Author Topic: From the ashes - part 17  (Read 1569 times)

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Offline Haji

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From the ashes - part 17
« on: July 09, 2016, 05:31:47 PM »
2nd June 2389

   The anomaly in the Commune system of Peter's Crossing, while still attracting many scientists have became something of a permanent fixture, receiving little interest from most news outlets or government agencies. Suddenly three unknown ships appear, proving the anomaly is some sort of space distortion that can be traversed. The unknowns are very similar, meaning they are most likely of the same class and belong to a completely new alien race. They are hailed immediately.
   The vessels appeared outside active sensor range, but their thermal signature is considerable, almost as high as that of the new Berghast II class battlecruisers. While those may be just large science vessels or military forces on a peaceful exploration mission, the Force takes no chances. Fortunately they don't have to scramble any forces to the area. Knossos, the only inhabited planet in the system, is a home port of the Third Fleet and a site of battle with the Destroyer. As such it has formidable defenses which include sixteen ground based missile bases, sixteen gunboat flotillas, although one of those is currently undergoing a refit, and two frigate squadrons. All warships have full magazines but bases are only eighty percent full. Two frigate squadrons and three gunboat flotillas are sent to meet the alien ships, in case they prove hostile.
   After two hours there was no response to hail. What begun worrying Admiral Catalina Loera Jasso, commanding the Third Fleet, was the fact the aliens seemed to be heading towards the shipping lane. The anomaly was quite close to the usual route civilian ships took when they traveled from Kvituchi Troyandy jump point to either the planet or the Caucassus jump point. If the unknowns were hostile and armed, there were several vessels within easy striking distance and it will take over a day for the Force to arrive on the scene.
   One item of good news was the fact that no gravitational emissions were detected from the arrivals showing that they may lack active sensors or at least they had only weak ones. With her forces in transit the Admiral realized the aliens may just be homing on transponder signals. She ordered all of those turned off. Strangely enough it didn't work, which meant the aliens did have some kind of sensors, possibly passive ones.

3rd June 2389

   Early night, nearly thirty hours after the aliens first appeared, the three ships are brought into sensor range and their mass is calculated at one hundred two thousand and fifty tonnes. Considering their speed was just a little less than four thousand kilometers per second, those are either commercial vessels or very large warships using rather primitive technology, on the level of either ion or magneto-plasma drives. What worries Jasso is the fact they unknowns still refuse to answer any hails and they continue to close on the commercial traffic which would indicate they are indeed warships carrying a raid. Either that or this is a very, very alien way of initiating communication. Unfortunately it may be too alien for humans, resulting in unnecessary hostilities.

4th June 2389

   Early morning three gunboats flotilla arrive just six million kilometers from the alien ships. There is still no response to hails and the unknowns still continue on course towards the commercial traffic. They are now so close that they would almost certainly be within their missile range, unless for some reason their missiles were really short ranged.
   The Admiral was in constant communication with the Administrator and the Oversight Committee, but now the moment has finally come and the decision is hers and her alone. It is possible the unknowns are simply so alien humans cannot recognize their attempts at communication, but everyone agrees that any sentient species which desired peace would know to hold position when entering a settled system, rather than charging for their traffic. If the unknowns really are so different, communication may be impossible anyway. Last but not least so far humanity has not encountered a friendly, alien life. Not once.
   In the end the primary responsibility of Jasso is to protect her people. So far the Force failed that responsibility only twice, but it still ended up with over two million civilians dead. She orders one gunboat from each flotilla to fire full twenty four missile salvo at each alien. Even if those are commercial vessels, due to their size they will likely survive, but it should be an easily understood message to get out of human space.
   Several missiles were intercepted by point defense but a total of fifty nine hit, making the alien thermal signature drop down quite a bit. Every single hit caused an atmosphere loss, which means the aliens have minimal armor and are some kind of commercial vessel, albeit one outfitted with CIWS. However there is still no answer to hails and the aliens continue towards the commercial traffic rather than heading home. Jesse would love to deal with the three ships using her railgun armed frigates, but those are quite far behind the gunboats. Not wanting to leave the defenseless civilian vessels at the mercy of someone stupid enough to roam an alien system in a commercial vessel without heading home after being shot at, the Admiral orders two more salvos at each alien. This turns out to be an overkill. There were no life pods.
   The alien incursion left the Commune with many unanswered questions. It now appears that the anomaly is in fact some kind of unidirectional jump point or wormhole. But the specifics are still elusive, especially whether the aliens made the anomaly or merely found and used it. For now one of the two frigate squadrons in system will remain in close proximity, to make sure any new arrivals will be seen on active sensors. They will however be far out enough to easily disengage. A forward deployment of gunboats near the anomaly is a possibility, to immediately destroy any attackers, but it won't happen for the same reason there are no jump point defenses in other systems. First it is difficult to disengage from close combat and second ships would have to return for refits at regular intervals, which means not all forces in the system would be available for operations. While being stationed at Knossos meant worse reaction times due to distances, it also meant all forces in the system could be better kept at near constant readiness for operations in the system or elsewhere.
   In addition the Eight Cruiser Division in ES – 82 is recalled. The warships are still monitoring survey operations of the single science vessel, but so far no ADS surveillance destroyers have been found and even if those are present, they are no danger to anyone. Last but not least two formations move from the capital. One is a convoy of ammunition transports to bring Knossos stockpiles up to a healthy level. The planet does of course have ordnance factories, but those are building new missiles, which aren't available in large enough numbers to allow a solid strike so for the sake of uniformity older munitions will be used. The other formation is a group of salvagers and their supporting freighters, which will try to learn what they can from the wrecks.
   The international reaction to the incident was not good. The Hegemony of course launched a powerful media offensive to paint the Commune as either idiots who botched the first contact or warmongers. The Republican response was somewhat better. The government merely expressed their regrets over the incident, but the independent media outlets were all over the place, with some being supportive, while others believing the situation could have been avoided. Fortunately the Commune public itself was content with the way the Force responded.

