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Terpla'ns / The Hokum - Chapter 7.25
« Last post by Zume on Yesterday at 05:27:35 PM »
Free from pursuit and undetected, the Axis raiding force entered the Com-10 system via the Com-22 warp point. Finding no Hokum scanner buoys within a one light-minute radius the force headed to a spot from where it could reconstitute its fighter and small craft strength. After six weeks the work was complete. The commander decided to head for the Com-10/Com-6 warp point with the intent of entering Com-6 to resume raiding.

Since Com-6 was part of a route that connected Com-1 to Com-18 (Cain system) the commander had to take it as a given the Com-6 side of the warp point would be guarded. To that end he sent in two regular pinnaces to reconnoiter the immediate area around the warp point. Both pinnaces came back. In the immediate vicinity of the warp point were 30 weapon buoys in six distinct subgroups. The pinnaces couldn’t detect if there were mines, but no doubt there were mines along with a control base or ship. Beyond the warp point at 2 light-second range were 6 escorts and 6 frigates. Both were known classes, and the Axis commander drew up a plan and executed it within an hour.

As for the Hokum they had not been idle. The Com-22 warp point was sealed off with mine patterns and weapon buoys, kept watched by an attending control ship. Com-3, already heavily mined, was made even more so due to its proximity to the Whel system. Six new-commissioned Type A frigates, intended for Frontier Fleet, were diverted to Com-6 to guard the Com-6/Com-10 warp point along with six Turtle escorts from Tire Iron. All ships were assisted by tugs as to arrive at Com-6 faster. Once done the tugs retired to Cain for the time being. Light minefields continued to be sowed in systems connected to Com-6 with further reinforcement planned when the raider force was finally detected.

It wasn’t a long wait. Six Axis cruisers emerged from the warp point, facing the Hokum defenders directly. Transit addled capital force beams from four of the cruisers only managed one hit on a frigate, demolishing half of its shields. The anti-mine rounds on the extra racks performed much better, knocking out 8 patterns in the targeted section, leaving just 22. In reply two frigates became active, their needle beams inflicting three hits while a sole escort fired its CAM and laser. With shields down the cruiser was revealed to be a freighter as much of its internal volume was devoted to cargo holds. As for the control base, located 8 light-seconds out, its crew was quick on the mark, priming the 30 force beam buoys but holding fire in case there was going to be a second wave.

There was no initial second wave, as the cruisers stayed to dilute the effects of buoy fire, but two of the cruisers launched a squadron of Hatchet fighters each. They were upon the frigates as the first one fired its needle beams against the shields-down cruiser. It missed the force beam mount but wrecked the targeting scanners, curtailing its effectiveness for minesweeping. Three cruisers fired back as one, finishing the frigate’s shields and shattering the armor. At this point all thirty force beam buoys fulfilled their role and fired. Due to ECM two of the cruisers retained some shields, but two more were revealed as freighters while one that launched fighters showed it had no other weapons.

The Hatchet fighters fired their lasers and half of their FRAMs, taking down two frigates. One active frigate took out the force beam and targeting scanners of another cruiser. The Turtles moved as a group and closed on the warp point, now only 1.5 LS distant. Three of the cruisers came about and transited back to Com-10 when the fighters stuck again, taking down one more frigate with another severely crippled. Revenge came sweet as the two remaining frigates removed the force beams and targeting scanners of two other cruisers, meaning none of the three still in the system had an offensive weapon. The three cruisers transited out, leaving the fighters on their own… for now.

The three remaining frigates split up, enabling them to provide mutual coverage of their blind spots against the Hatchets. The cripple frigate was dispatched in short order with the initial one taking internal damage. Two Hatchets were splashed by point defense fire while the Turtles, while urgent, missed with their lasers. Combined, the ten Hatchets fired again, their lasers finishing off one of the two remaining frigates while only losing one of their own.

As if on cue the Axis force sent in their second wave, comprised of all three of their Pinyon Jay carriers and three Fishing Hawk carriers. The Jays only fired their HET lasers, targeting one of the Turtles now that they were only 1 LS out. A single hit was scored, removing half the armor. For their part the Turtles were now all active, firing on one Jay. The remaining CAMs and the sole Type A’s needle beams took down 75% of the shields while the Turtles’ lasers burned off half the armor. Unengaged, the 9 Hatchets attacked the Type A, burning away its armor and inflicting internal damage.

As the remaining three Fishing Hawks made transit the second wave ships, now with stabilized fire control systems, engaged the Turtles with external nuke-armed CAMs, hetlasers and plasma guns. The Jays also launched their Stiletto shuttles, and with the 9 Hatchets obliterated the Turtles and the last Type A. As for the Hokum control base the crew abandoned it, the fleeing shuttle just escaping the demolition charges. In short order the Stilettos destroyed the spent force beam buoys while the present Axis ships reloaded their external racks with mine clearance charges. Joined by the three Balm CA-hulled repair ships, now armed with mine clearance charges on undamaged racks, 12 additional patterns were dispatched, leaving only 10 in the patch selected earlier. Waiting only long enough to equip EDMs, the Jays, three Fishing Hawks and the Balms entered the patch and swept the remaining patterns.

Taking stock, the Axis commander sent four of his Fleet Tracker scouts out to investigate Com-6’s three other warp points and the direct routes between those three. He took his force to a spot that placed him on the far side of the Com-12 warp point. From there repairs could be conducted while waiting word on what the scouts have found. His plan was to stage a probe into Com-12, using practically empty CA-hull freighters to coax the Hokum to focus their attention there. With the rest of the force, he planned to enter Com-11 to get to Com-7 and finally into Com-2, giving him the choice to enter Com-8, thus threatening the Stonewash system, or Com-9, blocking the way into former Eletoshani space in general and the Bandstand system in particular. The commander hoped that for every additional month his force was loose in abom-controlled space would tie down more Hokum ships looking for him. Seeing it that way, failure wasn’t even possible.

********

Tecutani Minter, owner of a greeting card and stationary shop in the city of Deep Bay on Eletoshani Prime, stepped off the bus two stops short of his destination as usual. Over the years he found that he could reach his shop faster on foot due to the increased congestion at crosswalks and vehicular traffic further down the route. The shop was owned by his family for six generations. Despite the Axis occupation and depredations of the Anti-Abomination Security Police business remained good. At this time of the year university graduations were coming up and was one of the few occasions his shop earned a notable profit.

It was then Minter felt a pressure on this back and caught a glimpse of the Eleto that had somehow snuck up behind him. “Good morning, friend,” the strange Eleto said from his left mouth in a low tone. “May I suggest a new route to your shop this morning? They say it promotes brain activity from all the new stimuli experienced.”

Certain that it was indeed a gun against his back Minter let the stranger guide him across the street and through a back alley. If it was a mugging then it would be a poor take for Minter never had more than a typical day’s expense on his credcard. After five minutes of brisk walking both Minter and the stranger entered the back of a building and ascended three stories. From there they went into a hallway and finally a room. It was an apartment, judging from the furnishings, and the two windows were closed with drapes drawn, except for a tiny sliver at the bottom of one of them. What appeared to be a pen attached to a clamp was on the sill of that window, peering outwards.

“Okay, you can take a seat, Mr. Minter,” said the stranger. With that the shop owner sat in the nearest chair, finally getting a good look at the man. He was not that much older, but it was clear he had experienced rough times as there was more scales that fur at the top of his head. “Sorry for bringing you here in a dramatic way.” The stranger showed the object that was pressed into Minter’s back. It was a tube of candy, one that the stranger opened and dispensed the contents, offering some of it to Minter. The shop owner politely refused. “You can call me Lake, Mr. Minter, and I have just saved your life.”

“Pardon me for not taking that seriously, Mr. Lake,” Minter said. “Unless you’re saving me from having that final bowl of sweet stew that will collapse my intestines either take my credcard, blackmail, torture or kill me.”

“Well, Minter, if I was a collaborator working for the ASP then I would do all that except blackmail as that would be redundant.” Lake produced from a belt pouch a tiny viewscreen the size of a credcard. He gave it to Minter. It was on, and what he saw was a view of his shop’s exterior. “We’re in the apartment building across the street and a block down from your shop. To be blunt, you’ve been a subject of interest for the Resistance for some time. Things are coming to a head regarding the Axis presence here on our planet. Your printing service would be useful when it came time to spread the word of open resistance.”

Minter heard the words but was fixed on the screen. Two ASP vans pulled up to the shop and out came ASP agents. They simply broke down the front door with axes, the bipeds barging in like bandits. A crowd of Eleto began to gather at some distance, wary as ASP agents formed a perimeter with weapons drawn. In short order agents carrying boxes exited the shop, shoving them in one of vans and heading back inside to get more.

