Author Topic: From the Ashes - part 33  (Read 5067 times)

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Offline Haji (OP)

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From the Ashes - part 33
« on: December 20, 2017, 09:09:37 PM »
1st April 2416

   All Hegemony space stations have been redeployed to Albuquerque allowing Krikera to support all the warships present there. While the alien settlements are still rebuilding, over six million humans have been already transported to the moon, providing reliable and loyal workforce. Missile and fuel stockpiles are low, but the warships are well supplied and the support ships continue to bring necessary materials for renewed offensive.

25th June 2416

   The Delaware colony in the Philadelphia system has grown to over seven hundred million people, making it the fifth most heavily inhabited planet in the Hegemony and eight most most heavily populated planet in the human space. At the same time the colony has large untapped population that could work in government owned facilities.
   The planet has originally been colonised as a typical colony, relying on commercial interests to grow. However the New Earth's desperate need for gallicite has invited extremely heavy government development making the world one of the very few to be terraformed by the Hegemony. By now however there is no need to expend the mining operations and while civilian shipping lines offer transport back to the capital, there aren't enough ships. Last but not least while the planet has reasonable water coverage, it is small and has extremely long day of nearly two hundred days, making it somewhat uninviting.
   Because of all this the government decides to use some of it's colony ships to begin moving people back to New Earth in larger numbers. While the capital is no longer starved for manpower, it could always use more and there is no good reason to wait until problems arise. For now this will be the only planet to receive such treatment but it may not be the last if other colonies also grow to a significant size.

6th December 2416

   While the cloaking technology is still far from what the Hegemony would like it to be, it is nonetheless good enough to develop scouts which will explore the Commune space and identify targets of opportunity. However many still have doubts regarding the practicality of the operation, something the Navy itself has been analysing for the past months.
   The first issue is the Commune detection doctrine. In this case the officers start by saying that no analysis is ever a hundred percent accurate and that in the end the only way to be sure is to go ahead and try to infiltrate the enemy space. The shipyards above Khamali are ready, several captains willing to undertake a suicide mission have already been selected and thoroughly checked and dummy survival devices have been installed on several ships and passed the test with flying colours, remaining undetected even by every experienced and talented ratings. In short if worst comes to worst, the ships will explore some empty system, run into Commune warships and end up being destroyed, leaving the other nation with an enigma but nothing more.
   Having said that the Navy is highly confident the Commune relies basically on passive methods of detection. After the Destroyer incursion they very carefully explained their motive when exploring the Tartarus chain, mostly likely to avoid potential international issues and while they may have changed their stance since then, their heavy defence commitments and large area of space they have to protect means it must be very tempting for them to rely on listening posts to conserve their hulls. For that matter it is pointed out the Hegemony does essentially the same thing and haven't changed their stance even after the Confederation penetrated several of their systems.
   The second issue is that of the cloaking device itself. While the research facilities on Ares are working overtime to try and improve them for future warships, the one presented for the scout ships isn't that impressive. It is four hundred tonnes, cannot be made any smaller, and will lower the apparent size of the ships to thirty two hundred tonnes, which is about the size of a fighter. As Hegemony itself uses large anti-fighter sensors it is very likely the Commune could detect such ships from significant distances. Because of this many wonder if such devices are even necessary as building small vessels relying on lowered thermal signature should be as difficult to detect.
   The Navy is against it. On the practical level they point out only actual command ships are capable of detecting fighters from any meaningful range. Even if that was not the case however it all comes down to risk management. The Hegemony will have only one shot at such operation, as it relies on the Commune not having countermeasures in place. As such anything that can be done to minimise the risk, should be done, and that means using cloaking devices.
   The next item on the agenda is the Republic. While strikes against the nation are likely impossible, due to the concentration of their industry and fighting power, using their territory to reach new parts of the Commune is a possibility. This will entail additional risks, but most people are in favour of doing so, although while avoiding any inhabited systems, which means it will be impossible to reach the Athens system, possibly the greatest prize of the proposed campaign.
   The last issue is of the Boise system itself, where the new connection was discovered. The star itself has a total of three jump points. One leads back to the Hegemony, one to the Commune and one to a potentially whole new chain where one system was discovered already and it has at least one more jump point. The Navy wants to abandon it so that once the Commune begins to investigate their space after the strike, they can claim the connection between Boise and Tusla was unknown to New Earth. With no proof to the contrary the Commune will have no evidence whatsoever – not even circumstantial one – connecting Hegemony to the strikes. While most agree that this is reasonable, many also feel sacrificing a whole new chain is a heavy price to pay, but New Earth admittedly has more than sufficient space to expand already.
   With those issues out of the way the Navy presented the proposed scout ships. The basic vessel is shown below.

