Author Topic: Precursor Campaign Part 1  (Read 1148 times)

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Offline Steve Walmsley

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Precursor Campaign Part 1
« on: March 06, 2007, 12:15:00 PM »
This is a fairly short first part but it should be enough to show the style of report for this campaign, which is different to any of the previous test campaigns. To avoid confusion, I'll list the Reich naval rank equivalents. I know these are actually SS ranks rather than Kreigsmarine but the Reich brought all their military into one structure after WW2 and used the SS ranks for all services.

Obergruppenfuhrer - Admiral
Gruppenfuhrer - Vice Admiral
Bridagefuhrer - Rear Admiral (US Rear Admiral Upper Half)
Oberfuhrer - Commodore (US Rear Admiral Lower Half)
Standartenfuhrer - Captain
Obersturmbahnfuhrer - Commander
Sturmbahnfuhrer - Lieutenant Commander
Hauptsturmfuhrer - Lieutenant
Obersturmf?hrer - Sub-Lieutenant (US Lieutenant Junior Grade)
Untersturmf?hrer - Midshipman (US Ensign)

Precursor Campaign - Part One

Obersturmbahnf?hrer Werner Schmidt was not a happy man. While his two best friends from the Academy class of 2015 were in Mars orbit with their gleaming new Raeder class destroyers, he was in command of the Blucher class survey ship Stettin on a seemingly endless geological survey mission in the asteroid belt. As his ship?s sensors probed one useless chunk of rock after another, he contemplated how mind-numbingly boring his life had become since the unfortunate incident in Bavaria. It was hardly his fault that while under the effects of several steins of excellent beer, that his eye was drawn to the attractive fraulein Heidi Gottfried. He was honest enough to admit however that without the beer he may have realised that she looked a little too familiar. It was not until the following morning, when a crashing noise woke him early from his contented slumbers and he awoke to find Heidi still asleep beside him and Gruppenf?hrer Volker Gottfried, minister of production for the Greater German Reich, standing at the foot of the bed and shouting incoherently, he realised the full extent of his mistake. Although sleeping with the Minister of Production?s teenage daughter was not technically against regulations, it definitely wasn?t a career enhancing move. When Gruppenf?hrer Gottfried finally stormed out of the room, any chance of commanding a destroyer went with him.

?Our shadow is back, sir?
Schmidt?s despondent daydream was cut short by his first officer, Sturmbahnf?hrer Heinrich Heinkel, an efficient yet unimaginative subordinate who?s parents obviously had a fondness for alliteration. Glancing at his sensor display, Schmidt could see the Commonwealth survey ship Iwo Jima closing on the same asteroid his own ship was currently investigating. Although not officially a hostile power, the Commonwealth was the only reason the Reich did not completely dominate the Sol system and a state of cold war had existed between the two superpowers for over seventy years. The other Earth powers were of no consequence, lacking even the capability to build spacecraft, and served mainly as the battleground for espionage and minor proxy wars. As the Reich and the Commonwealth had only recently completed work on several geological survey ships, both nations were now involved in a thorough examination of every planet, moon and asteroid in the system, searching for deposits of the trans-Newtonian elements that were the foundation of their economies. Earth had deposits of all eleven mineral types but several were within a few short years of exhaustion and others were becoming increasingly difficult to extract. Schmidt?s recent briefing on the subject was still fresh in his mind. The Reich had the advantage over the Commonwealth in both mining technology and the number of mining complexes, resulting a seventy percent greater yield from mining production. Even if Earth?s resources did run out, the Reich would have a larger reserve than the Commonwealth. However, the Commonwealth did have a greater capacity to manufacture new mines, which would allow them to close the gap a little if they decided to concentrate their industry in that area.