“You’re wondering why your shop is being raided, Mr. Minter. It seems a peculiar thought entered what passes for brains of those boneheads at ASP HQ. They believe your cards with musical chips are sophisticated spyware models. A few of your cards were found at or around Bonehead terminals.”

“Preposterous!” Minter exclaimed from both mouths. “Those chips barely have enough memory to play a 10 second tune, and they’re officially sanctioned by the government.”

“Indeed, Mr. Minter. Those chips are the same as those used in simple calculators. I would be amazed if the ASP doesn’t raid the manufacturer. All the same they’ll come up with a convoluted theory to self-justify their actions. After all,” Mr. Lake said past his two smiles, “we Eleto can be a devious bunch.”

“What will happen next?” Minter asked as he watched as more boxes of cards being hauled away.

Lake wolfed down another piece of candy. “Your shop will be impounded, and a complete search will be conducted. This will entail all your walls being stripped, flooring pulled up, and pipes removed, among other things. All your inventory will be searched and then burned, as with all furnishings. Of course, you and your immediate family will be arrested, interrogated and then sent to a labor camp.” Seeing Minter visibly shake Lake raised a forestalling hand. “Do not worry. Your wife and son have been picked up by my fellow confederates thirty minutes ago. In a week you’ll be with them.”

Minter looked dejected and resigned. “So I’m to become a member of the resistance by default?”

“Regretfully so. Everyone we rescued has contributed in some form or another.”

Looking back at the screen, Minter saw a commotion. An elderly Eleto male, distinguished by his grey tuff of fur on his head, was arguing with an ASP agent, both mouths speaking at the same time, something that the boneheads considered to be disgusting. That alone was enough to send someone to interrogation, but it was worse for Minter saw it was a relative. He showed the screen to Lake. “It’s my great uncle. He worked at the shop as a boy, before he signed up to join the Army during the war with the Axis. This was his weekly visit.”

“Regrettable, Mr. Minter. That means he’ll be on their database, as all surviving members of the Army and Navy were made to serve in labor battalions for ten years after the war. He’ll be sent to a labor camp after questioning.” Lake placed his hand on Minter’s shoulder. “I’m sorry. We only had a six-hour notice of this raid, and we only had assets available to pick up you, your wife and son.”

Minter sighed. “He has terminal cancer, as the boneheads have denied advance treatment to all veterans. I think he did this as a final act of defiance. Too bad there’s no sound. I’m sure he’s venting his spleen, as was his wont in private conversation.”

Lake removed the miniature camera, taking it to the bathroom along with the view screen and depositing both in the sink. After filling it halfway with water he added a tablet from the very bottom of the candy tube. In an hour the camera, screen and their electronics would be totally dissolved. “Let’s go, Mr. Minter. It will take the better part of today to get to the first safe house.”

********

Lord Admiral Jocelin, commanding Frontier Fleet, was considering his options to enter the Axis system of Iron Sky. Thanks to previously captured records he knew Iron Sky’s other warp point linked to an uninhabited cul-du-sac system, designated Com-34. As for Com-30, linked to the Geode and Iron Sky systems, there was a short chain comprised of Com-31 and 32 (itself a cul-du-sac), and Com-33, leading into former Eletoshani space.

While mining the Iron Sky warp point and leaving a detachment behind was appealing there was a problem. Iron Sky had a population of 4 million at the start of the war along with six lunar outposts across the system. Given time, a raiding force, like the one bedeviling the systems between Cain and Doorstop, could be constructed and sent into Com-30 to prey upon Frontier Fleet’s supply lines. So, after the sixth pinnace probe, all of them being singular armed pinnaces equipped with external sensor packs, Jocelin learned what comprised the defenses, and devised his plan accordingly.

After the initial Hokum advance towards Iron Sky was halted and then recalled the AFC decided to fortify the warp point beyond its initial set of bases. Joined by a mobile shipyard, the space station over Iron Sky produced nine type-4 bases, equally split between fighter, beam, and capital missile types. Along with the twelve type-3 and three type-2 bases the fixed defenses were augmented monthly with automated weapons. As of now 480 patterns of mines and 180 reusable weapon buoys ringed the warp point, joined by a CAP of 7 squadrons of Hatchet fighters and a handful of escort shuttles. 23 more Hatchet squadrons waited in their hanger bays, all armed with antimatter close attack missiles. A very thin shell of mines filled the 0.75 light-second distance between the warp point belt and close in bases. In a few months three more fighter bases would be complete. What resources not being used for construction and maintenance were stored until such time the route back into Axis space was clear. After splashing five consecutive abom pinnace probes the warp point defenders steeled themselves for an attack that surely was imminent.

The attack came in the form of 400 objects, apparently pinnaces, with interpenetration claiming 60 of their number. Given the violence of their destruction it was clear they carried antimatter ordnance, and with passage through the mines a further 49 were claimed. The CAP Hatchet squadrons, along with the Stiletto shuttles, stayed at the warp point, tasked to attack any transiting ships. Meanwhile the objects made a direct line for the fighter and capital missile bases, passing the ‘north’ close in bases, comprising of a BS4 and 4 BS3s. Only the BS4 was able to achieve battle stations and fired all weapons at the objects, eliminating 4.

Sensor technicians on all the bases were perplexed that the objects didn’t broadcast on the expected fire control frequencies. Given the numbers involved, two of three close-in base groups could’ve been invested and dealt mortal damage. Moving at full pinnace speed, it would take the strange objects under two minutes to reach the fighter and capital missile bases. In that time the other two fighter bases have the chance to crash-launch their remaining Hatchets as well as the small BS2 to flush out its Stiletto shuttles…

With fire control systems stabilized and targeting profiles engaged the Hokum missile pods launched their deadly munitions, 861 missiles in all. In the face of this massive wave the defense computers on the BS4s and BS2s, acting on a contingency program that point defense operators couldn’t override, had their point defense engage those missiles that directly threatened their individual units. For each base an above average number of missiles were dispatched, and EDMs (2 from each base) culled more, but the outcome was the same for all. The six BS4s and 3 BS2s were destroyed utterly. An additional BS4V did manage to crash launch its fighters in the moments before its death, as well as the BS2 containing the Stiletto shuttles and another arming the 90 reusable laser buoys. However, with no life support packs and no hanger bays within range meant that in a few scant hours all the spaceborne Hatchets had to be abandoned.

All 69 Stiletto shuttles engaged in SAR operations, and after 36 hours it was decided to stop, sending 24 of them to rendezvous with a tug that held station one light-minute from the warp point to transfer survivors. The attack had rattled the defenders to their core, solace only coming from the observation that if the abom Hokum had more of the new weapon they could’ve destroyed more bases.

The Hokum returned 40 hours later as if a psychic button was pushed. 200 more pods emerged from the warp point, this time heading ‘south’ through the minefields. After interpenetration and minefield attrition only 141 remained. This time, however, the CAP of 11 Stiletto shuttles followed. Three managed to engage with their point defense but missed. Aside from that, the pods were uncontested as they were outside the engagement envelope of the southwest and southeast base groups.

As the pods continued south the first wave of ships arrived; four Turtles and two Rodeo Clowns. Each ship upon entrance started to turn for their exit vector. A BS4 fired, destroying one Turtle with external CAMs and dousing a Rodeo Clown with capital energy beams and a spinal force beam. Having been armed previously, the 90 reusable laser buoys fired, destroying the remaining Turtles and all but removing the armor on the BC-sized minesweepers.

Then the pods fired. Programmed to engage any BS3 within 4 light-seconds, the eight BS3s were swarmed by antimatter-armed SBMs. Only the two engaged anti-fighter BS3s survived, but without passive defenses and some internal damage. A northern plasma-gun armed BS3 fired and destroyed one Rodeo Clown. As for the rest, only the two damaged anti-fighter BS3s managed to engage with their HET lasers with one missing.

The surviving minesweeper finished its turn as the second wave completed entry. Three Indomitables were followed by two Imperial Valors and one Cain assault carriers. One of the Indomitables was a converted Axis dreadnaught, guaranteed to be the focus of fire from all Axis units. The 11 CAP escort shuttles had turned about and closed on the warp point but were out of range for their FRAMs. Those crashed launched shuttles from the first wave didn’t engage, thought they combined on the warp point and waited for the order. With all available active bases the converted dreadnaught was destroyed while only light shield damage to the second dreadnaught. In turn transit-addled energy and needle beams and nuke CAMs destroyed the passive defenses of one plasma BS3, burning out its overload dampeners in the process.

