Author Topic: Campaign Updates  (Read 35446 times)

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Offline Kurt (OP)

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Cold War: Month 213, The Emperor appeals to a higher power
« Reply #270 on: September 24, 2022, 11:42:32 AM »
Month 213, Day 9, Imperial D’Bringi Home World
The Emperor paced back and forth across his throne room.  The body of his latest Supreme Admiral lay at his feet, slowly cooling.  It had been the admiral’s fault, really, the emperor thought as he paced.  The fool should have known that the news he bore would have this result.  After all, the emperor feverishly reasoned, if the Supreme Admiral can’t control his fleet, then what good is he?

Finally stopping, the Emperor picked up his data slate that he had tossed aside when the now dead admiral had given him the news and sat on his throne.  Peering at the message on the slate, his blood grew hot again.  The thrice-damned coward in command of the Imperial Fleet, which was deployed to the warp point to the T’Pau system, had declined to attack into the T’Pau system as he had been ordered to do.  Instead, the coward had made excuses, claiming that “the fleet’s readiness did not lend itself to supporting an attack at this time”.  The emperor’s blood boiled again when he read that bureaucratese.  He should have known that the admiral was worthless.  After all, the cur had formerly been in command of the D’Bringi fleet in the home system under the Alliance, and he had turned on the Alliance at the first opportunity.  The emperor had a brief flash of clarity.  Others had warned him that the admiral was a weakling, and went with the flow, but the emperor had been flattered by the Admiral’s willingness to follow him, and he had believed that the admiral was a true believer.  The clarity quickly faded, though, and the emperor decided that he hadn’t been wrong, instead he had been misled by his so-called advisors.  Looking at the dead admiral at his feet he growled low in his throat.  The cur leading his forces had even refused an Imperial order to return to the home planet to explain himself.  Instead, word from loyalists in the fleet had arrived indicating that the admiral was preparing to negotiate with the Alliance.  Orders had already been sent to the loyalist to kill the admiral and seize control of the fleet, but he had little doubt that they’d fail, as so many officers already had in the navy. 

The emperor thought furiously.  If the fleet turned on him, or worse, let the Alliance into the system, then he wouldn’t be able to maintain control of the home planet.  The Empire’s hold on the planet was tenuous to begin with, and losing control of the fleet would be seen as a sign of weakness.  The lower orders were restless, as were the middle levels, and the Empire’s hold the planet was entirely based on an image of success.  At the first sign of faltering the emperor had no doubt that the faithless lower orders would turn on his government and supporters. 

Finally, the emperor came to a decision.  His gambit to start a war with the humans had obviously failed, as there had been plenty of time for his followers to provoke the humans.  There was only one route forward now, one desperate gamble left.  Telling his supporters that he was leaving to meet with his military advisors, the emperor boarded a shuttle.  He took only his personal guard with him, leaving his spouse and child, along with his closest advisors.  If salvation was to be found, he would be the one to bring it to his people, no one else. 

The shuttle took the emperor to orbit, where it met the lead ship of a battlecruiser squadron that orbited above the Imperial capital.  The three battlecruisers were of an unfamiliar design, different from the usual D’Bringi design aesthetic, and glittered with strange energies that washed across their shielding periodically.  Once the emperor was aboard, the trio of battlecruisers left orbit, moving far too fast for a battlecruiser, as fast as a corvette’s strategic speed.  The battlecruisers were the emperor’s personal guard, and while little was known about them, everyone knew that they were equipped with advanced technology that had not been granted to the Navy. 

The battlecruisers accelerated away from the planet, on a course outward, towards nothing in particular. 

Month 213, Day 16, D’Bringi Home System
After several days travel, the Emperor’s battlecruisers approached a location in the outer system that was indistinguishable from any other.  Once there they came to a halt, and, on the Emperor’s orders, settled in to wait. 

For three hours the emperor’s ships sat still in space, waiting.  Finally, something happened.  A huge ship, easily more massive than all three battlecruisers combined, materialized right in front of them, just three quarters of a light second away.  There were gasps of astonishment across the bridges of all three cruisers, and their captains ordered their crews to their stations, but the emperor countermanded those orders, telling everyone that this was expected.   The monster ship slowly moved closer while the D’Bringi bridge crews watched in awe. 

In truth, the emperor was worried.  This was not how things usually went.  In fact, this was totally unprecedented.  As Keeper, he had communed with the Benefactors before, several times, and indeed it was they who had provided the encryption keys and the AI corruption routines for the ICN.  They had also provided his new Imperial Guard battlecruisers, which were more powerful than any other D’Bringi warship by far.  But never before had they been physically present.  Always his ship would arrive at the appointed location and wait, and eventually they would receive a communication from the Benefactors, sometimes days after they arrived.  All he could do was hope that this was a good thing, because if it wasn’t it was very bad. 

A hologram appeared in front of the emperor, in the middle of the bridge.   The figure in the hologram was tall, and clothed in some sort of environment suit.  The suit was purplish in color, with blotches running across the surface of the suit, apparently randomly.  There was a head, but it was small, almost like a turret, with a single eye or optical sensor in the center.  The suit had hard shelled collar with two horns swept back and rising around and above the head.  The rest of the suit was obscured by a cape or some similar garment that fell from the collar and reached to the floor.  After a few seconds it spoke, and as always, the Benefactor’s voice sounded as if multiple mellifluous voices had been blended into one unified voice. 

“You come to ask for our assistance.”  It wasn’t a question.

The emperor had to fight his entire being to remain on his feet, so in awe of this god-like being was he.  In the end he went to one knee while the rest of the bridge crew, Keepers all, prostrated themselves.  “Lord, I come at our hour of need.  My people have failed you, I understand this, but I am still worthy and wish to prove our worth.”  In his desperation he saw a way forward.  “If your ship would accompany my squadron, I could regain control of my fleet and the way would be open to move forward.  All can still be saved.”

“You have failed.”  The finality of the statement took the emperor’s breath away.  “Still, the odds were long against your success, as I warned when you undertook this venture.”  The emperor bowed his head and waited for the judgement of his god.  “I will help you.”

The emperor sagged in relief.  “My lord, my people will give you a course.  Thank…”

“You misapprehend.  Your cause has failed.  There is no route forward now, only destruction should you try.  I estimate the chance of you regaining control of your fleet with my help to be near certain, however, what then?  By now the Alliance has rallied and will have significant defenses on the far side of the warp point.  Even if you breach them, the entire Alliance will be arrayed against you.”

In desperation the emperor rose to his feet, shaking his head.  “No!  With your help nothing will be impossible!  If you join your forces to mine then nothing could stand against us!  We could sweep the Alliance from space and all will bow to me.”  Remembering himself, he quickly added, “And to you!”

The Benefactor was silent for a few seconds.  “No.”  The finality of the statement was as if the door to the emperor’s crypt had closed behind him. 

“But…but you said you would help?”  This last came out far more plaintively than the emperor intended.   

“I will.  You have been a faithful servant, and I will allow you to come with me, away from this world.”

For a few seconds the emperor was overwhelmed with joy, but then he remembered all of those who had betrayed him.  And all of those who still believed in him.  “No!”  Realizing he had shouted, the emperor kneeled again, and looked down.  “No.  I cannot abandon my people.  I cannot leave.”

The Benefactor remained silent for nearly a minute, watching the kneeling emperor.  Finally, it spoke.  “Very well.  I grow tired of this.  The great experiment will go on, but without you.  In honor of your service, I grant you one last boon.”  There was a hissing sound as the environment suit unsealed itself.  The head/turret hinged back and moved out of the way as the top of the suit irised open.  Light poured from the top of the suit and an ethereal form emerged from the suit.  The emperor watched in awe as an angel from the old tales took form in front of him.  The angel hovered for a few seconds and a feeling of peace and joy washed across everyone in the room.  Even as everyone basked in the glow of the angel the hologram flickered out, leaving the room dark. 

It took the emperor a few seconds but then he realized that the room was too dark.  Even has he realized this; alarms began ringing. 

“Power is down!”

That announcement was quickly followed by reports that the ship’s shields were down along with her active defenses.  Before the emperor could react, Benefactor’s ship opened fire on one of the Imperial flagship’s squadron mates.  The D’Bringi battlecruiser might have been the most advanced ship in known space, with incredibly tough shields and armor, but all of that meant nothing compared to the broadside unleashed by the Benefactor behemoth.  Extremely advanced energy beams, accompanied by equally advanced lasers and some weapon of unknown nature which stimulated an anti-matter explosion within the battlecruiser all converged on the targeted ship, wiping it from space in seconds. 

Unbelieving, the emperor turned to his ship’s commander.  “Get us out of here!”

The captain looked overwhelmed.  “Sire, our engines are down!  We can’t move, or even power our weapons!”

The emperor looked around frantically, trying to find a way out, when the tactical plot chimed.  As the emperor watched, another two mammoth Benefactor ships materialized, and finally, at long last, the emperor realized that he wasn’t getting out of this one.  Seconds later beams from one of the newly arrived ships wiped the emperor’s ship from space, along with its last consort. 

The three Benefactor ships remained in place for a few minutes.  Periodically a beam would spear out from one or another of the ships, destroying one of few life pods that had managed to get away from the doomed D’Bringi ships.  Once that was done the ships faded from view, gone as if they never existed. 

Offline Kurt (OP)

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Cold War: Month 213, The Aurarii Attack
« Reply #271 on: September 27, 2022, 09:15:12 AM »
Month 213, Day 16, Alliance Nagasaki system
The Alliance 4th Fleet arrived over Nagasaki Prime on this date.  The fleet consisted of twenty-three warships, including no less than fifteen battlecruisers.  Unfortunately, all of the fleet’s carriers had been stripped away to reinforce other units over the last year, leaving it critically weak in that area, but still, the presence of so many warships were reassuring to the colonists and celebrations covered the planet.  After a short period of R&R, the fleet moved on to join the D’Bringi ships standing guard in the outer system.  Sho-Sa F’Nor’s ships would then formally be assigned to the 4th Fleet.   

Month 213, Day 22, Sheund System, Doraz Contingency (Alliance Associate State)
The Sheund system is the Contingency’s point of contact with the Aurarii Republic, at least since the Contingency agreed to cede the starless nexus in between Sheund and the Aurarii home system to the Republic as a result of Alliance mediated negotiations.  The Sheund system is a single-star system with and orange primary, one rocky planet, an asteroid belt, three gas giants and three ice planets.  Without habitable planets of its own, it is only of interest in that it is on the route from the Doraz home system to other inhabited systems, and because it is the border with the Aurarii.  Since the treaty was concluded, a force of Doraz ships had watched the warp point to Aurarii territory, but the duty had largely been boring, as nothing ever came through the warp point except the regular trade ships.  The border guard group consisted of three missile cruisers, three scout destroyers, and a single scout corvette.  The guard group was positioned fifteen light seconds from the warp point, well out of range of anything that came through.   

Now, though, things changed.  Suddenly, ships started entering the Sheund system.  The first ships through were battlecruiser-sized, but immediately after entering, as the second wave started coming through, the first three ships began launching fighters.  Another minute passed as the Doraz crews ran to their battle stations, and by that time an additional carrier had entered the system, along with two light carriers and two battleships. 

Given the presence of the battleships and the fighters, the Doraz commander knew that she was outmatched.  She ordered her force to begin retreating, but as they turned away the Aurarii fighters began their pursuit. 

Fourteen minutes later the one hundred and forty-four Aurarii fighters were closing on the Doraz force.  The Aurarii commander, Lord Major Vintari, ordered the Doraz force to surrender or be destroyed.  Warleader Grogan, the CO of the Doraz force, sent back a rudely worded reply that implied that the Centauri commander had had relations with his own mother. 

Without hesitating, the Aurarii fighters slammed into the Doraz formation.  Most of the Aurarii fighters were each armed with a single anti-matter close attack missile and two standard close attack missiles, while twenty-four of the fighters were armed with three lasers each.  The first to fire was an Aurarii fighter group equipped with close attack missiles.  They salvoed their close attack missiles at point blank range into the belly of one of the Doraz heavy cruisers.  The heavy cruiser’s shields and armor collapsed under the anti-matter and fusion explosions, and the ship was left a burning wreck with only life support and two engine rooms still intact.  The remaining two heavy cruisers frantically fired their point defense in offensive mode, but only hit three fighters.  A second fighter group swooped on a Doraz destroyer that was frantically trying to interpose itself in between the fighters and the heavy cruisers and raked it from fore to aft with their close attack missiles, completely destroying the valiant ship.  The other two destroyers killed another two fighters before another fighter group wiped out the Doraz corvette with their lasers.  The remaining fighters swarmed over the Doraz ships, firing their lasers and close attack missiles.  Then the fighter group turned away, leaving behind three critically damaged heavy cruisers and a lone destroyer.  The crippled ships were left to their own devices until the main Aurarii fleet could mop them up. 

The Doraz commander had sent a contact report off via CD when the Aurarii jumped into the system, and now sent a second report off with the results of the battle.  Shortly thereafter life pods began spilling from the four ships.  Two of the ships, one of the heavy cruisers and the destroyer, successfully destabilized their remaining engines and destroyed themselves before the Aurarii could arrive.  The crews of the other two heavy cruisers tried to scuttle their ships but the damage their ships had suffered was so bad that their attempts failed.  On one of the two ships the crew managed to wipe their databanks before leaving, but on the second, which had lost most of its officers, the crew abandoned ship without thought to anything but getting away from their crippled ship.     

The Aurarii fleet arrived in the area of the wrecks seven minutes later and began recovery operations.  As the fleet recovered the life pods, assault shuttles with marines and intel teams converged on the two remaining Doraz wrecks.  Behind the fleet, two survey groups entered the system and spread out to begin their survey. 

Month 213, Day 26, Alliance Nagasaki System
The reinforcements dispatched from the Kumamoto fleet base arrive over Nagasaki Prime before continuing on to join up with the 4th Fleet in the outer system.  The reinforcements consist of six sorely needed carriers, three of which are fleet carriers, and five escorting warships. 

Once the reinforcements arrive at the warp point, the 4th Fleet will have eighteen battlecruisers, eleven heavy cruisers, three escort destroyers, three fleet carriers, one strike carrier, four escort carriers, and four corvette-carriers.  At that point the fleet will be able to field two hundred and sixty-one fighters.  This is still considered understrength in terms of fighters, but the fleet is much stronger than it was just a month ago. 

Month 213, Day 27, Doraz Prime (Alliance Associate Member)
The CD’s bearing the invasion warning arrived on this date, causing a vast consternation throughout the government.  Fully one third of the fleet had been sent to the Alliance to help with their war situation, and now the Lothari had invaded from the opposite direction. 

The Doraz government immediately recalled its fleet from the Chruqua Nexus, and dispatched the entire force in the home system to the Whever colonial system to guard the warp point to the Sheund system.  Doraz fleet command was fairly confident that they could stop the Aurarii at the warp point, but feared an open-space battle would be decided by the enemy’s fighters.  The nineteen ships that were the entire remaining force in the home system set out for Whever within hours. 

In addition, a request for Alliance aide was sent via the ICN to both the Alliance and the Torqual. 

Later this same day the Doraz forces in the Chruqua Nexus receive their orders and set out for home.   

Month 213, Day 28, Alliance and Torqual Home Worlds
The Doraz war warning message electrified both capital worlds.  For the Torqual, this was a threat that was too close to home, as the Doraz home world was only two jumps from their home world.  For the Alliance, which was still trying to reorganize itself after the disruption of the D’Bringi civil war, and still had the D’Bringi home world and the situation with the Union to deal with, this was yet another demand on its naval strength that was already largely committed. 

The Torqual consulted with the Alliance as the day went on, and in the end the Torqual pledged to send their fleet in the Chruqua Nexus, with the Alliance’s blessing, to reinforce the Doraz home system’s defenses. 

The Alliance found itself with few options.  Next month additional ships would be available, including a large number of carriers that had arrived in the Rehorish system last month from the Far Frontier Sector with empty fighter bays that were even now refilling their bays.  For now, the Alliance was limited in what it could send. 

The 3rd Fleet, which was understrength, was ordered to leave Stahat in the Far Stars Sector and set out for Doraz Prime as soon as possible.  The situation in the Far Stars sector was stable, and while not all of the D’Bringi colonies had resumed cooperating with the Alliance government, they had no warships and thus could be left to their own devices until the economic blockade brought them back to the fold.  It would take a month for the 3rd Fleet to reach Doraz Prime. 

Reluctantly, the Alliance Council decided to pull the 6th Fleet from the Villiers system and send it to the aide of the Doraz, at least the bulk of the fleet.  Tai-sho Talix, the 6th’s commander, was ordered to leave picket forces behind in the Villiers system to support the Zir forces there, and to take the rest of his fleet to Doraz Prime.  It would take almost three months for the fleet to arrive at its destination. 

The Alliance Council made one additional decision.  A message was sent to Tai-sa G’Tak, the D’Bringi commanding the newly created 7th Fleet in the Dether system.  By the authority of the Council Tai-sa G’Tak was named Special Ambassador to the Colonial Union and authorized to negotiate a permanent cease fire with the Union.  The Alliance Council gave the D’Bringi officer wide latitude to resolve the current difficulties, including the authority to agree to reparations and to cede Alliance territory, as long as it wasn’t inhabited.  The Alliance Council included guidelines and preferences in its messages, stating that the Council strongly wished to return to the status quo of the previous trade relationship, but that they would accept a no-contact agreement if the Union insisted.  The Council made it clear to Ambassador G’Tak that the hostilities with the Union needed to be ended now, as soon as possible, to clear the way for the Alliance to deal with the Doraz-Aurarii war and the invasion by the Lothari. 