In the meantime, the race was on to find new mineral deposits. There was nothing Schmidt could do to prevent Iwo Jima from carrying out her own survey as his ship was unarmed and, as far as Intelligence was aware, so was its Commonwealth counterpart. Besides, in the depths of space it was comforting to know you weren?t completely alone, even if the source of the comfort was a rival ship. Schmidt knew Stettin?s three sister ships, Blucher, Weisbaden and Magdeburg, were also hard at work in different parts of the Sol system, as were Iwo Jima?s two sisters, Midway and Tarawa and the Commonwealth geological survey cruiser Arizona, a larger version of the Midway class that probably included a jump drive, although until the still-theoretical jump points could be located, that remained an educated guess. If the jump points became reality, the Reich?s survey ships would be escorted into newly discovered systems by one of the well-armed Deutschland class jump cruisers.

?Minerals detected, sir?, reported Hauptsturmf?hrer Landmann, the sensor officer. ?It appears to be substantial deposit of Duranium, well over a hundred thousand tons, together with fifty thousand tons of Neutronium and a few thousand tons each of Tritanium, Sorium and Gallicite. All the minerals are accessibility 1.0 or 0.9.? Even though the asteroid was almost six hundred kilometers in diameter, that was still a far larger mineral concentration than Schmidt had ever expected to discover in an asteroid. His first thought was that perhaps this would be sufficient to remove the unofficial black mark from his record, followed closely by the realization that this could be of great value to the Fatherland.

He turned to the communications officer. ?Send a message to Oberkomamndo der Marine on Earth with details of the asteroid and warn them that a Commonwealth survey ship will have the same information?. Schmidt knew that neither Duranium nor Neutronium was in short supply so the naval high command would probably take no immediate action but in the longer term the asteroid would assume considerable importance if no other accessible source of Duranium was found. For the moment, he could only grit his teeth and carry on with his mission, hoping that Gruppenf?hrer Gottfried was more impressed by potential future mineral production than his daughter?s choice of one night stands. Sturmbahnf?hrer Heinkel raised an inquiring eyebrow and Schmidt confirmed they were done with the asteroid. ?Take us to the next rock, Heinrich?

Almost two billion kilometers away, Commander Oliver Rubin was in a similar mood to Schmidt, although outwardly he maintained his usual cheerful demeanour. His recent promotion to command the Fifth Fighter Squadron, the Proud Tigers, was the culmination of years of hard work, so why did the powers that be decide to post his squadron to Titan, where all you could see out of the nearest reinforced glasteel window was a miserable, frozen desert. Admittedly the sight of Saturn and its rings dominating half the sky was impressive but even that grew commonplace after a while. Given the Reich?s superiority in ground launched missiles, Rubin could understand why the Commonwealth would want its main fleet base away from Earth. As the Reich had already grabbed Mars and Titan was the only body in the outer system that had sufficient gravity to support a long-term human population, it was the logical choice. That still didn?t change the fact it was the last place in the Sol system anyone wanted to be posted.

Orbiting above a hundred kilometers above Rubin?s head were the carriers, battlecruisers and destroyers of the Carrier Battle Group and the First Space Action Group plus four more fighter squadrons split between the two carriers, Ark Royal and Vengeance. Each carrier could hold actually three fighter squadrons, each comprising 16 F-1 Starfighters, but the fighter factories back on Earth had still not produced enough fighters to equip the carriers and the bases on Earth and Titan. Rubin would have given his right arm to be posted aboard one of the carriers. If the scuttlebutt about jump points was right, the carriers would be able to move out into the wider universe, keeping the Commonwealth safe and fighting the Reich, or maybe even hostile aliens if the science fiction fantasy writers proved correct. Perhaps as more fighter squadrons become available, the Proud Tigers would get one of the available berths on the carriers. He lived in hope.

