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

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

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

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

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

********

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

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

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

********

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

********

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

********

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

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

Jki blinked slowly, a sign of consent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jki suppressed the urge to put a hand on her midsection, for the pain was going on longer than usual. “Such is the economy of war, Captain Lanaq. I can’t help but think we have the Axis on the backfoot. We have more money, materials, willpower and blood to obtain our goals than the enemy has for theirs. The Gods only know we spent our fair portion already.”
2
New Cold War / Cold War: Campaign Status Update
« Last post by Kurt on November 28, 2021, 04:19:08 PM »
Okay, just a little update on the behind-the-scenes stuff here at Cold War.

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

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

Now, on a different subject.  The campaign has grown to the point that my poor note-keeping is threatening the continuity and story-telling.  I quite often feel like I've lost track of characters or story threads, and it is entirely because I've focused on writing and moving forward, not documenting what has happened in a useable format, and world-building so that my characters and races have a consistent universe to act within.  Therefore, I am going to take a bit of a break to go through and organize what I have so that moving forward I'll know who my characters are, where they are at, and what the continuing story lines are.  It should just be a couple of weeks or so.  Hopefully. 
3
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by nuclearslurpee on November 26, 2021, 07:04:24 PM »
It seemed like the Bjering had leverage. They knew (or could reasonably infer) the Mintek were in a bad economic position without the ships. To regain the ships by fighting would take time and cost money, for supplies and to repair and replace warships, even if they won.

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

Fog of War - or perhaps Fog of Peace? - is a tricky thing. Until they cut off negotiations, the Bjering had no idea how the Mintek would respond to such a thing, and they were fortunate that the Mintek were not terribly upset when communications were stopped.
4
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Migi on November 26, 2021, 06:28:52 PM »
Isn't the true worth of the ships the cost it takes for the Mintek to replace them? Is that cost significant for the Bjering? Could they have been sold to boost the economy? As the Bjering economy expands, won't they need to build ships which they just recently had gotten for free, costing them in the long run?

It seemed like the Bjering had leverage. They knew (or could reasonably infer) the Mintek were in a bad economic position without the ships. To regain the ships by fighting would take time and cost money, for supplies and to repair and replace warships, even if they won.

The Bjering could have asked for compensation, or given them half the transports back rather than all of them. Or they could have demanded some sort of non-aggression treaty, or non-contact treaty, or the right to keep scouts on the Mintek side of the boarder.
5
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Kurt on November 26, 2021, 03:30:56 PM »
I think it works out for all parties involved which is a rare good thing in diplomacy. The Bedu CFN ships were not of much use to the Bjering but the Bedu exiles could not support them either, so it makes sense to use them as a trade token to stay on the Mintek good side and, frankly, to do a humanitarian (Beduitarian?) favor for the Bedu in Mintek territory. Meanwhile despite the apparent concession no Bjering guarantee has been abrogated, as the Bedu exiles remain free with that fraction of their ships which were kept for themselves. I am sure that if the exiles keep any small part of the CFN after this trade, the Mintek will know about it as they have done some exhaustive tallying, but as long as they get most of the CFN back and can stabilize the Bedu economy and their own I think they will be satisfied. Ultimately neither party wants a war, the Mintek are overstretched and the Bjering prefer not to be involved in the affairs of other major powers.

Pretty much spot on!
6
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Kurt on November 26, 2021, 03:29:42 PM »
I'm not really clear how valuable the ships are to the Bjering, are they giving away a valuable resource or are the ships relatively valueless?

They had some value, as the Bjering added them to their government CFN pool, so they were creating income every turn, and boosting the Bjering state's capacity for moving colonists around.  It just wasn't near enough value to make the Bjering go to war to keep it.  I forget how much the income was, but it was fairly small compared to their overall income. 

Quote
I thought the Bedu refugees kept some of the freighters to use for themselves, did the Bjering give those ships as well, or did they only give the ones they had ownership of? Do the Mintek know about or care about the discrepancy?

The Bjering gave them all that they had, and the refugees did indeed keep a couple for themselves.  The Mintek know about the discrepancy, but as it is only three freighters, out of hundreds, they aren't too concerned.  They paid a one-time fee for their replacement and moved on with life.  Three freighters certainly weren't worth going to war over when their border was being probed, and their economy was on the verge of collapse.  They got really lucky with the Bedu, and they know it. 

Quote
It seems to me that the Bjering had a strong claim to the ships by signed contract, the Mintek argument 'they originally belonged to a government that we conquered' is weaker. In that case handing them all over (not even part) under threat of war is essentially giving in to blackmail, and the Bjering should be worried about encouraging that behaviour, and the Tomsk should be worried about how solid any Bjering guarantees are.