Code: [Select]
X-250 class Scout    3 200 tons     90 Crew     1107 BP      TCS 6.4  TH 30.72  EM 0
6000 km/s    JR 3-1500     Armour 1-19     Shields 0-0     Sensors 96/96/5/0     Damage Control Rating 3     PPV 0
Maint Life 5.23 Years     MSP 649    AFR 27%    IFR 0.4%    1YR 40    5YR 594    Max Repair 396 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 48 months    Spare Berths 0   

Phy International Small Jump Drive     Max Ship Size 4500 tons    Distance 1500k km     Squadron Size 3
Phy International Stealth Exploration IC Fusion Drive (1)    Power 384    Fuel Use 12.27%    Signature 30.72    Exp 7%
Fuel Capacity 350 000 Litres    Range 160.5 billion km   (309 days at full power)

Herold Engineering Company Thermal Sensor (1)     Sensitivity 96     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  96m km
Herold Engineering Company EM Detection Sensor (1)     Sensitivity 96     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  96m km
Phased Gravitational Sensors (1)   5 Survey Points Per Hour
Cloaking Device: Class cross-section reduced to 10% of normal

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

   The ships is completely self-sufficient. It does not have any active sensors, but using those would be risky and the passive suite is quite reasonable. It is slower than exiting vessels, a necessity  for enhanced fuel consumption, but its range and endurance are almost as good as those of full sized exploration ships.
   The most striking part of the ship is however it's jump drive, which is not only too large for its needs but also capable of exiting up to a million and a half kilometres from the jump point. This is due to the greatest danger of the proposed mission – it is impossible to know what lays on the other side and thanks to this drive the ship should be able to exit far enough to remain undetected by any possible commercial vessel, especially if the transition itself is done at low speed.
   However as using the full capability of the drive requires a squadron jump anyway, some proposed creation of two separate ships, one equipped with the drive and active sensors, and another equipped with passive and gravitational sensors. Those two are shown below.

Code: [Select]
X-251 class Scout    3 200 tons     82 Crew     913.5 BP      TCS 6.4  TH 30.72  EM 0
6000 km/s    JR 3-1500     Armour 4-19     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 5     PPV 0
Maint Life 8.07 Years     MSP 892    AFR 16%    IFR 0.2%    1YR 24    5YR 365    Max Repair 396 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 60 months    Spare Berths 1   

Phy International Small Jump Drive     Max Ship Size 4500 tons    Distance 1500k km     Squadron Size 3
Phy International Stealth Exploration IC Fusion Drive (1)    Power 384    Fuel Use 12.27%    Signature 30.72    Exp 7%
Fuel Capacity 600 000 Litres    Range 275.1 billion km   (530 days at full power)

Cheever Heavy Industries Low Power Active Search Sensor (1)     GPS 38400     Range 651.7m km    Resolution 200
Cloaking Device: Class cross-section reduced to 10% of normal

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

Code: [Select]
X-252 class Scout    3 200 tons     84 Crew     1193.5 BP      TCS 6.4  TH 30.72  EM 0
6000 km/s     Armour 4-19     Shields 0-0     Sensors 96/96/5/0     Damage Control Rating 5     PPV 0
Maint Life 9.07 Years     MSP 1166    AFR 16%    IFR 0.2%    1YR 26    5YR 383    Max Repair 396 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 60 months    Spare Berths 0   

Phy International Stealth Exploration IC Fusion Drive (1)    Power 384    Fuel Use 12.27%    Signature 30.72    Exp 7%
Fuel Capacity 550 000 Litres    Range 252.1 billion km   (486 days at full power)

Herold Engineering Company Thermal Sensor (1)     Sensitivity 96     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  96m km
Herold Engineering Company EM Detection Sensor (1)     Sensitivity 96     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  96m km
Phased Gravitational Sensors (1)   5 Survey Points Per Hour
Cloaking Device: Class cross-section reduced to 10% of normal

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

   The specialisation allowed installation of an additional sensor as well as improved range and endurance and heavier armour which will make it easier for those ships to traverse nebulae.
   Overall the 250 model is considered better, mostly due to its self-reliant nature, but as the vessels will have to explore a significant amount of foreign territory, operating far from support base, most feel the combination of 251 and 252 models is the only way to proceed. In addition, thanks to the strength of the jump drive, an additional vessel could be included. And while many feel the technology is not yet ready to develop true strike ships, many point out that if the survey force run into a foreign vessel, it could just be destroyed, leaving the other nation with an enigma. While certainly dangerous, it would not mean automatic failure of the operation, potentially allowing it to continue without any significant interruption. As such a small corvette, the X-253 has been designed.

