as undefended as it is now if their other colony was taken from them, however.

Still, Gallicite and mines to dig it is what the state needs most, both short-term and long-term. A short-term option for conquest is unavailable anyway, as Earth still hosts much industry and, most importantly, the shipyards. Moving those is priority number one and a requirement for any major offensive action. As such, the missile production stop will be extended to save up enough Gallicite for a tug to move them ASAP. Thanks to Callisto's development the full movement of all industry off of Earth will finally be possible, even if there will be minor worker shortages on the moon yet. This will still take at least three years, but plans are set in motion for a major campaign for Venus at the start of the next decade.



The exploration of the ruins on Procyon's Rest is complete. When the multi-national exploration team broke into the research center that was set up at the base of the ancient construct it was immediately clear that this was just a small outpost set up by a relatively backwards species, even by Human standards, to study the construct. And what a wonder this "construct" is, for a more definite term can't be applied to the structure: Pillars and beams winding in a seemingly impossible fashion, creating a grand building without an apparent purpose - except, perhaps, as a monument. One researcher described the construct as "M.C. Escher's Dream". Either way, it's clearly more-than-three-dimensional construction is definitely worth studying, as the previous inhabitants of this world had done. It would be no exaggeration to say that even a primitive replication of the techniques involved here would let science & engineering teams come up with new construction techniques in half the time they would otherwise.



The value of a colony on Procyon's Rest is now clear. Setting up a research colony would result in benefits in mining, economy, industry and research itself. The principal problems are the colonies distance, which makes colonization expensive and time-consuming and it's defense tenuous, and the presence of the other nations that can be expected. An arms race on Procyon's Rest, so that each side can hold out until reinforcements arrive, is a possibility.
The value of the rest of the system is quite limited. There are Sorium giants and several bodies with multiple accessible deposits of secondary minerals like Mercassium, but only very little Gallicite.
All powers except Russia make plans for colonies of various sizes and descriptions. The restored alien research lab will remain under PRL control.



There are many construction projects underway in the Martian Consortium. The Consortium has recently founded a large holding company to serve as a central command unit and owner of military and supporting naval assets and is seeking to expand it's capabilities considerably. This entity is under shared ownership and the private navies of the constituent corporations that previously made up the Consortium's navy will be integrated into it's new structure.
Now that the Consortium had number of years to stabilize their own situation they are increasingly committing to long-term planning. Previously extrasolar colonies were shunned as too expensive or taking too long to turn a profit, now the reality that Sol's mineral deposits are depleting is setting in. Expansion options will be considered, the civilian colony in Salto is a first step. For that purpose the old and short-ranged US freighters will be replaced by a set of more modern ones. Then there's the strategic vulnerability of there being no fuel production facilities under Consortium control, until now all fuel has been bought off of the open market. Fuel harvesters must be built. The recent adventure regarding Procyon's Rest has highlighted that the navy lacks long-range projection capability, with the fleet needing to fuel off of foreign tankers multiple times. That too is now being corrected with plans to build military refuelers, supply and munitions ships.

After the successful Mega class as a first project of Martian cooperation a class of escorts was also planned but never realized. Prototypes of improved laser turrets never quite met expectations. With the retrieval of alien AMMs a new option is now open. The Solstice class AMM Escort Destroyer is a simple variation based on the Mega's hull. Any missing technology can be easily engineered, bypassing the need for further long-term research. The planned design carries twice the interceptor tubes of a Japanese Yayoi class. The first two units can be fully armed with Qian interceptors. Subsequent units or reloads will be provided with an attempted replica, R&D is underway.

Code: [Select]
Solstice class Escort (P)      16 000 tons       360 Crew       2 206.2 BP       TCS 320    TH 1 563    EM 0
4882 km/s      Armour 5-56       Shields 0-0       HTK 147      Sensors 5/0/0/0      DCR 5      PPV 48
Maint Life 1.40 Years     MSP 553    AFR 372%    IFR 5.2%    1YR 308    5YR 4 619    Max Repair 156.25 MSP
Magazine 1 006   
Commander    Control Rating 1   BRG   
Intended Deployment Time: 15 months    Morale Check Required   

General Motors ION Impulse Drive (5)    Power 1562.5    Fuel Use 44.27%    Signature 312.5    Explosion 10%
Fuel Capacity 709 000 Litres    Range 18 billion km (42 days at full power)

United Technologies Plasma Cannon (1)    Range 48 000km     TS: 4 882 km/s     Power 16-2     RM 10 000 km    ROF 40       
Target Tracker 5k (1)     Max Range: 48 000 km   TS: 5 200 km/s     79 58 38 17 0 0 0 0 0 0
Power Bank v2 (2)     Total Power Output 2    Exp 5%

Interceptor Autofire Mechanism (40)     Missile Size: 1    Rate of Fire 10
WD ITC1 Interceptor Trajectory Computer (8)     Range 12.8m km    Resolution 1
Qian Interceptor (1006)    Speed: 72 200 km/s    End: 0.5m     Range: 2m km    WH: 1    Size: 1    TH: 240/144/72

MDS2 Missile Detection Sensor (1)     GPS 56     Range 11.9m km    MCR 1.1m km    Resolution 1
ARS2 "Acquisition Redundancy System" (1)     GPS 288     Range 9.4m km    Resolution 240
Knighten Electronics Heat Sensor (1)     Sensitivity 5     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  17.7m km

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

Aditionally more Utopia Planitia class carriers are planned. A second unit, Elysium Planitia, is nearing completion and two more are scheduled, enough for all existing fighter squadrons. The newer constructions all include up-to-date ion drive technology and ceramic composite armor platings, outclassing the initial Utopia Planitia. The naming scheme may now seem a misnomer, as today the great lowland plains of Mars are all oceans, but in common usage the seas of Mars are still called "Utopia Planitia", "Acidalia Planitia" etc., not "Mare Utopia".

Can the Consortium afford all these construction projects? Yes. The Consortium maintains exclusive ownership over the mines on C/2017 K2, a Kuiper-belt object and Sol's last deposit of significant amounts of Gallicite aside from Venus. The 200 automines mining the 0.5 accessibility deposit uninterrupted over decades have resulted in 19k units of Gallicite piling up in Martian storehouses - numbers all other nation can only dream of. Despite some looming shortages of Boronide and Neutronium the Consortium is poised to grow into a military superpower.



An Argentine explorer discovers a Mercury-type planet with 0.8 accessibility Gallicite and several other deposits three jumps and 20b behind La Tablada - and therefore 40b km from Sol. The location is likely to remain unexploited for the foreseeable future, simply because of it's distance.

Nine years ago the Japanese also found some sort of ancient structure in the system of Kurashiki. Now the reports are confirming earlier suspicions: The installation is some kind of advanced alien observation post. But instead of measuring regular electromagnetic emissions in the visual, infrared and radio bands, it appears to be tuned to detect the gravitic distortions of ships passing by. Needless to say, plans are being made to establish a research outpost here, too.

   2127

European exploration ship William Adams detects two alien vessels in a system 8 jumps and 30b from Sol. The explorer was on a course towards the inner system to check out the marginally habitable planet 4 when two thermal signatures were detected by chance on a nearby survey location, one of the thirty mathematically derivable points in a system where gravimetric measurements need to be taken to determine the location of jump points. The ships make no movements, appearing not to know of or not caring about the William Adams. As is protocol for a first contact situation in an apparently inhabited system, the explorer retreats.

The SRV Argentina runs into three Qian thermal signatures in the next system out from the great mineral find of last year. Their base appears to be a frozen super-Earth with a thick nitrogren-methane atmosphere. Fifteen minutes later the Argentina is destroyed by missile impacts.


Another heavy hit for the Argentine exploration program. Now only two survey ships remain.

The European Union has plans to expand into the System of Hannover, between Bremen and Novokutznetsk, for it's rich Gallicite reserves. The Hambach asteroid mining complex operating in Bremen, while significant, is not enough in the long term. But however much the Earth-bound nations push for it, no proposal gets anywhere in the EU parliament - the other planets don't want their economic significance to be undercut. The Union's political paralysis is starting to affect long-term projects. Distrust is growing on planetary lines and it may take only a spark for the whole system to collapse.

On December 20th the moment that many xenospecialists had been fearing most happens: An alien warship transits a dormant jump point and emerges virtually on top of a major human colony.

 
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Offline Zap0 (OP)

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #34 on: September 30, 2020, 06:42:10 PM »
Going to put this one out now before the rest of 2129 makes the post any longer than it already is.

2128 was a very difficult year for me to play, with very frequent interrupts and an interrupt loop threatening to end the game for good in the middle of it.

Ah, right, let's continue where we left off with the cliffhanger:



   2128

The ship appears just 67m km from the Japanese colony of Neo-Kobe City and it's 63m inhabitants. It is truly bad timing that the alien ship would emerge just when the planet's orbit would bring it so close to this position. The only ship in orbit is an unarmed Sendai class scout vessel, the colony's threat model only concerned itself with human threats from Sol, any of which the Japanese navy on Earth could detect and intercept.