The strength of the claim aside, the Bjering didn't feel that they were worth going to war over.  And, to be honest, the refugee's claim to the entire freight network of their nation was shaky as well.  The Mintek could make and did make a credible claim for needing the freighters to prevent a deadly economic collapse throughout the Bedu territories.  There aren't really rules for that, just that the economy won't function until the freighters are replaced.  Since the Bedu did it to themselves, from the Mintek point of view, they'd be justified in just letting the Bedu starve, especially since there was no way they could actually pay to replace that many freighters. 
7
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by nuclearslurpee on November 26, 2021, 11:53:57 AM »
I think it works out for all parties involved which is a rare good thing in diplomacy. The Bedu CFN ships were not of much use to the Bjering but the Bedu exiles could not support them either, so it makes sense to use them as a trade token to stay on the Mintek good side and, frankly, to do a humanitarian (Beduitarian?) favor for the Bedu in Mintek territory. Meanwhile despite the apparent concession no Bjering guarantee has been abrogated, as the Bedu exiles remain free with that fraction of their ships which were kept for themselves. I am sure that if the exiles keep any small part of the CFN after this trade, the Mintek will know about it as they have done some exhaustive tallying, but as long as they get most of the CFN back and can stabilize the Bedu economy and their own I think they will be satisfied. Ultimately neither party wants a war, the Mintek are overstretched and the Bjering prefer not to be involved in the affairs of other major powers.
8
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Migi on November 26, 2021, 11:23:31 AM »
I'm not really clear how valuable the ships are to the Bjering, are they giving away a valuable resource or are the ships relatively valueless?

I thought the Bedu refugees kept some of the freighters to use for themselves, did the Bjering give those ships as well, or did they only give the ones they had ownership of? Do the Mintek know about or care about the discrepancy?

It seems to me that the Bjering had a strong claim to the ships by signed contract, the Mintek argument 'they originally belonged to a government that we conquered' is weaker. In that case handing them all over (not even part) under threat of war is essentially giving in to blackmail, and the Bjering should be worried about encouraging that behaviour, and the Tomsk should be worried about how solid any Bjering guarantees are.
9
New Cold War / Cold War: Month 197-199, Bjering-Mintek Relations
« Last post by Kurt on November 26, 2021, 08:23:16 AM »
Month 197, Bedu Home System, Warp Point to Bjering Space
For several months the Mintek had been struggling to establish communications with the Bjering Consolidate.  The path forward had been slow.  If it weren’t for the assistance of former Consul Thrack and a team of former naval personnel he had put together to assist the Mintek in their contact efforts, the contact effort likely would have broken down several times.  The Mintek were having a hard time understanding the mindset of the Bjering, and it seemed that the Bjering were having an equally hard time understanding the Mintek.  Additionally, it was clear that the Bjering knew a fair amount about the Mintek, and were not well disposed towards what they already knew. 

By mid-month, partial communications between the two had been established.  It was enough for the Mintek to present, through their Bedu interpreters, a politely worded demand for the return of the Bedu transports ‘stolen’ by former Consul Virena.  Minister Turval made it clear to former Consul Thrack, that if the Bjering refused the Mintek would be forced to attack the Bjering to regain the means to make the Bedu economy work again.  The transports and freighters were of prime importance.  All other things could be negotiated, but the Bedu CFN must be restored. 

The Bjering had actually been prepared for this demand.  They had been shocked that Virena had managed to get that much of the Bedu state’s shipping out of their home system before the Mintek took control, and Alpha Admiral’s economic advisors had been clear, the Bedu economy would be in shambles until the transports were returned.  As tempting as it was to deprive the Mintek of the fruits of their conquest, keeping the transports would be giving the Mintek a credible cause for war against the Bjering, something Alpha Admiral wanted to avoid if at all possible.  And, the former Bedu transports weren’t actually boosting the Bjering economy all that much, so it wouldn’t be that much of a hardship to return them and perhaps gain some goodwill from the Mintek.  After some consideration, Alpha Admiral agreed to return the Bedu transports by the end of the month. 

Minister Turval was overjoyed.  The return of the transports was quite the coup, and, perhaps more importantly, it indicated that the Bjering were willing to be reasonable.  Given the fact that the Bedu refugees had almost certainly tried to poison the Bjering against the Mintek, the fact that they could now be reasonable spoke well for them. 