17th June 2389
   
   The need to examine the alien wrecks have reminded the government of a long standing issue – lack of modern salvagers, as the old ones are equipped with fuel efficient magneto-plasma drives and are capable of only a little over a thousand kilometers per second.
   Those vessels were originally built to study ADS wrecks, which at the beginning of the war housed much more advanced technology than the Commune one. However those aliens fell behind soon after, the Specters left no debris and the Hegemony was technologically inferior as well. While there is an enormous amount of wrecks in the explored space and sometimes even inhabited systems, those represent possible mineral caches rather than technological treasure trove and were left untouched. The entire situation wasn't helped by the fact that the Peles shipyards were busy almost constantly until several years ago.
   While in the end it should not matter how long it will take to salvage the alien wrecks, the two hundred days long journey to even arrive at them is annoying for the government eager to recover any information about the aliens. As the commercial shipyards are finally available, a new salvage vessel was designed. The Viking class is fast, long ranged, can process wreckage quickly and has jump engine which will allow her to escort other commercial vessels through a jump point and conduct missions outside the gate network. They will be teamed up with newest generation freighter, which have similar speed.


Code: [Select]
Viking class Salvager    110 000 tons     790 Crew     4226 BP      TCS 2200  TH 12800  EM 0
5818 km/s    JR 2-25(C)     Armour 1-204     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 1     PPV 0
MSP 24    Max Repair 220 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 3 months    Spare Berths 0   
Salvager: 4 module(s) capable of salvaging 3000 tons per day

Fredriksson Engineering Commercial Jump Drive     Max Ship Size 112500 tons    Distance 25k km     Squadron Size 2
Laksono Engineering Company Commercial Inertial Fusion Drive (20)    Power 640    Fuel Use 1.52%    Signature 640    Exp 4%
Fuel Capacity 3 050 000 Litres    Range 328.3 billion km   (653 days at full power)

This design is classed as a Commercial Vessel for maintenance purposes

18th June 2389

   For over ten years now the Commune has been surveying the systems beyond Sahara, building jump gates and establishing listening posts. For the most part it was a straight long chain with only a few splits, one leading to an ADS system, which means the Destroyer almost certainly did not arrive through there and the other leading to a short, dead-end chain, leaving only two potential chains. One has been explored quite far and comprises only a straight line of stars, but the other one led to a system with a total of seven jump points. Even if some of those are dead ends, the number of possible routes the Destroyer may have taken will likely increase to a point where monitoring all of them will be impractical. Fortunately the distance between the mentioned system and Peter's Crossing, which serves as the stronghold against the aliens, is over thirty eight billion kilometers. At observed speed, it would take the Destroyer twenty two days to cover the distance. Admittedly the next attack may use faster warships, but there is nothing that can be done about it and the Force is also becoming faster, which will cut reaction times.
   Unfortunately it will take time to expand jump gate network this far and to establish listening posts, but even so the current sensor net is already much better than it was, which should significantly improve security of the human race. The survey ships will now head back to Baltic for refit, which will make them faster, longer ranged and better at their task.