Command, once informed by the planetary detection center of the incident, immediately sends a task force of six ships to Grand Bourg, but it'll take weeks for it to arrive. The scout in orbit is ordered to shadow the alien vessel and get an active sensor reading on it. Three hours later the vessel is confirmed to be 15k tons in size. Communication attempts are being made by officials on the colony but aren't having success, this isn't a Xining vessel. The intruder is on a course away from the colony and the jump point towards deep space. One theory suggests that this is a survey ship tasked with finding and investigating new jump points, but if so it is both larger than any such human vessel and significantly faster, suggesting a fuel efficiency unsuited to a long-range explorer. Unless, of course, alien technology does not have such constraints.

An unknown jump point in immediate proximity to a major colony can also not be left unscouted, but, following the trend that came about after the EU invention of JP stabilization tech, the Japanese navy does not possess any jump ships, only stabilizers. Only the exploration ships carry a Casartelli device, the ingenious piece of magic that allows a ship to bend space around itself and transit an unstabilized JP. The only explorer available would be the Chiyoda, about to transit back into Sol and looking forward to returning home after a 9 year mission in outer space. Given that the only other option is asking another power for help, the Chiyoda is ordered to divert and head to Grand Bourg. ETA: 4 months. Human exploration cruisers are not fast.

Time passes. The alien ship arrives at survey location 6 in Grand Bourg, apparently taking measurements. Communication attempts relayed over the shadowing scout craft continue all the while and within only five days, on Christmas, full communications were established. A Christmas miracle. The aliens identify themselves as belonging to a Sukabumi Alliance. The Japanese communications experts make it clear that they are very nervous over their sudden appearance and would like for them to leave. It takes a few days until they express themselves clearly enough or until the aliens hear back from their homeworld, but eventually they acquiesce and turn to leave the system.


Diplomacy - In Space!

The immediate crisis is resolved. As the aliens true intentions and the system behind the new JP are still unknown, the ships en route are not called back. The populace of Neo-Kobe City, who had until now known nothing of what had happened in their system, is informed, and therefore all the other nations too learn of this first contact situation. As they don't know the exact location of the JP the aliens used they can't conduct their own investigation, however. Reactions that the situation was resolved diplomatically range from surprised to relieved, but this incident has once more shown that danger may lurk around every corner in space. Many inhabitants of the outer colonies are asking what their respective governments are doing to make sure that this can't happen to them as well.

The last day of March another alien ship passes through the JP. The scout stationed to watch for further transits gets a reading, this ship is only half the size of the previous one.


More visitors

The scout opens a communications channel using the previously established standard and in turn receives something... different? Either they are refusing communication or something else has changed on their end. In either case, it is very strange. The ship also makes no move to leave the JP after it's transit, it's just sitting there where it emerged, responding in communications patterns that don't quite match the previous ones. As for the time being the ship just sits there the Japanese admiralty refrains from driving it off with the fleet and continues attempts to reestablish communications.

10 days later all attempts at renewed communication remain frustrated and the aliens bring another, smaller ship through at 5.5k tons. It immediately sets a course towards the innermost planets. The leaders had it, and send a pair of destroyers to intercept. Actually catching the vessel may prove difficult as it's speed is at 5 191km/s only a hair's breadth under that of the JPN task force - 5 208km/s. Still, the interception squadron arrives at Grand Bourg I, the site of a major Japanese mining colony, first. The visitor soon arrives on sensors. If it detects the squadron yet it makes no attempts at turning around. If the ship enters interceptor range a warning shot in form of a bundle of AMMs will be fired, if the ship still does not turn around the destroyers are ordered to use their energy weapons to disable the vessel.


Please don't scan my bacon

The vessel enters weapons range and the warning shot is fired. All four of the fired projectiles impact. If the opponent analyzes the impacts perhaps the high-speed Qian interceptors used will give them a high estimate of human technoloy. We would rather they overestimate our capabilities than the other way around. It might also be that they recognize them as Qian technology and come to see humanity as galactic junk rats. Regardless of what they might think, the volley has it's desired effect: The ship immediately turns back. The jump ship on the JP (so the theory goes) transits, perhaps to inform their homeworld. Half a day later the other ship transits as well and Grand Bourg is without alien contacts again.

The SRV Chiyoda and it's tired sailors have arrived in Grand Bourg. Despite the uncertainty of what they might find behind the new JP they're eager to get on with it so that they may finally head on to Earth and reunite with their families. The twelfth transit into an unknown star system on the ships record, the experienced crew relays back system information quickly and professionally. There is not just one but two habitable planets in the system beyond, one an earthlike terrestrial with a high oxygen concentration and the other a tide-locked ocean world, both in the habitable zone of the ordinary orange dwarf primary.


Who knew something like this was next door all along?

The area around the jump point is free of contacts. Having done it's job the Chiyoda sets course home. The survey cruiser Taiyo will attempt to contact the aliens who may live on one or both of the two planets when it gets out of the drydock at the end of the year.

That still leaves the question of continued defense of Neo-Kobe City and the Grand Bourg system as a whole. In the months since the first transit a new project for a planetary particle cannon has been started to solve that issue, but until enough observation infrastructure to detect alien incursions and the new weapon systems to protect the colonies are in place two years are projected to pass. The task force can only stay on station for another few months, the support infrastructure of Neo-Kobe city is not up to maintaining a half dozen destroyers at once. Eventually the force will have to be rotated out and the facilities expanded.



When the Japanese moved 40% of their fleet to Grand Bourg and also during a previous instance where almost all their escorts left for Procyon's Rest to pick up their new armament, the mouths of Russian warhawks were watering at the chance to take a bite out of their chosen target - but the new mines for Venus are still not in place, and the tug to move the shipyards to Callisto still isn't done, so no moves were made. Yet, anyway, as their spies tell them new automatic mining facilities are scheduled for deployment on Venus. The plans to exploit the planet using manpower from orbital habitats are not progressing fast enough, it appears.

Concepts to detect hostile aliens, primarily Qian, before they can destroy an approaching survey ship are continuing to be developed. PRL exploration cruisers are being refit with more powerful thermal arrays. The cooperating EU and ARG exploration programs are developing remote-controlled sensor devices to check out potentially inhabited worlds and Qian bases before the explorer arrives. The EU favors a shuttle-like automated scout system, which has the advantage of being reusable. A new generation of exploration cruisers able to carry one or two such shuttles are too big a project to realistically receive funding right now, however. The Argentine exploration program is beginning construction on a small prototype vessel designed to fire single-use scouting probes at distant planets. If the system proves successful it could be refit onto existing cruisers.

Terraforming has succeeded in making Santa María II, the location of the Taíno colony and the first Argentine extrasolar settlement, habitable for humans. The terraforming has resulted in an open landscape with small vegetation much like on terraformed Mars. The planet's naturally comfortable temperature makes it a popular emigration and vacation destination already, with close to 400m people already calling the world their home. Now that the construction of permanent habitats without special infrastructure is possible that number is expected to rise at an even faster rate.
Argentina has designs to move all manufacturing and government functions to the colony, but that is a long-term project requiring many years at current hauling capacities. The European nations on the other hand have always disavowed such "abandoning" of their homeworld as the PRL and Martian Consortium have already done.

   2129

The Russian tug has finished. The state begins the process of moving all TN manufacturing off of Earth to Callisto as planned.

Earth's minerals have now completely run out. It may seem strange for this to happen only now, 40 years after large-scale mining of Earth's deposits has all but ceased. For all this time there was a small, unexploited deposit of Corbomite which remained on Earth - no power had any interest in mining it. Even with energy shields for warships now entering more mainstream usage, Corbomite is still considered the least valuable TN mineral and all nations have sufficient stocks of it. The reason for depletion now is that most mining equipment is still manufactured on Earth and the local deposit was used to calibrate the machines before being picked up for off-world deployment.
 
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Offline Zap0 (OP)

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #35 on: October 10, 2020, 11:58:40 PM »
When I said last post "before the rest of 2129 makes this post any longer", I wasn't kidding.



   2129 (cont.)

Background information

There were originally three major Mars colonies: A European one, an American one and a Chinese one, despite American protests (see Battle of Mars, 2082). The American colony eventually turned into the Martian Consortium as the economic power base shifted there. In 2104 the Chinese (PRL) colony got annexed by the Martian Consortium. While large swaths of population and industry are directly under the control of the Martian Consortium now, the large European colony with it's own government as a member state of the European Union nominally "owns" the planet. An honest grassroots support for a Martian national identity has been growing for decades and has been receiving political and monetary support from the Consortium, who seek to eliminate the influence of the other interstellar powers on "their" planet.

The EU colony of Taíno on Santa María II shares the planet with the original Argentine colony there and has recently undergone explosive growth, achieving economic self-sustainability. They do not have a strong national identity as it has been built on Mars, but see Earth as only the place that all their hard-earned wealth and minerals are undeservedly flowing away to.