Month 199, Mintek controlled Territory, Bedu Home System
The Mintek achieve full communications with the Bjering and immediately begin pressing for a trade treaty.  The Mintek are earnest and eager, apparently overjoyed to meet new friends.  The Bjering, having received information from the Alliance and the Bedu refugees, marvel at the apparent disconnect between what the Mintek seem to believe they are doing, and what would likely happen if they allow the Mintek into their systems through any sort of agreement.  Alpha Admiral is unsure of how to proceed.  It is clear that they cannot allow the Mintek into their territory at all, in spite of their apparent honesty and eagerness.  However, Alpha Admiral is concerned that flatly turning the Mintek down will provoke them. 

At this point, the Bjering have assembled the bulk of their fleet in the Gunnar system, which is their contact point with Mintek territory.  In addition, a Tomsk Union fleet had arrived to assist should the Mintek invade.

Gunnar System
Alpha Fleet: 3xML, 3xBC, 1xCV, 4xCVS, 3xDD, 5xCT, 72xF0, 36xF1
Beta Fleet: 3xCV, 3xBC, 1xCVL, 4xCVS, 1xCVE, 6xCT, 156xF0, 54xF1
Delta Fleet: 1xCV, 3xBC, 5xCVS, 3xDD, 1xCVE, 8xCT, 108xF0, 30xF1

Tomsk Fleet of Assistance:
9xBC, 6xCL, 9xDD, 2xSupply Ship

In addition to the assembled fleets, the Consolidate’s first run of SBM pods had been deployed to the system to help guard the warp point, along with some automated weapons.  Finally, the next system back towards the Consolidate’s inner systems was the Ymir fortress system, which was guarded by fortresses and a minefield. 

In the end, after consulting with the other admirals and the Tomsk representative, Alpha Admiral decided that sooner or later he was going to have to shut down negotiations with the Mintek.  He couldn’t keep the fleet in the Gunnar system forever, therefore, if he was going to have to risk war with the Mintek when he shut down all contact with them, it might as well be now, with the fleet assembled and ready.  Therefore, on the 20th, Alpha Admiral informed the Mintek delegation that negotiations would be ending in five days, and that from then on the Bjering wished to have no contact with the Mintek, aside from limited communications via courier drones.  After sending this message Alpha Admiral brought his fleet to readiness for combat. 

Alpha Admiral needn’t have worried.  The Mintek Union’s primary concern at this time was the return of the freighters and transports, which had been accomplished last month.  They were saddened that the Bjering rejected enlightenment, but sincerely believed that forcing their beliefs on the Bjering was wrong.  Therefore, when Alpha Admiral rejected further negotiations and limited future contact to CD’s through the Bedu Home-Gunnar warp point, Minister Turval sadly agreed.  Unknown to the Bjering, the Mintek Fleet was needed elsewhere too, and the Mintek economy, which had been staggering, needed time to recover.  Both sides heaved a sigh of relief and ended negotiations.  Four days later the Bjering departed the Bedu home system, and contact was broken. 

Month 199, Mintek Occupied Bedu Prime
Life under Mintek occupation hadn’t really changed much for most Bedu.  The biggest change for many was the constant sense of uncertainty that hung over them, not because of anything the Mintek had done, but just because of the fear of change.  For some, of course, there had been very large changes in their lives. 

In the upper reaches of Bedu society, many people had simply disappeared.  Some had fled with the Consul’s daughter before the fall.  Most had disappeared since the surrender.  The heads of government agencies, corporations, cities, states, and most of the higher-level elected officials had been taken over the week following the occupation of Bedu Prime.  This had caused widespread fear, but that had settled down when the Mintek announced that those taken were being sent to re-education camps to learn Mintek ways and beliefs, to better help their nation adjust to the reality of joining the Mintek Union.  Mostly the fear evaporated when it became clear that the only people that were being taken were in the upper classes.  Periodically, over the next several months, the Mintek would parade one of these individuals before the press on Bedu Prime, and release information that they had discovered of his crimes, usually corruption of some sort.  They would then be given over to Bedu custody, along with the evidence, for trial under Bedu laws.  The positions of those taken, if critical to the day to day running of Bedu society, were filled by Mintek, or by their allies the Alowan.  For the most part the rich and powerful of Bedu society flocked to the Mintek cause.  This was expected by the Mintek, as they had much experience in converting societies, and the rich and powerful always were most concerned with maintaining their wealth and power, and would, in many cases, do whatever it took to hold on to their positions.  The Mintek knew that their professed conversions were false, but this was all part of the Mintek plan. 

