Author Topic: The Official Chronicle of the Duranium Legion  (Read 3685 times)

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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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The Duranium Legion - Chapter XII: The Second Battle of Kuiper 79
« Reply #30 on: March 19, 2021, 02:41:07 PM »
1003 hours, 20 November 4007

As the massive battle fleets of the Duranium Legion and the Republic of Belaire continued to close with one another, Captain Absolus Criasus set about issuing orders for the coming battle. On one hand, he could be certain that his opponents were armed with both light missiles and a variety of laser weapons, the latter selection limited to less than 200,000 km in range as recently confirmed by the salvage operations in Adamantine. On the other hand, three of the Belaire warship classes arrayed against First Fleet carried unknown weapon loadouts, most prominently the formidable Kirov-class battlecruisers. Summing this up, the conclusion facing Captain Criasus was that he simply did not have enough intelligence to form a proper plan for the battle ahead. While he had initially intended to make a reconnaissance-in-force to probe the enemy defenses, the fact that the Belaire had chosen the same moment to mount a full-bore charge towards the jump point would force his hand prematurely. Considering all of this, Captain Criasus determined that falling back to tried and true tactics would serve as well as any course of action, thus ordering First Fleet to close to within 450,000 km of the Belaire battle fleet with the intention as before of exhausting the Belaire missile stocks before closing in to engage with beam and railgun batteries.

First Fleet
Captain Absolus Criasus commanding aboard CL Deadly Poison
Cruiser Squadron 1: Denouement, Devastator, Dissolution, Grand Cross, 2x R-56, 1x AR-56
Cruiser Squadron 3: Deadly Poison, Domination, Double Edge, Garrote, 3x R-56
Destroyer Squadron 1: Chainsaw, Char, Charon, Furious
Destroyer Squadron 3 (attached): Catharsis, Centaur, Crushing Blow, Final Blow
Destroyer Squadron 4 (attached): Champion, Covenanter, Cry, Ye Wicked, Final Judgment
Destroyer Squadron 5: Calamitous, Caliban, Creeping Death, Flayer
Frigate Squadron 4: Harrier, Hellfire
Totaling 275,000 tons displacement with 8,456 crew complement

Reserve Forces
Second Fleet, Cruiser Squadron 2: Dauntless, Defenestrator, Disruptor, Gothic, 2x R-56, 1x AR-56
Second Fleet Scouting Force, Frigate Squadron 2: Bat Country, Battery, Blastwave, Executor
Totaling 80,000 tons displacement with 2,306 crew complement

Republic of Belaire Battle Fleet 2
Designation and commander unknown
4x Kirov class Battlecruiser
3x Kiev class Cruiser
3x Sovremenny class Cruiser
3x Slava class Escort Cruiser
4x Osa class Destroyer Escort
1x Skory class Destroyer Escort
Totaling 265,000 tons displacement with unknown crew complement

As the gap between the fleets had closed to under 16 million km, at 1225 the Belaire battle fleet demonstrated a new combat tactic heretofore unknown to the Duranium Legion, in other words turning tail and running away. While certainly proud to have intimidated his opponents to such a degree, Captain Criasus was nevertheless disconcerted at this latest development in Belaire military science and harbored some suspicion of a trap being set. Hoping to counteract any potential trap, the Second Fleet scouting force consisting of Frigate Squadron 2 was ordered to pursue and trail the Belaire fleet at a distance of 42 million km, ensuring that the Belaire would be kept comfortably within active range as First Fleet closed in as well as allowing the long-range arrays of the frigates to detect any trap well before the Belaire or First Fleet would come too close for comfort. In any case, whether there was a trap or not the Belaire could not possibly hope to outrun the Legion warships, and for the next three hours a thrilling stern chase commenced.

Finally, at 1505 as First Fleet closed to under 450,000 km from the Belaire battle fleet, alarms began sounding on ships throughout the fleet as an incredible twenty-five missile salvos were detected. Of these, twelve salvos totaling sixty light missiles had been launched from the Slavas as anticipated, while thirteen salvos totaling eighty-two heavier missiles, displacing around 10 tons and traveling at 21,200 km/s, had been launched from the four Kirovs and the Skory class, the latter of which was shortly reclassified as a missile destroyer. Fortunately, the outdated propulsion technology of these missiles led the fire control computers aboard Deadly Poison to inform Captain Criasus that the four destroyer squadrons of First Fleet could mass just enough volume of fire to destroy the entire volley of missiles. However, as the margin for error was quite thin the Captain ordered both cruiser squadrons to contribute as much to the point defense effort as their slow-firing weapon batteries would permit.



The stern chase reaches a climax at 1505 as the Belaire battle fleet opens fire with all missile tubes. While Cruiser Squadrons 1 and 3 were diverted to assist with the point defense efforts, the Hellfire-class frigates were ordered to still hold their fire, to avoid giving away useful tactical information before the Belaire could discover that information through armor-enabled intelligence operations.

Fortunately for First Fleet, the Belaire rapidly demonstrated once more that they were not considered as the galaxy’s preeminent tacticians for good reason, as the lack of time-on-target battery tactics used by the Belaire gunners ensured that each type of missile would be dealt with separately. This was indeed the case, as the Legion gunners accurately shot down every missile from the first volley in the space of ten seconds. However, there would be no respite as a second wave of light missiles was already arriving on the heels of the first, thus the point defense action devolved from a series of coordinated volleys to a chaotic swirl of continual fire punctuated with brief moments of calm. In an example of what those unfamiliar with battle would describe as irony, these brief moments of calm proved the worst moments of the battle for the gunners of First Fleet, as these moments often portended the simultaneous arrival of both missile types in a full 25-salvo storm. The first of these instances occurred thirty-five seconds after the first missile launches had been detected and, despite causing Captain Criasus to briefly experience what according to shipboard vital sign monitoring was a Navy-record spike in blood pressure, was handily dispatched with only two-thirds of the Charybdis-class destroyers even needing to fire. In the aftermath of this, Captain Criasus briefly considered ordering the cruisers to cease fire, but ultimately decided against this as the crews could always use the gunnery practice and the reverberations from the 152 mm weapons batteries firing repeatedly were judged to be excellent for crew morale.

Aside from blood pressure spikes which gradually decreased in magnitude, the pursuit continued in much the same manner, with the Belaire frantically firing every missile they could to evade pursuit while the expert gunners of the Legion shot down every one with minimal effort - aside from the periodic instances when both types of missiles arrived simultaneously, at which points slightly more effort was expended. Seven minutes after the Belaire bombardment had commenced, Legion sensor technicians reported that the nineteenth volley of larger missiles showed significantly fewer launches from both the Kirovs and the Skory, indicating that both classes of ships had likely exhausted their magazines. Curiously, this coincided with a sudden course change by the Belaire battle fleet ten seconds later, which Captain Criasus assessed to most likely be an attempt to take evasive action. Thirty seconds later, the Belaire were confirmed to have run out of 10-ton missiles as no additional salvos had been launched. After this point, the pursuit continued, now with only the consistent rhythm of light missile salvos arriving every ten seconds. With the enemy capabilities so reduced, Captain Criasus finally ordered the cruiser squadrons to stand down, if only to save wear and tear on the 152 mm gun barrels.



Progress of the battle by 1510, at which time the Belaire battle fleet executed a course change which may have been an attempt to undertake evasive maneuvers, but did little to change the overall complexion of the engagement.

It took First Fleet another seven minutes to shoot down every last missile the Belaire battle fleet could fire, at by 1517 the full seventy-one volleys carried by each Slava-class escort cruiser had been expended. By this time, Frigate Squadron 2 had closed to 42 million km as ordered, and could assure Captain Criasus that no additional Belaire vessels were lying in wait anywhere within 41 million km of the Belaire fleet being pursued. Secure in this knowledge, Captain Criasus ordered First Fleet to begin the next phase of the battle, closing to the extreme range of the Hellfire-class frigates in order to conduct the first operational demonstration of their exotic new weapons.



Extended view of the battle zone at 1518, showing the relative position of and sensor coverage provided by the Frigate Squadron 2. The vector between First Fleet and the Belaire force relative to the position of Frigate Squadron 2 shows the evasive course change enacted by the Belaire.

As First Fleet closed to just over 180,000 km, judged to be outside the range of all Belaire beam weapons save the heaviest lasers of the Sovremenny class, three blasts from those heavy lasers lanced out from the Belaire battle group, missing Deadly Poison by a considerable margin. Unfortunately, holding the range precisely proved more difficult than anticipated, and First Fleet accidentally closed to 178,000 km allowing the Sovremennys to fire a full barrage of medium laser beams, scoring two hits on the armor of Deadly Poison. It took only a few more seconds for the fire control systems aboard Hellfire and Harrier to find their targets, and at 1520 the two frigates fired their PEL-4 neon beam cannons for the first time in operational conditions. The results were mixed; on one hand, only two hits were scored, both by Hellfire, due to the extreme range and insufficient fire controls; on the other hand, both hits struck the Sovremenny for full damage despite the extreme range, easily outperforming the lackluster lasers of the Belaire fleet. On the whole, compared to running a gauntlet of massed laser fire while conducting a stern chase, Captain Criasus judged these initial results to be adequate for the purpose at hand.

More concerning to Captain Criasus was the inability of his fleet to maintain the ordered minimum distance, with the range slipping to 162,000 km as the Sovremennys fired their heavy lasers again - fortunately, to no effect. Given this, the Captain revised his previous orders so that First Fleet would nominally hold position at 192,000 km. While this was the maximum range of the fire controls aboard the Hellfire-class frigates, Captain Criasus was content to allow his frigates to fire at the intervals when the fleet accidentally dropped the range, preferring to ensure a small buffer for the helm officers of First Fleet to do their own jobs in relative safety. The next volley from the Hellfires put this order to question, as all twelve shots from the beam cannons missed by several kilometers.

Further putting this new order to question, First Fleet once again creeped closer to their quarry, once again crossing the extreme range of the Sovremennys, which despite the distance managed to land a glancing blow on the armor of Hellfire. Clearly, the Belaire commanders had identified the new threat and given it the highest targeting priority. Perhaps more frustratingly, First Fleet managed to withdraw back to 192,000 km just before the Hellfires fired their third volley, and at such an extreme range it was not even possible for a hit to be scored. Clearly, a new tactic was necessary, and it fell to Captain Criasus to devise it. After briefly consulting with his bridge officers as well as Commander Acheron Tartarus, the senior commander among the destroyer officers, Captain Criasus gave the order to reduce speed to 3,500 km/s. This would make First Fleet somewhat easier targets for the Belaire heavy lasers, but would make it easier for the Legion helm officers to maintain the specified minimum distance and avoid the mass of medium lasers - so long as the Belaire did not catch on to this new tactic too quickly and start varying their own speeds to manipulate the range.

As First Fleet again closed the range, more cautiously this time, the Hellfires and Sovremennys continued to fire their long-ranged weapons at each other to minimal effect. Finally, as she closed under 181,500 km, Harrier scored a trio of hits along the armor belt of her target. As First Fleet continued to barely overtake the Belaire vessels, Captain Criasus ordered a second speed reduction to match the Belaire exactly, at 3,398 km/s, hoping this would prevent his ships from slipping into Belaire medium laser range once again. This seemed to work well, as First Fleet held the range just under 180,500 km while Harrier scored another hit on the targeted Sovremenny. While First Fleet had yet to penetrate the armor of any ship in the Belaire fleet, it seemed apparent that the bold new Hellfire would have an outsized impact in favor of the Legion.

The tense gunnery duel continued for some time, with particle beams of the two Hellfires slowly wearing through the armor of the lead Sovremenny, while the heavy lasers of the Belaire lacked both range and volume of fire to effectively reply in kind, only able to land occasional glancing blows on the armor of Hellfire. Finally, after two hundred twenty-five long seconds Harrier scored a trio of hits including one which penetrated the armor of the Sovremenny. Elated, the gunnery crews of both frigates pressed the attack with vigor, scoring several more armor hits before Harrier succeeded in scoring a second penetration two minutes and fifteen seconds later. Compared to the rapid pace of the previous engagement in which the railgun batteries had played the decisive role, the drawn-out tension of this gunnery duel was not a welcome change of pace for the frayed nerves of the First Fleet ship crews. Hellfire finally scored a penetrating hit of her own only forty-five seconds later, the increasing pace of internal damage being dealt to the Belaire beam cruiser indicating that its armor had been worn through quite thoroughly. Further proof of this was found when Hellfire evened the score against her sister ship on the very next volley with a fourth penetration. The rate of penetrations continued, with nearly every hit by this point causing the lead Sovremenny to stream even more atmosphere, and the two Hellfires entered into an unspoken competition to land the first visibly critical hit on their prey.

Finally, eight minutes and fifteen seconds after the beam duel had begun, a beam cannon blast from Hellfire excoriated the port engine of the lead Sovremenny, causing it to drop to three-quarter speed and fall out of formation with the rest of the Belaire fleet. While cheers went up from the crew of Hellfire, this was a critical moment and Captain Criasus knew it. The Sovremenny had taken heavy damage by this stage, but he had no way of knowing how many of its guns, if any, remained intact to threaten the fragile Hellfires. With great urgency, the Captain barked an order for First Fleet to slow down immediately to match the speed of the wounded vessel, momentarily allowing the rest of the Belaire battle fleet to open the range. As if to confirm the wisdom of his order, the damaged cruiser shot back at First Fleet with its heavy laser, making the point that it was still well-armed - if not entirely dangerous as once again it had missed completely.

The next volley from Harrier saw another engine shot out from the enemy cruiser, dropping it to half speed which First Fleet again matched immediately. The next few volleys had little apparent effect, although sensors indicated a mix of hits on the remaining armor as well as internal compartments of the Sovremenny. At 1530, however, disaster struck: despite having received to that point only six hits on her armor, Hellfire was hit by a laser blast which inexplicably managed to penetrate through one of two existing holes in her armor and take out her starboard engine, dropping her to half maximum speed. While this would not be immediately fatal to Hellfire, notably as the crippled Sovremenny was itself limited to half its own maximum speed which Hellfire could easily match, she would not be able to keep up with the rest of First Fleet when they resumed the pursuit.



Graphic representation (actual armor scheme remains classified to this day) of the damage done to the armor of Hellfire immediately prior to the shooting-out of her starboard engine at 1530. The incredible shot placement of the Belaire heavy laser gunners even at long range led many in the Legion high command to suspect an idiosyncratic flaw in the armor scheme of the Hellfire class. However, extensive post-battle analysis could find no better explanation for the impressive result achieved by the Belaire gunners besides incredibly good luck.

With this shocking development the continuation of the ongoing gunnery duel became tactically untenable, as with only one combat-capable frigate remaining in-theater it was deemed probable that Harrier would suffer a similar fate before the remaining pair of Sovremennys could be eliminated. The question now facing Captain Criasus was whether or not the entire pursuit operation should be called off. Fortunately, for the first time in this battle the Captain would have ample time to consider his options, as the wounded Sovremenny would have to be eliminated in any case before the rest of First Fleet could resume their full-speed chase. This pursuit, at least, continued unabated, and forty seconds after the critical hit to Hellfire the pair of frigates exacted their revenge, scoring an incredible five penetrating hits out of twelve shots in the volley at extreme range and dropping the speed of their crippled foe to zero. Despite its crippled state, the Sovremenny showed no signs of degradation in its gunnery abilities, landing yet another hit on the wounded Hellfire - though fortunately this hit only glanced off of her armor albeit dangerously near to the penetration in her starboard stern. The exchange of long-range fire continued for several minutes, with Hellfire suffering another hit on her armor but no further internal damage, until finally, fifteen seconds after 1534, the heavy laser aboard the Sovremenny was finally silenced. Incredibly, the Belaire cruiser was still intact despite the damage suffered.