   The War of Independence

Negotiations between the governments of the EU colonies of Taíno in Santa María and the planet of Mars finish. Both declare their independence and their support for another. The Mars colony in particular has concrete promises from the private militaries of the Martian Consortium that their actions will be supported. Reasons cited for independence are: Stopping the drain of wealth and resources away from their colonies, freeing themselves from having policy dictated by Earth and dissatisfation with the political system of the European Union in particular, which is characterized as unfit for the interstellar age. The declaration is published on the last day of May 2129.

As was pre-arranged, the Martian Consortium releases a statement acknowledging the independence of the two former colonies. The other powers refrain from making any strong statements at this uncertain point in time. European officials on Earth are, of course, livid. Despite the declarations having wide support among both colonies populations, the EU parliament on Earth rules the move invalid and demands the colonies go through the proper legal parliamentary processes to determine their possible independence - several such proposals have however been strategically blocked by the Earth nations in recent years. The EU threatens to use force to remove rebellious government officials. They do not back down and Earth-steered attempts to mobilize security forces on Mars and Santa María II fail, with police and other bodies either refusing the orders or pledging their allegiance to their local governments. Out of options, they start contacting military commanders, putting them in a very difficult position. Some refuse outright, following the model of the civilian deserters, some claim that they do not believe their troops would follow any such orders. EU military garrisoning on the colonies is typically a permanent station with most manpower drawn upon locally - not conducive to loyalty to the central government as it now turns out.

A few days have passed now and the question is on everybody's lips: Will the Earth government send ships and troops to subdue the colonies? Heated debates are held in the EU parliament, now in session with only the Earth nations represented. In the meantime the colony on Número Ocho, a low-gravity mining colony in Santa María with 20m inhabitants, has also declared independence and joined the new government of the Taíno colony. This may well be what tipped the balance, Earth needs mineral sources to survive and thrive and another has just turned away.

The decision is made to send in the fleet. Officially to "restore order" and "arrest officials", their actual mandate is to bring the colonies back in line by means of intimidation, using force if necessary. The commander of the destroyer squadron stationed on Santa María II receives an order to blockade the planet, but broadcasts his refusal in a very media-effective manner across the planet and back to Sol, instead pledging his allegiance to the local government of Taíno. The move seems coordinated with both the local government and the commanders of the rest of his squadron. These news aren't good for the Earthers, we're not talking about a few army officers refusing to leave their barracks or being afraid of being arrested by their troops, but the unambiguous defection of major military assets. There is now a chance that European ships may end up shooting each other.

The parts of Santa María II governed by Argentina, small in comparison to the European ones, also experienced their own push for independence. No such declaration ended up being made, primarily because the Martian Consortium would not extend it's offers to the Argentine possessions. It is true that the Argentine government has been a lot less exploitive in their policies than the European counterparts, to the degree where their Earth population sometimes feels forgotten. In either case it is believed that the future of the Argentine colony on Santa María II will be tightly coupled to the fate of Taíno.

Ship defection like in Santa María is unfortunate, but not actually a scenario the EU government was unprepared for. The conflict with Mars had to come to a head eventually and to prevent exactly this kind of outcome the destroyer squadron normally stationed on Mars has not been redeployed there in recent years, instead keeping it in Earth orbit. The fleet stationed on Earth is large, counting 6 cruisers and 10 destroyers - 200k tons total. Even if individual ships and commanders have doubts about their orders or would rather defect, doing so in the middle of the entire fleet is dangerous. The commanding officers of the six Hades-class cruisers in particular are all Earth-born citizens with no particular affiliation to or affection for the colonies.

So the Consortium has thrown down the gauntlet, putting the rebellious colonies under their protection. A full-on conflict with another power's main fleet is something most want to avoid, but there may be no way around it here. The Martian fleet holds a strategic advantage, it does not need to move in order to fulfil it's objective, it's the EU fleet that needs to act. The EU has two targets to visit: Mars and Taíno. It'd be ideal to deal with the Martian fleet (and Mars) first and then send an expedition to Taíno afterwards, but that requires the balls to start a major interstellar battle, one likely to involve the liberal use of nuclear warheads against targets in space. The Martian navy is considered inferior to the EU's Earth fleet, but a full-on confrontation like that is still not something the European leaders can agree on. So the decision is made to split off part of the fleet and tackle Taíno first - as long as a large enough force is also kept in Sol the Martian navy can't afford to send it's fleet away from Mars. It is unlikely that retaking Taíno will cause the Mars colony to concede as well, but it will put the EU government in a better position.

On the Martian side sending a large fleet detachment all the way to Santa María was never really an option anyway, despite their promises to both colonies - the PRL is still looking for an opportunity to exploit Consortium weakness and retake their old colony, despite their claim growing weaker and weaker every year that it remains under Consortium control. It has been 25 years now since the Consortium annexed the PRL Mars colony and the two powers entered a state of cold war. As such a scenario that leaves the Consortium navy at home is preferrable to them anyways. Their greatest fear is an alliance between the EU and PRL against them, but for now that does not happen.

The European Earth government makes it's move: two cruisers and four destroyers leave orbit accompanied by a troop ship and a support vessel. Martian observation detects this. Their options are limited, and they must act now before the group gets too far away from Earth and an interception would leave Mars undefended. On the other hand, too close to Earth and the navy will have to contend with the entire EU fleet.


It'd be very nice if you could remove civilian ship contacts from the map.

Any move by major Martian fleet assets will be detected as easily as the EU move, so their first instinct is to launch a fighter strike at the leaving force. Estimates show that, even with just four destroyers escorting the cruisers, not enough missiles will get through. The Mega-class missile destroyers can put out a volume of fire twice as big which can potentially be combined with a fighter strike. If some Megas need to visibly break orbit anyway it is decided to send all of them to strike at the leaving fleet and keep the fighter squadrons in reserve. A counter-missile strike is not feared as EU missiles have lower range and both their cruisers and their fighters can't catch up to the Megas.

EU military command detects the Megas setting course for their detachment. They are catching up quickly to the detachment which is slowed down significantly by their escorted troop transport. The warships could potentially reach the Earth LP before the Martians catch up and ambush them at energy range when they come through, but that would mean abandoning the troop transport to the enemy. The troops are mission critical to be able to force a surrender out of the Taíno colony, so their protection is paramount. The cruisers stationed on Earth are too slow to do more than force the Martian task group to adjust their course a little.


The Martians are escorting their strike ships with plasma frigates to preempt a potential intercept with faster EU escort destroyers at energy range.

At 28m from target the Martian destroyers activate sensors and lock targets. 32 cruise missiles are locked onto each of the cruisers, 8 on each destroyer.


Fire control settings. (SF) means synchronized fire, important to make sure that all missiles are fired and arrive as one and can't be picked off piecemeal.

The missiles are in space. The long manual reload cycles of the Megas mean they probably won't get a second shot off before the fleet transits the LP.


As the enemy is heading away from the launch platforms it must be ensured that by the time of intercept the targets have not gotten out of range, that's why the fire order is given at 28m range despite the missiles having 35m range.

At 1.6m from impact the detachment's thermal sensors detect the cruise missiles. Willing to wager on the Martians not having targeted the troop and support ship, the warships break formation to make use of their full speed and activate sensors, preparing for PD fire. Out of 96 cruise missiles 25 miss and a further 43 are hit by PD fire, resulting in 28 impacts. As the targets were distributed no ships are destroyed, but the ES Kirikkale, the oldest escort destroyer in the squadron, loses all engine power. The cruiser Kerberos was hit heavily and loses 43% engine power but otherwise retains operable status, if limited to the speed of a support ship. The other ships range from no damage to minor internal damage. 117 out of 1862 crewmen lose their lives.

Commander Burston on the Olympus Mons, the Martian command ship, is satisfied with the result. Destruction of enemy vessels was not his main objective, he wants to leave escalation of the conflict to the other side as much as possible. With one ship disabled and others wounded they will have to reconsider continuing their mission and will be weakened regardless of whether they press on to Santa María or turn back to Earth.

The disabled destroyer Kirikkale puts the European squadron in a difficult position. Proceeding towards the LP will abandon the ship to the opponent, but staying means being exposed to additional missile volleys. Help from Earth can not arrive in time. The decision is made to leave the Kirikkale behind and continue with the mission. There are four mutinous ships to confront and a colony to bring back in line. Even with battle damage the cruiser's firepower should be more than sufficient to deter the defected destroyers from making any more stupid moves. Seeing the EU ships make their decision Commander Burston reacts impassively, ordering his task force back to Mars and detaching a couple of plasma frigates to force the Kirikkale to surrender and take on it's crew. The ship itself must be scuttled, EU ships from Earth can get here before a tug could begin moving the Kirikkale back to Mars.

The incident gathers much media attention as a major battle in the middle of a busy shipping line in inner Sol. The five nation-state powers consider the Martian Consortium an independent military power, but to the newly independent people of Mars the battle is seen as "their" military beating back an attempt by Earth to reinstate their rule. Ever since the Battle of Procyon at the latest, where much of the resulting footage and reporting happened from the perspective of the distinctly Martian flagship Utopia Planitia, the Consortium's warships have been a symbol of national pride and strength.