Code: [Select]
X-253 class Stealth Corvette    3 200 tons     75 Crew     943 BP      TCS 6.4  TH 30.72  EM 0
6000 km/s     Armour 5-19     Shields 0-0     Sensors 1/1/0/0     Damage Control Rating 5     PPV 5.6
Maint Life 10.05 Years     MSP 967    AFR 15%    IFR 0.2%    1YR 17    5YR 261    Max Repair 396 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 60 months    Spare Berths 1   
Magazine 101   

Phy International Stealth Exploration IC Fusion Drive (1)    Power 384    Fuel Use 12.27%    Signature 30.72    Exp 7%
Fuel Capacity 550 000 Litres    Range 252.1 billion km   (486 days at full power)

Chakladar Corporation Small Bomber Bay (12)    Missile Size 2    Hangar Reload 15 minutes    MF Reload 2.5 hours
Karalis-Nallie Advanced Anti-Missile Launcher (2)    Missile Size 1    Rate of Fire 5
Zou Manufacturing Bomber Fire Control (1)     Range 120.5m km    Resolution 60
Traynor-Coins Corvette Anti-Missile Fire Control (1)     Range 13.8m km    Resolution 1
Maverick (12)  Speed: 88 000 km/s   End: 17.4m    Range: 91.9m km   WH: 7    Size: 2    TH: 293/176/88
Patriot E (77)  Speed: 124 800 km/s   End: 1.3m    Range: 10.1m km   WH: 1    Size: 1    TH: 1622/973/486

Traynor-Coins Corvette Missile Detection System (1)     GPS 58     Range 13.8m km    MCR 1.5m km    Resolution 1
Cloaking Device: Class cross-section reduced to 10% of normal

Compact ECCM-3 (1)         Missile to hit chances are vs targets moving at 3000 km/s, 5000 km/s and 10,000 km/s

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

   The ship has very limited armament, but its small, stealthy, extremely long ranged and is supposed to deal with unarmed ships. In case of discovery and chase however it can use defend itself from missile attack, albeit only a limited one.
   The fact the ship was multi-role was controversial of course but as the designers pointed out it's main purpose is to provide very limited ability for exploration groups and to serve as a test bed for future, proper warships and in those roles it should excel.
   Overall the Hegemony, while somewhat disappointed with the designs, is more than willing to let them prove themselves, and orders multiple exploration groups, each of which will comprise a single X-251, a single X-252 and a single X-253.

21st December 2416

   The Republic develops anti-matter engines, which will increase the speed of their vessels to seventy two hundred kilometres per second. This also means a whole new series of upgrades will be necessary, a process expected to take years, possibly even a full decade.

10th January 2416

   The Commune Task Force 302 guarding the Atlantic system from possible Hegemony invasion is officially re-basing from Gibraltar to Malta. The latter dwarf planet has population of forty four million and while the industry is small by the standards of most planets, it will be more than enough to support the warships. Five of the newest, and largest, missile bases are already present and more will be added as soon as the current expansion projects are complete. The only part of the fleet that hasn't moved are the fighters, as building proper basing facilities on the new colony has been a low priority.
   Unfortunately despite that the TF 302 continues to be somewhat small considering it's tasks and continues to comprise a total of nine gunboat flotillas and two frigate squadrons. While the government is fully aware of the situation, the need to defend against the Travellers means little can be done about it and the ongoing Hegemony war against the Confederation also means many feel there is currently little danger of a new attack by the other human power. Last but not least the system itself is seen as expendable, despite the growing population, and can be quickly and easily reinforced by the Home, Third and Fourth Fleets.
   On the civilian side the project is seen as a reasonable success. The development of the colony begun fourteen years earlier and the population is comfortable, reasonably sized and growing. It will likely never become a major hub of activity but it is still larger than sixty percent of the Commune inhabited worlds and larger than the smallest of the Valhallan habitats. It also produces quite few goods that could be exported, but due to the location of the system, it is rather unattractive trading site.