Responding to a summons from the base commander, Rubin arrived in her office to find her standing beside the floor to ceiling window, gazing up at Saturn. According to the grapevine, Captain Melody Sherbourne actually requested this posting because she wanted to be out on the frontier of exploration. With jump cruisers ready and waiting for the first jump point to be found, that frontier would soon be moving a lot further from Earth than Titan and Rubin felt some sympathy for his commanding officer. By the faraway look on her face, her thoughts mirrored his own. He cleared his throat and the slim, elegant brunette visibly brought herself back to her present surroundings
?Sorry commander, I was miles away?
?No problem, sir, what can I do for you?
?The Tarawa recently completed a survey of Iapetus and has found some substantial mineral deposits, including Duranium, Tritanium, Vendarite, Sorium and Uridium. As you know, Earth?s deposits of Tritanium, Vendarite and Uridium are all difficult to mine while Duranium and Sorium are always useful. In fact the Sorium deposit on Iapetus is over a hundred thousand tons, almost twice as large as the remaining deposit on Earth and easier to access. ?
?That?s very good news, sir?, replied Rubin, wondering what on Earth, what on Titan perhaps, the discovery had to do with him. Like Titan, Iapetus was a moon of Saturn and a neighbour in astronomical terms, but his field was fighter operations, not geology or astronomy.
?Naval Operations on Earth has decided we should start transporting automated mines out to Iapetus immediately  before the Reich?s survey ships make the same discovery as Tarawa. There is also a possibility the Commonwealth may declare the Saturn system to be a military preserve and off-limits to Reich shipping.
?The Reich won?t be happy about that at all?. Rubin?s private view was that was a serious understatement. The Reich would scream blue murder.
?Well, we leave Mars alone to avoid any unfortunate misunderstandings, even if the Reich has never formally warned us away.?
?With respect, sir, that?s more because there is nothing on Mars we want anyway. If this turns out to be the only major Sorium deposit in the system, except for Earth, the Reich will want their fair share, probably more than their fair share with their advantages in mining production?
?Well, we are already here and although Iapetus isn?t within the range of our missile batteries here on Titan, they will provide cover for our carriers if the Reich decides to make a fight of it. We will probably move some more fighter squadrons out here when they become available or even transfer the two squadrons on Earth. Lets face it, if a major war breaks out on Earth it will be an all-out missile exchange using the ground-based silos and the fighter squadrons will make little difference. The Reich will do more damage, given their more advanced missiles, but our own missiles should be enough to wreck their economy before the carriers return to Earth and finish the job. Neither side wants that so if a war does break out, it will almost certainly be limited to deep space and the fighters will be more useful out here.
?You?re probably right sir?. That seemed the correct thing to say. Rubin was a history buff though and knew wars seldom went the way everyone believed they would. Personally, he thought if the Reich wanted a share of the riches on Iapetus, why not let them have it. It was likely to be a big universe out there with enough resources for everyone. He hoped that if Saturn was declared off-limits to the Reich, someone on the other side would have the sense not to start a war over a moon that may not even be of any long-term value.
?Just in case, I want your squadron ready for action if the balloon goes up?
?We?ll be ready sir.?
As Rubin walked back to the fighter base, he found himself thinking that maybe boredom wasn?t such a bad thing.

Obergruppenfuhrer Katharina Schopenhauer, senior admiral of the Reich Space Fleet and commander of the missile cruiser Scharnhost, impressed her subordinates by the sheer variety of insults she used to curse the Commonwealth Navy. Once her initial tirade had subsided, her chief of staff, Joachim Wittmann, cautiously approached.
?Bad news, obergruppenfuhrer?
?Those idiots in the Commonwealth have declared Saturn and its moons to be a Commonwealth military preserve and informed us that any Reich ships moving within twenty million kilometers of Saturn will be considered hostile and fired upon.?
?What??, Wittmann was too startled to add a Sir to his exclamation, ?Are they deliberately trying to star a war??
?No, I don?t think even the Commonwealth is that stupid. They are still paranoid because of our mining advantages and are trying to grab Iapetus?s resources to offset the fact we will end up with the greater share of Earth?s minerals. Our geological survey ships checked out Saturn?s moons before the Commonwealth issued its declaration, although we obviously stayed clear of Titan, and found Iapetus had deposits of several useful minerals. Certainly not enough to fight over until we know what other minerals resources can be found in the system?
Her communications officer interrupted the conversation. ?I think you?ll want to see this Obergruppenfuhrer?, he said as handed her a decoded message from the Weisbaden.
?Ha! So much for the Commonwealth and their undignified mineral grab. We have found a far more impressive mineral deposit on Titania, one of the moons of Uranus. A million tons of accessibility 1.0 Duranium, one hundred and sixty thousand tons of 0.9 Sorium, over two hundred thousand tons each of Uridium and Gallicite and smaller quantities of three other minerals. Sturmbahnf?hrer, send a message to the Reichsfuhrer, asking his permission to declare our own exclusion zone around Uranus. The Commonwealth can hardly complain about it.?
The communication officer returned to his console to send the message and Schopenhauer turned her attention back to Wittmann. ?We had better stake our claim quickly before the Commonwealth realises how badly it has outsmarted itself. Send the Gneisenau and a couple of escorts to Titania and get some freighters moving with automated mines.?
?Yes, Herr Obergruppenfuhrer?