1st July 2389

   Despite having population of two billion and two hundred million New Earth suffers manpower shortages, lowering their industrial efficiency to ninety seven percent. This is not the first time it happened and the last time it resulted in transfer of ground based fuel refining facilities to Poseidon and terraformation of Ares in preparation for arrival of significant number of R&D facilities. The latter never happened however as removal of fuel industry freed enough workers to staff the rest of the industry. As this is no longer the case the Hegemony prepares to finally move their research sector. Some within the government have other ideas.
   So far the nation has not been faring well when it came to wars. Yes, the ADS and the Specters are on the defensive, but they lost to the Commune twice and their previous generation hardware would have been ineffective against the Destroyer. Three basic reasons are given as to why the Hegemony is behind. First the Commune was in space much longer. Second they have larger R&D sector in absolute terms. Third they make full use of found ancient alien installations, the study of which significantly helps their sciences.
   Nothing can be done about the first advantage, other than waiting. The second can be overcome thanks to much larger Hegemony industry, at least once sufficient spare capacity is available. But the Commune heavy use of ancient relics is making a significant difference. Fortunately New Earth found similar installations and could make use of them, spreading their R&D sector around and making it more efficient. But the Hegemon vehemently disagrees for two main reasons.
   First the Destroyer is so powerful, and the next attack will likely be even more so, that it is almost certain the entirety of the Navy will be needed to defeat it. As such all available forces have to be concentrated in one spot least the superior alien speed allows the enemy to outmaneuver human warships or destroy them in detail. All of which means if the Destroyer ever attacks Hegemony territory planets will be lost. For this reason anything that can be placed under the umbrella of the Navy, should be, which means whatever can stay in the home system, should stay. This is of course not entirely possible, due to lack of TN elements in the Sanctuary system, but the government plans is to create sufficient stockpiles that even if all colonies are lost, the nation could rebuild. But for that all production facilities have to remain on New Earth or her sister planets.
   The second reason is the cost. Delawere is still being supported by the government and the expanse was enormous. Dozens of freighters and colony ships had to be built and terraforming installations had to be prefabricated. Worse the auxiliary forces have grown to such a size so quickly that fuel shortages are the norm. All cargo and colony convoys are moving, as are the exploration vessels, but the new construction usually leaves the yards with tanks half full, despite how limited naval shipbuilding was over the years. The situation is so bad, the commercial shipyards are actually being expanded so more harvesters can be laid down at once, something the government sees as a complete waste of resources in the long term. To put it simply the existing support infrastructure is not large enough to support more colonies, it will be expensive to expand even without adding new planets to the wishlist and enlarging settlements to the needed size would take years, if not decades anyway. Because of all that the research facilities will be moved to Ares and nowhere else.

18th September 2389

   A Hegemony exploration ship Huphry Davy arrives in a new system named Charleston from a recently discovered jump point in the Newark system, five jumps from Sanctuary through the Washington system. The vessel is about to head towards the inner bodies when she detects powerful sensor emissions from the second planet, a very inviting if somewhat cold world by human standards. Preferring not to take any chances, the small vessel heads back towards Des Moines, the closest system in the jump gate network, just two transits away.

27th September 2389

   Davy arrives in the Des Moines system and sends the news through a jump gate network. The government, which receives them hours later, reacts immediately. A construction ship is in the system, on her way to begin work on one of the other jump points. She will now build one to Newark, which will take about half a year. Interestingly the other system already has a gate, so Newark and Des Moines will be connected in a little over six months. In the meantime the Defiant carrier group, the most powerful Hegemony formation, will set course towards the area to keep an eye on it. A second exploration ship will also be sent and the two will head back to Charleston. One will stay on the jump point, while the other will approach the planet and initiate communications. This however will not happen immediately as due to the distances involved it will take some time for all the necessary forces to arrive.

28th November 2389

   The two Hegemony survey ships arrive in Charleston but their initial plan quickly fall to pieces as thirty two presumed alien warships, ranging from frigates to cruisers, are detected right on top of the wormhole. The two ship commanders quickly decide to change the plan. Devy sets course for Des Moines to update the Hegemony while Alexander Graham Bell will stay in system, although without moving deeper, to try and initiate communication.

7th December 2389

   Huphry Davy arrives back at the Newark – Des Moines jump point updating the government of the situation. The ship is ordered to stay in place to serve as a relay, receiving updates and sending new orders to Bell whenever she pops from Charleston to Newark to transmit information.
   The Hegemony is surprised by the change of the alien stance regarding their jump point defense. This is obviously at least a major colony, possibly the homeworld, but previously there were no defenses there and there was no sign of them in any nearby system. Over the next several weeks the various intelligence agencies worked hard to explain this and they had three primary theories. First the aliens were active in other systems, but were merely scouting them and the various survey vessels simply missed each other. This theory may however be discounted soon as right now numerous ships, including a modern carrier with powerful sensors are in Des Moines and they still see no sign of aliens. If they don't detect their survey ships as the time passes, it will be a proof that the aliens did not know about the Newark and Des Moines systems.
   The second theory is that the aliens have knowledge of jump points, but the one through which the humans arrived was a dormant one, in which case the Hegemony found a back-door into an important system. The last theory is that the aliens did not know about the jump points and merely rushed to the scene after detecting the arrival of Davy. In such a case they would be contained to Charleston, which would also be their home system, but it is unknown how long it would take them to develop interstellar travel. It could be months or it could be years.
   Fortunately it seems like the aliens are quite behind technologically. While their thermal signatures may be limited on purpose, if those are true, the speed of the alien vessels is only thirty three hundred and seventy five kilometers per second, indicating they are using either ion or magneto-plasma engines It is however only a guess.
   Whatever the outcome, the fact remains the Hegemony considers Des Moines to be their system. A cargo group with infrastructure will soon arrive and after that it is likely colonists will start to move in using commercial colony ships. Newark may be given up as a sign of good will, as the system has only very few bodies surrounding a white dwarf and there are only two jump points, leading to Des Moines and to Charleston. Overall a useless system, but if sold to the aliens, it would give them a buffer zone against humans, making it extremely valuable as a potential trade item.

10th December 2389

   A new alien ship was detected in Charleston, massing three thousand and fifty tonnes. It's purpose is unknown. The vessel headed to Newark, possibly to survey the system. Davy jumped after it, warning the rest of the Hegemony, after which she went back to Charleston to continue negotiations. The captain didn't even try to explain to the aliens the other system is human territory, as they couldn't understand him anyway.
   The alien ship moved only at twenty one hundred kilometers per second, which confirms the aliens have rather primitive engine technology. In fact some begun speculate they actually use nuclear pulse engines, although this seems unlikely considering the speed of their other vessels.

