Author Topic: Part 2: Early Exploration  (Read 1561 times)

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Offline Steve Walmsley (OP)

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Part 2: Early Exploration
« on: May 09, 2020, 05:04:41 AM »
The six Archangel class survey cruisers began their exploration of Sol on January 1st 1350, splitting their efforts between geological and gravitational surveys. While the home system of humanity was originally designated as the Terran system, and that term was still in use among scholars, Sol was the Latin name for the Sun and soon became the commonly used name for the system as a whole. Substantial, mid-accessibility deposits of the key mineral Duranium were found on both Mars and Venus, along with two other minerals in each case. A colony was established on Mars in February 1350. Smaller but more accessible deposits were located on several comets. Orbital mining operations were established on two of those comets, originally discovered by Thomas Bradwardine, an English cleric, scholar, mathematician and physicist who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1349, and Isaac Argyros, a Byzantine monk, astronomer and mathematician.

Mars Survey Report
Duranium:   19,568,768   0.50
Mercassium:   417,316   0.80
Corundium:   374,544   0.20

Venus Survey Report
Duranium:   37,974,567   0.60
Corbomite:   30,330,574   0.10
Boronide:   18,463,521   0.30

Comet Bradwardine Survey Report
Duranium:   50,771   1.00
Boronide:   14,577   0.80
Mercassium:   7,059   0.50
Vendarite:   56,709   1.00
Gallicite:   17,519   1.00

Comet Argyros Survey Report
Duranium:   25,985   0.90
Sorium:   48,566   0.70
Uridium:   26,783   0.60
Corundium:   37,986   0.50

By June 1350, the gravitational survey was almost complete without any sign of jump points. Concern was rising among the scientists of the Church that their understanding of jump point theory was incorrect or that the Terran system simply did not contain any jump points. Within a few days in late June, four jump points were discovered in a cluster near the edge of the system, either side of the orbit of Neptune. The jump points ranged from 4.2 billion to 5.5 billion kilometres from the Sun with bearings between 275 and 290 degrees. Why they were clustered in such a small area of the system was unknown. Henri Devereux, Grand Master of the Sword of Sacred Terra, decreed that a fortress would be constructed in deep space at the centre of the cluster, to provide a forward base and to ensure a fast response to any demonic incursion into Sol. The technology to maintain ships in deep space was not yet available, but this would become a priority after the more urgent research into energy weapons was completed.

Chevaillier Squadron, under the command of Knight Commander Verain Chevaillier, was dispatched to investigate all four jump points, as they were in close proximity. The squadron comprised the strike cruisers André de Montbard and Bernard de Tremelay, the Cathedral class jump cruiser Hagia Sophia and the destroyers Barbican and Citadel, together representing a full third of the combat strength of the Sword of Sacred Terra. The Aragon class replenishment ship Raymond Gaucebert was in support.

Jump point one led to Rosslyn, a red dwarf system with six planets and a dense belt of more than four hundred asteroids. The most valuable discovery was Rosslyn II, a forested, terrestrial world 7400 km in diameter with gravity of 0.54G, surface temperature of 14C and a nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere of 0.29 atm, with 0.086 atm of oxygen. With only minimal terraforming, Rosslyn II would become an ideal habitable world. As the jump point was only sixty million kilometres from the M2-V star, the planet was already within range of the powerful Revelation REV-100S Active Sensor on Hagia Sophia. There was no sign of life. Once the squadron returned to Sol and reported the discovery, plans to put in motion to establish a colony on Rosslyn II and begin terraforming operations. The survey cruiser Gabriel was diverted from the Kuiper Belt to begin a geological survey.

Chevaillier Squadron moved to jump point two and conducted its second transit, discovering the red dwarf system of Jericho, which had four planets and fifteen moons. Two planets were cold, Earth-sized terrestrial worlds with temperatures of -58C and -54C and atmospheres of 0.23 atm and 0.28 atm respectively. The atmosphere of Jericho II was 99% nitrogen with a trace of oxygen, while the third planet had a nitrogen-CO2 atmosphere and ice sheets covering a third of the surface. Neither was even remotely comparable to Rosslyn II.

After conducting a reconnaissance of the inner system of Jericho, Chevaillier Squadron arrived at jump point three on July 25th 1350. The transit revealed a dim M6-V star with eleven planets and over a hundred moons. The system was named Aragon and was notable because the small red dwarf was the closest star to the Sun in real space. The only plant of interest was Aragon III, a medium-sized terrestrial world with a thin nitrogen – methane atmosphere that was almost entirely covered in ice. Although the temperature was -174C, the planet was tide-locked resulting in a colony cost of 2.00. The combination of ice coverage and tide-locking reduced the maximum population capacity to less than one hundred million.