So ends the first major exchange in this war of independence. For the next one the Martians are going to play another advantage of theirs. Their allies on Taíno are contacted and the defected EU destroyer squadron is asked to come to the Consortium colony in Salto, between Sol and Santa María.

A month goes by. The EU flotilla proceeds towards Santa María unharried by further Martian aggression and transits the Salto JP. There the unsuspecting ships are immediately assaulted by two Consortium plasma frigates and the defected destroyers they called in to help. The EU listening post in Salto which is supposed to prevent such an ambush from happening is on a moon of planet III - currently near it's farthest point from the Sol JP. On the other hand the Consortium colony on Salto IV is very close to the Sol JP currently. Due to these unfortuntate circumstances the ambushing ships were not detected and achieve total surprise.

The cruiser Nixos, the less damaged of the pair, is blasted by the plasma frigates. An equally if not more destructive barrage is begun by the Taíno-loyal destroyers, directing continuous fire against all warships at once. Standard jump shock is two minutes, best case. An awful lot of time to be on the receiving end of six energy-armed warships. When the plasma frigates reload and fire again the Nixos simply disintegrates. Satisfied that they have made their point, and in order to get outside of the remaining ship's firing range when they recover from jump shock, the ambushing force backs off a small distance and opens communications, demanding surrender. Shortly after the ambushing ships have left immediate weapons range the Kerberos recovers from jump shock, with Captain Cortés heatedly ordering all weapons fire. The chaos (and damage) on the ship proves too great, and five out of the seven heavy batteries remain silent and over half of the missile tubes do not respond. When the Kerberos' remaining missile launchers cycle again the Isparta, commanded by Lutz Brink, a young and courageous Taíno-born officer who distinguished himself in fighter combat simulations, breaks formation, firing on the Kerberos' volley and signalling his surrender to the Taíno forces.


Another defection

All of the Kerberos' missiles were destroyed and it's few operational batteries are ineffective at this range. It's remaining two escorts still haven't recovered from jump shock and won't win a straight-up fight against what is now seven enemy ships. Captain Cortés has no option but to call off the mission and turn back to Sol. By jumping her ships back through the JP she can at least discourage the enemy from giving chase by threatening to have her remaining ships do to them what just happened to her group; Ambush them behind a JP. After waiting on the JP for a while and confirming they don't chase she sets course back to Earth. Now it's up to the admirals and politicians to decide what to do next.

One of the lessons learned by this engagement is that even if combat is expected to happen in areas of stabilized jump points only it can be beneficial to have jump tenders. A squadron jumped via tender does not suffer jump shock for nearly as long as with an unassisted transit.

The PRL does not really want to participate in a campaign to conquer Mars only to end up in the same or a similar situation as before: with one or two other powers also present on the planet, except now there's blood and a lot more mistrust between them. Their main goal in any such action would be the liberation of their populace, which is not deemed strategically important, and gaining recompense for the state-owned industrial facilities the Consortium appropriated. While those were significant, the state has been doing fine without them, too. Because of this diplomats from Earth, no matter how enthusiastic, have a hard time convincing the PRL of their "shared goals" in the Martian matter.

The Kerberos and the remainder of it's task group return to Earth. The Martian tracking stations confirm the Kerberos is in inner Sol and give the green light for the ships in Salto to jump into Sol: The previous ambush won't work again and with most ships enjoying a speed advantage over the EU fleet there's no reason not to concentrate the forces.


CA Kerberos stats - That's a lot of damage

The Kerberos will be in spacedock for 9 months. It's two escorts have received heavy armor damage, but still have functioning systems. Using them in an operation again is possible, if risky. The expedition sent to Taíno was supposed to be an easy victory and put Earth in a favorable position in dealing with Mars, but all it's done is put a third of the fleet out of action. The additional bloodshed has united Earth's nations to assertively put down this rebellion and authorize planning for direct action against the Martian fleet. Without colonies mining offworld minerals Earth is helpless after all.

The EU plan for taking out the Martian navy is as follows: a direct approach while the Earth-Mars orbits still put the planets closely together so as to give them less reaction time for fighter actions. All undamaged ships will participate, leaving Earth defended by the damaged escorts and the planetary point-defense installations. PD on both the fleet and Earth should be sufficient for the limited Martian missile strike capacity, which was just a little to high for the detached fleet to absorb previously. Once in strike range of Mars, all cruisers will open fire on the Martian ships, preferentially targeting escorts and frigates. It is assumed that the Martian navy will remain on station so as to defend their planet. The first strike wave can be boosted significantly by use of Eurofighter squadron missile launches, however they require a closer distance to target in order to lock on successfully. There are significant STO ground forces stationed on Mars. While many have doubtful loyalty or may even support the enemy side, attempts will be made to mobilize as great a number of these as possible for eventual use against Martian ships in orbit, however doing so would likely precipitate large-scale ground fighting as rebel troops try to shut them down. Since it can't be guaranteed that reinforcements from Earth will land on the ground quickly enough and in sufficient numbers the STO option should only be used in a pinch.

The Earth battle fleet departs. Four cruisers and three Adana C/D escorts each with 31 Eurofighters in tow. 143k tons. On Mars await them 3 carriers, 6 missile destroyers, 3 escort destroyers, 48 light fighters, 6 laser escort frigates, 8 plasma frigates. 298k tons total. On paper this gives the Martian fleet a major advantage, but there are several diminishing factors working against their superiority: All 14 frigates are old and outdated, the escort frigates are rated to only have a fraction of the performance of a kinetic escort destroyer. The fighters all carry only a single cruise missile, as opposed to the ~10 projectiles a Eurofighter carries. The carriers contribute a lot of mass to the total but provide very little actual fighting strength. The final reason why the EU fleet considers itself superior is it's sheer advantage in nuclear firepower, it's fighter squadrons can put up to 300 missiles in the air, at once. The Martian point-defense, consisting of some old frigates and only three newer destroyers who's supply of Qian Interceptors hasn't arrived yet, is considered weak.

Martian observation detects the EU force departing from Earth, fighters included. Prepared procedures are initiated at once. Commercial Consortium-owned ships are evacuated from orbits and all shields begin the charging process. The last supplies of missiles are loaded onto the warships, the escort destroyers in particular only have a limited amount of Martian-built interceptors available to them.

Four hours later the EU fleet has crossed half the distance between the planets and it's time for the Martian navy to make it's first move. As the Martian missile systems are not designed for rapid-fire launches all available time must be used. All six missile destroyers and the 48 fighters, most aboard their carriers, move towards the approaching fleet. All 144 launch tubes are loaded with LRT3 Cruise Missiles - the Consortium's latest model, only produced in small numbers so far. There is only enough for one full strike, all reloads must use LRT2 models, which are the ones used for the strike against the flotilla departing for Taíno, or old low-performance LRT1 models. All Martian ordnance outranges EU missiles and all launch platfroms outspeed the EU launch platforms, so there is no fear of counter-fire. After an hour the Martian strike fleet is in range, deliberating targets. Targeting the fleet's core of cruisers is tempting, as their continual launch capabilities are very dangerous to the navy. Targeting the escorts to achieve higher damage with further volleys is also tempting. Captain Georgia Florek on the flag bridge of the Utopia Planitia is the risk-averse type and would prefer to target the fighters instead, as they with their high alpha-strike capability pose the greatest danger to the Martian navy, but in order to get a lock on them the fleet would need to move within 7.5m km to target, which would cost valuable time and put the fleet inside EU weapons range. Counting on the chance to strike again, Captain Florek orders three escorts targeted.


Missiles away

The fighters are recalled and begin the rearming process. The EU battle fleet detects the launch. PD fire is being prepared, it is assumed that the volley can be weathered. An uncomfortable 20 minutes follow, knowing that there are 144 warheads incoming and you don't know if they're aimed at your ship and you can't do anything about it until the last second anyway.


53 miss, 45 are intercepted and 46 warheads impact


I'm really missing the verbose damage breakdowns of VB6, they helped a lot with understanding how combat works. I have little idea what happened here, I guess three missiles each were enough to destroy the two dead destroyers? They must have died from secondaries caused by shock damage, given that nothing penetrated? Why does the summary at the bottom list 3 hits on the Edirne but I can count 6 hits on the top? The six hits on the Tarsus are all there is, I snipped a lot of "empty" messages like the second-to-last, which I imagine are "hits" after the ship had already exploded? Then why is there a single message "No hits"? I kinda wish the PD would randomly target an incoming missile instead of working on them volley by volley, this leads to weird results where some ships get fully protected but some get totally destroyed.

One targeted destroyer only has armor damage, but two were destroyed. That is worse than expected, but still within mission parameters and the Martians shouldn't be able to use their strike capacity again very soon. The mission will continue, determines Captain Sundberg aboard the Charon.