By this point, the rest of the Belaire fleet had managed to retreat more than 1.1 million km from First Fleet and showed no signs of slowing down. Captain Criasus therefore ordered Frigate Squadron 4 to be detached from First Fleet; the two frigates would finish off the Sovremenny before retreating to the jump point for resupply and internal repair work. The remainder of First Fleet, the Captain judged, would be more than sufficient to eliminate the Belaire battle group which was now deprived of its entire missile complement. While some losses would be taken due to the lasers on the remaining two Sovremennys as well as the four Osas escorting the fleet, the opportunity to eliminate another 245,000 tons of Belaire warships for a fraction of that in losses was far too good an opportunity for First Fleet to pass up. After issuing orders to briefly detour around the crippled Belaire beam cruiser, on the assumption that it still had enough medium lasers operational to make several holes in the armor of a passing destroyer, Captain Criasus ordered the bulk of First Fleet to proceed ahead at full speed.



Fleet positions at 1534, immediately prior to the detachment of Frigate Squadron 4 from First Fleet. Indicated on the map are Captain Criasus’ orders issued to the bulk of First Fleet to evade the crippled Sovremenny and resume pursuit of the main Belaire battle group.

Finally, at 1537 and a full three minutes after First Fleet had detached the frigate squadron to pursue the rest of the Belaire battle fleet, Hellfire landed two final shots along the keel of the disabled Sovremenny, finally destroying it as the Belaire cruiser lost all structural integrity and began to disintegrate in a storm of plasma fires and electrical arcs. It had taken the two frigates thirty-two minutes to get the better of the Sovremenny in a protracted gunnery duel, and in the process both ships had been rendered, if not combat-incapable, certainly not battle-ready. The status of Hellfire was the more obvious quandary, as her destroyed engine would take significant time and engineering work to repair, however Harrier was scarcely better off as she had exhausted most of her maintenance stores to keep her weapons operational and was down to only 12% of her rated supply capacity. Thus, after briefly stopping to collect prisoners from the Sovremenny life pods, the two frigates set their course to the Adamantine jump point to resupply and conduct the needed repairs. In spite of the condition of Hellfire’s armor both frigates would need to be kept on station for some months yet until reinforcements could be commissioned and deployed to Kuiper 79.

Further afield, the battle continued as First Fleet moved to close in on the fleeing Belaire fleet. Just before the shipboard clocks ticked over to 1546, a pair of heavy laser shots narrowly missed Deadly Poison, indicating that battle had once again been joined. Captain Criasus wasted no time in ordering First Fleet to close to nearly minimum range at full speed, though he elected to maintain 35,000 km of distance between First Fleet and the opposition until the armament of the Kiev class could be determined. Unfortunately, while First Fleet was more than quick enough to close the distance it would take a minute and a half to close to the ordered range, although the cruisers would be able to open fire well before the range had been closed. Emphasizing this point, the two remaining Sovremennys opened fire on Deadly Poison with their medium lasers as First Fleet crossed the 180,000 km range, landing four glancing hits on her armor. The next Belaire volley went identically, with both heavy lasers missing badly while the medium laser batteries scored another four hits on Deadly Poison, with First Fleet closing only 24,000 km of range in the space between volleys. The next volley proceeded similarly, with the only difference being a hit landed by one of the heavy lasers, while the following volley saw both heavy lasers miss while seven medium laser blasts grazed the armor of Deadly Poison. By this stage, the armor integrity of Deadly Poison was rated at 87%, but having seen the absurd good luck of the Legion gunners displayed against Hellfire Captain Criasus had understandably developed yet another acute case of hypertension.

The next volley from the Belaire displayed a curious change of tactics, albeit a good one from the perspective of Captain Criasus’ blood pressure, as the Sovremennys attacked the destroyer Charon with their heavy lasers and scored two hits with no penetrations. By this time the Legion cruisers had reached the edge of their own maximum range and opened fire on both Sovremennys, scoring several dozen low-damage hits across the armor belts of both vessels. At this, the Belaire fleet once again changed course, heading towards First Fleet at an oblique angle, simultaneously firing laser batteries aboard both the Sovremennys and the Osas and scoring sixteen hits on Charon including three penetrations which knocked a quarter of her gun batteries offline. Seeing the change in Belaire tactics, First Fleet came about and began to pull back to maintain the 35,000 km range as ordered.



The Belaire abruptly shifted their tactics at 1547, seemingly aiming to close with First Fleet to bring the laser batteries of the four Osa-class destroyer escorts to bear. However, this tactic allowed First Fleet to close the range quite rapidly, allowing Captain Criasus to transform the battle from a series of volleys at range into a swirling melee in which the Legion’s railguns held the advantage.

Seeing this change in tactics, Captain Criasus decided to take the initiative, wishing for First Fleet to be the party creating a surprise for once. As the 152 mm batteries of the cruisers finished reloading, the Captain ordered First Fleet to close to under 30,000 km, allowing the destroyer squadrons to open fire on the pesky Osas simultaneously with the cruisers firing on the Sovremennys. This sudden reversal proved devastating to the Belaire: both remaining Sovremennys were blown to scrap by the Legion cruiser squadrons, suffering nearly three dozen internal hits each before crumbling apart with Double Edge and Dissolution each claiming a kill, while the Osas were torn asunder by the cumulative effect of six hundred fifty 102 mm projectile impacts, with two Osas destroyed outright and the remaining pair severely maimed including one which suffered a devastating engine explosion. Both surviving Osas quickly fell out of formation with the fleet they had been escorting. Noting that no fire had been taken from the trio of Kievs, Captain Criasus ordered his ships to maintain the range under 30,000 km, matching speed with the Belaire ships. Unfortunately, while brilliant his maneuver had come at a cost, as Charon had suffered heavy damage including the loss of both engines, all but two of her 102 mm railguns, and some 60% of her armor belt.

Fortunately for Charon, her sitting duck status would not prove to be fatal as the remaining two Osas were handily dispatched by the Legion destroyers, along with the Skory-class missile destroyer. With the entire laser-armed section of the Belaire fleet lying in ruin, the remaining missile ships would be easy prey for First Fleet, however even at this juncture Captain Criasus issued precise orders: while the rest of the Belaire fleet would be destroyed, a single Kirov and Kiev apiece would be left intact for the moment, and later closed with to point blank range to determine if either possessed any extremely short-range armaments - if not, the Legion could close to point blank range against these vessels in the future with no concerns.

First Fleet set about these orders with great enthusiasm, knowing that victory was all but theirs. Within ten seconds, all three Slavas and two of the Kievs were nothing more than wreckage tumbling through space, joined in death by the first Kirov five seconds later and a second Kirov shortly after. The third Kirov was ripped apart by concentrated 152 mm battery fire with Deadly Poison adding yet another kill to her impressive resume, leaving as per the Captain’s orders a single Kirov and Kiev each. Rather less in accordance with the Captain’s orders, in the excitement of the chase First Fleet found themselves having accidentally closed to 15,000 km yet receiving no fire from the remaining pair of Belaire vessels. Thankful for his good fortune in this regard, Captain Criasus ordered First Fleet to close to point blank range with all guns firing, and five seconds later the battle was over. After forty-two minutes and a few spare seconds, the Duranium Legion had emerged victorious from this titanic battle after weathering a missile barrage, carrying out multiple stern chases, engaging in a thrilling gunnery duel, and at last closing for a final chaotic melee in which the mighty railgun batteries of the Legion had carried the day. Incredibly, despite teething problems with the new Hellfire-class beam frigates, First Fleet had managed to destroy 265,000 void tons of Belaire warships without the loss of a single Legion ship, easily the most dominant combat result in the admittedly short history of the Legion Navy.



Final state of the battlefield at 1547 on 20 November. The concluding melee combat action proceeded from right to left relative to the figure orientation. Note that DD Charon had been disabled early in the fight and was detached from First Fleet shortly after the initial collision between the two battle fleets.

Great victory or no, the celebrations on board the ships of First Fleet could be only momentary before once more orders had to be given. First Fleet itself would first move to cover the crippled Charon until her engineering crews could restore her engines, before proceeding back to the jump point to regroup. Frigate Squadron 2 would rejoin Destroyer Squadrons 3 and 4 and resume overwatch duties at their previous forward position. Finally, Gatekeeper 6 which was in-system would recover the Belaire life pods and transport the prisoners to secure Legion space for interrogation. While it would take them some time to reach the site, the Salvage Flotilla would certainly have their work cut out for them when they did arrive in-system.



For his exemplary command of First Fleet during the Second Battle of Kuiper 79, Captain Absolus Criasus received the Bronze Star of the Legion as well as personal assurance from the Emperor himself that he would be the next man in line for promotion to Lord Captain.

« Last Edit: March 20, 2021, 12:36:41 AM by nuclearslurpee »
 
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Offline El Pip

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Re: The Duranium Legion - Chapter XII: The Second Battle of Kuiper 79
« Reply #31 on: March 20, 2021, 03:33:58 AM »
Battles are much more exciting when the enemy actually shoots back. Who knew? Do we have another selection of summaries from an exhaustive and over-detailed Battle Report to look forward to, clearly there are lessons one could learn from the first major battle which wasn't a one-sided massacre, but are the Legion in the mood to learn?

Destroyer Squadron 4 (attached): Champion, Covenanter, Cry, Ye Wicked, Final Judgment
As always my first reaction is to think that Cry, Ye Wicked is two separate ships, one of which has a mildly annoyed crew.

Second Fleet Scouting Force, Frigate Squadron 2: Bat Country, Battery, Blastwave, Executor
Bat Country remains a very interesting name for a ship.

reverberations from the 152 mm weapons batteries firing repeatedly were judged to be excellent for crew morale.
It is good to see that even in the 5th millennium people are still using odd numbers because they correspond to how big something would be in imperial units. Standards must be maintained.

 
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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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Re: The Duranium Legion - Chapter XII: The Second Battle of Kuiper 79
« Reply #32 on: March 20, 2021, 11:22:16 AM »
Battles are much more exciting when the enemy actually shoots back. Who knew? Do we have another selection of summaries from an exhaustive and over-detailed Battle Report to look forward to, clearly there are lessons one could learn from the first major battle which wasn't a one-sided massacre, but are the Legion in the mood to learn?

It's not out of the question, certainly there are several thousand officers in the Legion Battle Reporting Department who are in need of justification for their jobs, however as writing excerpts from what could be termed excessively baroque reports written by military bureaucrats is both time-consuming and likely to get old quickly if overdone I suspect what will end up being reported on will be some form of campaign summary. Certainly there is much to pontificate about, at any rate.

Likewise I am these days always musing over the topic for the next Spotlight segment. The next major warship class to be commissioned is not so revolutionary as to fill out an entire update of that nature, so it will be some time yet coming, but clearly something will be called for sooner or later.

Quote
Destroyer Squadron 4 (attached): Champion, Covenanter, Cry, Ye Wicked, Final Judgment
As always my first reaction is to think that Cry, Ye Wicked is two separate ships, one of which has a mildly annoyed crew.

The conventions of grammar are sadly unable to keep up with the nonconventions of Legion ship-naming habits. Though aside Cry, Ye Wicked is one of my favorite names I've come up with, as it possesses that sort of "Judgment Day and trumpets sound" sort of élan any good warship ought to sail into battle with.

Quote
Second Fleet Scouting Force, Frigate Squadron 2: Bat Country, Battery, Blastwave, Executor
Bat Country remains a very interesting name for a ship.

There is little point in naming ships oneself if one cannot occasionally slip in a cultural reference or two.  ;D

Quote
reverberations from the 152 mm weapons batteries firing repeatedly were judged to be excellent for crew morale.
It is good to see that even in the 5th millennium people are still using odd numbers because they correspond to how big something would be in imperial units. Standards must be maintained.

When conquering a galaxy there is no better standard, one's choice of units must reflect one's cultural imperatives after all. 
 
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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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The Duranium Legion - Chapter XIII: The Horrid Specter of Economics
« Reply #33 on: March 22, 2021, 12:59:59 PM »
21 November 4007

As usual, while the Belaire captives were largely uninterested in talking with their Legion captors, a few prisoners did show some interest in making their futures a slight bit less distressing and shared some small amounts of information with Legion intelligence officers accordingly. Notably, a nervous sensor technician confirmed previous intelligence regarding the long-range sensors mounted by the Kiev and Sovremenny cruisers, confirming the range and resolution of those sensors and providing some basic technical specifications. Less useful from a tactical perspective, though intriguing to Legion special operations officers, was the provision of a technical summary for a class of Belaire civilian spaceliners. This information had been provided by a rather cantankerous engineering officer formerly aboard one of the Kirovs, whose words and behavior further suggested a certain dissatisfaction with the present state of the Belaire Navy. Notably, the fact that the Belaire upper class cruised through space in luxury while their navy sailors suffered such horrifying losses under incompetent command did not bear well with this particular officer. If these sentiments were in fact widespread among the Belaire rank and file, especially following their most recent crushing defeat, the resulting morale problems could be a significant aid to the Legion’s efforts.

Meanwhile, economics proved far more difficult for the Legion than warfare. On 24 November, a sudden flood of reports reached the Legion shipbuilding department indicating that nearly every shipyard was facing a critical duranium shortage, inhibiting the production of the very ships the Legion would need to prosecute the war against the Belaire. In a frantic rush of orders, various shipyard expansion projects and ship construction orders were halted, attempting to give priority to the most critical warships, while in the planetside factories on Duratus duranium-intensive projects were shifted to lower-priority slots to conserve the critical resource. Internally, Legion economic planners began to seriously consider the possibility of initiating an expensive project to convert many of Duratus’ mines to automated facilities, which could be deployed without the need to wait for colonial infrastructure and population to be established. While in the short term these efforts seemed to stabilize the situation, this was unsustainable and it was clear that the logistical strain of fighting an unexpected war had done significant damage to the Legion’s mining efforts which would take significant time to correct.

11 December saw the arrival in Kuiper 79 of reinforcements in the form of the light cruiser Devourer escorted by the destroyer Chronomancer, both having been dispatched from Duratus to relieve the damaged ships of First Fleet. To much acclaim from the crews under his command, Captain Absolus Criasus departed aboard his trusted Deadly Poison, escorted by the badly-damaged Charon, to undertake repairs at Duratus. In his absence, Captain Felix Tegyrios of Cruiser Squadron 1 would assume command of First Fleet; rumors abounded that this would become a permanent assignment for Captain Tegyrios, with Captain Criasus likely to receive a much-deserved promotion before returning to Kuiper 79.

Year 4008

New Year’s Day of 4008, while not marked as an especial day by most citizens of the Legion who had little use for such superstitious observations, was marked by the Legion high command as an excellent point in time at which to review the overall position of the Legion in the galaxy. After a brief, largely perfunctory session ending with an unanimous agreement that the Duranium Legion was indisputably in the top position of the galaxy, the Lords Admiral sat down to conduct the bulk of their review in somewhat more enlightening depth. In short, the Legion found itself in a position of military ascendancy but trending towards economic despondency, a term chosen to avoid the uncomfortable connotations of the phrase “economic depression”. Thus, the problem placed before the Lords Admiral as the Legion entered its ninth year as a galactic power would be to recover from economic troubles while maintaining enough focus and resource allocation for the military arms of the Legion.

Quickly it became apparent to the Lords Admiral, despite the fact that all of them had been educated principally in naval matters rather than economic ones - indeed this may even have been an aid to them here - that the economic struggles of the Legion would not quickly be resolved. The chief problem turned out to be one of population, simply put despite long-running convoys to several colonies there were no out-system populations large enough to support a rapid migration of mining capacity from Duratus. This meant that the Legion would be forced in the short and frankly medium terms to rely on automated capabilities, of which there were not nearly enough available. Essentially this meant that the vast number of mines on Duratus, in excess of 1,600, were rapidly becoming useless, but there would be nowhere better to relocate them for several years at the minimum.




Overview of the Duranium Legion economic situation on Duratus specifically and empire-wide. In addition to the somewhat ironic duranium crisis, given the polity affected, stockpiles of critical TNEs such as gallicite and most pressingly corundium were also showing signs of being severely impacted by the, to say the least, disappointing mining situation on Duratus. While sources of duranium would take top priority in Legion economic planning efforts, an eye would have to be kept to the near future to avoid similarly catastrophic shortages of these other critical minerals.

