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Terpla'ns / Xhali/Jazta Interlude
« Last post by Zume on January 15, 2022, 11:44:30 AM »
It was a cool spring morning at the Ducal Mansion, located near the center of the capital city of Bastion on Xhali Prime. Duke Xhali Cussel was sitting outside on a patio chair, viewing a bed of flowers as their pedals slowly opened in response to the rising sun. His wife planted those flowers, native to Fendala, as seeds nearly five decades earlier. With great care and a pair of resolute green thumbs the resulting product was a tangible reminder of their old home, with the hopes of one day returning to it. If not him, then his children or grandchildren.

Cussel’s four antennae twitched as he heard a familiar pattern of footfalls. Tilting his head to one side, he saw that it was Prince Hercul, his eldest son. He motioned to Hercul to pull up a chair and sit next to him. “Son, now that you presented your official report to the Council of Ministers you can tell me what you didn’t tell them. How is the actual morale in the Glacis system?”

“It’s high, Father,” Hercul replied, “in part to your proclamation to reduce the tour of service in Glacis from 24 months to 18. The base crews guarding the Sauna warp point performed their surprise drills in an admirable manner, including the drills before the announcement of my arrival was made general knowledge. I also inspected the site for the impending third lunar colony in Glacis. When its mineral resources are exploited, we’ll be that much closer in making the warp point defenses self-sufficient.”

Cussel looked at a purple-hewed flower like he was appraising a diamond. “You kept to the custom and had a scout attempt entry of the Sauna warp point while you were there?”

“No change, Father. It’s like the warp point is covered in a plastic film that deflects all attempts at entry. They’ll still conduct the yearly test in two months.” Hercul also looked at the flowers as they unfolded. “I’ve been informed that you’re scaling back the surveying schedule in order to build up more infrastructure, supporting colonies and the fleet in the frontier sectors. It’s been 48 years since the refugee fleet exited the Sauna system. You think the pretender Pulurtans and Lugan the Usurper are that much closer to finding a warp link to our space?”

Cussel sighed. “Son, as long as we exist in the mind of that damnable Lugan his claim to the throne will be threatened. But he must act as we did, expanding his population to increase production for the fleet he needs. I’d say we’re a little better off since we count the Dalthu as our allies instead of enslaving or exterminating them. Over 60% of the fleet has Dalthu crews and well as nearly 50% of all warp point defenses. Honestly, I thought we would’ve been found much sooner, but imponderable events such as internal politics, a change in leadership and priorities, or even embroiled in a war with a newly discovered race had to come into play.”

Hercul’s antennae piqued in thought. “What of the Gyst faction?”

“Gyst?” The word came from Cussel’s mouth as if he read it from an old manuscript being translated. “Oh, I personally haven’t thought about them in years. If they survived the wilderness and established their own enclave, then they would be as wary of us as well as Lugan.”

Having avoided asking a particular question for years, Hercul took the time to ask it now. “Father, if the opportunity presents itself, would you consider reconciliation with the Gyst?”

An old, barely perceptible ember in Cussel’s heart glowed more intensely as if a careful breath blew on it. “Not if that damnable word-breaking Archduke Wonset is still alive, and as far as his royal highness Kysjyt is concerned he’s still a prince in my eyes. If by some torturous path of destiny we retake Fendala and seize the Diamond Throne before Kysjyt does then our claim will be insurmountable.”

Hercul nodded. Cussel didn’t have to concern himself about the Gyst faction for he had councils, admirals and generals to do that for him. The Prince decided to change the subject. “But it’s best not to ponder on the imponderable before breakfast, Father. I’m sure Mother would like to hear about my trip over lettuce and fruit.”

“So right, my Son.”

********

Colonel Russ, Universal Space Army, was among the younger staffers for Bureau Chief Amty, leader of the Jazta Union. Russ commanded an infantry division before being tapped to replace a retiring staffer. Providing one did a good job, a position in the Bureau of Government was given as promotion. Some considered it better than being promoted to general. That being said, it doesn’t pay being a suck-up to a boss like Amty, a fact that Russ kept in mind as he announced his presence and entered Amty’s office.

Located in the Military Governance Bureau Complex, Amty’s office was large and well-furnished, though it lacked windows. Bookcases filled with tomes, many first edition and centuries old, were accompanied by paintings of battles, leaders, and landscapes. The desk had a polished stone base with an ornate wooden top, and three old-fashion chairs were in front of it. As for accessories the only items on that desk were a desk panel with keyboard and a bowl of apples. A single large flatpanel display was on the wall opposite the desk. Amty himself was in a chair that was utterly plain, but it earned the nickname ‘the throne’ due to it being used by all previous Bureau Chiefs.

“Sir,” Russ said as he stood in front of the desk, “I have the final report on the shuttle crash from the Bureau of Investigation.” With folder in his right back hand, Russ offered it to Amty.

“Ah, I’ve been expecting this,” said Amty as he accepted the folder. He opened it, and with his back left hand he thumbed the pages. As it was an official report that required Amty’s signature it had to be made of paper. “140 pages, but all small print. At least they’re finally saving paper.” With his back right hand he retrieved a pair of reading glasses from a drawer. He donned them, peering at the front page like a schoolteacher about to grade an elementary school book report. “This will take some time, Russ. Stay in the building. I will summon you when I’m done.”

Russ came to attention smartly. “As you instruct, Bureau Chief.” He left the office, leaving Amty to his thoughts as he went through the report and the events leading up to the shuttle crash.

After the Challenge Battle with the Xhali three years ago the Union made R&D for the strikefighter a top priority. In eighteen months both the fighters and the first squadron of escort and light carriers were produced. Next came fleet exercises to iron out problems and decide upon operational doctrine for the new weapon and ships. Heading this task was Admiral Spear, commander of the 2nd Union Fleet. Like Amty, Spear was a student of history and practically devoured everything he could find on the use of pre-space aerospace fighters and how to adapt the tactics used.