As more time passes the EU fleet enters missile range from Mars. Martian launch tubes, save for the ones on the fighter squadron still missing a carrier, are ready to fire again before the Earther fleet gets into their own fire range. It is unknown if they will strike as soon as they get within their range or if they will wait until they're closer. Martian Captain Florek would still prefer to target the EU fighters, but a lock on them can't be achieved until they close to 7.5m km range - within the 10m km range of their missiles. The need to pre-empt as much hostile fire as possible wins out, and the second strike is released against the cruisers. There is little the EU ships can do about the ordnance currently approaching them, so they keep moving. While the strike is still in the air the Mega class destroyers reload. The fighters won't be rearmed before the EU fleet gets within range, so an additional strike using old LRT1 cruise missiles is launched with the Megas. It remains to be seen how effective they are, but even if the strike fails the old ordnance can be spared.

The second strike impacts. Despite the usage of less capable LRT2 cruise missiles the previous destruction of two escorts has enough of an effect that 54 missiles impact. 44 are intercepted and 34 miss. The European command cruiser Charon suffers a magazine explosion and is destroyed, forcing the fleet commander Captain Sundberg into a lifepod. The Pluto and especially the Hydra suffer extensive internal damage. This fight is NOT going the way the EU admirals had expected, but at this point it's only a few more million km until Mars is in firing range, and fleeing now would allow the Martians to take their time finishing off the fleet. This endeavor was very much all-in from the start, and without colonial mineral income Earth is very much helpless. Even if most of the fleet does not survive this encounter, if colonial obedience can be restored, it will be worth it.


The third wave approaches. Fewer, notably slower missiles, but can the damaged EU fleet absorb them?


They cannot.

The next strike hits the cruiser Styx amidships, causing two munitions caches to ignite at once. The last operational EU cruiser is taken out of the fight. Only four escorts and the fighters remain of the fleet, less than two million km before the cruisers would have entered into firing range of Mars. Shall the fleet push on even now? The fighters have a limited firing range of only 4m km. The exact range at which Martian sensors can get a lock on the fighters is not known, but as the Eurofighter fleet is the oldest space-based military unit built by humans many systems have been made specially to detect such platforms. Quick estimates by intelligence show that, given measured outputs of Consortium sensor systems, they can likely target and fire on the fighters before they get within range. And even if the fighters get to strike, victory is not assured. The recommendation is to recall, and the admirality agrees. Consortium command is contacted and a cease-fire offered, with the promise that the currently en-route forces will retreat without firing. The Martians accept, and little later their victory is publicly proclaimed. Spontaneous jubilations erupt among the nationalist population across the planet.

Many an Earth politician's career who promised to bring the colonies in line no matter the resistance just ended. European politics descend into chaos over the next few days, and the dissolution of the European Union in it's current form seems a foregone conclusion. There are protests about Consortium ships salvaging the wrecks of European ships, ignoring their salvage rights, but might makes right and the EU is neither politically nor military able to defend their claims. The EU fleet at the start of the conflict counted 18 escorts and 6 cruisers, now there are three undamaged and three damaged escorts remaining. Half the cruisers, the core of the EU navy, have been destroyed, and the other ones are still undergoing emergency damage control procedures in Earth orbit. 4 escorts are permanently stationed in deep space, guarding a mining outpost. 5 escorts have deserted and gone over to the enemy. 3 have been destroyed.

July ends and August rolls around, it has now been several weeks since the initial declaration of independence. With the last battle it has become clear that loyalty of the colonies can't be militarily enforced and that Mars and Taíno as independent entities are here to stay, so as a consequence, limited acknowledgements of their sovereignty have been made by the other powers. The EU governments on Earth still refuse such a statement, but colonial independence is starting to be regarded as a fait accompli. A prisoner exchange has been negotiated and safe passage for citizens wishing to return from one world to another has been promised. Due to the questionable loyalties of EU ground forces no orders calling them to action had been given and no significant ground fighting took place during the whole time. Earth is allowed to retrieve any troops wishing to return there, but is not allowed to interfere with any individual, in military service or otherwise, that wishes to remain on their current world. As a consequence some entire brigades have officially joined the Martian and Taíno governments.

Militarily the outcome of the naval showdown between the EU and the Consortium was unexpected. Many of the Consortium's ships were considered second grade to those of other nations and their missile doctrine has always been critiqued as inefficient, but it was their longer range that made the difference here. The Consortium has established itself as a first-rate military power now, especially in light of their wealth and the rapid growth of their fleet, while the EU, or what will become of it, is now looking at a rapid decline in power and influence. To the other powers Mars is still protected by a powerful navy, keeping the ambitions of smaller powers like Russia in check, but Taíno's security may prove a different matter. It remains to be seen if their alliance with the Consortium was only a temporary measure or something that will last.

One of the more immediate results of Taíno's independence is even more heavily increased calls for independence of the Argentine colony on Santa María II as well. It is clear that the governments of Taíno and Mars have been supporting such demands and would back them up militarily. Given what just happened to the EU navy, considered a first-rate power, the Argentine government sees itself forced to make more and more concessions every week, giving virtually every possible degree of autonomy to their Santa María colony. This, in turn, causes the home population of Argentina, who already felt the government was spending too much on off-world matters, to take it to streets en masse. Less than a month later the government fails; a second state in disarray as a result of the war for independence.

Another "failing" state turns out to be the Martian one: the local EU government on the body, which is the one that declared independence several months ago, is finding it's policies and personnel choices increasingly dictated by the powerful Consortium entities which allowed their independence to become a reality in the first place. Rarely can any official body say no when a candidate proposed by the Consortium is suggested for an advisory position or a post directly. Given the current rate of integration it can be assumed that true democratic elections likely won't be a part of Mars' future. The Consortium also seeks to expand the jurisdiction of the government over it's "own" populations, helping legitimize it's rule over Mars and it's citizens.



   Other happenings in 2129

A Consortium explorer is detecting live fire and wrecks around a JP stabilized by non-humans. The system connected through that JP is where the EU encountered survey ships on a survey point a couple years ago.


This is another shooting incident happening half a year later. A third one then happened in December.



The previously encountered jump ship transits the Grand Bourg JP again. As there is currently a stabilization ship working on the JP the Japanese immediately send their fleet from the orbit over Neo-Kobe City, which is closely approaching the JP once more. The jump tender flees towards the outer system, perhaps upon detecting the Japanese vessel in vicinity of the JP. Two destroyers, barely faster than their quarrel, give chase. Communications attempts continue and the aliens keep responding, but the christmas miracle from over a year ago that allowed diplomatic contact seems all but forgotten.
At some point the alien ship turns back. It may also have been heading towards the nearest survey point, like the initial contact ship did. This opens up a chance to finally intercept it.


The speeds of the hunter and the hunted are almost equal.

The destroyer Yamagiri scores several hits. The alien vessel does not appear to change course or attempt to defend itself. As the impact profile suggests the ship is not heavily armored the decision is made to close in to point-blank range with one destroyer and disable it's electronics with microwave weapons. And so it is done. The alien sensors are fried and the ship is being let escape back through the JP, unable to get a reading on the Japanese task force now sitting on it. It is also hoped that the non-lethal application of force is seen as a sign of goodwill by the aliens, assuming they understand such notions.

A mere two months later such hopes are brought to naught as the ship transits yet again and is destroyed by the blockading force.


They didn't want to learn.

A few days later another, larger ship transits the JP and immediately returns back through it. Before it disappeared again it activated sensors and got a reading on the JAP blockading force, perhaps that was it's purpose - or investigating the fate of the previous ship. Then it jumps through again, retreats, jumps away again. After a few more of these cycles the commander has enough and orders his ships to open fire. After one volley the ship stops returning. Concerning is that apparently none of the hits penetrated the armor, suggesting that this was indeed a warship.

OOC Note: That's the kind of interrupt loop I have to deal with. Except most of the time it's between NPRs, which makes it non-obvious what's going on or what's causing it.

A few months later the ship transits again, perhaps after having received repairs. At least this time it is content not to move, opting to sit just beside the JAP stabilizer and under the watchful eye of the blockade fleet, inside their weapons range. Intermittently sensor emissions can be received from it. An hour later it jumps out and in again, beginning the same game as before, except it stays in system for up to an hour every time now. After a few cycles the Japanese task group fires again. The ship reacts to the long-range volley, all shots of which miss, by fleeing - away from the JP. A few more volleys quickly disable the ship - it appears it was not as well armored as thought. Unwilling to give away a chance for a peaceful resolution the blockade fleet positions itself in the ships prior escape vector and waits.



The Russian excavation in Sverdlovsk recovers 6 000 tons of Corundium from a storage area of the alien ruins. Suddenly receiving enough minerals for 25 automines is an unexpected windfall for the economically weak nation.

As a result of their botched transition to manned mining operations on Venus and the temporary income stop of Gallicite that resulted from it, the Japanese navy is now in a state of maintenance crisis. Engine units are starting to fail on ships orbiting Earth which can't be immediately repaired. The task force keeping Neo-Kobe City in Grand Bourg secure is not hit as hard as the limited facilities in operation there can manufacture spares out of locally produced Gallicite, mined in system in trace amounts. Both the continued deployment of their forces and the supply shortage do not bode well for the nation's preparedness in the face of possible foreign aggression.
 