Jump point four led to Tintagel, an unremarkable red dwarf with five planets, forty-five moons and approximately eighty asteroids. The only point of interest was that most of the asteroids were in the habitable zone and therefore colony cost 2.00 LG. After a brief reconnaissance of the system, Chevaillier Squadron returned to Sol to refuel from Raymond Gaucebert, before taking position in the centre of the jump point cluster ready to react to any threats.

The survey cruiser Gabriel conducted a geological survey of Rosslyn II in early August. She found substantial deposits of seven minerals, although most were low accessibility with the exception of Corbomite and Gallicite, which were at mid-level accessibility. Of far greater importance was the discovery of an abandoned but partially intact alien colony. This discovery was rapidly communicated through the entire church hierarchy and onward to the population of Terra. Priests and Bishops announced to their congregations that evidence of demonic activity had been found a single transit from the Terran system. Only by the grace of God had Terra escaped their depredations in the past. Now the Sword of Sacred Terra, built with the knowledge provided by God in the Temple of Solomon, stood between the demons and humanity.

Rosslyn II Survey Report
Duranium:   616,050   0.20
Corbomite:   12,616,704   0.60
Boronide:   2,082,249   0.20
Mercassium:   11,587,216   0.10
Vendarite:   1,401,856   0.10
Corundium:   9,205,156   0.10
Gallicite:   1,073,296   0.60
A survey of the ruins on Rosslyn II by two expeditions of the Dominican Order deciphered the alien language and symbology in October 1350, revealing the aliens referred to themselves as the Malchidael, a name that was shouted from pulpits as further evidence of their demonic origins. Several Cistercian expeditions began recovery of one hundred and ninety sites identified as having abandoned installations or other items of value. Once infrastructure was recovered, a colony was established on the site of the ruins. The continuing geological survey of Rosslyn revealed large, accessible deposits of six minerals on a huge asteroid almost 2000 km in diameter and with a gravity of 0.15G. Given the colony cost of 8.87 it was only suitable for an automated mining colony, which was established in December.

Rosslyn Asteroid #80 Survey Report
Duranium:   230,045   1.00
Neutronium:   326,852   0.90
Tritanium:   273,801   0.80
Sorium:   727,131   0.60
Uridium:   150,234   0.70
Gallicite:   216,337   0.90

A simultaneous survey of Tintagel revealed accessibility 0.9 Sorium in the atmosphere of two gas giants, including 1.8 million tons at Tintagel I. With Jupiter having only 300,000 tons of accessibility 0.7 Sorium, Tintagel was an obvious location for future harvesting operations. A small colony was established on Tintagel II, a barren dwarf planet of colony cost 4.57, which would eventually become a naval base to protect the harvesters. Terraforming would be required, once the ongoing work in Rosslyn was completed.

The Sword of Sacred Terra received its first reinforcements in 1351. The destroyers Bastion and Portcullis were completed in May, followed by the Archangel class survey cruisers Jophiel and Raguel in June and the strike cruisers Odo de St Amand and Phillip of Nablus in September.

The geological and gravitational surveys of the four systems adjacent to Sol were completed by early 1352. All eight Archangel class survey cruisers were ordered back to Sacred Terra to refuel, resupply and overhaul. The surveys had revealed four new jump points in Aragon, two in Rosslyn and one each in Tintagel and Jericho. Chevaillier Squadron had recently completed its own overhaul so, with blessing of the Patriarch, the squadron departed for Aragon to begin the second phase of the Church’s plan to create a defensive buffer around the Terran system and to seek out and destroy any demonic presence.

The advisers of the Patriarch had decided that different groups of systems should have different nomenclature, to make comprehension of location much easier. Therefore, the systems that lay beyond the jump points of Aragon would be named after European kingdoms or regions. The outermost jump point led to the system of Portugal, a red dwarf binary with a planetless primary and two terrestrial planets orbiting the companion star, along with a small asteroid belt. The outer planet was colony cost 2.00 due to its tide locked status, but had a temperature of -153C and a dangerous hydrogen atmosphere of 0.66 atm.

Jump point two led to the far more interesting system of Leon. Once again, it was a red dwarf binary, although this system had fifteen planets, almost a hundred moons and close to four hundred asteroids. The two stars were twenty-four billion kilometres apart, making travel between them challenging. However, the second planet of the companion star was a superjovian with a Lagrange point. Once stabilisation technology was available, it would be relatively easy to stabilise the Lagrange point of Leon-A IV, a gas giant almost as large as Saturn.