As the minesweeper transited out the carriers launched their fighters, 19 squadrons strong. 10 went towards the northern bases with 3 each going to the remaining southwest and southeast bases. Three squadrons remained on the warp point to engage the escort shuttles, now totaling 23. Following the exiting minesweeper was the Cain; the two Imperial Valors were still coming about to achieve their exit vectors. The second Indomitable was the initial focus of fire, and when its last engine room was lanced by needle beams all it took was the CAMs from the finally active southeast BS4 to kill it. Fire then shifted to one Valor, and it barely held on after both remaining rooms remained active despite precise hits from needle beams.

That was the best the Axis defenders could do for all the remaining bases succumbed to the lasers and antimatter attack missiles of the Spear fighters. As for the escort shuttles, armed with standard nuclear attack missiles, they went after the damaged carrier, but its strong armor held true. Only three Stilettos remained, and they left the warp point, came about and tried to ram the carrier. Again the strong armor held firm, and with that last act of defiance the Hokum claimed the warp point. Only two Spear fighters were lost. While the remaining 112 began removing the weapon buoys six Implacable DNs transited in and began to fire mine clearance charges, creating a lane for a task group to enter.

Preceding the task group was a reinforced Greyhound element. In short order they found the retiring tug and escort of 24 Stilettos. Covered by AFHAWKs the Spear fighters took down the shuttles with light losses, allowing the ships to close in to fire their anti-drive missiles and lancing internal systems of the tug with needle beams, leading to a speedy boarding action and capture. The task group in the meantime reach Iron Sky, finding only a fighter groundbase and an orbital station with the mass equivalent to three dreadnaughts and three unfinished BS4Vs sans fighters. Backed by fighters and AFHAWKs the task group closed to within missile range of the station and bases, destroying them. As for the groundbase it was wiped out with antimatter warheads, and a carrier element was left behind to keep watch, along with a freighter loaded with kinetic bombardment satellites to discourage the Iron Sky inhabitants from rebuilding the base or any orbital works. Scouts kept tabs on the lunar outposts and one was sent into Com-34 to lay scanner and com buoys at the warp point and to investigate the system. Back in Com-30 Frontier Fleet reassembled and entered the Com-33 system, further advancing into Axis territory.

********

Emperor Valsur had two guests in his office on the space station Orbit-1. Admiral Crunan, head of the Imperator of the Navy’s staff, and the Minister of Arms. After giving a critical eye to what he read on a datapad Valsur turned to Crunan. “Admiral, what is the Navy’s consensus on the deployment of missile pods?”

“Highly favorable, Sire,” Crunan replied. “The damage inflicted measurable surpassed losses we incurred, though I must point out that in each instance the Axis forces involved weren’t able to communicate knowledge of the missile pods to higher authority.”

“Indeed, Admiral. The bases destroyed in Solid State amounted to nothing more than shooting boars in a pit, and Com-14 was against a mobile enemy. However, I question the deployment of the pods in Iron Sky. With the pods on hand, Admiral Jocelin could’ve destroyed all the close-in bases, waited a few days, and then gone in with his assault carriers and pinnaces. At least three waves of carriers could’ve entered and launched their fighters by the time the first crashed-launched Axis squadrons reached the warp point.”

Crunan was briefed that he could expect such a question, so he tried to be neutral in his response. “Sire, Jocelin deployed his forces in the battle to preserve his fighter, pinnace and assault carrier strength for future operations deeper into Axis territory. The losses we sustained in Iron Sky are more sustainable for Frontier Fleet than the potential loss of three assault carriers.”

Valsur turned his gaze towards the Minister of Arms. “Yes, about sustainability. Arms, how long will it take to build up the stock of the newer second-generation missile pods?”

“It’s a matter of budgeting, Sire,” Arms said. “All of our stock of second-generation pods were used in Solid State. Those that were recovered have been slated for use in an operation to deal with the Axis force moving about the various systems between Whel and Cain. There are no more first-generation pods. As of now, we can only afford to build and arm forty second-generation pods per month.”

“We’re that limited?” Valsur questioned.

“Yes, Sire. The budget is stretched to the limit, despite the slowly increasing revenue from trade with the Terpla’ns. New construction, refitting of both fleet units and captured Axis ships, reequipping and stocking up on the new datalink-equipped armed pinnaces, and prefabricated bases leaves very little in the way of discretionary spending. The figure of forty pods a month I mention comes at the expense of fighter production and stockpiling. If we go with that figure, only five squadrons per month can be built.”

“I see. So Jocelin may have been inadvertently shrewd in Tire Iron, but he will have to be more circumspect when it comes to his next warp point assault.” Valsur raised both of his back pair of hands up on the desk, a visual cue for his guests to pay close attention. “There will be a more rationalized production policy the next time the council meets. For now we will we accelerate the replacement of all F1 fighters within the boarders of the Imperium from one squadron to three squadrons per month, with two of those squadrons being scrapped and one being crated up and stored. Also, all armed pinnaces replaced by the datalink version will be scrapped. All revenues will go towards increased production of missile pods. Arms, you’ll get a written decree on your desk shortly that will formalize what I just said here.”

“Yes, Sire.”

Valsur focused on Crunan. “Admiral, inform the Imperator of the Navy he will also get a decree as well. It will be a balancing act between economy and supply. We must be prudent in choosing our battles for the foreseeable future. While our allies may have the attention of the Axis fleet that doesn’t mean local surprises can’t happen at our various fronts, not to mention the possibility of more raiding groups like the one we’re dealing with now.”

“The I.N. will be informed, Sire.”
2
New Cold War / Cold War: Status Update
« Last post by Kurt on Yesterday at 03:34:41 PM »
An update on the progress, or more properly, the lack of progress on the Cold War Campaign. 

First off, the campaign is not dead.  I haven’t posted in a while, largely because of health issues.  I had Covid early in the year, and while it was a relatively mild case, I’ve had some significant short to medium term side effects that are only now beginning to clear up.  Primarily, I’ve had a case of ‘brain-fog’ that has persisted for a while, and it has made writing problematic.  I just haven’t felt cognitively up to writing, and instead have spent a lot of time playing games that don’t really challenge my brain that much.  I believe all of that is clearing up now, though, and I’m feeling much better.  Even better, the urge to write is returning, so I think I’ll start making progress in the campaign again, although it may be a bit before I post anything. 

I’ve decided to make a couple of behind-the-scenes changes to the campaign.  They probably won’t make much difference to the outcomes that will be written up, though, just how I go about resolving things within the campaign.  For one thing, I am going to be changing fighter to fighter combat, as I am very unsatisfied with the standard rules.  I’m working on developing something that I like better, and which is useable with the numbers of fighters that are in use in the campaign currently.  We’ll see how that goes. 

That brings us to something that has increasingly reared its ugly head.  Scale issues.  Part of the reason I haven’t made much progress is because of the brain-fog, but also because, mildly impaired as I was, I didn’t feel like tackling a relatively big battle that was the next thing to be written up.  This battle involves twenty-six capital ships, thirty cruisers and smaller ships, sixty carriers, and eight hundred and eighty fighters.  That is a large number of ships and fighters to deal with, and I’ve been putting off dealing with it, particularly because I wasn’t feeling well. 

However, compared to some of the battles in the later stages of the Phoenix Campaign, that’s nothing.  For example, in the Phoenix Campaign, the ASR was responding to an Eater invasion.  At the time the campaign ended, the ASR was assembling a force to stop the Eaters and then go on the offensive.  While that force would likely never be concentrated in one system, it was massive compared to anything in the Cold War universe.  The ASR anti-Eater fleet numbered one hundred and seventy-two capital ships, one hundred and sixty carriers, three hundred and seventy cruisers and smaller ships, and 4,748 fighters and 2,086 prototype gunboats.  And that doesn’t count in-theater reserves, which were substantial.  On the Eater side, there were one hundred and sixteen capital ships, one hundred and twenty-one carriers, one hundred and ten smaller ships, 3,195 anti-fighter small craft, and 750 armed pinnaces.  Unlike the ASR, the Eaters’ force was assembled in one system, and was a sledgehammer aimed at the heart of an ASR sector.  In addition, the Eater’s had three hundred and twenty-three ships and 4,995 AFSC headed towards the front lines as reinforcements.  Those two forces dwarf all of the combined fleets in the Cold War campaign, which is as intended given the changes I made to the production, growth, and research rules at the start. 

Still, even though the overall fleet sizes are much smaller, a battle with over one hundred ships and almost nine hundred fighters was looking kind of daunting.  I’m feeling much more capable these days, though, so I’m going to begin working my way through it soon.  I might post bits and pieces of stuff going on elsewhere to update everyone as to the goings-on in the universe, hopefully soon.