Rear Admiral Armando Rodriguez commanded the four ships of the Commonwealth Gravitational Survey Squadron from the Agincourt, lead ship of its class. For the last hundred days his squadron had been taking gravitational sensor readings from different locations spread across the Sol system and their task was almost complete. The last set of sensor data would be available from the survey cruiser Agamemnon within forty-eight hours and the position of the jump points would finally be known. Rodriguez?s ship had already finished its own readings and was heading sunward to rendezvous with the rest of the squadron, currently spread out around the periphery of the system. Rodriguez was desperate to find the elusive jump points before his counterparts in the Reich. The recent exclusion zones declared around Saturn and Uranus had worked in the favour of the Reich and made the Commonwealth leadership look both aggressive and stupid, which had not helped morale within the Commonwealth Navy. A Commonwealth ship being first visit another star system would change things considerably.
?Sir, a priority message from Naval Operations. The Reich jump cruiser Graf Spee and a destroyer have suddenly broken Earth orbit and are headed out of the inner system. As far as they know, there is nothing on that heading so they suspect the Reich has identified the jump point locations. Two other ships are also leaving Mars orbit in the opposite direction. Given the size of the sensor contacts they are almost certainly a Bismarck class battlecruiser and a destroyer.? The communications officer, Lieutenant Hansen, looked as depressed as Rodriguez felt. Once again the Reich was going to outshine the Commonwealth.
?Is Naval Operations planning to shadow the Reich ships??
Hansen turned back to his console for a few moments. ?No, sir. As we have almost finished our own survey they are going to wait.?
?Probably because we don?t want to look like we are having to follow the Reich. Any news from Agamemnon??
?Last check-in was an hour ago, Sir, and their estimate was still two days.?
With nothing to do but wait, Rodriguez retired to his quarters as his ship sped toward the sun at 4000 km/s.

Two days later, as tension on the ship ratcheted ever upwards, the data from Agamemnon finally arrived and the locations of four jump points popped into view on the holographic system display at the heart of the bridge. The first was two billion kilometers from the sun on a bearing of 116 and was obviously the destination of the Graf Spee and her escort. The other three were grouped around Agincourt?s current location with bearings of 264, 278 and 302 and distance of five, six and three billion kilometers respectively. Frustratingly, even though Agincourt was ideally placed within two billion kilometers of three jump points, she did not possess her own jump engine and Agamemnon, the only jump-capable ship in the squadron, was on the far side of the system, ten billion kilometers away.
?Lieutenant Hansen, instruct Agamemnon to transit the jump point on a bearing of 116 and tell Waterloo and Trafalgar to rendezvous with us at the 302 jump point.? The other two Agincourt class survey ships were relatively close in astronomical terms but Agamemnon was so far away that it made sense for her to investigate the only jump point on her side of the system. ?And send a request to Naval Operations for a jump ship to meet us at the rendezvous or we will fall even further behind the Reich.?
A few minutes later the response from Naval Operations arrived. The Tribal Chief class destroyer Crazy Horse was on its way from Earth and Cetawayo, a second ship of the same type, was heading to the 116 jump point from Titan and would arrive ahead of the Agamemnon. Rodriguez was happy that Naval Operations was on the ball but somewhat aggrieved that after over three months of hard work, a ship from his squadron would not gain the honour of being the first Commonwealth vessel to transit a jump point.