14th December 2389

   Fourteen new alien frigates are detected by Bell, heading towards the jump point. Their speed matches the calculations done by Intelligence officer. The crews are mostly interested in the ships themselves, wondering whether the aliens fear humans so much they are sending additional pickets or if they are preparing for an attack.

15th December 2389

   To the surprise of the human crews, most of the new arrivals did not join the picket force, but jumped to Newark. Bell jumped after them, updated the other survey vessel and then looked with amazement as the frigates went back to their system. Wondering what the aliens were doing, Bell went back to Charleston to continue their communication attempts.

16th December 2389
   
   The first of the three wrecks in the system of Peter's Crossing has been salvaged. To the shock of the human crews they found solid anti-matter core engines. While this is only generation ahead of what the Commune has, the three ships were so slow, no one expected them to be this advanced. The only other component found was a single CIWS station, explaining the point defense.
   The anomaly is still present in its previous location, but no new ships came out of it.

2nd January 2390

   The three alien wrecks in Peter's Crossing have been salvaged by the Commune. Fifteen engines and a single CIWS station has been recovered, but evidence have been found of a very advanced jump gate construction module. Why such ships were sent in before survey vessels is unknown.
   The salvage group will make its way to Gagarin, where all items will be disassembled for study, although no one expects any breakthroughs.