Although G’Tak himself was unsure of the wisdom of asking a D’Bringi officer to negotiate with the Union, given that the actions of other D’Bringi officers began the conflict, the Council assured him that the fact that he had stopped the Imperial D’Bringi fleet from attacking the Union force had been emphasized to the Union fleet commander in the aftermath of the battle, and that they had full faith in his ability to end the conflict.  Besides, there wasn’t enough time to get anyone else out that far. 
 
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Offline Kurt (OP)

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Cold War: Month 213, End of the Month
« Reply #272 on: September 30, 2022, 10:03:17 AM »
Month 213, Day 30, T’Pau home system
The Alliance 5th Fleet had been assembled at the warp point to the D’Bringi home system to ensure that the Imperialists did not try to break the blockade of their system.  No one knew how much of the old Alliance 2nd Fleet, which had been stationed in the D’Bringi home system, had gone over to the Empire, so no risks were being taken.  The forty-one ships of the 5th Fleet, along with its three hundred and forty-five fighters, were joined by the twelve battleships of the Alliance Strategic Reserve.  At the center of the warp point’s defenses were three BS3’s supported by nearly five hundred automated weapons and minefields, and over four hundred SBM pods. 

The defenses had been watching the warp point for long enough that no one really expected to see anything come through, when suddenly, a CD appeared on the warp point.  The CD began broadcasting standard Alliance contact codes, including a special code sent to the D’Bringi home system at the start of the blockade, to be used if they wanted to negotiate.  The Alliance flagship downloaded the CD’s message bank to an isolated system, where it was examined and re-examined for malware and other threats.  After being cleared, the fleet commander Cho-sho Tok, viewed the message.  The message was from a D’Bringi claiming to be not only in charge of the D’Bringi fleet in the home system, but, interestingly, was also styling himself as “Governor” of the D’Bringi system.  In essence, the D’Bringi admiral was asking for the Alliance to end the blockade so that the D’Bringi home system could rejoin the Alliance. 

The 2nd Fleet’s CO immediately sent off a message to the home world, and then responded to the D’Bringi message with one of his own, agreeing to meet and talk.  The details would have to be worked out, but at least the D’Bringi were talking. 

Month 213, Day 30, Aurarii controlled Sheund system
Aurarii naval intelligence teams complete their examination of the two captured Doraz hulks.  On one the crew managed to wipe the ship’s databanks, but on the second a serious of mishaps and malfunctions prevented the remaining crew from wiping the system.  The damaged heavy cruiser’s systems provided the Aurarii with a wealth of data, including data on the last two systems the ship had passed through, which included the Doraz home world.  In addition, there was information on the status of the Doraz fleet forces in the home system.  All in all, it was a windfall for the Aurarii invasion, which had originally gotten off to a rocky start. 

Month 213, Day 30, Lothari controlled Liawak System
The Kingdom’s assault fleet had been stalled here after successfully seizing the system as naval intelligence hadn’t been able to uncover any astrogation information on the Alliance systems surrounding them, and the 2nd Survey Squadron had only just begun its work.  In the meantime, the ground troops under the control of Swordsman Hartmann had busied themselves establishing control of the Alliance colonies in the system.  Swordsman Hartmann had spent much of his time meeting with the Alliance officers he had captured, and in particular had dined with the T’Pau commander of the Alliance patrol group, who, after a few days, had realized this wasn’t a trick to try to get information out of her, and that instead, Swordsman Hartmann meant what he said when he claimed he just wanted to get to know the Alliance a little bit better. 

It took a while, but Sho-sa Tegrix eventually relaxed and actually began enjoying the daily meals with the Swordsman, mostly because of the honorable treatment they had all received at the hands of the Lothari Navy. 

All of that changed when a special liner arrived in orbit over the largest Alliance colony.  The liner arrived without arrangements being made with the naval forces in the system, and when it had been questioned at the warp point the liner’s commander had used a high-level security code to shut down all questions as to its presence.  Swordsman Hartmann only found out about the liner’s presence when he received a summons to his own docking bay.  Upon arriving he found that the bay had been taken over by Kingdom Internal Security troops.  InSec was feared throughout the Lothari Kingdom, and rightly so.  Many who had encounters with InSec were never seen again, and those who questioned such things had a way of disappearing as well, no matter how important or necessary they thought they were.  Upon arriving Swordsman Hartmann was relieved of his sidearm and efficiently searched, then ushered into the presence of an InSec officer.  InSec troops wore body armor and helmets that completely obscured their identity, and officers only wore insignia that identified them as InSec officers, but nothing that would give anyone an idea of their rank.  This was done as an intimidation measure, as anyone speaking to an officer would have no idea if that officer was a green lieutenant or a general. 

Not knowing if this was his last moments, Swordsman Hartmann waited for the InSec officer to speak.  After the officer looked the Swordsman up and down, a second officer approached and spoke in the first’s ear.  The first officer nodded and then approached Hartmann.  “Swordsman, you have achieved a victory here, it seems.”

The InSec officer’s tone of voice made it very clear that Hartmann’s achievement was little more than what was expected.  “Still, there have been errors made here.”  The InSec officer looked the naval officer up and down, then continued.  “Not yours, perhaps, but still.  In the future you should be more diligent.  Your so-called intelligence officers have failed to get the information the State needs to prosecute the Great Leader’s war. Now that we are here, that will end.  Internal Security will assume responsibility for the occupation of the former Alliance colonies as of now.  In addition, we require that all Alliance naval personnel in your custody be transferred to my shuttle, now.”

Swordsman Hartmann knew what that meant for the prisoners, and knew that he couldn’t change that, but had to try.  “They are enemy military personnel.  They should remain in military custody, by the law and as tradition demands.”

The InSec officer stepped towards the Swordsman, and the InSec troopers behind him shifted their weapons to cover the naval officer.  “While you have achieved much here, don’t let that go to your head.  I am operating at the Supreme Leader’s direction, and to deny me is to deny him.  Is that what you intend to do?”

Swordsman Hartmann, knowing he had lost this battle before it even began, took a step back.  “I obey the State, as do we all.  The prisoners will be prepared for transport.”

The InSec officer took a step closer and leaned towards Hartmann.  “Very good, Swordsman.  After all, we wouldn’t want word of your coddling of these enemies of the State to get to those who may…misunderstand…your reasoning.  Would we?”

“Is there anything further, officer?”

The InSec officer turned away.  “That will be all, Swordsman.”

Swordsman Hartmann left the docking bay, carefully controlling his emotions.  The fact that InSec was here, now, was a blow to his offensive every bit as serious as the sudden appearance of an enemy fleet.  In the run up to the start of the offensive, he thought he had convinced the Supreme Leader to leave these matters in the hands of the military.  Thus, he would be able to ensure that the military personnel and the civilians they captured were treated well, and given no more reasons to fight against the Lothari forces than they already had.  Obviously, InSec had gotten the Supreme Leader’s ear and changed all of that, which would change the tenor of his campaign.  InSec only understood fear and brutality, and they used both with a will. 

Later, as Hartmann watched the Alliance prisoners being matched into the InSec shuttle, he knew that he would never see them again.  The knowledge twisted his heart, but he buried it deep within himself.  He was a protector of his people, sworn to their service, and if he began a pointless and doomed fight with InSec then his usefulness to his people would be at an end. 
 
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Cold War: Month 214, negotiations begin
« Reply #273 on: October 02, 2022, 10:53:55 AM »
Month 214, Day 1, Rehorish Home System
Sixteen carriers of various types, escorted by seventeen corvette-carriers, left Rehorish Prime, en route to the Chruqua system.  These carriers, freshly filled with fighters from the Rehorish orbital yards, will reinforce either the forces facing the Lothari beyond Nagasaki, or the Doraz, or both. 

Month 214, Day 1, Alliance Dether system
Tai-sa G’Tak begins formal negotiations with Admiral Carstairs from the Colonial Union.  Admiral Carstairs has been authorized by the Semenov government to negotiate for the Colonial Union. 

Month 214, Day 2, Alliance T’Pau Home System
Formal negotiations begin with the Imperial D’Bringi.  The negotiations are taking place in the T’Pau home system, under the guns of the fleet and bases guarding the warp point.  The Imperial D’Bringi who was now styling himself the “governor” had originally tried to demand that the negotiations be held in the D’Bringi home system, however, the Alliance was done catering to the Imperial’s.  Enough evidence had been gathered at this point to link the emperor and his followers to a series of criminal activities across the Alliance, apparently all aimed at gathering the resources they needed to fund their rebellion, that the Alliance Council had declared the D’Bringi Imperial government an illegal organization.  Given the unclear nature of the situation in the D’Bringi home system, there was no way any Alliance officials were going to enter that system without a fleet at their back.  The Alliance response to the governor’s bluster was to decline the negotiations and reinstate the blockade.  The D’Bringi governor had held out for exactly two hours before agreeing to meet in the T’Pau home system. 

At exactly 0800 hours the D’Bringi governor’s pinnace jumps into the T’Pau system, where it will be escorted by a fighter wing to the battlecruiser chosen as the meet site.  The negotiations begin promptly, with the governor demanding reinstatement of the D’Bringi home world into the Alliance, with himself as leader and his choice of candidate placed into the D’Bringi position on the Council.  This is a non-starter for the Alliance but does serve as a place to begin negotiations. 
 
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Cold War: Month 214, End of the D'Bringi Coup
« Reply #274 on: October 05, 2022, 08:35:49 AM »
Month 214, Day 5, Alliance T’Pau Home System
The negotiations with the former Imperial D’Bringi conclude.  Although the D’Bringi who called himself the governor tried to stake out an advantageous position early in the negotiations, the Alliance was completely unwilling to bend and was also very willing to continue the blockade as long as necessary.  Once the governor realized he had no leverage, the negotiations went smoothly, especially after the Alliance negotiators realized that the governor was actually more worried about the loyalty of his own fleet than how the Alliance was going to treat him.  In the end, the governor agreed to surrender the D’Bringi home system to the Alliance in exchange for amnesty for Imperial officials who had not committed crimes against the Alliance, or against D’Bringi law as it existed before the coup, coupled with an agreement from the Alliance Council that he and any Imperial official who requested it would be granted asylum on an Alliance colony away from their former subjects.  In exchange, the governor agreed to stand his fleet down and allow Alliance ships into the D’Bringi home system.  Unknown to the Alliance, the governor really hadn’t had much choice on that.  The so-called Imperial D’Bringi fleet in the home system was made up of a few ships crewed by Imperial fanatics, it was true, but the bulk of the fleet was crewed by D’Bringi who had served in the Fleet under the Alliance.  While they were unwilling to fire on their own people to stop the coup when it happened, they were equally unwilling to fire on Alliance ships.  That was the real reason the D’Bringi admiral who had become the governor had refused to attack the T’Pau home system.  The emperor had blamed it on his cowardice, but in reality, he had known that if he ordered the attack very few ships in the fleet would have cooperated and it likely would have precipitated a counter-coup movement within the fleet that would have almost certainly resulted in the bulk of the fleet turning hostile to the Imperial government.  That was the real reason he negotiated with the Alliance, the fleet’s officers and crews had demanded it. 

The next day a squadron of Alliance warships from the T’Pau system jump into the D’Bringi home system and find the former Imperial fleet’s ships powered down, with no shields or drive fields, awaiting them.  The quickly realized that it had been a good thing that the D’Bringi didn’t want to fight.  Arrayed around the warp point were thirty-three warships, including twenty-two carriers capable of fielding over five hundred fighters.  Seven of the carriers were the latest fleet carrier design, laid down before the coup and launched in the days after the plotters seized control.  In addition, there were six BS3’s and an asteroid fort guarding the warp point, along with minefields and missile pods.  It certainly wasn’t a big enough force to take the T’Pau star system, with all of the forces transferred there by the Alliance, but it would have made invading the D’Bringi home system a nightmare, and ensured heavy losses. 

Things progress rapidly from there, with Alliance teams jumping in on board transports to begin the work of vetting the crews and officers to weed out Imperial loyalists.  Meanwhile, a squadron of Alliance ships, along with more transports, sets out for the inner system and D’Bringi Prime. 

Month 214, Day 14, D’Bringi Prime
The Alliance task force arrives over D’Bringi Prime to find the planet’s population celebrating.  It seems that since the disappearance of the Emperor, the bureaucracy had slowly begun a campaign of passive resistance to the new government the Imperial’s had set up, returning to Alliance standards where possible, or just ignoring commandments from each new successor to the missing Emperor where outright disobedience wasn’t possible.  When the D’Bringi who styled himself ‘The Governor” had surrendered the fleet and allowed Alliance forces into the system, the Imperial government on D’Bringi Prime, which had never acknowledged either that the Emperor was actually missing or that ‘The Governor’ had any actual authority, simply melted away.  When the Alliance task force settled into orbit the government on D’Bringi Prime declared itself under the control of Alliance Councilor Skull-Splitter and confirmed its loyalty to the Alliance. 

Shortly after achieving orbit, the transports carrying troops, investigators, and auditors landed across D’Bringi Prime and began the work of reintegrating the planet into the framework of the Alliance and hunting down those who had committed crimes under Alliance and D’Bringi law during the coup and its aftermath. 
 
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Cold War: Aurarii Catch up
« Reply #275 on: October 05, 2022, 08:43:39 AM »
Oops.  I just realized that I left something out, so I'm going to post it here.  Just a little bit to explain the Aurarii invasion of the Doraz/Alliance, without which it seems that the Aurarii have gone insane. 

Sorry about that. 
Aurarii Assault
On Day 1, Month 211, the Emperor signed an official declaration of war on the Doraz Contingency, and by extension, the Alliance as a whole.  The Emperor’s military advisors assured him that the war would be short, and for limited goals.  However, the Aurarii war effort immediately faltered.  This was primarily because the declaration of war was politically motivated, a result of intense pressure being put on the Emperor and his primary supporters in the court, as a result of the failure to discover new territories through the system granted to the Aurarii by the Doraz. The Emperor had not been in favor of war, he was young, and inexperienced, and feared that his advisors, particularly his military advisors, had too much power and influence in the court.  Their easy victory over the Norn Regime several years ago had vastly improved their standing with both the public and the court, and they naturally wished to continue that trend.  They were assisted in this by powerful industrial interests who wanted to both enlarge the military and open up interstellar colonization.  The Emperor initially resisted the pressure, and when exploration of the system granted to them by the Doraz failed to produce new colonizable systems, the Emperor tried to negotiate a new treaty with the Alliance.  Unfortunately, the aloof Alliance ignored all attempts by the Aurarii to open negotiations.  This proof that they were beneath the Alliance’s notice greatly undermined the Emperor’s fragile position, and by Month 211 he was forced to concede and declare war. 

The political admirals, who mostly spent their time at court, rejoiced at their success in obtaining the declaration, but their joy was short lived.  The Navy had just entered a modernization phase, and six capital ships and four carriers were in the yards for refits.  The capital ships wouldn’t be out of the yards for four to five months, meaning that the Navy was critically understrength just when the government decided to declare war.  After some internal debate the Navy decided that they could accept a weaker defense force over the home world for a short period of time, until the ships being refitted got out of the yards, especially as the new technology would make those ships all the more dangerous. 

The Navy hurriedly put together an assault force composed of three monitors, three superdreadnoughts, six battleships, four carriers and five light carriers.  This critically weakened the force over the Norn home world, and left two superdreadnoughts, three battleships, and three light carriers in reserve over the home world.  Complaints from the Norn Occupation Command reached the court almost immediately, as they had long tried to get the squadron assigned to the Norn home world enlarged, and seeing it stripped of most of its ships was very alarming and set off alarms throughout the Army occupation command.  After some political maneuvering, this resulted in the Navy being forced to not only return the ships that it had stripped from the squadron, but they also were forced to assign an additional light carrier to bolster the force.  This left the Assault Force weakened, and with nearly half of its fighters the older model of F0’s, the fleet command staff began a campaign to get their fighters upgraded before being committed to an attack. 

Fortunately for all, the declaration was not actually transmitted to anyone outside the home system, so the Navy was given some time to find a way forward.  All of this political maneuvering took up most of the month, meaning that the initial attack date was pushed back.  The Doraz and the Alliance were unaware of these developments. 

All of this was ironic, of course, because it was during this month that the Doraz Contingency 1st Survey Group completed its warp point survey of a system seven jumps from their home system.  The Contingency basically consisted of two primary warp chains, both originating in their home system.  Both chains had minor branches, but all of those branches petered out after one or two systems.  This resulted in two long warp chains leading from their home system.  The ‘northern’ branch extended six jumps and currently terminated in an unexplored system with no habitable planets.  The ‘southern’ branch extended for seven jumps, and the 1st Survey Group had just determined that it dead-ended.  That left the Contingency with exactly one outlet for exploration and expansion. 

This system was along a long warp chain of systems that each had two warp points, one into the system and one out.  The 1st completed its survey this month, discovering that the system they had surveyed had no additional warp points.  This meant that the warp chain dead-ended in this system.  This was pertinent to the developing Aurarii situation, because this meant that the Doraz Contingency was itself reduced to one route of expansion. 