Before either Commonwealth destroyer could reach its destination, the Reich Information Ministry announced that the Reich cruiser Admiral Graf Spee had transited the jump point nearest to Earth and returned safely. Rodriguez listened to the expected announcement in the privacy of his quarters, not entirely sure he could hide his anger and disappointment from the crew. Considering the magnitude of their achievement, the Reich was keeping its gloating to a minimum, possibly because the system they had discovered was less dramatic than they had hoped. New Berlin was planetless and the system primary was a pathetic brown dwarf, barely larger than Jupiter. Rodriguez was fairly sure the Reich had the name planned ahead of time or they would have decided on something a little less grandiose for such an unimpressive star system. He knew the Commonwealth would probably adopt the German name rather than creating one of their own for the system and looked forward to the day when the Reich would be adopting the names of systems discovered by the Commonwealth. Naval Operations believed the Reich?s Seydlitz class gravitational survey ships would be moving into New Berlin to search for jump points, although with such a small star it was possible the system was a dead-end. Commonwealth scientists theorised the mass of the primary had a considerable impact on the number of jump points, their distance from the star and the area that would need to be covered by any gravitational survey. Systems with low mass primaries could be surveyed relatively quickly whereas high mass stars would require a much greater effort than the recently completed survey of the Sol system. Assuming Naval Operations was in agreement, Rodriguez planned to take his own squadron through the jump point at which it would rendezvous and begin a survey to find new jump points known only to the Commonwealth.

On April 18th 2020, the Commonwealth destroyer Cetawayo transited the jump point to New Berlin, becoming the first Commonwealth ship to leave the Sol system. After confirming the report of the Reich Information Ministry, the destroyer jumped back into the Sol system and headed for Titan. The survey cruiser Agamemnon was still further from the Sun than the 116 jump point but her course was now toward the 302 jump point where Agincourt and Trafalgar were already waiting. Waterloo and Crazy Horse were also en route to the rendezvous.

With Crazy Horse still thirty hours from the jump point, the Reich battlecruiser Bismarck and an escorting Bayern class destroyer glided to a halt beside Agincourt and Trafalgar. Standartenfuhrer Gerhard Hoffman, commander of the Bismarck, hailed the Agincourt in perfect English and passed on the good wishes of the Reich to Rear Admiral Rodriguez. Despite wanting to punch the smiling German captain in the face, Rodriguez managed to remain calm, if a little red faced, and wished Hoffman good luck with his jump into the unknown. Hoffman broke the connection and turned to his first officer, Obersturmbahnf?hrer Stauber.
?I thought that Commonwealth admiral was about to explode.? He said, barely able to hold back his laughter.
?I think you might have been a little less charitable in his place, sir?, replied Stauber, ?They made it to this jump point first and then they have to stand by and watch us transit because they lack jump engines.?
?Don?t waste your concern on the Commonwealth Obersturmbahnf?hrer. What is the point of winning if you don?t get a gloat a little at your enemy?s expense.?
?I am sure I don?t need to remind you sir that they are not officially our enemies and haven?t been for seventy years?
?Officially perhaps not, but one day the Reich will dominate the galaxy and only the Commonwealth stands in our way. That makes them enemies in all but name. For now I will settle for laughing instead of shooting but the day will come when I am sending them a salvo of anti-ship missiles rather than false good wishes?
Stauber was well aware of Hoffman?s views and was privately concerned that his commanding officer might one day get the Reich into a war with the Commonwealth that both sides would lose. Unfortunately, there were many officers on the Commonwealth side that would no doubt be happy to accommodate him. However, for all his hatred of the Commonwealth, he knew Hoffman was a very good commander and looked after his crew so he took the rough with the smooth.
?All departments report ready to transit, sir? reported Stauber.
?Excellent! Take us in!
The Bismarck vanished from normal space and, after an instant of severe nausea for her crew, reappeared a billion kilometers from a dim M5-V red dwarf star. The system comprised ten planets, three of which were gas giants, and a couple of sparse asteroid belts. The two closest planets to the star were similar to Venus with dense, high pressure atmospheres while the other non-gas giants were barren, airless chunks of rock. As per the standing orders from Earth, the system was officially named Hamburg.
?Not quite as bad as New Berlin?, said Hoffman, ?but still nothing to get excited about. Take us back into Sol, send a report to Oberkomamndo der Marine and get us on course for the next jump point. That Commonwealth destroyer is coming up fast behind us and I want to be first through the remaining two jump points. I hope we will find something a little more interesting?
?Shall we report our findings to the Commonwealth survey ships too? ?, asked Stauber, ?they will find out soon enough anyway and if we are going to fight them one day, why not lull them into a false sense of security.? In the meantime, thought Stauber, it will reduce tensions a little and make it harder for the Hoffmans on both sides to start a war.
?Very well Obersturmbahnf?hrer, as long as there is no delay?