Ultimately, the Legion high command would announce at the conclusion of their conference a three-phase plan to stabilize the Legion economy. In the short term, hoping to both resolve the duranium crisis and to preclude a corundium crisis which would scuttle the following phases, the orbital mining platforms (OMPs) scattered throughout the Sol system would be redistributed to address the most pressing needs. The two OMPs stationed over the comet Whipple would be relocated to Machholz, providing not only an increase in duranium extraction but also that of gallicite which could be mined out somewhat more easily than from the deposits on Whipple. Meanwhile, the OMPs presently located at Oumuamua and Tempel 1 would be relocated to Chernykh, a reshuffling which could potentially impact the Legion’s neutronium stockpiles but would provide a strong source of corundium. This was deemed a necessary tradeoff to ensure continued production not only of mining infrastructure but also the important particle beam weapons considered necessary for continued operations against the Republic of Belaire.

 Chernykh
     Corbomite 1,522   Acc 1
     Sorium 37,846   Acc 0.7
     Corundium 54,865   Acc 0.9

The second phase of the plan was arguably the most ambitious, representing a major shift away from manned mining infrastructure. Aside from brief work orders to finish final assembly of nearly-completed units, wholesale production of both manned and automated mines would be immediately ceased, to be replaced respectively with planetside production of additional OMPs and with conversions of manned mining installations to automated types which would be principally deployed to Mars and Mercury. This latter element would prove particularly controversial, in part due to concerns over unemployment which would prove to be largely unfounded as most workers simply transitioned to private industries, but largely due to concerns that a lack of manned infrastructure would end up crippling the Legion later on once large colonial populations had been established. However, in practice most in the Legion high command noted that the majority of good mining prospects would be found on asteroids, comets, and distant moons which would be difficult to colonize anyways, thus a large concentration of automated infrastructure would always be advantageous even if manned mines could be produced in greater volumes.

The final phase of the plan, as announced, was quite hazily defined and amounted to building up sufficient colonial, convoy, and mining infrastructure in the Adamantine and Alpha Centauri systems. Both of these systems, while posing logistical challenges to fully exploit, were important long-term prospects albeit for entirely different reasons. Adamantine of course represented a major fleet base for the Legion Navy and was anticipated to eventually contain not only fleet maintenance facilities but also a selection of naval shipyards which could be supplied from the vast Kuiper belt encircling that system. As the name implies, the Adamantine asteroid belt was quite distant with the nearest asteroids exceeding 20 billion km from the parent star, however the belt was quite dense and contained numerous asteroids rich in TNEs which orbital mining operations would find no end to their joy in exploiting once established. Ultimately, Legion economic planners anticipated that a dense network of OMPs and mass drivers would render the great distances to be traversed while initially establishing mining operations relatively unimportant.

The Alpha Centauri system, on the other hand, contained several nearly-habitable bodies and was envisioned by many to be a future “Sol II” type of system. The ‘A’ component star was not flush with mining opportunities, aside from plentiful sodium reserves which could make up for the lack of high-accessibility gas giant deposits in-system, but did contain three large bodies which would not be too challenging to terraform to full habitability particularly with future technological advances. The inner system was thus envisioned as a robust industrial and financial hub for the Legion which would be supplied from mining operations around the ‘B’ component. This latter component star was orbited by only one nearly-habitable planet, albeit one with a breathable atmosphere which would only require some greenhouse gas to reach full habitability. However, the plentiful asteroid belt in the zone 40 to 80 million km from the ‘B’ star was not only rich in TNEs but consisted of nearly-habitable bodies which could be inhabited easily given an injection of atmosphere and the presence of low-gravity infrastructure, meaning that manned asteroid mining operations were likely to be established here in the not-too-distant future.

As economic struggles were the most pressing problem facing the Legion at this time, the bulk of the Lords Admiral’s conference was focused on these matters. However, some brief attention was given to the military situation in Kuiper 79 and beyond, if only in a half-hearted attempt to prevent the taking-root of inertia and malaise. Two principal outcomes emerged from these discussions: the first, simple enough, was to continue the run of Hellfire-class frigates currently on order, and in fact doubling the size of that order from four to eight to ensure an adequate reserve, particularly as refitting of the fire controls would be necessary as soon as new systems could be developed and trialed. The second outcome was while military in presentation largely political in origination, simply put the Legion Navy was possessed of a growing roster of junior flag officers without portfolios, and was further expecting to soon see multiple decorated heroes joining those ranks including the famous Captain Absolus Criasus. There was therefore a desire among the Lords Admiral to give their most decorated and publicly-visible flag officers a similarly visible assignment to raise morale as well as to further enhance the public prestige of the Legion Navy. Initially an afterthought mentioned idly in passing, it soon became apparent that the solution would be best served if it accomplished a military objective as well. To this end, cursory plans were drawn up for an operation to decisively take control of the Kuiper 79 system, an operation which would be spearheaded by several such officers including Captain Criasus, and which would have the ultimate aim of establishing a secondary Navy headquarters in that system which would direct future operations in the Belaire War.

These decisions having been made and duly announced to the rank and file as well as the broader public, the Legion high command adjourned their conference and resumed going about the work of actually running a galactic empire as was officially their collective job description.

----

As the hard-working crews of the Legion Navy and auxiliary fleets set about putting these plans into action, a strange report reached the Legion Survey Command. On 16 January, the survey frigate Ariadne had transited an unexplored jump point and emerged in a new star system located three jumps beyond the Mongolica research outpost. Astrographic sensors had quickly identified the system as Gliese 382, noting the existence of a single planet in the system which was reasonably close to human habitability though lacking both atmosphere and a water table. However, Captain Xeno Lycurgus had enclosed as an appendix to the astrographic report a brief analysis of some strange signals picked up by the astrographic sensors. These had been initially dismissed as sensor noise caused by an antenna out of alignment, however the mysterious signals had persisted even after a close inspection of all sensor systems. While the science officers aboard Ariadne were utterly confused, a tentative consensus was expressed in the appendix that the readings could imply a sort of localized tearing of the aether. The Captain concluded his appendix by stating that he intended to carefully investigate this phenomenon as Ariadne’s assigned survey duties carried her close enough to take more detailed readings. At the time, this report was considered  a mild curiosity by the Legion surveyors, but otherwise to be of little importance.



System map attached to the Gliese 382 astrographic report by Captain Xeno Lycurgus, indicating the approximate location from which the unusual readings originated.

9 February saw the arrival in Kuiper 79 of yet another Legion reconnaissance project, namely the JR-1014 jump scout which had been designed for the purpose of carrying out deep space reconnaissance missions without the necessity for a supporting combat fleet. Unlike the other recent addition to the Legion’s reconnaissance capabilities, the JR-1014 was an entirely new construction, thus in theory it should have been fairly well-optimized. In practice, while broadly suited for its designed mission, the craft suffered severely from overloading as the dual requirement to mount both a full sensor suite as well as a self-contained gravity drive could only be met by installing an underpowered propulsion suite. This meant that the JR-1014 included the same propulsion section as the R-56 despite being twice the size, ultimately limiting the former class to only half the speed of the latter, a mere 2,500 km/s. While this would be adequate to get the jump scout to where it needed to be, any questions from junior crew members about escaping if detected were roundly ignored by commanding officers.

JR-1014 class Jump Scout      500 tons       14 Crew       73.2 BP       TCS 10    TH 25    EM 0
2504 km/s    JR 1-50      Armour 1-5       Shields 0-0       HTK 6      Sensors 8/8/0/0      DCR 0      PPV 0
Maint Life 13.39 Years     MSP 58    AFR 10%    IFR 0.1%    1YR 1    5YR 9    Max Repair 16 MSP
Subcommander    Control Rating 1   
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Morale Check Required   

Legion Gravitic Corps LG-10 Gravity Drive 'Dart'     Max Ship Size 500 tons    Distance 50k km     Squadron Size 1

Hyperion Drive Yards HF-25 Fighter Engine 'Erinys' (1)    Power 25    Fuel Use 178.89%    Signature 25    Explosion 10%
Fuel Capacity 64,000 Litres    Range 12.9 billion km (59 days at full power)

Scamander Corporation Series XVI Traffic Scanner (1)     GPS 2400     Range 33.9m km    Resolution 150
Scamander Corporation Series VIII RF Wave Scanner (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km
Scamander Corporation Series VIII Infrared Scanner (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km

This design is classed as a Fighter for production, combat and planetary interaction


In any case, the first mission assigned to the jump scouts was not anticipated to be particularly endangering. As four JR-1014s had arrived in the Kuiper 79 system, three of them were assigned to proceed to each of the three jump points not controlled by the Legion, while the fourth would proceed to the inner system of each star and once again sweep for Belaire presence before establishing a semi-permanent watch over the second planet of the ‘A’ component star. With all four of these critical locations under close monitoring, the Legion Navy would be free to move into the system to establish a permanent occupation base although nothing as large as the planned Adamantine Base would be.

While these plans were put into motion, the stabilization ship Andromeda reported on 5 March that the jump network from Sol to Devil’s Hand had been fully stabilized, allowing the research outpost there to be expanded once auxiliary shipping tonnage became available.



The extent of the Duranium Legion stabilized jump point network as of 5 March 4008. In addition to forming natural trade links between emergent colonies and xenoarcheological sites, the stable jump point network would also improve the defensibility of Legion-controlled space as future shipbuilding orders would not need to include large numbers of jump-capable vessels to provide jump capability for the Navy’s defensive and rapid-response forces.

From 5 to 11 March the JR-1014 jump scouts reached their assigned observation posts without incident, saving for a minor navigation error by one of the crews. With the system thus confirmed to be clear of Belaire presence, First and Second Fleets along with attendant auxiliaries immediately set course towards the A-II planet to secure the area ahead of a freighter convoy which would bring components to establish a naval headquarters on the planet. The logistics of the operation would take some time, but ultimately would allow the Legion battle fleets to begin a proper offensive against the Belaire home system. The two main fleets would arrive on 20 March, with the Second Fleet Scouting Force detached to a position 70 million km from the Belaire jump point to supplement the active monitoring of the nearby JR-1014. The detachment arrived at this position on 23 March.

Closer to home, 27 April saw the formation of Third Fleet following the commissioning of the Furious-class jump destroyer Flatline Fakhoury. Third Fleet followed the same “standard” Legion Navy fleet composition of one cruiser, two destroyer, and one frigate squadron which had been in use since the year 4000. However, due to monopolization of large shipyards for more forward-reaching projects, Cruiser Squadron 4 lacked a Grand Cross-class jump cruiser, limiting the ability of Third Fleet to project power beyond the jump-stabilized borders of Legion space. In other words, Third Fleet would primarily serve as the main defensive bulwark against any potential threats which might arise from any direction besides that of the Republic of Belaire. This was not, at the time, anticipated to be a terribly glamorous posting. Nevertheless, the Legion high command would henceforth breathe easier while focusing the bulk of their attention toward their hated opponents.

----

Shipbuilding

3x Charybdis class Destroyer: Carnivore, Chu Ko Nu, Cretaceous
1x Furious class Jump Destroyer: Flatline Fakhoury
1x Hellfire class Frigate: Heavy Metal
2x Ars Magica II class Survey Frigate: Archrival (refit), Amalgam of the Void (refit)
2x JR-1014 class Jump Scout
2x Phaeton class Freighter
2x Libra class Fleet Tender
2x Achelous Mk II class Terraforming Platform
1x Gatekeeper class Traffic Monitor

Research

Beam Fire Control Speed Rating 4000 km/s

Systems Discovered

Gliese 382: FS Ariadne, 16 January 4008
Gliese 218: FS Amalgam of the Void, 17 January 4008
WISE 0713-2917: FS Amalgam of the Void, 26 January 4008
WISE 1639-6847: FS Argumentative, 12 February 4008
GJ 1119: FS Archon, 25 February 4008
Luyten 97-12: FS Aether Net, 13 May 4008
82 Eridani: FS Ascendant Might, 26 June 4008

 
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Offline El Pip

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Re: The Official Chronicle of the Duranium Legion
« Reply #34 on: March 25, 2021, 06:31:04 PM »
An Aether Rift seems.. bad? I've not read up on the C# changes in detail to avoid tempting myself back in, but it does seem ominous by name alone.

The traditional economic crunch has been maintained I see, a few years of tightened belts and shuffling bits about until balance is restored to the mining industry.

The JR-1014s do seem a little bit suicide scout, aside from speed the lack of name is a solid clue. If you don't care enough to give something a name you will either have huge number of them, or you don't expect them to last long enough to get attached to them.
 
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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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Re: The Official Chronicle of the Duranium Legion
« Reply #35 on: March 25, 2021, 09:44:58 PM »
An Aether Rift seems.. bad? I've not read up on the C# changes in detail to avoid tempting myself back in, but it does seem ominous by name alone.

Oh good. You get to join me on a journey of discovery.  ;D

Not to spoil too much, but they were added in the 1.10 patch and I haven't yet actually gotten to play with one for various reasons, so we'll see how this goes.

Quote
The traditional economic crunch has been maintained I see, a few years of tightened belts and shuffling bits about until balance is restored to the mining industry.

The belt-tightening is not going too badly. This may or may not have anything to do with my suddenly discovering I'd neglected to place mass drivers at multiple mining colonies, which was a rather easier fix than expected though the nature of the economic struggle does remain to be addressed as indicated.

Quote
The JR-1014s do seem a little bit suicide scout, aside from speed the lack of name is a solid clue. If you don't care enough to give something a name you will either have huge number of them, or you don't expect them to last long enough to get attached to them.

The fighters have to earn their names by surviving the fires of combat, as men once did. This is perhaps a problem for unarmed craft intended to fly into unknown but probably hostile territory, but I do not make the rules I merely enforce them.
 
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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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27 June 4008

This date marked a significant advance in the Legion Navy’s combat capabilities as the first two of the Invincible-class light cruisers were commissioned in Duratus orbit. Invincible and her sister ship Imperator, completed at the same time in a minor feat of project management, displaced 15,000 void tons each and immediately became the largest warships in the Legion Navy thus dethroning the venerable Defiant-class light cruisers which had served the Legion well in the past decade. Less noteworthy, yet noted all the same by some observers, the Invincible class represented a tangible advancement in Legion combat capabilities rather than being yet another reconnaissance fighter.

Invincible class Light Cruiser      15,000 tons       470 Crew       2,122 BP       TCS 300    TH 1,500    EM 0
5000 km/s      Armour 6-54       Shields 0-0       HTK 95      Sensors 8/8/0/0      DCR 12      PPV 72
Maint Life 2.31 Years     MSP 1,061    AFR 150%    IFR 2.1%    1YR 271    5YR 4,062    Max Repair 375 MSP
Captain    Control Rating 2   BRG   AUX   
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Morale Check Required   

Hyperion Drive Yards H-750 Cruiser Engine 'Minotaur' (2)    Power 1500    Fuel Use 32.66%    Signature 750    Explosion 10%
Fuel Capacity 568,000 Litres    Range 20.9 billion km (48 days at full power)

Arcadia Weapons Systems 152 mm Medium Battery Mk III (8x4)    Range 90,000km     TS: 5,000 km/s     Power 9-3     RM 30,000 km    ROF 15       
Arcadia Weapons Systems 102 mm Defense Battery Mk III (8x4)    Range 30,000km     TS: 5,000 km/s     Power 3-3     RM 30,000 km    ROF 5       
Arcadia Weapons Systems Medium Battery Director Mk III (2)     Max Range: 192,000 km   TS: 5,100 km/s     95 90 84 79 74 69 64 58 53 48
Arcadia Weapons Systems Defense Battery Director Mk III (2)     Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 5,100 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
Chryson Dynamics 12 TW Induction Drive Cell Mk VI (4)     Total Power Output 48.4    Exp 5%

Scamander Corporation Series XVI Onboard Targeting System (1)     GPS 16     Range 6.4m km    MCR 574.5k km    Resolution 1
Scamander Corporation Series VIII RF Wave Scanner (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km
Scamander Corporation Series VIII Infrared Scanner (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes


Despite being the largest class of warships in the Legion Navy, the Invincibles were still classified as light cruisers as they retained the 152 mm railgun batteries as their primary armament, thus while representing a marked increase in capability over the Defiants they would serve in essentially the same roles. Officially the class had been developed in response to recommendations made in the well-circulated Report of the Legion Battle Assessment Committee on Naval and Ground Force Performances at the Battle of Gliese 1, which had among other conclusions made the case for 15,000-ton cruisers equipped with point defense as well as main weapon batteries. Unofficially, however, the concept had been floating around the hallways of the Legion high command since before the first Defiant had even been commissioned, thus by the time the Report Committee had published their recommendations there was broad agreement on what such a warship should look like and consequently the design process had proceeded quite rapidly, certainly the Invincibles had none of the tortured development history as, say, the Hellfire class was known for.