Month 212, Aurarii Empire
The political Admirals, worried about maintaining support for the war in the notoriously fickle court, urged the Admiralty to attack as soon as possible.  However, not all of the carriers in the assault force had been re-equipped with the latest fighters yet, so the Admiralty continued its delaying tactics.  Since the attack was delayed anyway, the Admiralty pushed through a demand for additional funding to improve its munitions stocks prior to launching the war, arguing that the effectiveness of its ships would be greatly improved by increasing the numbers of anti-matter weapons available.  This ‘request’ was approved, but would delay the attack even longer, ensuring that no action would be taken at least until next month. 

In the meantime, with the demand for warships skyrocketing, the Admiralty orders three light-cruiser sized ships.  These ships are smaller than anything else in the Imperial Navy, but the need for hulls is acute.  These new ships are intended to act as patrol ships, and to escort the heavier battleline units, and are equipped with enough weapons to put up a credible fight, long-range scanners for scouting duties, and a squadron of fighters to bolster their combat strength.  Unfortunately, between this new squadron of ships and the fighters for the assault force, construction capacity has to be diverted away from the refit of the capital ships currently in the yards, stretching out their completion date. 

 
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Cold War: Month 214, Lothari Attack!
« Reply #276 on: October 07, 2022, 08:39:05 AM »
Month 214, Day 2, Alliance Thoen System
The Thoen system is located in the Far Frontier sector, adjacent to the Dether system.  The system is located along a long series of jumps that make up a secondary connection with the Alliance core systems.  It contains no less than three Alliance colonies, including a D’Bringi colony that walked a fine line between loyalty to the Alliance and allegiance to the D’Bringi Empire, when that polity existed.  While it wasn’t exactly clear which government the colony in the Thoen system actually supported, an argument could be made for its support of either government, and certainly no one could fault the colony’s behavior since Alliance naval ships arrived in the system, en route to the Dether system.  The system held one other thing of interest.  The system’s second warp point led to a closed, and undetectable, warp point in a system with a small, but growing, colony belonging to the Bjering.  Although the Alliance had a trade relationship with the Bjering, and now their successor state the Confederated Sentient Races, the relationship was strained and the CSR clearly did not trust the Alliance.  Therefore, the existence of this warp link had remained a state secret and had not been revealed to the Bjering.   

Early in the day a group of Lothari ships materialized in Thoen’s outer system at an undiscovered closed warp point.  The eighteen Lothari ships immediately set out for the inner system.  They are followed by transports for ground forces, and behind them a survey group spreads out and begins surveying the system for warp points. 

Month 214, Day 6, Alliance Thoen system
The invading Lothari force is detected by the Alliance colony’s sensors on this day.  Communications attempts are ignored, and so emergency alerts and requests for relief are sent by the colony’s leaders via the newly re-established ICN.  At this point all that is known is that there is an unknown drive field contact identified in the system, which did not enter through any of the known warp points.  Alliance Fleet HQ on Rehorish Prime orders the 7th Fleet force in the Dether system, adjacent to the Thoen system, to dispatch a force of scouts to the Thoen system to identify the drive field contact.  Further, the 7th Fleet is put on alert to respond to this situation should it worsen. 

In response the 7th Fleet dispatches three corvette-carriers to the Thoen system to scout ahead of the main fleet, should it become necessary to move on the unknown contact. 

Forty hours later, the unknown contact is now close enough to the colonies in the Thoen system that the colony’s sensors can resolve the number of ships in the contact.  This prompts a second wave of contact reports to Fleet HQ and to the 7th Fleet in the Dether system, as the contact is now known to consist of eighteen ships.  While this is not an overwhelming force, it is also not a lone survey ship seeking to make peaceful contact.  Tai-sa G’Tak, CO of the 7th Fleet, is engaged in negotiations with the Colonial Union and cannot leave the system, but he orders his forces present in Dether to relocate to the warp point to Thoen, where he will join them before they enter the other system.  In the meantime, he focuses on the negotiations, which are at a critical juncture.  Helpfully, he receives communiques from the Alliance Council authorizing him to make significant concessions if it will allow him to successfully conclude a peace treaty with the Union. 

The ships of the Alliance 7th Fleet currently in Dether, thirty-six warships strong, leave orbit immediately, headed for the warp point to Thoen.  They leave one courier behind to be used by Tai-sa G’Tak to rejoin the fleet once negotiations are concluded. 

Month 214, Day 8, Alliance Thoen system
The unknown ships close on the Alliance colonies in the inner system.  When they reach fifteen light seconds from the outermost colony, the Alliance’s sensors on the planet determines that the alien fleet is composed of six battlecruisers or carriers, nine cruisers or light carriers, and three destroyers or escort carriers.  The alien force divides into three groups, with one group headed towards each colony.  At this point a second contact is detected headed in-system in the same general area that the original contact appeared from.  By the time the ships enter orbit of the colonies, the Alliance sensors have determined that they are Lothari ships.  The ships have continued to refuse contact attempts from the colonies.  Reports are sent out via the ICN. 

Upon receipt of these reports, Tai-sa G’Tak orders his remaining forces over the sector capital at Stahat to move to Dether to act as reinforcements or defenses, as needed. 

Month 214, Day 10, Lothari controlled Thoen system
Lothari troops begin investing the Alliance colonies in the Thoen system.  Transports descend on all three colonies close to simultaneously, carefully watched by the orbiting warships. Alliance home defense militia troops put up a fight but the Lothari ground troops quickly overwhelm the defenses.  The last reports to reach the ICN from the colonies warn that the militia cannot hold back the Lothari invaders. 

Month 214, Day 13, Lothari controlled Thoen system
Three Alliance corvette-carriers jump into the Thoen system and immediately head for the inner system and the Lothari forces arrayed there.   

Month 214, Day 15: Alliance Dether system
The Alliance-Colonial Union negotiations conclude on this date.  The terms are substantially in favor of the Colonial Union, but the negotiations have achieved the Alliance’s primary goal, which was to get a peace treaty at an acceptable cost, so that Alliance naval forces could be focused on the current threats to the Alliance. 

The treaty re-establishes the trade relationship that existed between the Alliance and the Colonial Union before the current problems.  It also grants the Colonial Union reparations for the damage done by the D’Bringi raiders, although this is mostly window dressing.  In essence, the Colonial Union agreed to return the resources seized from the Dether colonies during the occupation, and the Alliance agreed to reparations in exactly the same amount, which more than compensated the Colonial Union for its economic losses during the conflict and obviated the necessity of resource transfers in the future, which was important to the Alliance given the need to build up forces to face the current threats to its territory. 

In addition, the treaty modifies the neutral zone of two uninhabited systems between Dether and the Colonial Union’s Sandhurst system.  Prior to the current difficulties, the two systems were de-militarized zones, however, as part of the peace treaty the Alliance grants the Danzig system, adjacent to the Sandhurst system, to the Colonial Union, and both sides agree to place a sensor and comms network in the de-militarized system remaining between the territories, as an early warning network. 

Finally, the Alliance agrees to reveal the location of the closed warp point the D’Bringi raiding group used to enter the Managua system.  This is a major concession, as it opens a route from the Colonial Union into the Alliance, and allows the Union to establish defenses in the Managua system to prevent further incursions.   The Colonial Union’s negotiators had pressed the Alliance negotiators to reveal the locations of all Alliance contact points with the Union, including the closed warp points the Union knows exist in the systems beyond the core system of Sigma Draconis, but as desperate as the Alliance was to end the potential conflict with the Union, it was not that desperate.   

With this formal end to the potential conflict in hand, the Alliance 7th Fleet, and Tai-sa G’Tak, can focus on the Lothari incursion in the Thoen system. 

Month 214, Day 17, Alliance Dether System
The Alliance 7th Fleet reaches the warp point to the Thoen system at 0800 on this date.  Led by its corvette-carriers, the fleet begins transiting through, secure in the knowledge that the ICN’s sensor buoys continue to report that the area around the warp point is clear.  Once assembled in the system, the fleet sets out for the inner system and the Lothari invaders. 

Several hours later the Lothari ships in orbit over the Thoen colonies detect the Alliance scouts sent to probe the Lothari force.  The Lothari ships don’t respond as the Alliance ships close on their location.  Thirty-six hours later, as the Alliance corvette-carriers attempt to get close enough to ID the Lothari ships, the Lothari squadron launches fighters.  The Alliance corvette-carriers turn away, content to watch from a distance.  The Lothari fighters stay close to their ships, content to let the Alliance ships hover at a distance. 

Month 214, Day 21, Lothari controlled Thoen system
The Lothari invasion force in the Thoen system is concentrated over the largest colony in the system, a D’Bringi colony on the system’s innermost planet.  At 0400 hours the Lothari ships detected a drive field contact seventy-two light minutes away, headed in-system.  The CO of the Lothari 2nd Assault Group, Swordsman of Worlds Schmidt, immediately sent a contact report to the ship he had left at the warp point back to Lothari space and dispatched an escort carrier to probe the new contact. 

Twenty hours later the escort carrier sent word that the contact consisted of thirty-six contacts of unknown size, proceeding in-system at the standard cruising speed for a cruiser.  Swordsman of Worlds Schmidt was conflicted.  The presumed Alliance fleet outnumbered his force by two to one.  That was bad, although without knowing the composition of the force it wasn’t clear how bad.  The Alliance ships were still forty-two light minutes away, and his ships were as fast as theirs, so he could order his fleet to retreat to the closed warp point they had used to enter the system.  Unless the enemy had corvette sized ships, they would be unable to catch his fleet in time to determine the location of the closed warp point, although they would be close enough to ‘see’ the general location of the hidden warp point.  Swordsman of Worlds Schmidt knew he couldn’t retreat, though.  First, there was the troops on the ground on the three Alliance colonies.  There was no way they could be loaded back onto their transports in time to evacuate, even if the transports weren’t well on their way out of the system.  If he retreated, he’d be leaving the troops cut off, at the mercy of the Alliance.  That was just unacceptable.  As he thought, his gaze drifted, as if by accident, to the one person on his bridge not under his command.  The InSec officer assigned to his ship just before departure still had not revealed his rank, but Schmidt knew why he was here.  The Supreme Leader was generous to those who achieved success for the state, but punished failure without fail.  The InSec officer, who was at this moment glaring at un unfortunate rating who had drawn the officer’s attention, would not hesitate to arrest and execute Schmidt in front of his crew if he thought it necessary to ‘motivate’ them, or if he thought Schmidt had failed.  And retreating without a fight would certainly be interpreted as failure. 

Therefore, Swordsman of Worlds Schmidt ordered his fleet forward, towards the Alliance force.  He wanted to believe that he did it to protect the troops behind them, or because he thought they could win, but he feared he did it out of pure self-interest. 

Thirteen hours later the two forces were one light minute apart.  At that point the Alliance fleet launched its fighters, which showed up on the Lothari scanners immediately.  The Lothari fleet came to a halt, but didn’t react otherwise.  The Alliance fighters raced ahead of the Alliance fleet, closing on the Lothari.  After a minute G’Tak ordered the Alliance fleet to come to a halt as well, to allow the fighter battle to play out.   

Ten minutes passed as the Alliance fighters raced towards their target, closing to five light seconds.  For all of that time the Lothari had waited for the Alliance fighters to come to them.  Now, suddenly, that changed.  The Lothari ships launched their own fighters, as well as a new type of small craft.  This new craft was small, smaller than even an explorer class ship, but much larger than a fighter or even a pinnace. 

On board the Alliance 7th Fleet, Tai-sa G’Tak and his staff tried to determine the capabilities of the new craft, but nothing like this had been seen before.  The best they could come up with was that the Lothari were trying to make up for their lack of numbers by using this new, larger, small craft type.  That didn’t really make sense, though, as there were over a hundred of them, and no rational fleet would devote the space and resources for that many small craft unless they added some sort of capability to the fleet.  In the end, lacking information, he decided to proceed. 

The two groups of fighters and small craft plunged together, short of the Lothari fleet.  At the last instant, while the two forces were just three quarters of a light second apart, the Lothari small craft launched missiles at the incoming Alliance fighters.  This should have been impossible, as there were no known missiles that could engage fighters, but they did it anyway.  The Alliance fighters had no recourse but to take the fire, as they were out of range of their own weapons.  The missiles crossed the distance between the two groups quickly, and explosions blossomed across the Alliance fighter force as the missiles homed in on their targets.  When the explosions cleared Tai-sa G’Tak and his staff were stunned.  In a matter of seconds over one hundred of their fighters disappeared, blown from space. 

In the aftermath of the missile salvo the large Lothari small craft turned away, while the Lothari fighters, which now outnumbered the Alliance fighters, plunged to dog-fighting range.  The Alliance fighters, shocked and disorganized by their losses, let the Lothari fighters come to them, allowing the ‘gunboats’ as some were calling them, to escape in the face of the fighter wave descending on them.  Even worse, for the Alliance, as the Lothari fighters moved towards the Alliance fighter group, they accelerated to a speed just about 12% faster than the Alliance fighters.  Later analysis would show that the Lothari fighters were armed with four weapons each, compared to the three weapons for the Alliance F1 fighters and two for the F0’s.  As about half the Alliance force was composed of F0’s, this would prove to be a serious advantage for the Lothari. 

The Lothari had a slight number advantage, one hundred twenty-six to one hundred nineteen, but when the two fighter groups broke apart, the Alliance had more fighters left.  This was almost certainly down to the fact that although the Lothari had superior fighters, the Alliance had better pilots.  Still, at twenty-eight fighters on the Alliance side, and eighteen on the Lothari, neither side came out well. 

Although the Alliance fighters had been shocked by the missile fire from the gunboats and their subsequent losses, they had recovered somewhat and were determined to hang on to the Lothari fighter force and end the battle.  The Lothari, after making a token attempt to return, turned and re-engaged when the Alliance fighters pursued.  When the explosions cleared there were fifteen Alliance fighters left, and no Lothari fighters. 

The Lothari gunboats were almost back to their fleet, so the remaining Alliance fighters turned back towards their own fleet.  A few seconds after the gunboats arrived at the Lothari fleet’s location, the entire fleet dropped their drive fields. 

Tai-sa G’Tak was unsure of the reason for this, but was sure that this was his opportunity.  The Alliance fleet, escorted by their fifteen remaining fighters, charged towards the drive-field down Lothari fleet.  The fleet’s fifteen carriers, now empty or mostly empty, turned away and began moving back towards the outer system.  For fourteen minutes the Alliance ships closed on the unmoving Lothari fleet, and Tai-sa G’Tak began to wonder if the Lothari were going to let them into weapons range with their drive fields down, but then, one by one, the Lothari ships raised their drive fields.  The Lothari carriers turned away from the battle, leaving six battle cruisers and three heavy cruisers to face three Alliance battlecruisers, six heavy cruisers, six light cruisers, and six destroyers.  It was an uneven matchup, except that the Lothari fleet also had one hundred and thirty-two gunboats arrayed ahead of their formation. 

Swordsman of Worlds Schmidt was dismayed that he had not had enough time to completely rearm his gunboats, as the oncoming Alliance fleet had only given him enough time to arm half of the gunboat flotilla’s XO racks.  It would have to be enough, as the Alliance fleet was bearing down on them. 

The Lothari gunboats moved out ahead of their fleet, interposing themselves in between their warships and the oncoming Alliance warships.  Once the gunboats were five light seconds in front of the Lothari fleet, the entire force began moving towards the Alliance force. 

Two and a half minutes later, the Lothari gunboats were four light seconds from the Alliance fleet, and the Lothari ships were five light seconds behind them.  The Lothari ships were still well out of range of Alliance weapons, but an astute Alliance weapons tech had realized that the Lothari gunboats, unlike other small craft like fighters, had a drive field signature strong enough to be targeted by ship-carried weapons.  The Alliance battlecruiser group launched fifteen capital missiles, each targeted on a single gunboat.  Ten capital missiles succeeded in locking onto their targets, but only three got through the withering point defense fire put out by the gunboats.  One of the two Alliance heavy cruiser squadrons launched a total of thirty-six standard missiles at the gunboats, also destroying three.  The second cruiser squadron and one of the light cruiser squadrons accounted for four more with their heavy force beams.  The six Alliance destroyers accounted for another three with their missiles, bringing the total of destroyed gunboats to eleven.  That was less than ten percent of the gunboat force, which was concerning, but was more than they would have been able to do against a fighter group at that range. 

Tai-sa G’Tak knew that the Lothari intended to make a simultaneous attack against his fleet, forcing him to choose between firing on the gunboats or the enemy’s ships, and was determined to throw off their calculations.  As the Lothari ships and gunboats continued to close, he ordered his fleet to come to a halt and begin engine modulations.  The Alliance and Lothari ships were now within extreme range of their capital missiles of each other, but the Alliance ships continued to focus their fire on the Lothari gunboats, while the Lothari long-range fire was of limited effectiveness because of the Alliance engine modulations. 

A group of Lothari gunboats fired their anti-fighter missiles at the Alliance fighter force, but at two light seconds range the AFM’s weren’t particularly accurate.  Out of the twenty-eight AFM’s fired, only eleven got hits, but that was enough to wipe out most of the remaining Alliance fighters.  The Alliance again focused their fire on the Lothari gunboats, but instead of spreading their fire out, were concentrating their missile fire among fewer gunboats, trying to overwhelm their point defense.  Twenty-one gunboats fell to the withering fire from the Alliance fleet, but, unknown to the Alliance commanders, that fire was mostly wasted.  The Alliance ships had concentrated their fire on the gunboats launching AFM’s at their fighters, trying to stop the destruction of their fighter force.  They knew that the gunboats could mount two AFM’s, and as they only launched one each in this exchange of fire, they assumed that that the gunboats retained one in reserve.  As the Lothari had only managed to load half of their gunboat’s racks, they were, in fact, destroying empty gunboats that had no other weaponry than their point defense.  For their part, the Lothari BC’s managed to get one hit on an older Alliance light cruiser with anti-matter tipped SBM’s, damaging its shields.