18th January 2390

   Six alien ships suddenly appeared near the anomaly in Peter's Crossing. Thanks to the First Frigate Squadron being in sensor range, albeit quite far for security, the mass of the unknowns was quickly calculated. Two were destroyer sized massing sixteen thousand tonnes while the other four were cruisers massing thirty two thousand tonnes. The Commune forces in the system once again tried to open communication. Before any messages could arrive, the alien speed was quickly calculated to be around ten thousand kilometers per second and they appeared to be moving towards the inner system, possibly towards Knossos itself.
   The First Frigate Squadron set course back towards the planet. The main problem of Task Force 301, commanded by Admiral Catalina Loera Jasso (who was also the overall commander of the Third Fleet), was the enemy speed. Two frigate squadrons and a single cruiser division were available to provide point defense for gunboats, but those were slower than the enemy. Most available flotillas were similarly slow, but three of them were modern and could in theory launch multiple strikes, although they were only a thousand kps faster than the aliens. In the end however, due to their relatively short missile ranges, Jasso decided to not use them without support which meant her forces had to move together or not at all. That decision was simple however – as the enemy was faster it could outmaneuver the humans and strike at the planet, which meant it was best to wait on station. As for the retreating First, it will try to retreat to Knossos without engaging. Of course while all the plans were being made, the first contact package was still on its way but very few expected that contact can be established.
   Two hours after the incursion there was still no communication attempts from the aliens. Instead a number of high resolution sensors were detected, probably anti-missile targeting system. The combination of speed, relatively small size and electronics meant those were almost certainly warships. The issue was the location of the First, as if it continued on its course, it would likely be destroyed in detail. Jasso ordered them to move away and allow the aliens to continue on their course, at least for now.
   As the minutes passed, the Admiral continued to consider where to join the battle. The planetary orbit would be the best, thanks to existing defenses. Those were designed mainly to deal with the Destroyer, which didn't use long range missiles, so most of the available bases consisted of the Werewolf class, equipped with huge numbers of missile launchers, but no anti-missile capability. That still left three Rampart and two Malbork class bases with a total of two hundred and ten fast firing anti-missile launchers, which were supported by her cruisers, frigates, corvettes, and orbital installations. That was a formidable obstacle to any long range attack.
   The problem was the alien anti-matter drive technology. While only generation ahead of what Commune had, there were insufficient amounts of new ammunition, so humans would actually be using ordnance two generations behind. It was almost certain that if the aliens were missile armed, those munitions would be faster than the human interceptors. If the newcomers targeted warships this should not be an issue, as a hit or two, while definitely dangerous, should not result in a catastrophic damage. But if the aliens targeted the planet itself than any missile which managed to sneak past the defenses could kill millions.
   Overall Jesse was almost certain that six technologically superior warships, even if four of them were cruisers, would not be able to get through the massed anti-missile umbrella of the planet. But if the aliens get lucky even once, the damage would be unacceptable.
   As she continued her analysis the First Frigate Squadron executed her orders and begun moving towards the ES – 01 jump point to avoid the aliens. However it quickly became obvious, the six warships were on an intercept course and the small human force could not outrun them. She immediately ordered the First to head towards the planet and also ordered the majority of Task Force 301 to meet the fleeing Commune vessels.
   Several hours later, and long before the rendezvous was possible, the First begun detecting incoming anti-missiles fired in offensive mode. That in itself was problematic, as there were fifty of them in each salvo, but the nearest enemy was over a hundred and seventy million kilometers away, indicating a ridiculous range for interceptors. Hover they were relatively slow, moving at only seventy seven thousand kilometers per second, four thousand kps slower than Spears III which raced to meet them. Unfortunately the sheer number of incoming ordnance was problematic to say the least.
   Captain Asmara Suprapto, commanding the First Frigate Squadron was faced with difficult decision. His anti-missiles wouldn't be much help and he'd run out of them quickly so they would only be delaying the inevitable. However his railguns, while numerous, were very unlikely to intercept ordnance moving ten times faster than their tracking speed. In the end he decided to continue firing Spears in hopes of trimming down incoming horde of missiles enough to survive.
   The human anti-missiles had twenty six percent interception chance, which were surprisingly good odds. Even so this still meant four had to be expended to stop one incoming, which once again showed that using interceptors to shoot down other interceptors was simply not feasible, but there were no other choices in this case.
   The first three salvos failed to penetrate the human defenses, but the fourth did some light armor damage to Stockholm, the lead ship of her class. From then on it was simply impossible to stop all the incoming, with gauss cannons intercepting only fifteen to twenty enemy munitions and anti-missiles stopping fifteen to twenty more. The situation became worse as new salvos were detected. As the aliens were not in a single group but were instead somewhat spread out, the initial waves came from only one vessel, but more were firing now. The best guess of the human intelligence officers was that one of the cruisers had fifty anti-missile launchers and two of the destroyers had twenty eight launchers each. This would also make them very difficult targets for gunboats while cruisers and frigates wouldn't be able to close the range to use their railguns due to their inferior speed.
   One piece of good news was that the aliens were spreading their fire. Stockholm was the first to hit, but received only light armor damage before the enemy fire switched to the frigate leader Maasvlakte which suffered moderate damage, including a single armor breach. The next target was the frigate Prague. Unfortunately while this meant that for the time being all ships were surviving, the corvettes were running out of ammunition fast.
   Despite the enemy spreading his fire, the additional salvos from the two destroyers begun overwhelming the point defense. By the time the onslaught ceased the corvette Narva was dead in space and another one, Matala Strom, has been destroyed. Three frigates lost some of their armor with another one having light internal damage, leaving only one of them untouched. Of the four corvettes remaining in formation three had lost some of their systems and even the fourth one had some armor damage.
   Suprapto begun turning about to cover Narva and rescue survivors of Matala Strom, but the Admiral ordered him to continue running. Engines were one of the most complicated pieces of engineering and it would take hours for the disabled corvette to restore them. As the reinforcements from Knossos were too far away, Nerva would likely not survive and there was no point throwing away the rest of the First to try and cover her. One hundred and twenty five people died in the short engagement.