For the lower class, things rapidly changed.  The Mintek set up missions across the planet, initially staffed by Mintek and Alowan personnel that had been specially trained to assist the Bedu.  Food, shelter, remedial care, and education were freely given to those that would accept it.  After a short period of time, the Mintek and Alowan staff began to be supplemented by Bedu who had accepted the Mintek beliefs and were willing to help.  In the depressed areas where these missions were set up, the Mintek staff began organizing social events where everyone was welcomed.  These events always included short classes on the Mintek beliefs, but they were short and relatively painless.  Mintek control of Bedu society allowed them to cut through red tape in ways that no one had been able to do in the past.  Slums were rapidly cleared by work teams made of up mixed Bedu and Mintek crews, and the poor and dispossessed of Bedu society were given a purpose and support to go along with it.  These changes were slow at first, but rapidly gained steam as more and more Bedu realized the Mintek really believed what they preached. 

For the middle class little changed.  They still went to their jobs and paid their taxes.  The Mintek, having had experience with converting civilization, knew that the middle class would tend to be the most conservative and resistant to change.  And so, they were reassured by their news sources that nothing the Mintek were doing would threaten their families, or their jobs, and slowly, over the months, were introduced to the principles of Mintek belief.  First among those principles was the sacredness of life, and the near absolute mandate to preserve life.  The only thing that could rival that mandate was the other, absolute, mandate that the Mintek spread their beliefs to all sentient races.  Only this second mandate could cause the Mintek to contemplate killing another sentient being.  Consigning some to eternal darkness was a horror, but if it was necessary to do so to bring many more to the light, then the Mintek were driven to fight and perhaps kill out of necessity.  Many within Bedu society found this belief reassuring, as it was always comforting to know that your conquerors valued your life as they valued their own. 

Slowly, but surely, the Bedu were being converted to Mintek beliefs.
10
New Cold War / Cold War: Months 199-201, Chirq Home World
« Last post by Kurt on November 23, 2021, 11:31:26 AM »
Month 199, Day 1, Rehorish Home System
The alert from Fleet Intelligence about the anomalous situation in the Chirq home system had risen to the attention of the 1st Fleet Command, based in the Rehorish Home System.  By now the fact that something was going on had been largely confirmed, as all requests for information were answered by what was clearly an automated system, promising that the requested information would be sent back, but otherwise not responding.  Worse, contact with the squadron of corvette-carriers guarding the Chirq territories had been lost as well, with all queries being answered by the same clearly automated system. 

In response, the 1st Fleet dispatched a small force to the Chirq territories to probe the system and determine the true state of affairs on the Chirq frontier.  The force was composed of nine ships, three light cruisers, three destroyers, and three corvette-carriers.  It was a two-month trip to the Chirq home system for the cruisers and destroyers, but the corvette-carriers could make the trip in six weeks at cruising speed, or three weeks at maximum speed, risking burnout.  By order of the fleet commander, the cruisers and destroyers proceeded at maximum cruising speed, but the corvette-carriers were authorized to risk burnout of their engines to get to the Chirq territories sooner. 

The scouts raced ahead, leaving the larger ships behind.  To reduce the likelihood of burnouts, they traveled at 75% of their maximum speed, which would get them to Chirq Prime by the end of the month.

Month 199, Day 5, Chirq Home System
The Khozuni Imperial Guard commander in charge of the three corvettes left behind to guard their ground forces on the Chirq home world was worried.  The freighter with their maintenance supplies hadn’t arrived from home world, and their supplies were low.  Soon, systems would start failing on his ships, and if that happened, they wouldn’t be able to support the forces on the ground.  Worse, there had been no replies to the message he had sent via CD’s when the freighter hadn’t arrived.  Therefore, he did the only thing he could do.  He ordered his officers to stuff his ship’s holds with as much loot as they could carry, and set out for home to discover what had happened to the supply ship.  The angry accusations of the ground force commander were left behind as the ships sped away from the Chirq home planet.  The Chirq ground forces were now on their own.  On Day 27 the Khozuni corvettes would arrive over their home world, only to discover that their fleet had been destroyed by mysterious attackers and that their Empire had fallen after their capital was destroyed by orbital bombardment.  Their home world was in the grip of a vicious civil war, and there were no supplies to be had. 

Month 199, Day 22.5, warp point from System 353(Alliance territory) to Sivor System (Chirq territory)
The three Alliance corvette scouts approached the warp point carefully, as they had done every warp point during their journey out.  Every one of those warp points had been clear and normal, with the comms and detection buoys in-place and operating. 

One corvette hung back, out of range of the warp point, while two carefully closed.  All three had their fighters out on patrol.  After ensuring space around the warp point was clear, they stripped the comms buoy on the Alliance side of the warp point.  Intel specialists went to work on the download while the corvettes kept a careful watch.  It only took the analysts a short time to determine that the automated messages hadn’t originated in this buoy, but rather had come from one of the systems down-chain, towards the Chirq Home system.  One of the scouts pulled in her fighters and jumped through to probe the far side of the warp point.  After a few minutes the scout returned – the far side was clear. 