While each problem was solved with subtilty or hammered like a square peg into a round hole, Spear got results. In the most recent fleet exercise, the aggressor (carrier) force won eight of the ten battles. Of the two remaining battles one was an outright loss and the other a draw, being a simulated warp assault that had the carriers go in first. Spear was summoned back to Jazta for a conference that hashed the results, one outcome was the acknowledged need for a dedicated warp point assault carrier.

Amty made a dismissive grumph as he thought. While Spear’s talent was acknowledged and considered an asset, he was also a confirmed bastard. When he was in the mood, he would be snarky towards his subordinates and wasn’t above calling out their flaws in public when expectations and goals weren’t met. His private home was a study in indulgence for he didn’t deny anything for his equally onerous wife. It was if the corrupt communist generals from centuries past had made a reappearance. Spear had the money, for he was willed considerable fortunes from two of his uncles. He even had a customized staff car that he brought with him everywhere, even for the conference on Jazta. It was a wonder how Spear restrained himself from putting diamonds on the wheelhubs.

Stopping for a moment, Amty reached for the bowl, grabbed an apple and took a good-sized bite out of it. He wanted to chew on something for he reached the eyewitness portion of the report. When it came time for Spear and his accompanying officers to leave Jazta they all arrived at the spaceport drunk, even his wife and those of three other officers. Along with the officers they celebrated the successful outcome of the conference the night before, and it was only due to aides not attached to Spear’s group that they were in clean uniforms and dresses. As for the wives they had arrived on Jazta separately, and against regulations traveled in pinnaces reserved for priority Navy cargos. While on Jazta the quartet indulged in a shopping spree along with the officers. Now it came time to load the shuttle. Among the items was furniture, clothing, jewelry, canned goods, sausages, parts for several boats, toys for children and grandchildren and six huge casks filled with preserved apples. Even Spear’s staff car was somehow shoehorned in, along with a 500kg roll of carpeting and a 200kg roll of wallpaper.

Spear’s shuttle pilot, along with the cargo master, tried to bring order in the loading process. Spear’s wife would have none of it, telling them that they would be demoted, retired on the spot, and denied their pensions if the loading process wasn’t sped up. With a gaggle of drunk and belligerent officers threatening to include themselves in the conversation the pilot acquiesced, assisting the cargo master as best he could before take-off.

The shuttle was a 30-year-old model. In practical terms it meant the artificial gravity system couldn’t be used until the drive field came up. For this the shuttle had to be at least two 2 kilometers in altitude. The flight path beyond the runway was clear of structures and people for at least 30 kilometers, so the pilot knew a slow, steady ascent was key. Fate played him false, for as soon as the nose lifted two meters up the cargo shifted. It was the staff car, itself packed to the brim, that broke loose from its fastenings. Along with the rolls of carpeting and wallpaper the center of gravity changed. The nose of the shuttle pitched up which in turn caused a loss of lift, bringing the craft back down hard on its belly, fracturing the fuselage and causing a catastrophic fire.

Fire and rescue teams rushed to the crash site. Burning debris and bodies were everywhere, along with noxious smoke that brought on gag reflexes to whoever happened not be wearing breathing masks. The most surreal sight, caught on numerous helmet cams, was that of thousands of burning apples, rolling down the runaway as if they were newborn tadpoles escaping their mother’s belly. Amty took another bite of the apple.

Investigators ruled out assassination and suicide. The second in command of the 2nd Union Fleet was also on the shuttle, and all other suspected officers had airtight alibis. Being an insufferable snot, Spear only allowed the shuttle crew to perform maintenance, and it was him that signed off on the reports. As for the pilot he had reported that Spear and other officers had used the shuttle on ‘supply runs’, often resulting in overloaded flights. Yet those reports weren’t acted upon. Moreover, the pilot had put in his papers to retire in a year’s time and have even begun to have an addition put on his house so that his son and family could move in. Clearly a man bent on suicide would not have done such a thing.

Amty sighed, and typed a summons on his keypad for Russ to return. The officer arrived and stood at attention in front of the desk. He watched as Amty signed the report. “I’ve accepted the official ruling,” he said. “The cause of the crash was the result of rushed, improper loading of cargo from undue influence and pressure of senior officers. Because of that we lost the commander of a fleet, his second-in-command, his staff, an Army general and his two aides, four civilian ‘guests’, and the shuttle crew. In all, 26 people died in an avoidable accident. That is what their inevitable memorial will say, but everyone will eventually know that they died due to groceries.”

“Hopefully some good will come from this, Bureau Chief.” Russ reached out and took the folder from Amty’s left front hand. Then he heard Amty inhale from his nostrils.

“Come closer,” Amty said. The perplexed Russ stepped forward and was rewarded with the sound of another deep nostril inhale from the Bureau Chief.

Amty crooked the fingers of both right hands, indicating he wanted Russ to lean forward. What the Colonel saw was the face of a school principal about to deliver a speech on truancy to an unfortunate student. “Have you been smoking?”

Russ suppressed the urge to gulp. Amty didn’t become Bureau Chief by being nice. He was a bastard too, but in a different manner to that of Spear. He broke lesser officers and made himself indispensable to higher ones, earning favors and pledges along the way to become Bureau Chief. Above all, he kept his word, no matter who it was made out to, even if it was done maliciously. Anyone who wanted to have Amty’s help or favor had to keep that in mind, and really think if their goal was worth the effort.

But then something happened. Rumor had it that Amty was playing host to his second daughter and her family. Among them was a four-year-old granddaughter, one that Amty hadn’t seen since birth. Upon greeting them the girl looked distressed and asked why she said that ‘grandad smell bad.’ Indeed, Amty still had in his back right hand a lit cigar. Right there something broke that most people thought he didn’t have – his heart. Amty destroyed his considerable stock of cigars and even removed and burned the humidor he had at his home. He took to eating fresh fruit to rid himself of the need to smoke. He looked better as a result, but only his wife and children could tell him that without earning a rueful glare.

“No, Sir,” Russ said.

“Have you been in a place where people have been smoking?”

“Yes, Sir, I have.”