In an attempt to surprise the Lothari gunboats, the Alliance force dropped its engine modulation and surged ahead, turning to try to stay out of point-blank range of the gunboats and to keep them out of their blind-spots.  They succeeded in keeping the gunboats out of their blind-spot, but in exchange for allowing them to reach point blank range.  The Lothari and Alliance ships ended up four point five light seconds from each other, each side firing continuously as they came.

The Lothari battlecruisers didn’t mount heavy broadsides of missiles, but their light salvoes proved to be sufficient to keep the Alliance point defense focused on the missile attacks and not the gunboats.  The Alliance ships split their fire, launching their long-range capital missiles against the Lothari fleet, and firing their beam weapons and shorter ranged missiles against the Lothari gunboats. 

The short-range battle around the Alliance fleet was intense and destructive.  The Alliance ships desperately engaged the gunboats, even as the Lothari fleet lobbed small missile salvoes into the fray from long range.  The gunboats dodged incoming fire as well as they could, and salvoed their weapons into the flanks of the big Alliance ships even as many of them were destroyed just short of their targets.  About half of the gunboats were armed with anti-matter close attack missiles, while the other half were armed with four laser packs each.  The anti-matter close attack missiles devastated their Alliance targets, engulfing them in anti-matter explosions that overwhelmed their passive defenses and gutted their interiors.  The few remaining Alliance fighters did their best against the attacking gunboats, and managed to take out three, but lost two of their own number doing it. 

It was a much-depleted gunboat force that remained around the burning Alliance fleet.  Out of the one hundred and thirty-two gunboats that attacked, fifty-one remained.  Out of those, only seventeen had laser packs left.   On the other hand, the gunboat attack had shaken the Alliance Fleet.  Only nine ships were undamaged, three heavy cruisers, two escort light cruisers, and four destroyers.  One heavy cruiser, one light cruiser, and two destroyers had been destroyed outright.  Of the damaged ships, several had only suffered light damage, but others were crippled and could not move under their own power.  Tai-sa G’Tak’s command battlecruiser had been crippled by the gunboats, and G’Tak was out of communication with the rest of the fleet as a result. 

With no overall command and control, the intact Alliance ships fell back on their individual commanders for guidance.  Their first instinct was to protect the damaged ships, many of which could not move, or couldn’t move very fast, and so the intact ships began maneuvering to keep the remaining gunboats out of their blind-spots.  The last three Alliance fighters valiantly chased the remaining Lothari gunboats, which were trying to line up shots on the evading Alliance ships.  Meanwhile, the Lothari fleet closed on the Alliance fleet. 

The Lothari ships were now within effective range of their weapons and commenced a withering bombardment of the disrupted Alliance datagroups.  The Lothari laser armed gunboats were lining up to attack the damaged Alliance battlecruisers when two Alliance heavy cruisers armed with advanced missile launchers fired everything they had into the gunboat swarm, taking out fourteen of the seventeen gunboats before they could fire.  The last three gunboats fired into a damaged battlecruiser, just before they were ambushed by the last three Alliance fighters, who destroyed two of the gunboats.   The last gunboat was picked off by an Alliance escort destroyer as it tried to pull away from the Alliance fleet. 

The Lothari fleet continued to close.  Swordsman Schmidt considered breaking contact and withdrawing, as his gunboat force was depleted and had expended its external weaponry, but he was fairly sure that now that he had the Alliance force on the ropes, withdrawing would be seen as cowardice by the Leader.  The Alliance fleet was still disorganized by the loss of Tai-sa G’Tak, who was still out of contact and/or wounded or dead.  Still, with the gunboats departing and the Lothari fleet closing, the Alliance captains rallied and all ships still capable of movement turned towards the oncoming Lothari fleet and moved towards them to protect their damaged squadron-mates.  Three Alliance heavy cruisers, four light cruisers, and four destroyers went to meet the Lothari force, which was composed of six battlecruisers and three heavy cruisers, only one of which had damage to its shields and armor. 

One of the Lothari battlecruiser groups fired first, targeting an intact Alliance heavy cruiser with nine HET lasers at close range.  Their lasers punched through the cruiser’s armor in multiple places, going all the way through the ship and out the other side, leaving a wreck behind.  In response an Alliance cruiser targeted the damaged Lothari BC with two capital force beams and a spinal force beam, taking out most of the big ship’s engines.  The Lothari heavy cruiser group focused its advanced gun/missile launchers in sprint mode on another Alliance heavy cruiser, wiping it from space in a deluge of anti-matter missile fire.  Two Alliance light cruisers focused their capital force beam fire on an intact Lothari battlecruiser, but didn’t manage to knock its shields down.  The fighting was bitter as both sides tore at each other. 

Two Lothari battlecruisers had suffered heavy damage, but the Alliance force was being whittled down as well.  The two groups of ships maneuvered to try to get into each other’s blind spots, or to keep the other out of their own blind spots, while damaged ships fell away from the main group.  The Alliance force doggedly fired into the Lothari fleet, trying to shield its damaged units, but the Lothari force eventually overwhelmed them.  Ninety seconds after closing to point blank range, the Alliance force was broken, with only six ships retaining engine power, and none with weapons.  The Alliance captains dropped their drive fields at that point, signaling that the battle was over. 

The Alliance force had been wiped out.  Its carriers were retreating, but the warships under Tai-sa G’Tak were either destroyed or disabled.  Both sides had lost all or nearly all of their fighters, and the Lothari had only thirty-four gunboats left.  Om addition, the Lothari had lost a heavy cruiser, and three of their battlecruisers were damaged.  One of the three battlecruisers was a wreck, and would be scuttled within the hour, while the remaining crews of the other two struggled to restore engine power to their heavily damaged ships.  The Alliance fleet was scrap.  After dropping their drive-fields the Alliance crews abandoned their ships and successfully scuttled their ships, leaving nothing for the Lothari to recover.  Tai-sa G’Tak survived the destruction of his flagship, although he was wounded.  Swordsman Schmidt tried to retain custody of the Alliance admiral, but was overruled by the InSec commander.  Tai-sa G’Tak disappeared into InSec custody, along with the rest of the survivors of his crew. 

Swordsman Schmidt ordered his fleet to rearm the remaining gunboats, while his carriers withdrew to replace his fighter losses in the home system.  He sent a message back to the home system as well, reporting his victory and requesting reinforcements, now that his fleet had been reduced to three battlecruisers and two heavy cruisers, all of which were low on missiles.  He also declined to send his remaining gunboats against the retiring Alliance carriers.  The Alliance carriers were withdrawing at maximum speed, and showed no so sign of slowing down.  While they were a tempting target, his gunboats would have to risk burning out their drives to catch them, and he was loath to risk his remaining gunboat force, given how depleted his fleet had become.

Tai-sa G’Tak had also dispatched messages back up the chain to the Sector capital and to the Alliance home systems.  The message warned of the Lothari possession of advanced fighters and their new gunboats.  In addition, the message gave details about the ship classes encountered, and their weapons loadouts.  This information was spread by the ICN and would arrive across the Alliance in a matter of days. 
 
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Cold War: Month 214, Aurarii attack on the Doraz Home System
« Reply #277 on: October 11, 2022, 01:55:16 PM »
Month 214, Day 5, Doraz Whever system
Aurarii ships begin jumping into this system early in the day.  They find the area around the warp point clear of Doraz ships, and after reorganizing, set out for the warp point to the Doraz home system.  A Doraz sensor buoy is close enough to the warp point to observe the force jumping into the system, and reports its presence back to the home system.  The report is disturbing.  The invasion force consists of three light monitors, three superdreadnoughts, six battleships, four fleet carriers, and two light carriers.  The monitors, in particular, are alarming, as they are by far the largest ships ever observed by an Alliance member state, and not only does nothing in the Doraz fleet compare with the ML’s, the Alliance has nothing comparable either. 

Month 214, Day 8, Doraz Home System
The fifteen warships that had been dispatched by the Doraz government to the Chruqua Nexus arrive in orbit over Doraz Prime.  Their visit was brief, and in less than an hour they are on their way towards the warp point to the Whever system, where they will join the rest of the Doraz fleet.  Fortunately, the warp point is located in the inner-system, just one day’s travel from the home planet. 


Month 214, Day 13, Doraz Home System
The Torqual Fleet ordered to assist the Doraz arrives in the Doraz Home System on this date.  The twenty warships immediately set out for the warp point to the Whever system, where the Doraz fleet is assembled.  Their ETA is just over seven days. 

Month 214, Day 16, Doraz Home System, Warp Point to Whever
The thirty-four ships of the Doraz Home Fleet were arrayed around the warp point to the Whever system in defensive positions.  The fleet was built around six battlecruisers and twelve heavy cruisers, all equipped to HT-7 standards.  The Doraz had recently reached HT-8, and had initiated research on multiple new weapons and defense systems, including fighters, but no new weapons were ready for deployment yet. 

The Doraz had no bases for system defense, or automated weapons.  There used to be bases in the home system, before the D’Bringi invaded and conquered the system, but they had been swept aside by the D’Bringi fleet.  Once freed from D’Bringi occupation the Doraz saw no reason to build extensive defenses for the system, given what had happened before.  Instead, they focused their time and effort on building up their fleet, as they saw a large and powerful fleet as a way to gain acceptance and prestige within the Alliance.  Now, though, with an alien fleet at their doorstep, that decision was proving to be short-sighted. 

The Aurarii fleet had been sighted on a course for the warp point by scouts positioned in the Whever system, and by the ICN sensor buoy positioned in that system.  Eventually the Doraz scouts in Whever had been forced to transit back to the home system as the Aurarii fleet approached the warp point. 

The Aurarii fleet had arrived on the far side of the warp point approximately eighteen hours ago, and while the Doraz fleet had been at alert status when the Aurarii arrived, in case they came through immediately, after several hours the Doraz ships had been forced to stand down to lower alert levels.  Since then, the ships of the Doraz fleet had begun rotating through combat-ready status as they guarded the warp point. 

At 1500 hours, the fleet’s twelve destroyers were at combat ready status, in defensive positions around the warp point.  The rest of the fleet was at a lower alert status, with their crews performing maintenance or in a rest cycle, and were located eight light seconds from the warp point.  It was at this point that the Aurarii began coming through the warp point. 

The first ship through the warp point was a mammoth monitor.  The huge ship was more than twice the size of the defending Doraz battlecruisers, and its sheer size shocked the defenders, although they knew such huge ships existed from the sensor readings transmitted back from the lost picket group. 

The lead monitor lashed out first, targeting one of the Doraz destroyers sitting just a quarter light second from the warp point.  The massive ship speared the tiny Doraz destroyer with no less than seven capital force beams, all of which hit in spite of the disorienting effects of transit that the monitor’s crew were surely feeling.   The second and third monitors also hit their targeted destroyers with their capital force beams, destroying them utterly.  The monitors were firing separately, not being able to get their fragile datalink systems up quickly enough in the aftermath of the transit to engage the destroyers. 

The destroyers fired back, concentrating their fire on a single monitor.  Nine destroyers managed to fire, and all hit with their force beams.  The destroyer’s force beams knocked down the huge ship’s shields and ate through her armor, and knocked out her forward engine room.  If the Doraz defenders had been shocked at the appearance of the huge ships in front of them, then this development was even more surprising.  As big as the monitors were, they barely had more shielding and armor than a Doraz destroyer. 

In the aftermath of the initial round of fire the nine remaining Doraz destroyers each locked on to a monitor with a tractor beam, anchoring themselves to the big ships and slowing them down. 

The main Doraz fleet began moving slowly away from the warp point as their crews struggled to get to action stations.  The big monitors, slowed by the destroyers, tried to move away from the warp point, but each monitor was tractored by three destroyers, which were enough to cancel out the big ship’s engine power.  Even as the monitors struggle to move, the destroyer’s tractors pulled them towards the big ships on the warp point.  As the destroyers closed on the monitors, three Aurarii SD’s entered the system behind the monitors. 

A destroyer group, which had been drawn in to point blank range by its tractors, fired its three force beams into the mammoth monitor which had lost its passive defenses, knocking out two additional engine rooms.  After that it was the two intact monitor’s turn, and they had regained full control of their systems.  The two big ships split their force beam fire between three destroyers, completely destroying all three.  Then the let loose with two salvoes of ten sprint mode missiles each at three separate destroyers.  The sprint mode missiles moved too fast for the destroyer’s point defense suites, and twenty missiles was a daunting barrage for such a small ship.  Still, even so, it would have been survivable, if barely, but the sprint missiles were armed with anti-matter warheads, and all three destroyers were engulfed in massive explosions that left little but floating debris.  The Alliance had warned its associate members of the existence of anti-matter munitions, but the Doraz had not expected the Aurarii to use the weaponry. 

In the aftermath of the two monitor’s fire, there were three destroyers left.  They lasted for only seconds longer, before the damaged monitor unleashed its broadside on its tiny tormentors.  The monitor had lost three engine rooms, but no weapons, and its weapons swept the space around the warp point clear of defenders.  The newly arrived SD’s had nothing to target with their weapons. 

With the warp point clear the Aurarii seemed content to sit on the warp point and marshal their strength.  A series of battleships began entering the system as the damaged monitor completed its turn and began to move towards the warp point to leave the system, to the safety of their jumping off point in the Whever system.  The main Doraz fleet, which had been retreating to keep space between it and the Aurarii fleet, now came to a halt and turned, as the Aurarii were not following. 

When the wave of battleships entering the system came to a halt and battlecruisers began entering, the Doraz fleet turned back towards the warp point and moved towards the Aurarii fleet, to get within weapons range of its combat-ready ships.  It took a minute for the Doraz ships to move within range of the capital missile launchers on some of its heavy cruisers, and by that time a fourth battlecruiser had entered, accompanied by two heavy cruisers.  The Doraz heavy cruisers targeted the newly arrived battlecruiser for their twelve capital missiles, on the theory that the newly arrived ship would be hampered in its efforts to defend itself after the warp transit.  The battlecruiser dropped three decoy EDM’s from its racks, though, and managed to either decoy or destroy all of the incoming missiles. 

The Doraz ships continued to race towards the Aurarii ships, trying to get within range of their weapons before the Aurarii could organize themselves, but they found that they had mis-identified the Aurarii ships as the supposed battlecruisers and heavy cruisers turned out to be carriers and light carriers, which now launched their fighters and then transited out of the system.  In seconds one hundred and thirty-eight fighters were in space and on their way towards the Doraz fleet, while the Aurarii fleet sat on the warp point.   

The Doraz fleet opened fire on the Aurarii fleet with every weapon they had that could reach that far, targeting one of the two remaining monitors.  One capital missile and three standard missiles from the Doraz heavy cruisers penetrated the monitor’s defenses, doing light shield damage. The Aurarii monitors returned fire with their anti-matter tipped standard missiles and capital force beams, targeting a Doraz battlecruiser.  The standard missiles were at extreme range and none of them got through the battlecruiser’s defenses, but the big monitors managed to hit the battlecruiser with eight capital force beams, damaging its shields.  Then the battleships and superdreadnoughts of the Aurarii fleet joined in with their capital force beams, smashing through the Doraz battlecruiser’s passive defenses and knocking out its forward engine rooms. 

The Doraz fleet commander had no real choices at this point.  His ships weren’t fast enough to run from the Aurarii fighters, and weren’t likely to survive the fighter wave coming at them.  Even so, he really wanted to come to grips with the invading fleet, even if it meant that his fleet would be destroyed, as its destruction was almost certain at this point.  They were defending their home system, better to take a few Aurarii ships with them than just give up.  The Doraz fleet charged ahead, towards the warp point. 

The Aurarii fighters plunged into the heart of the Doraz fleet, launching their standard close attack missiles at big Doraz ships as they closed, then peeling off and speeding away, trying to evade counter-fire.  The Doraz ships concentrated their fire on a lone Aurarii monitor, while turning their point defense on the small fighters attacking their fleet.  The Aurarii ships and fighters spread their fire across the Doraz fleet, doing as much damage as possible.  Explosions rippled across ships on both sides as force beams stabbed out and anti-matter tipped missiles flew.  The Doraz punched through the monitor’s relatively light defenses, and destroyed its forward engine rooms.  In return, though, the Aurarii fighters and fleet devastated the Doraz fleet.  All four Doraz corvettes were destroyed by fighter squadrons, and two battlecruisers and five heavy cruisers were simply gone, overwhelmed by close range fire from the fighters or long-range fire from the Aurarii fleet.  Of the remaining ships, only one battlecruiser and four heavy cruisers were undamaged.  The Aurarii lost twenty-seven fighters during their pass through the Doraz fleet, and now the rest were returning to the warp point, pursued by the remaining Doraz ships. 

The Doraz ships continued towards the Aurarii fleet, and even though some of their ships were lagging behind, none gave up.  The damaged monitor turned to jump out, while the rest of the Aurarii fleet surged ahead, towards the coming Doraz fleet.  The Doraz had slowed slightly, to keep their fleet together, while the Aurarii monitor engaged engine tuners so that it could keep up with the smaller battleships and superdreadnoughts.  The two sides closed to just one light second apart when the firing began again. 