In spite of this idyllic design process, the resulting Invincible class was not without design curiosities when the first two ships were commissioned on 27 June. Some observers noted the lack of improvement in the armor thickness compared to the Defiants, a comment generally lacking teeth as thus far the earlier class of cruisers had proven to be if anything over-armored. Others complained about the reliance on 12 TW induction drive cells to power the weapon batteries, when more efficient 16 or 24 TW cells could have been introduced, however even fierce critics would concede that this was a quibble at most as any tonnage lost to the smaller reactors was not particularly missed. In fact, the most glaring flaw of the Invincible class was the omission of boat bays for reconnaissance craft, considered essential after recent experience in the Belaire War as no one in the Legion Navy was terribly thrilled about the idea of relying on the extremely slow JR-1014s as workhouse scouts. This flaw, while inarguable, is entirely explicable, as the I/J project which had culminated in the Invincible class had been originally intended to fight against the Mongolicans particularly in heavily-fortified systems such as Eta Cassiopeiae, in which scenarios the Bellerophon-class sensor frigates had proven largely adequate as reconnaissance craft. In any case, given the large numbers of Defiant and Grand Cross-class cruisers still in service, there would be ample time to address this concern before it became pressing - a sentiment which was judged by the Lords Admiral as unlikely to become in the future a well-known final statement.

For the time being, the two Invincibles would remain at Duratus for working-up activities and crew training, having been judged non-essential for operations against the Belaire at present.

----

5 July brought disturbing news to the Legion high command, as a report transmitted from Gatekeeper 1 was received detailing the destruction of the survey frigate Ascendant Might in the 82 Eridani system at the hands of none other than the hated Mongolicans. While initially disturbing, as the loss of a survey vessel was never received well at the Legion high command, a sort of morbid curiosity soon overtook grief and rage. Sensor readings transmitted to Gatekeeper 1 from Ascendant Might in the seconds before the demise of the latter suggested that the Mongolicans had fired energy weapons rather than their usual missile barrage. Furthermore, no sensor signatures from any warships had been detected in the system, leading the Legion high command to conclude that the energy weapons had most likely been fired by ground-based facilities on the planet 82 Eridani II, a capability unknown to that point. While the lack of mobile defenses in-system would in theory make an assault on the Mongolicans rather easy to pull off, as the bulk of the Legion Navy was otherwise occupied this would be postponed until a more opportune moment in the future. Meanwhile, Gatekeeper 1 was ordered to recover the life pods from Ascendant Might as the planet would pass out of range due to its natural revolution about the star. Gatekeeper 1 would report back to the Legion high command on 16 July that these orders had been carried out with no difficulty.

As preparations for the campaign against the Belaire home world continued, a pair of exceptional events involving the Survey Fleet briefly captured the attention of the Legion high command. The first of these occurred on 30 August, when the survey Frigate Argumentative transited a jump point leading out from the nondescript WISE 1639-6847 system, and found herself in the familiar, if equally nondescript, system of WISE 1506+7027. This therefore created a second loop in the Legion galactic map, twice as long as the five-system Olympia Loop as it included ten unique star systems. This would require a significant re-drawing of the maps adorning the walls of the Legion Navy’s headquarters offices, and furthermore indicated that the Mongolica system would hold significant strategic value in addition to its archeological wealth.



Highlight of the soon to be named “Mongolica Loop” discovered on 30 August 4008, shown prior to the reconstruction of the Legion’s stellar maps as a result of this finding. While Legion Naval officers were quite eager for the map to be redrawn to make future operational planning less visually-challenging, significant opposition to the map redrawing directive was found from the schoolteacher’s guilds, which loathed the prospect of having to purchase all-new maps and textbooks. This led to vociferous street protests which were only ended once the Legion high command promised to subsidize purchases of the new materials, along with quietly directing the allocation of additional future funding to equip schools with electronic media which could be more cheaply kept up to date.

Shortly after this, at 0734 on 1 September alarms went off throughout the Kuiper 79 system and the fleets stationed there, as the JR-1014 stationed at the WISE 0350-5658 jump point reported a transit into the Kuiper 79 system. Fortunately for the fleets, and indeed the Duranium Legion at large, these alarms were rapidly silenced as the transiting contact turned out to be none other than the famous survey frigate Adamant, captained as always by the interminable Captain Achlys Tartarus and escorted by Recon Fighter Osprey. This was nothing less than a major propaganda coup for the Legion Navy, played to full effect across all imperial media services even if the reality of Adamant’s escape had been somewhat less than the harrowing drama it was portrayed as. Immediately, however, both Adamant and her ad-hoc escort reported very low fuel stores, and as such were recommended to proceed without delay to the fleet headquarters at Kuiper 79-A II to refuel, after which Adamant would depart for Duratus to receive a heroine’s welcome.

----

The evening of 22 September saw the final shipment of materials needed for the new fleet headquarters unloaded on the surface of Kuiper 79-A II. The new Kuiper 79 Base facility was formally commissioned by now-Lord Admiral Absolus Criasus, who had in a rare feat been promoted directly from captaincy to the admiralty at the behest of the Emperor - and with much support from his superiors - expressly for the purpose of commanding the new headquarters. Lord Admiral Criasus was now charged with conceiving and executing an ambitious operation which would see the Legion Navy strike into the heart of the Republic of Belaire to deal a crippling blow to their hated foes. Following a brief ceremony to commission the new Kuiper 79 naval headquarters facility, Lord Admiral Criasus turned his attention to the task at hand.

Under his command were First and Second Fleets, both reinforced with additional squadrons from previous engagements, as well as several auxiliary groups including the JR-1014 jump scouts currently monitoring each outgoing jump point. To manage these forces, the Kuiper 79 Naval Corps headed by the Lord Admiral possessed three subordinate departments. The majority of forces were presently held under the Naval Base Department commanded by another recently-promoted flag officer, Lord Captain Damon Tegyrios who was another hero of the previous battles in Kuiper 79. In fact, Lord Captain Tegyrios was the only officer in the entire Legion Navy up to that time to have been granted Battle Lordship by virtue of having commanded Double Edge to the sinking of an impressive 250,000 tons of Belaire warships. This hallowed title had conferred Lordship on its recipient even prior to his promotion to Lord Captain, marking the bearer of that title as a man to not lightly be reckoned with.



Lord Captain Damon Tegyrios was arguably even more highly-decorated than his superior, Lord Admiral Criasus, leading some observers to question the promotion of the latter above the former. However, despite his hard-won prestige the Lord Captain lacked command experience beyond a single cruiser, thus the assignment to oversee the Kuiper 79 naval base operations department was seen by the Legion high command as a necessary stepping stone to a future place in the high command itself, albeit a place all but assured.

The Kuiper 79 Mission Control Department, which was assigned responsibility for jump point monitoring as well as any future missions out-of-system, was initially commanded by Lord Captain Epimetheus Gelos, a career veteran of the Legion Navy battle planning division, but he was soon replaced by another newly-promoted Lord Captain, Selene Styx, on 8 November. Another well-decorated veteran of the Kuiper 79 battles, Lord Captain Styx would take charge of devising the battle plan for the immediate jump point assault into the Belaire system. Most importantly she would develop a system of event chains which would enable commanders and crews to react as quickly as possible to the developing and highly-dangerous situation immediately after transiting the jump point. At present, however, the Mission Control Department only held command over the JR-1014s and Frigate Squadron 3 which was on-station near the Belaire jump point.

Finally, the Fleet Auxiliary Department was headed up by Lord Captain Emily Seelix, a career logistics officer with a reputation for quickly adapting to new situations. While the Department controlled quite few resources, namely a motley three-ship auxiliary flotilla along with the 100,000-ton behemoth barracks station Bastion 1, the Lords Admiral anticipated her posting to Kuiper 79 to be a precursor to a long-term, more prestigious posting at the expanding Adamantine fleet base.

Turning to the actual resources at hand, Lord Admiral Criasus initially estimated that it would take about three months before an offensive could be launched. This was due primarily to a number of overhauls keeping the majority of First Fleet out of action, the latest of which would see Destroyer Squadron 5 reactivated at Duratus in early December. While somewhat of an annoyance, given that time was of the essence in launching a critical strike before the Belaire could rebuild their fleets, the Lord Admiral was determined to make the most of the intervening time. The first order issued from the new fleet headquarters was therefore to detach the frigate Hellfire from Frigate Squadron 4, which was now up to full strength with four of the Hellfire class on active duty. Hellfire would briefly travel to Duratus for armor repairs before rejoining First Fleet. Additionally, after reviewing the situation and consulting with Lord Captain Gelos, the Lord Admiral sent a request to the Legion procurement office seeking new solutions for the problem of reconnoitering the far side of the jump point without risking a (slightly) valuable reconnaissance craft.

With these and other initial orders issued and the chain of command established, Lord Admiral Criasus and his senior staff turned to the problem of a battle plan to defeat the Belaire Navy. While the string of successes to date had been devastating, the Republic still possessed at least a dozen each of the Kirov and Sovremenny classes along with nearly three dozen each of the Slava and Osa escort types. These would potentially pose a significant threat if massed against the Legion fleets, most importantly the missile throw weight of the Slavas would likely overwhelm even several destroyer squadrons and cause a repeat of the Battle of Gliese 1 in the best case. On the other hand, the Legion retained a significant speed advantage, and should the Belaire split their forces or be found to have scattered their forces throughout multiple bases or systems a defeat in detail would be a not-unlikely outcome. These and other questions continued to occupy the staff of the Kuiper 79 Naval Corps as they set about their duties.

----

As battle planning began in earnest, further buoying of morale occurred as the out-of-contact survey frigate Apollo transited into the Kuiper 79 system from Luyten 302-89. Her journey back had been largely uneventful, aside from an amusing anecdote in which the unarmed survey frigate, plodding through space at 1,500 km/s, had managed to scare a Belaire stabilization ship squadron away from a jump point, despite her Slava and probable Osa escorts easily outmatching Apollo. Artistic renditions of this encounter quickly became circulated on officer’s mess bulletin boards fleet-wide, although senior officers ineffectually tried to discourage this for fear of overconfidence in the ranks. Less happily, Apollo reported coming across the wreckage of the erstwhile Recon Fighter Eagle, a fact quietly glossed over in the official public relations release.



One early artistic rendition of the “Bold Charge of the Apollo”, reconstructed from sensor logs as the survey frigate approached the jump point leading back to Legion space.

Shortly after this, on 18 October the Salvage Flotilla reported that every wreck in Adamantine and Kuiper 79, save for the large cluster of wreckage left after the climactic Second Battle of Kuiper 79, had been recovered, and the flotilla’s salvage ship holds were at nearly full capacity. The flotilla would therefore return to Duratus to unload their cargo before returning to Kuiper 79 to clean up the wreckage from the most recent battle. While the lengthy list of recovered components and modest data store of technological findings would prove interesting to Legion research crews, the most eagerly-awaited cargo was easily the 45,000 tons of salvaged TNEs, most prominently 12,500 tons each of duranium and gallicite that would go a long way towards addressing the persistent economic struggles of the Legion in the short term. These would be offloaded at Duratus by 30 November, arresting what had been another developing duranium crunch for the planetary industry and buying more precious time for new mining infrastructure to be constructed and deployed. The salvaged Belaire components would also prove to be surprisingly useful to Legion researchers; most notably, discoveries made from dissembling the Belaire missile launchers immediately led to drawing-up of possible future Legion launcher designs which would fire at triple the speed previously thought possible, though these designs were of largely theoretical interest at the present time.

Author’s Note: students of historical Duranium Legion economics should be aware of the conversion factor: one Trans-Newtonian Unit (TNU) of any given TNE displaces the equivalent of approximately 2 void tons.

Tragedy struck the Kuiper 79 Naval Base on 14 November, when while conducting a routine inspection Lord Captain Emily Seelix was struck by an unsecured crate of replacement parts for the gravity wave generators of the PEL-4 cannons, which had been overloaded and unwisely stacked on a high shelf. Lacking quality logistics officers, Lord Admiral Criasus reluctantly tapped Lord Captain Phobos Pandia as the replacement commander for the Kuiper 79 Auxiliary Department. A quick-thinking officer who had come up through the Legion’s economic and industrial espionage division, Lord Captain Pandia was considered knowledgeable, but not particularly skillful, when it came to logistics operations. The Lord Captain himself was hardly interested in the posting, considering it little more than a stepping stone to a more permanent posting in charge of a mining corps in Adamantine or Alpha Centauri.

While not immediately relevant to operations against the Belaire, sailors across the whole Legion Navy were cheered by news on 5 December that the lead ship of the Judgment Day-class light jump cruisers had been commissioned. There were the jump-capable compliment to the mighty Invincible class, and unlike the preceding Grand Cross class these were equipped with a full armament of 102 mm railgun batteries for point defense, thus ensuring that the ships of this class would not be dead weight in an engagement. However, with only half the armor of a fully-equipped Invincible the Judgment Day class would not be well served in a close beam encounter. Making up for this limitation, the class did include hangar space for an AR-56 Osprey recon fighter, providing a modicum of independent reconnaissance capacity for the Legion’s most modern cruiser squadrons.

Judgment Day class Light Jump Cruiser      15,000 tons       449 Crew       2,150.3 BP       TCS 300    TH 1,500    EM 0
5000 km/s    JR 4-100      Armour 3-54       Shields 0-0       HTK 84      Sensors 8/8/0/0      DCR 15      PPV 24
Maint Life 2.29 Years     MSP 1,343    AFR 120%    IFR 1.7%    1YR 348    5YR 5,215    Max Repair 514.4 MSP
Hangar Deck Capacity 250 tons     
Captain    Control Rating 2   BRG   AUX   
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Flight Crew Berths 20    Morale Check Required   

Legion Gravitic Corps LG-300 Gravity Drive 'Calypso'     Max Ship Size 15000 tons    Distance 100k km     Squadron Size 4

Hyperion Drive Yards H-750 Cruiser Engine 'Minotaur' (2)    Power 1500    Fuel Use 32.66%    Signature 750    Explosion 10%
Fuel Capacity 594,000 Litres    Range 21.8 billion km (50 days at full power)

Arcadia Weapons Systems 102 mm Defense Battery Mk III (8x4)    Range 30,000km     TS: 5,000 km/s     Power 3-3     RM 30,000 km    ROF 5       
Arcadia Weapons Systems Defense Battery Director Mk III (2)     Max Range: 96,000 km   TS: 5,100 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
Chryson Dynamics 12 TW Induction Drive Cell Mk VI (2)     Total Power Output 24.2    Exp 5%

Scamander Corporation Series XVI Onboard Targeting System (1)     GPS 16     Range 6.4m km    MCR 574.5k km    Resolution 1
Scamander Corporation Series VIII RF Wave Scanner (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km
Scamander Corporation Series VIII Infrared Scanner (1)     Sensitivity 8     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  22.4m km

Strike Group
1x AR-56 Osprey Recon Fighter   Speed: 5008 km/s    Size: 4.99

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes


By 5 December, all vessels were assembled at Kuiper 79-A II or the vicinity thereof which would be assigned to the offensive against the Belaire home system. Final refueling and resupply commenced, and by 12 December this had been completed and Lord Admiral Criasus gave the order to take up final staging positions on and around the Belaire jump point.