14th January 2417

   The first two Hegemony stealth scouting groups enter the Commune system of ES – 264. With only two groups and the nebula enveloping the star, the survey will take quite some time, but more ships have already been laid down.

7th May 2417

   The Commune completes their planned construction programme of Stingray class gunboats, bringing the number of their flotillas to fifty. To make use of the now available shipyards above Knossos the government decides to recall their Piranha class gunboats and refit them to handle longer ranged missiles. While they don't have the sheer throw weight of Sharks – which can fire half again as many missiles for a total of thirty six – they have longer range and endurance.
   Those unfortunately cannot be refitted due to costs and will be irrelevant in their new assignment. As they use larger munitions, which may not be able to penetrate enemy point defences, the government plans to put all Piranhas into a single task force above Malta to protect from potential Hegemony invasion, while putting all the Sharks into the Pacific system for the same purpose. This will give each of those systems around thirty full flotillas while the fleet duties will be taken over the new Stingrays.

2nd June 2417

   The Hegemony forms four more of their three ship stealth scouting groups. Two will be sent to support survey of the Commune space, but the other two will be sent to the Republican systems, using the secret connection discovered many years prior. While this will increase the risks, many believe those are minimal as Phoenix haven't expanded into any new systems for decades which means they are unlikely to have any significant presence outside of the four stars that are actually inhabited.
   Enough new ships have been laid down to form five more groups but it is currently unknown if any more than this will be built. While the opportunity to have a good look at their enemies makes many in the Hegemony impatient, the need to develop better cloaking devices, design the actual ships and than build them means any actual strikes are still years away. For that matter many feel resources should be conserved until the war with the Confederation is concluded, despite the fact the Kinharans have not ventured outside their own systems since the earliest days of the war.

13th February 2419

   The Commune decides to resume the survey of the Tartarus chain, the general area of space from which the Destroyer came.
   The survey of the chain begun immediately after the enemy incursion in 2378 and continued until the discovery of ES – 136 GH12, a system with a total of seven jump points. While it is unknown how many of those are dead ends, it was very likely the number of systems to monitor would begin to rise very fast, far beyond would be practically watched. Since then however the Commune economy and territory has expanded enormously, with exploration reaching up to sixteen jumps away from the capital in some places, making Tartarus one of the least explored areas of space.

11th October 2419

   One of the Hegemony scouting groups enters the first inhabited Commune system, the Quarangi, site of the Talamanca colony. While it has population of only three million, it nonetheless has functioning news and information services which will allow New Earth ships to finally begin gathering large amounts of intelligence that will be used to produce list of targets for the coming attack.

7th February 2420

   The Hegemony stealth ships, operating in the Trigono system, adjacent yo Quarangi, detects a group of five large ships moving at over sixty six hundred kilometres per second. While fast, such speed is comparable to what the Commune military was capable of during the last war between the two nations forty two years ago, which coupled with lack of any active sensors means they are almost certainly commercial ships.
   While the high speed was not exactly unanticipated – most intelligence analysts believed the Commune to be ahead in technology – it was nonetheless much higher than expected. Even if this merely means the other nation puts more engines on their ships rather than having much better technology than expected, it still means the current stealth ships could not catch them, as they sacrificed speed for fuel efficiency and lower thermal signature. This means the future strike will require either very careful positioning to catch shipping, increased speed or simply abandonment of commerce raiding.

17th September 2420

   The Francillo-Stelman Manufacturing shipyard above New Earth has finally been upgraded to twenty thousand tonnes of capacity which means the Hegemony can finally abandon their frigates in favour of all destroyer and cruiser escort force for their carriers. While the decision remains controversial it is undeniable fact this will make it much easier to launch jump point assaults in the future, an issue which was the whole reason for how slowly the war against the Confederation is progressing. With the yard possessing seventeen slipways by itself, New Earth will now be able to work on forty one destroyers and fourteen cruisers at any given time.
   A new ship to take advantage of the shipyards have also been designed. Designated X-254 and named “Singapore” the new destroyer will replace Kane as the primary carrier escort. It is the same size and very similar in many aspects, but it has only sixty percent as many shipkillers, much deeper magazines for anti-missiles to improve the endurance and the mixed energy armament has been replaced with only three, but very heavy weapons capable of doing enormous damage during the first strike.