Kurt
3
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Garfunkel on July 15, 2022, 10:03:49 PM »
D'Bringi civil war flares up for real!
4
New Cold War / Cold War: Month 209, Events across the Alliance
« Last post by Kurt on July 15, 2022, 01:29:10 PM »
Month 209, Day 2, Alliance Kure System
A courier from the Rehorish home world arrived on this date, and new orders were issued to the 3rd Fleet.  The fleet’s original mission was to secure the Kure system against intrusions from either the Union or the Mintek, both of whom had links to the system.  Now, though, there were more important matters going on within the Alliance.  Within a matter of hours, the fifteen ships of the fleet departed, bound for the Kawasaki system, adjacent to the Rehorish home system, and currently location of the D’Bringi ships that had withdrawn from the fleet.  Their ETA was fifteen days. 

Month 209, Day 3, D’Bringi Prime
The emperor’s staff were staying as far away from the throne room as possible.  The emperor had been ranting and raving for hours, ever since the intel chief reported the confirmation that they had been cut off by the T’Pau.  The admiral commanding the imperial fleet feared that the emperor’s vengeance on the T’Pau would be terrible, if he was ever in a position to exact his revenge.  In the meantime, they all stayed out of the emperor’s sight. 

By mid-day the throne room quieted, and by a vote Admiral Blood-Fang was chosen by the Imperial Court to determine the emperor’s state of mind.   The admiral entered the throne room cautiously, but saw that the emperor was sitting on his throne, a pensive look on his face.  Seeing that the emperor was apparently calm, he approached and kneeled.

After a few seconds the emperor looked at the kneeling admiral.  “Well, Admiral?  Can your fleet open up our route of communication with the rest of the empire?”

The admiral knew what the emperor meant, even if he was leaving much unsaid.  “My emperor, I believe we can.  However, is that the wisest path forward?”

The emperor growled low in his throat.  “I want to sweep the treacherous T’Pau aside.  I want my people to regain their place in the center of the Alliance!  I don’t want them to be swept into a corner, forgotten and cast aside!”  His voice had risen in pitch as he talked, until he was shouting the last few words.

“Sire, I and my fleet stand ready to execute your orders.  I believe I have enough strength to force our way through whatever the T’Pau have on the far side of the warp point and then secure their system, but what then?  Can we hold the system in the face of united resistance from the rest of the Alliance?”  The admiral knew the answer to that, and so did the emperor. 

The Admiral’s words stopped the emperor for a few seconds, but then he raised his voice and called across the throne room.  “Where is my intelligence chief?”

Almost immediately that worthy stepped through the doors and approached.  “Yes, sire?”

“It is clear that your plan to control communications across the Alliance has failed, and we are cut off here in the home system.  What is your council?”

It was not lost on the intelligence officer that the plan to disrupt and control the ICN was now, suddenly, ‘his plan’.  Still, he reminded himself, there was no way but forward.  “Excellency, we always knew that it might eventually come to this.  The Rehorish and T’Pau know that the old ICN is compromised, and there was always a chance that they would disable or destroy the network, rather than continue to try to regain control, particularly when their efforts continued to fail.”  The intel chief could see the emperor’s face darkening, a sure sign that his patience with what he viewed as excuses was limited.  “However, we planned for this.  Even now, we have forces in place outside of the Union incursion into the Dether system.  Those forces, once it becomes clear that contact has been lost with the home world, will follow the orders that you, in your foresight, gave them to cover this eventuality.  That will result in the Alliance being at war with the Union, and at that point the Alliance will have to accept our new government so that they can focus on the external threat.  Trust in your plan, Excellency.”

The emperor remained silent for some time, considering what had been said.  Finally, he gestured for the two to rise.  “It will be some time before my plans unfold.  In the meantime, lets consider our deployments for defense of the home system, should that be necessary.” 

Month 209, Day 4, Alliance Sasebo system
Skull-Splitter’s courier arrived in orbit over the D’Bringi colony to find things apparently stable and the colonial government, which had declared for the empire soon after it was announced, in firm control of the surface.  After some time spent gathering information and observing from orbit, it became clear that the situation on the ground was not as clear-cut as they originally appeared.  The colonial government had declared martial law shortly after announcing its support of the empire, and communications and travel between settlements was tightly controlled.  Several smaller outlying settlements had been burned, and the courier’s crew had managed to identify several makeshift camps established in the wilder portions of the colony, away from the main settlements.  They even witnessed a fight between two groups on the ground, although who was fighting, or why, was unclear.  After watching for several days, and with no way to effect events on the ground, Skull-Splitter ordered the courier to head to out towards the D’Bringi colony in Aomori. 

Month 209, Day 8, Alliance Aomori system
Skull-Splitter’s courier arrived over the D’Bringi colony in the system to find it in chaos.  Upon entering the system, the courier had monitored numerous transmissions from the colony.  The transmissions were contradictory and confusing.  The official transmissions from the empire-friendly colonial government claimed everything was normal and under control, while numerous other transmissions indicated that the colonial government controlled very little and chaos had descended upon the colony.  Many of the transmissions were aimed at the neighboring Rehorish colony, which had a somewhat higher population and had been established on the fourth planet, while the D’Bringi colony was on the second.  The Rehorish colony was not only more populous, but richer, as it had a better mineral wealth rating than the D’Bringi colony.  The transmissions from the D’Bringi colony to the Rehorish colonies consisted mainly of pleas for assistance, in the form of food and/or weapons.  Meanwhile, the D’Bringi colony’s imperial government consistently denied there were any problems and threatened to attack the other colony if they interfered with the D’Bringi colony’s internal affairs. 

Skull-Splitter’s courier settled into orbit over the D’Bringi colony, as it had in the Sasebo system, claiming it had messages to be downloaded to the colony’s database.  The colonial government agreed to accept the messages, but refused the courier landing rights, claiming it was dealing with a minor outbreak of a communicable disease.  After just a short time of observing the surface, it was clear that the ‘imperial’ government of the Aomori colony was in deep trouble.  It retained control of only the colony’s capital and one other nearby settlement, while the rest of the colony was either in ruins, or sending troops to attack the government’s remaining strongholds. 

From there it took just a little more work to establish somewhat secure communications with what the courier’s crew had identified as a command post for the troops advancing on the capital.  Skull-Splitter was shocked and surprised after talking to the leaders of the forces on the ground.  It had been his speech of opposition to the imperial government that had set off the rebellion below, and the rebel forces were united their opposition to the imperial government under his banner.  When they realized who was in orbit, the rebel leaders were ecstatic!    They assured him that with Skull-Splitter himself in command, the rebellion, which was on the brink of launching its final offensive, would not fail.

After some thought, Skull-Splitter sent his son down to the surface as his representative to the rebels.  In the old days he would have gone himself, and led from the front, in the hottest fighting, but those days were gone, and his extensive injuries limited his options now.  Even in power armor he needed to limit his activities, at least for now. 

The attack was launched a day later, and as the rebels predicted the government fell soon thereafter.  Five days later the rebels were in firm control of the planet and had declared for Skull-Splitter’s faction.  That left Skull-Splitter elated, but in something of a quandary.  The colony now supported him, but what could he do with it?  After all, he did have any warships in the system, only a single courier, and he had no way to transport troops to or from the colony.  His fleet, such as it was, was concentrated in the T’Pau system, awaiting his decision to assault the home system, or defend the T’Pau system, as needed.  And he still had no way to communicate.  There were almost certainly other colonies out there that supported his cause, or were at least in opposition to the Empire, but if he couldn’t unite them, they would be picked off one by one by the usurpers.  The realization was sobering.  He was dependent on the plan to destroy the old ICN system and replace it, and until that happened the systems that supported him would be cut off. 

Month 209, Day 11, Alliance Phyriseq System
On this date a courier from the Rehorish home system arrived with orders for the 4th Fleet.  The orders were clear and unequivocal.  After detaching a small group to support the fortifications at the warp point to the Mintek home system, the fleet departed, bound for the Chruqua warp nexus. 

Month 209, Day 15, Alliance/Imperial Stahat System
On this date a courier from the Rehorish home system entered the Stahat system, bound for the Villiers system with orders for the 6th Fleet.  Unfortunately, it was met at its entrance point by a D’Bringi picket ship and ordered to halt for inspection.  With little choice, the courier ship complied.  When the D’Bringi captain ordered them to unlock their databanks for inspection of the messages they carried, the courier’s commander refused, causing the D’Bringi captain to seize the courier.  The orders for the 6th Fleet would not arrive.  However, before the imperial forces could board the courier, it managed to launch a courier drone back through the warp point it had entered the system through, meaning that word of its seizure would get back home. 