“Avoid it from now on.” Amty shooed him away like an errant fly while finishing the apple in a prodigious bite. Russ was happy that his wasn’t his hide, for Jazta also like to consume raw meat on occasion. As for Amty he consulted his schedule on his desk monitor. The representatives of the Industrial Bureau were due in an hour with the proposed colonial industrial upgrade schedule and budget. He looked at the apple bowl and saw that there were enough apples for everyone.
2
New Cold War / Cold War: Months 196-199, Tolani Trade Federation
« Last post by Kurt on January 08, 2022, 11:35:44 AM »
The Tomsk Union discovered the Tolani in month 187, and contacted them in Month 188.  The Tolani were, to put it lightly, physically hideous.  They were uniformly a rusty, coppery color, bipedal, and vaguely humanoid, but with armored skin with numerous protrusions on the arms and along the back.  Their eyes were deep set and a disquietingly blue color that almost appeared to glow.  Their faces were a horror of serrated pincers over a gaping maw with a long, twisting tongue that protruded in random twisting patterns.  For all of that the Tolani proved to be friendly and agreed to sign a trade and military treaty with the Tolani Trade Federation in Month 194. 

Month 196, Tolan Trade Federation
A Tolani survey ship jumps through the newly discovered warp point in their home system.  This warp point was discovered by means of their survey efforts, and is the only warp point in their system aside from the one leading to the Tomsk Union.  A Tolani survey cruiser jumps through the warp point and materializes in a binary orange/orange system.  The system contains twelve planets of various types and two asteroid belts.  Excitingly, one of the secondary star’s planets is a habitable type T planet, perfect for Tolani habitation.  The survey cruiser sends CD’s back to its companions, and soon all three Tolani survey cruisers are in the system.   The survey cruiser’s entry point into the system is deep within the inner system of the primary star, just twelve light minutes from the orange star at the center of the system.  One cruiser sets out to probe the primary stars planets, although they can already tell there are no major settlements on any of the non-habitable worlds in the system.  A second cruiser sets out for the secondary companion star, to probe that star’s planets.  The third cruiser remains on station, guarding the warp point.  The secondary star is 349 light minutes away, so it will take some time for the probe ship to get there and return. 

Five days later the Tolani ship halts and sends a message back to its companions.  They have detected a small population on the habitable world.  This is both a disappointment, as they had hoped that the world would be the Federation’s first out-system colony, and an exciting discovery, as this is the first Tolani contact with any race outside of the Bjering Alliance.  A short observation period is sufficient to determine that the EM emissions of the colony match a race in the contact database provided to the Tolani by the Tomsk Union.  The emissions match those of the Alliance, a group of races the Tomsk Union and their Bjering allies have had contact with in the past.  A message is relayed back to the home world, reporting the discovery, and a response is sent back ordering the cruiser to establish contact. 

The Tolani ship moves within detection range of the colony and begins sending out contact messages.  Soon thereafter the colony responds and mutual efforts to decipher their respective languages are underway. 

Month 197, Tolani Trade Federation
The Tolani shared the contact information relating to the newly discovered race with the Tomsk Union, and they immediately recognized the aliens as the Rehorish, an Alliance race.  The Tomsk Union gives the Tolani all of the information they have on the Alliance, and, at the request of the Tolani Trade Federation’s government, agrees to assist their contact efforts. 

Month 198, Tolani Trade Federation
Contact teams from the Tomsk Union have arrived at the Tolani contact point with the Alliance to assist with the contact process.  With their assistance the Tolani achieve partial communications with the Alliance. 

In addition to the assistance with the Alliance contact efforts, the Tolani send a delegation to the Tomsk Union to request access to some of their systems, and perhaps a portion of territory that would allow them access to open, unexplored, warp points.  Their system has proven to have only two warp points, one to the Tomsk Union and the other to the Alliance, leaving the Tolani nowhere to expand. 

The Tomsk Union responds quickly.  Now that the Tolani are in contact with the Alliance, it is entirely possible that once they establish a relationship with them, the Alliance will be willing to give them access to their territory, drawing the Tolani into to their sphere, away from the Tomsk-Bjering alliance.  Just four jumps from the Tolani system is an uninhabited system that Tomsk Union exploration ships just finished surveying.  They have found no less than nine open, unexplored, warp points.  The Tomsk Union, which has seen its colonization efforts drop off significantly over the last year due to the lack of population centers capable of supporting colonization, finds the decision easy to make.  The Tolani are granted access to the intervening systems, and sole control of the nexus in the St. Johns system. 

Month 199, Tolani Trade Federation
Tolani negotiators, working through the Tomsk Union, have established a trade and military alliance with the Bedu Empire (refugees).  This development overjoys the Tomsk Union, which sees this as further cementing the Tolani into their sphere of influence. 

In addition, the Tolani successfully establish communications with the Alliance, who immediately offer them a trade and military treaty.  On the advice of the Tomsk negotiators, the Tolani counter-offer a simple trade treaty, which the Alliance accepts.   
3
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Migi on December 26, 2021, 09:34:13 PM »
Thanks for the update Kurt.

Apparently the "Shiba Inu" is a small type of Japanese dog, so I know who just became my favourite race.  ;D
4
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Garfunkel on December 26, 2021, 08:42:30 PM »
Obviously, they are the race that Fox McCloud belongs to in STAR FOX:

5
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by nuclearslurpee on December 25, 2021, 02:28:23 PM »
Quote
Every Shiba encountered by the Mintek so far has a technological implant of some sort in the side of their head.  The Shiba, when asked, explained that this is an assistive implant enabling the individual to download documents to long term memory, communicate over short distances, and integrate with the local area networks that the Shiba set up everywhere they go.  The Mintek find this technology extremely interesting, and their cultural mission plans on exploring the possibility of trade relating to this technology as one of the first things they do.

The Shiba state is called the Ascendancy, and from what little has been communicated to date the Mintek have found some comforting similarities to their own nation. 