Rear Admiral Rodriguez watched the departing Reich warships with something approaching hatred in his heart. Although the Crazy Horse would soon arrive, her captain had orders from Earth to escort Agincourt and Trafalgar into Hamburg and then await the arrival of Waterloo before heading for a new jump point. While he supposed it made sense from a practical point of view, as the third Agincourt class ship was only four days away and Agamemnon wouldn?t arrive for eighteen days, he couldn?t stand the thought of the Reich exploring all four of Sol?s jump points first. Orders were orders though so he sat and fumed as the Bismarck sped away.

Standartenfuhrer Hoffman?s wish for something more interesting came true several days later. The third jump point from the sun led to a system with a G3-V primary, similar to Sol, and ten planets, the second of which had an oxygen-nitrogen atmosphere. However, that was were the good news ended. Hannover-II was a huge, rocky world more than twice the diameter of the Earth with a gravity of 2.34G, far too high for human habitation. If that wasn?t enough, the atmospheric pressure was six times higher than Earth, the surface temperature was 145C and the oceans had boiled away, creating a steaming cauldron of a world. Hoffman made a mental note to hope for something habitable in the future, rather than interesting. Bismarck returned to Sol and headed for the last jump point with the destroyer Baden in close attendance.

Once she had escorted all three Agincourt class survey ships into Hamburg, where they began a gravitational survey, the destroyer Crazy Horse headed for the outermost jump point at her maximum speed of 4375 km/s. Captain Francis Sabatino often wondered why his ship was classed as a Destroyer Leader when it wasn?t even armed. The intended role of the Tribal Chief class was to provide a jump capable escort for the Tribal class destroyers. To make it difficult for an enemy to pick his ship out from a squadron of regular Tribals, the Crazy Horse was the same size and speed as a Tribal and even had the same shields. However, the Tribal Chief replaced the four Vickers Dual-use 12cm Lasers of the Tribal, and their accompanying fire control and reactor systems, with a Rolls-Royce R100 Jump Drive and improved sensors. Sabatino could see that those capabilities made his ship useful for a lot of missions outside those anticipated by its designers and he expected Crazy Horse to spend a lot more time on solo operations than in a Tribal squadron. While command of a Tribal carried a little more prestige, he was more than happy in his current position and believed he would see a lot more of the universe than his colleagues currently orbiting Earth or Titan.

After spending four days commiserating with Rear Admiral Rodriguez, Sabatino had been glad to get underway. Because they had chosen to head for the jump point furthest from the Sun, known as the 278 jump point because of its bearing, instead of following the Bismarck to the 264 jump point, which was slightly closer, he was hopeful they could get there first and finally achieve a first for the Commonwealth. The Reich battlecruiser would no doubt be heading for the 278 jump point as well after completing its current mission but given what Intelligence knew about the performance of the Bismarck, his navigator was confident they were going to win the race. Even so, when Crazy Horse finally reached the coordinates without any sign of Standartenfuhrer Hoffman and his ship, Sabatino suspected they might find the gloating German awaiting them on the far side. His fears proved groundless and on May 4th 2020, the Commonwealth entered a jump point ahead of the Reich for the first time.