   Thirty minutes later Narva was destroyed by another volley of anti-missiles. Soon afterr more interceptors fired in offensive mode begun moving towards the rest of the First. The human formation begun to take a battering and by the time the second attack was over the corvette Salaca and the frigates Prague and Stockholm were immobile, burning wrecks, with several other ships destroyed completely. In fact only the frigate Oslo continued to the assembly point but she earned only a temporary respite, as soon after a third wave of attacks begun, wiping out the crippled warships and closing in on Oslo. The last ship of the First Frigate Squadron died minutes later.
   With the death of the Oslo there was no longer any need for the Task Force 301 to continue closing on the enemy but Jesso simply could not head back to Knossos. The enemy anti-missiles, despite their surprisingly low speed were still very difficult to stop and some of them could easily slip past the planetary defenses, killing millions. Bypassing hundreds of warships to strike at civilian targets may seemed like a bad move, but unless those six ships were to be reinforced very quickly, they are dead anyway. In such a case doing as much damage to industry as possible would be their best strategy. The next battle had to be fought in deep space, as far away from civilians as possible.
   The total force which went ahead to meet the enemy comprised a cruiser division, a frigate squadron and nine gunboat flotillas including three upgraded formations capable of over eleven thousand kilometers per second, faster than the incoming cruisers and destroyers but Jasso could not use them on detached duty, as they had no point defense. She had to get through interceptors fired in offensive mode to get to the enemy.
   The frigate squadron has shown itself capable of intercepting up to fifteen anti-missiles very reliably and sometimes even more than that, although she couldn't bet her future on it. But the cruiser division should be a much harder target than that. Each of the seven Harpy class warships had two fast tracking gauss cannon turrets and three fast firing railguns. Overall from a single salvo she should be able to intercept forty to sixty anti-missiles with her cruisers, rising the total to fifty five to seventy five anti-missiles in each salvo from her entire formation. As such the only danger to her should be, in theory, if a cruiser and two destroyers managed to fire a unified salvo, giving her ample point defense for the task. There were however two problems with this analysis. First all enemy warships had anti-missile sensors, which means all of them may have had anti-missiles. Second the hits by her point defense were not guaranteed so some missiles may be able to sneak past her defenses. If they stroke anything larger than a corvette, that should not be an issue. But gunboats had minimal armor.
   After some consideration she decided to take the Fifteenth Frigate Squadron and the Eighth Cruiser Division to meet the aliens, keeping her gunboats back. Once she was satisfied the aliens run out of ammunition, the flotillas would make their strike. Unfortunately the first missile wave directed at her ships comprised one hundred and two incoming, which meant all three known ships were firing in unison. The Admiral decided to use her own anti-missiles but only in minimal numbers, to trim down incoming waves rather than destroy them. As the enemy ordnance begun arriving, her calculations have proven to be correct, as close in missile defenses were intercepting around fifty missiles from each salvo. Even so, despite using her own anti-missiles as well, the human ships begun taking hits quite early, but fortunately only in small numbers and all warships involved had heavy armor.
   Before any serious damage could be done, the enemy fire begun wavering. Not only was the cruiser the first to cease fire, the last salvos from the enemy warships had smaller sizes, indicating very high chance they emptied their magazines. However as the enemy was in two groups, the second of which was quite far behind the first, it was unknown whether or not there would be another long range attack.
   The human forces closed to fifty million kilometers from the closer group and one hundred and twenty million kilometers from the further group without encountering enemy fire. Jesse decided the time has come to finally clear the system. The frigate squadron and her own cruiser division reversed course, trying to slow down the enemy rate of overtaking while the gunboats were recalled to join in. Meanwhile she also ordered her seven Harpy class cruisers to open fire on the closer group to test their defenses. She almost laughed out loud when she realized she was about to fire eight hundred and forty very expensive shipkillers jut to test three enemy warships, but she did not change the order.
   She wondered whether or not she should fire on the further group, which comprised a cruiser and two destroyers and was most likely the one which run out of anti-missiles. As far as she could tell the closer group, comprising three cruisers of two different classes, hasn't fired yet, but also had high resolution sensors, which implied those were escorts armed with close in point defenses. If that was the case, they will be much harder target than a group of smaller warships with no ammunition. Unfortunately as she was slower than the aliens and the gunboats were still quite far away, she wasn't sure what the three cruisers will do to her if they catch up to her. If they were merely equipped with short range missiles, she should be fine, but if they had long ranged beam weaponry combined with superior speed, she would be in a lot of trouble. She had to try and at least slow them down.
   To the surprise of the Commune crews, the salvo was enough to deal with the three alien warships, leaving only three more behind. Three hours later the deep space task group was finally concentrated and close to the enemy. One gunboat flotilla targeted each of the two destroyers and two flotillas targeted the cruiser. This proved to be a rather massive overkill and all three enemies were destroyed without any sign of point defense.
   As gunboats and the Fifteenth Frigate Squadron headed back to Knossos, the Eighth set course for life pods from the First Frigate Squadron. A total of eight hundred and ninety four people awaited rescue, unfortunately not including the commander of the formation Captain Asmara Suprapto. Twelve hundred and forty six people died on board the ships comprising the First. All seven of the Harpy class cruisers had armor damage, but fortunately no internal one and on fatalities, although about a dozen people have been injured. The jump cruiser Artemis, leading the formation was untouched however as was the Fifteenth Frigate Squadron.
   As it takes thirty two hours for a two way communication between the systems of Peter's Crossing and Baltic, the Administrator and the Oversight Committee were already aware of the situation, but no new orders had time to come in and Jesse still operated on her own authority as the commanding officer of the Third Fleet. On that authority however she stopped the salvage group which still had not left the system and ordered them to begin working on the new wrecks. She also decided to not picket the anomaly anymore, due to high alien speed. She did however send a request for reinforcements, being even willing to give up her gunboats in exchange for formations of larger warships.