Code: [Select]
X-254 Singapore class Destroyer    20 000 tons     530 Crew     7597.5 BP      TCS 400  TH 3200  EM 0
8000 km/s     Armour 10-65     Shields 0-0     Sensors 36/36/0/0     Damage Control Rating 9     PPV 133.12
Maint Life 1.47 Years     MSP 2137    AFR 355%    IFR 4.9%    1YR 1097    5YR 16459    Max Repair 800 MSP
Intended Deployment Time: 12 months    Spare Berths 0   
Magazine 852   

Marlin -Kibaki Naval Inertial Fusion Drive (2)    Power 1600    Fuel Use 20%    Signature 1600    Exp 10%
Fuel Capacity 1 250 000 Litres    Range 56.3 billion km   (81 days at full power)

Gothe Systems 520mm Spinal Mounted Laser (1)    Range 480 000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 71-10     RM 6    ROF 40        71 71 71 71 71 71 60 53 47 42
Rolley-Chau Fifth Generation Particle Beam (2)    Range 480 000km     TS: 10000 km/s     Power 40-10    ROF 20        16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16
Twin Luseno-Nderitu Gauss Cannon Turret (2x10)    Range 40 000km     TS: 40000 km/s     Power 0-0     RM 4    ROF 5        1 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
Busch Design Bureau Point Defence Fire Control (2)    Max Range: 96 000 km   TS: 40000 km/s     90 79 69 58 48 38 27 17 6 0
Balotra-Dubey Cybernetics Long Range Beam Fire Control (1)    Max Range: 480 000 km   TS: 10000 km/s     98 96 94 92 90 88 85 83 81 79
Roth-Goldwasser Advanced Fusion Power Plant (3)     Total Power Output 36    Armour 0    Exp 5%

Karalis-Nallie Advanced Anti-Missile Launcher (24)    Missile Size 1    Rate of Fire 5
Eshleman-Burrell Design Bureau Box Launcher (60)    Missile Size 4    Hangar Reload 30 minutes    MF Reload 5 hours
Buckwalter-Donath Anti-Missile Fire Control (3)     Range 77.8m km    Resolution 1
Lee-Liang Missile Fire Control (3)     Range 231.8m km    Resolution 80
Tomahawk E (60)  Speed: 88 000 km/s   End: 13.5m    Range: 71.3m km   WH: 18    Size: 4    TH: 293/176/88
Patriot E (612)  Speed: 124 800 km/s   End: 1.3m    Range: 10.1m km   WH: 1    Size: 1    TH: 1622/973/486

Lee-Liang Small Active Search Sensor (1)     GPS 11520     Range 231.8m km    Resolution 80
Buckwalter-Donath Missile Detection System (1)     GPS 432     Range 77.8m km    MCR 8.5m km    Resolution 1
Chen Manufacturing Thermal Sensor (1)     Sensitivity 36     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  36m km
Chen Manufacturing EM Detection Sensor (1)     Sensitivity 36     Detect Sig Strength 1000:  36m km

ECCM-4 (4)         Missile to hit chances are vs targets moving at 3000 km/s, 5000 km/s and 10,000 km/s

This design is classed as a Military Vessel for maintenance purposes

21st September 2420

   The anomaly in the Dunkirk system finally disappears, but mere six days after the Eight Fleet begun heading home another one appeared in the system of ES – 95 GH5, forcing the Commune to simply order the fleet to redeploy.
   The star is uninhabited but not unimportant. It is the site of very large automated mining operations providing the bulk of gallicite for the Ayutthaya sector, while also serving as a transit system for freighters carrying minerals from the Waikato colony. Last but not least it is located only two jumps from the planet Gardatis, a site of large cruiser shipyard and two jumps from the boarder with the Republic.
   As with previous cases, the Commune intends to colonise the system to establish a full scale naval base. PDC components will arrive even before the first colonists will, but the defence will be difficult, for the anomaly appears in the inner system, which means anything of interest, including the automated mining site, will be within striking range of any arriving missile armed ships. Unfortunately the fourth planet, which is the one being mined, is a venusian world and cannot be colonised, so it is quite possible the installations there will be lost.
   There are some who propose establishing a rudimentary naval base above the world, one limited to orbital installations with only a small habitat for minimal workforce, leaving the fifth planet, the location of the planned colony, vacant. This would allow the Force to protect the mines without having to worry about civilians, but the previous experience with bases on Valhalla and Gibraltar makes the military unwilling to do that, as this makes support of the fleet much more difficult from the logistical point of view. They also point out that so far the Travellers have always prioritised military targets, even when they could have stricken civilian vessels, although admittedly the situation now will be different with a whole planet exposed. Nonetheless the government prefers to have a proper colony in place for long term defence.
   The system is renamed Westerplatte and the planet is named Oliwa.