On 13 December, these plans were suddenly and rudely interrupted by a motley collection of familiar characters.



----

Shipbuilding

2x Invincible class Light Cruiser: Invincible, Imperator
1x Judgment Day class Light Jump Cruiser: Judgment Day
1x Charybdis class Destroyer: Credulous Counsel
1x Furious class Jump Destroyer: Felstalker
1x Hellfire class Frigate: Halberd
1x Salamander class Troop Transport
2x Obsidian class Orbital Mining Platform
1x Obsidian Mk II class Orbital Mining Platform
3x Gatekeeper class Traffic Monitor
2x B-108 class Buoy Layer
12x Scamander Type I class Probe

Research

Alien Autopsy = Belaire
Boat Bay - Small
Railgun Launch Velocity 40,000

Systems Discovered

HIP 14754: FS Apollo, 21 July 4008
Gliese 257: FS Apollo, 1 August 4008
GJ 1123: FS Amalgam of the Void, 30 August 4008
WISE 0146+4234: FS Argumentative, 1 September 4008
Gliese 798: FS Aeryn Sun, 5 October 4008
Gliese 588: FS Argumentative, 30 November 4008

----

The Galaxy According to the Duranium Legion: 22 September 4008



Not shown are the pair of systems discovered between 22 September and 13 December 4008, namely Gliese 798 branching off from GI 339.1 and Gliese 588 branching off from WISE 0146+4234.

----

OOC Note: In addition to the above events, it is slightly worthy of note that I did encounter a base of Rakhas in Gliese 588, fortunately on active sensors at a safe distance so that I did not lose a survey frigate to STO fire. However as this is 1.12 and Rakhas are bugged, I saved and reloaded to continue rather than deal with the extra micromanagement of trying to survey around their planet. That is all.
 
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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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The Duranium Legion - Spotlight #2: Operation Osprey
« Reply #37 on: April 02, 2021, 11:50:11 AM »
Spotlight #2: Operation Osprey

Operational Objective
Location of the survey frigate Adamant in deep Belaire space and recovery back to safety in Legion space if possible.

Operational Assets
Ars Magica class Survey Frigate Adamant, Captain Achlys Tartarus commanding
AR-56 class Recon Fighter 002 “Osprey”: Subcommander Thetis Hyperion commanding

Recon Fighter Osprey transited the jump point from Kuiper 79 to WISE 0350-5658 on 9 October 4007, fortunately emerging on the other side to empty space with no Belaire vessels in sight. As there was only one other jump point leading out of that system, namely to the intersectional system of Struve 2398, Osprey immediately proceeded towards this jump point in search of Adamant. However, knowing that any Belaire fleet traffic through the system would almost certainly be traveling between the two jump points, there being no other bodies present besides the star itself from which a fleet might operate, Subcommander Hyperion ordered her crew to set a course parallel to the line of flight between the two jump points at a 34 million km offset. Osprey arrived at this position without incident, having spotted no Belaire vessels traveling along the direct line of flight while traversing the system.



At this stage, while most fighter captains would have proceeded through the apparently unmonitored jump point, Subcommander Hyperion ordered her crew to hold position. Prior to the onset of war with the Belaire, Legion intelligence had confirmed that the Belaire had deployed a number of escorted stabilization ships across their budding jump point network, and as the Republic had only recently started expanding beyond their home system any stabilization fleets were likely to still be in the vicinity of the jump point terminus. Therefore, having no way of knowing how recently the WISE 0350-5658 side of the jump point had been stabilized, Osprey would hold her position and wait, in the end, over seven months before risking the transit into Struve 2398.

Finally, on 10 June 4008 the by now quite restless crew of Recon Fighter Osprey fired up her engines and bravely transited into Struve 2398. Subcommander Hyperion’s guess had seemingly paid off, as while there were once again no Belaire vessels there was quite ominously a floating wreck several hundred thousand km from the jump point which was quickly identified as the charred remains of Warden 7. This had been the traffic monitoring vessel assigned to support Adamant during her survey work, but fortunately deep space scans of the system found no sign of similar wreckage belonging to Adamant herself. At the time, the crew of Recon Fighter Osprey considered this ominous wreck to be a sign that the decision of their Subcommander to wait behind the jump point for so many months was well-justified, though from later debriefing it seems this idea was first suggested by the Subcommander herself. Later cross-referencing with the logs of Adamant herself would indicate that Warden 7 had been destroyed in the first days of the war, and the jump point was likely stabilized by January 4008 at the latest, five months before Recon Fighter Osprey would transit the jump point.

In any case, as the wreckage of Warden 7 had not been salvaged by the Belaire, the Osprey crew were able to recover data logs from the wreckage which included gravitational survey data of the system which had been transmitted from Adamant. Using this data, Osprey carefully approached each other jump point in the Struve 2398 system in turn, first detouring to a nearby comet (labeled #3 in the system map below) to avoid being caught by a patrol fleet on a direct lane between two jump points. Having surveyed each jump point, the Osprey crew further determined that the third jump point, marked by Adamant as leading to a system labeled as DEN 0817-6155, had been stabilized by the Belaire. At this point, the Osprey no longer had enough fuel to explore any further into unknown space, and further her crew had no way of knowing which jump point Adamant had fled through to escape from the hostilities. However, it was at the very least clear that the Belaire would have a presence within or beyond the DEN 0817-6155 system, therefore Subcommander Hyperion determined that her crew would remain on this jump point to monitor it for any Belaire activity which might give clues as to the whereabouts of Adamant for as long as she was able.



Around the same time, in early June 4008, Adamant herself began to run low on fuel, and despite the danger Captain Achlys Tartarus ordered her crew to plot a careful course back to Legion space, hoping that by now the Belaire had either been defeated or at least motivated to withdraw any armed forces from this sector of space. Adamant had in fact fled through the jump point to a system identified as Kapteyn’s Star, after having witnessed the unceremonious destruction of her Warden-class escort. This was not a small system to survey, and throughout June and July Adamant carefully made her way back to her entry jump point, carefully avoiding any bodies in the system where Belaire scouts might be lurking. In the early days of August, Adamant made her final approach to the Struve 2398 jump point, fortunately detecting no Belaire signatures on her meager passive scanners, and on 9 August transited into the system creating a pleasant surprise for the crew of Recon Fighter Osprey. After a joyous reunion, Osprey formed up as an escort to Adamant and the mismatched pair set a course back to Kuiper 79. Notably, at this time neither ship’s crew had any idea how the war situation had changed since they had lost contact with the Legion at large, and thus the crews of both ships were cautious of any Belaire patrols or convoys as they followed their return course.

Thankfully for the Legion public relations department, and also the crews of the two vessels, Adamant and her unlikely escort arrived in Kuiper 79 on 1 September, the crews greatly shocked to find that the Legion had in fact occupied the system and was in the process of establishing a fleet headquarters to conduct their breakthrough assault. This was particularly fortuitous for Subcommander Hyperion, whose fighter likely would have lacked sufficient fuel to reach the Adamantine jump point had the strategic situation remained unchanged.

In the aftermath of this bold operation, the commanders and crew of both Osprey and Adamant were awarded the Belaire Campaign Ribbons for their bravery. Subcommander Thetis Hyperion was awarded the Adamantine Medal as well, appropriately enough, while the Adamant and her crew were also awarded the Bronze Star for her intrepidity deep behind enemy lines. Given the propagandized version of her exploits which soon began circulating in the Duratus media, some critics claimed - though not loudly - that this award had been largely for appearances’ sake rather than any actual bravery exhibited by the crew of Adamant. In any case, regardless of how thrilling her actual return journey may have been, in the end the return of Adamant served most usefully as a needed morale boost for Legion Navy sailors.

As a last footnote, after this date the Legion high command designated the AR-56 class of recon fighters as Ospreys, seeking to capitalize on the excellent publicity of recent events as well as instilling pride in the fighter crews. The venerable R-56 class, having not been involved in this operation, remained without a callsign.

----

OOC Note: A short spotlight, not as detailed as the previous, but hopefully a welcome addition of flavor to the universe. If any single ship deserves a Spotlight surely it is the Adamant. Any and all accusations of this entry being “filler” to “buy time to finish the next update” are of course utter rubbish and will be categorically denied.
 
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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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The Duranium Legion - Chapter XV: The Gathering Storm
« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2021, 02:07:17 PM »
13 December 4008

As alarms sounded throughout the vessels of First and Second Fleets, the Belaire squadron which had just entered Kuiper 79 turned away from their home jump point and set a course in the direction of the WISE 0350-5658 jump point. This presented Lord Admiral Criasus with a choice: on one hand, the Legion warships could easily overtake the Belaire squadron, and First Fleet with four Hellfire-class frigates could engage in a sniper duel with the Sovremennys at favorable odds; on the other hand, allowing the Belaire squadron to run away unassailed would preserve the strength of the Legion fleets for their main operational goal, which they could now pursue knowing that the Belaire had seven fewer ships to defend themselves with. Ultimately, the Lord Admiral decided to hedge his bets, ordering First Fleet to pursue the Belaire squadron at least for the moment, supported by Frigate Squadron 3 for reconnaissance and spotting, while Second Fleet secured the jump point against any further incursions. Depending on how reconnaissance of the jump point proceeded, First Fleet might press their pursuit home or rejoin the main fleet body for the main assault.



Positions of the relevant fleet units at 0300 on 14 December, eight hours after Lord Admiral Criasus issued his initial orders.

As the long-distance pursuit continued, Second Fleet reached the jump point into the Belaire home system. In the early planning stages of the invasion, Lord Admiral Criasus and his senior staff had quickly realized that they faced three major hurdles. The first of these, of course, was the overwhelming size of the Belaire Navy, which could only be addressed by forcing and winning a series of bloody battles. The second issue, working backwards, was that of forcing the jump point, the task of solving this having been assigned to the Mission Control Department headed originally by Lord Captain Gelos though most of the actual work had been accomplished by Lord Captain Styx. The final issue, and the one which presently concerns us, was in fact the starting point of the operation: how to reconnoiter the far side of the jump point. This was in fact one of the first concerns the Lord Admiral had raised in his initial correspondence with the Legion high command, and the Legion procurement specialists had once again devised a clever, at least in theory, solution to the problem.

Accompanying Second Fleet was the Legion Navy’s latest top-secret project, the B-108 buoy layer.

B-108 class Buoy Layer      500 tons       8 Crew       62.2 BP       TCS 10    TH 50    EM 0
5009 km/s      Armour 1-5       Shields 0-0       HTK 3      Sensors 0/0/0/0      DCR 0      PPV 0
Maint Life 2.37 Years     MSP 7    AFR 20%    IFR 0.3%    1YR 2    5YR 26    Max Repair 18 MSP
Hangar Deck Capacity 125 tons     
Subcommander    Control Rating 1   
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Flight Crew Berths 20    Morale Check Required   

Hyperion Drive Yards HF-25 Fighter Engine 'Erinys' (2)    Power 50    Fuel Use 178.89%    Signature 25    Explosion 10%
Fuel Capacity 64,000 Litres    Range 12.9 billion km (29 days at full power)

This design is classed as a Fighter for production, combat and planetary interaction


By itself hardly anything special, in fact the key to this plan was the cargo transported by the buoy layer, a trio of small unmanned probes fast-tracked into service by the Scamander Corporation.

Scamander Type I class Probe      35 tons       0 Crew       6.8 BP       TCS 1    TH 0    EM 0
1 km/s      No Armour       Shields 0-0     HTK 0      Sensors 1/1/0/0      DCR 0      PPV 0
MSP 0    AFR 6%    IFR 0.1%    Max Repair 3.2 MSP
Subcommander    Control Rating 1   
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months   

Scamander Corporation Series XVI Automatic Scanner (1)     GPS 4     Range 2.9m km    MCR 256.9k km    Resolution 1
Scamander Corporation Series VIII Infrared Antenna (1)     Sensitivity 1.6     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  10m km
Scamander Corporation Series VIII RF Antenna (1)     Sensitivity 1.6     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  10m km

This design is classed as a Commercial Vessel for maintenance purposes
This design is classed as a Space Station for construction purposes


The plan was ingeniously simple: aided by any ship with a suitable gravity drive, such as that mounted on a Warden or Gatekeeper-class vessel, the probe would be pushed through a jump point and immediately send telemetry back to the push-er. The fully-automated nature of the probe not only ensured no loss of valuable crew members in case of immediate destruction, but in fact eliminated the slow reaction time of human sensor operators who had proven too easily distracted by their imminent doom to send sensor telemetry through jump points, e.g., as demonstrated at Eta Cassiopeiae.

The results of the reconnaissance proved illuminating.



While most members of the Legion Navy were by now quite annoyed by the overnumerousness of "top-secret" projects which turned out to be yet another reconnaissance vehicle, in this particular case the fighter pilots of the Legion were exceedingly glad that this particular project had been approved and deployed in a timely manner.

Based on the fraction of a second’s worth of telemetry received from the first probe, Second Fleet could confidently report that the Belaire fleet on the opposite side of the jump point displaced around 320,000 tons in total, only slightly less than the combined displacement of First and Second Fleets combined. Given this finding, Lord Admiral Criasus and his staff quickly concluded that an immediate assault on the jump point would be too great of a risk, and that even with First Fleet recalled from their pursuit mission additional reinforcements would be needed from Duratus. In fact, it now seemed likely that the new Invincible-class light cruisers would be needed against the Belaire after all. In the meantime, given that it would take any reinforcements from Duratus around a month to arrive at the staging area, First Fleet was ordered to continue their pursuit operation until the Belaire cruiser squadron had been eliminated.

At 1059 on 17 December, First Fleet closed to within 500,000 km of the Belaire cruiser squadron, which in response began launching their light missiles in self-defense. At this stage, Frigate Squadron 3 was ordered to pull back to the jump point staging area, their long-range sensor capabilities no longer needed.

First Fleet
Captain Felix Tegyrios commanding aboard CL Dissolution
Cruiser Squadron 1: Denouement, Devastator, Dissolution, Grand Cross, 2x AR-56 Osprey, 2x R-56
Cruiser Squadron 3: Devourer, Domination, Double Edge, Garrote, 1x AR-56 Osprey, 3x R-56
Destroyer Squadron 1: Chainsaw, Char, Chronomancer, Furious
Destroyer Squadron 5: Calamitous, Caliban, Creeping Death, Flayer
Frigate Squadron 4: Halberd, Harrier, Heavy Metal, Hellfire
Totaling 210,000 tons displacement with 6.470 crew complement

Republic of Belaire Cruiser Squadron 4
Designation and commander unknown
4x Sovremenny class Cruiser
2x Slava class Escort Cruiser
1x Osa class Destroyer Escort
Totaling 99,000 tons displacement with unknown crew complement

By now a set of standard tactics was being adopted by Legion Naval commanders for engaging typical Belaire formations such as this, and Captain Felix Tegyrios was not one to go against the wisdom of his superiors and thus was not looking to innovate during this encounter. As the Belaire had begun firing their light missiles, First Fleet would remain at 400,000 km while the destroyer squadrons conducted point defense operations, then once the enemy missile stocks had been exhausted the fleet would close to just over 180,000 km and engage in a long-range gunnery duel with the four Sovremennys. With four Hellfires at his disposal and a better institutional understanding of pursuit tactics from the previous battle, Captain Tegyrios had full confidence in the ability of his forces to win a sniper duel quite decisively. This left the eight light cruisers of First Fleet as glorified escorts for the purposes of this mission.

As point defense against Belaire missile volleys was by now a routine duty for the Legion Navy’s destroyer crews, the first stage of the engagement proceeded unremarkably aside from scattered crew complaints aboard one of  the destroyers regarding a gunnery officer who had chosen an unfortunate moment to pass gas. After twelve minutes the Slavas had exhausted their magazines and Captain Tegyrios ordered First Fleet to close the range to just beyond 180,000 km and open fire with the mighty PEL-4 beam cannons. This order was followed directly, and ten seconds past 1113 the Sovremennys opened fire ineffectually with their heavy lasers, scoring four misses and no hits.