The three scouts jumped through and began searching the area around the warp point.  They immediately determined that the buoy pair that was supposed to be at the warp point was missing.  Searching their deployment area revealed debris, and rather more than should have been there.  Some of the debris was warmer than the rest, indicating that it had likely been destroyed relatively recently.  All of the debris was collected for analysis before the scouts continued on towards the Chirq home system. 

Month 199, Day 27.5, Sivor system, warp point to Chirq Home
The corvettes were closing on the last warp point before reaching their destination.  Analysis of the debris found at the last warp point had revealed that there had been a buoy pair at their entrance warp point, but that they had self-destructed either shortly before the corvettes entered the system, or possibly just as the probe ship entered the system.  It was possible that the buoy pair had self-destructed after they detected the probe ship entering the system, while the ship’s sensors were still transit-addled.  In addition, there was a fairly large amount of debris that didn’t belong to the buoy-pair, and instead appeared to be the remnants of an indeterminant number of courier drones.   

Now, as they approached the warp point to the Chirq home system, the corvettes detected a small group of courier drones leaving the warp point, headed for the warp point to System-353.  The squadron commander ordered the drone’s messages be downloaded, and in short order they had good information about the situation in the Chirq Home System.  The buoys were from the three Rehorish and one D’Bringi colony in the system, all reporting an attack on Chirq Prime and requesting help. 

The scout squadron commander immediately dispatched several CD’s back along their course, to warn the rest of the probe group of the intelligence they had gathered, and then probed the warp point to Chirq Home.  The warp point proved to be clear, and the buoy pairs were missing on both sides, as expected.  The corvettes jumped through the warp point and spread out.  One of the corvettes headed for Chirq Prime, while one of the others headed for the secondary system, where three of the Alliance colonies resided, and the last corvette arced around the primary system, looking for anything that might be lurking on the outer edges of the system. 

By the end of the month the lead corvette had reached Chirq Prime, while the other two had also reached their destinations.  None of them detected any ships.  In spite of running the risk of burning out their engines, the elite crews of the corvettes managed to limit the damage to one engine on one of the corvettes, which finally gave out at the end of the month. 

The situation on the ground on Chirq Prime was confused.  No one responded to the Alliance corvette’s transmissions, but it was apparent that something was going on.  More CD’s were dispatched to the rest of the group, and intel teams were sent to the other Alliance colonies in the system to gather whatever data they had. 

Month 200, Day 5, Chirq Prime
Over the last several days it had become clear that Chirq Prime was occupied by a foreign force, and communications had been established with a group of Chirq military units that were holding out in a remote area, but there was little the carriers could do aside from send demands to the occupiers to surrender.  The rest of the battle group would arrive by the end of the month, but even with more ships in orbit there was little they could do to affect events on the group without resorting to planetary bombardment, and they would not do that to an Alliance ally, so they were stuck.  The commander of the corvette-carrier group had already sent a request to Rehorish Prime for a ground force, and had sent along their appreciation of the foreign forces on the planet, but it would be at least six weeks before troops could arrive. 

Month 201, Day 15, Chirq Prime
The Alliance detachment of three light cruisers and three destroyers, escorting a group of transports carrying a large number of ground troops, arrives in orbit over Chirq Prime.  The troops are almost completely composed of Rehorish soldiers, but the Torqual and Doraz states contributed the funding to pay for their transportation and equipment costs.  This was made necessary by the large-scale colonization efforts the Alliance has undertaken in the last few months, coupled with the massive investment in building up the defenses in the Zir Villiers system. 

The transports immediately begin landing troops in a remote location, where they secure a beachhead and begin building landing pads, defenses, and supply dumps.  Other transports follow, and soon the growing number of troops on the ground are able to begin forward patrols and localized offensive actions to disrupt the alien occupiers.  The occupiers fight aggressively and skillfully, but are outmatched by the veteran Rehorish troops.  It immediately becomes clear to the Rehorish ground force commander, General Arata, that the weapons used by the aliens who invaded the Chirq home world are extremely outdated, even backwards.  After a few days General Arata has enough troops on the ground, and enough confidence in his superiority over the aliens, now identified as the Khozun, to begin decisive operations to first disrupt, then overrun the occupiers.  Within a week the fighting is all but over.  The Khozun, although brave, have no effective counters to Rehorish air power and long-range weaponry, while the Rehorish have effective counters for almost all of the Khozuni arsenal.  By the end of the month the Khozuni occupation forces are forced to surrender and Chirq Prime is freed. 
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