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Offline Zap0 (OP)

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Re: Race to the Stars
« Reply #36 on: November 02, 2020, 01:30:51 AM »
Fun fact: there are 2.6k ships active in this game.



   2130

At the start of the year the European Union was officially dissolved. The remaining off-world interests, most notably the Hambach asteroid mining complex and the remainders of the fleet, are for now under shared ownership of some of the old member states. With the collapse of the established central government and rapidly deteriorating economic conditions on Earth the political landscape has shifted dramatically. The old ruling parties have little to no influence anymore as the populace turns to increasingly extreme ideologies. While the dominant narrative is that greedy offworlders, who couldn't appreciate all the money and resources Earth has spent on building up their prosperity, turned on their brothers and instigated a violent revolution, there is also no shortage of blame being shifted around on Earth as well. Politicians and entire nations are accused of being traitors for taking the offworlders side during the crisis or taking a conciliatory approach or simply not being hard enough on them. Irregularities in where the wealth ended up, when it was still flowing back to Europe, are being put in the foreground. In short, it is chaos, and with dozens of states having newly found independence, war between nations is once again a realistic possibility on Earth.

The Argentine situation is not too different. The existing government has lost any support from their population on Earth after seeing themselves forced to give in to any demand the colonies made. The colonies are therefore quite interested in keeping the friendly government in power for as long as possible, relocating government bodies and institutions to Santa María all the while. It has, for instance, been already assured that the Argentine navy will forthwith be primarily concerned with the security of Santa María and La Tablada. The populace feels abandoned as government and fleet headquarters are relocated off-world and the entire Argentine elites basically are emigrating to Santa María. In March a new government is formed in Argentina from a broad coalition of parties and their first act essentially amounts to a declaration of independence from their own colonies, cutting off their influence on Earth and reclaiming Argentina for the Argentines.

An experimental survey craft testing new technologies for the Argentine exploration program, now headquartered in the Tablada City colony, makes a menacing discovery. The program is concerned with the problem of detecting Qian threats and bases before ships run into them, and has begun live field tests in the La Plata system, two jumps from La Tablada, as ships have been lost there to suspected Qian vessels. At first the technicians in charge deem the test a failure, but repeated analysis confirms it:


~680k tons of Qian hardware

48 Qian signatures appear to be present in orbit of La Plata III. After successive tests to confirm that the system is indeed working as intended the findings are published. Media across the human worlds terms this find to be the Qian homeworld, owed to the presence of warships orders of magnitutes above what was previously seen. The force detected here is twice as massive than the largest human navies, a fact that makes a lot of people nervous, despite there being no indication that these Qian vessels might leave their post any more than the others detected so far. At the same time wild speculation erupts as for what wonders might be found on the surface of the planet.

An unknown alien vessel is observed in the system of Novokuznetsk. It appears to be surveying planets. There are no military ships or STO weapons on the colony, so it can only be hoped that they have peaceful intentions. The ship enters orbit and scans the planet, but launches no aggressive action.

A new batch of Gallicite has arrived on Luna from the colonies, signaling the start of the escort ship construction project. The PRL has invested considerable resources over the past decade and a half to develop adequate point defense technology, eventually culminating in the reveal of the PD Particle Dome system in 2125. The capture of alien AMM projectiles later that year provided an unexpected alternative: build AMM escorts instead. For years there has been disagreement over which system should be introduced into the navy, the decision continuously put off until there actually was enough Gallicite to support the construction of more ships. Now that that point has arrived PRL command has decided go ahead with their original plans for escort destroyers using the Particle Dome system. The decision has been reached after the PRL's lead (and only) kinetic weapons expert was found dead only a few weeks before the shipment arrived. With the program to develop an AMM munition on their own severely set back, the other option was considered safer.
This is the updated escort destroyer design from 2125, based on the Mighty Dolphin's hull. 4 units are laid down.

Code: [Select]
Black Tortoise I class Escort      12 000 tons       266 Crew       1 797 BP       TCS 240    TH 1 125    EM 1 380
4687 km/s      Armour 5-46       Shields 46-460       HTK 87      Sensors 0/0/0/0      DCR 4      PPV 72.7
Maint Life 1.23 Years     MSP 421    AFR 256%    IFR 3.6%    1YR 289    5YR 4 339    Max Repair 187.5 MSP
Zhong Xiao    Control Rating 1   BRG   
Intended Deployment Time: 13 months    Morale Check Required   

Feng-Dai Thrust ION Capital Ship Drive (3)    Power 1125    Fuel Use 40.41%    Signature 375    Explosion 10%
Fuel Capacity 467 000 Litres    Range 17.3 billion km (42 days at full power)
Lunar Delta Deflector (1)     Recharge Time 460 seconds (0.1 per second)

Lunar PD Particle Dome (5x6)    Range 30 000km     TS: 16000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 30 000 km    ROF 5       
PD Targeting System (5)     Max Range: 48 000 km   TS: 16 000 km/s     79 58 38 17 0 0 0 0 0 0

Ying Combat Sensor IV (1)     GPS 3     Range 2.7m km    MCR 244k km    Resolution 1
Lunar-Shao High Resolution Scanner II (1)     GPS 32     Range 10.5m km    MCR 945.2k km    Resolution 1

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

   2131

Wars have indeed broken out between several nations inside and outside of Europe as the situation on Earth deterioated further. Many marginalized states, which did not rose to be a significant interstellar power, were completely dependent on one spacefaring power or another and ended up harboring great resentment against them. As it had turned out at the beginning of the interstellar age, becoming a space power was a path with a heavy first-mover advantage. Even relatively minor powers like Argentina could become space powers if they invested early enough. Otherwise rich or powerful states who started investing into space too late, like India, did not manage to gain a foothold in space as competition with the already much more wealthy first-movers proved too difficult. Instead such peoples were marginalized to a second class of Earth citizens, and that's coming back to haunt the "fallen" European space power hard now.

The cruiser Hydra was considered beyond repair after the Independence War and was scrapped, leaving only the cruisers Kerberos and Pluto in service. Command over these major warships is proving a big boon for the nations that ended up with their loyalty; As the wars on Earth eventually broke out, the mere threat of orbital bombardment, nuclear or merely kinetic, was enough to make other states fall in line or back down. Only rarely the firepower actually ended up needing to be used. It'd be possible to establish hegemony over much of Earth by way of conquest for these nations. An alternative path to warlords enforcing their power has been articulated through the Terra Prime movement, which draws heavily on the resentment against colonies and offworlders, and asserts that Earth is the permanent capital and center of Human civilization. Already strong in South America, if this movement can deflect the resentment of the minor Earth nations against the space powers onto the colonies and other planets, a united - if dangerously militant - Earth is a possibility.

The extant interstellar powers with remaining populations on Earth are wary of getting involved in the fighting for fear of stoking similar resentment against their own governments. The PRL has kept the social peace in China, but there are no illusions that anything and anyone that really matters is on the moon, not on Earth. Japan's colonies are actually smaller and less significant industrially than it's home population. That and a very inward-oriented lookout, with firmly shut borders and isolationist policies, keep the Japanese people aloof from current world events. The Russian home situation isn't as rosy as voices have been getting louder that the central government, newly relocated to Callisto, does not care about the people on Earth. That is underlined by the fact that almost all TN manufacturing jobs have now moved off-world, presenting a serious downturn in wages and economic opportunity on Earth.

There are no signs of the Japanese maintenance crisis letting up anytime soon. All but two warships have been evacuated from Grand Bourg, most ships are in Earth orbit undergoing permanent overhaul operations. Failing engines can't be repaired and there are not enough tools available to prevent them from failing in the first place. Whatever the solution will look like, it'll require more Gallicite: the government has been pouring any mining capacity it can onto Venus, but at this point a high four-digit number in tons of Gallicite is needed to get all ships in shape again. It is really a self-inflicted crisis. Ambitious plans for manned mining operations on Venus were launched but eventually failed to function. In the meantime the existing mining infrastructure had already been moved away from Venus, in expectation that reserves would be sufficient to tide the state over. Then the state tried for too long to salvage the project, restarting automated mining operations far too late.


There have been a lot of increments like this this year.

The Earth nations, desperate to increase the flow of TN minerals to their homes and loathe to found colonies with major civilian populations, pick up and implement an old proposal: Bremen, the system of rich asteroid belts which the Hambach asteroid mining complex is exploiting, is also home to three mineral-rich planets. The first planet in particular bears deposits of all 11 TN minerals with particularly high concentrations of Duranium, Neutronium, Mercassium and solid Sorium. As the planet is very hostile to life due to it's close orbit to the star and the Venusian atmosphere a series of orbital habitats are indended to provide living space for workers. However, the location is three jumps and 13b km from Earth and moving even a single orbital habitat will take a long time, therefore it is planned to only move an initial few and construct any additional ones on site. This process is going to take some time. Once established the colony can also serve as a collection point for the minerals mined in the system's asteroid belts and any future products of the neighboring system of Hannover.