Five seconds later, Frigate Squadron 4 began to return fire, with Harrier and Hellfire the first to line up their targets but unfortunately scoring no hits. Even more unfortunately, the helm officers of First Fleet had slightly overshot their target holding position, and Hellfire passed just within the edge of firing range for the medium lasers of the Sovremennys, taking two grazing hits on her just-repaired armor belt. The good news was that these hits were at least on two different locations thus leaving the armor belt without any holes, though with the legendary luck of the Belaire gunners this came as a mild surprise to her captain, Commander Aion Styx. In any case, the error was quickly rectified, and within ten seconds First Fleet had opened the range back over 180,000 km as both Hellfire and Heavy Metal exchanged fire with the Belaire heavy lasers, with no hits scored by either side. Five seconds later, Harrier scored the first hit for the Legion forces.



Fleet positions at 1113 on 17 December, following the expenditure of the Belaire light missiles and after the initial exchanges of beam weapon fire. By this point First Fleet had settled into a comfortable holding position in accordance with Captain Tegyrios’ orders.

Following some brief delays due to confusing targeting orders, at 1114 the four Hellfire-class frigates fired in sync, scoring a second hit on the targeted Sovremenny, continuing to dodge fire from the heavy lasers with little difficulty. As the gunnery duel continued, it became clear that the Hellfires were getting the better of their opponents, easily racking up more hits with every salvo while the Sovremennys returned fire ineffectually. After another 105 seconds of alternative volleys, Heavy Metal and Halberd scored three penetrating hits on the lead Sovremenny between themselves, causing their quarry to begin streaming atmosphere although its speed remained unaffected. The next volley from the Hellfire squadron missed widely, being answered by a third heavy laser hit on Hellfire herself which scored another segment of her armor belt, but the following salvo saw two more penetrations through the hull of the lead Sovremenny, though again its engine section had escaped damage.

It took another three full volleys before Heavy Metal managed to inject a high flux of 4 TeV neon atoms directly into one of the Sovremenny’s engines at precisely 1117. While as usual the engine failed to explode, this was sufficient to reduce the Sovremenny’s speed by one-quarter, causing it to drop out of formation. In keeping with recent doctrinal developments, First Fleet matched speed accordingly, as Captain Tegyrios intended to see the wounded Belaire warship either destroyed or dead in space before resuming pursuit of the remaining fleet elements. As it quickly fell out of range of the rest of its squadron, the wounded Sovremenny soon lost the heavy laser support of its comrade vessels, and with only a single inaccurate heavy laser to battle against the frigates of First Fleet its fate was all but assured. It took only 45 seconds and two more penetrations for the Sovremenny to lose a second engine, however the Sovremennys were clearly built to take large amounts of damage and another twenty-one penetrations were required to take its remaining pair of engines out of commission - during which time the Sovremenny managed to score not one but three hits against the armor of Hellfire. Fortunately, one of the penetrations preceding the engine destruction had taken out the heavy laser of the Sovremenny, which would at least keep Hellfire from suffering any additional damage until the Sovremenny was eliminated as a viable threat.

By this stage, as Lord Admiral Criasus had before him Captain Tegyrios was forced to decide between holding position to eliminate the disabled Sovremenny, or routing First Fleet around it to continue the pursuit. Ultimately, however, the decision was largely out of the Captain’s hands, as Frigate Squadron 4 was once again running low on the critical supplies needed to keep the complex PEL-4 cannons operational, notably Halberd had only 22% of her allotted maintenance supplies remaining. Thus, Captain Tegyrios reluctantly ordered the frigates to finish off their target, after which First Fleet would break off their pursuit. While disappointing, this was hardly a defeat for the Legion Navy, indeed the Belaire squadron would find itself not only short by one cruiser from their original order of battle but also without any additional missiles meaning that the pair of Slavas were effectively out of action. Such a reduced force would be fairly easy to dispose of in a future operation, once the more important business at hand had been dealt with.

At 1123 precisely, the contact designated Sovremenny 5 was destroyed, fittingly enough by a killing shot from Hellfire herself. Frigate Squadron 4 would be detached to recover the latest complement of Belaire prisoners and return them to the Kuiper 79 naval headquarters for internment before rejoining First Fleet. The rest of the fleet would return to the Belaire jump point to await the arrival of necessary reinforcements before beginning the invasion of the Belaire home system.

Year 4009


6 January marked the arrival of the misleadingly-named Fourth Fleet, consisting only of Cruiser Squadron 4 and the recently-assembled Destroyer Squadron 7. However this fleet would have to serve as sufficient reinforcements for the planned invasion of Belaire, and if nothing else the arrival of the Invincible-class light cruisers in the area of operations was a welcome boost to morale ahead of the dangerous jump point assault. The fleet would remain in orbit of Kuiper 79-A II for a week to allow the crews some time on the Bastion 1 barracks station before setting out to the jump point, with 19 January at 0800 being set as the final launch date for the invasion of Belaire.

----

Shipbuilding

1x Hellfire class Frigate: Hellion
2x Accatran class Salvager

----

OOC: Admittedly, not the most exciting battle to be fought in the Kuiper 79 system, but now the preliminaries are all out of the way and the next update should be packed with action! Also packed with action are the halls of the Legion high command, raging as they are with fierce debate about the future of the particle beam endeavor, which some are now terming a "misadventure" while others claim it as a "proof of concept". The stage may be set for a dramatic political showdown amongst the Lords Admiral - will the upcoming invasion of Belaire resolve these questions decisively, or only add more fuel to the fire?
 
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Offline Foxxonius Augustus

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Re: The Official Chronicle of the Duranium Legion
« Reply #39 on: April 06, 2021, 05:42:43 PM »
Loving this :) Would love to see a 'State of the Navy' type post.  Maybe like a breakdown of all the ships you have along with their class and assignments.  What does the admiralty think looking back on the first ten years of the trans-newtonian navy and what are their plans for the next ten! Partly I just want to give you ideas for easier posts so I have more to read so I can get my fix! ;)
 
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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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Re: The Official Chronicle of the Duranium Legion
« Reply #40 on: April 06, 2021, 07:12:03 PM »
Loving this :) Would love to see a 'State of the Navy' type post.  Maybe like a breakdown of all the ships you have along with their class and assignments.  What does the admiralty think looking back on the first ten years of the trans-newtonian navy and what are their plans for the next ten! Partly I just want to give you ideas for easier posts so I have more to read so I can get my fix! ;)

I've got rough plans for something like this come the actual 10-year point. If anything, the troublesome bit will be that there's far more material to write about than I could sensibly cover, as sooner or later I must advance the plot in the midst of everything. I could cover the Navy, the economy, the politics of the Lord Admiralty, and many more things without clicking the "5 Day" button even once!  :o  However certainly an update on the Navy will be called for, not least due to popular demand now.

As for giving you more to read, rest assured that my planned-for posting schedule is twice-weekly, occasionally falling to once in a week as things come up both in and out of the game. The "narrative" updates are actually the easiest thing to write as I can just play the game and write about anything interesting that happens. The fluff and analysis posts, on the other hand, while great fun to write and in some cases illustrate do take more time - so be careful what you wish for!  ;)  Rest assured however that the second post of this week will arrive roughly on schedule.

All that having been said any reader is welcome to make any request, while as the author I reserve the right to accept or reject any such requests on a whim I do aim to please my audience - it's the only one I've got, after all.
 
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Offline El Pip

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Re: The Official Chronicle of the Duranium Legion
« Reply #41 on: April 09, 2021, 03:30:34 AM »
I was supposed to have an alert to ping me about new updates on this thread. It failed miserably to work so apologies for missing the last few chapters.

The Hellfires continue to underwhelm, the maintenance requirements on the weapon seem to be crippling it's long-ranged sniping concept. I do look forward to the political fight inside the Legion about this design, there is a case to be made each way. Is the answer a refit with one less gun and the space saved used for larger maintenance storage?

The Osprey-class earning it's name was a nice little bit of filler valuable and useful spotlight, so more of that would be good. As would something on the Legion's underwhelming (and fighter obsessed) Secret Projects division.

as sooner or later I must advance the plot in the midst of everything.
You really don't. Have the confidence to focus on the good stuff instead of wasting time on such trivial inanities as "plot". ;) :D
 
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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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Re: The Official Chronicle of the Duranium Legion
« Reply #42 on: April 09, 2021, 10:20:20 AM »
I was supposed to have an alert to ping me about new updates on this thread. It failed miserably to work so apologies for missing the last few chapters.

One of these days, they shall invent a forum software that works, right after some lucky 4x game dev invents an AI that challenges human players. Until then we muddle about in good humor all the same.

Quote
The Hellfires continue to underwhelm, the maintenance requirements on the weapon seem to be crippling it's long-ranged sniping concept. I do look forward to the political fight inside the Legion about this design, there is a case to be made each way. Is the answer a refit with one less gun and the space saved used for larger maintenance storage?

Funny that you should mention political fights... is all I'll say about that for now.

There is certainly a refit coming, however I don't suspect that the Hellfire proponents will be willing to reduce firepower so the designers will have to look carefully at what else might be sacrificial. Engines, perhaps? This would allow mounting twice as many guns thus could not possibly go wrong.

Quote
The Osprey-class earning it's name was a nice little bit of filler valuable and useful spotlight, so more of that would be good. As would something on the Legion's underwhelming (and fighter obsessed) Secret Projects division.

Are they fighter obsessed? Or are the fighters just the best of a bad batch or several? Clearly as you suggest this requires investigative reporting to find out.

Quote
as sooner or later I must advance the plot in the midst of everything.
You really don't. Have the confidence to focus on the good stuff instead of wasting time on such trivial inanities as "plot". ;) :D

whynotboth.jpg

And on this note...
 

Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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The Duranium Legion - Chapter XVI: Assault on Belaire
« Reply #43 on: April 09, 2021, 10:23:39 AM »
19 January 4009

Time: 0800 hours
Location: Kuiper 79 system, JP2: Belaire


Many fictional alien races which have been portrayed throughout millennia of science-fiction writing, perhaps for example portrayed as a race not too different from humans but with ridged foreheads and long hair, would consider the day and the hour of an invasion of hostile space to be the exact instant at which an overwhelming assault would be launched. The Duranium Legion, however, has two great advantages over such fictional races. First, the average soldier of the Duranium Legion is far more deadly in battle than such fictional races. Second, the captains and admirals of the Duranium Legion Navy understand the value of  conducting thorough and proper reconnaissance prior to launching the overwhelming assault.

To wit, at 0800 on 19 January, Lord Captain Selene Styx acting in her role as senior commander of the Kuiper 79 Mission Control Department and thus responsible for directing the invasion of the Belaire system, ordered the second of three Type I probes to be sent through the jump point, to verify the presence and composition of the Belaire defense fleet. This served solely to confirm that the Belaire defense fleet had not changed its composition nor moved one kilometer in the previous month. This second advantage of the Legion Navy having been displayed, it thus was now the time when the first advantage of the Legion Navy would come into play. Forty seconds later, after some brief maneuvering of First Fleet elements into new attack positions, the Duranium Legion Navy invaded the Belaire system with, it was thought, overwhelming force.

Duranium Legion Navy Order of Battle
Lord Admiral Absolus Criasus in overall command at Kuiper 79 Naval Corps headquarters
Lord Captain Selene Styx in operational command at Kuiper 79 Mission Control Department headquarters
Lord Captain Damon Tegyrios in command of the fleet reserve at Kuiper 79 Naval Base Department headquarters
Lord Captain Phobos Pandia in command of the fleet auxiliary at Kuiper 79 Fleet Auxiliary Department headquarters
Totaling 590,837 tons displacement (425,000 forward) with 15,306 crew complement (11,838 forward)

   First Fleet
   Captain Felix Tegyrios commanding aboard CL Dissolution
   Cruiser Squadron 1: Denouement, Devastator, Dissolution, Grand Cross
   Cruiser Squadron 3: Devourer, Domination, Double Edge, Garrote
   Destroyer Squadron 1: Chainsaw, Char, Chronomancer, Furious
   Destroyer Squadron 5: Calamitous, Caliban, Creeping Death, Flayer
   Totaling 180,000 tons displacement with 5,390 crew complement

   Second Fleet
   Captain Jocasta Gelanor commanding aboard CL Disruptor
   Cruiser Squadron 2: Dauntless, Defenestrator, Disruptor, Gothic
   Destroyer Squadron 3: Catharsis, Centaur, Crushing Blow, Final Blow
   Destroyer Squadron 4: Champion, Covenanter, Cry, Ye WIcked, Final Judgment
   Frigate Squadron 2: Bat Country, Battery, Blastwave, Executor
   Totaling 160,000 tons displacement with 4,802 crew complement

   Fourth Fleet
   Captain Selene Zephyrus commanding aboard CL Imperator
   Cruiser Squadron 5: Imperator, Invincible, Judgment Day
   Destroyer Squadron 7: Carnivore, Chu Ko Nu, Cretaceous, Felstalker
   Totaling 85,000 tons displacement with 2,646 crew complement

   Fleet Reserve
   Frigate Squadron 3 (detached): Bad Omen, Broken Wind, Brutal Legend, Endless Night
   Frigate Squadron 4 (detached): Halberd, Harrier, Heavy Metal, Hellfire
   Reconnaissance flights, detached: 6x AR-56 Osprey, 7x R-56
   Totaling 63,250 tons displacement with 1,960 crew complement

   Fleet Auxiliary
   Commander Aella Lampkin commanding aboard TF Volans
   1x Fleet Tender: Volans
   1x Tanker: Dragon
   1x Traffic Warden: Warden 1
   1x B-108 Buoy Layer + 1x Type I Probe
   Totaling 129,587 tons displacement with 508 crew complement

Republic of Belaire Battle Fleet 3
Designation and commander unknown
4x Kirov class Battlecruiser
4x Kiev class Jump Cruiser
4x Slava class Escort Cruiser
3x Sovremenny class Cruiser
1x Kresta class Missile Destroyer
4x Osa class Destroyer Escort
2x Skory class Missile Destroyer
1x Sverdlov class Missile Destroyer
Totaling 320,000 tons displacement with unknown crew complement



Initial dispositions of the Legion and Belaire battle fleets immediately after the Legion Navy executed a set of squadron jumps into the Belaire system. While the scattered initial positions of the Legion Navy were far from ideal, leaving individual squadrons vulnerable to punishing missile barrages, this was considered a necessary concession by Lord Captain Selene Styx and her battle planning staff, as the squadron jump tactic would enable the Legion vessels to engage in a railgun brawl within seconds, rather than minutes, of their entry into the Belaire system.

While the Legion commanders had expected some number of losses on jumping into the Belaire system, the actual losses suffered were somewhat surprising, as the Belaire Sovremenny and Osa beam ships focused their fire on the three Bellerophon-class frigates. Blastwave and Bat Country were quickly blown to pieces, while Battery took only a single volley from an Osa and suffered mild internal damage to her fuel storage section. While on one hand this laser focus on destroying the small sensor ships might make some sense for the Belaire, in the sense that firing upon the smallest vessels was the most likely way to remove Legion firepower from the battle, this tactic nevertheless struck the Legion captains as unsound as it left the powerful cruisers and crucial point defense destroyers undamaged while the sensor capability of the Bellerophons would hardly be missed.

This aside, despite the crippling effect of the jump transit on the sensors and fire controls of the Legion Navy warships the many Captains and Commanders of the fleet immediately began to execute their battle plan. In simple terms, Lord Captain Styx and her staff had quickly realized that despite the likelihood of suffering heavy initial losses, the Legion Navy would have the greatest advantage at point-blank range, thus the initial plan of battle was simple: charge up to the Belaire defenders and open fire as soon as possible. The key would be target selection, in other words identifying and eliminating the most dangerous threats first. It was obvious to all but the newest crew members that the greatest threat was of course the trio of laser-armed Sovremennys, and thus Cruiser Squadrons 1, 2, and 3 were each assigned to close with and destroy one of these vital targets as quickly as possible. Less apparent was the fact that the second-greatest threats were not the laser-armed Osas but rather the four trigger-happy Slavas which could launch eighty fast missiles every ten seconds, which were far more difficult to defend against than the slower missiles launched by, e.g., the Kirov class. Thus, each Slava would be targeted by a destroyer squadron and rapidly eliminated. Finally, remaining firepower would be allocated to the Osas which were still strong close-range beam combatants if left undisturbed for too long.