The first to fire was a pair of intact Doraz heavy cruisers, which stabbed out at the last monitor with five force beams each.  The two elite cruisers hit with all of their force beams, stripping away the monitor’s shields and some of its armor.  The monitor fired back, targeting the intact Doraz battlecruiser, which happened to be the fleet’s flagship.  The flagship had survived this far undamaged, seemingly miraculously, but its time was up.  The monitor’s capital force beams smashed its defenses and then the monitor’s anti-matter sprint mode missiles destroyed the defenseless ship.  The remaining Doraz ships fired desperately at the last monitor, and succeeded in doing heavy damage to the big ship, but they were disorganized and mostly out of their datagroups.  the Aurarii return fire, coming from organized datagroups and much bigger weapons, was overwhelming.  In exchange for damaging the monitor, the Doraz were left with three battlecruisers and five heavy cruisers, all heavily damaged, some little more than hulks. 

As the Aurarii closed in for the kill, the remaining Doraz ships dropped their drive fields and life pods began spilling from the damaged ships.  The battle was over. 

The results were shocking for both sides.  The Doraz had lost the battle for their home system, and had little in the way of defenses over their home planet.  Alliance forces were en route, but wouldn’t arrive before Aurarii could reach Doraz Prime.  The Torqual fleet is the only allied force in the system, and it is still four days away from either the warp point to Whever or the Doraz home planet, while the Aurarii are merely thirty-six hours from Doraz Prime.  And in any case, the Torqual fleet doesn’t have any more fighters than the Doraz fleet had, and would be at a disadvantage in any fight in open space.  Alliance reinforcements are weeks away, even if they don’t get diverted to the Alliance’s other enemy.  The situation for the Doraz is desperate.

The Aurarii fleet commander, Lord Major Vintari, had plenty of reasons to be unhappy as well.  The royal court on Aurarii Prime had confidently predicted that the Doraz would crumble when confronted by the great and powerful Aurarii fleet.  And while the Doraz had been defeated, they hadn’t actually crumbled.  Worse, while the loss ratio was lopsided, as the Aurarii hadn’t lost any of their ships, they had suffered major damage to their three largest ships, which would all have to be sent back to Aurarii Prime for repairs.  Given their damaged engines, that meant they’d be out of action for at least eight months, maybe longer.  In addition, one of his carriers had to be sent back, as his fighter losses had been consolidated and the carrier was empty. 

Vintari dithered.  His orders were to advance on Doraz Prime and capture the planet, so that troops to invest it could be brought forward.  He was loath to leave the warp point, though.  He had lost his three largest ships, and his fighters had been somewhat depleted.  Worse, he had no clear idea of the enemy’s strength or reserves.  So, he decided to take the safe route.  His fleet would remain on the warp point while a CD was sent back with a report of his great victory over the Doraz fleet, and a request for reinforcements.  Lord Major Vintari would have liked to scout the Doraz system while his fleet remained at the warp point, but he has no ships suitable for scouting.  His smallest ships mounting long-range scanners are his fleet carriers, and he will not detach them from his fleet, at least not for scouting duties. 

The Torqual fleet is one hundred and forty-four light minutes from the Doraz home world and the warp point to the Whever system, well out of range of the Aurarii long-range scanners.  Shortly after receiving the Doraz report of the lost battle at the warp point, the fleet receives a communique from Doraz Fleet Command.  Expecting a desperate request for assistance, Torqual Rear Admiral Veron is surprised to find a request for them to retreat to the warp point to the Chruqua Nexus, and a request for them to keep the route to the Alliance open until Alliance forces can arrive to relieve Doraz Prime.  The orders/request is countersigned by the Doraz Leader-Militant, the head of the Doraz government.  Knowing that his fleet, which is at approximately the same tech level as the Doraz fleet, but slightly smaller, cannot beat the Aurarii without prohibitive losses, if at all, the Torqual admiral reluctantly turns his fleet around and sets course for the warp point to the Chruqua Nexus. 
 

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Cold War: Month 214, Alliance makes preparations
« Reply #278 on: October 17, 2022, 06:10:33 PM »
Month 214, Day 16, Alliance Nagasaki system
Reinforcements from the 1st Fleet arrive over Nagasaki Prime and join the 4th Fleet, bolstering the fleet’s complement to three carriers, eighteen battlecruisers, four light carriers, fourteen heavy cruisers, a strike carrier, three light escort cruisers, nine escort destroyers, fourteen escort carriers, and nineteen corvette-carriers.  All told, the fleet can field over six hundred fighters.  Tai-Sho Skull Splitter has arrived via fast courier and now commands the fleet. 

Thus reinforced, the fleet sets out from Nagasaki, headed for Liawak and the Lothari invaders. 

Month 214, Day 19, Doraz Home System
The Torqual fleet arrives at the warp point to the Chruqua system.  The fleet jumps through, leaving behind a single long-range scanner equipped ship to keep watch.  Strangely, the Aurarii fleet has not left the warp point, and seems to be content to sit there and observe events in the Doraz system.  The Doraz home world is doing all it can to prepare for invasion during the reprieve that the Aurarii have granted them. 

Month 214, Day 20, Lothari controlled Liawak system
The Lothari 2nd Survey Group completes its rough survey of the system, discovering two new warp points.  The results are transmitted back to the main assault force orbiting the primary colony in the inner system while the survey group continues its survey. 

Aboard the Assault Group, Swordsman Hartmann receives the news eagerly.  He cannot order his fleet to advance until he knows the position of all of the warp points in the system, but he can certainly probe the newly discovered warp points.  In response to the report Swordsman Hartmann detaches two escort carriers to probe the newly discovered warp points. 

Month 214, Day 23, Chruqua Warp Nexus
The Alliance 3rd Fleet, consisting of nineteen warships carrying eighty-four fighters, arrives at the warp point in the Chruqua Nexus that leads to the Doraz Home System, where it joins with the 4th Fleet squadron left to defend the Nexus and the Torqual fleet.  Cho-sho Banzan, the CO of the 3rd Fleet, is tempted to immediately attack the Aurarii forces in the Doraz system, but the knowledge that his fighters are outnumbered by the reported strength of the Aurarii fleet in the Doraz system, even if they haven’t been reinforced, causes him to be cautious.  A major group of reinforcements from Rehorish Prime are due to arrive at his location within nine days, carrying more than four hundred fighters, and so he decides to remain at the warp point, for now.  If the Aurarii move on the Doraz home planet, he will re-evaluate the situation at that time.   

Month 214, Day 25, Alliance Chruqua Nexus
Reinforcements from the Alliance home worlds began jumping into the nexus on this date.  The reinforcements consisted of six strike carriers, ten escort carriers, and seventeen corvette-carriers.  The reinforcements immediately set out for the warp point to the Doraz home world, where they would rendezvous with the 4th Fleet elements that had been left behind to defend Chruqua when the main fleet moved out in response to the Lothari invasion.  The Chruqua Defense Fleet was greatly understrength after providing ships for the response to first the Lothari invasion, and then being stripped of most of its remaining carriers by the 3rd Fleet on its way through the Nexus, bound for the Doraz Home System.  After rendezvousing with the 4th Fleet elements and the Torqual fleet, the combined fleets would advance into the Doraz system to assist the 3rd Fleet, if necessary. 

Month 214, Day 26, Lothari controlled Liawak system
A single Lothari escort carrier jumped out of the system through one of the newly discovered warp points.  The ship materialized in a binary star system with two habitable planets.  Interestingly, its exit warp point was a type 14 closed warp point, indicating that it couldn’t been seen or discovered without being transited first.  This indicated that it was likely not on a path deeper into the Alliance, as Alliance survey ships almost certainly had not entered the Liawak system from this warp point.  The carrier’s captain ordered his ship back to the Liawak system, reported his discovery, and set course for the second new warp point to assist the carrier assigned to probe that location.  The carrier hadn’t been close enough to the habitable planets in the new system to determine if they were populated.  That would have to wait. 

Month 214, Day 26, Aurarii Home System
Lord Major Vintari’s battle report arrived at the Aurarii home world on this date, causing a stir both in the admiralty and within the royal court.  Vintari’s caution is applauded by the Emperor, who was an unwilling participant in the declaration of war against the Alliance, tittered at by those in the court who saw the military as useless fops, and enraged the Admiralty, who had counted on a quick and decisive victory. 

In the end there was little to be done.  The Emperor ordered the admiralty to reinforce Lord Major Vintari’s force, and strongly encouraged them to defer to Major Vintari’s evaluation of the situation in the Doraz system.  The admiralty had little to send to Vintari, but was able to scrape up a trio of light carriers to send forward. 

Month 214, Day 30, Lothari controlled Liawak system
A Lothari escort carrier jumped out of the Liawak system through the second newly discovered warp point at 0600 hours.  They discovered a planet-less blue giant system on the far side of the warp point.  As with the first system probed earlier that month, the warp point in the blue giant system was a closed warp point, indicating that this was not the route into the Alliance, but rather a route headed out-wards.  After a brief period spent scanning the system, the ship jumped back to the Liawak system to report. 

Month 214, Day 30, Lothari Prime
The CD from the 2nd Assault Group in the Alliance Thoen system arrived over Lothari Prime early in the day.  The victory over Alliance forces deepened the Supreme Leader’s belief that the Alliance was weak and would fall before Lothari military might.  The Leader personally authorized reinforcements for the 2nd Assault Group, consisting of three battlecruisers, three heavy cruisers, and four light carriers from the Home Fleet.  The reinforcements set out immediately, bound for the Thoen system. 
 
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Cold War: Month 215, The sides gather themselves
« Reply #279 on: October 27, 2022, 10:44:13 AM »

Month 215, Alliance
The Alliance government has managed to restore secure communications throughout the entire Alliance, and has concluded peace negotiations with the Colonial Union.  In addition, the D’Bringi rebellion is over.  The disappearance of the Emperor and the collapse of Imperial support on the home planet has caused pro-Imperial governments on D’Bringi colonies to collapse as well, with most of the former Imperial officials disappearing with as much of the local government’s money as they could carry.  Rehorish, T’Pau, and loyalist D’Bringi troops have landed on D’Bringi Prime, and Skull Splitter has been named acting head of state until a new government can be formed.  The Alliance 2nd Fleet, which had gone over to the Imperial’s after the coup, has been surrendered to Alliance forces.  The most rabid pro-Imperial officers have been removed and arrested, pending investigations, along with a small percentage of the crews.  A week into the investigation of the D’Bringi fleet, the 2nd Fleet’s officers met and agreed upon a course of action, which they then presented to the T’Pau officer in overall command of Alliance forces in the D’Bringi home system.  The plan was passed on to the Alliance Council, who agreed.  And so, on day one of month 215, the 2nd Alliance Fleet, in its entirety, will set out for the Chruqua Nexus, to be deployed against either the Aurarii or the Lothari.  The 2nd Fleet’s officers feel that proving their loyalty in battle will go a long way towards removing any doubt about them, as will getting them out of the D’Bringi home system and the Alliance core areas.  The are accompanied by the twelve battleships of the Strategic Reserve, although it will take them longer to arrive. 

The total destruction of Tai-sa G’Tak’s force in the Thoen system, along with the revelation that the Lothari have advanced tech beyond that of the Alliance, has alarmed the Alliance Council.  While the number of ships the Lothari have so far deployed is low, relative to the overall strength of the Alliance, they could be a threat if they have other undisclosed capabilities.  Worse, the destruction of G’Tak’s force, while a minor loss in the larger strategic picture, is alarming as it reveals a bloodthirstiness inherent in the Lothari mindset.  Tai-sa G’Tak was not offered terms for surrender at any point in the battle, and the Alliance hasn’t suffered losses like this since the war against the humans.  Even then, two forces which had suffered such heavy damage often disengaged rather than fight to the finish, but the Lothari seemed intent on destroying G’Tak’s force regardless of their own losses.  The Admiralty thus warns all forces gathering to oppose the Lothari about the apparent Lothari determination to fight to the death, or the destruction of their enemies. 

With the dispatch of the 2nd Fleet to the Chruqua Nexus, where it would be available to be deployed either against the Aurarii or the Lothari, the Alliance Council decides to short-stop the 6th Fleet, which left the Villiers system at the end of Month 213, and is now in the Zir Home System and approaching Alliance territory.  Instead of relocating to the Chruqua Nexus, the 6th will now head to the Thoen system, to either defend that system from the Lothari, or to drive them from it, depending on the situation when they arrive.  In addition, the commander of the 6th is ordered to detach all of his corvette-carriers and send them ahead to join with the 7th Fleet, which was moving to confront the surviving Lothari forces in the Thoen system. 

Month 215, Aurarii Republic
The Aurarii Navy launches three new light cruiser sized patrol ships from the yards this month, and they are immediately deployed to patrol the skies over the Norn home world, relieving the light carriers that had been assigned to that duty.  The light carriers were reassigned to the Home Fleet, and were originally intended to be sent out to the Doraz Home System as reinforcements, however, three of the four light carriers were equipped with older F0 fighters, so the squadron remained in the home system while their fighter wings were upgraded with the latest fighters.  In addition, a superdreadnought group leaves the yard, fresh from refitting to the latest technological standards.  There is some push to redeploy that group to the Doraz system to replace the damaged monitors that are limping home, but with the 2nd Monitor Squadron still in the yards the Court decides that the superdreadnoughts must be retained for home system defense.    Thus, no new reinforcements will be sent to the assault group. 

Month 215, Kingdom of Lothari
The Lothari complete the reactivation of six battlecruisers from their mothball reserves.  These ships are assigned to the Home Fleet and held over the home planet as a defensive force and strategic reserve.  Next month, three additional BS6’s will be reactivated, and the High Command will be more willing to release ships from the reserve for action at the front. 

Month 215, Doraz Contingency
The Doraz launch two destroyers, seven corvettes, and twelve proto-type CVE’s from their orbital yards.  To avoid being observed by the Aurarii force sitting on the inner-system warp point, the Doraz keep their new ships close to the yards with their drive-fields down, at least for now.  The CVE’s would be of little use in any battle, because they are proto-type hulls, with holds in place of their fighter bays, which are still under development.  Five more corvettes are brought to the yards to be reactivated, but that is the last of the ships from the mothball reserves.  Construction is begun on sixteen new corvettes of the latest design, as well.  For now, the Doraz are forced to watch the Aurarii squadron squatting in their system, without being able to do anything about it.  Major Alliance forces are en route and nearing their system, which is a great relief to the Doraz leadership. 
 
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Cold War: Month 215, Battle of Liawak, Lothari Perspective
« Reply #280 on: October 29, 2022, 05:15:12 PM »
Battle of Liawak System, from two perspectives
Month 215, Day 1, Lothari occupied Liawak system
Swordsman of Stars Hartmann sat in his office, contemplating the view of the Alliance planet rotating below his orbiting flagship.  More and more, as time passed, he found himself watching the planet rotate, pondering the events he knew to be transpiring on the ground as InSec tried to control and ‘educate’ the T’Pau that made up the bulk of the colony below.  For months now there had been a feeling growing slowly within him questioning the rightness of the Supreme Leader’s leadership.  It was hard, very hard, to change his belief in the rightness of the Leader’s cause now, but as he read the reports from the planet, even sanitized as they were, he couldn’t help himself.  He had been with the Supreme Leader almost from the first.  Back then, the Leader had been a breath of fresh air in the stale old sameness of the old regime.  He promised change, a better life, and advancement for all, and he delivered.  At least at first.  That was what had convinced Hartmann, who had been a soldier even then, to join the Leader’s cause, at first covertly, and then openly, when it became time for action.  It had happened quickly, the change that the Leader promised, as the old regime and its corruption and staid sameness was swept away and the Leader took power.  Those were heady days, days of change, days of hope.  But gradually, somehow, things had changed.  Bit by bit, gradually, so that no one really noticed, the Leader became more concerned with gaining more and more power, rather than the exercise of that power for the good of the people.  They began making compromises to retain power.  Opponents were branded as enemies of the people and disappeared.  The Leader’s shock troops that led the assault on the old regime suddenly became InSec, and over the years gained more and more power, until they rivaled the military itself.   

At that point, Hartmann’s thoughts turned to the Supreme Leader.  He had long avoided going down this road, because, in the Kingdom of Lothar, the Supreme Leader was above reproach or criticism.  To even think of criticism of the Leader was to court disaster, at least at Hartmann’s level.  Hartmann had been in awe of the Leader’s encyclopedic knowledge, intelligence and decisiveness, and, in fact, he was all of those things.  But, now, sitting here on the fringe of the Lothari expanses, waiting to be attacked by the Alliance fleet he knew was coming, he had to admit that the Leader was also vain, paranoid, and given to extreme flights of either unbounded optimism or fear, seemingly at random.  It had taken Hartmann years to realize this, as the Leader was so often right, and everyone around the Leader had been so often wrong that they stopped believing in their own ability to judge a situation.  They instead just uncritically accepted the Leader’s current pronouncement of the state of things, even if it contradicted what the Leader had said the day before.  Hartmann included himself in that number.  He had struggled to balance retaining his honor as a defender of the people while serving as a senior officer in the state’s military.  He largely felt that he had succeeded, at least until now.  Now, as he watched the planet rotate below his ship and contemplated just what InSec was doing below, he knew that he had only been fooling himself.  It was he, and those like him, that had brought suffering to the people below, and perpetuated it on their own people.  His thoughts had reached this point before, and, as before, he turned to his desk and opened the top drawer, looking at the pistol in the drawer.  As before, he eventually closed the drawer.  That wasn’t the answer, not yet.  He set out to begin his day, but as he did every day, he knew he would end up here again, watching the planet rotate below the ship and contemplating what the future would bring, and if it would bring what his people deserved. 