On the orders of the President of the Commonwealth, the new system was named Washington. The rumour was that President Jefferson had won a coin toss with King George VIII and if the result had gone the other way, the new system would be called London instead. That honour would now be reserved for the second system to be found by the Commonwealth. Washington was a trinary system with a pair of yellow-white F8-V stars four billion kilometers apart and a yellow G2-V orbiting the second F-class star. Although all three stars had planetary systems, there were no system bodies of any particular significance.

Crazy Horse returned to Sol and Captain Sabatino decided to hold position for a little while to see if the Bismarck turned up. Eighteen hours later, the Reich warship and its escort appeared on the destroyer?s sensors. A very cheerful Sabatino hailed the battlecruiser himself and passed on the good wishes of the Commonwealth to Standartenfuhrer Hoffman as well as the astrographic information for the Washington system. After sending a suitable picture of the Standartenfuhrer?s expression to Rear Admiral Rodriguez, Sabatino ordered his own ship on to a reciprocal course to that of the Bismarck, so they could check out the 264 jump point. As they passed the battlecruiser at less than twenty kilometers, Crazy Horse flashed her running lights in the space-going equivalent of a cheeky wave.

Standartenfuhrer Manfred Menninger, captain of the Deutschland class jump cruiser Graf Spee and commander of the Reich?s Schwerkraftflotte, or Gravitational Survey Fleet as it would be known to the Commonwealth, was a hero of the Reich. As the commander of the first ship to transit a jump point, his name would go down in history with Walter Reinhardt, first man on the moon, and Natascha Schiller, commander of the first Mars mission. While aware of the historical legacy he would leave, Menninger was a studious and careful man who cared far more about ensuring his current mission was successful than how many schoolchildren would be reading about him in their history books. His own ship did not possess gravitational survey sensors but it was equipped with the jump drive that would take his four Seydlitz class survey ships where they needed to go and the weapons that would protect them if they ran into trouble. He treated the fragile vessels like his children and the officers and men of the Schwerkraftflotte affectionately referred to him as Father Manfred.

The Schwerkraftflotte had completed its survey of the Berlin system and found two jump points in addition to the one back to the Sol system. Standartenfuhrer Menninger gathered his flock at the first jump point then took the Graf Spee on its second leap into the unknown. He discovered a G9-V primary with two terrestrial-size planets and a couple of  asteroid belts, After naming the system Koln, which coincidentally was his home town, he ordered his fleet to begin a new survey while he took the Graf Spee to investigate New Berlin?s other jump point. A week later the jump cruiser transited into D?sseldorf, a binary with a G-class primary, a brown dwarf companion and a collection of unremarkable rocks. While he would never let his disappointment show, Standartenfuhrer Menninger was quietly dismayed that not one of the six systems visited by the Reich showed any sign of a habitable world, or even a world that could perhaps be terraformed. If there was such a world out there though, he was determined his Schwerkraftflotte would find it.

If a film director ever needed a stereotypical absent-minded academic, Professor Bernard Conway would have been perfect, at least in his appearance. Grey bearded and bespectacled, he had a tendency to stop talking midway through a sentence when a new idea popped into his head and distracted him. His considerable brainpower would focus entirely on his latest thoughts for a few seconds until he realised that he was still in a conversation. Despite the occasionally bumbling exterior, he had a razor sharp mind and extensive administrative skills, making him the ideal candidate to head up the Commonwealth Research Institute, or CRI as it was more commonly known. CRI organised the research efforts of the entire Commonwealth in an effort to keep pace with the fast moving and highly efficient Reich Research and Development Ministry (RRDM). The focus of the CRI in the early summer of 2020 was in closing the gap in Mining Production technology. Until a few days previously, the Reich had a 33% production advantage on a per complex basis, extracting and refining 16 tons of an accessibility 1.0 mineral every year compared to the 12 tons per annum produced by an equivalent Commonwealth mining complex. However, the CRI had been overseeing the creation of new extraction technology over the past few months and it was finally ready for deployment. Conway was certain this would increase the Commonwealth mining output to 14 tons per year per complex and scientists across the Commonwealth were now engaged in an effort to match the Reich?s production capability within another year. That still didn?t address the Reich?s advantages in the total number of mines but that was outside of Professor Conway?s control so he wasted no energy in worrying about it.