I don't know enough about Starfire (that is, barely anything) to know if the name of the state is a clue here, but from the description I wonder if the Shiba are another of the same type of race as the Mintek in terms of spreading their belief system (or local-area networking equivalent) once a trade agreement is established. In that case, the Mintek may find themselves to be in for more than they bargained for - and a taste of their own medicine!

That being said, if this is so one would expect the Shiba to agree to a trade agreement a bit more readily, although they may just be a more cautious race by nature and it will happen soon enough?
6
New Cold War / Cold War: Months 200 to 202, Mintek Union
« Last post by Kurt on December 25, 2021, 10:43:26 AM »
Month 200, Mintek Union Territory, Gobabis System
The Gobabis system was located adjacent to the Mintek home system.  It was not a very interesting system, as it had a small, dim, red star primary, and had no habitable planets.  It was, however, fairly important to the Mintek.  Firstly, as noted above, it was adjacent to their home system, and so considered a part of the defense zone around their home system.  Secondly, one of its warp points connected to the Ephesos system, which had a warp point that led to the Alliance.  That warp point was closed on the Alliance side, and they had never discovered its location, even after the raid conducted by the Mintek navy into their Kure system.  Fortifications had been built in the Ephesos system, against the possibility that the Alliance had discovered, or might discover in the future, the location of the warp point in the Kure system, but so far there had been no sign of that.  Because the Gobabis system was the supply route for the fortifications in the Ephesos system, and so close to the Mintek home system, they had deployed a system wide sensor network, along with communications buoys at all of the warp points, to watch for intruders. 

That network paid for itself when it detected a ship appearing close to the primary star.  There was a short pause, and then additional ships entered the system and began spreading out across the system in what appeared to be a standard probe pattern.  After a short time, the ships spread out across the system in what was obviously a survey effort. 

Alerts were sent back to the Mintek home world, and they responded quickly.  The 2nd Carrier Strike Group, bolstered by carriers sent back from the 1st Carrier Strike Group for repairs or the replacement of their fighters, was dispatched from Mintek Prime, where it had been standing guard duty against the reappearance of the alien ship that had probed their home system from a close warp point some time ago.  The strike group was composed of two carriers, four light carriers, a strike carrier, fifteen escort carriers, three escort destroyers, and three hundred and fifty-four first generation fighters. 

Eight days later, as the 2nd Carrier Strike Group moved into the Gobabis system, they encountered one of the alien ships.  The Mintek force immediately began beaming contact messages to the unknown ship, and it replied.  Much to their relief, the Mintek could see that this appeared to a new race, not one of their enemies.  The new aliens were furred bipeds, with protruding noses.  Soon thereafter, the alien ships in the system were withdrawing towards their entry point, all except the one that was in contact with the 2nd Carrier Strike Group.  Both sides settled down to the hard work of establishing contact.   

Alien Survey fleet: 3xCVE, 14xDD (3xDD have LR scanners)

Month 202, Gobabis System, Mintek Universal Union
There is a breakthrough in communications early in the month, and full communications are established.  The Mintek are overjoyed and immediately offer a trade and military agreement.  The Shiba, as the new race calls themselves, politely refuse, countering with an offer of cultural exchange that would allow the two sides to get to know each other more before committing to an alliance.  The Mintek immediately accept, and a cultural mission is put together on Mintek Prime.  Each race agrees to send a group of representatives to the other sides nearest colony, to learn about how the other lives. 

The Shiba are a small race, averaging just over a meter in height, bipedal and covered in fur.  A human would say that they were vaguely foxlike in appearance.   Every Shiba encountered by the Mintek so far has a technological implant of some sort in the side of their head.  The Shiba, when asked, explained that this is an assistive implant enabling the individual to download documents to long term memory, communicate over short distances, and integrate with the local area networks that the Shiba set up everywhere they go.  The Mintek find this technology extremely interesting, and their cultural mission plans on exploring the possibility of trade relating to this technology as one of the first things they do. 

The Shiba state is called the Ascendancy, and from what little has been communicated to date the Mintek have found some comforting similarities to their own nation.     
7
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Kurt on December 25, 2021, 10:42:17 AM »
Merry Christmas to all! 

Cold War will return, although it may be in the new year.  In the meantime, I'll be posting a small update on the Mintek and their current endeavors. 

Kurt
8
Terpla'ns / The Terpla'ns - Chapter 11
« Last post by Zume on December 01, 2021, 06:02:58 PM »
Star Admiral Mansel, commanding the AFC mobile defenses in the Bedrock system, brooded in his cabin on the command dreadnaught Iron Mountain. The Abom Commonwealth fleet was on the other side of the Bedrock/Circuit Run warp point, undoubtedly preparing to gauge the defenses. Regarding the defenses, Mansel read a status report on his monitor. The initial set of the big type-6 forts, 12 of them, had been completed two months ago. However, the crews were still green, and only 6 were at the Circuit Run warp point; the other 6 were stationed at the warp point leading to Tire Iron in case the Abom Hokum stage an assault.

Both warp points had to be defended, and fort deployment was evenly split. Each warp point was covered by 6 type-6, 6 type-5, 9 type-3, 3 type-2 automated weapons control bases, and 6 Bulwark 3 asteroid forts. The type-5 and -6s were evenly split between capital missile and fighter designs, and the type-3s were a mix of plasma, missile and point defense. Lavish minefields covered the warp points up to a 1.25 light-second radius, and the distant missile and fighter forts were surrounded by a thin minefield shell up to the same radius to ground down armed pinnaces and ships alike. Reusable laser, primary and energy beam buoys engulfed the warp points like a house cut off by massive snowdrifts.