Immediately, the Belaire fleet committed a serious tactical error, as every missile which had been launched on sighting the Legion invasion force had been targeted on the beleaguered Battery. This had been extreme overkill, even by Legion standards, and critically meant that the significant initial volume of fire was not even partially directed against any Legion warship which could actually threaten the Belaire fleet with meaningful firepower. Simultaneously, the Belaire battle fleet committed, if not a second tactical error, a grievous faux pas of the highest order, immediately retreating from the converging Legion fleet instead of standing and fighting as proper soldiers.



State of the battlefield five seconds after the initial Legion squadron transit and Belaire opening volley. Despite the hasty retreat of the Belaire fleet, several Legion battle squadrons were already in range, and none would be unduly pressed to close the range even from the rear direction.

The first Legion shots of the invasion were fired by two destroyers of Squadrons 1 and 4, with Chainsaw mauling the armor of the lead Slava cruiser and scoring a single penetrating hit while Cry, Ye Wicked landed a full barrage of 102 mm railgun fire on the hull of the third Slava in the Belaire formation, though failing to penetrate its armor. With Legion warships already beginning to overcome the effects of so-called “jump shock” only ten seconds after entering the Belaire system, it was clear that the fate of the Belaire defense fleet was all but assured. However, the end had not yet been written, as the crew of Chainsaw were reminded when a virulent barrage of laser fire from the Osas shredded her armor, dealing significant internal damage including knocking both of the destroyer’s engines offline and leaving her adrift in space. She would be unceremoniously removed from existence only seconds later by a swarm of light missiles fired by the Belaire Slava flotilla

As more Legion vessels brought their weapon systems online, the field of battle was rapidly consumed by chaos. The initial Legion response to the destruction of Chainsaw was swiftly announced by the destroyers Champion and Final Judgment, which opened fire on the same Slava previously struck by Cry, Ye Wicked and scored a modest nine penetrations between themselves. However, the major agents of this chaos were the first mighty volleys of 152 mm railgun fire from the powerful Defiant-class cruisers: Devastator and Denouement landed full salvos from their weapons batteries on the overmatched lead Sovremenny, scoring twenty-one penetrating hits and reducing their target to only half speed, easy prey for their sister ship Dissolution; the three light cruisers of Squadron 2 coordinated their fire against a second Sovremenny to devastating effect, failing to destroy their target but making an impressive four dozen penetrating blows and leaving it dead in space for later janitorial work; finally, Cruiser Squadron 3 also managed to coordinate their fire against the third and final Sovremenny of the trio, however due to extreme range the only damage was significant scoring of the Belaire cruiser’s armor - a second volley from closer range would likely finish the job, if the Sovremenny survived that long. Adding to this chaos, two other destroyers opened fire at this juncture, not having much immediate effect beyond increasing the volume of railgun ammunition flying through the Belaire fleet formation.

Chaos, however, was not the sole dominion of the Legion Navy. By this time the deadly lasers of the Sovremennys had recharged, and had not yet been torn to shreds by Legion railguns, thus the lasers lanced out at Destroyer Squadron 5. While Calamitous took the brunt of the Belaire fire, suffering an incredible amount of armor and internal damage including the loss of both her engines, Creeping Death received the worst as several laser blasts from the trailing Sovremenny in the Belaire formation ripped through her engine room, causing a massive explosion which rendered the destroyer into twisted scraps of duranium and gallicite. Adding to the chaos, the Belaire fleet also at this stage executed a sudden turn to starboard, a maneuver considered most likely to be an attempt at evasive action as the Legion battle squadrons closed in. This would not be an effective tactic.



Battlefield situation and fleet dispositions at 0801 precisely. Despite the best efforts of the Belaire fleet, evasive action had proven largely insufficient to escape from the closing Legion squadrons, although two cruiser squadrons remained at peripheral range.

Compounding their ineffective tactics, the Belaire fleet finished off the disabled Calamitous at a once again excessive cost, expending an entire salvo of missiles from the Kirov flotilla to eliminate one more crippled destroyer - while the missiles apparently could not be re-targeted once launched, Legion tacticians continued to be astounded by the Belaire inability to properly allocate ordnance to multiple targets. In a far more efficient expenditure of ammunition, Dissolution successfully finished off the lead Sovremenny of the Belaire fleet, significantly reducing the volume of laser fire the Legion fleets would have to face from the following volley. This task being accomplished, Cruiser Squadron 1 took the cue from the pre-planned targeting directives and prepared to divide the fire of its three Defiant-class cruisers against the Slavas, omitting the third of these from their targeting solutions as it had been crippled by concentrated fire from Destroyer Squadron 4 and fallen out of the Belaire formation. Otherwise, as the numerous destroyers of the Legion Navy had by now almost fully recovered from jump shock and closed with the Belaire battle fleet, 102 mm ammunition flew unabated toward the Belaire warships, striking all four Slavas as well as the trailing Osa and by now scoring numerous penetrating hits through the hole-riddled armor of the Belaire escorts. Furthermore, this moment heralded the first combat test of weapons for the Invincible-class cruisers, as Invincible along with her close cousin Judgment Day fired upon two more Osas, scoring fifteen and two penetrating hits on their respective targets.

As is the iron law of warfare, the impressive amount of damage dealt to the Belaire fleet was not unanswered as the destroyer Caliban became the latest Legion vessel to be crippled and left for missile target practice by a concerted volley from the Belaire Osa flotilla. Even this iron law proved bittersweet for the Belaire fleet, as only fifteen light missiles were detected being launched from the Slava flotilla - a clear indication that battle damage had heavily reduced the combat ability of these vessels. At this stage, not more than twenty seconds after the initial assault jump by the Legion fleets, in exchange for their first kill the Legion had lost all three Bellerophon-class frigates of Frigate Squadron 2 along with three destroyers, a total of 52,500 tons displacement lost prior to the destruction of the 15,000-ton Sovremenny-class beam cruiser. This left the Legion invasion force with a commanding lead in tonnage in-theater, with 372,500 tons displacement, nearly fully operational at this point, against some 305,000 tons of Belaire vessels, many by now heavily damaged. It was quickly becoming clear to even the most cynical Legion Captain that the Invasion of the Belaire System was all but destined to succeed.

The heavy damage dealt to the Belaire Slavas proved fortuitous for the crippled Caliban, as every one of the merely fifteen light missiles aimed at her were smartly intercepted by railgun fire, with Champion in particular proving her mettle by destroying an impressive two-thirds of the missiles by herself. Not only this, but Champion simultaneously succeeded in dividing her fire to also strike, and destroy, the third Slava-class escort which had already suffered so many hits. For this impressive display of gunnery, Commander Hecuba Aetna and her crew would be honored with the Legion Combat Award. The leading Slava pair fared no better, falling to pieces under withering fire from Destroyer Squadrons 1 and 3 with Catharsis and Chronomancer each earning the kills. Refusing to let her compatriots have all the fun, Chu Ko Nu of Destroyer Squadron 7 brought all guns to bear against the trailing Osa, tearing it apart despite several near misses due to the 22,000 km range. Despite - or perhaps due to - not only losing four ships in close succession, but suffering further crippling damage to their remaining escorts, the Belaire fleet did not immediately return fire, clearly having lost their appetite for the exacting of revenge.



The Legion Combat Award, seen here fourth from the right, was commissioned at the birth of the Duranium Legion Navy, to be awarded to any Legion Naval officer who had distinguished themselves in combat. Curiously, despite a number of prior combat operations and multiple awardings of the Bronze Star, the awarding of this medal to the commanders and crew of the destroyer Champion marked the first awarding of this seemingly innocuous medal in Legion Naval history.

Having wreaked such devastation upon the Belaire fleet, the Legion Navy required a brief moment to re-target the majority of their vessels. The Belaire attempted to use this brief window wisely, but once again continued to be plagued by the tactical ineptitude of their senior officers who ordered all guns aboard the intact Sovremenny to fire on the crippled destroyer Caliban. While this proved more than sufficient to destroy the assigned target, the choice of target assignment and what this implied about the Belaire captains’ ability to correctly perceive threats continued to perplex the Legion Navy officers. However, as there was indeed still a battle to be fought the Legion commanders chose not to fixate on this oddity at that time, rather directing the considerably more effective fire of their own vessels against the Belaire fleet. The next kill scored by the Legion vessels would be the lead Osa-class escort, unceremoniously shattered to pieces by the impressive Champion. The remaining Slava proved wholly unable to withstand the hail of fire from the Legion destroyers, finally being confirmed as destroyed after a final accurate salvo from Catharsis, which was rapidly making a name for herself in this stage of the battle. At the same time, both remaining Sovremennys including the intact vessel which had just destroyed Caliban were reduced to plasmonic ashes by the cruisers Dauntless and Devastator, eliminating any threat of long-range beam fire from the Belaire fleet. Almost as an afterthought, though certainly still a crucial development given the priority of the target, the destroyer Cretaceous laid a fatal broadside into one of the remaining Osa-class destroyer escorts, claiming the first kill of her own nascent career.

This left only a single damaged Osa to threaten the Legion forces, as the remaining Belaire vessels were all armed with the slower heavy missiles that would be easily deflected by massed point defense fire. As such, Captain Felix Tegyrios in command of Cruiser Squadron 1 issued an order to all active squadrons to collect into a single unified fleet for missile defense, primarily with the intention of extending point defense coverage to Cruiser Squadron 3 which had remained separated from the rest of the fleet even to this point. Tragically, while executing this maneuver several destroyers crossed the point defense firing arcs of the others, thus only the light cruiser Invincible was able to fire in defense of the gathering fleet elements as a wave of Belaire heavy missiles approached their targets. The destroyer Char took the brunt of the damage, being struck by eighteen missiles and suffering light internal damage to her stern weapons batteries though her engines remained intact. Crushing Blow also suffered light armor scoring from a stray missile hit, seemingly which had been intended for Char but lost its own target in the chaos of the Legion fleet maneuver. Unfazed by all this commotion, Dissolution managed to draw a clear line of fire to the surviving Belaire Osa, easily destroying it despite the increasing range. As long as the Legion fleet could settle into a suitable formation for point defense fire, at this point there was nothing the Belaire battle fleet could do to save themselves from certain doom - unless they suddenly discovered the classic battle tactic of surrendering.



Battlefield situation and fleet dispositions at 20 seconds past 0801. Despite the quite clear orders regarding fleet headings and recombination, helmsmanship at this point in time continued to be a notable weakness for the Legion Navy, and the fleet headings plotted to meet the order requirements proved rather less than suitable.

With the immediate threat largely dealt with, a several seconds of maneuvering followed. While the destroyers had now been ordered to refrain from firing at the remaining Belaire ships, reserving their ammunition for point defense duties, the 102 mm batteries of Invincible and Imperator were under no such restrictions, and peppered the Belaire battlecruisers with opportunistic fire as the various fleet squadrons completed their maneuvers. Seeing this, the Belaire commanders finally made an intelligent, if futile, tactical decision, effecting a near-180 degrees course change away from the Legion fleet as they formed up. However, this was insufficient to carry the Belaire away from the close range preferred by the Legion, as the Defiants came about and opened fire on the Belaire Kirov-class battlecruisers, scoring penetrating hits on all four targets even as the Belaire fleet launched another wave of heavy missiles. The slow missiles were easily dispatched, with gunnery officers aboard the Legion destroyers reporting roughly one-in-four hit rates against the Belaire salvos. Meanwhile, Invincible tore into the trailing Kirov with her 152 mm railgun batteries, tearing it apart in a spectacular display as its engine rooms overloaded from the damage taken.



Battlefield status and fleet dispositions at 35 seconds past 0801, by which point the Belaire fleet was coming apart at the seams as a coherent formation. Images like this would lead the Legion high command to evaluate future protocols to demand enemy surrender, if only to secure intact enemy vessels as part of the spoils of victory.

Ten seconds later, the remaining three Kirovs were destroyed, nearly simultaneously, falling to pieces under withering fire from the Legion’s mighty 152 mm railgun batteries. Denouement claimed one of these kills, while both Captain Gaius Hadrian aboard Defenestrator and Captain Leto Styx aboard Domination claimed the first ship destructions of their respective careers. With the Belaire flagships reduced to mere wreckage, the Legion cruisers turned their guns against the remaining missile destroyers of the Belaire fleet - despite being categorized as three distinct ship classes, by this time Legion tactical officers had determined that these ships were almost identical save for the active sensor resolution mounted on each hull, an intriguing idea for Legion procurement officers searching for a less casualty-prone alternative to the troubled Bellerophon-class sensor frigates.

Remarkably, the Belaire officers had one more trick up their sleeves, perhaps indicating that the junior officers had somewhat more tactical acumen than their superiors who had perished aboard the Kirov battlecruisers. Splitting their fleet, the Belaire sent three Kievs and a Skory through the jump point to Kuiper 79, executing a squadron jump, while the remaining Kiev escorted by the remaining Skory and the Kresta turned hard to port in another evasive maneuver. This however was not enough to faze the seasoned Legion commanders, as Cruiser Squadron 5 containing the point defense-capable Invincibles and Judgment Day were detached to pursue the Belaire jump force while the rest of the Legion fleet pursued the remaining in-system Belaire vessels. This plan proved highly effective, with Dauntless immediately excoriating the Skory, while Devastator ran down the helpless Kresta as it fled from the triumphant Legion battle fleet. The remaining Kiev took two volleys of 152 mm fire before being brought down by Devourer, ending the battle in the Belaire system itself.



Positions of the Belaire and Legion fleet elements following the squadron jump into Kuiper 79 of Cruiser Squadron 5 at 0802 precisely. Not lost on Legion analysts was the distance from the jump point at which the Belaire squadron had emerged, some 250,000 km. This indicated that despite superior Legion technology in many areas, Belaire jump drive technology was quite far advanced compared to the Legion versions of the same basic devices.

Having spotted Cruiser Squadron 5 in pursuit, the fleeing Belaire squadron in Kuiper 79 fired a single salvo of six missiles, which were effortlessly swatted from space by the point defense batteries of Judgment Day. A short stern chase ensued as the Belaire ships appeared to be attempting to flee to the WISE-0350-5658 system, with Invincible firing the first shots at extreme range against the leading Kiev-class cruiser. As Cruiser Squadron 5 closed in on their helpless prey, continuing to effortlessly swat missile salvos without a second thought, the Belaire would-be escapees suffered salvo after salvo from the powerful Legion flagships. Imperator scored the first kill of this pursuit action, ripping apart the lead Kiev in a hail of 102 mm railgun blasts, while Invincible chose to follow up in style by pulverizing the second Kiev with her far more impressive 152 mm batteries. The flawless pursuit was briefly marred when over-eager gunners manning the 102 mm batteries neglected their point defense duties to line up shots against the Skory, causing Judgment Day to suffer a trio of missile hits on her armor, none of which penetrated to deal internal damage. Ten seconds later, the last remnant of the Belaire battle fleet came to an ignominious end, as Imperator again shredded the final Kiev with prodigious 102 mm battery fire, while Invincible delivered the final blow in style as her 152 mm railguns fired one last time to reduce the crippled Skory to atoms. At 0803 and 20 seconds, the last guns of the Legion fell silent.

In a scarce three minutes and twenty seconds, and while somehow fitting a stern chase through two systems into that time, the Duranium Legion Navy had decisively seized control of the Belaire jump point for the loss of only three frigates and four destroyers, a mere 62,500 tons in exchange for an entire Belaire battle fleet. The invasion of the Belaire system had started off more successfully than even Lord Admiral Absolus Criasus himself had dared to hope. Even so, the work of conquering an alien people had only just begun, and the Republic of Belaire still possessed numerous additional warships which would have to be defeated before the conquest was completed.