23rd December 2420

   After a six year long stalemate the Hegemony has finished their preparations to continue their advance against the Confederation. For this task they assembled a fleet led by eight carriers – Incredible, Indefatigable, Indomitable, Vanguard, Vengeance, Victory, Defiant and Unyielding – as well as three jump battleships – Dauntless, Fearless and Virtuous. Those eleven warships, some of which massed three hundred thousand tonnes, more than almost any other human or alien construct, were supported by ninety seven cruisers of various classes, one hundred and fifty four jump, assault, missile and multi-role destroyers, one hundred and nine frigates and nearly thirteen hundred bombers. With a combined mass of well over ten million tonnes, the armada was by far the largest concentration of naval firepower in history of any known race.
    Admiral Rosa Landmann, who still commanded the force, prepared her assault very carefully, but there was no need, as the enemy did not picket the jump point. Not even token forces were present, with the aliens apparently unwilling to risk ships just to destroy potential scouts.
   The system, known to the allies as Fakkari, matched the data the Hegemony found in public databases on Krikera. It was a binary of two Sol like stars, both having respectable companions, with a total of nine planets and eleven moons. Only one planet was inhabited by the Kinharans, the third planet orbiting the secondary component, known to the enemy as Draya. It was a very large planet with breathable atmosphere and a temperature right for the aliens, but a little too low for humans. It had no water, but reasonable day-night cycle and gravity, which also meant it was likely poor in heavy metals. Two more planets, also orbiting the secondary component, could be colonised by the Confederation, but due to their environmental tolerances and not as advanced life support technologies, it would be too expensive for them. Humans however, being able to tolerate lower gravity and having access to better technologies had a total of four candidates for colonisation in the system.
   What was more important however was the position of those bodies. Detailed data was purged from the Krikeran datanet efficiently enough that it could not be recovered, so the position of jump points – of which there was supposedly only two – was not known. As it happened the Hegemony emerged quite far from the rather closely orbiting stars, over four billion kilometres from the primary and a little over two and a half billion kilometres from the secondary component, which was currently closer. More importantly several enemy freighters could be seen, and they seemed to travel from seemingly empty area of space to the single Confederate colony in a straight line. This almost certainly meant the second jump point was about one billion and seven hundred million kilometres from humans, to their side, creating a triangle with the Hegemony force and the Kinharan colony. Most importantly perhaps thermal signatures of numerous battleships were detected in orbit of Draya. It was very likely that the bulk of the enemy fleet was in this system, but its position meant Landmann had options.
   She could bypass the fleet of course but that would probably be the worst thing she could do. While the aliens never managed to destroy a single human vessel in deep space battle, she remembered the first battles at Albuquerque where the Kinharans tried to blockade the human exit point. If they did the same thing now the Hegemony would have to try and break through and if they failed to destroy the enemy from long range with the ammunition they had – ammunition which could be depleted if she fought battles further in enemy territory – it could lead to a very nasty short range battle, where enemy weaknesses would be minimised. She had no choice but to deal with this threat first.
   It was of course possible it was a bait. Considering the geometry, a second enemy force could appear from the second jump point to try and cut her off, but for that to work the Confederation would either have to have much larger force than anyone believed possible, or they would have to put only few old battleships and a lot of civilian ships as decoys in the inner system. As her sensor range extended to over one billion and three hundred million kilometres and as she had speed advantage, she was willing to risk it. Even if that was not the case, the possibility was simply not a good enough reason for indecision, now without any possible proof of the enemy intentions. If she hesitated due to that her fleet would be paralysed with indecision to the point of impotence.
   She considered detaching some ships to picket the second jump point, but splitting her forces when she had so little information was pointlessly risky. In the end she really had no choice, as any sort of finesse or tactical sleight of hand presented too many dangers and could lead to unnecessary losses or maybe even a defeat. Her best and safest course of action was to methodically and simplistically destroy the enemy one by one in a straight line, starting with the force, and planet, ahead of her.
   Her fleet was supported by ten tankers and nineteen colliers, standing by on the other side of the jump point in Albuquerque. They will remain there for the time being so she doesn't have to worry about them. In orbit of Krikera ware nineteen troop transports and seventeen divisions awaited on the ground. Those forces however won't be summoned – they haven't even been loaded – until she secured the system.