Mobile forces were also split with the majority composed of carriers. 12 fleet and 6 light carriers, with escorts, along with 6 DN, 6 BB, 3 BC, 3 BC(R), 9 CL and 9 DD orbited the Bedrock/Circuit Run warp point at various distances with the same force composition at the Bedrock/Tire Iron warp point. These ships (aside from some new construction and majority of the carriers) were stationed in Laser Burn before being called back when Connectors fell. Additional ships that could’ve strengthen the defenses were instead parceled out to new formations far from Bedrock. Worse, in Mansel’s mind, was that the AFC was reinforcing a contingency plan developed when Bedrock was first conquered. Fixed defenses at the Gymnasium/Abyssal 17 warp point, already reinforced when the Aboms first occupied Bedrock, were getting a major boost in the form of six large asteroid forts along with a brace of new fighter and close-in bases. Had two-thirds of what was employed in Gymansium now been placed in Bedrock instead…

A klaxon blared in the cabin, sending Mansel out and dashing down the short passageway to the CIC. The combat watch team had the main imager display the contacts coming out of the warp point. Data feeds scrawled along the bottom edge. Tonnage revealed the six ships to be battleships in size, but the drivefield strength was 20% greater and they turned far better than any battleship had any right to do. The CAP squadrons and patrolling escort shuttles left their assigned orbits and were atop the six ships, racing to bring their weapons on-line. Mansel noted how the ships were obviously armored to the extreme, and their even transit-addled point defense swatted down the distant capital missile fire from the forts that went online. Yet with all the firepower from those units able to get their weapons up, and assisted by 120 rechargeable laser buoys, two of those battleships were able transit back out, the last one only due to its engine tuners. In reply the defenses lost only six mine patterns from mine clearance charges fired from the abom external racks.

Mansel only spared a parting glare at the imager before he and his staff took in the after-action reports and scan results on the abom ships.

********

Admiral Jki, while relieved that the reconnaissance of the Axis defenses was a success, grimaced internally that only two of the advanced hull battleships returned. She would have preferred to use a pinnace probe instead, even a massive one, but she needed every pinnace for the assault and the aftermath. Solitary pinnace probes would take too long, and in Jki’s mind every day waiting was another day lost in relieving the army on Bedrock and the ships stranded in Brickyard and Bulwark.

In the hours that followed the probe the intelligence staff made their conclusions. The Axis combat area patrol was strong at 46 squadrons of F1 Hatchets along with a handful of Stiletto shuttles. Relatively few of those patrolling Hatchets armed and fired their weapons, indicating a good number of the pilots were still inexperienced. 46 squadrons meant those remaining squadrons on the bases and carriers were at least three times that number. As for the buoys they numbered 600 and the immediate mine shell had 1800 patterns. The ships stayed just outside jamming range of the warp point, giving weight to the assertion that an extensive minefield covering the approaches to the warp point up to and including the orbiting forts and inner shell of bases. It also allowed them to fire their weapons in datalink groups until such time they were destroyed.

The six asteroid forts shared the same electronic and power signatures. They were a previously unseen class and didn’t fire any weapons. However, the type-3 bases were known. The larger bases were six-light seconds out, along with the carrier group, escorts, and three BCs, putting them at optimal range for both capital missiles and engagement time for fighter launches. It all came down to the Hatchets, ships, forts and bases closest to the warp point. After five hours of hashing out several assault scenarios Jki interrupted her staff, selected one, and went about to make the appropriate arrangements. Six hours later the assault went in.

********

In the A-1 system, one transit out from the Inna home system, the covert observation of what turned out to be an Axis drive field had born fruit. In the month that followed the first detection three Axis formations, each one mostly composed of commercial-engine ships, appeared and disappeared in the same spots. Admiral Coopersmith, commanding the 3rd Field Fleet, had aboard his flagship Dr. Dunn, head of the Tzelan survey squadron, and Kunus, lead Inna scientist. The fleet still held station on the Inna side of the warp point, waiting as automated weapons and prefabricated bases were being sown and assembled.

Kunus, having already become accustomed to the appearance of the bipedal Tzelans in general and Dunn in particular, had to remind himself that the Crajen Coopersmith was a sentient being and not sort of some animatronic prop. It was the four stalked eyes that made Kunus feel a tad unsettled, along with the pair of crusher claws. In contrast the pair of hands served as a point of commonality, and he noticed the use of gestures whenever Coopersmith talked via the translation software.

In the ship’s CIC the admiral waved his hand at the representation of the A-1 system on a flat screen. “Thanks to those three convoys, we’re now certain that the system in question is an Axis one. Given that no ship deviated from the path between the two likely warp points, and no evidence of even pinnaces sent out to deploy additional buoys, leads me to believe that this system is in the interior of Axis space.”

“With the general areas of the warp points known, Admiral,” said Dunn, “the survey squadron can pin down the precise locations in three weeks, five at most. If it’s deemed feasible.”

Coopersmith looked at Kunus with one eye, but quickly diverted it back to Dunn as he sensed the Innan’s apprehension. “Our ambassador to the Inna government will make the case for your squadron’s return to A-1 to finish the warp point survey, as well as deploying additional scanner and comm buoys along the path between the two suspect warp points.”

Kunus gazed at the display, finding it easier to speak to Coopersmith that way at the expense of etiquette. “Are you planning an aggressive reconnaissance of the warp points once the defenses here in Inna reached a sufficient level?”

“An aggressive advance more likely, Professor Kunus. It will be a few more months before the first set of bases are in place, and by that time more convoys will have been observed making passage in A-1. I plan to intercept one of those convoys and capture as many ships as possible for their databases. If A-1 is indeed an interior system of the Axis, I will exploit this opportunity to the fullest.”

********

The Axis defenders of Bedrock had settled down to their routine when the assault began. Leading the charge were 600 Whale armed pinnaces, crewed by Terpla’ns, Hazens, and Bulani respectively, along with 60 regular pinnaces. Accompany them were 150 explorer and escort sized ships. Following the numerous interpenetrations their numbers were now 104, along with 556 pinnaces.

Coming next were pairs of assault carriers, 10 Avamiand 10 Bedrocks. One pair of each type interpenetrated and exploded, the violence of their deaths proving their flightgroups were armed with antimatter ordnance. Observing this the Axis crews noted there were no antimatter explosions from the interpenetrated armed pinnaces. Unexpectedly, the pinnaces didn’t charge through the minefields to place themselves atop the bases and ships. They instead held station at the warp point in three distinct groups, with one each facing subjective north, southeast and southwest. Though transit-addled, the pinnaces engaged the CAP squadrons with point defense as they swarmed the carriers. 104 Hatchets were obliterated along with 94 weapon buoys taken down by equally-addled pinnace guns.