19th January 2390

   With jump gate to Newark completed, the Defiant carrier group was send to the system to bring the jump point to Charleston within active sensor range and monitor the area. The very large and powerful sensors on board the carrier detect an alien picket from more than two billion kilometers. At first the human crews consider it normal until the intelligence officer notes that previously Bell would jump in any time the aliens did to as well to inform the government of the situation, but they received no word of this picket. In fact there was no contact from the Hegemony exploration ship for nearly a month now. However there an be any number of reasons for this so for the time being Rear Admiral John Lebouf intends to continue as planned.

21st January 2390
   
   The Administrator and the Oversight Committee were receiving constant updates from Peter's Crossing, albeit with sixteen hours of time lag. As the attack involved only six alien warships, both were perfectly willing to wait until the end of the battle before moving any additional forces around. The various intelligence agencies were meanwhile working on providing additional information and conclusions, and while they already had some, the government decided to give them time to paint the full picture and provide recommendations. But the question of reinforcements had to be answered as soon as possible.
   The request by Admiral Catalina Loera Jasso included proviso that she's willing to give up some of her gunboat flotillas. However as she was the commanding officer of the entire Third Fleet, the Oversight Committee decided to start looking for reinforcements by checking her own total force. Traditionally the government and the Admiralty did not interfere with internal matters of the fleet on the assumption that the commander on the spot had better idea of what was going on than people far away who had their own additional jobs, involving five fleets in total, but the central authority still had the legal right to do so or to provide recommendations. However in the end the Committee had to admit that the Third had to be reinforced from outside. The only other major force concentration in the area, other than in Peter's Crossing, was in the Atlantic system where Task Force 302 was guarding the Commune against the Hegemony. The force consisted of eight flotillas of Piranhas and three frigate squadrons. The former were useless as Task Force 301 had more than sufficient offensive firepower, while the latter were needed in Atlantic to support the naval base.
   However changing gunboats for other, larger formations was also impossible. The reason there were a total of sixteen flotillas in orbit of Knossos – by far the largest concentration of small craft in the Commune Space – was because that was the minimal force necessary to deal with the Destroyer. As the system was the most likely target of additional incursions, removing gunboats from the area was not an option.
   The Second, Fourth and Fifth Fleets were not a good source of reinforcements. The Second was the largest of the three, protecting the Sudetes sector from the Hegemony. As the area was the most heavily inhabited and productive one, removing ships from there was simply not possible, especially since many already believed that the Second Fleet was too weak. The Fourth and Fifth Fleets on the other hand had no clear and present danger to protect their systems from, but they were the weakest of all the formations, and were responsible for protection of planets which did not have the time to build up their own defenses. If another anomaly appeared after those were withdrawn, it could lead to a disaster. All of which meant any reinforcements would have to come from the Home Fleet.
   The Home Fleet had two primary missions – to protect the capital and to serve as a strategic reserve, which in theory meant it is perfect to send additional warships to Peter's Crossing. Unfortunately the fleet wasn't as strong as it was supposed to be. Massive forces were needed to build up the Second and Third Fleets to protect against the Destroyer and the Hegemony and the Fourth and Fifth Fleets were established just recently in something of a hurry. Overall the formation comprised nine flotillas of Sharks which were in orbit of Courland awaiting new, heavily upgraded vessels, seven flotillas of Pirnhas, which were not needed, one squadron of frigates and destroyers each and two cruiser divisions. In addition a destroyer squadron and two battlecruiser divisions have just completed training waiting for deployment orders.
   After some consideration the Admiralty, with the consent of the Committee and the Administrator decided to send a cruiser division, a battlecruiser division and a frigate squadron to the area, while also ordering the Eighth Cruiser Division to head to Malbork for repairs, which will force Admiral Jasso to transfer flag. The battlecruiser division was somewhat controversial choice, as the Barghest class was armed exclusively with beam weapons but was too slow to catch up the aliens. However those were escorted by the Shonbrunn class escort cruisers, which had twice as many gauss cannon turrets as the Harpies. Coupled with their shields added specifically for the kind of battle the Third Fleet fought, the First Battlecruiser Division should be a welcome and powerful addition to the forces already present.
   In addition to warships, the government also intends to send several new Moat II orbital weapon platforms. Each is equipped with twelve of the newest, fast tracking guass cannon turrets allowing it to intercept up to sixty incoming missiles, depending on their speed and maneuverability. They will be needed to protect the planet from the potential anti-missile attack. More ammunition will also be sent to the area.
   It is of course unknown if the aliens will attack again or in what strength but despite being the technologically inferior force most Commune officers are confident in their ability to keep the enemy at bay. The loss of the First Frigate Squadron was unfortunate, but it happened due to underestimating the aliens and will not happen again.

24th January 2390

   The Hegemony forces continue their trek towards the Charleston jump point. The lone picket which was observed disappeared several days ago and was now replaced with six frigates of two different classes. Once again there was no news from the human exploration ship. Five minutes later those left as well, replaced by two new frigates. This led to speculation that aliens may be conducting training exercises involving the jump point.

25th January 2390

   The Defiant Carrier Group arrived at its observation post four hundred and thirty million kilometers from the Charleston jump point. The aliens continue to jump in and out and there still has been no communication from Bell.
   The government has been kept up to date on the situation and most analysts believe the first contact ship was destroyed but there is no way to get confirmation of that. Even if the crew of the exploration vessel decided that jumping every time the aliens do so is not needed, not only they should have announced this but it has been over a month since the last update. At the very least the human ship should have made contact during that time to simply send reports regarding contact and updates of decoded alien language.
   The Defiant did of course tried to communicate with pickets, but strangely enough there has been no response. The alien frigates were simply silent, a significant departure from the first contact situation when a lot of messages were flying around, even if neither side could understand them. The only explanation other than war, was that Bell suffered some significant malfunction, but overall it seems highly unlikely. Because of that the government orders the Defiant and her escorts to secure the jump point so that a gate may be built. The Resolute Carrier Group, a recently formed task force made of modern warships, will be sent as a reinforcement but it will need almost two months before it arrives. 