25th December 2420

   Two days after entering the enemy system, the Hegemony fleet brought the inhabited planet – and the alien fleet – into active sensor range, revealing massive Confederate force led by fifty one battleships of various classes. While respectable, their escorts were much more worrying as they included over one hundred and seventy cruisers, two hundred and forty two destroyers and one hundred and eight corvettes. While individually weak and technologically inferior to the Hegemony ships, the entire force was actually larger than the human armada, massing nearly thirteen million tonnes in total. Worse many of the ships were of new, unknown classes likely containing new technologies which meant the force may be much more formidable than any previous one met so far. At the same time the Hegemony technological advantage should still be substantial, and many warships were of the old, known classes encountered during the first battles over decade ago which is why Landmann is still confident.    
   Now that she had that information she needed to decide what to do. She had two courses of action – not counting retreat of course – as she could either move the entire fleet for a large opening strike, followed by smaller fighter strikes, or the reverse, she could open with smaller fighter strikes and then proceed to launch a full assault.
   The first option was theoretically the better one. In the opening battles of the war, Hegemony missiles were able to penetrate defences of much larger Confederate forces, while the ships themselves had no trouble defending themselves from retaliatory strikes. As such a maximum sized salvo, launched by all the warships and fighters, should be able to penetrate enemy defences and cause huge amounts of damage, making it easier for the follow up fighter strikes to get through and inflict damage. Unfortunately due to the missile ranges it was almost certain the enemy will fire first.
   As mentioned before in the past that was not an issue, but the current situation is somewhat different. The aliens almost certainly have better missiles and a large number of human ships are configured for jump point assault. Many are mere jump ships with essentially no armament, most of the destroyers have no point defence, the three huge battleships have heavy armour and huge numbers of gauss cannons, but next to no anti-missiles and the eight carriers leading the fleet have mostly passive defences. Overall there is no telling whether or not Landmann's defences are up to the task.
   Beginning with fighters would allow her to test the enemy, deplete his anti-missiles and possibly inflict some attritional damage. During the last battle of the first Albuquerque campaign, at the start of the war, three older and smaller Hegemony carriers managed to get past enemy defences and destroy several battleships with fighter strikes only, despite the enemy being nearly twice as large. As the difference isn't that great in this case and nearly half the bombers are new, equipped with more missiles, even if smaller ones, getting past the enemy point defence should be more than possible. However the sheer number of enemy warships means few kills one way or the other, which means subsequent strikes will face defences almost as thought as the first one.
   In the end she decided to begin with the fighter strikes. The enemy had years to prepare and the numerous new ships argued he indeed had. Until she had better idea what the enemy decided to do, she preferred to minimise the risks.
   It took the better part of the day for the bombers to reach their firing position seventy million kilometres from the enemy. That part went so well Landmann begun being suspicious as she expected the enemy to have some way to deal with her small craft. At the same time the Commune appeared to be doing quite well simply dealing with the attacks as they came, so maybe the Kinharans decided to do the same.
   The thirteen hundred and ninety bombers unleashed over sixteen thousand Mavericks and Spacebolt Cs at the alien armada.
   As the missiles closed on the enemy, nearly three hundred and seventy small craft suddenly appeared. They were the size of the Hegemony bombers but were travelling at twenty four thousand kilometres per second – four thousand and four hundred kps faster than the human craft. Running quick calculations have shown that it was impossible for the Eagles and the Harriers to reach the carriers before they were caught – and they had no ammunition remaining. It was now obvious the enemy fleet was essentially a bait to trap the bombers.
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Offline Michael Sandy

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Re: From the Ashes - part 33
« Reply #1 on: January 20, 2018, 08:28:24 PM »
A danger of over reliance on a design that is very efficient at a particular task is that it may be vulnerable to being efficiently taken out.  And possibly the biggest issue for the Hegemony is how many wrecked fighters for salvage this provides, all with the latest Hegemony tech.

And if the probing attack is thoroughly butchered, it is difficult to argue for following that up with an all or nothing attack, or what was the purpose of PROBING in the first place?

Offline HighTemplar

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Re: From the Ashes - part 33
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2018, 10:43:09 PM »
It's back, can't wait for the next part