The Axis pilots involved proved just as green as before, being fresh replacements from the previous CAP. Staying true to their training the pilots went for the big ships, ignoring the pinnaces. Only 14 of the 46 squadrons armed and fired weapons, and it took the fire of those bases, forts and ships that became active in the opening moments to destroy 7 Avami assault carriers. The sprint-missile armed BS3s, however, kept to their assigned task and engaged the explorers and escorts, knocking down shields. Of the 200 energy beam buoys 169 remained, and they all fired. All the small ships had overload dampeners, electing to negate all internal energy beam damage by burning out the dampeners.

In came the second wave, comprised of 5 Endrili Maelstroms and a Perdition assault minesweeper. Transiting back to Curcuit Run was the remaining Avami and 5 of the Bedrocks, but all the carriers that remained from the first wave launched fighters, 300 strong and all were F2 models armed with an internal gun and three FRAMs. They swarmed the Axis ships even as their datalinks were jammed and every point defense mount within range engaged them. Taking advantage of this the Whale armed pinnaces fired their now-stabilized external ordnance, all comprised of stand-off fighter missiles armed with lasing warheads. Whatever brief satisfaction the point defense and missile-armed BS3s had in wiping out squadrons of Sharks and small ships they were utterly smashed as they in turn were wiped from the continuum. The remaining two plasma-armed BS3s became active in the second wave and targeted the two Bedrocks, removing their passive defenses.

On her command carrier Admiral Hovwen watched as Mansel’s dreadnaught, as well as the rest of the close-in mobile defense force, were utterly obliterated by Shark fighters that survived the point defense fire. What remained of the three laser-lacerated BS3s and two forts of the northwest group were disposed of by the transit-addled sprint missiles of the Endrili ships. Despite that all three remaining Bedrocks were destroyed by all available units, including those buoys that remained to be fired. The damnable Whales had swept the buoy parks with point defense even as their internal guns blotted out all the remaining CAP Hatchets and Stilettos at the warp point.

One a secondary monitor Hovwen saw those Whales that had yet to fire their new missiles pivot to bring their weapons to bear on the northeast group of BS3s and forts as the abom Sharks that destroyed the mobile force engage the first set of crash launched fighters. Outnumbered two to one, the Hatchet pilots followed instructions to engage those Sharks that still had external ordnance as the engagement took place over the northeast defenses. Those bases fired their point defense regardless, even those it meant the laser-tipped missiles from the Whales would be unopposed. As for the third wave it came in the form of five Salyf class assault carriers and a battleship equipped with engine tuners. The capital missile BS5s and BS6s and all other units able to engage selected one Salyf, but with datalinks still incomplete the antimatter fireballs were only able to inflict light internal damage on the carrier.

When the fourth wave came in, bring in five more Salyfs, Hovwen saw the writing on the wall. With the destruction of the remaining BS3s and forts even the firepower of the capital missile bases and the three BCRs could, at best, destroy one large ship per assault wave. Worse, with jammers in each assault wave the disjointed crashed launched Hatchets would be devastated by the abom Whales, Sharks and ships. Holding back the Hatchets would only allow the aboms to marshal their Sharks for one big strike against the missile bases, and every assault carrier left unengaged would be another one available for the next assault.

With Mansel dead the command of the remaining ships went to Hovwen. With a purposeful look she faced the senior comm tech. “Inform the fleet to fall back to the Gravel Pit warp point in accordance with order 5. All fighters that expended external ordnance are to disengage and land on our carriers. No fighters are to perform ramming attacks. We will need every fighter to defend the fleet (what’s left of it, she mentally told herself) from long range fighter strikes.”

“As you order, Admiral,” said the tech, leaving Hovwen to wonder if even half of her hanger bays would be occupied once all was said and done.

The fifth wave had five Nikazu-V carriers, one of which was destroyed. It didn’t die as quickly as the other carriers for it and its four brethren only had conventional nuclear-armed ordnance on their fighters instead of antimatter. The huge BS6s and BS5s accomplished this for they now acted as complete datagroups, and they had to because each carrier deployed their EDMs upon entry. Meanwhile the assault minesweepers with their large sprint missile launches set upon the remaining BS3s and asteroid forts as the Sharks from the first wave formed up on the warp point with those Sharks launched from the Salyfs. The surviving explorers and escorts started to leave, though priority was given to the carriers, and were grounded down by BS3 sprint missile fire.

The sixth wave was the last one in the initial assault, again comprised of five more Nikazu-Vs and 600 Whales, of which 84 interpenetrated and violently exploded. A massive dogfight on the warp point filled the space with pockmarks of nuclear fireballs as all the remaining Hatchet squadrons and a handful of Stilettos arrived as one group. Two more carriers died with two more damaged, all from the sixth wave, for the fresh Hatchets finished what the distant missile bases started. For this the Hatchet wave was devastated from the combined firepower of Sharks and Whales along with whatever fire the ships and regular pinnaces could contribute. Those Hatchets that did survive moved at maximum speed on different vectors in the hope that some would reach the now retreating carriers.

Hovwen watched her main plot as the Shark squadrons and the sixth wave Whales went through the minefields, making a direct line for the capital missile and automated weapons control bases. Though they were abominations she had to admit to herself that the armed pinnace crews had nerves of iron worthy of any Comensol, taking losses from the minefields in stride. Two minutes after their arrival those Whales that survived were more than enough to destroy the missile bases while Sharks still with external ordnance, albeit nuclear-armed attack missiles, worked over the small control bases and retired to the warp point. Before dying, the missile bases fired on the remaining minesweepers as they transited out, shifting fire to the explorers and escorts as they maneuvered and transited as a single group.