One of the European exploration cruisers on it's way back to Earth detects an unknown alien vessel holding position 65m off of the previously hidden Córdoba JP leading into the Santa María pocket. There appears to be no other reason for that ship to hang around there except to keep an eye on the warp point. Aliens apparently knowing one of the primary entry points into human territory is very concerning. Just in case the aliens are not aware of the precise location of the JP yet the exploration ship decides to turn around take the long way around through Wuhan to Sol instead.
Unbeknownst to the European ship there is actually a PRL stabilizer working on the JP. As this is the primary route towards Split/Xining space they deemed it important that their strike cruisers, for which they don't have large enough jump ships yet, could operate in this direction. The stabilizer does not see the alien ship and continues to be ignorant of it's presence as the explorer does not publicize the encounter right away.


From the EU map. Volendam is their name for the encounter system.

As part of the Martian Consortium's program to expand out of Sol refits are being scheduled for their fleet of old NASA-built exploration frigates. There are no radical changes in function or experimental Qian detection systems, this is merely an upgrade to existing capabilities.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2020, 12:45:46 AM by Zap0 »
 
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Race to the Stars, 2132 - Invasion of Venus
« Reply #37 on: November 21, 2020, 07:55:03 AM »
   2132 - Invasion of Venus

Having completely gutted their mining operation on comet Hale-Bopp (Corundium/Neutronium), there are now 66 Japanese automines churning out Gallicite on Venus again, enough to maintain maximum supply production on Earth. Work has been done and two thirds of the "maintenance debt" levels from last year have been paid off. The fleet is still in the docks. Once all ships have returned to maintenance standards stockpiles will need to slowly be filled up again and minerals expended on reconstructing failed engines.


Ships are now at 0.4 years maintenance instead of 1.2. Things are improving, but there's still a deep hole to crawl out of.

Russian intelligence, of course, has kept a close eye on the situation. With all industry for the foreseeable future in place on Venus and the fleet still crippled, a recommendation is made to launch the invasion now.

That recommendation is taken. For seven years Russia has prepared to take the mines on Venus. Since then virtually all important facilities have been moved off of Earth, first and foremost the shipyards. The navy has plentiful supplies and ordnance. Even a counter for the giant Japanese war machines, which they hope will protect them from any threat on the surface, has been prepared: Nearly 400 heavy armor-piercing guns have been built, most of which are scheduled to land in the first wave. Politically, the conflict will be framed as a disagreement over the mining rights which the Japanese government has granted decades ago. There will be an explicit promise that the Japanese surface colony is not a target of this operation and it won't be annexed, but fighting within it's vicinty may be unavoidable. There is reason to believe that the other powers won't intervene in a Russo-Japanese conflict.


RUS invasion troops bound for Venus

The troops will arrive via freighters camouflaged as a regular supply run. If all goes right the troops will have just about finished unloading before the Japanese guards notice anything wrong. On May 31st the freighters are dispatched from Callisto, without escort. A detachment of warships stands by in the asteroid belt, about as far from Venus as Earth is at current.


Venus is a bit hidden behind the text.

The plan goes off without a hitch. Soldiers in high-pressure vehicles are on the surface and prepare for the first strike. Combat in an evironment as extreme as Venus's surface will be an major challenge. These soldiers have received trained specially for this for years, but dedicated high-pressure combat gear has yet to be invented. The same is true for the opponent, while they had ample time to get used to this environment, their weapons too were ultimately designed with a more Earth-like environment in mind. Neither side has an advantage, and with attacks difficult to mount under these conditions a surface war could well become very lengthy. As such the hope is to achieve an initial breakthrough using the element of surprise.

There is no such breakthrough in the first 24 hours of fighting. The terrain is, as expected, too difficult. Of the 20 Type-04 Gekishin combat mecha none have been destroyed yet: in the only engagement that saw some heavy hits land on one of them three out of the four projectiles penetrated, but failed to immobilize the behemoth. A few armored Russian vehicles were destroyed in return.

The Japanese side immediately acknowledges that a naval fight for supremacy would end badly. Conceding control over Venus' orbit means giving the Russians the ability to land as many troops as they want. The ideal Japanese strategy would be for the ground forces on Venus to hold out for months or indefinitely while the navy returns to readiness. If the situation on Venus changes for the worse a ground war on Earth is an option as a way to pressure the Russians, as their Earth contingent is considered smaller. Still, it'd be a large war and does not affect Venus.
As an immediate measure, the three least damaged escorts are taken out of overhaul and being put into service - just in case of a missile attack on Earth.


Unit down

The second day of fighting sees the first two out of 20 Gekishin TSFs get destroyed. The Russian heavy guns are working even in the extreme environment and the Japanese hope for a long ground war isn't looking too likely.

The Russian side wants to avoid a long ground war partially to avoid collateral damage. After five days of fighting, several mining complexes originally belonging to either side have already been rendered unusable by the fighting. As have several subsurface civilian habitats, with corresponding civilian casualties. 120 automining complexes are on the planet in total; they are the object of this war. Only one more Japanese Mecha was lost, but the number of "Bear Hunter" vehicles gunning for them has also been steadily dropping. Supplies are still holding out on both sides for now but the Japanese are reserving their logistics capabilities exclusively for the Gekishin TSFs. The Second wave of Russian troops is still two weeks away from landing.

Internationally there is little interest in getting involved in the fighting to defend Japan. The most obvious thing Japan can offer to a potential ally is access to the Gallicite deposits on Venus, but the PRL already has an established mining outposts a few systems out. The deposits on Venus are hard to exploit and the risk of being on the receiving end of a Russian missile strike is just too great compared to the gain. The government on Taíno has no interest in getting involved in conflicts in Sol. The Earth nations are not in any state to provide significant enough aid to Japan to matter militarily.
Their most likely ally would be the Consortium, who are looking for a long-term Gallicite source, but have no short-term need and are looking to expand out of system. What can the Japanese offer them that would make them take on the Russian navy? Diplomats are still trying to figure that one out.


Unequal losses

The fighting is turning for the worse for the Japanese. While the Russians lose more vehicles, there are more Japanese infantrymen dying - Infantry which has been out of supplies for a few days now. The Russian supply situation is deteriorating as well, but once the new troops arrive relief will come. More importantly, the Russian infantry is starting to dig in and improve their positions, further decreasing the chance for Japanese defenders to cause casualties.


10 days since the landing the tides of war have swung back into balance - for now. The Russian AT units are out of supply and the Gekishin Mechas are using the last of theirs before the Russians dig in further.

The second wave of attackers is underway and headed for a battlefield that has quieted down somewhat from the initial few days of fighting, but they're determined to change that. With the heavy Russian guns on the ground due to be resupplied the situation for the Japanese defenders looks grim. So before it comes to that, the government decides to take pressure off of Venus and opens a second front on Earth, the only realistic option available to them at the moment. Just one or two decades earlier a major war on Earth would have seemed outrageous, now it's merely one more conflict among the rest after the downfall of the EU. Indeed, it is easy for the Japanese to find allies among the warlords in control of eastern Europe to support their campaign.

The fighting broke out on June 11th. Now, two weeks later, the war spills over to Earth as fighting starts in Sakhalin and suborbital insertions are made all over Russian territory. 70 TSF Mechas, albeit most of older models, begin their push.
The results of the first day are as devastating as the Russians had hoped they would have been on Venus. Several positions are overrun, with Japanese armor achieving a breakthrough. There are eight Russian infantry divisions stationed on Earth, and those are not necessarily the best equipped of the bunch. Attacking are six army corps, twice as many troops, before the six brigades of volunteers cooperating with the JSDF are counted.


A new dimension of carnage is unleashed with the commencement of combat operations on Earth.

The Russian side was hoping Earth would not be involved in any fighting. Strikes against the ships or shipyards in orbit were always an option, but don't appear to be necessary and are avoided to stop the conflict from escalating more than it has to. In principle Japan has much more to lose from a ground war on Earth; Their entire industrial base is still on the planet. Ultimately the Japanese are acting like this because they're backed into a corner, even if they did a lot to help drive themselves into it. All industry has been moved to Callisto exactly for this kind of situation: Another power looks bound to win a ground war on Earth.
The question in the room is whether or not to redirect the reinforcements headed for Venus towards Earth. It is a difficult decision, but it's the logical conclusion all preparations have been leading up to: Earth is ignored, the transports will continue on their course to Venus. Gallicite will secure continued independence and wealth in the future, attachments to the motherland can't get in the way of that. Even if it does not look like Japan will win now, we can't afford to weaken our position by sending good troops into what looks like a losing fight on another front.

The Japanese aim of diverting the Russian reinforcements has failed, they're in the process of landing on Venus. At least the ground war on Earth is going well, occupying Russia itself will no doubt be an advantage in any negotiation. What does the Japanese endgame look like? Initial feelers put out to get a feel of Russian demands were all rebuffed. It's not rights to mine Venus they're after as they already had that, despite the official casus belli being to press a claim regarding them. It's not security of their mining installations, as they've repeatedly stated they have no intent of taking over the civilian population on Venus, thereby tolerating a foreign presence on the planet. Their aim appears to be the simple capture of industry and mining output.