26th January 2390

   Few minutes after midnight, with the Defiant and her escorts still nearly three hundred million kilometers away from the Charleston jump point, numerous alien warships enter the system and set course for the human vessels. In total nineteen frigates, four destroyers and three cruisers were on displays although they were in several different groups. There was no response to hails.
   While the force was significant the Hegemony had advantage in both tonnage and technology so Rear Admiral John Lebouf was not worried. In fact he was relieved as the alien approach demonstrated hostility and put them far from jump point making it impossible for the enemy to just dodge incoming missiles by entering the wormhole. As such he orders his warships to reverse course but to hold their speed to thirty four hundred kilometers per second while also launching all one hundred and twenty bombers, all of which were to be used in the attack, their missiles spread among all twenty six targets.
   As the enemy was split into several groups, the missiles were not arriving at the same time, but the first strikes quickly established that the aliens needed to improve their magazine safety as numerous secondary explosions were detected, some of which had power of nearly fifty megatons. In the span of three minutes every single enemy has been annihilated and thirty six hundred Spacebolts – thirty percent of the entire strike – had to self-destruct.
   With known enemy forces gone, Lebouf had to decide on his next move. The assault on enemy system was possible even without a jump gate, but would be limited to moving destroyers and frigates through a jump point in a transit assisted by the Normandy class command cruisers. However with a jump gate it would be possible to send a massed fighter strike through and while it would incur heavy losses among the small craft, their sheer numbers coupled with missiles equipped with on board seekers would easily destroy even a very powerful picket force for minimal loses. The larger warships had higher chance of minimizing casualties, but it heavily depended on alien defenses, and there was no way to know those. Due to all of those, the plan called for a fighter strike despite it giving the enemy time.
   But that meant a construction ship, which was already on her way, would have to sit right on top of the jump point, requiring protection. There were two ways to deal with it. First the entire carrier group could be there, with some of the fighters being on combat space patrol at any given time. This option however had two drawbacks. First it meant the carrier would be vulnerable to attack and energy weapons could not be stopped by point defense, so heavy damage was a possibility. Second the fighters would be in near constant use requiring significant amounts of fuel. Not only was the carrier group already a little short on that, due to distances, but the sheer scale of recent auxiliary fleet expansion made Hegemonys production insufficient and barely able to keep up with demand. That is one of the reasons why only two carrier groups have been deployed so far – the government does not want to be forced into stopping all other activities just to support the war.
   The second option is to detach the destroyers and maybe some frigates to picket the jump point while the carrier and the rest of the ships stay behind. This will put sufficient firepower to deal with respectable number of enemy warships right in the middle of action, but would split the carrier group into two forces, each weaker than the whole. If the aliens attack with another twenty six ships, like they just did, or if there is another such force already hiding in system, waiting for a sneak attack, this could lead to defeat in detail and heavy loses among Hegemony forces.
   After some consideration and heated debate among the staff, the admiral decides to split his forces. Fuel is significant concern and he wants to put as little strain on the already fragile economy as possible. In addition his fighters have proven to be very effective and he hopes that if there is another force in the system, they may be tempted to try and attack his exposed carrier, which will be protected by only four frigates. In such a case if the enemy gets into range, it could be disastrous, but the surprise attack would have to be very powerful indeed to get through the fighters. In addition it is very likely the enemy committed most of available forces to the recent action. It was possible he didn't, but considering the Hegemony force was both larger and technologically inferior, it would make little sense to send in those twenty six ships if more were available. As such it is unlikely the detached force overseeing the construction will be exposed to an overwhelming attack.
   In addition two frigates will be temporarily detached. One will destroy a small twenty eight hundred tonne alien ships which was not targeted due to her small size. It is suspected to be a survey vessel and Bijan will destroy it with energy weapons. If the alien proves to be armed, the much larger frigate should be fine on her own or could use her superior speed to retreat safely. The other warship, Farangis, will pick up the life pods and deliver them to the new colony in the adjacent Des Moines system. The carrier group does not have the facilities to care and interrogate the many survivors of the battle and even the small ship will be strained to deal with it, but the entire force cannot abandon the system simply to deal with the prisoners.
   Several hours later Bijan destroys the small alien spaceship with a single shot from her powerful spinal mounted laser, confirming the warship to be unarmed and very fragile. She leaves the life pods for Farangis and sets intercept course towards a second small alien vessel which recently entered the system.

28th January 2390

   All two thousand six hundred and thirty two alien survivors has been rescued. While no interrogations have been carried out so far, one item of interest came out. Apparently the enemy intelligence officers had working translations, showing that either Bell did establish communication, or it was done so after the presumed survivors have been taken prisoners. Analysis of the translators is ongoing and should be ready by the time Farangis reaches her destination.

30th January 2390

   The news of the Battle of Newark has been spreading through the human space for several days now. Many are worried that mankind is fighting two wars at once, including the recent battle in Peter's Crossing, but the victories are easing a lot of that tension.
   The Hegemony is of course playing the event for all its worth. For the first time since the early engagement against the ADS the Navy has shown itself to be easily victorious. The enemy may have been smaller and weaker, but he was still crushed, not simply defeated, and not a single human life was lost.
   The international response was mixed. The Republic was unhappy as they believed peace was not given sufficient chance. On the other hand, and very surprisingly for all concerned, the Commune was satisfied that enough was done to warrant a war. This was mostly due to the fact that the nation suffered numerous wars with aliens, including the newest incursion, and they were much less trusting towards them.
   Privately however the Administrator and the Oversight Committee were very worried. If the Hegemony conquered the aliens they will become significantly more powerful, becoming a much greater danger to the other two human nations. Unfortunately the only way to prevent that would be to hit New Earth in the back, something that would have had very significant and unpleasant consequences both internally and internationally, would risk the aliens building up war machine large enough to threaten all of mankind and would be very difficult to execute considering the anomaly still present at Peter's Crossing. Overall the Commune has no choice but to sit this one out, even if this may become a huge threat to their existence later.
 

Offline Nyvis

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Re: From the ashes - part 17
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2016, 05:55:59 PM »
Thank you for the interesting read. Please keep going! You're the best aurora fiction still going. I like your in depth look about governments and nations.
 
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