Informed by a returning pinnace, Admiral Jki sent in her three Humarsh Monitor class superdreadnaughts. Premiering in their first battle, this trio of ships began their bombardment on the now-empty fighter bases, lancing them with capital missiles armed with second-generation lasing warheads to denude them of their external ordnance racks and any ADMs they might have. Armed with spinal force beams, meant to pick off crippled ships, the fighter bases selected one Monitor and kept firing despite knowing it would mean little in the end.

Following the Monitors were twelve Oknib dreadnaughts, belching shoals of antimatter armed capital missiles. In no time all remaining bases were destroyed, permitting the rest of the fleet to enter, all the while the surviving sixth wave pinnaces fanned out in multiple search spirals to eliminate any scanner buoy within one light minute of the warp point. With fighters providing the locations and density of the mines, the missile ships fired mine clearance rounds, weakening a portion of the primary minefield shell enough for the dreadnaughts and undamaged minesweepers to clear a path through it as well as the subsequent far thinner shells.

Taking stock of the situation, Jki had two personnel transports detailed to pick up allied life pods and those pilots and pinnace crews that managed to eject. Comensal lifepods were to be picked up last and then only those that were observed to come from the dreadnaughts and large bases. No bases and ships remained to be boarded, and thus only a few teams were allocated to search the wreckage. She was tempted to send her fighters against the retiring Axis carriers but didn’t as she needed all of them for operations in the system.

The fleet was divided into three parts. The largest portion went to the Bedrock/Gravel Pit warp point to mine and guard it. Another went to Bedrock proper to secure the orbital space and aid the beleaguered ground forces. As for the third it went for the Bedrock/Brickyard warp point. For this there were only four BC-hulled minelayers with a respectable number of escort cruisers armed with AFHAWKs, light and escort carriers. Moving at maximum speed, this force entered and exited the Bedrock asteroid belt twice, encountering two equally underwhelming fighter swarms. Clearly had there been more time (or resources allocated, as the Allies would learn later) then the asteroid fighter forts would’ve been built back up to their former strength.

Also heading towards the Brickyard warp point was the Axis mobile force stationed at the Tire Iron warp point, leaving the bases there to their fate. A trio of Sloop scouts, heading to the Tire Iron warp point, detected this force and shadowed it. The mobile force was comprised with the same number and classes of ships that were at the Circuit Run warp point, moving at maximum speed for a dreadnaught. It was clear the Axis commander was acting upon a contingency plan, heading into Brickyard to escape destruction. Due to the timing the Allied minelayer force completed its job and left with just 30 minutes to spare for the Axis force sent all of it Hatchet fighters, F1 models with two close attack missiles and a life support pod each, ahead to attack. Once at the Brickyard warp point the Hatchet fighters investigated the full 15 light second area, finding an inner shell of 300 mine patterns and four outer shells comprising a total of 84 patterns before returning to their carriers. The Axis commander sent in one dreadnaught to clear a path through the outer four shells, only pausing to restore shields before proceeding to the next thin shell. With that done the Commander elected to have all of ships, except for the carriers, to enter and sweep clear one section of the inner minefield shell. To that end said ships each had an EDM placed on their external racks. None had mine clearance charges as they weren’t needed due to their previous mission guarding the Tire Iron warp point. It wasn’t until the formation entered the minefield, with EDMs and ECM fully engaged, point defense ready, and force and laser mounts set for wide pattern engagement that the truth was learned.

In hindsight the Axis commander should’ve considered that the inner shell of mines might have been of the antimatter variety as they were reported in the failed warp point assault at the Hamthen home system. That the outer shells were of the regular nuclear variety may have lulled him into believing the inner shell would be the same. Had scanner packs been available for the fighters they would’ve known the difference. As a result, the standard minesweeping protocols were set even before the first outer shell was swept. Thus, no follow up scan was done, and such complacency was promptly rewarded.

Unlike the outer shell mine patterns, the inner shell patterns were set to maximum engagement parameters. Along with being harder to intercept the mines, which were sprint mode missiles in all but name, swamped the defenses of all nine destroyers and promptly destroyed them in an orgy of antimatter fireballs. The nine regular light cruisers joined them, along with the three Firebow missile cruisers. Slightly tougher, the three Hero BCs barely survived. All six battleships had just a whisp of armor to their credit. Five of the six dreadnaughts were attacked by two patterns each and were consigned to oblivion just like the destroyers. In stark contrast the six escort BCs sustained very light armor damage while the three CLEs took minor internal damage.

Nonetheless, the selected inner patch of the minefield was cleansed. The Commander did not survive, and his replacement promptly had the surviving ships transit into Brickyard, detailing the CLEs to conduct SAR operations for as long as possible. Once in Brickyard the carriers were tasked to guard the warp point while all the severely damaged ships made for Brickyard A-2. A mining colony with an accompanying orbital station was there, and the small shipyard immediately began repairs on the first of the three Hero BCs. All that remained was waiting for the time the Allies would come to finish the job.

********

In the CIC of the battleship Coral Sea Admiral Jki went through the first reports coming from Bedrock Prime as the fleet settled at the Gravel Pit warp point. With contact made with General Tukuno, reporting locations of Axis army units and facilities, a series of kinetic strikes were conducted, along with busting all airfields, logistical hubs and repaired industrial centers. Isolated pockets of soldiers were relieved. In one instance the crew of a submersible patrol craft was found on an island in the southern polar portion of the Purple Murk Ocean. Overall Tukuno’s army suffered 20% losses with a further 20% rendered unfit due to injuries and illness. The hospital and troopships’ sickbays were at capacity, leaving freighters and mobile yards to pick up the slack.

Captain Lanaq, Jki’s intelligence officer, blinked his eyes in a confident manner as he approached. “Admiral, I have the current reports of all other operations in the Citadel sector. I can transfer them to your station, but I can give you summaries if you so wish.”

Jki blinked slowly, a sign of consent.

“Admiral, the Axis warp point defenses at the Tire Iron warp point are now isolated. With no need to destroy them since we already have other routes of communication to our Hokum ally, the bases will be allowed to slowly degrade once their supplies run out. Two years, perhaps three, the bases will be reduced to the point where they can be destroyed by missile bombardment with minimal resistance. But, if rumors from R&D are to be believed, we could use those bases as targets for a new weapon system before said bases are rendered totally ineffective.”