Almost sixteen hours later, as Hartmann ended his day by watching the planet rotate, he was interrupted by a call from the bridge.  One of the survey group’s cruisers had sent a contact warning.  They had detected a drive field headed in-system, one hundred and sixty-eight light minutes out.  The survey cruiser’s captain reported that he was closing on the contact to determine its makeup. 

The report galvanized Hartmann.  The long delay in finding a way out of this system had meant that the Alliance fleet, which was surely gathering down-chain, would likely advance before he could.  And now they were here.  The question was, was this a probe, or was this an attack on his fleet.  In either case, there was only one possible course of action.  He opened a link to the bridge.  “Greater Swordsman, you will prepare the fleet to depart.  We will be moving to intercept the contact within the hour.  Also, dispatch a CD to the home world reporting the contact.”  The ship’s CO saluted and turned to begin issuing orders.  Hartmann settled in to await the inevitable response.

Within a minute of issuing the orders, his screen lit up to show the armor of the InSec officer in command of the planetary surface.  “Hartmann, you will not run and leave us unprotected!”

Having anticipated this, Hartmann had a response ready.  “We are not running, officer.  We are moving to engage the enemy before they can reach striking range of the planet.”

The InSec officer sat for a second, considering Hartmann’s response.  Hartmann hoped his unexpected response had put the officer off, but with his armor obscuring his face and body there was no way to tell.  Which was one of the primary reasons all Lothari wore armor or body and face obscuring clothing at all times.  Finally, the InSec officer responded as Hartmann knew he would, indeed in the only way he could.  “Very well, Hartmann.  See that you destroy those who would oppose our great leader!”  The screen flickered out and Hartmann left his office to begin preparing the fleet to depart.  Before his deadline of an hour, the twelve ships in the Lothari Assault Group left the planet behind and accelerated out into the dark to meet their foes.   

Month 215, Day 2, Hour 16
“Sir, the survey cruiser reports that the Alliance contact has split into two distinct contacts.  One is maneuvering to intercept him, while the other is moving away.  Both groups are maintaining standard cruiser system speeds.”

Hartmann sat back in his chair and contemplated the system display over his desk.  This was likely a ploy by the Alliance to intercept his scout with scouts of their own, to prevent his scout from getting into range of the main fleet.  “Very well.  The fleet will continue on its current course and speed.  The survey cruiser is ordered to close on the detached contact and engage it.”

One hour later the Lothari Assault Group received a message from the survey cruiser indicating that it had determined that the contact was composed of three corvette class ships, and that it was launching gunboats and beginning its attack.  Shortly thereafter, the Assault Group received a final communique from the cruiser’s CO indicating that his ship had suffered serious damage and was making a final attack run on the Alliance corvettes, each of which had launched six first generation fighters.  The Alliance fighter force had effectively dealt with the Lothari survey cruiser’s gunboats, leaving them few alternatives.  The ship’s CO held out little hope of success, but stated that he would launch the final attack “for the glory of the state”.  Shortly after that the Survey Cruiser’s CO reported that the battle was over, and that his ship had been crippled and left behind by the enemy, who were seemingly content to leave the now impotent ship behind while they stalked his main fleet. 

The CO’s reference to “the glory of the state” twisted a knife in Hartmann’s soul, because at one time the Navy had existed to protect the Lothari people, not the state.  However, something else was nagging at his mind, and re-examining the report he quickly realized what it was.  The contacts were corvettes, capable of a higher strategic speed than the Lothari survey cruiser, but they had obviously been holding back until they had gotten into close range.  That had been a clever ploy to suck his survey cruiser into close contact.  Worse, the survey cruiser had never gotten close enough to the second contact to determine the number or class of ships it represented.  This was problematic, as he had no way of knowing if it was a single corvette, or a fleet of a hundred battlecruisers. 

In any case, the loss of the scout cruiser had at least revealed the fact that the first contact was a trio of scout corvettes, which meant that his current priority should be determining the makeup of the second contact.  Unfortunately, his force now had no sensor contact with the Alliance ships, but on their current course they should pick them up within twenty-four hours. 

Month 215, Day 3, Hour 16
As expected, the Assault Group’s sensors picked up both Alliance contacts twenty-four hours later, almost exactly where they had been predicted to be.  This bothered Hartmann, as the Alliance ships weren’t even trying to evade his fleet.  His unease at the situation in the system was growing.  The Alliance were making it too easy to intercept their fleet.  Worse, the need to keep his force concentrated had meant that he could not picket the warp point that led back to the home system.  He had protested the order from Fleet HQ to keep his fleet concentrated, but to no avail.  Fleet HQ had stated that the survey group deployed to the system would act as his eyes, warning of an Alliance incursion should it occur.  They had done just that, but Hartmann couldn’t help but worry that the survey group was scattered all over the system.  In fact, there were none in between the area where the Alliance ships appeared and the warp point back to home, which meant that Hartmann had no way of knowing whether there was yet another Alliance force headed towards his only route of retreat.  And source of supplies. 

Still, they would have to determine the composition of the force in front of them, in the absence of any other contacts.  If he made a move towards the warp point now, he would be denounced as a coward and removed from command within seconds of ordering such a move.  The InSec spies among his officers would ensure that. 

The Lothari fleet adjusted its course to intercept the second, unknown Alliance contact and continued on towards the outer system. 

Month 215, Day 4, Hour 9
The Lothari Assault Group had finally approached to within twelve light minutes from the Alliance contact, and finally their sensors reported that the contact was composed of sixteen drive fields.  As of yet their sensors couldn’t determine the types of ships, but that at least was enough to determine that the contact was a significant force, whatever its composition. 

Shortly after making contact, the Alliance force turned away and began paralleling the Lothari Assault Group, maintaining the range.  There was no way Hartmann was going to allow this Alliance force to entice him into an interminable pursuit into the outer system, so he ordered his fleet to launch all gunboats on strike on the Alliance force.  Shortly after the gunboats launched, the Alliance force accelerated to a matching speed to maintain their range to the pursuing gunboats.  Hartmann knew immediately that he had been suckered into chasing after a group of Alliance scouts.  The force he had closed on was now matching the speed of his gunboats, which could only be done by corvettes or smaller ships.  And if his fleet was pursuing corvettes, then that meant that the main Alliance fleet, if it existed, was almost certainly making for his one exit point from the system. 

Hartmann immediately recalled the gunboats, and once they were docked with his ships, he ordered the fleet to come about on a course towards the warp point that led back home. 

Within a matter of hours, he received a coded communique from the InSec commander on the Alliance colony ordering him to return to the planet immediately to cover their withdrawal from the planet.  The transports that had carried the Lothari army troops to the planet were gone, as were the InSec transports, which meant that the InSec commander wanted Hartmann’s fleet to facilitate their ‘relocation’ back to the home system.  Hartmann ignored the order, and called his orderly to his office.  Sub-officer Weber’s family had served his family during the time of the old regime, and he had continued this tradition, following Hartmann into the service and keeping him safe over the years.  Weber was thickly built, and had learned every nasty trick of fighting from spending years following his master into one tricky situation after another.  Now he arrived at Hartmann’s office carrying a “street sweeper” shotgun he was absolutely not authorized to carry on board ship. 

The older sub-officer stood before Hartmann at attention, while Hartmann wondered yet again how he stayed ahead of him at every turn.  “Sub-officer, I will be involved in delicate planning during the next several hours, and I do not wish to be disturbed.  I have already informed my officers of this fact.  If anyone attempts to disturb my planning session, would you politely inform them that I will meet with them later?”

Sub-officer Weber stood even straighter, if that was possible.  “Yes sir.  Politely, sir.”

Hartmann wondered if he should give Weber any further direction, but decided that it would be a waste.  Weber would do what he would do, and there was little anyone could do to change that once he decided it needed doing.  “Very well.  Take your post.”

Weber withdrew and Hartmann returned to studying the map display, trying to discern the Alliance’s intentions.  Several times he heard muffled voices outside his office door, and once he thought he heard a shout, but he didn’t hear the Sub-officer’s gun being discharged, so he assumed everything was in order.   Five hours later, when Hartmann exited the office, he found sub-officer Weber standing guard as expected.  “How did it go, Sub-officer?”

“No problems, sir.  Officer Gruber did stop by and ask to see you, sir.  He got rather insistent, as a matter of fact.  Agitated, actually.  I managed to calm him down, and persuaded him to see the doctor for a minor injury he had suffered at some point during the day.  Other than that, I have nothing to report.”

“Gruber, huh?  Should I check in with the doctor?”

“I don’t see why, sir.  It was a very minor injury, really.  Nothing to worry yourself about.”

“Very well.  Carry on.”  He had long suspected several of his officers of being InSec moles, but not Gruber, so this was interesting.  In any case, he would have to have Weber or one of his friends on duty from now on, as he was sure Gruber wasn’t the only one. 

When he arrived at his station on the bridge, he noted a message from the ship’s doctor reporting that he had had to put a member of the ship’s crew in stasis for treatment on the home world.  Feeling fairly sure he knew who was in stasis, Hartmann wondered how Weber had managed that. 

Month 215, Day 5, Hour 8
Hartmann wasn’t sure why, but he had increasingly grown convinced that he was in a race for the warp point that led back to the home system, and that he was losing that race.  Perhaps it was the fact that the Alliance scouts were content to follow his force, in spite of the fact that they could close on them any time they wished.  Whatever it was, Hartmann was not one to ignore something that was pushing this hard at his conscious mind.  “Fleet order: the flagship will accelerate to maximum military speed in ten minutes.  All ships will match speed and report engine status to the flagship at hourly intervals.  Launch a CD to the home system with the fleet’s current status and heading, and my appraisal that the Alliance Fleet is attempting to get behind us and cut us off from the route home.” 

Hartmann settled in to contemplate the system map.  Accelerating to maximum speed would cut their ETA in half, from Day 13 to Day 9.  But would that be enough?

Month 215, Day 9, Hour 18
The last four days had been grueling for everyone in the Lothari fleet.  Their high-speed run had been made without any ships dropping behind, although one of the fleet’s escort carriers had lost an engine room.  Fortunately, the CVE’s had an engine room in reserve and the fleet was able to maintain its speed.  Swordsman of Stars Hartmann was pretty sure he had pushed them to their limit, though.  Their engineering crews were exhausted, and had performed above and beyond keeping their engines functional during their four-day run.  Now, though, they were finally approaching the warp point.   Hartmann intended to invest the warp point, with ships positioned on both sides to watch for Alliance ships, and await reinforcements from home.  If the Alliance fleet approached his position, then he would either engage them in Liawak space, if he had the advantage, or retreat to the Kalizwali system and defend the warp point against incursions.  Either way his rear would be secure and his supply lines would be open. 

As they had run headlong towards the warp point, the Lothari force had detected no new Alliance ships or fleets.  Early on one of the two scout groups following them had turned away, likely to return to the inhabited planets in the inner system, while the other seemed content to shadow them from thirty-six light minutes behind them.  As time went on, Hartmann began to fear traps in front of them, so he pushed his three escort carriers out ahead of his battlecruisers and carriers, to extend their sensor range a bit, and detect anything laying drive-field down in front of them. 

Now, with the leading Lothari escort carriers approaching fifteen light seconds from the warp point, with the rest of the Lothari ships four light seconds behind them, a shout rang across the flagship’s bridge.

“Sir!  Drive fields detected ahead!”
 
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Cold War: Month 215, Battle of Liawak, Alliance Perspective
« Reply #281 on: October 29, 2022, 05:15:59 PM »
Eight days earlier…
Month 215, Day 1, Alliance Telmasa system, warp point to Liawak
The sixty-six ships of the Alliance 4th Fleet arrived at the warp point to the Lothari-occupied Liawak system at 0900 on this date.  They were closely followed by a group of communications ships and an ammunition ship, and were joining the scouting force sent ahead of the main force.  With the arrival of the main force, the scouts began transiting into Liawak, followed closely by the rest of the fleet.  Once in the system, the fleet split, with the nineteen scout corvettes headed inwards, towards the colony and the last known location of the Lothari fleet, and the rest of the fleet headed across the system, towards the warp point the Lothari used to enter the system.  This was the location through which Lothari reinforcements and maintenance supplies would have to come, and thus was the critical location in the system.  The main fleet would arrive at their destination in twelve days and sixteen hours.  The corvette-carriers of the scout force would arrive within detection range of the colony and the presumed location of the Lothari fleet in two and a half days. 

Sixteen hours later, the scout force detected a drive field almost directly in-system of their location.  Cho-sho Watanabe, CO of the 4th Fleet, had hoped to remain undetected for longer, but was relieved that if one of his two groups was detected, it was his scouts.  He ordered the scouts to continue inwards while his fleet continued to head for the warp point leading back to Lothari territory. 

Twenty-four hours after entering the system, the Alliance scouts were one hundred and fifty-six light minutes from the inner colonies, and forty-eight light minutes from the unknown contact, which had changed course to close on the scouts.  At this point the scout force split, with three scouts splitting off to intercept the unknown drive field contact, while the remainder moved to remain far enough out of range that the unknown contact wouldn’t be able to determine their numbers.  The main group of scouts, at the orders of Cho-sho Watanabe, slowed down to match the cruising speed of larger ships, in the hopes that the Lothari would think that it was the main fleet. 

The group sent to intercept the Lothari drive field confirmed that it was composed of a single drive field and continued closing.  At 1700 hours on Day 2, the force had closed to fifteen light seconds and confirmed that the contact was a heavy cruiser, at which point the Lothari warship launched seven gunboats.  The Alliance corvette carriers turned away and launched their fighters, which interposed themselves in between the oncoming gunboats and their carriers. 

The two groups of small craft came together in between the groups of ships.  The gunboats were heavily armed, but the fighters were more agile.  Both sides had crack crews.  In the ensuing battle, the eighteen Alliance fighters wiped out the attacking gunboats, but lost six of their own doing it.  The fighters returned to their carriers to be rearmed, while the Lothari heavy cruiser charged towards the Alliance corvettes.  The corvettes let the heavy cruiser close to eleven light seconds, then turned and paced the heavier ship, maintaining the distance.  Shortly after they turned, the Alliance corvette-carriers launched their rearmed fighters, which rapidly closed on the Lothari heavy cruiser.  The twelve Alliance fighters closed to one point two five light seconds from the heavy cruiser and then launched eighteen fighter missiles each.  About two thirds of the missiles obtained a lock on the heavy cruiser, and the cruiser’s point defense stopped a lot of them, but seven still got through and knocked out the cruiser’s shields and caused some internal damage.  The fighters turned away and raced towards their carriers to be rearmed, as the heavy cruiser, now damaged, turned away from the corvettes and tried to escape. 

The Alliance carriers turned around too, and went into pursuit, taking care to maintain the range to the fleeing ship.  As they were faster than the larger Lothari ship, there was no chance that they would lose it.  It took just over a minute for the fighters to return to their carriers, where the deck crews began rearming them as soon as they landed.  Two and a half minutes later they were back in space, chasing after the fleeing heavy cruiser. 

It took the fighters ten minutes to get into position to fire again, but the heavy cruiser was ready for them.  At the last second it turned to clear its blind spot and threw its remaining engine power into engine modulations to throw off the fighter’s targeting.  Additionally, instead of using its two advanced capital point defense emplacements to defend itself, it targeted the fighters.  Both point defense emplacements hit their targets, eliminating two of the incoming fighters.  In return, the heavy cruiser was hit by seventeen fighter missiles, leaving it slowed and leaking atmosphere and debris. 

The ten fighters raced back towards their carriers to rearm.  Soon the ten remaining fighters were back and closing on their target.  At this time the Alliance commander sent a message to the crippled cruiser demanding that they surrender.  The cruiser commander made no response, so the fighters attacked again.  This time the fighters launched from one point seven five light seconds range, which proved to be outside the cruiser’s point defense range.   This time, with the cruiser using its point defense emplacements in its own defense, the fighters could only get two missiles through the defensive fire, but this was enough to knock out another engine room, further slowing the cruiser. 

The fighters returned to rearm while the cruiser sat in place, trying to repair some of its engines before the fighters returned.  The ship still had a drive field, so it wasn’t immobile, but there was no way that they could outpace the corvettes and their fighters, so it had come to a halt.  Soon, the fighters were rearmed and returning.  Once again, the Alliance commander offered to allow the Lothari to surrender, but once again they refused.  The fighters, firing from beyond the Lothari point defense range, scored only one hit during the next two attacks, and at that point the Alliance commander called the attack off.  The heavy cruiser was crippled and would take weeks to get anywhere useful, so it was left behind by the corvettes as they turned to rejoin the main scout force. 

Forty-eight hours after entering the system, on day 3, the Alliance 4th Fleet was seventy-two light minutes from its entry point, well on its way towards the Lothari entry point into the system. The main force of scouts was one hundred and forty-four light minutes from the colonies in the inner system, and ninety-six light minutes from the main fleet. 

At 1700 hours on Day 3, the main group of scouts detected a drive field moving out of the inner system, headed towards their general direction.  Shortly after detecting the drive field, it changed course towards the scouts.  Just over sixteen hours later the two groups had closed to the point that the scout force could determine that the new drive field contact coming out of the inner system was composed of twelve individual drive fields, which matched the Lothari fleet engaged by the border guards.  At this point the scout force turned away from the oncoming Lothari fleet, maintaining the range.  At that point the Lothari force launched sixty gunboats.  They may have launched their fighters as well, but if they did, they were too far away to see.  In response, the Alliance scout force commander ordered her group to accelerate to maximum speed, which matched the gunboat’s maximum speed, meaning that the Lothari gunboats were unable to close on the Alliance force. 