On this same date, colony transports pressed into service as troop carriers by the Imperial D’Bringi government on Stahat Prime arrived over the colonies of Naia and Roban, both two jumps from Stahat.  Both systems contained D’Bringi colonies with small populations and poor or very poor mineral wealth, and both had gone silent when the new empire was declared, hoping to remain beneath the imperial notice.  That hope had gone unfulfilled as transports landed on both colonies, disgorging security troops that fanned out to take control of the colonial infrastructure.  There was little open fighting, but many of the colonists lived outside the colony’s capital city, on both colonies, and those D’Bringi were not inclined to support the new government.  The newly installed Imperial governors controlled their own city, but little else. 
5
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by nuclearslurpee on July 07, 2022, 10:44:57 AM »
A short update, but ominous. The Keepers have created a situation in which natural action and reaction has led to a fragile balance, where any misunderstanding could cause the whole galaxy to go up in flames.

Meanwhile the Bjering will probably continue to win by not doing anything.
6
New Cold War / Cold War: Month 209, Alliance Situation
« Last post by Kurt on July 07, 2022, 10:32:22 AM »
Month 209, Alliance Overall Situation
Couriers are spreading out from the Rehorish and T’Pau home worlds, destroying the old ICN as they go.  By mid-month, the two Alliance partners will have secure comms not only between their respective home worlds, but also to the 4th Fleet in the Phyriseq system and the 3rd Fleet in the Kure system.  By Month 210, additional secure links will be established as well.  On the first of the month the T’Pau destroy the ICN buoys in their system, cutting the D’Bringi home world off from the rest of the Alliance.  The T’Pau government sends a statement to the D’Bringi emperor announcing the joint intent of the Rehorish and T’Pau governments to replace the old, unreliable ICN with a new, secured system.  The announcement allows the D’Bringi government to send messages via CD’s, however, to prevent re-contamination of the Alliance’s communication systems all messages will be required to be in standard Alliance code, and will be downloaded from the original drone, transcribed and re-encrypted, and then downloaded to a new drone before being sent on its way.  Additionally, the T'Pau government announces a reorganization of their system defenses, due to the instabilities in their neighbor, with the bulk of their fleet being deployed to the warp link to the D’Bringi system.  This redeployment is characterized as defensive in nature, intended to interdict any hostile forces that might want to enter the D’Bringi home system, such as rebel or dissident groups.  However, to prevent misunderstandings, the T’Pau government requested that the D’Bringi government limit transits through their system for the foreseeable future, and to arrange such transits in advance. 

New T’Pau Home System Deployments:
5th Fleet, D’Bringi WP Guard: 6xCA, 6xCVE, 6xCTV, 126xF1
Fortifications: 3xBS3, 75xDSB-L, 150xMF

5th Fleet, Ember WP Guard (Closed WP To Union Territory): 3xCA, 3xCVE, 5xCTV, 75xF1
Fortifications: 3xBS3, 75xDSB-L, 150xMF
7
New Cold War / Cold War: Month 208, Widespread Events
« Last post by Kurt on June 30, 2022, 10:09:08 AM »
Month 208, Day 25, Confederation of Free States (Union-Alliance buffer state)
An Alliance courier arrived over the Confederation capital on this date, with urgent messages for the Alliance Ambassador to the Colonial Union, who happened to be Rehorish.  These messages informed the Ambassador of the Colonial Union’s incursion into Alliance space, and the Rehorish and T’Pau suspicion that the incursion was in response to provocation by the D’Bringi.  Finally, the directed the Ambassador to establish negotiations with the Colonial Union to determine the extent of the situation and to attempt to determine a peaceful resolution. 

The T’Pau and the Rehorish had been united in this situation.  While there were some who still wanted to finish the last war with the Colonial Union, particularly in some quarters of the Rehorish government, literally no one thought it was a good idea right now, with the Alliance divided and their communications network in pieces. 

The Rehorish Ambassador immediately sent a communique to the Union Embassy requesting an immediate meeting with the Union Ambassador.  Disappointingly, he was told that he would have to wait for an opening in the Ambassador’s schedule.  Frustrated, the Rehorish Ambassador sent a second message emphasizing the urgency of the situation, only to receive no response. 

Month 208, Day 26, Rehorish Prime
Skull-Splitter’s cruiser was met as it entered the inner system by a Rehorish heavy cruiser group, escorted by a pair of light carriers and three light cruisers.  The Rehorish ships fell into formation with the D’Bringi ship, which then received a request for a visit from Tai-shu Okada.  Skull-splitter quickly granted it, and in within minutes they were face to face. 

“I fear that your mission in the Kawasaki system did not go well?”

Skull-Splitter, as always, in his combat armor but without the helmet, shook his head.  “It did not, old friend.  My presence caused a schism within the fleet that led to fighting almost immediately.”  He raised a hand at Okada’s evident alarm.  “I was able to stop it before it got out of hand, largely because no matter the outcome they believed they would remain trapped within the Kawasaki system.  I suspect that forces loyal to me could have won that fight, but it would have been very bloody, and not worth the fight in the end, so I made them agree to a cease fire in place.  Your picket has agreed to allow our two most damaged ships to proceed into your system for repairs.  I’m sure you have already seen that report.”

“I have.  I fear this means you will not have enough strength to penetrate the defenses of your home world.  Likely you would meet this same situation with any group of D’Bringi ships you approached.”

Skull-Splitter gestured agreement.  “You are right, I fear.  However, my son has suggested a different way.”  He gestured Okada over to the side of the room, where floating hologram showed a warp map of the area surrounding the Rehorish home system, out to three jumps.  One system, the Aomori system, was blinking. 

Okada took in the display.  “Aomori?  If I remember correctly, we both have a colony there.”

Skull-Splitter gestured assent.  “Correct.  While the Aomori system was originally settled by your race, under the founding Alliance treaties the second planet was granted to us for colonization, as it was largely unusable to either you or the T’Pau.  Our colony there has also gone over to the usurper, and is the closest D’Bringi colony to have done so.  My son has suggested that we investigate the situation there more closely.”

Okada’s antennae twitched as he considered the holo display.  “For what purpose?”

“My son believes, and I agree, that the usurper’s control of his ‘loyalist’ colonies is paper-thin.  More a fiction than anything else.  It is clear now that military force will not be the only answer to this situation.  We must consider more avenues to advance our cause than just fighting the usurper ship-to-ship in a glorious battle.”

Intrigued, Okada considered the old D’Bringi leader and realized that the other was actually enthused about this approach.  “What makes you believe this?”

“The usurper is making constant appeals to the general D’Bringi population to support his cause.  You’ve seen the messages being sent from the home world.  He is constantly making appeals to the people to remember the glories of the past, and promising to bring them back.  What my son pointed out was that those messages only connect with a relatively small percentage of the population.  The ‘old days’ were really only glorious for a very small percentage of the population, basically the middle and upper tiers of our great clans.  For everyone else, every day under the old order was just another day of servitude.  I and the other clan chiefs had long been aware that our old ways had to change, that oppressing three quarters of our population would have no good end.  The conquests of our early interstellar expansion hid these inequities and divisions within our system very well, at least for a time.  In the end, though, I and the other clan chiefs knew our time was limited.  There was too much pressure from below, too many who were disenfranchised, for our system to be truly stable.  That was why we embraced the changes that came with amalgamation.  It gave us a chance to enact sweeping changes throughout our nation, freeing up the bulk of our population to become productive members of society.  The changes wrought by this over the last few years have been dramatic, and welcome.  Truly, the only ones that want the old days to come back are a relatively small number of older D’Bringi who were privileged under the old order, and some young clan toughs who miss the opportunities the old order brought for glory and advancement.  That’s why so many of the smaller colonies scattered around the Alliance have rejected the new government.  They are composed of independent D’Bringi from the former lower orders or who were clan-less, and who want to make a new start free of the old ways.  Most importantly, I’m willing to bet that there are many on the colonies that supposedly support the usurper that don’t want the old days to come back, and are willing to fight to make that happen.  Perhaps they are already fighting.  With the state of the ICN we’d have no way of knowing.  I want to find out first hand, and the closest colony is in Sasebo.  And one jump beyond that is another colony in Aomori.  Between the two they should give me a pretty good idea of the state of this ‘empire’ that the usurper has declared.”

Tai-shu Okada sat silently for a few seconds, contemplating the map.  After a minute or so he stirred.  “Can you widen this map out?” 

Skull-Splitter gestured, and the map widened out to encompass the entire Core Sector of the Alliance. 

Okada got to his feet and gestured at the map.  “Now that secure communications have been restored with the T’Pau, my government and theirs have come to a decision.  While we cannot justify direct action against the D’Bringi, yet, it is clear that the Alliance itself is in dire danger.  The new D’Bringi government may not have intended to cause this much disruption, but whether it intended it or not, we must act.  Therefore, we are going to take the following actions.  First, our new couriers are going to fan out across the Alliance, destroying every node of the old ICN, and conveying orders to the local governments to purge their ground-based ICN systems and dismantle them.  Secondly, new ICN buoys will be constructed, with safeguards to reduce the possibility of corruption.  These will be emplaced along critical pathways to restore essential communications.”