One thing he did spend a lot of time worrying about was the Commonwealth leadership?s failure to back his scientists. Although they matched the Reich in terms of the number of research facilities and the technology with which those facilities were equipped, there was little in the way of support from senior government officials. As far as he could tell, Vice Admiral Harris, who was in charge of all industrial output across the Commonwealth, had no qualifications for this job except his rank and the backing of several senators who liked to see factories built in their states. In the Reich, Gruppenf?hrer Volker Gottfried, the Minster of Production, was an ex-scientist and devoted a lot of time and energy to ensuring the Reich?s researchers were provided with every assistance. Because of that support, Conway estimated the scientific progress achieved by the Reich was at least thirty percent greater than the Commonwealth, a situation that could be disastrous in the longer term. He had met Gottfried several times at the infrequent scientific gatherings in neutral countries such as Switzerland or Mexico and had to admit he liked his German counterpart, who always seemed to be accompanied by his daughter, Heidi. The Commonwealth Intelligence Agency believed she was a Reich spy, although Conway wasn?t entirely convinced and privately believed that Gottfried simply wanted to keep her on a short leash. She certainly seemed to go after the younger male conference delegates with considerable enthusiasm.

Rear Admiral Rodriguez waited with anticipation as his ship?s computer processed the gravitational data from the rest of his squadron. The appearance of a single red dot on the holographic display announced the discovery of a new jump point in the Hamburg system and Rodriguez eagerly ordered his four ships to converge on its location. This time, the Gravitational Survey Squadron would have the honour of being first to enter a new system and the Reich did not even know of its existence. Once the fleet was assembled, the survey cruiser Agamemnon escorted the three Agincourt class ships into the jump point.
?Well, what do we have?? Rodriguez demanded of his sensor officer
?Data coming through now, sir. The primary is an F3-V, brighter and more massive than Sol. Seven planets, one of which is a large gas giant, but no sign of any asteroid belts.? The sensor officer waited as his instruments scanned each planet in turn, well aware that he had the full attention of the entire bridge crew. ?Traces of oxygen on the second and fourth planets, although not even close to breathable. Planet two has a surface temperature of fifteen Celsius, ideal for human habitation if we could breath the air, and the gravity is 0.65G. Quite a lot of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere as well, probably due to the extensive volcanic activity. I?m afraid planet four is a frozen iceball.?
?That?s still the best candidate for an out-system colony so far.?, said Rodriguez. ?Perhaps the Commonwealth  might start building those terraforming ships we keep talking about. If we clean up the sulphur dioxide and get some more oxygen into the atmosphere, we could be shipping colonists out here within a few years. In the meantime, we have a job to do.?
The three Agincourt class ships started to spread out to begin their survey of London, the pre-agreed name for the new system, while Agamemnon returned to Hamburg and headed for the Sol jump point. After reporting the details of London to Naval Operations, she would return to assist the rest of the fleet.

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

Offline Steve Walmsley

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« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2007, 10:10:12 AM »
Unfortunately I think I am going to have to bring this test campaign to a premature close. The changes in missile and fighter design are just too radical for the starting designs to make any sense. I'll start a new test campaign shortly. I'll be going back to just one race as well. Although I was happy with the two races I created for this campaign, its a lot easier in the early stage of a campaign to concentrate creative efforts on just one race

Steve
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by Steve Walmsley »
 

 

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