Leon II was a large ocean world with just over four percent of the surface covered by tropical archipelagos. With acceptable gravity and a surface temperature of 23C, it was a potential paradise. The 0.7 atm atmosphere presented a problem as it included 0.25 atm of CO2 and only 0.01 atm of oxygen. As the planet was 17,600 km in diameter it would be a huge task to make the air breathable. Leon III was a super-terrestoid world 23,000 km in diameter with gravity of 1.14G and a nitrogen – oxygen atmosphere of 1.29 atm, including 0.375 atm of oxygen. The planet was a frozen wasteland with eighty-five percent of the surface covered in ice sheets and a temperature of -126C. Even so, it was a better prospect than the far more attractive Leon II as removing 0.075 atm of oxygen would make the air breathable. Leon III was tide-locked so the colony cost would fall to 0.97 at that point.

Chevaillier Squadron headed toward the inner system to check both planets for any sign of life. As the five ships reached the inner edge of the large asteroid belt that surrounded the six planets of the primary, they detected five alien ships of two different types, designated as Astradaemon and Cacaodaemon classes. Both types were slightly smaller than the Shield class destroyers of Chevaillier Squadron, at 7,678 tons and 7,647 tons respectively, and moving at 5,626 km/s, much faster than the 3750 km/s top speed of all warships of the Sword of Sacred Terra.

Knight Commander Verain Chevaillier was a popular leader, with all the qualities expected of a senior knight. Chivalrous, adventurous, loyal and concerned for the well-being of his crew. As the second son of a wealthy family he had chosen a military career while his elder brother looked after the family estates. An intelligent and pragmatic commander, he fought against his instinct to charge the aliens and open fire. Regardless of what was preached to the masses, he knew the Church needed intelligence on their demonic foes. Chevaillier halted his squadron and hailed the approaching ships. The hail was ignored and the alien ships reversed course, heading back to the inner system. Rather than follow them into an unknown situation, Chevaillier ordered his ships to fall back to the jump point. Informing the Church was the immediate priority. Two hours after the first contact the aliens moved into sensor range once again and then departed. This pattern continued for a full day, with the unknown ships manoeuvring at the edge of the squadron’s sensor range, before the aliens finally vanished for good. On March 25th 1352, the Church received the news of an active demonic presence in the Leon system.

Before authorising a reconnaissance mission into the heart of the Leon system, Grand Master Henri Devereux requested that the scientists of the Church provide long-range reconnaissance options for the Hugues de Payens class Strike Cruisers. The response came in two parts; the Outrider Reconnaissance Drone, which was a missile equipped with an active sensor instead of a warhead, and the Passive Reconnaissance Buoy, which was a stationary buoy for long-term deployment. The passive buoy also came with a delivery system so that it could be deployed from almost four billion kilometres away. The Outrider and the buoy delivery system could both be launched from the existing missile launchers on the strike cruisers.

Outrider Reconnaissance Drone
Missile Size: 5.00 MSP  (12.500 Tons)     Warhead: 0    Radiation Damage: 0    Manoeuvre Rating: 10
Speed: 5,000 km/s     Fuel: 1,450     Flight Time: 162 hours     Range: 2,918.1m km
Active Sensor Strength: 0.72   EM Sensitivity Modifier: 5
Resolution: 100    Maximum Range vs 5000 ton object (or larger): 4,968,697 km
Cost Per Missile: 1.772     Development Cost: 177

Passive Reconnaissance Buoy
Missile Size: 2.5 MSP
Thermal Sensor Strength: 0.25    Detect Sig Strength 1000:  3,952,847 km
EM Sensor Strength: 0.25    Detect Sig Strength 1000:  3,952,847 km
Cost Per Missile: 0.8     Development Cost: 80

Passive Reconnaissance Buoy Delivery System
Missile Size: 5.00 MSP
Speed: 3,200 km/s     Fuel: 1,250     1st Stage Flight Time: 341 hours    1st Stage Range: 3,930.6m km
2nd Stage Flight Time: 1 seconds    2nd Stage Range: 0k km
Cost Per Missile: 1.12     Development Cost: 112
Second Stage: Passive Reconnaissance Buoy x1
Second Stage Separation Range: 0 km

While the new drones were being developed and produced, Chevaillier Squadron was ordered to investigate the remaining unexplored jump points in Aragon. The destroyer Bastion was ordered to picket the Aragon – Leon jump point while the jump tender Montfort took up station on the Aragon – Sol jump point in order to relay messages to Terra.

Jump point three led to Navarre, a compact red dwarf system with three terrestrial planets and six hundred and forty asteroids within a hundred million kilometres of the star. One planet was a Venusian world and neither of the other two was a good candidate for terraforming. The M6-V primary was a relatively young star though, which meant a higher chance of good mineral deposits within the vast asteroid belt. Jump point one led to Mallorca, a planetless brown dwarf system.