This was unfortunate.  While the maneuver did keep the corvettes well away from the Lothari gunboats, it also revealed the fact that they were corvettes to the Lothari commander, who immediately turned away, towards their entry point to the system.  The main group of Alliance scouts turned and shadowed the Lothari force, maintaining twelve light seconds distance, while the three detached scouts headed in-system. 

Twenty-four hours passed, at which point the Lothari force suddenly accelerated to full speed, still on its course towards the warp point that ultimately led back to their home system.  The scout group immediately sent a report off to the main fleet.  This put Cho-sho Watanabe in a bind.  His fleet was ahead of the Lothari force, and if the Lothari had maintained their standard cruising speed they would have arrived at the warp point in just over six days, three entire days before the Lothari force and well out of their sensor range.  He wasn’t sure what had tipped the Lothari, given that they were too far apart to been seen by the Lothari sensors, but whatever it was, the Lothari would now reach the warp point in four days and sixteen hours, over a full day ahead of them.  Watanabe didn’t have to think about it very long.  If the Lothari reached the warp point first they would escape and either flee back to their home system or defend on the far side of the warp point.  Either was unacceptable.  If his force reached the warp point first, the Lothari would be trapped.  By arriving first he would be putting the Lothari in a position where they would have to attack his fleet, if only because waiting would mean that they’d run out of supplies sooner or later.  The decision was easy, Watanabe ordered his fleet to maximum speed. 

Over the next twenty-four hours, Day 5 of Month 215 and into Day 6, the Alliance fleet ran at full speed towards the Lothari exit point from the system.  None of the Alliance ships had engine failures, however, several had close calls with their overstressed engines.  The two groups of scouts shadowing the main Lothari force were falling behind, but still had them in sensor range and were reporting that the Lothari were continuing on their course towards the warp point.  A third group of corvette carriers had been detached from the main group of scouts to approach the colonies in the inner system and report on their status. 

During the second day of running at full speed, two Alliance ships suffered a burnout.  Of the two, an Akagi IV class heavy cruiser and an escort carrier, the heavy cruiser was more problematic.  The escort carrier was fast enough that even after losing an engine room it could still maintain the fleet speed, but the heavy cruiser began to fall behind almost immediately.  Cho-sho Watanabe considered decreasing the fleet’s speed to allow the heavy cruiser to maintain its position, but in the end detached the cruiser, ordering it to return to their entry point into the system.  The scout corvettes detached to probe the inner system confirmed that there were no Lothari ships remaining there, and that the colonies were occupied.  The occupiers refused all communications with the Alliance ships and seemed to have the colonies locked down effectively, as the ships could not raise anyone on the surface of either planet. 

Day seven brought the Alliance force within twelve light minutes of the warp point.  No Lothari ships were detected near the warp point, and the Lothari force from the inner system was still one hundred and twenty light minutes from the warp point.  The scouts reported that the Lothari force was still at full speed, so they apparently had not suffered from any burnouts.  Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the Alliance force.  Even as Cho-sho Watanabe contemplated the oncoming Lothari force, two Zuikaku Long-Range battlecruisers reported engine failures from the strain of running at full speed.  As they were now close to the warp point Cho-sho Watanabe ordered the fleet to reduce speed to a safe cruising speed so that the battlecruisers could keep up and so that no further ships would suffer engine damage. 

Twelve hours later the Alliance force settled in around the warp point and dropped its drive fields, becoming invisible.  By the end of that day the Lothari force was forty-eight light minutes from the warp point and closing. 
 
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Cold War: Month 215, Battle at the Warp Point
« Reply #282 on: October 31, 2022, 08:48:17 AM »
Month 215, Day 9, Disputed Liawak System
Late in day nine, the Lothari force closed on the warp point.  Their three escort carriers were running four light seconds ahead of the other nine Lothari ships when they suddenly came to a halt when they reached just fifteen light seconds from the warp point and their sensors detected the Alliance Fleet.  Swordsman of Stars Hartmann, who was sitting in his chair on the bridge of his battlecruiser, staring at the plot tank, wondering where the Alliance fleet was, suddenly leaned forward as the plot updated to show his escort carrier screen coming to a halt, followed closely by the appearance of drive fields belonging to eighteen battlecruisers or carriers, fifteen heavy cruisers or light carriers, seven light cruisers or strike carriers, and twenty-two destroyers or escort carriers.  Given the fact that his fleet was out-numbered five to one, it probably didn’t matter what the actual composition of the Alliance fleet was.  The ironic thought flitted through his head as the Swordsman tried to find a way out of the trap he had led his force into at the warp point. 

“The enemy force is launching fighters.”

As he expected.  He drew in a deep breath.  “Very well.  The enemy has finally given me a chance to come to grips with them.  They will regret it.  All ships launch carried craft and prepare for battle.”

It was a good thing that the Swordsman of Stars had called the fleet to alert status as they closed on the warp point, as a standard precaution, because the Lothari fleet was ready for battle and its fighters and gunboats were armed and ready.  Even as the fleet’s small craft launched, a message was received from the Alliance fleet.  Hartmann had it transferred to his console, and played it in privacy mode.  It was short and to the point.  The Alliance commander demanded the surrender of his force.  Hartmann was tempted.  They were heavily outnumbered, both in terms of ships and small craft.  Realistically, they had no chance of winning the battle, or even pushing through to the warp point.  Neither could they escape, with the enemy’s fighters pursuing them.  After considering the enemy offer for a brief moment, Hartmann came to a decision.  Surrendering without first damaging the enemy fleet was unthinkable, as the enemy’s next step would be to advance on the home system.  Worse, if word of their surrender got back to the home system, InSec would likely arrest everyone who had ever known anyone in the crew for being associates of defeatists.  Better to go down fighting. 

“We will advance on the warp point and jump back to the Kalizwali system to report the enemy’s advance.  All ships advance at maximum power!”

The Lothari fleet began advancing towards the warp point and the Alliance fleet.  The Lothari escort carriers waited for the main fleet to arrive, then joined with their advance.  The fleet’s fighters and gunboats remained in close formation with the bigger ships. 

The Alliance fighters advanced towards the oncoming Lothari fleet, leaving their fleet behind at the warp point.  The two groups advanced towards each other for several minutes, then the Lothari fighters and gunboats moved out ahead of their fleet, interposing themselves between the oncoming Alliance fighters and the Lothari fleet.  They were grievously outnumbered.  Lothari sensors were now able to determine that the Alliance fighter force was composed of just over five hundred fighters, compared to the Lothari force of seventy-two fighters and sixty gunboats.

When the Alliance fighters reached five light seconds range from the Lothari fleet, Swordsman of Stars Hartmann ordered his fleet to come to a halt, to allow their fighters and gunboats room to maneuver and engage the enemy fighters.  One minute later the two groups of small craft came together in a furball in front of the fleet.  At the last second over half of the Alliance fighter group turned aside, avoiding the battle, leaving the one hundred and thirty-two Lothari fighters and gunboats facing two hundred and thirty-seven Alliance fighters.  There could be only one conclusion to such a mismatch.  The Lothari small craft managed to take out sixty-six Alliance fighters, but were completely wiped from space in less than thirty seconds. 

The Alliance fighters that survived the battle turned back to their carriers, while the second group, which had avoided the battle with the Lothari small craft, raced in towards the Lothari fleet at maximum speed. The second Alliance fighter group launched fighter missiles at the Lothari fleet at one point two five light second’s range.  Swordsman of Stars Hartmann, knowing it was coming, ordered his fleet to divert engine power to engine modulations and to retain point defense for anti-missile defense, and leaving the oncoming fighters to the fleet’s heavy lasers.  The Lothari battlecruisers hit two Alliance fighters with their lasers, destroying them utterly, and while the targeted battlecruiser group’s advanced capital point defenses swept most of the incoming missiles from space, fourteen leaked through the defenses and were absorbed by one of the battlecruiser’s shields.   

The Alliance fighters turned to run back to their carriers.  Swordsman of Stars Hartmann did not intend to allow the Alliance enough time to rearm its fighters, so his fleet followed the fighters as closely as they could.  One minute later the Lothari fleet was ten light seconds from the Alliance fleet on the warp point, and both sides began launching SBM’s at each other.  Two Alliance battlecruiser groups engaged the Lothari battlecruiser targeted by the fighters, but only managed to punch one anti-matter tipped SBM through the Lothari group’s very effective point defense and engine modulations.  In return, a Lothari battlecruiser group launched twelve anti-matter SBM’s at a Rehorish heavy cruiser, but the range was long, and the cruiser group’s point defense swatted the few missiles that achieved lock-on before they could close on the ship. 

The next salvo of missiles was launched at 8.5 light seconds range, and the Lothari BC group equipped with long-range missile launchers was still having a problem penetrating their target’s engine modulations and point defense network.  The Alliance was having the same problem, and its two long-range missile BC groups failed to land any hits on the approaching Lothari ships. 

The lead group of Alliance fighters finally managed to reach the Alliance fleet, but still had a way to go to reach their carriers, which were retreating to remain outside Lothari weapon’s range.  As the Alliance fighters continued their run towards their carriers, the two side’s warships were now within capital missile range, and the Lothari battlecruisers switched to the more capable missiles immediately.  Once again, the Lothari twelve-missile salvoes failed to penetrate the targeted heavy cruiser’s active defenses.  The Alliance ships switched as well, and managed to get one capital missile through the defender’s fire, further reducing the targeted BC’s shields. 

The Lothari ships continued to charge towards the warp point and the waiting defenders.  The range was now 5.5 light seconds, and missile accuracy was improving.  The Lothari battlecruisers managed to punch a single capital missile through the Alliance heavy cruiser’s defenses, reducing her shields to less than half strength, but in return the six Alliance ships equipped with spinal force beams opened fire, scoring four hits on the Lothari battlecruiser that had been hit by the fighter missiles, further reducing its shields.  The spinal force beams were at long range, but as the range dropped their strength would increase proportionately.  In fact, as was common for most Alliance fleets, most of the 4th Fleet’s combat units were optimized for close range combat.  As the Lothari were about to discover. 

With the two fleets now four light seconds apart, more of the ships were able to get into action against their opponents.  The first to fire were the trio of Alliance heavy cruisers that had been targeted for Lothari long range missile fire.  The three heavy cruisers were of the latest Alliance design, and each mounted two capital force beam emplacements and a single spinal force beam mount that ran the length of the ship.  Now, all of their weapons were able to fire, and the elite crews of the three cruisers scored five hits with their six capital force beams, and two hits with their spinal force beams, knocking out a Lothari battlecruiser’s shields and damaging its armor.  The Lothari battlecruiser group that had been silent so far responded with six HET lasers and three spinal force beams of their own, getting five hits with their lasers and one with their spinal mounts, chewing through the heavy cruiser’s passive defenses.  Many of the Alliance beam ships were older, with older beam weapons, and thus not in range yet, but the more advanced ships battered down one of the Lothari BC’s armor and damaged several engine rooms.  In exchange, one Alliance heavy cruiser suffered serious shield and armor damage. 

The Lothari battlecruisers suddenly accelerated as they activated their engine tuners and continued charging forward at full speed, with the one damaged BC and their carriers failing behind.  The sudden acceleration caught the Alliance force by surprise, but at this point the entire Alliance force was within range of their weapons, and all of the Alliance ships opened up on the five intact Lothari BC’s.  Three of the Lothari BC’s suffered serious internal damage, and two of the remaining three BC’s lost most of their shields and armor.  By some strange fate, Hartmann’s flagship was the only Lothari BC that remained undamaged, although two others had no internal damage, yet. 

The Lothari ships continued their charge, with the three Lothari BC’s with no internal damage reaching a half of a light second from the warp point, with the remaining three BC’s strung out behind them, straggling from engine damage.  The six Lothari carriers, which had so far been ignored, were a light second from the warp point.  One Alliance heavy cruiser had suffered internal damage.  At such a close range, the exchange of fire was brutal.  The Lothari, who only had three ships in their fleet optimized for close range combat, came out much the worse in the exchange.  Making matters even worse for the Lothari, some of the Alliance ships had datalink jamming systems on board, and the Lothari were now close enough for those systems to become effective.  And, as a final decisive blow, many of the Alliance beam ships were armed with plasma guns, which they were now close enough to employ.  In the end, when the firing died down, six Lothari ships were left limping towards the warp point, all crippled and slowed so much that they would never make it before the Alliance ship’s weapons recharged.  In return, an Alliance battlecruiser suffered minor internal damage.

The Alliance commander issued another call for the Lothari ships to surrender, but again that message was ignored.  In the absence of a response, a single Alliance battlecruiser group swept the remaining Lothari ships from space as they limped towards the warp point.  The battle was over. 

Cho-sho Watanabe detached his empty carriers to return to Alliance yards for replacement fighters, and the six ships that suffered damage either in the battle or during the race to the warp point.  As those ships set out for home, the Cho-sho set his destroyers to picking up Lothari survivors in life pods.  A fair number of Lothari had managed to reach their pods, but strangely, very few officers had survived.  One pod was found empty, containing only an Alliance datapad, with a note addressed to Cho-sho Watanabe.  After being examined for traps, Watanabe retreated to the privacy of his office and activated the pad.  A video started playing immediately after the pad booted up.  The video showed Swordsman Hartmann standing alone in what appeared to be an office much like Watanabe’s.  Watanabe activated the video and Hartmann cleared his throat.  “If you are seeing this, then I and most of my men are dead.  Know this, we died doing our duty, but I regret that we died facing an honorable enemy such as the Alliance.  This was not my choice, but we, as soldiers, are not always given the choice of the enemies we fight.”

Thinking of the D’Bringi who had so recently been fighting each other, Watanabe could only nod.  “Still, if I do not regret dying in service of the state, there are things that I do regret.  Things that, looking backward, I would change if I could.”  It was difficult to tell, masked as the Lothari was, but Watanabe could hear the emotion in the other officer’s voice.  After hesitating for a few seconds, the Lothari continued.  “You will find things on your colony that will enrage you.  That must enrage you.  Your people will want revenge against mine, that is natural.  But know this, there are many within my people who oppose what has happened.  It will be my eternal shame that I did not act when I could have, to stop the barbarities that you will find.  But I did not, because I feared for my family and relations back home, who would certainly have suffered for my actions.  And so, I was a coward.  Blame me.  Blame those who acted on your colonies in this system.  But don’t blame my entire people!  Most have no blame in this, and would oppose it if they could.  I beg this of you.”  The video flickered out. 

Cho-sho Watanabe sat in shock for maybe five seconds, and then he activated the comm system in his desk. 

“Yes, sir?”  The ship’s CO appeared slightly harried as she was handling all things that needed to be accomplished after a battle. 

“Immediate message to the picket at the warp point back to the Telmasa system!  All troop transports are to enter and proceed to the inner system.  As soon as we are finished here, we will head in-system to provide protection to the transports.  The scout force is to split, with half of the scouts coming here, and the other half going to picket the inner system and the colonies.  Understood?”

Catching his tone of urgency, the ship’s CO saluted and turned to begin issuing orders.  Watanabe’s eyes turned towards the system display on the monitor on the wall of his office.  What was happening on the colonies in the inner system?
 
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Cold War: Month 215, Battle with the Aurarii
« Reply #283 on: November 02, 2022, 04:27:37 PM »
Month 215, Day 2, Alliance Chruqua Nexus
Reinforcements from the core worlds reached the Alliance force holding at the warp point to the Doraz Home World at 0800 hours.  These reinforcements consisted of six strike carriers, ten escort carriers, and eighteen corvette-carriers, all fully loaded with the Alliance’s latest F1 fighters.  They brought the 3rd Fleet’s fighter complement up to nearly five hundred fighters.  Unfortunately, the 3rd Fleet had largely been stripped over the last year to provide reinforcements for the various other fleets, and aside from the carriers currently only boasted three battlecruisers, three light cruisers, and six destroyers, all older designs.  Still, Cho-sho Banzan, the 3rd’s commander, felt that he couldn’t wait any longer.  The Doraz Home World was open to attack, and must be defended.  So, the 3rd jumped into the Doraz Home System, accompanied by the twenty-two warships of the Torqual fleet.  Their ETA to the inner system, and both the Aurarii fleet and the Doraz home world was six days. 

Month 215, Day 8, Doraz Home System
The combined Alliance 3rd Fleet and Torqual Expeditionary Fleet arrived in the inner system at mid-day.  At the urging of the Doraz government, the fleets set out for the warp point where the Aurarii fleet had waited.  Eight hours ago, just after the combined fleets reached twelve light minutes from the warp point, the range at which the Aurarii sensors could determine the number of ships in the fleet, the Aurarii ships on the warp point had jumped out.  The Doraz, after waiting for an hour, sent their entire fleet, all two destroyers and seven corvettes, to probe the warp point.  After arriving they found that the Aurarii were gone, and were retreating back the way they had come. 

The combined fleets jumped through to the Doraz Whever system at 1600 hours, to find that they were twelve light minutes behind the withdrawing Aurarii force.  The Aurarii were on a direct heading to the warp point to the Sheund system, which was back along their initial line of advance.  The Alliance force’s ETA to the warp point was thirteen days, eight hours, while the Aurarii force, due to their slower capital ships, had an ETA to the same point of nineteen and a half days. 