When Okada paused, Skull-Splitter jumped in.  “This is wise.  The false emperor controls the Alliance communications network, whether or not you can prove it.  You took the first step by isolating yourself and establishing an alternate network, but that wasn’t enough.  After all, the false emperor still has the advantage of the Alliance-wide ICN.  By destroying it, and replacing it with your own, you will be depriving him of an advantage and gaining one of your own.”  Skull-Splitter paused, then continued.  “I assume you will not be connecting D’Bringi colonies to your new network?”

“We will not, at least not as yet.  Perhaps that can change, depending on the outcome of your mission to Aomori.”  Okada stopped, considered something briefly, then continued.  “I’ll be honest with you, in light of your previous service to the Alliance.”  Okada gestured at the map.  “This is only the first step.  While combined governments of the T’Pau and Rehorish have not yet decided upon the status of the D’Bringi, or a final solution to this conflict, we have decided that we will give tacit support to D’Bringi forces that oppose what my government, and that of the T’Pau, are calling the “illegitimate D’Bringi government”, imposed by force upon the D’Bringi people.  At least, they’ll be using that term internally, for now.  If left unchecked, this will be resolved by military force, however, we will gladly take any reasonable alternative offered.   Give us that alternative, and we can move forward.  In the meantime, couriers are being dispatched to the 3rd, 4th, and 6th Fleets, with new orders.  The 3rd Fleet will be ordered to withdraw from the Kure system, leaving only scouts, and proceed to the Kawasaki system, where it will intern all D’Bringi ships located there until their status can be negotiated with the D’Bringi government, whatever that may eventually be.  Once that is complete, they will join the 1st Fleet here in the Rehorish home system.  The 4th Fleet will proceed to the Chruqua Warp Nexus and secure that critical system for the Alliance.  All ships transiting the system will be searched for contraband.  No D’Bringi ships will be allowed to transit without authorization.  The 6th Fleet will be given orders similar to those sent to the 3rd Fleet.  They will intern any D’Bringi ships still in the Villiers system, then proceed to the Stahat system, where they will await further orders.  From there they can respond to any further Colonial Union incursions, if there are indeed any at all, or deal with D’Bringi subversion.  They will have similar orders as the 4th Fleet.  All D’Bringi warships to be interned, and all civilian ships are to be searched.  We don’t know what has been going on in our own territory, but that will end.  We will exert control within the Alliance, and we will re-establish our ability to gather information within our own borders.  In the meantime, communiques will be sent to the Associate Members, warning them of the instability within the Alliance, and asking them to remain within their own territories until this situation is resolved.”

Skull-Splitter remained motionless as he took this in.  Finally, he stirred.  “I would wish to resolve this without bloodshed.”

Okada gestured in negation.  “I’m afraid that you know as well as I that this is not likely, or even possible.  In reality, the question will remain, how much blood must we shed to contain and resolve the situation, to avoid even greater bloodshed?  Much depends on you, old friend.  Find a way that avoids all-out war with the D’Bringi Empire, and I will convince my government to take it.  In the meantime, I offer the use of one of our new couriers, which will allow you to travel much faster than you would be able to in your flagship.”

Skull-Splitter looked relieved.   “Very well.  I will leave for Sasebo within the hour.  Thank you.”

Before the D’Bringi leader could leave, Okada stopped him.  “You must offer your people an alternative, if they are to come together to oppose the one you call the usurper.  You are the last of the senior clan chiefs, and the last of the senior leaders of the D’Bringi left alive.  Whether you declare a new D’Bringi state, or the continuation of the old one is up to you, but you must give your people something to rally around.  And that begins with you.”

Skull-Splitter looked thoughtful as he escorted the Rehorish admiral to his shuttle.  There was much to consider. 

Even as Skull-Splitter set out for Sasebo, courier ships were leaving Rehorish Prime and T’Pau Prime, headed out across the Alliance, ordered to destroy the old ICN network to clear the way for the new comm system. 

Month 208, Day 27, Alliance Theom System (adjacent to occupied Dether system)
The Imperial D’Bringi Fleet, recently dispatched from the Stahat system, arrives at the warp point in the Theom system that leads to the human-occupied Dether system.  Once there it joins with the D’Bringi ships that were withdrawn from the 6th Fleet upon the announcement of the change in D’Bringi government.  These ships are still technically assigned to the Alliance, and while their officers and crews have no particular loyalty to the new government, neither do they have a reason to oppose it. 

6th Fleet D’Bringi Ships:
6xBC, 6xCA, 3xCVS, 11xCVE, 3xCTV, 276xF0

Imperial D’Bringi Ships:
3xBC, 3xCA, 3xCVS, 3xCVE, 17xCTV, 195xF0, 18xF1

For now, the D’Bringi ships appear to be content to sit on the warp point, blocking the Union fleet’s route of advancement into the Far Frontier sector.  For now, just a few corvette-carriers were deployed to the far side of the warp point to keep watch in the Dether system. 

Month 208, Day 28, Alliance Caris system
The Caris system is located in the Far Frontier Sector, two jumps from the Sector Capital in the Stahat system.  Caris has two habitable type ST planets, both colonized by the D’Bringi some time ago.  Both have small, but growing, populations, and both soundly rejected the Imperial D’Bringi call for unity and loyalty to the new government.  The colonists were almost uniformly from the former clan-less of D’Bringi society, and so had been disenfranchised under the old order.  They had no wish to return to that state, and so the few Imperial agitators that had popped up after the coup had been dealt with, sometimes harshly, and then life went on.  Until now. 

On this day, several freighters landed on each of the colonies.  Instead of carrying supplies, though, they were transporting troops in Imperial uniforms.  These troops immediately fanned out, seizing key installations and critical infrastructure, and within hours the colonial governments were under their control.  The invasion was mostly bloodless, as the colonies had been caught entirely off guard.  That would change, though.  After the capital cities were under control, and the troops had fanned out to gain control of the smaller towns that dotted the surface of both planets, Imperial Security troops disembarked from the transports and assumed control of the capital cities from the combat units.  Once in control, the security units began the executions.  They had a long list, and they were determined to work their way through the entire list, to ensure that their lesson was learned. 

Month 208, Day 30, Union-Controlled Dether system
On this date a Colonial Union ground force arrived in the Dether system.  This was what Admiral Carstairs had been waiting for.  With the troops in hand, or nearly in hand, she reopened communications with the Alliance colonial governors on the three colonies in the inner system.  So far, they had been uncommunicative and uncooperative.  They knew she wouldn’t bombard them, and without troops couldn’t invade them, and so had no way to enforce her will.  Now, though, the equation had changed. 

As the transports departed the warp point bound for the inner system, she re-opened communications with the colonial governments, informing them that Union troops were approaching and would soon begin landing operations. 

That news, confirmed by their own sensors, motivated the governors to respond, and resulted in some intense negotiations.  Admiral Carstairs held all the cards, but the Alliance governors were fairly sure by this point that she wanted to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, which was true.  Although her orders from Fleet HQ directed her to establish control of the system, and to destroy any resistance, she was loath to just begin indiscriminately shooting everyone in her way.  Based on her experience, responding to raids into the Union that killed hundreds by raiding into the Alliance and killing thousands would only exacerbate the situation.  She was still hoping a diplomatic solution could be found, although based on what little information was making it all the way out here nothing had been heard from the Senatorial embassy to the Alliance since it arrived in the Confederation some time ago.  It was possible that the information from the embassy mission was compartmentalized, but she had a bad feeling about that. 

In the end, knowing that they had little choice, the Alliance governors agreed to surrender their colonies to Union control.  However, they extracted a promise from Admiral Carstairs that in exchange for not opposing her landings or occupation, she would limit her troops to the spaceports close to the capital cities and the areas surrounding them.  Additionally, the governors promised to turn over the goods that would normally be shipped to the Alliance to the Union.  Carstairs had found that imminently acceptable, as it avoided all bloodshed, at least for now.  For her part, she limited her landings to the immediate area around the spaceports and capital cities, and, so long as the locals behaved themselves, limited her troops to disarming the local militia and observing the activities of the locals. 
8
New Cold War / Cold War: Month 208, D'Bringi on D'Bringi Violence
« Last post by Kurt on June 27, 2022, 10:03:48 AM »
Month 208, Day 16, Rehorish Home World
Tai-shu Okada once again met with Tai-shu Skull-Splitter, this time on the D’Bringi Cruiser that had conveyed the D’Bringi leader into the system.  This time Skull-Splitter met the Rehorish admiral as he boarded the ship.  Tai-shu Okada was once again shocked at the D’Bringi leader’s appearance.  Skull-Splitter was in a small group of D’Bringi officers, clad in powered combat armor, without the helmet.  Because the helmet was missing the Rehorish admiral could see that the D’Bringi leader’s face was still grievously damaged, but his one eye was blazing with determination as he stepped forward.  “Tai-shu, I am honored at your presence!”  The D’Bringi admiral bowed, as had become the custom between Alliance races, avoiding any racial standard greetings for one that avoided entering another’s personal space. 