With its immediate mission in Aragon completed, Chevaillier Squadron moved via Sol into Tintagel to investigate the single new jump point in that system. The squadron discovered a small brown dwarf star orbited by two gas giants and two superjovians, with a total of sixty-nine moons. The warmest moon in the system was -230C. As the nomenclature for the chain originating with Tintagel was castles, the system was named Alcázar. Chevaillier Squadron conducted a sweep of Alcázar then set a course for Jericho via Tintagel and Sol, including a rendezvous with the replenishment ship Raymond Gaucebert.

On Sacred Terra the production of new reconnaissance drones was completed, along with a geological survey buoy with a similar delivery system to the passive reconnaissance buoy. Rather than recall Chevaillier Squadron to Sol to load the new missiles, a new squadron was formed. Montague Squadron comprised the strike cruisers Bertrand de Blanchefort and Everard des Barres, the Cathedral class jump cruiser Notre Dame and the destroyers Guardian and Palisade and was led by Knight Commander Fabian Montague, known for his extrovert personality and spectacular mustachios. Montague’s own ship Bertrand de Blanchefort replaced thirty of her Longsword missiles with ten each of the Outrider drone and the two buoy delivery systems.

Chevaillier Squadron transited the single new jump point in Jericho and discovered a trinary system of three red dwarf stars. The only body of note in the system was a tide-locked superjovian orbiting the B component, although the primary and secondary stars had a scattering of asteroids. The nomenclature of the Jericho chain was based on places associated with the bible, so the system was named Arimathea.

Montague Squadron entered Aragon on June 10th 1352. The inner system was two point five billion kilometres away and therefore within range of all the drone types. Knight Commander Fabian Montague was not someone who wasted time so Bertrand de Blanchefort launched Outrider drones towards the second and third planets, which were the most likely locations for any alien population, and a passive buoy toward Leon I. It would take several days for the drones to reach their targets, so Montague Squadron held station on the jump point and waited.

On the morning of June 16th, the five alien ships were detected in orbit of Leon II. As the Outrider reached the planet it was destroyed by energy weapon fire from Astradaemon 001. Knight Commander Montague remarked to his executive officer that he found that to be rather rude behaviour on the part of the demons and in the near future he planned to chastise them appropriately. The second Outrider reached Leon III and the passive buoy was deployed at Leon I without incident, so the five ships at Leon II appeared to be the only aliens in the inner system. Montague ordered his squadron to close in on the alien ships and attempt communication. The alien ships appeared at the edge of sensor range and began the same manoeuvres that were observed by Chevaillier Squadron. This time, the Sword ships continued closing and the aliens retreated toward Leon II, where they held position and allowed Montague Squadron to close to within twenty million kilometres. Knight Commander Montague decided to hold position and continue communication attempts.

Meanwhile Chevaillier Squadron transited the first of two new jump points in Rosslyn and discovered a red dwarf binary with seven planets. As the nomenclature of the Rosslyn chain was based on places associated with the Knights Templar, the system was named Sainte-Vaubourg. The second planet of the companion, a cold world with vast deserts, did have some terraforming potential. Small seas covered eighteen percent of the surface and the atmosphere of 0.3 atm was 98% nitrogen and 2% CO2. The addition of oxygen and the removal of CO2 would make the atmosphere breathable, while the temperature was -15C and therefore easy to bring into the habitable range.

In Leon, Montague Squadron continued to hail the alien ships but without success. After ten days with no response Knight Commander Montague acted on orders given for this situation by Grand Master Devereux and opened fire. The strike cruisers Bertrand de Blanchefort and Everard des Barres launched a single salvo of twenty Longsword anti-ship missiles at Astradaemon 001 to test the alien defences before committing to an all-out assault. Nineteen minutes later the missiles were struck by energy weapon fire at point-blank range and all were destroyed. The alien ships continued to hold their position. Montague considered closing within range of the Dagger missiles on the destroyers, but having seen the alien point defence he was becoming concerned about the faster alien ships advancing through his missiles into energy range. For now, he decided to withdraw and request reinforcements.

Montague Squadron transited into Aragon on July 7th and sent a message to Terra via the jump tender Montfort, which was stationed at the Aragon – Sol jump point. Grand Master Devereux ordered Knight Commander Montague
to bring his ships home. With Chevaillier Squadron still on deployment in Rosslyn, only four strike cruisers and three destroyers remained in orbit of Terra and that force could not be further reduced. Two more destroyers would be completed within three months, by which time Chevaillier Squadron would also be available. A new operation would be launched at that time.
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Offline Warer

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Re: Part 2: Early Exploration
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2020, 06:43:09 AM »
These are some strangely lovable religious lunatics.
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Offline Graymane

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Re: Part 2: Early Exploration
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2020, 12:50:32 PM »
Reading with interest!
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