Given the situation the Japanese government would be open for a settlement, acknowledging some of the spurious Russian claims to their mining operations, but not all. Venusian Gallicite is essential to maintain and expand a military force in space, especially given the current state of the navy the state can ill afford to have the supply cut off at this point. Also, any settlement that results in both parties retaining a presence on Venus would be poisoned, as there would be no trust that either party won't try to conquer or reconquer the rest as soon as the situation changes. A third party to enforce the settlement and the peace could be useful here. The only power with any interest in doing so would be the PRL, as it fits their agenda of establishing themselves as hegemons over Humanity, but what would actually force them to action should the peace on Venus be broken? They themselves have little interest in defending Japan against Russia. It's not an ideal solution, but should the PRL also be allowed to establish it's own mining operations on Venus would give them an incentive to maintain the status quo on the planet. Their interest in Venus isn't great, as any prospective mining operation would be an automining operation in a difficult environment not fundamentally different than those it already operates out of system. Still, they might be receptive to arguments about diversifying their Gallicite sources and the convenience of a source right here in Sol.

The Japanese plan for peace has been hashed out. The question is when to propose it. Right now the second wave is unloading onto Venus, but the war on Earth is still going. it is believed that it can be won before the situation on Venus deteriorates too far. With Russia occupied and Venus still under siege the time will be right.

The arrival of the second wave puts the weight ratio on Venus at 73k tons for the Russians to 35k tons of ground forces for the Japanese. At the start the ratio was roughly 45k vs. 52k. On Earth 41k tons of Russian defenders remain vs. 170k attacking troops.
14 out of 20 Gekishin still stand on Venus two days after the second wave, down from 16 before their arrival. Occasional breakthroughs by the "Bear Hunter" AT brigades fell yet more, it seems Venus may fall before Earth yet as the push on Earth starts to run into supply problems as well.

July 12th, one month of fighting. The third wave, consisting of another two armored divisions, will arrive on Venus in one week. Defenders both on Earth and Venus are still hanging on and all sides find themselves logistically unprepared for a conflict that looks like it might yet drag on for another month before total victory is achieved. 85% of the Russian mining posts on Venus have been ground up by the fighting while the Japanese have largely been able to defend theirs - but civilian casualties whenever life support systems of the colony got caught up in the fighting were appalling, with tens of thousands dead every week. In hindsight it would have been prudent to evacuate the mining facilities first, but that would have given away the plan and prevented the ruse for the initial landing from working. With fourty-one of their own mines destroyed the capture of the Japanese mines becomes even more important, decreasing the likelihood that any halfway peace will succeed.

Planning for a Japanese relief operation of Venus has not been fruitful. The fundamental tactical problem with landing reinforcements is that the unload time is two days, more than enough for the entire Russian fleet to converge and execute a strike. Around 250 missiles is the expected volume, and each of the three operational escort destroyers is projected to take down up to 15 incoming projectiles - not nearly enough. Negotiations with the Consortium for military help were difficult. A squadron of old laser escorts (each projected to take down merely two incoming projectiles) could be hired on a mercenary basis. Gaining the assistence of the modern Solstice class escorts under command of the Consortium naval holding company would cost an exorbitant price in concessions, but even with them it's unlikely that a strong enough missile defense can be brought to bear. Even a handful of projectiles penetrating and impacting the troop transports during the disembarkation process would ruin the whole operation.

So a challenge to the Russian navy is not possible at the moment. The war on Earth is on no track to end significantly before the war on Venus anymore. Before Russian command decides to do something about Earth and potentially the Japanese navy after all, Japanese diplomats ask for a cease-fire and invite for peace talks aboard the diplomatic stations on July 21st.

Negotiations are not dismissed out of hand, but don't last very long. The Japanese side goes down to only asking to retain 20 of their 70 automines on Venus, but that would still just leave the Russians with the capacity they started this war with and they're not a fan of inviting a third party to the planet, either. Ultimately they believe the Japanese simply have no way to stop them on Venus or retake it anytime soon. The political capital gained by occupying much of Russia's Earth territory was overestimated, Russian leadership is clearly willing to throw them under the bus. Other nations were always interested to maintain a presence on Earth to be able to threaten the others with point-blank reprisals, but to the Russian doctrine needing to defend Earth orbit has always been a liability.

Russia aims for a complete victory on Venus. The number of defenders, on both Earth and Venus, has fallen below 20k tons. A few days later another Japanese proposal is made: declare a cease-fire and allow each side to evacuate their units from their respective fronts. This would amount to a surrender of Venus and allow the Russian troops still fighting on Earth to come home safely. This proposal, too, is rejected. Russian command would rather see the remaining eight Gekishin on Venus and their substantive supporting artillery annihilated instead of having to potentially face them again someday. All the troops on Earth are outdated guard units anyway... further lives sacrificed for the goals of the state.


Why exactly is the EU empire getting that notification? They're not set hostile to anyone on Earth right now. *sigh*

On August 6th the JSDF declares victory on Earth. Organized resistance has ceased, most any troops who hadn't deserted in the face of abandonment by their government have laid down their arms and all local government institutions are under Japanese control.


Victory achieved.

Twelve days later the Russian victory on Venus is proclaimed as the defenders become unable to render effective resistence any longer. 67 automines and 20 unused manned mines are now in Russian hands, about 20 more automines than what they started with. The goal has been achieved. While the civilian population is not formally annexed, with the end of Japanese power on the planet the population in surface and orbital habitats can be considered de-facto dependent on the Russian state.

The maintenance debt of the Japanese navy has finally been just about cleared up by the end of the war. But as the last intermittent mass driver packets are sent up from Venus, it looks like the dire times for the navy are bound to continue. As an ersatz Gallicite source a 0.8 accessibility comet with no other deposits in the system of Córdoba, just past Grand Bourg, is being prepared to receive most of the automines from the colony on Grand Bourg I. This will delay any repairs and recovery of the navy further until this operation is in place, but thanks to the previous progress made it's unlikely the state of the navy will deteriorate beyond the point it was at two years ago. The mines to be relocated are of course mining important resources already, such as Boronide or the Vendarite required for more ground troops, so all in all the loss of Venus still causes a sharp reduction in overall mining output and long-term wealth and power prospects.

On Earth, occupied Russia is soon after the war abandoned by the garrisoning Japanese troops. The government on Callisto takes the opportunity to rescind their protection of their previous motherland, plunging the country of Russia into the same hotpot of strife the majority of Earth states find themselves in.

In order to distinguish the government on Callisto from the now-distinct motherland of Russia, the term Callistoan Regime is increasingly used in both informal and formal communication by both others and them themselves. It appears the oligarchy on Callisto is quite eager to rebrand after having freed themselves of their liability in form of the Earth population. Despite the quick retreat of the Japanese occupation troops to their fortress of isolation in the pacific where they can continue to ignore the world's other wars, being able to blame the fall of Russia on a foreign invader is always welcome.

With recovery of the navy pushed back for another year or two at the mininum a few hard choices eventually have to be made in Japanese command. The three most damaged destroyers, who would need most of their engines reconstructed anyways, will be decommissioned. This will save on the Gallicite requirements needed to maintain the fleet in the meantime. That, and Japanese scientists are promising a new type of engine to be available in a few years, so repairs to then-outdated engine technology may not be economical anyways.



   Other happenings in 2132

The year started with an alien jump ship of the same type as the one destroyed over two years prior probing the Grand Bourg JP. It exits again and does not return, much to the relief of the two Japanese destroyers in orbit of Neo-Kobe City. While they are the only two ships in the navy still fully operational, this would be a very bad time for alien revenge. It'll still be another 20 months until the planetary defence grid comes online, too.

A PRL explorer leaving towards the Xining/Split frontier detects the unknown ship previously encountered by the European explorer at the Córdoba JP and identifies it as a Split vessel of known type - in fact the same type of Split ship that was the first one encountered, when an unknown signature approached the diplomatic envoy on station with some Xining vessels in the Xining system. PRL intelligence concludes this to be an exploration/scouting vessel but remains ignorant that they possibly shadowed the JP back to Sol for quite some time.

The development of the HERC cannon finishes on Callisto. An upscaled version of their heavy ground weapons, this weapon is supposed to target ships in close orbit and prevent landings on controlled worlds. Neither side had STO weapons in this war and the strategic situation would certainly have looked different if either side had deployed any. As the HERC system is quite short-ranged it is planned to only deploy a few individual units on each world instead of bundling them into batteries designed to fight off approaching warships as other powers do, relegating the system to a purely anti-landing role.

The Republic of Taíno has done much work to establish itself as a independent economic and political force. A critical part of that independence is access to Gallicite. As a stopgap measure an asteroid in Santa María with some low quantity Gallicite deposits has been exploited, but that deposit has now run out and the establishment of a more regular mining operation is about to happen on Comet #2 in Córdoba - the very same rock chosen by the Japanese as their fallback after the loss of Venus. Is the next conflict for Gallicite already in the making?
« Last Edit: November 21, 2020, 03:24:43 PM by Zap0 »
 
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