Full ship roster of Legion Navy warships which had survived the initial jump point assault into the Belaire system, less Cruiser Squadron 5. Captain Jocasta Gelanor, commander of Second Fleet, had by this point assumed nominal tactical command of the combined battle fleet, subordinate of course to Lord Captain Selene Styx who retained operational command of all Legion Duranium Navy forces in-theater.
 
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Offline nuclearslurpee (OP)

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The Duranium Legion - Chapter XVII: Seeking Opportunity
« Reply #44 on: April 12, 2021, 11:25:40 AM »
As word of the Legion Navy’s triumph against the Republic of Belaire reached the offices of the Legion high command, an ongoing debate which had been simmering for some time almost immediately boiled over into a furious row, with reports leaking to the Legion media outlets within hours that Lord High Admiral Jack Macaria in fact came to blows with Lord Grand Admiral Tethys Argyron. The subject to cause such contention amongst the usually reserved and sensible Lords Admiral, particularly at a moment which ought to have provoked an outburst of joyful celebration if anything, was the always-controversial topic of particle beams and the Hellfire-class frigates.

The origin of this spirited discussion, specifically, was the quite enigmatic service record of the class, still regarded by most of the Lords Admiral as an experimental weapon rather than a mainstay of the Legion Navy. On one hand, supporters of the class, with Lord Grand Admiral Argyron as their foremost advocate, correctly pointed out that the class had met its mission profile to the letter, successfully engaging Belaire beam cruisers in long-range gunnery duels - always at a tonnage disadvantage, these supporters were quick to point out - and clearly outperforming their opposing numbers in the process of destroying some 30,000 tons of Belaire cruiser tonnage without suffering any losses of their own. In the eyes of the pro-Hellfire faction, then, the only serious problem with the class was that there simply were not enough of them. Superior numbers, along with of course necessary minor refits to address the few slight weaknesses of the first-generation design, would carry the day against future Belaire opponents.

On the other hand, detractors led by Lord High Admiral Macaria criticized the Hellfire class, and indeed the entire concept of a particle beam-armed warship, as a criminally-expensive red herring and a supreme waste of resources - principally, resources which could be used to expand a perfectly capable railgun-armed Navy with tried and true designs. The chief accusation leveled at the Hellfire class was that of being a glass cannon, a cardinal sin in a Navy which strongly preferred its warships to be strong, solid duranium cannons upon which their foes would be broken. Leaving aside the problem of the thin armor which had cost Hellfire her engine in her first combat action, the particle beams themselves simply burned through ammunition far too quickly and broke down in battle conditions far too readily to satisfy the needs of the galaxy’s most powerful Navy, detractors claimed. For all this, however, the most strident complaint made by the anti-Hellfire faction was that the particle beams were simply not powerful enough, putting out only one-third of the damage output of an equivalent 152 mm railgun battery and even more damning one-quarter of the expected damage output the planned 203 mm heavy batteries would be capable of dealing. The final nail in the coffin for the Hellfire, in the minds of the detractors, had been the dominant performance of the all-railgun assault fleet at the Belaire jump point - a situation which the lightly-armored Hellfire class had been woefully unsuited for, to boot. Clearly, they said, the Hellfires were unnecessary for the Legion Navy of the future and this served only to waste valuable duranium and corundium on third-class vessels, at best.

Against these complaints, of course, the pro-Hellfire faction mounted a vigorous defense. Chiefly, two angles of counterattack were taken by these supporters: first, the entirely valid point was raised repeatedly that many of the issues for which the Hellfire class was so heavily criticized could be addressed with simple refits once the Legion’s science directorate could produce the needed solutions. Notably, improved fire control technology would not only provide the Hellfires with sufficient firing range and accuracy to completely obsolete the Belaire Sovremennys as a serious threat, but would free up enough space in the hull to install additional maintenance and engineering facilities which would keep the heavy guns firing for a longer engagement. The second counterargument, and by far the most controversial assertion made by Hellfire supporters, was that the solution to an apparent lack of firepower was quite simply to build bigger guns, and mount them on bigger ships. Specifically, particle beam advocates had submitted several sets of preliminary design plans for 15,000 and even 20,000-ton heavy beam cruisers intended to combine even heavier particle beam cannons - with some designs calling for “super” cannons displacing 800 void tons apiece - with armor even thicker than that of the Defiant and Invincible classes, intending to produce an invulnerable heavy sniper which would shred entire Belaire fleets with impunity. Needless to say, the faction which saw the existing particle beam frigate concept as a waste of resources did not take kindly to these proposals.

As is usual with such hotly-contested debates, the matter was at this time settled not by logic, reason, or even thoughtful discussion among equals, but by violence. Officially, Lord High Admiral Jack Macaria was reprimanded and lost significant political capital within the Legion high command for committing the purported cardinal sin of assaulting a superior officer. Unofficially - though not unreported by the less reputable Legion media outlets - the reprimanding and humiliation of Lord High Admiral Macaria was due to his commission of the true, and far graver, cardinal sin of being soundly defeated in the ensuing episode of fisticuffs by his superior, Lord Grand Admiral Tethys Argyron, who had not after all been promoted to Lord Grand Admiral on the basis of her charm and good looks.

In any case, in the moment this brief row dealt a significant blow to the anti-beam faction, though hardly a crippling one. Indeed, the virulence and violence of the escalating debate forced the pro-Hellfire Lord Grand Admiral to temper her own enthusiasm for the continuing particle beam project, which was already consuming an increasing share of the Legion Navy’s research and development budget in addition to its shipbuilding resources. Ultimately, while particle beams would remain a central component of the Legion Navy’s research efforts for the foreseeable future, the anti-beam officers would win an important concession as any plans for beam-armed cruisers would be shelved for several years yet - ensuring that the next evolution of the Legion’s heavy warships would be a railgun-armed flag vessel rather than an “experimental mutant child” to quote one particularly colorful Lord Captain.

Of course, while this debate was flaring up and then winding back down again, business carried on as usual in the Kuiper 79 and Belaire systems, for an ever-evolving definition of “usual”.

----

19 January 4009

While the Belaire jump point assault had been convincingly won, the Legion fleets were in no position to let their guard down. The original numbered fleets were ordered to form up again on the jump point, with Cruiser Squadron 5 returning once again to the Belaire system. The exception to this would be Frigate “Squadron” 2, now reduced to the jump frigate Executor and three piles of duranium dust, which would return to the Kuiper 79 base after collecting the survivors from the Kiev squadron which had been hunted down by Cruiser Squadron 5. Finally, Frigate Squadrons 3 and 4 along with the fleet auxiliaries would be ordered to transit into the Belaire system to support the battle-weary combat fleets. Beside giving out orders, Lord Admiral Criasus also saw fit to announce the awarding of the Belaire Campaign Ribbon to all officers and crews who had served under the Kuiper 79 headquarters for this operation, and further granted the newly-commissioned Belaire Assault Ribbon to Lord Captain Selene Styx and all who had served under her operational command during the battle.



The Belaire Assault Ribbon was perhaps most notable for being a color besides blue.

Intriguingly, survivors from the Belaire warships collected in the aftermath of the battle seemed unusually well-motivated by their recent defeat to share useful information with Legion intelligence officers. Perhaps most notably, a squad of ordnance technicians who had escaped the destruction of one of the Kirov-class battlecruisers proved unusually eager to divulge technical details of their magazine feed systems in exchange for promises of slightly larger cells with slightly thicker mattresses on internment at Kuiper 79. This new technology did indeed generate some small amount of idle discussion amongst the Legion flag officers regarding the potential merits of missile-armed combat vessels. Less immediately useful, though of strategic interest, was the turning over of Belaire star charts which once deciphered provided complete jump survey data on the DEN 0817-6155 system previously discovered by Adamant.

With the survivors of the battle recovered and sent to Kuiper 79 for processing, the Legion Navy turned its attention to the siege of the Belaire system. Frigate Squadron 3, now in-system to provide long-range monitoring capability, would be split up to carry out several missions. Bad Omen would be sent out alone, trusting on her speed to outrun any Belaire patrols she might encounter, to scout the outlying eighth planet in the system as well as the distant jump point to Giclas 9-38 for any Belaire presence. Meanwhile, Broken Wind was seconded to Fourth Fleet, which would also exchange Destroyer Squadron 7 with First Fleet in exchange for Cruiser Squadron 3, as the destroyers were crucially needed to strengthen the jump point defense against Belaire missile attack in light of recent losses. The reconstituted Fourth Fleet would use the sensors of Broken Wind to scout out the four gas giants in the system as well as the sole comet, and raid any Belaire sorium harvesting or mining operations they might come across. Finally, Brutal Legend would remain at the jump point to provide necessary sensor coverage for the main fleets.

Beginning at 1106 on 21 January, while en-route to Belaire VIII, Bad Omen began detecting intermittent active sensor pulses from multiple Belaire vessels. As these were well outside of her own active sensor range, Commander Hera Thrace ordered her crew to maintain their course unless the Belaire were detected crossing the 83 million km active sensor range of Bad Omen.



Positions of the Legion reconnaissance forces as well as intermittent Belaire active sensor contacts, recorded at 1221 on 21 January.

In fact, the Belaire ships appeared to be in the area as a pure coincidence, on a direct course for the Giclas 9-38 jump point. In any case, Bad Omen crossed the course of the Belaire vessels well in advance of them and proceeded toward Belaire VIII unhindered.

Far more threatening was the detection of active sensor emissions and thermal radiation from a group of four Kirov-class battlecruisers approaching Fourth Fleet at 1725 on 24 January. While a credible threat, even discounting any additional ships not yet detected, Captan Phoebe Anaxagoras in command of Fourth Fleet judged that her trajectory was sufficient to remain outside of the Belaire fleet’s weapons range, at least until Fourth Fleet arrived within 20 million km of Belaire IV. Having successfully reached this objective at 2037, Captain Anaxagoras then gave the order to continue on towards Belaire V, a trajectory which would initially send off the cruiser fleet at a right angle to the present Belaire trajectory with a distance of only 93 million km between the two fleets. While the Legion cruisers could certainly outrun the Belaire ships even along this trajectory, the real gamble Captain Anaxagoras was taking was that the Belaire missile range would not be sufficient to threaten Fourth Fleet before they could re-open the range.



Position of Kirov-class battlecruiser formation detected on an intercept course for Fourth Fleet at 1725 on 24 January. Already a significant threat to the cruiser fleet by themselves, though likely survivable, the presence of Belaire capital ships assuredly implied the presence of the numerous cruisers and escorts typically observed accompanying the battlecruisers. Belaire V, the next destination of Fourth Fleet, is visible at bottom-right.

One hour and nine minutes later, the Belaire fleet crossed into active sensor range of Broken Wind, revealing the complete composition, specifically the four Kirovs were escorted by nine cruisers (3x Kiev, 3x Slava, 3x Sovremenny) and five destroyers (4x Osa, 1x Skory), this of course being a fairly standard Belaire battle fleet albeit short by a few ships from the fleet engaged at the jump point five days previously. By 0230 on 25 January, Fourth Fleet had successfully crossed the course of the Belaire battle fleet, which had failed to approach any nearer than 67 million km and in fact had underperformed the expectations of Captain Anaxagoras, whose tactical officer had given a worst-case projection of 55 million km for the distance of closest approach. By 1742 the Belaire fleet had fallen off of the Legion scanners entirely.



Relative positions of Fourth Fleet, en route to Belaire V, and the Belaire battle fleet sent to intercept, as of 0230 on 25 January by which point Fourth Fleet had completely evaded the Belaire pursuit.

By 0248 on 28 January, Fourth Fleet had arrived at Belaire VII, the fourth and final gas giant in the system, having located no Belaire fuel harvester operations around any of the four planets. As the fleet still had plenty of fuel to use for evasive actions, Lord Captain Styx transmitted a revised order to the fleet posting them to Belaire V, from which fighter-based reconnaissance missions could be launched. On arrival at Belaire V, however, Fourth Fleet once again picked up the sensor signatures of the Belaire battle fleet, which had managed to sneak up on them and close to 55 million km. Regrettably, Fourth Fleet was forced to abandon their new mission and plot a roundabout course back to the entry jump point.

Meanwhile, Bad Omen reached the Giclas 9-38 jump point on 29 January, detecting no Belaire vessels in the vicinity. As she was hardly needed elsewhere, Bad Omen was ordered to take up watch duties some 40 million km from the jump point, positioned obliquely to the trajectory from the jump point to the inner Belaire system.

Given the sticky situation facing Fourth Fleet, weighed against the strong desire to gain intelligence on the Belaire home system and encouraged by the fact that the Belaire defense fleet was apparently a fair distance from their home base, one each of the R-56 and AR-56 Osprey fighters were dispatched from Second Fleet to attempt a stealth approach to Belaire Prime.



Legion and Belaire fleet dispositions within the Belaire planetary system on 30 January 4009. Recon Flight Prime, consisting of one each R-56 and AR-56 Osprey, were designated to make a stealth approach to Belaire Prime while Fourth Fleet occupied the attention of the Belaire defense fleet.

At 1923 the same day, Bad Omen reported the approach of a Kiev and a Slava towards the Giclas 9-38 jump point. These made no aggressive moves toward the frigate, which therefore remained at her present position. At 0205 on the following day, Bad Omen also reported reacquiring the Udaloy-class destroyer detected several days prior traveling along the same heading - along with its twin, which had not been detected previously. The pair of Belaire cruisers reached the jump point and transited it at 0226, while the slower Udaloys would take until 2130 on 31 January to do the same.

At 1928 on 31 January, Recon Flight Prime arrived at a holding position 30 million km from Belaire Prime, at which time Osprey 8 activated her active scanners. As hoped for, no ships of any kind were detected by active scans, only four each of the Grisha and Gordi defense platforms as well as shipyard complexes estimated at a total of 1.5 million tons capacity. Encouraged by this, the Recon Flight inched closer to the planet, carefully monitoring their sensor displays for any evidence of active sensors aboard the defense platforms which might target the fighters. Only once 7.3 million km distant did the R-56 report RF emissions from the platforms, indicating that they mounted the lowest-resolution sensors used by the Belaire and were most likely armed with short-range weapons rather than long-range anti-ship missiles. Recalling previous experience against the Mongolican light missiles, which were judged to be generally superior to those of the Belaire, the Recon Flight was granted permission to approach as near as 2 million km, but no closer. Even at this distance, no ground force signatures could be detected, although the Legion was certain that the Belaire would not have left their home world undefended against an invasion. Nevertheless, Legion analysts predicted that the largest ground army which could be safely deployed on the planet surface without being detected would be roughly 125,000 soldiers - a considerable force, which would in fact outnumber the entire Legion Ground Forces by more than 25%.

With their mission complete, and while less revealing than hoped for nevertheless a success, Recon Flight Prime set a return course for the entry jump point, not willing to wait around to be ambushed by the deadly Belaire Kirovs. By the morning of 3 February, the recon fighters as well as Fourth Fleet were re-assembled at the jump point with Fourth Fleet re-formed to its original composition. Fourth Fleet, however, had observed active sensor signatures from the Kirovs while returning to the jump point, suggesting that the Belaire were still set on attempting to intercept and engage the Legion vessels. However any such threat failed to materialize, and as such Cruiser Squadron 5 was shifted into reserve along with the jump destroyer Flayer on 9 February for the purpose of providing crew leave time at Bastion 1.

At this time, the thoughts of Lord Admiral Criasus and his command staff at Kuiper 79 turned towards continuing the offensive while the Legion still held the advantage. As he could stand fairly well assured that no additional Belaire vessels lay in wait beyond one battle fleet, a reinforced version of which could not even hold a jump point against the might of the Legion, the Lord Admiral was determined to seize control of the system while the opportunity was ripe.

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Shipbuilding

2x Andromeda class Stabilisation Ship
1x Achelous Mk II class Terraforming Platform
1x Obsidian Mk II class Orbital Mining Platform

 
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