Cho-sho Banzan, secure in the knowledge that his force would be able to chase the Aurarii force down long before it could reach the warp point, ordered his fleet to pursue the Aurarii at their maximum cruising speed.  They would be able to close the distance to the Aurarii in twenty-four hours. 

Month 215, Day 9
Lord Major Vintari knew that he was in trouble.  The Alliance force was coming up steadily behind them, and even if he accelerated to full military speed the Alliance would just do the same and would still catch them.  And given the number of ships they had, even if they lost some to burnouts, they’d still far outnumber his fleet.  For a brief period, he was tempted to detach his carriers, which could at least run ahead of the main fleet and maintain their distance to the Alliance force, but if he did that it would leave his superdreadnoughts and battleships uncovered and open to attacks from Alliance fighters, virtually ensuring the defeat of his fleet in detail, whereas is they stayed together they’d at least have a chance against the Alliance.  Unfortunately, with the Alliance corvettes buzzing around his fleet they certainly had an exact idea of his strength, he still didn’t know anything about most of the Alliance fleet, except that they outnumbered his fleet.  It made calculating the odds of winning a battle against the Alliance fleet difficult, although it was hard to see how his fleet could stand off nearly five to one odds. 

Shortly after reaching a standoff distance of sixty light seconds, the Alliance force split, with twenty-one ships racing ahead of the main Alliance force, detouring around the Aurarii Fleet to get ahead of it.  The detached Alliance force was moving twice as fast as the Aurarii capital ships, which either meant that they were corvettes or they were running their engines at a dangerous level to get ahead of the Aurarii fleet.  In a bid to force them to retreat back to their main fleet, Lord Major Vintari ordered his carriers to launch their fighters, and then ordered the fighters to move towards the detached Alliance ships.  Unfortunately, the Alliance ships ignored the threat and Major Vintari was forced to recall his fighters short of the target, when the main Alliance Fleet launched their fighters.  While the Alliance fighters were too distant for the Aurarii sensors to determine their numbers, their mere presence was a threat and Vintari was forced to withdraw his fighters to protect his fleet. 

The pursuit continued, with the detached Alliance ships moving to get ahead of the much slower Aurarii fleet.  Once directly in front of the Aurarii fleet, they launched their fighters, confirming that they were carriers of some sort.  Simultaneously, the Alliance fleet behind them launched as well.  Hoping to overrun the smaller enemy force ahead of his fleet, Lord Major Vintari ordered his carriers to launch their fighters, and for the entire force to advance towards the smaller force ahead at the capital ship’s maximum speed.  Contrary to Lord Major Vintari’s wishes, the Alliance force ahead of his fleet began retreating, maintaining the range, while the force behind began closing, with their fighters running ahead of the main Alliance fleet and closing at their maximum speed. 

The Aurarii force continued its pursuit, and eventually the fighter force ahead of them turned and began their run at the Aurarii force, timed to coincide with the arrival of the Alliance fighter force behind them.  Both Alliance fleets appeared prepared to remain outside of the Aurarii force’s weapons range, at least for now.  Lord Major Vintari was forced to choose between sending his fighters against the Alliance fighters in front of him, with which his fighters had parity, or the fighters behind, which outnumbered his fighters over three to one.  Arguments could be made either way, and were, by his staff officers.  Finally, Lord Major Vintari decided.  The fighters would be sent against the smaller force of fighters from the Alliance ships ahead of their fleet. 

The odds were very nearly equal.  The Aurarii sent out one hundred and eleven fighters, while the Alliance had one hundred and twenty-six.  All of the fighters involved on both sides were F1, with three external weapons racks, and all of the fighters were equipped for anti-fighter work, with a fighter gun in each mount.  The two groups of fighters slammed together ahead of the Aurarii fleet, and a desperate battle began, with both sides trying to evade enemy fire while getting into position to fire on their opponents. 

The furball dissipated after a minute, with seven fighters remaining of the Alliance fighter group, and no Aurarii fighters remaining.  The Aurarii main fleet had turned to face the main Alliance fighter force, expecting it to attack while its defensive fighters were occupied with the secondary force, but instead, both Alliance fighter groups turned back towards their carriers.  Lord Major Vintari decided that the Alliance had equipped all of its fighters with anti-fighter weapons, to eliminate his fighter force, and so they had no way to attack him without rearming. 

The loss of his fighters was shocking to Lord Major Vintari.  He had known that the odds were against them, but the Aurarii Navy had never lost a battle in its storied history, and he would not allow himself to be the first fleet commander to do so and irrevocably stain the honor of the Aurarii Fleet.  In spite of the continued pleas to surrender and avoid a battle, Lord Major Vintari refused to consider any such thing, such was his faith in Aurarii invincibility.  And, seeing his determination, none of the older, wiser officers dared bring up the possibility, not with the hot-headed younger officers crowding around Vintari, praising his resolve.  The Aurarii fleet continued on towards the distant warp point, with the Alliance Fleet pacing them. 

Soon enough, the Alliance fighters had returned to their carriers and rearmed, and were headed back towards the slow Aurarii fleet.  The Alliance commander issued yet another demand for the Aurarii to surrender, which Lord Major Vintari stubbornly refused to acknowledge, and the Alliance fighter force, four hundred and fourteen fighters strong, raced towards the Aurarii fleet.  At the last second, Lord Major Vintari ordered his ships to make a turn, trying to keep the fighters out of their blind spots, but the lumbering superdreadnoughts and their escorting battleships were too slow to make the turn and the Alliance fighters slipped neatly into perfect firing positions.  The Aurarii force’s carriers managed to make the turn, exposing the fighters to the weapons on those ships, but the Alliance fighter group commander assumed they were lightly armed. 

The Alliance fighter squadrons began ripple firing their close attack missiles.  Due to supply issues, the Alliance missiles were equipped with standard fusion warheads, not the newer and more powerful anti-matter warheads, but there were a lot of them.  In short order the nine Aurarii heavy ships were overwhelmed by fighter close attack missiles, ripped apart by explosions that ate their way through the ship’s passive defenses and then deep into their fragile insides.  The return fire from the three Aurarii carriers and two light carriers caught the Alliance fighters by surprise.  All of the carriers were equipped with four datalinked point defense emplacements each, and the larger carriers had a single missile launcher, while the smaller light carriers actually had a capital force beam turret and a plasma gun.  All of these weapons unloaded into the attacking fighters, catching them while they were lining up on the heavy Aurarii ships.  The Aurarii crews were experienced and well trained, but the fighters were difficult targets.  Fourteen of the Alliance fighters were hit, and then the Alliance fighters turned on the carriers.  The original Alliance plan had been to eliminate the warships and then force the carriers, now bereft of fighters or warship defenders, to surrender.  The carrier’s armament, though, made that plan difficult, and so the Alliance fighters still carrying weapons descended on the Aurarii carriers with a vengeance. 

When the fighters left the area, there were no Aurarii ships left.  The Alliance force began picking up life pods, and Cho-sho Banzan reorganized his fighter squadrons and detached several carriers to return to the inner systems to be reloaded with fighters.  After re-distributing ammunition from the departing carriers, Cho-sho Banzan ordered his force to begin advancing once again.  He ordered his scout-corvettes to move out ahead of the force, towards the three inhabited planets in the inner system, while his fleet moved towards the warp point to Aurarii territory.   
 
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Cold War: Month 215, the War against the Lothari
« Reply #284 on: November 04, 2022, 10:04:47 AM »
Month 215, Day 7, Lothari Home World
The first CD from the Lothari Assault Group in the Liawak system arrived at Fleet HQ early in the day.  A report was made to the Supreme Leader, who immediately gave a public speech announcing an Alliance counter attack on the Liawak system.  The Supreme Leader praised Swordsman of Stars Hartmann for his spirited defense of Lothari territory from unwarranted Alliance aggression, and promised that valiant Lothari Fleet units would destroy any Alliance ship that dared to enter Lothari territory.  However, the Great Leader declined to dispatch any reinforcements at this time, somewhat alarming the fleet’s leadership. 

Unknown to the Supreme Leader, someone in Fleet HQ dispatched orders to the force in the Thoen system, ordering them to withdraw and reinforce the Home Fleet.  No one in Fleet HQ had dared to broach the subject to the Supreme Leader, who had lately taken to issuing orders prefaced by the statement “No retreat under any circumstances!”  The orders would arrive at the 2nd Assault Group’s location on Day 15.

Month 215, Day 10, Lothari Home System
Three days ago, a CD from Swordsman of Stars Hartmann had arrived at the Lothari home world, prompting the Supreme Leader to give a speech announcing an imminent victory by Lothari forces.  Now, Hartmann’s second CD arrives, announcing his retreat to the warp point that led back to Lothari territory and his belief that a major Alliance fleet is in the system.  The Supreme Leader declines to make a public announcement at this point, deciding to wait for further information.  No further CD’s arrive from Liawak, and on Day 12 the Supreme Leader authorizes the deployment of the Home Fleet to the warp point in the home system that leads to Alliance territory as a precautionary measure. 

Month 215, Day 11, Alliance controlled Liawak system
The Alliance corvette-carrier force approached the outermost inhabited planet in the system, which happened to be the system capital.  Ever since entering the system the colony had ignored all messages from the returning Alliance fleet, and fears had grown that something terrible had happened on the planet.  The corvettes had been able to determine that the populations were still there, but they were silent, with not even any enemy transmissions leaking outwards. 

The Alliance corvette force commander, focused on the colony’s wellbeing, approached to five light seconds of the planet, then split his force, with each half circling around the planet to get a complete scan of the area.  The Alliance ships were at alert status, not that the force commander really thought there was any danger, but the status of the colonies was unknown, and he wanted to be prepared for anything.  Several minutes later, when the two corvette groups were about a third of the way around the planet and ten light seconds apart, drive fields suddenly appeared coming around the back side of the planet.  A force of three Lothari heavy cruisers and two corvettes, accompanied by twenty-one gunboats, left orbit, headed directly towards one of the two corvette groups.  Caught by surprise, the two Alliance corvette groups continued on course at cruising speed as their command group struggled to come to terms with the ambush.   The three Lothari heavy cruisers each fired a HET laser and a single capital missile at an Alliance corvette, which had no active defenses and only a weak shield to protect itself with.  Only one of the three HET lasers hit, but all three missiles slammed into the corvette, destroying its hangar bays, with their fighters, and two engine rooms.  Fortunately, the Lothari missiles mounted standard fusion warheads, not anti-matter, or there would have been nothing left of the corvette.  Equally fortunately, the corvette’s fighters, destroyed in their bays, had been armed with anti-fighter weapons that didn’t explode when their bays were destroyed. 

The Alliance crews quickly got over their shock, and all of the crews had been at alert stations, so the corvettes were able to quickly move to full speed to maintain or open the range.  All of the corvettes launched their fighters.  The damaged corvette fell behind the others as the main group opened the range, while its fighters turned back towards the oncoming Lothari cruisers and gunboats.  The fighters headed straight towards the gunboats, closing to just a quarter of a light second before it opened fire.  Half of the Alliance fighters were armed with three fighter-guns each, while the remaining half were armed with three fighter lasers each.  The gunboats were armed with two fighter-guns and two fighter lasers, along with their point defense.  None of the gunboats survived, while forty of the forty-eight fighters remained.  The Alliance corvettes were pulling away from the oncoming Lothari heavy cruisers, but still in range, and the heavy cruisers managed to damage another Alliance corvette with their capital missiles.  The Lothari ships used their HET lasers to destroy the Alliance corvette damaged by the first salvo of capital missiles. 

The targeted Alliance corvette group continued pulling away while the Lothari cruisers pursued.  The Alliance laser armed fighters curved around and came up behind the Lothari cruisers, which turned at the last second to unmask their point defense and other weapons.  The Alliance fighters swept in to point blank range and targeted one of the cruisers for their attention.  The Lothari cruisers managed to destroy two of the incoming fighters, and damaged another corvette with their capital missiles, but the remaining twenty-two Alliance laser armed fighters swarmed over the Lothari cruisers.  After their firing passes, all three Lothari heavy cruisers were reduced to one third of the former speed and leaking atmosphere and debris. 

The fighters swept around for another firing pass, and the Lothari cruisers maneuvered desperately to try and keep them out of their blind spots, but at their reduced speed they were unsuccessful and the twenty-two remaining fighters settled in directly behind the cruisers and began peppering them with laser fire.  This firing pass left all three cruisers drifting hulks.  The two Lothari corvettes, which had not fired during the battle and had thus been ignored by the Alliance fighters, both self-destructed.  Very few life pods were ejected from any of the Lothari ships. 

The Alliance force lost one corvette and had two more damaged.  In addition, it lost ten fighters.  Unfortunately, in total the corvette group lost sixteen bays, meaning that six fighters had to be abandoned for lack of bays.  The two damaged corvettes were detached to head home for repairs, while the remaining fifteen corvettes closed on the colony, which remained silent.  The corvette force commander broadcast surrender demands to the Lothari ground force commanders, and queries to the Alliance authorities on the ground, but there was no response to any of the messages.  Alliance ground troops would arrive in seven days.   

Two days later the 4th Fleet arrived in the inner system and settled into orbit over the planet.  Cho-sho Watanabe’s staff took over responsibility for trying to contact someone on the ground, but they had no more success than the scout force commander. 

Month 215, Day 13, Alliance Dether system
The remainder of the Alliance 7th Fleet arrives at the warp point to the Lothari controlled Thoen system at mid-day.  The fleet is reduced in strength after the Lothari defeat of the leading group of 7th Fleet ships last month.  Once there they begin transiting through to the Thoen system, where they meet up with the lead ship of the three corvettes left to watch the system.  The corvettes confirm that the Lothari don’t seem to have reinforced their squadron in-system, so the commander of the Fleet, Sho-sa Flox, orders the fleet to head in-system to confront the Lothari. 

Month 215, Day 15, Contested Thoen system
The Alliance fleet was still three days from the inner system when a Lothari survey ship detected them headed inwards.  The survey ship immediately reported the contact sighting, then began shadowing the Alliance force. 

Swordsman of Worlds Schmidt, commander of the 2nd Assault Group, had just received orders to withdraw from Fleet HQ.  They contradicted his standing orders, and normally he might have questioned the orders, but his reinforcements were still ten days away and his force consisted of a mere three battlecruisers and two heavy cruisers.  Therefore, he decided to follow the orders he had just received and ordered his Assault Group to leave the system at full military speed, in the hopes of losing any Alliance pickets and avoiding detection by the main Alliance fleet.  In this he succeeded.  The Alliance scout assigned to watch the inner system completely failed to react in time, and by the time the scout’s commander had checked in with the main fleet it was too late, the Lothari warships were gone. 

Month 215, Day 18, Alliance System of Liawak
A transport fleet carrying Alliance troops arrives in the inner system over the colonies.  Before the landings can begin, a message is received from the outer colony.  The video shows a Lothari dressed in black armor, who simply says that if any Alliance troops land on the surface of either colony, the results for the colonists on those worlds will be dire, and completely the responsibility of the Alliance.  Cho-sho Watanabe warns the ground force commander of Hartmann’s last message, but the commander’s orders are clear.  The colonies must be retaken.  Besides, if the Lothari are insane enough to threaten the colonists, leaving the civilians under Lothari control will be worse for everyone, which is true enough. 

Within an hour, Alliance transports begin settling into the atmosphere of both planets.  Shortly after the transports began their descent, anti-matter explosions blossomed across both planets.  The devastation was horrifying, and commanders of both the 4th Fleet and the invasion group were shocked by the destruction.  The landings went ahead, although all of the transports were routed to remote areas unlikely to be mined. 

It soon became clear that not only had the Lothari killed many civilians, they had also blown up most of their own troops up as well.  What little resistance was encountered was mostly from scout groups that had been in the rural areas outside of the cities, and these units were mopped up with ruthless efficiency.  None surrendered, and even if they had it wouldn’t have been accepted.  In several cases frontline Alliance troops, mostly T’Pau and Rehorish, executed Lothari wounded rather than taking them prisoner. 

It would take months to complete the survey of the destruction on both planets, but it was clear from the first that the death toll was enormous on both planets.  Each of the planets boasted a population of around ten point five million prior to the invasion.  By the time recovery efforts were completed, it was determined that each had lost around half of their population, for a combined death toll of almost ten million people.  Cho-sho Banzan immediately sent out reports to the Alliance Council and Fleet HQ via the ICN, and these reports would rock the entire Alliance. 

With the reports on the way, Cho-sho Banzan detached three heavy cruisers, three escort carriers, and two corvette-carriers to watch over the inner system, and set out with his fleet for the warp point to the Herzberg system, beyond which was the Lothari home system. 

Month 215, Day 25, Alliance Chruqua Nexus
The Alliance 2nd Fleet arrives in the Chruqua Nexus from the T’Pau home system, and immediately sets its course for the Liawak system.  The original plan had been to split up the fleet, with half going to the Doraz home world to support the offensive against the Aurarii, and the other half headed to Liawak to support the offensive against the Lothari.  The near destruction of the colonies in Liawak, though, has changed everything.  The 2nd Fleet will head to Liawak directly, without deviation.  The 2nd is the former D’Bringi Home Fleet, and it is hungry to prove itself and to avenge the colonists of Liawak.  The Fleet is now commanded by Tai-sho Skull Splitter, who now wears three hats.  He is the D’Bringi Member of the Alliance Council, the Provisional Leader of the Interim D’Bringi Government, and now the commander of the 2nd Fleet.  The Council felt it important that a D’Bringi lead the 2nd Fleet into battle, and Skull Splitter is trusted by both the Alliance and the D’Bringi. 
 
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