“Good if the system is available in time, Lanaq. Continue.”

“The Borehole assault launched early as the mass pinnace probe conducted by TF 12 showed defenses entirely within the capabilities of the assault element,” Lanaq explained. “Control of the orbital spaces above Meadow and Borehole will be established in short order. Meanwhile the task group that retook Brass Latch has moved into Tinsmith. Suitable minefields were placed at the Brass Latch/Impedence and Tinsmith warp points to trap any stranded Axis units that may try to escape. In six weeks Gilded Wired system will be entered, thus completing that warp chain.

“TF 21established control of the Output system and will be entering Data Disk in short order. As for the Kerama Retto system the Axis has shown us another closed warp point by launching a taskgroup-sized assault. We can thank our extended sensor buoy network in the system for pinning down its location. The defending taskgroup intercepted it before the repair anchorage could be threatened. Those Axis ships able to get away fled, using the same warp point they entered. Two crippled ships had their remaining engines lanced by needle beams and were successfully boarded and captured.”

“Some good news,” Jki acknowledged. “With luck at least one database can be examined. The anchorage will speed up repairs for that task group.”

Lanaq blinked. “However, Admiral, a small Axis detachment went for the first closed warp point and conducted a mine sweeping bombardment, destroying roughly 33% of all the mines and all the weapon buoys. The automated weapons control ship was chased off by 6 squadrons of Hatchet fighters.”

“A problem that has to be addressed at some point,” Jki mused. “We haven’t conducted a probe of that first closed warp point due to a lack of resources. Once that task group is strengthened up to task force levels then perhaps the higher ups will conduct a probe.”

“No doubt, Admiral.” Lanaq briefly halfway closed his eyelids. “Regarding bad news we lost a small convoy in the Silvershoe system. It was comprised of four Hazen F4Ts, two Rundenro FGs and two Outrider DDEs. An Axis BC and two undersized BCs were apparently waiting, drive fields down, along a parallel track along the most direct route between the Metalstorm and Connectors warp points. The Axis ships destroyed the Rundenros first with a mix of externally mounted missiles, internal weapons, and fighters. As for the Outriders they took down seven armed pinnaces before dying, and the Hazen interceptor pilots bagged five Hatchet fighters before being wiped out. An escort carrier task element has already been dispatched from Metalstorm to hunt down the Axis ships.”

“They only attacked because they determined they had a good chance of success,” Jki stated with begrudging respect. “Once Metalstorm fell, that Axis force in Silvershoe placed themselves at a prime spot where their scanners can determine the strength of individual drive fields and waited with their drives off. The density of our search patterns along those most direct routes will have to be increased.”

“It will also mean convoys will have to larger to discourage attacks from raiding forces of the observed sized in Silvershoe, Admiral. Regarding other convoys one is due to arrive in two weeks, and one week after that we will get substantial reinforcement. In one month we will be in a position to assault Brickyard and recover those support assets that took refuge in the far reaches of that system.”

“With the supplies they carried, and undetected, perhaps,” Jki quipped, and was immediately rewarded with a stabbing pain in her gut. Lanaq noticed the twinge of pain expressed by Jki’s eyelids. He briefly looked away at a wall monitor, not wanting to further add to her apparent distress, before replying.

“Along with assault ships, Admiral, there will be large numbers of pinnace tenders equipped with the updated model of Whale armed pinnace. So, depending on what our probes of the Gravel Pit warp point tell us, we can conduct two assaults at the same time.”

Jki suppressed the urge to put a hand on her midsection, for the pain was going on longer than usual. “Such is the economy of war, Captain Lanaq. I can’t help but think we have the Axis on the backfoot. We have more money, materials, willpower and blood to obtain our goals than the enemy has for theirs. The Gods only know we spent our fair portion already.”
9
New Cold War / Cold War: Campaign Status Update
« Last post by Kurt on November 28, 2021, 04:19:08 PM »
Okay, just a little update on the behind-the-scenes stuff here at Cold War.

Currently the campaign has reached month 203, which is unprecedented for me personally, in terms of published large-scale starfire campaigns.  Neither the Phoenix Campaign or the Terran Campaign went on this long, and it is entirely because I've limited the income, population growth rates, and build rates for my campaign. Having said that, here is a snapshot of the state of the campaign:

Active Races: 23
Total Inhabited Systems: 220
Highest Income: 146,502 MCr's (Alliance)
Total # of Ships: 3,573
Total Hull Spaces: 157,000 (approximate)
Discovered Systems: 945

Now, on a different subject.  The campaign has grown to the point that my poor note-keeping is threatening the continuity and story-telling.  I quite often feel like I've lost track of characters or story threads, and it is entirely because I've focused on writing and moving forward, not documenting what has happened in a useable format, and world-building so that my characters and races have a consistent universe to act within.  Therefore, I am going to take a bit of a break to go through and organize what I have so that moving forward I'll know who my characters are, where they are at, and what the continuing story lines are.  It should just be a couple of weeks or so.  Hopefully. 
10
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by nuclearslurpee on November 26, 2021, 07:04:24 PM »
It seemed like the Bjering had leverage. They knew (or could reasonably infer) the Mintek were in a bad economic position without the ships. To regain the ships by fighting would take time and cost money, for supplies and to repair and replace warships, even if they won.

The Bjering did not know whether or not the Mintek could actually prosecute a war against them, but given that they had recently conquered the Bedu it was reasonable to infer that the Mintek could do so if they wanted to. Compared to the cost of such a war, the turning over of many superfluous transports (and I assume outdated, but I don't know how Starfire handles these) was the least bad option and a cost the Bjering were willing to pay to preserve their fleet.

Fog of War - or perhaps Fog of Peace? - is a tricky thing. Until they cut off negotiations, the Bjering had no idea how the Mintek would respond to such a thing, and they were fortunate that the Mintek were not terribly upset when communications were stopped.
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