Tai-shu Okada bowed back.  “As I am honored by yours.  I am surprised by your choice of attire, though.  Surely there is no threat here?”

Skull-splitter smiled, a particularly fearsome expression coming from such a ravaged visage.  “None that we know.  No, I don’t wear this because of a threat.  I have not yet recovered from the assassination attempt, and this armor conceals the damage and the life-support equipment I still need.  Of course, I can’t show weakness in front of my people, so I have publicly stated that I will wear this armor until the true D’Bringi nation is restored.”  The D’Bringi leader turned.  “Come, let’s talk, as time is short.”

They moved to a nearby room where they could have a little privacy.  Once the aides and officers had cleared out, Tai-shu Okada turned to the D’Bringi leader with a sharp gaze.  “What are your plans?”

“If your nation will grant me leave, I would pass through to the Kawasaki system and speak with the commanders of the D’Bringi ships that have gathered there.  I understand that your government will not give them permission to pass through your home system to return to D’Bringi Prime?”

Tai-shu Okada frowned.  “That is correct.  There are sixteen D’Bringi ships assembled there, waiting for us to decide.”  Okada leaned forward.  “Do you believe you can bring them to your side in all of this?”

Skull-Splitter nodded.  “There are many within that squadron who are merely wishing to return to their home, now that vast changes have occurred.  Although there will be a few that must have been in on the plot, most will have known nothing of it, or its broader reach.  I will be able to reach them, at least.”

Okada dipped his antennae in agreement.  “Likely, that is true.  I question what it is that you wish to do with them, though?  The presence of your other ships in the T’Pau home system makes me believe that you wish to return home as well?”

The D’Bringi leader nodded.  “Once I assemble my forces, I will return to the home system and deal with the so-called emperor.”

Okada’s antennae waived agitatedly.  “And if your home system defenses attack you?  They may not give you a chance to talk to them, as the ships in the Kawasaki system undoubtedly will.  Can you push through them and fight whatever fleet the assassin emperor has put together?”

Skull-splitter’s eye blazed.  “Once they know the truth, they will come to our side!” 

“Maybe.”  Okada sounded a lot less convinced of this than he had been of the D’Bringi ships in the next system over talking to Skull-splitter.  “If they fight you, then you may lose the battle before you can engage the false-emperor’s fleet.”  Before Skull-splitter could speak, Okada continued.  “And there is this news from the Dether system to consider.  While we cannot just blindly believe anything the ICN tells, us, something is happening out there.  If the Colonial Union knows of our internal problems, then they may have decided that this is the time to attack.  Also, there is their claim that they were attacked.  We cannot ignore the possibility that they are telling the truth!”

“If the false emperor ordered an attack on the Colonial Union, would that be enough for the Alliance to turn against his government?”

“If we can prove it, yes.  There may be another way aside from you taking your forces to launch an attack on your home system.”  Okada leaned forward and gave the D’Bringi a data-chip.  “Our intelligence analysists have provided this.  Although the ICN is unreliable, we have been able to glean some information from monitoring open communications.  On this chip is a list of D’Bringi colony worlds that have acknowledged the new emperor, and another list of those that haven’t.  There are two items of particular interest.  One is the D’Bringi colony in Stahat.  This colony is the Sector Capital, and was the first to acknowledge the new emperor and his government, and it has been the loudest in its praises of the new order.  We believe this to be the center of the movement.”

Skull-Splitter grew thoughtful.  “Stahat is also located close to the Dether system, and has a direct route to the Chirq home world.  That puts it on a short list of D’Bringi worlds conveniently located and used to having military ships transiting its space.  If the false-emperor did attack the Union, it would be a convenient place to have launched the attack from.”

“That has not escaped us.  The other item of note are the worlds that have not acknowledged the emperor’s announcement.  While I suspect this lack of acknowledgement was corrected in broadcasts for the D’Bringi people, they must not have cared about us.   In particular is the Nagasaki system, which contains two D’Bringi colonies, one of which has a medium population.  It is the only medium population world to not immediately go over to the new emperor, and has been absent from the ICN ever since.  I believe that it would make a good base of operations for you to consolidate your position.  There are many smaller colonies that have not acknowledged your emperor, and are likely looking for someone to rally around.  If you give them that, then much could be done.  The Alliance would recognize your faction, for one.  Economic pressure could be applied to D’Bringi Prime.  The D’Bringi colonies are widely separated, meaning that they will depend on the good will of the Alliance to continue communicating and for trade.”

“The Alliance would recognize a breakaway splinter group of D’Bringi?  Because that’s what we would be.  With a D’Bringi representative on the Alliance Council, representing the false emperor?”

Okada waived that away.  “The Alliance Council is dead, at least for now.  No new D’Bringi representative will be appointed until this is resolved one way or another.  Without a full Council presence, no new issues can be resolved, so there will be no more meetings.  The Alliance continues to function, for now, with the T’Pau and the Rehorish honoring their commitments and Alliance law, but there will be no new laws or major decisions until the Council is reconstituted.” 

Skull-Splitter nodded.  “Very well.  May I continue on to the Kawasaki system?”

Okada bowed.  “You may, honored D’Bringi leader.”  He turned to leave, then turned back.  “One more thing.  We have established secure comms with the T’Pau home system via communications ships stationed in the intervening systems.  That has allowed us secure communications at near ICN speeds and has facilitated common decision making.  Those consultations have led to a decision that will begin to allow us to retake control of the Alliance.  All of our attempts to purge the interference in the ICN have failed.  We cannot continue to allow the D’Bringi Emperor, whom we all believe caused this situation, to benefit from an Alliance-wide communications network that he controls and that we cannot trust.  Therefore, in a matter of days we will begin to send out ships to destroy the existing ICN.  For a time, we will depend on couriers and communications ships.  Once the old network, and its corruption, is eliminated, we will re-establish the network without our own buoys.  While they cannot purge the old system, our network people believe that we can keep the new one secure, if we institute stringent security protocols from the first.  We will ensure that your people are included in the courier network, and eventually the comm-ship network, if necessary.”

Skull-splitter stood up.  “That is a very wise decision.  I will go now to speak with my fellow officers.  I will brief you upon my return.”

“And your plans?  Do you still intend to return to D’Bringi Prime?”

“The D’Bringi admiral looked troubled.  “I do not know.  We shall see.”

Minutes later, as Okada’s pinnace took him back to the surface, the D’Bringi cruiser sped away from Rehorish Prime.   

Month 208, Day 21, Alliance Kawasaki system, Rehorish Colonial Territories
Skull-Splitter’s cruiser transited into the system from the Rehorish home system, to find the D’Bringi ships from the 3rd Fleet assembled not far from the warp point.  The D’Bringi ships had not received the new emperor’s message, as they were down-chain from Rehorish Prime, and the ICN had been cut where it entered the Rehorish home system.  Therefore, they did not know about the coup, unless someone on the D’Bringi ships was working for the plotters.  But they had withdrawn from the 3rd Fleet on timing that clearly was coordinated with the coup on the home planet.    An interesting situation, to be sure. 

Upon transiting into the system, Skull-Splitter himself sent a message to the commanding officers of the ships assembled in the system, requesting a meeting.  As was standard for him these days, he appeared in the video message wearing a full power armor suit, without the helmet.  The armor made him heroic in stature, but the left side of his head, revealed because he had eschewed the helmet, was hideously damaged.  Still, even through the wreckage of his face, Skull-Splitter’s determination and drive were apparent in his eyes and his rough, damaged voice.  He invited the assembled commanders to meet with him on his ship in one hour. 

Skull-Splitter’s cruiser came to a halt ten light seconds from the assembled D’Bringi ships, and one light second from the warp point back to the Rehorish home system.  After that, they waited.  Ten minutes passed, without a response from the assembled fleet.  After another ten minutes passed without a response, Skull-Splitter ordered his cruiser to action stations, although he ordered the ship’s captain to avoid raising his shields to avoid a provocative appearance. 

Finally, after nearly twenty-five minutes, responses began coming in from various ships, starting with the strike carriers.  But then an alarm sounded on the cruiser’s bridge.  Skull-Splitter turned towards the central tank to see that the light codes for three of the battlecruisers at the heart of the fleet change.  Simultaneously, the ship’s computer announced – “Status change.  BCR’s 2, 3, and 4 have changed course and are moving away from the rest of the fleet.  Their shields are now coming up.”

Just after that announcement, the ship’s comm officer turned towards Skull-Splitter.  “Sir, incoming message from fleet flagship.”

Skull-Splitter grimaced.  The fleet’s flagship was one of the three BCR’s moving away from the rest of the fleet.  The BCR’s were traditionally crewed by the Keepers, and while that stricture had gone away, along with so many of the older traditions, they were still officered predominantly by the Keepers.  “Put it up on the main screen.”

The screen at the front of the bridge lit up to show a D’Bringi officer dressed in an unfamiliar uniform.  “I am Large Group Leader T’Han, legally appointed leader of this fleet by the new Emperor of the restored D’Bringi Empire.  I order all ships under my command to stand down, drop your drive fields, and await my orders while I apprehend the criminal who styles himself ‘Skull-Splitter’.  Failure to comply will result in your destruction.”  In response, shields activated across the fleet, but no ships were moving except the three battlecruisers. 

Skull-Splitter watched as the three D’Bringi battlecruisers began changing course towards his cruiser.  “Captain, you will remain out of range of those battlecruisers for as long as possible.  Launch your fighters, but order them to remain close to our ship, for now.”  When the captain responded, and he saw that his ship had begun moving away from the sluggish battlecruisers, which obviously were still trying to get their crews to their stations, Skull-Splitter activated the inter-ship comms again.  “To all D’Bringi ships, the Keepers have launched an illegal coup against the legitimate rulers of our nation.  They intend to take us backwards, to repeal the reforms we have enacted, and to subjugate all who don’t agree with them.  I stand against them!”

Even as Skull-Splitter’s message went out, another message was broadcast from one of the battlecruisers in the heart of the fleet.  “I am Dai-i C’rex, commander of the battlecruiser Heart Render.  I and my crew stand with Skull-Splitter!  I call upon the usurpers to stand down immediately!”

Alarms began screaming on the bridge.  “Weapons fire detected!”  Skull-Splitter turned to the tank to see that a second battlecruiser had opened fire at point blank range on the battlecruiser that had just sent the message of support for the loyalist cause.  The results were horrifying.  Seven of the ship’s nine energy beam mounts hit, smashing the loyalist ship’s shields and bypassing its armor, gutting the big ship.  The response was immediate as one of the heavy cruisers rounded on the battlecruiser that fired, spearing it with its own energy beams.  The cruiser didn’t miss, and its fire gutted the usurper battlecruiser in turn.  A single energy beam speared out from the damaged loyalist battlecruiser, hitting the usurper BC again, adding to its damage. 

The fleet broke apart as the individual ships began trying to put space between themselves and their neighbors, as no one knew who supported whom.  As they ran, the ships began launching their ready-fighters, each of which was armed with a fighter-gun and a close attack missile.  Only a quarter of their fighters were ready to launch, and presumably their crews were racing to stations and trying to arm their remaining fighters.  None of them declared their allegiance, so no one knew who they supported.  For now, their fighters were remaining in close proximity to their carriers.  The only ships with known loyalties were the two damaged battlecruisers, one of which had declared for each side, the loyalist heavy cruiser, the three usurper BCR’s, and of course, Skull-Splitter’s cruiser. 

Skull-Splitter was aghast.  He had not intended for this to happen.  The slaughter would continue, he could see that.  Already, the ships of the fleet had turned to keep within range of the carriers, which, with their attendant fighters were trying to withdraw from within range of the other ships.  If they were allowed to do so then they would have the advantage, as their fighters could range across the battlefield, while the other ships would have to close with their enemies before firing.  The only thing that had prevented further bloodshed was the fact that no one dared declare their loyalties without making their ships targets for the other ships within the fleet that held opposing loyalties without their knowledge.  Skull-Splitter could see it clearly, sooner or later someone would decide to open fire on a nearby ship, just because it might be a threat.  That would precipitate a general bloodbath.  He had to head it off.  Turning to his comm officer, he gestured for an open channel.  Once he had it, he began.

“CEASE FIRE!”  He paused for a second, then went on in a more normal tone.  “All ships will immediately come a halt.  No one, no matter what your loyalties are, will open fire at this point or this will descend into a general bloodbath.  I propose a halt in place while I and your commanding officers confer about this situation and attempt to resolve it without further bloodshed.”  After another pause, he began again.  “I ask for all commanding officers to meet with me to discuss the situation.  To reduce the threat or the potential for betrayal, I ask that we all meet in a neutral location aboard small craft, and then confer by short-ranged communications.”

Skull-Splitter waited with increasing nervousness for responses.  Finally, after several minutes, responses began to come in, indicating that most had at least a willingness to talk.  Skull-Splitter sagged in relief.  Given the fact that no one knew anyone else’s loyalties, this was the only possible alternative aside from mutual slaughter.  The only holdouts were the three commanders of the Keeper-dominated battlecruisers, but after seeing everyone else was going to get together, they decided to attend as well. 

There was a delay while they traveled to the meet site, which was out of range of the weapons of all of the assembled ships, and then they talked it over.  The meeting took a half an hour, and in the end, they decided to stand down.  No ships would be allowed to leave the area, for either side.  While that was a defeat for Skull-Splitter, who had hoped to unite the fleet behind him, it avoided another problem.  The Rehorish had not yet agreed to let any D’Bringi ships transit their system, no matter who they supported.  He had hoped to gain their permission once he won the ships over to his side, but he hadn’t been sure of the outcome.  In the meantime, the ships that had declared for one side or the other would remain separated from the rest of the fleet, to avoid further problems.  The Rehorish ship at the warp point confirmed that both damaged battlecruisers would be allowed into the Rehorish system for repair and medical attention for their crews. 

Shortly after that, Skull-Splitter’s cruiser jumped back to the Rehorish home system with Skull-Splitter dispirited and unsure of their next move.  Just after jumping back to the Rehorish system, Skull-Splitter’s son came to him with an idea.  At that point Skull-Splitter had retired to his cabin to think about the ongoing disaster and his options.  His son found him with his combat suit split open, revealing the hideous wounds that still disfigured the old D’Bringi.  He was used to that, though.  Even though he needed the suit to survive for any length of time, the old D’Bringi leader often opened it up, ‘so that his body could breathe’.  His son was fairly sure his father actually did it to unnerve those who had to deal with him, but probably not in this case, as he had been alone in his room. 

“Father, I…”  He realized, yet again, how much all of this had taken out of his father.  The old clan chief was indomitable, truly a leader from legend, but the assassination attempt and the dissolution of their state had taken its toll.  And now, looking at his father, he realized that when the fleet turned on itself in front of him, it had taken whatever reserves the old D’Bringi had to stop the fighting and killing.  His father was at nearly the end of his rope.  That only strengthened his resolve.  “Father, I have an idea.” 

The young D’Bringi moved to help his father get more comfortable, and then explained his idea to the old leader.  And so it was that as they moved into the Rehorish system, they were able to develop a new approach. 
9
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by Andrew on June 25, 2022, 04:17:31 AM »
A lot is also going to depend on what resources the Keeper's benefactors have and what they want. They have played their trump card for the Keepers control of the Alliance ICN, once used the Alliance will stop trusting the ICN until they have built a new ICN with new software which the D'Bringi don't have access to the software code of. So if the benefactors want anything except the restoration of the clan system in the D'Bringi this is their time to act , possibly after they have done more to push war between the Alliance and CU or Mintek or anyone else to cause chaos. But if they have any objectives they want to use force for they need to do it in the next year or so before the ICN is replaced.
10
New Cold War / Re: Cold War Comments Thread
« Last post by nuclearslurpee on June 24, 2022, 09:34:05 AM »
I think the Keepers are shooting themselves in the foot. Their continued manipulation of the ICN network is blunt and hamfisted. If they kept themselves to only minor changes then it’d have been much harder to catch them at it.

It is indeed blunt and hamfisted, but it only needs to work just long enough for a shooting war to kick off between the Alliance and CU. Not all of the Rehorish or T'Pau fleets or colonies are yet aware of the full situation, all it takes is a few places where the people are behind the times and react badly to CU counter-aggression. The tricky part is whether they are more likely to believe the CU admiral or the D'Bringi, in the absence of the critical video evidence. All it takes is someone in the right place saying "hey, the D'Bringi have been a bit chaotic lately, let's check out what this hoo-man is telling us before we do anything hasty" and the whole thing collapses in on the Keepers.

Quote
I also see them attacking the T’Pau homeworld system to force passage and kicking off with the Alliance that way.

Probably less likely if only because the D'Bringi fleets are still distributed throughout Alliance space and not in position for a general war, especially with Skull-Splitter and his fleet supporting the Alliance. The Keepers seem more interested in surviving than fighting, hence overtures to the rest of the Alliance trying to reassure them.
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